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What’s wow in Wiltshire this week (or how to spot George Clooney)

We've rounded up the hottest goss in the West this week, including award-winning pubs, the latest openings and how to spot Mr C in the wild. (Yes! Really!)

Fancy an award-winning pint?

The Bradley Hare has just been crowned Wiltshire’s ‘Best Pub of the Year’ at the National Pub & Bar Awards 2022! One of 94 regional winners, Maiden Bradley’s village favourite will have to wait until 15 National Winners are announced at a posh do in London in June, but I’ve got everything crossed for the win. Set within the historic grounds of the Duke of Somerset’s estate, The Bradley Hare stocks local beers and eclectic wines and serves exceptional food that’s somewhat of an open secret – all in tastefully decorated rooms characterised by high ceilings, bay windows, and 19th century furnishings. No wonder it won!

Hollywood Hotspot alert! 

LA? Pah. Paris? Mais non. London? Nah. But South Cerney? Now you’re talking glitz and glamour. While nearby Bath is has fast become a favourite filming location of recent years (Bridgerton, Wonka and, er, MacDonald and Dodds) I’ve always known that Wiltshire would one day take its rightful place among location hotspots – and it seems that time has come!

Image credit: Sarah Harris

A large production crew with Universal Studios vehicles has been spotted at Cleveland Lakes and residents have spotted new buildings that suggest it’s the site of the George Clooney-directed The Boys in the Boat – the struggle-and-sacrifice story of the University of Washington rowing team who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. And although Mr C has yet to be snapped, we know where we’re taking our binoculars this weekend (in full going-out gear of course). 

Blink-and-you’ll-miss-them blooms

It’s bloomin’ lovely to hear that Bowood has reopened their woodland gardens for its annual six-week showcase! Covering over 30 acres, it’s an oasis of bluebells, azaleas, magnolias, and rhododendrons and considered to be one of the most exciting gardens of its type in the country with over 30 hardy hybrids, which were thought to be extinct. Go as soon as you can, as it will close for the year in early June. 

The Great Wiltshire Bake Off!

Have your dentist on standby for 1 June because on May 30, The Sugar Shack Cakery opens in Swindon, teasing us with a menu of brownies, blondies, rocky road, deep dish cookies, and filled and topped cookie dough. Owner Elly established the business during lockdown, starting with a postal cake company, but picked up the keys to her new IRL property at Orbital Shopping Park in March. Definitely going to be first in the queue for that opening. 

Another bakehouse that has just opened in Wiltshire is The Good Loaf Cafe (above), a dog-friendly business at Melksham’s new Avonside development. It’s a family-run operation by Emma Savage and her mother, who both used to own Grace & Ted in Bath. Emma’s partner Alan Bennett is in charge of the baking thanks to his 15 years experience as Head Baker at Bakers of Bath, the city’s oldest bakery.

New places for a crafty half

If you’re a craft beer savant, you’ll be happy to hear that tap rooms are popping up all over the county like daisies. Marlborough’s first is opening this month, called – fittingly – The Tap. It’s taking over a former stationery shop in Hughenden Yard and will serve eight different taps of unique craft beers and ciders from independent craft breweries around the country. Salisbury’s first craft beer bar, Sips, opened at the end of March in The Maltings – take a look at an example menu above. Anyone else feeling thirsty?

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