Thursday, 31 October 2013

Writers in the Brewery 31st October-Spooky Tails to be Told!

The autumn has crept in, and what else might be creeping tonight in town?..

The new book...
In the centre of a dark and perhaps paranormal Cirencester tonight, local author Wilkie Martin will be performing a reading at the Brewery Arts Theatre alongside other local writers. Being Halloween, Wilkie’s supernatural series of books are set in a town not completely dissimilar to Cirencester. See if you can spot any references!

The New Brewery Arts hosts the event where many students from its creative writing course showcase their original work.

Many of the attendees of the creative writing course recently read their work at the Cheltenham Literature festival earlier this month. The course is ran by Rona Laycock, who has a PHD in English and works hard to make the experience fun and sharing for optimum learning and enrichment.

Feel welcome to the open and diverse atmosphere tonight from 19:00 with an entry fee of £4. Perhaps one day soon you will be reading your work!

Find out more about the author:

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Within 60: Svea Cafe and Restaurant, Cheltenham

Smörgås Platter
In our new section about things to do and places to visit within 60 miles of Cirencester, we look at Cheltenaham’s Swedish restaurant Svea, which has recently been admitted into the prestigious Michelin Guide...

In this cosy little boutique on Rodney

Road, Svea is a rather different proposition from the norm. Swedish food whilst not as famous as many other nations, is known for being straight forward, honest and natural. Homemade meals are much more common in Scandinavia than the UK and this restaurant brings you into the heart of Nordic life.

By the famous bike handing out cakes!
Sweden wasn´t always one country. Svea was just the middle bit radiating out from Stockholm, which eventually consumed the battling regions around the Baltic. Svea gave this country it´s name, Sverige, meaning the kingdom of Svea. Despite losing territory, this name stuck giving us modern Sweden. With fish abundant and farming producing lots of egg and meat, the clearly defined seasons also left an impact on the nation’s palette which may be enjoyed at Svea.

Sticking with Swedish custom, Svea picks some of its produce locally going on mushroom and berry expeditions. The drink on sale however is typical of what you´d find back home! With a draught beer on tap and a wide selection of spirits, you almost want it to be winter as you come into the friendly diner and warm up with schnapps or vodka.

The ever popular Smörgåsbord has always provided a diverse and tasty selection for the customer. Crayfish parties go down well, but even more than that the set meals are well presented and go down a treat with any of the beverages on sale.

Puddings on offer are typical of Sweden, made to be enjoyed with a coffee or herbal tea after a few courses. With a charming niche, if you are a fan of Wallander, Millenium, The Bridge, Borgen or any of the other books and series that have brought focus on Nordic life, pop into Svea for the real thing!

To keep up to date online with Svea, visit their pages here or book by phone:
01242 238 134

Friday, 11 October 2013

Andrew Lawrence "There is no Escape" review, Sundial Theatre, 27th September 2013

With Phil Jupitus coming to the Sundial on the 18th October, Evan Burgess takes a look back on the last big name to come through Cirencester...

Regularly on Radio 4, many times on TV, Andrew Lawrence is developing nicely as a personality in British comedy. Touring extensively through the UK and also Dublin, we met Andrew well into his September schedule. The Sundial had a knowledgeable comedy audience and were more than receptive to the stars act!

The first half was full on banter, destroying members of the audience with personal digs and ritual humiliation, you’d have thought this would serve as a bad advert for sitting at the front! But by the second half, all the tables by the stage had filled up with eager punters ready to talk back. Even with his particular style of getting to know the audience, one guy had been to see him four times before. After a brief chat about what a good gig the last one had been (if he said so himself) the second half went on!

With his negative and twisted view of the world, the audience was lead through a path of (hilarious) despair. What’s wrong with the world today? Andrew brought his list and was keen to get all the way through it. The humour was often in the recognition, but often his peeves were deeply personal. We all went away the wiser knowing that Andrew has very few guests to his house because he can’t stand people (even good friends) using his loo. Why? He didn’t really know, but claimed to be more than prepared to hide behind his sofa than let in a mate. You know, just in case.

Drawing to the end of the show, we didn’t quite get an encore, Andrew couldn’t be bothered to leave the stage and come back on so just ploughed through until he couldn’t take it anymore. Though not glamorous his method was effective. The applause was intense and next time Andrew is in town it won’t just be one person who’s seen him before!

The next big show at the Sundial will be with Phil Jupitus on the 19th October! Buy tickets online here!

Art in Cirencester 2: Faisal Khouja

 Faisal Khouja is an artist based in Cirencester. Working with multiple mediums of expression, he has achieved a great deal of diversity in his work. Originally focusing on more abstract work, someone dared to say this was because people do that kind of thing only if they can’t draw! To prove a point, Faisal delivered a beautifully rendered portrait of the man’s dog, which not only won the argument, but added a new feather to his already crowded cap.

Q. 1. When you do original art, what was the motivation?

I started doing Artwork in earnest as a form of therapy during a long period of ill health where I was looking for a creative outlet to help in my recovery. I got totally hooked on mixing paint and thinking about how to harmonize shapes, lines and colours to create original work.
Q. 2. Has your commission work helped your original material?
Yes, the detailed portraits I have done for the past 10 years or so have really helped hone my skills as a draughtsman and also provided me with an income to plough back into my own more exciting projects.
Q. 3. How do you feel presenting your work to a customer for the first time?
In the early years I was terrified due to my perfectionist streak. One word of criticism would crush me. Nowadays I enjoy presenting an artwork to a client as their reaction is likely to be really postitive which makes all the hours at the drawing board worthwhile.

Q. 4. What was the biggest mile post in your career so far? (exhibition, commission etc)
Unfortunately I am yet to make a really significant breakthrough in the Artworld that I could count as a milepost as such. However all the effort I have put into my career so far is resulting in my style becoming more commercial so that the chance of earning a decent living from my passion is getting closer by the day!
To find out more about Faisal and his work, visit any of his online presence here:

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Interview with Oliver Wakeman who is now touring "Ravens and Lullabies" with Gordon Giltrap

Oliver Wakeman came to town on the 4th October to the wonderful Sundial Theatre, promoting his album with collaborator Gordon Giltrap, "Ravens and Lullabies", Evan Burgess found out more about Oliver´s extensive musical experience including how to avoid fate!..

EB: Are you the type of person who loves to tour, or do you miss home comforts?
OW: I enjoy both. When I finished touring with the rock band YES I worked out that I was away from home for over 12 months in total over a 3 year period which is quite a large amount of time to have been away.

But with modern communication getting better all the time I never felt too far away from my family. I'd call them everyday on Skype and watch them sit down for an evening meal and join in conversations which was a bit strange but kind of fun. Especially if I was on the other side of the world and having breakfast...!

I have spent the last year only touring the UK and Channel Islands so I haven't been away from home too much which has been great. Particularly as I now have a baby daughter as well as an 8 year old son and so I have enjoyed being around to help my wife out with the kids

EB: What makes working with another artist rewarding?
OW: The exchange of ideas is always very inspiring. When I write or perform with another musician I find that seeing how some else approaches music and writing can alter the way that I play and write. I find myself doing things in a slightly different way to fit with the other persons style. I'm always keen to learn more and understanding the approach of another musician isn't something that can be learned from a textbook, it only comes from immersing yourself in other peoples style of music.

EB: When you get inspired, how quick are you to get an idea down, do you ever find yourself accumulating bits of paper with jotted notes, or do you have a more organised approach to creating?
OW: I have a Dictaphone app in my iPhone and am always singing little ideas into that. I find that really useful and much better than the old way I had which was phoning the home phone and singing to the answer machine...

Once I have a collection of ideas that work I start arranging the piece using my Pro-tools studio system at my home and slowly an organised finished piece emerges.

EB: What is the worst food you've settled for on tour?
OW: I had a chicken breast in Rome which was not cooked properly at all. A well trained vet could probably have saved it...

I remember sending it back. I don't think the chef was too pleased but I didn't fancy when it came back and left with out finishing the meal. There may have been others but that sticks in my mind...

EB: Going to different cities, do you get a chance to look around them, or is it more like a changing planes at an airport?
OW: I always try and find some time to look around a bit otherwise I know I'd end up regretting it if I had just sat in a hotel room.

I remember being in Washington DC for a concert and only having an hour to spare and so someone from the venue drove me to the White House to get some photos just so I could remember being there.

I've been very lucky though on tour managing to see many great sights around the world that I would probably not seen if I wasn't a musician. I also take the opportunity to meet other musicians that are playing on tours when I've had a night off as it's great to hang out with people who are living a similar lifestyle. 

EB: Do you need a solid routine when playing live, or can you just switch on to performing mode?
OW: No routines at all. I find that it would just get in the way. I've had occasions where time has been so tight that I wouldn't have had time for a routine anyway.

I always used to go to check out my keyboards but, on one occasion when I was in Oklahoma in America, the hotel was too far away from the venue to be able to check them all and get back to the hotel and get ready in time. So on this occasion I decided to stay at the hotel and go just before showtime to check them quickly.

I was in my room watching the news on TV when they showed footage from a helicopter with a stage structure that had been hit by a tornado and had collapsed onto a keyboard rig. I then realised that I was looking at my keyboard rig ruined on TV. I was so glad I hadn't gone because if I'd had a strict routine I could have been hit by the lighting rig section of the stage and might not be around to tell you about it.

Find out more!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Zombie Run at the RAU!

Some of the gang assembled at the RAU Gym!

The Zombie Run craze comes to Cirencester! The Halloween special will be at the R.A.U and MacKenzies on Wednesday 30th October!

Last year the Royal Ag College played host to the first zombie run in Cirencester! David Long, personal trainer at the onsite gym no doubt sick of every holiday being associated with sugary treats, decided to stamp his trainer upon the notion Halloween has to be a pig out. A zombie run was put together where members of the gym as well as the general public were allowed to set up a course through the grounds and play!

45 runners turned up, and this year it is looking even better!

Zombies got right into the spirit and in this horribly fun version of tag those players that were caught and lost their three lives became zombies! A Darwinist game allowed only the fastest and smartest to survive to the end.

This year the fun will be repeated, but this time a party at MacKenzies afterwards will be in full swing from 8pm to 2am. The event will be free entry with fancy dress and the best costumes stand to win prizes! Proceeds from the night will go to charity and special drinks themed drinks will be on sale!

For more info contact David Long at Cross Fit Cirencester or Alex Wager at Mackenzies!

More Info:
David Long:
Alex Wager:

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Cross Fit at the RAU Gym!

Evan Burgess went down to the gym at the Royal Agricultural University to try out Cross Fit in a group with trainer David Long...

When you’re training, why be good at just one thing? Your body has many limbs and many modes of moving. That is just the philosophy of cross fit, a training method that is inspiring those who have hit ruts to change their patterns of exercise, whilst indoctrinating newcomers of all ages into a powerful workout that can be 100% personalised to each person’s abilities.

The goal is improvement, no one is looked down upon for not being able to do a particular activity. An alternative “bridge” exercise to help you get to what the others are doing can be thought up and in a few sessions you may well have be up to speed. If you have improved your abilities by the end of a month’s training, success! It doesn’t matter if you still aren’t lifting as much as the average, given more time and practice guided by coach David Long, you will get where you want to go.

In my case, I was quite good at lifting heavy weights, but I had a real problem with conditioning. “Burpees” an exercise where you jump down to a press up, get back up again and jump to reach a bar, was a tough body weight exercise which most find challenging on its own. However, this gym’s take on it offered many different permutations of how one finished the routine. Some clambered sideways on a horizontal bar, dropped down and repeated the move back to starting for as many repetitions within a 60 second period. I lacked grip strength to do this (or carried too much fat) so my routine was adapted to the core exercise, then jumping just to touch the bar. It looks a lot easier than it is! But it sure gets your heart racing.

I found lifting a 50kg (7stone 12 lbs) medicine ball over a chest height bar or ‘yoke’ relatively easy compared to the body weight exercises. My shoulder strength however was quite weak in comparison to being able to lift off the ground. Whilst I would be inclined to stick with what I am good at, Cross Fit wouldn’t let me rest! I was forced to do shoulder presses in the circuit because frankly, people were looking, so I needed to at least try!

I couldn’t believe it, we were done in 18 minutes but I hadn´t worked out so intensely in a long time. I like to exercise the things I enjoy doing, but you can't get the exhilaration or spontaneity if you are always the boss. To push yourself and constantly meet your challenges, try cross fit at the RAU!

More info:
07909 911671