Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Time for a tick

I found my first tick yesterday. On me. I daresay that they’re all around us, floating like tiny little spiders over the East Devon heathland, but the ones that count are those that you spot suddenly after feeling that familiar little itch just when you’ve had a good day’s gardening. A tiny black spot, sometimes in a very awkward place on your body and you know that it’s time to get out the tick hook.

It’s been ages since I first wrote some warning words about ticks at and that was in connection with our sister town in Brewster, Massachusetts, where Lyme disease can be a serious problem.

Having extracted my tick I put it on a window sill and watched it. For such tiny creatures they move fast; this one seemed to be showing off, performing the occasional somersault. I wondered whether they might have been used in circuses, like fleas. Finally I called time on it.

My little tick bite yesterday came just after I’d read about rabies on Cape Cod at  Now that’s a really scary subject and puts our Devon ticks into perspective.  Rabies deaths are rare,  and the US Department of Agriculture is intent on eliminating them altogether by distributing fish baits containing anti-rabies vaccine in an area which includes Brewster among other Cape Cod towns. But it was disconcerting to read that a 63-year-old man from the area had died from rabies two years ago after being bitten by a bat. 

Well, there have to be some drawbacks to living in Paradise, whether it’s Cape Cod or East Devon.  Those annoying ticks have started to appear with the warm damp weather of late spring, and the bats will soon be swooping over the garden to herald the arrival of summer.  In their way they’re both messengers of good things to come.  

Photo: There's the tick, between the two tick hooks. I do recommend these useful gadgets which you can get at your local vets. They're more effective than tweezers. When you twist the hook you should be able to hear a tiny click as the tick releases its hold on your body. That should mean that the whole head of the beast has been removed. I then rub TCP or similar into the bite and keep an eye on it. But see  for official advice.

Town’s trader in good spirits

Budleigh Salterton has always prided itself on the number of its specialist shops, providing that little extra bit of service to customers, and James Findlay certainly includes his among them.   Occupying a prime position on the town’s  High Street, Budleigh Wines offers a vast range of drinks to suit every customer’s palate.

The latest to join the growing number of Corporate Friends of Fairlynch, 25-year-old James is a keen supporter of the Museum because of his interest in the town’s heritage.  Budleigh-born, he feels a strong link with the local fishing industry through his mother, a member of the Rogers family. 

Heritage in the drinks business is a fascinating subject, says James. With the popularity of real ales and the rapid upsurge in the number of micro-breweries all over Britain in recent years there’s been a keen interest in traditional brewing recipes. 

The Chester-based brewery Spitting Feathers has even gone as far as using a recipe created by analysing residues found in pots discovered at archaeological digs at Roman sites dating from around 100AD and other research.  Original ingredients including oats, rye and bog myrtle make this is a real taste of ale as the Romans brewed it in Britannia around the time of Christ’s birth.

Whatever next? A Bronze Age beer made from a recipe discovered at a dig on Woodbury Common?

Distilleries have seen the same kind of growth as breweries. I hadn’t realised how many gins there are on sale in shops like Budleigh Wines.  I wondered whether the Bombay Gins that James stocks would have been popular with some of the Anglo-Indian ex-army types who traditionally retired to Budleigh Salterton. 


But my eye was caught particularly by the bottles of Tanqueray gin because of its very local connection.  The original London Dry Gin was launched in Bloomsbury in 1830 by Charles Tanqueray. When he died in 1868 his son Charles Waugh Tanqueray took over the business at the age of 20 and quickly built on his father’s success. 1898 saw a merger with another well known name in the gin business, forming Tanqueray Gordon & Company. Today, Tanqueray Gin’s largest market is North America, where it is the highest selling gin import.

Above: The Tanqueray family grave at All Saints’ Church, East Budleigh 

 Although based in London the family must have had a home in East Budleigh because it was here that Charles Henry Drought Tanqueray (1875-1928), the newly formed company’s Secretary was born. In 1906 he married Stella Mary Green, daughter of East Budleigh’s vicar, the Rev William Frederick Green. Their daughter, Beryl Mary Tanqueray, married Brigadier Robert Allen Elliott, whose widowed mother lived for a time in our house after losing her husband Reginald, killed in action during World War One. 

On the strength of those local links I think I’d better try out a bottle of Tanqueray gin. It’s a bit more expensive than my usual brand, but James tells me that Tanqueray No.TEN is recognised for making the most refreshing tasting martini cocktails. It won 'Best White Spirit' three times in a row at the San Francisco World Spirits competition. 


I might even branch out into an exploration of the Tanqueray-inspired cocktails that you can find at

To see what else Budleigh Wines has to offer click on

Photo credits: Ben Efros, WestportWiki, Craig Hatfield 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Wanted! Good books.

Read any good books lately? asks the poster.   The Good Book Sale at Fairlynch Museum on 28 June 2014 will be a great opportunity to find books recommended by Friends of Fairlynch and others at bargain prices.

But the organisers need good books to get started.

If you have any that you think people would enjoy please start making a pile of them ready to take to the Museum during opening hours.  Or you can phone for a collection to be made from your home: 01395 442666 or 01395 446429. 

Just one or two books offered as a gift to the Museum would be appreciated by the organisers if you don’t have an entire library to give away.  Please start looking now.

The Susan Ward Collection at Fairlynch

 Friend of Fairlynch Museum and founder of Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival Susan Ward, left,  with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy at a Brook Gallery reception in September 2010    Picture credit: Brook Gallery

New acquisitions in the Museum’s display of costumes this year consist of items from the Susan Ward Collection.  

When Susan and her husband Charles moved to Budleigh Salterton in 2005 she soon became involved in fundraising for Fairlynch, becoming a Trustee of the Museum's Endowment Fund.  But it was the Literary Festival that she founded which then became her real passion.

The first three-day Festival opened on 18 September 2009 with a strong line-up, including Hilary Mantel, H.R.F. Keating, Val McDermid, Simon Brett, the actor Sheila Mitchell and journalist Virginia Ironside.

Very sadly, after a long illness, Susan died peacefully at home in Budleigh on 19 June 2012.  Thanks to a thoughtful gesture on the part of Professor Charles Ward, visitors will now have the chance to admire these items, some of which are on display in the dressing room. 


A Victorian cream silk dress with beige embroidery 


A Edwardian black tussore silk dress with bustle, or framework to support the drapery at the back of the dress. Tussore silk comes from the larvae of the tussore moth and related species.


This maid’s outfit will be kept in the Study Section of the Fairlynch Costume Department.


Costume curator Iris Ansell with one of the dresses from the Susan Ward Collection which will also be part of the Study Section.

One of the special items in the Susan Ward Collection is a  mannequin of the Edwardian period.  “Very interesting indeed,” was Iris Ansell’s comment.

And hiding under the Victorian dress was a 1970s dress which Costume Department volunteers found, to great excitement. “It’s perfect” said Iris. “Just as I remember them from that period!”

Museum welcomes guests at Preview Evening

Friends of Fairlynch and many other supporters of the Museum enjoyed the opportunity of seeing the new season’s displays during our evening opening on 3 April.
Many local Councillors attended the event. Left to right are Cllrs Alan Dent and Caz Sismore-Hunt, together with Alan Tilbury (President of Budleigh Salterton Chamber of Commerce).

The theme of the 2014 Costume Exhibition is ‘Fashion in the 1920s’, illustrated by this display of a dress shop interior. 

Included in the Lace Room display are items made by a former Fairlynch lacemaker, recently donated to the Museum by her niece who lives in the USA.

Also in the Costume Room is a display of dolls and toys entitled  ‘Hidden Treasures.’

L-r: Lynn Cook, Bernard Hadley, Christine Bailey, Margaret Williams and Martyn Brown.

L-r. Iris Ansell, Laurence Scullion and Dr James Scullion. Previously involved with the Bowes Museum, Durham, Laurence is helping the Fairlynch costume department with restoration work. 


Budleigh Salterton Mayor Steve Hall is seen with Fairlynch Local History Group member Sheila Jelley. The LHG, consisting of Margaret Brett, John Hedderly and Glenn Sismore-Hunt, have been hard at work staging the ‘Great War at Fairlynch' Exhibition.

Detailed research for the Exhibition has been carried out on local residents of the Lower Otter Valley who were involved with the 1914-18 World Conflict. 

The 'Great War at Fairlynch' has benefited from a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.   

 Also at the Preview Evening were Fairlynch Chairman Roger Sherriff, left, and Museum Secretary Michael Downes

Seen here (l-r) are Edward MacMullen, Angie Wilkinson and Mary MacMullen in the recently refurbished section of the Museum used for displays of Archaeology and Geology, formerly known as the Environment Room.  Mr MacMullen is the son of Fairlynch Museum’s late President Priscilla Hull. The Room has been renamed in her honour as well as a tribute to her father, local archaeologist George Carter.

The south wall of the Priscilla Carter Room, much admired by guests, was designed by the Bristol-based firm of Smith and Jones Design Consultants 
Click on the image to see the whole wall.

The 2014 exhibitions close on 30 September. Opening hours are 2.00-4.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A debt of gratitude

Much respected Treasurer of Fairlynch Jim Milverton finally handed on his account book today when he stepped down after looking after the Museum’s finances for many years.

The most important position in any Board of Trustees is that of Treasurer,” said Museum Chairman Roger Sherriff. “Fairlynch has been very fortunate to have a Treasurer like Jim. As  the consummate professional he has managed the Museum finances using sound judgement and his extensive knowledge.”

Jim, who with his wife Rose lives on Budleigh Salterton’s Coastguard Road, has also been Treasurer of the town’s Relief in Need Charity.

Looking after the Museum’s finances has often been complicated by issues arising from maintenance of the historic Grade II listed building, but Jim has proved to be a steady guiding hand, said Roger Sherriff.

“After over six years as Treasurer he is leaving the Museum’s finances well and truly in the black. We will miss his wise counsel and gentle good humour and we wish him and Rose well for the future.”

Farewell gifts from his fellow-trustees at the Museum included a bottle of fine wine and a garden voucher.

Jim’s successor as Fairlynch Treasurer is Nick Speare.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

New season at Fairlynch

Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum welcomed visitors today with a range of brand new exhibitions and a smartly designed and renamed ground floor room to house its archaeological and geological artefacts.

For the first time in many years the Museum will be open on Saturdays, giving Budleigh weekend visitors the chance to appreciate something of the town’s heritage as well as soaking up the sun on the beach.

The World War One centenary, an exhibition of 1920s fashion, beautiful displays of lace, a collection of children’s toys and a look at the folders in Local History Room will all make for a fascinating afternoon for visitors. Especially if the sun doesn’t make an appearance.

Archaeological and geological items at the Museum, including the remarkable radioactive pebbles described by scientist Max Perutz, are on display in the refurbished Priscilla Carter Room.

Find out more about Fairlynch by clicking on our sites at    and

Storm at the Brook

Pink Floyd lovers and many many others will be delighted to see that the Brook Gallery’s Easter show is devoted to work by graphic designer the late Storm Thorgerson.


A teenage friend of Floyd founders Syd Barrett and Roger Waters, Thorgerson, pictured above, was responsible for designing album covers for many other well known rock artists including Led Zeppelin, Bruce Dickinson and Muse.

We're delighted to welcome the Brook Gallery as the latest Corporate Friend of Fairlynch Museum. The Gallery's Storm Studios Show  runs until 4 May. If you can’t get along to see it in Budleigh Salterton take a look at  to see the kind of amazing designs produced by Thorgerson, who sadly died last year aged 69.

Photo of Storm Thorgerson credit: Jheald