Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Legendary reggae artist, Lee Scratch Perry comes to Barnstaple this March.

South West Promoters Hold It Down are proud to bring one of the original and most influential artists of all time to Devon for three shows this March. Bob Marley’s former producer, Lee Scratch Perry is the godfather of dub, the high priest of reggae and a truly original music innovator. From 1970s Jamaica to the present day his music has been groundbreaking and his influence consistently enormous. In addition to his trailblazing music, LSP has been a guiding force in the development of reggae music. He has produced hits for many bands including the Wailers, Gregory Isaacs, Junior Byles and The Clash. Always active, always innovating, LSP’s public profile rose in 1997 with the release of the brilliant Arkology – a three-disc anthology containing nearly four hours of astounding music. Yet it merely scratches the surface of the sonic universe created by this legendarily eccentric, yet super-prolific, dub-reggae producer. For more info go to www.holditdown.org
TICKETS £17.50 plus booking fee
www.seetickets.com – 0845 2200261
North Devon Theatres Box Office 01271 324242 - Beats Workin’ 01271 321111


Legendary reggae artist, Lee Scratch Perry, Tues 25th March, The Factory Petroc, Oakwood Close, Roundswell Ind Estate, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 3NJ -  
Photo copyright Hold It Down all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Gentleman’s Dub Club play at The Factory, Barnstaple, Saturday 1st March 2014

The Factory Petroc and Boom Artists Agency are proud to present...Gentleman's Dub Club with support from Shire Roots & Blazenstein, KSH and the Going Goods, JDotBurn and Danzie. Celebrating the release of their brand new LP, FourtyFour, Reggae Dub heavyweights GDC bring the fire to The Factory. Gentleman’s Dub Club is a nine-piece band that formed in Leeds in early 2006. With a style based in dub, ska and roots reggae. GDC have burst onto the UK circuit rocking gigs and festivals up and down the country with their super high energy show. Combining tight grooves and a heavyweight, sound Gentleman’s Dub Club bring the party to crowds of all ages hungry for a dance floor workout, with their gigs often ending in a frenzied mosh pit reminiscent of a mid-80’s ska night! Live effects and mixing make for a crystal clear sound, and the band’s larger than life stage presence makes for a mesmerizing experience. Shire Roots & Blazenstein (Irie Bingo) Home-grown sound system vibes outta Devon playing everything from tuff digital dancehall to new heavyweight roots & culture. Irie Bingo hold firm to the roots of reggae music as a rebel music and so come to spread a conscious vibe and uplifting messages and unity each and every time. Their shows usually include original material from producer Blazenstein with Shire Roots chatting reggae and hip hop lyrics in a positive fashion, Irie Bingo are privileged to have worked alongside some of the UK's leading reggae artists including YT, Solo Banton, Deadly Hunta and Mungo's Hifi. JDotBurn (Defcon) comes hard with conscious bars, double time flows and an all-round wickedman styleee on some classic and some new hip-hop riddims. Expect to hear exclusive tracks from forthcoming EP ‘Spark it Up’ due for release Defcon records spring/summer this year. JDotBurn has been working alongside the likes of Deadly Hunta, Shireroots and Skitz. He is set to play a few festivals this year such as Sunrise. According to KSH and the Going Goods the world of hip hop is a desolate one… With gangsters, players, pimps and g-thangs dominating the scene, the beauty of the genre is being lost. Expect an alternative acoustic band from across the country, coming straight out of the “ghettos” of Cheltenham with some Devon roots mixed in. KSH and the Going Goods is a five man troupe consisting of string-men Jack Carroll and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, vocalists Mikey Doherty and Kishi Allebone, rounded off with a unique drum machine, Beatboxer Kush Cushion. Danzie (Selecta Vibe) the real believer in playing strictly vinyl will be selecting some classic dancehall and roots reggae!


Gentleman’s Dub Club play at The Factory Saturday 1st March 2014
£15.00 advance £13.00 NUS Standing only | Doors 8pm 
MINIMUM AGE RECOMMENDATION: All ages. Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult.

Monday, 17 February 2014


I was recently sent this delightful childhood account by Linda Le Merle about her stay in Fairy Cross as an evacuee in 1944, during the Second World War. These are the recollections of  her time in Bideford and in particular, the countryside Parish of Alwington and the hamlet of Ford and Fairy Cross. These are a little girl's "Snapshots in an Album" and we would love to hear from anyone who might be able to fill in the gaps or who recognises the people and places mentioned. If you do then please leave a comment here and a message for Linda.

Strange to say, as I was starting to write a few notes on my experience as an evacuee in Fairy Cross, Devon, I came across another evacuation account written by someone who had been evacuated in 1944 as I was, and who had lived close to me and gone to my Surbiton primary school. Our evacuation began in June, around the time of my eighth birthday when the buzz bombs were droning and dropping over England, and lasted three or four months until it was thought safe to return home. My family had previously been evacuated to Dorset during the “phoney war” in late 1939, and that, too was for a short time only, before we all came back to London while the Blitz was going on – curious! In June 1944 the other evacuee and I must have set off together since all the local schoolchildren were gathered together at an army depot and given their lapel labels before being taken to the railway station, but she went to Cardiff, because, she says, “Later I heard that two trains had somehow got mixed up and in fact we should have gone to Devon.” Mine was the train which did go to Devon and so I came to spend three or four months in the beautiful countryside near Bideford. My father stayed at home in the Home Guard and I set off with my brother Philip and my mother, who was going to be a billeting officer in Bideford.  When young children ask today if we were frightened to be living through the war, I have to say that unless we had actually been bombed out or lost a member of the family, fear was not always a big problem for children – wartime was all we had known.  While our parents were often made ill by fear and stress brought on by the bombing and restrictions, it was change and uncertainty which were the real threats to children’s states of mind as they are in peacetime.  So – the journey started with some excitement, and although my mother was nearby, it was only when I was separated from her and my brother when we arrived in Bideford that I really started to understand that I would be on my own. From that point on my memories of being an evacuee are like snapshots in an album, and I’m sorry not to have any real photos to go with them. The first memory is of walking in a crocodile through the streets of Bideford. Someone – maybe an older worldly-wise child – said cynically that this was so that the good citizens of Bideford could pick out a child they liked. Whatever the truth, most of us spent the night sleeping on the floor of a community hall before being allocated our billets the next day. This was a moment of anxiety – the world would end if I couldn’t be placed with my friend Shirley Bosson.  Somehow it was managed, and somehow all the children were taken to their temporary new homes. At this point the snapshot memory changes from black and white into colour. We found ourselves arriving at the Fairy Cross cottage of Mrs Hockin – or her name might have been Mrs Hocking. There are perfumes and tastes which can transport you straight back to the place where you first experienced them, and to this day the smell of geraniums awakens the memory of when I first came across rows of pots of the scarlet flowers in Mrs Hockin’s cottage living room. From the first moment she seemed to be a kind lady, but she was already 72 years old, which must have accounted for her forgetting that children don’t usually like hot milk with the skin on top – rather a difficult welcome for two homesick girls. I remember the cottage as being cosy, with no running water or bathroom, but I have no recollection of daily routines, food or the layout of the house, apart from the fact that the WC was a privy in the back garden with squares of newspaper hanging on a butcher’s hook behind the door, and that we washed in a pretty china basin in the bedroom, pouring water out of the big matching jug.
School for those few months was in the little church hall which we reached after a short walk through country lanes. We picked sloes from the hedgerows and were free to walk on our own at all times, but this idyllic time was not without one black day. We were all deeply shocked to hear that one girl much younger than ourselves, who sometimes walked with us, had been killed in the lane, crushed between the posts of a fence round the fields and some heavy farm machinery which trundled relentlessly down the lane without seeing her.  At the school there were only two classes for all the children whose ages ranged from five to fourteen. Again, I have no recollection of the routines, except for one vivid memory of how I spent a lot of time there. I was taught to knit, and given a ball of grey string-like thread with which I was to knit a dishcloth. It took most of the time I was at the school, as I remember, because it had constantly to be undone and begun again. Whatever else I learned there, I was left with a skill which proved to be useful for a long time afterwards.
When we were not in school we were free to play in and around the village, but paths to the beach were out of bounds because the beaches themselves were defended against enemy attack. I seem to remember that from somewhere near Portledge House we must have been able to climb on high ground from where we could see the beaches and the sweep of the coast round to Hartland Point, with Lundy Island out to sea. There was a wood behind the cottage where we enjoyed playing, but one day when three of us were running through the trees we managed to kick up a bees’ nest. The first of us escaped lightly, the second – I think it was me – received a few stings, but the third was stung so badly that she had to spend a whole day in bed afterwards.  A happier way of spending our free days was scrumping from trees down the road near the main part of the village. Are there still Stripey Jacks in Fairy Cross – those little apples with red and gold stripes which we ate there in great quantities seventy years ago? Shirley Bosson’s mother came for a visit a few times and I saw my own mother occasionally, but she was kept busy going round the billets checking that the evacuees and their hosts were getting along together as well as could be expected. She herself was comfortably billeted with Mr and Mrs Cock who lived at “Glaisdale”, Abbotsham Road in Bideford, and one day she came to take me by bus to spend a night with her. I remember a genteel elderly couple, and most of all I remember the delicious creamy oatmeal we had for breakfast – very unlike the porridge I was familiar with. Mrs Edith Cock and my mother kept up a correspondence for many years, and on my bookshelves is a little book she sent me “with much love and many kind thoughts” for my 21st birthday. It is called “Character and Conduct”, and the theme for today, February 9th, is knowing how to be ready, a lesson in avoiding procrastination. Perhaps I should have looked at it more often from time to time as Mrs Cock suggested.  At this point my memories, black and white or technicolour, run out. Although we had spent happy times in Devon, I think my mother was quite relieved to take us home when the worst of the buzz-bombs period was over. My own brother, who was billeted in Barnstaple, had got into trouble one day with his friend Derek when they took their catapults out to play. We needed to get home before being accused of being London hooligans! I only once saw Mrs Hockin’s house again when we were driving by after a family holiday in the West Country. I hope it’s still there, and even if it isn’t, it’s still here among my happy memories.  
MEMORIES OF AN EVACUEE IN FAIRY CROSS - By Linda Le Merle, née Wolfinden (All rights reserved)
Explore Alwington and Fairy Cross with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour
Explore Bideford with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour
North Devon History Bytes
Alwington a Millennium Experience published by Alwington Parish Council - Visit Alwington Parish Web Site

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A romantic gesture for Devon nature lovers

Nature lovers in Devon are giving an alternative gift this year, not content with a bunch of roses, they are opting for a whole acre of wildflowers in north Devon. Devon Wildlife Trust's Meeth Quarry; nature reserve, near Hatherleigh, is a 370-acre wildlife haven and is DWT's newest site. The Trust has given supporters the chance to Adopt an Acre  of the reserve as part of an appeal for funds to improve the recovering industrial landscape for wildlife. Of more than ninety-five acres adopted so far many were as gifts for someone special. Now on the eve of Valentine's Day the Trust is waiting to see if there's a romantic story behind the hundredth adoption of an acre. For many, adopting an acre gives them a personal connection to a wild space as well as playing a part in conserving nature in Devon. Joyce and Ernie Dignam of Barnstaple said they were "concerned that so much of our county is being covered with concrete and we believe the only way to protect diversity is to own land". Joyce added, "we would like to be able to buy a whole nature reserve for Devon Wildlife Trust but that is out of the question. The next best thing is to adopt a share of one." The Adopt an Acre package includes a map showing the location of the chosen acre as well as a certificate of adoption illustrated with the image below of Meeth Quarry at its most colourful. James Wilson in Plymouth wanted to give an acre as a gift to the people closest to him after enjoying a guided tour of the reserve at a DWT event. He says "it occurred to me that the scheme would be a great and original way of channelling the charity donations I usually make in lieu of gifts that we don't actually need. I managed to persuade the lovely team at DWT to supply me with multiple copies of the certificate and map to send to my family." The former mining and quarrying at the site created a very diverse landscape, making it ideal for conversion to a nature reserve. Dominated by two large lakes and mounds of clay spoil, Meeth Quarry also features ponds, woodland, bogs and grassland. Together these make the reserve a home for a diverse array of plants and animals including Brown Hare; Willow Tit and many species of butterflies, dragonflies and orchids. The diversity of Meeth Quarry extends to the Adopt an Acre offer, with an option to adopt an area of woodland, grassland or open water. James Wilson says "I chose a grassland acre, as I understand this is a very valuable habitat for flowers, birds and insects alike. I look forward to visiting again in the summer months to see for myself the abundance described so eloquently on our guided walk!" So, a few roses that will last a week, or a plot of flower-rich grassland that can be visited year after year? Adopt an Acre at Meeth Quarry is the romantic gesture for anyone who sees the natural world in Devon as something to love.

Photo Meeth Quarry copyright Devon Contemporary Photography 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Pebble Dash and Rainbow over the Ridge, Westward Ho!

February roared in like a lion as the UK, the South West and the North Devon Coast in particular was pounded once again by gale-force winds and thundering seas which coincided with high Spring Tides on Saturday the 1st February. The waves were so huge that sea walls cracked on the promenade at Westward Ho! and the Pebble Ridge was breached for the second time. The area behind the Pebble Ridge, known as the Northam Burrows Country Park was therefore flooded and this included the links course of the Royal North Devon Golf Club. The Slipway withstood the pounding, not so lucky was the Adventure Play Ground and Go-Kart Track which was decimated, splattered once again with marine debris and pebbles. Such was the power of the waves that the pebbles and boulders were tossed high and wide also filling in the passageway to the Southwest Coast Path section of the Burrows itself. Sunday the wind had dropped and the sun came out briefly enabling people to venture on the beach at last. Rain squalls were followed by a rainbow. It was a race against time and tide as the diggers dashed up and down the beach, scooping pebbles up from one of the Pebble Ridge and dumping them back down to repack the area which was breached just beyond the slipway. The car park and toilets were closed again but the Slipway Takeaway thankfully remained unscathed and was open for business as usual. Here is a slide show of pictures taken on the Sunday 2nd February, you can also view them on FLICKR .Article and photos 2nd February copyright Pat Adams