Drumstick Pens Beat It

Drumstick Pens Beat It

Simon Webb Artisan pen maker

Simon Webb, is well-known as a maker of beautiful hand-turned writing implements that tell stories. He’s crafted pens from woods that include church pews, Isaac Newton’s apple tree, the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum, HMS Victory and more.

But it’s arguable that his drumstick pens beat it all.

Visit Simon’s website to find our more:

Beat Out That Rhythm on a Drum

In 2019, Simon had the great good fortune to get an invite to a charity event at Middlewick House – erstwhile home of Camilla Parker-Bowles – and now the home of Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame.

Selling his fine pens at the charity event, Simon sold one to Nick himself. An email exchange followed as Nick needed a fine nib fitting to his pen. A service Simon happily provided.

Said Simon: ‘During our email conservation I offered to make something for his charity auction – perhaps from one his drumsticks.

At length, to my great delight, I received a pair of his drumsticks signed by the man himself.’

Drumsticks signed by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd.
Drumsticks owned by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd
Some of Nick Mason's car collection

Nick holds the charity event every year.

He puts his car collection on show and raises money for Wilts Air Ambulance and the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust.

‘I’ve been working this project and am now proud to reveal the result’ added Simon. ‘I’ve made a rhodium and gold fountain pen and included the signed section of the drumstick in the presentation box with the pen.’

Drumstick Pens Beat It - Nick Mason drumstick and pen set by Simon Webb
Drumstick Pens Beat It

It’s been a real thrill to do this and Nick has said he’s happy for me to use whatever is left of the wood for what I want. So I’m planning some cufflinks.

They’ll be available from me soon, complete with a certificate of authentication. See picture below showing a prototype where the hickory wood of the drumstick is surrounded by ebony in a sterling silver setting.

Prototype cufflink

An anecdote

Said Simon: I’d heard Nick on the radio early before I set up at the event. The presenter asked if he did any gardening. He replied that it was a standing joke that he was a ‘zero hours’ gardener.

So when my stand caught his eye and he wandered over to me, I shook hands with him and said it was great to meet another zero hours gardener.’🙂

See also:

Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB – Royal Wotton Bassett

Here’s a smashing guest post from Lis Mcdermot about Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve Royal Wotton Bassett. Until recently I had no idea about this place. And, as you’ll see, it took Lis a while to realise it too!

Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

We had lived in Royal Wootton Bassett for eleven years before we realised there was a lake!

In 1940 the Town Council purchased Wootton Bassett Lake. But it wasn’t until 37 years later, in 1977 that it became Jubilee Lake Park, renamed to mark Queen Elizabeth ll’s Silver Jubilee.

2007 saw the lake area designated as a Local Nature Reserve. It is a beautiful, small area of ancient woodlands and meadows, located north east of the town, a little over a mile from the High Street.

After parking in the lake car park you can choose to either walk though a little copse or walk down the tarmac road. The latter being a much easier option for anyone pushing either pushchairs, or wheelchairs.

Taking the road

The road though has quite a steep incline as you near the lake, which can make it hard work on the way back up to the car park. The copse has a little stream that runs down through the middle. In spring months it’s with blue bells and wild garlic; a wonderful aroma.

f you choose to take the road you’ll pass the large children’s’ play area, and Jubilee Tea Rooms where you can stop for tea and cakes, or ice cream on extra hot days.

The park has plenty of activities for children including quiz leaflets. You can colllect these from either the Lake Tea Rooms, or the Town Council Office on the High Street. There are also public toilets in this area.

Seasons in the sun – or maybe the snow

If you visit the lake often during the year, you can watch the seasons change. During the spring it’s lovely to watch the family of geese swimming with their newly hatched chicks.

n the summer the meadow beside the lake is the perfect spot to sit and read, or simply enjoy the sunshine with the family. Later in the year, the trees look magnificent dressed in the Autumnal colours. The area is very quiet, and it’s easy to forget that you are on the edge of a small town.

There is also a thriving Angling Club and you often see fisherman sitting in quite contemplation around the edge of the lake with the rods. NB: You need a license for fishing.

Path and trees around a lake - Jubilee Lake Nature Reserve RWB

The walk around the lake is not that long. So, if you’re walking there for exercise, a mere one walk around never feels quite enough. It’s a somewhat small lake, as lakes go after all. Yet it’s a beautiful area, and well worth visiting.

At present during the Corona Virus pandemic, there is one-way system in place, to ensure people are able to self-distance more with ease.

For more information about the Angling Club, please contact Terry Strange on 01793 346730.

The Tea Rooms are open Thursday to Sundays 10 am to 4pm. For more information visit their facebook page: https://engb.facebook.com/Teaatthepark/

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

IT expert Chris Goodchild is offering cyber security support to business owners who have teams working from home.

The consultant offers a full suite of IT support services to SMEs in Swindon and beyond. He’s able to offer remote support to any business concerned about online security during lockdown and beyond. 

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

Said Chris:

‘Our lives have all changed over these last months. And, through no choice of their own, companies all around the world have also had to make changes to the way they work. Now their team members are working from home too.’

‘This is a completely new territory for many company directors or owners.  That newness creates issues, particularly around safety and security. Getting this right is important for any business. But in particular if you’re running a business where you think ‘working from home’ may become part of your model as we emerge from lockdown.’

For bigger companies, especially those dealing with very sensitive data, working from multiple home office environments, means staff cannot simply get online and ‘hope for the best’. 

Evidence is showing that, as the pandemic rages, security breaches, hacks, cyber scams are increasing at an alarming rate. And right across the world.

Criminals are grasping the opportunity to infiltrate organisations to steal data, demand ransoms or scam money from unsuspecting company employees. 

To date: 

*Phishing websites have increased by 350% in Q1 this year. 
*36% of organisations have suffered hacking in the same period. 
* 90% of remote workers do not act in a secure manner when working from home.

‘The question is – who handles being security? Is it the employee using their own wi-fi and resources to keep working for their employer? Or is it the employer expecting the employee to work from home and be efficient in doing so?

Many corporate organisations they know it’s their responsibility. But with the SME sector this may be a grey area.’

Some SupportWise top tips IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

Chris has a few simple tips to help to ensure the wi-fi connection at home is secure. 

  • If you still use ‘admin admin’ as your login, then change it immediately. Without your company network to protect you, make sure you create a strong and completely unique password. Use something that has a variety of characters, including lower and upper close letters and numbers.
  • Never run wi-fi without a password, and when you set up your password, make sure it’s set to WPA2.
  • Check you’ve enabled your router’s built-in firewall.
  • The standard security policies to keep your operating systems plugins and antivirus software up to date will still apply, even when working from home.
  • Bookmark oft visited sites.
  • A secure way to stop criminals intercepting your data is to use a virtual private network or VPN, which provides security for your internet traffic –bigger companies will have already done this. 

Minimising the risk of phishing and spamming attacks:

  • Be aware there are many phishing scams targeting remote workers hoping to play on their emotional state. 
  • If you receive an unexpected email from a colleague, and it’s not their usual writing style, it may well not be them sending it.  Rather than open it or reply, report it.
  • Think twice if, in the main body of an email you’re asked to ‘click here’ or open an attachment. Before doing anything, check in the Sender’s line that the domain is what you would expect to see.  If you’re still unsure; don’t open it. Send a new, separate email to the person you think it is to check, or report it. 
  • Beware of fake and phishing emails asking you to update your credentials. Credible companies do not email you for this information. 


Whilst working from home, resist the tempatation to use data sharing tools that are not:
A. secure, and

B. May also give access to sensitive work documents. Only work with the secure data-sharing suggested and used by the company. 

Your home office:

You should be the only person using your work computer. Ensure no one else has access to it. They could see files to which they shouldn’t have access. Or, without meaning to, download malicious websites. They’re rife at the moment.

  • Don’t print out confidential documents, and if you have to, then shred them immediately.
  • Work in a space where work phone call conversations are private. If possible behind a closed door and out of range of Alexa or Google home devices.

For more information on how Chris can support your company around remote working, please contact him via www.supportwise.co.uk

See also: https://swindonian.me/2020/02/13/new-it-business-supportwise/



THE COTSWOLD CHALLENGE COMES TO SWINDON! - light bulb, pencils, eraser on desk top

Due to popular demand, The Cotswold Challenge competition for teenagers under lockdown is now open to young people in Swindon as THE COTSWOLD CHALLENGE COMES TO SWINDON!

Five business owners, living in and around the Cotswolds, came together during lockdown to try to support local young people who’ve had their examinations cancelled. The contest launched three weeks ago and several students from Swindon have asked to take part. 

“Due to demand, we made the decision to widen the geographical area covered by the competition and now it’s open to any young person living in Swindon who would have been taking GCSEs, A Levels or equivalents this year,” said Fiona Scott, from Swindon, who is one of the team behind the contest. 


We’ve had requests from young people from West Swindon and Central Swindon so we’ve widened the area to a 25 miles radius of Cirencester – deemed to be the centre of the Cotswolds.”

What that means

This means young people from across Swindon can submit an entry for the challenge. It’s divided into three categories:
1. Art & Design
2. Creative Writing
3. Innovation & Entrepreneurial Thinking

There’s a first, second, third and fourth prize in each category of £500, £300, £150, £50 and runners up will get a book token. 

The initiative was first developed to support 16 to 19 year olds (Years 11, 12, 13) to give them something creative to do and offer them the chance to excel, gain a sense of achievement and self-worth. 

 The challenge launched in April and it remains open until 9pm on Monday June 1. 

“We’re particularly interested in getting entries from young people who are enterprising and innovative. They may have an idea for a new product, be a fledgling inventor, have thought of the next best app or have come up with a solution for the good of their community.

These young people may have a great business idea – or simply a great idea which they want to share and perhaps take the next steps to become a reality,” Fiona said. 

The sponsors have already donated the prize money in full.

Winners will also be able to pitch for extra funds to take ‘the next step’ in showcasing their work eg. publishing their poem or short story in a local publication, staging their own art exhibition or taking an idea to an early prototype stage. 

The sponsors for the project include:

The Fred And Marjorie Sainsbury Charitable Trust
Jeevan Thandi of Karhoo
Timothy James & Partners, independent financial advisers 
Jason Houghton, Salperton Park Estate, Cheltenham 
The Fairford & Lechlade Business Club 
Royal Agricultural University, Gloucestershire  
The Paperback Shop, of Fairford
Marion Whittaker 
Author Kevin Wignall
Meg Rivers Bakery, of Shipston On Stour 
Suzannah Harvey, CEO of Cotswold Airport
Kim Harvey of The MadHatter Bookshop, of Burford. 
Nicky Godding, founder of Business & Innovation Magazine
John Biddulph, of Rodmarton Manor
Emma & Jamie Tuck of Bulldog Websites, of Swindon 
Allison Murray of Allison Murray Design, of Eastleach
Barry Jackson, of Aspire Academy
Bettina Harvey of Hector & Queen
Nicky Godding of Business & Innovation magazine


A a team of well-known people, who have themselves achieved success in their own sector or business, will judge the entries. To date 60 young people have submitted entries for consideration.

Details of the competition, the criteria for entry and the briefing pack are all available via the website www.thecotswoldchallenge.com

6. The Hall and Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelry

6. The Hall and Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelry

The Hall & Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelry

One of the entries in Swindon in 50 Buildings, is The Crumpled Horn pub over in Eldene. So, I figured this blog series of Swindon in 50 More Buildings should include a pub too. And this news about the Hall & Woodhouse pub out at Wichelstow is a good enough reason to make it this one.

NB: When this place first opened, the website had stock photos of a country house that wasn’t Lydiard House. And a steam engine absolutely not made by the GWR. People were upset – with good reason. Lazy and unnecessary. Ergo, I’m happy to report that the local attractions page on their website does now feature actual Swindon places.

The Hall and Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelry gets national recognition for innovative pub in Swindon

The Hall & Woodhouse Canalside Hostelry - Hall and Woodhouse

Hall & Woodhouse at Wichelstowe, Swindon, has won the coveted ‘New Build Award’ in the prestigious CAMRA Pub Design Awards 2020.

A CAMRA award – Campaign for Real Ale

The awards, held by CAMRA, in conjunction with Historic England, celebrate exceptional pubs across the country. These are pubs that have undergone conversion or conservation work. That or they’re newly built.

Hall & Woodhouse in Wichelstowe first opened its doors to guests in February 2019. This follows a £5million investment. The canal-side pub sits in the new housing expansion at Wichelstowe and has become a flagship symbol of the emerging community.


The pub’s designers took inspiration from its surroundings, looking at creative ways to:

A. Incorporate the canal
B. Reflect industrial Swindon’s architectural heritage into the pub’s interior and striking exterior.

An innovative, purpose-built canal boat named Lady Rose protrudes from the front entrance of the building. It contains self-serve beer pumps in sectioned booths that can seat up to 20 people.

The Hall & Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelry - the half-in-half-out canal boat

Mark James, Property Director at Hall & Woodhouse, said: “It’s important to us to create a welcoming atmosphere that makes guests feel at home. A place where they can relax over a coffee or a meal, or enjoy a drink with friends.

A labour of love

Hall & Woodhouse, Wichelstowe was a real labour of love for our design team. They spent months sourcing unique features to enhance the pub’s iconic appearance. A walk around the pub surrounds you with pieces of Swindon’s history and artefacts conveying our 240 years of brewing heritage.

Glazed drinking and dining areas extending along the canal frontage, represent a terrace of traditional boathouses. The gabled roofs opening onto the water’s edge, form an extensive area of covered outdoor space. And the taller accommodation block symbolises traditional canal-side warehouses.

The Hall and Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelry

Juxtaposition in the internal decor

The internal décor is a juxtaposition of industrial structure and soft furnishings. The walls are adorned with images of local boatbuilding, the Hall & Woodhouse family and the company’s brewing heritage.

We sourced with care, knick-knacks from all over the country to enhance the building’s atmosphere.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, added: “The New Build Award is rarely awarded. It’s a testament to the quality of Hall & Woodhouse at Wichelstowe that it has won.

“The commitment Hall & Woodhouse make to individual, location-specific design is praiseworthy.”

About Hall & Woodhouse

Hall & Woodhouse is an independent Dorset family company. They brew award-winning Badger Ales and run an estate of high-quality pubs in the south of England.

Please visit https://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk/ for more information.