Friday, 27 February 2015

Ousedale Admissions Debate

If you haven't yet seen the story regarding Ousedale school in the Phonebox Magazine then grab your copy now and take a read! If you have children at the school or live in the surrounding area, you may well have been aware of some high activity on social media over the last few days and weeks.

This is all due to a proposed change in admissions arrangements for the school, which would give priority to a select number of pupils with an aptitude for music. Applicants would be ranked and assessed on the highest levels of music, on a bowed, stringed, brass, woodwind, keyboard or percussion instrument.

Facebook and Twitter carried the story to begin with, with parents in particular voicing their views and opinions. It highlights the way news spreads today, and the impact that can be had if people share their views, and even set up online petitions. News travels far and wide, much further than if just discussed at the school gate, as would have been the case in previous years.

As the school is an Academy, they can arguably do what they like in terms of admissions outlines. However, in a time where getting a place in the school of choice can be a hard enough task in itself, to make priorities for those with musical aptitude didn't seem quite fair for many local parents.

10% of places were to be allocated in this way, according to aptitude for music, across the Newport Pagnell and Olney campus'. Not a high proportion, but it's enough to have an effect, and has clearly got people talking...

As a result of parents reactions and outcry, the school has decided to continue to make pupils in the catchment area a priority. It just goes to show the power of speaking out, and the power in a community standing together to fight for what they believe in.

This Weekend in MK

As always, there's a great selection of things to do in the Milton Keynes area this weekend, and we've collected a variety of events which will hopefully suit all tastes and ages. Have a look through and hopefully you'll find something fun to do this weekend, as February turns into March!

Saturday 28th 

Fossil Hunting for adults @ Stonepit Field, MK. 10am.
Fossil hunting doesn't have to just be for the kids, and this weekend the adults can give it a try, at Stonepit Field. Come fossil hunting and learn more about the geology of Stonepit Field. The adult education course costs £5 per person. Park in the car park on Wolverton Road, opposite Oakridge Park, Stonepit Field. Booking required, click here.

Ceilidh with Ock 'n' Dough @ Lavendon Village Hall, 7pm.
Ceilidh and ploughman's supper. Tickets cost £12 for adults, £6 for children up to 16. Bring your own drinks, wine will also be available to purchase.

Harmonies for Everly @ York House Centre, Stony Stratford, 8-11pm.
A great night of musical talents with harmonising songs and a substantial slab devoted to the Everly Brothers. Bar with real ale, cider, wine, soft drinks and other goodies will be available, proceeds go to the York House Centre. Entry is £5.

Art, Photography and Craft Exhibition and Sale @ The Chellington Centre. Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm. 
All artists, craftspeople, photographers, sculptors and woodworkers are invited to submit their work for exhibition or sale on Saturday or Sunday. Application forms are available from: Refreshments will be available. This is a fundraising event to support both the running of Chellington and the bursary fund, which all groups with needs can apply for.

Handmade and Vintage weekend extravaganza @ Middleton Hall, Centre:MK Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 10.30am-5pm.
A free event with 128 stalls full of authentic handmade and vintage items. High standards and great prices, great for gifts and things you just won't find in the shops. From fashion to food, art to interior design, there's a great range of items to interest you.

Sunday 1st March

Parks and Run @ Campbell Park, 10am start.
This is a free fun run for all ages and abilities, with a choice of routes from 2km to 10km. A great activity to get all the family out and about! The run starts at Campbell Park Pavilion car park, with a choice of 3k, 5k and 10k routes. (Routes may vary depending on weather conditions) 

St David's Day @ MK Rose, Campbell Park, 3pm.
An event to remember the patron Saint of Wales, involving songs and poetry, mainly in Welsh. This is a free service, all are welcome, come along and bring a daffodil or a leek! The ceremony will take place at MK Rose which is situated at the top of Campbell Park. The nearest parking is at centre:mk (John Lewis end).

Crossharbour Charity Fundraising Concert @ All Saints Church, Bow Brickhill, 3pm.
Charity fundraiser for Willen Hospice and ASTRA community charity. A dynamic new band from London's traditional Irish music scene. Refreshments will be provided and open session for all will follow. Tickets cost £8 per person, email

Open Mic Night @ The Two Brewers, Olney, 8.30pm
Come and enjoy listening to some local artists and enjoy the open fire and a drink or two!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

THEATRE REVIEW: Saturday Night Fever at MK Theatre

Classic musical lacks that special sparkle

Staying alive - The cast of Saturday Night Fever strutting their stuff. 

Bursting with arguments, swearing and fighting, Saturday Night Fever even has a suicide for good measure. If you're expecting a cheerful story of 1970s New York then prepare to be disappointed - Grease this is not!

The infamous musical tells the story of Tony Manero, a man who is struggling to make a name for himself on the dance scene. True to the dark side of the original film, starring John Travolta, the stage show at MK Theatre until Saturday (28th) recreates the hit that became a household name across the world.

So what is good about this production? The dancing was superb, but you did feel as if the cast were happiest after the bows, when they sang the classic hits the audience had been craving all along. I dare say I'm not alone in my desire to hear the Bee Gee songs, and they re-arranged them with mixed success. 

The show's characters struggled to come across on stage, and it was difficult to engage with any of them and allow this reviewer to be pulled into the story. Danny Bayne may have a long successful history with Travolta roles, but he didn't quite fit the dancing shoes this time around.

However, notable performers included Cesar (Michael Stewart) and Maria (Lauren McCabe). 
The gritty musical fell flat in a lot of places, particularly at half time when it stopped abruptly to no real affect. The ending too was disappointingly sudden. 
The show had all the makings of a first year performing arts concert, but lacked the special something that is worthy of a national tour. This was making a musical for the sake of it. Shame!


Odeon IMAX opens this Friday in Milton Keynes!

This Friday, the new Odeon cinema opens at the Milton Keynes Stadium, with an IMAX screen- which will be Milton Keynes' biggest screen. As well as the addition of the recent restaurants at the MK1 area by the Stadium, this cinema is set to be yet another attraction bringing people to the city. With the recent opening of the 4DX and 'Superscreen' at the Cineworld in Milton Keynes, film fans are now going to be spoilt for choice as to what to see and where. As well as 11 screens, including the IMAX, there will be a wide selection of refreshments, including a metropolitan Costa coffee shop, Ben and Jerry's, the usual popcorn and drinks, SNOG frozen yoghurt and more. There will be premier seating available in all screens, and well as 'The Gallery', which is Odeon's VIP experience- where guests can enjoy extra wide seats, added leg room, unlimited popcorn, nachos, soft drinks and a great view from their own area of the cinema. Guests can also enjoy a drink in the private bar before the film.

Seeing a movie nowadays has become more and more flashy, and the focus is now on the whole experience, rather than just seeing the film. So if you're a film-buff or just interested in what the new place looks like, why not pay it a visit this weekend? The pictures show what it is set to look like- see how it compares!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

World Spay Day: Discounted cat neutering in Milton Keynes

World Spay Day is the last Tuesday of February each year, and shines a spotlight on the lifesaving power of spay/neuter and the need for these services to be more affordable.

World Spay Day is an opportunity to promote cat neutering. The Milton Keynes and North Bucks RSPCA are offering benefit claimants in Milton Keynes the chance to neuter their female cats for just £10.

Neutering female cats can help tackle feline overpopulation, as allowing them have kittens just creates more unwanted cats. Cats can become pregnant at just five months, and can become pregnant again almost immediately after. Therefore, the RSPCA recommends you neuter your felines as young as possible. In a study of cat owners, the RSPCA found that 85% of litters are unplanned, that's a lot of unplanned and potentially unwanted kittens.

For more information please call 01908 611179 and leave a message. A volunteer will return your call as soon as possible.

Friday, 20 February 2015

This weekend: What's on

Bad Manners and The Bighead @ Bedford Corn Exchange. Friday 20th Feb. 7.30pm
Bad Manners return to the Bedford Corn exchange with a night of full on Ska antics. Bad Manners were at their peak in the late 1970s and 80s, with 111 weeks spent in the UK Singles Chart between 1980 and 1983. Their outlandish frontman, Buster Bloodvessel was one of the main reasons for their notoriety, getting them banned from Top of The Pops among others. The show is sure to be entertaining, and tickets cost £20.
Stunt Fest @ Santa Pod Raceway. Saturday 21st Feb, 10.30-4.30pm
Come along to enjoy an afternoon of great stunts for all the family, featuring some of the top UK stunts and riders. Gates open at 10.30am, with the main stunt attractions from 12.30pm. There are a variety of attractions to keep you entertained, including Monster truck, motorcycle freestyle stunt riders, drift rides, car football and much more. As well as all of the driving entertainment, there will also be funfair rides, kids entertainment including face painting, and a full bar and catering facilities. Tickets are available on the door at £15 for the day or £25 to camp overnight. Watch a video from last year's event below!

Cock and Bull Real Beer Festival @ Stony Stratford. Friday 20th-Saturday 21st Feb, 12-11pm 
This year is the 13th beer festival at York House in Stony Stratford, with an array of real beers and ciders, mostly from local breweries. There will also be a selection of Fairtrade wines, juices and snacks. Gourmet burgers and sausages will be available on both Friday and Saturday evening from Devine Catering, and the mighty Kobold will be providing musical entertainment on Saturday evening from around 8.30pm. Free entry.

Digitalis Day of 3D Printing @ Kingston Library. Saturday 21st Feb, 11am-4pm
This is set to be a fascinating day of learning about this new technology and seeing first-hand how it works. Create ideas in digital space and see how they are brought into the real world. Tickets are £5 in advance, and places are limited so do book your place by calling 01908 282720.

Annual 80/20 Lavendon Village Charity Auction @ Lavendon Village Hall. Sunday 22nd Feb, 12.30pm
A sale of furniture and effects. Viewing is from 10am and the auction begins at 12.30pm. Please contact Pam or Ron if you have anything to sell, on 01234 240772. Refreshments will be available.  

If you know of any other events going on in the Milton keynes area, please do share them with us! 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Time to make pancakes!

Tomorrow is pancake day again, and if you're a resident of Olney, it's a day you're not allowed to forget! The world famous pancake race takes place tomorrow at 11.55am (to be precise!) and is a tradition which has stood the test of time, having started back in 1445. It has grown in fame and popularity, and in recent years has been featured on a number of television shows, including Blue Peter and itv news.

It's one of the biggest days of the Olney calendar, where residents and visitors line the streets to watch the race take place. It's also, perhaps more importantly if you're not from the Olney area, a chance to make and eat some pancakes! The traditional lemon and sugar pancakes always go down a treat, but if you're looking to try something a little bit different this year, we've got a few ideas for you.

Firstly, if you're at the Olney event, you might not need to worry about making you own, as there will be pancakes available from as early as 9am. If you are making them for yourselves, take a look at this month's issue of the Phonebox Magazine (featured below), where we gave you a few ideas of how to make your pancakes a little bit different, including gluten-free and savoury pancakes.

We've come up with a few other ideas of some interesting flavours... why not give them a try or share some of your own ideas!
  • Coconut and raspberry 
  • Cheese and bacon
  • Potatoes, lentil and spinach
  • Apricot
  • Cinnamon with maple syrup 
  • Cheese and ham
Get creative and enjoy a great Shrove Tuesday!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Half Term Fun for the Family

Whether it's been a long term or you can't quite believe it's half term already, you'll be due a break. The run from Christmas can be quite a slow one, and with the cold weather and dark days, it can feel quite draining. The same goes for the kids; it's been a long slog at school and they're ready for a holiday. That can can often mean the parents don't end up getting much of a break, so we've collected a few ideas of how to keep the kids (and adults!) entertained this half term.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Visit Bletchley Park For FREE tomorrow!

Residents of Milton Keynes can take advantage of the history right on their doorstep this Saturday, with free entry to Bletchley Park. Bletchley Park Community Day is a chance for Milton Keynes residents to explore their local heritage, and find out more about the history of Bletchley Park. Visitors can come and experience what it was like for the Codebreakers of WW2, exploring the restored wartime buildings and exhibitions. For those who have seen the film 'The Imitation Game' there's even more reason to visit, as there's also the official exhibition of the film, where you can find out more as well as see where some of the film was shot. There will also be family-friendly workshops to get involved in.

To get in for free you need to have a Milton Keynes postcode, and bring proof of residency, such as a utility bill or other proof of address. Open from 9.30am-4pm, last admission is at 3pm.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Last minute Valentines...

February always seems to fly by, so if you've been caught unawares by Valentines this year, we've got some last-ditch attempts to (help!) save you! Whether you've just been rushed off your feet, are a bit short on cash, ordered something online which hasn't arrived in time, or, let's face it, you just plain old forgot, we've got a few ideas left up our sleeves to help save you from trouble!

  • Cook up a storm: Can't afford those hiked up Valentines day prices, or just don't fancy the busy restaurant scene? Then why not cook something from home. Get some candles on the table and cook a couple of courses, however basic your cooking skills are you'll be sure to master something. If cooking isn't usually your forte and you take the effort to cook for your date, chances are they'll be pleasantly surprised and it'll be even more appreciated than a meal out... unless it tastes bad that is, maybe give it a try before you serve it up!
  • Get creative: There are a number of gift ideas which you might find on some quite expensive sites, where they offer personalised posters and cards. A lovely gift idea, but probably one you could make for yourself. All you need is a computer/laptop or probably even a mobile app, and you can use some quirky and fun fonts and colours to create a really nice poster, personalised however you want it, pretty much for free (apart from the paper and ink). Head to a supermarket or homestore and buy a frame, and they'll never know it didn't cost the earth. 
  • Brave the shops: It might be that you hate the shops, but you do still have time to make it in and out alive! If you think creatively you might even get away with visiting the 24 hour Asda!
  • Chocolate: For men and women alike, chocolate is generally a safe bet. Plus, you can grab it while doing your food shop, nice and easy and sure to be appreciated (unless they don't like chocolate, of course!)
  • Flowers: You need to get them fresh anyway so you can't be accused of not being prepared (even if you weren't) and they're a pretty safe bet, even for the men (although maybe not the most masculine of ideas)
  • IOU?: If all else fails and you don't get round to getting anything or the inspiration is lacking, write them out an IOU, and if it's for something like a day trip, weekend away or something similar, it's a fair excuse for not providing anything much on the day!
Valentines day is a created holiday, arguably to grab our money but also a nice excuse to show someone you love them. Of course don't feel pressured into taking part, and if you're single this Valentines, make the most of that reduced chocolate the day after and hold a chocolate party with your friends! 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

IndieGo Music and Arts Night

@The Two Brewers, Olney

This Thursday, 12th February, 8pm

This is the first night at the Two Brewers in Olney, and it's set to be a great evening. Lee Ross will be opening, and will play a set to include his recently released and brilliant new EP “Fly Girl”.

"Lee is one of the most talented people I have ever met" says IndieGo's Ian Roberts, "I have had the privilege of knowing and playing in bands with Lee for many years...I know at firsthand what an extremely gifted musician he is."

Lee is also a great actor, and has featured in a number of films including Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies.

The night also features appearances from the wonderful published author and poet Jeremy Holtom, the brilliant artist Debbie Hutchinson Murray, the fantastic film maker Frank Scarito, bread-maker Gareth Roberts, and magnificent musicians Martin Barby and Lana Camp. Ian Roberts and his band will close the night.

There's free entry, and of course the opportunity to sample some great food and drink while enjoying an evening of entertainment. IndieGo Nights are to be held on the second Thursday of every month. If you are interested in sharing your talent you could feature at a further show, head over to the Two Brewers this Thursday to find out more!

Sponsored by the Phonebox Magazine.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The February Garden

February is still feeling pretty wintry, and while there may be a few shoots coming up, we've still got a while to go before spring really arrives. So what can you do in the garden in February?

Well, February is mainly the month for cutting the winter shrubs and foliage back to keep it neat, and pruning those shrubs to encourage growth in the spring. You'll need to protect any vulnerable plants from the frost if you haven't already, by wrapping them in insulation such as garden fleece, and raise pots and containers off the ground where possible.

In your vegetable bed you can start sowing vegetable seeds such as leeks, onions and celeriac under cover. The outside vegetable bed won't be ready just yet, but you can prepare it by removing the weeds and forking in plenty of compost, then cover it with plastic to warm it up ready for spring planting.

In the fruit garden it's mainly just pruning to be done. Stone fruit trees can be planted now.

Around February is the time to order any seeds and plants, so you can plan your spring garden from the warmth and comfort of your armchair. You can also give your gardening equipment a check, to make sure it's all ready for spring, get the lawn mower serviced and make sure the shears aren't rusty. It might also be worth checking garden centre sales, as this could be the perfect time to get hold of some great value pots and gardening equipment at a great price!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Personalised Valentines

You've got just under a week until Valentines day, so if you're searching the web for something to buy your other half, why not consider a personalised gift for your loved one. There are countless things you can get personalised on numerous websites, from cards to key rings, coasters to mugs. Using initials, names and photos, you can create a personalised gift which will be really unique. That way, no matter how small the item is, it'll be meaningful and appreciated, you can even get chocolates personalised! Not just for Valentines day though, gifts like these are great for birthdays, anniversaries or even just a treat for yourself!

(For those last minute guys and girls out there, don't forget to check the delivery date before ordering from the internet!)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Stoneywords writing competition

Stony Stratford's literary festival comes to it's close this weekend, and if you've not been involved with the event over the last couple of weeks, you've got a couple more opportunities to do so before it comes to an end.

Stonywords was started in 1995 to help brighten up some of those dark wintry days. There has been a collection of literacy themed activities, including talks, quizzes, exhibitions, poetry and more, and there is still a competition to get involved with before the event comes to an end.

A running competition which has been taking place throughout the festival is the 'History mystery', a short story writing competition focusing on what may have happened to the Stony Stratford town charter.

History says that King John rode into Stony Stratford on the 19th February 1215 and at some point around that time he signed a charter giving Stony its township status. However, there appears to be no historical evidence of such a charter, so the truth is unknown... 800 years have gone by, and it is time for you to decide what really happened.

The competition gives the chance for individuals to decide what happened for themselves, and create a short story as to what may have happened to the Stony Stratford town charter. The competition is open for entries until 9th February, and there is a 2000 word limit. Email submissions to or via a competition box in the library. There are three categories, under 12's, under 18's and over 18's. The winner will be announced on the weekend of the 21st-22nd February, at York House's Cock and Bull Beer festival.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Weekend Events near you...

Friday 6th:

Bedford Art Society at Putnoe Heights Church, 7.15pm for 7.30pm start.
Derek Daniells demonstrates painting scenes of buildings and people in oils. Entry is free for members and £5 for visitors visit for more information.

The Bedford Branch of the Royal Anglian Regiment Association, 8pm.
Monthly meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. Bar opens at 7.30pm. If you are an ex-serviceman/woman of any arm please feel free to join.

Saturday 7th:

Fusion Youth choir in concert at St. Owen, Bromham. 3-5pm.
Tickets cost £5 for adults, children under 12 are £1. Refreshments are also available.

Olney Ward Councillor Surgeries
At the Pavillion, Lavendon. 12.30-1.30pm
and at Sherington Village Hall on the 21st February 12.30-1.30pm.

Sunday 8th:

HULA Animal Rescue 'Love is in the Hair' at Glebe farm, Salford Road, Aspley Guise 1-3.30pm.
HULA dog parade at 2.30pm, bazaar and pet shed bargains, Valentine card workshop, fun and games for the children. Only £2 per adult, children go free. All proceeds go to the care and welfare of HULA's animals.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Social Paint in MK

If you're looking for something different to do for an evening out, Social Paint MK could be just your thing. Not just for the artists out there, Social Paint is a great night out for everyone. It offers a relaxed evening of painting for anyone wanting to get involved, and is held in a bar so you can enjoy a glass (or two) as you paint! There's even food involved, and whether you're looking to do some painting by yourself or want to have a fun evening out with friends or a partner, it'll be a great evening of entertainment, and probably different to what you've done before.

Wednesday 11th February at Loch Fyne in the Hub, Milton Keynes 
This is a Banksy Inspired evening, where you can come for a relaxed evening of painting while you enjoy a glass of wine and a light snack. Ticket holders can also enjoy a 30% discount off a meal before the event (reservations required).

Whether you've painted before and loved it, or have never tried it and always wanted to, it's a great evening of fun and creativity, and whether you come with friends or alone, it'll be a great evening. Why not give it a try?! Events will also be held in the following months, 5th March at the Slug and Lettuce again, 8th March at Giraffe Centre MK and 18th March at Loch Fyne in the Hub.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wear it. Beat it. This Friday- Get involved!

This Friday is the 'Wear it. Beat it' day for the British Heart Foundation. You may have come across it a couple of weeks ago here on our blog, where we explained the main idea of the event, which is that as many people as possible get involved and wear red, or do something red themed, in order to help raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

Showing solidarity and commitment to the cause through wearing red is a great way of showing support, but it doesn't need to stop there. The British Heart Foundation are encouraging as many people as possible to get involved in the 'Wear it. Beat it' campaign, by hosting red themed fundraising events and activities.

For more information about fundraising ideas and what the day entails, have a look at our previous blog by clicking here, where you can also visit the official British Heart Foundation page. There are so many ways of getting involved, it would be great if everyone could in some way!

But what does the British Heart Foundation do? The British Heart Foundation is the nation's heart charity and the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research. Their work has been vital over the years in discoveries of treatments which are helping to change the UK's fight against heart disease.

The British Heart Foundation was founded in 1961 by a group of medical professionals who wanted to fund extra research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and circulatory disease. Over the years their research has contributed to helping improve treatments and increase the life expectancy and comfort of those who live with heart diseases, most babies born with heart defects today now survive, which was not the case in previous years.

Get involved with the Wear it. Beat it. day to help contribute to further breakthroughs in research. You could host a red themed coffee morning, at home or at work, or you could encourage all your colleagues to wear red for a donation to the British Heart Foundation. Whatever you do this Friday, it's well worth making the effort and getting involved. Let's Wear it. Beat it.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

February- Some things you may not already know...

  1. Probably the most obvious- Valentines day. The 14th Feb, the day which you either love or hate (a bit like marmite) and has the shops decked out in red and pink for about a month.
  2. Amethyst is the birthstone of February.
  3. The birth flowers for February are primrose and viola.
  4. February sees the national day of the sun celebrated in Argentina.
  5. The Roman month 'Februarius' was named after the Latin term 'februum' which means purification, after the purification ritual February held in the old lunar Roman calendar.
  6. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on the 6th February 1952.
  7. 'Candlemas' is held on the 2nd February and is a day which celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. Today the candles to be used during the year in the church are blessed on this day.
  8. The snowdrop flower is known for traditionally appearing in February, and symbolises hope.
  9. While pancake day varies between February and March depending on Easter, this year it's the 17th February- time to get that batter ready!