Showing posts from October, 2010

Friends of Fairlynch talk, 18 October, 2010

The African elephant leaves former natural history gallery at RAMM through window
Photo credit: © 2010 Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter

With reports of renovation costs at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum having spiralled to a forecasted £24m we were naturally keen to learn how what has been described "an exquisite jewel box of a building" will appear to visitors when it re-opens in just over a year's time.

Having the builders in is not something you normally welcome, and Fairlynch trustees have had to cope with their own building renovation issues recently. But a roof re-thatch and updating of the heating system in Budleigh Salterton's museum were simple household chores compared with the major works that have been taking place on Exeter's Queen Street for the last five years as described by Nena Beric, Development Project Officer at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum since 2005.

The RAMM management's refurbishment plans in their original application …

From horses to heroes

The RAF's Hurricane, a vital weapon of 87 and 213 Fighter Squadrons based at Exeter Airfield during the Battle of Britain

When I heard that a local sculptor whose favourite subject is horses was going to create a Battle of Britain memorial statue I imagined that designing a variation of a Pegasus figure would be the obvious aim.

For the last 20 years local sculptor Frances Margaret has been creating original equine pieces like those shown below. Many have ended up in the homes of horse lovers worldwide, including celebrities like Olympic rider Mary King and opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.

Growing up on the family farm in Otterton left her with a lifelong passion for horses, and it was during an art class in Exmouth led by the ceramicist Brian Adams that her talent for sculpture came to light. "He helped to show me the technicalities of modelling in clay," she recalls. "It was during one of his pottery painting classes that I (because I couldn't paint!) saw a lump o…

Looking for the X-factor in radiotherapy

Radiotherapy: a constantly evolving technology

As I've said before somewhere I don't want to go banging on about cancer. After all, I'm supposed to have had the nearest thing to a cure. But I have joined the local Prostate Cancer support group, and do tend to check with male friends to make sure they know their PSA score. So inevitably there will be the odd mention of this annoying disease on the blog, and probably of others!

On the face of it there's always good news from the front line in the battle against cancer, and it's impossible not to be optimistic about the final outcome.

That was certainly the underlying message from clinical oncologist Dr Denise Sheehan, who spoke to the Budleigh & Exmouth Group of the North & East Devon Prostate Support Association at their 12 October meeting in Tidwell Manor about her work with radiotherapy for dealing with prostate cancer.

The story of radiotherapy as a treatment for cancer has been one of steady progress since t…

Bach, Purcell and Handel at Exeter Concert

"A cheerful all-baroque programme of music is just the thing for a November evening," say the people at Exeter Bach Society. And that's exactly what they're bringing us in a concert conducted by Budleigh Salterton resident and the Society's Director of Music Nicholas Marshall.

The Exeter Bach Society Choir will be accompanied by soloists from London's Guidhall School of Music and Drama and harpsichordist Jonathan Watts.

The programme, on Saturday 6 November 2010 at 7.30 pm, in St James' Church, Mount Pleasant, Exeter, includes works by J.S. Bach, Purcell and Handel.

Tickets: £12, unreserved (concessions £9) may be purchased from Exeter Phoenix Ticket Agency, Gandy Street, Exeter (Tel: 01392 667080); Opus Classical in the Guildhall Centre (Tel: 01392 214044); members of the Exeter Bach Society; online through the Society's website at or by phoning Roger Churchward on 01392 468867. Also at the door before the performanc…

Stars to add sparkle to Budleigh Salterton's Gigi

"Our relationship with the lovely seaside town of Budleigh Salterton goes back a long way," says David Phipps-Davis, Director of Imperial Productions' staging of Lerner & Loewe musical Gigi. "'Christmas Budleigh' is the affectionate name for our annual long weekend spent in the South West. It's planned to coincide with local late-night Christmas shopping and general festive cheer. We join in by putting on a show in the town hall for just two performances - and are usually rewarded with good audiences."

Right: The coat of arms of Imperial College, London, where Imperial Productions originated

The remarkable story of London-based Imperial Productions apparently started following a discussion between two members of the cast in the ladies' loo on a Sunday evening in January 1979 during the Imperial College Operatic Society's production of The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. They began to discuss a problem in the Society: many of the roles, both p…

Every little helps prostate charity

Generous giving: volunteer Michael Downes and local organiser David Warner (right) welcome donations for the North and  East Devon Prostate Support Association at Exmouth's Tesco superstore. Photo credit: David Jannaway

I have to confess I sometimes hurry past street collectors. But since I met so unexpectedly the disease which is diagnosed annually in 35,000 men in the UK alone, the plea for volunteers to help our local North & East Devon Prostate Support Association caught my eye.

You're not actually supposed to catch the eye of passers-by as you stand there with your collection box according to the strict guidelines issued by the organisers, and you're certainly not supposed to rattle it under punters' noses in that brazenly cheery fashion adopted by some charity hawkers. But I couldn't help studying the faces of people who did stop to put money in the box as I waited outside Exmouth's Tesco superstore on Salterton Road yesterday.

And lots of people did sto…

Budleigh in Bloom 2010

Budleigh Salterton yet again proudly displays its Britain in Bloom Gold Award for 2010.

Great gardeners: Pat and William Prew are two of the town's green-fingered brigade who help ensure that Budleigh looks its best

This was the second year running that the town's group of volunteers who make up Budleigh in Bloom had claimed the honour. Chairman Pat Prew collected the award at the South West in Bloom presentation in Bath last month.

A neat and colourful display at Bay Cottage on Fore Street Hill

Much hard work goes into the floral displays on which the judges' decision is based and the judging itself was a thorough affair involving a tour of the town, following a special plea from Mrs Prew to residents and shopkeepers asking that the front of their properties be kept neat and tidy and free of weeds.

The floral display along the brook on Budleigh Salterton's Fore Street is one of the town's showpieces

Having read on the Budleigh in Bloom website http://www.budleighinbloom…

Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum

For some years now passers-by have been wondering what's going on behind the screens and locked doors of an imposing Victorian building on Exeter's Queen Street, pictured above.

Well, on Monday 18 Oct 2010, all will be revealed to the Friends of Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum when they welcome Nena Beric, above, Project Co-ordinator at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. As the Development Project Officer she has been intimately involved since the start in 2005.

When Prince Albert died in 1861, one of the Secretaries for the Great Exhibition and a Devon MP, Sir Stafford Northcote, proposed a memorial to Albert should be established in Exeter. An appeal for funds was launched and a meeting the following year created the blueprint for the Devon and Exeter Albert Memorial Institution. This was to be a new building on Queen Street housing a museum and art gallery, a free public library, a school of art and a college.

"An exquisite jewel box of a building; a Venetian cas…

A case of prevention being better than cure

Burglary: a shattering experience for the homeowner
Picture source:

"There's not too much crime in East Devon, says Nick Farrell. "But not as many people as I'd like have consulted me."

Nick has worked as our local Crime Prevention Officer for nine out of the 15 years that he's been with Devon & Cornwall Police. Before that he was with the military police and was employed to offer close protection and security for VIPs including royalty. So there's not much that his eagle eyes don't spot when it comes to offering advice on protection for the home.

"There's no need to spend a fortune on home security or turn your house into Colditz," he says. "But technology is moving on all the time, and there are plenty of worthwhile ways to update systems."

Security lighting, multi-lever locks for exterior doors and attention to items like garden gates are all routine matters on which the Crime Prevention Of…

Budleigh Mums

I gave Facebook a plug at and it's only right that I should mention another networking site much closer to home.

This is Budleigh Mums set up last July by Julie Burley and her husband Dave.

Dave, who hails originally from Willenhall, Staffordshire, explains: "Julie, my wife had the idea of a website where local Budleigh mums could converse, sell or swap unwanted goods, organise meets etc, so it was left to me to put something together to allow her to do this."

As the site explains, its aim is to allow local women not just from Budleigh Salterton but from surrounding areas a place to chat with other locals, see what local events of interest are taking place and generally make friends and keep in touch online.

A forthcoming event being advertised on the site is a table top sale for children's items in Knowle Village Hall on 13 November from 12.00 - 2.00 pm.…

Cape Cod's Creepy Crematorium

Not the kind of place you want to find on a family walk in the woods: the Crosby crematorium in Nickerson State Park, Brewster MA
Finding follies, obelisks and strange shrines in hidden places is for me always an experience that sticks in my mind and my visit a few weeks ago to the Bronze Age excavation site at Jacob's Well just outside Budleigh was no exception. Click on to see what I mean.

The grave of John Crosby 1775-1843

So I was intrigued when Jonathan Mayo, a fellow-blogger and artist, writer and inventor from Cape Cod, pointed out that Budleigh's sister-town of Brewster also has its secret places. The one that he mentions below may not be Bronze Age, but it must have been an odd experience all the same to find it on a random wander through the woods.

This is what Jonathan found:

"Deep in the woods of Brewster lies an ancient cemetery, holding a few Crosby gravestones from the mid-1800s. We have …

St Kilda revisited and celebrated at the Brook

Soray Stacks, by Norman Ackroyd

‘St Kilda Revisited’, an exhibition at the Brook Gallery to celebrate the release of the Box Set 2010 of etchings by Norman Ackroyd CBE RA, ties in nicely with the 80 year anniversary of the evacuation of the St Kilda community in 1930.

Coincidence or not, it’s an exhibition of work that defies the power of nature in its production. These haunting images by the master printmaker seem to capture the moment of departure, starkly and awe-inspiringly; the islands seem as if ready to be swallowed up by nature as the wind and the sea recaptures them.

St Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, is an archipelago once home to a small group of hardy Scots who lived off all that nature meagerly had to offer.

This exhibition does two things: celebrates and commemorates islands which some once called ‘home’. Says Angela Yarwood, owner of the Brook: "Norman’s work evokes an incredibly powerful resonance; it’s just as if you’re loo…

Facing the music in 2011 at Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh Salterton's Music Festival website at

I've just been reminded to note Saturday 16 July as the start of the 2011 Budleigh Salterton Music Festival.

This was as a result of a message from Budleigh Town Councillor and Festival Chair Roger Bowen via Facebook.

Since my last posting about Facebook in Budleigh at there have been all kinds of horror stories about the dark and evil side of Facebook which are enough to make diehard internet refuseniks choke on their toast and marmalade.
And Sony's recently launched film about the Facebook phenomenen, The Social Network, won't make their digestion any easier.

As an unashamed facebooker who finds the network amusing to keep in touch with old acquaintances and meet new people as well as being a useful place to store stuff I'm deli…

From bats and balls to boats and birding

A flooded landscape at sunset: pretty to look at but not welcomed by farmers and some unfortunate householders

It's well known that change is something which many Budleigh residents are unwilling to accept, but when the forces of Nature are involved it's unlikely that a conservative approach will win any battles.

That seems to be the point made recently by East Devon's largest landowning business faced with the issue of flooding from the River Otter. Understandably it's a message that Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club, idyllically located on low-lying land at the river's mouth, is not especially keen to hear.

In fact the issue is something which, as a relative newcomer to Budleigh, I'd hardly dared to mention on this site. Almost as tricky as the long-contested plans for development of the Longboat Café, which I've passed over in cowardly silence.

Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club: one of the lowest-lying cricket grounds in England

But I see that the message from Cl…

Anne Frank concert in Budleigh Salterton

Annalies, a choral piece based on the life of Anne Frank, is the forthcoming concert in the St Peter's Music series.

It's the first-ever adaptation of the diary of Anne Frank as a full-length choral work.

Melanie Challenger, who wrote the libretto, bases it entirely on Anne's descriptions of her family's hidden confinement in an Amsterdam warehouse between 1942 and 1944, and of their subsequent removal to a concentration camp.

The part of Anne, above, is sung by a solo soprano, in this case, Amy Haworth who has sung at St Peter’s twice before. The chorus plays a highly dramatic role underlining her vivid descriptions of what is taking place.

Annalies is the largest musical piece by James Whitbourn, a versatile composer with an international reputation for choral music and music for film, television and concert hall. The work was premiered by Leonard Slatkin at London's Cadogan Hall in 2005. It uses Jewish folk tunes, chorales in the style of Bach and a wealth of melody…