Showing posts from November, 2010

Exeter Bach Society's Christmas concert

Budleigh Salterton resident Nicholas Marshall, Exeter Bach Society's Director of Music, will be the conductor at a charity concert of Christmas Music and Carols in St James's Church, Exeter.

All proceeds from the concert on Thursday 9 December at 7.30 pm will benefit Age Concern Exeter.

St James' Church, on Mount Pleasant Road, is to the north-east of Exeter city centre next to the roundabout where Mount Pleasant Road, Prince Charles Road, Stoke Hill, Union Road and Old Tiverton Road meet.

Tickets at £8 are available by phone from the Age Concern office on 01392 202092 or on the door.

For more information about Exeter Bach Society click on

Brook captures 'Pictures of the Floating World': The Japanese Print Show 2010/2011

'Lightning', by Nana Shiomi

Like the Wise Men in the Christmas story the Brook Gallery has looked east to bring a star of Japanese printmaking to Budleigh Salterton.

"The Brook announces a stunning exhibition of Japanese Prints to round off a superb year of exceptional shows and start the New Year with aplomb - The Japanese Print Show opens on 12 December and runs to 9 January 2011.

Beautifully encapsulated with the phrase, ‘Ukiyo-e,’ which means ‘pictures of the floating world,’ the 18th century school of Japanese printmaking was the forerunner to much that we recognise in printmaking today. The Brook acknowledges this significant influence on modern art, with a contemporary take on Japanese printmaking and woodcuts.

'Moon' by Nana Shiomi

Originally produced purely in black and white, these early Eastern prints were akin to postcards, depicting popular and often theatrical images for home decoration. Lines were bold, shapes emphatic and the drama we celebrate in Japan…

A Step back in Time

Crinoline skirts and fancy waistcoats will be in evidence when ladies and gentlemen of the congregation assemble at the beautifully restored Salem Chapel in East Budleigh for its fifth Victorian Christmas service this year.

"We don't insist on men wearing top hats, and we're certainly not offering any prizes for the best outfit," says Kathy Moyle, Chairman of the Friends of Salem Chapel. "But the service has become quite a popular event and we do our best to decorate the Chapel as it might have appeared in Victorian times, so if people want to come along in period costume they'll be most welcome."

Mulled wine and mince pies will be on offer, with an optional collection being made for the Chapel.

The chapel is available for hire. For further information please contact Kathy Moyle on 01395 445236.

'A Step back in Time' takes place on Sunday 19 December at 4.00 pm.

Dr Mary Hart (1923-2010)

Dr Mary Hart welcomes Hugo Swire MP to Fairlynch Museum

Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum could not operate without the volunteer staff who play a vital role in all aspects of this much-loved institution of the town, from managing the finances to acting as stewards when the building is open to the public.

All those involved with the Museum as well as many residents of the town were sorry to learn of the death at the beginning of this year of Dr Mary Hart, aged 86.

Dr Mary Hart, who died on 12 February, 2010, was born on 25 May 1923 to Albert Ernest and Winifred Maud in Derby where her father, Albert Ernest Sawday, was a General Practitioner. Her father bought a medical practice at Hillside, Crouch End Road in North London. Dr Mary was educated at Channing School, which was evacuated to Ross on Wye during the Second World War. She was then one of a small group of female medical students who trained in London during the latter year of the war. Both within her family and her school …

A fake scam?

I don't intend to post news of every scam I read about, but a Budleigh Salterton friend sent me details of this Postal Scam recently, and it sounds so horrifically clever that I thought I'd pass it on!

"Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching - it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655.

For more information, see the Crime Stoppers website:…

A big issue on both sides of the pond

A recently built five-bedroom detached house at Clyst Hayes Gardens, on Budleigh Salterton's Exmouth Road, priced at £865,000.
Photo image

It was a former resident of Brewster, MA who told me some time ago that the Cape Cod town and Budleigh Salterton were ideally suited as twin communities because of their equally high house prices.

As readers may know, I'm always keen to point out similarities between Budleigh and Brewster but that particular aspect is not generally seen as a positive. In fact our friends across the Atlantic expressed their concerns about it recently at a forum on 3 November which brought together Brewster estate agents, bankers and local officials and volunteers.

Making Brewster affordable for a range of workers was seen as vital by forum participants. “It’s very critical largely because the Cape cost of housing is higher, and wages are lower so service workers can’t afford to buy a p…

Slow progress on speeding signs in Budleigh Salterton

Image credit: Brake

It's now almost 18 months since the 'Please drive slowly through the town' sign at one of the main approaches to Budleigh Salterton was demolished, ironically by a speeding driver. See

As this is Road Safety Week and as residents of Exmouth Road and West Hill have been complaining for years about speeding drivers I thought I'd ask Devon County Councillor and Budleigh resident Christine Channon for some news about a suitable replacement.

After all it was in July this year that Cllr Channon, a member of the Budleigh Salterton Traffic Group reported that she had visited the area with PC Simon Evans and that they had found two good sites for electronic interactive signs which tell speeding drivers to slow down.

One would be placed near Links Road (outbound) and the other could go near Clyst Hayes Gardens (inbound)…

Budleigh Salterton: a quiet little place by the sea?

I spotted the above painting by Exeter-based artist Anna Mazek a few days after visiting the beach at Budleigh where the sea was still raging against the pebbles in the aftermath of a stormy November night. Waves were leaping high into the air in a series of snow-white blizzards as though about to cover the little boats that had been left on the shoreline, then retreating to leave just a few harmless inches of white foam.

Well, that's what seems to be happening in my photo.
Yet only five minutes away from there the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the High Street was calm as only Budleigh can be.

Anna Mazek's painting entitled 'Toward Budleigh' captures some of that mad energy on the beach where, as she writes, the River Exe meets with the Atlantic ocean. at Budleigh Salterton. "Here the oceanic moods are accentuated by a Jurassic coast and world heritage site."

Originally from London, Anna Mazek says that she grew up within a multi cultural society that gr…

A sparkling new co-op on the High Street

It was about this time last year that the sight of a boarded-up shopfront on the High Street got me dreaming of how a creative craftsman or woman might set up a studio and start a trend for shops in Budleigh Salterton where people could see products being made.

An exotic chocolatier might set up his or her business, I suggested, at having learnt about such a development in Budleigh's sister-town of Brewster, Massachusetts.

So it was good to meet an enthusiastic and artistic new arrival who has set up shop on Budleigh's High Street, combining a gallery of intriguing bespoke jewellery with a workshop where he can be seen creating the items.

Jason Jones, pictured above, is one of four members of what he describes as "a jewellery cooperative" which has up to now been based at Otterton Mill where designer Steve Whitford set up his handcrafted jewellery business.

Now the venture has expanded, …

Christmas jollity to look forward to

Christmas decorations appeared weeks or even months ago and I got my first Christmas card in mid-November.

In Budleigh Salterton's Cape Cod sister-town they're gearing up for the Brewster for the Holidays event, a three-day weekend jamboree with its own website promoting a host of activities: concerts, and of course shopping: the Brewster General Store for example is open for three days from 6.30 am to 6.00 pm.

Here in Budleigh Salterton the festive season also starts on Friday 3 December with the Late Night Shopping event organised by the town's Chamber of Commerce. Santa Claus is scheduled to set out on his sleigh from the Public Hall at 6.00 pm and will make his way along the High Street. Children from St Peter's School will be singing carols around the Christmas Tree in Rolle Square and shops will be staying open until 9.00 pm.

Plenty of other entertainments are pr…

The beauty of trees

Ponderosa Pines in the Rocky Mountains
Photo credit: Margaret Wilson

"What's the most beautiful thing in the world?" my uncle asked me.

As we waited for lunch in a hotel dining-room overlooking a London park ablaze with autumn colour, I wondered as a raw and immature 15-year-old what kind of reply he was expecting. "A naked woman?" I thought, tentatively, but of course didn't dare to suggest.

"A tree," he stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

I don't suppose that I displayed any reaction to his stunningly simple answer. But I've always remembered the scene, and I have to admit that trees have grown on me over the half century that has elapsed since that moment.

Michael Wilson has been, as he told us, "inspired by the beauty of trees" since the time he spent working at the University of Washington in Seattle 40 years ago. However it was also their grandeur, and the vastness of the forests that he and his wife Margare…

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

East Devon Green Party co-ordinator Sharon Pavey (third from left) with friends

Her Green Party gained only 1.5% of the East Devon constituency vote in the General Election of 6 May this year, but candidate Sharon Pavey declared that she was "over the moon" with the result, especially as the East Devon Green Party group was set up only in January 2010.

On Saturday 4 December the Greens are holding a Open Mic party to celebrate their first Christmas in East Devon and are keen for both members and non-members to attend. "This is also an opportunity for us to raise much needed funds to enable us to get Green councillors elected at the local elections next May, so we hope you can support the event," says Ms Pavey.

The Greens are hopeful of increasing their future support in East Devon following the dissension in LibDem party ranks after leader Nick Clegg's decision to join the Conervatives' David Cameron in forming a coalition government.

Ms Pavey believes that som…

Coffee Morning for Budleigh Hospital

Budleigh Salterton's NHS Hospital continues to benefit from improvements helped by much community fund-raising as I wrote last year at

This year's annual fete organised by Budleigh Salterton Hospital's League of Friends raised £1836 for refurbishment of the Cowdry Ward. In the recent National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) inspections, Budleigh Salterton Hospital was judged to be ‘excellent’ for environment and cleanliness and was given an ‘excellent’ rating for the food served there.

The League of Friends is holding a coffee morning at 10.00 am on Saturday 20 November in the Peter Hall, behind St Peter's Church. There will be a white elephant stall, cakes and preserves, Christmas cards, books and raffles. Coffee and biscuits will be available.

Absurdly singular persons on stage

"I know that tartan skirt" I thought, on seeing the Salterton Drama Club's webpage about their next production at And sure enough, the name of Jenny Roberts on the cast list of Alan Ayckbourn's play Absurd Person Singular was familiar, as was that of her co-star Simon Blissett.

Not long after moving to the area I'd met this pair of what I imagined to be typical Budleigh Salterton eccentrics ready to make fools of themselves by raising money for charity on Comic Relief Day as described at

Since then I've realised that both are simply regular Drama Club members who enjoy making audiences laugh, whether on Budleigh Salterton High Street or in their Salterton Playhouse hidden down an alleyway off Station Road.

The three-act Ayckbourn comedy which made its London début in 1972 was last staged by the Salterton Drama Club ten years ago. Th…

Concert at the Temple Methodist Church

As imposing in its way as the parish church of St Peter's Budleigh Salterton's Temple Methodist church on Fore Street with its excellent acoustics is well-known as a venue for many of the concerts staged during the town's Music Festival.

It's also a notable landmark with a 'rags to riches' story, being built on the site of the Methodist chapel originally founded by a notable Budleigh character, the 18th century bookseller James Lackington as I mentioned at

So the concert this Saturday 13 November 2010 in aid of the Temple Methodist Refurbishment Fund will no doubt be a sell-out, featuring as it does the town's Male Voice Choir and one of Britain's top clarinetists. Among the songs being performed are 'Any Dream Will Do', 'Some Enchanted Evening,' 'Portrait of My Love,' 'The Rose', 'You Don't Have …

A school for seafood on West Hill

Lobster pots on Budleigh beach

Living by the sea in Budleigh Salterton we're lucky enough to be able to enjoy fresh fish, either from the High Street's excellent fishmonger G. & K. Sanders or even straight off the beach.

The only thing I've got against fish is the bones. "Just eat a mouthful of bread," they told me when I first tried to eat kippers and complained about those whiskery little filaments that somehow manage to avoid your knife and fork and end up trapped in your teeth.

Budleigh Salterton is fortunate in having its own fishmonger

It's those annoying little bones that put people off buying good value whole fish like mackerel and herring. But now you can keep up with all those foodies on the BBC's Masterchef programme and learn how to deal with some of Budleigh's fresh fish by attending a demonstration at Rosehill Rooms and Cookery on West Hill.

Willi and Sharon Rehbock started their luxury boutique style bed and breakfast business in a splen…

Brushstrokes & Baseballs

I seem to spend quite a lot of my life nowadays hovering in mid-Atlantic cyberspace while digesting emailed news and views which might be of interest to people curious about this odd link between Brewster MA and Budleigh Salterton.

The trouble with cyberspace is that there is something a bit unreal about it. I mean, I've never really been able to work out where it is and there's something rather disembodied about emails, untouched by human hand as they are. And every so often a worrying onscreen virus warning confirms that it's really total anarchy out there. Only last year I was naive enough to follow the instructions which came with one of those warnings, and had to buy a new computer as a result.

So it was quite a pleasure to receive an old-fashioned postcard from Brewster artist Phil Airoldi telling me about an art exhibition at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth in which he's been very much involved.

Readers of these pa…

Just a thought for Poppy Day

Budleigh Salterton's branch of the Royal British Legion was lucky enough to be offered a shopfront for their 2009 Poppy Appeal on the High Street, so I was surprised to find them hiding away in Brook Road a few days ago.

"We have to be prepared to move to different premises in the town each year," Poppy Appeal Officer Glenn Sismore-Hunt told me. "It would be wonderful to have a permanent site in a prominent position on the High Street, but we have to accept what's on offer."

Well the exhibition that they've set up at the Brook Road site looks attractive enough, and I was interested to see this painting by Neil Rogers depicting a Luftwaffe Junkers 88 flying down Budleigh High Street during World War II. The bullet marks it left on the buildings can still be seen apparently. People in Oundle, Northamptonshire, where I used to live before moving to Budleigh, had much the same experience when a lone enemy aircraft on its way back to Germany shot off a couple …

Not just fun for guys

The villain of Bonfire Night, now caricatured in a Guy Fawkes mask

What I remember from my childhood as Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November tends to be called by other names in Britain nowadays. Maybe the thought of a 17th century terrorist caught in the act of trying to blow up Parliament for religious reasons is something that we feel is a bit too close for comfort, although the town of Lewes resolutely maintains the old traditions. It has no fewer than seven Bonfire Societies states the Lewes Bonfire Council at described in a fellow-blogger's words as "a weird website that warns off outsiders from trying to attend."

And in this Sussex town only an hour's journey from London they burn not only an effigy of Guy Fawkes himself, but even one of Pope Paul V, leader of the Catholic Church at the time of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

Maybe they do feel genuine rancour even after more than five centuries for the cruel burning of 17 Protestant …

Leaves from a traveller's diary

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons via Flikr
It's getting a bit late now to plan a tour of the beautiful New England landscape in the Fall, and in any case the autumn colours of this part of Devon are looking particularly sensational this year. But a forthcoming Friends of Fairlynch Museum talk in Budleigh Salterton's Peter Hall will no doubt inspire some of those attending to cross the Atlantic in search of spectacular scenery like that shown in the above picture.

The trees of New England will be just one of many aspects covered by Michael Wilson's talk entitled 'Trees of North America.' He and his wife Margaret, who live in Woodbury and have been Friends of Fairlynch for about ten years, spent time in America on two occasions during the mid 1960s and early 1970s while working in Seattle, in Washington State.

"While there we hiked and camped a great deal in the Pacific Northwest," he says. Since then they have had many holidays in many places in North America.…

Raising high the roof beams in Brewster

Brewster's First Parish Church
Photo credit:

It's not quite as old as Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum building, which celebrates its 200th birthday next year, but it's just as iconic and well-loved by local residents.

The Meeting House, otherwise known as the First Parish Church of Brewster in our sister-town on Cape Cod, with its white clapboard and steeple so typical of New England places of worship, regularly features in paintings and photographs like this fine one taken by local resident Susan Spencer.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the restoration of the Cape Cod town's 176-year-old landmark building was held on 26 October but work in earnest on the $1.3m project will not start until January 2011.

The current building, dating from 1834, replaced earlier structures and over the years has suffered from many problems including water ingress and insect damage, which has resulted in deterioration of the timber skeleton. But Br…