Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school

September 2019

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school – Well this has been a wonderful development.
A week or two back I received a contact from Sally Clarke, the head teacher at Nythe Primary school. She’d seen my posts on LinkedIn about my most recent book, Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Well, I say most recent. In actual fact another book, about Swindon-born artist and mural man Ken White, hit the bookshelves a few days ago.

As you can see from the image below, I’ve very nearly got an entire catalogue now. Find all of them here: https://swindonian.me/my-publications/

Images of three books - Swindon in 50 buildings, Secret Swindon and Ken White.

But back to Nythe and Swindon in 50 Buildings Going to School

The ever-so-lovely head, Sally Clarke, at Nythe contacted me asking me to meet her. The upshot of that meeting was myself, a barrow-load (well eight) of copies of Swindon in 50 Buildings and my ex-teacher friend, Jo Garton heading over to Nythe school to speak to Sally and her lovely staff about this blog and my books and how they might be used as a teaching resource to teach the children about Swindon and having pride in where they live. And there’s SUCH a lot to be proud of.

I’m so delighted that Sally spotted my book and make contact. It’s great to sell some books of course – I won’t lie to you. But it’s also lovely to see their potential recognised. Thank you Nythe!

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school

All three of these books, in their own way, constitute good resources for schools as well as excellent general interest – though I say it myself.

Secret Swindon – here’s a short YouTube film of me attempting to describe Secret Swindon. The book gives a good overview of Swindon’s cultural past and present, tells the story of the medical fund society, Swindon’s spitfire involvement and more.

A bit about Born Again Swindonian

It’s quite a tale about how this blog came into being – one which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say if you’re interested enough, the Born again Swindonian backstory is here. The main thing is that this blog is here. It’s free. And it’s a resource for all of you to use. I’ve been writing it for six years now (I think) and I’ve covered a lot of stuff. The image below gives you some indication of the topics covered.

Born again swindonian blog topics

Where to Buy

All three books are available at:

  1. The library shop in Swindon Central library
  2. Waterstone’s Swindon
  3. At the website of the publisher, Amberley books.
  4. On Amberley’s Amazon store.

On the subject of civic pride

In yet another hat I’m chair of Swindon Civic Voice. In 2018, we led the GWR Railway Village conservation area to victory as England’s conservation area – and more on that here: https://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/2019/06/conservation-area-award-official-presentation/

The GWR railway village is one of many, many things that Swindon and its people should cherish and be proud. Winning that award played a big part in the railway village being awarded a Historic England action Zone.

That was/is a fab achievement yet there’s much to be done. So, I’m sneaking in a plea here for members! Either active or simply willing to pay £6 a year to help support us. Can you? https://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/2019/08/swindon-civic-voice-needs-you/

Thank you.



Pink & Green Pop Up Shop

Pink & Green Pop Up Shop

Pink & Green Pop-Up Shop in Cheltenham’s Molton Brown store

This is lovely news from one of my favourite Swindon business Pink & Green. Later this month (September 2019) they are having a pop-shop event in Cheltenham’s branch of Molton Brown.

To explain: Some months ago now, on the networking circuit, Pink&Green met Sali Green, owner of the Iwork4UGlocs business directory. As they got to know Sali, they and their Pink&Green products, helped her with a skin condition.

Top: Before and after pictures of Sali Green. Bottom: Pink and Green One Balm.

Sali was so super delighted by the results that she felt inspired to start her own skincare range – with a little help from our friends at Pink&Green. In the end though, Sali decided she simply had not the time to give it the promotion it needed so decided instead to promote her skin rescuers.

Out of that promotion and support arose this exciting opportunity with Molton Brown to have a pop-up shop in their store on Cheltenham’s swish Promenade shopping area.

Molton Brown and their Pop-Up Shop Policy

Molton Brown – or this store at least – have a strategy of creating points of interest each week to draw people into the store. So, instead of being more or less unchanging week in and week out they create a sense of ‘Ooooh. What’s all that then?’ to shoppers rather than ‘Yep-seen that. Got that.’ Which is, if think about, rather insightful and enlightened.

They offer a generous amount of space in their store for local and/or artisan companies to display and promote their products. They’ve found this to be an arrangement of mutual benefit both to them and to the pop-up businesses. 

So, since Molton Brown don’t do facial skincare Sali suggested her friends at Pink&Green. Molton Brown then did what you’d expect them to do and checked them out on social media and the rest. Satisfied with what they found they decided they’d be happy to have the brand in their store.

The next stage then was for Pink&Green to meet up with their manager and assistant manager – Alison and Megan respectively – to discuss the idea.

The Outcome?

On 28th September 11 am to 4pm there’s a Pink and Green Pop-up Shop event in the Cheltenham Branch of Molton Brown.

Visit the store and enjoy an express facial with Lisa Maria, an ambassador for the brand. Enjoy a glass of fizz and enter a free raffle to win a Mandarin Cleanser and Frankincense moisturiser in a cotton drawstring bag. Plus, you’ll have the chance to sample their latest product: Hydrate and Renew Gel.

Read about the Pink&Green ethos here on their website. And explore their full facial skincare range here.

Pink&Green Organic Skincare

Pink&Green Organic Skincare

What I enjoy with these Made in Wiltshire features are the variety of topics and people I get to write about. I’ve thus far written about artists, a wood turner and a pen maker and a writer. 

In this post though I’m delighted to feature the lovely Carol Aplin, a Swindon-based maker of hand-made, organic and vegan-friendly skincare that goes under the brand of Pink&Green.


I’ve known Carol for a few years now. We met when we were both at the start of our business journeys and have gone on to become friends and mutual clients. By which I mean, Carol avails herself of my editorial services and I buy her stuff!

They are gorgeous products – and I’m really not ‘just’ saying that.

Product Placement

Pictured below are a couple of my all time fave Pink&Green products.

The best-selling, multi-purpose One Balm and the Frankincense luxury moisturizer. These and the divine facial exfoliator are my personal P&G staples though I do use several other products too.

The Pink&Green Ethos

Carol began her organic skincare company, back in 2014, after many years working as an holistic therapist. She explains on her website how, during time as a practising therapist, she taught her clients how important it is that they make time for themselves. To pay attention to their skin – to what it was telling them – and then to act upon that message.

Carol is steadfast in her belief that what you put on your skin should help you to both look and feel wonderful. She weaves that self-care ethos through her range of organic skin care products.

For those of you – and it’s more and more of us these days – that care about such things, Pink&Green products are formulated with natural ingredients that aren’t tested on animals.

But rather than me waffling on why don’t you listen to Carol herself talk about what she does and why? Here she talks about her ‘Ah-ha!’moment – how the Pink&Green brand came into being: https://youtu.be/k5qqZqmMCo4 

While on this one https://www.facebook.com/iwork4uglos/videos/1577266832318253/– Carol talks to/is interviewed by the owner of the business directory, IWork4UGlos about some of her products. 

Buy it online or see it at the salons

Carol sells her products to individuals via her online shop which you can browse here. There she has a multitude of fans such as myself. But, increasingly she is working with salons. 

Should you be a salon or spa owner – or you know a salon that you think should stock Pink&Green products find out the full details here.

Having run salons in the past, P&G are super aware of the challenges faced by salon owners. Which is why they don’t now, and will not, impose onerous conditions on you. Nor do they dictate to you how you should run your business. It is after all your business. As Carol says:

‘Every business is different. We listen to YOU and help YOU in a way that best suits YOU.’

If you want to know more about anything to do with Pink&Green then everything you need to know about making contact with them is right here on their website.

Simon Webb: Hand-turned Pens and Cufflinks

Simon Webb: Hand-turned Pens and Cufflinks

Penning Personal and Historical Stories

Swindon born and Swindon-based Simon Web is carving out a pen-shaped niche for himself creating beautiful, hand turned writing instruments from timbers with historical and/or personal resonances.

To demonstrate the historical:

Back in 2017, Swindon’s Christ Church in Old Town, as part of a renewal project, needed to get rid of some pews. On hearing the news Simon was swift in joining the pew to get hold of one to make pens from it. The pens he made proved popular – many couples that had married in Christ Church contacted Simon to get one of these pens.

Old Technology Makes a Comeback

Those of us of a certain age that remember scratchy nib pens and inkwells in desks and then the later cartridge pens, are forgiven for thinking that the Biro and indeed the text message and e-mail had rendered fountain pens obsolete. But not a bit of it. Back in 2012, the BBC published an article about why fountain pen sales are rising.

‘Sales of ballpoint pens are stable but the fountain pen is a classic story of how an object’s status is affected by waves of new technology.’

bark with pens on it

‘Somehow, the fountain pen became a luxury item and found a niche.

If a president signs a treaty, they don’t do it with a Bic Cristal. ‘

The hand-turned pens with historical resonances began with wood from an ancient walnut tree in Swindon’s Lydiard Park that blew down in the storms of 2013. From there, Simon branched out (see what I did there?) to making pens from the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum and from wood unearthed at the GWR Works that are sold at STEAM museum.

Bespoke Products

Continuing the theme of using historic – and famous – timbers, Simon’s lathe has been well-exercised making pens and cufflinks out of an oak plinth from Bath Abbey. Those products are available both in the Bath Abbey Shop and from Simon himself.

There are cufflinks too from HMS Victory – only small pieces of wood are available so Simon has only been able to make cufflinks.

And now we come to apples. Or to a vary famous apple tree to be precise.

the notion of gravitation… was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood.”
– William Stukeley

I’m of course talking about Isaac Newton and the infamous apple tree at the National Trust property, Woolsthorpe Manor.

Simon is working with them to make pens, cufflinks, and sterling silver pendants and lapel pins with wood from this world famous apple tree. It’s now over 400 years old and still fruiting.

The rhodium plated fountain pen is finished with a gold plated, sterling silver finial with a unique Newton logo. The pen comes in a presentation case with leather carrying case, Diamine ink cartridges, piston adaptor and certificate of authenticity. This will also be available in a rollerball version.

The pen will only be available from Woolsthorpe Manor. They’ll announce price and availability shortly. Says Simon ‘I have been privileged to work with Woolsthorpe Manor on this project. This has to be my “holy grail” of wood.’

Gifts with a difference

Simon has crafted with care, pens from beams in houses, trees from people’s gardens, the staves of a whisky barrel (complete with certificate of authenticity from the distillery) and from old tools. A wonderful example of the latter being the pen you see in the images below.

Simon made this pen made from an old woodworking plane that belonged to the customer’s grandfather. A nice feature is the stamping o the plane with the owner’s name. Simon incorporated that piece in with the presentation box, giving the new owner of the pen a useful and lasting reminder of his grandfather.

How to find Simon and write your own history

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonwebbartisan/

On his website:
http://www.simon-webb.co.uk/index.html

And at Bath Artisan market:
https://www.facebook.com/TheBathArtisanMarket/

Email: sales@simon-webb.co.uk

Tel: 07834 375628



3D Printing – How it all Began

3D Printing – How it all Began

The amazing world of additive manuacturing – AKA 3D Printing – is all around us, and its growing. Fast.

Over the last year, (2018-19), the Additive Manufacturing Market (that’s the proper name for 3D printing), grew by 21%, as companies and individuals embrace the competitive advantages that 3D Printing gives them.

Yet, 3D Printing isn’t as new as you think – being first developed in 1983, when Charles Hullcreated the first printer capable of printing an actual part. Back then, they called it ‘Rapid Prototyping’ -catchy huh? Rapid prototyping was a machine used to create prototypes of tools for machines used in manufacturing. Rapid Prototyping sped up the prototype process, taking it from 6-8 weeks to mere hours. Inspired, Charles set about marketing and selling his Rapid Prototyping machines. And today? 3D printers are becoming more commonplace. If you can buy one in Argos, then it’s a sure sign that 3D printers will become an essential bit of domestic kit.

The Future with 3D Printing

At the moment, 3D printing is being used to create organic materials. Using cellular material, the first human organs are looking a real possibility. Already, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, are in the middle of developing a process to 3D print replacement skin for burns patients. 


We can already 3d Print metal, creating 3D printed seats in planes – and that makes a plane up to 50% lighter. And 3D printing a house for a mere £8000 is reality. Which leads one to wonder why it’s not happening?!

In the future customisation will become a key part of 3D printing. Shoes that actually fit you and only you! 3D printing food in your kitchen? The company Chocedgealready 3D print in chocolate, creating unique gifts and solutions to confectioners around the world.

So you’re excited by all this? You’re feeling you want to rush out and buy a 3D printer? Well before you do, space considerations aside, would you know what to do with one if you got it? Do you, for instance, have the CAD skills to create the designs to print? No? Fear not! There’s someone who does.

Meet SED Developments

Swindon based Jo and Richard Rigden, together are SED Developments – and they’re immersed in the adventurous world of 3D Printing, design and baking. Yes, you heard that right – baking!

They created their company in 2017, and since then have printed all manner of stuff. In the main, cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes are what come off their printer. But they’re not limited to that. They also design and print bespoke, individual 3D printed items. To that end they’ve worked with vintage car enthusiasts, ceramic artists, model airplane builders and artists, to name but a few. The range of items they’ve developed includes: miniature Lewis gun cartridge for model airplane, bone zippers for washbags, missing vintage car insignia badges, customised fondant and cookie cutters and jewellery. 

While they don’t 3D print the cookies –  yet – they do have six 3D printers. That gives them the capacity and the knowledge, to design and print, in collaboration with you.

Baked Goods

I mentioned baking earlier? SED Developments hold over 300 cookie cutter designs, and develop new ones every day, because there’s always a new shape to bake! Their range runs from the bog-standard rectangle or heart to the unusual, but top selling, cow face.  Which is moos to me! They also have a great range of icing/coffee stencils with which to lift up your latte or decorate your cake.

They’re a clever pair for sure. Last year, when I released my book Secret Swindon, I set them the task of creating biscuit cutters in the shape of some of Swindon’s iconic buildings. This is what they came up with. Aren’t they great?


Now, I’ve got them at it again. But bookmarks this time to go with my second book, Swindon in 50 Buildings.  

As you can see – if you can imagine it then they can print it. If you’d like a cookie cutter created, email them over a picture and discuss with them what you’re looking for. Or  contact them for a chat about your design.

Check their Instagram and Facebook pages, to see what they’re up to. And why not have a root around their E-Bay shop? You don’t know what you might find. 



  


TV Antiques Star Returns to TV with a New Show Created  With His Wife

TV Antiques Star Returns to TV with a New Show Created With His Wife

Latest news from Hungry Gap Productions

Flog it!, may be no more – in terms or recommissioning at least. But fans and antique lovers need not fret, for Wiltshire resident and Swindon enthusiast will soon be back on your screens with his new show: Curiosity.

Paul Martin, TV Presenter and antiques expert.


TV antiques expert Paul Martin returns to our screens in a new vintage-themed show, Curiosity.

Curiosity is a competitive format which puts contestants’ knowledge of antiques and collectables to the test. In each episode two teams of two will move from room to room, using their skills, expertise and intuition to take on different tasks and challenges – all against the clock.

Paul and his wife Charlotte dreamed up the initial idea.

Paul, who lives in Wiltshire with Charlotte and their children Dylan and Meredith, said: ‘This show is the culmination of an idea Charlotte and I came up with at home at our kitchen table.’

‘I always loved any kind of treasure hunt,’ Charlotte Martin said. “Then working on various series myself in television, meeting Paul and being immersed in the world of antiques and collectables I began to think about how we could bring an element of a ‘searching’ together with our mutual love of vintage, quirky and social history into one programme. Gradually the idea of Curiosity took shape and it’s been amazing to see it become a reality.

The pair teamed up with Pete Lawrence, the boss of Bristol-based independent company Hungry Gap Productions to develop the format and bring Curiosity to life. 

The programme is set in a series of distinctive rooms including The Den of Antiquity and So Last Century and combines vintage and social history in an entertaining way.

Pete, founder of Hungry Gap Productions said: ‘It’s a fun show and it feels like anything can happen.’

‘Our teams are tasked with finding fakes, spotting links between objects and discovering the fascinating stories behind the kind of trinkets and treasures that cram collectable emporiums and second-hand shops throughout the land,’ Pete said.

‘Paul is a fountain of knowledge and he brings the stories of the objects to life explaining their provenance and unique attributes.’

Paul’s ‘co-presenter’ in the series is a four-legged actor – a Bassett hound named after his own dog: Baxter. 

‘Baxter is my mate and my side kick at home. The programme is a bit quirky like him. He’s a proper character and this is his five minutes of fame – sort of. In real life the specially trained stage dog is actually called Maggie! That’s Curiosity for you!’

Curiosity comes to our screens on Monday April 1 at 2.15pm on BBC One and will run weekdays for three weeks.  

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