Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Taj Mahal, Budleigh Salterton

[I'm not really into writing restaurant reviews, but the following appeared on my Exmouth Roadies blog last year http://exmouthroadies.blogspot.com/2009/03/taj-mahal.html
I thought it might be a useful piece of text to accompany the photo on my Budleigh Salterton Food & Drink Flikr collection which I started recently at http://www.flickr.com/photos/michael2010/ So more food reviews might follow depending on cash-flow and causes to celebrate by eating out.]

Taj Mahal cooks spice up Budleigh at the Tantalising Tastes of Asia event in May 2008.
Photo credit: Ray Ambrose of Randa Creative

Indian cuisine is something that many Budleigh residents know quite a bit about thanks to last year’s popular Tantalising Tastes of Asia presentation by the town’s Taj Mahal restaurant during the May Gala Week.

The family-owned Taj Mahal in the High Street gets very busy at the weekend and during the summer so we chose a quieter weekday evening last night not only to enjoy the meal but to discuss the different dishes with the experts.

I never remember which Indian dish I tried last, and always want to try something new, so on this occasion went for the Chef’s Special Treat, a delicious combination of chicken tikka, lamb tikka and tandoori king prawns, with mango and pineapple mixed in with ground cashew nuts, butter, honey and tomatoes. “Sinful pleasures abound in every mouthful,” as the menu warns customers. My friend Annie by contrast chose her usual tandoori chicken, which I think she always goes for because it invariably arrives at the table in that spectacular sizzling fashion. And of course she says it never disappoints.

Above: (l-r) Taj Mahal staff Tusha and Russel

The Taj Mahal specialises in Bangladeshi and Indian dishes based on lamb, chicken or fish, but offers a wide variety to suit all tastes, including vegetarian. The restaurant is fully licensed and offers an excellent wine list, from which we chose a good claret. Our waiter Tusha and his colleague Russel were welcoming, helpful and informative. Both have worked in city-based restaurants throughout the UK and appreciate Budleigh because of its quiet charm and the friendly customers.

It’s great to have a restaurant which is open every day until late in the evening, serving excellent food at moderate prices. Our meal came to just under £40, including a bottle of wine.

Tel: 01395 446097
Taj Mahal
1b High Street
Budleigh Salterton

Roadworks may not work for worried Brewster traders

Budleigh Salterton High Street during last year's renewal of the town's water mains

[It's been only a year since Budleigh Salterton's Chamber of Commerce was awarded a £3,000 pay-out by South West Water after traders complained that weeks of road excavations and traffic diversions had caused a slump in their profits. Half of the money was used to ensure that free three-hour parking for shoppers would be available at the Rolle Car Park in the High Street. The remainder paid for advertising in the local press and on radio, to get the message across that the town was back in business.

I'm reminded of this by reports from across the Atlantic, where the timing of roadworks in Brewster to improve the main Route 6A artery through the town is causing anxiety.

Budleigh Salterton and Brewster, our sister-town on Cape Cod, are both highly dependent on seasonal trade as far as local businesses are concerned.]


Brewster businesses concerned about impact of Route 6A work
By Rich Eldred

The Drummer Boy windmill: one of Route 6A's best-known landmarks Photo by Byron Cain
Brewster will be spending $1.4 million of stimulus money to upgrade the culvert that carries Paines Creek under Route 6A but some businesses are worried about what the five- to six-weeks project will do to their shoulder season.

Specific dates for the work haven’t been set.

“It would be done right after Labor Day. It could be September. It could be October,” said Town Administrator Charles Sumner. “It depends on the bid and mobilization issues with the contractor. It depends on the contractor.”

“Originally it was supposed to be after Columbus Day,” said Robert Bugle who owns the Blue Skyes Guest House. (They may) up the time to Sept. 15, which, anybody who is in business on Route 6A knows, those are the best three weeks of the fall.”

Bugle also chairs the planning board and noted they “haven’t been consulted” since the road is a state highway and out of their jurisdiction.

The bridge over Paines Creek will be shut down while work is done so a detour is required. Eastbound traffic will be diverted down A.P. Newcomb Road, to Satucket Road, to Stony Brook Road and back out onto Route 6A. Westbound will travel the same route in the other direction.

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster
The concern is that through traffic will miss assorted antiques shops, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Luke’s Liquor plaza, Lemon Tree Village shops and other shops and businesses. One-way traffic will be allowed in and out since people live in the area so drivers will be able to go to the shops.

“Tourists aren’t going to be coming through here,” Bugle said. “An awful lot of things are going on then.”

Bugle was concerned work would start Sept. 15 and contracts would be signed before people had a chance to weigh in but there will be a informational hearing on the issue. One was scheduled for last Wednesday but it was canceled due to the potential blizzard.

The new hearing, held by Sumner, Police Chief Richard Koch and the chamber of commerce, will be held Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Cape Catholic Church on Stony Brook Road.

Brewster Paines Creek Marsh
Photo by Byron Cain

“Look what happened at the (Sagamore) Bridge,” Bugle noted. “Nobody came down. After Columbus Day business slows down but people are depending on these three weeks (before Columbus Day).

“In an ideal situation, we would do it in the middle of the winter,” Sumner conceded. “We can’t do it in the spring because of the herring run. We can’t do it in the summer because it’s the busiest time of the year. We have to do it in the fall. We have contacted a number of the businesses and that is the reason we want an informational hearing.”

The work will improve water flow into the Paines Creek marsh, aid the herring run and deal with some storm water issues.

Reprinted with permission from http://www.wickedlocal.com/

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

What allota style for a scarecrow!

Growing your own veg is the smart thing to do nowadays, so a designer scarecrow is only to be expected here at Budleigh Salterton's Allotment Gardens in Greenway Lane.

The allotments, run by the Town Council, have proved so popular that there is a waiting list: 55 names had been registered at the last count in July 2009. There are currently 14 full plots and 42 half plots, and enquiries are being made to rent additional land.

If you're interested in joining the waiting list, call at the Town Council offices in Station Road. A rent increase came into effect from 1 January 2010, meaning that allotment holders now pay £43.50 for a full plot and £21.75 for a half plot. So it's not a free facility, but as Cllr Tom Wright, Chairman of the Allotments Committee, points out, growers can enjoy "a healthy pastime, community spirit and the rewards of their labours in high quality fresh produce."

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sixty+ voices for Africa

Budleigh Salterton's celebrated Male Voice Choir will be singing to raise funds for a Gambian village on 6 March. The Choir's logo on its website evokes the Victorian artist Sir John Millais' famous work 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' painted during his stay in Budleigh in 1870
The villages of Woodbury and Woodbury Salterton just a few miles north of Budleigh Salterton may be a little off the beaten track, but nobody could accuse them of being inward-looking. Not only does Woodbury have a French twin in Bretteville-sur-Odon, Normandy, but both Devon villages have strong links with communities in Africa and are heavily involved with fund-raising events for charity projects there.

Woodbury is planning 'A Gig for Africa' in its Village Hall on Friday 12 March, with great American and UK acoustic music, supporting a remote clinic in West Kenya where a local resident regularly works as a nurse. The event will additionally benefit the Jonah Home for Children & Hope House Refuge for Kids in Namibia, which is also supported by Woodbury residents. Details of these events are on the brilliant Woodbury website http://www.woodburydevon.co.uk/

But before then there is another event involving a Budleigh-based group. Woodbury Salterton is even smaller than Woodbury but it's got a big heart where the Gambian village of Dumbutu is concerned. For the past 20 years its Aid Link with the African community has been providing funds, materials and sponsorship to promote self-help projects in Dumbutu. Currently this involves sending woodwork and other tools, sewing machines and bicycles, helping extend the use of the multipurpose centre and health care projects. It's also sponsoring about 100 children through school, which costs around £20/£25 a child.

Seen here on a Gambian visit to Salterton in 1994 are Gambians Kawsa Demba, Essa Drammeh and Nyima Darbo, with residents John and Margaret Pickering, Dr Hugh and Mrs Powell, Liz Appleton and Christine Bricknell. Information courtesy of Roger Stokes.

On Saturday 6 March 2010 at Tower Street Methodist Church, Exmouth at 7.30pm Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir will be performing in a charity concert to raise funds for Dumbutu. The 60-strong group sings in 12 to 15 concerts a year, all for the benefit of local and national charities, often raising at least £10,000 in a single year. The Choir is rightly proud of the naturally warm and beautiful sound it produces, rating it as one of the best choirs in the West Country. It has recently appointed Stephen Connelly, long term member of the King's Singers, to lead it in some vocal coaching workshops. Tickets at £6 from Ann Hunt on 01395 232114 or Leo at 01395 268820 from choir members or at the door.

More information about the Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir is at http://www.budleighmvc.co.uk/

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

It's good to see that Salterton Drama Club's 2010 schedule includes a production of Present Laughter by Noel Coward. That proves that Budleigh is more than capable of laughing off the author's mocking words about its image in his play Blithe Spirit, evoked in places like http://www.devonperspectives.co.uk/budleigh_salterton.html

Anyway that's just one of the four productions for 2010 planned by Budleigh Salterton's own group of enthusiastic thespians who operate from their little Playhouse tucked away down an alleyway off Station Road. It may look like a prefab classroom from the outside but it's got a friendly intimate and unpretentious atmosphere all of its own, and is loyally supported by audiences drawn from the town and from further afield.

The season opens with a week-long performance of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, running from Monday 1 - Saturday 6 March 2010. This is as the website says, "a witty comedy by Constance Cox, based on the short story by Oscar Wilde, and set in the Edwardian period."

A synopsis: "After Lord Arthur has had his palm read by a well-respected chiromantist, Mr Podgers, who tells him he is destined to commit a murder, he feels duty bound to get it over with before his forthcoming marriage to the lovely Sybil Merton. However, despite being aided by the notorious anarchist Herr Winkelkopf, his attempts at homicide prove entirely futile. It later emerges that Podgers is a charlatan, and so Arthur is released from the need to commit the crime. However, on his way to the wedding rehearsal he finds that the carriage contains Winkelkopf's newest bomb."

The director is Fay Hamilton.

The Cast:

Baines, the butler - David Wilkes
Lord Arthur Savile - Sam Pike
Sybil Merton, his fiancée - Charlotte Gould-Smith
The Dean of Paddington, his uncle - Alan Frost
Lady Windermere, his aunt - Jenny Roberts
Lady Clementine, his great aunt - Pam Terry
Lady Julia Merton, Sybil's mother - Pat Cowey
Mr Podgers, a chiromantist - David Holt
Nellie, the maid - Dianne Nicholls
Herr Winkelkopf, an anarchist - Richard Gomm

All performances start at 7.30 pm.
Tickets for all performances are priced at £7.00 each.

Tickets available from:
Budleigh Salterton Tourist Information Centre
Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton EX9 6NG
Office open: Monday to Saturday 10.00 to 16.30hrs
Tel: 01395 445275

The other 2010 productions are as follows:

Monday 7 - Saturday 12 June
'Present Laughter' by Noel Coward
Directed by Richard Gomm

Monday 6 - Saturday 11 September
'Outside Edge' by Richard Harris
Directed by Lynn Leger

Monday 22 - Saturday 27 November
'Absurd Person Singular' by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Wendy Gomm

Cast photos from http://www.saltertondrama.co.uk/ where there is more information about the Salterton Drama Club.
Photo of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony from http://commons.wikimedia.org/

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Doubly cross ticks - I hope!

For the second year running local gardeners may have been dismayed by the unusually hard frosts that Budleigh Salterton has experienced.

But pets and their owners should be pleased that the icy weather will have helped to see off many of the pests and parasites which can turn a pleasant summer's day walk in the woods into an annoying and even dangerous experience.

Ticks are one of the main culprits.

I'm moved to warn people yet again about these unpleasant creatures having just read the worrying account of his experience of Lyme disease by Times journalist Alex Wade.


Alex was brought up in the Budleigh area. I met him by chance on the beach here during the pebble-building competition last year, and he was kind enough to write a piece about my blog in his Times 'Coaster' column at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/outdoors/article6582488.eceine.co.uk/tol/travel/outdoors/article6582488.ece

The flood of online comments and letters from fellow-Lyme disease sufferers that he received following the account of his own illness is disturbing proof that the disease needs to receive more attention than it currently does. In America, incidentally, it is very big indeed, as I reported earlier on this site.

'Oh dear! A charming visitor to the garden, I thought at first, but then realised it was probably tick-infested. And it did a lot of damage to the plants as well.'

In recent years there has been a significant increase in cases of Lyme disease in the UK, from under 200 in 1997 to 768 in 2006. According to Lyme Disease Action the Health Protection Agency (HPA) acknowledges that confirmed cases do not necessarily reflect all the cases of the disease. HPA official estimates suggest there could be up to 3,000 new cases occurring in the UK every year. The true number of cases is not known, and may be higher still since full recovery may not take place in many cases.


The rise has been blamed on the growing number of infected ticks carrying the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by some types of ticks which live on sheep, deer, badgers and other warm blooded animals in forested, heathland and moorland areas.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire has been at the forefront of a campaign to draw attention to the problem and organised a one-day seminar at the House of Commons in November 2008.

Most people become aware of the blood-sucking parasites when they discover that their pet cat or dog has an unexpected lump which turns out to be an engorged tick. The pests can be easily removed with a tick hook, available at veterinary practices, but it is important to remove the entire tick including the head. When they do bite humans, it can come as a shock, especially when you discover them embedded in unexpected and sometimes embarrassing places on the body.

A bite followed by a bullseye rash is generally taken to be a warning sign of possible Lyme disease infection, and Lyme Disease Action recommends photographing the affected spot. But not everyone shares this view.


Hopefully we will see fewer of these annoying creatures in 2010. Last year local vet Chris Ridge of Raddenstiles Veterinary Centre on Salterton Road reported that in the previous relatively mild winter he had been removing ticks regularly from animals. "I have not personally done one in the last few months,” he said. “I would say the frosts will be of benefit in reducing the impact of ticks and other arthropod parasites where the reservoir of infection is outside the home.”

Unfortunately the cold winter will not have seen off all parasites, warns Chris Ridge. “Those that breed and reside in our homes – primarily the ever present flea – tend to benefit as we turn the central heating up so that our carpets and flooring have the microclimate of the African Savannah.” http://www.raddenstiles.co.uk/

Meanwhile I will carry on doing my bit to combat the tick menace by supporting
the Clinton Venison stall at Budleigh Farmers Market.

If you'd like to help reduce the deer population contact Estate Ranger Tom Garner for the latest prices and availability of vension.

Telephone 01395 441142

The page carries the worrying note that all the ticks appearing on that page were collected in Devon!
Alex Wade's blog, entitled 'A surfer's battle to beat cervical myelopathy and Lyme disease and surf again' is at http://www.surfnation.co.uk/

Monday, 8 February 2010

A sunny outlook for 'green' powered homes

Benefiting as we do in Budleigh from all that sunshine, you'd think that most houses would take advantage of solar power installations to reduce their energy bills.

In fact the town's estate agents will tell you that solar panels are rarely mentioned as a feature in their house sales.

That situation is likely to change. James Whiting, whose family moved to the town in 1982 is a regular visitor to Budleigh, and as Managing Director of Friends of the Earth has played a major role since 2008 in persuading the Government to introduce a feed-in tariff (FiT) - or Clean Energy Cashback, as it is known.
It means that along with the rest of Europe, the UK will offer financial incentives from April 2010 to those who generate low carbon electricity from renewable energy resources such as small wind turbines and solar panels.

James Whiting and Friends of the Earth are among those who feel that Britain needs to go much further in this 'green' direction.
The cash payments that will be made to homes, businesses and communities for generating 'green' electricity - announced on 1February by climate secretary Ed Miliband - are lacking in ambition, says the environmental campaign group in a statement. http://www.foe.co.uk/

FoE, which led the campaign for a feed-in tariff, believes that the payment levels should have been set to produce a 10 per cent return on investment instead of the five to eight per cent return that has been agreed.

Although the Government announced some welcome improvements to its feed-in tariff proposals (such as increasing tariff payments with inflation), the scheme is still predicted to contribute just two per cent of UK electricity by 2020, despite research which shows that the scheme could generate three times as much with increased tariff payments.

Green energy: the way forward to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels
Exmouth's Jonathan Davis – a professional energy consultant and member of Transition Town Exmouth’s Energy Group – is nonetheless hopeful that more households will be tempted to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by investigating green energy sources.

"With the new energy feed-in tariff due in April, there’s no better time to install solar
electric panels or small wind turbines and start generating your own power," he will say in a presentation to local residents, echoing the message heard by those who attended Budleigh's first science festival on 5 February http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2010/01/hot-topic-in-february.html

So what are the implications of the new tariff for consumers? What does the Government hope to achieve from it? And how can you capitalize from it? Jonathan Davis will have the answers when he hosts an informal and informative presentation about solar energy – and the new tariff – at Exmouth Community College's Telfer Centre on Monday 22 February 2010.

"It will be an interesting evening that will explain FiT to the uninitiated," says Jonathan. "As the landscape of domestic renewable energy installations changes, so new opportunities and incentives arise. The new tariff could offer a better return on your investment than a savings account, with guaranteed payments for 25 years for all the electricity you generate – even if you use it yourself! Even a modest domestic installation will turn a significant profit over the life of the scheme. We will also take a look at the groundbreaking solar heat tariff proposed for next year. So come along and find out what you could be doing, how you could start it and why
doing nothing will become increasingly expensive."

Jonathan’s talk – “Money for watts? Renewable energy and the new domestic feed-in tariff explained” – is at the Telfer Suite, Exmouth Community College (Gipsy Lane site) on Monday 22 February, 7.30-9.30 pm. The evening also features a beginners’ guide to funding. Admission is £3 and includes tea and biscuits. All proceeds go to Transition Town Exmouth.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Sole Sister on Cape Cod?

Exeter, Exmouth, Otterton, Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary... What do they all have in common apart from being in East Devon? The answer is that they are all officially twinned with towns or villages abroad.

Most of the 'twinned' Devon communities have been linked to partners in France, although Sidmouth has a Swiss twin and Ottery chose Otari in Japan.

Yet it's on the other side of the Atlantic that our county has the strongest historic connections, based on the voyages across the pond made famous by Sir Walter Raleigh (c.1552-1618) and Roger Conant (c. 1592–1679), founder of the city of Salem, Massachusetts, and of course by the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower in 1620.
No surprise then that Plymouth and Barnstaple have official twinning links with their namesakes on Cape Cod.

The photo shows Sir Walter Raleigh's statue in East Budleigh, his birthplace. I lent him the Stars & Stripes for Independence Day.

It was one of the Pilgrim Fathers, Elder William Brewster (c. 1566 -1644), seen here, who gave his name to a Massachusetts community with which Budleigh Salterton has a special link.

Thanks to an initiative led by two American visitors to Devon, Janine Getek and Joan Orr, our community was proposed in May 2001 as the sister-town of Brewster, Massachusetts.

Located 65 miles directly south-east of Boston, the Cape Cod town is bigger than its UK relative but shares many characteristics with Budleigh apart from its coastal situation.

Brewster is notable as an historic sea captains’ town, boasting many architecturally distinctive and splendidly preserved houses, and situated in a noted conservation area.
Stony Brook with the grist mill, Brewster
Photo by Byron Cain

The picture of our famous beach on the Brewster Chamber of Commerce website inspired me to investigate further what had happened to this attempt at a special relationship. Early enthusiasm for twinning was noted at the time by newspapers like The Cape Codder and The Cape Cod Times, reporting that more than 500 Brewster citizens had voted for the idea and had "unanimously approved the symbolic joining of the two towns."

But no official recognition ever took place and in time the idea fell by the wayside. The tragedy of the Twin Towers in September that year put paid temporarily to transatlantic air travel, and the link between Budleigh Salterton and Brewster became for most people a distant memory, revived only by occasional references to it on the internet.

Many Budleigh residents, including the Town Council, have welcomed the revival of the connection as "a good idea." East Devon Councillor Ray Franklin "could not think of a better part of the USA to link up with" and Devon County Councillor Christine Channon found Brewster "a delightful town" when she visited New England in 2007.

Brewster's Paines Creek in winter
Photo by Byron Cain

The distance involved means that a traditional twinning arrangement based on regular group travel would be too expensive for most people. But I hope that we will see the occasional Cape Cod visitor drawn to discover more about the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh and Roger Conant. "It would be wonderful to welcome guests from the USA," says Budleigh’s Jane Crosse, who runs a thriving bed and breakfast business at Simcoe House on Fore Street Hill. http://simcoehouse.co.uk/

For those residents of both communities who would like to keep in touch with their transatlantic cousins I set up a community news website. It's been a quick way of learning about the local area since my wife Anthea and I moved here two years ago, and it's been interesting to discover the similarities - historical, cultural and environmental - which we share with our neighbours across the pond. The website is enjoyed by readers with internet access on both sides of the Atlantic and was the subject of a feature in June last year by Times journalist Alex Wade http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/outdoors/article6582488.ece

It's even read in Transylvania thanks to the link that Brewster First Parish (Unitarian Universalist) Church has had with the Romanian Jobbagyfalva Unitarian Church since 1989.
Pictured is Brewster by the sea, one of the town's many inns providing accommodation for visitors.

With over 15 bed and breakfast inns and more than 30 art galleries, craft shops and antique shops, Brewster is a popular holiday destination for Americans and Budleigh visitors can be assured of a warm welcome. Meanwhile the internet is a wonderful and free resource for looking outside our community and into another continent to see how "they do things differently there." The exchange of ideas among those involved in running our various businesses, clubs, museums, theatres and festivals is a valuable resource which can benefit an entire community.

“An internet based version of twinning sounds an interesting idea,” commented Geoff Beech, Secretary of Exmouth Twinning Association. “It could even be described as a ‘green’ version, which may become more relevant in the not too distant future!”

If you would like to be kept informed of progress on the revival of the Budleigh-Brewster link, please contact me on 01395 446407 or email mr.downes@gmail.com

A slightly amended version of this post has been published in the February 2010 issue of Budleigh Salterton St Peter's Church newsletter http://www.stpeterbs.org.uk/

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Illuminating a dark period in US history

I see that a former resident of Budleigh Salterton's sister-town on Cape Cod has been involved in an interesting cinematic project which has brought back wartime memories for me.

Not that I am a WW2 veteran or anything like that. But, born in 1946, I do feel that the war had a tremendous impact on our generation in terms of the damage that it did to our parents' generation.

Yet it also brought positive benefits in terms of appreciating the evil that humans are capable of, as well as admiring their heroism.

So, back in 1995, I wrote a book, Oundle's War, which reflected those thoughts as well as tracing the history of a small Northamptonshire town in the east of England between 1939 and 1945.

The book was very popular in the area and was printed again in November 2009. All profits went to the Royal British Legion, which pleased people like Roger Bass (on the left in the picture), vice chairman of the RBL here in Budleigh.

The chapters of Oundle's War focused on different aspects of the conflict: beginnings, the town of Oundle in wartime, active service, prisoners of war and so on. There was also a chapter entitled 'Friends and Allies' which included the contribution to the war effort made by the Poles, but chiefly the Americans.

The Eighth USAAF, 'The Mighty Eighth' as it was known, was based mainly in the flat lands of Eastern England. Oundle was surrounded by airfields, and for its wartime residents the base at Polebrook was the subject of much interest, not just because of the impressive Flying Fortress B17 bombers which regularly filled the skies above the Oundle church spire, but because Clark Gable was serving there as an air-gunner.
The Hollywood star, pictured here with two pleased-looking Oundle girls, had recently finished filming 'Gone with the Wind', and I found many Oundle people who told me stories about him, not all of them printable.

The town's residents could not have been fully aware of the immense sacrifice that the Americans of Polebrook's 351st Bomb Group were making. More than 46,000 members of the USAAF lost their lives between July 1942 and April 1945. During the 311 missions which were flown from Polebrook, 175 aircraft were lost along with their crews.

"I don't think we realised how much we owed the Americans," I was told by Dame Miriam Rothschild, who lived in the nearby village of Ashton.

"They were incredibly brave, incredibly tough, incredibly dedicated, and I don't know what would have happened here if we hadn't had the American Air Force stationed at Polebrook and the various other places from where they operated. We must always be grateful."

As well as being a remarkably gifted naturalist she was Jewish of course.

One thing which did strike me as I researched documents and photos for the chapter about the tragic history of Polebrook Airfield was that the faces of its residents and aircrews seemed to be universally white.

Picture: One of the 351st Bomb Group aircrews based at Polebrook

Sixty years after those events, still preoccupied by stories of WW2, I helped stage a millennial event in the town of Oundle where 200 British and American veterans were welcomed. It was a memorable and emotional event which included an RAF Harrier flypast, an aerobatics display, a Vera Lynn lookalike singer, a keynote address by Sir Howard Stringer - former pupil of Oundle School and currently Chairman, President and CEO of the Sony Corporation - and a surprise lunch for members of the 351st Bomb Group and their families who had come over to the UK.

Lovely people, a fantastic atmosphere... I set up an archive site where you can see photos of the event. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=67961223366&ref=search&sid=573475659.155201897..1#!/group.php?v=info&ref=search&gid=67961223366
But again, not a single black face among our guests.

Since then I've learnt about the racial segregation in their armed forces which was accepted by most Americans during World War Two.
See http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/WW2/US%20apartheid.htm

So Jack Sherman, brought up in Brewster but now living in Los Angeles, has done us all a service through his work as film editor of 'For Love Of Liberty,' a two-part documentary on the history of America's black soldiers. The first part of the film was shown on TV last Monday 1 February to mark the US's Black History Month. Hosted by Halle Berry and introduced by Colin Powell, the work is a four-hour story of the black soldiers who fought in every conflict in American history, and took a decade to make.
There is more information about it at http://www.forloveofliberty.org/

Monday, 1 February 2010

A ray of exotic sunshine to brighten an English winter

[Budleigh Salterton's Brook Gallery sensibly decided that Mediterranean colours were just the thing to take the chill out of one of the iciest seasons that Devon has experienced in recent years.]

Winner of ‘The Brook Gallery Prize Award’ for artistic innovation at the renowned Originals’ 09 show in London, the Spanish artist Herme Bellido has put together a unique collection for the Brook’s February exhibition.

Above: Medersa 1 by Herme Bellido

Bahia Palace Screenprint on paper
Entitled ‘Nothing has been Written’ 14 February to 7 March, the work combines her skills in colour and print in a series of screen prints that relates to the journey of life, which as Herme herself says, ‘engages the viewer in a silent conversation.’

Working with a myriad of media, Herme brings together her respect of and reliance on colour in a selection of exquisite work that documents her recent travels in Morocco. Her colours are influenced by the subject matter and muted by her life in England; with the vibrancy of Spain translated into form, these colours and shadows reveal small details which hint at the exotic. Where the journey of life is affected by tradition and religion, the narrative of the work is haunting and subtle.

Born in Seville, Herme now lives in London. Married to the English landscape painter David Bachmann, Herme attended the University of Fine Art in Seville, one of the few remaining traditional art colleges in Spain.
Following three years' teaching Lithography at the University, Herme was inspired to follow her first love of colour and photography, and screen printing combined these elements to help her continue a career in art.

The Journey Mixed media on canvas
With inclusion at London’s Mall Galleries and the Royal College of Art; The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle; Universo Femenino, Jaen and Galeria Nuevoarte, Seville, Spain, among others, Herme also lists a number of awards. In addition to the Brook’s Award last year, Herme has been honoured with First Prize in the Graphic Design Campaign at the University of Seville and Commendations from the International Printing Competition of Alcala de Guadaira, Seville.

Herme will join Angela Yarwood and the team at the Brook for a private view on Saturday 13 February, 5.00 pm–8.00 pm.
Herme Bellido ‘Nothing has been Written’ at the Brook
Exhibition: 14 February to 7 March 2010
Open 10.30 am to 5.00 pm, closed Sunday mornings
Brook Gallery, Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton, Devon, EX9 6NE
Call 01395 443 003 or email info@brookgallery.co.uk
For more information about the Brook Gallery see http://www.brookgallery.co.uk/