Showing posts from 2010

The usual Christmas Day craziness on Budleigh beach

Well, here they are again. Crazy as lemmings, rushing into the sea on Christmas Day and then just as madly dashing out again. A beautiful morning, with a sky almost as sunny and blue as recorded in these pages this time last year at BUT THIS TIME THE BEACH WAS WHITE!

I remember muttering something about having a go last year, but now that I feel it's my duty to record this incredible scene every year I've got a good excuse to stay on dry land and not spend Boxing Day in bed with double pneumonia.

Speaking to Sarah Lowe from Budleigh and her sister Jennie from Birmingham, pictured above, I could only feel that I was the rational one. "A stupid idea," admitted Sarah when I asked them what they thought of what they were planning to do in a few minutes. "I'd rather jump out of an airplane," added Jennie.

But here they are, all these apparently foolhardy people, clearly enjoying th…

Budleigh Salterton's white Christmas

This is our third year in Budleigh Salterton and each winter has been chillier than the last. And now this corner of East Devon has had its first truly white Christmas for years. What happened to that micro-climate they boast about here?

Exmouth Road, the main western approach to Budleigh where I live, suddenly became a quiet country lane under snow, with only the occasional tractor or 4WD vehicle breaking the silence.

There's a downside of course if you're a keen gardener. We've got used to the frosts now, unusual though they are, but hadn't counted on snow damage. Looking out of the window and wondering at all the whiteness of the garden we heard a sudden crack saw two branches of our beautiful mimosa, already about to burst into flower, collapsed under the weight of snow. So sad. Will it survive? Why didn't I see what was going to happen? Five minutes earlier and I could have saved it by shaking the snow off.

At least our mimosa didn't bring down any power line…

Five fascinating facts about Brewster and Budleigh Salterton (3)

It's been some time since I posted at some of the random and interesting (for some people) facts about Budleigh Salterton and its sister-town across the Atlantic. So here come another five:

Home and away
Photo credit: A nice house in Brewster Massachusetts

Half of Brewster's residential property owners are part-time residents according to the Brewster Association of Part-Time Residents on their website at

Heavens above!

The pastor of Budleigh’s Evangelical Church on Station Road is the appropriately named Rev. John Heavens.

What’s in a name?

Cape Cod resident Marietta Nilson tells me: "One great thing about Brewster is that you can type it on a QWERTY keyboard entirely with your left hand!!!!"

A mystery property

This Budleigh Salterton house, Watch Hill, was used for the 1986 filming of an Agatha Christie mystery in the B…

Delightful Christmas presents

Biscuits from Budleigh

If you've sent a Budleigh Salterton Christmas card to friends you might like to impress them even more by giving them a Budleigh-branded gift.

Delytes Delicatessen in Budleigh's High Street now has an attractive website at including an erudite explanation of the shop's name. It also stocks goodies such as biscuits, jams and chocolates attractively packaged using the iconic logo of those beautiful pine trees at Otter Head.

Delytes sell a selection of jams using the Budleigh brand
There's even a seasonal-looking hamper of locally produced food on display proudly showing off Budleigh chutney, Budleigh roasted coffee and Budleigh red wine. From a bit further afield come Ottery St Mary honey and beeswax candles, Sidmouth fudge, Buckfastleigh ginger beer, Bideford meringues, Axminster chocolates and miniature wines and even more chocolates, this time from Okehampton.

It's just as well that Devon has wonderful countryside as we…

With best wishes for Christmas

We're still a few days from 18 December, the last date for posting Christmas cards within the UK by second class delivery. So if you've run out of your supply and want to support local good causes here in Budleigh Salterton two of the town's festivals have produced their own cards to help with their fund-raising.

The Music Festival is selling Christmas cards featuring a lovely view of Otter Head and a Christmas carol specially written for the festival by Nicholas Marshall. They come in packs of six with envelopes, and are available from the Tourist Information Centre in Fore Street at £3.99 for packs of six.

Also available from the TIC are Christmas cards in support of the Literary Festival. The picture, so they say, is by Burne-Jones and shows him listening in what they call "an alert and interested way" to the poems of William Morris. I hope it's not supposed to represent your typical literary festival-goer. It's an unusual card anyway and a good talking-…

Mad about Mosses

The 2011 calendar from Mountain Moss Enterprises
These pages are normally limited to what's going on in Budleigh Salterton or in our sister-town of Brewster, Massachusetts, but on this occasion I'm going to stray a bit further afield across the Atlantic.
I first got to know of Mossin' Annie - real name Annie Martin - shortly after moving to Devon. Realising that our back lawn is essentially an inches-thick carpet of moss I googled for help on the best way of getting rid of it. Short of stripping it out and re-turfing the lawn I didn't find many satisfactory answers. It seems that a combination of shade and the acid soil that you find in this part of East Devon - ideal for camellias and rhododendrons of course - is also perfect for growing moss, or bryophyta as the experts call it.

I discovered that there are in fact lots of advantages to having a moss lawn when I found the website for Annie's company Mountain Moss Enterprises, based in North Carolina, USA. Hardly any…

Party time at Fairlynch Museum

(L-r) Party guests Roger Bass, Pat Lorton, Maryanne Bass and Anthea Downes

Helpers and volunteers at Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch celebrated the spirit of Christmas last Friday 10 December at a party organised by Trustees in gratitude for all the hard work that's done behind the scenes at the museum.

(L-r): Bernadette Hughes, Marie and Gordon Johnson

"The Stewards usually have a party in the summer, but we thought everyone should have a thank you," said Margaret Brett, one of the Fairlynch Trustees. "It was a great success judging by the number of people who turned up on a dark December evening. Thanks must go to our caretaker, Sylvia Merkel, for the excellent food she prepared."

The Friends of Fairlynch support and fund-raise for Fairlynch Museum. New members, at an annual subscription of £10 per member, are most welcome. Please contact Jan Harvey on 01395 444334.

Exeter Bach Society's Christmas concert

Budleigh Salterton resident Nicholas Marshall, Exeter Bach Society's Director of Music, will be the conductor at a charity concert of Christmas Music and Carols in St James's Church, Exeter.

All proceeds from the concert on Thursday 9 December at 7.30 pm will benefit Age Concern Exeter.

St James' Church, on Mount Pleasant Road, is to the north-east of Exeter city centre next to the roundabout where Mount Pleasant Road, Prince Charles Road, Stoke Hill, Union Road and Old Tiverton Road meet.

Tickets at £8 are available by phone from the Age Concern office on 01392 202092 or on the door.

For more information about Exeter Bach Society click on

Brook captures 'Pictures of the Floating World': The Japanese Print Show 2010/2011

'Lightning', by Nana Shiomi

Like the Wise Men in the Christmas story the Brook Gallery has looked east to bring a star of Japanese printmaking to Budleigh Salterton.

"The Brook announces a stunning exhibition of Japanese Prints to round off a superb year of exceptional shows and start the New Year with aplomb - The Japanese Print Show opens on 12 December and runs to 9 January 2011.

Beautifully encapsulated with the phrase, ‘Ukiyo-e,’ which means ‘pictures of the floating world,’ the 18th century school of Japanese printmaking was the forerunner to much that we recognise in printmaking today. The Brook acknowledges this significant influence on modern art, with a contemporary take on Japanese printmaking and woodcuts.

'Moon' by Nana Shiomi

Originally produced purely in black and white, these early Eastern prints were akin to postcards, depicting popular and often theatrical images for home decoration. Lines were bold, shapes emphatic and the drama we celebrate in Japan…

A Step back in Time

Crinoline skirts and fancy waistcoats will be in evidence when ladies and gentlemen of the congregation assemble at the beautifully restored Salem Chapel in East Budleigh for its fifth Victorian Christmas service this year.

"We don't insist on men wearing top hats, and we're certainly not offering any prizes for the best outfit," says Kathy Moyle, Chairman of the Friends of Salem Chapel. "But the service has become quite a popular event and we do our best to decorate the Chapel as it might have appeared in Victorian times, so if people want to come along in period costume they'll be most welcome."

Mulled wine and mince pies will be on offer, with an optional collection being made for the Chapel.

The chapel is available for hire. For further information please contact Kathy Moyle on 01395 445236.

'A Step back in Time' takes place on Sunday 19 December at 4.00 pm.

Dr Mary Hart (1923-2010)

Dr Mary Hart welcomes Hugo Swire MP to Fairlynch Museum

Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum could not operate without the volunteer staff who play a vital role in all aspects of this much-loved institution of the town, from managing the finances to acting as stewards when the building is open to the public.

All those involved with the Museum as well as many residents of the town were sorry to learn of the death at the beginning of this year of Dr Mary Hart, aged 86.

Dr Mary Hart, who died on 12 February, 2010, was born on 25 May 1923 to Albert Ernest and Winifred Maud in Derby where her father, Albert Ernest Sawday, was a General Practitioner. Her father bought a medical practice at Hillside, Crouch End Road in North London. Dr Mary was educated at Channing School, which was evacuated to Ross on Wye during the Second World War. She was then one of a small group of female medical students who trained in London during the latter year of the war. Both within her family and her school …

A fake scam?

I don't intend to post news of every scam I read about, but a Budleigh Salterton friend sent me details of this Postal Scam recently, and it sounds so horrifically clever that I thought I'd pass it on!

"Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching - it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655.

For more information, see the Crime Stoppers website:…

A big issue on both sides of the pond

A recently built five-bedroom detached house at Clyst Hayes Gardens, on Budleigh Salterton's Exmouth Road, priced at £865,000.
Photo image

It was a former resident of Brewster, MA who told me some time ago that the Cape Cod town and Budleigh Salterton were ideally suited as twin communities because of their equally high house prices.

As readers may know, I'm always keen to point out similarities between Budleigh and Brewster but that particular aspect is not generally seen as a positive. In fact our friends across the Atlantic expressed their concerns about it recently at a forum on 3 November which brought together Brewster estate agents, bankers and local officials and volunteers.

Making Brewster affordable for a range of workers was seen as vital by forum participants. “It’s very critical largely because the Cape cost of housing is higher, and wages are lower so service workers can’t afford to buy a p…

Slow progress on speeding signs in Budleigh Salterton

Image credit: Brake

It's now almost 18 months since the 'Please drive slowly through the town' sign at one of the main approaches to Budleigh Salterton was demolished, ironically by a speeding driver. See

As this is Road Safety Week and as residents of Exmouth Road and West Hill have been complaining for years about speeding drivers I thought I'd ask Devon County Councillor and Budleigh resident Christine Channon for some news about a suitable replacement.

After all it was in July this year that Cllr Channon, a member of the Budleigh Salterton Traffic Group reported that she had visited the area with PC Simon Evans and that they had found two good sites for electronic interactive signs which tell speeding drivers to slow down.

One would be placed near Links Road (outbound) and the other could go near Clyst Hayes Gardens (inbound)…

Budleigh Salterton: a quiet little place by the sea?

I spotted the above painting by Exeter-based artist Anna Mazek a few days after visiting the beach at Budleigh where the sea was still raging against the pebbles in the aftermath of a stormy November night. Waves were leaping high into the air in a series of snow-white blizzards as though about to cover the little boats that had been left on the shoreline, then retreating to leave just a few harmless inches of white foam.

Well, that's what seems to be happening in my photo.
Yet only five minutes away from there the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the High Street was calm as only Budleigh can be.

Anna Mazek's painting entitled 'Toward Budleigh' captures some of that mad energy on the beach where, as she writes, the River Exe meets with the Atlantic ocean. at Budleigh Salterton. "Here the oceanic moods are accentuated by a Jurassic coast and world heritage site."

Originally from London, Anna Mazek says that she grew up within a multi cultural society that gr…

A sparkling new co-op on the High Street

It was about this time last year that the sight of a boarded-up shopfront on the High Street got me dreaming of how a creative craftsman or woman might set up a studio and start a trend for shops in Budleigh Salterton where people could see products being made.

An exotic chocolatier might set up his or her business, I suggested, at having learnt about such a development in Budleigh's sister-town of Brewster, Massachusetts.

So it was good to meet an enthusiastic and artistic new arrival who has set up shop on Budleigh's High Street, combining a gallery of intriguing bespoke jewellery with a workshop where he can be seen creating the items.

Jason Jones, pictured above, is one of four members of what he describes as "a jewellery cooperative" which has up to now been based at Otterton Mill where designer Steve Whitford set up his handcrafted jewellery business.

Now the venture has expanded, …

Christmas jollity to look forward to

Christmas decorations appeared weeks or even months ago and I got my first Christmas card in mid-November.

In Budleigh Salterton's Cape Cod sister-town they're gearing up for the Brewster for the Holidays event, a three-day weekend jamboree with its own website promoting a host of activities: concerts, and of course shopping: the Brewster General Store for example is open for three days from 6.30 am to 6.00 pm.

Here in Budleigh Salterton the festive season also starts on Friday 3 December with the Late Night Shopping event organised by the town's Chamber of Commerce. Santa Claus is scheduled to set out on his sleigh from the Public Hall at 6.00 pm and will make his way along the High Street. Children from St Peter's School will be singing carols around the Christmas Tree in Rolle Square and shops will be staying open until 9.00 pm.

Plenty of other entertainments are pr…

The beauty of trees

Ponderosa Pines in the Rocky Mountains
Photo credit: Margaret Wilson

"What's the most beautiful thing in the world?" my uncle asked me.

As we waited for lunch in a hotel dining-room overlooking a London park ablaze with autumn colour, I wondered as a raw and immature 15-year-old what kind of reply he was expecting. "A naked woman?" I thought, tentatively, but of course didn't dare to suggest.

"A tree," he stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

I don't suppose that I displayed any reaction to his stunningly simple answer. But I've always remembered the scene, and I have to admit that trees have grown on me over the half century that has elapsed since that moment.

Michael Wilson has been, as he told us, "inspired by the beauty of trees" since the time he spent working at the University of Washington in Seattle 40 years ago. However it was also their grandeur, and the vastness of the forests that he and his wife Margare…

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

East Devon Green Party co-ordinator Sharon Pavey (third from left) with friends

Her Green Party gained only 1.5% of the East Devon constituency vote in the General Election of 6 May this year, but candidate Sharon Pavey declared that she was "over the moon" with the result, especially as the East Devon Green Party group was set up only in January 2010.

On Saturday 4 December the Greens are holding a Open Mic party to celebrate their first Christmas in East Devon and are keen for both members and non-members to attend. "This is also an opportunity for us to raise much needed funds to enable us to get Green councillors elected at the local elections next May, so we hope you can support the event," says Ms Pavey.

The Greens are hopeful of increasing their future support in East Devon following the dissension in LibDem party ranks after leader Nick Clegg's decision to join the Conervatives' David Cameron in forming a coalition government.

Ms Pavey believes that som…

Coffee Morning for Budleigh Hospital

Budleigh Salterton's NHS Hospital continues to benefit from improvements helped by much community fund-raising as I wrote last year at

This year's annual fete organised by Budleigh Salterton Hospital's League of Friends raised £1836 for refurbishment of the Cowdry Ward. In the recent National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) inspections, Budleigh Salterton Hospital was judged to be ‘excellent’ for environment and cleanliness and was given an ‘excellent’ rating for the food served there.

The League of Friends is holding a coffee morning at 10.00 am on Saturday 20 November in the Peter Hall, behind St Peter's Church. There will be a white elephant stall, cakes and preserves, Christmas cards, books and raffles. Coffee and biscuits will be available.

Absurdly singular persons on stage

"I know that tartan skirt" I thought, on seeing the Salterton Drama Club's webpage about their next production at And sure enough, the name of Jenny Roberts on the cast list of Alan Ayckbourn's play Absurd Person Singular was familiar, as was that of her co-star Simon Blissett.

Not long after moving to the area I'd met this pair of what I imagined to be typical Budleigh Salterton eccentrics ready to make fools of themselves by raising money for charity on Comic Relief Day as described at

Since then I've realised that both are simply regular Drama Club members who enjoy making audiences laugh, whether on Budleigh Salterton High Street or in their Salterton Playhouse hidden down an alleyway off Station Road.

The three-act Ayckbourn comedy which made its London début in 1972 was last staged by the Salterton Drama Club ten years ago. Th…