Archive for July, 2012

Top tips for picnics, by the Westonbirt team

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Wondering what to eat whilst Maples Restaurant and the Courtyard Café are closed? Well, aside from the yummy treats on offer from our mobile caterers, the Westonbirt team have been sharing some of their favourite picnic recipes and tips, to help you get the best out of dining alfresco at Westonbirt…

Picnic area 029

Mark, tree team:
“Kelly’s Picnic Potato Salad:

Boiled, halved & chilled New Potatoes
Finely chopped Spring Onions
A little Light Mayonnaise
A teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
Fresh Dill or the dried stuff
Black pepper

Keep in a cold box until you’re ready to eat.”

Simon, events team:

Miranda, Westonbirt Project team:
“A bone for Hank [the dog] to stop him stealing my sandwiches…”

Paul, recreation team:
“A flask of chilled gazpacho – very refreshing on a hot day.
Jazz up a boring cheese and tomato sandwich with some rocket, basil and a few pine nuts – yummy and healthy.
Never go too far without a classic potato salad with thin slices of red onion and delicious mayonnaise.
Don’t forget the camera to help capture the memories.
Sun cream and a hat are always a must.”

Gina, marketing and communications team:
“The night before a picnic, freeze fruit juice cartons. Pop them into your picnic in the morning as ice packs to keep your picnic cool – by lunchtime they’ll be defrosted to the refreshing ‘slushy’ stage.”

Katrina, marketing and communications team:
Delegate! This has two benefits – one person isn’t responsible for all the cooking/ prep and of course, the more people who take part the merrier! Different families and friends have their own picnic favourites, so you could end up with a cosmopolitan range of goodies – just don’t forget to dish out the courses, otherwise you could get 10 puddings and no savouries (although in my case that wouldn’t be such a bad thing).

Logistics. Does everyone know where they are going? Saying ‘Let’s meet on the Downs’ and then turning up to find 100 other groups have had the same idea can lead to warm food and grumpy other halves/ children.

Games. Don’t forget your rounders bat or mini cricket kit – you’ll need to wear off all those mini sausage rolls.

Comfort. Two main items that should be a staple part of a picnic set up are a lined picnic blanket (just because the sun has come out it doesn’t necessarily mean the ground is totally dry), cushions (after sitting on the ground for a long time you will be grateful), and obviously sun cream and water otherwise you may not be out for long.”

Louise, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity:
“Frozen drinks/homemade juice slushies made up in water bottles for hot days are always a winner (and a great way to get kids to drink plenty of fluids when they are running around in the sunshine!) 

We also love frozen grapes – better than sticky sweets and double up as ice cubes in the G & Ts!”

We hope that gets you thinking about your next picnic at Westonbirt!

Useful links
Friends membership is great value for families. Find out more…
Information about Westonbirt’s catering…
Plan your visit to Westonbirt…

Flying Lessons at Westonbirt, by Jacqueline Dalton, Charity Manager

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

What a delightful week the Friends’ staff have had working in the Great Oak Hall as the House Martin’s School of Flying takes off (sorry!)!

Parent birds have been demonstrating the skills required in the big wide world, bobbing under the hall canopy to the nest, whilst the little ones line up on the oak cruck and watch intently!

If you are around this weekend, why not come along to the hall and take a look?

Great Oak Hall

Useful links
Find out more about the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum
How to become a member of the Friends

Jamie who? We’ve got local Celebrity Chefs Rob and Charlotte at Treefest, by Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

In 2011, we introduced the Food Hall to Treefest for the first time. This year we have more exhibitors plus two local celebrity chefs who will be giving live cooking demonstrations twice daily.

Big changes in the Food Hall, with two local celebrity chefs. Both chefs will be cooking using local produce, and hopefully some Westonbirt venison. There will be two demonstrations daily.

Rob Rees - The Cotsold Chef
Rob Rees MBE, the Cotswold Chef, has over 25 years experience and has cooked all over the world in palaces and embassies, so we are very pleased and proud that Rob has agreed to cook and entertain you. Rob will be cooking on Sunday and Monday.

Charlotte Pike - Go Free Foods
Charlotte Pike of Go Free Foods runs an award winning bakery which is free from wheat, gluten and dairy, and believe me, her chocolate brownies taste amazing, and we are very excited that Charlotte is bringing us something different. Charlotte also writes a blog for Hello Magazine, so check that out. Charlotte will be cooking on Saturday.

Olives 5
Foodstation. Sam has been bringing his fabulous Mediterranean food to events at Westonbirt for several years, and is always very popular. The product ranges from a large variety of olives, baklava, turkish delight, nuts, dried fruit, and a range of confectionery. All yummy and great for that mid-morning snack while you are browsing – and don’t forget to take some home with you.

Chilli Farm
The Wiltshire Chilli Farm is new this year, and will be bringing along their range of chilli sauces, oils, jams and chutneys. All the products have been grown locally in Wiltshire at Jamie and Julie’s chilli farm. They grow a large variety of chillies including very hot ones such as Jalapeno, Hungarian Hot Wax and Ring of Fire – ouch!

Peradon Organic Farm
Peradon Organic Farm is new this year and comes to Treefest from Devon. The land there has been farmed by the same family for several generations. Jon and Louise will be selling a selection of their award winning organic meat and will be cooking up tasty organic Angus burgers and sausages.

Vowley Farm - Sausages
Vowley Farm is also new this year, and is very local, based at Royal Wootton Bassett. As well as selling free range and rare breed meat, Lorraine and her team will also be cooking up sausages and bacon rolls for when you get peckish. They will be giving a daily sausage-making demonstration on the Food Hall stage, which should be very entertaining. They are also recommended in Rick Stein’s “Guide to food heroes of Britain”.
Bristol Cider is back this year. Based in Bristol, they have over 80 varieties of cider in their shop and they only sell cider from local producers. This year you can also buy a glass of cider to drink while you wander around the exhibitor stands as well as buying cider to take home. New this year they will also be bringing along Cider Brandies, Cider Aperitifs, Cider Chutneys and ornamental traditional cider jugs.

Garlic 2
The Garlic Farm are from the Isle of Wight. I visited the farm when I was on holiday a couple of years ago. You can walk around the fields and see the garlic growing, then pop into the shop and taste the chutneys etc. A must for next time you visit the Isle of Wight. With over 30 year’s experience of growing garlic, they are largest specialist garlic grower in the UK; you can even purchase bulbs to grow in your garden. I grow their elephant and solent wight garlic, and it’s very tasty.

Useful links
Visit the Treefest website for more info and great value early bird tickets:

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum go free to Treefest.
Find out how to become a member…

A champion in our midst, by Louisa Lockwood, Magazine editor

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

In the summer edition of The Westonbirt Magazine, Richard Townsend, Operations Supervisor on Westonbirt’s Tree Team, describes his day job, other loves and an astonishing athletic feat.

Richard Townsend
Richard’s love of trees was kindled when he was about 22 and his father-in-law asked for a hand cutting branches off a tree. Having enjoyed a taste of tree work, he noticed an advert for a ‘tree feller’ at Westonbirt but they were mostly interested in his mechanical skills! However, Rich explains, “They trained me up, it’s practical skills that were important.”

“Westonbirt time is like a time warp,” says Richard, who has worked at the arboretum since 1 September 1988. The style of work has changed a lot in those 24 years; once merely expected to ‘follow orders’, the tree team today take an active role in shaping the arboretum. Decisions about how to maintain the trees within the historic landscape plan are made by those tasked with the actual felling, pruning and planting. Richard cites job satisfaction and the team’s camaraderie as the key reasons he has stayed.

As Operations Supervisor, it is up to Rich to keep the team working well together, so he keeps an open dialogue with everyone and makes sure the best (and worst) jobs are shared around. As a lot of the team are new, they need to be paired up and there’s a lot of juggling to get the balance right. Tree work at Westonbirt is about quality not quantity and the necessary skills take time to develop.

Biking around
As a qualified mechanic, having taken night classes at Stroud College ten years ago, Richard tends to do the servicing and repairs on Westonbirt’s vehicles, “I love things that are broken, I just want to mend them.”

This proves handy when he competes on his 1964 BSA350 trial bike on four hour courses through woodlands and tracks. His brother encouraged him to try the sport about six years ago and Rich generally finishes somewhere near the top. This competitive streak took Rich to the heady heights of world championship in a different sport altogether…

Pole position
Egged on by friends in the tree team, Rich first tried pole climbing at the Bath and West Show in 1988 and achieved a 28 second climb. For the next few years, Rich trained to reduce his time and reached a personal best of 11.14 seconds – that is climbing an 80ft vertical pole – culminating in being crowned World Champion 2005.

He says it was all about making sure he’d have something to talk about when he’s retired. As if old bikes and ancient trees weren’t enough.

The Westonbirt Magazine is produced by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum for its membership; to inform Friends about events, to engage Friends in issues that affect the arboretum, and to share enjoyment in and knowledge of this world-renowned tree collection.

Useful links
More about the Westonbirt Magazine
Become a member of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Summer 2012 magazine, by Louisa Lockwood, editor

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Westonbirt Magazine is produced by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum for its membership; to inform Friends about events, to engage Friends in issues that affect the arboretum, and to share enjoyment in and knowledge of this world-renowned tree collection.

The summer magazine was a busy issue with three pages of news and an Olympic theme.

Local equestrian and Olympic medallist in 1968, Jane Holderess-Roddam was also a local torch bearer for the London 2012 Games – she had some interesting stories to tell about how that came about.

Jane Holderness-Roddam
We heard from Richard Townsend, our Tree Team Operations Supervisor, and found out what has kept him at Westonbirt for … 24 years… so far. Richard is also a sporting hero – he was crowned pole climbing World Champion in 2005.

Going for gold!
The family pull-out looked at champion trees around Westonbirt for young adventurers and record breakers to find. Has anyone found them all? The tallest, widest, oldest, stinkiest and most colourful of our trees.

A survey to all the Friends was enclosed with the summer magazine and the results are in. Thank you to everyone who found the time to respond. All your comments about the magazine are very interesting – the overwhelming response was that we’re on the right track and you like the balance of contents. You’re especially interested in features about Westonbirt and the people who work here.

I’ll certainly be responding to your comments, for example, the rainchart will be back in every issue!

The Westonbirt Magazine is just one of the many benefits of joining the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum. Find out more about Friends membership.

Volunteering at Treefest, by Cheryl Pearson, Volunteer Manager

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Treefest is the largest of Westonbirt’s events and involves the most volunteers over a single weekend. We’ve been inundated with requests from staff for support – everyone wants volunteers which is brilliant and means busy times ahead to organise the many different activity groups involved throughout the Bank Holiday weekend. Cheryl Pearson, Westonbirt’s Volunteer Manager tells us more about what our volunteer team will be up to at Treefest.

This is a really great opportunity for our volunteers who love getting involved in this signature event as there are so many different areas of support needed – and they really do make a difference by providing much needed help for staff plus volunteers themselves get a real buzz in helping visitors to enjoy their day to the full.

Volunteers will be needed to support the Events Team with the event set-up on Friday by greeting exhibitors as they arrive and directing them to their pitches, plus they’ll be roaming around throughout the event to answer visitor queries and explain what’s happening and when.

Learning volunteers will play a major role in helping to deliver the Plant Hunters Academy trails and crafts for families in the Great Oak Hall, and the Information Desk is going to be especially busy and so I need to ensure we have enough information volunteers in place. Graham’s raised the bar on Guided Walks this year – 5 each day! Very ambitious but they were really popular last year, and budding volunteer DJ’s are being sought to make the tannoy announcements – move over Chris Moyles.

The cookery demonstrations are new this year and sound really exciting and I’m sure volunteers will enjoy the opportunity to help out – I wonder if they’ll get any tasters?!

Friends staff are looking for fundraising help for the Tree of Dreams which was so popular last year, as well as volunteers to chat to visitors about the benefits of membership. Andy is on the case and already has some of the Wood Sales volunteers signed-up to man the tent for all 3 days plus a couple on Friday to work along side the Tree Team to get the wood ready for the event.

Well done to my volunteer newsletter editor Bernard for packing all these requests into the lively July issue – I’d better get on with making sure it’s ready for distribution on time!

Useful links
Find out more about Treefest
Find out more about volunteering at Westonbirt
Support Westonbirt by joining the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

What is The 4014 Project? by Jon Ponting, 4014 Project

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

The 4014 Project brought fantastic musical variety and talent to Treefest in 2011. They’ll be returning this year to work their magic, sourcing the best local local singers and musicians. Here, Jon Ponting from 4014 explains what this project is all about.

Inside the Royal Oak, 4014's home at Treefest
The 4014 Project is working with Westonbirt Arboretum to provide local music for Treefest, but you may be wondering who or what this mystically named Project actually is.

It was established in 2005 by husband and wife duo, Jon and Ellie Ponting following a very successful experiment at the Rose & Crown in Malmesbury – an open mic night had been organised as part of the town’s carnival schedule. It was the first time a night like this had been held in the town; both musicians and appreciative crowds alike had a fantastic evening.

From that one event, The 4014 Project grew momentum with equally popular music nights held in other nearby towns such as Tetbury, Cricklade and Royal Wootton Bassett.

It then branched out into other areas… a website containing contact details for performers, venues and music businesses… a regular radio show produced for community stations and playing nothing but local music… a place where singers and guitarists could try out new material, keep in touch and try out collaborations.

The 4014 Project isn’t a well-known name publicly, but if you speak to musicians – especially around the Cirencester, Malmesbury, Swindon region, you’ll soon find fans who will be willing to sing its praises.
There are several unique elements to The 4014 Project:

– It’s not a business, and certainly not there to make a profit
– the main focus is keeping music local, regardless of style
– The main focus is on more rural areas, where musicians find it harder to get gigs

These objectives seem to fit in very nicely with the ideals of Treefest, which must explain why we’ve been invited back for a second year.

The strange, numerical name signifies how Wiltshire and Gloucestershire musicians have been linked together – the clues are there if you look hard enough!

Useful links
Visit the Treefest website for more info and great value early bird tickets:

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum go free to Treefest:
Find out how to become a member…

The 4014 Project: