Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Labours of Sisyphus

Professor Chris Tilley, Director of the Pebblebeds Project, with one of the pebbles I dug up in my garden

Budleigh Salterton may look like a quaint old English town to the visitor but it's in surrounding villages like Otterton and East Budleigh, birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh in the 16th century, that you have to look if you want to see really ancient communities. Salterton, as the town was known at that time, was nothing more than a few fishing huts on the marshes, so they say.

For the really really ancient stuff you have to head out to the pebblebed heathlands just a few miles north of Budleigh where the town's amateur archaeologist George Carter made some interesting discoveries in the 1930s.

His theories about Bronze Age shrines hiding under the heather and gorse on Woodbury Common were laughed at during his lifetime, but George Carter's reputation as a pioneer in East Devon archaeological circles is now widely recognised thanks largely to the efforts of Professor Chris Tilley, of University College London's Department of Anthropology, and the team of international experts who have been working with him to sieve the evidence left behind by our Bronze Age ancestors.

My attempt at a vegetable patch, showing the pebbles which grow there naturally

The pebbles which are a major part of that evidence give Budleigh beach its unique character. They play a central role in the website set up by Professor Tilley and his colleagues at http://www.pebblebedsproject.org.uk/t.org.uk/ Personally I have a love-hate relationship with pebbles. Yes, they're pretty to look at, but in such quantities they're about as welcome as slugs, badgers, rabbits and deer when it comes to creating a plant-friendly environment in my little Garden of Eden.

The gods of Greek mythology condemned Sisyphus to be punished by battling against only one admittedly largish stone, but over the last few weeks I've felt my punishment to be a million times worse as I've sieved my way through what seemed to be tons of stony stuff on my way to creating that herbaceous border I've been dreaming of.

Well, the border's now ready for planting with lots of spongy compost and deliciously oozy horse muck with about 80% of the original content removed to form yet another pebble cairn in a corner of the garden.

Professor Chris Tilley explains the Jacob's Well project at the Open Day

So last Sunday with my sieving complete it was off to the Pebblebeds Project Open Day with 30 or so curious members of the public to learn about the punishing schedule that Professor Tilley and his fellow-archaeologists have set themselves, wading through black and boggy stuff in the pebble cairn known as Jacob's Well that they've been excavating.

It's slow progress with those 1mm archaeologists' sieves that they use, and the black stuff is greasy with tar as well as stinking of methane, but they look cheerful enough on their website at http://www.pebblebedsproject.org.uk/project_team.html
and the project is exciting enough to have attracted team members from universities in Sweden, India, Brazil and the Czech Republic as well as specialists and enthusiastic amateurs from the UK.

Dr Karolína Pauknerová, a specialist in anthropology of landscape and experimental archaeology at Charles University in Prague, also explained the significance of the Jacob's Well pebble cairn to the visitors

And the day before our visit must have given them a unique thrill of seeing into the past when Budleigh Salterton resident Priscilla Hull, George Carter's daughter, called at the site. Now aged 90 she recalled as a 16-year-old helping her father with the first proper investigation of Jacob's Well.

George Carter's early exploration of archaeological sites in India during the 1920s had led him on his return to East Devon to interpret the building of such Bronze Age pebble cairns in terms of Indo-Ayran burial rites described at length in the Satapatha Brahama, the Hindu sacred text which describes details of Vedic rituals. His theory did not go down too well with local archaeologists in the UK.

Even more thrilling for Professor Tilley and his team must have been the recent news that two of the oak stakes recovered by George Carter from the Jacob's Well pebble cairn have been carbon dated as 1800 BC.

The site, we learnt, seems to have been used as a shrine by our Bronze Age ancestors to conduct sacred rituals involving fire and water, not only to produce steam but to destroy pebbles. And its location, overlooking the valley of the River Exe is significant. We visitors were able to appreciate the magnificent view on our way to Jacob's Well, but the excavation site itself is now completely hidden by the trees of modern pine plantations.

Visitors on the Open Day were invited to see the cairn at close quarters

Like many of the pebble cairns on Woodbury Common the shrine when it was first built would have had an uninterrupted view of the rising and setting sun, like those you can see at
"Celestial events, and in particular the rising (birth) and setting (death) of the sun were, and still are, an important part of the experience of inhabiting the Pebblebed heathlands," reads the Pebblebeds Project website. "In relation to the fire rituals taking place at the prehistoric cairns sun symbolism would have been of great significance in the ceremonial rites that took place. A direct connection can be drawn between the pyres that were lit and the life-giving force of the sun."

The River Exe, to the west of Jacob's Well, being marshy and tidal might have been seen as a river of death, suggested Professor Tilley. It could have been a burial place where dead bodies were placed to be carried out to sea. And to the east was the River Otter, a river of life. He did admit that this theory might be a bit fanciful.

But then fanciful is the best word to describe a place of magic, and Professor Tilley, who is convinced that the pebbles were magical stones, is one of the many people who believe that this area of the pebblebed heathlands "was, and is, a magical landscape." http://www.pebblebedsproject.org.uk/poetics_of_pebbles.html

Sisyphus too must have had his dreams

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Tour of Britain snapped in Budleigh Salterton

The Tour of Britain cycle race mentioned in my recent post at http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2010/09/budleigh-on-tour-of-britain.html finishes today with its eighth stage in London.

But it was Stage Four from Minehead to Teignmouth on Tuesday 14 September that was the high point of the race for spectators in Budleigh Salterton.

The ride across the South West peninsula, described as "aggressive", ended in a stage win for 22-year-old Dutchman Wout Poels. “It was a really hard race, with the three climbs and directly from the start it was hard, but it was a nice day,” he said.

Conditions weren't brilliant for photography in the autumn drizzle but I managed to get these shots of the race as it passed along Knowle Road.

More information about the race click on http://www.tourofbritain.co.uk/

Feathered friends are another link

I noticed that the Wing Island Banding Station in Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster is celebrating its tenth birthday this month. The station is sponsored by the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, MA and is situated on 80 acres abutting a sprawling salt marsh and 300 acres of conservation land. Over 175 species of birds utilize the land and the surrounding waterways. http://www.wingisland.org/

I suppose that the birdwatcher's paradise which both Budleigh and Brewster could claim to be is yet another of the many big and small similarities between our two communities that have struck me over the last couple of years while working on this blog.

But I wonder whether Brewster is ever visited by these amazingly exotic-looking and -sounding Glossy Ibis spotted just over a week ago near the cricket field in Budleigh.

Charlie Fleming who kindly allowed me to copy the above photo from his website
explained that he is not a 'twitcher', which he calls a derogatory term. "Twitchers are basically not bird watchers but box tickers who are more interested in the 'tick' than the very bird or animal they see," he tells me. "I consider myself to be an amateur naturalist who uses his camera to record what he sees."

His site, Wildlife in a Suburban Garden, with its terrific photos of birds from Devon and further afield is at http://parrotletsuk.typepad.com/wldlife_in_a_suburban_gar/#tp

Budleigh and Brewster: a common experience

I see that Budleigh Salterton's Chamber of Commerce is using this poster to persuade people to shop locally. I'm sure that its attractive design and message will have the desired effect. The poster might even find its way into homes as part of the decor as well as in Budleigh shop windows.

The message of shopping locally was reinforced when I read what Kyle Hinkle, Executive Director of Brewster Chamber of Commerce had to say on the subject. Her comment about getting your dry-cleaning done in your home town rather than in Plymouth even applies to us in Budleigh Salterton.

Cape Cod and America's East Coast, where our sister-town is located, is of course notable for communities with English names like Chatham, Yarmouth, Falmouth and so on. There's even an Exeter, a Bristol and a Taunton in this part of the USA.

Brewster Chamber of Commerce website is at http://www.brewstercapecod.org/

Here's the message:

It’s time for the decade of the Small Business
by Kyle Hinkle, BCC Executive Director

2009 ended one of the most historically significant economic decades in our country's short existence. First of all, that decade kicked off with Y2K - remember that craziness? Then, every year after that there was one history-shaking event after another, and the world was changed forever.

But looking back over our whole history, and not just the last decade, there is one consistent note that resonates: Americans are resilient, with huge pride in our country and the freedom it stands for. And Americans are entrepreneurial.

This country was built on the backs of small business, grown by people who weren’t afraid to take a chance and follow a dream, who rose to meet the needs of their neighbors and friends for goods and services. Just look at Brewster’s businesses: they’ve been going strong since 1633!

Small business has been, and still is, like the deep water ocean currents that navigate slowly around Planet Earth, steady and consistent, even when the surface waters above are roiled by violent storms that destroy everything in their path. Small business IS the steady under-current of our economy.

This past decade saw business giants tumble, even when the government offered the now famous bailout funds. But small business, with its foundation of meeting local needs, and its owners, managers and employees living and being active in the local community, continues to thrive.

And it does so in spite of: being denied commercial loans; having to charge customers higher taxes to make up for government’s wasteful spending; paying ever increasing employers’ taxes and employee benefits; having no bailout in sight.

One might ask, with all these roadblocks, “Why do small business people do “it”?” It goes back to that entrepreneurial spirit! After all, some reports claim that 60% of the businesses in this country fall into this “small” category, which adds up to a powerful force!

So let’s make this the “Decade of the Small Business”

HOW? Start by only doing business with Chamber members (there are 15 chambers on the Cape BTW - that’s a lot of businesses to choose from!).

Shop local - shop local - shop local! Think about it: If we only do business with other chamber members there would be no recession!

Spread the word to all of your customers, purveyors, family and friends that without our small businesses they would not have the local goods and services that they have come to expect! (Can you imagine: going to Plymouth to get your dry cleaning done??)

And when you find a business that ISN’T a Chamber member, let them know that they’re missing the best network of support and customers they could ever be part of!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Singing for Fairlynch

Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir, pictured above, and special Australian guests Wagga City Rugby Male Choir will perform in concert on Wednesday 22 September at St Peter’s Church to raise funds for Fairlynch Museum. The event will be attended by Councillor Tom Wright, Budleigh Salterton's Town Mayor of Budleigh Salterton.

The 45-strong Wagga City Rugby Male Choir (WCRMC) is based in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales Australia. It is one of only two male choirs in Australia directly associated with a rugby club, the other being the Australian Rugby Choir.

The Wagga City choir http://wcrmc.org.au/ are visiting East Devon as part of their 2010 five-week tour of Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Germany. Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir is providing accommodation in their own homes for the visitors during the three-day stay.

The Budleigh choir http://www.budleighmvc.co.uk/ regularly contributes proceeds from ticket sales to a variety of charities. Fairlynch, a striking Regency thatched marine cottage orné is one of the architectural landmarks of Budleigh. The house was built in 1811 by Matthew Yeates, a local ship owner. The thatched turret was added later so he could see ships coming into the bay.

The museum has recently had a full gas-fired central heating system installed, replacing an inadequate electrical supply. It is run entirely by volunteers, and needs to find £10,000 per year for general upkeep.

The concert begins at 7.30 pm. Tickets at £6 are on sale from The Lawn Bakery, Fairlynch Museum, and at the door.

Son of Budleigh returns to tell a story

Raw and solipsistic as only teenagers can be, I was an immature 17-year-old when the doctors diagnosed possible TB and carved out bits of my spine. It turned out to be osteomylitis but the result was the same: a spinal fusion followed by three months of lying flat on my back in a plaster cast.

The event, coming from out of the blue, should have made me older and wiser. But it obviously didn't because not so long after leaving hospital it was teenage crazy bravado wanting to test the surgeon's work which inspired me to hitch-hike to Iran. I remember sending him a postcard from Teheran. Possibly out of gratitude but probably there was a bit of the adolescent "Aren't I clever?" showing off in the gesture.

I thought of my confused teenage years when I read that a guest speaker at Budleigh's Literary Festival, the journalist Alex Wade http://alexwade.com/ had also recently had to undergo spinal fusion following a diagnosis of cervical myelopathy. And then, as if that was not enough for the poor fellow, his operation in December last year was followed a few months later by a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease.

I noticed on his blog at http://www.surfnation.co.uk/ Alex's joking comment that he should have been treated as something of a celebrity at this year's event: "As a Son of Budleigh - I was brought up in the East Devon town - I reckon I ought to have been given headline status but then again this is the first lit fest to which I've been invited so I guess I'm just pleased to be rolling up."

Well, I thought I owed Alex a bit of a debt for mentioning my blog in his Coaster column in The Times in June last year when I met him by chance during the pebble-building competition on Budleigh beach. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/outdoors/article6582488.ece
So here in return is a little plug for his talk on Sunday 26 September at 11.30 am in the Salterton Playhouse.

Readers who are familiar with his journalism, his books and his blog http://www.surfnation.co.uk/ will know that Alex's passion is for surfing, a youthfully mad activity if ever there was one. And rather like my adolescent passion for hitch-hiking, it's been behind the crazy bravado which since leaving hospital has made him want to test himself and the surgery by throwing his battered body against the waves.

But Alex, unlike my teenage self, is a sensible chap. He trained as a lawyer and is used to facing facts. A mature 44-year-old, he's aware of a midriff heavier than ever telling him he's too old for this sort of behaviour. And although the op went well he's conscious when he surfs of "a lot of twinges and weird shaking" in his left leg and hand, and knows that an injury to a post-cervical discectomy neck could mean that he spends the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

There's no mention of these health problems on the Budleigh Literary Festival site at http://www.budlitfest.org.uk/alex-wade Yet Alex has got possibly even more famous for writing about them than about his prowess and expertise as a surf dude http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7016850.ece

His talk on Sunday 26 September is entitled 'A Colourful Life', which I find somewhat ambiguous. Is it going to be a kind of farewell to Alex's high-energy past life as a media lawyer, amateur boxer, author and surfing journalist now that he's facing up to medical realities and gracefully sliding into middle age as the editor of Cornwall Today, a regular speaker at literary festivals and amateur gardener? Anything to keep him away from the dangers of surfing. There's even that novel he's been thinking of finishing.

As recently as last month he was reflecting on such matters in his blog. "What's the point in surfing when the risks are so high? When paralysis might come my way?" he wondered. "As I write those words, the answer is obvious." And sadly his recent entry mentions his "left leg wonkiness, left arm weirdness, hyper reflexes in my left foot and hideous shooting pains in my right leg" caused by problems which have now arisen in the discs underneath the one which was removed in his operation almost a year ago.

Or will his talk prove that he is indeed an exceptionally colourful character who sees such recent setbacks as little hiccups in the face of the big challenge? After all, his book Wrecking Machine, about his time as an amateur boxer, dealt with facing one's fears and living one's dreams. As one reviewer put it, "Just as Wade had (and maybe still has) continued reservations about putting himself into a position where he could get seriously hurt, it is overcoming those reservations by sheer willpower and physical training just to step into the ring, regardless of the outcome, that is truly inspiring..."

And surfing, as his boxing did in the past, will surely continue to tempt Alex into such risk-taking as long as he is inspired by superbeings like Florida's Kelly Slater. "To watch Slater surf is to be mesmerized by a blend of suppleness, power and elegance allied with an uncanny wave-reading skill," as he wrote recently. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2008/oct/09/2

Many people in Britain have been considering recently how much we have lost as a nation through our aversion to risk-taking. The crippling effect of too much attention to health & safety in areas such as education has been recognised, while exposure to danger has been seen as playing a vital part in a truly enriching existence. Prudence in life can so often mean cowardice, and I'm sure that this surfing Son of Budleigh is no coward. So my fingers are crossed for Alex, while I wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.

For details of Budleigh Salterton's second literary festival including Alex Wade's talk on 26 September click on http://www.budlitfest.org.uk/

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Open Day at Jacob's Well

Local archaeologist George Carter’s reconstruction diagram of the wooden shrine at Jacob's Well. Re-drawn by Wayne Bennett.

East Devon's ancient churches attract many visitors each year, but the most ancient of our local places of worship could be the one depicted in the above drawing.

Jacob’s Well, near Black Hill Quarries, is a Bronze Age Water Shrine on Woodbury Common which was first investigated by Budleigh Salterton archaeologist George Carter in the 1930s.

An international team of scholars led by London University's Professor Chris Tilley has been investigating the archaeological and historic landscapes of East Devon with special reference to the Pebblebed Heathlands which lie north of Budleigh

An Open Day at the Jacob's Well site is taking place on Sunday 19 September for visitors to view the excavations which are currently taking place. Two slots are available, at 10.30 am or 2.30 pm. To book contact Jim Cobley jamesgcobley@tiscali.co.uk

To learn more about this fascinating project on our doorstep click on http://www.pebblebedsproject.org.uk/

Monday, 6 September 2010

Budleigh on Tour of Britain

These yellow signs started going up on the roads around Budleigh some weeks ago and we suddenly realised with a sense of pride that our town is part of a national event. Admittedly the route doesn't take them along Marine Parade or up the High Street but it'll be an amazing spectacle to watch nonetheless. And personally I'm pleased to see that the Prostate Cancer Charity http://www.prostate-cancer.org.uk/ is one of the partners involved with this major sporting event.

The Tour of Britain 2010 is an eight-stage race being held from 11-18 September covering 1,223 km (759.9 miles). Stage 4 on Tuesday 14 September runs from Minehead to Teignmouth, a distance of 171.3 km (106.4 miles) and will take riders through Sidmouth for a final intermediate Sprint on the Esplanade.

A scene from the 2009 Tour
Then at 1.15 pm it's up the steep climb of Peak Hill where sadly they're unlikely to appreciate the magnificent view over Lyme Bay. Dropping down into Otterton, where they cross the River Otter the riders will then skirt East Budleigh and pass through Knowle village on the outskirts of Budleigh Salterton before heading for Topsham and Exeter.

That section from Peak Hill to Otterton is pretty tough by car, with lots of hills, bends and often single-track road where you have to keep fairly alert, so it should prove to be an exciting ride.

Above: There are plenty of excellent vantage points and I'm looking forward to getting some good photos as the Tour passes through Knowle - that's my excuse for not riding with them.

The Tour of Britain is the UK's biggest professional cycle race and a centrepiece of the British sporting calendar, attracting over a million spectators to the roadside and hundreds of thousands more on television and via the internet. For more information click on http://www.tourofbritain.co.uk/

Friday, 3 September 2010

History you can see and feel and a beach that goes forever

[They say that Budleigh Salterton is "the town that time forgot." But it seems that our sister-community of Brewster on the other side of the Atlantic is even more rooted in its past according to Boston Globe journalist John Powers.]

The grist mill on Stony Brook Road stands on its original 1663 site and uses the force of the water from several ponds to grind fresh cornmeal on Saturdays in the summer. Photo by Bill Greene

Inside the blacksmith shop next to the 18th-century windmill at Drummer Boy Park, a charcoal fire crackles. “Old school,’’ says Peter Hirst, as he cranks up the Civil War-era blower to fan the flames. “The way we did it 200 years ago.’’

Down the road at the Brewster Ladies’ Library readers in comfy armchairs thumb through newspapers as if they are sitting in a Victorian study. Around the bend, patrons sun themselves on the benches in front of the bunting-draped Brewster Store, which sells penny candy, homemade fudge and taffy, and has a functioning nickelodeon. Next to the ancient herring run the water-powered grist mill still grinds corn as it did in 1873.

You don’t need a time machine to dial yourself back a century or three in this throwback town on the north side of Cape Cod between Dennis and Orleans. What Henry David Thoreau termed “the modern-built town of the Cape’’ when he passed through around 1850 retains most of the well-to-do charm that dates to when prosperous mariners lived in mansions along old King’s Highway.

“America’s Sea Captains’ Town’’ is what the Chamber of Commerce calls it and their salty legacy endures. Many of their homes along Main Street (Route 6A) have been transformed into cozy inns and bed-and-breakfasts: Isaiah Clark House, Old Manse Inn, Pepper House Inn, Candleberry Inn, Bramble Inn. The town-run golf course is named Captains and each hole along its adjacent “port’’ and “starboard’’ layouts is named after former seafarers like Benjamin Berry, Isaac Weatherbee, Enos Godfrey, Elkanah Winslow, and Freeman Bangs.

Some of those captains probably dropped in at the Brewster Store, which was built as a church in 1852 but has been selling general merchandise since 1866. In addition to candy, coffee, pastries, and hot roasted peanuts, the store, which features a coal-burning stove in winter, is chock-a-block with myriad necessities like spare lamp parts, bayberry candles, soaps, dishcloths, and Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing, a laundry whitener. Upstairs is a roomy space filled with nostalgic items like World War I and II posters for sale.

If the store serves as the town’s pantry and the Brewster Historical Society its heirloom-crammed attic, the Ladies’ Library is its front parlor. Though the building has been renovated and expanded, the front two rooms that overlook Main Street come right out of 1853, when the library was founded. Besides the fireplaces, carved wooden chairs, framed portraits, potted plants, and grandfather clock, there’s the elaborate dollhouse that Captain Josiah Knowles built for his daughter Nellie around 1860.

Brewster may be the antiques capital of the Cape, with more than a dozen shops strung out on Route 6A along with art galleries and pottery makers. If the bygone days are inescapable in the town named for Elder Brewster, the Mayflower’s grand old man, it’s because most of its buildings and artifacts seem still to be in use. The grist mill on Stony Brook Road sits on the original 1663 site and its wooden wheel uses the down-rushing water from the ponds out back to run the machinery that turns out brimming bags of fresh cornmeal on summer Saturdays.

The ponds are the destination for the hundreds of thousands of river herring that return from the ocean during the spring to spawn in fresh water before returning to the Atlantic Ocean. If they’re fortunate, the fish survive a murderer’s row of seagulls perched greedily along the mile-and-a-half-long run up from Cape Cod Bay and get to lay millions of eggs before dodging the gulls again on the way back down.

During the run, which usually goes from mid-April to mid-May, both townspeople and tourists turn up to watch the herring leap their way up along the fish ladder while a volunteer from the Alewife Committee stands nearby to keep away both gulls and scofflaw fishermen (it’s illegal to catch the herring). Paine’s Creek, where the herring enter and exit, leads to one of the town’s seven beaches, which extend all the way to where the Cape’s inside elbow turns upward to Provincetown.

The bay is where Brewster once made its living from packet boats bound for Boston and from saltworks along the shore. But unless you turn off Route 6A onto one of the roads leading to the water, you wouldn’t know that this is a shoreside town whose eight miles of beach offer an expansive panorama and technicolored sunsets.

The famous Brewster flats, the widest in North America, are a squishy nirvana for waders and tidepoolers who can walk out more than a mile at low tide among the clams and crabs while beachcombers scoop up a cornucopia of shells and stones to bring home. Sometimes it takes a bit of poking about to turn up some of the town’s attractions, like its restaurants.

Chillingsworth, the gourmand’s delight on the grounds of a 300-year-old estate, and the Brewster Fish House are situated prominently along King’s Highway. But Peddler’s Bistro, which plates French fare like escargots, duck a l’orange, and steak au poivre along with gently-priced wines, is tucked away on Thad Ellis Road. And El Guapo’s Taqueria, which serves up fish tacos made from local cod, is down along Underpass Road next to the bicycle trail and across the way from the Stony Brook Elementary School where the Brewster Whitecaps, who perform in the 125-year-old Cape Cod Baseball League, still play their home games in daylight.

If the Whitecaps wanted to, they could lay out a diamond on the enormous acreage at Drummer Boy Park on the town’s western edge, where summer concerts are held on Sunday evenings at the old wooden bandstand. Drummer Boy has become a theme park for 18th- and 19th-century structures that have been uprooted, restored, and moved there from elsewhere in town.

The Harris-Black House, which once accommodated a family of 13 in a single room, is a post-and-beam Cape classic. The Higgins Farm Windmill, with its enormous wheel, still works. So does the blacksmith shop, which was built in 1867 by Henry Hopkins and moved to the park last year along with its original chimney and forge.

Hanging from the doors opening outward is a variety of fireplace and garden tools that give a 19th-century style to 21st-century tasks. “You name it, we can make it,’’ says Hirst, an Orleans resident who also has his own biochar business. The village smithy still works by daylight, no electricity needed. “We’re totally off the grid,’’ says Hirst. Come autumn, when dusk arrives early, he’ll light an oil lamp. In Elder Brewster’s modern-built town, old-school is still as good as new.

Reproduced with permission
John Powers can be reached at jpowers@globe.com
© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

Where to stay
Isaiah Clark House
1187 Main St.
Sea captain’s home built in 1785. Deck overlooks gardens. From $149.

Old Manse Inn
1861 Main St.
Sea captain’s manor built in 1801. Terraced gardens. Living room has library and grand piano. From $145.

Candleberry Inn
1882 Main St.
508-896-3300 800-573-4769
Georgian-style captain’s home built in 1790 with two acres of lawns and gardens. From $135.

Where to eat

2449 Main St.
Set on six acres of lawns and gardens on 300-year-old estate. Seven-course table d’hote menu ($60-$75) includes truffled “mac & cheese’’ appetizer, grilled duck breast, seared scallops, roast beef tenderloin. Bistro menu ($17-$32.50) available in greenhouse. Sunday brunch and special monthly dinners.

Peddler’s Restaurant
67 Thad Ellis Road
Cozy and candlelit hideaway run by French chef and his wife offers classic Parisian bistro fare: escargots, mussels, duck a l’orange, steak au poivre. Closed Sunday. Thu-Sat after Labor Day. Appetizers from $11, entrees from $24.

El Guapo’s Taqueria
239 Underpass Road
Nachos, Mexican street corn, fish tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, burgers. Beer, wine, Mexican sodas. Convenient for families. Outdoor tables and takeout orders. From $4.50-$12.95.

What to do

Drummer Boy Park
773 Main St.
Blacksmith shop, windmill, and 18th-century Harris-Black house open from 1-4 p.m. Thu-Sat. Sunday evening band concerts July and August.

Grist mill and museum
Intersection of Stony Brook and Setucket Roads
Nineteenth-century mill next to herring run grinds corn for sale from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat-Sun June through August.

Tidepooling and beachcombing
Paine’s Creek is the best of the town’s seven bayside beaches at low tide. Parking $15 in summer; stickers available at Town Hall visitors center at 2198 Main St.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Handy service at a fair price

Budleigh Salterton's Art Club exhibition was as impressive as ever when I visited it last Friday, with much local talent in evidence, and all beautifully displayed in the Public Hall.

I had hoped to post some photos of the paintings, particularly of those depicting East Devon's beautiful scenery as I've done in the past at http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2010/06/budleigh-salterton-art-club-show-31-may.html and http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2009/08/budleigh-salterton-art-club-summer-show.html

But on this occasion I was told by the apologetic stewards on the door that there were "copyright issues" and sadly photography would not be possible.

Dave Travis of Budleigh Taxis, ready to whisk you to your destination

Waiting outside the Public Hall was Dave Travis of Budleigh Taxis who was more than happy to be snapped to relieve my Nikon's frustration at the lack of action.

Now we'd stopped to chat to him to enquire about prices for future journeys, and were pleasantly surprised to discover that our trip out of Budleigh wouldn't cost as much as we'd thought.

Dave's taxi cab service is centred on the area around Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh, Otterton, Yettington, and Ladram Bay.

He told us that he's ready to tackle any journey, regardless of anti-social hours. "We'll whisk you to the airport, station or ferry port in comfort, taking away the worry as you begin or end your holiday," he promises on his website.

And for hikers in East Devon I noticed another useful service that he mentions there.

"If you're planning a walk along the South West Coast Path and Jurassic Coast in our area, we will carry your bags ahead of you to your next overnight stop - freeing you up to enjoy your walk!"

We thought that £20 to Exeter Airport from Budleigh was a fair price, and that a night time fare of £26 for the same destination was a bargain.

Some bed & breakfast guests staying at Tidwell Manor were also pleased with Dave's service. "He was very friendly, showed us round, recommended restaurants, and all this for very little money."

Budleigh Taxis can be contacted on 01395 223333

Fringe benefits of Budleigh festival

The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival http://www.budlitfest.org.uk/ like all good festivals has a Fringe - for a day!

Saturday 25 September in the Masonic Hall at the top end of Budleigh High Street is housing a range of activities and performances from morning until night, including creative writing workshops led by experienced members of the East Devon Writers' Workshops.

In the afternoon, for £4.50 (tickets from the Tourist Office in Budleigh: 01395 445275) you can be served with a cream tea, short stories with an edge of mystery, monologues that will make you laugh or cry and poems that will touch your heart.

In the evening there will be a poetry night hosted by the local representative of the Poetry Society, Rachel McCarthy. The ticket offers you a glass of wine while you listen to a huge variety of poets and poems.

The Fringe is directed by Hilary Ackland who, with her fellow writers, is running two writing workshops in the morning, one on fiction and one on poetry.
If you would like more information contact Hilary: 01395 444406

On the Page...
Two creative writing workshops

9.45 am - 11.15 am Fiction
Price: £3.50
If you want the opportunity to find out if creative writing is something you can do, or if you enjoy creative writing and would like to re-discover the delight of writing, this workshop is for you. Through engaging in a number of writing exercises you will build up a short narrative fiction taking you from blank page to story.

12 noon - 1.30 pm: Poetry
Price: £3.50
If you are interested in poetry and want to be encouraged to explore the art of writing poetry this workshop is for you. The exercises will release your imagination and let the words flow from thought to paper.

On the Edge....with a cream tea

3.00 pm - 4.30 pm
Price: £4.50

An afternoon of stories, monologues and poems written and performed by The Salem Schoolroom Players: Hilary Ackland, Jenny Dawson, Linda Duriez, Gail Parfitt, Pam Tomlinson and Helen Whitmore

Ticket price includes a cream tea prepared by the local support group for Parkinson’s UK

On the Night
An Evening of Poetry 8.00 til' late

Round off the day by enjoying some of the best open mic poetry performances Devon has to offer in a relaxed and friendly café bar setting. Enjoy a glass of wine and listen to local poets performing/reading their work.

£4.50 including first drink. Bar will be open.

Tickets from the Tourist Information Office
01395 445275

Open mic spaces for the poetry reading should be booked in advance with Hilary Ackland at hilaryackland@btinternet.com or on 01395 444406.

The East Devon Writers' Workshop meets on the second Wednesday of the month in Salem Chapel, East Budleigh. It is for people who write and would like to develop their writing. Open to writings in different genres.

The Salem Schoolroom Players grew out of a series of workshops run by Dr Hilary Ackland, an experienced educator in the creative arts, at Salem Chapel, East Budleigh, at the beginning of 2010.

Interested in either or both of the above? Contact Hilary on 01395 44406.