Future Lionesses? Where to Kick off into Local Football….

Whatever the outcome of today’s Women’s Euro final at Wembley, it’s undoubtedly history in the making for the Lionesses, and in turn for English football. A victory would not only be the first major trophy for the England women’s team, but the first football honour for England since 1966.

Should three lionesses on a shirt inspire your daughter to be a “baller,” or if she already run rings around you in the garden, where do you get the ball rolling, locally?

Applications for the forthcoming grassroots seasons end mid-August, so get in quickly,; here’s our guide to kicking off your daughter’s, or son’s football career.

Starting off young, Little Kicker Sessions are held at Devizes Town Football Club, every Thursday from 5pm – 6pm, suitable for ages 3-6 Years. So, Devizes Town Youth Football Club might be your first port of call for the younger ones, but they’re also looking to add to their U15 squad in particular, but girls of all ages are welcome. Girl’s football is relatively new to Devizes Town FC, and needs some support.

Training at Green Lane, new players are welcome at Bishop’s Cannings Youth FC. Spaces are limited for these mixed teams: Under 11 – Typhoons, Under 12 – Scorpions, Under 14’s – Titans, and Under 11 – Spitfires. The Butterflies and Dragonflies Girls teams are for under 12’s and upcoming year 6 and 7 respectively, but enquire as they have a range of ages available. Fridays at 6pm, are training for girl’s teams.

Chatting to three elite young players from Devizes, who are all signed for Swindon Town, Izzy, Cara and Jess, they felt more needed to be done to promote girl’s only leagues locally in comparison to other areas of the UK. Yet this is mainly down to interest. “Football is the fastest growing women’s sport in the UK,” Jess reminded me, but stressed the importance of opportunities for other women’s sports such as hockey and rugby.

On our way to the County Ground to catch a coach to Wembley, they gave surprising examples of how, occasionally friends had felt “bullied” out of mixed teams by the boys, even at the youngest of ages. They seemed, however, happy with their school programs, after I reminded them girl’s simply didn’t do football in school, in my time! But they wished again for better structure to school leagues. Cara lived in Swindon, started her love of football at camps in Dorcan, whereas Jess joined Bishop’s Cannings, and moved to Melksham, where Izzy started. They both spoke highly of Melksham FC, who have a well-established girl’s structure.

Melksham Town Youth Football – Charter Standard Club has an ever-growing girls section, and is represented at all levels from Wildcats, Under 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16s and Under 18s.

Staying in the Sham, Forest Youth are a newcomer to the game, and have U13 mixed and an U14 girl’s team. Ages start from 4 years, find out more, here.

Derry Hill FC is also widely renowned for supporting girls in football throughout their club, in both our girls and mixed teams. They have girls only teams from Year 3 to Year 11 in the 22/23 season and a Wildcats programme for younger girls.

Jess, who has completed seasons at Reading and Bristol, was keen to point out summer camps were equally important for new starters, as teams, praising Future of Football, which runs out of Bowerhill in Melksham. They start with mixed sessions for ages 3-4, continuing up to all ages. You can book free taster sessions online. Sponsored by women’s sports brand, Miss Kick, Jess added they had an all-girls national foundation running since 2018.

If once you’ve found your suitable local team your offspring is still booting goals past you in rapid succession until your fingers are bent backwards, the next stage is applying for trials at the development centres. Look to Swindon Town FC Community Foundation for the best local development centre, and advice on where to go from there, and if you think you’ve got what it takes, Reading, Bristol and Southampton pick their players from this catchment area.

Swindon girls at Wembly today!

On grassroots level, Cara recommended Highworth and Stratton clubs for girls. The girls are fresh back from a tournament in Barcelona, one of the many perks of playing for Swindon! Swindon FC is one of 72 league clubs with a community programme affiliated to the English Football League Community Trust, delivering sporting and social opportunities to people within their communities.

Founded in 1991, the Foundation delivers football and Multi Sports based programmes within Swindon and the county of Wiltshire, and endeavour to deliver and increase participation for people from 2 – 82 years of age; so even I’m legible, just, if only I could kick a ball in the general direction I intended!

This is the point in time where you’re clocking up the miles and the floor of your banger is filled with those nasty tiny 3G pitch black balls! But you don’t need to travel so far, FC Wiltshire also run a similar development program out of Green Lane, Devizes.

Since Channel 4’s 2017 shocking documentary with Clare Balding, exposing truths behind how the massive popularity of women’s football during the first World War was dwindled when the FA banned it 1921, we understand where this ill-conceived notion that football is a man’s sport came from. Though it was never an act of chauvinism, rather more simply, The FA made no money from it, because the women’s games were fundraising for injured soldiers, only goes to reinforce how totally unjust, not to mention, ironic this old-fashioned and preconceived idea is, and though we’ve some way to go for equality in the ironically dubbed “beautiful game,” we’re at least moving in the right direction.

Today will prove this, as Wembley fills with spectators, young and old, male and female. The girls may’ve wished for better structure in local leagues, but one informed how Marlborough’s girl’s team recently folded, so it’s simply a matter of increasing interest, and this can only be done by the club’s engaging girls and making them feel welcome and appreciated. It’s easy for a club to prioritise boys, as that’s where the profit is, and this must, and so very gradually is, changing.

Will the same level of celebration erupt today, if England win, as it would if the men’s team got even remotely as far the women?! Time will tell; come on Lionesses!


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Devizes Food & Drink Festival, Back for 2022

Later than usual, the Devizes Food & Drink Festival is quite possibly the last major summer event in Devizes; their programme of events has gone live online now, the box office opens on August 12th; fill your boots, at least your tummy!  

The scrumptious proceedings run from Saturday 24th September to Sunday 2nd October, which, if you’ve not been before, operates as a vast series of both free and paid events, obviously food and drink related. So not to distract your browsing pleasure from their website, let’s just breeze over the goodies, summarise and send you in their direction, shall we?

The biggie is on the opening day; Saturday 24th September, 10am to 4pm, Devizes Market Place comes alive with the Street Food & Artisan Producer Market. Wadworth sponsored, with bar and pub game, it’s a bustling market of self-produce, where you can gas all you like, with purveyors of fine foods, blag a taster, buy a jar or two. Music comes from The Decades.

From there on afterwards, there’s a number of interesting and varied side-events, a movable feast at Winkworths, a meet with Rowdefield Farm’s beekeepers, a teddy bear’s picnic for ten years and under at Hillworth on Sunday 25th, dinner at the Wiltshire Shooting Centre, in the railway tunnel. The usual great foodie quiz is at The Literary & Scientific Institute on the Monday, entomologist, author, academic, television presenter and explorer George McGavin will be talking insects, and how we should be incorporating them into our diet, they’ll be reliving school dinners, Guardian’s creator of the How to Cook the Perfect column, Felicity Cloake will be in the house, and the Gourmet Brownie Kitchen gets in on the act on Thursday 29th September, with an expert from Hilperton based coffee company Dusty Ape.

Of all events from a murder mystery dinner, foraging, loitering in allotments, Come Dine With Us, dog food dinner for your four legged friend at The fox and Hounds, and pig welfare farm visit, the most un-foody has to be Wadworth signwriting workshop; not quite sure how that irrelevant one popped in there! But one of the best new comers to the usual goings-on, The World Food event sees the festival’s closure on Saturday 2nd October at the Corn Exchange, where for 50p a taste, you can sample flavours of the world, from Austria to Zimbabwe, exploring real home cooking from local residents who have far flung roots. New countries cooking this year include the Philippines, Guatemala and Mexico.

See, my belly is rumbling already now! Writing food festival previews should be likened to going to the supermarket, neither should you attempt on an empty stomach!

For more info, click here!

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Flowers in the Snow; Paul Lappin’s New EP

For want of content during lockdown I broke borders and publicised about music worldwide, gradually crawling Devizine back to its original ethos of focussing on local happenings. Pardon me if I don’t get all Royston Vasey on this EP, recorded in the South of France, for the reasoning is twofold; Paul Lappin originates from Swindon only partially significant, mostly it’s because for music this good I’m willing to break any rules about content I might’ve once made!

Through the album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly, if in October 2020 I raved about the Britpop goodness of Paul and his band, the Keylines, a following live unplugged and largely acoustic release Christmas last year, Live at Pink Moon Studios simply knocked it out of the park for me. Stripped back and set within an intimate lockdown performance, Live at Pink Moon Studios not only reinforced the absolute brilliance of Lappin, it earmarked its place in my all-time favourites, outside the confines of what we review here.

No pressure then, Paul, if I don’t compare this new release to other items currently in review, rather provide assurance to our readers, this again dreamy, mostly acoustic new EP Flowers in the Snow, is immediately enchanting, best paralleled with John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, or Nick Drake, the latter of whom I’d imagine Paul to cite, being the studio name refers to a Drake album.

Though, I feel at times, aforementioned comparisons are somewhat lost in their own era, Paul reflects this too, his work never retrospective, it sounds fresh for the now, as Britpop comes of age, this is matured indie, favourably over a beechwood fireplace in a cabin recollecting times past, with a customary glass of wine.

Three average-length tunes make up this EP, though as suspected, that’s all which is average here. A tale of better times on their way begins the proceedings, a best served acoustically title track. It smooths the soul, quite literally. Moodier soundscape introduction of subtle guitar riff following for track two, Blue and Gold, brings out the best in Johannes Saal’s drums and bass, and Thomas Monnier’s subtle congas.

“The rest of my band were busy with other projects,” Paul explains of springtime, “I spent a week at Pink Moon residential studios in the south of France working on some new ideas with producer and recording artist Saal.” The result is this EP; three songs loosely linked by the theme of the seasons and mixed on a beautiful 1980’s GDR era broadcast desk. “The download includes a 14-minute bonus track of all three songs linked together, as was originally intended.”

Okay, so I’m guessing spring on Flowers in the Snow, dead reckoning Blue and Gold is summer, but the last tune confirms, it’s winter; Not Hiding Just Sliding is perhaps the most experimental, such a beguilingly unassuming melody, holding you out to dry in want for more. This is an exceptional set of flowing songs, no two-ways about it, if the seasons really came and went as smoothly as this, I’d still be wearing a t-shirt and khaki shorts through the bleak midwinter!


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Tickling Your Fancy with the Hard Rock Lifestyle

You ever have one of those almost comical “you want some, do yer?” type confrontations, whereby your drunk challenger is absolutely determined to fight you? No matter how passive your posture, regardless of complimentary reactions, they only retort the precise opposite, even if it jeopardises their own reputation; as in, “no, thanks for asking, but you look very tough,” and the reply thickens the plot, “no, I’m not!”

Or is it just me, with “one of those faces?!” After seventeen years idle, Bradford-on-Avon rockers Peace return under a new guise called Tickle Your Fancy, to blast the musical “in your face” equivalent, and it absolutely kicks back, residing in retrospective hard rock rather than ear-bleeding all-out grunge or thrash…which better floats my boat, subtle hints of the take-no-prisoners punk attitude, et al.

For five three-minute heroes in this name-your-price download or cassette EP aptly titled “Hard Rock Lifestyle,” never settle, never meanders off up sentimental stairways, or drifts to Mordor, rather similar to an edgy ZZ Top, AC-DC at the top of their game, they don’t come up for air.

Just when I was pondering a possible method of introducing Led Zeppelin to my daughter today, by suggesting while those screamingly gritty vocals might be cliché in contemporary metal, these guys were the originators, they set the bar, Tickle Your Fancy come at it so insatiably, it’s compulsory to toss annotations of platitude aside, like a groupie’s bra, and just rock out in its sublime portrayals of an after-party in the green room of a Kiss concert.

Akin to the irony of their past name, being doubtful if they were ever best described “peaceful,” “Hard Rock Lifestyle,” rarely tackles serious issues “that fill our everyday lives,” as disingenuously claimed, other than suggesting partying through an apocalypse. Yeah, there’s a sample in the finale of a fictional cold war nuclear strike newsreel, which, like the fact it’s released on cassette, only increases the idea we’re living in a time of pre-soft metal yore; hard rock’s finest hour, an era when long-haired men belted out songs about gorgeous ladies carefree of chauvinistic ripostes. I mean, said sample appears in an anthemic song called, Pull Down Your Pantz, for crying out loud; coupled with a cover of a chic businessman skateboarding to the office, it kind of says it all about the tongue-in-cheek nature of this crazy ride.    

Good old, untroubled rock n roll is what’s on offer here, adroitly captured. Predominately themed of fun-loving carnal appreciation, tracks like Hot Blondes and One O’clock Gun reek of ZZ Top’s Legs, and thus said party begins with an eponymous opening tune. Top marks for a release of energy I was unsure of which way would go in appeasing to my personal taste, but I’m locked into this direct-to-audio cassette release from Wiltshire’s Crest Studios, by Garlic Bill of The Raw Data Recording Company. You can’t escape it’s hold; it targets you and won’t give up until you attempt to swing a punch; Tickle Your Fancy will give it yer!


20 Years for 20 Things; Bromham’s Adam Dempsey’s Fundraisers

Good to hear from Adam Dempsey, organiser of many events at Bromham’s Social Club, and neighbouring bar,The Owl, which tragically caught fire last year, to tell me about a Coffee Morning and Family Fun Fete, to be geld on Saturday 6th August, from 10:30 – 1:30pm.

“I couldn’t decide wether to call it a Family Fun Day or a Fete,” he laughed, “I like alliteration so come up with Family Fun Fete!” Works for me.

Said “Family Fun Fete” will be held in the Clubhouse, a temporary building in lieu of The Owl/Social Centre rebuild.

There will be tea, coffee, cakes, etc, and outside will be a selection of fun activities and games, a bouncy castle, Giant snakes & ladders, bottle tombola, Mini Golf and more!

These are the latest 2 ‘Things’ in my ’20 Years for 20 Things,” Adam explained, “to mark the 20th Anniversary of being diagnosed with Leukaemia, raising money for Young Lives vs Cancer (formally CLIC Sargent) and Ronald McDonald House in Bristol.” The total of “things” is building now, and included a and 100 mile walk over June and July.

Throughout August Adam will be virtually cycling the distance from Bromham to Land’s End (234 miles) on an exercise bike.

He’s planning various other events and challenges, culminating in a final shebang  in November; The Big Ball, will be a black tie event in Melksham, where he hopes to announce rough totals raised for the two brilliant charities.

I’ve also not been wearing any comedy/slogan/funny t-shirts at all,” he tells, “which doesn’t sound like much of a challenge I know but anyone who knows me will understand it is!”

But not all his challenges have been so strenuous as the walk or bike ride. Adam adds a little humour too. It started with a beard/head shave, and followed with an abstinence of crisps, his favourite snack!

Funny t-shirts was a passion of Adam’s I did note, way back when BromFest’s beer & cider festival was an annual must do. Always with a fantastic community spirit and great music lineup, it’s good to hear village life there is returning to normal since the tragic fire. We wish Adam all the best with this anazing fundraising effort. You can find out more about 20 Years for 20 Things, on his website HERE.


Tutored Wine Tasting at St Mary’s

Discover new tipples at a professionally-led tutored tasting.

Communion wine won’t be among the offering at a tutored tasting in St Mary’s Church, Devizes, on Friday, 19th August, but instead look forward to exploring an eclectic mix of interesting wines chosen by renowned local vintner Casper Bowes.
There will be something to appeal to every palate at the masterclass, which will provide the opportunity to sample a range of fine wines from different parts of the world in the unique historic setting of the Grade 1 listed building in New Park Street.

Co-founders of Bowes Wine, Casper and Victoria, who describe themselves as a ‘healthily wine-obsessed husband and wife team’, started the business in 2002 and focus on sourcing new and exciting wines from both the classic and lesser known regions of the world, with both young and older vintages in their sights.
The tasting will enable those imbibing to go away with a better understanding and appreciation of a wide range of specially selected wines. The evening starts at 6.30pm and will end around 8.30pm with a glass of sparkling wine and nibbles.

Tickets, which are limited and cost £20, can be purchased through St Mary Devizes Trust website at: www.stmarydevizestrust.org.uk where you can also find further information about future events in the church and learn more about the plans to transform the building into a vibrant community arts venue for future generations.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 27th July – 3rd August 2022

Fire up those Vespas and Lambrettas, because we’re revving into August scooter style! If last weekend in Devizes was all about beer, this one’s all about scooters….and beer! See our editor’s picks section for more details about that, otherwise, here’s the lowdown on everything we’ve found to do this coming week and weekend.….

As usual I’ve left links out, the one link you need for further details on all events is our event calendar, here for July, here for August. School holiday activates are building up, I’ll add some new ones on this article, as this list needs updating, but there’s still lots of great ideas to keep those nippers from nipping at your patience levels, HERE for god’s sake, pass the wine!

Wednesday 27th

 The Wiltshire Air Ambulance Roadshow comes to Hillworth Park, Devizes on Wednesday 27th, from 10-2pm, suitable for ages 7 and up; ha, 7-Up! No? Lost you now, have I? It’s been a long morning. Updated: sorry, event has been cancelled.

Staying with kid’s activities; Wednesday & Thursday also sees a Devizes Tennis Club Summer Camp session, the ongoing Multi Sports Programme at Hardenhuish School also starts, there’s art and play summer sessions at the Cause, Chippenham. And you can learn how to produce your own mini-movie, with an Introduction to Stop Motion Animation at Pound Arts, Corsham with resident artist and animator Caroline Rudge.

For grownups, there’s also a Lunchtime Recital with Matthew Taylor (violin) & Peter French (piano) at Pound Arts on Wednesday.

Thursday 28th

Of course, it’s Womad’s 40th weekend, and we wish all you lucky ticketholders a great time there. STOP THE PRESS, there are still tickets

And it’s a family day in space at the Weston Hub, Bath; see poster!

We say happy 1st anniversary to the Condado Lounge in Devizes, where you’ll find Mr Finley Trusler handling the entertainment.

For outdoor theatre picnic, try The Sensory Garden, just behind Trowbridge Town Hall, where the Apricity Theatre presents As You Like It, a rollicking romp through the Forest of Arden, celebrating love, life, and human nature. Staying in Trowbridge, but more fiery, post-punk, find duo Deux Furieuses hitting the Pump!

TaleGate Theatre Productions, producers of ‘Father Christmas Needs A Wee!’ and ‘The Giant’s Loo Roll’ comes to Swindon Arts Centre for another children’s musical full of songs and silliness, and a corgi or two, with The Queen’s Knickers! Older Swindon comedy seekers need to head for MECA for a Chuckles Comedy Club night.

Friday 29th

Film Club night at Melksham Assembly Hall, they’re showing John Carpenter’s The Thing. Meanwhile it’s going to steam your glasses up at The Vic, Swindon, with The Soap Girls, and Krooked Tongue in support. More causally, there’s the Bowie Experience at The Wyvern. Another tribute in the other direction, Guns & Roses Experience play The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Clubbers head for Club Nomah, Bath, where the Shindig Festival head inside for the evening; see poster.

But bikers are left very much outside, which is likely how they like it, as it’s both Calne Bike Meet Weekend, where Siren play The Talbot, and of course, if we’ve had the rockers we also need the mods, our pick of the week….

Editor’s Pick of the Week: Devizes Scooter Rally 2022

Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, yeah, get your cherry-red dockers and trilbies on, snap those braces, it’s time for Devizes Scooter Rally 2022. I’m not going to repeat myself, it’s all gone Blue Peter; here’s a preview I prepared earlier!

Saturday 30th

It was a shame to hear M for 2022 at Lydiard Park, was cancelled due to “the cost-of-living crisis” they claim. Paul Jones Live in Concert at Christ Church, in Swindon, though, Sack Sabbath play The Vic, and break a leg, students of Fitzgraham, on a journey into Wonderland at The Wyvern, where children as young as four years old through to adults will perform ballet, modern, tap, contemporary, lyrical, acro and musical theatre.

If you loved the reggae at Devizes Beer Festival last weekend, and noted I did, and may/may not have attained a small bruise to the elbow by falling backwards into the flower bed, you’ll only need to travel the A4 east, where Knati and Nick have a Reggae Garden Party at the Pelican near Froxfield; again, see the poster below.

Further Pewsey way, find another Bottfest Hog Roast session at the Seven Stars, Bottlesford, where Mick O’Toole provides the music. In Marlborough town, expect vintage blues with a hard-edged groove; yes, Barrelhouse play The Lamb.

Siren move across to Melksham, to play the Pilot.

Non-scooterists in Devizes, choose between the sublime sound of Illingworth, who plays The Three Crowns, or the more punker, Navajo Dogs, who do their thing at The Southgate Inn; both more than worthy, my jury is out on this and I remain undecided at the time of going to press!

For the horizontal, nineties ambient dub masters, The Orb celebrate the 30th Anniversary of UF-Orb at The Cheese & Grain, and oh, like, what a blissful trip that was!

Sunday 31st

Trowbridge Rugby Football Club Summer Camps go off every Sunday from now, with girls’ and boys’ teams for all ages. Great club, needing some players!

Calne Biker Weekend continues, with The Voodoo Penguins at The Bug & Spider, and The Cheese & Grain have Frome Record Fair.

Monday 1st August

Pinch, punch; maybe take the little ones to the Rock the Tots Seaside Show at Trowbridge Town Hall, perhaps?

Wednesday 3rd

Wednesday sees the start of a series of Crafty Kids in the Café at Hillworth Park, Devizes, and a second art and play summer session at the Cause, Chippenham. For grownup artists, The Lawrence Society of Art are in Marden, thatching harvest and stooks.

That’s all I’ve got for you, but keep updated via our event calendar, as more may well be added soon; have a great weekend, I’m soooo out of here….as soon as I grow up!


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Proper Job; Devizes Beer & Cider Festival is Back!

If I said of the Full Tone Festival, last year, “and in the history of events in Devizes, the magnitude of what The Full-Tone Orchestra achieved yesterday will forever be imprinted,”  it was for two reasons; that it was, and also, aside their free gig in the Market Place, it was inaugural. Still, there’s a number of annual events well established in town, already historically imprinted.

One firm favourite, The Devizes Beer & Cider Festival returned post-lockdown, yesterday, for it’s 21st anniversary, a day which can be best described as monumental, if more expected to be than first timers, like FullTone.

I’ve been to a few drinks festivals, where you can choose from top to bottom, left or right, from the displayed kegs, work your way through the lot and return home a tad tipsy. Not so here, unless you’re Oliver Reed. There was just too many to choose from, and I’m only a cider drinker, beer drinkers would’ve needed Norris McWhirter on standby for a Guinness World Record.

You will need to join Devies branch of the beer trainspotters club CAMRA for some detailed analysis of indivdual brands on offer, I took the pin-in-a-map system and came out on top with such a variety of appley tipples I couldn’t begin to list, unless you have all day? Which you might have, being it’s Sunday, and if you attended, you’re probably not feeling motivated to cut the grass!

The main concentration here should, I believe, be focussed not in review of the contents of my souvenir glass, but in sincere thanks to the volunteers who had this huge beer hall running like clockwork.There must have been a pile of socks around the back, because they sure worked them off, and like robots with charisma programming as standard, they served proper job.

The most common verbal appraisals to Devizes Wharfside being transformed into a beer top-heavy festival, on the day, was, like Christmas day after the Grinch, ones of sheer delight that said monumental occasion has been returned to them after the triple year break.

But it’s far from Devizions just loitering, downing this vast selection and singing the event’s praises. Rather than hoist in hired food vans of varying quality, Devizes Rotary took care of the nosh, superbly. With standard barbecue favourites and king sized woks of meat or vegetable chilli, and the ice cream van was busy too.

Busy is an operative word for the event as a whole. Rapping with organiser Don Jones, I was informed attendance figures were very much governed on how much beer they had to sell. Yet by the end, the approximate 1,700 strong crowd prioritised drinking that colossal beer tent dry, and should you be new to town, welcome to Devizes!

It must take experienced organisers to estimate so precisely how much a crowd of this size will drink without too much waste or predicted riot if underestimated. I have trouble guessing how much pasta to plop into the pan when cooking for four!

Anyhoo, rain didn’t rear its ugly mug, and under shaded skies of tolerable temperature, surrounded by deck chair city, sat the main attraction aside the beer tent, ah, some musical entertainment; twist my arm why don’t you?! Atop transport company Garrbutts’ trailer the stage was set for a host of locally-sourced acts. Devizes CAMRA made a wise move to bring in local music aficionados, Ben and his partner Victoria to arrange the entertainment. Being their first time coordinating they knocked it out of the park, or at least, the wharf!

Devizes Town Band opened. I rolled up to Tom Harris and Claire’s rather sea shanty set, inspired by the neighbouring canal I gather, giving it Chicken on a Raft, and other joyful sing-a-longs, they never fail to please.

Followed quickly by Devizes favourite, unpretentious singer-songwriter Vince Bell, who’s intelligently crafted songs and guitar skills shines with every tune. Not content with showing his spellbinding aptitude with self-penned songs rich in emotion and often topically local, he covered David Gray’s Babylon, and proved talent is hereditary, when his, also all-singing (for Devizes Musical Theatre) partner, Lisa’s daughter, Evie, joined him for a homely enchanting tune, Lisa’s kitchen. The finale was the icing, his audience participation unofficial Devizes theme, which if you know, you know!

New to me, Warminster’s Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club was up next, proving the timelessness of classic olde timey Americana. They were a highly skilled trio, guitarist, double-bass and fiddle authenticity breathed life in 1920s swing, tango, and a touch of bluegrass. Something different and welcomed, Tom Waits covers and revised banned rarities, shockingly more effective than it sounds.

With the only warning from “voice of Devizes,” compere Ian Diddams, we were next whisked away to Irish taverns with popular flute and guitar combo, The Celtic Roots Collective, who never fail to engage an audience with isometric Irish folk dance, and seem to me to improve tenfold with every day that passes.

Headlining was the rock classic covers band, Triple JD, from Chippenham, yet a welcomed and regular feature of Devizes’ Southgate’s never-ending musical rota. Cover bands aplenty and available for hire, but if you want something mindblowingly above average, Triple JD put the overtime in. Even dropped from four-piece to three on this occasion, sublime covers of Cream, Deep Purple et al, came thick, fast and acutely delivered with unsurpassed accuracy. But it’s the plethora of Hendrix classics which both dominate the set, and astound; any band who can do that without offending the legend is a cut far above the rest, and Triple JD really push the boundaries of what a cover band should produce.

And so came the end of a hugely successful and highly entertaining day here in Devizes, putting The Beer & Cider Festival firmly back on the event calendar, where it so obviously belongs. It’s affordable, enjoyable through variety, and it’s already historically bookmarked, yesterday served only to reaffirm it.

It’s not really a reggae crowd,”  Nick Newman professed to me, “so, we’re just going to play some Bob Marley and popular tunes.” But if the finale was the wildcard, it proved though a show of heavy dubplates might be niche, everybody loves reggae and it moves the crowd like nothing else.

Dancing broke out across the Wharf as Knati P and Nick Razah did their sound system ting. Knati toasting the crowd, a majority perhaps unaware of “rewind” Jamaican DJ methods, but nevertheless feeling the vibes of a set akin to a breif history of everything that’s great about reggae, from Marley to Millie Small, from Two-Tone to contemporary subgenres, like Groove Amarda. In this they showcased the diversity of a misunderstood genre around these backwaters; causing me to uncaringly spill my cider down my t-shirt in gyrating to the Wailers inaugural ska hit, Simmer Down!

And on that point, it surely clarifies my point about Ben and Victoria’s devotion to bring as larger quality and variety to the music program as the selection of beers and ciders, in what was the perfect denouement to a wonderful evening; in my honest opinion, naturally!


Broken, with Billy Green 3

Rain after a heatwave can be “refreshing” rather than its normal, “annoying.” Save drizzle, though forecast, we’re still waiting for the storm. If it’s refreshing you want in the meantime, local Britpop trio, Billy Green 3 paid a visit to Potterne’s Badger Set studio, and the result is Madchester in Ibiza….

Melancholically drifting over a subtle Latino riff, Broken is the surprising new single, out tomorrow (Friday 22nd July,) and it’s gorgeously chilled, like lounging on a porch-swing with a touch of bourbon, while mizzle rejuvenates the charred grass. It’s the morning-after pill from a heady beach party, yet don’t rush off with the idea Bill has done gone turned into a bossa nova star or anything rash like that!

Thankfully more air-conditioned Santana than gold bikini-clad Shakira, we’re some way even off what Oakenfold might spin at some Balearic archipelago chillout zone, because Broken retains the model Verve-Embrace come new wave mod indie sound of Billy Green’s past tracks, just with a subtle nod to something retrospectively Latino, akin to Morcheeba’s Big Calm, or Screamadelica; something like that. “Think Cafe Del Mar…in Newcastle,” our Geordie frontman Bill pitches it to me, rightfully.

Phone speaker listening never does a song justice, I must break the habit, but it took me seconds to fall in love with this tune, despite lack of amplification. Fond of this, because it works, key is the simplicity against overthinking, at least with such a style, I put to Bill.

“I think so,” he replied, “I had an idea that I wanted to have a two-chord structure, and the emotion would come through the story in the lyrics, I’m not really had any songs with a complete narrative arc, so that was the very loose plan, once I had that we just build the instrumentals around the lyrics and that ebbed and flowed…” And it has itinerant romantic narrative, as tranquil as the sound, working as a cruising solo song, or maxing-relaxing with a loved one… just don’t try the aforementioned gold bikini-clad Shakira look in an accompanying video, Bill, it’s only going to lower the poignant nuance of a superb tune; well done, guys, very summery!



Trending……

Ten Lost Characters Funko Pop Forgot

If Forbidden Planet is, as I suspect, owned by Dick Turpin, I report those nauseatingly cute figurines, Funko Pops, have escaped and now they’re every-bloody-where. I even saw some in the Shambles market in Devizes; and there was me assuming I could saunter through with my offspring, without the need to dust cobwebs off my wallet; no siree Bob Kane, I’m not taking her in there!

If I whinge materialistic mutterings, in my youth once, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Danish consumerism swallowed me whole, and so did the George Lucas franchise. All’s fair in love and war; if I’d seen Lego Star Wars products back then I think I’d have had a seizure.

For those without geek kids, asking what the devil’s new haircut a Funko pop is, it’s an overpriced bobblehead figurine, an amusingly oversized headed icon or totem to a fictional character or celebrity. Bobbleheads have come a long way since the nodding dog, hence why they’ve not made a Kier Starmer one.

So, in the name of investigative journalism I’m out to out-nerd the nerds and prove my daughter wrong when she claimed, “they’ve made a Funko pop out of everything, Dad!”

Agreed, on searching for the weirdest or rarest Funko pops, I was shocked to note just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Seems the rarest come exclusively from The San Diego Comic Cons, Ozzie’s Collectables state the rarest is a silver Mickey Mouse from the 2011 con, and can fetch $1,130! Shut the front door Uncle Walt, it’s a malleable flipping dolly?

On the weirdest, oh, there’s plenty, from Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks to Hindu gods, and from Chris Oram from Alien: Covenant, unfortunately for him being attacked by a face hugger, to seventies afro-sporting painter Bob Ross. But, ah, there must be some characters this fledgling craze failed to recognise the importance of in popular culture….

Bob Ross Funko Popped

So, casting my aged mind back to the most obscure, yet strangely memorable to me, characters from my youth, sticking them in Google with the term “Funko pop,” to see, for no other reason than to satisfy myself, if they’ve indeed made a Funko pop out of them. Here be the lost legends, the ones Funko Pop seem to have either missed, or deemed to “Weird Al” Yankovic to produce; shame on them, because they’ve even managed a “Weird Al” Yankovic one. On that thought, a tear dropped to my cheek.

But so chuffed am I with my futile research, I thought I’d bore you stupid with it, on this slow news day; no one wants me to slag off local councils every day of the week, do they?

1. Hartley Hare

Pre-school psychiatrist’s dream come true, Pipkins’ well-spoken west-country hare, was first to spring to mind. Though ATV never even made any Pipkins merchandise during its run, it begs a Funko pop in the weirdest category.

Unusual, even for the seventies, not to have sold toys of the characters, perhaps such absence of familiarity is partially why it’s so creepy in our mind, looking back on it. That, and the fact Hartley was the dictatorial egomaniac Mr Krabs needs to take lessons from. A pawky, manipulating creep, the kind who’ll slime over your girlfriend the moment you turn your back.

Always on about “being naughty,” it’s a wonder why Operation Yew Tree didn’t pick this straggling suspect up on its radar, least cockney monkey Topov should’ve knee-capped the carrot-juice-injecting bastard, if, of course, he wasn’t just a hand puppet and therefore had no knees to cap.

2. Miner Willy

Strangely, except for retro-gamers, you can buy 2D figures of the unfortunately named Miner Willy (I said miner, not minor) online, but alas, no Funko pop. Despite holding a soulless persona, I personally believe he was a vastly misunderstood labourer. All he asked was to get some kip, but a foot-tapping madam with the touch-of-death prevented him until such a time he collected all the gems from the mansion, which was fucking impossible due to Software Projects’ programming incompetence; you needed a “poke,” apparently.

I’d favour, it was them who needed a poke, a poke back into reality. It’s Thatcher’s England, 1983, how many miners lived in a mansion?

Though just because the infuriating attic bug caused every Spectrum gamer a meltdown, with Fiddler on the Roof’s If I Were a Rich Man perpetually lingering in their nightmares, doesn’t mean the precursor to Minecraft’s Steve, who’ll have millennials and gen Z asking Siri what the heck I’m on about, Miner Willy deserves a Funko pop of his own, surely? He’s an icon, at least to everything that was shit about gaming in the eighties.

3. Servalan

Nearly failed by fanboy default, as, like an anorak’s wet dream of The Island of Doctor Moreau, some sad individual actually spliced two Funko pops to create their own Servalan Funko pop. I ask you, isn’t that the genius of a perv with a feathery evil fetish far greater than my own? Made me feel somewhat inadequate by comparison.

Still, I confess an unnatural obsession for Blake’s Seven’s arch-nemesis. Is this the same strain of sexual attraction which would, post-pubescent, morph into magnetism for goth girls, or perhaps Servalan is to blame, the raging hussy?

You don’t gotta answer that, unless your name is Sigmund Freud, but you have to agree, if Servalan appeared in the Star Wars reboot, she’d head the First Order fashion task force, with or without shoulder pads, and for that alone she’d make a better Funko pop tart than Avon, who only ever had a door-to-door beauty product brand named after him, or any other Bee-Gees hairdo crew member of the Liberator.

4. Bubblegum Bert

Anyone who can trap the legendary man of peel in a bubblegum bubble deserves his own Funko pop too. But, being they’ve not even created one out of Steve Bright and John Geering’s iconic DC Thompson superhero, Bananaman, or his arch-nemesis Appleman, I doubt poor ol’ Bert, a mere passing enemy, is sadly anywhere on their hitlist.

Shame, really, because Bert is unlike your average, pretentious supervillain, who never knows when they’re beaten. You know the score; every supervillain is an egomaniac, left for dead at the final scene, perhaps whirling out of control in a half-demolished spacecraft, or some other lethal scenario, yet still they seek vengeance in a relentless fashion, episode after episode. Bert, on the other, as far as my comic budget allowed me to be aware, gave it his all in a Beano comic library, was shamefully defeated, but accepted his failure and never tried again, not even at their home in Nutty. The true Homer Simpson logic here has to be respected, and Funko should acknowledge that, or be damned.

5. Goober

I want a full inquiry into this one, because I accept up till now, I’ve only provided British suggestions, whereas Funko is as American as the golden arches, still no joy. And I dare not Google the other gang’s great Dane; Scooby-Doo is bound to have multiple Funko pops. Yet Hanna Barbara’s greyish blue, poor pastiche of their own creation, Goober, who’s only upgrades were to articulate, but only when breaking the fourth wall, and involuntary invisibility, save for his bobble-hat, and for reasons of samey, his Ghost Chasers seems unjustly to be condemned to lost archives.

Why an invisible dog needs a bobble-hat aside, at least this gang occasionally found real ghosts, and in doing so encouraged to help them catch the hoaxes; far more effectively than the cowardly Scooby’s gang; chew on that Scooby snack fact, Funko!

6. Limahl

Pop star pops, makes sense, really, and is a reality, for both contemporary and legends at any rate. But what about mediocre eighties new wave ensemble, Kajagoogoo frontman, Limahl? Huh?

And if you think, for sardonic effect, I’ve erratically selected him from a catalogue of eighties throwbacks, you’d be surprised to note there’s logic in my madness. Predominately popular are superheroes in Funko popland, aren’t they? Well, just like a fan in a hairdresser asking for his idol’s style, X-Men character Longshot demanded a “Limahl cut” from his stylist, artist Arthur Adams, least the hair-do was the inspiration; Howard Jones must’ve been livid!

Either that, or I totally picked on Limahl at random and just happened to spot this pointless bit of trivia on Wikipedia. 

7. Tufty Fluffytail

It’s not a widely publicised fact, that young children in the seventies learned how to cross the road, thanks to Bernard Cribbins and a red squirrel in yellow joggers and a denim jacket. Tufty was on tele, and he came to your playschool, and gave you a badge, your inauguration into his exclusive club. I liked badges; it was a simpler time.

Nowadays cars have better safety technology, like seatbelts. Attitudes to driving has tended to steer away from the once standard notion you must drink ten pints in your lunch hour and drive back to the office as like a headless chicken, unless you’re a politician. And councils have improved roads by failing to repair potholes, forcing drivers to slow. But it’s offset by the quantity of vehicles on the road, the complete incompetence of parking with consideration for others and the necessity of text messages on the go.

But regardless of if roads are safer or not, kids now aren’t content with a badge, they need a Funko pop, but Tufty’s replacement has already been done. Unfortunately, road safety was shouted at the next generation by Darth Vader in white and mint green spandex. Hayden Christensen might not have been born, and we nothing of him slaying Jedi younglings, but we knew when he vapourised into reprimand children disobeying the green cross code, he was of an evil disposition Tufty could never be. Hence why that extinct squirrel needs a reboot, if not for conservation.

8. Smash Martians

Smash Martians, for me, are more than fictional wok-headed robot alien characters advertising a popular brand of instant mash potato. They’re symbolic of how times have changed.

Because, you see, the idea was to place the unusual, robots, in an everyday scenario, a family sitting for an evening meal. Whereas today while robots are everywhere, the idea of a family meal is the unusual, in this just-eat TV dinner era, where Dad works a continental shift pattern, and did a runner in 2011 anyway, the kids only communicate through WhatsApp and mum is a full-time blogger who has lost the basic knowledge of how to make a shepherd’s pie.

I deliberate, if a Conservative thinktank really wanted us to return to a golden era of yore, they’d be better electing a leader from the Smash Martian family rather than their crooked politicians. Then again, they were the ones promoting the use of instant mash, an abomination of a shepherd’s pie. So, maybe the fault lies with them, maybe they were the start of this throwaway, impatient fast-food culture. Therefore, I’ve retracted my pitch the Smash Martians should be Funko popped on the basis the deceiving wankers are no better than Tories.

9. Dempsey and Makepeace

In LWT’s attempts to bring seventies gritty back into British TV cop shows a cleaner decade later, it merged UK upper class pomposity with hard-edged New York rouge police type drama, and failed on all parts, save the eye candy element.

Dempsey and Makepeace were never The Sweeny, neither Kojak or Starsky and Hutch, but man, Dempsey was cool, and Makepeace, well, eighties school sex education at best, I wasn’t precisely sure what it was I wanted to do with Glynis Barber, but I knew enough never to tell my mum.

Lucky bugger, Michael Brandon married his co-star and they’re still together, the kind of relationship Cilla Black yearned for on her show, but in turn, their off-screen romance killed the “will-they-won’t-they” element of the show by blatantly flirting as their characters, so, neither was it Moonlighting either. Of course, none of this justifies why they should make Funko pop characters out of them, I just think it’s a shame they haven’t, being they have made one out of the teapot and cup from the 2017 live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, and Michael and Glynis rank just above them in my book.

10. 7 Zark-7

If I rejected the Smash Martians for being right wing, this abomination was truly the Mary Whitehouse of robots, but hear my pledge; it wasn’t his fault. Like Boris Johnson, per say, his clowning was a facade to a darker philosophy of conservatism, but unlike Bojo, he was a robot, and was programmed rather than nurtured to be a gammon.

Both American and UK kids wet themselves over Battle of the Planets, and was likely their introduction to Japanese anime before the term was popularised. But everyone was dubious of this bizarre droid, ripped off the back of the Star Wars craze, visually akin to R2D2 but with arms and cloak, yet with the pedantic camp persona of C3PO, and couldn’t quite figure why he was such a boring bastard.

It’s because he was never a part of G-Force at all, he was a fraud, poorly drafted in by Sandy Frank, to fill in the gaps of his heavily edited American version. Every time we saw this pathetic dustbin, acting like a school teacher trying to be amusing but failing abysmally, something deemed too extreme for US kids was going on behind the scenes.

The original, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was chockful of reality; naughty words, scenes of death, violence, nudity, and of a sexual nature, but if you lived in the western world, you witnessed none of it, just this cover-up dumb-ass droid, being a twat. Tackling transgender issues, for example, simply wouldn’t do. Alien nemesis Zoltar never had a sister, it was hermaphrodite.

7 Zark-7 was a prostitute to censorship, symbolically wrapping kids in cotton wool, and now they know, every fanboy wants his head on a platter. But just how every market town in the UK without a railway station blames Dr Richard Beeching, when his hand was forced to make cuts, perhaps we should show a little sympathy for this misunderstood droid; because, while you can rebel from your upbringing, a robot cannot break its programing. 7 Zark-7 cannot be held accountable for his suppressive algorithms. And maybe a Funko pop might be the perfect way to exonerate him in honour.


Events in Wiltshire; Weekly Roundup: 21st to 27th July 2022

Here we are again, a tad hot and bothered, but happy as can be. And here’s what’s happening across the Badlands of Wiltshire this coming week, which you’d already know about anyway if you regularly check our event calendar. That’s the only link you need, right there; it’ll provide you with outside links of further details and tickets. I don’t have the time to add individual links twice, on this here roundup; excuse me, but I’ve got ice-pops to devour.

But before the impending brain-freeze, I’m here to tell you about, Wednesday 20th July, when Devizes Flower Club will be at the Town Hall from 7pm, with a floral demonstration, flower raffle and refreshments. Two of a Kind is a fiver entry.

Further afield on Wednesday, lunchtime, find the amazing Daisy Chapman pair up with Amelia Wise at Wiltshire Rural Music Centre in Trowbridge for a Tune @ Noon session. And Sarah Millican’s tour Bobby Dazzler at The Wyvern, Swindon.

Onto Thursday 21st, and I ain’t got much, unless you know different, know-it-all! Anton & Giovanni: Him & Me at The Wyvern, Swindon, and that’s your lot to-date.

Friday 22nd and The Lawrence Society of Art have a Plein Air outing to The Gallops, and Seend Community Centre has a Summer BBQ with music from the fantastic Day-Breakers.

Swindon Arts Centre has a comedy play with your name all over it, it’s called #Undateable!!

Punkers, Navajo Dogs play Marlborough Town Football Club, kick off at 7:30pm, free entry there.

Two editor’s picks up for option this weekend, the first is Not Trowbridge Festival, but as near as damnit!

In the absence of a Trowbridge Festival this year, organisers have sorted a rather special musical do over this weekend, at the Pump.  There are weekend tickets available, giving access to all concerts with a discount. Tickets are here: www.trowbridgefestival.co.uk/online-ticket-shop/

The event opens at 7.00pm from Friday 22nd July followed by day and evening concerts, continuing across the whole weekend. There will be five main concerts in The Pump venue plus other concerts, and open mic sessions in the pub skittle alley.

Concerts in The Pump venue as follows:

Fri 22nd, Doors @ 7.00pm – Johnny Morris / Phil King / Rob Lear Band (Over the Bridge Album Launch)

Sat 23rd, Doors @ 1.30pm – Merv Grist / Edwina Hayes / Harp and a Monkey

Sat 23rd, Doors @7.00pm – Phil Cooper / Ben Walker & Kirsty Merryn / The Model Folk

Sun 24th, Doors @1.30pm – Paul Hutchinson / Suthering / Rob Lear

Sun 24th, Doors @7.00pm – Lodestone / The Lost Trades / Greenman Rising

Other artists appearing in the skittle alley will be:

SATURDAY – Sandy & Graham Ball, Gerry Cooper, Bertie Wright, Phil King, Kate & Richard Harris, Andrew Bazeley and Jackie & Felix Byrne

SUNDAY – Issy & David Emeney, Merv Grist, Rosie Upton & Pete MacGregor, Iain Spence, and Ray Bradfield

Open mic artists are also welcome to bring an instrument and perform.

Okay, onto Saturday, the 23rd July, in Swindon, ravers Midlife Krisis are at Level III, Pink Mac at The Vic, Voodoo Room play the Old Town Bowl, and the Beehive have their regular World Music Club, but this time it’s a Hawaiian Shirt Edition. And Charlotte Johnsons School of Dance perform at The Wyvern.

Outdoor Theatre at Trowbridge Town Hall with Catch That Beast! And happy 5th anniversary to the Cider, Reggae & Rum Festival, happening at Rood Ashton Lake. It’s going off at The Barge on HoneyStreet, but I do believe camping has sold out. Melksham Rock n Roll Club’s next dance is Saturday, see the poster below.

The Glory Of Gershwin at St Francis School, Pewsey, and onto Devizes for aside a Vinyl Realm Listening Session at The Literary Club, and the crackling good Corinthian Casuals at the Southgate, last but by no means least, drumroll….

….Our second pick of week; they were both too good to choose between! Devizes Beer & Cider Festival

Yeah, I think you guessed it, if you’re from Devizes, and you like beer, which is one and the same thing, it is Devizes Beer & Cider Festival, which should need no introduction!

Tickets HERE, Beer List HERE, Cider List HERE and that’s about enough to go on huh? Music comes from Devizes Town Band, “How else could we open Devizes Beer & Cider festival…?” Tom & Claire, Vince Bell, Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club, Celtic Roots Collective, and Triple JD. Word on the grapevine is, the night will end on a reggae tip when Nick and Knati of the Skenga Sound System come to nice-up the session!  

And that’s about all I’ve got, I confess I need to bash on and update the event calendar, this heatwave is slowing me down, and that’s the best excuse I can come up with; phew, it’s a scorcher! Don’t forget to check our SKOOL HOLIDAY activity listings, and tell me if what I’ve missed; we have the technology to edit the beast! One thing on the calendar in the coming week, I need to add to my skool holidays is happening Tuesday 26th, a Chippenham Kids’ Comic Club at Neeld, which sounds pretty cool, at least up my street!

Oh, and before I love you and leave you, Hillworth Park, Devizes, Wednesday 27th; Wiltshire Air Ambulance Roadshow from 10am to 2pm, do parachute into that.

 Have a good weekend, stay hydrated and apply sunscreen!


Trending…..

What 2 Do When There is No Skool! School Holiday Activity Ideas for Summer 2022

Yes, it’s that time again, stay-at-home parents. Time to either max your Majestic Wine warehouse loyalty card or fight school holiday boredom like a boss. Here’s some ideas in Wiltshire and around and about, to occupy your little devils and demigods; you know, save them climbing the walls, and save you some hair...…

It’s not exhaustive, check back here from time to time for updates. There will be those who despite my asking on social media, will suddenly materialise from the woodwork screaming news of their events, workshops and other ideas. And to them I say, the more the merrier, message us, we have the technology to edit this, so please send us details.   


Fuel & Wilshire Council Activities

FUEL was supposed to be for young people who are eligible for benefit related free school meals, are of school age and either be a resident of Wiltshire or attend a school in the County. Camps will be running in Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury, Amesbury, Salisbury, Royal Wootton Bassett, Calne, Chippenham, Devizes and Warminster. Links to Fuel’s survey seems to be broken, and have left people confused how to book. Clearly WC have not provided enough places, but there’s lots of other activity camps across the county, to be found here.


Chippenham Kids’ Comic Club

Make your own comic at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall on Tuesday 26th July. Tickets are just £1.50.


Outdoor Theatre show in Chippenham

“Somewhere in Britain, a long time ago, a very, very, very long time ago. So long ago that nobody quite knows whether it happened or not. Or where it happened or not. A boy pulled a sword from a stone and became King. A story of the old world, with knights, wizards, mist and magic”.

This fun and farcical adventure is a deliberately anarchic re-telling of the Arthurian Legend with live music, physical comedy and lo-fi acrobatics. And some silly jokes…

Wednesday 20th July at Ivy Lane School Field

Tickets cost £6.50 in advance, £8 on the day. More info/book here.

Bring seating or picnic blankets

Suitable for age 5+

Gates open from 5.30pm

Refreshments available from Nourishers.


Activities at Hillworth Park


Kids Summer Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore & Resource Centre

All children must be accompanied by an adult. Adults must wear masks throughout the workshop. Numbers will be limited to ensure social distancing measures can be adhered to. Booking is essential and due to limited spaces. Book early to avoid disappointment. Sessions are £9.50 per child.


Groove and Move in Great Cheverall

A music and creative workshop for kids on the 8th and 9th of August in Great Cheverall. The days are intended to be a really fun day that will include listening to music, writing songs as a group, singing, dancing and a bit of drama added in. It will be a chance to let off steam, whilst joining in fun workshops intended to educate and stimulate literary skills, musicality and physical exercise.


The Mini Fair at The Rowdey Cow

in Rowde returns throughout the holiday. Operating on a wristband system there’s bouncy castles, rides and games from 22nd July, 10am to 4pm.


Holiday Activities at Wiltshire Museum

Always a packed program over the summer hols, Wiltshire Museum in Devizes has school holiday craft activity sessions, suitable for children aged 11 and under; under 8s to be accompanied.

The sessions are usually held on the Wednesdays of school holidays, but they are so popular they sometimes run extra sessions on the Tuesdays too!

The sessions are often fully booked – some time in advance – so we do ask you to book online – see the events page for details.


Braeside Education Centre Summer Activities

Braeside provides safe, inclusive, fun and challenging experiences for young people aged 8 -14. A whole range of activities take place. For a full detailed programme, for the current school holidays, please click the link. New dates have been added due to popular demand!


Devizes Tennis Club Summer Camp

If watching all the action at Wimbledon the past couple of weeks has put your little ones in the mood for tennis, be sure to book them in for Devizes Tennis Club’s Summer 2022 Tennis Holiday Camp.


Trowbridge Rugby Football Club Summer Camps

On Sundays beginning 24th July until 28th August you are invited to join Trowbridge Rugby Football Club to give rugby a “TRY!” Boys and girls aged 4-12 years are welcome to come along to Doric Park from 11am-12 noon to take part in games, make friends, and learn what rugby is all about – FUN!

For more information about 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐄 Summer fun sessions, please contact Andy Evans on 07872 065499 or summer.funsessionstrfc22@yahoo.com


Active Trowbridge

A range of sporty holiday activities for children, aged 4 upwards. Active Kids Camp, Soccer Schools and the Girl’s Football Camp, run in February Half Term, the Easter holidays, May Half Term, across the summer and finish for the year at October Half Term (excludes Bank Holidays). Offering sports and entertainment for your children for the entire day throughout the school holidays. They also offer breakfast as part of our extended day offer that will fuel them for the day ahead! Details HERE.


Summer Holiday Camps at The Farm Cookery School

A wide selection of cookery classes at The Farm Cookery School Netherstreet Farm, Bromham, to browse, book and then cook, see HERE!


Multi Sports Programme at Hardenhuish School

Up and Under are running their popular Multi Sports Programme to all abilities aged 5 -13, offering a fantastic variety of sports & activities each day.  The course will run from 9am – 4pm daily from 25th to 29th July.

£30 per day / £135 for all 5 days / 10% sibling discount is available

Sports include Trampolining, Climbing, Archery, Inflatable obstacle course, Football, Mini Olympics, Tennis, New Age Kurling, Handball, Hockey, Cricket, Ultimate Frisbee, Dodgeball, Multi Skill – Martial Arts, Lacrosse, Basketball, Tag Rugby, Team Building Challenges along with daily competitions, prizes and certificates.

Find out more & book on their website.


A Teddy Bear’s Picnic at King Alfred Hall, Chippenham

Join us for a musical Teddy Bear’s Picnic! Bring your teddy and journey with us to a magical garden to play with all the other teddies! Suitable for age 0-4 (older siblings welcome too!)

10.30am – Monday 25th July. Find out more here.


Summer holiday climbing sessions at The Arc, Chippenham

Climbing and games with expert coaching from one of our experienced instructors available over the summer holidays. These sessions will allow our younger climbers to work on their climbing skills, NICAS logbooks as well as engage in other activities and games. No experience necessary.

Find out more & book now.


Visit The History of Video Games, Bristol

Bristol’s best kept secret! – History of Video Games Bristol has been upgraded…

Bristol’s biggest retro video game and retro arcade experience is back and now fully open with 300+ games at the Galleries Shopping Centre, Bristol.

All day tickets with a wrist band so you can come and go.. (no coins required) – the Ultimate family and friends fun day! advance booking only. Buy one get one free (saving £14!) including weekends for all of the summer holidays July 24th – Sept 11th.


Family Space Day in Bath!

Coming to Bath this summer, enjoy a guided tour of the night sky; travel to the International Space Station; zoom across the Solar System; and handle a famous meteorite from outer space. Details & tickets



B-Smart B-Ballers: Fantastic football skills for kids age 18months – 6 years; at Trowbridge Town Hall

Tuesday 19th July @ Trowbridge Town Hall. Fantastic football skills for kids age 18months – 6 years!

Football is an amazing activity for children and most children will be kicking and throwing a ball of some sort as soon as they can walk.

At B-Ballers, We recognise that parents and guardians are by far the most important influence in a child’s life. Including parents in our mini and mighty Bee classes has a real positive impact on their football training. What better way to be involved and support their development whilst having lots of fun together

To book your 2 FREE lessons, simply call coach Emma reid on 07833788465 or visit www.b-smartballers.com


Performance: Catch That Beast! in Trowbridge


The Royal Society of Beastologists are a group with one mission: to track down mythical beasts. They can’t wait to come to Trowbridge Town Hall, meet their new members and capture the Terrible Beast of Trowbridge. They’ve heard it’s been causing all sorts of nuisance.

But Jessy, the youngest Beastologist, has her doubts about beast hunting. What if beasts don’t want to be found? When Jessy is left behind at camp, an encounter with the Beast could help her transform the ways of the Beastologists for good…

Catch That Beast! is a magical, deliciously silly show about how we interact with wild things and how the youngest among us might bring about change. Full of humour, live music, inventive puppetry and audience participation, it is suitable for everybody aged 5+.

There are performances at 11am & 1pm, Saturday 23rd July @ Trowbridge Town Hall


Art & Drama Workshops for  aged 11 upwards at The Cause Arts Centre, Chippenham

Work with Charlie on colourful still life drawings, or play lots of fun games, exercises and make up short scenes with Laura.

A great way to spend a couple of hours and to find out if we’re for you before enrolling for a term. We’re buzzing with ideas and can’t wait to get back to it! See you there.

4.30-6.30 on Wednesday 27th & Wednesday 3rd August. Find out more here.


Devizes Hockey Club Summer Camps

Junior Summer Sessions are here – limited places so get in quick!

Running weekly on Tuesday nights, from 12th July to 16th August, at Melksham Oaks astro, from 7pm-8pm. These sessions are suitable for U11s, U12s and U13s (Y6, 7 and 8 ) and for both boys and girls. Cost for all sessions: £30.

To sign up and pay for the sessions on Pitchero or via the website


Wild Edge Survival Camp @ West Lavington, Devizes

A fantastic Survival Camp on Friday 19th August, for any young adventurous children who are aged between 10 years old and 12 years old.
Small groups of only 12, with a maximum intake of only 24 children; get in quick!


Devizes Netball Summer Camps

Mini netball Summer camps on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th August, open to members and non-members of the club. These will take place outside on the netball courts at Devizes Leisure Centre.

Each day there will be two age groups:

  • 9am – 11am – current years 2-3 (going into years 3/4 in September) 
  • 11.30am-1.30pm – Years 4-5 (going into years 5/6 in September)

Girls may book for one of both days. The cost per day is £13.


Holt Scarecrow Trail

runs from the 27th to 31st August. In its tenth year, Holt Scarecrow Trail welcomes everybody. Main trail with 50 scarecrows to be found and guessed! Children’s trail will be run separately but can also be done alongside the Main trail too.


Summer Swimming – Crash Course at Starfish Hydrotherapy Pool, Chippenham

Neptune Aquatic’s small-group intensive swimming crash courses at Starfish Hydrotherapy Pool are suitable for children aged 3 years+ and are the perfect way to introduce your young child to a swimming lessons environment or build on skills learned in weekly lessons. We currently offer crash courses (with a maximum of 6 children in each class) for our Ducklings, Turtles and Jellyfish stages (equivalent to Swim England Stages 1-4.) All courses are 5 days, with children swimming every morning for 25 minutes. We welcome all swimmers, including those who do not currently swim with Neptune Swim School.

Monday 1st-5th August and Monday 22th-26th August

Session times:
9:00-9:30
9:30-10:00
10:00-10:30
10:30-11:00

More info here.


Devizes Confetti Battle


Chippenham River Festival

Chippenham River Festival is on Bank Holiday Monday 29th August 2022 from 10am-4pm. An Artisan market, community stalls, a duck race, Tree high ropes activity, Boat trips and Stand up paddle boarding.

Book the high ropes and paddle boarding here.


Here’s Your Festival of Brexit!

It doesn’t even look like a monster, just a monstrosity, but hey, here’s your Festival of Brexit, then. Ha, and you thought you’d be clinking crown-embossed pint margos with Nigel Farage while Jim Davison comperes a Morrissey concert and Jacob Rees-Mogg piggybacks Pritti Patel in the crowd, waving her Union Jack shirt in the air.

And so it begins, your only chance in the West Country to benefit from the £120million Festival of Brexit, which, in the name of apparently fairplay to remoaners, has been such an embarrassment to the government they were forced to rename it “Unboxed” and to their hidden horror has been delegated to “leftie” environmentalist artists; you have to laugh or you’ll cry.

Unboxed indeed, Unhinged more like, unhinged from reality. Oh, sorry I’m supposed to “get over it,” and think “positive.”  Everybody stand and stare in awe, at a rusted oil rig, a testament to what we can achieve when we lavish an artist with Great British taxpayer’s money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an art lover, just like to keep things in perspective while my artist friends cut the crusts off their kid’s sandwiches and have that for their lunch.

Until the time they scrap our human rights, so it’s Rwanda or bust for Johnny Foreigner, I reserve my right to criticism, thanks all the same.

Rather than restore Weston Super Mare’s Tropicana to its former glory, you know, giving it actual use, maybe a sequel to Banksy’s Dismaland would’ve been more apt than employing Dutch companies to hoist in a rusty oil rig, and for just a couple of months, provided they don’t max their budget, add some trees atop and create an artificial waterfall so we can wave our blue passports at it and cheer for Great Britain’s world-leading climate change policies.

See Monster, yeah we can do that already, at the public galleries of the House of Commons. Apparently, once we’ve taken out a loan to fill our cars with petrol and driven down there, See Monster will have us discussing climate change. We’ve known about it since the late 19th century, been talking about it for sixty plus years; you’d have thought some action might be more appropriate.

Why not have taken that £120 million and invested it in companies creating sustainable alternatives? At least then we could say we tried, rather than watch the polar icecaps melt and flood over Weston Super-Mud, putting an old rig we all thought would make a difference, back out at sea. You know, just a thought. Looks great though, really; can’t wait.

Events in Wiltshire Weekly Roundup: 14-17th July 2022

In the words of the King, “lord almighty, feel the temperature rising,” it’s set to be scorchio this weekend; here’s what we’ve found to occupy yourself, but remember the code portmanteau…. sunscreen! I’m a kinda radish colour now as I didn’t listen to my own advice, which you didn’t need to know, but I’m telling you anyway….

I’m also telling you, as usual I ain’t, as ain’t nobody got time for adding links to this here overview, find all the addition info you need and ticket links on our Event Calendar HERE.

Don’t forget Marlborough Open Studios ongoing until 24th July. On Thursday 14th July find Ray Cooper at Marlborough Folk Roots club.

By Friday 15th you should be prepared to get your booties movin’ with a bit of Salsa dancing at The Muck & Dundar, Devizes.

Dan Whitehouse plays the Pump, Trowbridge, Holly Carter at The Royal Oak, Bath, Road Trip at The Vic, Swindon, and this one needs no clarification; MeatLoud – Bat Out of Hades at the Neeld Hall, Chippenham! Ah, and breath, the fabulous Chicken Teddys gig at the Railway Inn, Yatton, The John E Vistic Rock N Roll Sound System at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and there’s outdoor theatre at Trowbridge Town Hall with Wuthering Heights.

Saturday is start of the Market Lavington Vintage Meet & Family Weekend. Rumours about cancelation is rubbish, this is going ahead, deffo, and tickets are still available.

Devizes sees its first Italian Auto Moto Festival in the Market Place on Saturday 16th and take Frunch at The Muck & Dundar with a pop-up kitchen. Staying in that lovely holiday-at-home rum bar, DJ James Threlfall plays a set in the evening. Live music spoiled for choice Devizions can find The Reason playing The Three Crowns, Rockhoppaz at the Southgate, or take a downhill walk to The Cross Keys, Rowde for The Life of Brian band.

It’s good news for Attack! The Wargames Show, as it finally makes a return to Devizes School on Saturday and Sunday. Over 30 trade stands with Military books, brushes, paints, terrain pieces and supplies (good for model railway enthusiasts too), models and figures. They have 100 competitors playing in 8 competitions and 12 participation games, to come and try. Plus, canteen and bar (provided by the British Lion). The show usually brings around 1000 people in so do come and see what the hobby is all about. This is the Facebook group to join for more details.

Or, for a rare opportunity these days; you can go to a record fair at Melksham’s Assembly Hall on Saturday.

Menu and Music at The Crown in Marlborough, Bottfest continues at The Seven Stars, Bottlesford with surfers Hooch, and a beach barbeque, although I’m not sure how a lorry carrying a beach is going to be able to squeeze around Bottlesford corner.

Billy in The Lowground play Trowbridge Town Hall, lovin’ the name, The Invincible Pigs at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Green Day tribute Green Haze at The Cheese & Grain, Frome. BlitzKidz at The Vic, and Miss Kel’s Dance Academy’s Legends at The Wyvern, Swindon.

Pick-of-the-Week

But eyes of Swindon should be on our pick-of-the-week this week, the town’s tribute to Dave Young at the Old Town Bowl, the ingeniously titled My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival.

The Swindon Shuffle, in partnership with South Swindon Parish Council and Dave’s friends and family are very pleased to bring you the 2nd ‘My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ – a tribute to Dave Young.

The event is once again happening in the beautiful surroundings of Town Gardens Bowl on Saturday 16th July, from midday until 10pm and is being held in tribute to Dave Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar, who sadly died last June at the Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer. Profits from the event are being donated to the Prospect Hospice in Dave’s name – last years totalled over £14,000!

The event will take the shape of an all-day community music festival with a stellar line up of live acts, finished off with the high-energy Rave Against The Regime, a live band who play reinterpretations of synth-heavy dance music classics with no synths…

The rest of the line-up is headed by local alternative pop-rock act All ears Avow and also features Soul band Joli and the Souls, indie act Stay Lunar, Irish folk-punk outfit Mick O’Toole, Swindon Americana stalwarts The Shudders, Wiltshire Folk collective The Lost Trades, indie band Kicking Edgar and more. Plus, on the Bandstand stage acts like Baths Concrete Prairie and Swindon’s own Canute’s Plastic Army and Si & Matt Hall.

Alongside the music there will be plenty of activities for all the family, a huge local maker’s market courtesy of Swindie Makers Markets and food and drink from a variety of locally based vendors like Streets of India and a licenced bar by The Tuppenny.

Tickets are available online via seetickets.com (booking fee applies). Physical tickets are available from The Tuppenny and Holmes Music in Swindon and Tesco’s in Calne.

And that’s about your lot; bit of a quieter weekend, especially in Devizes; save some pennies for Beer Festival the next weekend. Find Marty Wilde & The Wildcats at The Wyvern, Swindon on Sunday, the Infant Voice Festival same place on Monday, with Sarah Millican’s Bobby Dazzler tour on Wednesday.

In Devizes on Tuesday 19th, it’s the Devizes Community Choir’s first performance at The Bear, The Big Sing; break a leg, guys!

Another recommended option for Wednesday is at Wiltshire Rural Music Centre, Trowbridge, where Daisy Chapman & Amelia Wise play an intimate set.

Trending…..

Party For Life Organises Suicide Prevention Gig in Melksham

Over 6,000 suicides were reported in 2020 in the UK, while marginally less than the previous year, statistics are based on suicide registration, which can take a year or more for statistical agencies to register them. Therefore, 2020 suicide data doesn’t necessarily reflect suicides during the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the maths, as that was never my forte, I know one thing; it’s too many.…..

World Suicide Prevention Day is annually recognised on 10th September, organisations and communities around the world come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

Today I spoke with Clare from Trowbridge, who lost her brother to suicide. “I want to do something super positive in Wiltshire that brings communities together through live music,” she explained, “in a bid to get people talking about prevention of future suicide. With my awareness, passion and commitment I will campaign locally and promote the series of events as a celebration of life.”

Tickets have gone on sale for Clare’s event, at the Sky Bar of Melksham Town’s Football Stadium, for 10th September. Under the banner Party For Life, Liam Bennett, aka DJ Rocks kicks off the party at 5pm. Our good friends The Roughcut Rebels play the first set, Wiltshire’s popular blues-rock and sometimes a bit of reggae covers band Blind Lemon Experience follow, and Bristol’s funky soul collective The Soul Strutters headline this extravaganza.

No stranger to organising fundraising events, Clare started Party For Life in 2009, raising funds for Cancer Research and the RUH Bath Cancer Care Centre. And it was revived in 2015 supporting the same charities. This time around the focus is understandably on suicide prevention, and we wish them all the best for what sounds like a great night, for a great cause.

Using the hashtag #STAY, Party For Life is hoping to make this a series of events, “because,” Clare explained, “those impacted by suicide have one big wish…that their loved ones #STAY another day.” Like their Facebook page for details. Tickets are £25, book via email to: tickets@partyforlife.co.uk or by Text: 07786 344 553.


Trending….

The Rondo Theatre does Macbeth

Review by Mick Brian

Photos by Gail Foster

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.” So says Macbeth to Lady Macbeth following his vision of Banquo’s ghost….

And audiences at the Rondo Theatre Company’s performances of the titular show last week were not deprived of that substance. From slit throats, gory locks and shirts, to bloodied faces, neckerchiefs and a finale of a trail of blood as Macbeth’s body is unceremoniously dragged from his home, there was no letting up of the blood (pun intended) throughout the riveting two hours of the show.

Directors Matt Nation and Will Jesmond de Clermont’s vision of a 1920s London organised crime gang setting delivered – Peaky Blinders meets William Shakespeare with a gritty, no holds barred presentation of violence inherent in the struggles for supremacy, whether over rival gangs, traitorous turncoats or internal seizure of power and the retributions to maintain power. But this was no pastiche of Tommy Shelby and Co. – this was full Shakespearian tragedy brought into the 20th century brilliantly. Chrissy Fryer’s costumery sublimely captured the era with tweeds, caps, flapper dresses and the ubiquitous used of orange gang colours throughout as neckers, ties, hair ribbons and pocket handkerchief. And no more so that the thoroughly perfect witches, played by Sophie Kerr, Tasha Bye and Anna McGrail, as drug addled opium den management resplendent in flapper dresses, overseen by the powerful Maria Finlay as Hecate.

Set design was simplistically excellent. Duncan’s gangland headquarters a timber merchants’ front – the Birnam Wood Co. of course – and a gauze separated backstage area for the opium den. Which brings further praise for the lighting from Andy Cork, with the dark, sombre mood of the play enhanced by subtle changes… accompanied by the brightness of the opium den to display the rich colours of the silks and drapes therein.

And so to the rest of the cast. Not a single weak member – all thoroughly convincing and believable, fronted by the perfect pairing as Sam Fynn as Macbeth, and Alice Grace as his scheming, power hungry wife. We all looked to the lady as she ensnared her uncertain husband, then dealt with the lecherous and seedy Duncan in turn and tidied up the mess left by Macbeth. Sam Fynn portrayed the slide into madness perfectly as his world collapsed around him, culminating in his torment when Lady M kills herself. I challenge anyone to find a more harrowing depiction of these power crazed lovers, one coldly calculating, the other increasingly crazed.

Rob Finlay played the jovial Banquo who realises oh too late that he is on the hitlist, then the battle hardened and focussed Siward – once he had shaken his gory locks and broken the good mirth at the banquet of course. Maria Finlay as well as Hecate provided wonderful comic relief as the porter cum cleaner – and invented a whole new scene as an epilogue swabbing the floor of Macbeth’s blood. To complete the family set, Freddie Finlay in classic casting style played Fleance, Banquo’s son, as a no mean wielder of a razor himself.

More double up casting saw Steve Brookes as the contemplative, pipe smoking Menteith and a murderer, enacting Macbeth’s violent requests with his fellow despatcher, Ian Diddams. Praise is needed here especially – the fight scene between these two, Banquo and Fleance left no holds barred with stabbings, slicing, punches, and the razored throat cutting. As well as murdering at the drop of a surly hat, Ian Diddams opened the play as Duncan – far from the oft played kindly benevolent leader, this was a nasty, lecherous characterisation fully deserving of losing his life – and fully fitting the gritty vision of the directors.

Thence to Ross, played by Becky Waters, and Lennox , Natalie Prescott, two increasingly disillusioned gang members, And Jack Strawbridge as Malcom, whose journey moved from uncertain, shy son of Duncan to assertive, and even nastier eventual victor, his metamorphosis highlighted by the wash of red light in his victory speech… all that was needed was unfurled swastikas to finalise the image portrayed. Lady Macbeth’s doctor was elegantly and eloquently portrayed by Julia Marshall-Wessendorf… all crisp and professional demeanour, not totally supressing the disquiet and concern beneath. Two further younger cast members joined Freddie Finlay in the show also – Dilan Minto as the brave but doomed Young Siward, hatred for Macbeth pouring from his every pore, and Scarlett Nation, the youngest cast member effortlessly working her way through servant, messenger and slaughtered pretty chicken of Macduff.

And speaking of Macduff… Lucy Upward played the angry Lady MacDuff, remonstrating against the ills of the world as an abandoned wife… and screaming her way to her death before brilliantly appearing as a west country maid to the Lady of the house. Which leaves the hero of the hour… MacDuff himself, silkily played by Chris Constantine exacting revenge for his family’s slaughter by seeing off the chief protagonist in a slashed throat and streak of blood left on set.

Two hours of non stop action delivered at a frenetic pace. Two hours of truly class acting and technical presentation – the piece de resistance being the genius portrayal of Banquo’s lineage of kings presented to Macbeth by the witches. And this is “amateur” theatre – some bloody amateur production that was I say (NOT!) … and bloody they were indeed by the end.

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.”

And they did.

Macbeth, by The Rondo Theatre company, at the Rondo Theatre, Larkhall, Bath, July 6th – 9th 2022.


Top Marks For CrownFest

Sitting by a controversially purple outside bar, contemplating my debatable definition of the term “festival,” yesterday in Bishop’s Cannings, while Freddie Mercury sauntered past and the sun toasted me another shade closer to “calypso berry” on the Dulux colour chart… this isn’t your average day in this sleepy Devizes-hugging parish, it’s the meticulously planned and aptly named “CrownFest,” at their only central village pub, The Crown.….

Because while grateful for the pub trend of sticking a man with a guitar under a gazebo and hoisting in a hotdog van, it hardly constituents a “festival.” Even the Easter musical event at The Crown received a higher-scoring mark than that, and it wasn’t labelled a festival; just a free social gathering. This time around though, attendee’s entrance fee was exhausted with a proper stage of quality sound and pyrotechnics, and the semi-permanent marquee where performers were shoved into a corner of last time, this time was filled with a whopping selection of affordable homemade pasties and sausage rolls; that’s me set in for the day!

Okay, so here’s my vague scoring system; to me “festival” must include multiple happenings; variety, if you will. If you’ve one act, or even one and a support, it’s a concert. If you’ve one food choice, it’s a beer garden barbecue, and if you’ve one barrel of flat, warm ale, well, you’re really asking for it!

I’m pleased to announce, with a great line-up, two bars plus the pub operating as usual, two barbecues, aforementioned pasties, sweeties and doughnuts stall, a kiddies fairground ride, and Devizes’ Italian Job airstream caravan, who I strongly suspect are following me around the local festival circuit(!) for an inaugural village festival, CrownFest ticked all my boxes and went way beyond expectations.

With a Queen tribute headlining, for example, a local spray-paint artist laboured the entire day, reconstructing a colossal portrait of Freddie Mercury, to be auctioned for charity. Just one of many unique elements which drove this mini-festival to punch above its weight, and a marvellous time was had by all. In a nutshell, it was a generous slice of fantastic.

On paint, a few nick-picking peevish keyboard warriors would’ve had you believe the Crown’s intentions of bringing a community together for a party was counterproductive, highly illegal and a nuisance to the tranquillity of life in Bishop’s Cannings, should you follow pitiful Facebook rants. Desperate for an angle, it backfired bizarrely, through petty complaining that the outside bar was painted purple! But if shock, horror meanderings divided a community online, there was no sign of it in the actual.

Despite the town carnival clashing, the event was moderately attended. The damning report for said pessimists is only a handful arrived from town, rather the bulk was made up of villagers, overjoyed entertainment of this calibre had parachuted into their village. Still though, to those unconvinced I’d say, I accept your concerns and respect your desire for tranquillity, but give and take in this world, and for just one night a year, a little compromise wouldn’t surely go amiss? While a significant event for a small village, noise levels were controlled and full-proof yet friendly security kept the peace; it hardly reached the intensity of living in Pilton.

The alternative is the reality of many a village pub, and excuse me if I’m wrong on this, but I also believe the Crown was suffering from the damning predicament prior to new tenants, that they fail to be a hub for villages, resulting in a dull life for its inhabitants. Providing such a service is essential for a demographic, as if house prices aren’t bad enough to drive the young away. Village pubs should take heed of the remarkable turnaround of the Crown at Bishop’s Cannings, owners employing local youths on a grander scale, building bridges between folk and providing entertainment to an otherwise archetypal sleepy community. Jazzy and Gary, you should be very proud of your achievement, and CrownFest was surely symbolic of the respect you’ve earned since taking the tavern on.

Eddie of Tunnel Rat Studios appears to have made coordinating the musical element his baby, the icing on the Crown’s cake. Though, running ahead of schedule, my bus journey ETA fell short of catching Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, I can console myself upon the notion we’ll meet again some sunny Full-Tone day, and not forgoing, a band I’ve been meaning to tick off my must-see list, Devizes-based Paradox, were bundling equipment on stage superfast.

Paradox are entertaining, period. Kicking off with the Kinks’ You Really Got Me, and particularly adroit with the Beatles’ Day Tripper, yeah, they’re predominately covers, but their few originals came to a hilarious apex with a soon-to-be redundant satirical stab at Boris Johnson. Still, they were fun all round, and frontman, Derrick Jepson slogged it out as an amusing compere.

With George Wilding reassigned to a cruise job, and Isobel Thatcher signed off with covid, any doubt the two unfortunate cancellations would affect the schedule were abandoned when guitarist and sax backing for Thatcher surprisingly, mostly to themselves, produced a sublime set.

Then two hard rock bands, Melksham-Devizes crossover Plan of Action and Pewsey’s Humdinger contested for the best Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell cover, but also separately blessed the afternoon with back-to-back rock cover sets, that, while not entirely my cuppa, were exceptionally accomplished and certainly got the party going. While it was the heavier end of the scale which floated my boat from Plan of Action, covering Foo-Fighters yet also fantastically replicating Ready to Go, by Republica, the most appealing from Humdinger was certainly the breezy and encapsulating cover of Stereophonics’ Dakota. Both took no prisoners; drink was taking effect and CrownFest was gathering pace.

Confessions time; I neglected to tell John of Illingworth he was up for a mighty fine review regardless, until after he dropped me off home! Though despite following two heavy rock bands, this duo acoustic set with Jolyon Dixon, for me, was the kingpin in the line-up. Illingworth are so utterly skilful in driving a cover headlong into sentimental city, it’s always a pleasure. With heart and soul channelled, two guitars and a foot drum are all that’s required from Illingworth to produce breath-taking versions of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and The Beatles Hey Jude, among others on this refined setlist; The Waterboys, Oasis, et al. Songs which could be considered cliché if anyone other than Illingworth were stamping their authority on them.

Time was nigh for the finale, Real Magic from Leicester pulled out the tribute act costume shop to replicate a marvellous homage to Queen, of which goes beyond comparison, likely because I’ve not witnessed another Queen tribute before. If doubts of how well they’d accomplish such a feat were mildly enthused with quantities of alcohol, but nevertheless were absolute perfection. Through every legendary hit they covered them with precision and finesse, it was a sight to behold, truly confirming the kind of magic CrownFest had monumentally achieved through just their first attempt. What a wonderful way to end the day, as villagers lit up the area with a true bond to be proud of. Spot on, I say.

I believe some folk need to get over the antiquated notion festivals are only for a raging mob of crusties, as trends have changed dramatically from the anarchist balls of the eighties or illegal raves of the nineties. Music festivals are today a stalwart of family entertainment, churches of popular culture and performing arts. They’re controlled, they’re mainstream, and the industries’ essentiality for them will not be put off by a whinging minority. It was great to meet Peggy-Sue of Swindon 105.5 radio, who for the past year has been producing a show wholly dedicated to local acts, and Mark Jones of Fantasy Radio, as we got along handsomely, chasing the shade in squatting his gazebo. So, if us media giants can get along, I’m sure a village community can too!

We look forward to the possibility of this being an annual fixture, word passed around CrownFest in the heat of the moment was positive it would be, meanwhile they’ll sporadically host smaller music events, and if true it’d be wise to bookmark CrownFest 2023 on your calendar.


Trending…..

Boots & Braces; All Set For Devizes Scooter Rally?

If Market Lavington hold their Vintage Meet next weekend, there’s another slice of retrospection a fortnight after, on the other side of town, as Devizes Scooter Club tie their boots, affix their braces and hope to replicate the absolute magic of their first Devizes Scooter Rally, post-lockdown……

The 2019 rally attracted scooter enthusiasts and adherents of mod culture from afar as well as appeasing locals with a different kind of musical event from the norm. In chatting to many attendees there, at the time, it seemed while aside the large-scale scooter rallies, most tend to waiver dedication to their music program, simply booking the odd local mod cover band and concentrating more on the aspect of standing around admiring each other’s hairdryers, much like caravan clubs do!  

And yeah, you know when a bunch of enthusiasts get together there’s going to be a little bit of that, but Devizes Scooter Rally last year was so much more than an appreciative window-shop of these flashy bikes. For a debut event it offered quality entertainment, market and food stalls of festival proportions, and was hailed a great success. A ton or ten of hard work from members of the Devizes Scooter Club has gone into replicating this success and providing our area with our own scooter rally, returning, but to a different venue near Whistley Road on the 29th – 31st July weekend.

To make doubly sure you don’t miss the news Devizes Scooter Rally is returning at the end of July, The Scooter Club team put up noticeboards on the edges of town, and even plastered their poster on side of refuse lorries; a mightily impressive bolt of marketing, I must say, but also, being scooter aficionados from afar won’t see them, it surely is a testament to the club’s wishes to welcome locals from outside of the niche market.

But we’re not here to discuss graphics, we’re here, hopeful Devizes Scooter Club can pull off another rally as outstanding as their debut, and to look at what’s on offer musically too. Because if there was one thing great about 2019’s, it was that the line-up had taken high priority. Good to note then, likewise, bands this coming rally have been tried and tested either at past Devizes Scooter Club events, or members bore witness to them performing at other events they attended. Saturday’s headliners Orange Street, for example, took the 2019 rally by storm, and I’d go out on limb to suggest they were undoubtedly the highlight of the event. My reasoning thus, while there’s handfuls of UK bands experimenting by merging electronica or punk into ska, few remain faithful to that original sound, and, as the name suggests, Orange Street really punch above their weight with this tenet.

Similarly, Bedfordshire’s All That Soul, playing on the Friday, made a welcomed visit to Devizes Scooter Club way back in 2018. Though principally “function band,” if they played your function, I swear it’d be the one function you remember for the rest of your life. Their perfect pitch and tight backing band perfectly replicates classic Motown and Atlantic soul of yore, and are not averse to slipping in funk and disco too, making them a delight to dance and sing-a-long to.

I’m unsure if the Dorset-based Specials tribute headlining the Friday night, The Specialised have graced our backwaters in the past, but being the Scooter Club have close connections with other clubs in that area, just like the wildcard, Slade tribute, Sladest on Saturday, who I’m told by Lauren, (first lady of Devizes Scooter Club!) she’s seen them and they’re lots of fun, I’m sure they’ve been tried and tested too! This said, any Specials tribute is alright by me; can’t go wrong really!

And of course, last but by no means least, I’m glad to see our own mod-Britpop-ensemble, the fantastic Roughcut Rebels on that line-up too, a band who always bring the party with them.

Between bands there’s DJs, including renowned Northern soul disc jockey Terry Hendrick, the customary ride-out and who’s got the flashiest scooter competitions, along with traders and, it goes without saying, licensed bar. But perhaps the most alluring aspect is the ticket stub. We’re looking at a more than reasonable tenner maximum for a day pass, and while a weekend ticket is £25, it includes camping, and campervans are a snip at an extra tenner.

This lack of the usual hidden extras in price, gives the undeniable impression Devizes Scooter Club is thoroughly out for the love of it rather than the profiteering, to go “one step beyond” and provide an inexpensive showdown of memorable proportions, and do it, unlike many others, without punters getting that sinking feeling they’ve been ripped off. Aside the great line-up, then, it’s a whopping incentive to lip up fatty, find Devizes Scooter Club on Facebook, which I’ve done for you already, HERE, and get yourself equipped with a wristband before they sell out.


Trending….

Local Optician Backs National Campaign to Help Children’s Sight

Independent optician, Haine & Smith, are backing a national campaign this summer to raise awareness of the link between screen time and short-sightedness in children.……

Myopia is a growing, global, epidemic linked to the amount of time spent looking at tablets, phones and TV screens. If left un-diagnosed, this can cause serious eye problems in later life.

Anna Lewin, Clinical Lead at Haine & Smith, advised: “Along with cutting back on screen time, we’re also encouraging parents and guardians to get their children’s eyes examined regularly. This will allow your optician to see the health of the eyes and whether they have deteriorated at all since the last exam. Our opticians can provide helpful tips on ways to keep your children’s eyes healthy which is extremely important while they are still growing and developing.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that up to half of all people will have myopia by 2050. This is a startling figure which is why we have to educate people now to hopefully bring this figure down.”

Anna has also given some signs to look out for which could indicate your child is short-sighted. “They could be struggling to see the board at school, squint when they try to see something in the distance, hold their screen close to their face or sit close to the TV and maybe even complain of headaches. Although sometimes there are no signs or symptoms, which is why regular eye tests are so important.”

Anna Lewin Clinical Lead at Haine & Smith

The aim of the national campaign by Myopia Focus is for myopia to be recognised as an ocular disease by the NHS and for there to be free myopia management for all children in the UK. Haine & Smith has signed the petition and is giving its full support to get this agreed upon.

​Children under the age of 16 are entitled to a free NHS eye test and, if needed, free glasses. To make an appointment with Haine & Smith either visit your local practice, call them to book a test, or fill out the contact form on the website www.haineandsmith.co.uk


Myopia Facts

1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by myopia

2.6 billion people worldwide have myopia or short-sightedness

In the last 50 years, the number of children in the UK with myopia has doubled.

By 2050 half of the world’s population will be myopic

**Information and figures from World Health Organisation and Myopia Focus (www.myopiafocus.org/)**

What the Myopia Focus petition aims to achieve:

Myopia recognised as an ocular disease by the NHS

To provide a myopia screening service across UK schools from the age of 4-5 to include all children and all areas

To provide a new GOS (general ophthalmic services) provision for children to pay a higher eye examination fee to take account of myopia screening and management, including a three-month recall for those with progressive myopia and undergoing treatment

To provide a new tier of spectacle/contact lens vouchers for myopia management – to ensure that all children receive free access to myopia management solutions to a minimum standard

To provide free eye examinations to those with high myopia of any age

To provide free eye examinations to all myopes up to the age of 25

To provide greater provision for vouchers for myopia management optical appliances for those over 25 on limited means

The Government to set up a task force to listen to the optical/ophthalmic bodies and align with the WCO stance

Secondary care NHS to include myopia management in eye departments

The government to invest in a large scale public health campaign to reduce the potential risk to our children’s and grandchildren’s long term sight health