Rockaway Park – back to the 60’s in full 3D

for the broad minded  – Ctrl and + key repeatedly for larger images

I thought I had been in a Dr. Who police box and been taken back 50 years. This place called Rockaway Park was BLISS. I love love love installation art and things that are way out there. I had no idea that such a place existed, unadvertised and unmarked. If I say to locals that it is in Eastcourt Road, Temple Cloud, you still could not find it.

I met the partner of the owner Marta (still with a slight Polish accent) and then her very approachable and extrovert partner and the owner of the land Mark Wilson. Some hint of what you can expect is to be found in the names of the artists that work at the place, an abandoned quarry. Rowdy, Joe Rush, Filthy Luker, Shangrila, Mutartis Boswell as well as on-site blacksmiths and woodworkers.

First there is a converted single story property with a few B and B rooms which they feed with AirB&B clients. There is a huge kitchen / eating area which is as big as some flats I can think of. ALL the  following pictures are from within this one room.

three messages in one
VERY ancient juke box
not maradona or a prima dona
the huge 15′ long dinner table
take your pick of condiments and spices
the relaxing corner

and now, outside this room but inside the building.

Mediterranean feel
many influences here
more panoramic view of the room. I noted that it had no wood fireplace and would benefit from one in the centre of the room. They use space heaters in the winter (pricey)

and now, some shots of the pathway outside this residential building.

well that’s clear and plain
looks out over a valley

Now, you may have thought you have seen everything but the main part is yet to come.  No image does justice to the extra ordinary melange of art that I saw before my eyes.   Ready?

Quite an accident
droll social commentary
the eyes have it

This is a clever art installation. The whole is a decorated rubber ball or bell. It is inflated and then deflated. When the latter the pressure is reduced and the eyes close.

two scrap aircraft engines
a whole car compressed into 6′ x 2′ x 2′ wheels and all
from the art studio
Paintings by ‘Dave PanIt’
cars parked on high
an amazing all terrain ‘vehicle’ built by one of the residents. It works as well but what a noise.

Guys I have made so many more pics. but you will just have to come and see. It is open until 8th October 2017.   I met some called Aemon? (I must write down peoples name when I meet them). He was an ex school teacher who resigned out of stress of various sorts and is now working for his board and food but ‘has no need’ for money at the moment. He was so full of enthusiasm for this creative place and wanted everyone to feel that they could come and make a contribution by doing something or by just enjoying the environment.

A cafe had just opened the day before at which moderately priced good food will be served.  This place is bursting with possibilities and I shall be visiting them again to offer my services.


Priddy Rural fun day – a Thai massage – back to the 60’s in full 3D


On to Priddy with its annual Rural Fun Day. The triangular Green offers a  natural environment for stalls and entertainment of all kinds. At first glance the layout seemed ramshackle and lacking in features but I soon started to be impressed. There were a number of ‘car boot’ type stalls offering tat with varying degrees of age and usefulness. I walked past them with hardly a glance.

the Green
The child showed no fear. impressed.

We then went on to the green itself. I noticed that one of the most popular attractions was a sled run which looked as if it had been designed in the 1950’s (no criticism but a compliment).

One feature I really appreciated. The public address speakers were playing very laid back 60’s and 70’s music and it made just the right atmosphere.

the kids loved it and were drawn in.
a very docile (bored?) animal
one of two historic cars
two children making a glorious mess
natural building methods should be applauded and encouraged.
see text

Now this was a sight to behold. Three young women aged about 20 I estimate were walking about and were invited to build a wall from the stones provided. They obviously thought that was a cool thing to do and they approached the challenge without hesitation. This would NEVER happen in a big city.

I noticed a stand devoted to Thai Massage. The lady doing it had such a winning smile. I thought that the offer was worth the £3 asked for a ten minute demonstration.  She had been doing this type of work for many years and is managed by her English husband , an ex-policeman called Neil. She has an intuitive knowledge of where the tension points are and I jumped and wriggled with pain though she was only applying gentle pressure. Subsequently, Francoise and I decided to invite her to our home for a proper session of one hour. Contact barnesorathai @ gmail . com

putting me through my paces
the full massage is quite demanding as you can see from the images (use Ctrl and + to enlarge)

I walked off or should I say floated off to a large tent of arts and crafts. I came across a stall which intrigued me called ‘All Four Paws’ another English pun. ha ha.

type of canine problem addressed.
dogs with challenging problems

He is a good dog but …..  Ian Francis has had over 40 years experience living and working with dogs, and over 8 years working with dogs with problems. AllFourPaws visits and works at the home of the owner. Such niche markets are very important and although I have no dog I wished him the best of luck. PS I never ask for compensation for what may be considered an advert. If I think the person is the real deal I will tell you.

been coming here for years.

I have never had a so called Welsh cake before so I, forever adventurous, had a go. What have you got to lose for £1.  It is basically a bread mix with raisins added and coated with sugar if you wanted. Mine was a little under done but good enough. I would not have another. The old chap who was running the stand talked of the old days where the Green was ‘heaving’ with people and the sheep were ‘over there’ he said waving his arms and the horses ‘over there’. I felt he regretted the decline of a great event.

Little did I know that the highlight of my day was yet to come and to save you endlessly scrolling down I will write part 3 of my diary separately, and can be found here.

a sighting of Michael Eavis – a Thai massage – back to the 60’s in full 3D

Thursday 22 September 1664

To the ‘Change at noon, and among other things discoursed with Sir William Warren what I might do to get a little money by carrying of deales to Tangier, and told him the opportunity I have there of doing it, and he did give me some advice, though not so good as he would have done at any other time of the year, but such as I hope to make good use of, and get a little money by….

Very much my ‘thought for the day’ BBC style.

We may have a pressing problem and we call a friend or colleague for help. Do we ever pause to consider if the timing is good for them? Were they waiting by the phone for your call, all other matters cast aside or were they half way through dealing with at least four pressing matters with children screaming in the background the while?
When I need help I always ask ‘do you have time for a conversation on ….’.  People who say ‘have you got a couple of minutes’ normally raise matters that take half an hour. It’s your call as a receiver of a request to decide what can be handled on the phone or what could really benefit by a face to face conversation (and I don’t mean Skype). Sometimes I call ahead to book a time to talk. The respect of people’s time is appreciated.


My goodness, I did not realise what a rich day was in front of Francoise and myself when we set off for a round of art exhibitions, preceded by a visit to the historical museum in Radstock. Michael Eavis of Glastonbury fame was due to open an exhibition, the last of five temporary exhibitions in 2017,  devoted to the historical side of Westfield, one of the three districts Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Westfield.

The event was due to open 11.30. We arrived well before and took the opportunity to look round the permanent exhibitions which tells the tale of old Radstock with particular regard to normal home life, and to coal production. We decided to join for a year. For around a fiver you can come in as many times as you like. Is that a bargain or what. I could have become a member for £12 p.a.

There was a system of canals to enable the taking away of the local production of coal. Use Ctrl and the + key to view enlarged images.

canal system
Radstock Station of old
a kitchen and eating place in a miner’s cottage c 1900
a grocer

So in comes Michael. I get the impression this is not the first time he has opened an exhibition or a facility. Here is the video of his talk and the response from the museum committee.

Michael with his trademark shorts and sandals.
Michael waylaid by friends

The poor old Mayor of Radstock was trying to explain aspects of the exhibition to Michael but he was obviously far more interested in talking to the people, to the Mayor’s frustration of his carefully prepared plan.

a friend called John

On his way out, Michael saw an old friend and went over to give him a big bear hug. They chatted animatedly for some time.  Michael is quite obviously a community man totally centred in people. He gives his time unsparingly and greets complete strangers as if he has known them all his life. This is a gift indeed. His laugh is infectious.


On the way to Priddy where there is a fun day, we visited Midsomer Quilting  which is shortly to move a couple of miles as the crow flies to a unit adjacent to The Holy Cow, a trendy but noisy restaurant in the most unlikely spot. I wanted to go there to mourn the passing of the lovely intimate outlet which has done so much for quilting world-wide through sales and courses and the like. I was not alone.

sales assistants chatting
Chris who is the manager with the silver hair
the room where quilting takes place.
the community area

Everyone remarks on the warm and welcoming atmosphere of this establishment. This is where free coffee and biscuits is offered with a donation tin to Dorothy House by the side. It is the unspoken rule that you can chat to a complete stranger with complete confidence knowing that you have something ‘safe’ in common, namely a love of quilting and design. Next Monday 25th September it will close and will re-open supremely optimistically the same week on the Thursday. No pressure then. Watch this space.


the day continues in part two of this journal……