Thursday, 27 April 2017

Step Back in Time. An opportunity to meet seven Devon authors in the Cabin at Bucks Mills

Nestled at the bottom of the hill in the little fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills, lies The Cabin. This two-roomed hut began life as a fisherman’s store before being acquired by Judith Ackland’s family. Together with her friend Mary Stella Edwards, Judith used the building as an artists’ retreat for half a century. The solitude and spectacular views across the rugged North Devon coastline make it ideal for those seeking inspiration. Now in the care of the National Trust, the Cabin is almost exactly as the artists left it in 1971.

From 29th April–1st May, it will once again be a setting that encourages creative talents to flourish. Between 10.00am and 4.00pm, seven Devon authors will take it in turns to use the cabin and its wonderful surroundings as their muse. The work of all these writers is rooted the past, in the local landscape, or both. They look forward to discussing their work, both past and forthcoming and signing copies of their books. This will be a unique opportunity, not only to view inside The Cabin, which is rarely open to the public but also to talk to enthusiastic and friendly authors about their writing.

The Authors in the Cabin are:
  • Ruth Downie writes crime novels set in Roman times. Ruth’s book Medicus has recently attracted a ‘Discovered Diamond’ award for historical fiction.
  • Janet Few is an author of local, social and family history books, including a history of Bucks Mills Who Lived in Cottages like These?: the inhabitants of Bucks Mills. She is now working on an historical novel set in North Devon.
  • Susan Hughes writes books set in the first half of the twentieth century. Her debut novel A Kiss from France won several awards. She is now writing her second book.
  • Wendy Percival is the author of mystery novels set in North Devon and recently published a novella featuring her genealogist sleuth, Esme Quentin, entitled Death of a Cuckoo.
  • P J Reed is a poet and author who writes of the beauty and ethereal nature of the changing countryside. Her latest anthology Flicker was published last month.
  • Liz Shakespeare’s books are inspired by the people, history and landscapes of Devon. Her latest novel The Postman Poet, which was launched last month, is based on the true story of Edward Capern who composed poems and songs whilst delivering letters in Victorian North Devon.
  • Pamela Vass writes North Devon based fiction and social history. Her novel Seeds of Doubt debates whether the Lynmouth floods of 1952 were an Act of God or the Act of Man.
Tap here for North Devon Focus on the village of Bucks Mills

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Return of the Swallows, Bluebells and Blossom.

Enjoyed a relaxing weekend watching the natural world as it stirs from a cold winter. A refreshing walk on the beach at Wesward Ho! on Saturday revealed no wrecks but three huge jellyfish on the strandline. Portugeuse Man of War, I think - still waiting for confirmation from the Marine Conservation Society.

The 23rd April marked the arrival of the Swallows or the advanced party as I like to call it. One lone Swallow swooping low across the field as though it was celebrating St. George’s Day. 

Two devoted Goldfinches are singing to each other and flitting across the garden and yesterday they were nest building stealing away the new leaves from the Willow. I like to think they are our regular visitors. Last year their tiny nest was located precariously atop the twisted Russian Vine, I am hoping to photograph them in the Apple Blossom so watch this space. Another vibrant visitor pecking at the blossom was a male Bullfinch followed by his much duller mate. The Doves are cooing in the Willow and the Wood Pigeons are cooing in the Spruce so all is well with the world once again. 

In my local ancient woodland the first of the Bluebells are up and uncurling together with the first of the flowering Ramsons. Cow Parsley, Alexanders, Early Purple Orchid, Red Campion, Greater Stitchwort, Dog Violet and Speedwell are sparse but more are to come and there are traces of colour from the new leaves on the old trees. It is so sheltered in this wooded valley that the ferns have been prevalent all through the winter, but new fronds are now unfurling and form a vivid green backdrop to the Bluebells.

Though slightly more formal, another sheltered location is RHS Garden Rosemoor. We joined the RHS last year, money well spent as it has enabled us to photograph Rosemoor in all its glory through the Seasons.  On our visit on Sunday we took several shots of the Apple and Cherry Blossom and Rhododendrons. The Tulips were big bright and beautiful  at the entrance and the RHS National Rhododendron Competition was running in the newly built Exhibition Centre. This National Show has over 60 classes covering all types of Rhododendrons, as well as trade and advice stands plus magnificent displays of Magnolias and Camellias too. The Rosemoor Exhibition Centre will be officially opened soon.

Wildflowers of Peppercombe - Photo copyright Pat Adams (All rights reserved)

Wildflowers of Peppercombe - Photo copyright Pat Adams (All rights reserved)

 Bridge Repairs, Peppercombe. Photo Pat Adams (All rights reserved)FOOTNOTE
The old bridge by the pink Cottage at Peppercombe has had a bit of a battering over the past couple of years. Holidaymakers staying at the cottages, associated service vehicles who knows, it used to be traffic-free here. I don’t normally vent but stupid, inconsiderate drivers are ruining some of Devon’s historic bridges. Huge 4x4’s amongst other non-country road friendly vehicles are continually clipping the ancient stones causing structural damage. SLOW DOWN PLEASE. These bridges are in most cases “Listed” by English Heritage. Some years ago we volunteered for the Images of England project, photographing listed buildings throughout Devon

Images of England is a ‘point in time’ photographic library of England’s listed buildings, recorded at the turn of the 21st century. You can view over 300,000 images of England’s built heritage from lamp posts to lavatories, phone boxes to toll booths, mile stones to gravestones, as well as thousands of bridges, historic houses and churches.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Clovelly Lectures: “Can NATO defend Britain: What is the Russian threat “ ?

Clovelly welcomes General Sir Richard Shirreff KCB, CBE, to Clovelly’s Forum on World Affairs, International Relations, Security & Defence and Science & Technology. A platform for providing information for informed choices.

Now in its 7th year, Clovelly Lectures has found a reflective and responsive audience. A curiosity and interest in listening and discussing matters that directly impact our lives in a fast changing and confusing economic and political world.

General Sir Richard Shirreff KCB, CBE was educated at Oundle and Exeter College Oxford. In 1976 he was commissioned into the 14th/20th Kings Hussars.

IRAQ, NORTHERN IRELAND, KOSOVO. General Sir Richard Sir Shirreff saw active service during the Gulf War. He was appointed as Commanding Officer of the King’s Royal Hussars in 1994, deploying to Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in November 1995.By 1998, he was promoted to Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade and deployed to Kosovo.

CHIEF OF STAFF and COMMANDER OF THE ALLIED RAPID REACTION CORPS. In 2003 General Shirreff was promoted to Chief of Staff at Land Command, rising to General Officer Commanding 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division and was deployed to Iraq in July 2006. In 2007 he was appointed Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and promoted to Lieutenant-general.

DEPUTY SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER NATO. In March 2011 Shirreff became Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and promoted to a Full General. He retired from the post in March 2014.

Honorary Colonel of Oxford University OTC. Honorary Colonel to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Advisory Board of Genderforce. 

General Sir Shirreff is currently the Honorary Colonel of Oxford University OTC and served as the Honorary Colonel to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry from 2005 to 2015. .

“2017: War with Russia: AN Urgent Warning from Senior Military Command.” 
In 2016, Shirreff published a book entitled “2017: War with Russia: An Urgent Warning from Senior Military Command.” War between Russia and NATO would be possible. Britain would have a large role to play.
Saturday May 20th 2017 at Clovelly Visitor Centre
“Can NATO defend Britain: What is the Russian threat “ ?
Speaker: General Sir Richard Shirreff KCB, CBE


General Sir Richard Shirreff  KCB, CBE

For tickets and further information please contact: or Tel: 01237 431200

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Plea to help save one of Devon’s most endangered species

A conservation project which aims to save one of Devon’s most endangered animals is now urgently seeking donations from the public so that it can continue its vitalwork.

The freshwater pearl mussel might not look as stunning as some wildlife but the conservation charity Devon Wildlife Trust describes it as a ‘remarkable animal’ and one that can have a positive impact for us all.

Freshwater pearl mussels filter bacteria and algae. So a large population helps to clean up our rivers for the benefit of other wildlife - and people. They have been wild residents of Devon’s rivers for thousands of years. But now the mussels are declining significantly across their range and in the whole of Devon they are only found on the Torridge and the Taw.

But even these rivers are too polluted for the mussels to breed successfully. Although they can live to 130 years of age, the youngest freshwater pearl mussels on the River Torridge were born in the 1960s. Now Devon Wildlife Trust is warning that if they are unable to breed, this unique animal will be lost from the county.

Devon Wildlife Trust is working to clean up the river and to breed mussels in captivity - so they can survive in healthy water at their earliest stage of life, before being returned to the wild. However, it now needs to fill a £9,000 funding gap in the project and is asking people to help.

In her role as Freshwater Pearl Mussel officer for the national ‘Restoring Freshwater Mussel Rivers in England’ project, Devon Wildlife Trust’s Izzy Moser has been working with landowners to help improve water quality in the River Torridge for the last two years. She is also involved in the captive breeding programme, as part of this nationwide effort co-ordinated by the Freshwater Biological Association.

Izzy Moser said:
“This winter, we had some great news: the first signs of breeding success for freshwater pearl mussels from the River Torridge in more than 50 years!”

This animal's amazing life cycle involves a stage of living on the gills of Atlantic salmon or brown trout, so right now, the fish – and the mussel larvae - are all in tanks in a hatchery in north Devon. Once they are big enough, the larvae will drop off the fish, down to the gravel bed of the tanks and then grow to become juvenile mussels. And the juveniles then have a real growth spurt, growing approximately 200% bigger in their first year.

But even in unpolluted rivers, only an average of five larvae from the five million released by an adult mussel each year will survive to become an adult freshwater pearl mussel.

The next stage of the project is crucial. Izzy will have to move the juvenile mussels from their gravel habitat in the tanks, to specially selected points of the Torridge riverbed - and then monitor these sites to check on the progress of the first young mussels on the river since the 1960s.

Although this project is largely funded by Biffa Award, Devon Wildlife Trust has to find a further £9,000 to cover the costs of this critical work on the Freshwater Pearl Mussel project over the coming months.

Izzy Moser said:
“Despite the projects recent successes, there is still a significant amount of work to be done on a catchment scale to reduce run-off from farmland, roads and domestic sources and protect our local waters. We have already planted 80 trees and 250 willow stakes this year to reduce riverbank erosion, and fenced 1km of river but there is much more to be done!”

Anyone making a donation to the Freshwater Pearl Mussel appeal will be playing a role in the rescue plan for one of Devon’s most endangered creatures. And by supporting work to improve water quality in one of Devon’s grandest rivers – the Torridge – they’ll be helping a wide range of other wildlife too, including otters, dragonflies, bats and kingfishers.

People wanting to make a difference to one of Devon’s most endangered species should visit
Devon Wildlife Trust. Freshwater Pearl Mussels in a tank at the hatchery in North Devon;
Photos show Freshwater Pearl Mussels in a tank at the hatchery in North Devon; Izzy
Moser in the River Torridge; Devon Wildlife Trust’s Izzy Moser inspecting a freshwater pearl mussel for larvae

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Seaweed Festival in aid of the N.D. Hospice

Clovelly Seaweed Festival was launched in 2015 and has been a great success. It is being held on Devon Day in 2017.

Clovelly Seaweed Festival promotes seaweed for its immense health & nutritional benefits. As it is hugely versatile, quay kitchens will have a surprising variety of dishes and stalls will be selling a range of seaweed products and seaweed arts and crafts.

There will also be plenty of entertainment for both adults and children to enjoy, such as "Know your Seaweed" talks, demonstrations, craft activities and workshops, street entertainment and live music throughout the day. The Seaweed Health Foundation will provide information on the benefits of seaweed for food and health aswell as giving a talk.

You will be amazed at the world of seaweed. Bring your own and ask the experts what is the best use for your particular selection.

Clovelly Seaweed Festival. Photo copyright B.D. Adams (All Rights Reserved)

Clovelly Seaweed Festival
Sunday 4th June, Clovelly Harbour 10.00am-17.00pm
Contact: Visitor Centre. Tel:  01237 431781.

“WHAAM SUMMER” - Westward Ho! & Appledore Music Showcase

Get ready for “WHAAM SUMMER”. This is part of a trilogy of events organised every year under the banner of WHAAM - Westward Ho! and Appledore Music Showcase. The event takes place on Thursday 1st June from 6.15pm to 10.00pm at the Kingsley Hall, Westward Ho! as part of the Westward Ho! Seaside Festival representing North Devon’s musical entertainers performing in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's Appledore Station.

Entertainers include:-
  • Ian Hudson - Artist/Tutor and Folk Song Entertainer at The Hunters Inn, Exmoor
  • Westward Ho! Youth Theatre – a taster of their talents!
  • Charlotte Juniper and Peter Wormington (WHYG)
  • Andras Droppa - Dr Droppa
  • Robert Stiryaker
  • Connor Gould
  • Humming Bird – Ian and Su Hudson 
Tickets are on sale from 
  • The booking office at Happy Cafe (07773 679559) 
  • Delicadevon and The Co-operative Food, Westward Ho! 
  • The Coffee Cabin, The Quay, Appledore
  • and of course AT THE DOOR!
Reservations are acceptable by email for collection at the door. Email: ADMISSION TICKETS – £3.00 each
Doors open at 6.15pm and show runs from 7.00 to 10.00pm.

 WHAAM - Westward Ho! And Appledore Music Showcase
WHAAM - Westward Ho! and Appledore Music Showcase
John Barton Email: Mobile: 07725 056 094

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Bee Creative in the Garden! Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts launch campaign to help wild bees

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts have joined forces to urge gardeners to do more to help protect bumblebees and solitary bees, heroes of the pollinator world.

The Bee Creative in the Garden! call comes as bees are under increasing pressure largely due to loss of habitat.  In the countryside, 97% of lowland meadow has already been lost and the dramatic decrease in suitable habitats isn't just confined to rural areas. The network of 15 million gardens that once formed 'green corridors' for wildlife is also disappearing at an alarming rate.

In response here in the south west Devon Wildlife Trust will be arming gardeners with the advice, insights and inspiration they need to create habitats that support wild bees as they emerge from their nests in early spring to forage for food.

Gardeners will be able to download a wild bee-friendly gardening guide. Wildlife events and a 'Bee Creative' photo competition will also be taking place from 1 April to 1 November 2017 as bees buzz during the gardener's growing season and then look for nesting sites in autumn.

As part of Bee Creative in the Garden! Devon Wildlife Trust is also hosting two events at their headquarters, Cricklepit Mill, in Exeter. The mill has its own pollinator-friendly garden and on Sunday 25 June, the charity will be inviting the public to spend the day exploring this urban oasis in the heart of the city.

Staff and volunteers will be on hand to give wildlife gardening advice and offer tours of the award-winning garden. Families can also follow the exciting nature trails and see what wildlife is in the garden by taking part in some bug hunting! Visitors will have the opportunity to put theory into practice and buy wildlife plants at the event to take home.

At the start of the summer holidays, on Thursday 3 August, families are invited to visit Cricklepit Mill for Devon Wildlife Trust's wild bee family fun day! Children can get arty in the garden with a range of wildlife crafts and explore the garden with nature trails, bug hunting and bee-themed games.

Bee Creative in the Garden! is the theme for this year's Wild About Gardens campaign - an annual joint initiative between The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS which aims to encourage gardeners to create wildlife havens for the many, once-common, native species.

Helen Bostock, Senior Horticultural Advisor at the RHS said:
"A healthy garden is buzzing with bees and other pollinators. By providing nesting sites and growing nectar and pollen rich flowers gardeners can and do support a wide variety of bumblebee and solitary bees."

Rosie Workman, Communications Assistant at Devon Wildlife Trust, said:
"We want to encourage people in Devon to take action and help our wild bees. Whether you've got a window box, a wall or a back garden, it's easy to create a bee haven and fun choosing bee-friendly beauties to plant."

The wild bee-friendly gardening guide, 'Get your garden buzzing for bees', is free to download and contains lots of facts about the different species of wild bee, their lifecycles and how they nest, as well as practical steps gardeners can take to help them.  It is available to download at

Enter the Bee Creative photo competition! Gardeners, gardening groups and schools are encouraged to share how they've welcomed wild bees into their gardens by posting a picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - using the hashtag #wildaboutgardens and the category being entered - of their bee-friendly area, whether that be a tailor-made bee home, a flower-packed border or a wall that bees have made their

A list of the wildlife gardening events taking place can be found at or you can visit the Devon Wildlife Trust website

The Bee Creative in the Garden! campaign will culminate in Wild About Gardens Week which will run from 23rd-29th October. This will be a fun-filled week of special activities focused on how to help bees survive the winter ahead.

Buff-tailed bumblebee courtesy of Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography
Buff-tailed bumblebee -  Photo copyright Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography (All rights reserved)

ABOUT WILD ABOUT GARDENS The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens in 2009 and Wild About Gardens Week in 2013. It is an annual celebration of wildlife gardening and provides a focus to encourage people to use their gardens and take action to help support wildlife. Over the past 50 years we've seen declines in two thirds of the UK's plant and animal species, for a range of reasons, including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species - hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example - are increasingly endangered. Gardens have enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, estimated to cover about 270,000 hectares - more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.