Saturday, 16 April 2011

Not just storms in tea-cups

Mayflower II at State Pier in Plymouth. The Mayflower II is a replica of the 17th century ship Mayflower, celebrated for transporting the Pilgrims to the New World. The replica was built in Devon, England, during 1955–1956. Photo credit: Wikipedia

I've always had an idealised view of our sister-town of Brewster on Cape Cod.

Perhaps the Irish immigrant element in my own family background moved me when I thought of those early New Englanders bravely setting out across the Atlantic, leaving behind all the intolerance and prejudice of Europe to seek freedom and a fresh start in their New World communities.

So I had a cosy picture of proudly independent Brewster, a mini-state within the state of Massachusetts, with its own respected Chief of Police, its highly qualified Fire Chief, its idealistic and hardworking Town Manager, its iconic Ladies' Library with all those free concerts and exhibitions, and of course its own budget.

A community with shared common values of decency, tolerance and enlightened respect for its beautiful environment. And that included some admirably progressive views on the need for the town to be self-sufficient in energy needs.

In 2003 an Alternative Energy Committee was created in the belief that the answer to the worldwide energy crisis lay in wind. Four years later a wind energy bylaw was passed and Brewster's selectmen - the equivalent of our town councillors - were authorised to negotiate with the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC). This group had been created in 2008 "to provide the municipalities of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard a way to work together to integrate clean, renewable energy as part of a more sustainable Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard" as stated on its website at

To be sure there were protesters but they were condemned by some fairly eminent voices from the moral high ground. Here's Brewster resident Joe Klein, celebrated journalist and author of the book Primary Colors, attacking one particular group of dissenters.

"Can I just say that the opposition to Cape Cod Wind Farm, in Nantucket Sound, is one of the most blatant cases of NIMBYism I've ever seen" he wrote just over a year ago in Time Magazine. "I'm terribly sorry that the wind farm will spoil their sunrises and turn their sailing into slalom, but this is alternative energy we're talking about here. It's a no brainer and I hope Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will put an end to the slow-walk forthwith. (And I'd be happy to welcome a second wind farm over on my side of the Cape, in Cape Cod Bay.)"

Well, fortified by support from Mr Klein and others who shared his vision, the Brewster town authorities powered ahead. “The president of the United States has made it part of his program to have renewable energy projects. The governor of the state has made it part of his program,” noted Ed Lewis, selectmen chairman, so why not Brewster, he wondered.

The two, 410-foot-tall turbines would be built on leased town land, next to the Captains Course driving range, in Commerce Park, off Freeman’s Way, within view of Route 6. They were, or are, expected to generate $3.6 million in electrical energy cost savings and lease payments for Brewster over the first 15 years of operation.

I hadn't come across that expression before but I could guess what it means.

Yes, wind turbines can catch fire

But with the New Year and stormy weather came, ironically, the surge of protest from many Brewster residents that I described at

By 11 February 329 protesters had signed a petition. People began talking about property values, fire and ice hazards, blade throw, and even, apparently "static electricity emanating from the towers." They felt themselves to be, as the Cape Codder newspaper so picturesquely put it, "sacrificed on the altar of green energy."

Above all, there was the argument, so familiar in small, peacefully contented communities which include both the Cape Cod town and its East Devon sister Budleigh Salterton, that the turbines "didn’t fit Brewster’s rural character."

A week later came the news that a majority of selectmen on the planning board had voted against wind turbines. And Brewster is not alone. Apparently it's the fourth local project of its kind to be voted down, with similar protests winning the day in the Cape Cod towns of Wellfleet, Harwich and Orleans. The neighbouring community of Dennis is the latest to see antis in the majority at a public meeting last Monday 11 April.

But the battle is not yet over. I've now read that the town authorities have been accused of seeking to circumvent the planning board's decision by "cutting red tape." The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative has told Brewster selectmen that the group will seek an exemption under state law allowing them to build two municipal wind turbines in the industrial park without a special permit from the town.

Turbine foe Mitch Relin is not surprised. "It seems like the board of selectmen, in concert with CVEC, is going outside the town process that is in place and that seems appropriate, and that is disheartening,” he says. Others, like Brewster resident Joyce McConnell, are more forthright. "The town selectmen now appear prepared to propose elimination of the democratic process governing our local elected officials," she wrote in a letter to the Cape Cod Times.

Equally there are those who still believe that Brewster should take the lead in developing wind energy. "It is a good thing, right now and for the future, for our town and for Cape Cod," was the view of local resident Paul Hush in his letter to the same newspaper.

Proposals for the demolition of the the Longboat Café on Budleigh Salterton's sea front have shocked many local residents. The café's replacement by a modern building would, so the Town Council suggested, be like a "carbuncle perpetrated upon the face of an old friend." Very few planning applications "have given rise to such strong and diametrically opposed feelings about the proposal" noted East Devon District Council

All that talk of ignoring democracy and public opinion, and the notion that some communities are simply "not the place" for certain developments, have inevitably put me in mind of our own agonisings about a certain café on our sea-front.

The issue is sufficiently divisive within East Devon for Budleigh Salterton Town Council, in an Open Letter dated 1 November 2009, to have accused the more powerful East Devon District Council of being seen as "having little regard for the democratic process" and riding "roughshod over moderate opinion."

Many Budleigh people would agree that the Longboat Café would be improved with a certain amount of updating, but equally a large number feel that the design approved by the District Council is not appropriate for a location which has been officially classed as a World Heritage Site.

Some would say that by comparison with most important issues in today's world the arguments over wind turbines and beachside cafés are no more than storms in Brewster and Budleigh tea-cups. Others would say that it's heartening to read of communities composed of people passionate about their local environment, prepared to stick their neck out and protest rather than toe the party line just because it's politically correct.

Weekend wedding fever

St Peter's Church, venue for one of the weekend events

I know that some of my closet-royalist American readers are closely following news of the wedding on Friday 29 April between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Many Budleigh Salterton people are equally enthusiastic about the prospect of all that rejoicing at the happy event, including the extra bank holiday that the UK will enjoy. The misery guts at the Department of Business have estimated that the cost of this in loss of working days will come to around £2.9 billion, and it's true, we are in a recession. But royal weddings don't happen all that often, and some British businesses are actually hoping to do rather well out of the event. Just click on to see what I mean.

Anyway some good causes will certainly benefit. At St Peter's Church in Budleigh they've been planning a display of over 40 wedding dresses for some time to coincide with the national weekend festivities. 'Wedding Belles' is what they're calling the exhibition at St Peter's Church, which runs from Saturday 30 April until Monday 2 May. Hours are from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Saturday and Monday, and12.00 pm to 5.00 pm on Sunday. Entrance is £3.00 with under-12 years going free. Refreshments will be available in The Peter Hall. All proceeds will go to the Church Maintenance Fund.

Later on, the same day, there's a Family Fun Night at Budleigh's Public Hall from 7.00 to 11.00 pm, with Disco, Karaoke, Sausage & Mash Supper, Children's Games, and a Raffle, all on a 'Red, White & Blue' Fancy Dress Theme with a prize for the best dressed. Tickets are £2.50, which includes supper, and are available from the Town Council Offices and The Card Shop Too. Guests are invited to bring their own drinks. On Sunday 1 May the feasting continues with a Community Picnic on The Green, from 12.30 pm to 4.00 pm. Entry is free and people are invited to bring a picnic to share with their family and friends. A Bouncy Castle, Face Painting, Magician, and Games are among the attractions. Soft drinks and of course cream teas will be available. If the weather refuses to join in with the festivities the event will be in the Public Hall.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Museum shows off 'the Full Monty' and much more

A century of costumes. Go and find out what they're staring at in the sky!

Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum is celebrating a pair of centenaries in 2011 with two contrasting exhibitions. To mark the occasion there is a new exhibition of costumes on the theme of '200 years of ladies living at Fairlynch.' The display shown above portrays clothes which might have been worn during the first hundred years of the house. When I took the photo questions were being asked about what the ladies were staring at. Since then the answer has been found, but I'll leave you readers to go and find out what the exhibition organisers finally decided.

The show includes the 1920s 'flapper' dress and evening wear from the 1930s seen above.

Also on display and pictured above is a 1940s 'demob' suit, one of the thousands issued to British servicemen after World War Two. Made by the Leeds-based tailors Montague Burton the complete suit, including jacket, trousers, waistcoat, shirt and underwear quickly became known as 'The Full Monty'. The suit on display in Fairlynch was donated by William Rose, of Exmouth, who wore it only once on his wedding day.

There's a nice contrast between the suit and this polar outfit modelled by 'George' in the Museum's main exhibition on the ground floor. Linked to the Scott of the Antarctic centenary celebrations the exhibition entitled 'Survival' pays tribute to the life and achievements of former Budleigh Salterton resident Surgeon Commander Murray Levick.

Originally called Primrose Cottage, Fairlynch was built in 1811 as a thatched marine cottage orné. It houses many items of interest, ranging from one of the finest collections of costumes dating from Georgian times to East Devon Pebblebeds geological specimens. The Museum is open until October, from 2.00-4.30 pm except Saturdays.

"A woman who knew her own mind": interview with actress Jenny Coverack on her portrayal of Kathleen Scott

With the centenary of Scott of the Antarctic's ill-fated polar expedition very much in mind, a play with close links to Fairlynch Museum's 2011 exhibition 'Survival!' is coming to Budleigh Salterton's Public Hall on Wednesday 25 May.

I spoke to Jenny Coverack, the actress who will be performing it.

If you're a BBC Radio 4 listener you may well have heard her reading the Book at Bedtime 'Flush' by Virginia Woolf in February this year. More recently she was the midwife in 'The Archers.' Other BBC productions including 'Poetry Please' and 'The Afternoon Play' have also employed her acting talents.

Actress Jenny Coverack: "passionate" about playing the character of Kathleen Scott. She is pictured here performing part of her play 'A Father for my Son' in Scott's hut at Cape Evans, on Ross Island, Antarctica

Trained at the Bristol Old Vic, Jenny Coverack has a voice familiar to millions of radio listeners. She grew up in Cornwall, now lives in Devon, and is often to be seen performing on West Country stages. But her career as an actress has taken her to theatres all over Britain as well as overseas.

Kathleen Scott with her husband Robert, the Antarctic explorer.
Picture credit: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

That's been particularly the case with the play 'A Father for my Son', her one-woman show based on the life of Kathleen Scott (1878-1947), widow of Captain Robert Scott of Antarctic fame.
Scott died on 29 March 1912 with five companions on his way back from the South Pole, where he discovered that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten him to it.

Where has the play been performed?

JC: The première was at Cotehele in the Tamar Valley, ten years ago in 2001. I've performed it in all kinds of venues from the Isles of Scilly to London, including The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, the Everyman in Cheltenham, the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick and the Royal Geographical Society in London.

One of the most memorable venues was on a cruise ship called the Kapitan Khlebnikov in the Antarctic. We were at 78 degrees 41'S, the furthest South that any professional play has ever been performed, as close as possible to Scott's hut. When I performed on the ship there was a standing ovation afterwards and the New Zealanders, the Australians and the Americans wanted me to take it to their countries!

How did you come to write the play?

JC: I saw a production of a play called 'Terra Nova' by the American playwright Ted Tally at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. It's based on the tragedy of Scott's expedition to the South Pole and I was so struck by the epic nature of the whole episode and the suffering of everyone involved, including Scott's wife Kathleen that I set about collaborating with Robert Edwards, a teacher in our local area. We based much of the play on Kathleen's diaries.

What's the play about?

JC: It lasts for 1 hour 30 minutes plus an interval. The first half tells Kathleen's story leading up to her meeting Scott, the birth of Peter Scott and the drama of Scott's fatal voyage to the South Pole, which is juxtaposed with what's happening to Kathleen. She eventually hears about Scott's death at sea in the Pacific, months later. The second act is about her life after Scott. The first act will stand on its own, although it's fascinating to see what happens to Kathleen after Scott's death.

Is it true that Kathleen had an affair with the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen while her husband was away?

JC: I think not. They were very good friends and there was mutual admiration but when Kathleen writes in her diary about possible future husbands, she dismisses Nansen as, "too old."

A talented sculptor, Kathleen had studied in Paris and been befriended by Rodin. This statue with its title 'Here I am. Send me!' taken from the Book of Isaiah is outside the chapel at Oundle School in Northamptonshire. As a pupil at the school in the 1920s, the future naturalist Sir Peter Scott had to endure the comments of those who assumed, wrongly, that Kathleen had used her son as a model

So what was her relationship with Scott? What kind of marriage was it?

JC: Kathleen is quite an amazing character. She wanted a son but not a husband and so was looking for the right man. All this was in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

George Bernard Shaw told her "No woman ever born had a narrower escape from being a man. My affection for you is the nearest I ever came to homosexuality." Yet she is supposed to have had plenty of male admirers. What made her so attractive to them do you think?

JC: A man ought to answer that question! But possibly because she was so unorthodox, she was a tom-boy, a free spirit and full of fun, always finding the positive in situations. Physically she was striking – Charles Shannon painted her many times.

This statue entitled 'Ad Astra' is located in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and was executed by Kathleen Scott in 1938

She was a friend of the dancer Isadora Duncan. Were they similar?

JC: They both loved dancing. Kathleen exulted in Isadora as an artist. Their friendship was probably based on idealism, that inherited money was limiting, adventure was true wealth and art and babies were the greatest achievements.

Do you admire her as one might admire the suffragettes?

JC: I am passionate about portraying a woman from that 'heroic era'. There is little or nothing mentioned about them at all and Kathleen is some woman! She was a free spirit and certainly knew her own mind.

The marble statue of Captain Scott in New Zealand, sculpted by Kathleen, was commissioned by Christchurch City Council following news of the explorer's death in March 1912

How involved have you felt with the character?

JC: Whenever I play any character I become involved with them. Kathleen has cast a bit of a spell over me – brought home recently when I was upset to hear that her statue of Scott in Christchurch, NZ was toppled in the recent earthquake. I was filmed, dressed as Kathleen, performing a snippet from the play, in the actual hut that Scott left from on his fatal journey. His bunk was close by. The bit I chose to do was actually talking to Scott - or Con as she called him. It was very moving. I felt I'd taken Kathleen back to Scott! Wayland Kennet - her son by her second marriage - came to see the inaugural performance and he said "Don't change it." He was 79 at the time.

So you've found it emotionally draining to perform. How have audiences responded?

JC: Well, I'm not related but I keep being told that I must be a reincarnation of her!

Tickets for 'A Father for my Son', being performed in the Public Hall on Wednesday 25 May at 7.30 pm are now available from Budleigh Salterton Tourist Information Centre (Tel: 01395 445275) Also from The Lawn Bakery, Budleigh Salterton and Lesleys, Stationers, Budleigh Salterton. Price £10. Concessions £8 The play lasts about 90 minutes, excluding an interval.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Easter at Salem

I always like mentioning events at East Budleigh's Salem Chapel. It's such a beautifully restored building with a wonderful atmosphere. And although the building is not named after the American city it always moves me to think of this tiny East Devon village associated so closely with the history of the United States. Sir Walter Raleigh, born just outside the village at Hayes Barton, is well known of course. But born not so long after him in East Budleigh was Roger Conant, the English dissenter and leader of a group of fisherman, who sought refuge across the Atlantic to practise his religious beliefs and founded Salem, Massachusetts.

The man who helped thousands to fill the gap

A hiking trip with BSES Expeditions

My own gap year between school and university was a bit messy. Leaving school at the age of 16 to then spend six months immobilised on a hospital bed was not an ideal preparation for the next big step in education. In fact, my two-year gap, while fun in some ways, was very different from the organised fashion in which young people today decide how they're going to explore all that freedom that escape from the classroom seems to promise.

If thousands of students arrive at university feeling that they haven't wasted that gap opportunity it's largely because of the pioneering efforts of ex-Budleigh resident and Antarctic explorer Murray Levick, whose many achievements I learnt about as I helped prepare this year's exhibition at Fairlynch Museum.

It's called, appropriately enough, 'Survival!' Murray Levick's horrific Antarctic experience during Scott's 1910-13 polar expedition, the subject of author Katherine Lambert's talk on 21 February 2011 which I wrote about at provided the seed of an educational idea which germinated 20 years later with the foundation of the longest running and most experienced youth organisation of its kind.

BSES Expeditions, as it is now known, started life as The Public Schools Exploring Society in 1932 with a first trip to Finland, led by Levick himself.

Murray Levick in the 1940s

'The Admiral' as Levick was affectionately called within the Society, was elected its Honorary Chairman and Honorary Chief Leader of its expeditions from its inception.

A year later a second expedition to Lapland took place, described by Murray Levick in a 100-page book entitled Young Pioneers in Northern Finland, published in 1933.

These trips evidently caught the public imagination. The third, in 1934, was the first of ten trips across the Atlantic and was the subject of a book entitled Public School Explorers in Newfoundland.

"The modern young man, he thinks, is in danger of becoming soft amid the luxuries of modern civilisation and is losing his appreciation of keen physical endeavour, of fighting for his existence on terms of equality with the rest of Nature," explained the author Dennis Clarke.

Published a year later with an introduction by Murray Levick the book described not only the pioneering activities of the party but also an account of the train ride from St.John's to Grand Falls, and a baseball match played there.

These public schoolboys were clearly not the most docile of travelling companions, as Levick indicated in an article published in The Geographical Magazine, where he went into more detail about the train ride. "After a moderately good crossing from Liverpool we got to St. John's on the 8th," he wrote. "We reached our railhead, Gleneagles, on the evening of the 9th after nine hours journey in a special train of our own. This was good fun, but next time the members will not be allowed to stroll from end to end of the train on the tops of the carriages (whilst the train was in motion). As it was, there were no mishaps.”

It was this trip that receives a brief mention in Roald Dahl's book Boy: Tales of Childhood. As a recent leaver from Repton School, the future best-selling children's author was given the task of official photographer.

Not surprisingly, in view of one description of the young Dahl as "something of a misfit, inclined to unreliability and rebelliousness" it's been said that a personality clash developed between him and the expedition's leader, and that Levick found himself facing a mutiny.

However Dahl's account of the Newfoundland expedition in Boy makes no mention of any such confrontation and he seems to have looked back on the trip as a positive experience. It was tough, and he remembered suffering from lack of food. "But it was a genuine adventure and I returned home hard and fit and ready for anything," he wrote.

On board the SS Nova Scotia: Levick with the group of 1934 young explorers in Newfoundland. The photo may well have been taken by Roald Dahl

In spite of its earlier name, expeditions from 1934 included young expeditioners drawn from The National Association of Boys' Clubs, Scouts, and other organisations, and some schools other than Public Schools, with guests from the host countries.

Newfoundland was again the destination three years later for a British Schools Exploring Society expedition. Details of the trip were given in an article by Levick entitled 'On The Trail Again', published in the Boy's Own Paper as "the story of a group of British students who, in the summer of 1937, spent over a month in the interior of Newfoundland, camping and exploring the wilderness. Their daily marching rations consisted of 12 oz. of biscuits, ¼ lb. of cheese, 2 oz. of oatmeal for porridge, 2 oz. of margarine, 2. oz. of chocolate, 2 oz. of sugar, 3 oz. of dried reindeer meat, and an ounce of dried peas to boil with it. We drank tea without milk."

A 1938 edition of the Boy's Own Paper, a popular publication which was keen to report on Levick's activities with his young explorers

The Society was registered as an Educational Charity in 1938, when members of the public were invited to subscribe to an Endowment Fund with Trustees nominated by the Royal Geographical Society. This Fund still exists.

In total, up until his death on 30 May 1956, Murray Levick took part in the first nine expeditions - 1932 to 1939 inclusive and the first post-war one in 1947- as expedition leader and was actively engaged in the organisation of a total of 17 expeditions to places as diverse as Lapland, Iceland, Norway, Canada and Newfoundland. Levick was re-elected to the offices of Honorary Chairman and Honorary Chief Leader of the Society's expeditions up to his retirement in 1948, at which time he was elected the first President of the Society until his death on 30 May 1956.

His wife Audrey had been elected honorary secretary and a Council member of the Society at its inception, and she went out in advance of 11 expeditions with all stores and equipment - to Finland, Newfoundland, Northern Quebec and Northern Norway. On most expeditions she went far into the wilds to select and establish the base camp. From 1948 she became vice-president of the Society (now re-named the British Schools Exploring Society) and handed over the secretaryship to Commander Nigel Waymouth, RN (retd).

Between 1952 and 1957 she was honorary deputy chairman as well as vice-president, but soon after her husband's death, when the presidency was transferred to Murray Levick's old Antarctic colleague Sir Raymond Priestley MC, she stepped down from the vice-presidency but retained an effective link with the Society as patron and ex-officio member of the Council. In 1967 she retired from being an ex-officio member.

Although the original name of the Society had been changed to make it less exclusive the non-public schoolboys and guests from the host country on expeditions were not eligible for membership of the Society until 1963, when retrospective action was taken by the Society's Council to rectify the situation.

Girls joined the expeditions for the first time in 1980 and subsequently were admitted as full members of the Society.

Since its early days BSES has gone on to organise over 130 expeditions and visited all seven continents. Gone are the days of male-only expeditions, gin and cigarette rations and standard issue BSES prayer books, but many of the values and traditions of the society can still be experienced today. The construction of ‘Fires’ and the structure of expeditions are just two of the traditions that help make BSES membership such a special privilege.

Based at The Royal Geographical Society in London, BSES Expeditions now provides opportunities for young people of all abilities between the ages of 16 and 23 to take part in adventurous expeditions that involve scientific research in wilderness areas. "Scientific exploration is essential if we are to continue to develop our understanding of science," as Professor Sir David King, Chief Scientific Advisor to HM Government, has said. "That is why the British Schools Exploring Society is vital for equipping young people with the skills, knowledge and inspiration to become tomorrow's scientists."

For more information about BSES Expeditions see

BSES members measure a caiman, a type of small crocodilian
Photo credit:

"BSES gives those young people with a dream the chance to explore some of the world's most remote regions," says Bear Grylls, British explorer, Chief Scout and the face behind Channel 4’s 'Born Survivor.' "With that exploration, I have found, so often comes a sense of pride and achievement - and that is the real magic of BSES. It builds the champions and explorers of the future."

As rebellious and as unreliable as the young Roald Dahl as I was in my teenage years, with an inbuilt hostility to something like the Scouting movement, I'm sure that in different circumstances I would have benefited from the experience provided by BSES Expeditions. Budleigh Salterton should be proud of its association with the founder of such a great organisation which has fostered so consistently a spirit of exploration and enterprise in young people.

"A truly great Englishman" he was called in his obituary, published in The Times of 1 June 1956. I suppose such language is politically incorrect nowadays. And our iconoclastic age enjoys finding the flaws in supposedly great men, and women. But I'd like to think that the town where Murray Levick settled will feel that his story is worth telling for posterity.

Ready for the Antarctic challenge: our model of the polar explorer 1910-style, as seen at Fairlynch Museum.
We called him 'George.'

Murray Levick and the Fairlynch exhibition 'Survival' are featured in the April issue of Devon Life. The exhibition opened on Sunday 10 April and will run until the end of September 2011.

Discomania on Brewster beach

The Napoli with its load of containers, beached off the East Devon coast

Weird stuff often ends up on beaches.

Flotsam from the wreck of the Napoli at Branscombe, just a few miles east of Budleigh Salterton caught public attention when the UK-flagged container ship was beached off the coast in 2007 after it had split open. Scavengers from all over Britain descended on the area intent on carrying off BMW motorbikes, nappies and, shamefully, people's personal possessions which had been washed ashore.

It took two years for the wreck to be disposed of by the authorities. The floating crane and tugs were still operating on it when I took this photo at Sidmouth in 2009.

Our starfish invasion a year or so ago hit international headlines as I reported at

Alien visitors to a Brewster beach

Truly bizarre is the story reported by the Department of Natural Resources in Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster of the millions of small plastic discs washed up along the coast last month. Brewster resident Kevin Aring found fame in the Massachusetts media for his diligence in collecting 5,000 of them. Once he started he couldn't stop, as he explained in a YouTube clip at

The discs were used by a wastewater treatment facility in Hooksett, New Hampshire and were released into the Merrimack River after heavy rain, finding their way on to the shorelines of Maine and Massachusetts. It was reported that between four million and eight million disks - that seems quite a big difference to me - along with 250,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater were released from the town-owned plant.

The Department of Natural Resources warned people that the discs could have some bacteria remaining on them, so it was recommended to not touch them with bare hands.

On Monday 28 March a beach clean-up organised by the Department removed more than 6,300 of them. By Wednesday, more than 20,000 had been recovered from Brewster beaches. Volunteers were continuing to work at removing them.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Jazz at Budleigh

Well, it's April, and that's the month of the Budleigh Jazz Festival. I don't know much about jazz, so I'll just let the very smart website at speak for itself.

I'd heard of the Festival's president, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, the composer, arranger and pianist. But I didn't know that he'd been brought up in Budleigh Salterton, along with his sister the poet Meg Peacocke.

With the Festival taking place over the Easter weekend and with a line-up of top musicians it's sure to be a popular event. Craig Milverton, voted as top pianist last November in the 2010 British Jazz Awards, will be a welcome return visitor.

Tickets can be booked singly or for the whole weekend at the Tourist Information Centre on 01395 445275. For more information you can visit the website or contact 01395 446524