The Emmanual Wind Quintet at a free concert at St Mary-at-Finchley last Saturday

Chamber Music Concert at St Mary-at-Finchley Parish Church by Pam Taylor

We spent an enjoyable early Saturday evening at a concert given by the very talented Emmanuel Wind Quintet. This was in aid of the church organ restoration fund which has now reached £123,500, but more needs to be raised to cover the VAT. Reliance was put on the honesty of the audience as there wasn’t an admission charge for the concert or the wine and other refreshments afterwards.

Photo of the audience

There were about 80 people in the audience and we enjoyed a very varied programme which started with five Jeux d’Enfants (Children’s Games) by Bizet. These were followed by Mozart’s Serenade No. 11 in Eb Major, three songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Mahler followed by the Quintent’s favourite : Kleine Kammermusic (Little Chamber Music) by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) which consisted of 5 compositions.

At the end, after much enthusiastic applause, the Quintet surprised us by returning to play some good jazz entitled “The Roaring 20s” arranged by Paul Nagle which included Tootsie Tootsie Goodbye and Making Whoopee to name but two.

The evening closed with some drinks and nibbles which gave us a chance to socialise, meet people to talk about the wonderful concert and to network..

Photo of Alex Edmundson

Alex Edmundsun, the horn player announced each set of pieces and there was a detailed programme supplied by Alison Smart, St Mary’s Director of Music who also introduced the quintet.

Photo of the quintet In the order of the above photograph were

David Ruff is from Bournemouth and started playing the flute at the age of eight. He studied with a full scholarship at the Junior Royal Academy of Music and is now studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Ian Clark, as well as jazz flute and saxophone with Martin Hathaway. David is currently principal flautist in the National Jazz Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Aisling Maguire studied oboe from the age of 12 at the Junior Guildhall School and currently studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Gordon Hunt and Alison Teale. She has won various competitions as a soloist, including BBC Radio London’s Young Musician Competition, the North London Music Festival Recital Prize and Premier Challenge Cup

Alex Edmundson comes from a musical family in Lythan St Anns, Lancs. Having previously studied at Chethams School of Music with Richard Watkins, he is now continuing his studies at the Guildhall with Jeffrey Bryant. He is an experienced orchestral musician; engagements have included frequent work with the European Union Youth Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru and a recent appointment as Principal Horn of the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra. He was twice a Brass Section Finalist in the BBC Young Musician Competition.

Tom Corin is from St Ives in Cornwall and is studying bassoon at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His interest in orchestral playing has led to work within the Guildhall School’s many ensembles and also outside with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, European Union Youth Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru and the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra.

Max Mausen was born in Luxembourg and took up the clarinet at the age of seven. He studied with Marcel Lallemang at the Conservatoire de Musique de Luxembourg and became a member of the Luxembourg Clarinet Choir, with whom he regularly performs as a soloist. He is currently studying with Julian Farrell at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

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An exciting new website called Streetbank

Photo of Sam Stephens

Streetbank’s Sam Stephens

I have recently come across a new community website called Streetbank run by four young people who have come up with an interesting concept.

This is a community website where people can offer to lend neighbours mundane items of equipment, such as a ladder, a lawn-mower and other garden tools, or even a fish kettle for those who want to cook a whole salmon for a garden party once or twice a year.

In addition, most of us have various objects around the home that we should throw out but feel they might be worth something to somebody – here’s a chance to offer them here.

The third, and up to now, the final idea is if you have a knowledge of something, an opportunity to share it with your neighbour, such as maths or science skills, repairing lawnmowers, or writing a complaint letter for someone.

Streetbank Logo

You also have to select an area distance around your house, and that area is all you will ever see on the website. If you live in a city area or town centre, you may choose the 1 mile radius as I have done in Finchley, my local area. If you live in the country, you might choose the largest 10 mile radius and if you live in an urban sprawl, the middle choice of 5 mile radius might be your best bet.

This is an ingenious method as you don’t get inundated with “noise” or offers way too far for you to go and borrow, or too far for anyone to trust lending to you.

You can also send and receive messages without the other person knowing your email address to ensure privacy, although once you set up to deal with someone you can exchange phone numbers, addresses etc. For example, if someone wants to borrow one of my items, I will only deliver but never let them collect – so I know where they live.

If you run a club, society or just want to broadcast something there is a page you can go to just for that purpose.

The final good idea is, you can’t join until you offer someone something. So forget it if you don’t want to give, and only want to take. This is not for those people.

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Finchley Central Café takes over Avenue House Kiosk and will reopen during the next week

With all the weather forecasts indicating we are going to have a very warm June and July, this will be a blessing for most of us who like to visit the grounds.

Cafe shop front

  Jo & Al’s Café
65 Ballards Lane
London N3 1XP

Popular Café Jo & Al’s, is to take over the running of the Kiosk in the Grounds of Avenue House. The Kiosk, which has been shut since last Autumn, will reopen in the next week.

Until the end of last year the Avenue House Estate Trust operated the Kiosk itself. Trust Chairman Andy Savage explained that the Trust then decided to franchise out the operation of the café in order to keep its own resources focused on the running the House and the Estate. He said: ‘The Trust sought bids from several possible franchisees. The combination of the Trust’s well-publicised problems in the early spring, and the consequent loss of the first possible proprietor, meant that, regrettably, we were unable to see the Kiosk open for Easter. However, I think that we have been most fortunate to get Jo & Al’s as our new franchisee. Albert Bejerano has built a very popular business at Ballards Lane, with his excellent coffee and cakes, and we look forward to seeing him repeat this success at Avenue House.’

Albert Bejerano

Albert Bejerano

Jo & Al’s proprietor Albert Bejerano said: ‘I had hoped to get to operate this Kiosk for some time. All the most successful parks have their own café, and I am sure that we will be able to repeat this success at Avenue House Estate. As well as the Kiosk itself, I will be opening the refurbished tea room in about a month’s time, and I will be offering an increasing range of products through the summer. I look forward to operating the Kiosk for a long period of time.’

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Successful sales at Gordon Road allotments – huge turnout proves its popularity.

Photo of journalist, Pam Taylor.By Pam Taylor (photos by Andrew Taylor)

Gordon Road allotment sale

Gordon Road allotment sale

Gordon Road Allotment plant sale took place this morning. The place was heaving with visitors when we arrived at half past ten.

Laden down with produce purchases
All the people walking out past us were laden down with trays filled with plants. We have friends coming to stay next weekend and they particularly asked me to get some runner bean plants, but unfortunately I was out of luck – the hot, dry weather had killed most of their seedlings, although they were hoping there would be some available next weekend. If they do not sell everything today, then they said they will probably be open next Sunday, so why don’t you pop in.

I managed to find a plant which I’d never heard of (Stachys macrantha ) and the lady selling it very kindly showed me a photo of it in flower – I call that service! It only cost £2 and when I looked it up on the Internet I discovered that it’s an Asian wild flower. The sale was a gardener’s heaven with so many flowering plants, vegetables and herbs for sale at very reasonable prices.

It’s such a shame that they forgot to put their sale into our events page, but I hope that this serves as a reminder for you to call in next Sunday just in case and also to look out for their sale next Spring.

Allotment cafeThey even have their own café on the allotment…

And their own loo, this is a new French invention that doesn’t need water or plumbing but is scientifically healthy and clean…

French toilet - outsideFrench toilet - inside

And a happy punter winds her weary way home…

Happy punter on the way home

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The Finchley Art Society’s Spring Exhibition – a resounding success!

Photo of Henry McMillan and Mike Freer

Hon President Henry McMillan introducing Mike Freer MP

On Saturday Mike Freer, MP (Finchley & Golders Green), opened the Finchley Art Society’s (FAS) Spring Exhibition at Trinity Church in Nether Street. As you can see from the photographs below, there was a huge turnout for this first day event. Mike Freer commented on the high standard of art at the exhibition and, whilst the potential buyers milled around enjoying the paintings, partaking of nibbles and drinks, against the very pleasant tinkling of ivories in the background, the team were constantly complimented at the large turnout and excellent paintings.

FAS Opening day of exhibition

Viewers at the opening day of the Spring Exhibition

If you missed the opening day, which was announced in our events page, all is not lost – opening times are Monday to Thursday and Saturday 9am-10pm, Friday 9am-6pm and Sunday 2-6pm. The last viewing day of the exhibition is Sunday 29th May so there is plenty of time.

Please look in our Events page as there are lots of other events going on at Trinity Church during the two weeks of the exhibition, including painting demonstrations on 14th and 21st May.

The FAS team

The FAS team, left to right: Danuta das Gupta, Loretta De Lange (Chairman), Mary Harper, Henry McMillan (Hon President), Pam Taylor, John Dornin, Colin Clark

Like most successful occasions, events only run as smoothly as clockwork when a lot of hard work has been put in behind the scenes, and the Society is no exception, so our team certainly deserve their photograph here.

Further photographs:

Some of the paintings

A small corner of the exhibition

Some of the pottery

Pianist and Flutist

Young Violinist

The incredibly young violinist

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The disappointing case of Barnet Council, HADAS and the Church Farmhouse Museum.

The following letter has come to our attention and as we believe that the recipient would like to remain anonymous, We have omitted his name, otherwise the letter is exactly as it it, other than we have emboldened certain parts for your attention.

Dear xxxxxx

Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) has since its foundation in 1961 had close association with the Museum in Greyhound Hill. We have had displays at the museum and have donated a display case. One of our collections was lodged at the museum. In addition, we have on a number of occasions had excavations in the museum grounds and have involved local schools in some of these. In 2010, we dug in the grounds and also, with council permission, opened up two second world war air raid shelters in Sunnyhill Park at the back of the museum. The Hendon Times published information on this and included encouraging and complimentary comments from Councillor Rams.

On 3rd December 2010, the council started a consultation period of 6 weeks on a proposal to close the museum, a period covering Christmas and the New Year, and the school holidays. The documents for this were not published until 17th December. It was stated that local organisations connected to the museum were notified. Somewhat surprisingly this did not include HADAS. Once we discovered the situation, we consulted a number of other groups and contacted the council to declare an interest in taking over the running of the museum.

However, in order to do this we needed information on what we were taking over. Details of the rent that would be charged (a piece of vital information) was not forthcoming, there was no inventory of fixtures and fittings, no inventory of the collection either in the form of up-to-date accession lists or identification marks on the objects. The use of the building for other purposes as well as a museum proved problematical with issues around disability access and toilet facilities. Solving these issues needed a lot more time.

We sought meetings with the council staff to discuss these points, and this meeting took place on  3rd March. Details of recent museum operating costs were sent to us on 14th March, but no information regarding the possible rental arrangements. On 14th April, we were advised that the council would give us three months starting from 1st April to develop a business case, but that we should submit our proposals by 31st May. This period included 5 bank holidays. No information regarding rents was provided. We again requested that information but as at 27th April, it was still not available.

Meanwhile, the museum had closed on 31st March, and the Curator made redundant. Visiting the site, we found that a number of items had been consigned to a skip, and we then discovered that items were being offered to another museum without our knowledge.

In order to get the necessary volunteer and financial support we needed to be able to tell residents and potential supporters, at a minimum, how much it was going to cost per annum and then we needed an adequate timeframe to prepare an acceptable proposal. The lack of relevant information made this an impossible task. As a result we have reluctantly and sadly come to the view that we were unable to proceed with preparing a proposal to run the museum.

We have been extremely disappointed by the apparent lack of interest, co-operation and urgency displayed by the Council and its staff. HADAS hope that that despite our withdrawal the museum and, more particularly, the Grade II* listed building will be maintained and kept safe in the care of the London Borough of Barnet as it has for over 60 years.

Don Cooper
HADAS – Chairman

We are trying hard to be non-political but in the case of the Church Farmhouse Museum, of which one of our volunteers is/was honorary secretary of the Friends of the Church Farmhouse Museum, and is very unhappy at the way the museum has been forced to close, even though a voluntary body was willing to take it over.

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Council cuts red tape to help residents join in the Big Lunch on the 5th June

Tim Smit has style and is a very able man. He, single handedly, took from concept to reality, the famous Eden Project in the West Country where my wife and  I spent a full and enjoyable day a few years ago. I say style as everything was to the fullest specification and it all looked stylishm which in turn made it a joy to be there. Even in the cafeteria the tables and chairs had style and were well made.

Tim has now started on a new project which is expanding each year. This is to hold a street party all over the United Kingdom once a year. The following has been taken directly from their website:

The Big Lunch is a very simple idea from the Eden Project. The aim is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun. This year it’s happening on Sunday 5th June and a record number of people are expected to take part – why not be one of them?

A Big Lunch can be anything from a few neighbours getting together in the garden or on the street, to a full blown party with food, music and decoration that quite literally stops the traffic.

Since starting in 2009, thousands of Big Lunches have taken place in all kinds of communities across the UK and the best part of a million people get involved each year.

The West Finchley Residents Association held one last year but there was so much red tape from the Council that we decided to hold it in the park by Dollis Brook (the right hand side in Fursby Avenue) and about eighty people turned up for a most enjoyable picnic. It seems, for this year, the Council may be having a change of heart with red tape as the following press release arrived in my email box:

Hot on the heels of the success of the Royal Wedding celebrations, Barnet Council is inviting its residents to get together again – this time courtesy of the Big Lunch.

The Big Lunch is a one day get-together for neighbours and communities across the UK. The idea is to encourage as many of the 61 million people in the UK as possible to join their neighbours for a few hours of friendship and fun on 5 June.

The Big Lunch has been running for two years, with at least one million people taking part last year. The event can be as big or as small as you want it to be – from inviting a few friends over, to throwing a street party or large picnic.

Barnet Council used its new community initiative PledgeBank to successfully arrange 54 Royal Wedding street parties in the borough on 29 April. In return for three or more households signing up to its PledgeBank site, the council arranged public liability insurance and street closure notices free of charge.

The council will once again be using the PledgeBank site to play its part in supporting residents wishing to host another bash by cutting through the red tape involved. Anyone wishing to host a small-scale event can contact the council for an information pack via or call 020 8359 7293. Those wanting to put together a bigger bash are invited to visit the PledgeBank pages of the council’s website

Residents wanting to close their road for an event will then need to complete a straightforward application form letting the council know what they are planning.

Councillor Kate Salinger, Barnet Council’s Big Lunch champion, said: “I am hoping that the wonderful community spirit we saw on the day of the Royal Wedding can be matched in Barnet by the Big Lunch.

“This event is another perfect excuse for friends and neighbours to enjoy spending an afternoon together and provides a wonderful opportunity for those who missed out on the fun the first time round to join in.”

Those wanting to know more about The Big Lunch should visit: where they will learn that a million people have already attended a “big lunch” in 2009 and 2010.

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