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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk.
North Devon Council would like to know what local people think of plans to extend the Tarka Tennis Centre to include a new eight-lane 25m pool, learner pool and fitness gym, exercise studios, sports hall and a full-size 3G artificial grass pitch.
The council is holding a public consultation event at North Devon Leisure Centre from 10am-9pm on Wednesday 22 February, to find out how local people use their leisure facilities and what they will need within the new facilities to make their experiences better. The architects, leisure consultant and council staff will be on hand to discuss the project and record public opinion.
Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “Our plans for a new leisure centre are picking up pace. In January we appointed a leisure consultant and architect and we now wish to consult the public on our design concepts before we move forward. We want to make sure we’re including the right mix of leisure facilities and to do so we need to hear from the people who plan to use the centre.
“North Devon Leisure Centre is coming to the end of its life and we have a great opportunity now to deliver a replacement facility that meets the needs of as many people as possible. Realistically, we won’t be able to meet everyone’s aspirations – we know we can’t afford to replace everything we have in the existing leisure centre and building a 50m pool, for example, is just too expensive to deliver. Please pop down to the leisure centre on 22 February to let us know what you think.”
If the council is successful in its bids for Sport England funding and can obtain planning consent, construction of the new pool and leisure facilities at Tarka Tennis Centre could begin in Autumn 2018 and be complete by Summer 2020.
If you can’t make it to the event but would like to comment on the new facilities, you will be able to fill in an online form at www.northdevon.gov.uk/consultations from Wednesday 22 February.
He was a humble postman whose poems, written whilst walking the rural lanes of North Devon on his daily round in the mid-nineteenth century, won plaudits from the Prime Minister and the support of the biggest literary names of the day. He was to become known nationally as the ‘Postman Poet’ and was referred to as ‘the Devonian Burns’.
Yet today, two years short of the 200th anniversary of Edward Capern’s birth, many of his fellow Devonians are unlikely to have heard of his remarkable story, let alone people from further afield.
But that could be about to change. Recognition might again come knocking for Capern (1819-1894), thanks to a collaboration between Bideford author Liz Shakespeare and folk musicians and songwriters Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, also from Bideford – the town where Tiverton-born Capern resided for most of his life.
Liz has written The Postman Poet, a novel based on the life of Capern, and at the same time is publishing 34 of his 600 poems in The Poems of Edward Capern. During her research, Liz found that some of his poems were intended to be sung and Nick and Becki have spent the past 12 months choosing which ones to set to music for their CD, the Songs of Edward Capern.
The book and CD launch takes place with an evening of reading and songs at the Royal Hotel in Bideford on 25 March, two days before they officially go on sale.
Capern was from a poor family and as a boy only went to school for four months. He was entirely self-taught but he had a local benefactor, William Frederick Rock from Barnstaple, who saw his early poems in a local newspaper and was behind the publication of Capern’s first volume of poems. Its subscribers included Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens and the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. He was also admired by the Poet Laureate, Alfred Austen.
“It was a remarkable achievement for a working class man to become nationally known and I think he deserves a larger audience today,” said Liz. While writing the novel, she drew on historical research and details in the poems to tell the extraordinary story through Edward’s eyes as he struggles to support his family, a story that captures the opportunities and inequalities of Victorian North Devon.
Capern would jot down poems while he was walking on his round and he often wrote on the envelopes he was about to deliver: “He had to ask the recipients if he could keep the envelopes because he’d written on them,” said Liz, whose own cottage in Littleham just outside Bideford was on Capern’s round.
It was during his daily two-hour break on the Bideford to Buckland Brewer route that most of his poems were written. It seems that one day he was invited into a cottage to sit in the warmth of the kitchen while the ladies of the house went about their daily chores. It was an invitation he was to accept every day after that.
Quite by coincidence, while carrying out her research, Liz discovered that the cottage in Buckland Brewer is now owned by a good friend, local historian and genealogist Janet Few: “When you’re in the kitchen you can imagine Edward sitting there writing up a poem about the nature he’d seen and the people he’d met that morning,” said Liz.
When it came to Nick and Becki setting Capern’s work to music, they found that the poems had a particular rhythm to them: “You could tell he’d written them while walking,” said Nick, “because there is a walking feel to the rhythm of the lines.”
This “walking feel” was used when they composed the music, as Becki explained: “The feel informed the rhythm and we then created the melody to ‘fit’ what the words were saying. And the melody informed the choice of instruments.
“The songs are certainly folk-influenced because that’s our background and it’s probably the music Capern would sing. But it’s not traditional folk music. It’s a much more contemporary sound.”
Nick and Becki initially sifted through Capern’s collection of poems that he’d written for music in his volume, The Devonshire Melodist, only to discover his words had been disastrously misinterpreted by composer T Murby. His piano arrangements were clearly intended for the well-to-do and a review in the Illustrated London News decried Murby’s melodies as “artificial, laboured, hard to sing”.
As a result Nick and Becki have recorded just two of the songs as they were written – ‘Christmas Bells’ and ‘Come List, My Love’, and have set a third from the collection, ‘The Robin Is Weeping’, to their own music. Nine further Capern poems are set to their folk-influenced interpretation
“It’s pretty obvious that folk was his genre,” said Nick. ”We think he’d be happy with what we’ve done.”
Although he was careful not to upset the aristocracy who bought his work, Capern was keen to use his pen to champion the cause of the poor. One poem Nick and Becki have set to music is ‘The Dinner Bell’, a tale of the haves and have-nots where Capern laments the plight of families who could hear the sound of distant dinner bells but themselves had no food.
In recognition of Capern’s commitment to social justice, £1 from each copy of the poetry collection sold is being donated to the North Devon Food Bank.
Capern died in 1894, aged 75, and is buried in the churchyard at Heanton near Braunton, with his trusty postman’s handbell fixed in a niche in the headstone.
So how will twenty-first-century readers view Capern’s poems? Liz admits some are rather sentimental for today’s tastes but added: “The best of it is as fresh and honest now as it was then. The poems I’ve selected are those which are most reflective of his life and the locality. He loved his job, despite the weather and the long hours and it’s this love that really comes across in his work. His poems are written from the heart.”
The Postman Poet by Liz Shakespeare, RRP £9.99 (ISBN: 9780951687949); The Poems of Edward Capern, selected by Liz Shakespeare, RRP £7.99 (ISBN: 9780951687956); The Songs of Edward Capern by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, RRP £10.
The Rural Postman by Edward Capern (extract): O, the postman’s is as happy a life
As any one’s, I trow;
Wand’ring away where dragon-flies play,
And brooks sing soft and slow;
And watching the lark as he soars on high,
To carol in yonder cloud,
“He sings in his labour, and why not I?”
The postman sings aloud.
And many a brace of humble rhymes
His pleasant soul hath made,
Of birds, and flowers, and happy times,
In sunshine and in shade.
PHOTO AT TOP: Becki, Liz and Nick in the kitchen at Buckland Brewer.
This February half term, a free family arts and craft day is being held at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.
On Wednesday 15 February between 10.30am and 3pm, families can pop into the museum for some crafty fun with the WOW North Devon Scrap Store.
Executive Member for Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “Entry to the museum is free and there is always plenty to see, which makes it a great place to take the children during school holidays. While you’re there, why not also take a look at the plans for the museum extension, which are on display in the café?”
For more information, email email@example.com or call 01271 346747. You can also follow the museum on Facebook to keep up to date with all their events.
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.
Business leaders from across North Devon met recently, on Tuesday 31 January, to discuss a number of regeneration projects in the pipeline for Barnstaple.
‘Opportunity Barnstaple’, a half-day conference for businesses and partners, was organised by North Devon Council to share ideas and provide an update on projects driving the economic regeneration of the town.
Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “The event was very well received, with more than 60 stakeholders attending, including businesses, developers and representatives from public bodies. We were pleased to be able to update everyone on some major regeneration projects that are already underway. It was a very positive event and I’m looking forward to working with partners to make the most of the exciting opportunities we have to develop the town.”
Delegates at the event were given an update on the Barnstaple WiFi trial, projects to regenerate The Strand and Seven Brethren, car parking, the town’s Flood Defence Study, a master plan for Pilton Park and the Taw footbridge consultation. There was also information from Devon County Council on sustainable travel grants for businesses and an update on the A361 North Devon Link Road project.
North Devon Council and Devon County Council are consulting on options to improve links for pedestrians and cyclists between Anchorwood Bank and Barnstaple town centre.
There are a number of ways in which crossing the River Taw could be improved – including a new bridge, or changes to the existing Long Bridge, to improve capacity. In consultation with Historic England, the councils have identified six crossing options.
Local residents and businesses are invited to consider these six options, and to provide feedback as to which are considered most beneficial and deliverable.
Executive Member for economic development and regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “We are particularly interested to understand the views from businesses and organisations in the town centre, and from those who regularly use the town centre for shopping, services and eating out.
“Improving the ability to cross the river is important to ensure the town centre doesn’t lose trade from Asda and the other retail developments at Anchorwood Bank. We want to make sure the option we choose is best for the town and your views are really important. Please go online and have your say.”
Local member for Barnstaple Longbridge ward, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “In principle I support the idea of a pedestrian and cycling footbridge across the river and I will read the options put forward with interest and make my judgement as part of the consultation process. However, I do not now, nor will I in the future, support any structural modifications or appendages to the current Longbridge, which I believe should be preserved as the historical gateway to Barnstaple.”
“The six options are explained on the council website. The main document sets out the options and provides a summary of the main benefits and issues, with a more detailed assessment of the options within Appendix B of the document. consult.torridge.gov.uk
The deadline for feedback is 5pm on 2 March 2017. The full document can be downloaded from the council website. If you experience any problems downloading the document, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is holding its 15th annual Open Art Show until 18 February, showcasing the best new work from ten local artists.
The show, which promotes the work of amateur and professional artists working in North Devon, was officially opened by Peter Heaton-Jones MP.
Judges from White Moose Gallery, PETROC and Quay Drawing helped to choose the selected artists, who are either local residents, or their work has been inspired by northern Devon, Exmoor and Lundy Island.
Pete Newell, one of the judges involved, says: “It has been a challenge and pleasure to help assemble this exhibition. There was a wide range of artists, artworks, style and subject matter to select from and I hope that the chosen works reflect the quality and diversity of art practice currently underway in North Devon.”
Visitors to the show can enjoy work by:
• Gerrard Lindley
• Roger Cockram
• Louise Thompson
• Luna North
• Lesley Anne Cornish
• Debbie Lee
• Gill Jones
• Tony Williams
• Penny Armitage
• Roger Humphries
Executive Member responsible for leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “The standard of entry for this year’s Open Art Show was extremely high as always. The artists who live and work in, or are inspired by, northern Devon are extremely talented. Why not come along to the museum and see for yourself? Especially as entry is free.”
The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is open from 10am to 4pm on Monday to Saturday, admission is free. Check out the museum’s Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest news and events.