A Right Christmas Carry-Con at The Vaults

Sunday saw Ian Diddams reading his Christmassy self-penned yarn at The Vaults, which over the past few years has become something of a decidedly anticipated yuletide tradition among Devizes socialites, not to mention raising wonga for local charities.

Directed downwards to, what is fittingly described as a vault, within the Vaults, a communal gathering amassed. With the ethos of a “quiet bar,” the welcoming and cosy Vaults is the perfect place for the art of conversation, and in turn, the superlative place for an event of the spoken word in town. It has hosted sporadic poetry slams, including Devizes Arts Festival ones with poet, Josephine Corcoran.

Previous readings from the amusing and talented writer Ian Diddams have mostly been parody, usually taking a recognised fictional serial, such as last year’s Sherlock Holmes, and placing it within an unsubtle comparison to Devizes, sprinkled with characters suspiciously resembling a variety of known locals. Combined with a truckload of locally-related gags, the effect is laugh-out-loud funny for its audience. This time, while still lampooning, the signage underneath his microphone resembling the florescent warning logos of the government’s national TV pandemic announcements, but reading “Taking the Piss,” gave a clue this one would be somewhat different.

Ideal to prevent things from getting samey, Ian took an alternative angle; a satirical stab at national politics, this time, sardonically capturing the current mood of the country and distaste for the cabinet. This was convenient for me, I pondered during the first interval, being I was subject to one his character assassinations in last year’s online version, and didn’t see how references to a toothless Cockney milkman would quite fit in with this synopsis. Ian, however saw opportunity to sprinkle the tale with a few local caricatures, and did so; I was not left out, something one should see as an honour, I guess!

Taking the viral Handforth Parish Council Zoom meetings, where the toxic Jackie Weaver became the unlikeliest of reality tv stars, as a base, Ian worked a story read through a year’s worth of minutes taken of meetings by an imaginary village, Little Twittington’s Christmas Club. Deliberately badly disguised characters bore remarkable resemblances to MPs, the most obvious and well-placed being a Pritti Patel-a-like, taking the role of Weaver, with her conceited habit of banning and blocking anyone who disagreed with her.

Chaos ensued, gradually building from the bureaucratic nonsense and general pomposity of village or small-town politics, thus partially retaining Ian’s trademark reflection on local affairs, but soaked in an undercurrent of Brexit, handling of the pandemic, perpetual scandals, mishandling and unashamedly backhanding of government.

Taking a subject out of its usual context to display how utterly preposterous it is, is possibly the hardest form of satire to perfect and convey convincingly to an audience, and Sir Ian of the Diddams knocked it out of the park. It must be noted, to mock something so meticulously is partly to recreate the style of it, so if the performance felt drawn-out, it only was so as it reflected the subject it was ridiculing; ever been exhilarated by a village parish council meeting? I rest my case.

Though this meant belly-laughs from the crowd were perhaps lesser than his previous stories, the overall impact was greater. I’ve no doubt this was both the trickiest one to pen, and in so much, the finest one to date; a stroke of genius.

As usual, the reading was separated by poetry, read by our own man in the field, Andy Fawthrop, who also manned the bar, and Devizes own poet Laurette, or laundrette at least, the absolutely brilliant Gail Foster. The multi-skilled master, Andy, gave us some particularly adroit and amusing poems with thoughtful seasonal prose, as is his style. The apex of which was a hilarious recollection of appearing in a school nativity.

Meanwhile Gail gave us a partial seasonal selection, with an amusing personification of the fairy at the top of the Christmas tree, a sombre and powerful pagan reflection of yule, and then she preceded to bring the house down by airing her dirty washing in public, the one of which if you’ve not heard, and are not an unsuspecting and lesser-endowed pipe-fitter from Grimsby, I’ll leave no spoiler.

All this spoken word madness made for my most entertaining Sunday for the longest, which might not be the most fitting accolade it deserves, being I spend most Sunday afternoon’s snoozing on the sofa in front of a Disney-Pixar classic not of my choosing, yet it is doubly satisfying to note a substantial contribution to local homeless charity, Devizes OpenDoors was raised. And if you missed it, I believe photographer Stephen McGrath captured it on film, which will be available to view soon, for a small contribution to OpenDoors. Send us the link, Steve, and we’ll share it here, as this was something you’d be sorry you missed, if you did, bookmark the occasion for a possible next year’s must-do.

A Right Christmas Carry-Con The Movie!

And here it is. Thanks to Steve McGrath for video production. All we ask is that you please donate to Devizes OpenDoors after viewing; there’s a link on the YouTube page, or donate directly HERE, thank you.


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Webb Dreams of a White Christmas

If we had a lot to say about Webbs’ head-turning metal EP Disenchanted, back in August, there’s a version of Irving Berlin’s classic, White Christmas out tomorrow, Friday 3rd December, here. Yeah, it’s a sluggish haul building into Webb’s emblematic hard rock style, and the sonic fuzz-box crooning will shake the baubles off your tree!

As for what’s next, after two very successful gigs in Birmingham and Glastonbury in 2021, I’m told we can expect to hear more new music from WEBB shortly into the new year. Which we look forward to.

From Bing to Buble, and from Bob Marley to Meghan Trainor, it’s a popular but odd murmuring song to cover, I think, while Nat King Cole’s Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire hardly ever gets a remake, and I personally think it’s the best Christmas crooning song, like, ever, but let’s not get into an argument over such froths during the season of goodwill, you cheap lousy maggot! I know you favour Shakey’s, and that’s your prerogative!

Maybe the Darkness tried to bring heavy rock back into Christmas songs, but it was never the same since the glam days of Slade and Wizard, those are the ones which ring in my ears with memories as far back as I can reach, real toddler Christmas days of yore. White Christmas though, yeah, Webb makes a great, alternative job of it.


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Cracking DOCA Christmas Festival on Friday

by T.B.D Rose

Finally, after a missed year (best to write 2020 off the map) our Christmas festival was back on Friday and as illuminating as ever….

With enchanting light displays, bombastic fireworks, specialist stalls (in the Marketplace, the Corn exchange and the Shambles), seasonal music performed with gusto, the spectacular parade beaming with all its glorious homemade creations and of course our signature local atmosphere, the festival had it all and showed our little town is getting back into the groove of doing what it does best: the kind of spirited events you’ll only find down in Devizes.

On a funny note, much to the amusement of both me and the woman sitting opposite, we both got an accidental front row seat to the firework display, which was suitably loud!

Once the parade, the fireworks and the music had faded into the night, I caught the beginning of an artistic shadow puppet show with beautifully built wooden Reindeer.

Having all of this right on my doorstep has got me right into the Christmas spirit. After all, aren’t we lucky to live here in the most wonderful time of the year?

Christmas is coming and Devizes is the place to be!


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An Art Shambles!

I tip my beret to The Shambles in Devizes for a wonderfully presented Christmas Art Fair on Saturday evening. Though it promised a glass of mulled wine and minced pie, which I didn’t seem to receive, it offered a variety of local artists exhibiting, and besides, I’m impartial to mince pies anyway!

(Update: seems I was supposed to queue at SoupChick for the mince pie and wine, so in effect I’ve only got myself to blame!)

If many an art show restricts itself by pigeonholing a particular movement, introducing only a handful of local artists gave the show range, and a little bit of everything could be found there. From charming sculptured little clay houses to watercolour landscapes, and from Marc Shilling’s monochrome candlelight art to Caroline Le Bourgeois’ super-cute animal studies with a dash of humour, it was a diverse assortment, but everything was great in its own right.

Breathtakingly impact-art from our good friend, Clifton Powell really makes one stop and think, not that he’s adverse to also painting life studies of local scenes and wildlife too.

A total of thirteen artists submitted, many on hand to chat with, but I was surprised how busy it was, and a couple of loops around the Shambles still wasn’t enough to take it all in.

Emily Hodges gave us some stunning photography, Josey Lewis had some wonderful landscapes, and visually, Matt Gibson and Belinda Golledge wowed, but my particular favourite, aside the couple I was aware of, Clifton and Caroline, I stopped for the longest in perusal of the colourful acrylic canvasses of first-time exhibiting Elly Smith. I loved the swirling patterns and autumn leaves design, semi-psychedelic, part fantasy expressionism, Elly had an amazing dragon piece which really drew me into it.

As well as art for sale, the more affordable prints and greetings cards were also available. Neil Barnes’s regular stall “Pics n Bits,” also remained open, for a great assortment of more mainstream prints and gifts and collectables.

Organised by the independent businesses of The Shambles, Anya Toropov of SoupChick, which conveniently stayed open for refreshments, and Michelle Turner of Phoenix Health and Wellbeing, this was a great, general exhibit which appealed to all, and certainly drew the crowds. But remember, guys, art is not just for Christmas; more of this in the future, please!


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The Devizine Online Local Yuletide Market

If you’re like me and leave shopping to the last-minute Christmas eve frenzied dash like a headless turkey, or even if you’re arranging next year’s already, here’s some local Christmas gifts and ideas, which will build up, I hope, to a virtual Christmas market, a warm winter wonderland!

Surfing through the Net, with a one-maned open search engine, over Facebook we go, laughing all the way! Hey, crafty crafters, cheeky chefs and any other local creative types, I haven’t got a naughty or nice list, so don’t make me hunt you down. I know you’re busy, but it takes a second or three, and costs nought, to message us at Devizine and get your Christmassy products and ideas listed here, on our online local Yuletide market.

So, do bookmark this page and drop back in regularly, as it will be updated.

And for those who prefer the physical, there’s a list of Christmas Craft Markets at the bottom of this list, just keep on scrollin’!

Real Christmas Trees in Devizes

Back at the Bell on the Green this year from the 26th November, as it has been for 23 years, real Christmas trees will be for sale. You can pre order your trees for click and collect or delivery at www.merryChristmastrees.co.uk

AbraKadabra

AbraKadabra make these wonderful handmade magic seed-bombs, always popular at Christmas! Contact them via Facebook or Esty, and if you are in Devizes, put the discount code DEVIZES at checkout and you’ll get free postage!

Alan Watters

Rowde artist Alan Watters has limited edition signed and mounted prints of his recent drawing of a highland cow, and gives some of the proceeds to charity. This picture is also a signed cow greetings card with each print and posting worldwide. Have a look at https://alansfineart.com if interested. Cost is just £30 with delivery included.

Arthe

From the creators of Devizes-own artistic, hectic, eclectic, chaotic, linguistic, poetic, bombastic, fantastic, and perhaps a little anarchistic, kawaii bear, Arthe, there’s some groovy greeting cards and gifts on their website, tote bags, mugs, tees, etc; check it out funk soul bears.

Andy Fawthrop

Whilst some people might have spent their Lockdown baking banana bread or stockpiling toilet rolls, our very own roving reporter, Andy was hard at it, writing short stories. These have now been published in three volumes. There’s 49 new stories in all, featuring the usual gentle topics of murder, blackmail, mistaken identity, revenge, infidelity, piracy, robbery and…oh…well, anyway, they’re jolly entertaining, and by turns spooky, bizarre or comic. You can buy them direct from Andy for a tenner each, or order them through the wonderful Jo at Devizes Books, or even buy them from Amazon (paperbacks £10, Kindle downloads £3). “They would obviously make ideal Christmas presents,” Andy says, “particularly for that special person that you don’t like very much.” I’ve read his “stuff” and beg to differ.

Beeze’s

Easy choice, you just know Beeze’s in Devizes’ Ginnel are going to have some great ideas for Christmas gifts; they’ve got a whole Christmas Collection, not to mention Little Beeze’s toys next door. Chocolate message bars? Say no more!

Website Facebook

Blossom Hill Cards

Devizes-based Blossom Hill Cards has five Christmas wonderful card designs, with all proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Society. You can buy them HERE.

Cositas Bonitas

The brilliant shareware craft shop in Sidmouth Street Devizes, Cositas Bonitas is a must stop off on your Christmas shop, you will be spoiled for choice. Check out Facebook, to see what I mean!

The Little Eco Shop, Devizes

I’m so glad to hear the Little Eco Shop is back. Go there for zero waste Christmas Eco wrapping essentials. Recycled craft wrapping paper in brown, green and red. Compostable brown paper tape. Christmas patterned brown paper tape (perfect for jazzing up the paper) Natural twine. Coloured twine made from recycled plastic. Paper bows. Craft card tags. Make your own elf Christmas crackers.

Little Eco Shop is off Couch Lane, Devizes: Website. Facebook

My Happy Place

Such a lovely name for this Devizes-based small decoupage business; so it’s mainly bottles and jars, with lights or wooden hearts hanging plaques, but owner Cassie tells me, “pretty much anything I can get my hands on that will work!” Join her Facebook group for more details.

Caroline Le Bourgeois

If you’re lucky to find this amazing wildlife artist at the Shambles, or many local fairs and markets, her cute pictures would make a perfect wall hanging gift, or greetings cards. If not, her website is here.

Dollies Dimples

Devizes-based Dollies Dimples makes these charming secret pocket tins with personalisation, visit their Etsy shop here.

The Healthy Life Company

From Green and Blacks, Montezuma, Moo Free and Clipper tea advent calendars to Vaughn’s Kitchen Christmas Cake Packs, the Healthy Life in Devizes’ Little Brittox is more than muesli. With a reduced carbon footprint focus, they have a pop-up gift shop each year, with those gifts that you won’t find elsewhere on the high street. For a healthy, planet-friendly Christmas, visit The Healthy Life, or on Facebook.

FM by Gem

Perfume, the ideal gift; Gemma is your local FM rep with everything from real discounted perfumes, to home fragrances, makeup and even cleaning products. You will need to join this Facebook group to find out more.

Shaz’s Chutneys and Pickles!

Shaz’s homemade chutneys, pickles and hampers are up for grabs from the Southgate, Devizes. With a 5 star Food Hygiene Rating, they do look tasty!

The Devizine Compilation Album, of Course!

If you’re not fussed about unwrapping gifts, I could shamelessly plug our Devizine compilation album. It can’t be on CD, because it’s far too mahoosive, it would need approximately 6 discs to cram onto, ergo you can download it, and your money goes to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices. And on it you’ll find the very best of what local music has to offer, I pinky promise you that much!

Download it HERE

White Chalk Gallery

Newly opened in Devizes, The White Chalk Gallery would be the perfect stopping place on any Christmas shop, there’s handmade jewellery and sculptured pots as well as art, and will you just look at these two needle felted cutties made from pure wool by Jo Lilley @miceandmole. Find the White Chalk Gallery in Devizes Market Place, or website here.

Simon Folkard Photography

Amazing photographer Simon Folkard has a range of Devizes themed Christmas cards, as well as his celebrated calendars. He will be at the Corn Exchange’s Christmas fayre on Saturday 15th November, look him up or contact him via Facebook.

The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen

The way to a man’s heart this festive season I can tell you, for I’m dreaming of a brownie Christmas, and no one, I repeat, no one makes a brownie as good as The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen. Currently based at Poulshot Farm Lodge, plans are afoot for a new shop, but while it looks like Devizes, it’s all top secret at the moment, so keep in the loop via Facebook, and visit their website! UPDATE: it’ll be on Maryport Street; yay!

Kit Tags

Personalise your kit bags with combat proof tags, here!

Will Do Studio

On a Bauble or hanging decoration, personalisation is trending, Westbury’s Will Do Studio have personalised Christmas ornaments. Write your wishes on the bauble and give it to the person who is important to you. Add any text and make this souvenir on the Christmas tree.

Website Facebook

The Bird, The Book & The Barrel

I could recommend a billion albums, but this debut from our brilliant The Lost Trades would be my pickermost for the yule season, it’s just sooo nice! And yes, they have this on CD, so you can gift-wrap it! Buy it here.

Hannah Cantellow Studio

From Poulshot’s to Lockeridge’s village halls, Hannah runs linocut Christmas card workshops, a great way to create multiple cards yourself. You’ll be able to make and handprint a set of 10 Christmas cards and a carved block to take away with you, which you’ll be able to print again and again. All materials, tools, design templates and refreshments are provided (however, you’re welcome to bring your own design if you prefer.) Check the website for dates and booking.

Wix n Scents

Based at Castle Combe, who wouldn’t want a pug or boxer fart scented candle, I ask you? Other scents are available! Check them out here.


Christmas Shopping in Devizes

Our friends at InDevizes has created this map of all the independent shops around Devizes, for refence when out there shopping, and the cafes too, naturally!

Christmas Markets

Coming over all Oliva Newton John? Prefer the physical? Yeah, for shopaholics there’s nothing like trampling around a craft market this time of year, so I’ve also included a list of known Christmas craft fayres locally. If I missed yours, my gift to you is I can add it, which is not quite as good as socks or a Lynx deodorant set, but c’est la vie.

Deck The Halls @ Devizes Corn Exchange: 12th & 13th Nov.

Forest Friends Online Christmas Fayre: 15th-21st Nov.

Festive Shopping Night @ Bratton Jubilee Hall. 7-9pm. 18th Nov.

Wootton Rivers Village Hall: 20th Nov.

Westbury United FC: 20th Nov.

Shop Small Swindon Artisan Market @ The Hop Inn: 21st Nov.

Devizes Winter Festival: 26th Nov.

Christmas Market Night @ Abbey Meads School, Swindon. 5:30-8:30pm 26th Nov.

Charity Craft Fair in aid of St Joseph’s Nursey @ Devizes Conservative Club: Nov 27th, 10am-12.

Wadworth Christmas Fair: 27th Nov, 10am-4pm.

The Lamb Inn, Urchfont: 27th Nov.

Shield & Dagger Christmas Market, Swindon: 27th Nov.

Christmas Charity Fair @ The Cheese & Grain, Frome: 27th Nov.

Chippenham Festival of Christmas: 28th Nov.

Bishops Cannings School Christmas Fayre: 4th Dec.

Christmas Extravaganza @ St Johns Church, Devizes: 4th Dec.

Biddestone Christmas Fayre: 4th Dec.

Christmas Fayre at Ridgeway School, Wroughton: 4th December.

Codford Christmas Artisan Market: 4th Dec.

Mamma Events Christmas Market @ Mecca, Swindon: 11am-3pm. 5th Dec.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Devizes: 10th Dec

Christmas Fair at the Churchill Arms, West Lavington. Saturday 11th Dec.

Christmas Craft Fair @ Warminster Park Community Centre: 11am-3pm 11th Dec.

Christmas Nativity @ White Hart Attworth


Print me out and colour me in!

Oh, and send me them via our Facebook page, with your name and age, and we’ll decide winners in December. If anyone of the lovely businesses we’ve helped by plugging their wares could offer a prize, do let me know!!


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It’s Beginning to Look a DOCA Like Christmas

Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts are in the thick of planning for the Lantern Parade and Winter Festival, set to take place at the Market Place on Friday the 26th and Saturday 27th of November, but it looks doubtful the usual mass-gathering to see Santa Claus switching on the Christmas lights will be possible this year.

Divided in opinion on controlling the pandemic and vaccinations we may be, but I’m certain, though disappointed, it would be an understandable move to spread the festival out for safety reasons, as it did so well with the town’s celebrated International Street Festival in the summer. Not forgoing, we’ll all agree, the last person we need to test positive at this time of year, is Santa!

“Traditionally Devizes Lantern Parade,” DOCA announced, “a huge magical community event comes to our streets on the last Friday of November, it is usually part of the Town Councils Light Switch on.  Things may be a little different this year.”

 But, let’s look forward for the positives; posters are going up around town this coming week, lantern making workshops in schools and at the Wiltshire Museum will take place on the 7th and 21st of November, and DOCA is gearing up to present the town with a wonderful parade and market. “We can confirm that we will have an amazing festive market,” they delight to inform, “with carefully selected sellers and makers bringing unique gifts, tasty food, and drinks to our Market Place.”

“The Makery” in the Corn Exchange will hold independent crafter stalls on both days, where you’ll find beautiful handmade gifts. Fantasy Radio will be playing festival tunes in the Market Place, Devizes Town Band will bring class brass to the Market Place, from 6-7pm each evening, with fireworks straight afterwards, and the highlight lantern parade starting off at 6:30pm.

There is a revised route for the parade, DOCA advises checking maps on lampposts around the town. Collect your lanterns from St. John’s Church between 5pm until 6pm. Leave unwanted lanterns under the Christmas Tree in the Market Place for recycling.

Other first-time things to look out for include the Air Giants, outside the Corn Exchange and the Town Hall at 5:30pm and 8:30pm. Amazing gentle giants, Triffid and Luma are huge illuminated, emotionally expressive, soft robotic creatures. “You may think the wind is blowing them, but they can actually sense you and will interact with you as you approach them,” DOCA claim. This I have to see for myself; who knows, by the end of the evening we’ll be best buddies and probably stop off for a pint at the British!

Also look out for Ghost Caribou; part caribou, part spirit, roam a mystical world after dark. That being outside the Mayflower on Long Street at 5:30pm and 7:10pm, and they’ll go walkabout along the High Street and Long Street afterwards. Join them as they clear a space to perform their other-worldly ceremony, with music, song and shadow puppets they tell stories of lost homes, impossible migrations and seeds of hope before continuing the journey into their hauntingly beautiful dream-world of the night.

Spooky! Hope to catch you there, with mulled wine and mittens! Find out more, HERE.


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Chilly Gonzales Vs Toddla T with Jarvis Cocker; A Very Chilly Christmas Mixtape

Following the release of Chilly’s new album ‘A Very Chilly Christmas’, platinum selling UK producer Toddla T has put his very own spin on the record, The Coldest Crimbo out today (16th Dec.) Featuring help from friends Nadia Rose, Serocee, Coco and Deli OneFourz, and even Jarvis Cocker features, Toddla T and Chilly Gonzales delight with this tongue-in-cheek hip hop “very festive mixtape.”

It’s an amusing quarter-of-an-hour of naughtiness seasonal rap, like a nativity gone bad. Chilly Gonzales may revisit old carols and the new pop standards on his album, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without friends and family, so Gonzo has assembled his gang to celebrate the holidays in his playful and intimate style.

A Very Chilly Christmas Special gives old-school TV Christmas variety shows a 2020 makeover. “Santa Claus, like all of us, has had a challenging year,” Chilly says, “and has decided to go to therapy.”

A very chilly christmas special, with guests Feist, Jarvis Cocker and more, streams December 23. Details and tickets here

Fairy-Tale of New Park Street; And Better Local Christmas Songs!

It was Christmas Eve moi lover, outside Carpet Right, an old man without facemask said to me, won’t be seeing another one, and then he yelled a song, Shaky Steven’s Merry Christmas Everyone, I turned my face away, and puked all over you……

Okay, I’ll hold my hands up, that’s all I’ve got when it comes to writing a Christmas song. Time to call in the pros, because without venues many of our local musicians are so bored, they’ve produced some great Christmas songs! As ever I’ll list them alphabetically, not to prove I know my a, b, c, but because whenever I do these “listy” type articles some of you assume it’s a top ten countdown. This isn’t Top of the Pops, but we do have some nice tunes for you:


Ben Borrill – (untitled?)

Colm McCarthy – Christmas Time – 2020 Remix

Gecko – Last Christmas’ sung by a sad bird

Illingworth – Yes It’s Christmas! 

Peloton – Father Christmas Won’t Be Long

Pete Lamb & Colette Cassin – I Remember Christmas

Sound Affects – Taking Back Christmas

Splat the Rat – 2020 you Arse (Ho Ho its Xmas)

Will Lawton – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Did we miss you out? I’m sorry, tell me quick and I can add it!


Devizine Christmas Shopping Challenge!

Too early to even mention the big C? Yes, I accept, but needs must with four weeks of lockdown at our door. The gauntlet laid, the challenge: to seek out Christmas shopping items suggested by our Facebook readers within a two-hour limit, including an obligatory breakfast, by shopping in Devizes, using independent shops as much as possible. Can it be done, will I get a soaking, will I remain relatively sane?!

A Tuesday morning in earliest November, I’m confident and at a steady pace. It’s overcast but dry, the sun attempts to peak through, and surprisingly, there appears to be no rush or panic buying with three days prior to the lockdown sequel. Is there any point to all this, one may ask? Yeah, I said I was going to do it, despite my general loathing of shopping (retail therapy is an oxymoron to me.) We still have three days, and fingers crossed all will reopen next month. I did make a point of asking the relative shops about their online presence too. All is not lost, Devizes is a wonderful little place to shop, but million dollar question, can you get everything you want there?

This list then, lets have a look. I have only six items suggested, therefore added something of my own. Got to look after number one after all. So, added to the list is a new jumper, and a cuddly elephant; note I’m a grandad now, it’s not for me!

Items on the list as follows: Clair Goodwin Figes wants a spatula spurtle, of which I had to Google. Jenny Moore wants a tagine, yep, that too. Ema Waterman wants an electric whisk, or, failing that a bottle of whiskey. I guess with enough whiskey inside you an electric whisk is unnecessary. There seems to be a running theme of kitchen utensils here, but I was prewarned popping into Ma Cuisine and scooping the whole bundle in one would be frowned upon.

Other, non utensil items were a Galileo thermometer for Leannie Cherry, a specific album for Catherine York, Nine Below Zero’s Don’t Point Your Finger, and Teri Stout wanted some gouache paints; I hope you’re all on the good list ladies.

Result, I think, was fair. Did I manage it in two hours? Well, I didn’t get a parking ticket, let’s put it that way. Inclusive of laps around town trying to find a parking place, I was dusted well within the time limit, and survived to tell the tale.

First port of call I figured was easy, Teri’s gouache; there’s an artist’s shop in St Johns near the Vaults. Yeah, I govern my way around by pub names. In fact, as I do, I fail to notice changes to our shop fronts, and found a nice-looking tearoom come Chinese restaurant called the Mayflower. Though it was closed, I was like, oh, never seen that before. Much was the nature of my start to the challenge, as what I figured would be easy, was not. The artist suppliers kaput, who knew? A picture framer and décor supplier, Original Glory stood in its place. Not so original as its namesake, as it used to be an artist’s shop, and had been for as long as I can recall. They were however friendly and recommended Devizes Books.

It’s plastic gloves on at Handell House, and Jo there to great me. I could spend eons in this cathedral of all thing’s literature and art. Devizes Books is wonderful, always has been. Alas they only sold watercolours and pastels. I was diverted to WH Smith, in which doubtful about as it broke the rules, and anyway, they only had watercolours and acrylic paint. Sorry Teri, item one; failed.

Down Maryport Street I marched unperturbed of my failure. I spotted an electric whisk in Mainlys, Ema, that shop which has got everything hardware and a whole lot more; I took a snap through the window.

Detour Clothing was the destination to fulfil my own want of a new jumper. The only men’s clothes shop in Devizes has been on scene for twenty-four years, once situated down Swan Yard. The thing is, and I put it to the chatty shop owner, people drift by assuming as it’s breached a gap in the market, it must be pricey. “We get more tourists than young local people come in,” she explained. When really, prices are reasonable, there’s jumpers on racks, a steal at £15. The notion you need to travel afar to obtain new threads, guys, is proven wrong by this great little store.

Now, I did promise myself a breakie, I love a bit of New Society, you know that, and was recommended Brogans and Soup Chick in the Shambles. Time pushing on, I’m heading for the back of the Shambles for a sample of soup, but it was closed. “People shutting up early,” said a trader, “before lockdown.” A sign of the times, perhaps. Maybe they were simply out of croutons. 

Biddles it was, a warming and hospitable alcove of the Shambles, after the draft of the doors. Biddles supplied me with a mug of tea and a tasty bacon roll, cooked just how I like it, all in for £2.50. You’ll not get that in Costa. I’m not one for delicate a’ la carte when it comes to breakfast, I want good honest grub at a steal, job done at Biddles.

Refreshed, I’m on my way to sort Cath’s request out; rather like Highlander, there can be only one. Vinyl Realm, under their new roof in Northgate Street is just how you remember a record shop being. I dragged my daughter in just last week, flicked through vinyl and told her that’s how we made a Spotify playlist back in my day. Pete brushed his hand over his record deck, for people to use and try before they buy. “Kids come in and play the vinyl on here,” he smiled in reminiscence, “just how we did.”

They sold a copy of Don’t Point Your Finger not so long ago, but assured me they had other albums by Nine Below Zero; so, I half-met the agenda. Thing is though, I’m in there now, browsing, and could be some time. What Pete and Jackie don’t know about music you could write on the back of a matchbox, with space for diagrams. And they’ll happily chat about it till the cows on a Pink Floyd album come home. Man, I noticed an original Atlantic 7” of Wilson’s Picket’s In the Midnight Hour, for a mere fiver. But I spent my pearl on local band Mr Love & Justice’s 2009 CD, Watchworld. Pete and Jackie are dedicated to our local music scene and will sell unsigned bands’ wares in abundance.

But there’s more to the activities happening here in the yellow gem on Northgate Street. Pete showed me out back of his new digs, where I was greeted by a wall of sound, and a guitar lay on a desk ready for new strings. Whether it’s instruments or simply a band t-shirt, Vinyl Realm got it down, and PA hire to a vintage hi-fi, it fits any bill. What is more, lockdown is no worries, Pete explained he was still busy during the last one, as they have a website, ordering service and will deliver what you need if you ask them.

Time ticking I’m hopping out of there and down the Market Place. The Ginnel, that little pathway of ever-changing indie boutiques and tea rooms is a must. Tea Inc is bustling, but I’m on for a cuddly elephant here, I can feel it in my bones. Handmade gift shops are plentiful in town, Beezes is a beauty. Next door an extension for children, Little B’s is simply delightful, lots of crochet and knitted cuddlies, wooden toys and books await you there; a cute little elephant awaited me. For less than £13, he’s a steal and would warm any child’s heart. I took his mugshot on the desk; he deserves a loving home. Beezes set up a website last lockdown and so will continue to trade, they warmly informed.

But I’m still in the dark with all the kitchen utensils from the demanding girls! Oh, and Leannie’s Galileo thermometer; please, can’t I just go home now?

What the heck, Ma Cuisine it is. Never been in there before, but it’s a maze of kitchen goodies stacked to the ceiling. A small chain based in Bath, it’s glorious. I sauntered the aisles, assured I’d find them all here. Amidst spatulas a-plenty I couldn’t see a spurtle, but nothing was “man-labelled” and I confess, I didn’t have a Scooby-Doo what it looked like! Trouble is, I felt like a mere peasant in the Queen’s chamber, and scared for my month’s pay, to knock so much as a kettle off the shelf, I made a sharp exit.

Gloomy outlook, I failed, I spent too much time lapping up my bacon roll and gassing in the Realm. I’m homebound, grab some teabags from Iceland which is what I came out for. There’s the very misconception though; residents nip to town to grab a necessity, save a big shop for a larger town. But walking through Devizes is a delight, and though we may’ve not made the outlandish requests on the list precisely, there’s plenty to purchase here, and little need to venture elsewhere.

Example, and hole-in-one. On my trek to Iceland I pass through the Little Brittox. There, at number 3, is the Giving Tree. What a wonderful name for a gift shop, and so, as name suggests it, I give it a last go. Whoop bang wallop! No, I didn’t smash anything. The lady inside sprung to order when I told her the nature of my visit. I noted a fine wood spatula, that will have to do Clair!

A tagine, for Jenny, yep, right above it, she told me. I tried my luck and inquired about the Galileo thermometer for Leannie. “Yes,” came the reply, and she hurried to fetch this wonderful workable charm. Placed together it was the perfect ending; result! Three in one, done, thanks to The Giving Tree. And yep, just like the others, they trade online, and you won’t find customer service like this at a sprawling blot on the landscape retail park.

Even the name gets my goat up, honestly, “Retail Park,” “Shopping Village,” doesn’t fool me, call a spade a spade, it’s a shopping centre, nothing like a park or a village at all. You’ve been had by the name alone, how can you trust them further? Ak! Shop local!


Alan’s Fine Art Christmas Cards for NHS Charities

Local artist Alan Watters has launched these wonderful pencil-signed greetings cards, with all profits from his website going to NHS charities only until the end of October. The cards are individually pencil signed and sold in packs of ten for £12 (+ £3 UK P&P.) But hurry, Alan says they’re going fast!

Limited edition prints are also available, making a great Christmas present idea. Click here to order.


DOCA’s Window Wanderland

As part of their new Winter Festival, DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Window Wonderland is a Covid-sade way to connect people, transforming streets into magical outdoor galleries.

DOCA invite anyone with a window to create a display which will become part of a programme of events over a weekend which they hope will light up Devizes. Over the weekend you will be able to pick up a map or download online.

Follow the trail of windows into Devizes Town Centre where you’ll find seasonal markets both indoors and out, selling beautiful artisan gifts, delicious food and drink, light installations and walkabout performers, a warm welcome and plenty of smiles.

TAKE PART
To take part and register your own window for this event follow the link to the Windon Wanderland website. Everyone that registers a Window will be added to our event map. You will be reminded of when to display your window and keep your light on!

Take part and register your window: https://www.windowwanderland.com/event/devizes-2020/

WALK THE TRAIL


You will be able to download a map from the DOCA website, the Facebook event, or pick one up from The Shambles over the weekend.

Windows will be displayed between 27th – 29th November from 5:30pm to 9pm.

Window Inspiration


Devizes is putting on a Window Wanderland and you want to take part? Wanderful! Welcome aboard.

Taking part is FREE and everyone is welcome. You can use the windows of your flat, house, business, school, nursery, car, camper van, shop…


It doesn’t even have to windows, you can also use your front door, the front of your house, your front garden…
Visit our website for ideas, FAQs and some top tips:

Devizes Window Wanderland


There’s a Kidnap… In Pantoland!

No, not some kid’s pap in Poundland, there’s been a kidnap in Pantoland, or at least there will be if the Wharf Theatre have anything to do with it. Me, I’m trying to imagine: “he’s behind you!…..Oh, he was behind you, now he’s bartering for your ransom demand.”

Still,  The Wharf Theatre Group ask, “what better way to start the Christmas Season and get into the festive spirit than by taking the family to the Wharf Theatre to discover all the songs, jokes and slapstick fun you would expect from the magical world of panto?”

“Come and cheer, boo and generally join in as you help discover ‘who-done-it’ in this pantomime adventure featuring all of your favourite fairy-tale characters,” my money is on Buttons, never trusted that guy, always the quiet ones.

“Together you can catch the culprit and rescue Snow White, Sleeping Beauty & Cinderella who have all been taken hostage by someone in Pantoland. Help Detectives Maverick and Chirpy investigate the case with a little help from the goodies, including wacky washer woman Widow Twanky and silly servant Buttons. And remember to keep a look out for the baddies – Captain Hook, the Evil Queen, the Wicked Stepmother & the Wicked Fairy are hiding out at their club house, working on their alibis!”

kidnap1

I confess, I’ve a little crush on the Wharf Theatre since the fantastic Little Shop of Horrors performance and it sounds to me like The Wharf’s spin on pantomime will be highly entertaining family fun! Tickets £12/under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource at:

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre/events

or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a new Autumn/Winter brochure which is now available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.

Wharf Theatre, Wharfside, Devizes, SN10 1EB

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