Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Oh my Silver Darlings. In Praise of the Humble Herring

Fair weather drew the crowds down along Clovelly on Sunday to a celebration in praise of the humble herring. By chance we shared the trip down in the landrover with the present owner of Clovelly, the Hon. John Rous and a lady wrestling with some unwieldy cake-laden trays. The scrumptious looking buns and scones were destined for sale at the Lifeboat House. Down at the harbour a huge colony of gulls were squawking above the water and some Jolly Jack Tars were singing shanties acappella. Below the old Lime Kiln smoke was rising from the Kipperman's little hut. The Kipperland exhibition tells the story of the herring and how a small fish has played such an important part in the history of  Great Britain. On the beach Flaxland were demonstrating flax processing and net making. There were also three examples of flax woven craft. The curragh, a traditional craft from the west coast of Ireland used for fishing, kelp gathering and island hopping, a coricle and a canoe both made using flax fabrics. Languishing across the harbour with its red sails standing out against the grey quay stone wall was "Little Lily", Clovelly's very own Picarroner. It's hard to believe that at one time this harbour was filled with up to ninety fishing boats which landed nearly a million herrings. Harbour Master, Stephen Perham is one of the last herring fishermen in Clovelly, he still uses "Little Lily" to fish for Herring. Clovelly Herring Festival is a real food fest and the stalls along the quay did well to keep up with demand. You could buy fresh herring and mullet, local bread, beer and cider, mulled wine, preserves liquorice, confectionery and rock. In between the produce stalls, there was a colourful array of local hand-made crafts including stained glass, mosaics, jewellery, patchwork and haberdashery, knitted gifts and knitting yarns. A choice of delicious fishy treats were served up in the Quay kitchens, herring specialities, spicy mullet chowder, tale of three herrings, fish cakes and stir fry. We really enjoyed our Kipper Baguette. The Pancake stall was very popular especially with the kids. There was also a "Ships in a Bottle" display and a photographic exhibition. Flying the flag for the natural world on land, sea and in the air were the North Devon AONB, the National Trust and the RSPB. Kids were kept amused by a variety of event-themed craft activities. Time for a beer and a sit down and a chance to take in the view, listen to more sea shanties this time with guitar, banjo and fiddle from local group "Fifers Ruse" and Bideford folk band "Shake a Leg". The sun, low at this time of year, came out briefly highlighting the woodland which clings to the 400 feet cliffs above Clovelly Harbour. It is really a dream location for photographers and film makers. Dressed in old sea-fairing garb, the Exmouth Shanty Singers made a wonderful tableau and they and that plucky little Penguin were probably the most photographed subjects on the day. Heave Away, Haul Away, Up Along - time for that Bacon Bap. Article and photos by Pat Adams

Clovelly was once a major centre for herring fishing. This popular festival is held in support of sustainable fishing by traditional methods and to celebrate the herring, the Silver Darlings of the sea.  Click here to visit Clovelly Village Website - Whats On at Clovelly   
We recommend the Bacon Bap at the Clovelly Visitor Centre
Click here for North Devon Coast and Country Chronicle post on the Clovelly, Crab and Lobster Festival

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A major setback for our seas. Add your voice today to the marine campaign

Our seas are suffering serious damage and need protection now, according to the Devon Wildlife Trust, in response to the recent ministerial statement which announced a delay on the protection of marine wildlife. Stakeholders across the country had been expecting the government to give the go ahead to designate 127 Marine Conservation Zones across the nation's seas, where some of our most important marine wildlife would be protected. This was to be a landmark moment in protecting our marine environment. Harry Barton, Chief Executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust says, "The statement sends a worrying signal that the Government is dragging its heels on designating the network of sites recommended by stakeholder groups." The proposed network of Marine Conservation Zones includes areas of sea off the coast of Devon, such as Torbay and much of the north coast. In a surprise announcement, the Government has said that it needs more evidence before it takes action. Yesterday's statement by the Natural Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon gave no firm guarantee that any part of the recommended network will be designated, and confirmed that no sites would be designated before 2013, a year later than planned. Harry Barton says, "There is indisputable evidence that the wildlife in our seas is declining, and that we need urgent action now to conserve it. Wildlife in our seas receives far less protection than on land, and until very recently there has been only one marine nature reserve in English waters - around Lundy, in Devon. This is a once in a generation opportunity to put this right. More than a million people representing fishermen, conservationists and businesses have worked closely together for two years to identify the network of sites, taking the many different interests into account. What more information does the government want before it takes action?" Devon Wildlife Trust agrees with the government's scientific advisers that all 127 sites need to be designated if the network is to work. Harry Barton concluded, "This announcement is a huge disappointment and will put yet more pressure on marine wildlife. This is a time for decisive action, not discussion and delay. The government has said it wants to be the greenest ever. It needs to stand firm in its commitment and deliver the network of protected sites that local stakeholders and scientists have recommended to it." Add your voice today to the marine campaign by signing a Petition Fish scale at

Thongweed, snakelocks anemone,ballan wrasse (Paul Naylor)

Visual arts project puts Devon conservation in the frame

Shot of the landscape - Landscape photographer Mike McFarlane cycled into Devon this summer as part of a unique conservation-inspired visual arts project, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts. Mike is covering thousands of miles, mainly by bike and public transport, during a 12 month tour of the UK, after setting off from his home in County Durham on Tuesday 12 April. This project will see the creation of stunning 360° interactive colour images of landscape-scale conservation schemes throughout the UK. Devon Wildlife Trust believes the images will inspire local residents about the natural world whilst illustrating the variety, scope and importance of its vision for A Living Landscape. By visiting Devon Wildlife Trust's Exeter Wild City and Working Wetlands landscape-scale conservation schemes Mike McFarlane has captured stunning colour panoramic images, one from a view point on the roof of Exeter Cathedral and the other at Bursdon Moor in north Devon. On completion of the UK tour Mike McFarlane will produce a complete set of 360° photographs for the schemes. Devon Wildlife Trust hopes to use the visual materials in its visitor centres, at events and on its website. Peter Burgess, Conservation Advocacy Manager at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "The photos really show off these two amazing urban and rural landscapes in such scope and detail. Conservation is not just about protecting isolated reserves but now more often about influencing whole landscapes for the better. Landscape scale conservation is not always an easy concept to get across but these images really do show off the projects well. We hope to upload the virtual tours to our website in the near future so they will inspire people to take an alternative look at what's on their doorstep." Mike McFarlane is a landscape photographer, specialising in landscape, architectural and 360° virtual reality tour photography. Through his use of public transport and bike, Mike's carbon footprint will be substantially less than driving the route by car and taking more flights. Mike said: "When I left my job as an engineer to pursue a career as a landscape photographer I very much wanted my business to be ethical and environmentally-friendly and, not only entertain people, but to educate and inspire. I was excited to see how Devon Wildlife Trust's schemes are capturing the imagination of local communities, bringing people together for long-lasting positive change. "Ultimately, I want to be able to show people we have achingly beautiful places here in the county, worth protecting for the next generation and beyond. What better way to achieve that aim than helping to raise awareness of Devon Wildlife Trust's vision for A Living Landscape."  You can follow Mike's travels via his website or on Twitter @mikejmcfarlane.
Working Wetlands - Bursdon Moor Panorama

Exeter Wild City Panorama

Thursday, 17 November 2011

BBC Children in Need Official Single. Labrinth, Tinchy, Chipmunk and Wretch 32 Come Together To Help

The official BBC Children in Need single will get one of its most credible makeovers to date this year as the likes of Labrinth, Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk, Wretch 32 and Tulisa from NDubz present their own re-interpretation of Massive Attack’s timeless single ‘Teardrop’, with the new lyrics adapted by Wretch 32, Gary Go and Mr Dialysis. The song will be released through Island Records on November 13th with all proceeds going to the charity to support some of the most disadvantaged children right here in the UK. Gary Barlow was asked by BBC Children in Need organizers to come-up with an idea for the official single this year and immediately contacted Labrinth (famed for his production on Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass Out’ which won Best British Single at The BRIT Awards 2011) to produce it. Together they assembled a group that makes up the cream of the UK grime scene including: Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms Dynamite,
Mz Bratt, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder,
Tulisa and Wretch 32. The institution that is the official CiN single has always held a special place in our hearts and record collections. Since 1997 BBC Children in Need has achieved six No.1 singles and six more in the Top Ten; recorded by artists including JLS, The Spice Girls, Peter Kay, Lou Reed, S Club 7 and Will Young. This year’s collective, who have earned five No.1 singles between them already, will have a name to represent the group chosen for them through a fan competition launched today. The song is adapted from the original ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack – who also gave their blessing for the song to go ahead. Labrinth & Co assembled at Metropolis Studios at the beginning of last week to record the song and shoot the official video, which will premiere in the run-up to release.
BBC Children in Need supports children living in the UK facing a range of disadvantages including: poverty and deprivation, disabled young people and children who have been victims of abuse or neglect. The spectacular live Appeal Show will be broadcast live on BBC1 on Friday November 18th. To get involved in this year’s appeal please visit

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Peppercombe Valley not for turning!

Peppercombe Chronicles and one week in October. The leaves are still green and clinging to the trees down Peppercombe. Spotted a squirrel, darting across the track and scurrying up and along the tree branches. Little acorns are dropping on the verges amongst the rusty fallen leaves so it looks like that squirrel is in for a bountiful winter. Today there is a trickle of water in both streams in contrast to the thundering sound as huge waves crash on the pebbles down at the beach. Saw a few fungi and lichens on the way and as we arrived a Cormorant was coming in to land offshore. Swirling, rolling incoming tide on 17th October. A couple of days later the sun is out and a flock of gulls are bobbing offshore and a seal is popping his head up on the incoming blue tide. Took a photo of a lone Red Admiral sunning itself on the coast path. In the valley a hare made a sudden dash from the knotted roots of a tree then disappeared into the woodland above, three long tail tits were chirping happily in the beech canopy, a beetle was parked on the track and a pheasant was heard squawking in the undergrowth. It’s now quite a bit colder with fleeting sunlight. Lundy very low but clear. The blackberries and sloe berries which started to ripen in August are now joined by the vibrant display of hawthorne and holly. Occasional colour comes from the remaining Red Campion, Knapweed and Sheeps Bit. There is a huge clump of Hemp Agrimony in the meadows, its fading flowers now fluffy and white.