Archive | October 2014

Swindon in Business: Blade Photography

I wrote a blog post about Outset Swindon last year after I’d completed their start-up courses but, because at the time I was still embroiled in my degree studies, it has taken me until now to get going with my business, AA Editorial Services. Now though, with the studies completed, I’ve started to focus more on the business side of things and in doing so have made contacts with other businesses that have also been clients of  Outset Swindon.  I’ve long known Little Miss Cakemaker of course as we were friends before all this business stuff kicked off.  Another friend recently made is Catherine Attewell who is launching her lovely artisan jewellery brand, Catherine Jay, very soon at Stanton House Hotel.

Here are the Facebook pages for everyone mentioned here, myself included – do give us all a ‘Like’

AA Editorial Services

Catherine Jay Artisan Jewellery

Little Miss Cakemaker:

And now here’s a post about another Outset client, Anthony Pettifer, and his journey with Outset Swindon and the help and support they gave him in getting his business launched. And there’s really no better endorsement for their services than this. They are a really smashing team.

My story and journey with Outset Swindon….

Anthony Pettifer, Blade Photography:

Redundancy can seem like an opportunity for a career change but it doesn’t always work out, as Outset client Anthony Pettifer discovered.

At the end of 2012, after 13 years in jewellery retail, Anthony was made redundant so he started a new career in banking. This didn’t go as planned so, after pursuing different options and experiencing a couple of periods of unemployment, he decided to take his future in his own hands and become a self-employed photographer.

Photography had always been one of Anthony’s hobbies but he soon realised that to succeed he needed to offer more than his competitors, both artistically and commercially, so he set about tackling both these issues.

Anthony enrolled on a college course to further his photographic skills, joined a local camera group, spent hours studying online to increase his knowledge and also enhanced his practical experience by taking lots of photos.

At the same time, with the backing of the Jobcentre, he enrolled on the Outset programme and attended the Introduction to Enterprise course. Having established the feasibility of his business idea, he then attended the Business Start-Up workshops.

“Outset gave me the extra business and commercial knowledge needed to supplement my existing skill set and take the first steps into self-employment. They gave me a fresh perspective into the world of business and helped me generate lots of new ideas.”

As well as benefiting from the free business start-up guidance, Anthony also enjoyed working with other clients and claims “I gained so many new contacts in different fields of business and a new group of friends with similar ideas and aspirations.” Starting a business can be a lonely process and Anthony really appreciated the peer support group that developed through attending the workshops.

Once he had finalised his business plan, an Outset advisor helped Anthony to register his business, ‘Blade Photography’. He also had one-to-one sessions to develop and review his new website, a key promotional tool for his business. “I received some constructive comments so altered the site accordingly to make it more user-friendly.”

Anthony plans to take on both private and commercial photographic projects, aiming to provide consistently high quality work whilst offering value for money and reliable communication. He also does voluntary work for charities when time permits.

He is keen to support other businesses in Swindon, using a local camera shop whenever possible for his equipment needs and printing companies for literature, promotional items and career wear. He also makes use of local photographic studios when required.

Anthony’s longer-term vision for Blade Photography is to win contracts for VIP and celebrity shoots as well as working for large organisations. Anthony loves taking black and white images and would like to launch a range of artistic images created in a particular style instantly recognisable as his work. As his business grows he plans to recruit an assistant and to pass on his knowledge and love of photography through tutoring and mentoring.

“Outset Swindon has given me the extra tools I needed to take my ideas from the drawing board and through to fruition. I really appreciate all the help and advice I have been given and continue to receive.”

Thank you team Outset.



Barbury Castle: some personal memories

Sunday 19th October

As has so often been the case with social media and this blog, yet again a Twitter interaction – this time with @lolliesmum when I published the post below about Barbury Castle, prompted her to share with me – and with you the listeners – some wonderful personal memories of Barbary Castle from her childhood. And here they are for you to enjoy. Then below that is an extract from the article by the Swindon Advertiser that kicked it all off in the first instance:

“Barbury Castle. What images and memories are conjured by those two words.

I spent part of my childhood on the base at RAF Wroughton, and being sound of limb and rather much younger than I am now, used to cycle and walk up the hill to the Castle.  Long hot summer days, lying in the grass watching the swallows swoop and call, listening to the skylarks and sheep, and generally communing with nature. Or having fun as we called it.  We’d sneak food from the cupboards (illicit picnics always taste better) and off we’d go.  When Dad was on leave, we go up there in spring and autumn, flying kites, watching the Hercules fly into Lyneham and marvelling at how small and tidy Swindon looked from up there. Winter was for walking around, blowing the cobwebs away, wrapped up warmly on a frosty clear day.

 Since those days, I still occasionally visit the Castle. I have introduced my friends to the beauties of the area, and on one memorable day went up there after work to fly kites because with my best friend because were stressed out with work.  As a stress buster it worked superbly.  

 Even though the Hercules no longer fly, and Swindon sprawls hugely in the distance, it’s still a place of peace and beauty where you can hear the skylarks and watch kestrels and hawks hunt.”

Here’s a link to the council’s information about the place.

Wednesday October 2015

The Castle on the edge of the town – from the Swindon Advertiser

I just saw this rather nice article on the Swindon Advertiser on-line so thought I’d share it here on the blog as I haven’t got anything about Barbary Castle on here. For the full article do follow the link above but here’s a little bit of it to pique your interest:

“Over the years Barbury Castle has become a source of fascination, a place of contemplation, a breezy, bustle-free area of dog walking exploits, a vantage point with virtually unparalled views of the surrounding countryside … 

… Oozing atmosphere, it has been invaded by Celtic tribes, slave traders, treasure hunters, cattle rustlers, Roman soldiers, American GIs, arsonists, vandals, worshippers of pagan gods – and I haven’t even mentioned King Kenrick and his cut-throat army of rampaging Saxons.

Erica was buried in her boots within a slingshot of the battlements around 1,300 years ago. For hundreds of years Barbury Castle was the heart of a thriving Iron Age community. During World War Two, artillery gunners took potshots at enemy aircraft from its lofty, windswept ramparts …

… But when and how did this mighty edifice, this immense structure, come to be? Spectacularly located just off one of the UK’s most important ancient routes, the 5,000 year-old Ridgeway, Barbury Castle first began to take shape around 2,500 years ago.

We can only imagine the colossal effort it must have taken – with the use of antlers as digging tools – to erect that pair of steep defensive earth ramparts and ditches that enclose the 12-acre fortress. You can only truly appreciate it by walking around it.

Its chalky ramparts – or banks – would have been bright white when first constructed, a glaring landmark for miles around, perhaps a status symbol.

Its purposes? A settlement, a gathering place and a defence for the Britons who built it to protect themselves from hostile tribes. A 1998 month-long survey found evidence of 40 hut circles from 400BC, suggesting it was a key Iron Age stronghold/settlement.”

That’s just a small section from the article by the Swindon Advertiser and it’s well worth a read:



ADHD Inspiration Day …

… Bringing inspiration to families of children with special needs

Hello listeners, you may have got the impression that business, events and the business world are dominating my thoughts at the moment. And you’d be right – with good reason though. I wrote recently about how I came to be venturing into self-employment with my post about AA Editorial Services. And this guest post from Alison Thompson – aka ‘The Proof Fairy’  also has connections with Swindon’s business community in that she has been supported in this event by Ant Hodges of the Business Success Academy and by the Athena Network in Highworth. It’s also by way of a comment on what many of us know – which is just how many great people there are in Swindon. Something I’ve always known but am constantly having reinforced as I attend business networking.

So now to Alison’s words about this special day for the parents of children with ADHD:

“A few months ago, my friend and business mentor Ant Hodges (of the Business Success Academy Swindon) suggested I put on a “little event” to launch my new business. I was about to qualify as a life coach and NLP Practitioner and wanted to work with parents of children who have ADHD. Being the parent of such a child myself, it’s the area I know best, the area I’ve written a book about (The Boy From Hell: Life with a Child with ADHD) and the area I feel passionate about. But put on an event? I wasn’t so sure …

Five days later I’d booked a venue – Lydiard House Conference Centre – and six speakers. This “little event” wasn’t quite so little any more!

Living in Faringdon, I had my pick of major towns to host the event – Oxford, Reading, Newbury … but for some reason Swindon seemed the natural choice. For a start, it’s the town I visit most, whether that’s for shopping, entertainment or business. I’m also a member of several Facebook groups for Swindon parents, so I knew plenty of mums who were likely to attend the event. And then there was the venue itself – I’ve visited Lydiard House on many an occasion and always been impressed by the building, the staff and the catering – mmm yummy! I wanted to give “my” parents a fun day out, a bit of a treat – and Lydiard House seemed to fit the bill.

Plans for my ADHD Inspiration Day (not a conference – that sounds far too boring!) got underway. But ticket sales were slow – non-existent, almost – and I got the feeling the very reasonable price was considered too expensive. And then, all of a sudden, people started whispering about Swindon. “Hmmm, tried to run an event in Swindon last year. Couldn’t get anyone interested,” I heard from more than one person. “I’d never even attempt to do anything in Swindon,” someone else said. “Why don’t you think about moving it to Oxford or Bristol instead?”

Poor old Swindon. What has the town, or its people, done to deserve such a reputation? I have no idea. But I persevered. I was determined my event was going to work, and I booked more speakers, and ran a crowd-funding project to create funds to give away some tickets. That raised over £2000 – helped in no small part by a Swindon business group, the Athena Network at Highworth. Applications poured in for the funded places, word got around that something was going on and slowly but surely ticket sales increased too.

As I write this there ‘s just over a week to go to the big event. I’ve been in the Advertiser and Link magazine, on Jack FM and Swindon 105.5. A dozen expert speakers will be descending on Lydiard House next week to inspire 75 people – mainly parents and carers, but a few teachers too – to support children with ADHD in new and effective ways. And I will be launching my coaching business at the event too, closely followed by a six-week support programme for parents at Sanford House in November. It’s going to be an incredible day, and I’ve already been asked about running similar events in different locations. Who knows, maybe this could become an annual, twice annual, regular event on a national basis!

But it started in Swindon. I made it happen, despite the reputation … and I’ll never regret that.”


ADHD Inspiration Day:

ADHD Kids:

The Boy From Hell book:

Business Success Academy:

Athena Highworth (East Swindon):

Swindon in Business: AA Editorial Services

Sunday 12th October: 

AA Editorial Services logo

AA Editorial Services

How I came to be venturing into self-employment 

Hello listeners. Just for a change here’s a blog post about me, myself and I – in my other hat as AA Editorial Services: 

Back in 2010 I found myself in the position of having early retirement. This was a situation which had its advantages, such as being able to go exploring new avenues, but the downside of course was, and is, the hit on income when the state pension is still some years away.

One of the aforementioned avenues I explored was to go off to university as a full-time, and very mature, student to pursue a degree course in English and English Language. This lovely sunny 2014 summer saw me complete my degree and graduate with a 1st class BA Hons. 🙂

But, now aged 58, with eight years to go before I can access my state pension and realising that job prospects are limited I have set out on a new venture into self-employment.

In a shrinking and increasingly competitive job market necessity has become the mother of invention. With an English language degree under my belt, attendance at Outset Swindon’s startup courses, experience as a regular blogger at and experience writing digital copy gained while at uni, I now have the tools to offer a range of editorial services, as well an insight into the use of social media, all of which are useful to businesses and individuals who need to convey information through the written word.

Don’t let simple writing errors cost a fortune

As I say on my website,, no document is too small or insignificant to benefit from a fresh pair of eyes. The brain is very clever at seeing what it knows should be there, rather than what is actually written on the paper or the screen. It’s something I learned fast when writing essays during my studies. And I often miss mistakes in my own writing on this blog – simply because I’m too close to it.  It’s far easier to pick up errors in work done by others than by oneself. I have recently joined the Society for Proofreaders and Editors and they stress the impossibility of proofreading one’s own work.

Anyone can benefit from a proofreading or stylistic editing service. Whether you are a student working on an all-important assignment, a café owner designing leaflets and menus or you are a business person writing an important business communication, you will want to make the right impression. And that’s where I can help by being your fresh pair of eyes.

Though undoubtedly important, I recognise that such services can be expensive so I’m offering a small discount to students with a valid NUS card,  as well as flexible terms for start-up businesses.  Having been first one and now the other, I appreciate the value of such things.

So don’t be tempted to send those leaflets to the printers or self-publish that book without getting your writing checked for mistakes. Errors are both costly and damaging to the image you’re trying to project. Contact me at AA Editorial Services on 07732 681881.


Swindon in business: Catherine Jay – Artisan Jewellery

Saturday 11th October

Generally speaking this post is by way of a shameless plug. What’s the point after all, of having a blog, if you can’t give a shameless plug here and there? But it’s also by way of making a general comment about doing a good turn for others and about the supportive business community I’m slowly getting to know in Swindon. Catherine, like myself and Little Miss Cakemaker, is also a ‘graduate’ from Outset Swindon.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog that a good friend of mine is Little Miss Cakemaker, aka Samantha. As it happens I knew Samantha before she gave up her day-job and set about taking over the world with a well-lobbed Victoria sandwich cake. But since I graduated from university and set about trying to make a self-employed living for myself with AA Editorial Servicesmy proofreading and copywriting business, Samantha and her partner have been so fantastically supportive. Sam has created logos and what-not for me while her partner has been brilliant on the website front. And they both haul me off to various business networking events which, as a non-driver, I’d have difficulty accessing. Which is fantastic and I can’t thank them enough.

And there’s been other kind people too. As a result of a telephone ‘appearance’ on BBC Wiltshire, I met Elaine Godley who wears a couple of hats with involvement in Healthwatchers UK and The HEALS UK Foundation. From that encounter I was invited to attend an I am Woman business networking evening to which Catherine, the subject of this post, kindly gave me a lift. So it is that, by way of  ‘passing-it-on’, I’m writing this post to plug a launch event for another lovely person that I’ve met via business networking. This is my small gesture of support, in the best way I can, for her.

On Friday the 7th November at Stanton House, Catherine Attewell is hosting a red carpet event to launch: ‘Catherine Jay – Artisan Jewellery for Special Events’ – Here’s where to go to buy a ticket:  And here’s the Facebook page for the event:

Catherine is a mum of two young children and has a passion for beads, working with quality materials to design and make beautiful, bespoke jewellery. As a young mum she is building this business around the needs of her young family and her own need for expressing her creativity. Okay – so far this is a relatively unexceptional story. But I think the bit that impressed me is that, to really ‘go for it’ properly, Catherine signed up for Ellen Watt’s (of Cosmic Ordering fame) ‘Get it Sorted 8 week Challenge: One outrageous goal’ – and it’s that which spurred Catherine to host this special event with Champagne and canapés – and cupcakes by Little Miss Cakemaker  – to launch her new brand. This event is the climax of her eight-week challenge. She is aiming to get 100 guests, and along with launching her brand, raise some money for her chosen charity Heals UK Foundation. I just think this is an incredibly brave thing to aim for and I’m full of admiration.

Tickets for this lovely event are £25 and for that you get some Champers, canapés, scrummy cupcakes and a £25 voucher to spend on Catherine Jay’s products.

There will be a raffle for The HEALS UK Foundation at the event – the prizes for which are looking pretty damn impressive. They have all been donated by local business women who are rallying round and supporting Catherine with this venture.

 Catherine Jay can be found on Facebook so if you want to buy a ticket for this wonderful event and support a lovely lady and a great charity – you can find her there. Here’s where to go to buy a ticket.


Swindon businesses that are supporting Catherine Jay and the HEALS UK Foundation by donating some truly fantastic raffle prize to this event are:

Elaine Godley of Healthwatchers UK – offering an artery health check.

 Karen  Gwynne-Lyons with her natural cosmetics KBK

Debi Richens of Fitelle – a custom made bra.

Ellen Watts of Ellen Unlimited – offering 1 place on her next ‘Get it sorted for once, for all, for good’ programme starting 30th Nov for 8 weeks.

Lis McDermott Photography – prize to be specified

Suzanne Burnell-Gray of Lode Star Coaching – giving a session of hypnotherapy.


Swindon 203rd General Hospital: a query from the USA

Saturday 11th October

Can any listeners out there help this lady in America whose father was posted in the 203rd General Hospital here in Swindon in WW2? 

Back in May of this year I wrote a post about the Arts Centre here in Swindon. In this post I wrote this:

Swindon Web carry a great article in their Swindon History section about the presence of American Servicemen in and around Swindon during the war. It’s a really interesting article which I urge you to read so I won’t quote it verbatim but will just share this snippet of information about the military unit, the 203rd General Hospital which was set up to tend to casualties of the second world war Normandy campaign: Its staff of more than 600 stopped off in Swindon for a month in the run-up to D-Day (June 6, 1944), and their written memories, which were first published in print in the 1990s but are now partly available online, paint a vivid picture, from an American perspective, of life in Britain during the war … While personnel were dispersed to their billets, an administrative headquarters was set up at 25 High Street (which no longer exists). But the Bradford Hall in Devizes Road – then a dance hall and destined to become Swindon Arts Centre in 1956 – became the staff’s main focus, particularly as three tents were erected as a temporary mess, on land behind the hall.’

As a result of this blog post I have, this week, received an e-mail from a lady in the USA:

“Hello, and thank you for your mention in May of the 203rd General Hospital unit, on your Swindon blog about the Arts Center.  Graham Carter contacted me when writing about the unit in his Swindon web piece, after seeing the 203rd website I posted–it was my father’s WW2 unit.  Graham wrote about the fact that unit members were housed with local inhabitants, and I always wondered if anyone who hosted them had read the article, and subsequently shared any memories of those times.  Never saw any follow-up. Any chance that you would have heard anything about that?
Thanks again for your piece, Lois”

And the magic of Google – Lois was searching for mentions of 203rd General Hospital and my original blog post came up in the results. Cool.

Building Business Connections Forum: calling Swindon businesses

Monday 8th October

I’ve written on this blog before about Outset Swindon , that terrific initiative providing help and support to individuals looking to set up their own businesses. They have now helped to create over 140 businesses. The service they offer goes beyond the training courses and one-to-one mentoring sessions to include ‘ask-the-expert’ events and talks from business people amongst other things for we, the Outset clients, to attend. However in November there is going to be something of a departure from this.

In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship, On 20th November at Blunsdon House, Outset are staging the Building Business Connections Forum. Outset have invited clients with registered businesses providing B2B products/services to pitch for one of the 30 free exhibition stands available at the forum, and we will be promoting this event as widely as possible to the existing business community.

Myself, as AA Editorial Services, and my good friend Little Miss Cakemaker pitched for an exhibition stand and so will be there in our business capacity. So, Swindon businesses, during Global Entrepreneurship Week a visit to the Building Business Connections Forum is a great chance for you to: ‘get connected to new businesses, make new contacts and identify new opportunities in Swindon.’  

As the website says, ‘Building Business Connections is a free business event that has been created to provide business owners and decision makers with an opportunity to meet new suppliers and network with Swindon’s growing business community.

So whether you are an established business interested in trading locally or a small business looking to expand and make new connections, you are invited to come and meet some of the newest members of the local business community.  Anyone thinking about starting a business is welcome too.’

To book go to the Building Business Connections website. Here’s a list of exhibitors that will be at the event.


A Rum Do!

Swindon Festival of Poetry 2014 – Sunday 5th October

Well. What a profound, powerful, personalised poetic jamboree that was. I’m not sure I have the words to do it justice but I’ll do what I can. I am speaking listeners of the double bill of offerings that took place today at the Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town.  In all honesty I went primarily to listen to Mike Pringle – as I know him personally from having had some involvement with the Richard Jefferies Museum over the summer. But as I had nothing special to do today and the double bill was a bargain price I figured I might as well do both and I’m very glad I did.

I can’t lie and pretend that poetry is my very favourite thing. Much like folk and country and western music there’s elements that I find interesting and affecting but overall it’s not my favourite medium. I make no bones about it: I like my poetry to be accessible and to benefit from brevity.  So I surmised, correctly, that today’s offering: ‘The War Poets with Jonny Chambers’ would be of interest and fit my poetry criteria. And it did. The talk consisted of a series of introductions, delivered by Jonny Chambers, of contrasting or complementary “pairs of poems”  written by men and women in the First War. It traced their different experiences and outlooks during the course of conflict – from the enthusiastic recruitment of 1914 to action in the trenches and on the Home Front concluding with various reflections following the Armistice in 1918. The readings were by Ann Taylor and Tim Snowdon. I started out taking notes about the poems – then remembered I no longer have to do that. Once an English student always an English student I guess. 😉 I enjoyed – well I’m not sure that ‘enjoyed’ is quite the right word given the subject matter … but took a lot from it. I’m very glad I made the effort.

After a brief break Mike Pringle took to the lectern. Mike’s talk and presentation was, on the face of it, about his new book ‘Five Chances’ and its inspiration by a Wilfred Owen poem ‘The Chances‘: Mike Pringle, author of Swindon: Remembering 1914-18, takes us on an exploration of Great War poetry and Swindon via his new novel ‘Five Chances’, itself inspired by a Wilfred Owen poem about the horrific odds of trench warfare.’ And indeed it was that. But it was also much more than that. As Mike talked about his family military background, his writings about and involvement with Swindon in the Great War, his efforts to give the ordinary soldier a voice – as Owen did in his poem – he wove through it all and shared with his audience some powerfully drawn, personal and straight-from-the-heart reflections on the human condition, on life and its fragility. Towards the end of his talk he sounded a whistle. An actual whistle from the period that would have been the clarion call to soldiers such as the characters in his book to go ‘over the top’. The very last sound that was ever heard by so, so many of them. Including Wilfred Owen.  Luckily for us there today that’s not the last sound we will ever hear and we were left feeling very grateful for that. As indeed we ought to feel.  if we are lucky we can return to the Swindon Poetry Festival next year and hear new, different, poetic sounds. And how great is that? Mike concluded his presentation by giving everyone a shot of Rum – just before those poor buggers in the trenches were about to run for their lives across no-man’s-land they were given a shot of rum to help quell the fear and nausea in their bellies at who-knows-what they were about to face. With this shot of Rum Mike urged us to toast … life. Amen to that. 

So I’ll conclude this post with a virtual toast of my own: to Mike Pringle, Hilda Sheehan, Michael Scott and all that contribute to the cornucopia of creativity to be found in Swindon. And yes – even to that bloody Dog. 😉 Cheers!


Earlier this week I managed the briefest of pop-ins to the central library where some great poetry was happening. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stay long yesterday but managed to say hello to the lovely Hilda Sheehan and also Michael Scott who was wearing the most eye-catching pair of trousers! I also managed to get a good look at the splendicious poetry festival lectern masterminded and created by Mike Pringle.

Lovingly created from wood from the gorgeous garden at the Richard Jefferies Museum it has some poetry on the inside and on the outside a lovely reference to the Bluegate Poets:

Here’s a few photos from the poetry in the library and from today:


#swindon #wiltshire #magicroundabout #swindonmagicroundabout #swindonblog #swindon blog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #aaedits #aaeditorialservices #proofread #proofreading #proofreadingservices #swindonpoetryfestival #fivechances


E2 unwrapped!

Friday 3rd October

Eggelicious, that purveyor of  wraptastic #slowfoodfast, in the covered market is expanding and their new outlet, E2, in Wood Street will soon be open. And Old Town is, I gather from social media, pretty eggcited about it. I was delighted to be invited to an open evening last night at E2 so this post is largely by way of sharing some photographs of the evening which was great fun.

Eggelicious and E2 is very much a family affair with everyone in the family being involved in the business one way and another. Whether it’s fish marinading, designing flyers or being behind the stove they all contribute to it. Which I think is really, rather great. They are lovely people all of them and they have a lovely team of staff working with them so I’m sure E2 will be a huge success. I certainly hope so. It will certainly add another dimension to the already varied food and drink available in Old Town.

E2 is not quite finished yet but my really rather terrible photos will give you a flavour of what we can all look forward to. The evening concluded with the cutting of yet another fabulous cakey creation from the mixing bowl of Little Miss Cakemaker.

It’s a wrap Jim: but not as we know it!  it's a wrap jim


#swindon #wiltshire #magicroundabout #swindonmagicroundabout #swindonblog #swindon blog #thingstodoinswindon #thingstoseeinswindon #swindonia #swindoniablog #hiddenswindon #aaedits #aaeditorialservices #proofread #proofreading #proofreadingservices #eggelicious #e2 #streetfoodswindon #eggeliciouscoveredmarket #slowfoodfast #slowfoodfast


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