Sunday, 31 May 2009

In a Heartbeat at Budleigh Salterton Gala Week

Budleigh-based charity In a Heartbeat’s Sam Cochrane made an eye-catching appearance at the town’s Gala Week Fete on Saturday 23 May to promote the group’s Goody Box scheme.

In a Heartbeat had three marquees at the Fete as part of Gala Week offering a range of adventurous activities.

Face-painting was one popular choice for visitors.
Creations ranged from the starry…

to the stripey…

and the really scary.

There was a giant lawn darts game.

And a large Velcro target game.

There was a also a football game, a ring toss game and a pick & mix sweet stall.
Winners of the games got a lucky dip prize and there were lollipops for all who took part.

In a Heartbeat was formed in October 2007 and is run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers to try and make a difference in the local community while having lots of fun themselves.

The Gala Week event was sponsored and fully funded by Independent Mortgage Advisory Service Ltd, 1 Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton.

All photos ©2009 Randa Creative.

For further information please contact:-
Mark Laurenti, Chairman, Inaheartbeat
Tel. 01395 444044
Fax. 01395 446803

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Eleftheria Kotzia, classical guitar: ‘A Mediterranean Journey’ in Budleigh Salterton

Saturday 13 June 7.30 pm The Peter Hall

Described by a US reviewer as doing for the Greek soul what flamenco does for the Spanish, Eleftheria Kotzia, internationally renowned Greek born guitarist, takes you on an unforgettable journey to the shores of the east and west Mediterranean. The programme will include masterpieces by composers such as Joaquin Rodrigo, Roland Dyens, Regino Sainz de la Maza as well as Greek composers. Guitar favorites by Isaac Albeniz and Francisco Tarrega will also feature in this varied and spirited programme.

Born in northern Greece, in Alexandroupolis, Eleftheria Kotzia studied guitar at the National Conservatory in Athens, the Conservatoire National Supérieure in Paris, and finally at the Guildhall School of Music in London. Among her teachers have been Julian Bream, Alexandre Lagoya, Dimitri Fampas, David Russell and Timothy Walker. She was the winner of the first prize in the 6th International Guitar Competition in Milan.

When she made her London debut The Times admired her skill, unfailing beguiling tone and her ability to vary her touch with fluency. Since then Eleftheria Kotzia has performed for various radio and TV stations, including the BBC and WNYC and has given recitals at some of the most famous concert halls in the world, including the Merkin Concert Hall and the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York, the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, The Wigmore Hall and the South Bank Centre in London, the Megaron Concert Hall in Athens, Les Halles and the Amphitheatre Richelieu in the Sorbonne in Paris, the Jubilee Hall - Raffles Hotel in Singapore , The Rudolfinum in Prague.

Eleftheria Kotzia has an impressive list of recordings to her credit. Among them the first recording of Michael Tippet's The Blue Guitar, which was described as life enhancing, enjoyed unanimous critical acclaim and was selected by Gramophone magazine as a Critic's Choice Recording of the Year. The American Record Guide hailed her as a wizard-a strong sensuous player with bite and sass. John Tavener's only solo guitar work, Chant, was also recorded for the first time by Eleftheria Kotzia, in a special adaptation made for her by the composer.

Kotzia was selected to represent Greece in London's Millennium Celebrations: String of Pearls. She played the guitar part in the first performance of John Tavener's Fall and Resurrection in St Paul's Cathedral, London, which was televised live and subsequently issued on CD/DVD.

Eleftheria Kotzia teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and gives master classes and training courses around the world. She is a frequent judge in international guitar competitions.

This concert will be in the more informal setting of The Peter Hall and will include wine and tapas/mezze, hence the price! The number of tickets is limited to 80, so early booking is advised.

Tickets £15 from the following outlets:

The Lawn Bakery, The Lawn, Budleigh Salterton
Lesleys, Stationers, High Street, Budleigh Slterton
Eagle House, The Strand, Exmouth
Tourist Information Centre, Ham Lane, Sidmouth

By telephone:
Ring 01395 442275 and request the tickets. You will be asked to forward a cheque made payable to St Peter's Music and a return S.A.E.
At the door on the night. These are subject to availability.
Concessions: Full time students pay half the advertised price.

A posting we all look forward to

He doesn’t have a black and white cat called Jess like Postman Pat, the character loved by kids all over the world who made his US television debut recently on children's network Qubo.

And he laughs at the idea of using a gyrocopter and a Blackberry to deliver his letters, but Steve Harrison, our local postie has all the qualities which made Postman Pat everyone’s favourite mailman. And I reckon he must be 100 times fitter when I see him cycling up Exmouth Road.

UK postal workers, it’s said, are living the nightmare of modernisation: job losses, closures and pensions at risk. But Steve keeps smiling. In a traditional town like Budleigh there is still an expectation of telephone boxes, village policemen and personal friendly service in local shops. And in our rural area the arrival of the postman does a little to reassure us that commitment and stability are still possible in the unstable and crazy world that we live in.

You could say that the traditional postie is still at the heart of British life, and there are plenty of people who will stand up for him or her. Devotees of TV’s best-known postman who has recently received a 21st century make-over have even revolted against the media trendies who want to turn Postman Pat into a “gadget obsessed freak.”

One of approximately 15 postal workers at Budleigh Salterton’s Delivery Office, Steve Harrison has worked for Royal Mail for over two years, having previously worked as a social worker in the Greater London area. The move to Devon was one of the best decisions he made, he feels. “I get really affected by the pollution now whenever I go back to London.” He reckons that the sea air combined with all the cycling and walking that he does as a postman have certainly contributed to a healthier lifestyle. Within the first nine months he found that he had lost three stone in weight. “I used to be cooped up in a van or an office. Now I’m in the open air most of the time. It’s a definite plus.”

He uses a bike to deliver mail for only part of his shift, on what he calls his ‘small loop’ along Exmouth Road, including Moorlands Road and Lansdowne Road, and through Knowle Village and Little Knowle. For the longer loop through Castle Lane, Dalditch Lane, Inner Ting Tong and Bear Lane he uses a van. Not only is this faster – his speed in the van averaging 6 mph, including deliveries, being double that of the bike – but also easier, as the weight of mail to be delivered can be considerable: Steve often finds that his bags can weigh as much as 16 kg (35 lb). In fact Health & Safety rules dictate that up to 32 kg (70 lb) is allowable on a bike, although as Steve points out this would be impossible on some of the gradients that he has to tackle.
Above: The Victorian postbox on Links Road, Budleigh - as traditional a feature in Budleigh as our local posties
Issues like the average speed of delivery and mail-load weights are bound up with the various management initiatives aimed at making Royal Mail more efficient, and Steve admits that such matters are very far from people’s view of their friendly postman with time for a doorstep chat. That’s certainly an aspect of the job that he appreciates, but he points out that Mondays and Tuesdays are best from that point of view. By mid-week, when businesses are back at work sending out mail after the weekend break, pressure is building up for postal workers.

Steve Harrison is in fact working on a part-time basis of 34 hours per week, but even so has to make an early start at around 7.00 am to be finished by 2.15 pm. There is a certain amount of flexi-time to the job, with long weekends on a cyclical basis giving it some variety. Meeting different people as he makes his deliveries is also something that he enjoys when he is not in a hurry; he agrees that the postman has a social role to play. A friendly conversation of 10-15 seconds is enough to check that an elderly resident is in good health, for example. On one occasion he spotted that a door had been left open; it turned out that the house had been burgled. “I always make an effort,” says Steve. “Of course I have to balance that out with the time pressures.”

The only people he is not so keen on chatting to are those with dangerous dogs. Injuries to postal workers’ legs and fingers really are an issue, it seems. “I’ve been bitten twice within a month,” he says. Some post-workers believe that feeding the animal before making a delivery is the answer, but Steve disagrees. “I’ve been chased down the road by dogs wanting biscuits.” Not surprisingly Royal Mail wants the law governing dogs to apply to private as well as public land.

Above: Steve with his Royal Mail bike and an appreciative customer
The other major negative of Steve’s work involves the weather. “Cold I can cope with, heat is bearable, but wet weather is awful. Nothing’s worse than pushing a soggy letter through a letterbox.”

When arranging the interview with Steve I had worried that my suggestion of using email as “an easy way of communicating” was a tactless blunder, given the decline in the number of people posting letters. No, said Steve. He is a fervent believer in the Internet. “It’s true that the volume of letters is going down, but the weight of mail deliveries is going up all the time. A paperless council tax mailing would have saved me hours of work today!” And many people in rural areas like Budleigh still tend to write letters as well as getting more parcels because they order goods by post or the Internet rather than do their shopping regularly at big city stores. For that reason, he believes, Royal Mail has an advantage over firms like TNT, which would prefer business with a high volume urban distribution.

And what about the new technology that Postman Pat has been threatened with to make him more efficient? Scanners are certainly used now for dealing with registered and tracked mail, says Steve. “Some time ago they were talking about motorised carts for making deliveries, but it didn’t really work out.” Maybe Budleigh’s awkward gradients were the problem.

So we hope to see Steve for many years to come, preferably on two wheels. The sight of him pedalling up Exmouth Road in Budleigh always inspires me to dust down my bike and get fitter by tackling some of those hills that drew us to Devon.

Not just “Beau séjour” but “Bonne dégustation!”

Is Budleigh really trying to tempt French-speaking visitors to the town with that Town Council’s motto of ‘Beau Séjour’ (literally ‘Have a great stay!’)?

If so, it might as well add ‘Bonne dégustation!’ For winemakers – or should we say viticulteurs? – Alan and Faye Pratt are ready and waiting for oenophiles – that’s winelovers to you and me – at their Lily Farm estate in Knowle, just a few miles west of Budleigh.

Above: Alan and Faye Pratt proudly show off a bottle of their Lily Farm Vineyard wine.

The first day of Budleigh’s Gala Week celebrations last Saturday also marked the showcasing of the couple’s wine from their celebrated red grapes. The event coincided with Devon Wine Week, which is part of English Wine Week. A vineyard tour and wine-tasting were on offer to visitors, with a small charge made to benefit Devon-based charity Hospiscare.

The couple amazed fellow vineyard owners recently when their first ever crop was ready for harvesting a month before anywhere else in the UK. They harvested their first crop of Rondo grapes in early September 2007, but the variety is not usually picked until early October. Above: Lily Farm vineyard, Knowle
Mr Pratt, a part-time financial advisor and part-time nurse Mrs Pratt bought the Lily Farm land 17 years ago from another grape-growing enthusiast who owns a vineyard in the centre of Budleigh. They started their own vineyard in Knowle by planting 200 rondo vines in April 2005.

Above: The flourishing small vineyard next to St Peter's Church in Budleigh

Another 200 vines were planted two years later, and in May 2008 the couple planted 950 extra vines on their two-acre site allowing them to grow grapes to produce not just red and white but also rosé and sparkling wines.
Lily Farm is ideally sited on a sloping south-west facing hillside, but vine-growing is not the easiest of occupations, being highly labour-intensive. “We’ve had to net the vines to keep birds away, and wasps are also a problem as the grapes ripen, but as far as possible we’re using environmentally friendly ways to deal with predators,” said Alan Pratt.
Right: Visitors to the vineyard are greeted by the sight of beautiful arum lilies
growing on the banks of the nearby brook.

There are nearly 400 commercial vineyards in England and Wales covering approximately 2000 acres of land in total, ad producing around 2m bottles per year. Nearly all are in the southern half of England and Wales. Most English and Welsh vineyards are small (less than 5 acres), many very small (less than 1 acre). Only a small number exceed 25 acres and just a handful 50 acres. The largest, at Dorking, Surrey, has around 200 acres of vines under cultivation.

More information about Lily Farm can be found at

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Fishing into the past

Budleigh Salterton resident Nick Loman has been using his local knowledge to piece together the history of fishing in his home town.

Having been a fish merchant in Budleigh for the best part of his working life, Nick is in an ideal position to gather information from the residents of the town about their memories and the legacy of Budleigh's fishing families.

Above: Sketch of Budleigh beach in 1837

"The change in Budleigh over time has been quite dramatic", Nick explains.

"Now that I'm semi-retired, I felt it was important to start making a record of our history, before it disappears."

In the 19th century, Budleigh was a thriving fishing town, with over a hundred boats registered to fish from there.

It was small clinker-type boats that were used off Budleigh, which had a low draught so they could be dragged up the beach.

Crabs were often the most popular catch and the fishing families also made their own crab pots from willow.

The women helped to sell the fish, and cooked and sold the crabmeat, although until the arrival of the railways the market was quite limited.

Once trains did get to East Devon in the 1840s, there was a growth in the industry as the Budleigh catch could get much further afield.
Above: Sketch of Budleigh from around 1830

Despite this growth, the geography of the area still made it very challenging to make a living from the sea, so the family unit working together was particularly vital to the Budleigh community.

"Fishing off the beach made it very hard work", describes Nick, "And it took the whole family to keep the business going."

Fishing families
One of the longest standing Budleigh families that Nick has been looking into is the Rogers family.

They have been in Budleigh for the past 300 years, but can trace their roots in Devon back to the 14th century.

The main families in Budleigh each had their own section of the beach to fish from, with the Rogers at one end, the Mears at the other, the Sedgemoors and individual boats in between.

Although there was obviously some degree of rivalry as they were all competing in the same market, when it came to trouble at sea then the community would come together.

"If there was any help needed at sea, the families would help each other out, no problem", according to Nick.

"It was the same with the fisherman from Beer, up the coast. If the weather was too rough for them to get back, then they could always sleep on someone's floor in Budleigh until the storm passed - and vice versa."
Above: Nick looking through his collection of photos

In the 20th century, there were five boys born into the Rogers family which helped keep the family fishing tradition going for a bit longer.

They were the last real generation to make their living from the sea.

A decline in industry after the World Wars made making a living out of fishing even harder work.

"Tom, Dick, Digger, Lion and Perk Rogers had to take over the family business when their father became ill, but it was still extremely hard work fishing out from the beach."

A storm that damaged two of the family boats didn't help much either.

"It was in the late 1950s it happened - they used to anchor boats three or four hundred yards off the beach, but when there was a storm forecast they would take the boats round to Exmouth docks.

"One night they got the forecasts completely wrong and the next morning their boats were washed up on shore.

"The local Budleigh council came down to the beach and they managed to haul the boats up the beach, but one was quite badly damaged."

Nick worked as a fish merchant from the 1960s onwards, transporting fish from all over the county and the South West.

However it was the bigger boats making most of the hauls, rather then the smaller individual family boats.

One of the Rogers boys had sons to continue fishing in the family name, one of whom now fishes out of Brixham.

However the changes in the fishing industry in the late 20th century has ended the tradition of fishing families making their living from the beach at Budleigh Salterton.

Above: Budleigh beach today - not a fishing boat in sight
Importance of remembering
Nick has had a great response since he started collecting information about the fishing history of Budleigh.

"A hundred and seventy people attended my last talk about the history of fishing, which shows the huge interest there is in this area.

"Visitors to Budleigh today wouldn't necessarily realise how much history there is in the town, as there is no real sign of how much fishing went on here.

"That's why I started to put together this information, and doing talks about it, so more people know and the history of this town doesn't get forgotten.

"I am hoping to write a book about it too - as soon as I have enough time!"

Sketches reproduced with the permission of Devon Libraries Local Studies Service - you can look at their website by clicking on
Text credit: Emily Wood and
Mr Loman is keen to contact people who have old photos of Budleigh which they would be willing to let him see. His contact details: Tel: 01395 445630 Mobile: 07968075108

Brewster "Christmas Tree" to be chopped down

[The pressures of tourism, traffic issues and road safety in an area of historic heritage have combined to force a radical solution on the town of Brewster. It’s a situation with which Budleigh residents will sympathise].

Brewster will have to find a new tree to hang its Christmas lights on this year.

The tall spruce at the intersection of Stony Brook and Setucket roads is likely to be chopped down as part of an extensive remodeling of the Stony Brook mill site.

Brewster’s Town Councillors, known as Selectmen, spared the 70-foot, 60-year-old white spruce from the axe last year, when the topic came up, but extensive studies by Russell Kleekamp of Stearns and Wheeler environmental engineers of Hyannis determined there was no viable alternative.

At a recent public hearing selectmen approved, by a 5-0 vote, a plan that would replace the tree, add parking and straighten the intersection.

“The tree is showing signs of age, is in poor condition and digging deep around the roots could impact the tree,” Kleekamp said. “It would be time to look at the option of relocating the tree.”

But relocation means replacement. Moving such a large tree would be expensive and root damage would give it only a 50/50 chance of survival. Department of public works director Bob Bersin suggested that a new, smaller, healthy, indigenous tree replace it. None of the ideal Christmas trees (spruce, hemlock, fir) are really native to Cape Cod’s sandy soil so it’s hard to say what that might be.

The “relocation” of a new tree will be to the north side of Stony Brook Road. Adjacent to that, up to 25 parking spaces (number undetermined) will be installed. The traffic island will be gone and the intersection will be a t-bone intersection. The town has money for storm water runoff improvements ($346,000 from the state), to protect the brook and marsh, and that provides an opportunity for safety improvements. Brewster will contribute $578,000.

Leaving the traffic island in the straightened intersection would not provide a good turning radius for larger vehicles, such as fire trucks. Cars coming down Stony Brook Road would also slow down as they approach Setucket Road. The crosswalk, or pedestrian crossing, would also be moved 50 feet to add reaction time for drivers.

“What we’re trying to do is maintain the character of the roads but improve the safety aspect,” said Police Chief Richard Koch. “I don’t want to wait until somebody is killed there before we make some changes.”

“You can’t go by there without hearing brakes lock up, tyres screaming, we’ve been very fortunate down there,” said Dana Condit, chairman of the Stony Brook Mill Sites Committee. “This is one of those tiny little sites that just gets loved to death.”

While almost everyone supported the safety improvements, some were still concerned about traffic and crowds.

“My main point is we’re gentrifying a very historic, quaint, small road with a small shop, herring run, a mill, by the addition of parking spaces,” objected resident Elbert Ulshoeffer. “This becomes another tourist attraction instead of a historic site.”

He’s also worried about more cars backing out into traffic. But others noted that tourists already come, arriving by the busload during herring season.

“There is a need for a signage program,” town planner Sue Leven pointed out. “It was a big surprise to me to come down the hill into a busload of teenagers waiting to cross.”

She’d like to see some warning signs, perhaps with parking directions.

The old tree, which has been decorated for the holidays since the 1950s, will be missed despite not being a “native” son.

“Moving the tree would cost a lot of money and it’s not worth it,” Selectman Ed Lewis said of the spruce. “But it is sad to see it go. Those kinds of things bother me.”

“We all realize the tree has a lot of sentimental value to the town,” agreed Selectman Greg Levasseur. “But improvements can make it better. There will be a nice park around it so people can enjoy the [new] tree if they want to.”

Text credit: Rich Eldred, reprinted with permission from The Cape Codder newspaper, Orleans, Massachusetts USA;

Budleigh Salterton Art Club 2009 Gala Week Exhibition

Founded in 1805, Budleigh Salterton Art Club has held exhibitions of its work for many years in the Public Hall: a one-day show during Gala Week, another as part of late night shopping before Christmas, and the annual ten-day exhibition in August.

Not surprisingly, the beautiful countryside of East Devon inspires many members to create work depicting familiar local scenes, some of which were on show in this year’s Gala Week exhibition.

Dark Lane
Oil on canvas board
Michael Ahearne MCSD

Bystock Pond
Water colour
Len Clark

Water colour
Ann Hayes

River Otter
J. Sanderson

Otter river view
Water colour
Joyce E. Merricks

Budleigh Bay from coast path east
Water colour
John Price

The Club describes itself as a friendly group of people who share a love of producing art, ranging from beginners to professional artists. It meets on the last Wednesday of the month from 10.00 am – 12 noon in the Peter Hall, for talks, demonstrations, mutual support and to learn new techniques.

More information can be found at the Club’s website at


Last year it had to be postponed. This time we all thought history would repeat itself and indeed the weather forecast was dire for Bank Holiday Monday 25 June, the day chosen for Budleigh Salterton Gala Week’s Pebble Building Competition on the beach at Marine Parade from 10.00 am to 11.55 am.

Happily, Budleigh’s micro-climate played its part and the rain held off.

There were three classes in this event, organized by Budleigh Salterton Lions, with prizes of £15, £10 and £5 offered for the best three entries in each class. One class was for the tallest family-built castle.
Above: The three ages of Man at work

Pebbles, like people, can be big or small.

And, like people, they come in many colours.

Colours can be used to good effect in castle-building.

The second class offered prizes for the tallest castle built by children up to 13 years.

But I noticed some mini-builds.

A father and son are pleased with their stonemanship.
(Yes, that is a boat.) (Sorry!)

Finally there were prizes for the best construction and design.
This was a clever pebble Pingu.

The main picture's a lion.

A sunny beach is a good place to find butterflies

An illuminating concept in pebble construction

Majestic work.
Gala King Benjamin Shiel crowned on the previous day and still wearing his royal sash admires his creation.
The competition was sponsored by Budleigh solicitors firm Symes, Robinson & Lee.

Radio Budleigh: “Just One Thing After Another”

Radio Budleigh’s show at the Salterton Drama Club’s Playhouse was part of the town’s Gala Week. The production was a nostalgic look-back at 50s’ radio shows, and it seemed only natural to record these moments from the Gala Night performance on 23 May in black and white. (Thanks to Ian for that idea!)

It was the second live broadcast staged by the Salterton Drama Club. The cast, or as they called themselves The Players, presented a programme of sketches, monologues and songs for our entertainment. The audience included Budleigh’s new Mayor Courtney Richards, wearing his chain of office.

Refreshments were served by the Players prior to the performance and during the interval.

We were asked to join in by applauding, laughing and singing when required “to give a convivial atmosphere for our listeners at home.” The audience was also asked to ensure that our “portable telephonic equipment” was switched off.

Player Mark Bazeley was “on the sound table” demonstrating every kind of theatrical skill from tea-pouring to monkey-calling.

The other players in alphabetical order were:
Mr Simon Blissett
Mr Richard Gomm
Miss Wendy Gomm
Mr David Holt
Miss Rosemary Holt
Miss Mary Logan
Miss Diane Nicholls
Miss Jennifer Roberts
Mr Roger Simmonds
Miss Shirley Snell
Miss Sandria Stewart
Miss Elizabeth Waddams

Light, Music and Incidental sounds were provided by Mr Tony Goodwin and Mr Stephen Andrews. Scenery was by Mr Richard Gomm, Mr David Holt and members of the group. Miss Julia Stewart-Young and members of the group acted as Front of House, and the Producers were Mr David Holt, Miss Wendy Gomm and Mr Richard Gomm.

The audience joined in at the conclusion with the chorus of ‘The Hippopotamus Song’:

Mud, mud, glorious mud!
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!
So follow me follow,
Down to the hollow,
And there let us wallow
In glorious mud!

The proud sponsors of Radio Budleigh are The Premier Café, 7 Chapel Street, Budleigh Salterton.

The Salterton Drama Club’s next production from 8-13 June 2009 is ‘Third Week in August’ by Peter Gordon. Further information about the Drama Club is at