Wednesday, 27 May 2015

REVIEW: The Sound of Music at MK Theatre

Fast-paced production shines just like the original favourite

Danielle Hope stars in The Sound of Music at MK Theatre until Saturday, June 6th. 
Creating a fast-paced adaptation of the 1965 classic, The Sound of Music was absolutely excellent at MK Theatre this week.

Set in 1930s Austria, it tells the story of Maria (played by the excellent Danielle Hope). It starts with her being selected to leave her nunnery and home to work for the Von Trapp family. She immediately bonds with the children through song, singing classics such as Do-Re-Mi, and makes it her mission to help their father remarry so that they get the mother they deserve.

Danielle may be the shining star, but the entire cast excels, bringing the magical film to life on stage. We were enthralled by the music too, and a special mention should go to Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess. Her voice alone stole the show.

The story had been simplifed, but this is clearly done for practical and romantic reasons. It brings the production up-to-date, for new and old audiences alike. There was a buzz around the theatre all night, creating an electric atmosphere. I would get tickets now if you haven’t already.

Until Saturday, June 6th.


Monday, 25 May 2015


Unique performance inspired by Milton Keynes war stories

Writers and performers involved with the project commemorating the First World War. 

The diaries, letters and images of Milton Keynes residents during the First World War have been transformed into an evening of performance at MK Gallery, taking place on May 29th.
Living Archive has been working with Steven McDaniel and Michèle Welborn of Planet Zyz, as well as other young talented songwriters, musicians and film makers, to commission new works inspired by the war stories. 
This six month project builds on the previous work of the Living Archive Band, and new music, songs and films will be screened and performed live on Friday May 29th, at 7pm in the gallery's event space.
The one-off performance, The Great War Remembered, will provide a space for people to celebrate and reflect on the people, the lives and the poignant and powerful stories that are still relevant today. 
Steven McDaniel says: "It is wonderful to work with such a passionate group of young people and great that Living Archive has given them this opportunity to work together and perform live." 
This project is just one of a series funded through Great War MK by the Heritage Lottery Fund
Go to or for more information. 

Friday, 8 May 2015

Celebrating victory in Europe: 70 years on

Reader remembers historic day with a personal poem

Celebrations are taking place across the country to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day. 

It was a day that saw millions of people erupt into celebrations in the streets, as the end of the Second World War was formally announced. VE Day, on May 8th 1945, was a day where more than one million people celebrated in the UK, with more across the planet from America to Russia.
In London, people took to Trafalgar Square and The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, where King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony to cheering crowds.
On April 30th, Adolf Hitler had committed suicide and his successor, Karl Donitz, authorised the unconditional surrender.
This year marks 70 years since the ending of the war in Europe, and a three-day weekend of events will mark it, with more than 100 beacons being lit on Friday, May 8th, to mark the occasion. 
For more information, go to
The public are being encouraged to celebrate with members of their communities who contributed to the war effort. Are you doing anything special today? Or maybe you even remember VE Day? If so, get in touch on (01234) 713298 and let us know.
Below one of our readers Ron Groom wrote a poem about his experience on the day...

323 wing, RAF Foggia, Italy - May 1945

VE Day was voiced, we cheered and rejoiced (we'd just had our ration of beer), 

But in Sergeant’s Mess, I have to confess, I sampled the wine there I fear. 

When men asked for a glass to them I would pass a bottle, no less “oh no fee”,

 The word spread around, faster than sound, “go there as quick as can be”,

 The chaps crowded in for wine from the ‘bin’, and space was just getting too short,

 So we had an idea, the tables to clear, and “out through the window? Good thought!” 

We were two storeys high so that's of course why the courtyard next day was a dump,  

And I'd drunk quite a lot, and felt sort of hot. My head, well it started to thump! 

I crawled to my bed, but let it be said, that day I remember so well. 

I was posted next day, though still feeling grey, but I had a great story to tell!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

This Weekend's events...

Saturday 9th May:

Castle Ashby Colour Run @ Castle Ashby Gardens, 10am
In aid of the Cynthia Spencer Hospice. Castle Ashby is hosting a 5k colour run. Participants can walk, run or even dance their way around the course through the beautiful Castle Ashby gardens, with four colour stations where participants will be showered in vibrant colours. Entry costs £15 for adults, £7.50 for children or £40 for a family of four.

'May There Be Music' @ Christ the Cornerstone Church, CMK, 7.30pm
Piano and soprano charity concert to include Chopin Waltzes, Mozart Aria, Chopin Sonata No. 2 in B flat and more. Tickets cost £10. Proceeds to go to the funds of Cosgrove Parish Church.

Charity Race Night @ Carlton House Club, 7pm
Ticketed event, £10 per person which includes a basket meal, or for an upgrade ticket at £15, horse ownership will be included, giving you the chance to win £20 on the night. First race is at 7.30pm. Held by the Ride for Willen team.

'Songs for a Summer Evening' with Andate Choir @ United Reformed Church, Newport Pagnell, 7.30pm
Concert hosts, the Inner Wheel club of Newport Pagnell, are delighted that Andante have agreed to sing as a fundraiser for CAFFE (Computers are free for everyone). Tickets cost £10 and includes drinks and nibbles.

Nursery Plant Sale @ Village Hall, Pavenham, MK43 7PH, 10.30am-2pm
10 nurseries from six countries: Alpines, Clematis, Exotic plants, Herbs, Perennials and Shrubs, Roses, Shade-lovers, Sundries and vegetables. Come and buy high quality and unusual plants from the growers. Keen prices and good advice available. Entry costs £1.20. Free parking, tombola, refreshments and children's playground. In aid of the friends of St. Peter's- keeping our church building in good repair.

Barn Dance and Mini-Concert Choir @ Lavendon Village Hall, 7pm
With 'Cut a Caper Band' and 'Olney Singing For All Choir'. Choice of chicken curry or cottage pie meal. Tickets cost £12.

Woburn Sands Ceilidhs @ The Summerlin Centre, Woburn Sands, MK17 8SG, 7.30-11pm
With The Barn Rat Band, and caller Alison Heywood. Tickets cost £7 for adults, accompanied under 16's go free.

Sunday 10th May:

Annual Open Day @ Olney Bowling Club, 10am-4pm
Why not come along and see if the bowling club is for you? All equipment is provided, just wear a flat pair of shoes or trainers without ridges. Receive expert tuition from qualified coaches and experienced bowlers.

Militaria Fair @ Stantonbury Leisure Centre, 9.30am-3pm
There will be numerous top dealers with wonderful items present, including items such as helmets, uniforms, medals, coins, badges, books, armour, US WW2 items and much much more. Entry costs £4.

Saturday and Sunday:

Time Travelling History Festival @ MK Museum, 11am-4.30pm
There'll be a variety of activities available to join in with, including lessons in everything from making medieval coins to firing guns like those used during the English Civil war. See how people worked, lived, ate and occupied themselves during the early years of Henry VIII's reign, and in Saxon, Viking, Civil War and Medieval times. All this and more is available at the usual ticket price of £22 per family, for two adults and up to four children. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The general election is just days away

Are you ready to vote this Thursday? 

The General Election takes place on Thursday, May 7th.  

Many of our readers may have already made up their minds, but for those of you who don’t know who to vote for we contacted the candidates for the Milton Keynes North constituency. All seven of them got back to us, and we asked them to say what they would do for the area if they were voted in. We have their answers here (alphabetical by surname). For more information about the elections, contact Milton Keynes Council on (01908) 254706 or email 

Emily Darlington, Labour
My number one priority is the NHS. I have been campaigning for more GPs, integration of social, health and mental health services and an expanded hospital. I love Milton Keynes and North Bucks with its traditional villages and modern estates, but it has become a ‘tale of two cities’. On the one hand, we are growing faster than London, with more homes, jobs and businesses every year. On the other, more and more people are being forced to work as self-employed or on exploitative zero-hour contracts. I want to be a local champion. I will listen to local people and get things done. I am Labour because I won’t walk by on the other side.

Paul Graham, Liberal Democrat
Official figures show that Milton Keynes has been top in the UK for job growth over the past decade, is second for business start-ups and in the top 10 for the number of patents. The challenge is to build on and manage that success, but with increased economic growth comes pressure on transport and public services. If elected, my priority will be to ensure Milton Keynes gets the best deal possible in terms of infrastructural investment. I am also strongly committed to keeping the UK in the European Union. Britain has gained greatly from membership through the EU’s power as a trading bloc. We need to stay in.

Mark Lancaster, Conservative
It has been an honour and a privilege to have been your MP for the past 10 years and living in Olney I understand our community’s concerns. Having met many of you during my regular mobile surgeries in the villages, I have listened and ensured that I have been a strong voice in Westminster for my constituents and delivered for our community. Looking forward, I want to build on our recent major investment in our hospital and GP services to ensure we have a local health service future-proofed for our growing population, continue the roll out of rural broadband and ensure that North Bucks continues to flourish.

Jennifer Marklew, Green Party
I love Milton Keynes, but I’ve also seen it change from a vibrant, progressive place to one that is focused on corporate interests and big housing developments. By contrast, I’ve also seen the gap in inequality increase; 1 in 4 children in our city live in poverty, a third of jobs are classed as low wage and we’re cutting funding to services for those that need it most. I want to deliver change by being bold; increasing funding to local government, encourage social enterprises and community energy projects and nurture local businesses. I have been told the Green Party is living in a fantasy land. I have high expectations, but I am not a fantasist.

David Mortimer, Independent
I believe poverty is going to become the biggest issue in the UK this year. So far, only 30 per cent of cuts, which are apparently required to balance the budget deficit, have been introduced. The rest will be after the election. These cuts will have a catastrophic effect on the living standards of 60% of UK residents who work and claim benefits. I believe the UK should allow the public to sack MPs, protect and promote marriage and families through the tax and benefit system, stop foreign aid until UK national debt is clear and secure its borders, as well as remove those who are legally not supposed to be here.

David Reilly, UK Independence Party
Being a member of a non-whipping party, I am at liberty to represent the interests of Milton Keynes without fear of reprisal, even if it was to contradict the parties’ conventional wisdom; however UKIP’s platform gives the public awareness of my core beliefs. Having lived, worked and played in Milton Keynes my entire life parallel to engaging in politics, I have swiftly learnt that we have two ears and one mouth, so to listen twice and speak once whilst never compromising reason, fact and logic for ideology or populism. Fundamentally, I would like to see a ‘quality rather than quantity’ approach to the development of Milton Keynes.

Katie Simpson, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
The main reason I’m standing is to get the name Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition out there, to say there is an alternative to the mainstream parties and austerity. If I were elected my main goal would be to give my constituents genuine representation in politics. I would actively campaign against cuts, closures, privatization and job losses across Milton Keynes and put pressure on central government to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour before the next general election. Admittedly, I will continue to campaign on these issues regardless. The big businesses and bankers, the 1 per cent, caused this crisis, but TUSC represents the 99 per cent.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Hollington Wood Bluebell Day- This Monday

Hollington Wood will be open to the public from 10am-6pm this Bank holiday Monday, 4th May. The annual Bluebell Day includes a number of attractions, as well as giving you the opportunity to simply enjoy the ancient woodland and see the carpet of bluebells in bloom. There will be guided walks through the woods, an observation beehive, kids play and woodland piglets. Take the opportunity to wander where you like and explore the woods. The newly-agreed Woodland management plan will also be available to be read and discussed.

Admission is free, but donations towards the upkeep of the wood would be appreciated, and are suggested at £5 per adult and £10 for families. Car parking is limited and must be booked in advance at £10 per vehicle, no parking is allowed along the grass verge on the farm road. Hollington Wood can be found halfway along the private road to Wood Farm/Ekeney House, off the A509 between Emberton and Sherington. Nearest public parking is Prospect Place, Emberton.

For more information, visit the Hollington Wood website. See you there!

Friday, 1 May 2015

REVIEW: Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights at MK Theatre

Consuming love story recreated for ballet novices and lovers 

Wuthering Heights is at MK Theatre until Saturday. 

For most of the audience at MK Theatre on Tuesday evening, Wuthering Heights is a well-known tale. Telling the consuming love story of Cathy and Heathcliff’s passionate relationship, Emily Bronte’s classic novel is always a tricky one to recreate.

The two childhood sweethearts are separated after Cathy accidentally hurts herself at a neighbour’s house, soon being drawn into their society. But it ends in tragedy when they can't let their past go.

Northern Ballet’s dance adaptation showed this tragic tale in a completely new way. The early stages of the two lovers playing on the moor as children are lovely to watch, as they play and tumble across the stage. And the sequence when Isabella arrives to see Heathcliff makes for uncomfortable viewing – exactly as it should be.

David Nixon’s choreography focuses on the main parts of the novel, and it comes across brilliantly. Each step linked to the story, and the professional dancers made it look effortless. The simple set even captures the wild and untameable moors, as well as the elegance of the Linton mansion. The brilliant orchestra should be mentioned too.

For any ballet novice, this adaptation of Wuthering Heights is a brilliant choice. It’s not one of the best-known classics (i.e Swan Lake), but it doesn’t need to be. It brings ballet to a whole new audience.

Until Saturday.