Monday, 29 August 2011

My blog gets the chop

Logging rather than blogging: a healthier alternative?

Well, it's been fun finding out about Budleigh Salterton, Brewster and lots of other things but I've decided that I spend too much time on the computer. In these harsh economic times where time is a precious as money it seems that cuts are the way forward.

Two things happened recently to help me decide.

First, logs have taken over from blogs in recent days. With the approach of autumn it's time to sniff the air and guess what kind of winter we're going to have. I did read a year or so ago that early berries on the holly are a sign that Nature is providing extra food for the birds when the temperature will be dropping more than usual. And this autumn, I'm afraid to say, the holly seems to have even more berries than this time last year.

So extra logs are needed. And stacking a load of logs, I found, is a creative task which I realised was appealing to many more of my senses than my computer screen could ever do. The smell of the different woods, the feel of how seasoned a particular log is and which stack it should be added to... I recommend making a logstore as useful physical exercise with all that bending and stretching, and a way of keeping close to Nature.

It seems a shame that it'll end up as ash. But the ash makes good compost.

Meanwhile, back on the computer, FileMaker - which I'd always trusted as one of my best friends - seems to have let me down.

FileMaker, for those who don't know about such things, is a kind of gigantic address book on which my failing brain relies for vital information such as where on my computer I store a particular photo. And lots of other things.

Like a supernatural portent telling me how fragile our technological world really is, a message from cyberspace now tells me every time I try to use FileMaker that "An unsupported operation was attempted."

I have to confess I feel a bit lost without it. And that can't be right.

Some gremlin is at work and no doubt I'll be told that FileMaker - which I'd always trusted as one of my best friends - can be reinstalled and has simply had something like a dose of flu.

But I'm now feeling that I can rely on my logstore in a way that I could never could on computers. So blogging is going to be replaced by logging for the time being.

I'm not giving up on Budleigh Salterton news but my efforts in that area will be restricted to the Fairlynch Museum website at Do check it out from time to time.

Changing Times at Salem Chapel

As always I'm interested in the variety of events staged at East Budleigh's attractive Salem Chapel.

The Salem Players pictured above are a group of writer performers who have made the Chapel an ideal home for their productions. For the last two years they have met regularly in the Salem Chapel schoolroom and regularly perform their work.

"Our next show, 'Changing Times' is in Salem Chapel on Saturday 24 September, bringing together the Players with the singing group Nota Rioty," says Player Hilary Ackland.

"With humour, drama and rhyme through poetry, song and story we explore changes in our environment, relationships and in our society."

The show is at Salem Chapel, East Budleigh, on Saturday 24 September at 7.00pm. For tickets contact Hilary Ackland 01395 444406 or e-mail

Friday, 19 August 2011

Heritage Open Days in Budleigh

Fairlynch Museum is one of two unusual buildings in the Budleigh area which will be opening their doors to visitors in September to coincide with the English Heritage Open Days scheme.

The Museum will be open on Sunday 11 September from 2.00 - 4.30 pm, with free entry to the public.

Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.

Every year on four days in September, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors, ranging from castles to factories, town halls to tithe barns, parish churches to Buddhist temples. It is a once-a-year chance to discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture.

Also open as part of the English Heritage Open Days scheme will be the Salem Chapel and Schoolroom in East Budleigh, welcoming visitors on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September from 1.00 - 4.00 pm.

For more information about English Heritage click on

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Open Studios artists make a trio for Colaton Raleigh

'Towards Colaton Raleigh', by Laura Boyd

Since I mentioned sculptor Christine Lee's participation in the Devon Open Studios September event at it's been pointed out that she's not the only artist in the village just a few miles north-east of Budleigh Salterton whose work will be on show.

Two further Colaton Raleigh artists will be opening their doors to the public this September.

Laura Boyd’s work was chosen for the leading page of the Devon Open Studios guide, as the organisers thought her work most represented the spirit of the organisation and Devon.

Trained at Harrow School of Art Laura became known originally for her etchings which sold all over the world. She specialises in landscapes, mainly local and flower paintings and taught a painting group at Age Concern in Exmouth for three years. Her work be on show at Oakdown, Shepherds Lane, in Colaton Raleigh. Follow the signs. Her studio will be open over the first three weekends in September, also on Thursday 8 and 15 September from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm. Click on for more details.

'Sand' by Cynthia Boult

Cynthia Boult specialises in mainly landscapes in different media inspired by our natural surroundings. She is also a teacher. Her studio is at Sunnydale, Exmouth Road in Colaton Raleigh, and will also be open for the first three weekends in September as well as 6-8, and 14-15 September, from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Free copies of the Devon Open Studios guide are available from Tourist Information Offices, libraries, galleries and hotels. For online information about Devon Open Studios click on

Friday, 12 August 2011

All change at Broadway. Next stop, Auschwitz

The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Note that this is inside the camp looking back from the loading ramp to the 'Gate of Death.' Photo by Angelo Celedon

Versatile, to say the least, is what I felt about those Imperial Productions people when I read of their latest stage plans. They've been coming to Budleigh Salterton for many years to entertain us with their wonderful shows, but of course we're not their only audience.

Only a few days ago at I posted news of 'Guys and Dolls', their 2011 Budleigh summer musical.

The last call is now going out for enthusiastic amateurs to help put together a rather different production. The director is the energetic David Phipps-Davis, responsible for last October's staging of 'Gigi', about which I wrote at

I suppose there's a connection between that and Mr Phipps-Davis' latest venture, since it's about another Frenchwoman, but there the comparison ends.

Based upon the true story of Charlotte Delbo, a member of the French resistance who spent nearly three years in concentration camps, the play 'Who Will Carry the Word?' depicts the lives of twenty-three women while they share a barracks in Auschwitz. It is, as the director put it, "their story of hope, friendship and sacrifice to journey back and tell the truth to the world."

I think it's unlikely to come to Budleigh, but you never know.

Meanwhile, if you feel you'd like to see a darker side of Imperial Productions' theatrical ventures and happen to be in the London area in October you might like to make a note in your diary.

The show runs for two weeks from Tuesday 18 - Saturday 29 October 2011 at The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, Brockley, SE4 2DH. There are only ten performances, Tuesday – Saturday nightly at 7.45pm. There will also be two preview performances (one in the afternoon and one in the evening – times to be confirmed) on Thursday 13 October 2011 at All Saints Arts Centre, 122 Oakleigh Road North, N20 9EZ.

For more information about Imperial Productions, click on

Another link across the pond

A transatlantic partner for Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum

Most Devon people know about Sir Walter Raleigh as a pioneer of transatlantic links between their county and the US.

Fewer know about the 18th century army officer brought up in Exeter, owning a holiday home in Budleigh Salterton, who spent only a few years of his life in Canada but became one of the country's national heroes. There's even a Canadian town named after him.

A portrait of Simcoe by the French Candian painter George Theodore Berthon

Such is the veneration in which John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806) is held across the Atlantic that Wolford Chapel, his last resting place on the family estate outside Honiton is now officially part of Canadian territory, having been donated to the people of Ontario in 1966.

As Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada for five years from 1791 Simcoe, founded what is now the city of Toronto and was instrumental in ending slavery. He also introduced institutions such as the courts, trial by jury, English common law and freehold land tenure.

The Eva Brook Museum in Simcoe. Photo by Robert Whitside

A recent visit to Budleigh by some Canadian visitors has resulted in the creation of a friendship link between Fairlynch Museum and the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe.

Simcoe, the principal town of the County of Norfolk in Ontario, with a population of about 15,000 is in the middle of a large agricultural area just a few kilometres from the north shore of Lake Erie and about 120 kilometres west of Niagara Falls.

Ruth and Arthur Loughton who live in Vittoria just outside Simcoe have family connections in Budleigh and know the town well. "We have often visited the Fairlynch Museum and are impressed by its contents and also its volunteers," they explained. "On our recent trips we have delved into the Budleigh connections to the Simcoe name."

The pair felt that the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe, with its real interest in things associated with the Simcoe family, would be an ideal partner for Fairlynch. The Canadian museum is operated by the Norfolk Historical Society of which Ruth Loughton was President a few years ago.

The historic interest of Simcoe House was recently recognised with this blue plaque erected by the Royal Over-Seas League

Along with Ruth Loughton's sister Joyce and her husband Norman Rhodes the foursome visited Wolford Chapel and during their recent trip in June were fortunate enough to get a special guided tour with Jane Crosse, owner of Simcoe House in Budleigh. The building on the town's Fore Street Hill was the summer residence of the Simcoe family in the early 1800s when the former Lieutenant Governor returned from Canada to take part in the Napoleonic wars.

"It is truly a beautiful house and we are so pleased that Jane and her family appreciate the historical significance of it," said Ruth Loughton. "She was delighted to learn of our connections to Simcoe."

Scott Gillies, curator and manager of the Eva Brook Donly Museum, is looking forward to developing the relationship not just with Fairlynch but with the town of Budleigh Salterton and believes that this new transatlantic link can offer mutual interest to both sides.

"I look forward to discussing how we can work together to the benefit of Budleigh people, our historical society members, and the local residents of Simcoe and surrounding Norfolk County," he said.

Click on for information about Fairlynch Museum's new partner.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Online news from Budleigh's own cinema

A still from 'The Ghost', the political thriller directed by Roman Polanski. The film is one of nine films being shown by Budleigh Film Society between this September and April 2012

Budleigh Salterton Film Society tell me that they have a new website. And indeed they have. A smart affair designed by local firm Otter.IT to match the very smart choice of films that they're offering for the 2011-12 season.

Since it started three years ago Budleigh's own home-grown cinema has proved a massive hit, with membership soaring to nearly 400 within 18 months of the venture being discussed by a small group of film enthusiasts.

The Town Council's purchase earlier this year of new more comfortable seats for the Public Hall will have helped to make it a more attractive venue for the Society but it's what the Society screens that is the real draw.

"Choosing our programme is an annual and ongoing challenge," the Society's chairman Stuart Yerrell told me.

"Our guiding principle is that our films must be 'quality world cinema', and not the sort of thing you can see at the local commercial cinemas - the Picturehouse at Exeter being an honourable exception.

Committee members keep a watchful eye on new releases, and we go to regional and national screenings organised by the SW region of the British Federation of Film Societies. And of course there are always the cinema classics, although these have proved less popular than we initially thought."

Click on to see the 2011-12 programme of films and a description of each one, along with details about how to join the Film Society.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Smuggler's Gold at Fairlynch

Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch is one of six East Devon Museums taking part in a Treasure Trail linked to 'Smuggler's Gold' a play for people of all ages being performed at the Museum on Saturday 27 August 2011. The performance times are 11.00 am and 2.30 pm on the lawn at Fairlynch; if wet indoors.

Admission is free, and there's the chance of winning an i-Pod for young people who attend the performance.

The show with live music, and performed by the Common Players, is a Jurassic Coast Heritage Touring Project. It's centred around the character of Bill Widger who is refusing to leave his East Devon cliff-top cottage, which is falling into the sea because of erosion.

In a style similar to Dickens’ 'A Christmas Carol', night-time visitors take Bill on a farewell trip through time to explore the ancient Jurassic Coast landscape, stories of historic fishing fleets, and the Great Landslip of 1839.

But, the cliff could collapse at any minute.

Will Bill find the smuggler's gold hidden in his garden before it is too late.......?

Apart from enjoying a show, which promises a lively mixture of music and drama, each member of the audience will be given a Smuggler’s Gold passport! This will contain details of a competition with prizes and will outline a treasure trail to the museums of East Devon where answers to the questions in the passport will be found.

Accompanied children visit the museums free and their adult companions benefit from a special rate of only £1 per adult.

Visit all six museums, complete your passport and receive your free Treasure.

For details of the competition being run by the Common Players see

Turbines back on track in Brewster

With more and more homeowners in supposedly rather conservative Budleigh Salterton taking advantage of green energy by installing solar panels and the like it's no surprise to see that wind turbines like these are back on the agenda in Brewster.

My last post on this issue at drew attention to the storm of protest that erupted in our Cape Cod sister-town when some Brewster residents decided that wind power was not for them. The initial planning board decision seemed to go in their favour.

But many of Brewster's selectmen - the equivalent of our town councillors but with somewhat more power - have no intention of giving up on the issue.

A deal has been worked out with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative and according to a local press report at the town could have its two 410 ft turbines in operation by September 2012.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Guys and Dolls in Budleigh Salterton

The nice young people from London's Imperial College Operatic Society are back in town to entertain us with another sparkling production. They actually call themselves Musical Theatre Tour and have an excellent new website at They've been faithful to Budleigh for over 40 years.

This time, as they say, "Gangsters, gambling and glamour are coming to Budleigh Salterton with their production of 'Guys and Dolls'."

This celebrated Broadway musical set in the prohibition era is based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon, and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrowes, and has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.

Here's director Seb Junemann's helpful synopsis:

"Nathan Detroit is running out of places to run his secret, underground, floating craps game. Only a crazy bet with a high roller like Sky Masterson will earn him the cash he needs in time to set up the game. But when Nathan bets Sky that he can't woo the pure-hearted, local mission worker Sarah Brown, he finds that he may have underestimated Sky; and Sky may have underestimated love's ability to sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Colourful characters, a fast paced plot, dialogue dripping with wit and show-stopping musical numbers such as 'Luck be a Lady Tonight' and 'Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat' make Guys and Dolls as popular today as it was when it was released over 60 years ago.

Guys and Dolls at work in the Public Hall getting ready for the show. It looked like chaos when I took the photo a few days ago but they told me it was highly organised

Performances in the Public Hall are from 4–6, and 9–13 August, at 7.30pm.
There are no performances on 7 or 8 August and a Matinée on 11 August.
Tickets: £10 (matinĂ©e £7.50), available from Budleigh Tourist Information (01395 445275).