Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Bicton 2011 Calendar Photo Competition

My photo doesn't really do justice to the rhododendrons at Bicton. I'm sure you can do better

Bicton Park, just a few miles north-east of Budleigh Salterton, is one of my favourite places to visit. Its botanical gardens containing over 1,000 specimen trees and laid out to designs which include 18th century Italian and 19th century American influences are a real treat not only for keen horticulturalists but also for photographers.

The deadline of 31 May 2010 is now approaching for Bicton's 2011 Calendar Photo Competition. So if you're a keen photographer you're invited to submit your photos - a maximum of three per person - for entry into the competition.

A winner will be selected for each month and for the front cover of the calendar, and you are asked to suggest a proposed caption with each photo and email these along with your name, address and telephone number to (Max 8MB).

The winners, as well as having their photo or photos featured in Bicton Park's 2011 calendar, will receive a £20 Bicton shop voucher for each photo selected.
A list of winners will be featured in the 2010 Autumn/Winter Newsletter.

For more details click on

Monday, 17 May 2010

In a Heartbeat at Budleigh Salterton Gala Week

Last year at Budleigh's Gala Week I thought I'd come under the spell of what I thought was a blue witch. Too late I realised that Sam Cochrane, pictured above, was actually dressed in period costume advertising a medieval dance in Knowle Village Hall to raise funds for In a Heartbeat, Budleigh's own charity.

Kind-hearted volunteers like Sam are among the busy and enthusiastic people of In a Heartbeat who help disabled children and others less fortunate than ourselves, and they'll no doubt be there with their eye-catching activities during the 2010 Budleigh Salterton Gala Week. The charity was formed in October 2007 and aims to make a difference in the local community.

On Saturday 29 May In a Heartbeat will have a beer tent on The Green along with children’s games, sweets and face painting.

Then a week later on Saturday 5 June In a Heartbeat has organised a performance of Circus Berzercus in the Public Hall.

Exeter based juggler Ben Cornish and clown Steve Eldridge, shown above, have toured their comedy circus shows and workshops all over the country and now come to Budleigh Salterton again to perform ‘Funny Business’, a sequel to the hit show ‘A Komedy of Errors’ that they performed last year.

"Gerald, despite misgivings, has decided to take on Wallace, the hapless circus trainee, as a permanent juggling partner," explain the organisers. "Has he made a mistake?"

An enthralled audience in Budleigh Salterton's Public Hall watches Circus Berzercus during the 2009 Gala Week

"Expect a show full of hilarious misunderstandings, a fantastic new illusion and a magical ‘glow in the dark’ section.

Please come and join us for a fun filled evening – kids will love it but beware, so will the adults!"

Tickets priced £2.50 will be sold on or before the day from IMAS, Independent Mortgage Advisory Service, 1 Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton. Tel: 01395 446802

The event is organised, sponsored and fully funded by IMAS, Independent Mortgage Advisory Service Ltd. All proceeds are in aid of ‘Goody Boxes’, a part of the ‘In a Heartbeat’ charity.

Photographs of Circus Berzercus supplied courtesy of Randa Creative
For more information about Circus Berzercus click on
In a Heartbeat's website is at

East Budleigh's Salem Chapel Flower Festival 28-31 May 2010

Nostalgia and gratitude will set the tone for East Budleigh's Salem Chapel Flower Festival, evoking memories of the World War Two era combined with the beauty of Britain's landscapes.

"'This green and pleasant land' will be the main theme of the Festival," says Kathy Moyle, Chairman of the Committee of the Friends of Salem Chapel. "But we wanted also to say a thank you to our service men and women then and now."

The Flower Festival has been arranged to feature life in the 1940s, with floral displays on themes including a wartime wedding, remembrance time, school life and harvest time.

An evening of songs and music from the Home Front, performed by Exmouth-based entertainers Blitz and Peaces (pictured above), will be a highlight of the Festival on Saturday 29 May at 7.30 pm. Singing duo Arthur and Lesley Cook specialise in providing music of the 1930s and 40s, playing on wartime instruments. A washing line hanging across the Salem Chapel will be one of the props to accompany their performance of one of the most famous songs of the era. "The music summed up the period by its romantic and humorous content," say Arthur and Lesley. "The attitude of the whole nation was one of patriotism and community." Just what we need in today's troubled times!

Tickets for the concert are £5 at the door or obtainable by phone on 01395 445236. Entry to the Flower Festival is free, but donations are welcome. The Chapel will be open from 11.00 am - 4.00 pm. Proceeds from the event are going to the Salem Chapel Fund for maintenance of this historic building.

Arthur Cook's book about Exmouth during World War Two will be published in November 2010. For more information about Blitz and Peaces click on

Gearing up for Gala Week 2010

One of the proud contestants in the 2009 pebble-building competition

The busy members of Budleigh Salterton Lions Club and their friends have been hard at work preparing for the town's Gala Week which starts in a few weeks' time.

A treasure hunt, dog show, beach fishing and fancy dress competitions, a pudding evening, a walking tour of the town, an Indian cookery demonstration, a pirates' party night, and comedy circus and magic shows are just some of the events that are being organised.

Many Budleigh clubs and societies will be holding Open Days to show off their members' skills and invite people to join, including the Art Club, the Croquet and Bowls Clubs and Budleigh in Bloom.

The Salterton Drama Club presents a Gala Performance of Noel Coward's Present Laughter at The Playhouse in Meadow Lane, Budleigh Salterton on Saturday 5 June, with additional performances on 7 and 12 June.

An early highlight of Gala Week will be the Crowning of the Gala King and Queen at 2.00 pm on The Green, including this year for the first time the coronation of a glamorous Gala Granny.

Also new in Gala Week 2010 is the 'Budleigh's Got Talent' show on Sunday 30 May at 7.30 pm in the Public Hall, raising funds for the Children's Hospice South West

I really enjoyed the pebble-building competition in previous years and hope that participants and organisers will be blessed with fine weather for this popular attraction.

And finally a there's a family fun run on Sunday 6 June for those who've got the energy after this eventful week. But it is only a mile, "up over the hill and back along the seafront."

Budleigh Salterton's Gala Week runs from Saturday 29 May to Sunday 6 June. For further details click on

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Budleigh Festival tickets on sale

Tickets for Budleigh Salterton's sixth Festival of Music and the Arts are on sale to the public from Monday 17 May at the Tourist Information Centre.

Supported by Michelmores Solicitors the Festival begins on 17 July before the full programme of 23 - 31 July 2010 offering a wide variety of performers and events.

Its many highlights include the famous King's Singers, Verdi's opera La Traviata, two orchestral concerts and the London Adventist Chorale.

There are the combined 120 voices of the Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir and the Caldicot Choir from Wales who will give the opening concert on 17 July. They are followed a few days later by guitarist Craig Ogden with flautist Judith Hall.

The French pianist Pascale Rogé gives a recital and plays duets with Ami Rogé, and the Chilingirian Quartet will perform a varied programme which includes Beethoven's Opus 130. Also performing in the Festival is internationally-celebrated British pianist Mark Bebbington who is making a welcome return to Budleigh.

Of the two orchestral concerts the first, including two Mozart Concertos is followed at the end of the week by Orchestra, Chorus, the Devon County Junior Choir and James Gilchrist in a performance of Britten's St Nicolas Mass.

More information about the Festival is at The Box Office can be contacted on 01395 445275

And callers at the Tourist Information Centre will be pleased with its spring makeover, which I think with the widened counter has given the place a definitely more user-friendly look.

Above: From behind their newly refurbished counter at Budleigh's TIC in Fore Street staff Diane Nicholls, left, and Chris Hagger, help a local music-lover

Telling the tale of the telegraph at Brewster Ladies' Library

The French Cable Station Museum, Orleans
Picture credit:

A French flag hangs outside this old 19th century building in the town of Orleans, just a few miles east of Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster on Cape Cod. It's not just because the Cape Cod town of Orleans was named after the ancient French city. The flag reminds visitors that this building, completed in 1891 was the American termination point for a telegraph cable that came directly to the United States from France. It was installed in 1898 and was almost 3,200 miles long.

Click on and you can read the full story of the French telegraph and the Orleans cable station, which has been preserved as one of just three such marine telegraph stations remaining around the world. The others are in Newfoundland, and Porthcurno in Cornwall

On 18 May 2010 museum volunteer and retired electrical engineer Joseph Manas will present a talk at Brewster Ladies' Library on the history of the Transatlantic Telegraph and the French Cable Station, and show a short video produced by the Orleans museum. Mr Manas is keen to educate a whole younger generation about the importance of these pioneers of telegraphy, forerunners of electronic communication and the internet.

One day, perhaps, Budleigh Salterton will devote a corner of its Fairlynch museum to one of the town's famous former residents who played his own heroic part in the story of telegraphy.

Vice-Admiral William George Preedy, who settled in retirement at Park House in Knowle played a crucial role in establishing the first successful transatlantic link between England and America, 21 years before the installation of the French underwater cable. The full story is at

Above: Admiral Preedy's memorial window in East Budleigh church, where he is buried

For more information about Mr Manas' talk contact Brewster Ladies' Library on 508-896-3913 or email

Saturday, 15 May 2010

If you could eat a horse, try The Dog and Donkey

The Dog and Donkey pub in Knowle, just outside Budleigh Salterton. It's also known as The Britannia Inn

Head Chef and owner of Knowle's Dog and Donkey Richard Steer is an ex-Marine with a background in catering for hundreds of hungry military types.

So forget the dieting and tuck in at my local where the £5 lunchtime carvery offers amazing value. Considering that 'The Dog' is sort of just round the corner from me I really should have blogged it before now, especially as we first discovered it about ten years ago when we were staying on holiday at Pooh Cottage Holiday Park just up the road at the end of Bear Lane.

A friendly welcome awaits you from Richard and Bea Steer at The Dog and Donkey

Richard and his wife Bea took over the pub four years ago following their move from Surrey and have established it as a reliable eating-place offering, as they say "fresh and top quality unpretentious food, beautifully cooked with great attention to detail" using local ingredients wherever possible. Of course there is also a wide range of beers and wines to go with your meal including the fragrant Otter ale which has become my favourite local drink since moving to East Devon.

Queuing up at the carvery

Roast dishes seemed to be the ideal thing to cheer up what was a rather miserably drizzly Bank Holiday Saturday lunchtime. You buy your £5 carvery tickets from Michael at the bar before making your way to the hot counter in the dining room.

My man-sized slices of roast pork - make sure you have room for dessert

I was impressed by the generous portions of my choice of tender slices of pork; you could even have a mixed selection of pork and roast beef along with steak and onion pie. And then on to the vegetables. True, I could see dreaded swede in the back row - that's just my pet hate - but there was plenty of choice apart from that: boiled or roast potatoes, peas, carrots, cabbage, gallons of gravy and a special dish of pork crackling.

Classic English: roast beef and Yorkshire pudding

I suppose I could have helped myself to Yorkshire pudding as well, but the plate was beginning to weigh me down at that point. There was just enough room for big dollops of what looked like freshly-made apple sauce and mustard. The roast beef and the scampi and chips were equally popular with the rest of the family.

The Dog and Donkey is a family-friendly pub with a spacious dining-room, but it's a good idea to book in advance, especially in the holiday season

We could have topped all that with puddings, but the grandchildren were beginning to get a bit grizzly and would be needing their afternoon nap, I was told. So it was a brief visit to the lovely little playground next to Knowle village hall, and then back home. Where, I have to confess, I followed my grandchildren's example. Well, it was not exactly gardening weather, and Otter ale (4.5% alcohol by volume) from the quaintly named village of Luppitt is a restful sort of brew.

Carvery dishes are priced £5 per person Tuesday-Saturday and £8.95 on Sundays.

The Specials Board at The Dog and Donkey offers a wide range of tempting dishes. Examples are deep fried battered fillets of red mullet on crisp green salad with sweet chilli sauce at £9.50; belly pork noisettes with bacon, black pudding, beer gravy and jacket potato wedges at £10.95; 10 oz lamb steak with fries, tomatoes, onion rings and salad garni at £11.50.

The pub also has 'Specials' nights offering good value at £7 for steaks (Tuesdays), fish and chips (Wednesdays), and curry (Thursday), as well as a Sunday lunchtime carvery.

The Dog and Donkey
24 Knowle Village
Budleigh Salterton Devon
Tel/Fax: 01395 442021

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A good grounding for the future on both sides of the pond

Drake's Church of England Primary School in East Budleigh

I'm always on the look-out for similarities and sometimes for differences between the way we do things on this side of the Atlantic and how they do them over in our sister-town of Brewster on Cape Cod.

By coincidence it was about three years ago on both sides of the pond that people had the bright idea of training young gardeners of the future on plots of land which had been specially set aside for vegetable production.

Spring has been a long time coming this year but a few months ago, despite an icy east wind still blowing, the Upper Years' pupils of Drake's Church of England Primary School in East Budleigh, were up at their allotment preparing the beds for some early crops.

The children had already worked hard during their Big Dig last November in preparation for the 2010 planting. Two of the beds had manure dug in and the children broadcast wheat into one bed and barley into the other. "The children will still be growing fruit and vegetables this year but we are also looking at arable farming", said Headteacher Carron Saunders.

The children, aged between 9 and 11, have been planting potatoes, onions and rhubarb, and then some salad crops as soon as the ground warmed up a little. More tender crops such as peas, beans and pumpkins will be started from seed at school and then planted out in April and May.

“We secured a school plot at the village allotment in April 2007 as a dynamic opportunity for the children to learn about crop production and the work and effort that goes into growing our food," said Carron Saunders. All of the pupils become actively involved and then we harvest what we’ve produced and bring it back to the school for teaching purposes and for our kitchen! It’s a wonderful way to get everyone at the school gaining an understanding about food production and the benefits of healthy eating. It has also proved valuable for giving the children an appreciation of careful planning, team work and another chance to work in the fresh air! It’s proving to be a great asset.”

Over in Brewster at the Lower Cape Children’s Garden they're just as busy. But this is an enterprise organised in out of school time and funded by local organisations such as the Master Gardeners' Association of Cape Cod. It's also based on the interesting idea of mentoring, with children being paired on a one-to-one basis with adults happy to share their knowledge.

And just as in East Budleigh the children can feel, as they dig and plant in the soil, that they are carrying on, in a historic place, tasks that their forebears engaged in for centuries for the benefit of their community.

Drake's School pupils dig ground on which Sir Walter Raleigh the Elizabethan explorer of America and Roger Conant, founder of Salem Massachusetts, may have walked. Both men were born in East Budleigh. And Brewster's young gardeners and their mentors are working on land which long ago served as the planting fields of the Saquatucket tribe of Red Indians who had settled in this part of Cape Cod, long before the arrival of white men.

Brewster resident and writer Myka-Lynne Sokoloff tells the full story of the Lower Cape Children’s Garden at

To find out more about the Indian tribes on Cape Cod, click on

Text and picture credits: