Showing posts from February, 2011

A grateful St Dunstan's

Above: The St Dunstan's centre in Ovingdean, near Brighton holds introductory training and rehabilitation weeks for blinded ex-servicemen and women as well as offering respite care, holidays and a range of recreational and social activities. St Dunstaners in the North of the country can take advantage of the charity's residential centre in Sheffield which offers introductory weeks, computer and rehabilitation courses. The new Llandudno centre is due to open once design and refurbishment has been completed, offering excellent facilities to help meet the needs of ever-increasing numbers of St Dunstaners
I continue to be absorbed by different aspects of Surgeon Commander Murray Levick's life. It's also easy to be ensnared into trying to solve the inevitable puzzles and contradictions that arise from study of an individual as one delves more deeply into his or her world, especially today with the help of the internet.

But I don't want to spend the whole summer stuck in …

Another home with a history, across the pond

I'm still on the look-out for properties with interesting associations, like the Brewster home I described at or the writer R.F. Delderfield's former house in Sidmouth that you can see at

And having told you about the life of former Budleigh Salterton resident Surgeon Commander Murray Levick and his pioneering work to help the blinded veterans of World War One at how could I fail not to notice the interesting property shown above in Budleigh Salterton's Cape Cod sister-town of Brewster?

Especially as it has a connection with someone who was one of America's most famous blind people.

It's a beautiful house with its own meri…

Local hero's Fairlynch exhibition will benefit Help for Heroes

Antarctic explorer and former Budleigh Salterton resident George Murray Levick as he emerged from his six-month refuge in an ice cave on 24 September 1912 Photo credit: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
People seem keen to know more about the life of former Budleigh Salterton resident Surgeon Commander Murray Levick, judging by the capacity audience who gathered to hear author Katherine Lambert's excellent talk about her book Hell with a capital H in the Peter Hall last Monday. And it wasn't just Friends of Fairlynch Museum who came flocking in until it was almost standing room only.

I'd like to think that they'd clicked on
And my post at about the Commander's contribution to the early days of Chailey Heritage School and his sympathy for the plight of crippled children als…

A hero of Budleigh's heritage

George Murray Levick in his Surgeon Commander's uniform. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the Royal Navy
It's almost a year ago that Fairlynch Museum appealed for memories and documents relating to former Budleigh Salterton resident Surgeon Commander George Murray Levick, as I reported at

Since then I've found myself heavily involved in both the Museum's work as its press officer and in the story of Commander Levick's life. Not that I have any real military connections, or even deep knowledge of Antarctica which this naval doctor set out in 1910 to explore along with the unlucky Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

Maybe I'm intrigued by the Commander's lifelong desire to explore hostile environments, though it's been a long time since my own exploration of unknown parts as a carefree hitchhiker in the 1960s.

Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare hosts a visit organis…

Keeping art alive at Fairlynch

Fairlynch: much more than a museum
It's got a unique collection of costumes going back to the early 1700s, a display of archaeological and geological specimens including some curious radioactive nodules from the local cliffs, and some fascinating archive material giving us an insight into life over the centuries in Budleigh Salterton.

But the thatched cottage orné sitting in a beautiful garden overlooking the town's Fore Street is much more than a museum. Its full name is Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre, and over the years it has built up a small but select collection of visual art covering several specific areas of local interest.

Overheat by Devon-based artist Simon Ripley

Fairlynch also has its own Education Officer, Amanda Murrell, who works with local schoolchildren on a variety of projects. She recently hosted a total of 51 children and accompanying adults at the museum. Two schools, the Beacon Church of England Primary School in Exmouth and St Peter's Church of Englan…

News from the Brook Gallery

Promised Land, by Barton Hargreaves
A new exhibition at Budleigh Salterton's Brook Gallery features the work of London-based artist Barton Hargreaves.

Barton was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1975 and lives and works in London. He graduated from an MA in Fine Art Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in 2007 where he was awarded the Tim Mara Print Prize and the Tom Bendham drawing prize for his final show. He was also selected for Wallpaper magazine’s Graduate Directory. Other prizes he has received include the 20/21 Century Art Prize and the Tim Mara Calgary Exchange both in 2006.

Recent exhibitions include ‘Postgraduate Printmaking in London’ at the Clifford Chance Galleries, RA Summer Exhibition 2008, and the 20/21 Century Art Fair. He also has work in a number of collections including the Tim Mara Trust, the Royal Collage of Art Print Archive and the Royal Academy Schools Print Archive.

Barton Hargreaves: 2hr 45m (Form)

Currently Barton divides his time between his Print Fellow…

And another author's house on the market, this time in Brewster

For sale: Classic antique on old Cape Cod

"Who would want to move away from Budleigh?" we often wonder. And though I've not yet managed a trip to Brewster I can't help thinking the same question about the Cape Cod community, having hovered in cyberspace over Budleigh Salterton's sister-town for nearly two years of blogging.

But a few days ago a question posted on her Facebook page by one of my Brewster friends, author Myka-Lynne Sokoloff, caused some consternation. "Know someone who knows someone with a longing for a classic Cape Cod home?" she was asking. "Our 5-bedroom 3-bath antique house is on the market, with 3 acres of gardens, woods, and meadows."

Shock and surprise! "What a lovely home and piece of property you have!" "I can't believe you're moving..." were just some of the comments from people who'd seen the photos and property description on the realtor's page at…

A famous author's house on the market

The Gazebo, Peak Hill, Sidmouth. Now under offer

I love reading the property pages and either drooling over the images of some mansion or other far out of my reach, or congratulating myself on having found the house of our dreams in our little corner of East Devon.

It's been some time since I posted news of either Budleigh or Brewster houses for sale, but my thoughts turned to drooling the other day when my friend Annie and I decided last Saturday to walk to Sidmouth. Actually we got the bus to Otterton, so we cheated a bit. But tackling the steep climb along the coast path after a picnic on Ladram Bay beach was quite tough enough.

Ladram Bay pebble beach showing one of the stacks

With the waves glittering in the February sunshine and Peak Hill towering above us it felt more like a summertime hike that we should be doing in shorts and t-shirts rather than in our wet weather winter gear. Spring is definitely on the way.

It's a fairly straightforward well-indicated walk to Sidmouth t…

Would you like to become a steward at Fairlynch Museum?


If you thought the Chilean miners had a hard time...

Pictured emerging from their ice cave on 24 September 1912 are Commander Levick, second from right, and his five companions

Photo credit: The Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Katherine Lambert will tell the story of how a former Budleigh Salterton resident together with five fellow-explorers from Scott’s doomed 1910-13 expedition survived the seven-month ordeal of a pitch-dark Antarctic winter.

Huddled in a cramped ice cave, they survived on a diet of meat and blubber and a unique brand of resilience and comradeship.

The author will be talking to the Friends of Fairlynch Museum about her book Hell with a capital H, based on the diaries kept by Surgeon Commander George Murray Levick, the group's doctor.

He settled in Budleigh Salterton after an eventful life which included serving in World War I, pioneering medical treatments for the disabled, founding the British Schools Exploring Society and giving lessons in survival techniques to commandos in World War II.


Brewster, Cape Cod: sea, sun and snow

These beautiful pictures of the Cape Cod landscape were taken by Brewster resident Byron Cain, whose comments are below. They show that the region around Budleigh Salterton's sister town is a photographer's paradise.

The waves were freezing as they washed ashore, you can see a frozen slushy look at the edge of the water. My puppy dog was still chasing birds into the ocean on this cold day and I could stay outside for 10 minutes at a time.

Great colors; late fall sunset at Paines Creek Beach in Brewster

Sunset on Crosby Landing, Brewster

Another abandoned boat. Interesting paint job

Seagulls waiting out low tide, waiting for the Herring to make the run up Stoney Brook

Friend's house on Ellis Landing, Brewster Cape Cod. Ice creeping on shore with the tide

Cape Cod bay sunset

Last second decision to run down to Paine's Creek, Brewster, did not have time to set up and just did a quick snap shot with multiple exposures, no tripod

"It's a long road but it's very exciting."

The punishment of Prometheus, depicted by the 19th century painter Gustave Moreau

That was the conclusion reached during a public discussion on stem cell research, the subject of Budleigh Salterton's second science forum which took place yesterday.

The speakers were Dr Lesley Chow, from Florida, post-doctoral research associate in the Stevens' Group at the Institute of Biomechanical Engineering at Imperial College, London; Dr Christine Hauskeller, from Germany, Deputy Director at Egenis, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society at the University of Exeter ; and Dr Timothy Allsopp, Head of External Research for Pfizer Regenerative Medicine

It was that myth of Prometheus shown in the above painting which drove home to me the importance of stem research as the possible cure of so many common ailments. That and the striking image of the salamander growing new tissue to rep…

Mary Bryars

Former Fairlynch Museum steward Mary Bryars

Many volunteer helpers at Fairlynch Museum were sorry to hear of the recent death of Mary Bryars. Along with her husband Denys, Mary moved to Budleigh Salterton in 1980. Five years later, as many married couples used to and still do, they volunteered to become stewards at Fairlynch.

"He did the desk, she did upstairs," recalls Sylvia Merkel, who organises the stewards' rota. Denys, who had come to live in Budleigh Salterton after retiring as company chairman of the Sheffield Smelting Company, is remembered by Sylvia as "a lovely man with a white beard."

Mary, who lived to the great age of 94, made many friends among her fellow-stewards and was also much involved with the church. Sadly, she was widowed but carried on the work of being a steward at Fairlynch until she moved to live at Shandford Care Home on Station Road.

"There have been 400 stewards since 1967 when Fairlynch opened in Budleigh Salterton," says th…

Seal of approval for Brewster photo

Coastal dwellers know that all kinds of interesting objects get washed up on the shore, most of them unrecorded in the world's media. So the arrival of thousands - even millions - of starfish on Budleigh Salterton's pebble beach which attracted international headlines obviously found its way into my blog at

At the time it was noted by an Environment Agency spokesman that the little creatures had been drawn to our shores by the prospect of gorging on mussels.

Budleigh Salterton's naturist beach is discreetly hidden away to the west of Steamer Steps. The people in the background are actually engaged in a geological survey

There were of course some suggestions in the tabloid press that the cause of their death had actually been a vast session of passionate lovemaking which had left them so enfeebled that they hadn't been able to make their way back into the water. I didn't mention tha…