Saturday, 26 March 2016

Fab days out Part 1

Planning a day out on a cold, dull day last weekend with overnight guests was challenging. The trip needed to be interesting, not too far from Swindon, with a pub lunch part way through the day.
Having visited Fairford church before and knowing it's one of the best examples of  ancient stained glass in the country, I thought we should go there, but we needed a bit more to occupy the day. I've also visited Quenington church, and admired the stone carved door surrounds, so I put that on the list, surprised to find when I looked it up that Quenington is only 2 miles north of Fairford. It was then that I noticed the Heritage Ratings of the two churches were 4 out of a possible 5, and used it as a way of deciding where to go next. It's very easy when looking up historic churches, the nearest ones are listed when looking any churches up. So to complete the trip, we added the two Eastleach churches to the list.
I'll relive the trip via photos in the order in which we visited the places. Just as we were about to enter Fairford from Lechlade, there was a sign on the right indicating a historic church, so Rona did a quick swerve to the right and we followed the brown signs and ended up in Eastleach Turville where we parked and looked at St.Andrew's Church,
 Above the outside view, and below the interior of the church
 From St.Andrew's church, there's a short walk past a wonderful topiaried hedge to the church of St.Michael & St.Martin seen below

 from across the lovely river Leach where the water looked clean enough to drink, and surely there would be kingfishers?
 If you click on the links you can see why there were two churches in such close proximity, St Michael &St.Martin does not have electricity and holds services on special allocated days. It's rated with 4 Hs whereas Eastleach Turville has 3 Hs, you can see why when you enter the church and see that the transept has a five-light north window with delicate decorated tracery. Some of these windows contain medieval glass:
From the second church, we were able to walk to the river and along the bank, crossing the river at a fine example of a clapper bridge, isn't it lovely?
From there we drove to Quenington church where the day got duller
The main features of historical interest are two 12th century doors. The north door is carved with a depiction of the Harrowing of Hell, while the superb south door has the oldest known Coronation of the Virgin carving in Europe still in situ.
Above is the north door and below the south door.
Inside there's a commemoration of the church receiving the John Betjeman Award for repair and conservation of the north and south doorways in 1991. The painting is by John Piper of Inglesham church.
From there we drove to Fairford and had an excellent lunch at The Bull, I'd certainly recommend that for lunch when FSMAG visit Fairford church in June.
And so onto Fairford church, the first reason for our trip out:

I bought a guide and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the windows with greater understanding.
These two were my favourite, just glorious
There were also fabulous kneelers, all different, I particularly liked this one:
Just outside the door, as I left I noticed this lovely stone carved cat in the churchyard.
I'd certainly recommend that trip as a day out, and will try walking between the churches this summer.
If you'd like to come on a trip to Fairford church with a talk, the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery are going there on 4 June.

Monday, 21 March 2016

New Committee Photo

We have welcomed committee members onto the committee this year, so the old photo we used on Twitter was out of date because there were only four of us in the photo.
We took one at our previous committee meeting:
Although this one is quite good, it is no use for the Twitter header where everyone needs to be at the same level.
Since the February meeting, we've asked Caroline Day to join us as liaison person with businesses in Old Town, so we needed to include her and change our Twitter header.
Unfortunately for us, Susan Carr was on holiday last week, so we will still need to take another photo at April's committee meeting.

Launch of the Festival of Literature Brochure

Last Thursday at 12 noon saw the launch of the Festival of Literature brochure by organiser Matt Holland in the courtyard at the Central Library. There was a chill in the air, but sitting in the sun, it was delightfully warm.
Matt has been very good to us in previous years, always placing an advertisement for Swindon Open Studios in the brochure. This year however he agreed to have an artist's painting on the front of the brochure, so images from about 25 artists were submitted to him. You can see behind Matt's head the painting of a woman in red by Tim Carroll which appears on the cover of the brochure, his was the winning entry. Not only has Matt used Tim's image on the front, but we have a page of runner's up inside as well as the usual advert for SOS. I'll show photos of the launch and then get to the arty bits.
 Above you can see Matt introducing things, then below, Jane Milner-Barry who thanked Matt for the collaboration with open studios and talked about other things going on this year.
 Below Tony Hillier resplendent in a red bow tie spoke in verse
 and then we were charmed and transported by Richard Durrant's playing. I've got tickets to hear him on Monday 9 May at 8pm.
 There were lots of people at the launch, but they don't always want to be photographed, so I tried a discrete shot, seen below.
 From the courtyard, we went to the unveiling of the Butterfly Wall made by Toni and Gordon Dickinson with the help of masses of people using the library. In the middle you can see Gordon with the green sheeting over the wall.
 Below the wall revealed
 And some of the butterflies have writing on them. The effect is lovely; Roger Ogle Tweeted some lovely videos of it, you can see one if you click on the link.
 Here's the front cover of the brochure:
and inside there are paintings by David Morse:
 Below David Robinson's people on a train
And Jane Milner-Barry's painting of Richard Jefferies' bedroom:
The advertisement for SOS uses one of Rachel Pryor's pieces, Trinity:
If you haven't yet got your brochure, they are available at the Central Library, the Wyvern Theatre, Arts Centre and lots of other places. Book as soon as possible for whatever you want to see, tickets are selling fast.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Repairing the Damage made by the Scaffolding Crew

Anyone who has walked up and down Victoria Hill in the last couple of years will notice that attempts have been made to improve the bed beside Mr Cod fish and chip restaurant, the dentists and BBC Wiltshire . As a member of the Pipers Area Residents Association, PaRa, I have been involved along mainly with Jane Milner-Barry, in converting it from a ropey shrubbery into a pleasant flower bed where one may enjoy sitting on the nearby benches. It was a shock therefore to discover recently that scaffolding had been put up on the adjacent building and the scaffolders trampled and compacted the bed.
Marie Lennon, who has a show on BBC Wiltshire kindly interviewed me on the radio, and appealed for help in reinstating the bed to its former glory; and had offers of plants and compost. Jane and I met with Marie last Sunday to attempt to loosen up the soil, remove plastic and rubbish and plant a few cowslips.
 Above here's the 'before' photograph, and below Jane on the left and Marie on the right trying to dig over the ground.
 here's another photo of Jane
 And here's the bed afterwards, looking considerably better.
We will be meeting up regularly to improve the bed, and will be working on the other beds as part of our grand spring clean up on May 15th 2-4pm

Friday, 4 March 2016

Tim's Prints-Last Couple of Days in the Beehive

Just a reminder that Tim Carroll's 100 Views of Swindon prints will be displayed in the Beehive until Sunday. If you'd like one, you can buy them from the Beehive, they're £20 each, framed.
A perfect Mother's day present!
There's lots to choose from.
More than those, it's hard to get a good photo in the daytime.

A Day Out in Cheltenham

I recently met up with a couple of friends for a day out in Cheltenham, chosen like all our meeting places for its accessibility by train. Cheltenham is a fab place to visit, especially when you know about the cycle path from opposite the station which takes you right into the centre avoiding main roads.
I was struck by these two interesting buildings with indications of their former use in stone on the outside, here's a former bakery:
 and this one, now a Thai restaurant, formerly an auctioneers.
 From there we walked to the Wilson, Cheltenham's wonderful Museum and Art Gallery which despite it being a Monday, often a 'rest day' for galleries, it was open. We looked first at the Friends' Gallery where there was an exhibition entitled 'A Sense of Place'
 Above 'Field Roller' 1946 by Michael Ayrton is glorious.
 I also liked this Ivon Hitchens 'Fallen Tree, Woolbeding River 1964
 I alos particularly liked 'The Fat Kitchen andThe Lean Kitchen' by Jan Steen 1650, the fat one came out quite clearly, but the 'thin' one is very dark.
 From there we had a look at the Arts and Crafts room which contains all sorts of treasures from the Morris era, there's furniture, ceramics, jewellery and more
 Below is a Jardiniere, designed and made by Burmantofts, 1890-1904, such fab colours.

 And above, the incomparable William De Morgan designed this tile which was made by the Architectural Pottery Company 1872-6

 There is a lot more to the Wilson than these two galleries, an amazing ceramics collection, furniture store, and more paintings in the permanent collection, and the museum collections.
 From there we went along the Parade in search of an Italian restaurant in a basement which I've visited before. On the way we couldn't resist a photo with The Hare and the Minotaur
Finally we found 'La Scala' and had a wonderful lunch.