Tag Archives: Swindon Spring Festival

Books, babies and blogging with Slummy Mummy, Jo Middleton, and Young Adult author, Karen Gregory

8 May Jo Middleton

Jo Middleton is much like her writing: instantly likeable, witty and fun. A former marketing employee, Jo quit and followed her dream of becoming a freelance journalist. With little to no experience, she noted down editors’ names from magazines and asked them what they would like her to write.

Her first writing break came writing for South West Holiday Parks and shortly after she started a blog to increase her portfolio. As a single mother of two, she embraced the adage write what you know and wrote on the subject of parenting. And so Slummy Mummy was born.

Talking about her writing journey, Jo acknowledges apologetically that for many it is not easy, but ten years on from her choosing to start a blog it is understandable why she has been successful.

Jo’s writing is honest, on receiving her first free product of hand cream to review she wrote, “keeps my hands soft and moisturised, but smells like cabbages and old peoples homes.” Continue reading

Let’s Go Wild – Isabella Tree

8 May Isabella Tree © Fernando Bagué

Isabella Tree’s event, on her book Wilding, was all set for a cosy evening at Lower Shaw Farm’s ‘centre’, with forty or so people, cups of tea and talk of restoring a bit of balance back to the countryside.

However, the allocated tickets sold out. More were made available, and they sold too. There was no choice but shift the venue to the cowshed, with seating for a hundred. Still the tickets sold… benches were added, and more chairs dragged from all corners. By the time the talk was about to start, the cowshed was packed tighter than a, well, than a cowshed. An intensively farmed cowshed. And that’s where Isabella Tree comes in.

Isabella Tree in the Lowers Shaw Farm cowshed © Fernando Bagué
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Running for friendship and survival – with Omer Homer and Bella Mackie

7 May Bella and Omer

When it comes to running, it seems most of us fall into two camps; running to escape thoughts and feelings or running towards a goal.

Omer Homer, a training Para Olympian hopeful, firmly falls into both. He runs to win but acknowledges that running has made him a different person. Omer started running in 2017, his target to win the Swindon Half Marathon – an ambitious goal given Omer had never run before, had no former training and has severe injuries from an encounter with an exploding landmine. However, Omer completed the Swindon Half Marathon in just 1hr 22min 49 sec and ranked in the top 1% of runners.

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Goodbye lit fest, hello to the all-new Swindon Spring Festival

21 Mar

Spring Festival Launch

Darine Flanagan, Matt Holland, Sara Jane Arbury, Casey Jane, Rahman Khatibi, Tony Hiller, Swindon mayor Junab Ali Image courtesy of Fernando Bagué

More than 175 years of Swindon’s rich cultural heritage has inspired a new festival of arts and culture, which was launched in the town today (Thursday) before a crowd of enthusiastic supporters.

The Swindon Spring Festival is an extension of the popular Festival of Literature, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

Twelve months ago, festival director Matt Holland told us of his desire to expand the lit fest into “an all-encompassing combined arts festival.” Continue reading

What the kenning? – Matt Harvey, writing workshop

21 May

Matt Harvey at the Festival Finale

Matt Harvey at the Festival Finale

Kenning, according to Matt Harvey, is a way of describing things and their function through creative language and metaphor.

Make sense? No, me neither at first. But, as he explained further it did, with his sharing of work and examples along the way: blood as battle dew, clouds as God’s pocket fluff, and slugs as soft-horned invisigoths.

It is a process that is taught to children. Books are even written about it: Valerie Blooms’  Things to do with Kids Kennings an example of one Matt explained. And, it was to be an important part of our first task. This was a workshop after all; a fact which I had appeared to have forgotten over a leisurely lunch and a spell in the sunshine in the serene surroundings of Lower Shaw Farm. Continue reading

Swindon Think Slam – prompting thought as opposed to answering questions

21 May

Martin Hawes

Martin Hawes

Will Self shared at his talk on Tuesday his fear that some people attend Literature Festivals in lieu of reading – as if an author event will provide a quick literature fix. And at my first Think Slam, I was conscious of doing just that.

I am not well versed in philosophy. An ex-partner who studied a degree in English and philosophy once joked to friends: “she thought that Plato was a ceramics company.” I didn’t – honestly – but it was a low blow to someone uninitiated to the subject.

Therefore, as a way of introduction, I was grateful to hear that the evenings’ second competitor, George Dowling, would be answering the question What is Philosophy? Continue reading

Dad’s the word at father-themed festival event

20 May

Dr Anna Machin and Rebecca Stott

Dr Anna Machin and Rebecca Stott

My mind was still reeling from the subject of kids – or rather Kids Company and its charismatic founder Camila Batmanghelidjh – when I sat down to listen to two authors talk about fatherhood.

Dr Anna Machin was billed to talk about The Life of Dad: a study of the changing nature of fatherhood, and the physical psychological changes a man goes through when he becomes a dad.

The changing nature of fatherhood, huh? I guess 50 years ago I might have come home from work, hung up my trilby and trenchcoat, pulled on my slippers, and smoked my pipe while my wife put tea on the table. The children – if they weren’t reading books or painting a go-kart – would be playing with tin toys at my feet. Continue reading