Monday, 4 December 2017

Deck the Halls: Christmas Concert Sun Dec 17th at Bingham Hall

Some of the people who make MJ-UK great!
It’s beginning to look like Christmas and opera Singer Maria Jagusz is busily preparing the students of MJ-UK Music And Arts for their annual concert. MJ-UK is made up of outstanding young local singers. Former students who are now enjoying professional careers join the younger singers to perform in shows and concerts both locally and nationwide. Over the past ten years they have raised thousands of pounds to help local charities.

MJ-UK together with musical directors Barry Potts and Chris Jagusz are thrilled to be joined by Cirencester Male Voice Choir and special guests from the world of Musical Theatre and Opera .The evening is bound to get audiences in the mood for Christmas in a concert full of uplifting music, festive fun, carol sing-alongs and songs that will have you dancing in the aisles.

The concert is proud to be supporting the charity Cotswold Breast Cancer Now. 

Tickets are £10 and £5 and are available from Cirencester Visitor Information Centre at the Corinium Museum, Park Street, Cirencester 01285 654180, and on the door.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Dining in Style in Teatro

Piano in the bar.
Carlo Vuolo reviews Teatro, the new restaurant at Ingleside.
Cirencester’s newest dining venue, Teatro, opened its doors fully on Saturday 21st October, following a ‘soft’ opening on Friday 6th October, with a 25% discount on the menu, the bar and restaurant had received many positive reviews from customers.

Teatro Bar and Restaurant is part of Ingleside House in Beeches Road, and has replaced the popular music venue The Vaults, which has now moved to The Golden Farm Inn. The rooms have been decorated to an exceptionally high standard and each of the four separate dining areas has its own style, from the bright and colourful Flamingo Room to the cosy and intimate Booth. The bar area is open and light, with a range of seating options. There is a lovely courtyard area outside which will surely prove very popular on summer evenings.

Jan and I had a table booked on the opening night for 7.30 but as the place was fairly quiet at that time we decided to sample a couple of the twenty-four different gins on offer in the bar. Ollie, Ollie and Callum, the three bartenders, were most helpful and, having recently endured a marathon tasting session themselves, as part of their induction, were able to recommend suitable pre-dinner libations. My Dauntless gin with elderflower cordial, fresh raspberries, a sprig of rosemary and Fevertree tonic (Cinchona tree bark contains quinine, used as a remedy for malaria – geddit?) was very refreshing and a perfect aperitif whilst Jan’s Cotswold gin tonic and a bayleaf certainly hit the spot.

We enjoyed some nibbles as we perused the menu. Lamb koftas with mint yoghurt for me (slightly too salty on their own but perfect with the yoghurt) and fried haloumi with mixed herbs for Jan, very tasty. For starters I chose the soup of the day, curried sweet potato, which was thick and smooth but perhaps not as spicy as I expected, whilst Jan’s wild mushroom arancini were delicious.

The ten main course options were fairly standard, fish, chicken lamb and beef all featured with a couple of vegetarian/vegan options, but the range of fresh ingredients and subtle twists made choosing quite testing. I was tempted by the wagyu beefburger but opted for the braised wagyu short rib ragu with hand rolled herb tagliatelle. The beef was lean and tender, the sauce rich and tagliatelle perfectly al dente. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. Jan’s artichoke tart with sautéed new potatoes and baby vegetables was good but rather a small portion and perhaps not something to choose if just having a main course, but as part of a two or three course meal would not leave one feeling overfull.

We selected a beautifully smooth Neropasso red from the Veneto region of Italy to accompany our first two courses but consulted the resident ‘gin expert’, Maitre d’ LisaMarie, to recommend something to go with our deserts. My excellent white chocolate
Chefs at work.
panna cotta was paired with Williams Chase grapefruit gin and Jan’s apple, fig and almond tarte tatin was perfectly complimented by Ophir gin with red chillies, both with Fevertree tonic, and both combinations pronounced wonderful.

My only criticisms of what was a lovely evening are 1) when you placed your knife or fork on the odd bowl-shaped plates they slid down into the food, and 2) the music from the bar was too loud from the dining area speakers, although separate volume controls in each room are due to be fitted shortly.

The music from the bar! Resident pianist, Steven Reid-Williams, who has toured with Boyzone and The Undertones as well as his own band, performs on most Friday and Saturday evenings. Outstanding both technically and vocally, it would be worth spending an evening in the bar enjoying his music even if not dining. I would pay good money to watch him in a different context.

Overall Teatro promises to be a ‘go to’ venue for lovers of fine dining, a relaxed atmosphere and an essentially classy ambience. Clearly no corners have been cut to create Cirencester’s latest and perhaps finest bar and restaurant. (Other dining experiences are available). At present Teatro is open in the evening from Thursday to Saturday, and Sunday lunchtimes. There are plans to extend this gradually, and to offer themed evenings with cuisines from around the world. For those going to see a production at the Barn Theatre, a pre-performance meal, from 5.30, would make a complete West End experience in Cirencester.

Corinium Museum Exhibitions & Events

The Corinium Museums facade.
& Events

November 2017

Found Fired and Fabulous
Mixed Craft exhibition
2 November – 26 November

Found objects, fired glass and ceramics become unique, colourful and delicate creations in a fabulous exhibition by five local artists. Marion Mitchell translates watercolour into fantastic ceramic sculptures and bowls. Amanda Moriarty's utilises dynamic colour to create unique kiln-fired glass. Tara Davidson’s new ‘Poetry in Porcelain’ and rusty gold-edged bowls are inspired by her life and firing processes. Hannah Mathison's reclaimed metal and wood sculptures transport you to a world of inspiration and creativity. Gourd and Horse presents a range of functional handcrafted stoneware including yarn bowls, orchid pots and tableware. 
Perfect gifts for Christmas.

Admission free
All work for sale

Landscapes and Seascapes
Mini Exhibition by Derek Taylor
2 November – 2 December
A collection of artwork featuring watercolour and acrylic paintings. From ships on vivid blue seas to tranquil countryside and woodland scenes. Derek Taylor is an artist from Malmesbury whose love of colour has inspired his varied and interesting work.

Included in admission
Art work for sale

Revealing a New Collection
Afternoon Talk with James Harris
Thursday 9 November, 2.30-4pm

Come and see the big reveal and learn about a metal-detected collection from the Cotswold Water Parks which spans from the Bronze Age to post-Medieval. What stories can nearly 400 objects tell us about one site? See the real objects. This one is not to be missed!

Cost: £6.75 per adult, £5.75 for season ticket holders
Booking recommended

Their Finest
Corinium Cinema
Thursday 9 November, 7pm

A British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film about the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. Starring Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin.

Cost: £6.25 per adult, £5.25 concessions
Run time: 1 hr. 54 min.  (12A)
Booking recommended

The Corinium Sessions
Special Event
Friday 10 November, 8-10pm

A musical fundraising event for the ‘Stone Age to Corinium’ project.

Following the Success of our first sessions join us once again for a magical night of Music amongst the Mosaics. A chance to enjoy the very best of local original talent and Cirencester’s rich heritage, whilst raising funds towards the Stone Age to Corinium project.

We welcome the incredible Elles Bailey - 'One to Watch for 2017'.  Local duo ‘A New Leaf,’ ‘Counter Measures’ whose vocal stylings breathe life into songs new and old, alongside the amazing singer songwriter Emily-Jane Sheppard. Refreshments available. Under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult. Doors open 7:45pm.

Cost: £10 per adult, £9 for Season ticket holders
Booking recommended

Calligraphy - Roman Capitals
Adult Workshop with Adele Dark
Thursday 16 November, 10-1pm

Look at the original Roman Capital lettering carved into stone in the Corinium Museum collections. With artist Adele Dark, learn about the form and design of Roman Capital letters as used in calligraphy. Practicing this ancient art, you will design a panel about you including your name.

Adele Dark, Artist and Calligrapher, is a fully qualified teacher who has worked with museums, art centres and schools both in Jersey and the UK. Adele is member of the Society of Scribes and a printmaking graduate. Visit

Cost: £25 per adult, £22 for season ticket holders
Booking essential

The Year 1217
Afternoon Talk with Tim Porter
Thursday 16 November, 2-4pm

800 years ago England was in the throes of a massive insurrection and a foreign invasion. That it survived intact and retained its ruling dynasty, was down to one 70 year old man – William Marshall the Regent. This talk will tell the story of an amazing, epic year of war, intrigue and larger-than-life characters.

Cost: £6.75 per adult, £5.75 for season ticket holders
Booking recommended

Evening Lecture with Dominic Sandbrook
Thursday 23 November, 7-8.30pm

Join author and TV presenter Dominic Sandbrook for an evening lecture in the Corinium Museum. Dominic Sandbrook is the author of many books, most recently The Great British Dream Factory: The Strange History of Our National Imagination, published by Penguin Books. He is the presenter
Dominic Sandbrook
of a number of highly successful BBC television series, on subjects as diverse as the joys of the Volkswagen and the history of science fiction.  He writes reviews and articles principally for the Sunday Times and Daily Mail. Dominic will be happy to sign books after his talk.

In partnership with Waterstones and Penguin Books

Cost: £6.75 per adult, £5.75 for season ticket holders
Booking recommended

Rural Cinema - The Promise
Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 November - 2.15pm

Cost: £5.20 per adult, £4.40 concession
Booking recommended

Animal Magnetism
Exhibition by Anita Saunders
30 November – 7 January

Anita Saunders is a figurative artist, printmaker and illustrator taking inspiration from the stunning rural setting of the Cotswolds in the UK. Growing up surrounded by the natural beauty of the Cotswolds; the people, animals and plants of her childhood delighted and fascinated her.

This exhibition shares Anita’s love and admiration for the natural world, expressed through a variety of media: paintings, textiles and print making. Beautiful artworks and furnishings for the country home. Perfect gifts for Christmas.

Free admission
All art works for sale

Anglo-Saxon Gloucestershire
Evening Lecture with Carolyn Heighway
Thursday 30 November, 7-8.30pm
Carolyn Heighway will discuss Gloucestershire from the end of Roman rule to the coming of the Normans. It is a long period, over 600 years, and only thinly documented through at least the first half of that time. Drawing on archaeological evidence alongside the written word, Carolyn will build up a picture of Anglo-Saxon life in the county. 

Carolyn Heighway is an archaeological consultant with special expertise in the archaeology of Gloucester and the Anglo-Saxon period. She is a director, with her husband Richard Bryant, of Past Historic.

Cost: £6.75 per adult, £5.75 for season ticket holders
Booking recommended

Contact details:
Corinium Museum, Park Street, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2BX
T: 01285 655611 E: 

Please contact us if you would like any further details or images for any of the events that we are holding.

M.A.P.S Tyre Maintenance Tips

Motoring with M.A.P.S. by Jonathan Wills
Tyre Wear and Topping Up Tips

A happy tyre.
As the darkening autumn nights advance upon us and we say goodbye to the long days of - a pretty wet at times - summer, it is time to think about the additional dangers that the forthcoming winter brings upon the motorist. Not only extra hours of darkness, but leaves and debris blown onto the roads, blinding low sunsets and a later morning sunrise glinting off wet roads. Plus the frost, fog, ice etc, and of course, other road users not paying attention or simply making human errors.

As wondrous as the modern motor car is with its bi-xenon lights, Iphone connectivity, park assist and the rest, one thing that has not changed at all is that all cars are connected to planet earth via four bits of rubber with each contact area not much bigger than the palm of your hand. A problem with modern motor cars is they are normally shod with very wide, low profile tyres which are great for sharp handling. But it does mean the inner edge of the tyre, even when on full steering lock is seldom seen.

Time for a change.
A stark reminder of how different both edges of the same tyre can be was brought home to me as I was working on a car recently. The first image shows the tyre when fitted to the vehicle looking worn but not particularly dangerous. The second image shows the tyre off the car, and it is clearly illegal and very dangerous. It is always prudent to check your tyres regularly for road worthiness, check tread depth, damage to sidewalls bulges cuts and pressures regularly as run flat tyres can look fine when they are not.

It is also worth checking vehicle fluid levels more regularly especially washer fluid as you use it more this time of year on muddy Cotswold roads and you can be fined if found to have a empty washer bottle! If unsure any garage should oblige and help.  It’s surprising what a professional pair of eyes can spot!

Learn Through Exploration and Experimentation at Rodmarton Primary School

Rodmarton School Open Mornings
The clocks are changing, the leaves are falling, and the woods near Rodmarton Primary School are ringing to the sound of the pupils learning all about the outdoors!
Forest School complements the pupils’ classroom education by helping them learn through exploration and experimentation. They learn to master simple tools, collect wood, make shelters and dens, paint with mud and understand wildlife and nature.
Just 10 minutes from Cirencester, Rodmarton School - rated “good” by Ofsted in September 2016 - also offers Little Acorns, early morning and after school clubs (7.30am - 6pm), with after school activities ranging from tag rugby and football to drama, science, and arts and crafts. There is also a modern library, a resource/computing suite, and a huge 2.5 acre sports field.
As well as the annual intake of Reception children, there are places available across the school. Parents call it “a hidden gem” but come and see for yourself at our open mornings – 9am to 11am on Wednesday 15th and Wednesday 29th November.
Little Squirrels Stay, Play and Make group for preschoolers takes place in Rodmarton Village Hall (next to the school) from 1.15-2.45pm on Fridays during term time. Why not come along?

Contact the school on 01285 841284

Do you need expert advice on maintaining your beard, or are you looking for a new haircut?

James & Etienne
 The Bespoke Barber Company has recently opened its doors at 51 Dyer Street, Cirencester. The expert team are on hand, to offer advice on haircut styling and give tips on how to maintain and manage your look. They also specialise in shaping beards with open blades, hot towels and facial moisturising, to help maintain your beard in excellent condition.

The team includes James, who has over thirty year’s experience in hairdressing and who has owned Jamie Daniel Hair in the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham for twenty years. For the last ten years he has run the Bath Bridge Barbers in Tetbury. James specialises in barbering and both traditional and modern fashion hairstyling work.

Etienne who is twenty-two, has been barbering since leaving school and trained at the London School of Barbering in Covent Garden. His niche and specialism is skin fade hair-cuts and all things high fashion.

The Bespoke Barber Company is open at 7.30 am weekdays and 7.00 am on
Now you know where to find Bespoke
Barber Company!
Saturdays, when a walk-in service is available for a pre-work haircut. An appointment service on Thursday evenings is open from 4.30 pm until 7.30 pm and Sundays from 9.00 am until 2.00 pm.

To book an appointment and receive expert advice on your new haircut or beard maintenance, contact the team at Bespoke Barber Company on 01285 643555.

Fireworks with Alison Fielden & Co


It’s that time again where we celebrate King James I having survived the Gunpowder Plot on his life by Guy Fawkes and his accomplices on 5th November 1605. Since then the celebrations have developed from being known as Gunpowder Treason Day, to the modern Guy Fawkes, Bonfire or Fireworks Night.

Just as the name has changed over time, so too has the law on this subject. It’s important that retailers and consumers familiarise themselves with the legislation fully as the following is only a quick guide.

To store or sell fireworks you must register or obtain a licence from Trading Standards and offer them for sale for a few weeks over the Bonfire Night period, namely 15th October to the 10th November. To sell fireworks at any other time of the year (other than at times of other celebrations), you need a licence from either the local council or the local fire service. To store or sell over 2000kg of fireworks, a licence is needed from the Health & Safety Executive. You must not sell fireworks to under 18’s and all fireworks must comply with British Safety Standards.

You must be over 18yrs to buy fireworks and they must be bought from registered sellers for private use on the dates mentioned above. Under 18’s cannot be in possession of a firework and they must not be set off or thrown in a public place, this attracts a fine of up to £5000, or an “on-the-spot” fine of £90. Always check you are buying fireworks certified as meeting the British Safety Standards (displayed on the packaging).

 Animal Safety:
The Protection of Animals Act ensures that no unnecessary suffering is caused to our beloved pets by imposing up to a £5000 fine or six month’s imprisonment for offenders causing our four-legged friends harm.

The safest way to enjoy this occasion is to attend an organised display. If you are organising such an event, familiarise yourself with the rules and best practices to follow.

For full information and for help obtaining licences contact Jude Owen at Alison Fielden Solicitors on 01285 653261.

Corinium Radio Future is Looking Bright

DJ Alice with the cans on.
Corinium Radio doesn’t need a crystal ball to see what the years ahead have in store for the local station.

Volunteers at the Cirencester-based community radio are predicting that the future will be bright – at least if they can harness the youthful enthusiasm they’ve discovered recently.

The station’s youngest helper has hit the airwaves and has proved a real success.

Eight–year–old Alice has just put together a programme called ‘Alice’s Adventures in Musicland’ in which she plays some of her favourite music.

The show also expresses her joy and love of music and dance.

If you missed Alice’s programme when it first aired you can still catch up thanks to the listen again facility on the Corinium Radio website.

Corinium Radio spokesman Tony Coleman said, “It’s amazing that someone so young can produce such a great show. I hear that she really enjoyed doing it and it’s likely we’ll hear more from young Alice in the not–too-distant future!”

The radio station was also represented at the Cirencester Careers Convention at the town’s Deer Park School.

As a result, lots of young teenagers came to talk to us and were keen to work with the station.

Added Tony, “The amount of talent out there among our young people is staggering. We will definitely be in touch with them.”

Meanwhile, the station is always on the look-out for new volunteers…both young and more mature! So, if you want to help run your own local radio station just give Carole Boydell a call on 07776 144033 and get more details.

Why Vets recommend Senior Health Screening for Pets with Corinium Veterinary Surgery

A wise dog needs looking after.
Advances in health care have resulted in extended life expectancy of humans as well as our dog and cat companions. Yet, we and our pets appear naturally programmed to age.
Aging is a process that involves a progressive and irreversible loss of functional reserve capacity in the body’s major organ systems. When dogs reach 8 and cats 10 years of age they are considered to have reached their ‘Senior’ stage of life.

Although most dogs and cats live much longer than this, their bodies are getting to the stage where diseases of old age, including arthritis, diabetes, kidney and liver damage and heart conditions can start to develop and can begin to take their toll.

The importance of senior screening was brought to light in a recent study. In this group of over 9 year old dogs, Vets identified abnormalities in 80% of them. Serious and sometimes life threatening signs of age related disease (respiratory distress, increased thirst, and weight loss) were not noted by pet owners or were attributed to non-serious causes. Signs of pain were also not recognized, but 1 in 4 dogs in this study required pain medications.

Only about 14% of senior animals undergo regular health screening. Testing yearly in middle age patients is comparable to seeing your doctor every 4-5 years. However, once an animal is geriatric, routine health care visits are recommended every six months. This would be like seeing your doctor every 2-3 human years.

A proactive approach to senior health issues through regular screening promotes early detection of abnormalities resulting in enhanced quality of life and longevity.

A routine senior screening includes a thorough physical examination, complete blood count, biochemistry profile, blood pressure and urinalysis.

During the October, November and December 2017, Corinium Veterinary Surgery have a Special 50% discount on our Senior Wellness Screening. Please call the surgery to find out more and make an appointment to keep your pet healthy.

The Value of Evergreens-Geoff Carr

Always green!
The Value of Evergreens
Twitter @GeoffCarr2
Give evergreen plants a moment’s consideration. On reflection, what image comes to your mind’s eye when you think about evergreen plants? One image might be hedges? Do Christmas trees come to mind? Bushy shrubs? You might think about holly trees? Even ivy or grass? 
Perhaps you don’t have a clearly defined image of what an evergreen is – do not confuse the word ‘evergreen’ with meaning frost or winter proof, a plant can be evergreen without being hardy. The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopaedia of Gardening
describes evergreens thus: - ‘Of plants that retain their foliage for more than one growing season’. The word ‘foliage’ is important to remember when you are considering buying an evergreen, for instance, some varieties of Kniphofia (red-hot-poker) are described as an evergreen and yet, surely, it’s only ever considered for its showy August flowers? Unless used with a real design flair its long and lank, sometimes scruffy, grass-like evergreen leaves add little to the garden for the remaining months of the year. Something else to consider when talking about evergreen plants is that many of them are not green at all. Good examples of evergreen plants that are other colours than green are: Heuchera, Artemisia, Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’, Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’.
Get in touch!
The most common use of a properly chosen evergreen is probably for bringing garden interest between November and March and, surely, there cannot be a garden anywhere, of any size, that won’t benefit from the presence of at least one plant that keeps it foliage for all 12 months of the year?  However, to utilise evergreens simply as winter interest can mean missing the point of some evergreen plants. For example, Azaleas, Hypericum, Viburnum, Bergenia, Rhododendron and Camellia all have fabulous displays of seasonal flower colour.
 Too many evergreens can make a space feel leaden, static and wanting although there are some exciting examples of beautifully designed evergreen gardens. The generally accepted design rule of thumb is to have roughly the same volume of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees.
In my opinion the most important quality of an evergreen is not how it looks but what it symbolises. They serve to remind us of the continuous and uplifting characteristics of the natural world, characteristics that I believe are what makes gardening and gardens so important to so many individuals. 

Hens Eggs and Bonfires - Country Matters with the Hodge November 2017

Country Matters
By The Hodge

“She who cackles most, lays least eggs”
Traditional country lore
So, now we know – eggs are safe, even for small children and the prospective mother. Eggs, rich and golden, runny and delicious; fried, boiled, scrambled, poached, coddled, as an omelette, as an ingredient… cheap, nutritious and… safe!

The unfertilised ova of the domesticated jungle fowl, the most populous bird on planet earth. We eat 12,813,000 eggs per annum in this country – that’s 196 for every person and a total of 35 million a day. Our farmers produce 85% of those eggs, the rest are imported. When there was a health scare a few weeks ago, it transpired that our friendly neighbourhood supermarkets were promoting their credentials by telling everyone their eggs were all British but what they put in ready meals and sandwiches were all cheap imports – the source of the food scare!

So for a nutritious, cheap and easy meal, go to work on an egg. Toast those soldiers, chip the top off and dip your spoon into the golden reservoir of gorgeousness. And remember… it’s safe.

* * * * *

November marks the start of winter for the countryman. The clocks have gone back, the curtains are drawn early, the fires are lit and we take on the mantle of whatever weather is thrown our way. Cold winds, frost, rain, snow, more frost. We change our diet and get the casserole dish down from the shelf and enjoy the stews and winter vegetables. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Not much work can be done on the farm once winter sets in. The mud and the cold means that animals are brought in and bedded down in their barns. The fields lie fallow awaiting a breath of warmth in spring and the new life that it heralds but in the meantime the farmer spends his time on planning and maintenance – there’s always plenty of both.

You may not have the same responsibilities in terms of livestock but if you have a garden you can do your bit. Precious hedgehogs will be finding cosy corners in which to hibernate so don’t be over-tidy. And before you light a bonfire, make sure the base isn’t one of those cosy corners. It’s best to move the whole structure and make sure before you light it. And talking of bonfires, my usual message is to attend an organised firework display and not try to do-it-yourself which is expensive by comparison. Fireworks are alien to all non-humans – farm stock, dogs and other pets, horses and wildlife – and no one knows what effect your snap crackle and pop will have on those creatures around you except for the pet owners who live in dread of this time of the year. So please be considerate.

Whilst ranting, the same goes for Chinese Lanterns which have proved to be a real menace, either setting fire to things or being eaten by cattle or sheep, causing their deaths. Please don’t have anything to do with the infernal contraptions.

You can also do your bit by looking after the birds that visit with dedicated feeders and fresh water. Keep the feeders clean and the food fresh and enjoy the sights and sounds of a regular stream of visitors to your garden throughout the winter.

If you dread the coming of winter, and many do, try and make the most of it. When there are bright sunny days, dress up and get out there and make the most of the countryside around us. And even when the weather is poor, the sights and sounds can still be amazing. Keep warm and comfortable, look after those around you and before you know it, spring will be just around the corner.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Country Matters-October 2017

Greyhound Inn Siddington
Country Matters
By The Hodge

“Let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a dry Martini!”
Anonymous 1920s

Nobody likes change. It’s a fact but it’s also a fact that change constantly happens so we must learn to live with it. As I get older I am saddened by the decline in an institution that has been around for centuries; something just about unique to Britain but more especially to England and Wales – the country pub.

Pubs evolved from inns that were the mainstay of the traveller using horse-drawn transport. For any long journey by coach it was necessary to break every so often to rest and change horses and inns thrived and prospered as part of the mix.

Most of these developed into hotels and pubs and flourished during my younger life as independent, individual establishments. Many were full of character, (and characters!), and relied on selling ale and beers. For most, food beyond a packet of crisps with a twist of salt in a little blue paper wrap, was unheard of.

Then came the big brewers and began the decline by forcing everyone to drink chemical beers for their convenience and sales of bitter in the form of Watney’s Red Barrel and the like began to give way to continental lagers.

The downward spiral continued in the late 1960s when the Barbara Castle’s breathalyser arrived and suddenly remote country pubs saw their trade fall overnight.

But despite all this the village pub mostly survived and food began to make an appearance to supplement beer sales. To begin with, it was just sandwiches but soon we began to learn to love chicken in a basket or scampi even!

Then big companies started to take over individual pubs and make harmonised chains so that you could have the same experience in Cheltenham or Chippenham. Food got more adventurous and then children were allowed in. The days of the working man’s alehouse were over.

Tony Blair introduced almost unrestricted opening times and independent pubs struggled to stretch limited resources to compete with chain pubs. The EU banned smoking and another big chunk of the country pub’s custom fell away, finding it easier to drink cheap supermarket booze at home and smoke in peace.

The poor old village pub has had everything thrown against it. It’s adapted and many have survived despite business rate rises just coming in. But many have gone and once gone seem never to return. The Red Lion at Ampney St Mary is likely to become a private house. The Royal Oak at South Cerney has been closed for weeks – will it ever reopen? The Tavern at Kemble is in a similar state. In recent years The Woodbine in town has gone as have two pubs in Ashton Keynes; The White Horse at Frampton Mansell and The Crown Inn at Tetbury. And those are just the ones off the top of my head. There are doubtless many more.

Of course businesses that are no longer viable must close but it seems that of all businesses the pub has had more to compete with than most.

The country pub is a part of our heritage, a unique part. It’s often the centre of village life, where people go to drink, eat and socialise. To play skittles, cards, darts and other games; to compete in quizzes and even karaoke nights. Of many things that are changing in our lives, to me at least, the country pub is one worth preserving. To my mind, we won’t half miss it once it’s gone.

The Hodge is a countryside writer with a series of books to his name.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Kettlercise at Nailsworth Strength and Fitness with Louise Norden

Louise with one of the many 6kg Kettle Bells
Kettlercise at Nailsworth Strength and Fitness with Louise Norden
Evan Burgess tried out Kettlercise in Nailsworth.
I have known about the value of kettle bells for about 10 years now. They are a very old invention commonplace in strong man shows. They had a slightly different design in the past, with an empty space that allowed different amounts of weight to be chambered. Today they are expertly forged into a single unit with a soft outer layer over the metal core. Stylish and fun, they are cheap but work best when you know what to do with them! Kettlercise is one way to get the most out of these amazing tools.
Kettlercise sessions appeal to all body types and ages, because it really doesn’t matter how strong you are to take advantage of the kettle bell. Louise’s session at Nailsworth Strength and Fitness is fun and challenging. The itinerary includes 50 minutes of intense kettle work. It is preceded by a warm up and ended with a cool down.
Essentially every minute of the work period has a different exercise. This is demonstrated by Louise, and involves complex and simple movements. However, the simple movements can have subtleties to them such as hip alignment and head position.
A cheap and excellent way to home exercise, but
first find out how in class!
Good form is encouraged, but this does get a bit harder beyond the half way point. When I was presented with a 6kg kettle bell, I though there must be some mistake. However, like a rifle in basic training I was not going to put this thing down for the entirety of the session. Even though I could have done a lot more weight with the Russian and American swings, the 6kg became heavy and off balancing with lunges and shoulder presses.
Could you look this good?
The moves were good and forced work in multiple plains of motion. Small muscles didn’t escape and my ankles and toes even had to put some work in. Balance is a big part of the lesson, and this will not only be great for people wishing to tone up but also for those who just want more coordination.
This type of exercise is great for people who do other sports that might use a dominant side like boxing or football. For example the shoulder press is split between left and right equally. Some of the core stability exercises will translate to pretty much anything. Doing a sit up with a kettle bell is fun and the Russian twists are good for hip movement. I was quite tired after this session, but I didn’t feel many aches and pains from it in the days after.

If you want to try out Kettlercise there is an array of times that might suit you. Visit more details. You can also book sessions through the MindBody app on your smart phone.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Evening Courses at Foodworks Cookery School by Carlo Vuolo

Yum yum, samosas can be homemade!
Evening courses at Foodworks Cookery School By Carlo Vuolo

Foodworks Cookery School in Colesbourne run day and evening courses covering a wide variety of cuisines from around the world. I went along to an Asian Street Food evening course presented by professional chef Erin Baker. To get us in the mood Erin cooked the course participants a bowl of delicious Pad Thai, which was enjoyed with a glass of wine. Then it was our turn, and as a group we prepared and made a variety of vegetarian dishes, including samosas with a lime and coriander chutney, Vietnamese spring rolls with a lime and chilli dipping sauce, Malaysian mushroom and aubergine satay, and Gyoza or Japanese dumplings with a soy and ginger dipping sauce.

Under Erin’s guidance, we all succeeded in folding the samosas, rolling the spring rolls and crimping shut the Japanese dumplings without any of the fillings escaping. Satays were grilled, sauces were mixed and samosas and dumplings deep fried (the spring rolls did not require cooking) before we sat down to enjoy the results. The flavours were delicate and not at all overpowering, and only the chutney was hot, as we had encouraged Erin to use two green chillies against her better judgement, but this complimented the samosas perfectly.

These two and a half hour courses, covering styles of cookery including Lebanese, Moroccan, Thai, tapas and curries, are excellent value and all the recipes are provided following the course so that dishes can be practiced and perfected at home.

For more information contact Foodworks Cookery School on 01242 870538 or go to

Monday, 2 October 2017

Beware the Telephone/Computer Scam

You could unwittingly allow someone on your computer!
Technology can be confusing! Jeremy Smith attempts to help you navigate a current scam...
I have felt compelled to write something after my father was the victim of a telephone scam last week, and was conned out of £3500.  Last Tuesday morning at about 8.30 he was called by somebody purporting to be from BT.  They said that there had been a host of hacking attempts on computers in his area, and that it was important that he let them clean up his computer.  Although he is quite elderly, he is a reasonably competent computer user, but unfortunately, he was convinced.  They then asked him to download a program called TeamViewer, which allowed them to take remote control of his computer.  This is a perfectly legitimate piece of software, that I have used myself sometimes, to help people without having to go out to them.  However, in the hands of someone you don’t know, it allows them to do all sorts of things on your computer.
He was on the phone to them for about three hours, all the time while they were remotely controlling his computer.  They did a lot of things that he was expecting, running anti-virus scans and cleaning up the computer. He said the whole thing was extremely convincing, and the guy seemed to be able to predict exactly what would happen.
They then asked him to pay them £12 by bank transfer, and watched as he set up the payment.  Unbeknownst to him, they added two further payments of £3500 and £1500. Luckily, I spoke to him about half an hour later and said that he must contact the bank immediately.  Unfortunately, the £3500 had already gone, but the £1500 was stopped.  At the moment, we don’t know if he will get the money back.
The message I want to get across is never to let anyone take remote control of your computer, no matter how convincing they are.  They particularly target the elderly and unsure. It’s ironic that they are claiming to protect you from hacking, but are doing exactly that to you themselves.
Jeremy Smith, Computer Support for Home Users.  07837 754939 
STAMP DUTY LAND TAX – Residential Property

What is SDLT?
The most substantial fee involved in a purchase of residential property is very often the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) charged by HMRC following completion, on buyers of property.
Major changes to the regime were made in the 2003 Finance Act and more recently in 2016. Stamp duty was a relatively simple calculation on the price of property bought, and required the submission of a one page document. Stamp duty Land Tax, now in conformity with other taxes, involves more complex calculations and a form resembling a tax return.
When and how it is paid
SDLT is a self assessed tax and it is the taxpayer’s responsibility to pay the correct amount of tax within 28 days of completion. Normally this is done through the taxpayer’s “agent” e.g.  their conveyancing solicitor.
How it is calculated
SDLT is charged on the acquisition of a chargeable interest in land in England Wales and Northern Ireland, however that acquisition arose, i.e. by purchase, court order, inheritance etc. It is immaterial where the parties live.
There are exemptions for deeds of gift, for some leases from social landlords, for some transactions involving divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships, and variation of wills. These exemptions are not available to companies buying from a connected seller.
If the main subject matter of a transaction consists entirely of residential property the residential rates apply. These may be the standard rates , the surcharged rates, or occasionally the higher 15% rate.  
What counts as residential property
Residential property is
a)      A building that is used or suitable for use as a dwelling or in the process of being constructed   (i.e. the walls have been started) or
b)      Land that is or forms part of the garden or grounds of such a building or
c)       An interest in or a right over land, which is for the benefit of such a building
If a single transaction involves six or more separate dwellings this does not count as residential property
The rates
Standard rates are 0% for prices or parts of prices up to £125,000, plus 2% of any additional part of the price up to £250,000, plus 5% of any additional part of the price up to £925,000, plus 10% of any additional part of the price up to £1,500,000, plus 12% of any additional part of the price over this
Surcharged rates are 3% above the standard rates
The higher rate is 15% on the total consideration

When the surcharged rates apply
It is safest to assume that the surcharge applies, unless one of the exemptions below applies
a)      The purchase is of a dwelling which is not an “additional” dwelling. If there is an existing dwelling anywhere in the world the new purchase will attract the surcharge. If land only is being bought, e g part of a garden, there will be no surcharge. There are other exclusions also. The legislation is ambiguous where the taxpayer already has a “major interest” in another dwelling because the definition of “major interest” is unclear
b)      The dwelling is to replace the buyer’s main home
These exemptions do not apply to companies
When the higher rate applies
This will apply when the price exceeds £500,000, where the property is a single dwelling, and where the buyer is a company
Other provisions
The legislation contains provisions for linked transactions, multiple dwellings, purchases by trusts, and other considerations. Wales is due to have its own SDLT rules from next year.

The above is a brief summary of quite complex law. For further information see HMRC guidance or contact Alison Fielden & Co The Gatehouse Dollar Street Cirencester GL7 2AN, 01285 653261 or your own solicitor.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Westonbirt Charities Fair

Weds 24th & Thurs 25th October

Westonbirt School Near Tetbury 10:00-17:00
Now in its 17th year there is something for everyone. Spoil yourself with cashmere and jewellery. Buy gadgets for men and stocking fillers for children! Find the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family and treat yourself to something scrumptious from our artisan food hall.

Relax and have a delicious lunch in our spacious restaurant. Then listen to one of our free, highly entertaining talks by local authors who will be speaking on a variety of topics.

Children will adore hunting for our knitted reindeer and you'll be amazed by our display of Wearable Art. There is so much to look forward to - why not enter our 'Wearable Mask' competition and come to our Gypsy Ball on 21st October.

Details at Tickets are £7.50 online or £8 on the door.
Our charities this year are Home-Start SD, the Great Western Air Ambulance and Toucan for Children.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Whisky and Chocolate...

A warm welcome from Corinium Radio to a very special evening of chocolate and whisky...
This unique event will treat you to a truly top quality experience of pairing five handmade chocolates and selected malt whiskies. The chocolates have been specially created for us in Inverness by expert chocolatier Debbie Niven and the whiskies have been selected by Cirencester’s Roger Reid with support from the Manager of The Whisky Shop, Scott Mackenzie Dunn, also in Inverness. Debbie and Scott have been working closely together to give Roger considerable help in preparation for our unique pairing of the handmade chocolates and interesting and rare whiskies.
One of the five whiskies’ you’ll taste has been described by Roger as ‘Somewhat of a hidden gem from Dufftown on Speyside’. This is the 'Mortlach Rare Old'. Matured in bourbon and sherry casks giving an enticing, complex malt whisky with flavours of fruit cake, spice and orange zest. A beautifully balanced dram - velvety and very more- ish. The Mortlach will be paired with triple chocolate fudge drizzled in dark chocolate. A delicious blend of Belgian white, milk and dark chocolate.
Just to tempt your palate further there will also be a rare and very interesting malt from Islay. (Tasting notes of this rare bottle are available in advance on request)
24 tickets are available for this unique event and priced at only £30.00 each they are sure to be in demand.
The evening starts at 7.00pm on Friday, 13th October 2017 and the venue is- The Abbey Room. The Parish Centre. Gosditch Street, Cirencester. GL7 2AG. The Abbey Room is on the 1st floor and there is a lift. For ticket sales or enquiries call Geoff Carr on 07719 896039.