Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Hartland Abbey Highlights. Wild Flowers and Woodland Walks

While winter winds bite and the first snow flurries settle on the frozen ground I thought it would be a good time to look back on some of the highlights of 2011. The sun definitely shone on Hartland Abbey in July when it was visited by the BBC Antiques Roadshow. The programme was aired on the 8th of January and attracted over 6 million viewers. There are a host of other events at Hartland Abbey including the annual Spring Wildflower Walks. I went to my first Snowdrop Sunday in February 2008 now Snowdrop Sundays, Daffodil and Bluebell Days are firmly fixed on the North Devon Coast and Country Calendar. Hartland Abbey, the ancestral home of the Stucley Family, is located in a sheltered steep-sided valley flanked by a fast running stream and ancient woodland. From the majestic house a long meadow sweeps down to Blackpool Mill Cove and the sea. On Open Days the public are allowed to use the private footpath which meanders down to the beach between this tranquil meadow and the woods. This is a great walk for four-legged friends and all generations of the family. The not so nimble can stick to the footpath while the more agile can venture up through the woods via designated paths to explore the Summer House and the Gazebo beyond. The Gazebo is perched on the hillside high above the South West Coast Path and Blackpool Mill Cottage, location for BBC1's film adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility". Blackpool Mill Cottage, became Barton Cottage and was, for a while, home to the Dashwoods. On Daffodil Sunday, a cold day in March we checked out the newly restored Summer House, and were delighted to find a log fire burning in this now inviting cosy hideaway. Although the big draw is the historic daffodils at this time of year there are also plenty of narcissus, primrose, dog violet and great swathes of pretty wood anemone. The ornamental cherry was flowering and huge buds were emerging on the old Rhododendron and Magnolia. On the way out we stopped to take shots of vibrant Spring Squill. April 25 and we are back for the Bluebell Walk. Spotted a Buzzard aloft, a little red Robin, small white, orange tip and speckled wood butterflies and heard a Peacock. Three donkeys loped down to see us off at the gate, black sheep were bleating on the upland while white sheep and lazy cattle snoozed on the meadow beside the Abbey River. The Summer House, now bathed in dappled light, is surrounded by fresh green woodland ferns and bluebells. The legendary bluebells, which stretch from the Walled Gardens to the sea, were magnificent carpeting the banks either side of the path, the blue haze continuing upwards through the woods. The Bluebells were accompanied by Red Campion, Ransom (Wild Garlic), Lesser Stitchwort, Speedwell and Dog Violet. Down at the beach a loud rolling surf was crashing on the rocks. Amazingly wild flowers thrive on this windswept coast. Thrift Sea Pinks and Kidney Vetch poke out from the crags and the cliff meadow is dotted with Sea Campion, Devils-bit Scabious, Daisies and Lesser Celandine. Blackpool Mill Cove sits between Hartland Quay and Hartland Point on the South West Coast Path and the coastal hills are covered in golden Gorse at this time of year. After the bracing walk back up the meadow, beside the Abbey River, it was time for a well-earned cup of tea. There was a selection of homemade cakes, cream teas and our pasties arrived piping hot from the Abbey Kitchen Aga. Happy Days!

Don’t miss the next episode of BBC Antiques Roadshow from Hartland Abbey on 26th February

Hartland Abbey Wild Flower Walks 2012
11th and 12th February 2012 from 11 am-4 pm Snowdrop Weekend
Saturday 17th and Sunday, 18 March 2012, from 11am-4pm Daffodil Days and Mothering Sunday
Sunday 22 to Sunday 29 April 2012 from 11am to 5pm Bluebell Week
*All cream teas and home-made cakes served in the old Abbey kitchens in aid of St. Nectan's Church
Visit Hartland Abbey website for all special event information, House and Garden Opening times.
Article by Pat Adams North Devon Focus
Explore the Hartland Heritage Coast with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

James Morrison nominated for Best British Male/Video /new single "Slave to the Music"

James Morrison has been nominated for Best British Male at the 2012 BRIT awards, an accolade he has been nominated for twice before, and won in 2007. James said: “I’m really happy to be nominated for The Brits again this year, it’s going to be a great night. It’s always good to get that level of recognition for your work, and there are some great artists in there too. ‘The Awakening’ is such an intensely personal album to me, I’m just pleased people are sharing that and enjoying it so much, and the fans are giving me such incredible feedback and support.” His new single ‘Slave To The Music’ is released on February 20. The up tempo track is the third to be taken from his platinum selling album ‘The Awakening’. The song originally came to James in a dream, where he envisaged Michael Jackson singing the main hook. The Awakening was number one for two weeks when it was released last year. It also contains the singles ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ and the stunning duet with Jessie J ‘Up’ – which have sold over 300k copies.
Watch James Morrison ‘Slave To The Music’ video

James will tour the UK later this month. All dates are now SOLD OUT:
Saturday 28 Jan Belfast Ulster Hall
Sunday 29 Jan Dublin Olympia
Tuesday 31 Jan Manchester O2 Apollo
Wednesday 1 Feb Manchester O2 Apollo
Friday 3 Cambridge Corn Exchange
Saturday 4 Southampton Guildhall
Monday 6 Leicester De Montford Hall
Tuesday 7 Birmingham O2 Academy
Thursday 9 London Hammersmith Apollo
Friday 10 London Hammersmith Apollo
Sunday 12 Southend Cliff Pavilion
Monday 13 Bristol Colston Hall
Wednesday 15 Glasgow O2 Academy
Friday 17 Leeds O2 Academy
Saturday 18 Nottingham Royal Centre
Sunday 19 Newcastle O2 Academy
Acclaim for ‘The Awakening’

Monday, 16 January 2012

Pipex px® doubles its support for conservation

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) has this month received double support from one of its top Corporate Supporters for conservation work around the County. Pipex px®, based in Roborough, Plymouth has pledged £6,000 to support two vital projects in the County. DWT's Warleigh Point nature reserve, near Tamerton Foliot will now be sponsored by Pipex px®. Also benefiting is DWT's landscape scale project, Working Wetlands via the alternative carbon offset scheme run by Devon Wildlife Trust. A cheque presentation was held at Warleigh Point, the nearest nature reserve to the company's headquarters and where a recent team from Pipex px® carried out a Corporate Volunteering Day which involved coppicing of areas of the woodland at the popular site. Devon Wildlife Trust's Corporate Relations Officer, Tracy Ebbrell said: "We are delighted to be receiving such a large amount in sponsorship from Pipex px® in such a difficult economic climate. The relationship with Pipex px® has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. It really demonstrates how the business community is still committed to the environment and keeping Devon a beautiful and healthy place to do business." Sarah Raynor from Pipex px® said: "Devon Wildlife Trust do fantastic work for our environment here in the South West, so we are really pleased to be in a position to contribute to their conservation efforts. Pipex px® get a lot of benefits from our association with DWT, the volunteering days are a great opportunity for us to get involved, enjoy the great outdoors and do some team building with colleagues, so we are thrilled to be able to continue our support." 
For more information about either the projects or becoming a DWT Corporate Supporter visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org.
Claire Burgwin from Pipex presents cheque to Tracy Ebbrell from DWT

Thursday, 5 January 2012


The RSPB’s biggest event of the year, the Big Garden Birdwatch will take place on January 28th and 29th. Last year over 609,000 people took part counting over 10 million birds which really helped  to monitor how the birds visiting our gardens fared over the winter. If you register by the 26th January you will receive a free information pack and 10% off bird food. You can pre-register at Big Garden Birdwatch website: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. This fun event encourages people of all ages to get involved and really enjoy the wildlife in their garden.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Charity's conservation kit cuts Culm

In December 2011, Devon Wildlife Trust introduced its Pasquali low ground pressure tractor to landowners in North Devon, as the charity's machinery ring moves into gear. The tractor was purchased last year as part of DWT's Working Wetlands Project to help with conservation work on environmentally sensitive sites in the north of the county. The tractor is already being put to good use: this month alone will see it working in the Knowstone, Witheridge and Templeton areas. The specialist piece of kit is designed to handle rough wet ground, and is set up with a flail mower to tackle rush and scrub that commonly invades areas of the Culm grassland that the charity is working to protect. Marie Butterfield DWT's Working Wetlands Advisor said: " This new work follows on from County Wildlife Site surveys earlier in the year where we identified areas of high wildlife value which require improvements in management to make sure they are in the best condition for the rare species. Our plan is to bring in the Pasquali tractor to these sites enabling us to clear scrub and gorse which have invaded their wildlife-rich grassland. The tractor will clear the way to allow long term management using ponies or cattle." The equipment adds an extra element to the already burgeoning range of kit that the charity already lends to local farmers and land managers. This machinery ring includes cattle handling units, a soil aerator, topper and trailer. All are useful tools in efforts to better enable local landowners to manage their rare grasslands as easily and cheaply as possible. For more information about the Pasquali tractor and how to make use of the resource, call the Working Wetlands team on 01409 221823 or email sberry@devonwildlifetrust.org 
Working Wetlands has been supported by the South West Water, Tubney Charitable Trust, The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Devon Waste Management, GrantScape and Natural England.
Pasquali on Culm grassland Photo copyright DWT