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Archive for June, 2015

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Last week got off to a wonderful start at Castle Gardens, as John and Pauline Eke came in to present 18 year old Callum Watson with his first tricycle. Callum was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome as a young boy, a genetic condition which is the most common known cause of inherited learning disabilities, and visited us last December to ask Father Christmas for the bike. In the true spirit of the season, Father Christmas then managed to persuade his good friend John Eke to raise the £765 required to pay for the tricycle, which is designed to fold away so it can be easily transported.

It was a truly special moment and I’m sure it gave John and Pauline great pleasure to see how happy Callum was with his new set of wheels, having been fundraising around their hometown of Evershot since Christmas. Inspired by their commitment to the cause, we decided to match the funds already raised and are delighted that Callum was able to get his first bike in time for summer.

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to help make someone’s Christmas wish a reality and getting your first bike is a big moment for anyone, so it really was an unforgettable afternoon and we all hope the family have a great time on their cycle rides this summer.

To find out more about Fragile X Syndrome visit www.fragilex.org.uk.

Mike

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For those who like a pepper that packs a punch, we’ve got a real treat in store for you next month. Our brand new Chilli Pepper Festival will take place at all three centres during July and provides the perfect opportunity for families to learn more about chillies, from how they’re grown right through to ideas for some deliciously spicy dishes.

Our Young Grower of the Year competition kicked off in March and since then children from Sherborne Primary School, Huish Primary School and Damers First School have been nurturing their chilli plants, proving just how little space you need to start growing your own produce at home. Our winners will be announced during the festival and I can’t wait to see how they’ve got on.

The pupils who grow the healthiest plants with the largest and most vibrant coloured peppers will be awarded with a certificate, a medal and some chocolate, not to mention a recipe for a three pepper pizza so they can put their chillies to good use!

At Brimsmore Gardens we’ll also have a chilli plant stand and a chilli trail to take part in. Just follow the clues around the centre to learn more about our fiery little friends, then hand in your form at the end to get a free coffee and to be entered into our prize draw to win a hamper full of chilli products. Our website will also have a taste bud tingling selection of recipes to download, so check back here next month if you’d like to spice up supper time.

Our Chilli Pepper Festival will take place at Brimsmore Gardens from 6 – 12 July, Poundbury Gardens from 13 – 19 July and Castle Gardens from 20 – 26 July. We’ll look forward to seeing you there, and if you’re visiting The Engine Room restaurant or The Apple Tree restaurant, look out for our voucher book containing great deals for every week of the summer holidays!

Mike

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For the sixth year running, we’ll be welcoming the incomparable Illyria theatre company back to Castle Gardens this summer, with their humorous adaptations of The Three Musketeers, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Shakespeare’s, The Taming of the Shrew.

Taking their critically acclaimed open-air theatre to the most prestigious and stunning locations throughout the UK and beyond, Illyria never fails to ignite roaring laughter and rapturous applause amongst the audience. All you need is a picnic, rug and a sense of humour, braced for an evening of fantastic entertainment.

This summer’s Illyria performances will take place at Castle Gardens on:

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Saturday 20 June

The Three Musketeers – Thursday 2 July

The Taming of the Shrew – Tuesday 4 August

Doors open at 6:30pm for a 7:30pm start and tickets are on sale from Castle Gardens or online via www.illyriatheatre.co.uk.

Mike

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James Nash at Castle Gardens small

We were delighted to welcome an old friend back to Castle Gardens last week, with James Nash holding his very first art exhibition in our Butterfly House. James spent his weekends as a teenager working at the centre, before leaving in 1997 to pursue a career in engineering, but had a great love of art from a very young age and decided to go back to his artistic roots in 2013.

It was an honour to host James’ Drawn from the Wild exhibition, which not only helped raise awareness of the urgent need for wildlife preservation, but also provided an authentic insight into how animals engage with their natural surroundings. James has spent a huge amount of time drawing live subjects in the wild, so it was wonderful to have him back after almost 20 years and hear about his achievements.

James will be following up this exhibition at the Hawk Conservancy in Andover on the Friday 31 July. On the opening night there will be a spectacular flying display Champagne and canapés and the artwork will remain on display throughout the summer holidays.

Tickets for the opening reception are available online at www.hawk-conservancy.org or by phone 01264 773850.

We wish him every success during this new chapter and look forward to following his work.

Mike

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The Apple Tree Restaurant winning team small

We’re celebrating again as The Apple Tree Farm Shop has just been awarded Gold in the Farm Shop category in the Taste of the West Hospitality and Retail Awards 2015. This is the third year running that we have scooped Gold and once again our commitment to local-sourcing, the seasonality of our fresh produce and our friendly staff were praised by judges.

Our ethos is very much about supporting local producers and shining the spotlight on what is made in this area; from fantastic bread, cheese, cider, preserves and more, to a diverse range of seasonal,  free-from and specialist products, so it’s a real pleasure to see this recognised by the judges. The Farm Shop staff work extremely hard to get to grips with each and every product, understanding the processes involved and ingredients used so they can offer advice and recommendations to our customers, so this is a great achievement for the whole team to enjoy.

Mike

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