Tag Archives: Swindon

Sitting in Kipling’s bath

6 May
©Calyx Picture Agency Swindon Festival of Literature

©Calyx Mary Hamer at Swindon festival of Literature

If you can keep a shocking story going
    when Kipling is as unfashionable as a punkhawalla in the drawing room,
If you can travel the world in pursuit of your story,
    But maintain a love for your subject;
If you can wait ten years for the novel to come to fruition,
    Or uncover inequality, parental abandonment,
Or light a feminist torch for Kipling’s forgotten sibling,
    And yet don’t moralise, nor impose twenty-first-century morals on the nineteenth:

Continue reading

Meeting Isy’s mad mother and Dom’s one-eyed cat

6 May

Comedy night at Swindon Festival of Literature – the evening that gives your brain cells a chance to recover after events featuring deep thinkers and political heavyweights.

Continue reading

Foxes are the champions

2 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On a night when the ‘Foxes’ of Leicester City won the Premier League at the expense of the cockerel crested Spurs, debating the fox and his many guises seemed appropriate, especially as the event took place at Lower Shaw Farm.

Chickens were conspicuous by their absence, perhaps taking the hint from the signage chalked across their usual pecking ground.

So, Fantastic Mr. Fox or ginger vermin?

Lucy Jones explores every side of this complex creature in her book Foxes Unearthed – A story of love and loathing in modern Britain.

Speaking in a former cowshed on an award-winning urban farm, Jones was in the perfect place to expand on the countryside vs. city paradox which sees foxes fed at back-doors by ‘townies’ but shot or hunted in the countryside.

Jones made it clear that Mr. Fox is both hero and the villain, and has been so since he slunk into mankind’s chicken cave centuries ago.

A keen audience of first-night festival-goers heard the wildly differing points of view of the hunting fraternity, angry saboteurs, curly haired pomp-rock guitarists and chicken-less farmers. Continue reading

Where the railway meets…at Richard Jefferies Museum

2 May



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This one is straight from the mouths of babes, well a nine-year-old, any how. This is the first family-friendly Magic Monday of 2016 (kicking off as part of the Swindon Festival of Literature), where kids and their families are welcome to run around the Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate Water, Swindon. 

We first parked in Coate Water. As we crossed the mud-filled car park there was some logs on the grass on the side of the road. I decided to jump from log to log. Then they ran out. So I followed my mum and Sydney (my little sister) into a freshly cut field. I quickly ran across the field with Sydney close at my side. She said she was a monster and was trying to catch me. So sprinted off with Sydney behind me shouting, ‘Milo, Milo!’ I left everyone behind (my mum and Sydney) and rushed inside the gate. Continue reading

Dawn Chorus has international flavour

2 May
Dawn Chorus

Swindon Festival of Literature goes off with bang. Photo (C) Calyx Pictures

The rowdy drunks were disagreeing outside the club, one massaging her sore feet after in a night in heels, whilst birds were joyfully greeting International Dawn Chorus Day. Co-op workers were setting up store and I explained to a disbelieving Chronicler Milo that in years gone by, almost everything would have been shut on a bank holiday.

And so we walked to the launch event of the Swindon Festival of Literature in Lawn Woods, greeted by the rich smell of paraffin from the flaming batons as they bounced between jugglers, against a Swindon vista at a grey sunrise. The merry band of Jake’s jugglers had grown this year to include the Cat’s Pyjamas, and have recently returned from teaching circus skills to street kids in Nicaragua. Continue reading

Is this how God felt? Battered Moons and Pascale Petit at Poetry Swindon Festival

4 Oct

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“I’ve judged a lot of competitions,” said Battered Moons poetry competition judge, Pascale Petit, “and this was of the highest standard.” Big praise at the Battered Moons finale, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery part of the Poetry Swindon Festival, coming from this year’s chair of the judging panel for the TS Elliot prize.

700 entries this year. The seven winners must be well pleased with themselves. Cristina Newton, co-judge and organiser, said, “You don’t know how happy you [poets] made my summer…and so challenging.”

Here are the poems and comments, summarised Robert Vas Dias, parataxis-style*: Continue reading

Dribble or drabble? Flashing at Poetry Swindon Festival

2 Oct

Dribbles and drabbles, flash*. Spot the difference between concise prose and sticking ‘poem’ on the end.

Yesterday (Thursday), Poetry Swindon Festival’s potentially hot debate – is prose poetry a thing? – was apparently thwarted by a squishy warm sofa with Jo ‘no’ Bell dividing and ruling, sat between Tania ‘yes’ Hershman and Luke ‘for sure’ Kennard. Next time: hard chairs. Continue reading

Switching off the brain? No chance! Children’s Day at Swindon Festival of Literature

10 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By the mid-point of the Swindon Festival of Literature, my brain can usually do with a good rest.

The organisers work us Festival-goers hard: getting up up before sunrise on day 1 for the Dawn Chorus, then making us think, and be creative, and think some more for the next six days. Continue reading

Adventures with Bevis – Richard Jefferies Museum, Swindon Festival of Literature

4 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chronicler Milo (age eight) enjoyed Adventures with Bevis today at Magic Monday at the Richard Jefferies Museum, a family friendly day as part of the Swindon Festival of Literature. He shares why it’s good for you go to the Museum too…

Are you going mad? Are your kids really sad?
Then come to Richard Jefferies in May, come out for a wonderful day!
Climb a tree up high, reach your hand up to the sky. Continue reading

Remembering Poetry Aloud at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

2 Oct

Today is National Poetry Day and the theme is ‘remember’. It’s also the start of the third Swindon Festival of Poetry.

The first event was Poetry Aloud at Swindon Central Library, where an eclectic bunch of talented poets – from first time to professional – read in an open mic format.

And – to celebrate – what better way than with a poem about the first event? (Okay a good poem would be better)

Remembering Poetry Aloud

Children bring Wilfred back to life,
David tearfully remembers his wife.
The Heavy Brigade charges to car horns
Before windows are closed with an ongoing drone
While Chaucer READS LAURIE LEE POEMS. Continue reading