Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project 2019

Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project 2019

August 2019

Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project Serve up a sweet treat with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

If it’s late August that can mean only one thing: Wyvern’s Theatre Summer Youth Project 2019.

Running since 1994, the summer youth project has become a highlight of the Wyvern’s calendar.

Hear theatre director Laura James talking about the SYP: https://youtu.be/TMuT3eTpBMY

I’ve been to several of them now and they do seem to get better each year. They do a damn good job – all them. On stage and off – the standard is VERY high. All kudos to the Wyvern, to the foundation and to the kids themselves.

2017’s Summer Holiday was lovely and in last year’s production of Oliver, the then 16-year-old Archie Fisher made a big impression with a mature-beyond-his-years performance as Fagin.

I said it then – and I’ll say it again. That young man has ‘it’. So when, in a few year’s time, you see his name in lights remember: you saw him here first.

Here again, in the Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project 2019, in the lead role as Caractacus Potts, the still-only-17-year-old Archie gives a credible performance as as father to two young mother-less children.

Archie Fisher as Caractacus Potts with Ben Brindle as Jeremy and Mollie Avenell as Jemima. Wyvern theatre summer youth project 2019.
Archie Fisher as Caractacus Potts with Ben Brindle as Jeremy and Mollie Avenell as Jemima.

A host of memorable performances

But I can’t only talk about Archie Fisher. The production boasts a full complement of super performances. There are not one but two lovely comic duos. Michael Kerr gives a good turn as the infantile Bulgarian Baron – one feels apologies are owed to Bulgaria – and so does Rae Alexander as his long-suffering, indulgent wife.

Amy Gordon made a fitting Truly Scrumptious with her sweet singing voice fitting the role well.

Also deserving a particular mention are Maddy Stimpson-Duffy and Marcellus Hill as Cloris and Goran, the Baron’s bumbling spies sent to get hold of Pott’s car. Lots of laughs from all four! Super stuff.

Both the youngsters playing Pott’s children were scene stealers of course. But I have to give a special word about Mollie Avenell – I felt she too had a notable stage presence.

If you’re at a loose end tonight and you can get a ticket – go! https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-chitty-chitty-bang-bang-swindon-2019 It’s such fun! Scrumptious even. Truly!

Credit: All photos – screenshots aside – Anthony Hunt Photography

Things you might not know about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a 1968 British-American musicaladventurefantasy film.  Ken Hughes  directed it. Roald Dahl wrote it, loosely basing it on Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car.

Albert R. Broccoli ( often known as Cubby) famous for being a regular co-producer of the James Bond films produced it.

The film starred Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann HowesAdrian Hall, Heather Ripley, Lionel JeffriesJames Robertson JusticeRobert Helpmann, and Gert Fröbe.


From the 1960s film: https://youtu.be/-P2jiRPlq2U




Cheeky Little Prints is 10!

Cheeky Little Prints is 10!

The woman behind local pet keepsake & personalised gift company celebrates 10th anniversary 

Cheeky Little Prints is 10!
Cheeky Little Prints founder Lisa Berry is thrilled to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her Swindon-based business. Lisa’s business specializes in personalised paw print jewellery alongside bespoke paw print gifts and keepsakes. 

In April 2009 Lisa, then aged 26, who lives in the Covingham area of Swindon took the plunge to launch the company from home. A trained veterinary nurse, she has, as you’d expect, a love of animals.

Lisa set up shop on her kitchen table, working on customer orders, while her children were asleep in bed.

Says Lisa: ‘working with people and their pets I got to see first hand just how much we love our furry friends – myself included. Whenever one passed, the pain and loss suffered really brought home just how much they meant to their owners. That’s why I came up with the idea of creating these very special mementoes.’

Print Kits for Pet Owners

Cheeky Little Prints became one of the first businesses in the UK to make print kits for pet owners to use to put their own pets’ paw prints on paper themselves.

‘Over the last decade the business has evolved and really taken off. Just as parents love to capture their children, animal lovers also want to see their pets in personalised items especially paw prints.’

Today, Lisa continues to run her web-based business from her home office in Swindon, yet customer orders come in from all over the world, including the US. What has taken Lisa by surprise is the personal contact pet owners want. 

‘Every order has a special story behind it and my customers love to share their paw print stories with me. It’s why I’m also launching a gallery on social media and on my website allowing customers the opportunity to show the mementoes they’ve created and to share their pets’ stories.’

‘After ten years of building the business and running it alongside my family I’ve now got a good idea about what clients love. It’s why we’ll be expanding the business in the next few months.’

Lisa is also a voice for single parents in business. She faced the personal challenge of going through a divorce while her business was starting out and is now a member of the national organisation Single Mums Business Network.

Now she supports other entrepreneurs facing similar situations. 

For more information on Cheeky Little Prints visit:  https://cheekylittleprints.co.uk and find Lisa on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheekylittleprintsandgifts/

Ken White Triptych Lydiard House

Ken White Triptych Lydiard House

August 2019

Ken White Triptych Lydird House

Well. here’s a thing. These past few months, alongside writing Swindon in 50 Buildings, I’ve been working concurrently on Ken White’s story: A Ken White Retrospective.

I, like many other people I daresay, had formed the impression that the only piece of Ken’s Swindon work, still in existence, is the Golden Lion mural.

So imagine my surprise when, just t’other day, a tweet appeared on my Twitterfeed from the friends of Lydiard Park with an image of a painting of Lydiard House, that Ken did in 2005. I rather get the impression it’s been in storage or something. Certainly, I’ve been in that house more than a few times and never seen it. Even now it’s leaning against the wall in a tucked away corner of the rooms that are open.

Which rather begs the question Lydiard House management, WHY in God’s name do you not have this artwork on permanent display and shout it from the room tops? With Ken’s story due to be published soon you’re missing one heck of a marketing opportunity. #justsaying

Ken White's tryptych at Lydiard House

Ken created the triptych as a joint project between Ken and Intel. Some Intel staff did some of the painting. The idea of the artwork was, according to Ken, for children to find things in the painting around the house.

Indeed, hidden in the bottom right hand corner is the image of a very famous Swindon figure.

What else is there to see at Lydiard House?

Well. Quite rather a lot actually. The member of staff on duty, Adrian Smith, gave me a bit of a tour explaining some of the paintings etc. He’s really very knowledgeable – as you’d expect – and I must seek him out again and pay more attention. Why? Because, TBH, I was too stunned about the Ken White triptych to concentrate fully. That and thinking, as Adrian spoke, that small in number as the available rooms at Lydiard might be – there’s a heck of a lot of stuff that is simply not shouted about enough. WHY is Swindon so bad at this?

For example on this visit I noticed a couple of watercolours that I rather liked, created to accompany a 1951 newspaper article about the house written by none other than Aldous Huxley of Brave New World fame.

water colour of lydiard

I also rather liked this one:

Artwork in Lydiard House showing the Golden Cavalier monument in St Mary's Church.

Then there’s the Socchi desk, the portrait of Lady Diana Spencer – ancestor of the Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales we all know. And so much more.

So – if you’ve never been – or you’ve never been for a while, give it another look. https://www.lydiardpark.org.uk/info/8/lydiard-house-0

No 1: Ouzo – it’s all Greek to me

No 1: Ouzo – it’s all Greek to me

Swindon in 50 Drinks

7th August 2019

No 1: Ouzo
Four days ago myself, family and friends were out celebrating the launch at the Baker’s community cafe, of my second book Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Me outside the Baker’s Cafe talking about the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPBP2KfyhIs&feature=youtu.be

Now, more than once in recent weeks the topic of covering Swindon in 50 Drinks arose. It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek TBH. But then I got to thinking ‘Why not?’ Something a little different for this blog. I hasten to point out that this series of posts WILL feature non-alcoholic drinks too!

So these posts are not about drinks that are #madeinswindon – that would be beer and nothing else I imagine. Though no doubt someone can put me right on that. No, this series of posts are intended as a light-hearted journey around drinks once can enjoy in Swindon. I aim to namecheck 50 different establishments on this journey.

Ergo, being as how the location for my book launch celebrations was the Greek Olive, what better drink to have for No 1 in this series than Ouzo?

My sister knocking back her complimentary ouzo shot at the Greek Olive on Faringdon Rd.

Ouzo


According to Wikipedia, ‘Ouzo (Greek: ούζο, IPA: [ˈuzo]) is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece , Cyprus and North Macedonia. Its taste is similar to other anise liquors like rakıarakpastis and sambuca.’

And for a one-minute history of ouzo read this article here.

According to this article from The Spruce Eats,:

‘There is an old Greek saying that “ouzo makes the spirit” and this is especially true in Greece. The Greek spirit or kefi (KEH-fee) is found in hearty food, soulful music, and the love of lively conversation. A glass of chilled ouzo is the perfect companion to all of these things.

Most people would agree that ouzo is Greece’s most popular alcoholic drink. No other beverage is as uniquely Greek or as closely linked to a culture as ouzo is to Greece. In fact, in 2006, the Greek government won the exclusive rights to use the product name ouzo.’


All I have to say to that is Yammas!



New Murals in Swindon

New Murals in Swindon

Swindon used to be a town full of murals. Many, though not all, were the work of Ken White. Only one of his now remains and that’s the Golden Lion mural which you can see in the image below. Now though there are some new murals in Swindon.

From the Swindon Advertiser: https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10680151.remembering-the-days-of-our-glorious-murals/

See also: https://swindonian.me/my-publications/a-ken-white-retrospective/ and https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/ken-white/

NB: Image below of the Golden Lion mural by Roger Ogle for Link Magazine when Ken had refreshed and reworked the mural a few years back now

ken white and golden lion mural
Image by Roger Ogle for Link Magazine

A couple of decades back, Thamesdown arts produced an art trail leaflet. I can’t reproduce that here for copyright reasons. But Duncan and Mandy’s splendid website has a list of what was in that leaflet here.

1. The ‘Swindon: Then, When and Now’ Mural

Now though, thanks to a lot of hard work by the lovely people at Artsite (cutting a long story short) and the artist Billy Beaumont, and we have this super, glorious mural.

On the side of the Artsite building in Theatre Square is the glorious, IMHO, ‘Swindon: Then, When and Now mural.

See also: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/artist-and-the-post-modern/

Here’s a short video of Ken White cutting the ribbon to officially ‘unveil’ the mural: https://youtu.be/1zLcUXQwhdU

Mural No 2: ‘My Town – My World

The other mural to brighten up Swindon’s walls is the one entitled ‘My Town – My World’

As this article in the Swindon Advertiser explained, Swindon-born street artist Martin Travers, who runs educational programmes in Amsterdam and Kathmandu worked alongside Peter Crowdy to create this mural.

‘The inSwindon BID team, in partnership with Artsite and Swindon Climate Action Network, launched the project to help re-energise the town centre and boost community arts.’

On his Facebook page, Martin says: ‘Locality is about things that take place within an area – theatre, arts, creativity – that’s what makes a place.’ He’s not wrong.

Richard jefferies quote - My Town - My World'  mural in Swindon

The quotation used on the mural is from our very own Richard Jefferies: ‘If every plant and flower were found in all places, the charm of locality would not exist. Everything varies, and that gives the interest.’


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