Category Archives: For children & families

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.”

NICOLA DAVIES COMES TO NUMBER SEVEN DULVERTON

Number Seven Dulverton is delighted that Nicola Davies will be visiting them as part of her national celebrations marking her twenty-year career publishing the most inspiring and awarding-winning books. 2017 saw her 50th title roll off the press. Some of you may remember her from presenting the BBC’s Really Wild Show alongside Chris Packham and Terry Nutkins.

Aided by her publishers, Walker Books, Nicola has swapped skills from writing to illustration and has created an eye-catching window display which was first shown in Crickhowell.

It is currently on show at Number Seven where Nicola will be signing books, sharing stories and future publishing plans on Friday 1 September from 11am until 1pm; all are welcome. Among her most recent titles are Lots, King of the Sky, Tiny and A First Book of Nature.

Nicola is a natural storyteller and has some amazing experiences to share alongside an in-depth knowledge of all things zoological. Her gift is in making these facts so accessible to all ages and her books are a great testimony of her skill.

For further information do contact Davina Jelley info@numbersevendulverton.co.uk or call 01398 324457 or visit the website: www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk.

NORTH DEVON SCHOOLS SHOW JUMPING LEAGUE: OVERALL REPORT & REPORT FROM SOUTH MOLTON COLLEGE

Thank you to Vicky Fiddes for sending us this report of the North Devon Schools Showjumping League semi-finals, which took place last weekend. Vicki writes:

On Sunday 30 July North Devon Schools Show Jumping League held their semi-finals at Coxleigh Barton Equestrian Centre in Barnstaple.

The 50cm team competition was won by Chulmleigh Primary School’s team, The Cubs. The riders in the cubs team were: Zak Flanagan, Ella Otto, Morgan Callister and Fred Barlow. The 50cm individual winner was Lilli Fiddes from Braunton Academy, riding Redvears Peregrine.

The 60cm was won by Braunton Academy’s team, Trivium: Lilli Fiddes, Sienna Gray, Katie Holton and Poppy Priscott.  Katie Miles riding Apple Blossom from West Buckland took the individual win.

Sadly, during the 60 competition Chulmleigh rider, Ella, has a fall and broke her collar bone. We would like to take this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery from everyone at NDSSJL and hope to see her back in action next season.

The 70cm team class was won by Bethany Robinson, Ellie Dawson, Molly Mellett and Caitie Streete, who were riding for Park Community College’s team 1. The individual winner was Grace Sinclair, riding Annandale Royal Warrant from South Molton Community College.

The 80cm team comp winners were South Molton. The riders making up Team Storm were Izzy Beard, Molly Matthews, Maisie Atkinson and Grace Sinclair. Grace and her horse Cregg Surprise  also took the  individual win.

The 90cm was run purely as an individual competition with Molly Matthews on Million Dollar Girls taking the win. She rides for South Molton Community College.

Head judge and course builder, Sara Gallagher, commented: “I have seen such an improvement from every one of the children, especially those who would not normally have the chance to go out and compete. I do love the team encouragement for each other.”

Show jumping trainer at NDSSJL,  Nancy Hutchings, said she had thoroughly enjoyed training lots of the individual and team riders and that the improvement in all the riders from the first show to now has been incredible to watch.

Organisers Jo Gay and Lucy Jenkinson and myself have thoroughly enjoyed running the series and can’t wait for the Championship event on 1 September at Coxleigh Barton. The League has been an absolute pleasure to run. Each and every child has done their school proud! They have all been fantastic to watch, have shown great team spirit and been very polite throughout every competition.

After our championship show at Coxleigh on 1 September, the new league will be starting on 1 October. The competition is open to all school age children in North Devon. Full info on how to get involved can be found on the North Devon Schools Show Jumping League facebook group or at Coxleigh.com.

And thank you to Mrs Sherwood, who sent us a report detailing how South Molton Community College got on at the semis. Here is what she wrote:

Showcasing show jumping talent, this year is the inaugural North Devon Schools Show Jumping League. A friendly, local competition held at Coxleigh Barton Equestrian Centre, the newly established league is encouraging and welcoming all North Devon pupils to take part. Representing their respective schools, the successes of individual pupils have been tallied across the league tables since the first event in April. The monthly qualifiers came to a head on Sunday 30th July.

Pupils from South Molton Community College have consistently performed exceptionally well – claiming first and second place in the 80cm class and first and second in the 90cm.

Horse riding requires huge amounts of dedication and resilience, winning classes has not been down to luck or chance. Our students have worked hard throughout the cold and dark winter months to prepare for this league. I am always impressed with how well they turn their horses out and how considerately they ride – always putting the horse or pony first.

The school’s Show Jumping Team have been sponsored by Acorn Saddlery this year, who have provided the team with their purple livery.

Andrew Finney, Principal of South Molton Community College, said: “We are immensely proud of our students and how well they represent our school and local community. We’re very much looking forward to the Championship in September.”

A lot of the students at South Molton Community College are part of their local Pony Clubs and often train and attend additional competitions. Most recently, Jess Cumings, Josh Flanagan and Molly Matthews qualified for Grass Roots Area Eventing, with Jess Cumings, Molly Matthews and Lily Cronk qualifying for Grass Roots Show Jumping. Caroline Sherwood said: “SMCC students are kind, motivated and hardworking – they can achieve anything they put their mind to – inside or outside of the classroom.”

Editor’s note – Exmoor Mag would like to hear from all schools with their individual reports if they want to send them in. Don’t be left out! Email  editor@exmoormagazine.co.uk to let us know how you got on at the Championship! Good luck to all the riders!

SUMMER OF ADVENTURE AT RHS ROSEMOOR

The Famous Five is the inspiration for a ‘Summer of Adventure’ at RHS Garden Rosemoor

  • Garden adventure trails celebrate 75th anniversary of first book
  • Mass picnic on 11 August for Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday
  • Famous Five stories continue to inspire love of being outdoors

2017 marks 75 years since the first book was published in Enid Blyton’s best-loved series The Famous Five. To celebrate the occasion the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has teamed up with Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books to offer a range of exciting events and activities across the four RHS Gardens this summer.

At RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon, there will be a lively program of events and activities inspired by The Famous Five’s values – friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. There are ‘Five Go on a Garden Adventure’ trails, and a delightful exhibition of Enid Blyton memorabilia, drop-in family craft workshops every weekday and Rosemoor is holding a mass picnic party on 11 August to celebrate Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.

For children across the generations, Enid Blyton has inspired a love for flowers, plants, gardens and the outdoors through her descriptive powers, and particularly through the adventures of her five famous characters, Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. From camping on hillsides to exploring streams, from enjoying tasty picnics to discovering caves, many of The Famous Five’s adventures are firmly rooted in the great outdoors.

Enid had an abiding love and deep knowledge of flora and fauna. She wrote to friends of her pleasure at creating her first garden at Elfin Cottage, Beckenham, which included a wild, raised garden in one corner, shrubs and beds of old-fashioned flowers such as lupins, pansies, hollyhocks and roses, an area for fruit and vegetables and a round pond for waterlilies. Inspired by this, lovely descriptions of trees, flowers and birdsong occur even in the midst of her 21 The Famous Five adventures.

It was only at the start of the 1950s that publishers Hodder & Stoughton first used the term The Famous Five and, within a year or two, they had sold more than six million copies. Enid Blyton had only planned to write a handful, but sales were so strong that she went on to pen 21 Famous Five novels, with more than two million copies continuing to sell each year.

The RHS’s Liz Thwaite, said: “People’s love of gardens and gardening often starts when they are children – running, laughing and playing in them, exploring winding paths, going for country walks and discovering the wonders of plants and wildlife. We hope that this summer will create many new happy memories for children, inspired by our gardens and Enid Blyton’s wonderful adventure books.”

The adventure trail at Rosemoor will encourage children to help The Famous Five find Uncle Quentin, who has gone missing on a horticultural research mission. In addition to the trail, exhibition and craft activities there is a whole raft of other events taking place throughout the Summer Holidays.

For details of The Famous Five events and a host of other forthcoming dates for your diary at Rosemoor, see the website.

FAMILY FUN AT WIMBLEBALL LAKE OPEN DAY

On Sunday 2 July West Country charity South West Lakes Trust held their annual Open Day at a very sunny Wimbleball Lake. Over 1,900 people of all ages attended the event and were able to take part in a variety of activities, both on and off the water, including: bushcraft, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, archery, high ropes, roller zorbing and fishing tasters.

For the little ones there was also face painting by Anna Fraser, a bouncy castle, provided by ‘Wellington Bouncy Castles’, and giant games. Visitors of all ages were also given the chance to try out a range of instruments from around the world with an all-day session provided by ‘Music Mash’.

Local stallholders were kept busy with a steady stream of visitors and there was also the chance to get up close to some of North Devon Hawk Walks’ magnificent birds of prey.

The hog roast proved extremely popular as did the wood-fired pizzas provided by Rebel Town Pizza. The Duck Café were also kept busy throughout the day serving some of their renowned delicious treats, including copious amounts of ice cream!

Luke Hoather, Centre Manager at Wimbleball Lake, said, “What an amazing day! So many people enjoying what Wimbleball has to offer, even the sun joined us. I would like to say a big thank you to the Wimbleball team, South West Fishing For Life, Wimbleball Lake Sailing Club and the Duck Café for helping to make the day such a success. We look forward to next year’s event!”

The next event taking place at Wimbleball will be South West Fishing For Life’s annual family fun day on 6 August, 12p-3.30pm. The afternoon will include a variety of craft stalls and lot of fun and games for the children. For more information about upcoming events at Wimbleball, and other South West Lakes Trust sites, please call 01566 771930 or visit www.southwestlakes.co.uk