The Gifted Exhibition at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

The Gifted Exhibition at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Hello listeners. The Museum and Art Gallery in Swindon’s Old Town has had a changeover in its exhibition. As indeed it is wont to do. The current exhibition bears the title: Gifted! And is well worth popping along to.

The Gifted exhibition at Swindon museum and art gallery

The images below, of text accompanying the exhibition, explain what the exhibition centres around. But of course there’s more – and many more paintings too. #Obvs

The Bomford and Phelps Gift

Read about the Swindon collection of modern art here.

Some of my old favourites – and there’s nothing wrong with that – are on display in the Gifted! exhibition. Like, for instance, the Lowry below. But it was fab to see some that I’d not seen before. Or at least that I don’t recall.

I think a sticker book would be a bit good here. Pictures of each painting in the collection and a sticker of it to put on when you see the painting in the gallery.

L S Lowry - Winter in Pendlebury
L S Lowry – Winter in Pendlebury 1943

About the Art Fund

The Art Fund
Radnor Street Cemetery blog

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

Radnor Street Cemetery blog - image shows a gravestone.

Listeners! I have grave news for you. No apologies for the pun. I can’t help myself, I can’t stop digging – they’ll be the death of me.

Esteemed Swindon historian, Frances Bevan, has got a new blog. And it promises to be a rather riveting combination of research and fictionalised stories with which Frances will tell the story of Radnor Street Cemetery in Swindon. And, I guess, its inhabitants.

Radnor Street is, amongst being a regular cemetery, a Commonwealth War Graves site.

Photo of squadron leader UK airforce

It’s also the resting place of Harold Morley Starr.

Read more about him here.

Frances is a co-founder of Radnor Street Cemetery Society  so you can be sure she knows a tomb from a crypt. And even more about who is inside them!

To give you a further idea of what the blog is about – this is taken from the blog’s home page:

‘Every death touches someone; a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a stranger, leaving a mark on history itself. Each of these blogposts begin with the re-imagined stories of that unknown witness and continues with researched facts supported by contemporary accounts. Sources include books, emphemera etc held at Local Studies, Central Library, parish registers, Radnor Street Cemetery burial registers, Wills, census returns and the British Newspaper Archives website.’

I’ve read Frances’ first post and it leaves you wanting more. So I urge you to follow Frances on Twitter and keep up to the date with her graveyard goings on.

The Journey

The Journey

15th December 2018

The Journey

Last weekend saw me – and many others – in Swindon’s Old Town being part of The Journey.

The Journey, as described on photographer Elmar Rubio’s website, was ‘an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story’. It entailed a processional performance that unfolded throughout Old Town that showed ‘the true nature, the faith and the fearlessness of those chosen to birth and raise Jesus Christ. It was truly epic, beautiful and moving and I offer my biggest and most heartfelt congratulations and thanks to all those who made it happen.

It began at Lethbridge School with crowd scenes, and the Romans telling the residents of Nazareth that they had to return to their birth place to be counted – for a census. The Journey progressed down to Wood Street, through a bazaar, and into Christ Church for the Nativity – with a real baby!

A couple of images below of this wonderful theatrical event, with thanks to Elmar Rubio for permission to use them. There’s dozens more here – follow the journey in fantastic photographic detail. Elmar is a brilliant photographer.

Mary and joseph

Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus - The Journey

Mary and Joseph and the Infant Jesus

As I walked along with the performance it occurred to me how much the Christmas story carries resonances for all of us. Whether you’re a firm believer in God and Christ, are on the fence or strongly of the opinion that it’s nothing more than the greatest story ever told – it has resonances. Because, aside from the birth of Christ element, the Christmas story is one of people being made to move en masse, without fault and without choice. Whether it be fleeing from war, or famine or natural disaster – or forced from their homes for racist/political reasons – people have suffered mass exodus since time immemorial. The world hasn’t come to anything. Such atrocities were ever thus.

The residents of Nazareth, and all towns and villages in the region, were forced to undertake a long and arduous journey to Bethlehem because the Romans decided to count the population in its occupied territories. No matter if you were old, or sick or, like Mary, heavily pregnant – you had to go. Many must have died along the way.

And mass exodus is something that moved David Bent to paint his Movement 2000 collection. These works took David two years to paint. He undertook the project from feeling moved, inspired – driven even – to create a major piece of work in celebration of the new millennium. When he chose ‘Movement’ as the umbrella title for these paintings he was inadvertently prescient. Why? Because around this time the Balkan/Yugoslav raged. And, as we know, where ever conflict exists there are refugees. Where ever there is conflict there are people on the move seeking sanctuary.

You can view images of Movement 2000 on the David Bent studio website here.

So as I toddled along reflecting on all this, I considered how apt that this performance take place in a town that is home to the Harbour Project, aiding refugees and asylum seekers and is Swindon City of Sanctuary. And I reflected too, how so so very fortunate I am – that I am not them. I reflected that, to coin a cliché – there but for the grace of God go I. Go you. Go all of us.

I’m not wholly a fan of T S Eliot – but I do think that his The Journey of the Magi conveys how difficult that journey was. 

On the subject of the Harbour Project and Swindon as a city of sanctuary see also this post. 

Journey to safety mural

Journey to safety mural at Drove Primary School




Aladdin at The Wyvern

Aladdin at The Wyvern

12th December 2018

Aladdin at The Wyvern

Aladdin: Saturday 8th December – Sunday 6th January 2019

Aladdin at The Wyvern

To clear any doubt: the story of Aladdin didn’t start life as a Disney franchise. Aladdin is, in fact, is a folk tale originating in the Middle East.

Aladdin is one of the tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights) as told by Scherazade* – even though it wasn’t part of the original Arabic text. It’s thought that a Frenchman, Antoine Galland, attributing the tale to a Syrian storyteller called Youhenna Diab, added Aladdin to the collection of tales in the 18th Century.

Read about Scherazade, the inventor of the cliffhanger, in ‘Scherazade the story of a storyteller’ here.

Yet, despite all that, and as Interesting Literature.Com, points out, Aladdin is not Arabian but Chinese. Nor is he an orphan but a ne’r do well. And  I can testify to that. Pictured below you see a Collins book of Fairy Tales given to me in 1966 (Yes – I AM quite old!). You’ll see from the image of the text at the story’s start, that Aladdin is indeed Chinese and a lazy so-and-so.

Whatever – Aladdin and the Magic Lamp is one of the best known and oft repeated of pretty much any fairy tale you care to mention, since its first appearance. Hence its place as part of the pantomime repertoire. Which brings us to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre and the 2018 panotmime production.

Aladdin: Saturday 8th December – Sunday 6th January 2019

Aladdin at The Wyvern Theatre

Check out performance times and prices here.

So last night (11th December), I donned my festive top, antlers and flashing light bulb necklace in readiness for some Swindon panto-style silliness. As my companion and I took our seats in a chock-full auditorium the excitement was palpable. We were ready for the off.

It has to be said, Adam Woodyatt makes a pretty good bad-guy. Last year he was swashed his buckle as Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and this year he’s encouraging boos and jeers as Abanazar – the villain of the piece.  FYI: Abanazar is the inspiration for Jafar in Disney’s version of Aladdin.

Should you be wondering where this version is set, Arabia or China  – well that would be spoilers eh? And do they have Aladdin cast as lazy ne’r do well or a good son? Well that would be spoilers too!

What I can tell you is that all the panto elements you know and love are here. So, there’s booing and hissing and jeering and cheering. There’s a pantomime dame – of course. The genie proper looked the part! There’s the ubiquitous ‘he’s behind you’ – mild peril section and of course the audience participation section. My 2-year-old granddaughter had moved on from the infamous, viral Baby Shark song mod late. Thus I’d just about got that particular ear-worm out of my head. Now it”s well and truly back in there. So thanks for that Wyvern! Should you be lucky enough to have escaped it thus far – here, for your listening pleasure and subsequent insanity – it is:

In summary then …

All the festive panto family fun you know and love. It’s a cracking night out so if you’ve not booked yet then do it. You’ll have a blast. Oh – on the subject of blasts …. did I mention the nerf guns?! No? Well I have now. Be warned! 

Check out performance times and prices here.

And finally – to whet your appetite – a few photos from Anthony Hunt photography –


Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’

in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment

Press release:

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Latest news from Vision Maker Press

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book

NAZ ASHUN, Vision Maker Press

Wiltshire author and publisher Naz Ahsun has contributed to a new book, published this month, which aims to inspire readers to live more fulfilling lives.

Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment, is filled with inspirational tales from people of all ages, nationalities and professions, covering topics from career goals to parenting. It’s the latest book from award-winning authors Ariel and Shya Kane, from New Jersey USA, and will be available from Monday (November 12).

Naz, who is co-founder of publishing firm Vision Maker Press and is known to many as the presenter of The Outer Limits show on Swindon 105.5, says a series of coincidences led to her involvement in this book. In her story she talks about how she’s transformed her relationship with her body image, food and nutrition.

“Way back in 2011, I was heading for Spain for an Easter break. At the airport, I wanted to get a light, easy read to take on holiday with me. That’s when I spotted Men, Money and Chocolateby Menna Van Praag.  On my first night in Barcelona, I opened the book and didn’t put it down until I finished it at dawn. I knew when I finished that I just had to meet the author, who touched me so deeply.

“However, it wasn’t until 2013 this became a reality when I spotted a social media post by the same author. She was holding a writing workshop in London. I immediately signed up and was not disappointed. I also got more than I bargained for as I also met my, now, fiancé who had been facilitating the workshop with Menna Van Praag!”

Naz discovered the author and her fiancé were part of a growing movement known as the ‘Transformation Community’ which holds seminars all over the world where she met fellow authors Ariel and Shya Kane.

In 2016, members of the community were invited to contribute to Being Here…Too, sharing their experience of transformation in their day-to-day lives.

Naz, who earlier this year published her own second book, The Little Book of Animal Wisdom, said: “I was thrilled my story was chosen as one of the ones to appear. My chapter is called Frolicking with Frittatas and it shares my story of how I experienced instantaneous transformation about my body image and diet – all it required was a little help from ruby red peppers, succulent egg, spongy courgettes and a dash of transformative fairy dust.”

The book’s publication will be celebrated locally on November 12 at an event called How to Access Enlightenment in a Busy Modern World, when Naz will read her chapter to the audience at The Henge Shop, Avebury from 7-9pm and entry is £5.

Details are available directly from The Henge Shop on 01672 539229.


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Event: The Journey

Event: The Journey

Event: The Journey

When does this journey take place?
9th December 2018 at 12pm and 4pm

This event looks like being epic. Though not as epic as the journey it sets out to portray: that of Joseph and the pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. That was one gruelling and dangerous trip. It’s fair to say that this journey around Old Town won’t be quite so long nor anything like as arduous. But it promises to be an incredible experience.

When does this journey take place? 9th December 2018 at 12pm and 4pm

The Journey

The Journey

Welcome to an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story.

A processional performance will unfold throughout Swindon Old Town, this Christmas.

Never before seen ‘behind the scenes’ access to the characters we are so familiar with, will reveal the true nature, the faith and the fearlessness, of those who were chosen to birth and raise Jesus Christ.

Meet Mary, the teenage bride, betrothed to Joseph and mysteriously pregnant. She risks shame, heartbreak and a painful death. Revealed are Joseph’s innermost thoughts. How can he understand the nature of Mary’s pregnancy? How will he find the strength to stand by her? Now forced by an occupying power they must make the impossible journey together, throughout the length of a nation, anyway they can.

This is a story of survival, courage, love and faith against all the odds.

‘Our creative team are keen to highlight how these circumstances reflect the difficulties faced by the refugee community and ask people to just consider that this is still happening today.  *See also David Bent’s Movement 2000 for resonances with what this performance is all about.

We are doing this by creating a huge number of people that will join the principal cast as they move down Bath Road and up Wood Street, to mirror those images seen in the media during the refugee crises of recent years.’

The Journey’s artistic director is Anna Friend of the Quirky Bird Theatre and the executive producer is Daphne Hardwick produced of the ever-popular Old Town autumn fayre at Christchurch.

Follow The Journey on Facebook:

To register for your ticket visit

To get involved email

Get your ticket for this free event here. And below is the route of the journey.

The Route

The performance will begin at Lethbridge Primary School and then proceed along Avenue Road, Bath Road, and Wood Street, culminating at Christ Church for our finale.

Route Map - public


If you’d like to get involved in this performance and be more than a bystander – here are some FAQs:

Can I bring my children?
Yes! We would love families to be part of this. Unfortunately we cannot have prams or pushchairs but babes in arms, toddlers and older children are very welcome!

How long will we be needed?
There are two performances, one at 12 and one at 4pm. We envisage that you will be needed for 30 minutes to complete the walk each time, but it could take longer, depending on the size of the group.

Will I need to provide costume?
Kind of…we would like you to wear dark clothing and make sure you are all warm! Shawls and blankets wrapped over shoulders would be great. Nothing brightly coloured, think middle eastern. We would also love if you could have bags with you but don’t worry if not – just you will be fab!

Do we need to rehearse?
Yes, a little bit. You will need to pop along on the 30th November to Christ Church Old Town at 8pm to register and meet Anna Friend, our Director who will talk you through the performance and your part in it. Children do not need to come along on the 30th, just parents! Then on the 2nd Dec we will have a full walk-through of the performance beginning at 12pm so we will need you then.

Anything Else?
No, that’s all, we are so glad you would like to join – please spread the word, we are looking for hundreds to be part of this one moment of the performance.

All you need to do now is confirm you will be involved by emailing

The journey of the Magi – T S Eliot:




Latest Swindon Ramblings

I’m always looking for new and interesting angles to share when out and about in Swindon.

A word about our sponsors

When I’m not being Born again Swindonian and writing Swindon-related books I offer proofreading, editing and writing services as AA Editorial Services.

Blog Categories

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK