Wednesday, 30 April 2014


I love the month of May, such a vibrant time on the North Devon Coast. The Thrift Sea Pink and Scurvy Grass cling onto craggy rocks and Bluebells carpet the woods and waysides along with Travellers' Joy, otherwise known as Ramsoms, which fill the air with the pungent aroma of wild garlic. The delicate May flowers of the Hawthorne herald the beginning of Summer and amazingly the best place to see them is along the A39, the main Atlantic Highway from Heywood Roundabout to Abbotsham Cross and through to Fairy Cross. It's time for the Dawn Chorus and the first broods of little fledgings to leave the nest so take care not to disturb them, especially young Blackbirds that totter about on the ground. If you hear a cacophony of twittering, there's probably a cat on the prowl. About this time there is a surge of growth on shrubs, trees and hedges in the garden and it's tempting to rush out with the hedge trimmer to "tidy up". Just remember birds build their nests in some pretty amazing places and have more than one brood, so if possible, the RSPB advise yo to leave any drastic trimming or tidying until well into late Summer or even the Autumn. On a serious note it is against the law to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built - for full details read The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. From art, ale, cider and music festivals, Bubbalicious Balloons, character days, not-so fun runs and wild flower walks there is certainly a lot happening around the towns and villages so check out the listings below for more ....
1st May Great Torrington Mayfair  - ONE of the biggest events in Torrington’s social calendar kicks off this week. Mayfair Day is tomorrow, May 1 and marks the start of a trio of events in the town.Click here for more details:
3rd/4th & 5th May Bradworthy Arts Festival. Please come along and support the BAF event on the 3/4/5th of May 2014. 10am till 4pm every day. Come up and see us at West Down Sculpture Gardens too. I'll be in the gallery ready for a tour.
Saturday 3rd May Maytime Meadow walk at Nethercleave Farm, Littleham, near Bideford EX39 5HH Walks available between 11.00am - 3.00pm. Join the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area project for a special chance to visit privately owned meadows alongside the beautiful river Torridge and find out about the exciting wildlife improvements that are being undertaken here. Spaces are limited and booking is essential. Call Clare Manning on 01271 388647 or email for more details and to book places.
4th May Hartland Hartbreak Run Congratulations to Carl Mott the 2013 winner - the man to beat in 2014? Well folks...It's 13 (ish) miles of uphill, downhill, through rivers, bogs and hedges and some really stunning scenery. Mind you, you won't get to see much more than about 2 foot in front of you..... .We are starting and finishing from the fabulous Hartland Abbey and are very fortunate that Sir Hugh and Lady Stucley have allowed us to run around their wonderful estate. You'll encounter the beautiful gardens of the Abbey - with bluebells in full flight - and then the rugged and unrelenting South West Coast Path. After a quick trip around Hartland Lighthouse it's in to the deepest darkest Devonshire countryside - keep your wits about you and you'll probably make it out alive. Back through the abbey grounds once more and up to the ruined Pleasure House overlooking the Atlantic, back onto the coast path and past (through?) a waterfall before once again leaving the coast path to explore some local woods. Once out of the woods there is the opportunity to run through the estate's area of biodiversity before heading back to the Abbey for the finish. Doesn't sound that bad does it? Did I mention that there might be some hills? Simon Haywood Are you up for the challenge? And raise money for charity. If you have any questions about the race please do get in touch, you can either drop me an email at the address below, give me a call or even write! Our Address: Brook Cottage, Blakeshill Road, Landkey, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 0NE T: 01271 831498 M: 07515 875651 W: E:
4th May Character Days at the Big Sheep. TV Favourite Mike the Knight -'Be a knight, do it right!' - Mike the Knight is leaving the Kingdom of Glendragon to embark on an adventure to The BIG Sheep Family Attraction in North Devon on Sunday 4th May to see his fans. Mike is an energetic, cheeky yet bountiful young knight-in-training, driven by his passion to help…
10th May Bubbalicious Balloon Festival at the Big Sheep. Go ballistic with balloons at the BIG Sheep’s Balloon Festival and let Dave Hendy, our resident balloon expert entertain you with his humor, mischief and incredible artistic ability to produce mind boggling entertainment which will have you dumb with amazement and shaking with laughter whatever
10th May DUB MAFIA (formerly BLACKOUT) PLAY THE FACTORY WITH SUPPORT FROM THE LIQUIDATORS AKA - Doors open at 8pm Advance tickets £7.00 (subject to booking fee)Physical tickets available from: Beats Workin, Barnstaple, and North Devon Theatres
Online tickets available from: and
Sunday May 11th Bluebell Sunday at Okehampton Castle. Drop by between 10am - 3.00pm. Join the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area project for a guided walk through the bluebell woods at Okehampton Castle. Grid ref SX 584 943, Post Code EX20 1JA. Entry to the castle is free on this day and there is no need to book on the walks so just come along!
20th May North Devon & Torridge Club Support Evening Spring 2014 Active Devon will be hosting Club Support Evenings throughout Devon, dates are listed below. We are due to host the North Devon & Torridge Evening on Tuesday 20th May at Bideford Boxing Club, Polyfields Centre. Please follow the link to book your place
21st May Wig Wednesday at the Big Sheep. The BIG Sheep family attraction in Bideford will be donating £1 to CLIC Sargent for every visitor who comes to their attraction wearing a wig. Wig Wednesday on 21st May is an innovative fundraising idea instigated by the children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent…
24th May to 26th May Clovelly Celebration of Local Ales and Cider. Enjoy a range of tasty local brews created with passion by small North Devon brewers at the Red Lion or New Inn. You're bound to find a tipple to suit your palate and there'll also be some live musical entertainment too, so come along and raise a glass. There will also be a selection of Devon wines, by the glass, at very special prices.
Normal admission charges apply
26th May Character Days at the Big Sheep. See Katsuma from Moshi Monsters. Katsuma has taken a short break from his latest mission on the streets of Monstro City to visit The BIG Sheep Family Attraction in North Devon on Monday 26th May and will be appearing at intervals between 11am and 3:30pm. Don't forget your camera! Park admission is FREE to annual Season Ticket Holders.
May 27th Orchid expeditions and other unexpected events at Torrington Common 11am - 3.00pm Booking not essential - just turn up!. Join the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area project on Torrington Common this half-term for a chance to discover more about the areas special wildlife through guided walks and practical activities. Grid ref SS 485 194. Spaces are limited and booking is preferable. Call Clare Manning on 01271 388647 or email for more details.
31st May Chocolate Chomping Competition at the Big SheepAre you a chocolate monster who thinks they can demolish enough chocolate to sink a ship? Does your mouth water when you walk past a chocolate counter? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then set yourself a challenge and enter the UK’s

For more North Devon Events see Local Press: What's On North Devon Gazette - North Devon Journal
Barnstaple Tourist Information Centre, North Devon Museum, The Square, Barnstaple, North Devon, EX32 9LS
Bideford Tourist Information Centre, Burton Art Gallery, Kingsley Road, Bideford, EX39 2QQ 

Braunton Tourist Information Centre The Bakehouse Centre, Caen Street, Braunton, North Devon, EX33 1AA
Combe Martin Tourist Information Centre Cross Street, Combe Martin, North Devon, EX34 ODH 

Holsworthy Visitor Information Centre: The Memorial Hall, Holsworthy, 
Torrington Tourist Information Centre, Castle Hill, South Street, Torrington   
lfracombe Tourist Information Centre The Landmark Theatre, The Seafront, Ilfracombe, North Devon, EX34 9BX
Lynton Tourist Information Centre Lynton Town Hall, Lee Road, Lynton, North Devon, EX35 6HT T

South Molton Tourist Information  1 East Street, South Molton, Devon, EX36 3BU 
Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre The Esplanade, Woolacombe, North Devon, EX34 7DL
To add an event or for more North Devon Events visit the North Devon Focus Community Calendar

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Wildlife Festival comes to North Devon

A local charity is inviting people to come and take part in Devon's largest annual celebration of the county's wildlife. Devon Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Festival is taking place in Barnstaple on Saturday 10 May between 10am and 4pm. The free event is being held at The Square and is promising visitors a really wild day out! The Wildlife Festival is now in its eighth successful year. In 2013 it drew more than 12,000 visitors when it was held in Plymouth and organisers hope that the people of North Devon will show similar support. The event was last staged in Barnstaple in 2011. Jo Pullin Devon Wildlife Trust's event organiser said: "We're delighted to be returning to Barnstaple. Local people always show their support for us and their passion for local wildlife. The 2014 festival promises to be the best yet. It will be a special mix of things to see and things to do, all centred upon Devon's beautiful nature." The festival will give visitors the chance to get up close to beautiful birds of prey courtesy of Hawk Walks. There will also be a chance to encounter bats, and a host of minibeasts courtesy of Exmoor Zoo. Other attractions will include a 'cinema bus' showing wildlife films, a storyteller, face painters, stilt walkers and even an underwater robot. The festival will be staged in a series of marquees ensuring that visitors can enjoy the event whatever the weather. The 2014 Wildlife Festival is being sponsored by South West Water. Staff from the company will be at the event to dispense giveaways and advice on water use. Alan Hyde from South West Water said: "South West Water is delighted to support the work of the Devon Wildlife Trust. We take pride in the improvements we've made to the quality of our bathing waters and rivers and we work closely with DWT on their Working Wetlands project to improve water storage and quality in the environment. We look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come." Devon Wildlife Trust's Jo Pullin was keen to highlight the practical elements of the festival: "It's about getting hands on and doing things for local wildlife. On the day people will be able to make a nest box, design badges, take part in crafts and get their face painted. It's a great day out and there's no charge for entry." The 2014 Wildlife Festival will have a marine theme, acknowledging the special marine wildlife that North Devon is famed for. Jo explained: "We especially want people to come and help us celebrate their marine natural heritage. In preparation for the festival we've established a Starfish Trail. Visitors to the town can now hunt for a series of wonderful starfish designs made by local school children. Each of the starfish has been placed in local shops and other venues. We're setting people the task of finding all twelve starfish to complete the Trail. On the day we'll also be joined by an artist with whom visitors will be able to help construct a giant starfish. It's a bit of fun but it also demonstrates the wide community support we're getting for this event from local businesses and families." Local organisation Bid Barnstaple (Business Improvement District) is supporting the event helping fund its Starfish Trail. Dane Stanley, Chairman of Bid Barnstaple said: "Bid Barnstaple is pleased to be involved with the Devon Wildlife Festival for what is their second visit to the town centre. Support for the event has grown even more this time, with BID businesses getting involved with the starfish trail. We are all looking forward to the main event on The Square on May 10th which we are sure will be popular with all ages." Devon Wildlife Trust hopes that many of its 32,000 supporters will turn out on the day. But Jo added: "It's also a chance for us to meet people who are not already our supporters and for us to show them how they can help to make a world of difference to their local wildlife." For more information about Devon Wildlife Trust's 2014 Wildlife Festival can be found at
Giant wildlife stilt walkers will again feature as part of Devon Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Festival in Barnstaple. Photo copyright Kevin New (All Rights Reserved)

Monday, 28 April 2014


A few members from that much loved North Devon band BLACKOUT from a few years back now will be returning to North Devon under the Monika of Dub Mafia. Since forming 4 years ago, Bristol-based Dub Mafia have become one of the most popular dance acts in the UK, Europe and beyond. The seven-piece band – who blend drum and bass, dub, dubstep, bashment, breakbeat and world music into their own unique sound (with a strict policy of ‘no backing tracks’ – ever) receive rave reviews wherever they play – from sweaty clubs to packed festivals: “Dub Mafia are ones to watch and we think they are heading for big things" “Playing their third show in the past 24 hours, the drum and bass mob are destroying the tent with their dirty bass and dubstep rhythms … Wychwood is left shaken from the wobble bass and filthy drops … the band quickly amass the biggest crowd of the day at the BBC Introducing stage – the chairs and tables have even been pushed back to accommodate all the dubsteppers” ”The party was truly kicked off by Dub Mafia, who stirred up the first dance pit of the day with their rude boy (and girl) dub rock.” Fronted by singer Eva Lazarus, the band have won over hundreds of thousands of fans over the last year, including show-stealing performances on the main stage at Outlook in Croatia (Europe’s biggest drum and bass music festival), the Matscher Au Reloaded festival in Northern Italy and a special guest slot in Romania supporting the legendary LTJ Bukem. 2010 was just as busy, as they toured tirelessly through the UK, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Poland and Croatia. Videos for four of their most popular tracks – Breakneck, Danger, Dub Specialists and Under The Radar – have racked up more than 800,000 views on Youtube. Support comes from local favourite’s The Liquidators AKA.
Doors open at 8pm
Advance tickets £7.00 (subject to booking fee)
Physical tickets available from: Beats Workin, Barnstaple, and North Devon Theatres
Online tickets available from: and

Friday, 25 April 2014

Bluebells all the way. From the Summer House to the Gazebo

We tip-toed through the Bluebells at Hartland Abbey on Bank Holiday Monday and this time we took the high road from the Summer House to the Gazebo. As usual on Wildflower Days Lord and Lady Stucley were busy welcoming visitors and they let us know that the Bluebells were especially good along here and we weren't disappointed. This path was opened last year and winds through a steep banked ancient woodland high above the long meadow with occasional glimpses of the tower of St. Nectan's, at Stoke on the opposite side of the valley. The old trees are sprouting fresh green leaves, wildflowers are awakening and it was warm enough for the butterflies and bees to venture out, I spotted a Red-tailed Bumble Bee, a Speckled Wood and a Large White butterfly and amidst the waving sea of Bluebells, were pockets of Primroses, Ramsoms, Wood Anemone, Red Campion, Dog Violet, Greater Stitchwort and spiky Dogs Mercury. I also spotted one Early Spotted Orchid and a couple of Bugle. The path emerges into the light and the sight of the sea, the Gazebo is perched at the end on the rocky hillside above Blackpool Mill Cove. From here I caught sight of the white fluffy blossom on the stunted Blackthorn beside the Southwest Coast Path. After enjoying the view from the Gazebo we continued down and followed the path beside Blackpool Mill Cottage. The first buds of the Thrift Sea Pinks were on show on the edge of the cliff above the beach. We sat and watched a huge container ship on the horizon then headed back via the low road for tea and Walnut Cake at the Abbey Kitchens. Article and photos copyright Pat Adams
Keep the home fire burning in the Summer House

Old trees sprouting fresh green leaves 

The Gazebo - a room with a view
 Don’t miss the next Bluebell Day on  27th April 2014.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Active Devon. North Devon & Torridge Club Support Evening Spring 2014

Active Devon are the County Sports Partnership for Devon and are funded by Sport England. Their role is to support clubs with development and to offer opportunities for:
  1. Youngsters that drop out of sport
  2. Individuals with disability
  3. Older people to partake in sport and physical activity. 
The Active Devon Club Support Evening is aimed at helping support local clubs, giving advice on funding and involving more Women in Sport. Active Devon will be hosting Club Support Evenings throughout Devon, dates are listed below.  They are due to host the North Devon & Torridge Evening on Tuesday 20th May at Bideford Boxing Club, Polyfields Centre.  Please follow this link to book your place   
Active Devon are also working in partnership with Surf Life Saving UK to run a multi-sport event at Putsborough Beach on June 7th 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Return of the Swallows.

I saw the first Swallows today and although the horizons are changing in the countryside it’s nice to know that some things stay the same. The lambs are gamboling close to their mothers in the fields, the cows are out to pasture after a long wet winter inside and butterflies are making their first outing, quivering over paths  and fresh green grass.  I spotted a Speckled Wood, a Peacock and a Large White on my walk today. Greater Stitchwort abounds in the hedgerows along with still flowering Blackthorn. I can see the first green leaves on the Hawthorne so I am hoping they will be full of May Flowers soon too.  I saw my first Cuckoo Flower,  Dog Violet, Field Speedwell and  a small pocket of Bluebells.  Along with the Swallows swooping overhead,  I recognised the trilling of a Robin and a Wren. Lambs bleating, cows mooing, distant Doves cooing, the sounds of countryside and the return of the Swallows, Summer is on it’s way.
Swallow soaring overhead

Lambs on the look out
 Walkers and cattle enjoying the sunshine

Speckled Wood on a Bramble

 Greater Stitchwort

Wind turbine next to the Church, an ancient green lane with a new horizon

Monday, 14 April 2014


April and no showers, fantastic. I have just seen my first fledglings, two little Blackbirds and I'm planning to sew some more wildflower seeds in the garden, a little more encouragement for the bees, birds and butterflies. The sun is out at last and we can titivate the garden, do some DIY, have a barbecue or head for the hills! Well probably not the hills but definately the North Devon Coast. It's Bluebell time in our ancient woodlands and where better to see them in all their glory than Hartland Abbey. This year you can choose one of three Bluebell Days during April. Here are just some of the fun events over the Easter holidays:

Easter EGGStravaganza at the Big Sheep From Saturday 5th April - Monday 21st April
They've got an action-packed Easter in store for you: Full details visit the Big Sheep website
  • Exclusive Easter Bunny Breakfast Mornings on Good Friday and Easter Bank Holiday Monday - click here for full details.
  • Over 30,000 mini eggs to find - search high and low and if you find 3 mini eggs you can swap them for 1 large egg.
  • 1 large chocolate egg per child who takes part in the Egg Hunt. Various eggs to choose from.
  • Meet the Easter Bunny - everyday he'll be around to meet and greet. Remember your camera for some great Easter pictures!
  • FREE Face Painting every day from 14th April - 21st April. A face painted egg or chick or daffodil..all things Easter!
From Saturday 12th April to Monday 21st April Funtastic Fudge Hunt, Clovelly. 20 fudge stones, like this one, will be hidden in the village each day. Find one and take it to the Fudge Shop at the Visitor Centre and discover how much fudge you have won. If you find Number 20, you will get a whole kilo of fudge, made up of 8 different flavours - what a treat! And you can come back and try again. One stone redeemable per visiting family per day.

Easter Egg Hunt at North Devon Maritime Museum, Appledore. From Sunday 13th April to the 26th April the museum will be running an Easter Egg hunt! It will be held in the Museum from 10.30am to 4pm each day for a week. Come along and join in the fun!

Friday 18 April LIVE GIG at The Globe Hotel, Fore Street, Great Torrington 8:30pm. Valentine Gray and DIAMOND DOGS are kicking off the first night of their North Devon tour on Friday 18 April @ The Globe Hotel Great Torrington. Join us for a night of Punk, Rock & 70s Glam! Get down and funky! Make the first night of their North Devon tour a rip roaring one! ?3 entry fee on the door. Contact Tel: 07932 820764 Email:

18th & 20th April Enjoy a Family Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at The BIG Sheep. HOP OVER TO THE BIG SHEEP FOR AN EGGSELLENT BREAKFAST WITH THE EASTER BUNNY! A GIANT Easter bunny will be making a special appearance at the BIG Sheep family attraction on Good Friday 18th April and Bank Holiday Monday 20th April to enjoy a very special holiday breakfast before taking children on a…

19th April Ruby Country Market, Hatherleigh 9am-2pm. Over 200 stalls. Website 

Sunday 20th & Monday 21st day April HARTLAND ABBEY BLUEBELLS & EASTER FUN 11- 5pm. Visit us on Easter Sunday or Bank Holiday Monday and explore the woodland walks carpeted in glorious bluebells while the children enjoy the Easter Egg Hunt – with a prize for every entrant! In the courtyard there will be traditional Easter activities – try Decorating Your Own Egg (specially laid by our bantams!) or enter Pin the Tail on the Donkey and other traditional games. Once you have worked up an appetite, enjoy lunch in the Old Kitchen Tea Rooms where there will be some special chocolaty treats as well as the delicious, homemade menu! Outside, Emma and Trevor will be serving mouth-watering burgers from their barbecue for a more savoury treat. Your entry ticket to the gardens and grounds includes the Museum, ‘William Stukeley – Saviour of Stonehenge’ exhibition and Gift Shop. The Old Kitchen Tea Rooms will be open serving hot soup, light lunches and home made cream teas. Parking free. House open at extra charge. For prices and further information visit or phone 01237 441234 /441496 Hartland Abbey, Hartland, North Devon EX39 6DT 

23rd April St. George's Day at the Big Sheep. Anyone with the name George or Georgina is admitted free of charge to help celebrate St George's Day! George's or Georgina's must be accompanied by a full paying adult or child.

26th April Psychic Suppers at the Big Sheep. We'll be holding Psychic Supper's in collaboration with the English Psychic Company. After enjoying a two course homemade supper in the BIG Sheep’s Shepherd’s Restaurant, guests will receive their own personal reading. Susan Pengelly from the English Psychic Company has been…

26th April Second Vintage and Makers Market at  The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington. There will also be a Punch and Judy Show in town organised by The Chambers of Trade. There will be lots of lovely stalls and more space as we are in the main auditorium this time downstairs.

27th April, HARTLAND ABBEY BLUEBELL SUNDAY 11am-5pm. The bluebells at Hartland Abbey are legendary. Visitors can come at a reduced entry rate and enjoy the wonderful circular walks through the bluebells to the sea. We love children and dogs and hope that you will bring as many as possible! Your entry ticket to the gardens and grounds includes the Museum, ‘William Stukeley – Saviour of Stonehenge’ exhibition and Gift Shop. The Old Kitchen Tea Rooms will be open serving hot soup, light lunches and home made cream teas. Parking free. House open at extra charge. Entry to the grounds: Adults £5-00, Children (aged 5-15) £1; under 5 Free. Entry to the house £4; open 12-4 pm, includes Museum, Shop, Exhibition. Free parking T: 01237 441234 /441496 Hartland Abbey, Hartland, North Devon EX39 6DT 

Please also check out Local Church Services  - What's On Guide North Devon Journal and the North Devon Gazette - Bideford Cinema - North Devon Theatres - Plough Arts Centre - Burton Art Gallery & Museum

 Photos: Hartland Abbey Bluebell Day 2013 copyright Pat Adams (All rights reserved)

Barnstaple Tourist Information Centre, North Devon Museum, The Square, Barnstaple, North Devon, EX32 9LS
Bideford Tourist Information Centre, Burton Art Gallery, Kingsley Road, Bideford, EX39 2QQ 

 Braunton Tourist Information Centre The Bakehouse Centre, Caen Street, Braunton, North Devon, EX33 1AA
Combe Martin Tourist Information Centre Cross Street, Combe Martin, North Devon, EX34 ODH 

Holsworthy Visitor Information Centre: The Memorial Hall, Holsworthy, 
Torrington Tourist Information Centre, Castle Hill, South Street, Torrington   
lfracombe Tourist Information Centre The Landmark Theatre, The Seafront, Ilfracombe, North Devon, EX34 9BX
Lynton Tourist Information Centre Lynton Town Hall, Lee Road, Lynton, North Devon, EX35 6HT T

South Molton Tourist Information  1 East Street, South Molton, Devon, EX36 3BU 
Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre The Esplanade, Woolacombe, North Devon, EX34 7DL

Saturday, 5 April 2014


Local community film making organisation North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) is getting set to launch Boat Stories; a new project producing a series of short films about people whose lives revolve around the working boats of North Devon. Thanks to funding from the Northern Devon Fisheries LocalAction Group (FLAG), supporters of sustainable fishing communities in North Devon and Torridge, research on the films is starting this month. NDMI has teamed up with local film producer Jo Stewart-Smith who says: "I met Amanda from North Devon Moving Image by chance, on Woolacombe beach, where we were covering the same story – she was filming, I was writing.  When I saw her work I knew that she understood the importance of a good story in a film so I approached her to host Boat Stories." FLAG Programme Manager Jenny Carey-Wood commented on the funding award “The FLAG members were keen to support Boat Stories to increase understanding and awareness of the diversity of fishing and marine activity in the local area. “The awarding of £18,934 European grant towards this project will provide a legacy on film to record, inform and celebrate the local fisheries and working boats through people’s own stories.” As with all of NDMI's projects Boat Stories will take a close up look at the lives of North Devon people.  Jo explains "I think for many of us landlubbers there is a big divide between what we can see - the romantic boat out on the water – and an understanding of the skills needed to work on a trawler out at sea or cope with the tidal race and sandbanks while fishing in the estuary. I think there’s a disconnection between the fish we eat and knowing where it comes from and how. Hopefully our films will go some way towards closing this gap."Amanda McCormack, Director and founder of NDMI adds "We are really excited to be collaborating with Jo on the production of Boat Stories. One of our aims as a community interest company is to promote and encourage documentary film making in North Devon.  Jo will be working with local film makers on the Boat Stories project and we are really looking forward to seeing some exciting films made by our home grown talent."The Boat Stories series will be complete by Summer 2015 and the films will be shared on the North Devon Moving Image website.  To keep up to date with the project visit the news page on the Boat Stories website, twitter @boat_stories and facebook page Boat Stories North Devon.
... and if you have a Boat Story to tell please get in touch with Jo by email: telephone: 07816815761
Photo: Jo Stewart-Smith copyright North Devon Moving Image NDMI (All Rights Reserved)

Friday, 4 April 2014

Greater Horseshoe Bat Project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Devon Wildlife Trust has received initial support, including £65,600 development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. The money will be spent over twelve months developing a longer term project which aims at securing a future for the rare bats, in their last remaining stronghold in northern Europe. Devon Wildlife Trust is leading the project's development which involves twelve other partner organisations. The charity's Conservation Advocacy Manager Peter Burgess said: "Recent decades have not been kind to the greater horseshoe bat. They have struggled to cope with a changing landscape and insensitive building developments. British populations have fallen by 90% in the last century, leaving Devon as a last remaining stronghold." Peter continued: "But this project is offering hope. Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund will allow us to plan the first stages of the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. It will allow us to support local farmers to farm in more 'bat friendly' ways, helping to maintain vital bat feeding areas and flight corridors." Greater horseshoe bats are one of 16 bat species found in Britain. With wingspans of up to 40cm they are also one of the largest. They get their name from the remarkable horseshoe-shaped organ on their noses, which the bat's use to navigate and find prey. Female greater horseshoe bats are highly sociable and gather in large maternity roosts where they bring up their offspring. Devon has 11 of these roosts making it the most important place for the bat in northern Europe. The roosts are located in man-made structures including quarry caves, barns and mines at locations including Braunton, Buckfastleigh and the Tamar Valley. One of the most exciting elements of the Project will be the central role to be played by local people. Peter explained: "It's going to allow us to work with local communities, to help everyone to find out more about the bats, and enable them to contribute to the project and gain a sense of pride in their local bats. A number of 'bat beacons' will be set-up that will be a focus for guided walks and trails, while new camera technologies will give everyone an insight into the daily lives of the bats. With hundreds of local people involved, bats - indeed all wildlife - stand a better chance of thriving." Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "Whilst not always considered to be cute or cuddly, bats are essential to our ecosystem and their dramatic decline in numbers clearly demonstrates the urgent need to protect and understand them. We're sure the Devon Wildlife Trust run project will be a great success and we look forward to seeing these initial plans progress over the coming months." Peter added: "Devon already has Europe's largest maternity roost of greater horseshoe bats. With this project, Devon could in future boast Europe's largest population of bat enthusiasts too."
Greater Horseshoe Bat. Photo copyright Hugh Clark. (All Rights Reserved)

About the Heritage Lottery Fund Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

National Trust Commission “Tweet Music” : Celebrating the sounds of Spring

A leading UK beatboxer has vocally recreated the nation’s best-known songbirds to celebrate the sounds of spring and encourage the nation to get outdoors and experience nature first hand. The album of Tweet Music was commissioned by the National Trust after academic research found that listening to birdsong, one of the Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾, not only makes people calmer but boosts positivity. Despite this, almost one in five (19 per cent) rarely hear birdsong with 19 per cent of city dwellers regularly woken up by the noise of cars or planes. Beatboxer and vocal sculptor Jason Singh visited National Trust places for inspiration before creating the album, which features birds and wildlife including Blackbirds, Robins, Woodpeckers, Crows, Skylarks, Owls, Warblers, Buzzards, Frogs and Crickets. Singh explained, “I love the magic of spring, particularly at Tatton Park which I have been going to for years. When the silence of winter comes to an end, you can feel a real sense of change as the parkland erupts with noise, bursts of colour and new life. This is what makes spring so special for me and it’s this that I really wanted to capture in this project. “It was important to me that the bird calls and environments I recreated were as life like and authentic as possible, so it was great to work with the National Trust’s nature experts to better understand the flora and fauna of spring.” Listeners are set to find the new National Trust soundtrack a soothing experience after a recent psychological study found that natural sounds have restorative qualities. The study found the that birdsong and other sounds of nature like a running stream help people recover much quicker from stressful scenarios compared with the noise of urban living.
 Celebrate the Sounds of spring
Leading UK beatboxer, Jason Singh - Photo copyright National Trust (All Rights Reserved)

New evidence of vanishing grasslands

Call on Government to save remaining wildlife-rich grasslands and help farmers halt 'catastrophic' decline A dramatic decline in our remaining wildlife-rich grasslands is highlighted by The Wildlife Trusts today. Reports collated across the country tell a story of devastating losses. Wildlife-rich grasslands provide great benefits to society and are vital resources: for bees and other pollinators which we all rely on; for the abundance of nature which depends on wild grasses and flowers, from butterflies to barn owls; for securing soils and enabling landscapes to hold and filter water, preventing flooding and pollution; for carbon storage, and as living museums which have evolved over millennia. These beautiful and valuable habitats are vanishing - and the dazzling array of species that depend on them are under threat. Stephen Trotter, The Wildlife Trusts' Director, England, says: "Wildlife-rich grasslands have been in trouble for decades, but our newly collated information shows that the remaining hay meadows and flower-rich pastures are still at risk. We're seeing an insidious yet catastrophic decline. The pressures are enormous: from development and changes in agricultural practices, to neglect. The Government is currently making decisions on how it will implement the greening measures of the Common Agricultural Policy and how it will target grants to farmers in the future. We are calling on Ministers to take full account of the value of our remaining wildlife-rich grasslands and the threats they face as they make these decisions." The Wildlife Trusts are also calling for a review of protection for environmentally important grasslands - more must be done to strengthen policy and regulations to prevent further losses. Stephen Trotter explains: "If we don't act fast we'll lose the natural heritage that has inspired writers and artists through generations - from Shakespeare to Hockney. If we don't act now we'll lose an important natural resource that benefits farming, wildlife and people. The shocking examples of our best sites in decline should be a wake-up call for Government to start working now with farmers, local authorities and nature organisations to halt the loss." In Devon the picture reflects the national story of decline. Peter Burgess, Conservation Advocacy Manager of the Devon Wildlife Trust says: "Many of our most treasured grassland sites have been lost as they become increasingly difficult to farm. If we were to look at North Devon's Culm grasslands as just one example, only 10% of those that existed in 1900 are still around today." However, Peter believes that all is not necessarily lost: "Over the past 20 years Devon Wildlife Trust has worked alongside hundreds of farmers in Devon to restore and re-create wildlife rich grasslands. DWT helps provide solutions to these problems by connecting farmers to environmental grants and through the provision of specialist equipment and hardy grazing livestock." The results of this kind of work have been impressive. Peter continues: "More than 3,500 hectares of the county's most important habitats, Culm grasslands, have been restored in this way. In the most important locations radical techniques have been employed such as felling of conifers to bring back and reconnect our treasured grassland wildlife. By working in close partnership we know that amazing results can be achieved, however, across the county the picture remains worrying with continued, dramatic losses still being recorded." Because of the continued loss of the nation's precious grasslands The Wildlife Trusts are calling for a full review of existing protection for environmentally important grasslands and asking the Government to:
1) Improve existing laws and policies and effectively enforce them - Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) Regulations strengthened and grasslands given better protection through planning policy.
2) Support wildlife-rich grasslands on farmland - Farmers should be fully rewarded for managing important grasslands (e.g. through farmland conservation schemes) and attach stronger requirements for protection to the direct payments farmers receive for managing land.
3) Award statutory protection to more grassland sites that deserve it - Species-rich grassland sites that qualify should become protected SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) as quickly as possible.
4) Set up a national grassland inventory - A new national inventory of important grasslands in England (similar to that for ancient woodland) should be established with sustained monitoring of sites in the future.
5) Restore more wildlife-rich grasslands - Grassland restoration projects delivered in partnership with landowners by local Wildlife Trusts and others should be encouraged and sustained.
The Wildlife Trusts will launch an e-petition aimed at Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, from Thursday 3rd April for five weeks - see
Photo: Devon Wildlife Trust's Meshaw Moor nature reserve north Devon. 
Copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) is looking for local people to get involved with an oral history film making project about St Anne's Chapel in Barnstaple. NDMI has been commissioned by St Anne's to produce a digital video archive of stories which build a picture of the people who link St Anne's today with its past. Amanda McCormack, founder and Director of NDMI says "We want to hear from anyone who is interested in or has links with the history of St Anne's.  As well as offering exciting opportunities for volunteers we will be running free and fun, accessible oral history film making workshops as part of the project." "Our short course will teach people that oral history films can be entertaining as well as informative and we aim to give participants the skills and inspiration to carry on making films themselves." The project will run from now until October 2014.  Research and interviews will cover four main topics; St Anne's today, the recent renovations, The Grammar School and The Huguenots. So if you have a story to contribute, would like to get involved with research or join a film making workshop please contact Amanda McCormack, North Devon Moving Image by email or telephone 01271 860610.
Photos copyright St. Anne's (all rights reserved)
NDMI  - North Devon Moving Image aims to create, collect and share short documentary films about life in north Devon today
St Anne's chapel is an arts and community centre in Paternoster Row, Barnstaple