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Open Air Theatre

Sam Bertram

5 June 2019

Long summer nights picnicking while watching open air theatre is a perfect way to spend the evening. Fingers crossed there's no rain! Here's a roundup of Wiltshire's best.   Ilford Arts Festival - L'elisir d'amore at Belcombe Court – 31st August and 3rd, 6th and 7th of September 18th Century Belcombe Court near Bradford on Avon is rarely open to the public. Gates open for picnics at 5.30pm. This is one not to be missed.   The Handlebards at The Courts Gardens in Holt  Set against a backdrop of colourful borders and beautiful trees, The Handlebards are back with Much Ado about Nothing on Tuesday 18th June and The Tempest on Friday 28th June. The Three Inch fools are also performing Macbeth on Thursday 15th August. Bring your picnic and soak up the atmosphere.    Illyria's production of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves at Marlborough College Summer School - Tuesday 30th July Back for the 5th year running the year's production is packed with larger than life characters, cliffhangers and laughs. Suitable for age 5 and over. Kids under 18 go free. There's also open air cinema with Bohemian Rhapsody on Friday 12th July and Mamma Mia Here we go Again! on Saturday 13th.   A Midsummer Nights Dream and Alice in Wonderland at Lydiard Park - 12th July and 2nd August. Immersion theatre presents the magical and romantic Midsummer Night's Dream on Friday 12th July and Imagination's production of Alice in wonderland on 2nd August is a musical with fun for all the family. Picnics at usual! Lydiard Park also have open air cinema with Mama Mia Here we go Again! on 10th August and The Greatest Showman on 11th August.   Ballet under the stars at Hatch House, Tisbury - Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th July To celebrate 10 years performing at Hatch House, The Covent Garden Company are putting on a show to remember.    As you like it - East Knoyle, Friday 26th July The Rain or Shine Theatre Company will be performing this classic at Upper Leigh Farm. Pack your picnic, rugs & chairs.   Pride and Prejudice - Corsley, Saturday 3rd August Join The Chaperhouse Company at Manor Farm with optional supper served by serfs and wenches. Picnics also welcome.   Theatre under the stars in the fabulous setting of Lacock Abbey Join the Chapterhouse Theatre for Pride and Prejudice on Thursday 11th July and Illyria's Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves on Friday 2nd August.        

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Music Festival Round up

Sam Bertram

2 May 2019

A music festival is the perfect excuse to listen to great music, camp out, dress up and dance like no-one is watching. We’ve put together a list of Wiltshire’s best in 2019.   Avebury Rocks Music Festival – Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June See performers in a field near to the famous standing stones of Avebury – all proceeds go towards supporting the care and services provided by local charity Prospect Hospice. Camping & day passes available. A taste of the Line-up: Showhawk Duo, Billy in the Lowground, Atari Pilot, Eric Walker, Platform 1, Strange Folk, The Shudders and more.   Manton Fest – Saturday 29th June – Marlborough A small one-day charity fundraising music festival held annually in the village of Manton in beautiful surroundings. Perfect if looking for a fun afternoon and evening out with the family. A taste of the line-up: Mercury, T.Rextasy, The Troggs, Barrelhouse, Clive Collective, Straight Six, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Skedaddle & more. Child friendly and under 7s go free.   Minety Festival – 5th to 7th July In its 3rd year it was shortlisted for the UK Festival Awards in the Best New Festival Category. Raising money for raise funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Naomi House & Jacksplace Hospice & Minety primary school and pre-school. A taste of the Line-up: Republica, Arcadia Roots, Erica, The Dirty Smooth, The Vooz, Revival, Aren E, North Wiltshire Rock Choir, Homer, Six O'Clock Circus Kid zone with free caving, Slacklining, bouncy castle, circus skills, inflatable slide & assault course as well as Grafitti workshops. New for 2019 is the Treehouse teen tent.   Once upon a time in the west – 12th to 14th July – nr Trowbridge and Westbury An extremely friendly small festival with the Djin Palace for late night dj'ing and gin and cocktails and Cider Sabbath on Sunday featuring many local ciders. More details are still to be released, It’s a great space for kids with a climbing wall for all ages, cardboard creations and trapeze skills. There's a quiet area for camping for families.  A taste of the line-up: Hum Fuzze, Funk and the Two Tone Baby, Zip Heads, Dave Acari, Soeur, The King Dukes, Dakka Skanks, Goldwater & more..     Larmer Tree festival- Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st July – Tollard Royal Known for its fabulous location and range of things to do with its outdoor theatre and international street eats. They’ve also been awarded the UK Festival Awards for ‘Best Family Festival’ and ‘Best Toilets’ by festival goers for the coolest, cleanest loos! As well as winning a Greener Festival Award to recognise the work they've put in to reduce their impact on the environment. They also offer some of the coolest boutique camping around. There's the 'Larmer Spa in the wilds' nestled deep in the woods complete with wood fired hot tub, therapists and gong bathing! A taste of the Line-up: Kate Tempest, The Cat Empire, Jack Savoretti, The Shires, KT Tunstall Gomez, Let's Eat Grandma, Go Go Penguin & more. Also watch out for the comedy, theatre talks, workshops, family stuff and cinema.    WOMAD – 25th to 28th July – Malmesbury A global fiesta of music, food, dance & art. Visit The World of Art, World of Children, World of Words, The Physics Pavilion, Taste the World or escape from festival craziness in the World of Wellbeing. Take a workshop – try anything from African drumming to acapella singing, from Beatboxing to Brazilian dance. There’s also a WOMAD spa. Camping & Glamping. A taste of the Line-up: Ziggy Marley, Macy Gray, Anna Calvi, Salif Keita, Orbital, Saving Grace Feat, Suzy Dian and Robert Plant        Festival on the farm, Purton – Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th August A small festival on an organic family farm. So while you can drink from the licensed bar you can counteract your alcohol intake with some lovely organic produce!  Children are welcome and under 10s go free. Paintball, face painters, Bouncy Castle, Rodeo Ride. Camping & day passes available. A taste of the line-up: Get Carter, The Berries, The Wurzels, Buswell Rulez, Rage against the regime, Pink Mac, Superseed, The Blind Lemon Blues band and more. A review: Superb little festival with amazing talents and friendly people...good vibes all round.     End of the road – 29th August to 1st September – Larmer Tree Gardens 'A truly special musical celebration' The Guardian. Best medium sized festival – UK festival Awards 2017.  An eco-friendly festival with Music, comedy & Literature. A taste of the Line-up: Beirut, Metronomy, Michael Kiwanuka, Spirtualized, Courtney Barnett, Jarvis Cocker, Sleaford Mods, Low, Deerhunter & more.   Fieldview, Cock and Bull and Boondocks festivals are all taking a rest for 2019.     

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Top Bluebell Spots

Sam Bertram

4 April 2019

Startling, bright colours are one of the wonders of nature and no more than the carpet of blue flowers in our woodlands in spring.   We asked around for people’s favourite bluebell spots in Wiltshire and it’s no surprise we got an overwhelming response. So here  are our recommendations from Wiltshire locals…   1. The top spot goes to West Woods which the majority of people named as their favourite. Situated just outside Marlborough near the village of Lockeridge it’s a beautiful plantation of beech trees on a former ancient woodland site and the bluebells are magnificent.  If you want to avoid the crowds Nordic Walking with Ashley have found some lovely ones on foot. Gopher Woods has some bluebells - on the walk from Knapp Hill to Oare.   2. Closer to the Dorset border and Tisbury? Try the Larmer Tree or Win Green near Ludwell is also good as well as Ashmore just over the border in Dorset.   3. On the Wiltshire / Oxon Border you’ll find Badbury Hill near picture perfect Coleshill with its secret Second World War history. Overlooking the Vale of the White Horse it’s an Iron Age fort with a stunning bluebell woodland.   4. Devizes locals love the bluebells that grow alongside white wild garlic at Wheelers Wood on the road between Sandy lane (with its well preserved thatch cottages) & Lacock. Erlestoke wood is also a favourite and Potterne wood.   The 32 acre Oakfrith Woodland in Urchfont dates back to the 18th Century and is one of the few remaining areas of significant woodland in the Pewsey Vale. In early spring bluebells cover the woodland floor.   5. If you live a little nearer Bath, Quarry Hill Woodland on Devizes Road in Box has some lovely displays.   6. Closer to Warminster the woods around Longleat are a must visit & if you head to Heaven’s Gate at the top of Prospect Hill you’ll see more while enjoying the views across the parkland of Longleat and Longleat House.   7. Malmesbury locals recommended Sommerford Common as a good spot. Go to Brinkworth and turn up Stoppers Hill towards Minety. It’s an extensive mixed woodland run by The Forestry Commission.    8. On the Wiltshire / Berkshire border the Littlecote grounds have lovely bluebells and a beautiful Roman mosaic and the remains of a Roman Villa, so get your history fix while you’re there.   9. It’s important not to forget our treasured National Trust Properties - Lacock & Stourhead both have displays of bluebells alongside other spectacular spring flowers.   10. Closer to Swindon are Ashen Copse in Wroughton & Pinkcombe wood in Hodson. Quidhampton Woods near Wroughton are on the slopes up to Bincknoll Castle, a hill fort overlooking Swindon. Take in the panoramic views while you get your fix of blue. There's also Hagbourne Copse right in the middle of Swindon.   11. Four years ago 7000 bluebell bulbs were planted by residents and the council in Milford Hollow near Laverstock in Salisbury so should still produce a beautiful display.   12. Around Calne & Chippenham Bowood House opens it’s Woodland Garden from 28th April where you can see Rhododendrons amongst the bluebells. Mortimers Wood is just south of Chippenham near Pewsham Way – a small area of ancient woodland with recorded history dating back over 800 years.   13. Jubilee Lake in Royal Wootton Bassett has lovely bluebells in its woodlands. Complete with children’s playground and tea rooms you can stay for a bite to eat or enjoy a picnic by the lake.    14. Grovely Wood in Great Wishford is the largest tract of private woodland in Southern Wiltshire straddling the Wyle and Nadder vallies. The carpet of bluebells are stunning.   TAKE NOTE: Hopefully it’ll be dry and the sun beating down but if not don’t forget your umbrella!   Got some more suggestions? Contact us on Twitter or Facebook or email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we’ll add them in.

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Cycling with kids

Sam Bertram

25 March 2019

It’s the Easter holidays and often the best fun is discovering the countryside on foot or by bike. A family cycle ride gives lasting memories. We’ve asked around and here are some top tips on places to cycle with the kids this holiday. 1. The Learners Some trails are just too bumpy for beginners so an easy cycle path is what you’re after. Lydiard Park in Swindon gives plenty of space to practice with the added bonus of an ice cream at the end.  If ice cream is a good incentive there’s another easy trail from Devizes along the canal to the café at Caen Hill locks. Cycling around Coate Water Park in Swindon is also easy fun. 2. Fun but not too challenging Cycling along the Kennet & Avon Canal is easy, peaceful and beautiful. Start at All Cannings bridge car park and cycle towards Pewsey. Salisbury plain has lots of trails as does Savernake Forest and can provide endless fun for all the family. There are lots of off road quieter paths in the Cotswold Water Park, and being flat it’s a breeze. National cycle route 24 and 25 go through the Longleat Estate so pick it up there for a family bike ride. Brinkworth, near Malmesbury has a market with coffee shop every Wednesday morning so a reward awaits after a cycle on one of the many surrounding rural paths. The Ridgeway is great for cycling with sweeping views but can be bumpy in parts. Pick up the trail at Hackpen hill and cycle towards Avebury or from Bishopstone to the Uffington White Horse. The Marlborough Downs byway to Barbury Castle is also great fun. 3. Keen to stretch your legs a little more? There’s a great cycle trail from Salisbury Cathedral to Stonehenge. Mostly off road along the river and bridleways it skirts around Old Sarum castle remains with the grand finale being the approach to Stonehenge as you cycle up the hill. The North Wiltshire Rivers route is part of National Cycle Route 4 and links Melksham, Lacock, Chippenham, Calne, Cherhill and Avebury. The route is mostly traffic free part of which goes along the River Avon and Wilts & Berks canal as well as taking in lots of sites of historic interest. 4. The experienced who want to take it up a level Mountain biking on the Stourhead Estate – an annual permit will let you cycle at any time of the year. Tidworth free ride bike park has lots of jump and stunts.  It’s got 6 downhill tracks a progressive jump area and BMX dirt trails. No Bikes? Head to the Cotswold Water Park where you can hire bikes for all the family. Pick up a bike in Bradford on Avon and head along the Kennet and Avon Canal towards Bath or Devizes. Got some more suggestions? Please email us on hello@localuncovered.com and we'll add them to the blog. Happy Cycling!      

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