Monday, 30 December 2013

The 200 year old Beech Tree in Ladder Lane

Ladder Lane near Wroughton is an ancient cart track used to transport people and materials between Marlborough and North Wiltshire. It seems like the quickest route onto the Ridgeway from Swindon, and a good starting point for a walk  to Avebury. At the top of Ladder Lane, there is an ancient beech tree, thought to be 200 years old, and pictured in the Wroughton Timberland Trail information.
Sadly it became diseased, weakening some of the trunks, and has had to be felled, leaving a still majestic trunk:

It's amazing to look at despite being mostly felled.
Two other old trees on the Lawns have succumbed to the storms and blown over, here's a Holm Oak which is at the entrance to the Lawns from High Street:
 The trunk had been set on fire at some stage and there was very little root left.

 I'm not sure what this one was, it looks as though the trunk split leaving a majestic spire:
 And here it is from the other side, someone had left an empty bottle of water in the hollowed out trunk.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Mince Pies and Trifle

After eating the parsnips and turkey, it's time to move on to pudding:

And of course Christmas pud with rum sauce.

Parsnips from the Allotment are really Worthwhile

Preparing for the Christmas dinner gives the planner a lot to think about, but it's worth it, because afterwards you don't need to think about cooking anything for ages as the leftovers are mopped up.
This year, the succulent turkey came from Wilson's butcher in the High Street, instead of coming from Berry's in Wroughton for many years. I was sad to desert them, but Mr Wilson is so good, and I could walk home with the turkey instead of getting the car out to collect it on Christmas Eve.
I was reminded that I needed parsnips as an accompanyment, and although by some they are considered as potatoes in disguise and not worthy of a place beside the turkey in the roasting dish, others love them. The easy route to roast parsnips would have been to buy pre washed, packaged parsnips, but I have some on the allotment. Initially I was dubious about whether there were any there, and it was too late to go and buy them:
 There are a few leaves, but not much evidence of parsnips, but when I dug them up:
 They were great, a bit mis-shapen, but plenty to eat, including a very long one
And after a bit of soaking and scrubbing, they look great:
And the taste was wonderful, well worth the effort and a reminder of how good home grown, organic veg is to eat.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Making a Wreath for the Front Door

I have never considered having a wreath on the front door, but prompted by my grandson, I collected some evergreen leaves, including some fine Laurel and  heavily berried Cotoneaster, ivy and fir and wove them around a chicken wired frame.
Here is the result, I'm really pleased:

I thought I'd look up their significance, and here's the result from Wikipedia:

A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs or various materials that is constructed to resemble a ring.[1]
In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used typically as household ornaments, mainly as Christmas decorations to celebrate the birth of Christ. They are also used in ceremonial events in many cultures around the globe. Wreaths have much history and symbolism associated with them. They are usually made from evergreens and symbolize strength, as evergreens last even throughout the harshest winters. Bay laurel may also be used, and these wreaths are known as laurel wreath.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tim's Christmas Open Studio with Mince Pies

Last Sunday, Tim Carroll opened his studio to show his latest ceramics, it was a lovely day with lots of friends staying to eat mince pies and chat.
I made 84 mince pies on Saturday and photographed them because I felt to make that many in one go was  an achievement in itself:
Tim's pottery looked like this, masses crammed together:
With a few individual views:
 Angels above and wall hung faces below:

 The gorgeous porcelain pots, above small ones and below a larger one depicting a glorious Greek scene:
 A particular favourite below, 'Blackbird among Horsechestnut leaves'.
 And afterwards, there were a few pieces left, but many had found new homes.

And there were 9 mince pies left, all the wine needless to say had been drunk as well.

Friday 13th - Artsite's Christmas Party in the Number Nine Gallery

We had a great evening last Friday celebrating the season, amid the Handmade Swindon shop in the number Nine Gallery. The shop is open from Wednesday to Saturday 11am until 6pm, there are some lovely items in there for oneself or others. It has been such a success that it is hoped the shop may continue after Christmas.
If you would like to find out more, please contact Artsite
Here are some photos of the event:

 It's so lovely from outside with the carefully thought out planting in front.

Another great evening, thank you to all those who worked so hard to make it happen.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Rabley Drawing Centre is on Our Doorstep

The Rabley Drawing Centre was founded in 2004 by its Director, Meryl Ainslie MA. It is a research and exhibition centre specialising in drawing, print and works on paper, with an established drawing school and print room.
It has an ongoing exhibition programme of international artists, currently there is an exhibition of work by Emma Stibbon RA entitled 'Terra Infirma' - A landscape in flux, drawings of Iceland.
It runs until the 20th of December, and is well worth seeing, do have a look at the website for more information:
I visited last Sunday when there was an Artmas Fair of prints, ceramics and textiles in the Rabley farmhouse. There are 2 more days of Artmas, check the website for details.
Details of the courses appear on the website as well.
If you haven't been, do go and have a look, it's a real treat, set in the most glorious countryside where tracks are more prevalent than roads.
 Above the car park and drawing rooms, below the gallery space in the barn, and to the right, the farmhouse

Above and below an attractive tree stump

And last but not least, there were red kites flying overhead

Arriving on foot would be possible, but it's basically a left turn off the main road into Marlborough from Swindon, and then follow the brown signs.
After Christmas, in January and February, visits to the drawing centre are by appointment only, please have a look at the latest communication from there:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Tim Carroll's Open Studio on Sunday 15th of December from 11am onwards

Latest photos of the pottery items taken this morning, they really will be warm from the kiln:

As you can see, Tim has been making new pottery items along with old favourites for the Open Studio event on Sunday which runs from 11am.
There will be mince pies and refreshments and hopefully a relaxing and festive atmosphere with people sitting around the Christmas tree, still happily planted in the garden as I write this. for a linked website.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Handmade Swindon in the Number Nine Gallery is Hosting a Party on Friday 13th of December

Come along for an Artsite Christmas Party on Friday 13th of December from 7-9pm, there will be refreshments and lots of great gifts in the shop.
Everyone is invited, so come along and make a night of it, and invite your friends to meet up there. It's opposite Artsite in Theatre Square.
The windows have been wonderfully decorated, it looks wonderfully Christmassy:
From a distance, and close ups of the 3 windows:

It was sunny and so there are too many reflections to see the windows properly.
Here's the Window Gallery:
 With a close up of Paula Sullivan's sunflower:
 And one of Sam Silverton's stunning bowls:
On the way home, I noticed the windoes besdie the main road have also been decorated beautifully:

And here's a copy of the poster advertising the event:
Please spread the word about the party, and hope to see you there.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Swindon Viewpoint is 40 years old, and celebrating with a Grand Benefit Concert

Swindon is home to Britain's longest running Community Television service.
Swindon Viewpoint aims to be our focal point for the visual life and times of our area, as recently as last Thursday, Martin and Hannah Parry were filming the SCAN debate in the Pilgrim Centre about creating a green economy in Swindon: moving towards a more sustainable future, and before that I saw them at the core, filming the launch of their art gallery. A visit to their website will reveal all the other events they have attended and documented on film.
To celebrate their 40 years, they are holding a Grand Benefit Concert on 20th December at MECA starting at 7pm, there's a great line up:
 There's also a great display in the Central Library giving more information about Swindon Viewpoint:

And some great photos:

Above the original Viewpoint staff in 1973
And Rupert Kirkham looking like that guy from Tomorrow's World
The Big Arts Day in 2012 with Nudy Bronque playing.
And then a photo of Tim Carroll in the back garden talking to Ana Kelly during Open Studios, with a wasp's nest clearly on show in the right hand corner.