Thursday, 22 September 2011

Hand in Hand. Kivu the Gorilla and Dartington Crystal

Keeper at Paignton Zoo
A unique piece of gorilla art was recently auctioned by Paignton Zoo to raise money for international ape conservation. The Zoo, a registered charity, was selling a glass cast of the imprint of a gorilla hand. The impression was taken from the right hand of eight year old male lowland gorilla Kivu when the Zoo’s vet team performed a bone marrow biopsy on him recently. Modelling clay was used to take the impression while Kivu was under anaesthetic. A plaster cast was made from this by Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust reserves warden Dave Ellacott. The hand print was then created in glass by craftsmen at North Devon’s very own Dartington Crystal. This is an extra ordinarily beautiful object, wonderful and precious, like gorillas themselves. The auction presented a rare opportunity to own a piece of art that has a direct connection with one of the most amazing species on the planet. Gorillas are closely related to humans but are becoming increasingly rare. Every penny raised from the auction will help in the battle against extinction. Sue French from Dartington Crystal said: “We were delighted to help with this very special project. It was a real challenge for us at Dartington Crystal as it's not every day that you get to cast the hand of a gorilla and raise money for such a cause. Visitors were so interested when the casting took place that we decided to do a replica of Kivu's hand to put on display in our Visitor Centre". The piece, engraved with Kivu’s name and the year 2011, is nearly 30 centimetres long and about 20 centimetres wide. It weighs 2.54 kilos. The cast was made by Dartington Crystal master craftsman Paul Sullivan. Dartington Crystal can help you capture YOUR unique moment in time... A glass hand or foot cast makes the perfect keepsake or a special gift to parents and family. Click here for further details on Hand Cast Gifts & Gift Vouchers.See how it's done watch the movie demonstration below:

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is supporting the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Ape Campaign 2010, which aims to raise one million Euros for global ape conservation. The Zoo is hoping to donate £10,000. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Local landowners and volunteers set sights on lookering course

Local landowners and volunteers set sights on lookering course Devon Wildlife Trust's (DWT) Working Wetlands Project is holding a 'Lookering' course this month to help the charity get more wildlife-rich land under good management. 'Lookering' is a familiar term to farmers, describing a set of important activities associated with looking after stock. With the decline in livestock farming and fewer people to manage them, much Culm Grassland is scrubbing up and being invaded by fast-growing willow, bramble and gorse. The project's priority is to reinstate management on neglected Culm Grassland sites within three target areas of the Culm Measures, especially those which have been managed by stock grazing in the past. Many people who now own Culm Grassland don't have their own stock, so a course has been set up to try and help people learn more about looking after Dartmoor ponies. By casting a daily eye over the grazing stock and reporting back if there are any problems, lookerers can really help landowners and the Wildlife Trust whilst also getting to know local wildlife. The course is being held on Wednesday 28 September 2011 near Tedburn St Mary. Trainees will learn how ponies graze, signs of good health and normal behaviour along with health & safety issues and the legalities affecting landowners. DWT's Working Wetlands Project Coordinator, Mark Elliot said: "With the complications surrounding cattle movements, we are increasingly turning to ponies to manage some of our best wildlife sites. In many ways they are perfectly suited for the rough grasslands where encroaching scrub like gorse and willow can be a real problem. Wild ponies can tackle these problems brilliantly and so we are keen to develop a network of people able to keep an eye on their welfare". For more information about the course and to book a place, contact Working Wetlands on 01409 221823 by Monday 26 September 2011. Working Wetlands is a seven year landscape scale project and this is just one of many initiatives being undertaken by the scheme across 65,000 hectares of the Culm Natural Area. It has been supported by South West Water, Tubney Charitable Trust, The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Devon Waste Management and Natural England.
Moving ponies on the site - Photo  Copyright DWT

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Clovelly Highlights. Shimmering Lobsters and Sea Shanties

The crowds turned out for Clovelly’s annual Lobster and Crab Fest on the 4th September. A continuous stream of folk, young and not so young made the steep and winding walk down the wonky cobbles to the Quay. At journey’s end the reward was Clovelly Harbour, a stunning sight, especially at high tide. Shimmering water under  blue skies, bobbing boats and the Clovelly lifeboat whizzing to and fro.  The old cobbled Quay was lined with the colourful awnings of craft and food stalls and the aroma of sizzling seafood fritters and stir fry filled the air. Delicious cupcakes and all manner of local produce and products were on display, including those famous Clovelly lobsters and crabs. It was especially nice for the children to see the huge wriggling lobsters up close. Craft stalls were bedecked with colourful mosaics, fun t-shirts, hand-made patchwork and haberdashery, knitting yarns, recycled metal jewellery, local art and photographic gifts. There was even a wool spinning demonstration. Happy families with excited children took part in various fun activities including face painting, storytelling, balloon modelling, street theatre and still found time to greet the arrival of the resident donkeys. Bellowing above the buzz of the crowd some harmonious, fiddle-playing, folk singers took centre stage belting out sea shanties by the old lime kiln, which had been taken over by the North Devon ANOB for more kids’event-themed craft activities. The Lobster and Crab Fest was organised in support of the National Lobster Hatchery who brought along a tank of baby lobsters. Their bright red, white and blue stall was at the end of the Quay. You could sponsor your own teeny lobsters before they were released into a slightly bigger tank, Bideford Bay beyond the harbour.  Also shimmering along the bumpy quayside was one giant “Lobster”. Drawing oohs and ahs from astonished children and adults, the very brave stilt walker stopped to pose for photos then carried on with confidence and without incident.  The Red Lion, of course, did a roaring trade, the never-ending queue stretching from the bar and out the door where the beer and wine tasting stall was conveniently situated. I have never seen Clovelly quite so crowded but people waited patiently and with good spirits. The sunny weather held until mid-afternoon, then rain literally stopped play and everyone ran for cover including the band who decided it was much safer to head for the cosy Red Lion Hotel bar! Article and photos by P. Adams


The Lobster and Crab Fest is just one of many events held at Clovelly throughout the year. There is a landrover service which will take you “Up Along” or “Down Along” or you can stay in one of the two hotels, the New Inn at the top or the Red Lion. For more information visit - What's On Clovelly, latest news and events - History of Clovelly Lifeboat
For information about the Padstow based National Lobster Hatchery
Explore Clovelly with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

North Devon Mini Breaks!

As we made our way down to the Wreckers Retreat over the August Bank Holiday Weekend we came upon the "arresting" sight of hundreds of minis huddled above the famous Hartland Quay. These colourful little cars form the North Devon Grand Tour, a host of mini owners from around the United Kingdom, who meet once a year to raise funds for Children’s Hospice South West. The Legendary Grand Tour was taking a mini break in their happy journey around North Devon towns and villages. The convoy of "Little Cars with Big Hearts" are a most welcome sight for both locals and visitors who stop to wave them by..

The North Devon Heritage coast is also awash with natural colour as the purple heather blooms on the cliffsides around the Bideford Bay Area.
The Legendary Grand Tour started in 1994 with 4 Mini's going out for a drive! - Find out more at