Eastcott Window Wanderland

Eastcott Window Wanderland

March 4th 2019

How wonderful it is to be writing about Eastcott window wanderland – yet another brilliant community ‘thing’ organised by the better than brilliant Eastcott community group – based at Savernake Street Community Hall. They’re jolly good at ‘things’ it has to be said.

The Window Wanderland is the latest, super fab initiative from the Eastcott group. I’m ever in awe of what they achieve there. They are such a vibrant, imaginative and well-organised group – what they achieve leaves me impressed, breathless and exhausted in equal measure!

During the two nights of 2nd and 3rd of March, over 130 window makers dressed windows in well over fifty of Swindon’s streets and transformed them into an illuminated art gallery. Images of a small few in the gallery below.

But where did this wonderful idea come from?

The window wanderland concept began in in Bristol. Eastcott resident, Helen Ganberg spotted it there and approached the Eastcott community group to sound them out about bringing it to Eastcott.

Eastcott realised the project in Swindon with the help of a £6,500 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. The chairman of Eastcott group, Caroline Davis-Khan told the Swindon Advertiser, that they’d worked on the project for six-seven months.

As group trustee Laura Holmes said, it’s a nice creative way to bring people together, that showed how many artistic and creative people there are around. And she’s right – there’s a staggering amount of creativity in Swindon.

To make the exhibition more inclusive, the group used the grant to set up workshops.

Mayor of Swindon Junab Ali, who was at the launch, said: “It’s a fantastic idea, this is just bringing the whole community of the area together. In some places, neighbours don’t talk to neighbours and there is no activity in the community, so this event is fantastic.

And now a few photographs purloined from Facebook (I’m a terrible photographer, trust me it’s best this way) of a small number of the windows. See also this from Swindon Viewpoint:https://www.facebook.com/SwindonViewpoint73/videos/401411213925244/

Especially for Laura Jane Lowry – her gorgeous contribution to the Eastcott Window Wanderland.

Marilyn Trew and Ruth Wintle are two super artistic ladies that run art workshops at Savernake Street Hall. Here’s the windows they all worked on:

If anything sums up the event it’s this – seen on Twitter:

To find out more about the Eastcott area, its community and history read their gorgeous book Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man.

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




Students & Sanctuary Seekers highlight the importance of Safety & Welcome in Swindon

Students & Sanctuary Seekers highlight the importance of Safety & Welcome in Swindon

December 2018

Students & Sanctuary Seekers highlight the importance of Safety & Welcome in Swindon

swindon city of sanctuary

On Tuesday 11th December, 4:00pm-5:00pm, at Drove Primary School, teachers from Drove Primary School and artists Rachel Pryor and Nicky-Ann Walker will discuss  the inspiration for the new mural, The Journey to Safety and Welcome, now hanging in the entrance of the school. They’ll also explain how it came about as the result of a unique collaboration between children at the school and members of The Harbour Project Art Group.

Safety and welcome in Swindon mural

Begun during Refugee Week earlier this year, the work is part of an ongoing collaboration between Drove Primary School and Swindon City of Sanctuary through its Schools of Sanctuary work.

Schools of Sanctuary began in Yorkshire and there are now Schools of Sanctuary in Wales, Ireland and many English cities and towns. Here in Swindon, eight schools are working towards this nationally recognised award.

A School of Sanctuary is a school that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those seeking sanctuary. This could be people whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home or are just looking for a space of safety.

Artist Rachel Pryor said her work at The Harbour Project made her very mindful of just how important safety and welcome is:

“In our art group, people often talk about home. They come to the UK with no network of friends or family and can wait a long time for a decision on their asylum claim. It’s unbelievably tough. Art can help express some of those feelings of loss, which are often better expressed in a visual language. “

She added:

“I was so impressed how the children helping had thought carefully about the things and people they would miss if they became refugees. Developing empathy and compassion is such an important part of our human development whatever age we are.”

It is a sentiment with which Cristina Bennett, volunteer Schools of Sanctuary lead, agrees:

“Schools of Sanctuary is all about embedding a culture of welcome and inclusion for everyone in the school – teachers and teaching assistants, non-teaching staff, pupils and parents. That’s why this mural is so special. It features the work of every single year group, from nursery through to Year 6, as well as the work of our Harbour Project friends. We hope it will inspire all who see it to think more deeply about what welcome means, to reflect on how we cannot take any of our freedoms for granted and, to think about our actions in welcoming people who are new to our communities.”

This event will also give teaching colleagues and friends the chance to share, informally, their own School of Sanctuary work since the launch on 17th January 2018.


About Swindon City of Sanctuary

Swindon City of Sanctuary fosters a culture of welcome, inclusion and support for everyone in Swindon, with a focus on those seeking sanctuary.

In practical terms, we do this by bringing people and organisations together, providing support through projects, running community events, raising awareness and campaigning for social justice, thereby contributing to the wider, national movement that is City of Sanctuary.

Social Media

The Harbour Project: https://www.facebook.com/TheHarbourProject/

Swindon City of Sanctuary: https://www.facebook.com/SwindonCOS/


Photo credit

1. Mural of The Journey to Safety and Welcome – created by Rachel Pryor and Nicky- Ann Walker in collaboration with Drove Primary School and The Harbour Project Art Group.

Event: Vegan gourmet evening with Eggelicious

Event: Vegan gourmet evening with Eggelicious

Event : Vegan gourmet evening

I think this looks to be an interesting - and delicious evening

Vegan gourmet evening with Eggelicious

I think this looks to be an interesting – and delicious evening. In fact I KNOW it will be delicious because I’ve already tasted some of it.  Not that I am a vegan – nor have any intention of becoming so. In fact I’m the polar opposite. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to this event.

What do vegans eat? I’ve often wondered I won’t lie. According to the website for the vegan society:

So what do vegans eat?

A great deal – you’ll soon find a whole new world of exciting foods and flavours opening up to you. A vegan diet is richly diverse and comprises all kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans and pulses – all of which can be prepared in endless combinations that will ensure you’re never bored. From curry to cake, pasties to pizzas, all your favourite things can be suitable for a vegan diet if they’re made with plant-based ingredients. Check out our vegan recipes for ideas.’

And that is the point behind Ash Mistry, Eggelicious head honcho, putting on this event.  Swindon, lovely multi-cultural Swindon, is blessed with a plethora of ethnic supermarkets. In these stores you will find a magical array of vegetables and pulses with which you can great a great variety of vegan delights with no need for ‘special’ ingredients.

The critical information part

When: The Eggelicious Vegan Gourmet evening is on Saturday 24th of November. It starts at 6.30pm to 7.30 pm. Staggered entry for each guest/guest – the idea being to allow time to get acquainted.

You have free parking on our loading bay up on the roof of the Brunel Centre.

The evening begins at the entrance where you will have to give a secret password at the barrier.

Once you have parked on the allocated space you will be picked up and escorted to the Eggelicious Gourmet Evening.

On the evening we will have ‘A show and tell’, of the world vegetables, you are about to eat, so you have some references, if you ever wanted to buy from the Asian Delis, of Swindon.

There are nine fantastic courses for you to enjoy – so be hungry. We also have music and are fully licensed for the evening. The whole evening should be around 2.5hrs to 3hrs long.

There is a strong interest for this private event. To reserve a secured place , please leave a deposit at either of the Eggelicious outlets. The cost is £45 per person and you will be given a ticket and a free parking guide for the event.

NB: Eggelicious are on Wood Street in Old Town and in The Crossing in the Brunel Centre.


Eggelicious contacts

So now. with no further ado, to whet your appetite, I’ll post the menu and some pictures of what you’re likely to be enjoying.

The Menu

Menu 1


Menu 2

The Dishes


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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: https://www.facebook.com/oldtownjourney/

To register for your ticket visit www.oldtownjourney.co.uk

To get involved email info@oldtownjourney.co.uk

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 info@oldtownjourney.co.uk

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

Swindon Will Writing

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The Fab Gift Boutique

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