Secret Swindon

5th June 2018

Secret Swindon: the book

Secret Swindon: the book

Hello listeners! I can’t lie. I can barely sit still for the excitement! The reason? I’m soon to be a published author for the first time.  ‘Secret Swindon’, via Amberley Publishing, is due for release in the middle of July 2018.

But the story of how I got to this point has its roots 25 years ago – which is when I came to Swindon.

A new life in Swindon

Now, prior to moving to Swindon I’d visited the place several times and found it to be a perfectly pleasant place. So, when the opportunity arrived to move here I arrived with no negative perceptions. In fact, the converse was true. By the time I moved here my part of the world on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border had been devastated by the wholesale pit closures of the 1980s. My family were at the heart of that – indeed my daughter’s first word was ‘Picket’.  By the time I came to Swindon in the early 1990s I left behind nothing. And I mean – NOTHING. A pretty enough part of the country for sure – the village I lived in featured in the Domesday book. It was attractive and in the middle of a rural area. Albeit the atmosphere was akin to a very thick gravy. What with the pit muck and the quarry dust.

A visit to a C&A required two buses and a tortuous trip across two counties. We had no good transport connections, no work, no prospects, no nowt.  Well slag heaps, emphysema and mass unemployment. We had that.

So! I came to Swindon. Within days I found work. Actual proper, full-time work. This one thing was little short of a miracle. I bought a house in Grange Park – a fifteen-minute walk from Shaw Ridge leisure park. Here we (my then 12-year-old daughter and I) found:

  • A swimming pool
  • An ice rink
  • A bowling alley
  • A cinema and oh joy of joys to a pre-teen daughter:
  • A Pizza Hut

I truly felt I’d pitched up in the land of milk and honey. And y’know what? I still think that. I still think Swindon is the land of milk and honey. The southwest equivalent of the Klondike for opportunity.

So that listeners is my arrival in Swindon. I settle into full-time employment and building a life. I’m content with where I’m living, I like it perfectly well, it becomes home. But the real love affair with Swindon doesn’t begin then. To get to the igniting of that flickering fire of fondness into a truly, madly, deeply red hot love we have to go all Dr Who (the David Tennant incarnation) and do some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and fast forward about 16 years to when I’m in my early 50s. When compulsory early retirement comes my way. AAAAAARGGGHHHH!!!!

Fast forward another year and I begin a joint English Honours degree at the University of the West of England.

Fast Forward two more years. I’m now approaching the end of my second year at university and selecting modules for my final year. A travel writing module called “Moving Words’ piques my interest.

I have a conversation with the module leader Professor Robin Jarvis:

‘Me: Robin, I’m interested in taking the Moving Words module but, at risk of sounding a bit daft, I don’t do any travelling.

Robin: Angela, the last thing I want landing on my desk is yet another account of a gap year in Thailand. Tell me what you see when you walk to your Tesco Express.

Me: PING – classic lightbulb moment. Why? Because what I see on my walk to my Tesco Express is a piece of public art. Not that I knew that term then. Nor did I know that it formed part of a ‘thing’ called the West Swindon Sculpture Trail. I knew of one or two other sculptures but not the entire collection. So I decided that, over that summer, I’d start blogging about Swindon with a view to amassing material that might – just might – make useful source material for portfolio pieces for this module.’

And that listeners is how Born again Swindonian became to be …well … born. And, as I progressed with what largely started as a means to an end, and as I learnt more and more about Swindon and all it has to offer – that’s when I truly fell in love with the place.

I often liken Swindon to a stripper. Take the time to get to know her, make the effort to cultivate a relationship with her, and she will draw back those layers. Slowly but surely, she will reveal herself and she’ll get under your skin. She’s got under mine.

It’s now around five years and 600 posts since I started blogging as Born again Swindonian. I’m still at it because there’s so much to tell.

Late last year (2017) someone left a message on my blog. That someone was a commissioning editor for a Gloucestershire based publishing house called Amberley. They have a series of local history books called Secret XXXXXX. Would I be interested in writing Secret Swindon?

Hell yes!

Which brings us bang up to date and me about to be a published author and flogging a book. Wow!

Secret Swindon is due for publication in mid-July 2018.

Where can you get it?

After it’s been launched at the end of July it will be available in the library shop in the central library. You’ll also be able to buy it directly from Amberley and even, maybe, in local bookshops.

If you can’t wait till then you can pre-order it right now – right here: https://www.amberley-books.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=secret+swindon

My author (check me out!) profile on the Amberley website: https://www.amberley-books.com/community-angela-atkinson

Find out more.

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