NEWS

An Apology to the Previous Owners of the Southgate Inn, Devizes

Here at Devizine I pride myself with the ethos that I refuse to butter things up and intend to present our readers with critical reportage, there’s no point in flattering issues for this would become tedious and inane. Naturally it’s inevitable mistakes will be made from time to time. Until now I feel I’ve made every precaution to avoid them and this has worked well. However yesterday I published an article concerning the new owners of the Southgate Inn in Devizes, and their quest to bring a varied election of local, live music to the town.

 

Please read the article here, on which I have made notes of amendments. And if you do read it and don’t see the amendment notes, it’s because you’re very quick and it’s my next job on the list!

 
The focus was on the present and the future of the pub, but in doing so it seems I made a stinking whopping failure on reporting the past. This was due to some poor research on my part and for which I sincerely apologise to the previous owners, Ian and Sarah Wixon. I have been in communication with the couple, and sent a more personal apology direct to them.

 
For it seems I was misguided as to their reasoning for leaving the pub, evident the brewery’s failure to agree on financial arrangements for due repairs and renovations for the property was the main concern and reason for the end to their management of the Southgate, and not for the reasons stated in the article.

 
So the accusation that the previous owners had “lost interest,” could not have been further from the truth; Ian and Sarah took a great deal of time and dedication to the Southgate, and created a much loved ambience and pleasurable experience for its customers. Many people have responded on social media to express the fault in this report and it has been noted that when the brewery expected the landlord to pay the full cost of the repairs, Ian and Sarah offered to purchase the pub but the brewery refused; this point I feel highlights their dedication. It also proves my error.

 
This said I am so sorry to all this article has affected, and can assure you it was not my intention and a bad oversee on my part. While tabloids have a whole department to deal with the constant errors they make, it’s a learning curve for me; as much as I’d like to fire an entire line of middle management from Devizine Towers over this matter, it is just me, my pipe and slippers!

 
Think I might just take to reviewing “titty-bars” from hence forth, with a more valid reason for being distracted! Seriously though, I thank all who have set me straight on the issue, and assure you it was not made with bad intentions or malice.

 

With this notice I pledge to research fully in future, and endeavour to continue bringing a lively, informative and entertaining alternative to mainstream media to the local area. I know many of you enjoy it, and that the audience is constantly growing. Where we go from here I don’t know, but fully intend to dedicate myself to the project. So it gives me great grief to have made this, what is best described as a “monumental cock-up.”

 

I think this a valid opportunity to thank you all for reading and sharing articles, and joining in with the fun.

 
To Ian and Sarah, I hope they can accept this apology and I wish them only the very best for the future.

 

Darren Worrow
24/05/2018

Back to the Southgate, One And All.

PLEASE NOTE THIS AMENDMENT TO THE ORGINAL ARTICLE:

 

Okay, while I favour to leave this article as it was originally intended, for the sake of the way the piece flows, certain information which has come to light. I would like to correct statements made here, concerning the previous management of the Southgate Inn, Devizes. It is with poor research that the reasons given here for the couple leaving is inaccurate and I bid you read our full apology here.

 

The eminence and forte of a pub hinges on the name above the door, but habitually retains a reputation long after the previous proprietors have departed. A meagre repute can be problematic to turn around; find a niche, cross fingers and toes, and prey the previous owners haven’t made a lasting, irrevocable impression.

 
So we find trends in popularity of our pubs phasing and fluctuating as Old Father Time marches. What may have been a no-go zone a year or so ago may not be the case now. I revealed this notion with the Black Swan in Devizes some years ago, an ample makeover completely changed the style, ethos and ambience from a rather dull affair to a lively, eccentric vibe with one dedicated landlord at its helm and more than a handful of antique curiosities. The question now the pub has changed hands again, is whether the input of its newbies and the modifications they’ve decided upon will adjust its attraction; it remains to be seen and is currently open to debate.

 
Not so at the Southgate Inn, stuck out on a limb with a slightly tarnished reputation of recent, it appears all hands are on deck to turn this ship around and repair its dented status. With new, unconventional landlords Dave and Deborah, it looks like its darker days are over. All it takes is for people to realise and warm to it once more.

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I wonder what did go wrong with the pub, is it the short walk from the town centre? Hum, I timed it. Five minutes and fourteen seconds to take a causal summer stroll from the Market Place to the Southgate. Pretty sure you couldn’t sober up in that short time. It’s certainly not its lack of charm; a modest but attractive watering hole, with sufficient space and traditional décor, but I understand the last owners kind of lost interest and after arguments with the Brewery, sadly left a sinking ship.

 
So, what is the new niche? Usually at this point I describe a glitzy transformation with neon lights, alternative coloured pool tables and trendy bottled alcopops; seems to be the fashion. But my timing perfect, I sauntered up to the door as Dave unlocked it and I was warmly was greeted, albeit the décor remained the same. I favoured this though; tired of attempts to turn traditional taverns into contemporary sports bars.

 
Are they now serving delicate and chic cuisine, another cliched turnaround? No, was the answer from Deborah as we took up a seat in the sun drenched beer garden, “I might knock a bowl of chilli up for the skittle club, but that’s about it!”

 

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The appeal here is while Dave manages the taps, Deborah has dedicated herself to bringing Devizes a live music venue as diverse as her own tastes, and judging by the line-ups, mostly for Saturday nights, its gone off with an almighty bang.

 
In a short top-hat decorated with dice, folkloric jewellery and alternative attire, Deborah is proudly of the barge community. She is concerned the band booked for Saturday has cancelled, and worries about finding another at short notice on a bank holiday weekend, breaking the promise to guarantee live music every Saturday. In a short time though, this was sorted. “No one else in Devizes does this every Saturday,” she tells me, and I struggle to think of one too.

 
Despite being open to genres and booking a variety, she holds an ethos that bands and singers with original material is key and local performers are ideal. This surely transcribes as a positive move for our burgeoning live music scene, and Deborah is keen to hear from artists willing to perform.

 

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We discussed the pros and cons of tribute acts and of cover bands, and while she would consider these, The Southgate attempts to satisfy with quality live music, and a DJ was off the cards. Although Deborah recently acquired a turntable and week nights invited punters to bring their old vinyl down; a novel idea which highlights the welcoming DIY atmosphere the place will encourage. We pondered an open mic night, and she confirmed her intention that all acts will be free of charge; ticketed events was not something she wished for.

 
All in all then, it’s a friendly new approach, one well worth the wander, and judging by the line-up below, our musicians are keen to get onboard. “We’re taking booking for December,” she delightfully informed. All it takes is for you to take heed and make the leap, if you’ve not already. So check this lot out; all FREE! I’d be surprised if there’s nothing you’d want to attend in the coming months.

 

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This Saturday Christopher Wynn and Victor Salt play a mix of folk, rock, country and Americana as Limpley Stoke. And Kirsty Clinch arrives Sunday at 6PM with her acoustic folk.

 
On the 9th June it’s the incredible Tamsin Quin, who needs no introduction. Again the band who bought Tamsin’s launch gig to life and accomplished in their own right, Its Complicated are live at the Southgate on 16th.

 
23rd June has Salisbury based acoustic duo, Fret n Keyz. While 30th sees Tim Madden & The Struggle blend bluegrass, blues and Irish folk.

 
Into July then, it’s Hip Route live on the 7th, RockHoppaz on the 14th. Then people, George Wilding arrives on the 21st, oh yeah. It’s a local fest from there, with Devizes based Jamie R Hawkins on 28th, Andrew Hurst 4th August, and watch out for the incredible Phil Cooper at the Southgate on 11th August.

 
With Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club on the 18th and Ollie Back & Sam on the Fiddle on the Sunday. The list goes on, with Wilton Sleeper, Nuages Trio and RedRoss also booked into September, the inn is surely a forced to be reckoned with. Devizine wishes them all the best for the future and encourages one and all to return to the Southgate; see you there (when they let me out!)

 

 

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Thank CUDS For That!

For the many years I spent living in flats and shared houses with no garden, I longed for one, especially on a summer’s evening such as this. Now I do, I frustratedly scratch my chin and scrutinise the darn thing; it’s like Day of Triffids strikes back, again.

 
As we’ve children I need not create something all Gardeners World, for far from being Charlie Dimmock, aligned beds of chrysanthemums, pruned rose bushes, a summer house or Chinese water garden is a level or twenty too far for me, and would be crushed and smashed with incoming footballs and frisbees anyhow.

 
So simplicity is the key; a lawn, some bushes, a tree and a patio of slabs; job done. But while I start gardening with good intentions, and the first ten minutes enthusiastically plough through the task with the vigour of Conan the Barbarian on a promise, I end up more like Colin the Librarian, and before the task is half complete I’m a chiropractor’s dream come true, with fingers like Marvel Comic’s The Thing.

 

 

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I don’t how some do it, really, I feel a hundred and five after a tiny stint at gardening, yet my patch insignificant compared to what those CUDs volunteers are scrubbing, pruning and tidying, all across Devizes. You’ve got to hand it to them.

 
So, okay CUDS, thanks and all that, but if you’re reading this, I ask you to stop right here and read no more; I’m talking about you, not to you, okay?! Everyone else please bear with, bear with….. Schhh, keep it under your hat.

 
On the Devizes Issue another person posts, how those CUDS have saved the day again, how brilliant and tidy the town now looks, what a bunch of gardening superheroes, example: isn’t Zena a known princess warrior, or is that Xena? All I know is Zena Robson is the uncertified chief CUD, who after an exhausting day cleaning up this town, finds it satisfying to blog their progress online and press for contributors to the Devizes in Bloom contest.

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Does she know no bounds, does she ever slump on the sofa and go, “bugger this for the price of fish, I’m sitting here with a giant bag of cheesy puffs and can of lager balanced on my belly, watching the footie till I drop?” I’m not sure it’s even occurred to her.

 
Last post I’ve seen was about the roundabout on Brickley Lane/Jump Farm, “full of deep purple tulips, and then the last couple of weeks an amazing show of Aliums.” Prior to this it was weeding the wall along the barracks on London Road, most of us contemplate getting the bus rather than walk that length, and there are these awesome, super-duper people, out there weeding the lot of it. It makes me tired just typing about it for crying out loud.

 
Now, though I’ve written about them before, back in the early days of No Surprises on Index: Wiltshire, this is where this article differs from my usual waffle, it’s interactive! I reckon we simply MUST show these guys and girls our appreciation, people of Devizes, surely? Can we club together and get them a gift, something to say thank you from the entire town? Who’s with me?

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I don’t mean a commemorative plaque, although some may think it’s a plan and I’m open to suggestions, I was thinking they’d rather something more personal, some flowers if they haven’t had enough of flowers at the end of a day, box of chocolates each maybe, vouchers for a meal at Times Square, something simple like that, just a token to show our appreciation.

 
Now I’ve not notified Zena or any other of the CUDs about this post, although we have the blessing of Simon Fisher at the Devizes Town Council, that this suggestion is “a wonderful idea,” and while I’d like to make it a surprise to as many of the CUDS as possible, I have to share this article and get it out there. So although some are bound to see it, not taken heed of the warning, but c’est la vie – let’s pretend they haven’t!

 
So, I’ve opened one of these Just Giving thingy-me-jigs, just to ask for some donations, and feel free to suggest a gift idea, I’m all ears. Click here to give it some dosh, not a lot, just a coin or two, whatever you can spare. Yeah? Please help, it’s no good me just giving them all a big cuddle, despite my cuddles internationally recognised as the best cuddles in the world; they don’t want that, really, so put your hand in your pocket! Thank you!

 

 

Oh, oh, oh, yeah, nearly forgot – Don’t forget to share this article, thank you!

 

Click here to Just Give page and donate!

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Proper Jarb Museum!

Thought it’d be a good idea to visit London’s Natural History Museum a few years ago, while my offspring were still potty about dinosaurs. We stood in the blazing sun queuing to get in for a few hours, only to find the queue continued through the entire dinosaur exhibit and beyond. The building is awesome, the experience is amazing, but the popularity makes sauntering it an exhausting slog whereby, squashed like sardines, I carried my youngest like a backpack while he slept and my elder didn’t want to see another set of dinosaur bones until she would be drawing her pension.

 
Compare and contrast this with the homely museum in our little town, occasions such as the world war exhibit where I yakked to a resident who was a policeman in Devizes during the war and had so many fascinating tales I had to cut him short before I was his age. Or perhaps the day when my daughter and I were in town without much to do, so we popped in to kill half-hour and, with the whole place virtually to ourselves, two hours later we were still chatting to the enthusiastic curator.

 

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So despite it being a shame the museum’s relocation to the Azzie Courts seems to have fallen through, (?) there’s still a wonderful museum in our town, which while may not meet the standards and size of London, is tranquil and enlightening while, fun and active too.

 
Like many of our amenities, which other towns our size don’t seem to have, the Wiltshire Museum is something we might, but really shouldn’t, take for granted; when was the last time you popped in, even just to make a foam Stonehenge? Yeah, I’m guilty too, I admit. So I thought it’d be nice on this sunny Sunday to have a look at future goings on, and report them back to you guys, cos I’m nice like that, apparently.

 
Their award-winning display featuring gold and other spectacular treasures dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle is still running strong, and is a must-see for grockles and inhabitants alike, prior to visiting Wiltshire’s premier stones; proper jarb!

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Oo-argh then, on Wednesday 6th June, there be a free lecture and guided tour of an exhibition called “Compassion in Crisis,” with Matthew McMurray, and a further one on 20th June by David Dawson. The Exhibition is currently running and finishes on 24th June, entry to the exhibition be free, thar be a charge to see the rest of the Museum.

 

Contact the Museum for more information 01380 727369 or hello@wiltshiremuseum.org.uk but here’s be thar lowdown me ol’ mucker:
In 1938 Stella Isaacs, Marchioness of Reading, a philanthropist remembered as the founder and chairman of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), now known as Royal Voluntary Service, and her million ‘women in green’ revolutionised the way the world thought about voluntary service.

 

 
During the Second World War these women of the WVS volunteered to help on the Home Front, providing compassion in crisis, to anyone who needed it. This exhibit and lecture, on the 80th anniversary of the RVS, is the story of how one woman and her ‘army that Hitler forgot’, quietly changed Britain forever. They pushed forward the cause of women, helped form the modern welfare state and were always on hand in times of crisis; from the threat of nuclear war, to caring for tens of thousands of refugees. Their simple acts of kindness are woven into the very fabric of the nation.

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Also currently running until the 24th June, is an exhibition dedicated to the memory of Dr Paul Robinson, who was Curator of the Wiltshire Museum for more than 20 years. Is this who I may have chatted to the day my daughter and I popped in some years ago I wonder? As I know Lisa Brown is now the curator, and the chap I chewed the ears off without annoying, didn’t look like a “Lisa,” not the sort of question which would’ve popped into my head really!

 

 
Paul devoted much of his career to acquiring nationally important items to add to the collections at the museum, raising its profile both archaeologically and artistically. Over the last 30 years, Art Fund has generously contributed £50,000 to help purchase many important acquisitions for the Wiltshire Museum. The exhibition celebrates this support by displaying an eclectic mix of art and artefacts, such as depictions of Wiltshire landmarks and landscapes, a Roman coin hoard, a collection of medieval floor tiles and a set of 19th century Druid medals; the first time these items have been on show together. Many of the acquisitions on display have been acquired with support from Art Fund, the Primrose Trust and the V&A Purchase Fund.

 

 
Running from 6th July to 13th October there be an interesting exhibit called, “Interpretation and Expression of Archaeology and Art by archaeological reconstruction artist Peter Dunn. He’ll be showing off some of his incredibly realistic sketches and paintings, and items from the Museum’s art collection, including Henry Moore’s Stonehenge suite of lithographs, Avebury Restored by John Martin and works by David Inshaw and John Piper.

 

 
And, there’s our renowned ghost walk tutor, also traditional blacksmith, John Girvan, who is exhibiting rural art made at his forge in Devizes. The Blacksmith’s Craft runs from 7th July to 23rd September. While among smaller items, there’s collections of copper repousse leaf sculptures, animal heads and copper leaf art, it features some larger items standing over two metres high, including a handcrafted lily, an alien figure and a huge Trilapod (three-legged spider!) Some items will be for sale.

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The museum also nearly always has some holiday arts activities for the nippers, this half-term they can make Medieval tiles from air dry clay, paint Stonehenge landscape, or tissue paper and acetate pictures, inspired by the John Piper stained glass window in the art gallery, plus of course the ever favourite striking a Roman Coin. You’ve got to book this one, but at just £5 per child, can’t go wrong. It’s suitable for ages 11 and under, under 8’s to be accompanied.

 

 
If you’re past keeping children occupied during school holidays, the Museum also holds many tea and coffee mornings, with homemade cakes made by and organised by their volunteers, with a chance to peruse the running exhibits. Next one is 26th May at 11:00 AM.

 

 
Keep checking the website for future events and exhibits, and details on how to support and volunteer the museum, as despite it holding many fascinating treasures, it’s a little treasure in itself.

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Click here for more Info

 

 

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Gail interviews Si Griffiths

So yeah, I’ve previewed pop surrealist and tattoo artist, Si Griffiths’ latest exhibit at the Black Swan Arts in Frome, (here) but our local poet/photographer Gail Foster popped down to chat with the man himself and here’s her video to prove it, complete with melancholic themes.

Thanks for letting me make a quick and easy post out of it Gail, saved me some typing, on a Sunday too! So yay, check it out, and note the exhibit runs until 26th May.

So go for a wander round the exhibition, see the artist at work, and hear him talking about his art.

 

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Reign on Your Wedding Day: A No Surprises Living in Devizes Royal Wedding Special!

 

Well I’m feeling particularly patriotic this morning, as you could probably imagine.

 

 I wish I was there, huddled with the royalist devotees at Windsor, covered head to toe in Union Jack flags, ardently rapping to Chris Evans; “we’ve come all the way from the fucking moon to be here today. We’ve been camped here since March….. 2007. The people of Windsor have been so welcoming; they’ve given us food, water and outbound train tickets, ha-ha, can’t begin to imagine why the tickets but there you go. The police have been so kind too, given us sleeping bags and blankets confiscated from the homeless, you know, lighten their load a bit so they can piss off quicker, or freeze to death. We love you Harry and Meg, and Mog, and the Queen, and all that sail in her, and I’m so happy I could just explode.”

 

 Don’t let me stop you.

 

Really, a Johnathan Pie moment here; could we stop a millisecond, get sweaty, swear and wonder, I don’t know who is worse; the idiots camped for eons to perchance a glimpse at two people getting married they’ve never met, not likely to, or who give a gnat’s pubic hair about them, or the media chumps giving them a voice to the entire world. “This is England, we have fruitcakes, but look, at least we’re civilised enough not have people sleeping rough!”

 

 An undetected old tramp rears up out of the crowd, “I’m still here, I’ve nowhere else to g…..” (the sound of a sniper breaks his proclamation, the vagrant disappears downwards into the crowd, one BBC cameraman gets reprimanded.)

 

 

Let’s get this straight, two people are in love, they’re getting married, and I have nothing against that. I wish them well, health and happiness, wealth taken as red, but the rest I wish them all the best of. Notwithstanding, thank heavens for small mercies; President Trumpet Trousers is not coming.

 

 

It makes me no less patriotic then you to mock the crowds gathered today, for their blind “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir,” conformism qualms me. To question authority is surely the only reason we progressed from savage alpha males ruling a tribe. I query the whole shebang, considering a few minor flaws. The bottom line, is it really a “Royal” wedding at all? Has Harry really got any nob in him? I’d wager Meghan has h…. Whoa, think I’ll stop right there.

 

 

Secondly, the ease conservatives have labelled all criticism of the wedding as a leftist foray, despite jamming Daily Mail’s posts when the announcement of their engagement hit with outrageous attacks on her because she has a darker skin colour than them. It’s funny how one wave of a Union Jack gets them all teary-eyed. Whoa there, I’ll say no more about this either.

 

 

Thirdly, it’s belched up the old “are the Royals really worth the paper they’re printed on?” Yes, they are, because they are printed on money; yay! Kind of symbolic when you think about it. Yeah we know, they bring in killions (that’s a zillion zillions) of capital. Money to bail out bankers with, money for Tory’s to buy votes from terrorists. What’s the fucking point of bringing money into the country when the money the country has is not being spent in the correct places?

 

 

Yeah I know, despite the proven fact it’s impossible to balance the books of what they’re worth, least what they solely attain against their assets like castles and jewels, which obviously wouldn’t attract tourists alone, they do bring in more than they spend. Yeah, okay, yeah right, yeah suppose, I’ve got some spare half-tins of Dulux emulsion in my shed if they need them for the Palace, save the taxpayers a few pennies.

Wedding Meme Lovely funny wedding meme thread weddings fun stuff wedding forums

 

No suppose about it, Oliver Cromwell knew it was bollocks in the 17th century, and it remains to be, total bollocks. Of course they do a lot for charity, of course they attract bonkers Americans with wallets fatter than their Maccy-D filled stomachs, but they hardly live off BOGOF swan pizzas from Icelands and buy their robes and crowns from Matalan.

 

 

Look, don’t take this all wonky, it’s not a personal attack on any royal, rather an opinion I bear about monarchs in general, history shows it’s always been this way. And living in Devizes you really get to witness snobbery first hand. I’ve learnt some rich people are arseholes, some poor people are arseholes, some rich people aren’t arseholes, some poor people aren’t arseholes, and Nigel Farage is definitely a major arsehole.

 

 

I’ve also learnt it matters what level up the arsehole you stand, the stench of the fart differs. The higher up the arse-hierarchy the less likely to comprehend what it smells like at the bottom. Therefore the very top is so ludicrously unmindful and out of touch, no matter how much they read, travel, or how many times they might sleep rough for a night, safe in knowledge next morning they’ll be lapping sweet smelling luxuries again. It’s sad, but the way it is, I don’t hold any individual responsible.

 

 

All I am querying, is why they couldn’t take one for the team they rule, just while people are going hungry? Harry, for example, could’ve taken a itsy-bitsy percentage of the wedding budget, asked the police not to halt clearing out the homeless, but rather put them up in a hotel where they could have a bath and a nice meal. That’d multiply my patriotism, that’d make me prouder to be British; we love you Harry and Meghan, can I borrow a fiver, give it back tomorrow?

 

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Hands in the Air with the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, oh, and Peter Andre!

Get this, right, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Peter Andre is eight days older than me. Yet here’s a current picture of the singer-actor-six pack, pitted against one of me; how’d that happen?

 

See if you can work out which one is which.

Now, if you liked the fellow, with his Mysterious Girl and his erm, other song he did, you’ll be.. (what? No, I’m not jealous thank you) delighted to hear to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, he will be appearing at Civi-Pop, an all-new festival in Lyneham alongside rave group Baby D, Eurodance band the Urban Cookie Collective, Zambian singer Rozalla and more acts to be announced.

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Rozalla; back in the day

If the initial headliners sounds like a dodgy flashback to the nineties, Civi-Pop express, “a wide variety of local and national bands will be playing everything from pop and dance to hard rock with the odd choir and orchestra thrown in.” Which is good, the wife threw my white gloves and fluorescent dust-mask away a long time ago ( managed to hide the fluffy bra for prosperity though.)

 
Boasting more than one stage, food stalls, Lyneham’s very own Castle Combe Brewery, fairground and the REME museum also running an Annual Fete with games for the kids and tours of the recently opened museum, it sounds like a blinder. With limited parking and off-site camping available, The event is open to the general public, as well as military with all profits going to charity. It’s happening on the 21st July, so plenty of time to practise your big fish, small fish, cardboard box dance.

 
It sounds like a hands-in-the-air kind of blast, I’m going to dig out an old rave tape, “Everybody’s freeee, to feel good…….” Opps; need a little lie down now.

 
See here for details of how Peter Andre could be your Fantasy and book tickets to Civi-Pop. Facebook event page here.

 

 

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