Friday 2 March at 7.30pm

AJ’s Big Band, the South West’s highly acclaimed 17- piece band, makes a welcome return to the Regal Theatre on Friday 2 March with a packed programme of swing and jazz classics from the big band era and beyond.

AJ’s Big Band, now into its 34th year, continues to delight audiences with its vibrant instrumental arrangements and beautiful vocals from songstress Paula Mitchell. Their new show, Still Swinging and Singing!, features some of the leading players in the West Country and is led by saxophonist Ken Parr.  This will be an unmissable evening of top-quality musical entertainment.

The performance on Friday 2 March begins at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £15. are available from the Regal Box Office.

Wednesday 7 March at 7.30pm
Ceri Dupree’s

The fabulous Ceri Dupree comes to the Regal on Wednesday 7 March with his One Man, 21 Women show. Audiences will enjoy a glamorous evening of hysterical comedy, amazing vocal impersonations and jaw-dropping, eye-popping costumes. This will be a chance to meet Adele, Cher, Joan Collins, Lady Ga Ga, Bjork, Shirley Bassey, Camilla and even the Queen! Ceri brings them all lovingly to life with a touch of Las Vegas class rarely seen in the UK today. Early booking is strongly advised.

“Dupree storms the stage with style, wit, glamour, and a pace that leaves you amazed.” TIME OUT.

“Slick and saucy, rude and risqué, fun and fantastic.” LEICESTER MERCURY.

“I’ve seen hundreds of men dress up as women over the years, most of them disastrously so. A handful of them get this particular art form right, Ceri Dupree is one of that handful.” THE TIMES

The performance on Wednesday 7 March begins at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £16.

Friday 9 March at 7.30 pm
Minehead and West Somerset Arts Society present

Minehead and West Somerset Arts Society present the latest concert in their Spring Programme when Florilegium (pictured below) comes to the Regal Theatre, Minehead, on Friday 9 March.

Performances in some of the world’s most prestigious venues have confirmed Florilegium’s status as one of Britain’s most outstanding period instrument ensembles. Since formation more than 25 years ago years ago, they have established a reputation for stylish and exciting interpretations, from intimate chamber works to large-scale orchestral and choral repertoire.

The programme comprises: Handel:  Concerto Grosso Op 3 No 3; Vivaldi:  La Follia; Bach:  Orchestral Suite No 2; Pergolesi:  Flute Concerto; Rameau:  Pièce de Clavecin en concert and Corrette: Concerto comiques ‘Les Sauvages’.

Florilegium regularly collaborate with some of the world’s finest musicians including Dame Emma Kirkby, Robin Blaze and Elin Manahan Thomas. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a dazzling programme performed by musicians at the height of their powers.

The performance on Friday 9 March begins at 7.30pm and tickets costing up to £15. are available from the Regal Box Office

The Box Office (01643 706430), is open 10am – 3pm Monday – Saturday.  Book online at

Classical music ensamble Florilegium, led by Ashley Solomon. Photograph by Amit Lennon


Winners of the Alfred Vowles Photographic Competition were presented with their prizes recently at The Exmoor Society’s Resource Centre in Dulverton. “Alfred Vowles was born in 1882 and was a well-known local photographer who, for over 30 years until the late 1940s, devoted his life to recording the landscape, life and people of Exmoor,” said Rachel Thomas, Exmoor Society Chairman.

“He immersed himself in the established styles and processes of the day and for many years ran a thriving business selling postcards of his work from a shop in Minehead, having earlier worked for Kodak in London. His legacy is a most valuable document of the Exmoor of the period, which is why we named the competition after him.”

The competition, which is sponsored and run by The Exmoor Society, occurs every two years and invites amateur photographers to submit images of Exmoor under three categories: Scenery, Wildlife and Heritage. The three judges, Caroline Tonson-Rye, Exmoor Society Trustee, Barry Hitchcox, of Barry Hitchcox Photography, and Jack Clegg of Minehead Photography, were impressed by the high standard of entries.

Keith Hann won first prize in the Wildlife category with a wonderfully observed shot of a wheatear, taken in Ember Combe. This is not an easy bird to capture and the judges liked the shallow depth of field and iconic Exmoor sprig of heather so much that Keith was also awarded the Alfred Vowles Trophy, donated by Vowles’ family, for the Overall Winner 2017-18. First prize in the Scenery category was awarded to Madeline Taylor for her very original view of Tarr Steps, the bold composition and good lighting particularly appreciated. Both winners received a cheque for £50.

Congratulations go to the following Highly Commended entries:

Wildlife Category – Madeline Taylor: Exmoor pony mare and foal crossing the road near Webber’s Post; Keith Hann: Young stags in Thurley Combe.

Landscape Category – Sharon Bailey: Tarr Steps after the flood, November 2016; Keith Hann: Freezing fog in the Quarme Valley.

The judges were disappointed by the low number of entries in the Heritage category. Sadly, none of these was up to the standard they were hoping for, and they were unable to reach a decision on a winner. Competition judge and Trustee Caroline Tonson-Rye said: “The Exmoor Society would like to encourage everyone to discover and enjoy all that Exmoor National Park has to offer, and to capture it on camera. The closing date for the next Alfred Vowles Competition is not until 31 December 2020, so there is plenty of time to take that winning shot. Advice and tips can be found on the website under Competitions and Awards at Good luck!”

A display of all the winning photographs and a selection of the other entries can be seen at The Exmoor Society Resource Centre in Dulverton, open weekdays 10am to 4pm.


Bookings are now being taken for a residential Family Stargazing Weekend at Exmoor National Park’s Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning. Astronomy expert Seb Jay will be leading sessions including a telescope workshop and stargazing talk. The weekend of stargazing and discovery runs from Friday 16 March to Sunday 18 March and is ideal for families or groups with an interest in astronomy. Some knowledge will be useful but beginners are more than welcome.

Early preparation is also underway to expand this year’s Exmoor Dark Skies Festival into a two-week period from 20 October to 4 November. Following the success of the inaugural festival last year, organisers Exmoor National Park were delighted with the interest in celebrating and promoting the area’s designation as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.

Katrina Munro, Economy Project Officer at Exmoor National Park, said, “This year there’ll be even more opportunities to learn about and enjoy our dark sky. Events such as the planetarium and space workshops are a great way to introduce children to the wonders of the universe. There will also be stargazing evenings, astronomy talks and dark sky adventures.”  Search #ExmoorDSF for what happened last year and TO keep up to date with 2018’s Festival.

“The festival is a boost for tourism and businesses are invited to hold events or use the festival to offer themed short stay packages,” Katrina continued. “I’d be delighted to hear from businesses and organisations who want to be involved.”

Visit for more details, booking for the Family Stargazing Weekend or the Dark Skies Festival or call Katrina Munro on 01398 322236.

PHOTO: by Keith Trueman


It’s always best to leave enough time for the tea to infuse in the hot water as it allows for the depth of flavour and strength to develop. A quick dip just doesn’t give the same taste. At Miles this principle applies to the business and day-to-day life, which reflects in the longevity of the company. 2018 sees 130 years of tea and coffee heritage with the Miles family.

2017 saw continual sales growth, showing that taking time to create only the best products does pay off. One of the main areas of growth was with the award-winning West Country Original loose-leaf tea, with its tea blend recipe being a closely guarded secret for years.

John Halls, Operations Director, said: “It’s a real achievement to see growth in such uncertain times. We pride ourselves in protecting our West Somerset workforce and continually upgrading our rural production sites. We have invested in new machinery which will see new products being launched this year and look forward to sharing more about this soon. We are pleased to announce that, for the fifth year running, Miles have been independently ranked among the top four UK tea brands. This year our coffee has been ranked as the second most popular UK coffee brand for farm shops and delis to stock in Best Brands 2017/18 edition which is out this month.”

PHOTO: John Halls, Operations Director with Best Brands Magazines, a pack of Miles award winning West Country blend tea in the tea aisle at the Miles factory




Now the largest event in Somerset for visual artists and makers, Somerset Open Studios 2018 is now open for registrations. Somerset Art Works members working in any discipline can apply to be part of this bi-annual event.

Somerset Open Studios draws Art Weeks back to its roots, focusing on artists in their working environment. Between 15 and 30 September 2018, artists demonstrate how they make their work; their process, practice and inspiration. The event allows a rare opportunity to see inside artists’ studios, temporary working spaces and other locations to find out what goes on behind the scenes.

Open Studios visitors can find out first hand about the creative process through demonstrations, workshops, talks and visits, to educate, inspire and delight. Art appreciators of all ages are welcome at family-friendly venues and also at a family-friendly finale weekend, with workshops and activities for all. Open Studios showcases established names as well as introducing new and emerging artists.

To apply for membership and to register for this year’s event, visit the Somerset Art Works website, email art or phone the SAW office on 01458 253800 between 9am and 4.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The deadline for registrations is 15 March 2018.

Somerset Art Works aims to support artists who want to work professionally and are looking to promote their creative businesses across a range of disciplines; books, ceramics, drawing, film, furniture, glass, jewellery, metalwork, mixed media, painting,  photography, pottery, printmaking, sculpture, textiles and wood. SAW also continues to support emerging talent in Open Studios year with Creative Pathways bursaries and mentoring.

SAW is an artist-led organisation and Somerset’s only countywide agency dedicated to developing visual arts, weaving together communities and supporting the artists who enrich our lives, making Somerset a place where people expect to engage with excellent visual art that is surprising and distinctive.

SAW also develops projects and offers membership to support practising artists and organisations in Somerset: providing bursaries, developing commissions, supporting collaborative working and creating networking and showcase opportunities, including the diverse annual Art Weeks event.



North Devon Council is extending its temporary contract with Parkwood Creative for the management of North Devon’s theatres.

At a meeting of its Executive on Monday 5 February, councillors agreed to extend the existing contract with Parkwood until January 2019. Following the collapse of North Devon Theatres Trust last year, the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple and Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe were forced to close temporarily. In April, the council entered into a 12-month contract with Parkwood to reopen the theatres while it prepared and tendered a longer-term contract for the operation of both theatres.

Preparing the tender documents (which involves undertaking condition surveys of both theatres) for the long-term contract will take more time than originally thought and the procurement will not be completed by April this year (when the short-term contract with Parkwood was due to expire).

Rather than a further closure period, the council has agreed to extend Parkwood’s contract until mid-January 2019. This will ensure that the theatres continue to recover from the unexpected closure last year and run as normal, unaffected by the procurement of operational contracts.

Since April last year, the main focus has been on developing a strong programme of events at the Queens Theatre, which has been very well received by local audiences. Now that the Queens is operating at full capacity again, Parkwood’s extended contract will include a requirement for more events at the Landmark Theatre. Several strong acts are already confirmed, including comedians Jason Manford and Ed Byrne and the new contract will see an average of one event each week at the Landmark, between April 2018 and January 2019 .

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We’ve been really impressed with what Parkwood has delivered since they took the theatres on in April. There has been lots of fantastic feedback and the panto was a massive hit. I’m very pleased we were able to get the theatres back up and running so quickly and that we can continue to keep them open while we work to secure a long term operator.”

Find out what’s on at the Queens Theatre and the Landmark at

PHOTO: by Nilfanion, on Wikimedia