Sunday, 31 January 2016

Brochure Cover Competition

Matt Holland, organiser of Swindon Festival of Literature, kindly agreed some time ago to stage a competition for the most suitable cover someone could submit by 31 January, which is of course today!!
I asked for images to be sent to me, and then I've emailed them off to Matt this evening.
I received 40 fabulous entries and can't wait to see which one, if any, Matt chooses, he sensibly reserved the right to not accept any of them, if he doesn't think they are suitable. The winning entrant receives £250 which will be rather nice.
To show people what covers there had been in the last 5 years, Matt sent is pdfs of the covers which sadly I can't load up here, so I looked through the Festival of Literature Facebook page and came up with this stunning photograph courtesy of Richard Wintle of Calyx images from last year's dawn chorus.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Taunton's Fab Second Hand Shop and Museum in a Castle

My friend, Lesley and I haven't met up for about 3 years; she lives in Brixham, so looking at a half way point on the map, on a rail route, I thought Taunton would be a place to meet up for the day. Using the already tried and tested formula for other meetings, I started by doing a quick Google search before arriving, and then kept an open mind and looked for the great experiences that make these sort of exploratory trips so special.
I discovered the river Tone runs through Taunton, and there's a castle there as well quite near the river.  And what's more, the Museum of Somerset is housed in the castle, all looking rather good.
The day started off gloriously with bright sunshine, evident in the photos. But starting at the beginning, the modernised Taunton station has retained these amazing brass lampshades I haven't seen elsewhere:
 There were no maps of Taunton town available at the station, but we were assured that on leaving the station, you turn left under the railway bridge and carry on walking for 10 minutes, until you see Debenhams, and the castle is behind the main shopping street.
We quickly came across a fabulous second hand furniture and 'all things interesting' shop on our left
 There was so much wonderful stuff, it's worth a visit if you need anything from a dresser to a hand bell which is what I bought there. Above you can just about see Lesley looking at something.
 From there we carried on walking and discovered this great bridge across the river Tone with bright blue sky in the background
 Here's a detail of the well painted railings
 Strangely coffee shops were not in evidence on our route, but when I look up coffee shops in Taunton, there are 42 listed, but they're not between the station and the town. As we crossed the bridge, we saw a garden and the castle alongside, and walking beside the river came across this view of the castle
 And after walking across the bridge came to the front of the castle, in a grand, ancient square with a hotel, a pub and incongruously a 1960s Mecca Bingo Hall which needs at least to have its sign removed, it's totally out of keeping with this lovely area
 Below The Castle Hotel, if you click on the link, you'll see it's covered in Wisteria in spring
 We walked through the entrance to the museum and entered a courtyard where we saw the lovely Castle House, open to the public and beautifully restored in the last few years:
 Castle House dates back to the 1480s, and amazingly has an upper floor which sleeps 7 that you can rent.
 Here's the inside of the downstairs
From there we looked at the almshouse moved from St.James Street below
And from there into the fabulous museum where the first thing you come across is Simon O'Rourke's tree sculpture:
 The museum is divided into 6 sections, Foundation Stones, Claiming the land, Making Somerset, Rebellious People, New Horizons and the Military Museum. I've picked out things I particularly liked
 Like the 1.5 ton overmantel from about 1460, carved from a single block of Hamstone
 Above is part of a mosaic surviving form Roman Britain telling the story of Dido and Aeneas as recorded by Virgil in 25BC. The mosaic was found in the bath block of a Roman villa at Low Ham, it dates from cAD 350.
 This photo shows the view of the first large ground floor room from the first floor
 Above a carving from Montacute Priory c1500, and shows the crowning of the Virgin Mary
 Above is some of the stained glass from Glastonbury Abbey from c1500. Much of the glass was destroyed in 1540, so complete windows are very rare. Which is why Fairford Church's windows are so special.
 My last photo is my favourite. The Museum of Somerset has many different styles of fabulous windows, this one is just glorious.
I'm aware there's lots more to explore in Taunton, the fabulous churches and canal which links
 Bridgewater to Taunton. All waiting for another day.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Wassailing and other Things in the Secret Garden

This was my second year of joining the wassailing, yarn bombing and very importantly catching up with people and looking forward to the growing season. Having just finished reading 'On Silbury' by Adam Thorpe, I'm feeling affected by ancestors and custom, so I was in the perfect frame of mind for the event.
It was great to see the wonderful Donkersleys, Debs and Gerb had been crowned Queen and King of the wassailing. I took lots of photos of this photogenic couple, I'll see what they look like:
 I think that one is the best, although Gerb's crown has slipped a bit, and although the day didn't seem dull, it looks a bit dark. I've fiddled with the contrast and brightness, and think that's better:
There was cider available, apple juice plus tea and cake at the refreshment tent and table:
 The photo below gives an idea of the event after the wassailing ceremony to encourage the fruit trees to be productive.
 Bang to Rites were as ever a wonderful accompaniment to the afternoon
 I said Paul could use the photo I'd Tweeted of them, and I was putting more on the blog, but realise they're all the same, sorry about that.


 This is quite a nice photo of a 'yarn bombed' tree, basically it's covered in woolly bobbles, with bang to Rites in the background.
So we're all set now for a great growing season. Roll on spring, or at least longer days.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Lydiard Park Public Meeting 13.1.16

The Friends of Lydiard Park convened a meeting last week led by Mike Bowden, Chair of the Friends.
The meeting was very emotional, with feelings running high. Mike himself was so overwhelmed by the turn out which may have been as many as 800 people, that he found it hard to begin the meeting, he was so overcome with emotion. Since the meeting, people I know have been talking about the amazing feeling of community spirit. This is what Mike Bowden put on the Facebook page the next day:
'13 Jan 2016 — Around 600 people packed into the school hall last night - thank you for your overwhelming support

We ran out of chairs , car parking spaces and literature .The pa system was inadequate -for which my sincere apologies
For those that wanted to speak and couldn't -again my apologies -but with over 200 questions submitted plus dozens on the night it just wasn't possible to give everyone an opportunity to have their say
Let's see how things develop in the coming days
All the very best
Mike'
This is the petition giving information about the Friends' petition to keep the park and house in public ownership:
https://www.change.org/p/swindon-borough-council-lydiard-house-and-park-at-risk?tk=fJq277tfxnJJbc4pxQT4JTXAqpv1dQCeGTwEB49GQIs&utm_source=petition_update&utm_medium=email

Here's an idea of the atmosphere in the hall, it wasn't easy to take photos because I didn't feel comfortable standing up from within the seated mass of people, maybe I should have joined people standing around the edges:

 Cllr Garry Perkins spoke on behalf of the council, and Matt Courtliffe representing Labour, seen below here with Lord Joel Joffe who summed up the way forward perfectly.
Sarah Finch-Crisp is helping with the microphone usage.
 One last photo of Mike Bowden with his arms folded, having done everything he could to move the process forward and keep Lydiard Park in public ownership for the people of Swindon.
 The Link has covered this wonderfully as well:http://swindonlink.com/2016/01/the-future-of-lydiard-park-swindon-debated-at-packed-public-meeting/?platform=hootsuite
and wonderfully Swindon Viewpoint filmed it:
http://www.swindonviewpoint.com/video/protect-lydiard-park-meeting-part-1
Since then, there has been a council meeting on Thursday evening where the future of Lydiard Park was discussed, I didn't go to that meeting, but this is what I heard:
Mike Bowden spoke at council meeting.
Friends of Lydiard forming an independent not for profit charitable trust "or similar".  Bid to be directed by a steering group of 12 people. The Council agreed to three month delay while trust gets its bid together, but rejected Labour amendment to remove the option of granting lease to a private company.
The Swindon Advertiser has reported these meetings as well, this being the latest: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/14222408.Break_in_Lydiard_lease_plans_agreed/

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Flowering in January

One of my favourite occupations is wandering round the garden photographing plants in flower and putting them on Twitter, on the 6th of January, the following were flowering, and many still are flowering despite the seasonal chill. I've just looked up plants flowering in January and found this huge list: http://www.flowers.org.uk/flowers/flowers-by-month/january/ but never mind, I'll carry on.
 Above, I can't remember the name of this plant, I bought it in flower in May, then dead headed it, and it took ages to flower again because the summer was a bit cold.
 Cobaea above has flowered since about October, I'm hoping since it's on a south facing wall I may have it next year.
 Above a Geranium still flowering today, and below the 'wooly flowered' Salvia

 Above a wallflower, and below something which grows like a weed in my garden.

 Above delightful Cyclamen coum and below a chocolate Hellebore

 Above a Hebe and below that lovely scented Daphne
 Below Coronilla glauca a fabulous plant which flowers all winter
 Just look at this Hellebore, and to think I didn't appreciate them at one time.
 Below a Scabious from seed collected at the High Line in New York.
 Not very special, a Pulmonaria, wonderful for bees though.
 Primroses are flowering
 and the Jack go to bed before noon is almost flowering.
 Just wish I could go and clear up leaves etc, but it's not 'garden time' now as far as I'm concerned.