Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sculptor Christine Lee's work on view

Just a few miles north from Budleigh Salterton, upstream along the River Otter, is the beautiful and ancient village of Otterton and I've just been sent this news about one of its creative residents by Devon Open Studios.

Otterton sculptor and painter Christine Lee is participating for the first time in the popular county arts event Devon Open Studios.

Christine, an established artist with an international reputation, will be inviting guests to her Barn Studio in Copplestone Lane, Colaton Raleigh, to see her latest work, on selected days between 3 and 18 September, 2011.

Christine is regarded as a leading figurative sculptor. She has been painting and making sculpture most of her life. She did a fine arts degree at St Martins School of Art in London, and then studied painting and drawing with the painter and mystic Cecil Collins.

One of her best loved creations is the fountain in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was inaugurated by HM The Queen in 1996.

Christine has lived in the county all her life, apart from the years she spent in London during her training. She likes working in sundry materials, especially in stainless steel and copper, and her works are the result of her perceptive imagination. Visiting her studio will be very interesting as people will be able to see how she works and talk to her directly.

Devon Open Studios have produced a guide to help visitors. Free copies are available from Tourist Information Offices, Libraries, Galleries and Hotels, and in Christine’s case, at Otterton Mill in the village where she lives, where some of her sculptures can be seen in her front garden in Fore Street.

September Studio Opening from 10.00 am-5.00 pm: Sat 3, Sun 4, Wed 7, Thurs 8, Sun 11, Wed 14, Thurs 15, Sun 18.

Photo of Christine Lee from her website. Click on to visit.

For information about Devon Open Studios see

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Two very different ball games

Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club, scene of a recent heart-stopping drama

I'm sometimes asked why my blog doesn't cover sports news.

I decided fairly early on that I couldn't cover everything, and in any case the local press does a good job in that respect.

But probably the main reason for my omission is simply that I don't get fired up about sports results, and that's probably something to do with my poor head for figures and maybe a lack of spatial awareness. I find it impossible to enthuse about a favourite football team's league position. Off-side rules just leave me confused. As for tennis scoring... well, I do try, every Wimbledon, to work out who's winning, but end up feeling my wife's pitying looks.

Of course interesting sports events do occur here. Just the other day we were all enthralled by the headline-grabbing story of how a cricket player's life was saved on Budleigh Salterton cricket ground by the swift use of a defibrillator. Luckily the player, who had suffered a heart attack, was part of a team of cricket-loving doctors and one of them happened to have one of those useful gadgets in his car.

The doctor's prompt action has made him "a bit of a hero" as the cricket club secretary put it. Maybe the skill and coolness he showed, rather than the number of wickets he'll take or the runs he'll score, will be what's recorded in the club annals as a truly notable event.

I have to admit a personal interest here, having learnt that the hero was my own GP.

The story may not have been read by my friends in our American sister-town of Brewster, even though it hit the world news stage - I read about it again on an Indian news site.

They don't generally play cricket in the US of course, whereas I imagine that any cricketing story is hot news in the sub-continent.

Budleigh Salterton's East Devon Golf Club. I moved to this part of Devon partly because of those rhododendrons

What they do play in America of course, apart from baseball and their own brand of football, is golf. Here again I have to admit to having absolutely no understanding of tees, birdies and handicaps in spite of living only a few minutes' walk from the splendid East Devon Golf Club. But my eye was drawn to a lyrical piece on the web by American sports journalist Scott Coen in praise of the Captains Golf Club in Brewster.

It's all golfish to me of course, but I thought that my Budleigh readers familiar with fairways, greens and the quality of sand traps might appreciate the piece.

They might even be tempted to cross the Atlantic in search of what is clearly another little golfers' heaven. I hope that they'd be given a warm welcome at the Captains.

Click on to read Mr Coen's article.

Websites for the Captains Golf Club in Brewster and East Devon Golf Club in Budleigh Salterton are at and

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Museum's ex-Chairman complimented on polar heroes' show

Roger Kingwill at work on research into the Scott 1910-13 Antarctic expedition

Experts on Antarctica visiting Fairlynch's 'Survival!' exhibition have rated it first-class and complimented the organisers on a job well done.

Rachel Morgan, Director of the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, who called in at Budleigh Salterton while participating in the Scott100 conference in Plymouth, was impressed by the hard work put in by Fairlynch volunteers involved in the project.

Special mention was made by Mrs Morgan of former Fairlynch Museum Chairman Roger Kingwill. As conceiver of the exhibition he created what she has described as a "fantastic" scale model of the snow cave in which Antarctic explorer and former Budleigh resident Murray Levick spent seven uncomfortable months during the winter of 1912.

Inside the ice cave. Local modelmaker Neil Rogers contributed the figure crouched over a model of the stove which was the explorers' vital source of heat

The Trust's website at now features a picture of the model snow cave on display in the Fairlynch exhibition.

The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust was set up in 1993, inspired by the need to recognise and conserve Britain’s long and distinguished history of exploration and scientific research in Antarctica.

A grant from the Trust has helped to publicise the 'Survival!' exhibition.

This year's Fairlynch project has also been praised by a former member of the British Antarctic Survey. "A first-class exhibition full of interest," is how John Killingbeck described it following his visit to the museum. "It's so good that the life of Murray Levick has been recorded in this way. A remarkable man and part of a remarkable survival party - definitely one of the greatest stories of survival in the Antarctic."

Mr Killingbeck has the distinction of being the last person to drive a team of huskies in Antarctica. He worked for two and a half years as Base Leader in the South Shetlands and was invited by the British Antarctic Survey to undertake a last sledge journey on the continent as the representative of hundreds of past drivers.

Sales of a Fairlynch publication Surviving the Antarctic Winter in a Snow Cave have proved so popular with visitors that a reprint has been ordered. The 22-page booklet is based on Levick's account of his experience and includes illustrations and a biographical sketch.

Fairlynch Museum and the 'Survival!' exhibition will remain open daily from 2.00-4.30 pm except Saturdays until 30 September 2011. For more information about the Museum click on

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Raleigh era comes to life at Fairlynch Museum

Millais' painting 'The Boyhood of Raleigh': an inspiration for professional storyteller Steve Manning

Lots of stories could be told about Budleigh characters but the best ones are surely about one of Devon's most celebrated heroes, Sir Walter Raleigh.

Laying his cloak over a puddle to keep the royal feet dry. Getting soaked because a servant thought that Sir Walter quietly smoking his pipe was on fire. The colourful myths and legends about Queen Elizabeth I's favourite courtier have lasted through the centuries.

Now a Devon character from Tudor times will come to life on Monday 8 August at Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum when professional storyteller Steve Manning, pictured here, will take on the role of Matthew Starke, a sailor who might have accompanied the likes of East-Budleigh born Sir Walter and Sir Francis Drake on their amazing journeys.

He will spin yarns of adventures on the high seas in search of new lands to colonise, Spanish gold to plunder and riches to be given to Good Queen Bess!

"Imagine the sessions as an evocation of 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' painting - eager listeners entranced by the tales of an old sea dog," explains Steve.

"I'm looking forward to being at Fairlynch because it will be a great place to fire the imagination with tales of men like Raleigh who once sailed from Devon into the great unknown in search of adventure."

There will be two story-telling sessions, at 11.00 am and 2.00 pm. Admission is free.

Steve Manning is a professional storyteller and live interpreter with over twenty years' experience of telling tales and performing costumed characters in schools and heritage sites. See for more information.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Celebrating our heathland

A heathland scene near Budleigh Salterton: Squabmoor Reservoir surrounded by slopes of gorse and heather

East Devon Heath Week starts this Sunday 24 July 2011 from 11.00 am with a Family Festival Day at Woodbury Castle, the Iron Age hill fort mid-way between Budleigh Salterton and the village of Woodbury.

A Dartford Warbler. This rare bird is one of the special sights of East Devon's heathland.

Photo credit: Peter Beesley

The Heath Week is an annual series of events that aim to celebrate the fantastic landscape of the region. Each year it takes place at the end of July, a good time to see heathland and its wildlife at its best.

This legless lizard known as a slow worm is a protected species found on the commons near Budleigh. They are described as elusive, but I generally find them hiding in my compost heap.

Photo credit: Devon Clinton Estates

There are specific events which will concentrate on different species that make lowland heath their home. Particular favourites are bat walks, pond dipping days and reptile hunts.

Internationally renowned Bronze Age expert Professor Chris Tilley will also be explaining the meaning of the tumuli and the recently excavated pebble pavements that make this area of East Devon archaeologically significant.

In addition to Woodbury Castle, locations close to Budleigh where events are taking place include Bystock Pools, Wheathill Plantation, Colaton Raleigh, Blackhill Quarry and Otterton Mill.

For more information click on to download a leaflet.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A third edition of 'Words by the Sea'

It's festival time in East Devon. On the approach road to Budleigh Salterton, signs advertising Sidmouth Folk Week are jostling for attention with Budleigh's Music Festival.

And now the organisers of the third Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival have announced that tickets are on sale and that it's going to be the best festival yet.

There are so many 'highlights' in this year's event that it's difficult to know which one to pick out. But having just welcomed Australian author Meredith Hooper to Fairlynch Museum my eye was drawn to the item entitled 'The King's Speech: How One Man Saved The British Monarchy' scheduled for Saturday 17 September.

It was Mrs Hooper's son Tom who directed the academy award-winning film which along with the Royal Wedding earlier this year has focused attention on the House of Windsor. And with Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee being celebrated in 2012 there will no doubt be much interest in anything with royal connections.

So the making of the book The King's Speech and a presentation by its authors is certain to be popular. Mark Logue, who co-wrote the book with journalist Peter Conradi, is the grandson of the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue who succeeded in coaching the future King George VI in public speaking at a time when it was vital for an English leader to match the powers of oratory being shown by Adolf Hitler in 1930s Germany.

There are truly masses of distinguished and interesting writers who will be talking about their craft at the weekend event from 16-18 September. Click on to find out more and how to book tickets.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

News from Budleigh Music Festival 2011

Spanish mezzo-soprano Carla Mouriz performs at the Temple Church on 22 July

Budleigh Salterton music lovers are about to enjoy the town's biggest Festival and here's the latest news:

"Tickets are selling well though some seats are still available for most performances," say the organisers.

"On 16 July at St. Peter's two choirs entertain with an evening of old favourites including barbershop numbers and songs from the shows from Budleigh's Male Voice Choir and the ladies of 'Renaissance.' Seats are available for this show.

The Dufay Collective is a group devoted to medieval pop music played on period instruments. They perform regularly on radio and this year they are on their way to Dartington to teach and perform at the Summer School. We are indeed fortunate to welcome them to Budleigh on 21 July at the Temple Methodist Church for what promises to be a fascinating glimpse into the music heard in the taverns and even at the Court of King Henry VIII! A few seats are still available.

Hugely successful Carla Mouriz, mezzo soprano, is accompanied by Joseph Middleton, piano, in a lovely programme of Spanish and South American songs. They play at the Temple on Friday 22 July. Seats available for this performance.

As we expected, there are only limited unreserved seats and maybe returns for the Rachmaninov Vespers on Saturday 23 July. Please act quickly to secure one of these.

Just a few seats are on offer for the Honeymead concert on 25 July also at the Temple Church. The ensemble is led by the celebrated violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen, pictured above.

At St. Peter's on Tuesday 26 July the orchestral concert has a strong Tchaikovsky content and also includes a new work by famous pianist Stephen Hough and two new arrangements by Nicholas Marshall and Peter Hope. The soloist is John Turner, the recently appointed President of the Festival Trust. Reserved seats are bookable for this concert.

Die Fledermaus and Carmen (28 July and 30 July) have been justly popular though if you act quickly you may secure one or two of the last remaining tickets though there may also be a few returns. Worth enquiry to the TIC box office 01395 442360.

Finally, two concerts at the Temple deserve special attention. Hugo Ticciati, seen above, is a violinist who with pianist Henrik Måwe plays a wide-ranging programme on Thursday 28 July. Gottlieb Wallisch, piano, with the Piatti Quartet performs on Friday 29 July. Tickets are limited though still available for both evenings.

Click on for more information.

Praise for 'Survival!' exhibition at Fairlynch

Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum, supporting Help for Heroes

Half-way through Fairlynch Museum's summer season the special exhibition about former Budleigh resident Murray Levick has won nothing but praise from experts and the public alike.

A survivor of Captain Scott's ill-fated second Antarctic expedition, the naval doctor and founder of the British Schools Exploring Society has impressed visitors to the museum with the number of his achievements in an incident-packed life.

"Each episode in Levick's life - polar exploration, medicine, commando training - is quite remarkable in its own right," commented one in the visitors' book. "To have achieved all these things in a single lifetime is simply incredible. A leader and hero that deserves to be remembered as an equal to Scott and Shackleton. A remarkable man," wrote Major Nicholas Jeffery, who described himself as "doctor, commando and Arctic-trained, but humbled by this man!"

The Museum's 2011 exhibition 'Survival!' illustrating the life of former Budleigh resident Surgeon Commander Murray Levick has been praised by enthusiastic visitors and benefited from coverage in national media

Fairlynch Museum's support for the Armed Forces charity Help for Heroes has also been seen as particularly fitting for this exhibition about a naval officer who did much to help rehabilitate injured ex-servicemen in the aftermath of the Great War.

Colonel Bill McDermott OBE, a former Royal Marine now retired in Budleigh Salterton, believes that any efforts to raise money for a worthy charity, which supports the best interests of our service personnel and capital programmes that improve their quality of life following the demands of operational experience, is to be applauded.

"H4H is a fantastic charity that underwrites some big scale charitable programmes that could not normally be afforded in these austere times," he said. "It is commendable that the Fairlynch Museum has taken this opportunity to be involved in a cause that Murray Levick would have been proud to align himself with."

For information about the work of Help for Heroes click on

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Budleigh's Venture Artists in Sidmouth

I spent an enjoyable afternoon in Sidmouth last Saturday admiring work by the newly formed Venture Artists from Budleigh Salterton.

The group are holding their first summer exhibition at the East Devon Art Academy in Old Fore Street, Sidmouth from 2-8 July.

Exhibition organiser Teresa Creton explained that they were mostly members of Budleigh Salterton Art Club who had come together with the aim of developing their technique through painting sessions.

There are works in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolour, all for sale at affordable prices.

Artists exhibiting include Iris Ansell, Julie Bingham, Sue Chapman, Steve Hagger, Pam Harber, Wendy Markham, Nick Speare, Chris Stacey, Sheila Stacey and Jenny Young.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Teresa at

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Happy Independence Day 2011!

Sir Walter Raleigh wishes all our US readers

a Happy Independence Day

from his birthplace in East Budleigh, Devon.

It's not the first time I've posted this photo of the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh, which looks down the main street of the village where he was born.

This year is a bit special as it's the tenth anniversary of the curious relationship between Budleigh Salterton and the American town of Brewster, Massachusetts.

When I have a spare moment I will gather some photos and other archive material showing how it all started.

A Black and White Memories Show

Screening cranberries at Isaac Cahoon’s bog in Brewster, Cape Cod, in 1892.
Photographer Cornelius Chenery

I've been meaning for some time to mention in these pages an inspiring project launched back in April by our friends in Brewster, MA.

'Brewster in Black and White' is an online digital archive of 45 remarkable photos which give an insight into life in our sister-town at the turn of the 20th century. I am grateful to the Brewster Historical Society for permission to reproduce these three images.

This photo, taken around 1900, shows how works for extracting salt from seawater lined Brewster’s shore in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Here in East Devon also, our town's original name of Salterne testified to the importance of the local salt industry. Salt was once manufactured in large salt pans at the mouth of the River Otter. The salt works were owned in medieval times by the monks of the priory at the nearby village of Otterton, the salt was transported by packhorses to the towns and villages situated along the river.

Another aspect of the Brewster coastline, seen c. 1900. The photographer is unknown. Traditionally, sea bathers arrived at the beach fully clothed and changed into swimwear in bathhouses like these. For me it's another reminder of the similarity of our two coastal towns, with Budleigh's beach huts now seen as an attractive feature of the town.

The archive forms part of a much bigger collection of over 400 photographic glass plate negatives bequeathed to The Brewster Historical Society in 1970. Only now with modern technology has it been possible to make digital images and these are now viewable via the Society's website at

There is an excellent introduction on the site giving more details about the collection.

Here in Budleigh Salterton we have Otter Valley Association's excellent Ovapedia at which is all text. Then there is Fairlynch Museum's collection of images, currently being digitised, about which I hope to write one day.

Wouldn't it make sense to combine such projects?

For the time being you'll have to make do with my blog.