All posts by Naomi Cudmore

Editor and designer for the magazine, Naomi has lived in and around Exmoor since 1979. She spent most of her childhood in Nettlecombe parish, went to school at Minehead Middle and the West Somerset Community College and studied English Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She worked in publishing for ten years after graduating in 1996, then took a break when she left her role as Commissioning Editor in 2004 to sail around the world, during which she was an on-board writer and the racing team's 'media person' for ten months. Afterwards she set up on her own (she runs www.lighthousecommunications.co.uk), before taking on the editorship of Exmoor Magazine in 2008 and buying the business with colleagues in 2010. She lives near Washford with her partner Pete and an extremely lazy 'editor's cat', Turtle, who makes guest appearances on our Facebook page from time to time. She spends most of her spare time gig rowing at Appledore.

The 24th Westcountry Equine Fair continues showcasing ‘The Best of the West’ this year with a fantastic array of masterclasses, competitive events and training methods from people in the West of England. The West Country has some amazing equestrian stars and they will be celebrated at their local event.

The annual Westcountry Equine Fair takes place at Westpoint, Exeter on Saturday 7 and Sunday and 8 December 2019 and this year will feature showjumper Andrew Williams; dressage rider Louise Hutchinson; Western Riding and The Parelli Instructor Team SW UK. There will be the ever-popular competitive events including the Horse & Hound Pony Club Challenge (sponsored by Stags) and the junior showjumping competition (sponsored by Redpost Equestrian) – a great opportunity for young riders to perform in front of a large crowd in the indoor arena. Also back by popular demand and in its third year is the unaffiliated Quadrille competition, a perfect opportunity to see some great riding skills and colourful costumes.

With a breed village and heavy horse area plus the BETA Equestrian Knowledge Zone – featuring Robocob the mechanical horse, free hat and body protector checks and plentiful advice from top experts, there is something for everyone.

The show is not complete without the amazing equestrian shopping village. Stay stylish with the latest fashions; keep up to date with new products and excellent advice and of course plenty of the main brands, show offers, competitions and book signings. With over 200 companies, this is a great equestrian shopping experience for the horse and for the rider. Don’t forget you don’t need to carry those heavy shopping bags around with the shop and drop facility in the foyer – all donations to Brooke animal charity.

Join the West Country’s equine community for a weekend of equestrian celebration!

To book your tickets in advance and save money visit www.westcountryequinefair.co.uk and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated.

KINGSLEY SCHOOLS CLIMATE CHANGE TEACHER ACCREDITED BY UNITED NATIONS

Steve Whaley, Head of Geography at Kingsley School Bideford, has become one of the first teachers in the UK to be a UN accredited Climate Change Teacher.

Mr Steve Whaley has been working hard to become an eduCCate Global Climate Change Teacher, accredited by UN CC:Learn. Mr Whaley can now deliver world-class climate change lessons to all pupils at Kingsley School and, through lesson observations and staff training, plans to share information and best practice with all teaching staff, so they too can take part in this new initiative. He will also continue to deliver climate change education through the geography lessons and his many extra-curricular activities.

Steve says, “As a keen environmentalist I was delighted to get the opportunity to deepen my knowledge and understanding of climate change. Achieving the United Nations accreditation was a challenging process of many different learning mediums and formal assessments but ultimately has left me far more informed and able to educate the students in my care.

“The timing is spot on, with climate change being at the fore of current affairs and with the launch of the Earth Centre at Kingsley.

“For the next century to be a success for humankind, environmental sustainability needs to be at the core of everything we do.  Our earth is creaking, and the big question: ‘Can the planet support and enable a population of 10 billion people to live contented and flourishing lives?’ remains unanswered. Being an accredited UN Climate Change Teacher and the launch of the new of the Earth Centre puts environmental sustainability at the heart of school life here at
Kingsley: increasing awareness, asking the right questions and developing the future leaders and practitioners for the future.“

Steve Whaley continued: “Climate change has been in the curriculum for years. The information I learnt on the course is astonishing and we really need to provide our students with the up-to-the-minute knowledge on climate change so we can empower them to make the decisions that can make a difference.”

The UN Climate Change Teacher Academy is being delivered by Harwood Education, in partnership with the One United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn). Teachers will be able to teach pupils vital lessons about climate change and earn certification from the United Nations.

INAUGURAL EXHIBITION AT MUSEUM OF BARNSTAPLE AND NORTH DEVON’S NEW WING

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon has opened the inaugural exhibition of its new wing.

The exhibition, named ‘Imitation of Nature’ is being held in the main gallery and showcases the paintings of F.R. Lee, the most successful artist to ever come from Barnstaple. Born in 1798, he graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts, later becoming elected member in 1838. He is a contemporary of John Constable and collaborated with Sir Edwin Landseer and Thomas Sydney Cooper.

Musuem curator, Alison Mills, says: “The new wing has been installed with the latest technology to atmospherically control the gallery at exactly the right temperature, humidity, lighting, etc. This new system means we are now able to have objects on loan from other galleries for the first time, which is very exciting for us.

“For this exhibition we have worked hard to bring together over 30 of Lee’s paintings both from private lenders and museums including Tate Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, South West Heritage Trust, The Amelia at the Amelia Scott and North Devon Athenaeum, alongside our own collection.”

There are two events planned in conjunction with the exhibition:

  • 5 December, 5.30-6.30pm: “F.R. Lee: His Place in History” – a free talk given by Professor Sam Smiles and Professor Peter Howard
  • 21 November, 10am-3pm: Landscape drawing workshop for adults led by artist James Young, costing £15 (materials included)

Spaces for both the talk and workshop are limited, so please contact the museum on 01271 346747 to book your place.

The exhibition runs until 18 January 2020.

Top: ‘View from the River’.

ROSEMOOR GLOW 2019

The winter at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Garden Rosemoor in Devon is always a treat and is one of the most beautiful sights in all seasons. This year, visitors can see the garden illuminated by innovative and dynamic colour-changing lighting to provide a magical festive trail around the trees, shrubs, water features and sculptures, along a new route which will this year include the Cool Garden for the first time with its rippling water rills and once again extended to The Lake.

On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between now and 4 January (excl. 26 December) the gardens will be open until 8pm to maximise the effects of the lighting into the evening hours, and on those days, normal garden entry includes Glow (free for RHS members) so you can enjoy a full day out seeing the gardens and sculptures by day and then also by night.

The award-winning Garden Kitchen Restaurant will be serving  delicious simple family suppers 5-7pm, (booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment). Take advantage of late-night shopping as the Rosemoor Shop & Plant Centre will remain open until 8pm too on these nights and will be the place to go for all those Christmas Gift and plant ideas.

Other events taking place:

Rosemoor’s extremely popular annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition will also be up and running from 14 November to 31 January. Last year, over 50,000 visitors enjoyed the eclectic mix of exhibits that are set against the backdrop of the garden. This year, the exhibition has been freshened up with a high proportion of new artists. Most of the sculptures featured in the exhibition are for sale.

To make the most of a visit to Rosemoor there is also a special Winter Wonders Garden Trail which includes many specimens from our national collection of hollies and featuring key highlighted plants and shrubs around the garden.

22-24 November
Christmas Design for Living Fair
The Garden Room will be full of the South West’s best craftspeople making it the ideal place to snap up an early Christmas present or two. Combining with Rosemoor Glow Friday & Saturday it will be open late 11am-7pm making it feel like a proper Christmas Market, whilst on Sunday it is open 10am-4pm when you can take advantage of Rosemoor’s delicious carvery.

14 and 15 December
Magic of Christmas Food & Craft Fair
A magical fair full of temptation and delights, from a mixture of artisan food and craft stalls. Combining with Rosemoor Glow, on the Saturday it will be open late 11am-7pm, making it feel like another wonderful Christmas Market, whilst on Sunday it is open 10am-4pm when you can take advantage of Rosemoor’s renowned Exmoor beef carvery.

8, 15, 18 and 22 December
Christmas Lunches
The Garden Kitchen restaurant will be serving delicious Christmas Carvery lunches between 12-3pm (Sundays), 12-2.30pm (Wednesday).

20-23 December
Father Christmas and his elves family experience (ticketed event)
There is of course only one real Father Christmas! This year, before he heads out on his sleigh, he will be here at RHS Garden Rosemoor to entertain your family with a festive storytelling session in his magical workshop theatre. He’ll be joined by his elves who will teach children Santa’s favourite Christmas song and help them to make a beautiful decoration for their Christmas Tree. Your family will have the opportunity to meet some of Santa’s Reindeer and of course, each family will get the chance to meet the big man himself.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the memory. Online booking is essential to avoid disappointment. On 20 and 21 December, why not combine your visit with the Glow event for a wonderful family day out.

Every visit supports the charitable work of the RHS. For more information on events Rosemoor visit www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor Normal garden admission applies (free for RHS members). Garden open every day (except Christmas Day) 10am-5pm.

EXMOOR SOCIETY PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION WINNERS

The winners of the prestigious Alfred Vowles Photographic Competition were announced recently by The Exmoor Society.  There were four categories: Landscape, Exmoor Activities, Heritage Buildings and Wildlife, with a prize of £50 awarded to the winner of each category and the overall winner also receiving the Alfred Vowles trophy.

“The judges were impressed by the quality and wide range of subject matter in the four categories,” said Jill Edwards, Trustee of The Exmoor Society. “They admitted that choosing winners was a difficult task, particularly in the Landscape category, which has a large number of entries.  The care and attention which the photographers had given to their work is to be applauded.”

Leanna Coles, whose ‘Seat with a View’ looking towards Cloutsham and beyond was both the overall winner and winner of the Landscape category (pictured, top),  was praised for capturing a particularly vibrant Exmoor landscape with excellent lighting and detail, and a wonderful sky.  She also won the Wildlife category with her ‘Tippbarlake Exmoor pony herd gathering on Brendon Common’: a spectacular image of this iconic Exmoor event.

Also to be congratulated is Madeline Taylor who won both the Exmoor Activities and the Heritage Buildings categories with her photographs of the Allerford Forge and of the gated entrance to the Worthy Combe toll road; two images that capture the spirit and history of the National Park. Her ‘Having a “splashing” good time in Horner Water’ in the former category was Highly Commended.

In the Landscape category, Madeline Taylor’s ‘A Walk along the River at Watersmeet’ was Highly Commended and Sharon Bailey’s ‘Looking towards Twitchen’ and ‘Valley of Rocks’ was Commended. All these show the beauty and variety of Exmoor’s landscape.  In the Wildlife category Tricia Gibson’s ‘Exmoor pony, Persica, and her six-day old foal’ and ‘Tawbits Lorna Doone with her new born filly foal’ were Highly Commended for their good composition and sensitivity.  Highly Commended also, in the Heritage Buildings category, was Patrick Hoyte’s evocative black-and-white photograph of ‘The Stables at Dunster Castle’.

Alfred Vowles was a well-known photographer at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Rachel Thomas, Chairman of the Society, said, “The Vowles’ family kindly donated the trophy to The Exmoor Society in Alfred’s memory, in order to help inspire future generations to capture the essence of Exmoor and its special qualities through photography.”

The winning photographs will be on display at the Society’s headquarters at 34 High Street, Dulverton, and on its website www.exmoorsociety.com

KLEZWEST! LONDON KLEZMER QUARTET

The London Klezmer Quartet are celebrating ten years of traditional European folk music and invite you to join them at Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, to delve deeply into the world of freylekhs, bulgars, zhoks, khosidls and terkishers – the dance music repertoire of Eastern Europe! The event takes place at Halsway on Saturday 30 November at 8pm.

Klezmer is the celebratory and soulful music of Eastern European Jews, played for weddings, parties, and celebrations. It is exuberant, passionate and can take you from toe tapping to tears and back again. The London Klezmer Quartet, are leading lights in this style of music, playing with compelling virtuosity.

Musicians can join them for a whole weekend of workshops to learn this style of music – be quick though, this course is nearly sold out – or  help them celebrate their anniversary gig at Halsway Manor on Saturday 30 November.

Tickets for the concert cost £12. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

WEST SOMERSET SINGERS PERFORM WITH SIR TIM RICE

On 31 October Fusion Young Performers Choir from Minehead joined with singers from the Centre For Young Musicians Taunton to perform at ‘An Evening of hit songs with Sir Tim Rice’ at Temple Methodist Church in Taunton.

It was part of the new Tyca Festival (Taunton Youth Culture and Arts) and was presented by Arts Taunton.

The combined choirs (conducted by Sarah-Jane Cross and accompanied by Frances Webb on the piano) sang a selection of songs with lyrics written by Sir Tim such as ‘Hakuna Matata’, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’, ‘I Know Him So Well’, ‘Anthem’, ‘Jacob and Sons’, ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’, ‘Any Dream Will Do’, ‘A Whole New World’, ‘One Jump Ahead’, ‘Evermore’ and ‘Fight the Fight’.

In between the songs Charlie Taylor from BBC Somerset conducted an informal interview with Sir Tim Rice talking about his life and work which was very informative and entertaining.

Having had only six and a half weeks of rehearsal time, the singers performed brilliantly and received a standing ovation at the end of the evening. As well as the full choir numbers there were some great solos and duets by performers from both groups. From Fusion – Daniel Boulton, James Boulton, Natalie Woodward, Laura Stephens, Alfie and Alisha Yates, Beth Porter, Leo Ahern,  Ryan Boulton, Jazmyn Phillips, Lennie Stanford and Grace Mclaren. Soloists from CYMT included Kira Kelly, Celandine Hickman, Drew Kehoe, Esme Knight, Melissa Coles, Korben Drew and Ernie Shorten.

Afterwards Sir Tim took the time to have his photo taken with the performers and to sign autographs.

All in all it was a fantastic event for the young people to be involved in and a real honour to sing the songs with the lyricist sitting on the stage with them.

Fusion Young Performers are going straight into rehearsals  for their next show, Sister Act, which they will be performing at the Regal during Easter week next year. To get in touch with Fusion Young Performers which is run by Lorraine Ahern and Sarah-Jane Cross please visit www.fusionyoungperformers.com.

To find out more about Centre For Young Musicians Taunton, a division of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, please visit www.cymtaunton.org.uk.

MORE EXCITEMENT FOR WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS AT HOME AND AWAY

It has been an exciting time for Exmoor-based craftsmen West Country Blacksmiths who were featured on Grand Designs last week (read more here).

For another high-profile commission, they have also recently produced over 750 bespoke stainless-steel flowers and 4,500 leaves for the prestigious Chelsea Barracks development, built on the former Army barracks which was brought by the Qatari Diar.

The blacksmiths were awarded the unique opportunity to work in collaboration with London-based designer Tord Boontje to develop the designs and make the metalwork used to decorate the Townhouse balustrades of the development.

Each balcony of the development has a different combination of 12 flowers – all commonly found in Britain. The flowers include wild roses, garden roses, winter roses, almond blossoms, carnations, peonies, cosmos, violets and anemones.

The blacksmiths received high praise for this project and were pleased to welcome a team from Chelsea Barracks to film them at work for promotional materials and a documentary due in 2020.

Designer Tord Boontje said,  “Nowadays, it’s not so common to find blacksmiths – and especially really good ones. The better the blacksmith is, the higher the quality of the craftsmanship and the more beautifully my designs will be translated. So I spent a lot of time researching blacksmiths in Britain, and visited many different workshops.

“Eventually, I struck on West Country Blacksmiths, an exciting and accomplished team of metalworkers operating out of a seventeenth-century forge in Somerset. “They are a very highly skilled, energetic young team who are a pleasure to work with. And they have a very nice way of interpreting my designs and making them into metal.”

Closer to home, West Country Blacksmiths have restored the weathervane on the bell tower of the Market House Museum in Watchet as part of the museum’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

The wrought-iron and copper weathervane has been a feature of the Watchet rooftops for over 32 years. However, both time and exposure to the sea air had taken its toll on the weathervane, damaging the copper sailing boat and corroding the metalwork.

Allerford Forge were commissioned to restore the weathervane by the museum committee and fully funded by the Watchet Market House Museum.

The craftmen removed the weathervane for a short period to allow the ship’s sails to be replaced and the remaining copperwork to be cleaned and repaired. The smiths also restored the mainframe of the weathervane by removing over 30 years of rust and paint from the metalwork, reforging missing and damaged components and weld repairing where required.

Once the repairs were completed the blacksmiths galvanised and heritage black painted the brackets and repatinated the copper top.

The weathervane was reinstalled by the team in October and it is hoped to be there for many more years to come.

The weathervane is owned by the museum and was first installed in the bell tower in 1987, replacing a plain one which is now displayed on the lighthouse in the harbour.

WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS TO FEATURE ON GRAND DESIGNS ‘HOUSE OF THE YEAR’

Exmoor-based craftsmen West Country Blacksmiths are to feature on Channel 4’s Grand Designs House of the Year 2019. The four-part series showcases the finalists of the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects House of the Year.

Among the finalists for the award is a truly unique and amazing property built within the Sartfell Nature Reserve on the Isle of Man. The building was designed by London-based architects Foster Lomas, a company which was founded by William Foster and Greg Lomas who both grew up in Somerset.

Central features of the house, which has already won multiple national and regional awards, include a set of bespoke metal staircases, walkways and library book shelving. The metalwork, which totals over eight tonnes, was all made and installed by West Country Blacksmiths and has received industry recognition by being award the AJ specification Staircase of the Year award 2019.

The blacksmiths welcomed a team from Grand Designs to Allerford Forge to interview Kyle Roberts of West Country Blacksmiths and CAD designer John Hesp to learn more about the work involved in producing the metalwork. The blacksmiths were also filmed at work in the forge.

The series starts on Wedneday 23 of October, with the episode featuring West Country Blacksmiths due to be aired on Wednesday 30 October at 9pm.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Edmund Sumner.

THE EXMOOR SOCIETY LUCY PERRY LITERARY AWARD

The Exmoor Society is pleased to announce the junior and senior winners of its annual Lucy Perry Literary Competition for Schools.  The prizes were presented at the South Molton Community Primary School in South Molton and at the West Buckland School, West Buckland.

At South Molton, head teacher Mr Parkin introduced the assembled children and the first prizewinner from the competition’s Junior Category, Jack Hosegood, with his parents present.  Jack read his winning poem ‘What I enjoy about Exmoor’ and was then given Palgrave’s ‘Golden Treasury of Verse’ and his certificate.  Former Exmoor Society trustee and competition judge, Elizabeth McLaughlin, presented the cheque for the school to Mr Parkin, who said: “It is to be spent on acquiring new books for the library as well as improving the library space.  There is much poetry in the curriculum and everyone is thrilled to have a winning poet at the school.”

The presentations in West Buckland School’s Michael Morpurgo Library were to two successful poets from the Senior category. The winner of the first prize was Isaac Spear with his poem entitled ‘Devon’ and the third prizewinner was Jazz Clarke with her poem ‘The Waymarker’.  Isaac received his prize of an autographed and inscribed book of poetry by children’s author Michael Morpurgo, and both young poets were presented with certificates. The Exmoor Society’s cheque was given to the school librarian.

The Exmoor Society emphasises the importance of having young people writing poetry and prose at a sponsored competition level, and acknowledges the importance of visiting the winning schools to make the presentations. One of the judges, Cathy Nicholls, said: “I commend the positive and receptive teachers and pupils on Exmoor and are confident that the competition will increasingly attract entries from many other schools.”

You can read the winning poems and find information on the Lucy Perry Competition 2020 on The Exmoor Society’s website www.exmoorsociety.com/content/what-we-do/competitions-awards.

PHOTO: Jack Hosegood of South Molton School – winner of the Junior Category. He is pictured with Cathy Nicholls (left) and Elizabeth McLaughlin (right).