Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cheers and happy 170th birthday Arkell's

Bees still busy at work in the Walled Garden at Lydiard House

Who would have thought Swindon could boast two literature festivals and a heritage magazine, along with all the other fantastic activities that take place across the year? While the weather most definitely had an end of summer feel about it, there was no end to the summer activities in Swindon this week. 

Thursday saw the launch of the second Swindon Festival of Poetry at the Arts Centre in Devizes Road with words of wit and wisdom from festival organisers and guest speaker BBC Wiltshire presenter Mark O'Donnell.

Matt Holland, Michael Scott and Hilda Sheehan have put together a fabulous four day festival of words and wit, kicking off on National Poetry Day, October 3 with high points including a M4 Corridor Poetry Day and visits by Roger McGough and Alice Oswald. 

Michael Scott will be accompanying Swindon Heritage editor Graham Carter on a Vintage Bus Tour. Tickets cost £10 and sell like hotcakes, so make sure you get yours soon. The tour leaves from The Sun Inn at Coate at 10am and includes poems, heritage, and mystery locations. Telephone 01793 466454 for more details.

And on Saturday Arkell's threw open their Kingsdown Brewery for the mother of all celebrations as Swindon's oldest family firm celebrated its 170th anniversary. Beer festival organisers needn't have worried about the inclement weather forecast earlier in the week as the sun shone down on the hundreds who gathered to sample more than 40 beers from across the UK. There were classic cars and motor bikes, a vintage Daimler double decker bus and a steam engine. Music was courtesy of the Ashton Keynes Ukelele Strummers. The Swindon Heritage team were there as well, and although festival goers might have had other priorities, we sold a fair few copies of the magazine and met some interesting people. If you'd like to know more about the history of the brewery and it's founder John Arkell read the Spring edition of Swindon Heritage. For a list of stockists and how to subscribe visit our website.

For me the herald of the end of the summer is that annual jamboree, the Last Night of the Proms and this year Swindon received a mention. With an indescribable performance of Monti's Csardas by Aston Villa shirt wearing, violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy and a rousing rendition of Rule Britannia by American mezzo soprano Joyce Didonato, this year's Last Night was a record breaker. For the first time in 119 years of Promenade Concerts the Last Night conductor was - shock, horror - a woman. Marin Alsop led the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Chorus in a flawless evening of entertainment, and yes, she mentioned Swindon. I heard it quite clearly - she welcomed listeners and viewers across the world, adding "hello Parks." 

Next weekend I'm spoilt for choice, there is so much going on in Swindon from the Swindon Railway Festival at STEAM to the Mela in the Town Gardens.

Matt Holland

Hilda Sheehan

Michael Scott

Sign writer at work

Beer drinkers at work - just some of the brews on offer

Vintage scooters

Vintage Parkas

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