Frome last week was abuzz about the return of the Saturday Market, a proper outdoor do with stalls selling everything from carved curios and tantalising jewellery to garden glories and amazing edibles - here's Liam's Cake Stall offering scandalously delicious vegan specialities. Stoic local buskers Paul Kirtley and David Goodman were on the bridge to enhance the market yard browsing experience, too.
Across the town in Merchants Barton, the ongoing debate on the Saxonvale development moved forward with a weekend-long presentation to the public of the preferred project, described as "an exemplary development on the banks of the River Frome, meticulously designed taking the historic grain of Frome as its starting point and delivering a characterful, vibrant, residential-led mixed-use community, with flexible commercial uses, high-quality public realm, and homes for all ages." It really does look what Frome needs, and local enthusiasm is high (especially for the lido.)Mental Health Awareness Week and to further highlight the need for creative development of the Saxonvale site. Photographer Tim Gander shot pictures, which have been paired with poems and comments from users and staff at Mind in Somerset. Tim's aim is to highlight "what happens when a former industrial site is left to deteriorate. Fly-tipping, vandalism and natural decay take their toll" and his project has much to commend it, but it is worth remembering that the abandonment wasn't all negative: birds and wild flowers flourished among the trees and the old buildings were a prime site for the ingenuity of young street artists as Frome's graffiti Hall of Fame... here's a sample:
This week's zoom drama is Transition Tales from The Travelling Talesman, promoted by the Art House Southampton with the tagline 'When gender fluid gods saved creation...' Not only in Greek mythology but in cultures across the world, deities changed gender as well as species, and his transformation tales ranged from the same-form duality of Hermaphroditus to flowers (Hyacinthus, remade in blood and tears), stars (Ursa major & minor) and in the unfortunate case of Actaeon, a stag promptly torn apart by his own hounds. Zeus had a particular penchant for metamorphosis, apparently, seducing his many lovers in multiple forms such as as a parrot, a pig, and a shower of water. Although this talk clocked in at 2 hours 20 minutes, the chronicles never flagged and the zoom audience was enthusiastic and articulate: the chat line was really interesting, posing questions like How does root sex work for fungus? (the answer is mitochondria) and comments on the gender of quabbatic numbers. Performances like this, with an option for audience participation, are as valuable for community health as Open Mic poetry online sessions, and hopefully will all outlive the pandemic and continue to zoom.
My week ended excitingly with a train journey to Gloucester, taking advantage of new freedom to meet my publisher and iron out various issues relating to my upcoming short story collection: not only a useful visit but a delightful one, as we had time to walk around the docks - which are beautiful - and the older parts of this odd, somewhat bedraggled, city.