Sunday, 30 November 2014

Old Town Lights Switch On and Allotment Meeting

The Old Town Lights were switched on last Thursday, 27th November at 7pm, the poster showed the new Old Town logo designed by Mark Pepperall
  I cropped the poster to get the logo, so don't have the whole poster, and then  Mark kindly emailed me the logo for use with Pipers Area residents Association things.
Thursday seemed to be the night chosen for lots of other things, the SBC allotment meeting was something I really wanted to attend, there is availability on some allotments around the town. If you would like to apply for one, please click on the link and fill in the form.
 I took photos of Old Town on the way there:
 Above The Core was looking great, and below, the newly relocated Los Gatos also looking very festive:
 The roundabout at the end of Wood Street was nicely lit up, and the street was packed with people:
  Incredible Edible also had their AGM that night in the beehive so I caught the end of that, and on the way home noticed that the beech tree outside the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

 The lights had been switched on in Wood Street but are not very clearly seen here.
 Why not go and have a look at them after dark?

A Day at a Craft Stall in the Pilgrim Centre

On Saturday 22nd November, we had two Swindon Open Studios tables at the Pilgrim Centre's Christmas Craft Fair.
It was suitable Christmassy with a Father Christmas for children, and plenty of great presents on offer.
I'd never been inside the Pilgrim Centre before and loved the tapestries, both with the same message: 'All shall be included in the Feast of Life'

 And the stained glass window:
We were next to Lucy Britton who took part in open studios this year with her hand crafted homewares, accessories and decorative items. Last Saturday, she had her sweet stall which was very popular.
and here she is talking to Jane as we were setting up the postcard racks:
Here's our stall once we'd set it up with Jane Milner-Barry's cards, Rachel Pryor's cards and Tim Carroll's postcards and ceramics:
 And here is our second table with cards and paintings from Val Gibbons, Calendars and candle holders from Mark Worrall, baubles made by Sue Bardwell and chopping boards embellished by Anna Kaplan
 And below Mark Menhenitt who makes fabulous baskets with willow sourced from Somerset. They were so lovely, I bought two.
To find out more about Mark, please click here:www.facebook/MandTdesigns where you will also find out about the lovely things his wife Tina makes.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Traveller of a Lesser Road with Mike Yates

Mike Yates, author of a book about Ralph Bates gave an excellent evening of entertainment type of performance in the Central Library last Thursday. The audience were helped along with a handout giving a synopsis of his life, ending with the fact that he died at 101 and his ashes are scattered on Naxos, a Greek island where he spent much of his time when he wasn't in New York.

Mike told the story of Ralph Bates, the Swindon born writer, with help from a couple of the Phoenix players doing some of the reading, and Ray Ward helping out by putting on 6 excellently chosen pieces of music, making me realise how good Mike is also at choosing appropriate music. It was a great evening and I couldn't help but wonder to Colin Curtis, event's organiser at the library, if we could persuade Mike to put on a musical evening when he could tell us about his folklore and folksongs.
On the way out, I looked at Mike's collection of Ralph Bates books, some of the covers were lovely:
Above the books in the cabinet, and below a few close ups of the covers:

 The Olive Field is the most well known and although like the others, out of print, it is available second hand.
The paperback versions of the books are not expensive, but the hardback versions much more expensive.
There is a great website which expands on the Ralph Bates story at
It's very impressive.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

End of an Era for Swindon Film Society

I like many other have enjoyed being a member of the Swindon Film Society, and being continually surprised by the number of great films selected by members of the committee.
Very much at the helm of this fab organisation which won best Film Society in  2012, and something else last year for helping to set up film societies in Highworth, Wroughton, Cricklade and Royal Wootton Bassett, were Barbara and Hans Hoffbauer. It was sad to hear they were leaving for Coleridge country, but they seemed very keen to go and live there.
At last weeks film, we wished them every happiness in their new home.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Planning Application for a 145KW Biomass Heating System in Signal Way

Two weeks ago, planning application S/14/1683 came to light when speaking to neighbours who live in houses backing on to Signal Way Trading Estate, and had been informed about this by the council.
There are many concerns about the effects on the area of the waste which will be burnt in this boiler, particularly the potential for toxic fumes, smells and noise in what is a densely populated residential area.
The building where the proposed biomass heating system will be installed is below the level of other surrounding buildings as can be seen below in the photograph below which is of the former station house. The joinery business where the heating system is proposed is on the left of the photograph:
And here's a close up of the old station with the wall below it:
The pathway signposted above leads to the geological SSSI along the old railway track of fossil beds, which will certainly be harmed by more nitrogen oxides being pumped into the already polluted atmosphere. It's the health of the people who live and work in this area though which is of greatest concern.
People have until the 24th of November to comment on this application by going to  . The original date for comments was 18th November, this was extended until the 24th of November, so don't be put off by the statement that the closing date for comments has passed.
I have spent days looking up information and finally will send this letter tonight:

Re: Application: S/14/1683
 Installation of a Bio-Mass Heating System
At Unit 11-14, Central Trading Estate, Signal Way, Old Town, Swindon
Dear Ms Busby,
I am writing to express my opposition to the application to install a 1 metre high flue from a 145 KW biomass burner TT Manufacturing ltd propose to install at their premises on Signal Way to dispose of their waste which will include fibreboards such as MDF or chipboard containing glues or resins, and treated wood. These materials release some toxic chemicals when they burn.
I think this installation is unsuitable for a small industrial estate in a crowded residential area with a history of the worst air quality in Swindon. The last year for which figures are available, is 2010 when the amounts of nitrogen dioxide, the only air pollutant measured in Swindon, was judged to be in exceedance of permissible levels at 37, Devizes Road, the local air quality testing site. incinerator will certainly not improve the situation, but make it worse.(1)

As long ago as 2007, Jonathan Porritt on a visit to Swindon told Cllr Rod Bluh, the then leader of the council that Swindon must make an attempt to get its act together regarding air quality. (2)

It’s difficult to assess what waste gases will be given off from the flue because these will be dependent not only on the substances being burned, but the manner in which are being burned. The application mentions operating times from 6am-6pm, is this the manufacturing times, or the time the incinerator will be operating? For almost complete combustion to occur, maximum temperatures are needed which wouldn’t be the case unless there was a 24/7 operating of the system.
This area is of High Environmental Value being situated adjacent to the Site of Special Scientific Interest on the old railway line, surely a contraindication that this is a suitable site? The old railway line is currently a haven for wildlife, including presumably various species of bats, birds, Great Crested Newts maybe and many badgers. It’s also very close to the other local SSSI, the quarry.
Apart from adverse effects on air quality that may not be obvious, there would also be a smell emitted, and noise. The flue at a height of 1 metre would mean fumes would be well below the rest of the buildings since this is in a cutting well below the rest of the surrounding buildings, so although 1 metre in height means the chimney would not be seen from surrounding areas, it would mean that exhaust fumes would linger for longer, causing greater health problems
The solid waste ash produced as a result of burning is not mentioned, this could cause a hazard if not carefully controlled, coating the local area in dust. No mention is made either of fly ash, the finer particles resulting from combustion of these fuels. How would these be managed?
Where else in Swindon has planning permission been granted for a similar system?
Landfill is causing problems but the solution to the problem is not to incinerate our way out of it. (3)
It would be great to think we wanted to create the best possible environment for local residents, and would not allow this biomass heating system to operate. It is in reality an incinerator for processed wood products like MDF and composite.
Yours sincerely
Linda Kasmaty

Wellbeing and the New Economy Workshop

This wonderful workshop was held on the 15th November at the Central Community Centre in Emlyn Square, formerly the first  hospital in Swindon.
Twelve of us attended the workshop billed as' designed to get you thinking and doing, to equip you with new tools for engaging and activating your own community'. It was led by Inez Aponte, an inspirational teacher who introduced us to the work of Manfred Max-Neef's model of Human Scale Development and encouraged us to look at economics and satisfying our needs in an alternative, but intuitive way.
The course felt like a positive beginning, and many new connections were made between the people on the course, and I think we may continue to develop together.
 Here we are putting Post its onto the 9 requirements for wellbeing as we saw them:
 The 9 Manfred Max-Neef needs: idleness, understanding, affection, identity, protection, participation, creation, subsistence and freedom
You can find out a lot more about this project by visiting the blog: and from there the Facebook page.

Plein Air Paintings by Susan Carr and Terry Humphries, Bath Central Library

Susan Carr and Terry Humphries had an exhibition at Bath Central Library, situated in the Podium above Waitrose, from the 10th-16th November, so I went along to visit and see what the space looked like. Susan and Terry had produced a lot of new work painted outdoors in Bath, and also on a recent holiday in Malta.
Above their catalogue, and below a selection of photos taken of their work:
Above 'The Canal at Sidney Gardens', and below 'Pultney Bridge' both by Susan Carr, if you click on Susan's name above, it will take you to her website where you will find photos of the Bath and Malta paintings properly photographed and labelled.

 Above 'Rhossili Bay, Gower'  ' and below 'The Circus, Bath' both by Terry Humphries.
 There were a couple of round windows with lovely views through them which I couldn't resist trying to photograph:
Apologies for taking so long to post this, it's too late to see this lovely exhibition, but you can see their work on their websites.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

2015 Swindon Open Studios Dates Announced

We had the first proper committee meeting to plan SOS 2015 this morning, and agreed the following:
SOS will run over two weekends in September - 5th/6th &12th/13th September with a Launch Party on the 4th September.
We have brought forward the closing date for entries to 17th April which still gives you 5 months to go to the website click on the Registration Form and fill it and email it to
All very exciting!!
Our committee is very similar to our last one, that's Jane Milner-Barry as Secretary and brochure compiler, Rachel Pryor as Publicity Officer, me as Chair and treasurer, and our brand new acquisition to the committee, Vanetta Joffe, returning to the committee after a break; now mentor to new entrants among other things.
We are now looking for images for the next Swindon Open Studios, so please send them to the above email address and join SOS as soon as you like.
Meanwhile I'll add some images from the committee:
 Above 'Suki's Garden' by Jane Milner-Barry
 'Two Pines' by Vanetta Joffe
 Above 'Stronsay, Orkney Islands' by Rachel Pryor
And one of my photos taken looking out from Portishead.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Portishead largely at night!

Unless you get going quickly, it's easy to get caught out and not get chance to take many daylight photos. It's a real challenge to get good night time ones with a mobile phone camera, but I tried.
The first two photos are taken on the shore in daylight:

We then had a pint in the Royal, by which time it was dark, but beside the Marina it's quite light, so I was able to photograph some of the sculpture:
 Above is one of those light sculptures that changes colour, and below a well positioned figure
 and a squatting figure:

I also liked the outlines of trees on the hillside:
 and the swans were a challenge to photograph, they moved in and out of the light:

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Fireworks at the Polo Ground

Who would have thought it could be so mild on a firework night?
Maybe because it was held on the 1st of November, rather than the 5th. Difficult decision to make, if the 5th is on a Wednesday, do you have the fireworks on the previous Saturday, or the following Saturday? I think this was the correct one because of the mildness.
I'm hoping to go to the Beehive Fireworks on the 5th of November at 9pm which should be great, children welcome before the fireworks, but not after.
I didn't think it was possible to take good photos of fireworks, but here are a few from Saturday, not saying they're good, but I'm pleased with them.

The Magnus Quaife talk at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery last Friday will appear soon on the Friends' blog