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Quince Honey Farm in South Molton is introducing a brand-new event for 2017, the Beekeeping Experience Day.

Running on six days throughout spring and summer, the one-day course, aimed at people aged 16 an over, provides the perfect opportunity for any budding beekeepers out there to get an introduction into the craft. It also promises to be a stimulating day out for those who would simply love the chance to spend a day in the stunning North Devon countryside learning about bees.

Led by a professional beekeeper, the day begins with some fascinating facts about beekeeping and bees, before it’s time to get suited up in full protective clothing to be shown, up close, the inner workings of a hive.

Following a tasty, freshly prepared lunch in the café and a guided tour of Quince Honey Farm’s unique Bee World exhibition, the afternoon session provides the chance to conduct a supervised ‘Beehive Inspection’. This is an opportunity to do some real beekeeping, and to learn how to care for the bees and keep the hive healthy all year round.

The knowledgeable resident beekeeper will wax lyrical about their profession, be on hand to answer any questions, offer up hints and tips and leave participants buzzing with excitement on a day well spent. With bees and beekeeping hitting the headlines now more than ever, it really is a fantastic time to get involved and help bees to thrive in our countryside.

The Beekeeping Experience Days cost £135 per person, including lunch and refreshments, and run on Thursday 11 and Saturday 13 May, Thursday 15 and Saturday 17 June, and Thursday 6 and Saturday 8 July. Ideal as a gift for a loved one or as a treat for yourself.

For more information or to book, contact Quince Honey Farm on 01769 572401, email  or visit the website at

PHOTO: Courtesy Solution Studios Photography


The Drama Department at Wellington School is celebrating after receiving the best set of LAMDA results the school has ever seen.

There was greater uptake for these exams than ever, with everyone achieving either Merit or Distinction grades. More excitingly, for the first time at Wellington, the pupils achieved more overall Distinction grades.

Every LAMDA student must learn, direct and perform up to three pieces from different time periods and answer questions on their pieces and drama practitioners used. The students performed an eclectic mix of contemporary and older pieces including the works of Ibsen, Tom Morris and Shakespeare.

Of the twenty-five candidates who sat the examinations, twenty-one received the highest grade boundary.

The following pupils achieved a Distinction: Pip Williams, Matty Fuller, Tommy Piper, Oliver Yu, Jonathan Jenkins, Toby Shaw, Felicity Rickard, Hayley Summers, Rebecca Frearson , Sammy Caygill, Reyhan Taraq, Stephen Tucker, Abigail Govey, Arielle Sheridan, Poppy Price and Rebecca Wynn.

The following pupils gained Distinctions in their group piece: Felicity Rickard, Poppy Price, Rebecca Wynn, Lucile Milton, Willow Robinson

The following pupils passed with Merit: Lucy Stonecliffe, Thomas Chilcott, Ellie Hendy and Thomas Pepperell.

Photo: Successful LAMDA pupils celebrate their superb results.



810_1261.croppedTwo pupils from King’s College have gained places at two prestigious music conservatoires and one has been invited to attend a National Youth Orchestra day. There are only seven conservatoires in the UK and the competition for places in all of them is fierce.

Cellist Megan Hollingshead (left) has gained a place at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.


015320Jonathan Wong (right) has been offered a place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff to study trumpet.


They both attended many gruelling auditions and spent most of last term practising furiously. Their hard work has certainly paid off and we look forward to hearing great things from them in the future.

Fifth Form pupil Ranulf Mason (pictured top) has been invited to attend the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) Inspire String Ensemble days in Liverpool at half term. Aimed at players aged 11-18, playing at high Grade 6 level right up to Grade 8 Distinction, NYO Inspire Ensembles are three-day residencies in orchestral family groups: Strings, Winds, Brass and Percussion. The philosophy behind NYO Inspire is simple: to give breakthrough experiences of orchestral music to teenagers of all backgrounds, both as musicians and as audience members.

Ranulf plays the viola and the organ and will be taking his Grade 8 exams this term. He also sings in the Chapel choir. In this NYO orchestra he will be playing his viola.


Kentisbury Grange Hotel and The Coach House by Michael Caines took home two gold awards for Restaurant of The Year and Small Hotel of The Year at the 2016/17 South West Tourism Awards.

Over the last two years Kentisbury Grange Hotel and on-site restaurant, The Coach House by Michael Caines, have brought home eight gold awards in the county and regional awards.

In November 2016, the hotel and restaurant were awarded gold for Small Hotel of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Devon Tourism Awards for the second year in a row. The South West Tourism Awards in February saw the Devon businesses going head to head with the top businesses in the South West and winning gold in the same categories – also for the second year running.

Peter Farquhar, General Manager at Kentisbury Grange, said of the awards: “WOW – what can I say? We are lost for words. To have won gold again this year, with so many other outstanding businesses entering the awards, is incredible. I’m so very proud of the outstanding team we have here – without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

The team at Kentisbury Grange and The Coach House by Michael Caines are looking forward to the year ahead and have recently welcomed a new Head Chef, James Mason, to the helm. James also has an award or two under his belt, including South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2015.

Michael Caines said: “We are absolutely delighted that our hard work and investment has been recognised through such prestigious awards. The two gold medals are a great tribute to the hard work of our talented teams lead by Martin Robinson and Tom Hine who was recently replaced by Head Chef James Mason.”

Foodies are eagerly awaiting the launch of Michael Caines’ first country house hotel and restaurant, Lympstone Manor, opening on 3 April 2017. Located between Exeter and Exmouth, the Georgian mansion will be transformed into a 21 bedroom hotel and 60 seat fine dining restaurant.


Whatever the weather, make your way to RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon for February half term fun from Saturday 11 to Sunday 19 February 2017.

There will be fun drop-in family craft workshops inside in the Leaning Centre with a different theme every day. Make your own rain gauge and design a weather clock or how about creating a Tornado in a jar!

Youngsters can become weather hunters on a daily weather trail through the garden and find out about the different types of weather – from sun and snow to hurricanes and hailstorms – and learn about the weather systems that affect the planet. The garden trail runs daily from 11 – 17 February 2017.

Was 2016 the wettest year on record? Or was it the driest, the hottest, the windiest? On Tuesday 14 February, visitors can listen to a talk from Rosemoor’s very own ‘Weatherman’ as he shows visitors the Rosemoor Weather Station and explains what it can tell us.

On Friday 17, we are joined by Rob Plummer from Meteorological Office in Exeter – the main source for all of the UK weather forecasts seen on TV or heard on radio. He will be helping families with loads of weather related activities.

So come rain or shine this February Half Term, there are some amazing fun family activities to enjoy at Rosemoor – all of which are free with normal garden admission.

RHS members have free garden entry. Visit or call 01805 626810 for more details.


  • Become a weather detective from 11 – 19 February 2017
  • Create your own ‘Tornado in a Jar’ and rain gauges
  • A guest speaker from the Meteorological office in Exeter
  • See our weather station, take part in a weather hunters’ daily garden trail


Hestercombe has been named as one of the top small attractions in the South West, picking up a Silver at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The attraction, now in its 20th anniversary year, is famed for its historic gardens, house and art gallery, is based near Taunton and welcomes almost 80,000 visitors each year.

The awards ceremony was held at Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium on Thursday (February 2), and CEO Philip White and General Manager Richard Mira (pictured) were on hand to collect the accolade.

Mr White said: “What an extraordinary start to 2017 this has been. Receiving this award means so much to us in this, our 20th year of opening to the public. Hestercombe is committed to developing both its world-class gardens, and the house to bring together art and the landscape, and this year also sees the launch of a fundraising initiative to further improve the attraction.

“We are delighted that we’ve been chosen as the recipients of this prestigious award and congratulate all the other fabulous and well-deserving venues that were nominated.”

After judging a record 602 entries, 380 business visits and 24 hours of panel discussions, 132 Finalists and 5 Highly Commended entries were put through to this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Richard Stanbrook, Director of headline sponsors South West Water Business, said: “We’re committed to playing our part in delivering a sustainable economic future for the South West and feel there’s never been a better time to showcase the individuals and businesses who pioneer, create jobs and help drive the region’s economy and growth.  We understand how crucial the leisure & tourism industry is to the region and how important water is for such businesses. We’re thrilled to be supporting the Tourism Awards again, and celebrate the hard work, innovation and determination that goes into making the thriving tourism industry in the South West such a success.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, commented: “Tourism is one of biggest and fastest growing industries in the world and is at the heart of the South West economy.  Recent research has proved that investing in tourism reaps a greater economic return than virtually every other industry, not to mention contributing to the unique assets and quality of life of this fantastic region.  I pay tribute to all this year’s Finalists for being ‘beacons’ for the region and demonstrating just what tourism can do.”



The Wellington School Philosophy Team returned to King’s College, Taunton, last night in a bid to retain its trophy as winners of the Inter-School Philosothon competition.  The team of 11 young philosophers from years 9-11 dazzled and impressed a range of judges with their insightful contributions to discussions but alas ultimately had to surrender the much-loved trophy to Bristol Grammar School on the evening.

The Philosothon is a philosophy competition judged by leading Professors and lecturers in philosophy.  The idea is new to the UK and was born in Australia in 2007.

The fourth ever Inter-School Philosothon was held at King’s College, Taunton with a large number of participating schools from around the region.

The team, which spanned Year 9 to Year 13, consisted of Reyhan Taraq, Will Davis, Hamish Hunter, Marianne Baly, Dak Natakala, Lizzy Fanshawe, Edmund Tallack, Freddie Renyard, Sophie Bennett, Isabel Elliott and Amy Green.

The team were given a number of philosophical stimuli – this year these included a Dostoevsky passage and a lesser-known issue raised by the Charlie Hebdo attack – which they had to discuss whilst being judged by teams of eminent philosophers.  The Wellington team, though separated throughout, performed at a very high level in each of their groups and scored highly for their ability to articulate conceptual difficulties as well as include and carefully build on the ideas of others within their groups.

Philosothons encourage students to investigate complex philosophical and ethical questions within a small group known as a ‘community of enquiry’. In this setting, students do not see other group members as rivals but take their place as a fellow philosopher attempting to offer solutions to some of the world’s most controversial and problematic ethical and philosophical questions.  In the process of preparing and participating in Philosothons, students have the opportunity to develop higher order thinking and communication skills.

“The joy of Philosothons is that they do not aim to identify and reward the loudest or the most confident, but rather to bring out of students their original ideas, help them to formulate complex ideas and questions and play their part in moving towards answers through courteous and inclusive questioning and discussion,” commented Katja Sass, Wellington School’s Head of RS and team coach.

PHOTO:  Wellington School’s Philosothon team. From left, back row: Lizzie Fanshawe, Izzy Elliott, Will Davis, Edmund Tallach, Freddie Renyard, Reyhan Taraq, Dak Natakala.
Front row: Rachael Davies – RS teacher, Sophie Bennett, Amy Green, Marianne Baly, Hamish Hunter and Katja Sass, Wellington School’s Head of RS and team coach.


This month, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor celebrates the beautiful winter gem that is the Snowdrop with three weeks of ‘Sensational Snowdrops’.

Starting on 21 January and running until 12 February, there will be a display of digital snowdrop prints copied from RHS Lindley Library Art Collection. Complementing this exhibition there will be drifts of snowdrops around the garden to delight visitors during winter walks. Some of these clumps intertwine with the dramatic coloured stems of Rosemoor’s National Cornus Collection.

During two of the weekends, 28 & 29 January and 4 & 5 February, visitors will also be able to see craft demonstrations by ‘From Paper to Petals’ making beautiful handmade snowdrops (and hellebores) from crepe paper to brighten your home and help to banish the dull days of winter. Everyone is encouraged to come along and have a go!

In the Shop and Plant Centre, there will also be short talks and demonstrations most weekends on winter colour/ interest as well as large stocks of plants to buy.

The celebration finishes with Snowdrop Day on 11 February, an adult leisure learning workshop on which there are limited spaces and is subject to additional workshop fees. During the day, Trevor Wiltshire together with RHS Staff, will give a talk in the morning and a guided garden walk after a lunch break to teach visitors all there is to know about these enchanting flowers. Trevor was the superintendent of the rock garden at RHS Garden Wisley and has served on local and national committees of the Alpine Garden Society and the Cyclamen Society. He will talk about wild Turkish snowdrops, how that country conserves wild populations of snowdrops and cyclamen, and explain CITES and its limitations. The propagation technique of twin scaling will be explained, with slides of the village of Dumlugöze’s snowdrop growing fields and he will describe the frustrations of this laudable project to conserve wild populations and curb the digging up of wild snowdrops for export.

Normal garden admission applies and for more information, please visit or telephone the events team on 01805 626800.


Prepare for a musical adventure at Halsway Manor, when Simon Mayor and Hilary James pay a visit on Saturday 21 January at 8pm. They will be joined in this special concert by Hilary’s singing sister Janet Girando.

They’ve lost count of the number of air and road miles they’ve clocked up over the last few years, but with the twin passports of Hilary James’ “wonderfully, honey-dripping voice” and Simon Mayor’s standing as one of the world’s most renowned mandolinists – in any genre – they’ve taken on an impressive and diverse array of international engagements from Vancouver Folk Festival and The Stephen Leacock Humour Festival (Canada) to Rudoldstat World Music Festival (Germany) and guesting at the Classical Mandolin Society of America.

It’s probably the diversity that surprises most people who haven’t seen them before; the voice and mandolin playing isn’t even the half of it. Both are highly talented guitarists, Hilary is also an occasional step-dancer and arguably one of Berkshire’s greatest mandobass players, Simon a dazzling fiddler. As if that’s not enough, Hilary’s sister Janet will be joining them to add her own lilting soprano to the exquisite harmonies.

With a repertoire easily crossing from traditional ballads to blues, Berlioz, classical mandolin show-stoppers and some of their own notorious comic songs, it’s all wrapped up in a hugely entertaining stage show and some of the driest humour this side of Humph. Serious stuff – but don’t take it seriously!

Halsway Manor in Somerset provides a permanent home for the enjoyment, study and development of folk music, dance and culture in England and draws on traditions from across Europe and beyond. Unique in the UK it hosts over 340 days of residential and outreach activity every year covering all facets of the folk arts from instrumental music, song and dance to traditional storytelling, crafts and instrument making.

Tickets are priced £10 / £4 for full-time students. Phone 01984 618274 or buy online:


Exmoor diners wishing to eat out for less next month (February, 2017) can do so thanks to a scheme designed to help showcase the region’s top chefs, suppliers and producers.

As part of the Exmoor Food Fest, restaurants across the area are offering specially priced menus, on selected days during February, to help encourage people to sample some home-grown talent.

Executive Chef, Sam Salway at The Jubilee Inn at West Anstey near South Molton, which is one of the leading establishments participating in the event, said: “We’re delighted once again to be taking part in the 2017 Exmoor Food Fest, which takes place all over the Moor from 1 to 28 February.

“It’s the third annual event of its kind and a wonderful way of showcasing the very best the region has to offer. It is a celebration of local produce and talent, which we’re very passionate about here at The Jubilee Inn. Exmoor is home to many outstanding local products such as venison and Exmoor Caviar to name just two!”

The Jubilee Inn pub, restaurant and boutique hotel, which Sam co-owns with Claire Sellar-Elliott and family, will be running a special Exmoor Food Festival Menu on Tuesday to Thursday lunchtimes with two courses priced £10 and three courses £15.

Sam added: “We always strive to use as much produce as possible from regional or local suppliers who can provide us with quality local produce, which is fully traceable. We are already taking bookings for the Food Festival Menu and our own special menus for February as our customers have learned that often, we are unable to accommodate those without reservations and we are set for a really busy period!  It’s all hands-on deck, or ‘all hands-on prep’ as we say in the kitchen!”

The Exmoor Food Fest runs throughout February and is organised by Elke Winzer. She said: “The Exmoor Food Fest helps local businesses in the hospitality sector to show off their skills. The festival deal of two courses for £10 tempts many people into restaurants at a time of year when business tends to be slow. Diners can download and print off a voucher to present at their chosen participating restaurant to qualify for the offer.

“For the first time this year all participating restaurants will also take part in the Taste of Exmoor Awards. Customers will be able to vote online for their best dining experience – the winners will be crowned at an awards ceremony at Butlins in Minehead at the end of March.

Elke added: “Tearooms and village shops are also encouraged to sign up for the Exmoor Food Fest too.”

Information about all the restaurants signed up for the Exmoor Food Fest can be found at

The Jubilee Inn was taken on by Claire and her family in 2012. After having spent three years closed, they fully refurbished and re-launched it in 2015 with Sam’s help, and now after extensive renovations they are rejuvenating its fortunes.

She said: “We’ve created a successful restaurant and boutique B&B with an excellent reputation for ambience, customer service and fabulous food.  We’re open throughout the week except Mondays, serving seasonal dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby. We also have six beautiful and individual hotel rooms that are all luxurious and inviting. We wanted to create a real home from home atmosphere, with all the little extra luxuries!”

All the bedrooms are ‘uniquely different’. They have en suite bathrooms with showers and beds with Vi-Spring mattresses and crisp linens.

Claire added: “We provide our guests with luxurious accommodation, fabulous fine dining in our restaurant or classic comfort food in our bar. All our dishes are cooked to perfection, feature local and regional seasonal produce and are accompanied by fine wines and ales.”

“As a family-run inn, we treat all our guests warmly and respect their needs and requirements, whether they are here for a meal, a celebration, a weekend of country pursuits or have come for a quiet, romantic weekend away for two. We’re also exceptionally family-orientated and can cater for babies and young children to order.  As a parent myself, I know how important it is when going out with children to have them prioritised, so everyone has an enjoyable time so there are colouring books, pencils, board games and activities on hand here to keep them happy and contented!”

For further details about The Jubilee Inn, which is on B3227 at West Anstey near South Molton, or the wishing tree, please call 01398 341401 or visit

PHOTO: Executive Chef, Sam Salway at The Jubilee Inn at West Anstey near South Molton, which is participating in the 2017 Exmoor Food Fest, with co-owner Claire Sellar-Elliott.