VINTAGE & HANDMADE FAIR

Preparation is now in full swing for this September’s Vintage & Handmade event on Sunday 22 September at Barnstaple Pannier Market.

The show promises to be a colourful and theatrical spectacular with a 50s circus-themed backdrop to an incredible selection of exhibitors: an eclectic mix of vintage & retro traders, work that has been beautifully upcycled or recycled and stunning work from artisans across the South West including jewellery, prints, paintings, ceramics, candles, woodwork and textiles.

Barnstaple Pannier Market will be transformed – behind the curtained entrance you will find a ring master, usherettes with trays, vintage games, a vintage lemonade stand hosted by North Devon Against Domestic Abuse (NDADA) and a live swing band.

Cool creative workshops can be pre-booked including paper-flower making and hand-stitched embroidered brooches.

There will also be food traders and a tea & coffee lounge.

Put the date in your diary, you definitely don’t want to miss this one. Dig out your favourite vintage glad rags as dressing up for this event is actively encouraged.

SWAN GLIDES OFF WITH MORE AWARDS AND OPENS SISTER RESTAURANT

The multi-award-winning Swan in Devon has recently secured yet more awards for 2019 and its owners have also officially unveiled plans for a new restaurant they are set to open next month.

The gastropub with rooms in Bampton has retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fifth year running following a recent visit by the organisation’s inspector.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “This couldn’t have come at a better time for us and we’re delighted. At the start of next month, we’re opening our new restaurant called Spelt.

“We’ve taken on the old bakery shop in Bampton and created a new concept style restaurant and we’re taking bookings now for tables from 12 September, so there’s lots going on! Anyone who would like to book in should get in touch soon, as we expect to be run off our feet once we open, as interest has been so high in the run up to this!

“It’s going to be very different from The Swan in style, but we’ll still be very much focused on the wonderful local produce we use and serving up the tastiest dishes going. We’ll offer a selection of dishes that have been developed for sharing, so no starters as such and no mains either, so if two people are going to eat, possibly they’d have four or five plates of food.

“We’ll be offering visitors from further afield, or those who live nearby but fancy a night over, special packages so they can dine at Spelt and stay with us at The Swan too.

“Spelt represents a wonderful adventure for us and it’s great having something new in the pipeline. Whatever happens though, rest assured, we will not be taking our eyes off the ball at The Swan. We have a deep-rooted passion for the pub, and it is just as important to us today as it was eight years ago when we took it on.”

The Swan is no stranger to celebrations and has had quite a haul of awards already in the past year. A few months ago, the AA named it as the nation’s ‘Inn of the Year’ at a star-studded awards event in London.

In the spring, it was declared for the third year running as one of the best gastropubs in the country too.

It polled in at number 20 in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards, which are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

It also received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018, when it was rated 28th.

To add to this last year, The Swan was named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and being voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards.

And at the end of the year, chef-patron Donna Berry was also one of three finalists in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards too.

Paul added: “Donna is a wonderful chef and Spelt is her vision. Myself, and the our whole team, are very much with her in this new venture. It’s exciting times for us all!”

The team at Spelt is taking bookings officially for 12 September onwards.

To find out more about The Swan and Spelt, please call The Swan on 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co or Spelt on 01398 331044.

MUSEUM OF BARNSTAPLE: NEW SHOP

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is looking for manufacturers, designers, artists and skilled craftspeople to supply products for sale in their brand-new museum shop.

They want to stock a range of items, featuring commercial products made locally in the South West, and would be particularly interested in items that reference their collections of silver, natural history, pottery and woodworking.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “With the new extension nearing completion, exciting times are ahead for the museum.  The new shop will be a fantastic outlet for commercial products that are designed and manufactured around the region.”

Alison Mills, Manager of The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, says: “We are all very excited about the new extension which will give us a much larger shop than we had previously. This will give us an amazing opportunity to showcase a range of beautiful products for sale, made right here in the South West.”

The museum is currently closed while work continues on the exciting new Long Bridge Wing extension, and is due to reopen this autumn with a brand-new social history gallery, larger shop, café and improved education space.

If you think you have a product that would appeal to the museum’s varied audience of local visitors and tourists, then please get in touch by emailing: trudy.weston@northdevon.gov.uk.

EYES TO THE SKIES IN DEVON!

Pupils from Bampton School will take one giant leap in their understanding of space this October when they will be asking questions to an astronaut live on board the International Space Station! Over the summer holidays are researching great things to ask and around 15 of the best will be selected.

The children will have about ten minutes to ask their questions as the ISS zooms overhead at five miles per second! They will use special amateur radio equipment provided by ARISS UK, a team of volunteers that establish the contact.

Bampton School is the only state school in the country to have been awarded the opportunity this year, following a rigorous selection process.

Head Teacher Gary Bladon says, “I am thrilled that we have been able to secure such a unique experience for the children of Bampton School. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the school and the wider community in Bampton. We have changed next term’s topic to look at the subject of communication with all sorts of activities planned in and out of school time to create a real impact and a lasting legacy.”

The contact is currently scheduled for the week commencing Monday 7 October. There will be a screening of the event at the Riverside Hall in Bampton for parents and residents who wish to see it. It’s likely that schools across the county will be watching too. Anybody interested can watch the contact as it will be streamed on this link live.ariss.org Amateur radio enthusiasts all across Northern Europe will also be tuning in to the downlink radio frequency from the ISS.

Nick Bull has three children currently attending the school and is coordinating the contact as a result of his interest in amateur radio. Nick says, “This has brought three things together that are all close to my heart – my children, radio and space! I can’t wait to see the look on the children’s faces when the astronaut’s voice begins to crackle through the static. I have been to a previous event to help set this up and I can tell you it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The drama and tension is something I’ll never forget. It will be no different in Bampton!”

SHOPKEEPERS URGED TO ENTER BEST SMALL SHOPS COMPETITION

Shopkeepers, not only in North Devon, but across the region, are being encouraged to enter a competition which celebrates the creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the role they play in building local communities.

The Best Small Shops competition is free to enter and is open to all independent retailers from any retail sector across the UK. A shortlist of 25 of the most impressive applications will be shortlisted by a panel made up of established representatives from the independent retail industry. The judges are looking for evidence of business innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and what has been done by the shopkeeper to have a lasting positive impact on their community.

North Devon Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economic development and regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Prowse says: “We are very lucky in North Devon to have a brilliant array of quality, independent small shops that help make our district such an attractive place to live and visit. We’d love for our local shopkeepers to have the hard work they invest in their businesses recognised in a national competition like this one and urge them to nominate their shop for an award.”

Hannah Harrington, Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, says: We have many excellent independent retailers in Barnstaple, with 75% that have opened their doors over the past seven years being independents. The same can be said in other parts of the district and it’s time we shouted about the success of our small shops and the boost they give to our local economy and communities.”

Nominations must be submitted by Monday 9 September. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony in London in November where the winners will be announced.

You can nominate your business through www.bestsmallshops.co.uk. Every business who enters the competition will be displayed on the Indie Retail Directory, raising customer awareness throughout the UK.

OUR SOMERSET STORIES: HALSWAY MANOR PROJECT

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been awarded a grant of £39,000 from the Hinkley Point C Community Fund (HPC Community Fund). The grant will support ‘Our Somerset Stories’, an exciting new project to be run within four rural Somerset communities; these include Stogursey, Spaxton and Williton, with a fourth to be confirmed.

The project will see schools working with writers and artists to create new work inspired by their community – past, present and future, leading to publications, exhibitions, creative archives and new folk traditions. This will run alongside creative workshops for the wider community, and celebration events for everyone to enjoy.

Creative Lead Alice Maddicott will co-ordinate the project for Halsway Manor. She says, “We’ll be creating new opportunities for people to discover and be inspired by their folk history and heritage, and celebrate what makes their community special to them.”

Crispian Cook, Chief Executive of Halsway Manor Society, commented: “Halsway is an important resource which enriches lives of people both locally and nationally. We are grateful to HPC Community Fund for their support, which allows us to continue to develop our provision and make a difference to people living within our immediate vicinity.”

HPC Community Fund is managed by Somerset Community Foundation to help local communities mitigate the impacts of Hinkley Point C and maximise the opportunities that arise from the development for the communities (in Somerset) through schemes, measures and projects which promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of those communities and enhance their quality of life.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts provides a permanent home for the enjoyment, study and development of folk music, dance and culture in England. Established as a charity in 1966 and unique in the UK, it hosts over 340 days of residential and outreach activity every year, for all ages, and covering all facets of the folk arts from instrumental music, song and dance to traditional storytelling, crafts and instrument making. For more information visit www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

BARNSTAPLE URBAN SPORTS FESTIVAL

Barnstaple is set to host an exciting new event, as the Urban Sports Festival and a range of adrenaline sports come to town in September.

The Barnstaple Urban Sports Festival is a one-day event designed to showcase non-mainstream sports to the local community, with entertainment on offer for all the family. The festival will take place on Sunday 8 September at various locations across the town.

North Devon, which has recently been labelled ‘England’s Adventure Coast’ by Visit England, has a strong connection with adrenaline sports, thanks to its surf culture and outdoor lifestyle. The festival will feature exciting sports such as BMX, skateboarding, rollerskating, scooter trials and parkour, celebrating Barnstaple’s offer as an ‘urban playground’.  As well as the various activities being demoed, there will be have-a-go sessions for children and adults, street food, live music and competitions on offer.

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington, says, “We are incredibly proud to be hosting the Urban Sports Festival in Barnstaple. This will be a free community festival-style event that will be great fun for participants and spectators alike. Get the date in your diary and bring your family along to enjoy the day with us.”

North Devon Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economic development and regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Prowse, says: “This promises to be an exciting event for the people of North Devon and we would like to see as many residents attending it as possible. You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to go along and enjoy the day but, who knows, you may feel inspired to take up a new hobby!”

More information about the event is available online www.urbansportsfestival.co.uk If you’re interested in getting involved in please contact Vanessa Harrison vanessa.harrison@northdevon.gov.uk or 01271 388216.

ILFRACOMBE LOCALS RAISE CASH TO LAUNCH HARBOUR’S MARINE ROBOT

Two Ilfracombe residents have raised £300 in a show of community spirit to ensure the town harbour’s marine robot can continue its clean-up.

Carol Chapple and Rose Fisher, who live close to Ilfracombe Harbour, organised a raffle to raise money to fund the WasteShark launch project when it became apparent that Ilfracombe’s high tidal range was preventing the robot from being used on a regular basis.

The autonomous marine robot was first launched in Ilfracombe in March this year to help clear the harbour of waste. The WasteShark is designed to roam distances of up to 5km of water, capturing plastics, microplastics, oils and other pollutants.

Ilfracombe was the first place in the UK to host the WasteShark, which is the world’s first marine robot designed specifically to eat waste and collect data. It does not emit carbon or produce noise or light pollution, so is kind to nature and poses no threat to wildlife.

Ilfracombe is located on the Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world (the first being in the Bay of Fundy in Canada). This has meant that the launch system devised by the manufacturers of the WasteShark does not always work in Ilfracombe Harbour. Together with local firm Coastal Engineering Services, Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat and Deputy Harbourmaster Ric Simpson designed an alternative launch system, consisting of a crane and bespoke shark cage to name but a few parts.

Ilfracombe Harbourmaster, Georgina Carlo-Paat says: “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lantern Court community and local residents for organising and taking part in a raffle in support of the WasteShark. Raising this money to go towards the launch system will enable the ‘shark’ to go out and about more often and keep our beautiful harbour clear of debris. Thanks to the community’s efforts we are now well on the way to having the WasteShark on a regular patrol around the harbour.”

You can keep up to date with what’s happening at Ilfracombe Harbour on North Devon Council’s website www.northdevon.gov.uk/business/ilfracombe-harbour.

PHOTO: Ilfracombe Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat (centre) with Carol Chapple (left) and Rose Fisher (right).

EXMOOR POETRY BOOK LAUNCH AT THE DUNSTER SHOW

The launch of a new collection of enchanting poems inspired by encounters with Exmoor hill farmers, along with poetry readings and a book signing by the author, are just some of the exciting activities on offer in the ‘Big Exmoor Tent’ at this Friday’s Dunster Show (16 August).

Poet Adam Horowitz received grants from Exmoor National Park Authority’s Partnership Fund and Exmoor Society to spend time on Exmoor Hill Farming Network farms signed up to the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association – an alliance of farmers committed to feeding livestock solely on grass for the benefit of nature, animal welfare and the planet.

The resulting poetry evokes both the drama of the landscape and the delicate balance between farming and nature that helps to create it, and will be available to buy for the first time as part of an expanded second edition to The Soil Never Sleeps, published by Palewell Press and available for £9.99. Also for sale will be artwork by Jo Sanders, whose illustrations depicting two Exmoor Horn sheep feature on the cover of the new book.

Adam, who stayed on two different hill farms during his time on Exmoor, said: “I helped out where I could and absorbed the beauty of the national park and the practical concerns that go in to maintaining that beauty, as well as the continued health of the soil and the land.

“My hope is that The Soil Never Sleeps – which weaves celebration of the land with the voices of the farmers and the science of farming – will play a small part in the ongoing, and very necessary conversations about the future, and continued vitality of the British landscape.”

The Big Exmoor Tent is sponsored by internet service provider Airband, who provide both wireless and fibre broadband for rural and hard-to-reach areas.  Alongside poetry, it will feature a host of activities celebrating the National Park, including birds of prey from North Devon Hawk Walks, local produce direct from the farm, green woodworking demonstrations, information about volunteering, badge-making, quizzes and free National Park pocket guides. Discover Exmoor’s amazing array of fauna and flora with the Exmoor Natural History Society, find out how to get active with Exmoor Adventures and get top tips for enjoying the area from Visit Exmoor.

Ben Totterdell, Exmoor National Park’s Interpretation and Education Manager, said: “This year marks 70 years since the legislation that created national parks, and we’re immensely proud to be one 15 that now exist in the UK. The Dunster Show is a fantastic celebration of the deeply rural ways of life that sustain these stunning landscapes and we hope as many people as possible will pay us a visit to discover all that goes into helping protect them and get top tips for enjoying them.”

Airband, who are sponsoring the Big Exmoor Tent, said they were delighted to be part of the event: “The world needs more poetry and the best poetry can be truly magical,” said Airband’s Devon Project Manager Martin Hewlett.

PETITION TO SAVE THE EXMOOR HOSTEL SECURES 1,000 SIGNATURES AND STILL RISING!

Dulverton Catholic Parish Action Group has secured over 1,000 signatures to its petition to reverse the closure of the Dulverton Residential Centre and St Stanislaus Catholic Church by the Clifton Diocese.

The Dulverton Residential Centre, also known as Exmoor Hostel, sleeps 36, mostly in dormitories. It is popular with schools, colleges, youth and family groups with bookings. This year alone, it has been booked by Radley College, Oxford Brookes University, Downside School, Bath University, GDSA Scouts, St John’s College, Cambridge, Bromley Canoe Club, Hampton School, Henley Juniors, Winchester College, Bristol Ariel Rowing Club, Dauntsey’s School, King’s Rochester School, Channing School, Rochelle Torrington, Claire’s Court School and Winchester College.

The Centre takes groups from 15 to 36 of all ages including family groups coming to the area for a holiday or for a wedding.

Visitors at the Centre come for the rowing on Wimbleball Lake, canoeing and kayaking on the River Barle, cycling, hiking, orienteering and all the other glories of Exmoor.

The Centre brings much-needed customers to Dulverton, including the Co-op, Catley’s Fish and Chips, The Bridge Pub, Mortimer’s, The Copper Kettle, The Lion, Woods, Tarr Steps Farm and many other venues, shops, stores and restaurants, not only in Dulverton but in the and surrounding area.

Despite being run as a not-for-profit charity (£13 to £16 per person per night), the Centre and Church are financially viable and cover their own outgoings.

The Centre does need a facelift, but professional estimates put the cost of this at no more than £50k, funds for which already lie within the Catholic Parish’s own resources.

A spokesperson for the petition states in their press release, “The reality is that the diocese, with over 100 parishes to run, cannot be bothered with the responsibility of this remote rural parish, dwarfed by the demands of such centres as Bristol and Swindon. The Church and Centre buildings are so close that one cannot be sold without the other. The church is collateral damage.”

The Dulverton Catholic Parish Action Group is committed to reversing the diocese’s decision and, among many other measures, has founded a Petition to the Bishop of Clifton which has just secured 1,000 signatures (and still rising).

On Friday 9 August the Parish Action Group Chairman said ‘thank you’ to the Co-op in Dulverton and its store manager, Paul Kingdom, for allowing a petition display in their store-front and ‘thank you with flowers’ to Chrissy Thomas who secured the signatures.

Readers wishing to support the petition should click here.

The Action Group have convened a public meeting at 11am on Saturday 24 August in the field with marquee between Oldberry Lane and the River Barle (just on your right as you go over the bridge leaving Dulverton). Cakes, cider and lemonade will be served. All are welcome.

PHOTO: Paul Kingdon, Co-op store manager on the left, Chrissie Thomas in the middle and Simon Roderick Rous, Action Group Chairman, on the right.