Showing posts from March, 2011

Cutting hedge technology needed

If you've read my past complaints at about speeding traffic on the roads around Budleigh Salterton you'll know that Devon County Councillor Christine Channon has been hard at work persuading the powers that be to install interactive warning signs at approaches to the town.

Many local residents shared my concerns. "Walked up to Sherbrook Hill today with my children, was terrifying," was one comment on my blog post. "Look at the approach to Sidmouth with their traffic calming, this is what is needed, and it will save lives. Needs to happen now."

So I was delighted to see that two of these clever devices have appeared on West Hill and Exmouth Road. I wanted a photo of the West Hill sign - illuminated of course - and had to wait for quite some time for a speeding car like the one in the above photo to light it up. How reassuring, I thought. Were the signs actually needed …

Good neighbours watch over museum

PC Simon Evans flanked by the two recently recruited Fairlynch stewards Hanneke Coates and Catrine Waller along with some of the Museum's loyal team of volunteer helpers

"It's one of Budleigh's treasures, and we're proud to support it," say Hanneke Coates and Catrine Waller. "We're looking forward to welcoming visitors and telling them something of the area's fascinating history." Local residents Hanneke and Catrine are among the newest recruits to a stewarding scheme at Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum which has been supported by Devon & Cornwall Police.

With its displays of local geology and natural history, mementos of Budleigh Salterton's railway and volumes of researched information on local events, developments and personalities, Fairlynch - the only thatched museum of its kind in the UK - is a precious repository of much of the town's heritage. The building is also one of Budleigh's best known landmarks, and ce…

Don't be distracted!

Being burgled is never a pleasant experience, especially the violent kind. I suppose a distraction burglary is certainly less traumatic for the householder, but it's surely hurtful in its way if it leaves you feeling foolish at trusting someone who you thought was 'a decent type.'

Devon & Cornwall Police's community messaging service is an ideal way of warning people about these types who are not decent at all.

The service was highlighted by Chief Constable Stephen Otter when he spoke ten days ago on 21 March at Budleigh Salterton's annual parish meeting. If everyone in the town was part of the service, he said, you become a whole Budleigh Salterton Neighbourhood Watch.

So with that in mind, here's the latest warning I've just received via community messaging. Do pass it on.

"Several distraction burglaries have been committed in the Devon area in the last few days. In some incidents the offender claims to be from the Water Board; in others the Gas …

Brushing up Budleigh's image

Pictured is Mayor Tom Wright: "We're the Big Society in action in Budleigh Salterton."

Somewhere a few weeks ago I'd read that money had become available for re-painting the railings which run alongside the brook in Budleigh's Fore Street.

I'd imagined that a squad of District Council painters would be tackling the work. So it was a surprise yesterday to find myself face to goggled face with the town's mayor who'd rolled up his sleeves and was busy getting on with the job along with his fellow town councillor Chris Kitson.

The railings are the property of Devon County Council, Mayor Wright told me. They're a vital feature of the floral display along the brook, earning Budleigh its prominent position in the annual Britain in Bloom competition.

Budleigh in Bloom's members had been hoping that the railings would be given a facelift in time for the competition this summer, but were dismayed to find that because of spending cuts the County Council …

Running for the men in her life

"Give a few bob," Bob Monkhouse asked us when appealing for funds to help beat the prostate cancer which killed him. Budleigh Salterton's Elaine Raymond, pictured above, is confident she can raise a lot more than that with the half-marathon that she's running on 1 May even though she hasn't run properly for 20 years.

"I'm finding the training quite tough, and my best so far is only six miles, but I'll get there in the end," says a determined Elaine, who lives in Knowle Road. "As long as I can finish before everyone has gone home," she adds.

The 56-year-old has had to face the reality of prostate cancer in her boss, her father and in her husband Mark, who was diagnosed with the disease just over two years ago. Now she is running in the Follett Stock Great West Run 2011 in Exeter to raise money which will be split between the Chestnut Appeal and the North & East Devon Prostate Support Association (NEDPSA).


Reflections on the glass

I enjoy the occasional spot of DIY - it revives memories from all those years ago of messing around in my father's workshop in Somerset - increasingly helping me to recreate that second more perfect childhood. Something to which I feel we should all be entitled in exchange for the passage of time.

We used to live in a Victorian property - it even had a datestone telling us that the house was built in 1886. It gave me childish thrills even then to make unexpected discoveries. Like original Victorian Christmas cards under the floorboards in the attic, or pulling off the plywood cladding beloved by previous owners to discover a beautiful staircase intact with spindles and oak newel posts, as well as fine panelled doors.

Then there was the glass. A quarter-inch thick panel etched with a design showing a sheaf of corn was discovered in the cellar covered in dust and cobwebs and refitted in another door that had been spoilt with that nasty bobbly frosted glass. And a hatch into the attic …

No run-of-the mill story

Pic: Stony Brook Gristmill in Brewster, Cape Cod
Photo by Byron Cain

My American friend Jonathan Mayo keeps me informed about all manner of things going on in the area around Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster. A few months ago he drew my attention to some photos that he'd taken for his own blog at

Otterton Mill, proud of its signature stoneground wholemeal flour. Three-hour bakery lessons are available by phoning 01395 568521. Book early because I see that tomorrow's course on 22 March 2011 is sold out
Stony Brook Gristmill, a major Cape Cod tourist attraction has been undergoing refurbishment for some time now. I've always taken a special interest in the project because the fact that both the Brewster and the Budleigh areas have their own working mills - both grinding corn as well - seems to be just another delightful similarity between the two to…

Bach's B Minor Mass

It's said that Bach, pictured above, probably never heard his B Minor Mass in its entirety during his lifetime
More amazing music. It's taking place a bit further away this time, but under the baton of Budleigh Salterton's own Nicholas Marshall. As Musical Director of Exeter Bach Society he will be conducting J.S. Bach's magnificent work. So I expect there'll be plenty of people from the town in the audience, as well as on stage.

Young soloists from London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama will feature in the performance along with the Exeter Bach Society Choir and Orchestra.

Founded in 1995, Exeter Bach Society is the only choral society in Exeter devoted to the life and works of J.S. Bach. As well as giving outstanding choral concerts, the Society regularly perform Bach's Cantatas in the Cathedral as the major part of the Evening Service on selected Sundays.

The B Minor Mass is being performed in St David's Church, Queens Terrace, in Exeter city cent…

Peter Donohoe returns

Celebrated concert pianist Peter Donohoe Photo credit: Susie Ahlburg
It's been almost two years since I started blogging in Budleigh and one of the major musical events that I wrote about was the concert by internationally known pianist Peter Donohoe, given as part of the highly popular St Peter's Music series.

Peter Donohoe has such an impressive musical pedigree that I'm going to refer you to rather than type out all his achievements again.

It was an amazing performance and St Peter's Church is certain to be packed out, as it was in 2009.

This time he is playing:

French Suite No 5 in G major, BWV 816 J S Bach
Drei Klavierstuck Op 117 Brahms
Piano Sonata in A flat major Op 110 Beethoven
Sonata (1926) Bartok
Ballade No 3 Chopin
Polonaise Fantasie Chopin
Andante Spianato e Gran' Polonaise Brilliante Chopin

The concert is on Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 8.00 pm.

On this occasion Peter Donohoe will also give…

More music in the fight against cancer

This time it's a concert which clashes unfortunately with one that I'd just written about at and now I can't decide which one to go to.

The highly popular Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir are supporting Cancer Research UK with a concert at the Temple Methodist Church in Budleigh's Fore Street.

On this occasion they will be performing with special guest flautist and member of a well-known East Budleigh family Jess Hill, pictured above. The granddaughter of Gerry Hill who sings in the baritone section of the Male Voice Choir, Jess started playing the flute at the age of nine and has enjoyed performing on the instrument ever since.

"I have played at weddings and also at a funeral," she tells me. "I first had the privilege of playing with the choir at the age of thirteen and have appeared with them on other occasions since. I also play the piccolo and the piano. I am taking my…

Villains who drive a hard bargain

Contact a reputable firm for dealing with problems like this rather than trust a cold caller is the police advice
Rogue tarmaccers have been driven away from Budleigh Salterton for the time being thanks to the Community Messaging System set up to help the public in the fight against crime.

Following a police warning that persons had been reported as offering tarmac work in the Budleigh Salterton area on 14 March the authorities were able to confirm the next day that a community messaging recipient had responded promptly, enabling police to stop-check and identify the occupants of a vehicle.

"Although no actual offences were committed in this case these people will have realised that their card is now marked and may not try their tricks here for a while," said the police. "The police officers involved were suspicious but there was not enough evidence to take direct action."
If your tarmac driveway is looking the worse for wear, beware!

"Please be aware of the risks …

Concert for cancer charity

Glenorchy church, Exmouth
Photo credit:

I suspect that the story about fundraising in the fight against cancer at will be followed by a few more this year as Macmillan celebrates its centenary.

Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton's Macmillan Cancer Support group was set up in late 2010 by some energetic characters - three from Exmouth and two from Budleigh - who are now offering us the chance of hearing great classical music in a local church while contributing to a worthy cause.

The ISCA String Quartet is a Devon-based group who play regularly in charity concerts, and will be performing in Glenorchy Church on Exeter Road in Exmouth.

"This will be a wonderful evening performed by some of the best local musicians and should not be missed," say the organisers.

The programme consists of a movement from a Mozart String Quintet followed by the Brahms String Quartet Op. 51 No…

The latest development on Exmouth Road

'Bicton', at the west end of Clyst Hayes Gardens

Having featured some properties in Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster recently I thought it was only right to give my US readers a glimpse of our own real estate. In fact they can choose between five newly-arrived homes on the market since realtors Jackson-Stops & Staff unveiled at last Saturday's Open Day what they call "an exceptional development" in "a unique setting overlooking a County Wildlife Site."

Readers of my Exmouth Roadies blog will know that the plot I'm referring to is what used to be the garden of Clyst Hayes House, which I wrote about at

Perhaps not as grand as the original Clyst Hayes House, but the new houses are spacious enough by modern standards

Like many Budleigh residents I followed closely the progress of this development and was even moved to write a poem about it when poor o…

A well kept secret

One of Britain's leading experts on the Bronze Age archaeological sites of East Devon will be updating local history enthusiasts on the latest theories about a mysterious water shrine only a few miles outside Exmouth.

Back in the 1920s a Budleigh Salterton amateur archaeologist called George Carter upset the archaeological establishment of his day by publishing what were considered outlandish theories about the meaning of the strange pebble cairns in the area.

Now an international team of researchers led by Professor Christopher Tilley of University College London has shown that George Carter's ideas were well ahead of his time.

There's symbolism in those stones. Professor Christopher Tilley with one of the pebbles for which the Budleigh Salterton area is famous

"Carter may well have the last laugh from his grave!" says Professor Tilley. "Eighty years later most of what we know about the prehistory of the Pebblebed heathlands is due solely to his efforts."


A French holiday in a good cause

After my first post of March at I hope that this month's blog posts are not going to be taken up mainly with the theme of cancer.

But hey, it's Macmillan's centenary year and I'm feeling a natural kinship with fellow-sufferers. And anyway many of my Budleigh readers will have exchanged pleasantries, or even fought hard bargains, with the person who pointed me in the direction of the following story.

I'm sure they'll find it as moving and as heart-warming as I did.

I knew Sheila Hyson as the stallholder in Budleigh Salterton's Thursday Flea Market who's always there in the top right corner of the Public Hall with her table of garden ornaments and horticultural curios. That's because she's the one in charge, being the boss of Hyson Fairs.

What I didn't know is that for the past 30 years she's been raising money for a charity dear to her heart.

"But now it is my turn,…

Natural associations

John Hay Photo: Grace McCandless

Reading the many appreciations in the American press of the life of Cape Cod naturalist John Hay, I was reminded of the obituary that I wrote for the British naturalist Miriam Rothschild back in January 2003, published in The Oundle Chronicle.

Somewhere, I thought, it ought to be online even after all this time, but all I could find was a tiny footnote in a Wikipedia entry "Dame Miriam Rothschild, obituary". Oundle Chronicle (The) which led me to

Clicking on that link led to a strange page listing everything from a Clearance Event at a Harborough furniture super store to an invitation to watch free movies online, with guarantee of "Huge Variety and Premium Quality 100% Legal and Safe."

Such is the anarchy of the world wide web where one's finest literary efforts can suddenly find themselves relegated to a dung heap in outer cyber…

No I'm not an estate agent but...

With 1.10 acres this Brewster property built around 1900 is on the market for $559,000. I love the tower with its French château-style turret
I see that since writing about the lovely Cape Cod house with its link to Helen Keller at the price has dropped by $70K from $649,900 to $579,000.

Some updating is required, says the realtor, while claiming the property's "huge potential." From this side of the pond it looks even more tempting now, with what our UK estate agents would describe as its "bags of character."

There are plenty more Brewster properties to drool over if you click on the link that I've just been sent at

I think I'd better start posting details of Budleigh Salterton properties, just to keep the balance right.

Macmillan Matters

Good news from Macmillan: David Warner of the Exmouth & Budleigh Salterton branch of North & East Devon Prostate Support Association with Tricia Heard, Area Chair, East Devon Macmillan Cancer Support
Well, here we are at the start of what I've been told is Prostate Awareness Month. After the experience that I described at I was beginning to wonder how aware one can be of something that isn't there.

But then a Budleigh friend who'd learnt what I'd been through just over a year ago shocked me by saying he'd soon be following in my footsteps. Except that he wasn't sure if I'd done the right thing.

I hadn't actually been aware that this month was special until we were told the news by the guest speaker at my local Prostate Support Association meeting last week. Tricia Heard is the Area Chair for East Devon Macmillan Cancer Support. In fact she told us that it's …

Murder Weekend in Budleigh Salterton

The Salterton Drama Club's spring production of 'Murder Weekend' by Bettine Manktelow is a comedy thriller directed by Mary Logan.

Livia, a romantic short story writer, and her husband Stan, arrive at a country hotel for a "Murder Mystery weekend. They are joined by Patsy and her husband Ashley, who have won the weekend in a competition and Vi and Dorothy. Each receives an anonymous "Murder Mystery" game envelope. Someone has left extra notes for Patsy and Stan exposing Livia's and Ashley's illicit affair. Next, Shelley, the chambermaid, mysteriously disappears and everyone is left to determine whether this is all part of the game. However, intrigue and suspicion deepens when one last uninvited guest arrives.

The cast on rehearsal evenings

Bettine Manktelow has been in theatrical ventures either professional of amateur all her life, starting off as a repertory actress at the age of fifteen. Her first play, which was not published, was presented in Singa…

Cornish voices join with Budleigh choir

Glorious sounds from Glorious Devon: the new CD from Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir

That concert by Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir which I wrote about last September at last year raised an impressive £1,350.00 for Fairlynch Museum.

"Each year we do a concert for our own funds which enables us to stage 10 to 12 concerts for various charities without charge and to maximise funds raised," explains Choir Secretary Adrian Haysom.

"This year's concert is on Saturday 5 March at 7.30 pm at Tower Street Methodist Church, Exmouth, where we will be joined by the Rame Peninsula Male Voice Choir from Cornwall."

And naturally, he feels, "It would be wonderful if Friends of Fairlynch could be there."

Sales of the Budleigh Salterton choir's latest CD are also helping to swell funds for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. Over the years the choir has produced four or five CDs and tapes …