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10 reasons to visit Yeovil

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 March 2014

Cyclists in Yeovil Country Park

Cyclists in Yeovil Country Park

Ed Gorochowski courtesy of SSDC Tourism

Sarah Ford heads for Yeovil where she discovers a new youth theatre, a winking frog and the Lantern of the West

Pittards shop is a hidden gemPittards shop is a hidden gem

Park life:

Rivers, lakes, waterfalls and woodland – just some of the delights to be discovered in Yeovil Country Park’s 127 acres. The wealth of wildlife here includes bats, water voles, kingfishers, green woodpeckers, otters and a wide variety of woodland and grassland flowers, tree species and fungi. Enjoy the cycle paths which follow the line of the old railway or walk the footpaths. The park is located on the southern edge of the town (BA20 1QZ); follow the brown tourism signs. Park in the pay and display car park for the Country Park and Goldenstone Leisure Centre.

Shopping life:

The Winking FrogThe Winking Frog

At the end of last year, the Quedam Centre - home to high street names such as Top Shop, Monsoon and Boots – was acquired by new owners, Benson Elliot. Describing the centre as ‘a well-anchored shopping destination in one of the most vibrant catchments in the South West,’ the firm hopes to create exciting opportunities for new and existing retailers. This is positive news for the town, according to beauty therapists Carly Douris and Sophie Cox from Another Little World.

“We hope to see exciting new changes which should attract potential new customers to Yeovil.”

Somerset Life asked the therapists what they were looking forward to most this year. Their favourite events included the fabulous Home Farm Fest – a music weekend at nearby Chilthorne Domer on 6-8 June in aid of the Piers Simon Appeal. Over three days bands will perform in aid of the School in a Bag initiative for disaster affected children around the world. homefarmfest.co.uk

A hidden gem:

Pittards tannery-based shop in Yeovil is a secret West Country resource for everything leather, including clothing and bags and leather goods. And if you love leather gloves you’re bound to find a pair in the right shade here for they come in every colour of the rainbow! Many of the products on the shelves are handmade on site by the skilled team of designers and machinists in the Pittards Design Studio. There’s also a skins store stocking a range of leather skins and hides. Pittards is a global leader in leather manufacturing and exports to over 30 countries around the world.

Music and dance:

Highlights for theatre goers this season include the world premier UK and Ireland tour of The Little Mermaid. Ballet Theatre UK brings a dramatic re-telling of the Hans Christian Andersen favourite to The Octagon Theatre on 11 April.

On his first visit to The Octagon, Sir Willard White performs with Armonico Consort and Baroque Players for JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion on 10 April. Catch the popular soprano Lesley Garrett who performs works by Mozart, Bach, Handel and Haydn on 15 April.

Leading UK dance theatre company Motionhouse will bring a spectacular new production to The Octagon on 4 March. In Broken this powerful company combines athletic dance with digital imagery and original music in an ‘unashamedly visual and adrenaline-fuelled spectacle.’

Unlocking the past:

St John’s Church, completed in about 1405, is known as The Lantern of the West due to its large windows. Find out more fascinating facts and uncover Yeovil’s past via the Community Heritage Access Centre. The CHAC collections reflect Yeovil’s rich industrial past – explore the collections on line at southsomersetheritage.org.uk where you can find out about forthcoming open days and private tours.

The Winking Frog:

In Yeovil’s Princes Street, The Winking Frog is a friendly and welcoming café run by Able to Achieve. This is a charitable trust providing work experience for adults with special needs and learning difficulties. The students learn all about the coffee shop environment, including health and safety and food hygiene.

Pippa Perry is a carer and looks after the customers and front of house. She says: “Customer service is very important to us, along with great quality food, all baked freshly on our premises. We try to use all local produce and source our supplies from local businesses

“The name, The Winking Frog, was chosen because we thought it was fun and quirky, just like us!”

Young theatre stars:

A Youth Theatre has been launched in order to sustain the Swan Theatre company into the future. The project will provide a focus for young people interested in straight drama; once a month they can attend a workshop led by a professional. The Youth Theatre’s next main stage production (26-29 March) is 45 Minutes by Anya Reiss about a group of students who panic when they find they have only 45 minutes to complete their university application forms!

The Swan does not receive any public funding but relies solely on the efforts of its members and patrons. Years of voluntary work and the re-investment of all profits into the building have turned it into one of the best equipped little theatres in the West of England.

Recent improvements include new front doors and an electronic board to advertise shows – so much easier than climbing up a ladder in all weathers.

For details on forthcoming shows such as She Stoops to Conquer (17-22 March) visit swan-theatre.co.uk

Tea and cake at Tintinhull:

While in Yeovil, why not pop along to Tintinhull Garden – a charming National Trust location complete with glittering pools, secluded lawns and colourful borders. The garden in Farm Street (BA22 8PZ) is in the grounds of a 17th century house. Garden open 29 and 30 March and then Wednesday to Sunday in April. For further opening times call 01935 823289 or visit nationaltrust.org.uk

Middle Street markets:

Markets in Yeovil date back to 1205 when King John granted the charter. Today, the Friday event in Middle Street (9am-3pm) is the biggest market in the South Somerset district. A market also takes place here on a Tuesday featuring a diverse range of stalls.

Support your local team:

Yeovil Town Football Club has recently submitted an application for the development of their ground, Huish Park. The only Somerset based club in the Football League competing in the Championship, Yeovil Town (known traditionally as The Glovers in a reference to the town’s glove making past) hit the headlines last year when they moved to the second tier of English football.

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