Sunday, 19 February 2017

Second Snowdrop Day at TWIGS

TWIGS planted 10000 snowdrops last year, intending to have wonderful displays of them this year, their major event was last Sunday, 12 February. I didn't visit then, but was keen to go today when I discovered they were opening again.
The snowdrop theatre by the gate was lovely, displaying several different varieties of snowdrops looking very healthy:
 I particularly liked This one which is G. S Arnott
 and this one which is G. Comet
 There were snowdrops all around the round house
 in hanging baskets
 around a mound
 And here's the other side of the mound with a giant metal snowdrop on top
 and here's another amazing snowdrop sculpture rather in shadow
 They are also open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10.30am-3.30pm, well worth a visit at any time of year.
We are donating the proceeds from our Original Artwork Lottery held during the Swindon  Festival of Literature  to TWIGS this year.

Cotswold Farm Snowdrops

Cotswold Farm at Duntisbourne Abbots near Cirencester is arguably one of the finest places to see snowdrops in the area. The garden is beautifully designed and last Monday the sun shone brightly on the south facing garden. This is what the website says:
'Cotswold Farm has a fascinating, family friendly Cotswold garden, overlooking a quiet valley on descending levels with the Terrace designed by Norman Jewson. The Snowdrop Collection was begun in the 1930’s and further developed by Ruth Birchall in the 1980’s and 90’s, now boasting 62 varieties. There are many named snowdrops in the borders and swathes of naturalised snowdrops in the woods and along the woodland paths. A Winter Step Garden with scents and textures leads down to the Bog Garden. Hellebores, cornus, aconites, cyclamen, crocus and sarcococca abound'
I took plenty of photos and would encourage you to visit, it's open on Monday 20 and 27 February 11am-3pm, entrance fee £5 and there are some named snowdrops for sale and aconites.
 I love the differences between varieties of snowdrops, I think this one below is Galanthus Daglingworth
 and this one is G. Mary Biddulph, Mary gardened at Rodmarton Manor, and encouraged her cousin Lady Elwes at Colesbourne Park to take an interest in snowdrops.
 Below this is G.Greatorex
 Below a clump of G.Colossus, lovely large snowdrops as the name suggests. I bought one of these.
 On the way down to the bog garden, there's a series of very impressive,clipped box hedges
 Below a view of the field beside the bog garden
 and the bog garden looking a bit shaded and so hard to appreciate:
 More clumps of snowdrops:
 The glorious Leucojum Vernum which look like special snowdrops
Walking up from the bog garden, past the waterfall and lovely stone building, there are masses of snowdrops on the bank

 And under a tree very near the house, there was a carpet of aconites
 and a lovely clump of G. Backhouse nearby
 I didn't take any photos of the woodland walk with carpets of different varieties of snowdrops.
There are 2 days left to see this lovely collection of snowdrops in a beautiful setting.

Freezing Mist on the Way to Avebury

Amazingly enough, it's only just over a week ago when there was freezing mist on the Ridgeway on the walk from Swindon to Avebury. With temperatures in double figures this weekend, it's hard to imagine cow parsley and trees with masses of ice frozen onto them from the mist.
I managed to take a few photos before my phone stopped working because of lack of reception, next time I'll take my camera.
 I like these 2 photos of Cow Parsley heads
 and this below looks a bit like a dock seed head
 More Cow Parsley:
 A tree had amazing effects on the branches
 As we neared Avebury, the temperature increased and the winter wonderland effect disappeared.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Christopher Le Brun Coming to Swindon this Wed 15.2.17

When you stand in front of a monumental painting, whether in size, or because of the effect it generates within, or both, it's fascinating to wonder how it came about, what the artist did subsequently, what motivated them at the time, and many other questions.
The Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery like to ponder these sort of questions as well, and if it's possible, they ask the artist to come and talk to them.
This is how Christopher Le Brun who painted 'Hyperion' which has been in the Swindon Collection of Twentieth Century British Art for the last 35 years was invited to come and do an 'in conversation' with Curator at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Firstly here's the painting which measures over 2 metres square:
Since then Le Brun has been prolific on canvas, in bronze and print making. He has been President of the Royal Academy since 2011.
If you click on the Royal Academy link, you can find out lots more about him.
I think it will be a great event, so here are the particulars:

It's at Swindon Dance, Town Hall, Regent Circus, SN1 1QF parking at Morrisons car park across the way from the Town Hall, or it's 10 minutes walk from Swindon train station.

It starts at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 February.
Tickets cost £6 for members of the Friends, and £8 if you haven't yet joined.

You can buy tickets at the museum until 3pm today, Sat 11.2.17, or online at
or on the door on the night.
The dance studio seats 98, so there should be room for everyone.

On a visit to Roche Court last year, I particularly loved these Le Brun sculptures:
'Union - Horse with 2 Discs', seen below, appears in a slightly different form outside the British Museum, it was on their website, but they have changed the front page now.

While looking for the British Museum page, I discovered Le Brun had also designed a 50p piece in 2009, celebrating Kew Gardens, it's a view of the Pagoda. He says:
"Like the London Red Bus, the Kew Gardens pagoda is an instantly recognisable symbol and rather to be cherished for that reason. So I decided not to resist such a strong image but rather to enjoy drawing it. The tower's identity and perpendicular clarity is very useful in a design. I had the idea early on that plants should twine around and grow up through the tower."
Come and hear him talk on Wednesday.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Wassailing at the Secret Garden

Wassailing in the Secret Garden in Queens Park wasn't blessed with such wonderful weather as the previous week's event at Twigs, however there was the same sort of jubilant feeling in the air because the days are getting longer and we were seeing people we hadn't seen since last summer.
I took some photos of the event, and then discovered as ever, much better ones online.
 It was good to have Farmhouse Kitchen on hand, their motto is lovely: 'Free range food for free range people'
 The event started with a wander around the garden behind the wonderful Bang to Rites drummers. Below here's Paul encouraging people to begin the ceremony

 The tour round the garden above, and then below drumming beside the chosen apple tree
 Below Chantelle Smith, Mistress of Ceremonies leading us through the driving out of evil spirits and then the waking up of Old Man Apple by shouting loudly three times. The Wassail King Reuben and Queen Nicole were very sweet children seen here with hats covered in twigs and ivy making crowns.
There were the usual songs to sing, led by Chantelle singing a verse unaccompanied to give us the tune which was very impressive.
 And then these are photos from the Secret Garden Facebook page which are far superior to mine:
Above Bill Cox looking very professional banging a drum, below Chantelle with some toast about to be hung on the tree
Action shot

Above a lovely group photo.There was also cider available from Circle Cider there, they are apparently Swindon's only craft cider makers. It was also possible to have mulled cider. I haven't mentioned that yarn bombing was also going on, this involves making pom poms and tieing them on to trees.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Switch On To Swindon Event at Audi

On Tuesday evening, an event to celebrate Swindon, and spread the word about the advantages of living, working and visiting here.
More than 300 people from businesses, and those interested in promoting Swindon, came along to find out more about the initiative, Switch on to Swindon, promoted by Influence, Chair of Influence, Nicky Alberry said:
“We looked at what cities like Coventry, Hull and Doncaster have done in terms of galvanising everybody’s energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the town to produce what we’re now calling a place marketing campaign,”
 I was again at the back of the crowds, peeping through them you can see the logo above, and below masses of people looking at the screen.
 More backs!
 Below Nicky Alberry introducing the evening
 and Jo Miller, Chief Executive of  Doncaster Council talked about their scheme entitled We Are Doncaster, it encourages people to have a positive image of Doncaster and appreciate what's good about it, also to create jobs and turn the place around so everyone thrives there.
I thought I'd taken a photo of Jo Miller but I hadn't and then found a great Guardian article on Jo, and Doncaster which certainly sounds as though it's had its challenges
. There are some lovely photos of the evening here:
Above the hosts Audi, put one of their bosses on the stage to talk, and below, Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Council talked about the scheme as well
This was followed by a moving video from Create Studios :

Beautiful Sunshine for Wassailing at Twigs

The first event of the year at Twigs Community Garden was their wassailing last Saturday on a brilliantly sunny day. People flocked to the garden for the wassail, when I arrived there were lots of people enjoying being outside in the sun, and waiting for proceedings to begin.
  We were encouraged to follow the Butler and the Lady of the Manor, and the Icknield Morris Men around the garden banging pans and making lots of noise, as is the custom to scare away evil spirits, until they reached an apple tree where the ceremony of blessing the tree began.
 Above the Morris Men around the chosen tree, and below the Morris Men doing a bit of dancing watched by people, sadly I was at the back!!
 Here I have a glimpse of proceedings!
 and below I managed to catch handkerchiefs mid air
 I tried holding the camera higher
 and a close up at last of an accordion
 Here are the pieces of toast soaked in apple juice hanging on the tree
 I didn't manage to get a photo of The Butler with the Lady of the Manor, but here he is with someone else
I was also impressed with the amount of mistletoe on the apple tree
 here's a close up of the mistletoe with lovely white berries
 having danced around the apple tree, the Morris Men continued dancing by the office in a surprisingly small area.
Having just looked at the Icknield Morris Men's Facebook page, I have copied their photo of The Butler and Lady of the Manor:
Next event at Twigs is a Snowdrop and Soup Day on Sunday 12 February from 11am-3pm.