Thursday 22nd March 2007
Yesterday was a beautiful day here in East Devon. Although there was a very keen north-westerly wind blowing the sun was shining.
I went to Sidmouth with a friend and the sea was the most beautiful blue, almost Caribbean to look at. If you could get out of the wind you could almost imagine that it was summer.
Family affairs have kept me busy, so that's why you haven't seen me here for a while. However, I've now put up an brand new page about the Sidmouth Folk Week 2007 which will be held from 3rd to 10th August 2007. If you can get here this is definitely something that you will not want to miss.
Friday 26th January 2007
The authorities are still cleaning up on Branscombe beach following the problems with the Napoli, a container ship which ran aground in bad weather last week.
There are serious concerns about the environmental impact on the sea birds. It's estimated that more 10,000 birds could die from the effects of the pollution. Volunteers are working to save as many birds as they can but for many thousands of birds it will be too little too late.
Read the full story here
Sunday 21st January 2007
I've just come across a site about an English author of novels, short stories and children's books named Elizabeth Goudge. It is not someone that I'm familiar with, so I'm going to go to the library and borrow some of her books to find out more.
The reason I was interested in the website about her that that I came across was because Elizabeth was born in Wells, Somerset. Wells of course has a cathedral and in the cathedral is one of only four astromomical clocks in the West Country.
Another one of those four clocks is in the Ottery Church a building that is well worth a visit next time you are in East Devon.
Monday 25th December 2006
This afternoon we went for a walk along the banks of the River Otter between Otterton and Budleigh Salterton. The day itself is a bit on the gloomy side with patches of fog here and there, I don't think that the sun has shone at all today.
There wasn't a lot of traffic around so it was extremely pleasant by the river. All you could hear was the sound of the water and a few robins arguing over territory.
We saw quite a few birds as we walked along. Lots of robins, a few wood pigeons and a couple of egrets in the field. The highlight of the afternoon for me though was to see a kingfisher perched on the branch of a tree over the river. It flew off as we approached but we saw it again twice more as we walked downstream.
We eventually lost sight of it as there were a few other groups of walkers along the path. The kingfisher took itself off into a more secluded place to continue its fishing. Still, it didn't go before it had really brightened our day!
Wednesday 20th December 2006
It's been the most gloriously sunny day here but quite cold. We started off this morning with a really thick, sharp frost. Everything was beautifully covered. It has taken the best part of the day for it to go, even with the sunshine.
I've been busy lately, that's why I haven't written much news for you. I have been working on new pages though, so I've just put up a page about some holiday cottages in Colyford, near Colyton. You can find out about the Heritage Coast Cottages on the new page and use the form to make your reservation for 2007.
Friday 24th November 2006
It's been rather a wet day here today and there are some very large puddles on the roads. The weather is still extremely mild for the time of year though and the grass is still growing even though it's almost the end of November.
I've just added a new page about another pair of holiday cottages - Devon Willows which belong to the same family as the Colhayne Cottages. These are right beside the River Axe and are a perfect place to stay and explore the area.
Thursday 23rd November 2006
Devon has always been a popular holiday destination and I'm delighted to be able to show you some of the beautiful holiday cottages that can be found in the area.
I have recently come across another pair of holiday homes, Colhayne Cottages which are situated in a really convenient location between Honiton and Axminster.
With the uncertainties of air travel and the fluctuations in foreign currency exchanges what more could you wish for than the peace and quiet of the countryside, spectacular views of fields and trees, a glimpse of the sea and a Devon Cream tea!
Monday 13th November 2006
A few weeks ago we went for a meal at the Hare and Hounds. Previously I hadn't been there but had always heard good reports about it as being a place that had a good atmosphere and gave good value for money.
I've just put up a new page about it, see what you think and if you've been there please tell us about your visit
Sunday 12th November 2006
You will no doubt have heard of Cornish Pasties. These delicious arrangements of pastry and a savoury filling of meat, onions and potatoes were the traditional fare of the Cornish miners.
However, according to a report in the Observer newspaper they should not be called Cornish pasties but rather Devon pasties.
Dr Todd Gray, a local historian has found a recipe that dates back to 1510, which is about 200 years older than previous recipes.
Friday 3rd November 2006
We've had three days of perfect autumn weather here in Devon.
Blue sky, brilliant sunshine, wispy white clouds and a very bracing north westerly wind. In fact we've even had frost for the last two mornings, the first this autumn.
The weekend is coming too, so I'll be out in my garden over the weekend to tidy up a bit before the winter comes. I try to leave a few untidy bits for the wildlife to use over the winter so that they have places to forage for insects and other tasty tidbits. It's becoming a bit of a problem for the birds and hedgehogs to find enough food through the winter because everyone thinks they must have a perfectly neat and tidy garden.
Thankfully there are still plenty of hedges left in Devon and environmentally friendly farmers trim them in a way that benefits the wildlife. We can all do our bit in the garden though, that's why mine's the one with stinging nettles and brambles at the bottom ;-)
Sunday 22nd October 2006
On the 5th November each year the people of Ottery carry burning tar barrels through the streets. There's also a huge bonfire complete with effigy of Guy Fawkes. Find out who Guy Fawkes was and why he's still remembered to this day in this new article.
When you've finished reading that article have a go at this Guy Fawkes trivia quiz and see how much you know about the man, the history and other general knowledge question to do with Bonfire Night.
Friday 20th October 2006
In the process of going through some files on my hard drive I came across a recipe that someone sent me. They sent it because it uses clotted cream, even though it's not strictly a Devon recipe.
It's for Edge Lemon Pudding and comes originally from Sussex. However, I'm sure that you won't be the slightest bit worried about this when you taste the result, it's absolutely gorgeous.
Don't forget to let us know how you get on
Tuesday 17th October 2006
I've had a busy week because a family member was getting married on Saturday, so that's why I haven't been around very much. Otter estuary at Budleigh Salterton What I need now is to get out and about in East Devon to unwind and enjoy the autumn colours that are appearing very fast. East Devon is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, due in no small way to the four beautiful river estuaries that break up the coastline.
From east to west we have the Axe, the Sid, the Otter and the Exe. Each one is different and visitors and residents alike get much pleasure from walking along them. The Axe and Exe estuaries in particular are havens for wading birds and this time of year in particular there are many hundreds of birds migrating through.
In the picture you can see the last bit of the Otter estuary at Budleigh Salterton. The pine trees are a very well know landmark and you can enjoy a wonderful walk under the trees.
Wednesday 11th October 2006
If you are a regular visitor to this site you are probably aware that we invite you to tell us about your visit.
If you want to write a "letter" rather than a "note" then you can do that too, we love to hear from you.
Judy, a friend of mine who lives in America, loves to travel around and explore different places in the world. She and her husband have been travelling for more than 35 years and she recently sent me a "post card" complete with pictures from her website Mousetours Travels about one of their expeditions to England. I wanted to know more, so she sent me a letter, all about their trip to Devon, which Judy describes as "a great little corner of the world!". Click on the blue link to read the letter and please don't forget to let us know what you think by using our contact form.
Tuesday 10th October 2006
One of the things that I really enjoy about living in Devon is the abundance of birdlife that you see in the hedges.
There are hedges everywhere you look and these provide food and shelter for many different kinds of birds.
Every autumn there is a Devon Hedge Week, organised by the Devon Hedge Group, where local people can learn about the art of hedge laying. This year it falls during the week of 21st - 29th October.
The chairman of the group, Rob Wolton says: "Hedges are vitally important for many of our most familiar birds, like hedge sparrows, robins, blackbirds, thrushes and goldfinches. These birds, and great rarities like the cirl bunting, spend much of their lives feeding, nesting or roosting in Devon magnificent hedge banks. During the week we'll be showing people how they can improve their hedges for birds and other wildlife, and providing practical advice on management."
This year Devon Hedge Week coincides with schools' half term holidays which will enable more families to enjoy the special events.
If you would like more information then visit Devon County Council's website for more details of the events that are planned.
Monday 9th October 2006
Things didn't quite go to plan over the weekend, so it's taken a little longer than I anticipated but as promised on Saturday I've just put up the new Colyton Guesthouses page.
Saturday 7th October 2006
In case you've been wondering where I am I haven't written anything for the news page because the telephone exchange was affected by a lightening strike last weekend. This put our broadband service out of action for more than a week.
However, as you can see, it's fixed up now and I'll be putting up some new guesthouse pages sometime over the weekend. Watch this space.
Thursday 28th September 2006
A new survey has found that adults in Devon are among the most active people in the country.
A nationwide new survey conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Sport England shows 21 per cent of people over 16 in Devon take part in at least three 30-minute sessions of moderately physical activity every week.
This compares with a national average of 20 per cent and is higher than Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset which all come in under 20 per cent.
That is actually not that surprising when you consider that we are surrounded by beautiful countryside to enjoy. Just think about all those cliff top walks along the South West Coast Path that there are to enjoy.
Some parts are reasonably level, but if you want to walk the section between Seaton and Sidmouth there are some seriously big hills! You will definitely get an aerobic workout.
For a slightly less taxing walk why not try the section between Peak Hill, just west of Sidmouth and Ladram Bay. You still have some hills but they are not so big.
On the other hand if you can't manage to walk up and down hills then I suggest that you try Exmouth sea front as it has a long, level promenade and several ice cream shops along the way.
Friday 22nd September 2006
The staff at Budleigh Salterton Library are celebrating after their garden won a prestigious award in the annual Britain in Bloom competition.
The garden was a community project and has been redesigned by the Budleigh Salterton Flower Show and Garden Club as part of the Royal Horticultural Society Bicentenary celebrations in 2004.
The work is being done in two stages; the first stage opened in May 2005, the second stage is planned for spring 2007.
Last week the library staff were delighted to hear they had won a Britain in Bloom Neighbourhood Award 2006 in the category of 'Outstanding'. This catagory is part of a campaign to promote "Cleaner Safer Greener Communities".
The garden, in Station Road, is designed to be low maintenance with a colour theme of green and white. One bed is in a Mediterranean style with plants that tolerate very dry conditions including bamboo and lavender. The other part, next to the stream, has small trees and larger shrubs including hebe, lavender and ornamental grasses with clematis spreading along the fencing.
A member of the library staff said: "We get many people coming into the library who comment on how beautiful the garden is and what a focal point it has become. We were thrilled when the garden won an award." She praised the hard work of the volunteers who have all worked extremely hard.
Thursday 21st September 2006
When you look at some of the pages on this site you will see there are pictures that you from Art.com. For example the pictures on the cider page is a beautiful example of the choice that they have available.
This picture of a Devon lane is another great example of the high quality of their photographs. The light coming through the trees is just beautiful, it really is a wonderful place to live.
Pictures make excellent gifts and Art.com have a special promotion on at the moment so when you shop with them you can save 25% until Monday 25th September. Use the code H25P to start saving.
Wednesday 20th September 2006
Today the contractors have been harvesting maize from the field at the back of my house. They cut the maize with a huge machine and it gets chopped up into small bits and thrown into a trailer.
The chopped maize is then hauled off for storage on a nearby farmyard. Through the winter it's fed to cattle who, according to my friend who is a cowman, absolutely love it. In his words "they goes mad for it"
Devon has its own breed of cows, the Devon Red and according to at least one source that I know of most of the dairy cows in Canada are descendants. Apparently they are a very versatile breed and were ideal for the variations of climate in North America.
This is a topic that I will have to investigate more I think.
Saturday 16th September 2006
As I've mentioned before I live near Ottery St Mary and my children went to school in Ottery. They attended the same school as the famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, although when he was at The King’s School it was a boys only grammar school and now it's a mixed comprehensive school.
Through the years it's had an excellent reputation and this week it has received an extra boost. It is already a specialist sports college and now the Government wants it to take on two new specialisms in teacher training and learning for children with special needs
The King's School at Ottery St Mary is one of Devon's top performing schools. I can vouch for this from personal experience with my own family. The school has just under 1000 pupils, which is large enough to be balanced and small enough for the teachers to know the students by name.
There have been other changes since Coleridge was at school too. For 450 years the school had a headmaster but now it has headmistress, Ms Faith Jarrett. Naturally Ms Jarrett is delighted that the school has been chosen to specialise in Cognitive Learning as this will benefit the whole school and not just those children with special educational needs.
She said she was particularly pleased to win the second specialism, as it was the first year that it had been offered to mainstream schools as well as specialist schools. In 2005, the commitment of King's to teaching children with special needs was recognised when teacher Paula Farrand won the regional Teaching Awards category for the Special Needs Teacher of the Year in the South West.
Thursday 14th September 2006
A week or two back I had a day out with my niece and we went to Seaton. The weather was kind to us and we enjoyed a trip on the Seaton Tramway.
There was much more to our day out than just the Tramway though. We started our day out in Colyton and I've just finished putting up a new page about this delightful little town. It's so tucked away it would be easy to miss on a trip to East Devon, but it really is worth a visit.
See what you think.
Sunday 10th September 2006
I was delighted this week to receive and email from someone who is a descendant of Jack Rattenbury, the smuggler from Beer.
This lady correctly thought that I would be interested in knowing about her Grandma, whose maiden name was Rattenbury. Sadly Grandma died in 1991 but the family had visited Beer sometime before that. They were amazed to find that the picture of Jack Rattenbury that hangs in the Rectory showed a clear resemblance to family members still alive.
As yet I haven't managed to see this picture, I must make an effort to go and see it. I also want to visit the Beer Caves while I'm in the village as there is a fascinating story that goes along with the history of the caves. Jack Rattenbury and his pals used some of them to hide their ill-gotten gains but there's a lot more than smuggling to be learned in the caves.
Thursday 7th September 2006
It's been a couple of weeks since I did anything to the East Devon Guide because I've had a problem with my back and I haven’t been able to sit at the computer and write. However, it all seems to be getting back to normal and so I'm back.
I've just been reading about a new initiative in East Devon to get rid of the problem of chewing gum on the pavements. Don't you just hate it when you tread on a bit and it sticks to your shoes? The council in Exmouth has put up 10 new bins for people to put their used chewing gum and cigarette butts in so that they don't cause litter. The bins have been put at points where people congregate so it’s really easy to keep Devon tidy.
Devon as a whole has an excellent record for recycling and encouraging things that are environmentally friendly. There are often initiatives to encourage people to leave their cars at home and there are many miles of cycle tracks to enjoy.
Why not get your bike out this weekend and enjoy the fresh air and get some nice easy exercise at the same time? If you come to East Devon I know you'll enjoy it.
Thursday 24th August 2006
They're going bananas at Larkbeare House in Exeter this week!
It was so hot here in July that the banana plants in the flower border have not only bloomed but also they have tiny bananas on them. According to the County Council spokesman the plants think that they are "in Ecuador rather than Exeter"
These are not tiny little plants we're talking here either. They stand 15 feet high! They were bought from a local nursery in Bishopsteignton and have been growing quite happily for about four years. Conditions have never been right for them to produce either flowers or fruit until this year.
According to the press release, last week ground staff noticed an arching brown flower which has produced three rings of tiny two-inch green bananas, with four more rings in their early stages.
The grounds manager was very surprised to find these miniature bananas in the garden because we had the coldest March in Devon for 20 years. The plants were badly affected by frost and there were doubts as to whether the plant would live to see the summer.
The plant was amongst a number of ornamental bananas, which featured, in a bedding scheme one summer. Ground staff wondered at the end of the season if one particularly vigorous plant would be tough enough to survive the winter, so they left it in place, only to see it go from strength to strength.
The plant is believed to be of Chinese origin, producing smaller fruit than the familiar large Caribbean bananas seen in supermarkets, however the mature fruits are unlikely to be edible.
And what's the secret of Devon's burgeoning banana production industry?
"Plenty of organic material and mountains of grass clippings and old plant cuttings on it because it keeps the roots nice and warm. She loves it, and has proved to be a tough old bird."
Tuesday 22nd August 2006
Last week I had a day out with my niece. We visited Colyton and Seaton and travelled between the two on the Seaton Tramway which we both enjoyed immensely.
You can read about our experiences on the new page that I've just added. If you have a tram story to tell or you've been to the Seaton Tramway, please tell us about it and we'll add your story to the page as well.
I've also put a new photograph of some of the antique clocks in the Honiton Clock Clinic. There are some wonderful ticking treasures there and I know you'd enjoy a visit.
Wednesday 16th August 2006
Today I've been to Colyton and Seaton with my 12 year old niece. We've had a lovely day out and have been to some really interesting places.
There's loads of history in Colyton and I've got plenty of facts and photographs that I'm going to be putting into a page for you to enjoy too.
We started our day out on a waggonette pulled by a Suffolk Punch horse called Cecily. She pulled us to the station through the narrow and winding streets. From Colyton, we took the tram to Colyford, where we visited a motor museum, there'll be a page about that soon too.
Then we got back on the tram and went to Seaton, where we ate our lunch on the beach before returning back to Colyton. We had a slight set back with lunch because I left the cutlery behind, so we had to go to Woolworths and buy some before we could eat. You would never believe how difficult it is to buy plastic forks ! !
Cecily met us and when she had finished her afternoon tea we drove back to the town centre at a very leisurely pace.
PS. If you clicked on the links to the Honiton Clock Clinic I apologise that they didn't work correctly. I've now fixed the error and they are working properly, sorry about that.
Sunday 13th August 2006
We have a beautiful Art Deco chiming clock in our sitting room, which we bought as a present for ourselves. It has a very unusual oval shaped face and lovely sounding chimes.
It came from the Honiton Clock Clinic, which is a small shop in New Street in Honiton. This amazing little shop is packed with a good variety of really interesting clocks and barometers.
You can find out more on the new page that I've just made.
Saturday 12th August 2006
A couple of weeks ago when I put up the page about the Anchor Inn someone asked me about the Jack Rattenbury room that you can stay in.
Jack is one of the most colourful characters in Devon and had a long and varied career as a fisherman, pilot and smuggler.
For those of you who asked about him, I've just put a new page to explain more about who Jack Rattenbury was and a bit of his background and history.
Friday 11th August 2006
On Wednesday evening we went down to Sidmouth to see what’s going on at the Folk Week. I haven’t managed to go for a couple of years and it’s been downsized quite a bit due to insurance issues.
However, that didn’t lessen our enjoyment in the slightest and it’s still worth going. We spent a very pleasant evening wandering around soaking up the atmosphere. We finished off by strolling along the seafront where we were privileged to enjoy the most beautiful moonrise.
I took quite a few photos and a few bits of video too, so I’m investigating how to upload this onto the East Devon Guide so that you can enjoy the ambience of the folk music scene in Sidmouth too. I'll let you know as soon as I've got the pictures uploaded.
Sunday 6th August
Friday saw the start of the Sidmouth Folk Week when all the world comes to Sidmouth to enjoy a multitude of different kinds of folk music.
The weather has been kind and the town is full of visitors. But there's much more on offer than just the festival, so I've made a new page about Sidmouth that tells you a little more about this small seaside town.
Friday 4th August
Yesterday it was the Honiton Show. It's always held on the first Thursday of August.
I really wanted to go, but I had to go to work instead as some of my colleagues were on leave and there wouldn't have been enough people to run the office. We've been fairly busy at work, hence no updates to this page for the last week.
I was looking forward to the Honiton Show. I love an agricultural show, I remember going to the Kent County Show at Detling near Maidstone in Kent when I was a little girl. My Dad had a small farm and we liked to go and look at all the new tractors and machinery but best of all the beautiful cows, sheep, horses and pigs that were on show.
Honiton Show is a much smaller affair than the Kent County Show, but there's still lots on offer. I particularly wanted to see and photograph the Devon Red cows. Apparently these cows were also the breeding stock for most of the dairy cows now in Canada.
Oh well, maybe I'll get to go next year. August certainly comes around very quickly.
Sunday 30th July
Yesterday it rained!
This morning is a wonderful relief from the heat and humidity that we've experienced over the last couple of weeks. The sun is shining this morning in a wonderful, clear blue sky and you can see for miles.
The British are well known for their tendency to talk about the weather, it's one of their main topics of conversation. The thing is though it's so variable, different from one day to the next.
For example in January the rainfall was well below average the driest since 1997. This is a real cause for concern because since November 2004 there has not been enough rain falling to fill the reservoirs ready for the summer demand. This trend continued in February and we also had a really cold snap, something that the balmy south west is not accustomed to!
It stayed cold in March, although we did get some quite heavy rain at times. This combination meant that the spring flowers didn't come when we expected them and made the winter seem very long. April was more like we would expect and so the gardens and trees recovered a little from the long period of cold, dry weather.
It was well into May though before we saw many of the spring flowers that we would generally expect at the end of March and we had snowdrops, daffodils and rhododendrons all out at the same time. May was extremely wet too, most places has twice as much rain than in May of previous years.
Most of that has now evaporated in a warmer than normal June and extremely hot July. The forecast for then next week is cooler than it has been of late, although the newspapers assure us that August is going to be even hotter than July.
So can you see why we talk about the weather? It's really part of the charm of living in Devon, it's never the same two days in a row even when it's really hot. Make the most of it, you never know when it's going to change!
Monday 24th July 2006
It's been a gloriously hot day here in Devon, which is causing many of the visitors to head to the coast, particularly now that the schools have broken up.
The village of Beer is an excellent choice for a day out as there's so much to see there. You can also enjoy a wonderful meal at the Anchor Inn which has a fine seafood menu and magnificent views across Lyme Bay. Find out more in the new page that I've put up this evening.
Wednesday 19th July 2006
There hasn't been any news for a couple of weeks, so you may have been wondering where I've been.
I'm just back from an amazing conference that's been held in Chicago, USA hosted jointly by Early To Rise and SiteSell.
They invited people who were not afraid of hard work, extremely hard work in fact and invited them to start to build a real Internet Business.
It wasn't knowledge that couldn’t be used.
It wasn't "feel good stuff" that left you pumped . . . and nowhere to go afterward.
The students were walked through a proven ten-step formula and together we built an Internet business, like The East Devon Guide in just five days.
Starting from the premise"Why build JUST a Web site... when you COULD build a Web BUSINESS?" the group was led by the hand down the path to success by an experience, energetic and friendly team of Internet business-building masters.
They have already "walked the walk" themselves, using a proprietary software system that makes building successful and profitable online businesses easy for anyone, regardless of your current situation or abilities. It was this same simple-to-use system the students worked with at the Internet Business-Building Bootcamp.
We often hear about "shortcuts to success." But when it comes to starting your own Internet business, the only REAL shortcut to success is to follow the step-by-step lead of masters who’ve already "been there, done that." They know where the landmines are. Students were steered away from the potholes, pitfalls and wrong turns. With a team of Internet business-building experts standing at their side, they built a professional, popular, and profitable Internet business in five days. It could be done in five days because we used a formula that’s already been proven to work... over and over again.
Click here for a quick tour of Sitesell
Although the conference has now ended for this year you can still learn how to build an Internet business that really works by using the same proven techniques. See these case studies to learn about some of the many successful Internet business or ask us if you prefer to talk to someone you already know.
Saturday 8th July 2006
The Time Detectives will be in Beer next week exploring the archaeology and history of Beer Head in East Devon.
Next Sunday 16th July between 11am and 4pm you can meet experts from Exeter University, the Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum and English Heritage will be on hand to answer questions from visitors. Best of all entrance is free!
Questions which will be answered include:
* What brought Stone Age people to the area?
* How old are the fields on Beer Head? Do they pre-date the Romans?
* Was the gun battery part of Britain's front line against Napoleon?
* What do we know of recent history such as smugglers and radar?
Visitors will be able to see an archaeological excavation and field survey, join a guided walk or visit the information tent in the Beer Head car park where 250,000 years of archaeology and history will be on display. You can also watch practical demonstrations of flint knapping and corn milling, browse at the bookstalls or join in children's activities including a mini-excavation.
Finish it off with a cream tea in the Anchor Inn.
Wednesday 5th July 2006
We've been basking in a heatwave for the last week but today it's turned cloudy and we've had heavy showers of rain. The resulting humidity is fairly uncomfortable but nevertheless useful in keeping everything lush and green.
With the approaching Sidmouth Folkweek if you want to visit for the week then you will need somewhere to stay. To help you we've compiled a list of Sidmouth Guesthouses along with their phone numbers.
At the moment this is a fairly basic directory list but eventually it will be more comprehensive as the East Devon Guide develops. We hope that you will find it useful.
Sunday 2nd July 2006
Have you heard of a Scavenger Hunt ? It's a bit like a treasure hunt, you get a set of clues and you then search around the area and find the things on the list. The first person back to base with all the items is the winner.
Have you heard of an Internet Scavenger Hunt ?
A friend of mine has a whole site devoted to this and she's just made a brand new Scavenger Hunt For Children . Why not have a go? You will find an answer to one of the questions right here in the East Devon Guide.
All the sites with answers to the clues have been checked for suitability, so you can be confident that your children are learning wholesome things. You will not be inundated with emails that you don't want and you'll learn a lot on the way. There's a really good prize too and it's free to enter.
Friday 30th June 2006
The other day we had a call into the office at work to say one of the clients had been showered with broken glass when he was standing in his conservatory. That in itself is peculiar enough but the explanation for the sudden shower was even more amazing. Apparently a seagull caused the damage by dropping a piece of flint as it flew over the roof.
Seagulls are a quintessential part of the English seaside but they can also be a very real pest. Not long after the report of the broken conservatory roof I saw a group of two or three gulls systematically dismantling a bag of rubbish that had been left out for the dustmen. There was rubbish scattered everywhere, which is an eyesore as well as a potential health hazard.
When you visit Exmouth, Sidmouth, Seaton and the other seaside towns there are notices up telling visitors not to feed the seagulls as it encourages them to scavenge through the rubbish and causes a nuisance to residents and visitors alike.
Seagulls are not really meant to eat leftover chips and sandwiches. As birds of the sea they have their own dietary requirements, so feeding them cheese and onion sarnies is not kind. They are better off gliding freely over the sea where we can enjoy their white plumage against the blue sea and sky.
Friday 23rd June 2006
This weekend as well as being Pixie Day in Ottery is the Axminster garden and craft festival. I'm a little disappointed because I'm going away and I won't be able to get there. It's one of the nicest local events for two reasons.
First it's packed with amazing craft and rural activities to admire and try. Everything from flowers to frocks and compost to carving, you name it you can see it. Secondly it's held in a large showground on the banks of the River Axe, tranquil and pleasant, especially at this time of the year.
Axminster is always worth a visit too. It's not a large town but is in beautiful surroundings and has some interesting shops too.
Monday 19th June 2006
A few weeks ago I mentioned little Lauren Pearcey who was going to take part in the Hospiscare 5 mile sponsored cycle ride on Sunday 21st May, along with her dad Steve.
It wasn’t a very nice day as I recall, wet and windy and generally not very springlike weather. Nonetheless, Lauren and her dad finished the course in 58 minutes, a very respectable time for a 6 year old. Thanks to everyone who sponsored Lauren, Steve and all the other riders Hospiscare were able to raise about £1000 to help care for cancer patients.
Well done everyone and especially Lauren!
While you're here, have a look at this article by guest writer Valerie from
who recalls idyllic holidays spent in East Devon
Saturday 17th June 2006
I'm back again briefly to let you know about this new page all about Pixie Day in Ottery.
Saturday 17th June 2006
The Sampford Peverell Society, in partnership with the Canal Ranger Service, has constructed a special mink raft, which will be moored at points along the canal within the parish of Sampford Peverell. Researchers want to know whether there are any American Mink living near the canal.
The raft has a clay pad, which will show any animal tracks left by animals walking across it. A few years ago there were large numbers of water voles living in the canal but over the last ten years there haven’t been any seen in the Grand Western Canal Country Park and they are thought to be extinct in Devon as a whole.
The survey will also show what other animals live in the canal and the surrounding area. It is known that otters live there as their droppings, called spraint, can be found under bridges. The otters are also helping to keep the mink populations down leading to an increase of other small water animals like bank voles and water shrews.
Mink are black or dark brown and between 50 – 70 centimetres long, including their tails, which are bushy. Otters are much larger and are also better swimmers. Both animals are quite shy of humans, so if you see one don’t forget to let us know about it.
Strictly speaking Sampford Peverell is in Mid Devon and the Grand Western Canal runs through the area. However, it’s only a half-hour or so in the car to get there from East Devon and equally worth a visit.
Monday 12th June 2006
"If you go down in the woods today you'd better not go alone" Why? Because there are Wild Beasts about according to this brand new, original article sent to my by the Cat Man Larry, be sure to read it and "see what the Cat Man do have to say about they big cats".
While you're at it if you've seen a big cat wandering in the woods be sure to tell us about it
Friday 9th June 2006
Devon has many unique aspects, none more so than the Devon Rex cat which originated from near Buckfastleigh. I've just added a new page all about this unique pedigree cat.
If you are a cat lover then you will also enjoy this Cat Art website, run by my friend Larry. He's a lifelong cat lover. Be sure to check out his cat blog too, I'm sure you'll enjoy it immensely.
Thursday 8th June 2006
It's that time of year again and the excitement is building to boiling point.
Visitors to the East Devon Guide are starting to search for news and information about the Sidmouth Folkweek being held between 4th and 11th August 2006 so I've just put up a brand new page with a few details about the Sidmouth Folk Festival.
Although it's not as large as it used to be, due to problems with the insurance, there's still loads to see and do and I'm certain that you will really enjoy your visit.
Wednesday 7th June 2006
William Makepeace Thackeray was best know for his book Vanity Fair but he wrote about East Devon in his book Pendennis. Ottery St Mary appears as Clavering St Mary and Sidmouth appears as Baymouth. When Thackeray was 14 his father bought the lovely old mansion at Larkbeare, two or three miles from Ottery. Young William really loved Devon and was always in a hurry to come home to Larkbeare in the school holidays. He called Larkbeare House Fairoaks in Pendennis and described the beautiful countryside that surrounded it in the narrative of his book.
Two of the best known female writers in English literature also visited and stayed in Sidmouth.
One is my favourite author - Jane Austen. I have read her books over and over again and each time that I go back to them I enjoy them just as much. They really are classics Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion to name just three. They are all stories about middle class 18th century families and although Persuasion is my personal favourite I enjoy all of them.
Jane Austen visited Sidmouth, staying there on holiday in 1801. Whilst she was in the town she met a gentleman called Mr Blackall. Jane was very taken with him and had he not died suddenly and unexpectedly she may well have married him.
The other famous author was Elizabeth Barrett, who came about 30 years after Jane Austen. She lived in Sidmouth for about three years and was courted assiduously by the Reverend George Hunter for about 13 years until Elizabeth married Robert Browning.
Monday 5th June 2006
I've spent the evening writing a new page about Exmouth, whilst also enjoying the sunset across the fields at the back of my house. The best thing about a sunset is that anyone can enjoy it and like all the best things in life it doesn't cost a penny.
The sun is a truly amazing star, set at the perfect distance from the earth to make life not only possible but truly enjoyable.
Today has been a lovely day with sunshine in an almost cloudless blue sky. Too bad I had to go to work today, it would have been a perfect day to sit on the beach.
Saturday 3rd June 2006
It’s been a beautiful warm day today here in East Devon. This afternoon I went into Seasons tearoom where everyone was sitting in the new tea garden enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
One of the things Seasons pride themselves on is using locally produced food as much as they possibly can. If you ask for a bag of crisps [chips if you live in North America] you will be served with Burts crisps, which are made here in Devon. I was very pleased to read that Burts have recently been awarded a prize for their work with disabled people.
The company was short-listed from dozens of companies; judges were impressed by several examples of enthusiasm, flexibility and support demonstrated by staff at Burts, based in Kingsbridge. They hope the award will highlight the benefits to local business, dispelling many of the myths that still surround the employment of disabled people.
One in six of the working population has a disability such as learning disabilities, hearing or sight impairments and health issues such as cancer. Yet the focus can often be on physical access rather than the benefits that employing disabled people brings.
Burts are a hugely successful small business and this is a well-deserved award. If you’re visiting, be sure to try some of their crisps, they’re delicious.
Wednesday 31st May 2006 - Stop Press!
I've just finished putting up a new page about the Ottery church clock a very old piece of technology that's still working perfectly.
Wednesday 31st May 2006
Do you like sausages? In Honiton there’s a traditional butchers called Complete Meats. They have a large, double fronted shop in the middle of the High Street and another shop in Axminster.
A couple of weeks ago they took First Prize at the Devon County Show held at Westpoint. The prize was for their large Pork sausages. They also got 3rd prize for the Pork and Cracked Pepper sausages.
If you fancy sampling some of their other fare they are currently running an offer. If you buy a hot or cold filled roll you can have a free drink.
Saturday 27th May 2006
I love bits of trivia, don't you?
During the course of researching the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary page I found a lovely bit.
Did you know that a male donkey is called a jack and a female donkey is called a jenny? Another bit of fun are some of the references to donkeys in proverbs, fables and folklore.
One bit of European folklore claims that the tail of a donkey can be used to combat whooping cough or scorpion stings although I suspect that the donkey would strongly disagree.
An Indian tale has an ass dressed in a panther skin give himself away by braying whilst one of Aesop's fables has an ass dressed in a lion skin who also gives himself away by braying.
My favourite though is the German proverb that claims a donkey can wear a lion suit but its ear will still stick out and give it away.
Thursday 25th May 2006
In these environmentally conscious days it's important for everyone to think about our surroundings. It's especially significant when you live in or visit a beautiful area as our actions have a big impact on the environment. East Devon is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, something that is readily apparent when you walk along the South West Coast Path
Humans are the most wasteful and extravagant in their use of resources. Animals and birds use and recycle instinctively but for some reason we don’t seem to be able to do it that way. The County Council is trying extremely hard to encourage everyone to cut down on the amount of rubbish that we put out in the dustbin.
In an effort to educate the residents and visitors they are running a campaign called "Don’t let Devon go to waste" One way to cut down on landfill waste is to keep a small compost bin in your garden. However, it’s also possible to have a wormery in the shed.
The 'Compost Doctor' will be on hand at B&Q’s premises at Sowton on Saturday 3rd June between 10am and 4pm to explain exactly how a wormery works and to answer composting questions. You can get a copy of a free book, packed with additional advice and information to take home with you. There will also be sunflower seed planting for children and great competitions and on the spot prizes for adults.
Members of Devon County Council's waste team and Exeter City Council's recycling team will be on hand to provide information about local services and will be giving away goodie bags including reusable shopping bags, colouring pens and pencils made from recycled materials.
Recycling rates in Devon are good but could be better, so if everyone, including visitors recycle as much as they can it will ensure that Devon stays as beautiful as it is now.
Composting at home and community composting schemes reduce the waste going to landfill. When materials are recycled it requires less raw materials and energy. This reduces the impact on our environment, so we will all benefit. Make sure that you do your bit too – as the slogan says "Every little helps"
Tuesday 23rd May 2006
In case you've been wondering why there's been very little news over the past week it's because I've been away for a few days in France visiting some friends. The weather has been more or less the same as in England but it's been a lovely break from the more everyday things going on at home.
While we've been away we've been enjoying the spring flowers in the French gardens, but back in Devon there are some wonderful gardens.
Talaton Open Gardens Weekend
27th and 28th May
If you enjoy gardening or you simply like looking at gardens and would like a glimpse of some beautiful private gardens then don’t miss the annual open gardens weekend at Talaton.
Between 2:00pm until 6:00pm you can enjoy a Devon dozen of the best gardens in the parish. Cottage gardens, vegetable gardens, plantsmen’s gardens and country house gardens; you name it, you’ll see it.
Not only that, you can buy plants in some of the gardens, have a cream tea in the Parish Hall and lunch in the pub. There’s an award winning village shop too where you can buy local produce, home made cakes, preserves and chutney.
Some of the proceeds from the Open Day are going towards the shop, which is staffed entirely by volunteers, the rest is going to the church. Tickets cost £3.50 and are valid for both days and you can get a map of the gardens from the church car park or any of the participating gardens.
If you’d like more information about the Open Day then email Peppi Shaw using this address:
peppishaw AT aol DOT com
[We’ve reworded the email address to foil the spammers so you will need to use the "@" symbol instead of AT and the "." instead of DOT when you email Peppi.]
Monday 15th May 2006
Making Devon greener at the County Show
The Devon County Show is held every year during the middle Thursday, Friday and Saturday of May at Westpoint. It is just 3 minutes from Junction 30 of the M5, at Exeter, giving direct access from London, Bristol and Plymouth. This year the show falls on the 18th, 19th and 20th May.
At the show Devon County Council will be giving visitors the opportunity to find out more about what's on offer across the county and how everyone can do their bit to protect the natural environment.
They will do this through the 'Making Devon Greener' exhibition. The County Council has pledged to make Devon England's greenest county by setting an example to others and, amongst other measures, using energy more efficiently and reducing waste.
There are many more ways in which everyone can enjoy Devon's beautiful environment and help to preserve it now and for generations to come and these can be discovered at the County Council marquee (stand 367, road 8).
You can find out more about Devon's 3,200 miles of public rights of way, many of which are found in East Devon and include routes suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
You will also find lots of information about the network of cycle routes in the area.
Speaking of bikes, don’t miss the daily performances by stunt bike whiz Andrei Burton, who represents Exeter in the British, European and World Championships as part of the Great Britain Cycling Team. Over a specially built course he will be demonstrating mountain bike trial stunts which will leave onlookers amazed and will also be available to chat about his passion for mountain biking and how to get involved in cycling.
Sunday 14th May 2006
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to make up your mind?
You've got a choice of three different things that you could do, you like the idea of all of them, you enjoy doing all of them - but you only have time to do one of them - which do you choose?
Help is now at hand
There's a new decision making program that you can use that takes away the pain of difficult choices.
Which is the best hotel to stay in?
I stay in a hotel or would it be better to stay in the farmhouse B&B near Axminster?
Where shall we take the children for a day out in Devon?
Never fear, we are here to help you Choose It!
Oh yes, just one more thing for today. Please don't forget to come back and tell us exactly what you chose will you. We're looking forward to hearing from you very soon.
Saturday 13th May 2006
Yesterday I told you about Seasons Traditional Tearoom I've now put up a page with more information about what's on offer there and their menu
I'm sure that you'll enjoy your visit
Friday 12th May 2006
Italian evening in Ottery
Seasons traditional tearooms is one of the best eating places in Ottery. Run my Martin and Jenny Patterson you will find a warm welcome and a delicious cream tea
It’s been hot here for the last two or three days and I can tell you that it is very pleasant to sit in the garden under the shade of one of the big umbrellas enjoying a cream tea. The garden has been improved over the winter months and there's now a delightful new water feature to enjoy.
In the past year they’ve expanded their range of food available on the menu and also, new for this year, there is now a tea garden where you can enjoy your cream tea in pleasant surroundings away from the hustle and bustle of the street.
Next Saturday, 20th May, there will be an Italian evening. Seasons will be open during the evening and serving a range of Italian food, specially cooked by Jenny. The evening needs to be pre-booked and tickets are selling fast. There are still a few places left but they're going fast, so give Martin a call on 01404 815751 to reserve your place now.
Tuesday 9th May 2006
This Friday a new book will be presented at Colyton Library by its author Edward Charles. He developed a fascination with the life of Lady Jane Grey after a visit to the Devon manor house of Shute Barton. You can see the gatehouse on the left hand side of the site header above.
Edward Charles' book 'In the Shadow of Lady Jane' has received the full support of the Colyton Parish History Group which has almost 200 members.
A copy of the novel will be presented to the library, and Edward Charles will be signing copies, at Colyton Library on Friday 12 May, from 6pm until 7.30pm.
Inspired by a visit with his wife to Shute Barton, the ancestral home of the Grey family, the author started to read biographies of Lady Jane Grey and historical books of the period. He established a brief period in her life when she may have visited to house, uncovered a number of other local characters included the neighbouring farmer John Stocker and local physician Dr Thomas Marwood, and created a young servant boy, Richard Stocker, to tell the story.
The book is set between 1551 and 1554 and follows the last three years of the short life of Lady Jane Grey. When the family visit the estate, Richard takes an instant dislike to Lady Jane but falls for her sister the vivacious Lady Catherine.
As a reward for saving his daughters in a storm, Lord Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, takes Richard into his employment. Richard embraces the rare chance he has been awarded and ascends within the family to become the Duke's personal secretary, encountering royalty along the way.
His loyalty to the family is tested when Lady Jane is imprisoned in the Tower of London for daring to claim the English throne by the Catholic Queen Mary Tudor.
If you enjoy historical romances and would like to have a trip through the Devon of Tudor times then you will enjoy this book. Use the link to order it now.
Monday 8th May 2006
This is a little late for this year but I recently read an account about the first Escot Letterboxing Championships. Easter Monday saw 20 teams of letterboxers fighting it out at Escot in the inaugural championship. They had to search over the whole of the estate for the letterboxes and the answers to the Natural History clues. The owner of Escot, John-Michael Kennaway is hoping that this competition will become an annual event.
Don’t worry if you missed it though, whenever you visit Escot you can have a go at letterboxing, it’s free for everyone who visits the gardens and you get a set of clues and some guidance to start you off.
It’s more fun if you’re playing as a team but I had a perfectly enjoyable afternoon playing by myself. Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art and problem solving. You can find out more about it on this new page on letterboxing that I've just made.
Sunday 7th May 2006
We have a local free news sheet called the Ottery Gazette which has many items of interest to local people. In the May issue there were two things in particular which caught my eye.
One is a little six-year old girl called Lauren Pearcy. She lost her mum to cancer a few years ago and Lauren and her dad Steve are going to take part in the Honiton Hospiscare Cycle Race on Sunday 21st May.
Even though she’s only six Lauren has entered the 5 mile ride. The Hospiscare shop in Honiton has sponsor forms or you can use the contact form on the site and I’ll give you the phone number to get in touch with Steve.
Better still, if you’re here then why not join in yourself. It’s a fun event and all the money raised is going directly to the Hospiscare funds. You can choose from a range of distances between 5 miles and 50 miles. This is a great opportunity to get out and about in the East Devon countryside.
The entry fee is just £4 for adults and £1.50 for children. Entry forms are available from Alan and Pauline Rowe – use the contact form and I’ll give you the phone number.
Ottery Heritage Museum
The other thing that caught my eye is that the Ottery St Mary Heritage Exhibition has now reopened for the summer until the end of September. In addition to the regular weekday openings between 10:00am and 4:00pm from Tuesday to Friday it will now be open on Sundays.
Even if you went last year there are new and improved exhibits. One of the new displays covers the Ottery flood defence scheme which was completed fairly recently.
There is a modest admission charge for adults but children go free. Don’t miss it, it’s truly fascinating.