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2017 bucket list

Sam Bertram

4 January 2017

Here’s our suggestions on some resolutions & what you should be aiming to see & do in 2017 to make the most of this beautiful county. Plan for one a quarter and you’ll find it incredibly achievable and rewarding! 1. Our environment is in a fragile state but it’s not that hard to all do our bit to help. Local Devizes company Meadow in my Garden make wild flower seed mixes that encourage pollinators to gardens and sell animal homes for some of our precious wildlife. You don’t need to have a big garden for wild flowers & they not only look stunning but also help our busy bees, butterflies and ladybirds. They’re also looking for volunteers to help fill public spaces with wild flowers. Get in touch if you think you can help. 2. Look at your grocery list and think what you can source locally – there’s so much fabulous food & drink available right here in Wiltshire. Visit your local butcher or deli or become a regular at a Wiltshire Farmers Market so that local always makes its way onto your table. If you feel like a tipple look no further than The Wiltshire liqueur Company – also fabulous ingredients for any recipe. It not only supports your local economy but when it hasn’t travelled it’s better for the environment and tastes better too! 3. Experience some of the amazing pubs & restaurants in the county - It’s important to support your local pub & restaurant, but once in a while it’s worth going further afield.  In Wiltshire we have The Good Food Guide’s best dining pub in the country - The Michelin Starred Red Lion, East Chisenbury.  Recently shortlisted in the top 3 for Wiltshire life’s best pub in the county is The Swan in Enford. Don't miss The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn described by Tom Parker Bowles as ‘Three steps to foodie heaven’, The George & Dragon in Rowde with their fabulous seafood & rustic luxurious rooms with a touch of Soho House, AP McCoy’s pub The Outside Chance, The Michelin starred Harrow at Little Bedwyn which has been AA and Decanter’s Restaurant of the Year amongst other accolades, and The Pear Tree in Purton, The Good Hotel Guide’s Best Country Hotel in 2015. For a casual lunch try the lovely Sticks & Stones in their lifestyle shop in Woodborough. 4. Regular bracing walks are a great way to stay fit. Visit a new part of the Wiltshire countryside & walk somewhere new – there are stunning walks from the North Wessex Downs to the Nadder Valley. Our members have lots of top tips on things to do – whether it’s walking the ancient Ridgeway, a dog walk on Old Drover's Road, an invigorating walk across Salisbury Plain or a walk on the Roman Road in Grovely Woods or around Fonthill Lake near Tisbury you’ll be pleased you ventured there.  5. Look after yourself. We’re launching a wellbeing section in a couple of weeks time so keep an eye out but in the meantime if you’re keen to eat better (not less but just more of the right kind of food) Love Food has fabulous nutritional cookery courses which teach you how to eat well and feel good and are bound to set you on the right track. 6. Make it to at least one of Wiltshire’s events or festivals. Racehorses have been trained in Wiltshire for over a Century so have fun watching Barbury Races – a great day out for all the family. Kick off your shoes at a music festival or there are plenty of Arts Festivals around the county - Salisbury, Trowbridge & Devizes and fabulous theatre at Illford Arts Festival near Bradford on Avon. Marlborough have a literature festival & there are plenty of Food & Drink Festivals throughout the summer. See our events calendar. 7. Take in one of our national treasures – Stourhead near Mere is the second most visited National Trust Property. However, there are plenty more to choose from – Avebury (the ‘better’ stone circle), Lacock Abbey, Wardour Castle near Tisbury, Great Chalfield Manor and Garden (featured in ‘Wolf Hall’), The Courts Garden in Holt or Old Sarum near Salisbury.  And don’t forget the marvellous Salisbury Cathedral and Malmesbury Abbey or Castle Combe, said by many to be the prettiest village in England or The Merchant's House in Marlborough to see how a wealthy 17th Century Merchant would have lived. 8. Learn something new - how often do you wish you could do something better? There are plenty of places offering courses – Marlborough College Summer School has every course you can imagine and it’s a fun way to spend a week. Wagon Yard Artists have fantastic ceramic courses and Delushious Home Comforts in Devizes offers cookery courses for adults & children. 9. Don’t always default to Amazon – if you’re looking for a gift or new items for the home stop and think if you could buy from a small local company.  You’ll be amazed at the unique things available as well as how affordable they are too.  We have lots of gift ideas for both him and her so check those out before going global!  And lots of ideas for the home too. 10. Finally Christmas isn’t the only time to look after your loved ones. Contact and visit them regularly. Everyone loves to receive a card and Simply Bluebell does wonderful greeting cards by local rural artists. Receiving flowers puts a smile on everyone’s face and Pod & Pip do wonderful natural flowers with handwritten note that can be sent anywhere in the UK. Here's to a fabulous 2017!

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Wagon Yard's Open Studio

Sam Bertram

20 May 2016

Marlborough Open Studios is coming up in July so we spoke to Jacqui Melhuish at Wagon Yard Artists about what they’ve got in store. So tell us a bit more about Marlborough Open Studios ‘Marlborough Open Studios is every weekend in July and gives people the opportunity to visit artists in their studios across the Wessex Downs. There are 59 artists taking part and the diversity of work on offer is incredible. We’re open every weekend except for the last Sunday & there are four artists exhibiting at Wagon Yard - myself, Jane Renwick, Kate Wade and Mary Thorne. There was a preview show in Mount House in May and it looked amazing and had a record breaking number of sales. I put in two Raku pieces, white crackle and bronze glaze, that both sold. I do have more though so visitors to the studio won’t miss out.’ What do you love about Marlborough Open Studios? ‘It’s incredibly sociable and I love the fact we get lots of opportunity to catch-up with all the artists at Wagon Yard, as most have other jobs alongside their art. But the best thing is engaging with the public and being able to tell them the story behind our art. It’s great to have the studio buzzing with visitors. We also love the fact that we get people coming back again year after year, but we also get new visitors. People aren’t necessarily from just the Marlborough area as many bring friends and relatives along from other parts of the country.’ So what should visitors expect from a visit to Wagon Yard? ‘Well if you come the first Saturday there’ll be Bucks Fizz on offer so if you like a tipple then that’s the day to be here! Otherwise we welcome people with scones & jam & cream.  We like our guests to feel at home.  We love chatting to everyone who comes in and there are always 2 artists here during the event. It’s a fantastic opportunity for visitors to find out how things are made and the inspiration behind the work.  Prices are also good as you’re not paying gallery rates which are often double. You also get to see a larger collection of work from each artist – in a gallery you only get a snapshot – this gives you the opportunity to see the full aspect of what people do. Last year we held a raffle which was incredibly successful, so we’ve decided to repeat that again. We do the draw the last weekend and the winner gets to choose £50 worth of gifts from the gallery. A lovely man called Tim won last year and he was absolutely thrilled.’ Anything you’ve created this year that you’re particularly proud of? ‘I’ve started doing some new illustrations on my ceramics. I’ve always been interested in patterns created by nature and have been looking at the waterline and the traces it leaves. Jane has been making her ammonite plates of resin metals and you’ll be able to see Kate Wade’s stunning new landscapes and Mary Thorne’s tableware inspired by Wiltshire scenery.’   It’s a busy time isn’t it as it’s on at the same time as Marlborough College Summer School? ‘Yes this is the busiest time for us and Jane and I are both teaching at Summer School.   I normally just teach children but this year I’m also teaching adult ceramics – Surface Decoration for beginners. It’s only on for one week and the rest of the time I’m doing Children let’s get creative – illustration and a clay course. Jane is teaching liquid metal where you get to create several pieces, experimenting with different metals, casting and sculpture. We’ll all be looking forward to putting our feet up when it’s all over. Please come and visit us as we’d love to see you. We’re open the first four weekends in July except the last Sunday so pop in and say hi.’ www.facebook.com/Wagon-Yard-Artists

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2016 Bucket List

Sam Bertram

14 January 2016

It wouldn’t be a new year if we didn’t pull together a bucket list - so here’s our take on what you should be aiming to see and do in 2016 to make the most of this beautiful county. Plan for one a quarter and you’ll find it incredibly achievable and rewarding! 1. Experience some of the amazing pubs & restaurants in the county - It’s important to support your local pub & restaurant, but once in a while it’s worth going further afield.  In Wiltshire we have The Good Food Guide’s best pub in the country - The Michelin Starred Red Lion, East Chisenbury.  There’s Tom Parker Bowles’ favourite The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn, AP McCoy’s pub The Outside Chance, The Michelin starred Harrow at Little Bedwyn which has been AA and Decanter’s Restaurant of the Year amongst other accolades and The Pear Tree in Purton, The Good Hotel Guide’s Best Country Hotel in 2015. There's also the Charming Pythouse Kitchen Garden near Tisbury. Not bad huh? 2. Visit a new part of the Wiltshire countryside & walk somewhere new – the Wiltshire countryside is absolutely stunning with amazing walks from the North Wessex Downs to the Nadder Valley. Our members have lots of top tips on their local walks – whether it’s walking the ancient Ridgeway, discovering Maud Heath’s Memorial Column on Wick Hill near Chippenham, an invigorating walk across Salisbury Plain or a walk around Fonthill Lake near Tisbury you’ll be pleased you ventured there.  3. Look at your grocery list and think what you can source locally – there’s so much fabulous food & drink available right here in Wiltshire. Visit your local butcher or deli or become a regular at a Wiltshire Farmers Market so that local always makes its way onto your table. It not only supports your local economy but when it hasn’t travelled it’s better for the environment and tastes better too! 4. Take in one of our national treasures – It was recently reported that the stunning Stourhead near Mere is the second most visited National Trust Property. However, there are plenty more to choose from – Avebury (the ‘better’ stone circle), Lacock Abbey, Wardour Castle near Tisbury, Great Chalfield Manor and Garden (featured in ‘Wolf Hall’), The Courts Garden in Holt or Old Sarum near Salisbury.  And don’t forget the marvellous Salisbury Cathedral and Malmesbury Abbey or Castle Combe, said by many to be the prettiest village in England or The Merchant's House in Marlborough. 5. Make it to at least one of Wiltshire’s Festivals – Kick-off your shoes at a music festival – the Cock & Bull Festival at Jamie’s Farm near Box or The Larmer Tree Festival. Or if art is your thing there are plenty of Arts Festivals around the country – in Salisbury, Trowbridge & Devizes and fabulous theatre at Illford Arts Festival near Bradford on Avon. Marlborough & Mere both have literature festivals & there are plenty of Food & Drink Festivals throughout the summer. See our events calendar 6. Learn something new - how often do you wish you could do something better? There are plenty of places offering courses – Marlborough College Summer School has every course you can imagine and it’s a fun way to spend a week.  The Shalbourne Collection & Mimo in Marlborough have some fantastic courses as do Wagon Yard Artists for those keen to learn ceramics. 7. Don’t always default to Amazon – if you’re looking for a gift stop and think if you could buy from a small local company before hitting Amazon.  You’ll be amazed at the unique gifts available as well as how affordable they are too.  We have lots of gift ideas for both him and her so check those out before going global!  

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Gift 31 - Treasure trove of gifts

Sam Bertram

23 November 2015

We're giving a gift idea a day through October and November. See what Wiltshire has to offer for Christmas shopping and shop local this year. Gift 31 is from artists studio Wagon Yard Artists in Marlborough, not normally the first port of call for a bit of Christmas Shopping. However, if you're looking for something truly unique this year I really recommend a visit. There are Christmas cards, jewellery, ceramic and glass Christmas tree decorations, coasters, ring bowls, tea lights, lamps, vases, sculptural pieces, framed original art and prints and beautiful glass plates. Need I say more? And for those wanting to gift a new skill why not sign-up a family member for some pottery classes? Their Christmas Exhibition is a must. Pop in to the preview on Friday 27th November for mulled wine & mince pies from 6-9pm or Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th from 10.00am to 4.00pm. See more...    

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