Category Archives: west somerset

BE A BARISTA WITH MILES TEA & COFFEE

Miles Tea & Coffee are offering a new ‘Barista Experience’ at their factory in Somerset.

The first class will take place on Thursday 22 February as part of the Exmoor Food Festival. Miles’ barista expert has a wealth of experience from working in Italy for many years and he is a member of the Speciality Coffee Association Europe (SCAE).

The class will last three hours, during which attendees will learn to distinguish the subtle differences between coffee beans, master the perfect cup of coffee and see some creative latte art.

Previous knowledge of coffee is not a requirement, but a passion for coffee is a must!

Places are limited; to book, email info@djmiles.co.uk. The first course has an introductory price of £33 per person. Location will either be at the Miles Tea & Coffee Minehead or Porlock site, start time to be 9.30am.

Can’t make it? Why not join the company’s monthly roastery tours on the last Thursday of the month, pre-book only, check online for more details or email info@djmiles.co.uk.

PHOTO: Latte Art made with Miles Coffee.

DW&LCT AND SOMERSET LIBRARIES SERVICE SET UP AN ACADEMIC RESOURCE IN DULVERTON LIBRARY

Dulverton Weir and Leat Conservation Trust and Somerset Libraries Service are pleased to announce that Dulverton Library is to become an Academic Associate of the Trust in its project to save Dulverton’s medieval Urban Watermill Landscape (weir & mill leat).

An academic resource section covering many aspects of the project is now available to be perused by users of the library on: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10am–1pm and 1.30-4pm and on Saturdays 10am-12.30pm.

Philip Hull, Trustee of DWLCT, says: “A significant amount of academic research has been done on the medieval weir and leat by the Trust, its partners and academic associates. This research will continue in the future and much of this is available on our website at www.dulvertonweir.org.uk. But we wanted to present the research in written form in a suitable location. Our research is continuing and we look forward to sharing it on the internet and with Dulverton Library.”

Sara Long Library Supervisor, West Somerset Libraries, Somerset Libraries Service, says: “We are delighted to be offering the community this additional service to show a new insight into the historic weir and leat. We hope local people will take this opportunity to use this hands-on resource, which is particularly aimed at those without access to the internet.”

SNOWDROP VALLEY 2018

In 2018 the valley will be closed to traffic from Saturday 27 January to Sunday 25 February. During the road closure the lanes into the valley (Drapers Way and Steart Lane) are closed by a legal road closure order and any vehicle entering the valley without an authorised Vehicle Pass will be reported to the Police.

For walkers there is a marked walking route down into the valley from the long stay car park at the livestock market, the walk is about a mile and takes around 30 minutes. On Exmoor the weather can change quickly so all visitors should make sure that they wear appropriate clothing and footwear for winter walking. Walking boots, or at the very least a good pair of wellies, are essential as the walking routes use local footpaths and bridleways, and there are always some muddy areas. For the more intrepid there are additional, longer walking routes offered, taking between 45 minutes and 3 hours; full details and maps are on sale in the Wheddon Cross car park.

During the middle two weeks, Saturday 3 February to Sunday 18 February, access is via the Park and Ride buses, run by AtWest, which leave from the village car park at Wheddon Cross, next to the Rest and Be Thankful Inn. Buses run regularly from 10.30am to 3.40pm with the last bus back from the valley at 4.30pm. The return bus journey costs just £6 for adults, £5 for senior citizens, and £2 for children aged 5-15, with children under 5 travelling free. There are tail lifts for anyone with mobility issues or using a wheelchair – please ring or email in advance to let the organisers know you are coming. Long-stay parking for cars and coaches is provided at the livestock market 150 yards further down the road from the buses towards Dunkery Beacon. Coach parties must be pre-booked with the co-ordinator.

During the scheme many members of the local community get involved and there is a great team of volunteers who help to run the Snowdrop Café, in the Moorland Hall, providing delicious teas and cakes to support local charitable organisations. There are great meals and teas to be found at other businesses in the village such as the Rest and Be Thankful Inn and the Exmoor House Hotel, as well as a wide variety of accommodation options from self-catering cottages to B&Bs and more to extend your winter trip to Exmoor.

Full information, as well as regular updates throughout the scheme can be found at www.wheddoncross.org.uk/snowdropvalley.htm. For coach bookings and disabled access please contact the Co-ordinator, Gemma Parry, on 07507 797169 or email snowdropvalley@googlemail.com and don’t forget to like Snowdrop Valley on Facebook!

Written with the help of Ros Simons, an artisan, writer and teacher of the old ways ~ you can find out more about her and her work at www.ros-simons.co.uk.

PHOTO: Late winter light in Snowdrop Valley by Andy Stuthridge, as published in our article on snowdrops by Rosemary FitzGerald in the spring 2015 issue of Exmoor Magazine. Photograph copyright Andy Stuthridge.

LOTTERY FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR COMMUNITY GROUPS IN TAUNTON DEANE AND WEST SOMERSET

Grants of up to £1,000 are available for local charities, voluntary or community groups, sports clubs, or social enterprises based within either Taunton Deane or West Somerset and the deadline to apply is Monday 26 February.

The Local Community Fund, which is administered by Somerset Community Foundation on behalf of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset District Council, was set up to support community projects in the local area by distributing money raised from the Somerset West Lottery, which raises money within the community for the community, enabling people to support the causes they care most about, while also helping good causes to connect with their supporters.

A ticket for the Somerset West Lottery costs £1 per week, 60p of which goes directly to good causes – more than double what the National Lottery gives. Players can choose to support a named local good cause, or they can decide to award their contribution to the Local Community Fund. Grants are awarded from the fund by a panel of Borough or District Councillors, depending on where the project is being delivered.

Groups wishing to apply for funding, should visit: www.somersetcf.org.uk/somersetwestlottery or call Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 for more information.

If you run a local community project and would like to find out about our other funding programmes, please call Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949 or visit: www.somersetcf.org.uk

EXMOOR FOOD AND CRAFTS: NEW MINEHEAD SHOP TO PROMOTE LOCAL PRODUCERS

A recently formed group of local food producers and craftspeople is opening a brand new shop at No. 4, The Avenue, Minehead, on 15 January 2018.

Following the recent decision to close the Exmoor Producers Association Shop on Friday Street Minehead, some of its members, along with a many new producers, got together to form a new ‘not for profit’ community group.

Pam Barr, herself a local pork farmer from Little Oak Farm (see winter issue of the magazine and photo above), is chairing the new group called Exmoor Food & Crafts. Pam said, “There is real enthusiasm and excitement among our members – the new shop which will allow a great platform for locally produced goods. We’ll be offering a great selection of Exmoor and Greater Exmoor handmade crafts and fabulous food items including honey, jam, chutney and meat.”

Local producers who might be interested in selling their goods though the new shop are invited email Pamela via info@exmoorfoodandcrafts.co.uk or pop in after 15 January.

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager from Exmoor National Park said, “We’ve been delighted that this new group is going to promote local produce in this way. It is essential that residents and visitors can easily source the items being made here on Exmoor and the new shop will give a real focus for the wider activities of the group. ”

 

WATCHET TEENAGERS TAKE THE LEAD

An innovative project taking place in Watchet, to get local teenagers to design and build their own common room, has just begun, with a hugely successful architect-led design workshop.

In late November 25 local teenagers come together to design a structure for Splash Point Pleasure Ground in Watchet, under the guidance of award-winning architect, Kate Darby, national timber expert, Charley Brentnall, local volunteer group, the Watchet Community Makers, with Georgie Grant and Sally Lowndes from the Onion Collective as facilitators. The workshop, funded by the Youth Social Action Fund and the Courage Family Fund, took place in Watchet’s Phoenix Centre, and included free pizza.

After working together to establish what was wanted and needed for local teenagers, and how these ideas might translate to the site, the teenagers were split into four groups, and asked to draw, then 3D model their ideas using balsa wood. They all then voted on their favourite structures, and the key aspects of each that should be incorporated into the final design.

The workshop was deemed a huge success by all involved, and Kate was particularly taken aback by the level of comfort the local teenagers felt in creating and discussing their ideas.

Architect Kate Darby said: “It was fascinating to see so many engaged and creative young people come together to design with such confidence. All of the models incorporated really interesting architectural features, and the teenagers also did a wonderful job of presenting their work to the room. My job now is to amalgamate the key features into one coherent structure that fits their brief. A first draft will be presented to them for comments before I make amends and the Onion Collective can submit to planning.

“I’m delighted to be involved in this project, and am really looking forward to working with these teenagers again in the summer, when we bring this building to life in Watchet.”

Local teenager, Chris White, who attended the design session, said: “I really enjoyed the workshop. It was great to work with an architect and understand the process involved with designing a building. Kate was brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing how she’ll bring all our ideas together.”

Splash Point Pleasure Ground is a community area on the clifftop in Watchet that looks out onto the marina. It’s managed by community-led regeneration company, Onion Collective CIC, on behalf of the town. The grounds are accessible via the England Coast Path that begins at the Goviers Lane Railway crossing in Watchet.

Onion Collective facilitated a similar project in 2015, when a group of 50 local volunteers built a pavilion at Splash Point over the course of a single weekend. It is now enjoyed by many as a place for picnics, barbecues and events. This time the Onion Collective is working with teenagers to make the site a place that they also feel able to appreciate and enjoy.

Onion Collective Project Officer, Sally Lowndes says: “This project came about because local teenagers came to us to ask for help identifying a space they could use for socialising.

“We’re thrilled that so many came to the design workshop. It just shows what an amazing community we have here in Watchet. The level of focus and natural design talent the teenagers brought to the table was also hugely impressive. We’re all really excited to watch this project progress.”

If you know a Watchet-based teenager who wants to be involved in this project, feeding back on the design, or helping with the build, they can get in touch by contacting Onion Collective on info@onioncollective.co.uk / 01984 633496.

The project was funded by Somerset Community Foundation’s Youth Social Action Fund.

Somerset Community Foundation’s, Andrew Ridgewell says: “Somerset Community Foundation awarded a grant from the Youth Social Action Fund (YSAF) for the project, matched with contributions from its local donors. The YSAF is part of the national #iwill fund which encourages young people to engage in social action – such as campaigning, fundraising, and volunteering.”

WATCHET PESTICIDE FREE ACTION GROUP

A group of locals have recently started The Watchet Pesticide Free Action Group and set up a Facebook page having discovered that Watchet Town Council was contracting out the spraying of a glyphosate-based weedkiller on the town’s pavements and pathways and in the council-run resident’s car park in West Street where they also rent out allotments.

Ione Harris, who lives in West Street, first noticed plants around the car park dying in 2016 and because the poison had been sprayed within feet of the allotment rented to her by the Town Council she asked what had been used. The council said it was Glyphosate and a complaint was made that such a chemical should not be used next to land rented for the growing of food.

When she noticed again the distortion of the leaves and the death spreading across the car park in late May of this year, and as the full area of dead plants became clear it was even nearer the allotment than the year before, she again made a full complaint to the Council.

PHOTO AT TOP: The car park after the application of weedkiller and (below) some images of it beforehand.

It became apparent over the next couple of weeks that the entire length of West Street had also been poisoned and eventually the resulting death could be seen across the entire town. The Glyphosate had been sprayed up against peoples houses and garden walls near the river basin, the slipway to the beach, the edge of the marina, near the children’s play area on the Memorial Ground, etc and more residents started to lose poppies, daisies and other wild flowers from outside their houses and more voiced their concern at the use of a hazardous chemical without warning and without regard for the safety of their children and pets.

Glyphosate products carry many warnings to stay away while its wet.

Following many complaints made to the Council, this use of weedkiller was discussed at a Council meeting.

A resolution was passed and the Council agreed to remove West Street Car Park bordering the allotments from the contract and to look into alternative methods to use around town.

However, the contract continues for a ‘treatment’ twice yearly and this October the Council’s contractors were again due to spray the pavements and pathways with Glyphosate.

The Watchet Pesticide Free Action Group has been formed by concerned residents to try and end the Town Council’s use of pesticide . They have looked into various alternate methods of controlling unwanted plant growth and is raising awareness of the issue in the local area.

It has been pointed out to the Council that the use of weedkiller does not clear the unwanted plant growth away and that the carcasses of poisoned plants remained across town for many weeks after treatment. That the town looks worse in fact. The group suggest hand weeding would be the best solution in most areas and would enable the cleaning away of any build up of dead plant matter and earth rather than the spraying of pesticide that increases the build up and less desirable, vigorous weeds are more able to set seed.

The group believe that hand weeding (which many residents already do outside their own properties), together with other methods in specific problem areas, could be used and could well work out to be cheaper.

The group also believe that using such a harmful chemical in public places without warning is not good practice and that Watchet could rather be an example to other towns to end the use of pesticides, to be more environmentally friendly, to increase the diversity of flora and fauna and to be more visually pleasing for residents and visitors alike.

The group are aiming for a pesticide-free town and are formulating a plan to actively enhance the bio-diversity of the area by introducing more wild flowers to otherwise unused grass verges and banks. They envisage a wealth of flowers, all native and found within a mile or two of Watchet; a celebration of the beauty of the area in which they live.

Glastonbury has gone pesticide-free and other towns are working towards it.

The group believes this to be an achievable aim and seems the obvious way forward for such a pretty coastal town.

 

 

MINEHEAD TO HOST A MARITIME MILE

Minehead has netted more funding to help revitalise the town. The LEADER funding – EU money allocated to help rural areas – of almost £80,000 has just been announced and means Minehead’s dream of creating a Maritime Mile can be realised.

It will complement the Enterprising Minehead project that has already won substantial funding to make the resort the go-to seaside destination by making the most of its traditional appeal as a seaside resort – but with a twenty-first-century twist.

The aim is to give Minehead the buzz that is needed to bring new visitors in, while retaining the Edwardian charm that keeps holiday-makers returning year after year.

The Maritime Mile initiative will create a new heritage interpretation trail, running the length of the seafront to showcase Minehead’s maritime history, myths and legends. An open-air gallery will be built at the trail’s central point to display images and artefacts from Minehead’s past.

The Maritime Mile walk will link to existing features like the South West Coast Path/England Coast Path and signpost to other points of interest along the seafront that will be included in the new interactive/interpretation signage.

The signs will feature augmented reality technology to make the walk exciting and interactive – and it will link to a new website that will be launched. West Somerset Council will be working with Minehead Museum and Butlins on the materials. Augmented reality uses computer-aided graphics to add an additional layer of information to aid understanding and/or interaction with the physical world around you.

The central area of the seafront trail will incorporate the open-air gallery as a showcase for the trail and will be an attraction in its own right. This is the central gateway to the seafront from The Avenue and West Somerset Railway, and will have real impact.

The gallery will be formed from stone-filled gabion baskets with gallery images of Minehead mounted onto marine plywood. Content for the gallery will depict historic images of the town provided by the local community and the museum. The gallery will also include augmented reality to make it more fun – and informative.

A new state-of-the-art responsive website will also be developed to capitalise on marketing the town as a key destination and will also link to the seafront trail/walk and its innovative technology.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, Lead Member for economic regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for Minehead, and will give an added boost to the exciting projects already being developed to regenerate The Esplanade and give our visitors even more reason to come and enjoy what Minehead has to offer.”

“We will be working hand-in-hand with the community, and our Coastal Community Team to deliver this imaginative and exciting project,” said Cllr Roger Thomas, who chairs the Coastal Communities Team in Minehead.

“Our team of officers has worked incredibly hard to secure funding from a variety of sources so that we can invest in Minehead to benefit the local economy and provide visitors with a fun and informative way of finding out about Minehead’s past.

“We are lucky to have a fascinating history that can be brought to life through harnessing the incredible technology that is available now. “

GOOD CAUSES BENEFIT FROM LOCAL LOTTERY

Local good causes are continuing to benefit from the Somerset West Lottery – a joint enterprise launched by Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils.

Somerset West Lottery payments to good causes in the two districts for £3,728.40 have recently been approved.  This is an increase of £612.90 to local good causes on the previous payment.

Trident Youth & Community Centre and Taunton Town Football Club continue to top the ticket sales and will receive payments of more than £100 each.

Watchet Bowling Club, Compass Disability Services and Home-Start West Somerset are well on their way to 200 ticket sales.

So far, a total of 83 local good causes have registered with seven welcomed last month alone. The number of supporters has risen to more than 750.

It costs £1 per game to play and winners could win up to £25,000 as part of the weekly draw. Each week, the winning numbers are published on the Somerset West Lottery home page:  www.somersetwestlottery.co.uk

Players have a 50 to one chance of winning one of the prizes. From each £1 ticket, 60p goes to local good causes, 20% goes to the prize fund, and the balance meets running costs and VAT.

The lottery management company, Gatherwell, has been appointed to run the scheme.

 

SOLAR-POWERED TOURISM FOR WATCHET: PLEASE VOTE NOW

A funding application to pay for solar panels on the community-led Visitor Centre and Boat Museum in Watchet has been shortlisted, and is now up for public vote.

The project, which is a Marks and Spencer Energy Fund application, is called ‘Solar Powered Tourism’. Solar panels would save money and create income for the building, so freeing up funds to spend on high quality tourism marketing for the town, which would help to boost its economy. Grant-funded solar panels would also help the boat museum to retain its free entry.

To find out more, and to cast your vote, go to: www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/solar-powered-tourism.

The application has been made by Onion Collective, a community interest company in the town who facilitated the creation of the Watchet Visitor Centre in 2016. The building is an extension to the Watchet Boat Museum, which simultaneously underwent refurbishment. This followed consultation with the people of Watchet to determine what local people felt was needed to give the town a stronger future. The response was almost unanimous: a more buoyant local economy, provided in large part by an increase in the tourist offer.

The Visitor Centre building work was carried out thanks to grant funding from a Hinckley Point Community Impact Mitigation fund and the Trust House Charitable Foundation. A local voluntary group, known as the Watchet Community Makers then carried out much of the internal refurbishment of the boat museum, supporting the town and learning skills along the way.

If the application is successful, the panels will be installed at the end of this year. Planning permission has already been granted. The system will be battery ready, which also leaves scope for a future sustainable community business to be run from the building.

The Marks and Spencer Energy Fund is run annually, and provides UK community organisations with an opportunity to win a share of £300,000 to support their renewable energy projects and technologies.