Friday, 27 January 2017

Switch On To Swindon Event at Audi

On Tuesday evening, an event to celebrate Swindon, and spread the word about the advantages of living, working and visiting here.
More than 300 people from businesses, and those interested in promoting Swindon, came along to find out more about the initiative, Switch on to Swindon, promoted by Influence, Chair of Influence, Nicky Alberry said:
“We looked at what cities like Coventry, Hull and Doncaster have done in terms of galvanising everybody’s energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the town to produce what we’re now calling a place marketing campaign,”
 I was again at the back of the crowds, peeping through them you can see the logo above, and below masses of people looking at the screen.
 More backs!
 Below Nicky Alberry introducing the evening
 and Jo Miller, Chief Executive of  Doncaster Council talked about their scheme entitled We Are Doncaster, it encourages people to have a positive image of Doncaster and appreciate what's good about it, also to create jobs and turn the place around so everyone thrives there.
I thought I'd taken a photo of Jo Miller but I hadn't and then found a great Guardian article on Jo, and Doncaster which certainly sounds as though it's had its challenges
. There are some lovely photos of the evening here:
Above the hosts Audi, put one of their bosses on the stage to talk, and below, Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Council talked about the scheme as well
This was followed by a moving video from Create Studios :

Beautiful Sunshine for Wassailing at Twigs

The first event of the year at Twigs Community Garden was their wassailing last Saturday on a brilliantly sunny day. People flocked to the garden for the wassail, when I arrived there were lots of people enjoying being outside in the sun, and waiting for proceedings to begin.
  We were encouraged to follow the Butler and the Lady of the Manor, and the Icknield Morris Men around the garden banging pans and making lots of noise, as is the custom to scare away evil spirits, until they reached an apple tree where the ceremony of blessing the tree began.
 Above the Morris Men around the chosen tree, and below the Morris Men doing a bit of dancing watched by people, sadly I was at the back!!
 Here I have a glimpse of proceedings!
 and below I managed to catch handkerchiefs mid air
 I tried holding the camera higher
 and a close up at last of an accordion
 Here are the pieces of toast soaked in apple juice hanging on the tree
 I didn't manage to get a photo of The Butler with the Lady of the Manor, but here he is with someone else
I was also impressed with the amount of mistletoe on the apple tree
 here's a close up of the mistletoe with lovely white berries
 having danced around the apple tree, the Morris Men continued dancing by the office in a surprisingly small area.
Having just looked at the Icknield Morris Men's Facebook page, I have copied their photo of The Butler and Lady of the Manor:
Next event at Twigs is a Snowdrop and Soup Day on Sunday 12 February from 11am-3pm.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Walking to Marlborough via the Old Railway Line

After the amazing dawn last Saturday, there weren't endless bright blue skies as there have been quite often recently, but the mixture of clouds and sun gave fabulous effects in the sky as it had at dawn. We walked down Brrome Manor Lane, and then walked along the side of Coate Water whichj looked amazing with turquoise skies.
 which seemed to change all the time
 I couldn't resist another photo with swans
 from there we walked over the curly whirly bridge across the M4, through Chiseldon and onto the old railway track where the views across towards the Downs were beautiful
 I thought I'd include one of Paul and Tim walking along the track.
We arrived just in time for lunch at the Lamb and Flag, as it started to rain. Great food.

An Amazing Dawn

Last Saturday, the first glimpses of dawn were a bit disappointing, but it certainly improved as time went on. It's interesting that dawn can start looking good, like this morning, and then tail off in mist, but this one on the 14 January was magnificent.
Having taken photos on my phone, I've got the times which I'll include:
  These two were taken at 7.26, and although they were rosy, they didn't look as though the sunrise was going to be spectacular in any way.
When I looked again at 7.53, there was more colour
 Another 7.53 photo
 Below 7.57
 and I had a break from looking, and this was 8.18 as the sun peeped through and it was all over.
Not all over, but the sun had risen and the day began.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Paul Nash at Tate Britain

Having read reviews of this exhibition in October last year, I was determined not to miss it. The exhibition takes up about 9 rooms in Tate Britain and is wonderfully laid out with plentiful notes in each room.
The first room is taken up with Nash's wonderfully observed Downland landscapes, his use of watercolours and ink to depict trees is delightful. This early work is in great contrast to his paintings during and after the First World war when trees become roughly broken and landscapes torn apart. He stayed in Marlborough on holiday in the 1930s, and visited Avebury, becoming fascinated by the stones which were featured in several of his paintings.
A long term asthma sufferer, he died aged 57 in 1946, at the end of the Second World War.
It wasn't possible to take photos in the exhibition, but here are a few assorted things I photographed:
 I was fascinated by the newly pruned trees outside Tate Britain seen above, I then photographed the banners outside, advertising the exhibitions, but they can't be read, so I won't include them!
After going round the Nash exhibition, we looked at the arresting Antony Gormley sculptures in lead and plaster, entitled 'Three Ways: Mould, Hole and Passage 1981-2. They are among the first where he used his own body to create the sculptures. Described here:

 From there we walked around the chronologically arranged permanent collection, and I photographed some things which gave especial pleasure:
 Above George Stubbs 'Mares and Foals in a River Landscape' 1763-8 is gorgeous.
This painting below is 'St. Eulalia' by Jaohn William Waterhouse, quite strikingly unusual.St Eulalia was martyred in 304AD for refusing to make sacrifices to the Roman gods, she was only 12 years old when she was killed by horrific means. The painting was first exhibited in 1885.
I also love the romanticism in The Lady of Shallot' also by Waterhouse
 At the end of the room where the Waterhouses are displayed is the wonderful Eric Gill sculpture 'Ecstasy' executed in 1910. Gill apparently did not exhibit this work, but sold it in 1912 to Edward Warren who already owned a version of Rodin's 'The Kiss'
 Finally I was attracted to this Stanley Spencer painting of The Woolshop
 It was painted on a visit to Stonehouse.
The Paul Nash exhibition runs until 5 March and the David Hockney exhibition opens on 9 February.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Blue Skies in Bath

Bath in the title again, but this time a few photos taken last Thursday in Bath when the skies were fabulously blue, and the buildings looked so good set against them. These are a few of the photos I took, firstly of Bath Abbey which looks good in any light.
and then a close up of the front left of the building
I then saw this tower on top of a building nearby, and decided I'd better find out a bit more about where it is. It's The Guildhall, built between 1775 and 1778 by Thomas Baldwin to designs by Thomas Warr Attwood. It has been designated as a Grade I listed building and has rooms available for hire.
Striding out back to the station, I noticed this church spire sillouetted against the sky on my left. It's St.John's a large Victorian Roman Catholic church which was badly damaged in the Second World War. It has Bath's tallest spire, a notable organ and 2 choirs.
Amazing what you find out when you look it up.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Milton Road Washing and Turkish Baths

Having spent many hours swimming in the 33.3metre swimming pool at Milton Road years ago, and watching children learn to swim, it's quite a long time since I've been there. I was concerned that a building like Milton Road Baths could be leased to Greenwich Leisure Limited on 9 October 2014 as part of a 6 leisure location package.
Two years down the line, the small pool has already been closed since January 2016 because it needs repairing, and GLL declared it not viable, thus reducing considerably the number of people using Milton Road.  GLL are already talking about applying to convert the 'dry side' to apartments while retaining the outer shell of the building, this bombshell hit the local news on Boxing Day:
Others have written eloquently about the history of the building, such as the fascinating blog Swindon in the Past Lane written by Frances Bevan, her piece written 5 years ago on Milton Road Baths gives a superb account of their history, have a look:
There's a petition to save the baths from GLL's plans,
and the Save Swindon's Heritage Facebook group has some excellent feedback made by the eminent historian, Graham Carter, who met GLL today at a meeting facilitated by South Swindon MP Robert Buckland.
You will find lots more information on the current situation on Angela Atkinson's excellent blog: Born Again Swindonian:
Since there's so much information around about the baths, I decided to pay a visit to the Turkish baths and take a few photos.
I cycled from the Link Centre partly by the Southern Flyer cycle route, so didn't have to cycle on the road until I reached the centre of Swindon.
On arrival, we were greeted warmly in reception, and encouraged to take advantage of the experience after being  shown round, I took a few photos, but it's not easy to convey the experience of the Turkish baths. We started with a shower, here's one of them
 from there, we sat in one of the two steam rooms, this is the smaller one, but you can't see anything for obvious reasons
 next we showered again to wash off the sweat and tried the jacuzzi, seen below on the left
from there we went into a sauna until we couldn't bear it any more because it was so hot, having showered again, we went into the smaller steam room, and then tried to go into the cold plunge pool, I found complete immersion difficult to achieve.
After another shower, dressed and felt amazing, relaxed, clean and invigorated. I asked if we could have a look round and take a few photos, we tagged onto a tour being given to someone intending to join.
We didn't weigh ourselves before and after!
During one of the refurbishments, partitions have been erected to create changing rooms as can be seen below; the floor is lovely
 Our first stop was the large baths, if you swim 33 lengths that's 1Km, it's the largest pool in Swindon, an Olympic sized pool is 50m.
 It's a lovely pool
 and at the other end is a lovely window
 here's a closer look
 I particularly like the seating arrangements along the sides
 and here's a photo of the small pool which looks lovely, emptied of water, and in need of repair apparently. How wonderful if this could happen, and it could be used again for teaching young people to swim once again.
 From the small pool, to the other entrance, the one to the baths with more lovely glass
 and more
 and yet more on the first floor
 In context, the pair of windows in the conferenc earea where there was once a lovely cafe where I went to a Christmas celebration.
 and back to reception along one of the corridors
 where we bumped into Jane Faulkes a Mc Timoney Chiropractor who I have visited many times at Milton Road, she invited us into her practice room to photograph her fireplace:
A lovely experience, do go and have a Turkish bath, they are open every day of the week, you'll feel so much better for it.