Category Archives: News from our advertisers

ELECTRIC MOUNTAIN BIKES FOR EXMOOR!

Exmoor Adventures, who are celebrating their tenth birthday this year,  are excited to announce that they have purchased a fleet of E-mountain bikes.

Dan French, owner of Exmoor Adventures, writes:

“What better way to celebrate ten years of trading than with a brand-new offering for the area. We now have 8 hardtail and full suspension E-bikes to add to our existing fleet of 35 mountain bikes. This will make us the only supplier of E-mountain bike hire on Exmoor and the Quantock Hills, aiming to attract new audiences to the area, as well as catering for local residents.

“E-bikes have grown hugely in popularity over the years, with sales in the UK now matching sales for traditional bikes. Even Sir Chris Hoy rides one – “E-bikes are a nice combination of using your own human power and having a bit of assistance too. And once you’ve ridden an E-bike, you completely get it,” he has said.

“The motor ‘assists’ you as you pedal, so you still get to exercise, with a welcome boost up the hills, which is needed with the steep inclines of Exmoor.

“We’ll be promoting an ‘E-bike route’ which will take participants from Porlock Weir, up onto Porlock Hill and across the moors where you can enjoy fantastic views across Exmoor and the coastline, before descending back down to sea level.

“We’ve had a lot of positive interest and will be teaming up with local accommodation providers and businesses to offer packages and unique experiences.

“We’ll be hiring out the bikes from our base at Porlock Weir, as well as running guided E-rides and other courses and events. With Locanda and the Ship Inn being popular places to eat and stay at the Weir, and the Porlock Weir Hotel also opening soon, along with local shops and cafes to choose from, this will be the perfect place to start and finish a ride.

“Why not join us on Good Friday  (19 April)  for a half-day guided ride starting from Porlock Weir and heading up onto the moorland. Aimed at beginners to off-road cycling, it costs only £50pp including instruction and E-bike hire (6 spaces available).

“A big thank you to Exmoor National Park who have helped to fund this new project, and local company Tuned Cycles for helping us get them ready for the trails!

“These E-bikes are perfect for all ages (14+) and abilities – please get in touch to find out more, and keep an eye on our social media and website for upcoming special events. Come and have a go!”

Standard mountain bike hire: £25 per day
Hardtail mountain E-bike hire: £50 per day
Full suspension E-bike hire: £65 per day
www.exmooradventures.co.uk

SLEET AND SNOW FAIL TO DAMPEN WEST BUCKLAND SCHOOL’S ‘EXMOOR RUN’

It was a case of ‘four seasons in one day’ for West Buckland School’s annual cross-country run, ‘The Exmoor’!

The event, which has taken place on the last Thursday of the Easter term for over 160 years, involves pupils from year 8 upwards running up to 10 miles across some of Exmoor’s most beautiful, and steep, landscape, back to the main school.

If that’s isn’t tough enough, all senior school students from year 8 and above walk around eight miles to the start points, one of which was covered in snow this year, before they even begin the run back to school. This year’s race started in snow, threw in some hail, wind and sunshine and finished in sleet.

It is a very popular event, with over 60 parents, former pupils, friends and members of the local community participating in the race. Although most people run to achieve their best time, the sense of camaraderie is fantastic, with runners stopping to help those who need it, determined to help them to finish. Well done to all who participated in this much-loved and equally dreaded event!

TOBY BUCKLAND’S GARDEN FESTIVAL COMING UP

Garden presenter Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival is back for a sixth year in 2019 and it’s going to be a treat for fans of TV gardening. Popular presenters from BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World – Joe Swift and Frances Tophill – are speaking at the award-winning event on 3 and 4 May at Powderham Castle, near Exeter in Devon, along with actor John Challis – better known as ‘Boycie’ from Only Fools and Horses – and RHS judge Jim Buttress.

Garden designer Joe Swift has been one of the main presenters on the BBC Two’s flagship gardening show since 1998 and is speaking on Friday 3 May. Frances Tophill, who travels the UK presenting on GW and ITV’s Love Your Garden, is at the festival on Saturday 4 May. Frances hails from Kent but now lives near the sea in Exeter and takes a keen interest in coastal gardens.

Toby says, “I’m delighted to welcome two high-calibre gardeners who really know their onions, both ornamental and edible!”

Talks are held in Powderham Castle’s magnificent wood-panelled Dining Hall and are free to festival visitors. Other highlights include a new larger VIP area, a new layout providing more under-cover space in the castle’s old riding stables and a new talks tent, plus the festival is now dog-friendly for the first time.

Tickets are now on sale and cost £10 for adults (children under 12 go free). VIP tickets cost. £55 See www.tobygardenfest.co.uk for more information.

EASTER EVENTS AT ROSEMOOR

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor in Devon has teamed up with publisher Macmillan Children’s Books for an exciting programme of family fun during the Easter Holidays (6-22 April), based on The Rhyming Rabbit, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks.

The Rhyming Rabbit is a clever adventure from the picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, creators of What the Ladybird Heard and Sugarlump and the Unicorn. With brilliant rhyming verse, bright and distinctive illustrations, this story is a delight to read aloud.

Families can enjoy The Rhyming Rabbit Hop About Trail which will take them around the garden, meeting the Rhyming Rabbit’s animal friends along the way. Youngsters can also take part in craft activities such as the chance to make their very own rabbit headband. Other workshops will help families explore how animals live in the wild and in their gardens, how plants help to sustain them and what they can do to support wildlife of all kinds.

Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing at the RHS, says: “The Rhyming Rabbit is a delightful tale of exploring the world around us and making new friends in unlikely places, and we are thrilled to be bringing the story to life in our gardens this Easter. Just like the character in the book, our visitors will discover all kinds of creatures and plants as they journey around the gardens.”

Alyx Price, Communications Director at Macmillan Children’s Books, adds: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RHS again in 2019. Together we can introduce The Rhyming Rabbit and his friends to a wide audience this Easter and the activities promise to be great fun for all ages.”

Other activities taking place this Easter include: The Golden Carrot hunt when families can solve the clues leading to the location of the Golden Carrot on a map for a chance to win books and RHS prizes.

At the start of the school holidays on 6 and 7 April, Rosemoor is hosting a brand new event – Wool & Yarn Fest. This will include a wealth of traders and displays of products from talented local craftspeople as well as a number of demonstrations and workshops using these versatile materials. In addition, there will be young alpacas and spring lambs for all the family to meet.

On Tuesday 9 and 16 April, The Really Wild Learning Show with Kim Insull returns to Rosemoor with his collection of minibeasts and creatures to get up close with, some of which are laying eggs! This is a ticketed event (plus normal garden admission) and there is limited capacity of 30 children per show priced at £2.50 per child (aged 3yrs and over) and tickets need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit the website rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or phone 01805 626810.

WHITE HORSE EXFORD SHORTLISTED FOR COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE AWARDS

The Exmoor White Horse Inn has been shortlisted to win a Countryside Alliance Award in the Pub category.

The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. The awards are now in their fourteenth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win.

They are set apart from other award schemes because they are driven by public nomination, offering customers the chance to say why their favourite businesses are worthy of national acclaim. The awards received over 17,000 nominations this year, so The Exmoor White Horse Inn has done extremely well to be shortlisted.

Serving the Exmoor Community for over 30 years they are now the longest serving licensees in the inn’s 500 year history. Welcoming visitors by wheel by hoof and by foot, the inn is an intrinsic part of the Exmoor National Park.

Countryside Alliance Awards Director Sarah Lee commented: “We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year. The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services. They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight. These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of great uncertainty in the countryside. Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”

Peter & Linda from The Exmoor White Horse Inn commented: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted as regional finalist. It is especially gratifying as we are celebrating our 30th year as custodians of The Exmoor White Horse Inn in the heart of the Exmoor National Park.

More information about the awards can be found here.

Photo by Peter Hendrie.

EASTER HOLIDAY OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS

Calling young musicians and singers of secondary school age; do you want to do something amazing with your Easter break this year?! Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, would love to welcome you to their ‘Halsway Young Folk – Intro’ week. This is an exciting and enjoyable music residential (Monday 8 to Friday 12 April), run by young professional folk musicians, to introduce you to traditional music. You’ll need to have experience as a singer or musician (any instrument is fine), but it’s ok to be completely new to folk.

You’ll stay at Halsway Manor, near Crowcombe, for a week packed with practical music workshops. You’ll work in large and small groups discovering folk music: you’ll learn new songs and tunes, you’ll create new musical interpretations and arrangements, you’ll work on performance skills, and rehearse for a performance at the end of the course. You’ll be working hard during the days, but the evenings will include fun activities for you to get to know each other, socialise and have fun.

The week is led by musician / teacher Will Lang, with Nicola Lyons (4Square), Alex Garden (The Drystones) and Claire Bailey (Pastoral Lead). Together they’ll support you in developing your musical skills, and help you create music that you love and can be proud to perform.

Interested? Each place costs £195 to include full board (accommodation and all meals), tuition and all activities. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Halsway Manor for an application form: 01984 618274 ext 1 / office@halswaymanor.org.uk or visit the website www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

Bursary places may be available to young people with exceptional talent or for whom the opportunity would be especially beneficial, but whose financial circumstances would otherwise exclude them from the programme.

Further ‘Halsway Young Folk’ courses in 2019 include ‘Junior’ for ages 8-12 (Tue 20 – Thu 22 Aug), ‘Intermediate’ for ages 13-18 (Mon 29 July – Sat 3 Aug), and ‘Advanced’ for ages 16+ (Mon 19 – Mon 26 Aug). See website for details.

HESTERCOMBE GARDENS YOUNG WRITERS SPRING POETRY COMPETITION

With the onset of spring, and as a nod to their newest restoration project at Hestercombe, young writers are being invited to enter their poetry competition on the theme of ‘spring’.

With the unveiling of Sibyl’s Temple, a recreation of a magnificent eighteenth-century building in Hestercombe’s Georgian Landscape garden, winners of the competition will get the chance to read their poem at the official ceremony on Wednesday 17 April and will also be invited to take part in a writing masterclass with one of the competition’s judges, international bestselling author Vicky Holmes. Winners will also get £25 in book tokens to spend on their favourite reads.

Best known as Erin Hunter, Vicky Holmes is creator of the global phenomenon Warrior Cats which is currently being turned into a movie franchise by the producer behind the Harry Potter films.

In the UK, she is more familiar as Daisy Meadows, author of Rainbow Magic, and as Lucy Daniels who created the enduring Animal Ark series. Vicky has never grown out of her childhood love of horses, all of which feature in the popular series Heartland and Chestnut Hill under the name Lauren Brooke.

Alongside Vicky, there will be a number of special guest judges, including Hestercombe’s Chief Executive, Philip White MBE.

The age categories for the competition are split into three: 11 and under, 12-15 and 16-21.

How to enter:

Online at www.hestercombe.com/poetry

By post to: Spring Poetry Competition, Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 8LG.

Please include the name and age of the poet, and a contact number on postal entries.

Closing date for entries is 1 April.

FURTHER ACCOLADES FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUTS

Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts at Dunster Beach have been recognised by Theo Paphitis, retail magnate and entrepreneur. He is best known for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den but also runs #SBS on Twitter to recognise small businesses with entrepreneurial spirit.

Theo says, “I admire people who have passion and energy. If you cannot bore your friends to death about your own small business then something is seriously wrong. I was struck by the number of business owners on Twitter who wanted to tell me about their new products and services. Small Business Sunday was born so that people have a specific time slot to tweet and can pitch their ‘sell’ directly to me.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club. Like-minded individuals can share successes and learnings. This website will give a valuable profile to the winners chosen to date and should help those who have not yet won but want some tips on how to do so. You will find news about the latest winners plus events and activities of interest.

“I know I have been lucky in business and I am keen now to spread goodwill to others, of course not forgetting that, very often, you make your own luck by making use of every opportunity.”

“We are absolutely delighted being chosen from hundreds of applicants to win this accolade. Being an #SBS winner will give Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts as well as Dunster Beach unprecedented exposure nationwide,” said Brett Bates, co-owner of the beach huts with his partner Susan Juggins. ”With the launch of our newest beach hut Holi Moli it will only add to the incredible success of Salad Days, helping to bring many more tourists to this wonderful part of South West England.”

Find out more on the Salad Days & Holi Moli website dunsterbeachhut.com/

Salad Days & Holi Moli Facebook page

SWAN IN GASTROPUB TOP 20!

The Swan at Bampton is celebrating after being named for the third year running as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country at an industry-wide awards ceremony in Maidenhead recently (January 28 2019).

The multi-award-winning pub has polled in at number 20 this year. It received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018 when it was rated 28th and in 2017 it was positioned just inside the chart at 50.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “We’re absolutely delighted! It’s a testament to our team, our customers and our suppliers. They are wonderful people and each one of them has a share in this.

“Last year we were ranked as number 28 and the year before we just made it into this elite group of pubs with chefs and teams who are at the very top of their game, so we couldn’t have been happier. But now to be into the top 20, it’s just amazing. We’re in such great company, with the likes of Tom Kerridge’s pub the Hand and Flowers in the top 20 too, it’s just a wonderful feeling and we’re speechless!

“The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. We’re the industry’s choice and are delighted to be part of these awards again this year.”

The ceremony is organised by the publican’s publication, The Morning Advertiser, which says the top 50 is the definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

Editor of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, Nicholas Robinson, said in The Morning Advertiser: “Gastropubs are an example of everything that is great about the UK food and drink scene.

“There’s something phenomenal happening in gastropubs up and down the country, they are growing and maintaining that growth where chains and other restaurants are failing.”

No stranger to accolades, The Swan scooped a plethora of other awards last year, including being 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.

The Swan also retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence in 2018, for the fourth-year-running, and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co/.

WEST COUNTRY BLACKSMITHS SHORTLISTED FOR AWARD

A bespoke staircase project made in Somerset by Exmoor-based West Country Blacksmiths has been shortlisted for the Architects’ Journal Architecture specification award 2019 in the category of ‘Stairs and Lifts’. The staircase was created for a property in the nature reserve of Sartfell Mountain on the Isle of Man.

The project is a real Somerset-based collaboration. The house was designed by Foster Lomas, a London-based architects practice which was originally founded by friends Greg Lomas and Will Foster who both grew up in Somerset and visit family in Somerset regularly. The metalwork design concept was developed between architects, CAD Designer John Hesp of Porlock and West Country Blacksmiths based near Minehead.

The central feature of the property is eight tons’ worth of bespoke metalwork all made by West Country Blacksmiths at their historic National Trust Forge on the Holnicote Estate near Minehead. The metalwork includes two staircases and walkways made from steel and perforated stainless steel and also incorporates steel bookshelves which span over two floors.

The metalwork has been finished with a unique antiquing acid etch treatment with a protective lacquered finish with exception of the handrail which has been hand polished prior to the protective lacquer finishing. The treads and walkways have been made from perforated stainless steel which has been grain polished.

The team took over seven months to develop the design and produce metalwork which was sent from Somerset to the Isle of Man on two lorries with the team’s tools. The craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths flew out to meet and carry out the installation of their metalwork which took over seven days to complete.

West Country Blacksmiths co-founder said, “We were privileged to be given the opportunity to work on this project and we’re extremely proud of what the team involved in the project have produced. We are so proud that the quality of design and execution of this metalwork has been recognised by industry experts and shortlisted as one of the six best ‘Stairs and Lifts’ projects in the country.”

The awards will take place on 15 February in Manchester and will be attended by the team involved in the project.

The building was also shortlisted in the AJ Architects ‘House of the Year’ category for 2018.

PHOTO: by Edmund Sumner.