Showing posts from 2009

New Panto Group for an Old Tradition

With the old year behind us - "Oh no it isn't!" I hear you say - Budleigh Salterton has yet another entertaining aspect to it in the aptly-named Buscers, who are launching their first production in the New Year.

Budleigh Salterton Community Entertainers will be staging the pantomime Aladdin in the Public Hall on 16 and 23 January, with performances starting at 2.15 pm and 7.15 pm.

Panto director Steve Andrews heads a team of 90 people involved with the show, including 16-year-old Rebecca Clark who is playing principal girl Princess Jasmin. He has been delighted with the enthusiastic response from the Budleigh community. It's going to be, as he says, "a show to remember."

Oh yes it is!

Profits from the show are going to Budleigh Age Concern.

Tickets are £7 and £5 for under-14s and are available from The Card Shop Too in Budleigh Salterton High Street, or from Jenny Nicholls - telephone: (01395) 446415.

A sweet idea for a Budleigh shop

Even in Budleigh Salterton one sees sadly empty or boarded-up business premises, like this shop on the High Street.

When I pass them I wonder what an enterprising shopkeeper would do to fill a gap in the market, and think how hard it must be in these troubled economic times to come up with a good recession-proof idea which would enhance a small town's high street.

Maybe it's the time of year, Christmas being a binge-time for chocoholics, but I was excited when I read the following news from our sister-town of Brewster, Cape Cod, where the appropriately named Mr Lively has opened a shop selling 75 different kinds of chocolate truffles.

Above: Could Budleigh chocolate truffles become as popular as its pebbles?

In a health-conscious community he could be on to a winner. Chocolate which is high in cocoa solids is now recognised as having many qualities that are beneficial to health. It contains essential trace elements and nutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium, and vitamins A…

"Yule find it's so bracing!"

Well, that's what the mad Christmas Day swimmers told me when I joined crowds of Budleigh residents, curious spectators and the swimmers themselves as they gathered on the beach at 10.00 am on 25 December. A new record for both actors and audience seems to have been broken every year as the ritual grows in popularity, and Budleigh's Christmas Day swim is now a great local tradition as well as being officially listed by the UK's Outdoor Swimming Society as one of their 'must do' events.

On a sunny morning with silvery calm sea, Budleigh is hard to beat, says the Society on its website and as far as I was concerned conditions couldn't have been better on Christmas Day, with a brilliant blue sky and radiant sunshine helping to make some good photos. The sea temperature of 10 degrees wouldn't suit everyone, and I was quite glad to have the excuse that I'd just come out of hospital. But maybe next year...…

Brook welcomes Brit Art icons to Budleigh

Renowned names from the British art world joined the team to launch the Brook’s major Christmas exhibition, The Coriander Studio Show. This ‘blockbuster’ of an exhibition opened on 9 December 2009 and runs to 10 January 2010.

The guest list for the private view on Tuesday 8 December included names from the British Art elite such as Brendan Neiland, Brad Faine, Bruce McLean and Sir Peter Blake.

Above: Storm Thorgerson, 'Chrome'

World renowned for its techniques in silkscreen and digital printing, The Coriander Studio’s reputation was honed in the 60s. Now under the direction of Brad Faine, the 500 or so international artists with whom he works are a roll call of Britain’s best, many of which are included in this stunning exhibition. The Brook is also thrilled to be given the opportunity to exhibit for the first time anywhere, two absolutely gorgeous brand new pieces by Damien Hirst – a real coup for an independent gallery.

Above: Peter Blake, 'Madonna on Venice beach'

The ex…

A pebble for your thoughts

Not too many people venture out on to Budleigh beach at this time of the year - apart from the mad Christmas swimmers of course - but that very special stretch of ancient beautiful pebbles will always charm visitors, whatever the season.
Some Budleigh people might like to keep it as one of those undiscovered gems of the UK coast. One told me recently that one of the things that induced him and his wife to move here nearly ten years ago was that they had been informed that Budleigh Salterton was "not a tourist town, and catered rather for the residents."

"We have found this to be the case, and have much enjoyed its quiet atmosphere," he wrote. "There are plenty of nearby tourist resorts for those who seek them."
Above: A winter scene on Budleigh beach, looking west towards Sandy Bay and Exmouth

Nobody wants to see a string of amusement arcades along the sea front, but I can't imagine how that person thinks that Budleigh traders or indeed the organisers o…

Dealing with some old chestnuts

Well, I think I can face that Bob Monkhouse advert for the Prostate Cancer Charity with a slightly less troubled mind now. Certainly before 19 October 2009 I found it a creepy experience to be faced every time I went into the supermarket by Bob's staring eyes and those warning words: "Prostate cancer cost me my life. Don't let it cost you yours."
And I feel able to post this item and get back to blogging only because I’ve just received what they tell me is a (so far) 'all-clear’ based on the histology report and blood test following surgery on my own prostate.

I won’t be blogging quite so frequently for the time being, and I’m not sure that I’d have been cheery enough to do any at all had I received bad news from the hospital about margins etc. Though of course many brave people do, and Bob Monkhouse is even joking about such things from beyond the grave.
But then, cancer does give you a sense of tumour. (Sorry about that one, Bob).

In s…

Deer friends (not)

Left: Some real wildlife arrives in the garden
I touched on a personal note in my last bulletin when I apologised for unusually erratic postings due to “health reasons.” Many thanks for the goodwill messages from friendly readers wishing me luck as I disappear from the blogosphere for a time while the doctors deal with my little cancer problem.

I feel a bit of a fraud actually. I’ve never felt so well as I go into hospital for my op early tomorrow morning. But I ought to be thankful for that.

Yes, it’s a boring old prostate problem which the clever doctors diagnosed years ago and which they now say should be dealt with. Friends who’ve had the same op say “It’s nothing!” but I have my doubts about that.

OK, so it’s supposed to be the nearest thing to a cure, but the vision that I have of all those tubes sticking out of me is more grotesque than any horror movie scene I can think of. So I’ve had to turn down an invitation to a Halloween party on the 30th . I reckon I’d frighten away even t…

Power to the people – solar panels power Brewster home

[Both Budleigh Salterton and Brewster boast sunny climates which are welcomed not just by sunbathers. Here in Devon, our local Lily Farm recently produced the earliest-ripening grapes of any UK vineyard, while across the Atlantic a Brewster-based company is promoting ‘green’ thinking with its development of solar power to help solve the world’s energy crisis.

This map shows that South West USA is the optimal location for reliance on the sun for electricity, but Cape Cod – even though it’s right up in the North East – ranks with Florida in being blessed with 88% of the solar capacity of central Arizona! “Cape Cod is a prime location for a Solar Energy System,” says Luke Hinkle, proprietor of My Generation Energy.
Picture credit: ]

Fretting about the electric bill is but a faint memory for Rich Wolf of Brewster.

The retired electrician gazes heavenward for his source of energy.

As of last Tuesday all of his electricity is courtesy of the sun. He…

‘Travelling by Tuba’ on 21 October at Budleigh’s St Peter’s Church

“This picture really says it all!” says Chris Parrish of Budleigh Salterton’s St Peter’s Music.

“‘Travelling by Tuba’ is a unique pair of players who perform a stunning innovative programme on lots of instruments. As one of the busiest groups in the UK they undertook over 200 performances last year. This success was not only due to their virtuosic performance but also the ability as irrepressible entertainers to communicate with their audience. This is great fun as well as proper music.”

‘Travelling by Tuba’ starts at 7.30 pm. There is wheelchair access into the church. This is the last concert of the 2009 season of St Peter’s Music.

Tickets: £10 (half price for full time students), may be purchased from the Lawn Bakery or Lesley’s in Budleigh Salterton; the Tourist Information Centre, by the Swimming Pool in Sidmouth; Eagle House, 44 The Strand in Exmouth. Or phone Chris Parrish on 01395 442275.

Honeybee jamboree offered at Brewster museum

Beekeeping is alive and buzzing in Cape Cod, and especially in Barnstable County, where Brewster is situated. The Barnstable County Beekeepers Association (BCBA) is a 35-year-old group of more than 200 honeybee enthusiasts from Cape Cod and the surrounding area.

Today, Saturday 10 October, from 1.00 to 3.00 pm the fourth annual Honeybee Jamboree is being held at Brewster’s Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.

The cost is $3 for members and $2 for nonmembers (with museum admission).

This special event is co-sponsored by Barnstable County Beekeepers Association. Members will present demonstrations and sell their bee-related products, such as honey, candles, ointments and lotions.

Members of the museum bee group will explain the honey extraction process and provide information on beekeeping and honeybee hive activities, and current concerns.
A share of the profits of the event will go to the museum.

Picture credits: and

Autumn brings 'Crosscurrent' to the Brook

Hot on the heels of selecting and hanging work for the Summer Exhibition at London's Royal Academy of Art, acclaimed artist Eileen Cooper RA, joins the team at Budleigh Salterton's Brook Gallery to launch her solo exhibition 'Crosscurrent'.

Often referred to as one of the British figurative artists, Eileen Cooper will host a private view at the gallery on 15 October from 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm. 'Crosscurrent' runs from16 October to12 November.

Says Brook Gallery owner Angela Yarwood: “Eileen's work has an immediate appeal –her distinctive 'no nonsense' approach shows through in her work and, combined with her bold images from the outset of her career to the present day, they are a pleasure to exhibit.

Eileen has lectured at the Royal College of Art and is currently teaching at London's Royal Academy schools. Her work has endless vitality and we are delighted to be able to show the full spectrum of media, including painting, to demonstrate the true dive…

Guests flock to Avian Exhibition at the Brook

The Brook Gallery in Budleigh Salterton launched its current exhibition 'Of a Feather: An Avian Alphabet' by celebrated artist Colin See-Paynton at a private view on 18 September. His 'joyous designs' have been praised by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Guests were welcomed with wine and canapés by Colin and owner of the Brook, Angela Yarwood.
Seen here from left to right are Priscilla Hull, co-founder of Budleigh’s Fairlynch Museum, Angela Yarwood and Colin See-Paynton.

The private view coincided with the launch of the first Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, with many of those involved in the Festival joining in the celebrations, including its President, Sue Lawley, and guest author Virginia Ironside. Pictured above are Literary Festival Chairman Susan Ward, author Hugh Williams, Sue Lawley and James Griffin of Everys Solicitors, lead sponsors of the 2009 Festival.

Christopher Briscoe (Literary Festival Treasurer) and Jane Briscoe, with Festival committee…

Virgin on the risky

I’d intended to write something about the excellent three-day first-ever Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, but somehow it’s already slipped weeks into the past. And I’m well aware that my postings have been rather spasmodic of late and feel that some sort of explanation is needed for my regular readers. Especially as this post I’m writing now is the sixth in my block of six-bulletin summaries that I’d been emailing to them. And more especially as it could be the last! But I hope not.

Today, as I discovered by chance in this morning’s newspaper, has been specially designated by the Government as Older Person’s Day, so what I’m going to write sounds appropriate.

This is all getting rather personal and rambling, isn’t it? But maybe I’m just turning into a boring old blogger after all.

I’m going to start again.

Let’s go back to the Literary Festival. By now, everyone in Budleigh Salterton knows that it was a great success. The fine weather helped of course. But a lot of work had been put …

Award for Budleigh’s Lily Farm wine

Within three years of opening their vineyard on Dalditch Lane, Budleigh producers Faye and Alan Pratt (pictured left) were delighted to find that their red table wine has been a hit at the South West Vineyards Association's annual blind tasting.

The husband and wife team who run the two-acre Lily Farm Vineyard won trophies for their 2007 vintage at the tastings, held at Kenton Vineyard near Exeter on 4 September.

“Our first vintage has been awarded The John Buchan Agronomy Shield – Best Red Wine from a small scale producer – and also a bronze award in the main red wine category where we competed alongside top wine producers in the UK,” announced Mr and Mrs Pratt, from Moormead in Budleigh. “We are very excited to have received such prestigious recognition of the quality of our wine and we will work to maintain this standard in future vintages.”

Lily Farm Vineyard made national headlines in 2007 when picking of its Rondo grape harvest began a month before anywhere else in the UK.

A World War memory via the Web

Otter Valley Association (OVA) members were urged to use the internet to research local history during the talk given by Dr Todd Gray on 5 September in East Budleigh, previously reported on my pages

On a personal note, that advice was borne home to me when I received out of the blue a few days ago an email from Argentina. The writer had contacted me after reading about a sad but inspiring episode during World War Two that I had described in my book Oundle’s War, published in 1995 and featured at

Major Patrick Dudgeon MC (pictured above) had nothing to do with Budleigh Salterton as far as I know. A former pupil of Oundle School in Northamptonshire, he had joined the Royal Corps of Signals at the outbreak of war, and won the Military Cross for ‘gallant and distinguished service in the field.’ Later he was engaged on various sec…

Another rape in Budleigh Salterton?

Below:The Rolle Flats on Budleigh’s sea front are now one of the town’s major landmarks, thanks to planners who gave the go-ahead to the demolition of Budleigh’s best known hotel.

The headline may seem sensationalist, and this story may appear nimbyist. But ever since arriving in Budleigh Salterton I’ve been struck by the number of fine old buildings in the town that have been destroyed, to be replaced by architectural eyesores. Budleigh is a lovely town, beautifully situated, with an interesting historic heritage. That has not helped to save it from the greed of developers and the stupidity of planners.

The full story of this desecration is told in a series of 20 or so files kept on a shelf in the town’s excellent Fairlynch Museum. The title of one of the files, 'The Rape of Budleigh Salterton', seemed to me to be highly appropriate.

Right: Clyst Hayes House on Exmouth Road, Budleigh Salterton. Planners have given the go-ahead to its demolition.

So when I received a letter from …

An Avian Extravaganza: Colin See-Paynton Exhibition enchants at The Brook

Coinciding with the launch of Budleigh Salterton’s first Literary Festival on Friday 18 September the town’s Brook Gallery will be exhibiting until 19 October a wonderful selection of ‘Avian Alphabet’ woodcuts by a renowned artist viewed as a ‘national treasure’ for his skill and craftsmanship.

“His delight in the lines of a bird so elegantly inscribed by the cut of his graver, his skill in varying texture… his palpable pleasure in composing his subjects into joyous designs have brought something new to the portrayal of birds,” comments the celebrated naturalist Sir David Attenborough of Colin See-Paynton. Above: A Gaggle of Geese

Widely regarded as the leading exponent of the art of wood engraving, Colin See-Paynton, with his exhibition ‘Of a Feather: An Avian Alphabet’ brings an elegant vision of our feathery friends to Budleigh Salterton’s renowned gallery this autumn. The series of prints has been produced from a body of fresh new engravings, launchin…