Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Country Matters by The Hodge April 18

A local pub, the Royal Oak, in its majesty.
Country Matters
By The Hodge

“Whoe’er has travell’d life’s dull round,
Where’er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome at an inn.”

William Shenstone 1714-1763 Written on a Window of an Inn

Last October my theme for this humble page was the sad gradual loss of that institution of the countryside and the village especially, the country pub. Statistics suggest that one hostelry a day disappears in Great Britain and someone with a cleverer mathematical mind than my own should be able to calculate on that basis when the very last one will close forever. I just hope that I am long gone before then.

But having listed some of the local inns that have gone, I am here today to report on encouraging and hopeful news – a few have bucked the trend and reopened and we in this locale I hope will do our duty and flock to their doors to give them our support.

Firstly, Kemble’s only pub, The Tavern, is now reopen and doing great food according to reports I hear. A community the size of Kemble deserves a hub where locals can gather to drink, socialise and eat and I very much hope that The Tavern will now have a long and successful future. Incidentally, as a promotion, they are currently offering a 50% discount on food orders on Mondays, an offer that’s hard to ignore.

Then in South Cerney where there are two such establishments, its oldest and third, The Royal Oak, has reopened after about six months when locals feared it would be gone forever. But instead of a new landlord parachuted in from some distant part by the brewery, a unique modern experience for this village is a co-operative arrangement whereby eight villagers have got together, pooled their talents and hard-earned cash as a collective. These enthusiastic locals have some experience both in the world of licensed premises and food sourcing and catering so it is not entirely a blind dream. Together they have stripped the interior of the pub and they reopened the bar a couple of weeks ago and the kitchen a week later. The extensive dining room is being refurbished next and will soon burst forth with a quality menu with both British favourites and an international influence to cater for almost all tastes. As might be expected when gardens on television get makeovers on a regular basis, there are plans to really make the outside area user friendly for both drinkers and diners in the summer months – in other words the complete package.

But being locals themselves, the new landlords and landladies are keen to maintain the village pub feel and the aged locals coming in for a pint and a packet of crisps will be made as welcome as the tourist parties attracted to the Cotswold Water Park and looking for the genuine experience of a Gloucestershire pie and pint. And talking of welcome, dogs have a space reserved in front of the log fire as long as they are accompanied by well-behaved humans.

Such co-operative ventures are to be welcomed and reflect successful initiatives in other parts of the country to keep alive village pubs and shops as the hub of the community. All we need now is news that the village Post Office will be taken over and re-opened there and the Royal Oak will indeed be the complete package. It is a brave move by these individuals and I very much hope they succeed and perhaps inspire others in the Cotswolds to get together and keep their village pub alive – and thriving!

Country Matters by The Hodge March 2018

Country Matters
By The Hodge
“Never eat more than you can lift
Miss Piggy
Clip your hedges!
Following on from last month’s little piece on the privations being experienced by those people back home in Britain in 1918 when rationing was introduced, I was intrigued to find this little snippet of news. It concerns an MP – Mr William John McGeagh MacCaw – the representative in parliament for the constituency of West Down in Northern Ireland.

He was taken to court under the 1917 Food Hoarding Order, a law brought in to try and ameliorate the effects of food shortages before rationing began. When I first read this, I assumed it was going to be a minor infringement and that they were making an example of a public figure but I was wrong.

Mr MacCaw MP was fined £400 – a huge sum – and the hoard of food was confiscated. What was found at his home in Godstone, Surrey by inspectors of the Local Food Control Committee and another from the Ministry of Food was as follows:

Flour – 435lbs
Tapioca – 641/2lbs
Biscuits – 1001/2lbs
Oatmeal – 59lbs
Sugar – 102lbs
Semolina – 531/2lbs
Tea – 53lbs
Golden Syrup – 34lbs
An old poster exulting rationing.

Rice – 1341/2lbs
Honey – 211/2lbs

But there was more! They then searched his London flat and found additional hoardings of:

Tea – 12lbs
Tapioca – 321/2lbs
Flour – 473/4lbs
Rice – 106lbs
Oatmeal – 571/2lbs
Sugar – 281/4lbs

Mrs MacCaw was also charged but the charges were dropped due to ill health. Unfortunately, the news report fails to give details of any arguments used in his defence such as Mr MacCaw was hoping perhaps to corner the market to supply the House of Commons catering department or that he had a very large family. I have not personally had tapioca or semolina since I left school and have not in a single day missed either but tastes were different then.

Amazingly, the court found him not guilty for hoarding golden syrup but the other charges were upheld and as well as the fine, Mr MacCaw had to pay 35 guineas (£36.75) costs.

I don’t know about you but I find such snippets of social history fascinating.

* * * * *

Easter will soon be upon us as it is early this year. By then spring should fully have sprung and we will be enjoying the sights and sounds of blossom, the flowering bulbs and birdsong, (designed mainly to establish territory and tell competitors to sling their hook!). Please try and ensure that you cut any untidy hedges before nesting starts in the next couple of weeks. If you don’t manage it, then learn to live with a straggly hedge until August at least to help protect the songbirds. Farmers are prevented by law from hedge cutting during these months, the only exception being if road safety is threatened.

Thursday, 22 March 2018


The Secret Garden, the first professional production by The Barn Theatre, was performed on Monday evening to an enthusiastic audience of press and VIPs.

Dickon's Band: Some amazing music was provided by this
multi-talented cast, and the singing was excellent. 

It was an absolute delight.

Based on the children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this innovative musical adaptation, directed by Dominic Shaw, brought together possibly the most talented assemblage of actors ever to perform on a Cirencester stage.

Where Lucy Simon’s original score required a twenty-five piece orchestra, Dominic instead exploited the musical abilities of the cast, with instruments ranging from guitar and piano to accordion and cajon drum box, to rework it, producing an upbeat folk-rock vibe which kept the show moving apace. This contrasted perfectly with the haunting melodies of the ghost of Lily Craven, played by Jaimie Pruden, making her UK stage debut.

Martha (Jennie O'Leary) tries to tease Mary
out of her sulks

Mary Lennox, was wonderfully acted by Daniella Piper with the required pouts, obstinacy and single-mindedness of a 10 year old.  Within this dark tale of despair and rejuvenation, where both the haunted characters and the eponymous garden is brought back to life and purpose by the determination of this child, there were some welcome interludes of comedy and sheer joy. 

The interaction between Archie’s housekeeper, Martha – played well by Jenny O’Leary, and the stubborn Mary, was very entertaining, as was Mary’s relationship with Dickon, Martha’s maverick but kindly brother, played with rock-star presence by Alex James-Ellison.

Overcoming the restrictions posed by the limited space, the cast used puppets to represent both the dearly departed and the sickly child Colin, although at times this became confusing, as Colin’s puppeteer, Celeste de Veazey, was actually acting the part of Colin too. If you didn’t know the story the plot was a little difficult to follow, so it would be well worth reading a synopsis beforehand.

Mary Lennox and Colin Craven with 'puppet Colin' - cleverly manipulated by Celeste de Vearey, 

But these are minor points, as the acting and musical virtuosity of the cast created a magical and captivating experience which fully deserved the standing ovation it received from the packed audience. 

Review by Jan and Carlo Vuolo, Cirencester Scene.

The show, at Cirencester’s first professional theatre, runs from 21st March until 15th April and should not be missed. Tickets are from £14.

For full details and to book, go to www.barntheatre.org.uk

More great music with Steffan Rizzi (Ensemble), Jamie Pruden (Lily Craven)
and Jamie Ross (Ensemble) in background.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu at South Cerney 24th and 25th March

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu will be starting regularly in South Cerney, only a five minute ride from the Cirencester town centre. Sat 24th and Sun 25th will see free taster sessions for all comers.

Affiliated to Gracie Swindon's black belt Lucus Luz, Connor Heaven will be teaching classes at Fentons Community Centre. With classes in the week and at the weekend, it's easy for anyone to pursue this exciting hobby.

For anyone not in the know, BJJ is a grappling art from South America. Requiring very little equipment it is easy to take part in, but very hard to master! Therefore the greatest expense will always be the time put into training.

Far better than a computer game, but just as addictive, BJJ will no doubt suit anyone wishing to discover more about themselves. For more details check the flier!

Monday, 12 February 2018

Rekindle Feb 18 Article: Children in Need

CHILDREN IN NEED by Virginia Stourton, Rekindle

I was interested to read that Parents are now seeking Coaches for their children as young as four. Considering that the mainstream coaching industry is now worth £1.5 billion worldwide there is a good chance that parents making use of the system themselves can see advantages that will assist their children.

Children as well as adults are under a great deal of pressure to perform to a high standard. Falling short of ideals today would appear to cause more trauma than previously perceived.

Never mind get over it are no longer robust enough to see one through.

Yes, it is annoying when your little angel goes upstairs and slams the bedroom door leaving a devotedly cooked meal on the table.

Ok you have not been there, so you won’t know that the knee jerk reaction is to run upstairs and plead for them to come down.

Worse, if you are a bit fraught you find yourself apologising and saying of course it was ok for the mobile to be used while eating as you had not thought it might be an emergency. Bah! If this parenting, then roll on the coach for four-year olds.

So, you ask how is it done? It begins with detailed conversations with the parents. This is best not done with a drink in your hand.

Then time spent getting to know the child at home. That’s why the nondisclosure of drink could be important.

Playing games before moving on to key activities which include magic breathing. A slow deep breath that brings a child back into the moment. (no mention of where they were when out of the moment- never mind)

Each child gets a small soft toy called a breathing buddie which can rest on their stomachs enabling them to see them rise and fall.

Anger emotions are also played through puppets. The results seem good for which there is not room to describe here.

My own parenting, I now see was shamefully lacking. I was not beyond sitting outside the slammed bedroom door with a saucepan of delicious melted chocolate- just enough for me.

On complaining about an outrageous telephone bill (no mobiles then) the teenage culprit threatened to leave home. My answer: so am I

I guess it’s me who needs the breathing buddie now.

Love is the best remedy and if coaching four-year olds is a way of showing this who am I to knock it.
For more info about Rekindle contact virginia@rekindleacademy.co.uk or call 07799 066464 / 01285 720833

The Body Workshop Cirencester-Change the way your mind and body feel!

Are you fed up of your body feeling a certain way? If so why not look at changing the way you take care of your mind and body by exploring a new exercise approach.

Over the last 10 years research has been building regarding neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections.  With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neural pathway - and with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being. These small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains work.

How does this link into Pilates? Well Joesph Pilates’ work focused on connecting the mind and body, while doing his exercises in order to change how his mind and body felt.

We Offer…...
MatGroup exercise class done on a mat (max 12 per class) 
Reformer - using a spring resistance machine, that you can lie, sit and stand on (max 6 per class)
Studio - individually tailored programmes using all of the Pilates equipment (max 4 per class). Suitable for those who maybe rehabilitating from injury.
Seated - for those less mobile and cant get up and down from the floor easily.

We also offer weekly Franklin Method Workouts which use the same idea that thoughts and images can change and improve how you move and feel. This conditioning class will raise your heart rate, tone your whole body and make you feel great. Only available in Cirencester at The Body Workshop Studios.

For more information call/email us 01285 655446/ admin@thebodyworkshop.net or visit www.thebodyworkshop.net.

Phoenix Gardeners get Ready for Spring

Phoenix Gardeners getting ready for spring
Phoenix Gardeners are already thinking about the spring and how nice Cirencester will look this summer.  

Over 2000 plug plants are on order, ready to be planted up in March to go out into the town’s tubs and hanging baskets.  Meg Blumsom, co-ordinator said “Each year we have a different colour scheme and aim for a relaxed rather than municipal planting style”.
Money to pay for the flowers is mostly raised by the group of volunteers themselves.  This year they will hold a coffee morning on March 7th in Bingham Gallery, and a plant sale in the market place in May.  Some tubs are sponsored by local groups or businesses that are keen to see the town look a nice place, and it is hoped that more of these will come forward.
But the group also needs volunteers to help keep the 50 tubs looking their best.  Volunteers are asked to give about half an hour a week over the summer to mind one or two tubs by watering, dead-heading etc and can be carried out at times to suit your needs.
If you prefer a regular commitment, then a small group meets fortnightly on a Wednesday to maintain the main flower bed in the Abbey Grounds. 
If you are interested in volunteering, or helping in any other way then please get in touch.

phoenixgardeners@gmail.com or telephone 01285 657696