Showing posts from 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…

Tour of Britain snapped in Budleigh Salterton

The Tour of Britain cycle race mentioned in my recent post at 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

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.

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 derogat…

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

Here's the message:

It’s time for the decade of the Small Business
by Kyle Hinkle, BCC Ex…

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 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 regularly contributes proceeds from ticket sales to a variety of charities. Fairlynch, a striking Regency thatch…

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 had also recently had to undergo spinal fusion following a diagnosis of cervical myelopathy. And then, as if tha…

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

To learn more about this fa…

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 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 Photo credit: Angela

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 Lym…

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…

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 and

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 jour…

Fringe benefits of Budleigh festival

The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival 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 wou…