Archive | February 2014

‘Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon’ – Living the dream

Yet again I bring you a post inspired by activity on social media. For all the faults and difficulties of social media platforms, for all the dross and silliness that is on them, they are also the richest vein of material and inspiration. As with anything in life it’s about separating the wheat from the chaff. As Caroline Day, the writer of this wonderful guest post said herself: “The immediacy of ‘Social Media’ when launched in a positive way can be used to inform, stimulate and inspire both the viewer and the curator.”  

I’m not alone I know in loving Swindon’s Old Town Gardens. Tucked away in the heart of Old Town they are simply delightful.  They are home to the music bowl, the lovely bandstand, the aviary and the refreshment kiosk – which started life in 1914 as a trade stand for the Great Western Railway.  Additionally the gardens play host to the fantastic cross-cultural Mela beloved of Swindonians of all kinds and has its own Bowls Club where I had a delightful coffee, scone and natter on the day of the Mela last year whilst waiting for a heavy shower to pass over. Hence it’s been wonderful to read Caroline’s impassioned account, see below, of her affection for this lovely garden-park, treasured memories of which brought her back to Swindon for the birth of her second son.

Sketch by Caroline Day inspired by the Town Garden

Sketch by Caroline Day inspired by the Town Garden

Now to slowly return to the point and inception of this post. I’ve recently I’ve been somewhat intrigued by images of art work popping up on my Facebook timeline related to and inspired by the Old Town Gardens. Regular listeners will understand by now that the over-arching raison d’etre of Born again Swindonian is to put ‘out-there’ all the lovely stuff that is ‘out-there’ in Swindon for the deliberation and delectation of others. Hence this post is to tell you about a new group on Facebook called Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon – it was only established this month – and in the ‘About’ section of that page it says this:

Selected items from the ‘ Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon ‘ group will be exhibited on this page. Please enjoy, ‘like and share’ the art work. 

Description: For many years artists have been inspired by the picturesque beauty of Old Town Gardens, Swindon. This page is to exhibit the visual art work of artists who have produced exciting work as a direct response to their passion for the park.’   Isn’t that just the most wonderful idea? Isn’t it just great that a group of artists are so inspired by the Town Gardens?

So I’ve been busy sharing away on Born Again Swindonian’s Facebook page – and a recent such share prompted an acknowledgement from its creator Caroline Day. I contacted Caroline and asked if she’d be happy to write me a piece about how it all began. And here’s her amazing respsone to that request. Thank you so much Caroline. It’s inspirational.

“I live on Goddard Avenue and walk my two boys to primary school through the Town Gardens every day. I am passionate about the beauty of the park and have been recording it with the use of photography for 9 years. More recently I decided to combine painting, drawing and collage to try to capture my fascination and reverence for nature within the gardens.

I often see other artists painting or photographing within the park. A few years ago I was astounded by snow sculptures an unknown artist had created. After searching unsuccessfully for a forum for artists to view and share work based on Old Town Gardens I decided to create my own.

‘Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon’ is for painters, sculptors, photographers, print makers and alike to post, share and discuss art work which has been inspired by their visits. Art work is selected from this group page and exhibited on the community page under the same heading to a wider audience.

Drawing workshops will commence in the park for the Town Gardens’ Little Big Festival after April and artists will be invited to exhibit their work. Both myself and Carol Watts the proprietor at Old Town Gardens’ Cafe hope to encourage artists to post and exhibit their visual art work on the Facebook page, at the park and at selected venues within Swindon as opportunities arise.”

Here’s a  selection of Caroline’s work that can be seen on the group’s Facebook page:

Furthermore, Caroline had this to say about herself and the influences that led to her to being an artist and the creation of the ‘Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon’:

The Birth of ‘Caroline Day – Artist’ and ‘Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon’
I was born in Princess Margaret’s Hospital, Swindon in the summer of 1971. Throughout my childhood years my mother and father  took me and my older sister to local parks and picturesque gardens within our home town. This included one adjacent to my school – Penhill Infants and Queens Park (when a shopping spree was called for). 

Less frequently, and as a ‘real treat’, we were driven to what I remembered to be an opulent, magnificent area called ‘Old Town’ – to Springfield Road. Here we would enter into the elaborate wrought iron gates of the awe- inspiring ‘Town Gardens’. For what always seemed to be a short time, we would get to visit the aviary, the monumental bandstand, the ‘Bowl’ and the alluring, fragrant ‘Rose Garden’. It was the treasured memory of spending time in captivating places in Swindon such as this that enticed me to move back ‘home’ before the birth of my second son. 

Having worked with art, in educational establishments as a teacher, advisor and senior lecturer for over 18 years, I decided last year it was high time for me to focus on an art project of my own. Now that I am living my dream, close to Old Town Gardens, my family, relatives and kinfolk. 

As a wife and working mother I think it is very easy to devote to others and to children and over time one can lose a sense of oneself. I spent many years encouraging students to produce visual art work as a response to their identity, emotions and experiences. As a facilitator of knowledge I found it important to learn all types of skills in order to share, motivate and encourage others to create. Now that my two children are in full time education I believe that this is the time for me to re-invent myself and return to explore my own passions in a visual way. 

My passion in life is the adoration of my sons playing freely on a daily basis, on the school run and at weekends within Old Town Gardens – Swindon. It was a natural progression for me to begin a visual art project which combines my love for them and for the gardens entwined. My recent art work involves a mixture of photography of my children in the gardens, collaged with drawing and painting to explore my reverence for nature within the surroundings. 

The immediacy of ‘Social Media’ when launched in a positive way can be used to inform, stimulate and inspire both the viewer and the curator. Hence this led to the very recent re-birth of ‘Caroline Day – Artist’ and ‘Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon’ on Facebook”.

NB: The group are looking into making postcards for the artists and possibly a calendar of art work so you can have a little piece of Old Town Garden in your own home. And that a will be a very nice thing indeed.

#oldtowngardens #oldtowngardensartwork #bandstand #aviary #towngardens #musicbowl #oldtowngardensbowlsclub #oldtowngardensartwork #art #swindon #wiltshire #swindondoesarts #swindonblog #swindon blog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #swindonian


Bloglovin connect

This is just to say that Born Again Swindonian is now on Bloglovin so another way for y’all to connect! 🙂


#swindonblog #swindon blog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #swindonian

Cakes alive! Little Miss Cakemaker hits the ether.

Little Miss Cake Maker

Okay. I confess. This post is largely by way of a shameless plug for my good friend Samantha who has taken the plunge into the choppy waters of entrepreneurship with her online cake shop – Little Miss Cakemaker.  However, as self-appointed 2IC in cake-tasting I can vouch for the utter scrumminess of her cake. Clearly I’m in good company with this opinion as Sam recently wowed the judges at the Faringdon charity bake off and came away with the Star Baker prize and the pinny to prove it.  But more of all that in a bit.

I also want to use this post to give another mention to Outset Swindon – and yes there is a link with this and cake because Sam too is a graduate of their Introduction to Enterprise course. It’s a great initiative it really is. I did it last summer together with a friend/colleague though our fledgling/future business, Tip Top Training, is on the back burner at the moment due to my studying commitments. But once my degree is finished – and not long now – we will be working on getting that underway.

But anyway – back to the cakes! Sam aka Little Miss Cakemaker has launched her on-line cake shop where you can ‘can create your ultimate customised cakes in cupcake or larger cake formats.’  The shop explains it all so much better! Sam is currently offering kits to make and decorate your own cupcakes – or buns as I think we should go back to calling them. She is currently offering a SciFi kit (see picture below), sheep and of course the famous Cakeopoly – but there will be more in the future.

Not just a talented baker Sam is very creative and clever so if you don’t know what to choose for your customised cake she is offering the opportunity to have a surprise cake or buns created specially for you. I will certainly be ordering a cake to celebrate my graduation in the summer. And I think we know what form that will take eh? 🙂

So anyway, if you have a special occasion coming up or you just fancy treating yourself to some delicious customized cake you know where to go.  She delivers to your door within a 25 mile radius of Swindon.

You can find her on Facebook  and on Twitter: @LMCakemaker and of course on the internet at:

#swindon #wiltshire  #swindonblog #swindonblog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #swindonian #cupcakes #cakes #baking #littlemisscakemaker

A trot round Theatre Square

I popped into the library the other day on a futile mission to obtain a copy of the latest Swindon Heritage magazine as I want to read the spread about Swindon’s marvellous mural man Ken White. Unfortunately I was ahead of myself as they hadn’t got them in yet – so still waiting on that one. So, having a few minutes to kill until it was time for my bus I thought I’d take a few snaps and slap them on here. And here they are. It’s really quite a pleasant little area tucked away there – well except perhaps for the ‘gentleman’s club’ but hey – you can’t have everything eh? The window at No 9 – the Artsite pop-up place is generally worth a peek. The metal butterflies adorning the metal wall on the Artsite workshop are rather nice I think, as is the mural and the pillar. It’s really a shame that the mosaic lady that was sat outside Artiste was vandalized. I do hope she makes a return soon.

First off just a couple of shots of the Town Hall and the Cenotaph:

The Artsite workshop, No 9 Theatre Square and the Wyvern Theatre

#no9theatresquare #artsite #artsitepostmodern #wyverntheatre #swindontownhall #kenwhite #swindon #wiltshire #swindonblog  #swindon blog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #whattodoinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #swindonian #swiondonia #art #artists #publicart #cycling #walking #sculpture

Retro Weekend

Just re-blogging this from Second Mouth to get it out there.

For anyone into art, vintage, retro etc it looks like the place to be.

This coming weekend 1st and 2nd of March 2014

So next weekend, 1st and 2nd March, The Brunel Centre Swindon are hosting a retro weekend and Second Mouth are getting involved!

On Saturday and Sunday from1.30pm-3.30pm we will be hosting a clothed life drawing session, the models will be wearing vintage or retro inspired clothes. All are welcome. Feel free to pop in for a quick sketch or the whole session!

Second Mouth ask for a £2 donation. Materials will be included.

photo 2

We are also planning to run workshops and have some craft tables for everyone to get creative! So watch this space for more information as the week progresses.

48 hours later copy

Alongside these events Second Mouth will be exhibiting 48 Hours Later… This show is travelling to Swindon from Bath’s 44AD artspace, where gallery director, Katie O’Brien, asked selected artists to respond to the theme Souvenir within 48 hours.

Second Mouth will be re-curating this artwork within 48 hours. As…

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When is something ‘Swindon’ not something ‘Swindon’ – via the Swindon Advertiser

Here’s a share of a largely pictorial article from the Swindon Advertiser for no other reason than that it’s amusing and entertaining: 10 things called ‘Swindon’ which aren’t Swindon (From Swindon Advertiser).

It features – who’d have thought it – 10 things called ‘Swindon’ that aren’t the Swindon we all know and love. Two of them I was aware of but not the rest.

Most of us round here will know that there’s a Swindon village, a suburb of Cheltenham – No 6 on the list. And you may, if you read the Swindon Link magazine, be aware of  No 5, the Swindon Book Co in Kowloon. There’s a nice little back story to that one. It appears that back in the day (the 1930s) when the business was established it was fashionable for business to take a western name, frequently a capital city in Europe or America. It seems that the manager at the time was aware of Swindon’s Great Western Railway works and, as the shop was situated in proximity to the terminus of the railway line connecting Kowloon to all China’s major cities, the choice of ‘Swindon’ was deemed to be an auspicious one. You can read the rest of that article on Swindon Link’s web presence and see for yourself the existence of the Swindon Book Co in Kowloon. And here, for interest, is the website of the Swindon Book Co. Ltd. How cool is that?

Finally, I was particularly interested in No 9 which is apropos the surname of Swindon. It seems there are a number of people around the world bearing that moniker. Sadly but perhaps not unsurprisingly, genealogists have suggested that the majority of people bearing this name are not descended, as you’d be forgiven for thinking, from Swindonians but from the inhabitants of a tiny Yorkshire hamlet by the name of Swinden.  Now I’m not deigning to suggest that ‘Swinden’ was also a pig-farming area cos I’ve got no evidence to back it up. But to speculate for a moment – if it was (and it’s suggestive of that isn’t it?) and that was how the hamlet got its name and thus passed that on to its inhabitants  – then how come something similar didn’t happen here? There must be some other reason for it clearly. But it’s curious is it not?

#swindonlink #swindonadvertiser  #10swindonthingsthataren’tswindon

West Swindon sculpture walk – Summary

22 February 2014

I’m giving this post a re-blog because it features ‘The Watchers’ which happens to be Art gallery and museum’s object of the month. And also because I’ve added in a link to Swindon Local’s Flickr collection featuring a picture of the post Ken White created for the unveiling of the statue.

Born Again Swindonian

At the end of part 5 of this series, Kim and I had reached Nexus at Freshbrook, at which point we called it a day as we were ready for dinner. We’d been out for hours and had a great time but had still only visited 5 out of the 7 sculptures itemised on the tour.

Sculpture of family The Watchers – Toothill

Next up on the list after ‘Nexus’ is ‘The Watchers’ at Toothill:  ‘Artist: Carleton Attwood. Material: Cement Fondue. Project details: Funded by R.S. McColl and E.H.Bradley Building Projects Ltd. The sculpture represents guardian figures looking over the community.’  And, as you can see in the picture, they are still there, still quietly watching.

Leaving Toothill, the tour takes you to ‘Looking to the Future’ near Ashingotn House and the West Swindon Centre. I’ve written about that one elsewhere in this blog so will leave that one behind and…

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Imagined guide book entry: the West Swindon sculpture tour

So then. Who wants to pay me to write a travel guide for Swindon? Here’s my suggestion on an entry for the West Swindon sculpture trail.

Born Again Swindonian

As with my  guide book entry for the Magic Roundabout, (uni coursework) this is an attempt at the same for the West Swindon Sculpture tour.

Take the sculpture challenge: follow the map and go in search of the sculptures

If one thinks of Swindon at all, most likely to come to mind are the Designer Outlet village, the STEAM museum and, perhaps, Lydiard House and Park. Somewhat surprisingly though this sometimes un-prepossessing town possesses a rich cultural landscape liberally scattered with public art – in particular in the West Swindon development. This extensive and surprisingly green suburban area links the town with the M4 and comprises several distinct ‘villages’, several of which feature a ‘village centre’. Intriguingly punctuating this conurbation is a fascinatingly diverse collection of sculptures that comprise the West Swindon Sculpture trail. Installed between 1982 and 1992 these sculptures are unexplained and mostly unnoticed by the locals…

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The Magic Roundabout: a guide book entry

Originally posted on Born Again Swindonian:
I’m now in the final year of my English/Eng Lang studies at UWEand one of my literature modules is on travel writing. For my coursework portfolio I intend to write some stuff about Swindon: a travelogue on the West Swindon Sculpture walk when I did it with a friend. And…

Richard Jefferies – His Passion Lives On

I haven’t yet been to the Richard Jefferies museum at Coate nor so much as glanced at any of his works. Something I must address before too long – though I do have a small blog post about him on Born Again Swindonian.

A Twitter and Facebook friend alerted me to this lovely blog post – – so I’m sharing it here so it might reach more people. Enjoy! 🙂

Life in the English Cotswolds

Great artists such as Gainsborough, Turner and Reubens speak to us down the centuries through their work as do poets but how many people still read the great – or the lesser – writers from years past?  The Bible is still read regularly by some, Shakespeare’s more famous lines are often quoted and we all think we know Bronte and Dickens whereas, in reality, most of us know the characters only as interpreted through television and film.  However, authors from past centuries still  have much to offer whether it be for historical background, research or, simply, pleasure.

I have always lived in the country and my fascination with the natural world began at a very early age.  My kindergarten class was taken on a nature walk and, as our teacher showed us the magical things to be found along the way, I became hooked and wanted to know more.  There are many excellent wildlife manuals and handbooks, new and old, that…

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