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!

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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.

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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!!


Trending….

After-Thoughts of Indieday

I’m glad to hear Indie Day was a great success, read the brilliant overview by Kirsten.

As I need my beauty sleep after work, I rocked up in the afternoon unfortunately as it was all winding down, so it’s unfair for me to assees it.

But I think the event is difficult to assess visually as we tend to think of an event happening in one place, whereas the idea here is to wander the fantastic array of independent shops we have in Devizes. Ergo the event will never look as crowded as a festival, as folk are dispersed throughout town; hopefully in the shops!

I was disappointed by unannounced changes in the performance times, as I arrived an hour too late to catch the brilliant Will Foulstone. But I am pleased to hear the piano will stay in the Shambles for free usage. This is exactly the sort of thing The Shambles needs.

The only method of measuring the success of the day is via the footfall and sales of the shop owners, and I hope they did well. Yet the most important point, I think, is that using independent shops is not for a special day, rather we consider shopping in them every day.

Taking it for granted is damaging, we’d be sorry to see any of them have to close. Yet lockdown has strengthened the position of internet shopping, and without overheads the price war obviously is one-sided.

I only need to think of the reaction of people from out of our area, say builders working on houses, or tourists who take photos of me on my way home when either see an old fashioned milk float drive past, to know how privileged we are to live in an area where traditions die harder than other parts of the country.

There are times, I confess, where some traditions are unwelcome in today’s society where we now see the bigger picture, or methods have changed for the better. There is no need to hunt foxes, any more than a need to send children to work in mines or up chimneys, for example. There’s many elements which are questionable about continuing traditions, our anarchic attitudes towards others, be they from other ethnic backgrounds or ways of life, and our failure to integrate new technologies to aid us, or failure to understand political corruption. But the concept of wandering a high street, the bell above the shop door ringing, and a welcoming smile isn’t one of them.

The high street must look to methods of retaining the reality of real life shopping by providing what folk want, be it cafe culture, bustling markets, which is precisely what Devizes captures so well. Compare and contrast this with the dull experience of a large town shopping mall. I can think of nothing more mundane than wandering through these samey monstrosities of mass commercialism, there’s no individualism, there’s nothing unique or inspiring. Precisely why they have to slap names on them, like “village” or “park” to make them appealing. They’re not villages or parks, call a spade a spade; they’re shopping centres!

Anyway, I bagged me some local scrumpy, from Lavington’s Rutts Lane Cider stall at the Farmer’s Market, so there’s no need for me to be negative! Though, if you find typos here this morning, you know who to blame!

Went to IndieDay, shopped local, came back home with the loot….

I am a Rutts Lane Cider drinker, it soothes all me troubles away, Ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay, Ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay!

Long live the traditional shops of Devizes, I say, but only if we support them will our saying be worth their weight. Well done to the organisers of this great day.


Top Twenty Local Music CDs For Christmas

Bag yourself some of our recommended long players for your friends, family or even yourself this Christmas and help a local musical talent.

Look at him, Grumpus Maximus, slouching on his sofa-throne investigating the inside of his y-fronts with one hand and clasping a tinnie with the other. He’ll need Google maps to find his local watering hole when things return to normal, and if he has to endure Kirstie Allsopp for one more half-hour episode he’ll threaten to relocate to his shed for the yule. What do you get for someone like pops this Christmas, or anyone who’s lost the will of independent thought due to the modest inability to enjoy the odd fellow and guitar down their pub of choice, for that matter?

How about this suggestion; buy a CD from a local hero? Because not only will you cheer the old bugger up enough for him to consider shaving once a week, but you’ll be putting your hard-earned shekels into the hands of a local independent creative sort, who, without revenue from standing in a draughty pub alcove singing the blues, really needs some pocket money right now.

It’s not my idea, I say let them scavenge for dead flies on their filthy windowsills while insanely mumbling a ditty about minute pixies invading grassroot venues. Thanks to our reader, George for this suggestion. Of course, this is the 21st century, or so I’ve been informed, and nowadays next to nothing is physical. Much as we find the online format or download accessible, you can’t wrap an online stream up with a pretty bow and put it under your tree. So, our list is restricted to the ones putting out a CD copy; that’s a compact disc to youngsters, or even, dare I say it, vinyl, you know, some archaic listening format.

But how, ye cry. I’m going to provide links where I can, but another shot is your local indie record store; for if they care one iota for music, they’ll stock a range of locally sourced sounds. If they don’t tell them to, without swearing.

Here’s an ideal template to use: “the brilliant, one and only Vinyl Realm Music Store in old Devizes town stocks many local artist discs, so I suggest if you want to be half as good as them, you’d consider it.” And that, is one good place to start; open the yellow door on Northgate Street, turn to your right and by the window there’s a stand with some local outpourings on. If you get lost ask one of the owners, they bite but not hard. I know, shopping is beneath you, be aware they have an online service and will deliver, cos they’re nice like that.

Am I waffling now? I tend to tangent, like to, did you come here for that, or are you looking for some music options? Very well, sit quietly, or stand noisily if you like, and I shall begin…. hopefully before Boxing Day. But oi, bear in mind this isn’t a top twenty countdown, I just used that as the title for clickbait. I’ve not put these in any kind of hierarchy or rank, just listed alphabetical by artist name, to prove I know my A, B, C!

Billy Green 3: Still

Released at the beginning of this year, Devizes post-Britpop trio produce a beguiling sound that could’ve come straight from indie’s finest hour. It’s scooterist, with a taste of mod and soul, but it’s passionately scribed and delivered proudly. Review. Buy@ Vinyl Realm.

Chris Tweedie: Reflections

Affectionately reviewed at the beginning of the month, Melksham-based monarch of chill, Chris Tweedie has produced a mind-blowing album. If you like Mike Oldfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, or George Harrison, you need to check this one out. Review. Buy.

Cracked Machine: Gates of Keras

Hometown space-rock has never been so good. This is the outfit’s second album, and its journey of spacey rock like no other. Fans of Pink Floyd or the Ozrics will relive every minute of their misspent youth and clamber to the loft to find their fractural posters and chillum! Review. Buy.

Erin Bardwell: Interval

This year, without his Collective, Swindon’s rock steady keyboard virtuoso blessed us with this unique lockdown inspired bundle of distant memories over sparse two-tone and reggae beats. If you think this genre can be samey, you’ve not heard Erin Bardwell. This album is one of a kind. Review. Buy.

George Wilding: Being Ragdollian

Let the arguments begin, this 2013 EP is the definitive George Wilding. One not to collate tracks to an album, the EP may only contain three songs, but their brilliance makes up for at least ten mediocre ones. You can grab this at Vinyl Realm.

Joe Edwards: Keep on Running

Whilst it’s had glowing international reviews, locally I feel this is severely unacquainted. Though I did say at the time of review I’ll be hard pressed to find another ‘album of the year,’ back in May, this still stands. This is melancholic Americana played out with utter perfection, and I will never tire of its authentic and sublime stories. Review. Buy.

Jon Amor: Colour in the Sky

Though we fondly reviewed Jon’s latest album just yesterday, like I said, that’s one which is only on download at the moment. Take his 2018 masterpiece of quirky electric blues as red, red as his telephone; this is the must-have album for every fan of local music. You can buy this in Devizes Books as well as Vinyl Realm, or you can buy online. Here’s a review from all those heavenly years ago, when Devizine was funny.

The King Dukes: Numb Tongues

Out in 2018, if you like your music with a taste of old-timey soul and blues, The King Dukes of Bristol do this with bells on. Numb Tongues is lively and memorable. Review. Buy.

Little Geneva: Eel Pie

Freshly produced and lively sixties mod-blues-rock done supremely, Little Geneva are Bristol-based but the Docherty brothers have the Devizes connection, enough to debut this down the Bear’s Cellar Bar a few years ago, and boy, was it a sweaty and memorable night! Buy.

Mr Love & Justice: Watchword

Mr Love himself, Swindon’s Steve Cox’s 2009 album is a must, a classic, even though I haven’t reviewed it, because it’s dated, its gorgeous acoustic goodness extends beyond atypical country-rock sounds and branches into many genres, even bhangra at one point. You can find this in Vinyl Realm for a mere fiver.

Mr Tea & The Minions: Mutiny!

Oh my, this chunk of energetic Balkan-ska influenced Bristol folk is breathtakingly good. I reviewed it last year, haven’t gotten over it yet! Review. Buy.

Paul Lappin: The Boy Who Wants to Fly

Breezy Britpop acoustics shine throughout this ingeniously written debut from Swindon’s Paul Lappin. Highly recommended and all-round good vibes. Review. Buy.

Phil Cooper: These Revelation Games

Trow-Vegas legend, Phil Cooper really gives it some with his latest offering, rocking out the lockdown. Review. Buy.

Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue: Live at the Louisiana

No list would be complete without a bit of Ruzz Guitar and the gang; guitar by name and nature. This album captures his skill where he does it best, live. Rock n roll the night away as if you were there; this is a must have album for blues and rock n roll fans. Review. Buy.

Sound Effects: Everyday Escapism

Self-penned Irish-fashioned folk at it’s most divine, Swindon duo Cath and Gouldy classic here. This is sweet and thought-provoking. Review. Buy.

Strange Tales: Unknown to Science

I’m unsure how old this is, but I do recall Pewsey singer Sally Dobson running back to her car to get me a copy at the long-lost Saddleback Festival. With Paul Sloots, Strange Tales are a wonderful if occasional electronica gothic-rock duo, and Unknown to Science is a spookily glorious album. Review. Buy or at Vinyl Realm.

Talk in Code: Resolve

True, Swindon’s darlings of indie-pop have come along way since this 2018 album, fashioned closer each time to retrospective eighties electronica, Resolve stands as a testament to their dedication, but more importantly highlights their roots in indie-rock. Review. Buy.

Tamsin Quin: Gypsy Blood

Man-about-Devizes, surely, you’ve a copy of this already? Tamsin Quin’s debut 2018 debut album is something kinda wonderful, eight self-penned nuggets of goodness introduces you to the now one third of the Lost Trades and personifies anything that was awesome about our local music circuit. A local classic. Review. Available in Vinyl Realm, or online.

The Lost Trades: EP

When three of our most loved local musicians officially bonded, debuting at the Pump just prior to lockdown, it was clear all their talents combined into this one project and could only ever be a winner. We highly anticipate the debut album, but for now, this five track EP will whisk you to a better era of folk harmonies. All original songs, there’s a taste of Phil, Jamie and Tamsin’s song writing talents, though each track wouldn’t look out of place on the Oh Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Review. Buy.

Ya Freshness & the Big Boss Band: Knockout

Boots and braces time, get skanking to the loud and proud ska sound of Ya Freshness and the Big Boss Band. This is joyful, fun and chockful of ska and rock steady riddims from 2018. We eagerly await a new double-album promised from these Bristol misfits of ska, but for now, this is great. Review. Buy.


No way is this list exhaustive; I’ve basically run this off adlib and will no doubt suddenly think, “oh bugger, I forget this or that.” But I’ve nailed it down to twenty, which was tricky. Do feel free to add a comment on something I might have overlooked, and apologises if I did. Remember, it should be available as physical copy. This is an interactive article!

Message my advice line if you’re still in the dark for a pressie for Dad. Helpful hint, look through his old records. If you see one of a pig floating above Battersea power station, or a plain black album with a spectrum shining through a triangle, try Cracked Machine. If you see lots of black and white chequered patterns or a naked girl’s torso with Tighten Up written across her abdomen, try Erin Bardwell or Ya Freshness. And if you see a rather splendidly busty woman carrying a hosepipe and various decorating equipment, try The Lost Trades; best of luck!


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!


Devizine’s IndieDay Outing!

Well blow me down, cover me in peri-peri sauce and call me Natisha if we’ve had a Devizine event recently. Understandable all things considered. Annoying though, being I passed on the idea of holding a second birthday bash last autumn thinking we’d host or co-host something better in the summer.

Crystal ball smashed, see? Face bothered? Yeah, a bit, y’ know. Hits to the website has taken a blow, yet that informs me just how many people were using it as a what’s on guide in times prior to lockdown. And anyhoo, for me it’s a hobby, like trainspotting, just without the trains….and spots. I still don an anorak for formal appearances! For businesses and performers alike though, it’s been a rough ride.

What was waffling about before a class 55 diesel locomotive chugged past me? Oh yeah, events. Well, you may/may not be aware town centre will be alive on Saturday, 5th September, when the Devizes Retailers and Independents group hold their Indie Day, celebrating our array of independent shops and cafes. There’s fun to be had, shopping and eating and stuff, with lots of prizes to be won, etc. Original idea was to have buskers around and about, but I believe that’s not so easy to do with current restrictions.

So, we plan to be in presence, centred in the rear garden of Brogans in the Brittox, purveyors of a fine breakfast, nice tea or coffee and scrumptious lunches and cakes. In which we will have some live acoustic music running throughout the day from, I dunno, 10ish till 3ish; that sound good?

Check dis out; Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake @ Brogans, say no more!

Rather hastily put together at short notice, due to getting approval on our proposal to observe social distancing, so if you come along, it’s essential you abide by them. We will track and trace, advise you to wear a facemask if wandering outside of your “bubble,” and Brogans has measures already in place too.

I think it’s important, the day as a whole, being local business have been hit hard by the lockdown. Yet equally is our side-stall, gigs were the bread and butter for musicians, sadly missed by the punter, desperately reducing performer’s revenue. That said, the budget I’m working on is zero and I’m asking the acts to come for the love of it. I sincerely hope if you come along, you can show your appreciation when I badger you with a bucket, thank you.

I also encourage them to bring their wares, CDs and any merchandise they have for sale on the table; and this goes for anyone passing by also, who may have a creation for sale. Make sure you drop past by 3pm to pick up any earning. Any earnings are 100% yours, I might get my arm twisted if your offer me a bacon butty, other than that I’m asking for nothing!

Said tip bucket will be shared between all participating performers at the end. Shutdown is around 3pm, giving us time to finish up and head to the Southgate where the amazing Absolute Beginners will play from 4pm, and I’m getting a round in for all the performers. That’s the plan anyway, subject to change as ever. In fact, I’m delighted to say Cath and Gouldy of Absolute Beginners are pencilled in to drop by around 1pm, before the gig at the Gate, so you can see for yourself how damn good they are.

Everything is in pencil at the moment, just wanted you to give you plenty of notice before you start planning a shopping trip to the Greenbridge retail park, or anything wildly hedonistic like that. Colour pencil though, rainbow; on the cards we have the one-man army, Mr Mike J Barham, who’s kindly to offered to setup a small PA while I rub my stubble, and pretend I know the technicalities he’s referring to.

Also, hopefully dropping by will be our brilliant Tom Harris of the Lockdown Lizards, Pewsey’s finest Cutsmith, and London-based Archie Combe, a classically trained jazz pianist, composer and musical director. I’ve not given them timeslots as of yet, but we’ll play it by ear, which will be a beautiful thing given the wealth of talent. There might be room for one more, if you’re up for it, let me know, or just drop by with a guitar on the day and I’ll try fit you in; can’t be any vaguer than that! But vague is my middle name (actually, it’s Lee, but c’est la vie, Lee.)

So yes, it only leaves you to browse past and enjoy the day. Danny Kruger is coming, and if he can make it so can you; don’t believe the hype! Let us know you’re coming on the book of Face.


Adverts & Stuff!

Father’s Day; Keeping Ideas Local

Whether he’s sofa slouching with his one hand down his pants the other clasping a beer, watching classic Euro finals and yelping like it’s happening now, or digging up weeds in the garden, proudly displaying his builder’s butt, don’t forget your Dad this Father’s Day…..

ON SUNDAY! I confess, I did one year, and live to regret it now he’s gone; insert sad emoji. Though it’s a man-thing for banter to ride over showing our emotion, if you’re not a dad yourself you’re excused for thinking it’s all a commercial con and your dad doesn’t want the attention, and all they did, after all, was the naughty bit. You are wrong though, I’m afraid. It does mean a lot to those dadas and father figures, believe me.

Remember we live to embarrass you in public, that’s why we have those sandals and oversized khaki shorts, but we do it because we care! So, you’ve a few more days to get it together, shops are reopening, I urge you keep it local, but what can you do to show him, through all his faults, you love and respect that balding misunderstood numpty?! Here’s some ideas….


Cards and Gifts!

Yep, easy one, innit? Top of the list though. Keeping it local, nip down the High Street, Devizes, and find Expressions Card Shop. They have reopened, and have all the cards, balloons and gifts you could ever want to shower your pops with.

Another cool place to check out, antiques and vintage shop Ele’s Emporium in Seend, they suggest some homemade beer coasters which would save your mum having to moan at him for beer rings on her bespoke coffee table; you know he’ll try to blame it on you otherwise!

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Or make something yourself, the Wiltshire Scrapstore & Resource Centre  have everything the creative need to construct something truly unique. The scrapstore is a wonderful, eco-friendly charity whose aim is to promote learning through creativity. And if it all fails and you’re covered head-to-toe in double-sided sticky tape, gifts can also be found in Barty’s next door at Bowden Hill, Lacock!


Buy him a Record or CD!

Nip to Vinyl Realm, even if you don’t know what music the old fellow is into; experts Pete and Jacki will be able to advise, and nab yourself a long player that’ll take your dear ol’ pops back to a far off time when he was young; just take a step back if he attempts to belt out Cracklin’ Rosie or show off his dad-dancing; it’s never a pretty sight!

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Beer and Snacks!

I admit some Batman socks once got me a tad excited, but usually socks are a cliché yawn. Beer, that’s what he wants, and snacks to go with it. The Vaults in Devizes and Piggy Bank in Calne offer Father’s Day boxes of such necessities, and they’ll deliver them on Saturday or Sunday. Order on their respective websites and you can benefit from the amusement of watching Dad get sloshed.

The Southgate is also available to get take-outs, might be a plan; check with your favourite boozer to see who’s also doing take-outs; Dads are raring to get back down the pub, so you could be onto a winner with this idea. Mathematically the equation is thus: Dad + Beer = Happy Dad.


Tea for Two!

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy with any food, and I’m a dad; must be something in that notion. The Happy Food Company of Devizes have put together a special afternoon tea for Father’s Day, fresh delivered to your door on the day.

Cake selection, Coffee and walnut cake, Guinness and chocolate cake, large pork sausage roll, scone, jam and cream, loose tea from teainc and at £20 for 2. Mum will love it too, even if it’s not her special day!


A Takeaway Roast Dinner!

Who’s got one of those Dads who is always in the kitchen? Yeah, thought not! Still, might benefit him if mum’s in a good mood; get a takeaway roast dinner from the Pelican in Devizes; wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Best way to a man’s heart. Roast pork, chicken or stuffed Portabello mushroom with blue cheese sauce and lovely home made desserts. Vouchers can be redeemed for up to one year, and they have Take Away Mid Week Specials from around the World!

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Sweeties!

While we’re on grub, Dads love ‘em, simple as. Savannah’s Sweets in Devizes have reopened, and still do takeaway orders for home delivery. It’s an idea, save him nicking your Haribo, after all.

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Picnic!

Every Dad is, in some way, like Yogi Bear, and love a pic-a-nic. Over at Lower Farm, home to Rowdey Cows and Spotty Dogs, they’re having a socially distancing picnic; the shop has everything you need to make it as swanky as you like, and the café is open for teas, coffees, and of course, it goes without saying; ice cream! The Spotty Dog also has a male grooming gift sets as a secondary idea. So, if your dad has adopted the Planet of the Apes look over the lockdown, this might be the very idea.


Have a BBQ!

Dad and barbeque, like horse and carriage. Butchers HF Stiles in Bromham have a mixed grill pack especially for Father’s Day

Avebury’s Gourmet Goat Farmer have some gift bags for a delicious goat-based barbeque. Complete with a goat-themed greetings card, and goat burgers, brioche rolls, goats’ cheese, and a selection of locally sourced salad items, the first 10 orders get a FREE bottle of Ramsbury Brewery beer thrown in too!

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Crafts!

Amelia-Rose Creations in Trowbridge has lots of nice ideas, including some brilliant framed worded pieces with Lego superheroes on, get in faster than a speeding brick train though.

Sugar & Spice Bows is another great online crafter with some idea for Father’s Day, their keyrings might not get to you on time, but would be make a great belated gift!

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And never forget our Naz at Cositas Bonitas, crazy little craft shop in Sidmouth Street, Devizes. While I cannot see they’ve anything specific for Dads, they’ll guaranteed to have endless ideas in there.


Get a book from a local author!

No point in doing this article without a shameless slice of self-promotion! Buy a paperback or Kindle version of the five-star rated sci-fi comedy, White Space Van Man by yours truly; it’s right up his street, lots of rude words, and it’ll keep him quiet for weeks, save for a perpetual bout of belly-laughs!

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Let him eat CAKE!

Devizes-based TrayCake will deliver a Father’s Day treat box to a five-mile radius and, mate, I’ve checked their website, only browsed the photos, but I’ll be dribbling for the foreseeable future.

Secretly though I know what I’m getting, thus is the plight of being father, the invoice was emailed to me! I wasn’t going to mention it, because within half-hour of going online they were sold out. The good news is though, The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen at Poulshot Lodge has a new batch of Father’s Day Treat boxes. OMG and other such exclamation abbreviations, had some of these at the Devizes Food Festival; see, my kids know how to push my buttons. Although I’ll probably have lock myself in the downstairs loo if I think I’ve any chance of stuffing them all!

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My work here is done. For the good of all Dad’s out there, the ones who deserve more than a Lynx deodorant set, but probably need one, have a great day! See you down the pub soon, alright?!


Little Eco, Big Step in the Right Direction

Yesterday spent wisely, at the wonderful Little Eco; Devizes first zero-waste shop…..

 

Shopping bags are in the boot, but when I’m on my own I forget. Damn, buy another bag, it’s just one after all. Last supermarket visit I figured no, as I had my daughter’s help; I left her to scan the items at the self-service checkout, and made haste to the car to fetch them. Yeah, double-whammy; I jogged, part way!

I’ll confess I’m guilty, but at least I’m willing to. Rapidly aging, stuck in my ways, yeah; the stereotype Greta scorns at. Yet I don’t care who is warning me, it doesn’t patronise me what age they are. The younger they are the more they’ll have to face the consequences, ergo if you lambast youth for telling you that you need to do more, shame on you. The irony is some take it personally, insecure with guilt and try denial. This current wave of ecological outcry addresses world governments, rather than the individual. Still, personally taking as much action as you can pushes that little bit towards the good.

Here’s a little slice of that good, recently arrived in Devizes. The Little Eco shop is lovely, and as it says, little, but the grand step in the right direction our town needs. Situated in that yard, Wharfside, on Couch Street, I popped into our first zero-waste shop, to meet owner Jeni. A number of customers browsed the delightful array of dispensers, scoop-bins and glass jars. There is also a central feature with organic gifts and accessories.

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Few customers had been here before, and bought containers with them. For the rest, glass and recycled tubs and containers are available, along with paper bags. The vessels are tared in, and they’re free to shop, many asking for assistance to dispense items; this innovative process is in the making of becoming normal practise. Even the receipt is an email, if required.

While this store may not be a hypermarket, its quaint surroundings harbour a surprisingly vast array of goods. There’re cleaning liquids, of which I profess to know nothing of such matters, erm, washing-up liquid, and erm, that washing powder and soap stuff! Now, onto the tucker, which I can do; they’ve got organic maple syrup, and there’s pasta, rice, cereals and organic maple syrup, flour, herbs, dried fruit, chocolate, and erm, so much stuff, did I mention the organic maple syrup?

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The Little Eco Shop has been open since September; Jeni acknowledged the prospect of little acorns. Perishable goods, I think, will make or break it. Still, the like of this needs to be a supermarket, it needs to be central in town, in every town, and it needs a comprehensive fresh range; veg, bread, milk (yeah, I mentioned that!) But at this early stage, what it really needs is your attention first and foremost.

Aside David Attenborough’s influence, we chatted about supermarkets mostly. I referenced how my Nan would tell of pre-supermarket days, when you took your butter dish to the shop, your salt shaker, and they filled them. Without realising they had the carbon footprint of a beatnik amoeba. It’s only since our thirst for efficient consumer self-service, we’ve accumulated this mountain of waste packaging and terrible throw-away ethos. The final straw for me came a few years ago in a petrol station, upon noticing a single orange wrapped in a hard-plastic container; it’s a bloody orange for crying out loud, nature provided it’s packaging.

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The greatest dilemma facing Jeni is the progression of supermarkets towards reducing waste. I have to hand it to McDonalds, taking heed of eight-year-old Jacob Douglas, from Basildon, and a small number of other children, and have banned Happy Meal plastic toys. If they listen to what the future generation tell them, surely so can you. Yet, so can and will the supermarkets given time, and if so, Jeni’s self-built business is at risk, but her ethics have had a profound effect.

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“If anybody’s sceptical,” I asked Jeni, “it’s over convenience; could you serve the town as quickly as a supermarket?” Negatively she replied but retorted with the notion it’s the personal feel at Little Eco. Jeni expressed the turning trend in the desire to shop at the butchers and greengrocers, who will greet you at the tingling of the bell. Supermarkets steer away from human contact, but if the change to self-service checkouts can be turned around in such a short space of time, a move towards a doable solution to zero-waste on a mass scale could too, by these clever-clogs, if they so wished.

For now, though, we have this gorgeous and friendly shop, yes, it takes a little longer to shop, but I encourage you to try it out; I’m not accepting freebie banana chips, this is not an advertorial, I don’t spew that baloney on you. Crunch time comes down to price then, as ever, and I think you’d be pleasantly surprised it’s competitive and kept at a minimum. Filled a paper bag with my beloved banana chips and was impressed it was just pence, so got myself another scoop-full!

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We wish Jeni and the Little Eco shop all the best of luck with this venture, and in order for it to work, the town must show its support, after all, they’ve got a giant cask of organic maple syrup, if I failed to mention it!


DOCA’s  Lantern Buy Back Scheme

Along with The Town Hall and The Healthy Life, Little Eco also has a scheme in conjunction with DOCA, where old lantern lights that you may have stowed away from previous parades can be recycled. It’s a lantern light amnesty! Turn your lights into reception at the Town Hall, The Little Eco Shop  and The Healthy Life Company. For every working lantern returned you will receive 50p, no questions asked!

The scheme will be running from 11th November to 14th December 2019.

DOCA state, “We can all play a part in making this years festival events greener, but we need your help to reduce the impact of our events on the environment, returning lanterns is one way of doing this!” More information here.


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