Swindon Civic Offices: wedding fair

Swindon Civic Offices: wedding fair

12th February

Swindon civic offices exterior

Swindon civic offices exterior

Last Sunday I popped along to the wedding fair held in Swindon’s Civic offices. This was the first time the registrars had put on such an event so I guess it was kinda appropriate that it should take place in February – the month associated with Valentine’s Day.

For some of my writings about the aforementioned February festival go here: http://www.aaedits.co.uk/blog/love-is-in-the-ether/ and here: http://www.indexwiltshire.co.uk/7477-2/


So why was I visiting a wedding fair? A good question! Well – two reasons as it happens. In the first instance to give some support to a friend who was exhibiting there with her Fab Gift Boutique business. And to find out more about that read here.

And here’s some photos of the Fab Gift Boutique Stand:

Then in the second instance I visited for the opportunity to have a nose around the civic offices – because they are all Art-Deco and amazing! I never did understand why the registry office used to be in Aspen House – surely a now-demolished building that isn’t lamented – when there was the lovely civic offices with a garden and everything!

Never mind – civil ceremonies are held there now and that’s the main thing. MUCH nicer.

And you know what? It was a very well done event – though TBH they had me with ‘hello’ and a glass fizz. So a massive well done to all concerned with the whole thing. There were lots of exhibitors and a fashion show and all sorts of splendid things actually. Certainly there was a good number of people coming through – a resounding success I’d say.

I was very taken with some of the earrings on this stand. Great fun!

earrings on a stall

The Earring Cabin


And here’s the lovely Louise of Wendy House flowers:

lady stood behind display table

Louise of Wendy House Flowers

And a few more pics from around the place:


Meaty, beaty big and bouncy

Meaty, beaty big and bouncy

3 February 2016

Okay – before I go any further let’s get the elephant in the room – out of the room. I know there has been ‘unrest’ about the entire situation of the removal of the climbing wall and the installation of the trampoline park at the Link Centre. I’m not opining either way on that here because it’s not the forum.

I was invited to go along and check out the trampoline park and write about my experience of it – so I did. I am. And that is all.

The Better Extreme Bounce

Well. Me on a trampoline – who’d have thought?

Anyone that knows me well will know that I don’t run, catch, throw, hop, skip or jump – or indeed do anything remotely related to sports and games and activity of any sort. Walking and swimming excepted. I have shocking spatial skills and non-existent hand/eye coordination not to mention being a tad feeble and nervous when it comes to such things.  And that’s fine – I’m perfectly comfortable with that.

So I somewhat surprised myself when I heard myself agreeing to go and visit the new trampoline facility at the Link Centre. Ooh er missus!


So last Saturday I found myself donning trampoline socks – yes there’s such a thing – and sitting in a briefing room watching a short safety video.

About the facility

From the official press release: “Offering state-of-the-art equipment including a main court with foam pits, extreme dodgeball area, basketball, fidget ladder, slack line and performance walls, the trampoline park will provide a fun haven for children and adults alike.”

Al of which is true enough for sure. It’s also orange. Very, very orange! 🙂

So yeah – if you’ve got youngsters with way too much energy this place has to be a great way of burning some of it off when it’s not fit to be outside – which seems to be an almost permanent state of affairs these days.

And it’s not all ‘free-range’ as it were. It’s a safe and supervised environment. When I visited two staff members were helping a young visitors to do somersaults. I’m not entirely sure why anyone would want to do a somersault in the first place but there you go.

And as you can see from the extract from the press release and the photos below there’s a whole range of play and bouncing opportunities. And that surprised me I think. I guess my expectations were of wall-to-wall off the floor trampolines – like the ones you can buy for your back garden. But it’s a far cry from that.

I won’t lie. I took one look at the foam pits and thought “ugh – imagine how smelly and sweaty they’ll get.” But it seems the foam ‘chunks’ are changed over regularly. Makes no odds to me – I won’t be jumping in them I can assure you. But still it’s good to know eh? And there’s some super big ass ceiling fans to keep the air moving around. Thank goodness for that.

There’s a viewing gallery so you can sit in comfort with a coffee and watch the little darlings work themselves up into a lather below – sounds like a much better idea to me. 🙂

But if your trampolining heart desires the venue can be hired for parties of all kinds. Well maybe not naturist parties. Imagine….

“Youngsters of any age are welcome and trampolining is a great way for kids to let off steam in a safe and supervised environment. Older teens who enjoy extreme sports can build up their confidence with support on hand if required, while adults can pit their skills against each other in activities designed to test their abilities to the max. The facility can also accommodate birthdays, corporate days, hen and stag parties.”

Practical information:

“The new Trampoline Park will be open from 1st February 2016. Initial weekday opening times will be from 4pm – 9pm and weekend opening times from 11am – 6pm on Saturdays and 10am-4pm on Sundays. From 15th February opening times will extend to daily sessions of 10am to 9pm.

Prices start from as little as £6.95 and include concessionary rates. A reduced adults entrance fee of £7.95 will run during February 2016 (normal price £9.95).”


So. Did I actually have a go on a trampoline? Given all I’ve said above? Yes! I did as it happens. It was a very sedate bounce I’m not gonna lie to you. But I did bounce nevertheless and even quite enjoyed it. And here’s the evidence:


Ridgeway Mindful Psychology

Ridgeway Mindful Psychology

29th January 2016

two ladies either side of an advertising banner

Ridgeway Mindful Psychology

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” 
― Amit RayOm Chanting and Meditation

Ridgeway Mindful Psychology: http://rmp-swindon.org



Mindfulness Courses and Consultancy throughout the Swindon and Cirencester Area

“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” 
― Louis L’Amour


I recently attended a mindfulness taster session run by the two ladies in the photograph who are Ridgeway Mindful Psychology. And a very interesting experience it was too.

The directors of Ridgeway Mindful Psychology are Lizzie Cambray and Dr Susan Oxborrow.

Lizzie is a counselling psychologist chartered with the British Psychological Society.  Susan is Swindon born and bred and graduated from Guy’s Hospital Medical school in 1985.

You can find out more about Susan and Lizzie here: http://rmp-swindon.org/what-is-ridgeway-mindful-psychology/

They say that they chose the name Ridgeway Mindful Psychology because: it reflects the meeting of Eastern wisdom and Western science that represents Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. The Ridgeway is an ancient, well-trodden path traversing the Swindon area and beyond, the geographical area we seek to serve.”

Anyway – back to the taster session that I attended. My purpose in going was to get a feel for it for the purpose of writing this blog post. And gosh what an interesting experience it was.

There was a good turnout for this taster session held at the Churn Project in Cirencester. And I think it’s fair to say that everyone there took something different from it – had a different experience of it. For myself I found it profoundly relaxing. So much so that I actually nodded off for a few minutes! It was lovely.

The ‘mindfulness’ bit was delivered by Lizzie. And I have to say she has the calmest, most serene ‘way’ that I think I’ve ever encountered. It was beautiful.

And Susan – Dr Oxborrow – was amazing when it came to answering questions from the floor as it were. Together they complement each other really very well.

It says on the website: RMP is interested in working with anyone struggling to meet the demands of everyday life, as well as those who simply wish to enhance their well-being.”

So if you think that sounds like you and you’d like to know more than contact them here: http://rmp-swindon.org/contact-us/


Here we go a wassailing..

Here we go a wassailing..

Sunday 24th January 2016

“Then here’s to the heartening wassail, Wherever good fellows are found; Be its master instead of its vassal, and order the glasses around” Ogden Nash I believe…


I missed last year’s wassail held in the ever-so-lovely- secret garden so it was great to get the chance to pop in there yesterday, observe all the wassailing related carryings on and get a few photos. But first a brief history of wassailing.

This website, the history of Wassailing and Mumming, has this to say:

“… The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter…. 

One legend about how Wassailing was created, says that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words ‘waes hael’. Over the centuries, a great deal of ceremony developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl was carried into a room with a great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink was sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage was served.

From this it developed into a another way of saying Merry Christmas to each other!”

And indeed most of us will know the popular wassailing carol – it formed a part of yesterday’s fun and frolics:

“Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wassailing,
So fair to be seen:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you,
A happy New Year,
And God send you,
A happy new year.”

However,  you won’t be at all surprised to know that there’s another tradition centred around wassailing, and this is what yesterday’s event in the secret garden was all about, and that’s the apple wassail.

According to Wikipedia: 

“The Apple Wassail is a traditional form of wassailing practiced in the cider orchards of South West England during the winter.

There are many well recorded instances of the Apple Wassail in the early modern period. The first recorded mention was at FordwichKent, in 1585, by which time groups of young men would go between orchards performing the rite for a reward. The practice was sometimes referred to as “howling”.

On Twelfth Night, men would go with their wassail bowl into the orchard and go about the trees. Slices of bread or toast were laid at the roots and sometimes tied to branches. Cider was also poured over the tree roots. The ceremony is said to “bless” the trees to produce a good crop in the forthcoming season. Among the most famous wassail ceremonies are those in Whimple, Devon and Carhampton, Somerset, both on 17 January.

A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the “Apple Tree Man”, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is said to reside. In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried treasure.”

And yesterday’s fabulous event in the secret garden at Queen’s Park was based on the above. So there was a King and Queen of the Wassil, there was drumming from the fabulous Banged to Rites and cider and toast were fed to the apple tree man – once he’d been woken up with all the shouting, drumming and singing – he’d be hungry after all that lot!

Banged to Rites: https://www.facebook.com/bangtorites/?fref=ts


Swindon 105.5 business show

Swindon 105.5 business show

23 January 2016

logo for aa editorial servicesShortly before Christmas, and in my AA Editorial Services hat, I appeared (I’m not sure how you can appear on the radio but anyway…) on Swindon 105.5’s  splendid Monday evening business show.

In the studio with me was my client (one of them) Jo Rigden who runs 4Points Leisure: https://www.4pointsleisure.co.uk/joomla30/

You can also read more about Jo and her business here. logo 4 points leisure

During the show we talked, with the interviewer Gerry Reilly, about the writing work I’d done for Jo’s business and the positive effect it had wrought on their Google rankings. Which is nice.

So, if you wish to listen – here it is:


NB: Gerry Reilly is involved with the Swindon branch of the Federation of Small businesses. Find more about that here: http://www.fsb.org.uk/regions/somerset-wiltshire/branches/swindon