HEDGELAYING SKILLS REWARDED

The important work of Exmoor’s hedgelayers has once again been recognised and rewarded through the Exmoor Hedge Competition.

Peter Smith received first place and the ‘Mary Stacey Trophy’ (locally made using beech wood from a laid Exmoor hedge), which was kindly donated by the late Mrs Stacey of Foxhanger Farm, Brompton Regis.  As winner, Peter is also invited to join the judges in deciding the winners of next year’s competition.

Well-laid hedges store more carbon, harbour more wildlife and provide a range of environmental benefits that far outstrip any other method of boundary management. They are also key to the National Park’s landscape, wildlife and farming history and provide employment for numerous skilled craftspeople during the winter months.

In recognition of this valuable work, Exmoor National Park Authority launched the Exmoor Hedge Competition in partnership with the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, together with the generous support and sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust.

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, and Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, presented the prizes of up to £200 to the winning hedgelayers. First Place in the Open Class was Peter Smith, who laid the hedge for Timothy and Sally Stevens of Summerings Farm, near Wheddon Cross. Second prize went to Gary Atkins, who laid one of the hedges belonging to Shiamala Comer at Ashott Barton Farm, Exford. In third place was a hedge belonging to Robert Kilvington of Parsonage Farm, Hawkridge, whose hedge was laid by Adam Tarr of Lower Hunstone.

Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the Exmoor Trust and the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups for supporting this competition. This traditional skill is so important to the wildlife and landscape of the National Park and an integral part of the rural community.

“Agri-environment support for hedge management has changed dramatically over recent years and the future of hedge management on Exmoor is not certain. I hope that this competition goes a little way to promote the work of these craftspeople.”

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, said: “The Exmoor Trust is very pleased to continue to sponsor the Exmoor Hedge Competition and to support this very important rural skill.  Exmoor would not look like it does today if it were not for these skilled hedge-layers. With uncertain times ahead for agriculture, management of the land and hedgerows becomes ever more important.”

Those looking to develop their hedge-laying skills may be interested in the one-day introductory courses being offered in the Quantocks this autumn, organised by Somerset Hedge Group (£25 per person). See www.fwagsw.org.uk/Pages/Events/Category/events-and-workshops.

For more information about the competition, grants for hedge management or farming and wildlife advice, contact Heather on 01398 322277 or hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

THE HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS AT NUMBER SEVEN DULVERTON

Following on from the phenomenal success of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, many will be intrigued to discover the next publication to feature Jackie’s distinctive illustrations. The Lost Words was recently awarded the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. Judged solely by librarians, the award is the highest accolade awarded to illustrators working in the UK – past winners include Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake.

Jackie is much in demand for public appearances due to the success of The Lost Words. She was recently centre stage at the Royal Albert Hall, painting live and reciting poems as part of The Lost Words BBC Prom. Number Seven has supported Jackie for many years and they are delighted to be hosting the launch party for The House Without Windows, published by Hamish Hamilton, away from the bright lights of London, here on Exmoor.

Two events are planned. The first is at Loyton Lodge, where a relaxing afternoon awaits with the aim of capturing the essence of The House Without Windows which is an entirely unique story of one little girl’s desire to escape into the wilderness.

Little Eepersip doesn’t want to live in a house with doors and windows and a roof, so she runs away to live in the wild – first in the Meadow, then by the Sea, and finally in the Mountain. Her heartbroken parents follow her, bringing her back home to ‘safety’ and locking her up in the stifling square of the house. But she slips away once more, following her heart into the richness of untrammelled nature and disappearing forever.

First published in 1927 and written by a child of just 12 years old, The House Without Windows is an extraordinary paean to the transcendent beauty of the natural world, and the human capacity to connect with it.

Throughout the afternoon Jackie will be painting and discussing her desire to illustrate and re-publish Barbara Newhall Follett’s book. Musical accompaniment is provided by cellist Julia Vohralik and principal violinist Katherine Shave. Julia has played with the Hallé and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and Katherine was leader of the English Touring Opera Orchestra. Both currently play for the Britten Sinfonia. Christopher Jelley has mown a labyrinth into the long grass and Adam Fanson, the chef at Loyton, has planned a picnic of sandwiches, colourful cakes and pots of tea. Booking is essential and tickets (£24) are available direct from Number Seven.

The second event is on Saturday 28 September and you will find Jackie in residence at Number Seven from 10am until 3pm, signing copies of her many titles. There is no need to book and admission is free. Copies of all her titles will be available to purchase, alongside a display of new illustrations created for The House Without Windows.

www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk.

EXETER JOCKEY CLUB CHAMPIONS DEVON AIR AMBULANCE RACE DAY 2019: TICKETS AVAILABLE

The popular charity race day returns with a full day of family-friendly fun and an exclusive dining experience in support of Devon Air Ambulance.

The Jockey Club at Exeter Racecourse is once more supporting the local charity with a Devon Air Ambulance Race Day on Sunday 24 November, 2019.

This year’s event will feature a dedicated race of the county’s famous and much-loved Dartmoor ponies, who are typically more familiar with the challenging terrain of the moors than the even, maintained grass of the racecourse.

Horse enthusiasts are in for a treat as not only will they enjoy the Dartmoor Hill Pony charity race, but they will also have the chance to watch the spectacle of seven other more conventional races.

For £75 per person, the charity hospitality package includes the charity race followed by the conventional races, the advice of a professional Race Day presenter and tipster, and a delicious menu comprising locally sourced ingredients created by Head Chef, Ian Brimacombe.

Jack Parkinson, Exeter Racecourse General Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome back the Devon Air Ambulance Trust to Exeter for its Charity Race Day. It’s an outstanding organisation that serves the people of Devon every day by delivering critical care in time-critical situations. The Air Ambulance has attended Exeter races on several occasions over the years and we are indebted to them. We hope that families will come and enjoy a day at the races, and our charity race too, when a team of Dartmoor Hill Ponies will be dashing to the line for glory.”

Devon Air Ambulance crew and volunteers will have a presence at the Race Day, collecting donations, selling raffle tickets and chatting about the charity – there may even be an appearance from charity mascot, Ambrose Bear.

Devon Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, Tracy Owen, said: “We’re looking forward to returning to Exeter Racecourse for this enjoyable fundraising event. Last year it cost £7.5 million to keep Devon’s two emergency air ambulances flying and because we are independent of Government and National Lottery funding it is entirely thanks to our supporters that we raised this sum. We’re very grateful to the Jockey Club at Exeter Racecourse for their continued support of the charity.”

Businesses looking to take staff out for a social or savvy shoppers looking for an unusual early Christmas gift might want to secure their place in what will be either the Travado or Golden Jubilee Suite – both of which are private boxes with fantastic views over the course – for the Devon Air Ambulance Race Day.

Tickets can be purchased by phoning 01392 466666 and speaking to the fundraising team, or by visiting the Devon Air Ambulance website: bit.ly/DAARaceDay2019 

BAMPTON EVENT CELEBRATES HISTORIC BUILDINGS

The Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre are delighted to be holding a special event on Friday 20 September to unveil their new ‘Our Buildings’ exhibition boards, oral histories and family trail.

The exhibition, which will be on display in the centre for a limited period from the end of September, is the result of a year-long project researching and collating information about the history of some of the town’s buildings. The project was supported by a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Volunteers visited various homes and then conducted research both online and at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter. They looked into a buildings’ ages, construction and architectural details as well as their different uses over time and the people who lived there.

Another strand of the project was to trace residents who had recollections of the town and its buildings from the middle of last century – they were then recorded and the material carefully edited to form a digital oral archive of the town for future generations.

Bridge House Luke Street

Judi Thomas, a trustee of the Heritage Centre, who was in charge of the oral history recordings, said, “All too often we leave it too late to record the memories of older family members and residents but their accounts form such a valuable addition to the heritage of our town. Young people in particular can learn such a huge amount about everyday life from the past by listening to recordings.”

Judi Thomas and other Heritage Centre volunteers have also been working closely with teachers and children at Bampton School who have been learning more about their town. Two classes visited the Heritage Centre and were taken on a special guided town trail during which the children were taught more about some of the town’s buildings and history from the centre’s guides. Judi added “We’re delighted to have the support of the school teachers as we aim to encourage residents and visitors of all ages to appreciate our rich social and industrial heritage and historic buildings.”

The group have also produced a new booklet which gives the history of St Michael and All Angels Church – believed to the town’s oldest building.

Katrina Munro, chair of the Trustees, said, “This project has helped everyone involved to learn so much about our town. Many of the buildings we see today have a rich and colourful history and many have fine architectural features. Through this exhibition, we hope more people will visit our town and learn about our heritage. We’re very grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting the project. Aspects such as the exhibition, family town trial, new guide book to the church and oral archive will help us to reach as many people as possible.”

The Heritage and Visitor Centre, which is based inside St Michael and All Angels Church, is open from Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 3pm.

Everyone is welcome to join the volunteers for the Exhibition launch at the Centre on Friday 20 September starting at 7pm. Free refreshments will be served.

There will be a special Bampton Guided Town Trail at 11am on Saturday 21 September. Find out more or book a space by emailing bamptonheritage@btinternet.com or phoning Wendy Boothroyd on 01398 331219. Guided town trials can also be arranged for groups on other dates.

SCHOOL LAUNCHES EXCITING CREATIVE ARTS EVENTS FOR NORTH DEVON PUBLIC

West Buckland School is opening its doors as a new venue for the arts in North Devon, with the launch of ARTS@WB, an exciting cultural programme of stand-up comedy, dance, music, art and drama events, open to the North Devon public. The majority of the productions will be held in the school’s fabulous 150 Arts building, where visitors will also be able to browse exhibitions from distinguished artists.

ARTS@WB has been created by the school’s Director of Music and Performing Arts, Emma Kent, who many will know from her work with the North Devon Sinfonia and who has always been a great supporter of the arts in North Devon.

“ARTS@WB is a really exciting new venture for the school and the wider community,” she said. “Hopefully everyone will find something in the programme which will whet their appetite for culture and the arts and tempt them to visit our beautiful campus to enjoy a social and thought-provoking evening.”

As well as enjoying the main attraction, visitors are encouraged to come early, pick up a glass of something and enjoy a browse around the school’s stunning 150 Arts building where there will be a number of exhibitions on display from emerging artists.

The programme is suitable for people across the age groups and there are a limited number of student tickets, priced at just £1.

Legally Blonde and Katie Derham

Highlights for the 2019-2020 programme include a critically acclaimed circus and dance performance by Nikki Rummer and JD Broussé, a comedy club night featuring Noel Brodie, Jo Coffey, Chris Leworthy and Angie Belcher, a show-stopping production of the West End hit Legally Blonde at the Queen’s theatre and an Evening with Katie Derham – an insight into the life of the well-known arts journalist and presenter of the Proms season on the BBC.

For more information, or to download a copy of the full ARTS@WB brochure, please visit: www.westbuckland.com/arts-at-wb.

TOP: “Thirsty” by Paper Birds, just one of the many exciting productions at West Buckland School as part of their ARTS@WB.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS FESTIVAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION

Exmoor’s first ever Historic Buildings Festival is due to kick off this month, with a week of events celebrating the National Park’s impressive array of buildings from throughout the ages.

From 16-22 September, a wide range of expert walks, talks and practical demonstrations will be on offer celebrating this cultural heritage. Guest speakers and skilled craftspeople will shed light on how and why these structures came to be and what they can teach us about how our ancestors lived and worked. The Festival forms part of Heritage Open Days*, when places right across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.

The week of largely free events will begin with an open day to see conservation in action in Simonsbath’s Ashcombe Gardens, where a project is underway to restore and uncover the story behind a Picturesque garden and the unusual Scottish croft-house that formed part of it. This is the first time the public will have an opportunity to go inside the buildings since restoration works began, and the first time they have been without scaffolding for many years.

Find out the story of Lynton and Lynmouth’s famous cliff railway and walk in the footsteps of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace to discover the extensive network of intriguing paths, viewpoints and tunnels found on her former Porlock estate. Get an exclusive tour of medieval buildings in Dunster as part of a project to trace and record the town’s early history and take part in a convoy of military vehicles on route to the former secret Second World War radar station and tank training grounds found on Minehead’s North Hill.

Festival organiser Thomas Thurlow, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Historic Buildings Officer, said: “Whether it’s the medieval hall houses of Dunster, the late Georgian Scottish croft-style buildings of Simonsbath, or the industrial structures of the West Somerset Mineral Line, all these buildings have a story to tell and have helped shape the landscape we see today. There are so many historic treasures to be found on Exmoor if you know where to look and we can’t wait to showcase these amazing buildings.”

The full programme of events can be found on the Exmoor National Park Authority website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/historicbuildingsfestival and is available in printed form free from National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton.

People may also wish to take part in the Exmoor Society photographic competition, which this year includes a historic buildings category (the closing date is 30 September). Find out more at www.exmoorsociety.com/content/news/alfred-vowles-photographic-competition-2

PHOTO: White Rock Cottage in Simonsbath seen without scaffolding for the first time in decades.

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED

Over 50 events in celebration of Exmoor’s spectacular starry skies are set to take place across the National Park this autumn, as bookings open for the region’s third annual Dark Skies Festival.

From 14 October to 3 November, venues across the National Park will take advantage of its status as one of three designated International Dark Skies Reserves in the country, to host a range of experiences inspired by the wonders of the night sky.

Following many sell-out events during the first two years, the Festival will this year span three weeks, covering the half term breaks for both Devon and Somerset as well as some quieter spells when the children are back to school.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The tranquillity and stunning landscapes of Exmoor make it the perfect place to walk, stargaze and take a break from the bustle of busy modern lives and we hope that through the Festival many more people will discover the magic of its night skies.”

The Festival caters for a wide range of ages and interests, with highlights for families including this year’s Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, a 360-degree planetarium experience in Dunster, Bampton or Barnstaple, or the National Park’s first ever Dark Skies Big Adventure with the National Trust.

Wildlife lovers may wish to partake in a guided starlit walk or dusk safari, ending with warming local produce supper or hot chocolate and marshmallows. Meanwhile, the more adventurous might enjoy night mountain biking or a guided walk with an Exmoor National Park Ranger to see the Orionids meteor shower in peak flow.

Foodies will find countless opportunities to indulge in delicious astronomy-inspired suppers married with expert talks and stargazing.

And not forgetting astronomy enthusiasts, who will be spoilt for choice with guided stargazing opportunities, talks on choosing the right telescope or the latest astronomy apps, plus the chance to hone astrophotography skills.

This year children up to 16 years can also enter an Exmoor dark skies-inspired story writing competition, with the winner getting a free astronomy and space workshop for their school, hosted by Jo Richardson of Somerset-based company ‘Space Detectives’.

Katrina Munro of Exmoor National Park Authority coordinates the festival, which is sponsored by rural broadband providers Airband UK. She said: “Many people have never experienced what it’s like to look up into a truly dark sky, see the thousands of stars and feel that inevitable sense of wonder. Exmoor tourism businesses, farms and organisations including the National Trust, Forestry England, South West Lakes Trust and Exmoor Pony Centre have all teamed up with the National Park to ensure there’s something for everyone throughout the three-week festival period.

“We have such a variety of great places to stay, many within the darkest areas of the National Park, but all within easy access of the various events. Events can all be booked separately, allowing people to pick and choose those that interest them most.”

The full programme of events is available at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival or from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster or Lynmouth. Details of places to stay are included and further accommodation can be found at www.visit-exmoor.co.uk . For more information phone the Lynmouth National Park Centre on 01598 752509, open 7 days a week.

PHOTO: Dark Skies over Exmoor by Peter Hendrie.

VINTAGE & HANDMADE FAIR

Preparation is now in full swing for this September’s Vintage & Handmade event on Sunday 22 September at Barnstaple Pannier Market.

The show promises to be a colourful and theatrical spectacular with a 50s circus-themed backdrop to an incredible selection of exhibitors: an eclectic mix of vintage & retro traders, work that has been beautifully upcycled or recycled and stunning work from artisans across the South West including jewellery, prints, paintings, ceramics, candles, woodwork and textiles.

Barnstaple Pannier Market will be transformed – behind the curtained entrance you will find a ring master, usherettes with trays, vintage games, a vintage lemonade stand hosted by North Devon Against Domestic Abuse (NDADA) and a live swing band.

Cool creative workshops can be pre-booked including paper-flower making and hand-stitched embroidered brooches.

There will also be food traders and a tea & coffee lounge.

Put the date in your diary, you definitely don’t want to miss this one. Dig out your favourite vintage glad rags as dressing up for this event is actively encouraged.

SWAN GLIDES OFF WITH MORE AWARDS AND OPENS SISTER RESTAURANT

The multi-award-winning Swan in Devon has recently secured yet more awards for 2019 and its owners have also officially unveiled plans for a new restaurant they are set to open next month.

The gastropub with rooms in Bampton has retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fifth year running following a recent visit by the organisation’s inspector.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “This couldn’t have come at a better time for us and we’re delighted. At the start of next month, we’re opening our new restaurant called Spelt.

“We’ve taken on the old bakery shop in Bampton and created a new concept style restaurant and we’re taking bookings now for tables from 12 September, so there’s lots going on! Anyone who would like to book in should get in touch soon, as we expect to be run off our feet once we open, as interest has been so high in the run up to this!

“It’s going to be very different from The Swan in style, but we’ll still be very much focused on the wonderful local produce we use and serving up the tastiest dishes going. We’ll offer a selection of dishes that have been developed for sharing, so no starters as such and no mains either, so if two people are going to eat, possibly they’d have four or five plates of food.

“We’ll be offering visitors from further afield, or those who live nearby but fancy a night over, special packages so they can dine at Spelt and stay with us at The Swan too.

“Spelt represents a wonderful adventure for us and it’s great having something new in the pipeline. Whatever happens though, rest assured, we will not be taking our eyes off the ball at The Swan. We have a deep-rooted passion for the pub, and it is just as important to us today as it was eight years ago when we took it on.”

The Swan is no stranger to celebrations and has had quite a haul of awards already in the past year. A few months ago, the AA named it as the nation’s ‘Inn of the Year’ at a star-studded awards event in London.

In the spring, it was declared for the third year running as one of the best gastropubs in the country too.

It polled in at number 20 in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards, which are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

It also received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018, when it was rated 28th.

To add to this last year, The Swan was 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.

And at the end of the year, chef-patron Donna Berry was also one of three finalists in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards too.

Paul added: “Donna is a wonderful chef and Spelt is her vision. Myself, and the our whole team, are very much with her in this new venture. It’s exciting times for us all!”

The team at Spelt is taking bookings officially for 12 September onwards.

To find out more about The Swan and Spelt, please call The Swan on 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co or Spelt on 01398 331044.

MUSEUM OF BARNSTAPLE: NEW SHOP

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is looking for manufacturers, designers, artists and skilled craftspeople to supply products for sale in their brand-new museum shop.

They want to stock a range of items, featuring commercial products made locally in the South West, and would be particularly interested in items that reference their collections of silver, natural history, pottery and woodworking.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “With the new extension nearing completion, exciting times are ahead for the museum.  The new shop will be a fantastic outlet for commercial products that are designed and manufactured around the region.”

Alison Mills, Manager of The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, says: “We are all very excited about the new extension which will give us a much larger shop than we had previously. This will give us an amazing opportunity to showcase a range of beautiful products for sale, made right here in the South West.”

The museum is currently closed while work continues on the exciting new Long Bridge Wing extension, and is due to reopen this autumn with a brand-new social history gallery, larger shop, café and improved education space.

If you think you have a product that would appeal to the museum’s varied audience of local visitors and tourists, then please get in touch by emailing: trudy.weston@northdevon.gov.uk.

0345 224 1203