Tuesday, 28 November 2017

New ‘mindfulness trail’ launched at popular Devon nature reserve

An East Devon beauty-spot has become the venue for a new ‘mindfulness trail’, promising visitors the chance to get away from some of the worst stresses and strains of modern life.

The trail has been established at Devon Wildlife Trust’s Bystock Pools nature reserve, in East Devon, and is the brainchild of local woman Clare Carter. The 46 year old from Exmouth created the mindfulness trail because she wanted to help other people to “slow down and switch off” from the demands of 21st century living.

The trail leads participants to 25 points around the varied nature reserve which features ponds, heathland, woodland and meadows. At each place people are asked to undertake an act of mindfulness ranging from the simple “take four deep breaths and stretch”’ to the more contemplative “Watch the water falling, listen to the sound of the water and watch the ripples”.

The trail has been designed to be done in short or long form, ranging from 60 to 90 minutes. It urges people to slowdown, to walk at an easy pace, reminding them that “mindfulness is about focusing on the present” and asks them to “let go of any distractions and bring back your attention to your surroundings”.

The inspiration for the trail came to Clare as a way of combining her interests in mindfulness and wildlife. Clare said:

“I was introduced to Bystock Pools nature reserve in the late nineties and now call it my second home! My main hobby is natural history, especially dragonflies. I also enjoy yoga, mindfulness and meditation. I wanted to create a walk which included some mindfulness techniques to help people switch off from their busy lives and encourage them to live in the moment.

I love being at Bystock and this Mindfulness walk has 'slowed' me down and allows me to switch off my busy mind! I hope it will help others too.”

Bystock Pools is one of 50 nature reserves cared for by Devon Wildlife Trust. The charity’s Steve Hussey welcomed the new trail:

“People visit our wildlife havens for lots of different reasons. Some will be real nature enthusiasts, perhaps searching for a particular bird, plant or insect, but many others will be there because of the sense of peace and tranquillity that these special places provide. This new mindfulness trail is a reminder to us all of how important nature reserves are to the health and well-being of people, as well as wildlife.”

A copy of the Bystock Pools mindfulness trail can be downloaded for free from the Devon Wildlife Trust website www.devonwildlifetrust.org/wildlife/reserves
Photo Bystock Pools "Mindfulness Trail" copyright Sheila Hancox (All Rights Reserved)
  Bystock Pools "Mindfulness Trail"  - Photo copyright Sheila Hancox (All Rights Reserved)
 Devon Wildlife Trust's Bystock Pools "Mindfulness Trail" the brainchild of Clare Carter
Devon Wildlife Trust's Bystock Pools "Mindfulness Trail" the brainchild of Clare Carter

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Wildlife lovers have the chance to Adopt-a-Beaver this Christmas.

Devon Wildlife Trust leads England’s only wild beaver re-introduction project, on east Devon’s River Otter. The project receives no government funding, relying on donations from people who care about wildlife and are enthusiastic about Devon’s wild beavers.

This month, the charity has launched the Adopt-a-Beaver scheme to help raise funds for the River Otter Beaver Trial. The five year trial is scheduled to run until 2020, working to gather evidence on the beavers’ impacts on the landscape and wildlife, infrastructure and farm businesses in the Otter valley. Introduction of further beavers into the river system is also covered by the project licence from Natural England.
Each virtual adoption includes a soft toy beaver wearing a Devon Wildlife Trust ‘Beavers are Back’ T-shirt. The charity’s Dan Smith explains: “The beaver soft toy is modelled on the project mascot, Nora, whose name was chosen in a public competition by a shop-owner in Sidmouth. These beaver soft toys are unique to Devon Wildlife Trust and the River Otter Beaver Trial and are not available anywhere else.”
Adopt-a-Beaver packs are available for children and adults for £30. All packs include the unique-to-Devon beaver soft toy but children’s packs also feature a beaver quiz, word-search, maze and colouring sheet.
For an additional £10, the pack also includes a beaver wood chip, gnawed from a Devon tree by one of the beavers living in the county. These wood chips - which come with a card of authenticity in a presentation box - have been collected from a site where Devon beavers are active.
These unique Devon gifts support what Chris Packham has described as “one of the most exciting conservation projects of the 21st century”, the River Otter Beaver Trial.
DWT’s Dan Smith said: “It’s heartening to see the continued enthusiasm for Devon’s beavers, more than two years after DWT first re-introduced beavers back on to the river after their health screening. Again this year, dozens of wildlife watchers gathered on the River Otter’s footpaths on summer evenings to spot parent beavers swimming with their new-born kits. Adopt-a-Beaver packs and Devon beaver wood chips are the ideal gifts for anyone who wants to see these charismatic mammals thriving in our countryside.” 

Beaver gifts are available from www.devonwildlifetrust.org/support-devon-beavers or by calling 01392 279244 or calling in to DWT’s headquarters at Cricklepit Mill in Exeter, on a weekday. 

 Adopt-a-Beaver scheme to help raise funds for the River Otter Beaver Trial

Adopt-a-Beaver scheme to help raise funds for the River Otter Beaver Trial

River Otter beaver kits - Photo copyright Mike Symes.(All Rights Reserved)
River Otter beaver kits - Photo copyright Mike Symes.(All Rights Reserved)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Bike Shed Cafe, Barnstaple has been shortlisted for Feed With Confidence Award

The Bike Shed Cafe in Barnstaple has been shortlisted for a national breastfeeding award by local mothers. The awards have been designed  by Lansinoh to celebrate places and people across the country supporting breastfeeding mums.    

One mum who nominated the cafe said: The bike shed is a cafe for bike enthusiast primarily however they have a very spacious cafe and me and my mum friends often meet there for coffee and can freely breastfeed our babies. The staff help move things around and welcome us all with all of our prams and everything else you need to lug around with a baby! We would be lost without this place! 

 In 2015, 776,950 babies were born in the UK. Yet just 0.5% of UK mums are breastfeeding their newborn at 12 months, despite recommendations from the World Health Organisation to continue breastfeeding into your baby's second year. With British breastfeeding rates among the worst in the world, could the culprit be society's attitudes towards breastfeeding? 

To understand if there is a stigma attached to breastfeeding in public, Lansinoh conducted research to gauge public opinion. The new research quashed common misconceptions, revealing that the over 65s are the most accepting and that men are more comfortable with it than women. Witnessing a woman breastfeeding in a cafĂ©, restaurant or pub was uncomfortable for an average of 46% of people. Despite the most comfortable public spaces being revealed as the great outdoors, a surprising percentage of people still felt uncomfortable at the park (17%) and beach (16%).

The Feed With Confidence Awards recognise people and places that help to support mums and positively change perceptions. The awards are supported by the Lansinoh Feed With Confidence Ambassador: Al Ferguson of The Dad Network.
The Bike Shed Cafe, Barnstaple
The Bike Shed Cafe, Barnstaple

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Wild About Watercolour. Devon watercolour artist Karen Thomas wins coveted industry award

Devon watercolour artist Karen Thomas has won a coveted industry award for her beautiful painting Shades of Gold. Judges of the PaintersOnline 50th anniversary competition awarded Karen the Summer painting prize for her intimate portrait of a handsome Bengal tiger at rest.

Karen, who lives in rural North Devon, is best known for her lively watercolour paintings of hares and the majority of her work, in demand at art fairs and galleries throughout the West Country, focuses on local landscape and wildlife. However, Shades of Gold is part of a body of work taking a step in a wilder direction, inspired by Karen’s developing relationship with Dartmoor Zoo.

Karen says “Friends of mine visited Dartmoor Zoo and, being keen photographers who know I paint animals, forwarded me some very inspiring images. I sent a painting to them as a thank you, which Benjamin (the Zoo’s owner) saw and loved, and he asked that I contact him. Benjamin gave me a tour of the zoo, meeting the animals and teaching me how to engage with them. He described their personalities to me, which is very important to me as I try to reflect that in my painting. Over several visits with sketchbook and camera, I enjoyed spending time there getting to know the animals better and produced a series of paintings. My award winning painting, ’Shades of Gold’ was inspired by that period of time.

“The painting was a culmination of all the exposure to endangered animals at the zoo. I wanted it to be moodier in feel than my usual work and to convey a sense of the connection I felt while getting to know such animals. Eye contact with a Bengal tiger is such an electrifying experience - it’s hard to describe but you’ve never felt more ’seen’. A stillness descends. It’s a bit like falling in love. I felt no threat, only a connection, but I was still grateful for the fence!”

Karen says that winning the award was a total surprise and a sheer delight. Painters-Online are responsible for The Artist magazine and Leisure Painter magazine, two publications who create valuable content for artists and serve as a pulse on the UK world of art. Karen feels that winning the award is confirmation that, as an emerging artist, she is headed in the right direction.

Karen has just taken up a new studio space at the beautiful Kigbeare Studios and Gallery near Okehampton at the edge of Dartmoor. She will be moving in this November just in time for the Kigbeare Christmas Open Studio where visitors will be welcome to chat to Karen about her work and buy direct from the studio. You can see more of Karen’s watercolour work on her website www.karenthomaswatercolour.com where you can also find out information about upcoming exhibitions and where to buy original paintings as well as prints and cards produced from her delightful paintings.

Shades of Gold. Karen Thomas Watercolour winner of the PaintersOnline 50th anniversary competition
Shades of Gold - An intimate portrait of a handsome Bengal tiger at rest
Karen Thomas Watercolour  Animal Paintings and Nature Inspired Art

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Down on the Farm - A North Devon Short Film Commission

Farmers, film makers and local communities are being invited to show their support for a landmark creative heritage project in north Devon. Local community film making organisation North Devon Moving Image CIC (NDMI) is making plans to launch an exciting new film commission which will create a series of short documentary films about farmers and farming in northern Devon.

Creative Director of NDMI, Amanda McCormack says "Down on the Farm will be a unique chance for the farming community to share their stories with the wider world. Our Boat Stories films have been immensely popular and that project demonstrated the value of preserving and sharing local heritage on film. We now want to do for farming what Boat Stories did for fishing and Down on the Farm is set to do that."

Amanda adds "Part of our remit at NDMI is to support film makers, both in North Devon and the wider creative community throughout the UK. This commission will provide an exciting opportunity (and the money - £1,000 per film) for six emerging or experienced film makers to develop and exhibit their individual artistic and narrative skills."

Before NDMI can apply for funding they are seeking written support for the project. Amanda says she would like to hear from: 

• farming families who would like to be the subject of a film
• volunteers interested in local agricultural heritage who will support the film makers with research and contact with farmers
• film makers who would like to apply for a commission
• film tutors who believe this is a great opportunity for film production students
• members of the local community who would love to see the films made.

To find out more visit http://www.northdevonmovingimage.org.uk/down-on-the-farm.html and if you would like to show your support you can email Amanda at northdevonmovingimage@outlook.com, write to North Devon Moving Image, 2 Cullamartin, Instow, Bideford, Devon EX39 4LU or visit the NDMI website and complete the contact form.
Down on the Farm - A North Devon Short Film Commission