Category Archives: For children & families

QUINCE HONEY FARM IS ON THE MOVE

There’s a buzz in the air as popular attraction Quince Honey Farm is on the move to a brand-new, purpose-built site, with the opening weekend being on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April. The new venue can be found at Aller Cross near South Molton, Devon, just off the A361 North Devon Link Road, and promises to be even bigger and better than before.

One of Britain’s leading honey farms, Quince Honey Farm is a family-run business which was first established in 1949 by George Wallace with two hives of bees. It is now run by George’s son Paddy, his wife Jean and their son Ian with a team of hardworking, dedicated staff.

Quince Honey Farm Partner, Ian Wallace, said, “We have reached the limits of our current site, with no room left to grow, so the move to the much larger site is essential. It’s a very exciting opportunity to create a unique tourist attraction in North Devon and expand our beekeeping operation to produce even more delicious UK honey.”

The new attraction will have a sweeping driveway that will take visitors past the wild-flower meadows and fruit orchard down into the main complex. The buildings will be spaced around a large hexagonal central garden, with the new light and bright Visitor’s Centre being the first port of call. The main entrance will house the Farm Shop selling their range of seasonal honeys, beeswax items and gifts, and the Restaurant that will serve up delicious home-made dishes, drinks and special honey cream teas with views out to the gardens and woodland.

One of the main attractions at the new site is The Honey Factory which promises to be an educational, memorable and interesting area to visit. It features a large ‘Products of the Hive’ exhibition and viewing windows into the honey production area. A behind-the-scenes guided tour will also be offered, enabling visitors to get a close-up look at how honey is extracted from the hive and then bottled in jars ready to sell in the shop.

The Play Hive Adventure Park will see the return of the ever-popular indoor soft play area, improved at the new site with an extension and more seating for parents. It also features an attractive lake and large outdoor play area, creating a fantastic space for children and families to enjoy together.

Quince Honey Farm’s well attended daily activity programme will return, including beekeeping demonstrations and taster sessions, candle rolling and critter encounters, plus new activities such as a beekeeping tour and garden trails will be introduced, making the most of the new surroundings.

The centrepiece for the new attraction will be beautifully landscaped hexagonal gardens that can be explored and enjoyed all year round. Here visitors can take in the wonderful display of colours and textures, with seasonal planting and unique features such as dry stone walling and willow structures.

The Quince Honey Farm team are passionate about bees and the role pollinators play in our eco-system, and the only stipulation for the new gardens is that all planting should be bee-friendly. It means that it will have an exciting place in the natural world, as it will become the first known gardens and woodland in the UK planted specifically for bees.

Plans are also afoot to create a bespoke, eye-catching building to house the unique BeeWorld Exhibition and Beekeeping Museum.

Ruby Mapp, Marketing & Business Development Manager said, “We are creating an enjoyable, educational and unique attraction for people of all ages. To open the doors on this exciting project, welcome visitors in and see all our hard work come to fruition will be extremely rewarding.”

There will be plenty of opportunities to visit and take a look for yourself; the special launch weekend takes place on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April, and from then it will be open seven days a week. Please visit the website for further details: www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk/

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Maker Series


BIG ADVENTURE DAY AT WEBBERS POST

Join Exmoor National Park for a Big Adventure Day this autumn half term at Webbers Post, set within the National Trust’s picturesque Holnicote Estate. There will be a host of free outdoor activities for all the family running throughout the day on Wednesday 31 October from 10am to 4pm.

Join in a bug hunt, help build a giant den, try your hand at campfire cooking, get your face painted, go on a fungi walk, make a witch’s broom, get help spotting wildlife from the Exmoor Natural History Society. Or simply sit back and enjoy the panoramic views over Horner Wood and the wild moorland stretching up to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor.

Webbers Post is a haven for Red deer, Exmoor ponies, bats and the rare heath fritillary butterfly, along with an awesome array of lichens and mosses. As it’s the rutting season, you may even be lucky enough to hear roaring stags on the nearby hills.

Patrick Watt-Mabbott, Exmoor National Park’s Volunteering and Outreach Officer, said: “It’s the last ‘Big Adventure’ of the year and, with the help of the National Trust and our wonderful volunteers, we’ve got some great activities lined up. There’s no need to book and everyone is welcome, so grab a picnic and wellies and join us for a wild day out!”

The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor will be welcome. There are car parking and toilet facilities on site. For more information visit the Exmoor National Park website or contact the National Park Centre at Dulverton on 01398 323841.

DARK SKIES OPENING AND CHILDREN’S POETRY COMPETITION

700 students from Ilfracombe will be treated to a 360-degree immersive planetarium experience for the opening day of the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival next month (17 October), thanks to a generous donation from the Ilfracombe Rotary Club.

Inside a mobile planetarium, the children will be taken on a 3D journey around the wonders of the solar system by an experienced astronomer. A further two ticketed public planetarium sessions will take place at Ilfracombe Academy in the evening, followed by guided stargazing outside.

It’s hoped the experience will provide plenty of inspiration for entries to the Festival’s Dark Skies Poetry Competition. The winners, as judged by award-winning local poet Mark Totterdell, will receive prizes courtesy of Sunday Afternoons and Astronomy Now magazine for the following three age categories: under 11s, 11-15 and over 16s. Anyone wishing to enter should send their poem to info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or ‘Dark Skies Poetry Competition, Exmoor House, Dulverton, TA22 9HL.’ The deadline is 17 November.

Exmoor National Park’s Katrina Munro, who is coordinating the Festival, said: “We hope the competition will inspire everyone to look up at our starry skies, identify planets and constellations and capture the sense of wonder that unfolds. There are ten prizes to be won and the winning poems will be put on public display around Exmoor.”

The pop-up planetarium will later appear at Dunster Tithe Barn on Saturday 3 November, alongside an astrophotography exhibition by Paul Howel of Pictor Images and a chance to try solar-gazing or star-gazing with Exmoor Stargazers. It’s one of 40 events set to take place at venues across the National Park from 17 October – 4 November, aimed at everyone from seasoned stargazers to beginners and families. The full programme is available from National Park Centres in Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth or at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival .

Katrina added: “We are extremely grateful to the Ilfracombe Rotary Club for their kind sponsorship, allowing so many school children to have this wonderful experience, and to our festival sponsors, AirBand. With so many events across the region, we hope to inspire as many people as possible to discover the thrill of gazing up at one of the country’s darkest skies.”

BARNSTAPLE ABILITY FOOTBALL CLUB CELEBRATE TOUR OF BRITAIN

This is a press release from North Devon Council.

An event has been held by Barnstaple Ability Football Club to celebrate the Tour of Britain’s visit to North Devon recently, thanks to a grant from North Devon Council.

In the approach to the Tour of Britain travelling through North Devon, £3,000 of funds were made available by North Devon Council for any local community group or schools who wanted to get involved and celebrate the Tour. Barnstaple Ability FC used their grant of £200 to hold two events for their squad, including a Tour of Britain-themed football session and social, and a cycle along the Tarka Trail with players and their families. The club is made up of players over 16 with any additional needs, including sensory impairment, physical disability, learning difficulties and mental health issues.

At their football session on Thursday 30 August, the squad were encouraged to cycle to training, and afterwards spent time together enjoying a burger and the company of their family and friends. 45-50 people participated in the event, with people cycling to training from Abbotsham, Bideford, South Molton and Barnstaple to the club’s Tews Lane training ground at Bickington. At the club’s next event on Saturday 1 September, 20 cyclists from the football club set off from Barnstaple train station along the Tarka Trail to celebrate cycling and the Tour of Britain coming to North Devon, with refreshments along the way. Participants, who have a variety of additional needs including Down Syndrome, autism, learning difficulties, dyspraxia and mental health issues, used a variety of bikes to cycle along the trail to Bideford with stops at Fremington and Instow.

Melanie Regan, a volunteer coach and the chairperson for Barnstaple Ability Football Club, says: “We would like to thank North Devon Council, whose Tour of Britain grant made this event possible and meant that everyone, regardless of ability, was able to participate and enjoy cycling and celebrating the Tour coming to town. We are also grateful to Shelley’s Snacks, who provided the delicious food at our football social. Our events demonstrated that cycling is for everyone, with participants varying in age from five to sixty years old.”

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We are so pleased that we were able to help our local communities get involved in the run-up to the Tour of Britain’s visit to North Devon. The events held by the Barnstaple Ability Football Club clearly brought joy to a lot of individuals, and encouraged people to get on their bikes and get fit, whatever their age and ability. We are very proud of how the people of North Devon welcomed the Tour to our beautiful district and hope our residents thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the build-up and the big day.”

For more information about joining the Barnstaple Ability Football Club please contact Melanie Regan on 07764 767955 or by email to melanieregan7@icloud.com. Training takes place every Thursday at 5.45pm at various locations.

BIG ADVENTURES ON EXMOOR THIS HALF TERM

Families looking for a Big Adventure on Exmoor over half term are in luck. The next of Exmoor National Park’s highly popular Big Adventure Days is at Nutcombe Bottom near Dunster (TA24 6TA) on Wednesday 30 May from 10am–4pm. There will be a host of free outdoor activities encouraging families to discover and explore the natural world.

Activities will run throughout the day, including den building, woodland games, forest skills, campfire bread making, wild food talks, our barefoot walking challenge and much more. There’s also an adventure playground, picnic area, toilet facilities and the Tall Trees Trail. The event is free, but donations to Caremoor for Exmoor are welcome from those who have enjoyed their day.

Adam Vasey, Exmoor National Park Ranger, said, “This is an event for the whole family to get back to nature. We’ve got some great activities lined up, especially now that the Forestry Commission are joining us to share how they help look after this very special woodland – home to Britain’s tallest tree. There’s no need to book and everyone is welcome, so grab a picnic and join us for a wild day out!”

Later in half term, Exmoor National Park will also be holding its first Big Adventure Family Campout of the year at Wimbleball Lake (TA22 9NU), from Friday 1 June to Sunday 3 June.

The site opens from 4pm for people to set up camp, with activities starting from 6pm. Tents will need to be down by 11am on the Sunday.

Patrick Watt-Mabbott, Exmoor National Park’s Volunteering and Outreach Officer, said: “Our Family Campouts are really great value and are ideal for first timers or those who haven’t camped with children before. We’ll have a campfire on Saturday night, with some story-telling and then a night walk, so the kids really will have something exciting to talk about when they head back to school on Monday!”

Charge: Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children) £30/night. Additional adult £10/night, additional children £5/night. Booking is essential online at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/big-adventures-and-family-events

WEST SOMERSET SCHOOLS: BAKE-OFF WINNERS CROWNED

West Somerset Schools’ Bake-Off came to the crunch with the final of the competition after weeks of floury fun. Crowned worthy winners were: Amy Wickens and Alexis Kemp from Old Cleeve Church of England First School.

Dan Perry from Old Cleeve School said, “I am over the moon that Old Cleeve are the inaugural winners of this fantastic competition and the children’s success is in no small measure to their own hard work and dedication.”

More than 1,000 pupils from six schools in the West Somerset Academies Trust took part with a series of heats – around 40 sessions in all since the Bake-Off was launched in the New Year. The schools that took part were: St Peter’s, Old Cleeve and Danesfield in Williton; and in Minehead: St Michael’s, Minehead First and Minehead Middle.

Finalists from the heats were invited to join a Masterclass hosted by professional chefs so they could get the best possible advice before putting on their aprons for the final.

Judges on the day were: Paul Rushforth (West Somerset Academies Trust), Emma Kelly (Butlins), Cllr Andrew Hadley (West Somerset Council), Ann Wells (Brooks Food Processing Equipment) and Phil David, Steven Franks and Diane Franks (Arthur David) – they represented businesses and partners that contributed significantly to the project.

One of the Judges, Ann Wells from Brooks Food Processing Equipment, said, “It was fabulous to be involved in this competition, anything that encourages local children to get involved with projects showcasing their skills and talents away from the classroom and textbooks has got to be a good thing.”

Werner Hartholt, Development Chef at Butlin’s, and Paul Ruttledge, Head Chef at The Beach Hotel along with the class teachers Lindsay Everett (Danesfield Middle), Sarah Mills and Veronica Curtis (Minehead Middle) have mentored the youngsters and supported them through the early rounds of the competition.

Werner Hartholt Butlins Development Chef said: “The way the students applied themselves was commendable, they all worked hard and were engaged, they really showed how different ages and abilities can work together and really achieve something special. It was a pleasure to be part of it and I would like to thank all those involved for making it possible.”

A number of local businesses have been supporting the event including Brook Food Processing Equipment and Arthur David, who have covered the costs of ingredients, baking equipment, and competition prizes.

“This has been a fantastic project that has involved a huge amount of organisation behind the scenes. Congratulations to everyone involved – the children, our partners and, of course, the winners,” said Cllr Andrew Hadley, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for regeneration and economic growth.

“I hope that it inspires our children and forges new relationships between schools in the Trust and between pupils in the groups from year 4 to year 8; this is so important in a rural area like West Somerset.”

The project got under way this year thanks to hard work and inspiration from a partnership involving West Somerset Academies Trust, West Coast 360, Butlins, The Beach Hotel, West Somerset Council, Jobcentre Plus, and West Somerset College.

FUSION YOUNG PERFORMERS – CATS AT THE REGAL

Following the sell-outs of Oliver and The Magic of The Musicals, the award-winning (several David Beach awards for Somerset in March 2018), local group ‘Fusion Young Performers’ comes to the Regal Theatre, Minehead to perform their latest challenge, Cats, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, the show is packed full of memorable song and dance numbers such as Macavity, Memory, Skimbleshanks and many more.  It’s a kaleidoscope of song and dance and the audience is guaranteed to go home amazed by the energy. With dance numbers brought to life by Lorraine Ahern’s stunning choreography, vocal direction by Sarah-Jane Cross and an 11-piece band led by musical director David Pitts, this promises to be an exciting show that will leave everyone entertained and inspired by a hugely talented group of local young people.

Performances on Monday 2 – Saturday 7 April begin at 7.30pm and tickets are as follows: adults £12, Friends of the Regal £11, students £6, family ticket (2 +2) £32. They are available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), 10am – 3pm Monday – Saturday.  You can book online at www.regaltheatre.co.uk .
OPENING NIGHT OFFER – All adult tickets £8.00.

NORTH DEVON SCHOOLS SHOW JUMPING LEAGUE (NDSSJL) ROUND FOUR RESULTS

On Sunday 7 January over 80 pupils from primary and secondary schools in the area took part in the fourth round of the 2018 North Devon Schools Show Jumping League.

Despite the freezing-cold temperatures and howling winds, every competitor rode with high spirits and did their school proud.

Organiser Vicky Fiddes commented, “Even though they couldn’t feel their toes or their fingers, all of our fabulous competitors rode beautifully and were as always super polite and a pleasure to watch! Thank you to every child, parent and teacher involved for making our job so much fun. Huge congratulations to everyone who scored themselves some all-important league points.”

The 50cm team class was won by the Ilfracombe Academy Divas, with their team member Aimee Hearnden taking the individual win on her pony, Champion.

Great Torrington’s Flying Fillies jumped above the other 10 teams in the class to win the 60cm, whilst West Buckland’s Bethany Gay and Rocky went on to win the individual section.

The competition then moved on to the 70cm team class where Great Torrington’s second team, The Day Dreamers, took the win, with their team member Megan Cole, riding her pony Mr Finley, also winning individually.

The 80cm class was action-packed but South Molton Community College’s Team Storm jumped their socks off to beat the rest of the class. Braunton Academy’s Lilli Fiddes, riding Miradays Luigi, took the individual win.

The final class of the day was the 90cm where there was some fantastic sportsmanship. The Bideford Blazers from Bideford Community College walked away with first place. In the individual section it was another win for Great Torrington’s Megan Cole, this time riding her pony, Something Nice.

The organisers would like to thank their sponsors Torch Equine Vets and Devonshire Motors for their support and generosity.

Round 5 of the North Devon Schools Show Jumping League will take place on 4 February.

More info on how you can support or take part in the league can be found at Coxleigh.com.

VISIT A LIFEGUARDED BEACH THIS HALF TERM

RNLI lifeguards will be maintaining patrols on some of the busiest beaches in Cornwall and Devon over the school half term period (21-29 October).

With a growing number of people looking to spend time at the beach out of the summer season, as in previous years, additional lifeguard cover is being provided at some of the more popular beaches in the region to help keep people visiting the coast this autumn safe.

Community Safety Partner at the RNLI Steve Instance says: “It has been a busy 2017 season for our lifeguards, who have worked hard to keep large numbers of beachgoers safe. They are well trained to deal with a whole range of scenarios from rescues in the water, to first aid incidents and lost children. We would encourage people who are planning to head to the coast this half term to visit a lifeguarded beach.”

Beaches operating a lifeguard service this half term in Cornwall are Porthtowan, Perranporth, Praa Sands, Gwithian, Porthmeor, Sennen, Fistral, Watergate Bay, Towan and Mawgan Porth, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze.

In Devon, there will be lifeguard patrols at Croyde, Woolacombe and Bantham beaches.

For those who aren’t able to head to a lifeguarded beach, it’s important they take steps to keep themselves and their families safe. Ways in which they can do this is to:

–        Read safety signage at the entrance to a beach

–        Go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where you are going

–        Be aware of the conditions and your own capabilities in the water

–        Check the tide times

–        Carry a means of communication

As part of the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign the charity advises that you do not enter the water if you see someone in trouble, but call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. If you have something that floats, throw it to them.

Anyone in difficulty in the water should try not to panic or fight against any currents. They should hold onto anything buoyant they have, call for help and raise their hand to attract attention and try to keep their head above water.

You can find out more about how to stay safe in and around the water by visiting RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.

HALF TERM FAMILY ACTIVITIES AS PART OF DARK SKIES FESTIVAL

The Exmoor Dark Skies festival from the 19 – 29 October 2017 has something for all and provides some great half terms activities for families.

Local children and adults can experience the marvels of the stars above during a mobile planetarium session at Lynton (23 October), Dulverton (24 October), or Dunster (28 October) as part of the inaugural festival, whatever the weather. The sessions, lasting from 45 minutes to 1 hour, offer a 360-degree-space learning experience. High-resolution images, movies and sophisticated computer simulations are projected throughout Space Odyssey’s inflatable dome – above, behind and all around the audience – to create a breathtakingly immersive and inspirational experience.

Every fascinating session will be led by Simon Ould, an experienced science teacher and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Simon uses his extensive teaching knowledge to carefully adapt the delivery and content of each presentation for the particular group involved.  Simon said, “Adults and children are often blown-away by an experience in our dome. I’m delighted to be bringing our 6.5 metre Voyager dome to Exmoor as part of the Dark Skies Festival.

“For many children a session in the dome introduces them to the wider world, solar system and the universe for the first time. It really is unforgettable and can impact a child’s understanding for the rest of their life.”

The dome sessions start from just £3 for a child and £5 for an adult and advance booking is highly recommended. Sessions at Dunster also include some solar and stargazing and a workshop with astro-physics students from Exeter University. Visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival for more details, session times and booking. Alternatively call the Lynmouth National Park Centre on 01598 752509 (open 7 days).

There are over 35 events across Exmoor throughout the festival, which is sponsored by Airband. The festival is officially launched on Friday 20 October at Winsford Village Hall with the premier of a new short film on Exmoor’s Dark Skies followed by a presentation on Exmoor’s Dark Skies and opportunities to see the Northern Lights by presenter and astronomer Will Gater. Other events include a guide to Astrophotography with Dr Lillian Hobbs of the Royal Photographic Society on 19 October, special film showings of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Space Odyssey 2001’ and opportunities for a glow stick night swim with Channel Adventure.

Katrina Munro of the Exmoor National Park Authority said, “We’ve had huge interest in the festival with many events already fully booked, but there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy the planetarium sessions and other events. Exmoor was the very first International Dark Sky Reserve to be designated in all of Europe and we are excited to be able to help people enjoy them during this festival. We’re hoping for clear skies but the vast majority of the events will be running whatever the weather.”