Wiltshire is a beautiful county at the edge of the South West Peninsula.

Wiltshire is a beautiful county at the edge of the South West Peninsula. Its landscape is contrasting, with woodlands, river valleys and clay vales – but often it’s known for having open chalk hills – known as “downland” – such as Salisbury Plain. Famously, Salisbury Plain is home to one of the most historically important places in the world. That is, of course, the World Heritage SiteStonehenge.

Wiltshire is a place of significant ancient history, and it’s worth visiting for this alone – but it’s also a modern cultural hub. There’s always lots to do, and Christmas in no exception. To save you some googling here’s a round up what’s on in Wiltshire this Christmas.

Bread Making, Devizes – 1st Dec

The aroma of bread baking is the loveliest in the known universe. Then again, are there aromas in space? There’s no air, so…

Moving on.

Bread is one of those things that defies seasonal shifts and time. This means it’s not, not Christmassy. Kneading dough and baking bread are also warming activities perfect for dark, wintry afternoons.

If you fancy learning the basics why not try this course.

Hartley Farm Christmas Market, Bradford-on-Avon – 1st Dec

Alongside producing superb quality Aberdeen Angus Beef and fruit and veg, Hartley Farm helps supply its own farm shop – with a butcher, delicatessen and a vast choice of wines and craft beers.

The Hartley Farm Christmas market is a fine way to while away a couple of hours with a glass of mulled wine, some delicious Wiltshire produce and Christmas performances.

“You bought how many artisan cheeses? 26?”

The Christmas House, Salisbury – 24th Nov to 23rd Dec

Christmas through the ages, all under one roof.

For this year’s festive season, the National Trust are decorating the rooms in Mompesson House to reflect Christmas in different eras. This brilliant idea will have you walking between a Regency Christmas in the dining room and a 1950s one in the library, as you snack on a mince pie or two.

Crop Circle Exhibition – until 31st Dec

Apologies, this isn’t festive at all. It’s intriguing, impressive and downright weird though. If you’re interested in crop circles or think you could be – this is your moment.

Are they created by farmers with planks of wood, for a laugh – or as geometric representations of the thought processes of an extra-terrestrial intelligence?

This multi-media exhibition, first created for the Wiltshire Museum is a comprehensive lowdown on crop circle history and latest news.

For more info – please click here.

 

Festival of Light, Longleat – 9th Nov to 6th Jan

The Longleat Estate made history, becoming the first place outside of Africa to have a safari park. It’s also the focus of the BBC TV series ‘Animal Park’, hosted by Ben Fogle and Kate Humble – that’s been running for almost 20 years.

Longleat’s ‘Festival of Light’ is 1,000 lanterns in the dark, illuminating parts of a fantastic journey through time and space, spread over 30 acres of parkland.

Intrepid visitors will stumble across brand new creatures, worlds and awesome structures on an epic aeronautical adventure.

For more info – please click here.

Mistletoe & Merriment, Fisherton Mill, Salisbury – From 25th Nov

This year’s exhibition at Fisherton Mill, is about giving your Christmas shopping a fresh sense of curiosity and wonder.

The exhibition will feature a range of contemporary arts and crafts, designed to be playful, make you think and baffle you – including optical illusions.

“Is the cat inside or outside the toy box and is it actually a box anyway, or a flat wall panel?”.

This is a direct quote from the website, and it sounds hilarious – in a good way.

Why not check out the website.

Twilight Tower Tours, Salisbury Cathedral – From 3rd Dec

Salisbury Cathedral is iconic, and not only has the highest spire in the country (at 123 metres) but also the most intact of the last four remaining copies of the Magna Carta.

If you’re ready to climb 322 steps to the top of the tower, with breaks, you’ll be able to look out onto the night-time city scape of Salisbury and the multi-colour illuminated art installations in cathedral close.

Look out for the neon display “I will turn darkness into light”.

A twilight tour of Salisbury Cathedral tower is a lovely way to end a day spent wandering around the Salisbury Christmas market.

For more info – please click here.

Salisbury Christmas Market – 29th Nov to 23rd Dec

Now in its sixth year, the Christmas market is a wonderfully atmospheric addition to the ancient streets of Salisbury. It follows a German lead and has 70 wooden chalets with all sorts of Christmas treats – from handmade furniture to luxury food and drink.

It’s a perfect accompaniment to a festive shopping spree in Salisbury.  Plus, everything is unique, desirable, made in Britain and intended to support our home economy.

Read more.

A Fairy tale Christmas in Wiltshire

Christmas at Bowood, in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside is a magical experience. Our boutique hotel, spa and golf resort is nestled within 100 acres of pristine, landscaped gardens – which are beautiful when tinged with winter frosts.

If you catch a chill whilst exploring our grounds, why not settle by a crackling log fire with a glass of something, or enjoy a festive afternoon tea? You could also visit our spa for a revitalising treatment. Golf warms the cockles too.

At Bowood, we love Christmas. That’s why we’ve filled our festive calendar to the rafters. Here’s a handful not to miss –

Spa Christmas Shopping Evening

Golf Pro Shop 30% Off Christmas Shopping Day

Family Christmas Carvery

Christmas Day Carvery

Up for a festive knees up? We also have party nights throughout December. In advance, we wish you a merry Christmas!

Thanks for reading.

We’ve all experienced great wedding music and of course, the not so remarkable. Here’s our guide to ensuring your wedding music tops the rest…

The wedding entertainment starts, and it feels more like a school disco than one of the most important days in a couple’s life. The DJ is over the hill and thinks an endless stream of 1970s “floor fillers” will do the trick. Not only this, but he forgets he’s played “Night Fever” – so plays it again. This isn’t an affront on disco music (or DJs) – there’s a time and place for it. However, unless you’re a super fan it probably isn’t going to be a part of your wedding.

You want class, style and of course music that everyone will love. Good music. No clichés, no garish white suits – just exceptional musicianship. But what to choose? These days, there’s choice galore when it comes to wedding music. DJs have upped their game, and live music is more popular than ever. To save you unnecessary head scratching, here are some wedding music ideas to start you off…

CLASSICAL: SOLOISTS & QUARTETS

Funnily enough, after Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s stunning performance at the recent Royal Wedding, the demand for solo cellists has skyrocketed. And rightly so – this uncluttered, cleanness of sound is a wonderful way to provide a breather at busy, and possibly noisy wedding.

The thing not everyone appreciates, is that a wedding with classical music isn’t condemned to be formal, and stuffy. It follows the lead of the musicians. Modern classical music can be fun and diverse, with a finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture.

Quartets and classical groups have the instrumental breadth to create beautiful compositions of songs in any genre. Take your pick.

At Bowood, we’re big fans of classical music and can put you in touch with some sublime musicians. For a start, why not have a listen to one of our popular solo violinist – Lizz Lipscombe or solo harpist, Katie Saloman.

MODERN AMERICAN SWING

Fancy a Gatsby wedding? Well, a good place to start would be with the music. Vintage American swing, with a modern twist is becoming a go to choice for weddings.

Bands like Postmodern Jukebox are fuelling a new wave of swing. Rather than covering songs from the 20s and 30s they go for unlikely modern hits and enthuse them with a jazz era* cool.

Have you ever heard a swing version of a hip-hop song? You’ll be surprised in the best possible way.

*It was also the era of prohibition. Authenticity at your wedding is great, but this is perhaps too much.

UNPLUGGED: FREE TO ROAM

One of the best things about acoustic bands is they don’t need electricity to sound great. Plus, this means they’re not tied down to a stage. Stages are overrated.

Acoustic music is something born in the pubs, front rooms, parlours, fields and around the campfires of the land. It’s raw, passionate and doesn’t have to be dressed up.

Having a band roam around your wedding is experiencing music in a chilled and natural way – and it’s always nice to be able to chat with musicians without the formal divide of stage.

FESTIVAL STYLE BANDS

It’s summer, and you’re in a crowd with thousands of other people. The sun has fallen, and now hangs just above the horizon – giving the light a bronzed, ethereal quality. It’s like a dream in real-time. Your favourite band starts playing the first notes of your favourite song.

The crowd around you erupts into verse, a storm of voices carrying a beautiful melody. The feeling of euphoria sends shivers skittering down your spine.

There’s nothing quite like a music festival. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t capture it in miniature for your wedding.

Festival style bands are brilliant at warming up crowds with toe-tapping summery songs – perhaps some George Ezra or the Lumineers. Then, after a low key start they can switch to electric and play their own headlining act.

Your guests will appreciate the diversity – it’s like getting two bands in one.

MUMFORD & SONS STYLE FOLK BANDS

Although the great folk revival of the early 2010s may have run its course, the fast rhythmed, foot-stomping legacy of Mumford & Sons is still alive in the wedding scene.

There’s something sincere, and unfussy in folk that sets it apart from other forms of music. When played with heart and energy, it never fails to get people dancing.

Folk music is atmospheric too and reminds us of cosy winter nights by a fire, as much as it does summer nights – spent camping in the woods or at a festival. Feel good music at its finest.

DJ WITH LIVE ACCOMPANIMENT

Moving well away from disco music, modern DJs can give some diverse and outstanding performances. One of the trends right now is for DJs to have a live vocalist or percussionist join them. This was popularised in big clubs around the world. It’s the perfect meeting of the transcendental sounds of a superbly mixed set and the stage presence of a live musician.

The best of both worlds.

MASH UP BANDS

If you want the heady rush of a DJ’s build up, and the ignition of excitement that comes with a meticulously executed drop – but also want a live band, here’s a compromise.

Mash up bands are very impressive. With exceptional talent they can mix together your favourite songs (albeit they can’t play electronic dance music!) and get a crowd going much like a DJ. Also, it’s a lot of fun trying to guess the song, as it creeps in at the end of another.

WEDDINGS AT BOWOOD HOTEL, SPA & GOLF RESORT

The Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort is a magical wedding venue, deep in Wiltshire countryside – surrounded by endless views.

Not only is Bowood an undeniably beautiful place to marry, but all the finer details of your wedding can be taken care of – from delicious food to stylish décor and everything in between.

At Bowood, we offer bespoke weddings that reflect your wildest dreams and for ease, carefully thought out packages with all budgets in mind. All those fantasies about your wedding day? At Bowood, we’ll breathe life into them.

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(You’ll not be able to resist)

Golf fever is mounting with only a few days left until the world’s best golfers tee off for the 42nd Ryder Cup.

Arguably the most exciting golf contest of the calendar sees golf fanatics from across the Atlantic and Europe descend upon the Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb southwest of Paris on the outskirts of historic Versailles, France.

Most people have heard of the Ryder Cup but do you know the history, how teams are picked and anything about this year’s course? We’ve put together 20 Great Ryder Cup Golf Facts to educate and amuse, and hopefully whet your appetite for the game fondly referred to as ‘…a good walk spoiled’ – Mark Twain.

20 GREAT RYDER CUP GOLF FACTS

1. The Birth of the Ryder Cup

There were two unofficial matches between professionals from Great Britain and the United States before the birth of The Ryder Cup in 1927, both won by the British. The first was played at Gleneagles in 1921 but the second of these, held at Wentworth in 1926, was undoubtedly the most significant for among those in the gallery was a man called Samuel Ryder.

2. The Trophy

The Ryder Cup competition is named after English businessman Samuel Ryder who famously donated the gold trophy for the competition in 1927. However, Ryder is not depicted on top of the trophy, but his golf instructor Abe Mitchell. The Ryder Cup is now one of the hottest contested trophies in sport.

3. The Teams Weren’t Always Europe and USA

Nowadays the Ryder Cup matches pit the United States against all of Europe, but that was not always the case. From 1927 to 1979 the International opponents to the USA were only made up of players from Great Britain. It was decided to open the team to all of Europe in 1979 with the aim of making the matches more competitive as the USA won all but one of the matches from 1935-85.

4. 28 Years Undefeated

Europe had to wait a staggering 28 years to win the cup from the USA in 1985 after an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole by an emotional Sam Torrance for a 1-up victory at The Belfry, Warwickshire. Legends such as Sandy Lyle, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Bernard Langer joined Torrance in celebrating the win with Europe team captain Tony Jacklin.

5. Most Ryder Cup Points

Sir Nick Faldo holds the record for the most Ryder Cup points with an astonishing 25. Faldo competed in 11 Ryder Cups with a record of 23-19-4.

6. The War Intervenes

If you run your eyes down the list of past Ryder Cup results you will notice a 10-year gap. That’s because from 1937 to 1947 no matches were played due to WWII.

7. A Family Affair

The European team have seen 3 sets of brothers compete: Charles, Ernest and Reg Whitcombe, 1935; Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt, 1963E and Eduardo and Francesco Molinari, 2010.

8. How the Teams are Picked?

The European and US teams have 12 players each chosen by a captain. It’s up to the captain to decide who he wants to play in the 28 matches that are played over the three days of the competition.

The 2018 European Team will comprise:
  • Captain Thomas Bjorn (non-playing)
  • First 4 players from the European Points List
  • Leading 4 players from the World Points List
  • 4 wild cards (Captain’s picks)
The 2018 US Team will comprise:
  • Captain Jim Furyk
  • The top 8 in the points rankings
  • 4 wild cards (Captain’s picks)

Points and new regulations have changed slightly this year, so for a full explanation of how players qualify, visit the official Ryder Cup page here: How the European and American Teams are picked for the Ryder Cup.

9. The Captain’s Don’t Actually Play

Did you know captains don’t actually play? The last playing captain for the Europe was Dai Rees in 1961, and the last for the USA was Arnold Palmer in 1963, from then to now the captains just pick the pairings and watch the golf!

10. What is Match Play?

Match play is a scoring system for golf in which a player, or team, earns a point for each hole in which they have bested their opponents; as opposed to stroke play, in which the total number of strokes is counted over one or more rounds of 18 holes. Match play encourages more aggressive play as players are looking to win the hole outright. It’s all about beating your opponent!

Lou Guzzi at PGA.com demonstrates it perfectly in this short video and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) provide a comprehensive guide to the Rules of Golf and Golf equipment.

11. Ryder Cup Play Format

Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of four-ball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day sees 12 singles matches.

12. Match Scoring Explained

Each match is worth one point. If a match ends in a draw, each side is awarded ½ a point each. The first team to reach 14 ½ points wins the Ryder Cup. Should the matches end in a 14-14 draw, the team holding the Ryder Cup gets to retain it.

13. Albatros – The Ryder Cup 2018 Golf Course

Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau – read his account of the inception of the Golf National here and Robert Von Hagge, in collaboration with Pierre Thevenin. The Albatros course is home to the French Open – the oldest national open in Continental Europe and is actually one of two courses found at Le Golf National. The course opened in October 1990 and has experienced significant renovation in preparation for the 42nd Ryder Cup in 2018. There are few trees reflecting the architects’ understandable reluctance to wait decades for the course to mature. As part of the renovations in preparation for the Ryder Cup, 17 new bunkers have been built, 28 original ones reconstructed,  two new lakes constructed and four new pro tees added.

14. Course Manager Alejandro Reyes

Golf Courses and Estates Manager, Alejandro Reyes, has been tasked with creating a Ryder Cup landscape using the 7,331 yards of The Albatros course. The past year has seen him testing supplements to ensure the course is in tip-top condition and doesn’t suffer the same affliction as ‘baked and bald’ Carnoustie did for the British Open and overseeing the huge drainage project of 2017. Watch this great Turf Matter’s interview with the charismatic course manager.

15. Unique Course Layout

The incredible ‘stadium finish’ consists of the last four holes, set in a bowl circled by stunning lakes – and yes, dyes are in the water to enhance their looks.  A dream setting for the roaring Ryder Cup crowds to enjoy climatic classic match play golf. The unique undulating layout of the Ryder Cup course also favours spectators who can get an enviable up-close view of play pretty much anywhere along the course.

16. The Sealed Envelope

So what happens if a player gets hurt during the competition and can’t compete in the Sunday singles matches? Well, before play begins, each captain puts one name into a sealed envelope and in the instance that there is an injury on the opposing team, the player inside that envelope sits out. Thankfully, the envelope has only been used three times in the history of the competition.

17. Draws

The Ryder Cup has ended in a draw two times, both in 1969 and then 20 years later in 1989. As previously mentioned, on a tie, the team that previously won retains the cup.

18. Not Just 3 Days of Golf

When you think of The Ryder Cup, no doubt the first thing that comes to mind is three days of consistent match play golf. This is undeniably golf’s greatest team contest, but there is much more to a Ryder Cup Week than you may have realised with a whole host of events including celebrity matches, past Captains matches and the Junior Ryder Cup that lead up to the play we see on tv.

19. Junior Ryder Cup

The Disneyland Golf Course is hosting the Junior Ryder Cup on September 24th and 25th with the 24 most talented young golfers of their generation. It’s Europe versus the USA, just like its big sister a few days later, and brings together the best golfers under 18 for two days of incredible competition. Led by French captain Maïtena Alsuguren, the European team will try to win the cup back from the USA this time round.

20. Ryder Cup 2020

Preparations are already in place for the 2020 Ryder Cup which will be held Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. The course graces the shore of Lake Michigan and has played host to three PGA Championships (2004, 2010 and 2015). Although Ryder Cup tickets for 2020 are not yet available,  you can register your interest to ensure you’re first in line!

Golf Breaks at Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort

Arrange your own championship golf tournament…

Enjoy superb pat lay on a stunning 18-hole championship golf course closer to home. Set amidst a beautifully landscaped English country estate, Bowood is the No.1 golf course in Wiltshire. Golf at Bowood is open to visitors, members’ guests and hotel residents throughout the year.

With many events across the calendar including our Into the Dark Night Golf Challenge and Seniors Invitation Golf Day in October, booking a tee time couldn’t be easier with the Bowood online tee booking system. For those wishing to stay a little longer and take advantage of the boutique style hotel and spa there are a range of Bowood Hotel Golf Breaks to choose from too!

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