Friday, 30 December 2016

Blue Skies on the Ridgeway

Walking from Swindon to Avebury, my favoured route involves walking beside Broome Manor golf Club, over the M4, and up Ladder lane, then through Overtown and onto the Ridgeway, it's really a short hop to Avebury, and well worth doing so on a bright winter day, such as we had on Wednesday.
This is what it was like:
 Looking back  to Barbury Castle, 
and below a section of track:
  I had three attempts at taking photos of one of the small clumps of beech woodland planted by the Victorians as landscape features and to give sheep some shelter.  Some clumps are even planted on top of Bronze Age round barrows, frowned upon today because of the damage tree roots do to ancient monuments. They are magnificent and a regular feature between Barbury Castle and the turn off to Avebury further along the Ridgeway

 I don't know which of the photos I like best, but the blue sky in the background certainly sets off the clumps, often called 'hedgehogs' wonderfully
 I also tried to get some good photos of cow parsley skeletons all that remains of the flush greenery of the spring, summer and autumn:
 They're really best close up I think
I love the section of the walk with Fyfield Down on the left, after the really muddy area, the track becomes much easier to walk along, as smooth as a golf course. The down has the best assemblage of sarsen stones in England. The stones are known here as the Grey Wethers, for their likeness to sheep when seen from a distance. They were noted by Col. Richard Symonds in his diary for 1644: "They call that place the Grey-wethers, because a far off they looke like a flock of sheepe." They support a nationally important lichen flora. An alternative name for this natural rock feature is Mother's Jam
You can see the area in the photo below, although the greywethers aren't visible from this spot..
 My phone usually stops working in this area, not even allowing me to take photos,  the last photos are on the camera and will be added later.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Visiting Bristol

For a relaxed day out in Bristol with friends, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to visit. We started with a late lunch beside the gorgeous 17th Century fireplace, circa 1650.
 Here's a close up of the right hand side of the fireplace:
 From there we went to the beautiful toilets before looking round the galleries:
 The doors have their original brass fittings, although fortunately we don't have to pay a penny any longer.

 I think the sinks are rather good as well. There's a lovely full length mirror in there, tempting to take a photo of Jay and myself, she's also taking a photo, so it'll be interesting to see her blog post on the day out!
 From there we had a look round the galleries, I particularly like this oil painting- 'Holidays' by Harry Watson which features a relaxed group, including two young girls by a river.
 I loved this charming coffee service designed by Clarice Cliff for Wilkinson Ltd in 1935.
 Bristol is renowned for its glass, some exceptionally fine examples can be seen here, like this window:
 and a whole case of green glass
 and this vase, seen in the Friends' leaflet, the lighting made it hard to see, let alone photograph properly. It's called 'Jurassic Vase', and was made by Bob Crooks in 2012, it would be lovely to see it in good light.
 Another huge painting, measuring 4mx4m, Noah's Ark is worth a long look. It's painted by Jan Griffier in 1710. This isn't a good photo, see a better one at

 From there we went to have a look at the Kate Malone ceramic original for a bronze drinking water fountain she made in 1993, it's really very impressive:
 and here's a close up of the fish at the top
From there we went via the Ken Stradling Collection, and then back to the bus stop via The Bristol Guild, and then onto Bristol Temple Meads station where there were Emmeline Simpson posters brightening up the platform.

Lovely day out.
To read Jay's account, please click here:

Boxing and Christmas Lights

There's quite a bit of catching up to do, with Christmas festivities getting in the way of keeping this blog up to date. I hope you've enjoyed the celebrations and are looking forward to the lengthening days of 2017.
Before Christmas, I went to hear Kelly Morgan talk to the Swindon Feminist Network meeting, I don't know anything about boxing, but guessed it must involve being fairly fit and determined to succeed, to even get noticed.
Kelly is Swindon's only professional female boxer, and one of 5 in the UK. She has also thrown javelins for the country, and taken part in other professional sport; for 12 years, she was in the army, and navy, and ended up in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, she also served in Iraq and Afganistan.Here's a recent photo of Kelly:
 Kelly wasn't sure when her next fight will be, but it will be interesting to follow her career, and also to find out what else the Swindon Feminist Network get involved in sharing.
 On the way out, I saw their lovely banner, and took a photo, unfortunately chopping off the faces of the people holding it. On the way home from Eastcott Hill, it was lovely to see the lights, below outside the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Bath Road
 and the entrance to Wood Street which looks so lovely:
 I think I should have taken a few more, maybe I can add to these photos.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Preparing for Tim Carroll's Christmas Open Studio

I say this loosely, I'm not really preparing much, although I have bought some lager, wine, tea and 2kg of mincemeat to make mince pies. Apart from that, I'm mostly keeping out of the way of the studio and kiln because Tim is working almost round the clock to get masses of new ceramic items ready for the Tim Carroll Christmas Open Studio this Sunday 18 December from 11am onwards. We will be open as long as we have people wanting to come round, so if you're busy in the day, come round in the evening.
There is an official invitation which I'll post now, and then I'll find some photos taken this week.
 Below these are items which have been made, dried and then fired in the kiln, as you can see there are different colours of clay, some earthenware and others porcelain maybe.
 I particularly like the small vases with people running round them, the one on its side shows a new departure, with raised people wearing beachware.
 Knot patterns seen in paintings, and people going round in circles another feature of Tim's paintings also seen here.
 Below some small items like birds in a bower
 and here is Tim at work, I think he's smoothing off rough edges
 The pieces below have had some glaze applied, ready to go into the kiln again, as you can see, some of the birds will be black!

 It would be great to see you, if you're in the area, on Sunday

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Unveiling of Hoarusib, The Bull Elephant

With temperatures this weekend reaching double figures, it's hard to remember that last Sunday temperatures hardly seemed to rise above freezing for the great unveiling of a sculpture of Hoarusib, The Bull Elephant.
 With the low temperatures, we had little cloud, brilliantly blue skies, perfect conditions for taking photographs. From the combe where the elephant is situated, the skyline with profiles of leafless trees was beautiful. Looking the other way there was the covered sculpture of the elephant.

The life sized bull elephant was created by internationally acclaimed sculptor David Lomax, who
 encountered looking after his harem on a visit to the Skeleton Coast of Namibia in the 1980s.
The artwork was created for renowned conservationist John Aspinall in 1992. The plaster creation was the basis for casting three twelve foot tall bronze statues by Pangolin Editions in Stroud, each weighed four tonnes and were shipped to Los Angeles, Australia and Mexico.
From there the plaster elephant, which had been cut up into twelve pieces to cast the different parts in bronze before being welded together, lay in hibernation for nearly 25 years, until seen in David’s studio. It has now been reassembled and painted a very realistic elephant colour.

In the combe, very near the elephant is this gorgeous sculpture which looked fabulous in the sun, and with the blue sky in the background.
There were about 150 people present, they listened to speeches given by Joel Joffe, David Lomax, David Renard, Leader of the council and MP Robert Buckland who performed the final unveiling.

A couple of crowd scenes

And here's the elephant

 I love these photos of the elephant

Below this is what the plaque says:

The guests to the unveiling ceremony were asked to give generously to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Amanda Butler from Peatmoor, who acts as volunteer foundation ambassador in the region, described the efforts to work with governments in Africa to prevent poaching, as well as sending undercover agents to investigate illegal wildlife crime, and to encourage villagers to see wildlife as an asset and find ways to discourage elephants off their lands, as well as running orphanages for baby elephants whose parents have been killed.
There were articles in the Link and Swindon Advertiser
and a video on Facebook:
It was a really memorable day.

Saturday 3 December was a busy day

I don't know what you did last Saturday, but it seemed to be crammed with events happening, a sort of prelude to the excitements of Christmas, and already there's a bit of a lull, or maybe people are on individual rather than collective pursuit of the ideal present.
I took a few photos on the way round a few events, starting with the read in at Old Town library from 11am which was really well attended and once again reminded us all that we'll really miss the expertise of librarians and the delightful Old Town library in the Arts Centre when it closes.
 It's such a lovely space, particularly well set up for small children, talking of small children, well smallish ones, the next stop was the Croft School Christmas fete, seen below, my daughter, Helen, with another mum folding raffle tickets, despite spending £25 I didn't win anything, but they raised £900.
 I then walked to town and onto STEAM where a huge 2 day Christmas market was taking place, on the way in, I passed this painting by Terry Court, who died a couple of months ago, I took a photo of it and the information panel which tells you a bit about Terry.

 I was specifically looking for Jacquie Primrose's stall, it took a bit of finding because as you can see there were masses of stalls
 And finally, here's Jacquie talking to a customer
and here are examples of her fabulous garden mosaics, I particularly like this orange one which looks fabulous when Crocosmia are in flower
 and here are more of them together. How to choose?
 It was very busy at the market, I kept thinking the old workers are real people!!
 Isn't this one great?
 From STEAM, I walked back into town, to Theatre Square where Artsite were having a Christmas market.
 It was held in the Number 9 Gallery, with children's workshops downstairs

 and also at the Post Modern across the way. The mood was festive and there were gorgeous things for sale from many of the Swindon Open Studios artists.
 There was a festive looking tree at the entrance to the building.
 And across the road at Regent Circus, there was a delightful artisan market in the space at the front
Isn't that a perfect spot for a market? Let's hope we see lots more happening on that area.
Quite a day of galloping about, things seem much quieter this weekend.