The independent magazine for all those who love Exmoor, North Devon and the Quantocks

Welcome to the Winter Issue, the cover of which is graced with a beautiful survivor of the ‘Beast from the East’ – in the shape of a lovely young kestrel, photographed by Rupert (Jack) Clegg, Exmoor Photography. Jack told me, “I found her very early one morning in February up at Kinsford. She was actually having her breakfast. It was bitterly cold, I was cold and she looked cold, so I didn’t stay for long. I literally took a few photos of her in seconds, as I didn’t want to disturb her. I saw lots of her after this and, yes, she survived the winter!”

Jack has also allowed us to use some wonderful barn owl images for David Ballance’s article on the owls of Exmoor (a piece which includes some of our rarer visitors, among them the snowy owl!). Some of the other images for that article come to us from Rupert Smith, a talented nature photographer who I met at the North Devon Show a few years back. Rupert will be well known to many for his work alongside Johnny Kingdom and he very kindly – and at horribly short notice – agreed to pen a tribute to Johnny, which you will find on pages 18-19.

Elsewhere in this issue Mel Roach goes in search of free-range turkeys, writer Tony James and photographer Andrew Hobbs hunt down locally grown Christmas trees, guerilla odd job heroes in Porlock and one of Exmoor’s most seasoned bell-ringers. Rosemary FitzGerald succeeds, once again, in making the arcane fascinating in her look at Taunton Herbarium and Michelle Werrett visits Tish and Jeremy Brown at Folly Farm, Hazel Coles at Combeshead and Jack and Margery Ellicott at Morebath, to talk about what happens when the cows come home.

Others who have shared their thoughts and memories with us include Edgar Webber, who takes Jane Mares on a trip down memory lane as he recalls life in Cutcombe and Wheddon Cross, without forgetting a single name. And Avril Stone visits Mike Guegan at Appledore, on her quest to learn about the brave souls who crossed the Atlantic in search of cod, timber and a new life.

We hope that you enjoy all of this and more in our Winter Issue and that you have a wonderfully festive season!

Happy reading

Naomi, Elaine, Heather & Bryan

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