Edition 133 - August 2011


 Photo: Judie W

Artwork: Judie Weedon


Another predicted BBQ summer - I don't think so! After a really fantastic April and spring, the weather has been unseasonal and this year even in advance of the schools breaking up - enough said!

However, most village events have managed to go ahead. Holding it earlier this year than usual, the day of the annual School Fete was grim, but the sun came out just in time to save the day, but on the day of the Village Open Gardens it rained and continued to rain without stopping all day ... a washout. 'Sitting in' at Tower Cottage we saw just eight visitors including an intrepid couple who had swum over from Swimbridge!

Now its fingers crossed for all the coming events planned for outdoors.

As you will see from the Report, our Parish Council is anxious to recruit some new members, so please give some serious thought to becoming a Councillor and helping our village in this way. Sue Squire, the Parish Clerk, would be only too happy to give you more information about what the commitment entails.

There have been some home movements of late and we wish everyone happiness in their new homes, here or away. And for those in the village not feeling at their best, we send get well soon wishes.

The Newsletter continues into another year thanks to the contributors - the regulars, the artists, the advertisers and the 'one-offers who all make editing a pleasure.

Keep up the good work! Items for the next Newsletter, October [can it really be that time again!], will be required by MONDAY, 12TH SEPTEMBER at the latest please - a few days earlier than usual.

Enjoy all the coming events and the rest of the summer.

Judie - Ed




The weather in April was too good to last and May was much cooler with strong winds for much of the month, helping to hold the temperature down. There were only six days which topped 20 Deg C and the maximum was 21.2 Deg C - according to our records this was only the fourth May not to reach at least 23 Deg C. The minimum temperature at 5.7 Deg C was up on average and the wind chill of -1 Deg C was not unusual. The wind speed reached 28 knots on two consecutive days. There was some welcome rain for the farmers and gardeners but with a total for the month of only 64mm [21/2"] it was one of the dryer Mays we've known.

June was a disappointing month altogether, cool and showery. The Open Gardens day on the 12th unfortunately was the wettest day of the month with 20mm [13/16"] by 10.30 p.m. and a total of 22mm [7/8"] by the next morning. In total there was 104mm [41/16"] of rain in the month which was higher than usual and made it the wettest month since January. Although the thermometer did hit 26.9 Deg C on the 26th, for much of the month the temperature stayed below 20 Deg C with a minimum of 5.6 Deg C which was below average. Wind speeds reached 24 knots and there was a wind chill of 2 Deg C.

The recorded sunshine hours for the two months were both down - in May the average since recording the figures is 151.86 hours but this year it was a bit below that at 147.67. In June, however, only 164.72 hours was recorded against an average of 178.55. Last year in June 207.77 hours were recorded.

The heatwave that we were threatened with doesn't seem to have materialised yet . . . time will tell!

Simon and Sue


Artwork: David Duncan


Our sincere thanks to everyone who handed in Gift Day envelopes, whether at the lych gate or later on in church or to the Community Shop. To date a generous £902 has been raised for church funds. We enjoyed a sunny day and it was good to have the chance to meet and talk to everyone.

On Sunday 26th June we shared an evening service with our friends from Combe Martin. Methodist lay reader, Martin Reardon, led the service and members of the Roman Catholic and Baptist churches read from the Bible and led the prayers. Collections for Christian Aid were handed in - the total has yet to be announced but the envelope collection in Berrynarbor raised £69 plus £29.50 at the service.

By the time you read this, Christians Together will have met here on Sunday, 31st July for a Songs of Praise evening.

Arrangements for the Summer Fayre on Tuesday 16th August at 6.30 p.m. in the Manor Hall are now in hand. Items for the various stalls - cakes, books, toys, plants, good bric-a-brac, china and glass - will be most welcome and again there will be a gift stall for jewellery, cosmetics, etc. There is a special request from Tony Summers for items for the bottle stall, and prizes are of course needed for the raffle. Please give me a ring on [01271] 883881 if you would like to help on the night or if anything is to be collected.

We are all looking forward to the Concert and Flower Festival to be held in church on Saturday, 27th August - please see Stuart's separate article.

Looking ahead, the Harvest Festival will be celebrated on Sunday, 2nd October at 11.00 a.m. with the Evensong and Supper on Wednesday, 5th October. More information next time.

Friendship Lunches at The Globe will be on Wednesdays 31st August and 28th September from 12.00 noon onwards. All welcome!

Mary Tucker




Alice Dummett

Formerly of The Retreat in the Sterridge Valley, Alice passed away at Catherine's Court, Yelland, on the 7th June at the age of 89.

Alice and her late husband, Len, were married at Combe Martin in 1948.and moved to Elizabeth House in Berrynarbor, which they ran as a guest house. On Len's retirement in 1969 they moved to The Retreat.

Here they spent a happy retirement together, gardening, walking the dog and enjoying time spent with friends and neighbours until Len sadly died in 1998. Although well cared for in the following years, Alice was lonely and bereft without Len.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Recently, I boarded a train to get to a town a few miles away. Sitting opposite was a woman, one of those who immediately want to get into conversation with you - and she did!

"Hello love," she said, "My name is Ruth and I'm on my way to see my sister Mary. I've not been well lately, what with my back playing up and the arthritis. My teeth are troubling me and I'm still getting over the 'flu."

"Have you seen the doctor?" I asked.

"Oh no!" she replied, "I'm too ill to see the doctor."

"When I had the operation for my gall bladder," she continued, "I said to the surgeon, do you know this is my first operation? He replied to me, "Now there's a coincidence." The doctors and dentists wear them masks you know. I think it's so if things go wrong you won't be able to recognise them, but they don't fool me."

I nodded.

"And another thing", she started, "I hate aeroplanes with all that noise. If people want to go in aeroplanes then the noise should be shut in with them, not annoying people on the ground. I read somewhere in the paper that they are going to have traffic lights for aeroplanes - I don't know how that's going to work."


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

I tried not to drop off and put on a slight smile.

She started again. "What rotten weather we've been having. My kitchen got flooded with all that rain. No one would help, I had to do it all on my own. My neighbour is a nasty type, always gossiping and moaning - not like me at all. She won two thousand on the lottery and spent it all on herself. I could have done with a bit of that for my gin cupboard. I only have a half bottle a day, so I don't drink much."

I looked at my watch, not long to go now!

Off she went again, "These trains are so slow, reminds me of the LNER, you know, Late and Never Early Railway. Isn't this country in a state. I hate politics so I vote for the Raving Loony Party, I think they are the most sensible."

"My brother is in prison, you know. He did a bank job. I don't think it was very bad though as he didn't know what to spend the money on, so gave it back to them. I'd 've given it to charity, she is my best friend you know!"

What do you think about all this inflation? When I started work I only got 50p a week. Now they get huge amounts and spend it on all the wrong things. Things are not what they used to be."

"Well", I said, "Here is my station, I must leave you now. Keep smiling." I told her.

Looking as miserable as anyone could, she replied, "I always do, I'm not one to complain."

I alighted from the train and made for the station cafe. Pity they didn't serve anything stronger than a cup of tea - but I made do with that and plenty of sugar!

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket




At the June Parish Council Meeting, one letter of application had been received for co-option from Mr Gary Marshall, and he was duly co-opted onto the Parish Council.  Councillors were very sorry to receive the resignation of Councillor Sue Sussex, both as Chairman and a Councillor, and this is an ideal opportunity to thank her for all her hard work and efforts while she has been a Councillor. Currently serving as Acting Chairman is Dave Richards.

This leaves 5 vacancies still to fill on the Parish Council.  We meet on the 2nd Tuesday each month in the Penn Curzon Room of the Manor Hall and Meetings usually end by about 9.30 p.m.   A Working Party of 3 Councillors is formed to inspect the assets in September which involves a walk around about an hour before the Meeting and two Councillors come to my home in late October to work out the Budget for recommendation to the Council.   If you are interested in becoming a Councillor, please send a letter to me [e-mail will be fine] to say you would like to be co-opted. Representations were received from the Community Shop regarding the sewage treatment plant and Berry in Bloom.  The Accounts had been audited by Mr K Abraham, the internal auditor, and no issues had been raised with the accounts being found in satisfactory order.

We welcomed Councillor Gary Marshall to his first meeting in July.   There were further representations from the Community Shop regarding the sewage treatment plant and from Judie Weedon on behalf of the Newsletter.  A grant of £1,000 was agreed for the Manor Hall and £500 for the Newsletter.   If your organisation would like to apply for a grant from the Parish Council, the criteria, laid down by the Audit Commission and which we have to follow, is that a letter of request be sent together with a copy of the latest set of Accounts.  This has to be minuted and is subsequently checked by the internal auditor.   As it is public money which is being donated, naturally we have to abide by the rules to ensure that everything is open and transparent.

During the Police Report given by PC Nic Gould, he reminded parishioners to ensure that vehicles and properties are secured, even if only left for a short time.   With more people in the area for the summer holidays, don't give the opportunist thief an opportunity!

The Meeting was very sorry to hear that District Councillor Mrs Julia Clark had suffered a slight stroke and a get well card was signed by those present.   I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that we all wish her a speedy recovery and will be glad to see her back in

Combe Martin again and round and about at meetings.    Sue Squire, Parish Clerk.  Tel: 01598 710526  e-mail: wlmailhtml:susan.squire@virgin.net



Five, six, pick up sticks,
Seven, eight, lay them straight.
Nine, ten, my fat hen.
Eleven, twelve, dig and delve.
Thirteen, fourteen, maids a-courting.
Fifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchen.
Seventeen, eighteen, maids in waiting.
Nineteen, twenty, my plates empty.


I believe this and others, of which many have been passed down to us, were devised as home-made entertainment to help the otherwise dreary, long winter evenings. They would have been handed down from one generation to the next and even, perhaps, carried over the Atlantic by the early settlers. For example, 'Ten Little Indians' was probably an adaptation to suit conditions over there. Compare 'Ten Green Bottles'. Some, though not the above, as far as I know, were sung to traditional tunes, e.g. "Old John Braddelum" or 'Michael Finnegan'.




What a coincidence! "Are you the Judie who edits the Berrynarbor Newsletter?" I was asked the other day by a visitor to Arlington Court. On replying that I was, I discovered that the family had been on holiday here, had picked up a copy of the Newsletter and as an 'orchid fancier', Frank, as the gentleman was called, had been particularly interested in the mention of the Twayblade Orchid in the Rural Reflections 45 article.

Now added to the mailing list, Frank has sent the following:


We came to Wheel Farm Cottages at Berrydown in 2010 and 2011. On the second day of the first visit we found the Community Shop and were pleased and amazed that it would take our Times subscription coupons. The range of goods available surprised us and seemed to have grown on the second visit and it was a pleasure to be recognised by one of the 'Post Ladies' when I went to collect my newspaper.

I read in the Berrynarbor Newsletter about the reappearance of the Twayblade Orchid. We live on the edge of 700 acres of common land managed by the National Trust, on which grow a number of different orchids - the Common Spotted, Pyramidial, Bee, Early Purple and several other rare ones.

Whereas you live in thousands of acres of cultivated farm land, ours is unique in that all our roads and entrances to small estates and houses have to have cattle grids.

On 13th May, Marking Day, between 400 and 500 heifers and young bullocks are turned out to graze the Common until the 13th October, by the commoners. Back in 1971, we were all given the right to apply for Commoners' Rights to graze. I think one cow, one sheep and a goat. Whilst many people apply, it is only for the farmers who use the right. The cows graze the grass to a reasonable height and return the wild flower seeds wrapped in fertiliser! It is an ANOB and SSSI [Site of Special Scientific Interest] with a difference, in that the old golf course - we now have a new one about two miles away - which is on the Common has the natural hazards of cows!

Cows seem to think that they came before motor cars and thus have priority, so they cross the road when they wish and often stand with their backside well out, so there are frequent traffic queues. Sadly, occasionally cows are killed [4 - 6 a year], for which the National Trust carries insurance.

We like where you live but still think Minchinhampton in the South Cotswolds is the best place to live! We hope to visit you again next year, but we are both in our nineties, so it is in the lap of the gods.

Frank Jamieson




Although pretty, this plant is not really welcome. A large succulent annual, it was introduced to Kew Gardens as a greenhouse plant in 1839. It escaped to the wild and is now naturalised all over the British Isles [and other countries] including Berrynarbor. It is very invasive and should be removed when found.

In the same genera as Impatiens [busy-lizzie], it is much taller and although it produces nectar and is thought to attract pollinating insects, it suffocates other plants dying down in winter leaving the area where it has been bare. A single plant can set about 800 seeds, 12-14 weeks after flowering. The seed capsules react to the slightest disturbance causing the seed pods to explode projecting seeds up to 7 metres away. The seeds can remain active for about two years and germinate in February or March.

The main aim in controlling this weed is to prevent it setting seed. It can easily be uprooted or cutting it at soil level should prevent it re-sprouting.


Also not welcome here in the village is another intrusive weed, Japanese Knotweed. Imported from Japan in the 1850's it causes many problems in residential gardens and development sites and colonises bare land very rapidly. A more serious problem than Himalayan Balsam, it too should be eradicated. Methods to do this are more complicated and can be found on the internet or from the Environment Agency or Defra.




How time goes so quickly! At the time of you reading this the children will have already broken up for their summer holidays. Our final 7 weeks of term have been very busy.

As you may already be aware, the Federation between Berrynarbor and West Down will be going ahead in September. So far this has been a lot of planning and paperwork, but in September we can get on with making it work for real.

The whole school took part in an enterprise afternoon where pupils were divided into groups and had to come up with a money making idea. The children had to think of everything from expenses, how much to charge their customers, risk assessments and advertising. It proved very successful and they learnt a lot. Thank you to everyone who turned up on the afternoon to support the children and to Miss Muffet's who facilitated the car wash enterprise.

Both Class 3 and Class 4's residential trips were very successful. Class 4 had beautiful weather all week and a good time was had by all. Class 3 didn't have such good weather but all the children still had a fabulous time.

Despite a day of heavy rain, the sun shone at the right time for our Annual School Fete. We had a successful evening and managed to raise approximately £1300 for our PTA. Thank you to everyone who helped in setting up on the day and running stalls in the evening.


Some of Fagin's Boys from the recent school production of 'Oliver'


Reproduced by kind permission of Tempest Photography


We are saying 'goodbye' to our Year 6 pupils who will be moving on to their secondary schools. We wish them every success at their new schools.

We are also saying a very emotional 'goodbye' to Mrs Newell who is leaving us at the end of the summer term. She has been with the school for over 20 years and will be very sadly missed. We all wish her well in her retirement . . . enjoy!

We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer holiday.

Sue Carey - Headteacher



Our original puppy, Ruby, has graduated! She tells us:

"I have met my new partner, Gary, and spent two weeks with him on our residential training course. Gary has an auto neurological condition. Although I am now fully trained and know all the tasks I need to know, this course is so that Gary and I get used to each other and find out how we both work. I have to show him the ropes, really, and help him to learn what each command means and what my response is.

The best bit of the two weeks is after the hard work of the day's training is over, we can relax together and really start to bond. As you know, I am a very tactile girl and it was important for me to be matched to someone who enjoys stroking a gorgeous Labrador. Well, it turns out that Gary loves cuddles as much as I do! In fact, from the first day we worked together we fell in love. I am so keen to do all I can for Gary that I quite happily walk beside his wheelchair and am totally oblivious to anything around me. The trainers are delighted as they say that Gary's calm manner has brought out the best in me.

For my part, I know I have already helped to build Gary's confidence during the course and showed him all the tasks I want to do for him. He was so impressed that he took me for lots of walks and . . . joy of joy . . . is happy to throw a tennis ball for me for hours! I think you can safely say we are a perfect match.

At the end of the two weeks, it was time for me to say goodbye to Laura and all the trainers and for Gary and me to go home and start our new life together. I know that I am going to change Gary's life and help him be more independent. He is already talking about introducing me to his mates at the furniture restorer charity where he works. More people to be impressed by me and a great opportunity to spread the word about Canine Partners as I wear my very beautiful purple jacket!

I really hope you are proud of me - I could not have achieved this without your support. Thank you for helping me to make this journey."


Now that Ruby is fully trained and partnered, we have a new puppy to join Amelia who you met in the June issue of the newsletter. Alfred is a black Labrador cross golden retriever puppy who has just begun his new life as a trainee assistance dog. Canine Partners are now operating a new scheme and in future it will be possible to follow a puppy not only throughout their training, but in their partnered working life.

However, for us here in the village to continue to support these puppies Amelia and Alfred, and the incredible work they do, it is time for us to renew our subscriptions. So, you guessed - A Coffee Morning!


Amelia on her hols!


Artwork: Helen Weedon


The old yew tree stands at the western end of the churchyard. Its disfigured, purplish-brown trunk displays a colossal girth from which, only ten feet from the ground, it splits into three immense branches. Each one immediately arches so that their off shoots create a broad and heavily shaded canopy. The tree's trunk has a very strong outer casing which is the sole support for the wealth of branches above, for its innards have been devoured as has a portion of its bark, spawning a natural doorway through which the human visitor can enter.

This yew is more than just old. It has gained immortal status. It was around when the Celts decorated its branches with the heads of their victims; and then observed their descendants convert to Christianity. They built a church to keep the tree company and made it a symbol of their new found faith. Continually outliving subsequent generations, the tree represented eternal life whilst its poisonous berries and strong wood, from which spears, arrows and bows were made, represented death.

Whilst the yew was relieved when its wood was no longer used for warfare, it was dismayed that this was only because more effective forms of weaponry had been developed. The tree was itself hit by a cannonball when the church, protecting Royalists inside, was attacked by Parliamentarians. Ironic that the ball should be discovered by a young man who in 1915 was sitting inside its now hollow trunk, creating a personal poem about peace. The old yew now looks down upon the young poet's name - on the war memorial.

Twenty five years later that same hollow trunk was to be a refuge for another young man's inspiration, this time compiling a speech about the atrocities of war. The conscientious objector's words were being written with added emotion for an enemy aircraft had dropped a bomb in the grounds of the local Manor House the night before.

The incident was all the talk that following Sunday. Parishioners were fearing if and indeed when the next bomb would drop. Yet even the wise old yew could not have predicted that seventy years on the incident would bring indirect pleasure. For only last Sunday two parishioners walked past the tree whilst commenting on the beautiful water lilies on display at the Manor House Open Gardens - in the pond created by the bomb crater.

Two other parishioners were discussing the rare orchids recently discovered in the disused quarry, a quarry now so densely covered in ferns it blends in with the vista. Yet the yew can recall how previous generations had viewed it as a grotesque cleave within the western hillside.

The yew has also presided over the parishioners' disapproval of the eastern hillside when the landowner planted a pinetum, starving the ground of sunlight and destroying, in their view, the natural spring display of primroses and bluebells. The yew observed the pines being felled last month - and then listened to those same parishioners, now much older, discussing their lovely pine furniture.

Going further back in time, the yew can recall how villagers had fumed about the construction of a viaduct which subsequently blocked their view down the valley; and how other local areas were witnessing chunks of earth being sliced out and banks of earth being created for the coming of the steam railway. Now the yew listened to two men, one hankering for the golden age of steam, the other looking forward to a trip on a restored steam line. The latter had an American accent, visiting the parish in order to trace his family history. Yet the yew can recollect when "foreigners" were people from nearby villages and towns, using the new railway to come and sell their goods, tempting the parishioners away from home grown and home-made produce. Village tradesmen protested that it would be "The downfall of our local trade!" The yew has heard that said a lot down the years.

It was not just the coming of the train that was disapproved of. The yew has noted how every new mode of transport has been received with a "Tut!" - even the bike. It can recollect one particular parishioner forecasting that it would be the end of human conversation with villagers now no longer stopping to talk, rather just pedalling on and replacing the polite "Hello" with a discourteous ring of the bell.

In fact the tree has eavesdropped on many a discussion about just that, the dying art of conversation. Only last Sunday it presided over a mother remarking how computers were encouraging her children to talk via a 'square screen' and stay indoors, yet the tree can remember when her mother was aghast at the onset of Children's TV, encouraging her daughter to develop 'square eyes'. Further back in time the yew can recall overhearing a mother's disapproval of the radio which had come into her home for her children were no longer going outside to listen to the music being played in the village square.

The yew could also recall the parishioner who refused to buy an electrical radio in protest at the monstrous pylons that had been put up which had, in his view, eternally devastated the rural view. However, only last Sunday the yew heard the same sentiments expressed about another source of energy, this time taking the form of gigantic windmills, that had been erected locally . . . yet the pylons had not been spoken about for decades.

Steve McCarthy


Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook


Artwork: Paul Swailes


Prices are down! If you've not seen Deb's photo in the Journal [14/7/11] nor read Fenella's Community News, if you've not enlisted for the e-mail shot nor visited the shop recently to see the placard, MILK is now cheaper than you know which local supermarket due to careful marketing and as a thank you to our loyal customers. So, in Fenella's words 'pick up a pint, or lift up a litre!'

The 7th AGM took place at the end of June. The main points were that last year was not so good for trade; neither were the first few months of this year. But, whether it is thanks to Tony's reminder in the April Newsletter or even better bargains in the shop, our last few months have shown an improvement in sales. So please keep up the trend - and tell your friends how good it is to shop here!

Anita and Deb are always looking for new ideas to attract and have come across Queenswood who will market items under our own brand. These are mainly packaged and frozen goods and will tempt you into buying - we hope!

Don't forget that we now have a small stock of children's outdoor and beach games - to keep everyone happy during the long hot summer!

We have had a raid on books recently, so if you have finished with a sizzling romance or heart-stopping thriller, do please donate it to the shop.

The same goes for plants. These sell very well, and if you've bought any, you will know how well they grow.

August 20th needs to be written large in your diaries! After the Horticultural and Craft Show in the afternoon, a Jazz Concert will be held at Sloley Farm in the evening - proceeds to our Shop and other village activities. It should be a great evening with food and drink on a 'bring your own' basis, but pudding refreshments will be provided free. Tickets at £10 per person are on sale in the Shop. Get yours now for a fantastic evening!

Finally, if you are off to foreign parts this summer, don't forget that Euros are always kept at our Post Office - no need to order in advance.

Here's to a pleasant summer and happy Berrynarbor buying.

PP of DC



Good Day at Blackchurch Rock

I'd had a distant glimpse of Blackchurch Rock from out at sea on board a heaving and rolling Balmoral. I'd seen photographs of it in books and was intrigued by this strange and unusual rock formation.

It is a dark pyramid at the eastern end of remote Mouthmill Beach, west of Clovelly, punctuated by two large pointed holes which resemble Gothic windows.

In a recent article in the North Devon Journal, in which people were asked what were their favourite places along the North Devon coast,

Dave Edgecombe, Project Officer for the Area of outstanding Natural Beauty, chose Mouthmill Beach which he described as 'a real hidden

gem . . . far from the madding crowd.' His family had spent '. . . many a happy hour whiling away the day there.'

We started our walk from the National Trust car park at Brownsham, a small hamlet reached by a maze of lanes from the Hartland road.

A broad track through a wooded combe leads eventually to the beach. The Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir make this a rather gloomy trek but the monotony was relieved by the wild flowers; Enchanter's Nightshade and Yellow Pimpernel with, in the damper areas, Brooklime and Hemlock

Water Dropwort. The needles of Douglas Fir have the scent of oranges when crushed.

Suddenly the prospect opened out and there was the beach composed of rocks, pebbles and boulders. Mouthmill is a lonely atmospheric cove with its disused quay and large lime kiln with the remains of two derelict cottages behind it.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

There is a view of Lundy and across Bideford Bay to Baggy and Morte Points. We picked our way carefully over the rocky shore to reach Blackchurch Rock. It did not disappoint. It loomed above us suitably sombre and mysterious.

The poet and radical Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies and Westward Ho! lived nearby when he was a boy. His father was the Rector of Clovelly.

In 1849 Kingsley described Mouthmill: 'A deep crack in wooded hills; an old mill half buried in rocks and flowers over which wild boys and bare-footed girls were driving their ponies with panniers full of sand and as they rattled back to the beach for a fresh load, standing upright on the back of their steeds, with one foot in each pannier, at full trot over rocks and stones where a landsman would find it difficult to walk.' [The particles of shell in the sand being used to neutralise acid soils.]

Hard nowadays to picture this quiet place the scene of such activity.


Blackchurch Rock from the Tom Bartlett Postcard Collection




Sue H



He Built His House on Sand

Down on the beach, amongst the sand dunes of Bude, in Cornwall, is Bude Castle, a remarkable building that was the world's first permanent structure to be built on shifting sands.


It was put up in 1830 by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney [1793-1875], who overcame the problem of instability by laying a strong concrete platform directly on to the sand for the foundations, thereby inventing a building technique widely used in the modern construction industry. Thanks to this ingenious Cornish inventor, engineers knew how to build the world's tallest building, the Petronas Towers at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on soft, wet limestone.


He Took A Second Look

A friend of mine told me about something he spotted on the staff notice board at a works he visited a short time ago.

He had to take another look as he couldn't believe what he was reading. It was fortunate he took that second look. At first the notice appeared to be instructions to the staff to:

  • grumble
  • criticise
  • blame
  • complain
  • gossip
  • think negative

Then my friend caught sight of a single word at the top of the notice - Don't!

Our Time

Bankers and financial experts may offer us lots of advice. However, all the experts in the world seldom tell us how to spend one item that is more important than money. I call it 'our time'.

This invisible currency is the most important thing we can spend or save, and the wise person will put family concerns high in his or her time-spending priorities, as Barbara Bush, a former First Lady of the United States, advised. "At the end of your life," she said, "You will never have regrets at not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. But you will regret any moments of time that you have failed to spend with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent."

We Need Space

In the busy rush of modern life it is often difficult to find time to be alone and to be still.

Blaise Pascal said that all the troubles of life come upon us because we do not sit quietly for a while each day.

Thoreau loved being alone, saying he 'had never found the companion that was as companionable as solitude'. Another philosopher said that solitude is to the mind what diet is to the body.

Of course we all love our family and friends and good company, but we also need time to ourselves, 'space' as we might call it today.





August 26 1918*- 22 August 2010

Author, Artist and individualist

* Hope Bourne claimed to have lost her birth certificate. The Exmoor Society guessed that she was born in 1920. Her obituary gives the above date.

It must take a lot of 'Moving and Shaking' to have one's obituary in the Daily Telegraph, yet a year ago, Hope Bourne achieved this accolade.


No doubt you have heard of her and may have read her four books about her beloved Exmoor: Living on Exmoor [1963], A Little History of Exmoor [1968], Wild Harvest [1978] and My Moorland Year [1993]. You may have followed, in the early 1970's, her 1,000 word weekly articles in the West Somerset Free Press. To fulfil this, every Friday she walked 31/2 miles into Withypool to collect her newspaper, bread and post, and to mail the next week's article. Then again, you may have read her contributions to The Exmoor Review! All her writings were in pencil, many of them illustrated by her own pen and ink drawings. She was also the subject of two TV documentaries: About Britain: Hope Bourne Alone on Exmoor [1978] and Hope Bourne - Woman of Exmoor [1981.

How did she find the time to achieve all this, bearing in mind that for over twenty years in the 1970's - 90's she was being self-sufficient in a leaky caravan on a derelict farm at Ferny Ball, about 4 miles from Withypool? As she put it: "It's a good life, but it's a tough life. You've got to be 100% physically fit to live as I do."

Can you imagine being marooned in this caravan during a 48-hour blizzard in the 1970's with flakes of snow drifting through the leaks? As she later recalled, 'At intervals I ventured out to clear snow away from the area around my door . . or I would be trapped. I did not go to sleep until I was sure the snow would not drift too high against the door before I woke again'. She also dug waist deep into snow to save 76 pregnant ewes and 20 head of cattle.

Hope lived a simple life. Her home was only 14' x 6'. It had 3 bunks, two of which she filled with books and slept on the third. The caravan was festooned with the skins, hooves and antlers of animals she had shot, gutted and eaten. She possessed an American .22 rifle and a 12-bore shotgun and with these she shot wood pigeons, deer, rabbit or hare. She also fished, gathered her own fuel, grew vegetables and kept bantams, but no dog, saying, "My meat supply is so irregular that it couldn't feed a dog. I can pull in my belt and live on potatoes when things get bad, but I couldn't expect that of a dog, and I couldn't afford to pay for pet food."

When times were good, she reckoned to eat about a pound of meat daily, some of which was none too fresh! Household chores were simple. A huge breakfast of meat and vegetables was cooked in, and eaten from, a frying pan. She had 3 mugs: one for tea, one for coffee and one for lemonade or water - so there was no washing up! Drinking water was from a nearby stream. I remember reading some years ago that she never washed vegetables - just cooked them straight from the ground, soil and all.

So apart from her writings, how did she support herself? Well, she helped farming friends in busy times, with lambing and winter feeding. In the 1950's-60's, her income was about £100 per year. She reckoned to save half of this, living on £5 a month, which was mainly spent on cartridges. Nevertheless, she had many friends and claimed to send out about 100 Christmas cards each year. Whilst wandering Exmoor, she would call in on friends and they would return her call. Also if she was in difficulties, she could always rely on some of them to help.

She did not spend her whole life on Exmoor. In the 1950's she enjoyed a year on a sheep farm in Australia and in the '70's stayed for three months with friends in Canada.

Hope Bourne was born in Oxford, but whilst young moved to Hartland where her widowed mother became the headmistress of Elmscott village school. She left school aged 14. An asthma sufferer, she lived with her mother, first in Devon and then from 1939 in the Cotswolds. Here she worked on the land, but missed Devon. When her mother died when Hope was in her 30's, she had to sell off the house to pay off debts and was left no home, few assets and no qualifications for working normally. So she returned to her first love - Exmoor.

Here she decided to become self-sufficient. She would get up at 5.00 a.m., write up her diary and then walk up to 20 miles a day, sketching or hunting for food. She never carried a map, trusting her 'homing instinct' if she got lost.

By the late '80's, friends persuaded her to have a telephone for emergencies, and then, as her asthma worsened, to move into a house in a community scheme in Withypool. Here she made little use of modern conveniences: she rarely used the electricity, never the central heating, slept on the floor of the living room in front of the open fire, and let her bantams use the rest of the house! She sold her guns and so had to buy meat from the local butcher and felt she had moved to a city where as she described them, 'Everyone looks so miserable!'

She loved Exmoor and felt that National Trust and National Parks hadn't always done the best for it - mainly by putting footpath signs everywhere and taking the responsibility away from people to think for themselves.


She once said, "I'm bloody-minded. My independence is the most important thing in the world to me: freedom and a vigorous outdoor life".

She was a remarkable lady who lived up to her beliefs. I'm afraid she wouldn't have approved of me - when on Exmoor, I like those footpath signs - and a map!

PP of DC


Artwork: Harry Weedon


I hope you all agree that, as we approach judging time, the village is looking lovely. We have pushed out the boat a bit this year and spent the money we have raised on beautiful flower displays as we are representing the South West in the National R.H.S. Britain in Bloom competition. We are lucky that so many villagers are dedicated to help with litter picks, gardening and other tasks in trying to achieve the goal of champions.

We have applied for a grant from Anglian Windows who are sponsoring this year's competition and have been given £250. Our intention is to buy a new bench and table to go in the gravelled area next to the Shop/Post Office so people can bide a while and maybe enjoy an ice cream. The shop helpers must be very pleased that a watering system has been installed to save them the difficult and soggy job of watering the hanging baskets - thank you, Ken.

Ken has also installed a watering system in the centre of the village and again this is an absolute boon to the hard-pressed wielders of the longest hosepipe in the west.

Our plans to renovate the area to the right of the bus shelter at the bottom of Pitt hill will hopefully come to fruition but not before the judging. It will have to be a work in progress. We have been very fortunate to be given a donation by the firm of one of our villagers to complete this work and our thanks go to Geoff and Judith.

The two Open Garden dates have come and gone; the first a complete washout as we had persistent heavy rain with strong winds and only sold six tickets! However, the Sterridge Valley afternoon was lovely and was well attended, with Judie's team providing the visitors with wonderful teas as usual. Many thanks to all who helped and Phil and Lynn for hosting the B.B.Q. for Berry in Bloomers in the evening.

We have done our best and now await the judge's results!



Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Plum and Almond Tart

This lovely moist tart can be made with plums or apricots, just match the jam to the fruit and it can be served warm as a dessert or just as a slice with a cup of tea.

Sweet dessert pastry, your own recipe or (I often cheat and use Sainsbury's fresh dessert pastry!!)
6oz/150g unsalted butter or margarine 6oz/150g golden caster sugar
6oz/150g ground almonds 2oz/50g plain flour
A few drops of almond essence 2 medium free-range eggs
Punnet of plums or apricots Plum or apricot jam
Almond flakes


Make the frangipane by creaming together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, flour and the ground almonds with a few drops of almond essence.

Roll out the pastry and line a fairly deep 9 inch flan dish. Crimp round the top and then spread a layer of jam on to the pastry being careful not to tear the pastry. Spread the frangipane over the jam - it should come almost to the top. Next cut the plums or apricots in half and remove the stones, arrange over the frangipane cut side down. Scatter the top with flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar. Bake at 180 Deg C/350 Deg F for about 45 minutes. Test to see if the flan is cooked - the fruit should be soft but the frangipane will still be moist.

Of course you can use plums from the garden or greengages would be lovely, experiment and enjoy.




Ron would like to thank everyone for coming to his 95th Birthday at Lee Lodge and for the many wonderful cards and presents he received. He was delighted that his daughter Sheila and her husband Tony were there to help him celebrate his special day.

His biggest thank you goes to Shane and all the staff at Lee Lodge not only for the wonderful spread and cake provided for his guests, but also for the wonderful care they take of him - he is very happy and at home with them all.



Our journey to John O'Groats to begin our charity cycle ride to Lands End went well, with nice weather and camping just in Scotland on the Saturday night.

We arrived at our starting point just after lunch time and enjoyed some bird watching and the rugged coastline, staying up to watch the sunset.

Monday morning early and we were off! It was pouring with rain and quite windy, and that's how it was for the rest of our time in Scotland, It was also very cold, especially over the mountains.

We made good distance for the first half of the trip, having the support of Pat and her campervan, which was very much appreciated. I had some problems with my lower gears, a tent pole broke and Jo had a puncture, but otherwise there were no other real problems although Jo suffered a very painful knee injury but she battled on for the last 8 or 9 days. The weather never really improved and we cycled 920 miles, averaging 50 a day.

I should like to thank everybody who donated to our cause and who helped in other ways. So far we have raised in excess of £1400 for CLIC, caring for children and young people with cancer.

Malcolm [Canham]


Congratulations to Malcolm and Jo and all their team on a great achievement. It is not too late to support them in their efforts so if you would like to help go on line www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/jo-gle.


Artwork: Paul Swailes


With just a small amount of painting to do, the kitchen project should be finished by the time

you read this. To top'n'tail the project, we have sourced some new, styling white mugs for all the tea and coffee drinkers, and for those sitting down for a lunch or supper, there's a brand new stock of white dinner plates to take over from the '57 Varieties' you've been living with until now! Did you increase your own supply of recycled dinner plates from the bric-a-brac stall at the Berry Revels?!

The Committee continues to work well and has recently been joined by Lorna Bowden who has been co-opted to represent the Parish Council.

Looking ahead, you'll all be aware that 2012 is Olympic Year, but did you know it will also be 65 years in February since the Manor Hall, Manor House and Parish Room were acquired for the benefit of the parishioners?

Could this be a theme for organising and doing something tangible around the Hall and its facilities for the benefit of both present and future generations of villagers? Please do let us have your thoughts and ideas - it couldn't be easier than writing in the new comments book we've set up and located on the kitchen shelf!

Colin [889298] - Chairman



Perhaps it was because we were both capricornians that goats came into our lives. At least, they entered my husband's life, and consequently affected mine.

After 26 years wandering around the world in the RAF, a settled existence in the Devon countryside and the acquisition of a house with adequate land, gave my usually practical husband ideas of 'The Good Life', and a bit of self-sufficiency.

Livestock were studied in detail and the library raided for books. We soon had chickens, geese, ducks, a cat and a dog, and a couple of bee hives [which we'd kept in a previous location]. The decision was then made that 'goats were just the animals for us'.

I had visions of our wilderness being grazed into a luscious meadow, so uttered agreeable sounds which indicated that divorce would not ensue if he went ahead with the plan.

We soon became familiar with the language and with the breeds of Anglo-Nubian, Saanan, British Alpines and Toggenburgs. Milk yields were studied, daily feeds and stabling were appraised and we felt the urge to go ahead!

The stabling proved easier than anticipated. A winter storm had swept the West Country that year and had caused our garden shed to take off and fly, section by section, across the land . . . bit like The Wizard of Oz, but more frightening! The Insurance Company gave us their condolences and a cheque, which nearly covered the cost of the goat shed.

The next stage was to buy a goat. The local papers were scoured and a suitable 4 month old nanny goat was found. We travelled out into the countryside to see her. We heard her before she came into sight. A pitiful continuous bleating led us to a very moth-eaten, miserable goat tethered in an unkempt garden with a piece of string. Her ears were jagged, as though bitten by some insects, her hooves overgrown, as they had not been pared back, and her coat looked more like a moth-eaten rug. Not the world's most attractive animal. We felt like criminals as we announced that we would 'think about it', and returned home.

The library books stated clearly, 'Never buy a goat because you feel sorry for it'. So we hurried back to pay the cash, and bring her home.

The new shed must have seemed like a palace to Lucy - as we now called her. Fed on the best concentrates, brushed, feet pared and given affection, she thrived.

After a few months, and more library books, we realised that Lucy needed company. She was not old enough to have a kid, so we decided to get a second goat - preferably an expectant mum.

We purchased Heidi off a sweet old gentleman, and were assured that she was in kid. She was not the gentle blonde baby that Lucy was - she was black, with horns that had been cut off and a white star on her forehead. All this gave her a slightly demonic aura. When in a playful mood, she would rise on her back legs, before charging. She taught Lucy some very bad habits, and Lucy loved her.

George devised complex feeding containers in the stable and when the last nail went in, Heidi would appraise the work, stand back and charge, reducing the work to matchwood. The air was then strong with curses about goats in general, and Heidi in particular. We then found that Heidi's pregnancy was a non-event and happily a friend decided in a weak moment to buy her off us, and she went to a good home.

In the meantime, we had answered another advert, this time for a goat that had kidded, and was therefore 'in milk'.

Another journey into the depths of the West Country found us surveying a lovely goat called Sapphire, a good milker - but getting on a bit. The owner then produced Sapphire's daughter, Silver, who had never been separated from her Mother. Being 'suckers', we then found ourselves with two goats - both in milk.

For some reason, my two year old car, my only means of transport, was used to bring the two goats home. This caused some funny looks from people, but the car got home intact - except that goats, like children, will wait to within a hundred metres from home, before they can 'wait no longer'. A lot of disinfectant was needed to restore my car to any form of luxury!

Sapphire and Silver were welcomed by Lucy, and Sapphire accepted her as a sister for Silver.

Now for the milking! Instead of having one goat to learn on, my husband found himself forced to milk two goats, twice a day, with no previous experience. The first try took two hours. I did not know whether to feel more sorry for George, or the goats. The yield was five pints, and after straining and cooling, the difficulty became using it all.

When the situation settled, and milking was easy, we found the local doctors sending us visitors and locals whose children were allergic to cow's milk [before Sainsburys].

We kept goats for about six years and loved them dearly. We bred them, and they were entered into a 'stud' book.

Our children then had left home, and we wanted to travel - and we had moved to Berrynarbor, so the 'self- sufficiency' of goats, geese, ducks, bees and chickens gradually went.

I think we missed the goats most of all - very hard work, but it was a bit of 'The Good Life'!





Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British airmen found themselves as involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the authorities were casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape.

Obviously, one of the most useful aids is an accurate map, one showing not only identification points but also the locations of 'safe houses', where they would be made welcome. Paper maps had drawbacks - they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out quickly and if they get wet they turn to pulp.

Some genius in MI5 came up with the idea of printing on silk - it's durable, can be scrunched up into a tiny pad, unfolded and folded as many times as needed and is completely silent.

At that time there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk and that was John Waddington Ltd. When approached by the government, they were only too happy to help with the war effort.

By coincidence, Waddington was also the UK Licensee for the popular American board game Monopoly. As it happened, games and pastimes was a category of item qualifying for insertion into 'Care' packages despatched to prisoners of war by the International Red Cross.

Under the strictest secrecy and in a guarded and inaccessible old workshop in the grounds, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass producing escape maps keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were located. When processed, the maps could be folded into such tiny bits that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

The clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add a playing token, containing a small magnetic compass, a two-art metal file that could be easily screwed together, and useful amounts of genuine high denomination German, Italian and French currency hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air-crews were advised before taking off on their first mission on how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set - by means of a tiny red dot made to look like an ordinary printing glitch located in the corner of the Free Parking square! Of the estimated 35,000 Allies POW's who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided by the Monopoly sets. Everyone who did, and the Waddington workers, were sworn to indefinite secrecy since this might be needed in another, future war.

The story was de-classified in 2007 when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honoured in a public ceremony.

How nice to be able to play that 'Get Out of Jail Free' card!


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Sea View, Barton Lane



William Garratt, the Bristol photographer, published this photographic postcard around 1925. Sea View was originally called 'Hills Cottage Tenement' and was listed in the Watermouth Estates Sale of August 1920 as Lot 24. It was sold for £900 with completion on Lady Day, 25th March 1921.

The description stated:

Hills Cottage Tenement in Barton Lane. A Highly Desirable SMALL HOLDING, comprising: A Slated Dwelling House, Outbuildings and about '7a 3r 37p of Pasture and Arable Lands, in the occupation of Mr. W Draper as a Yearly Lady-day Tenancy, and Mr. W. H. Howard as a Michaelmas Tenant.

There are some good Building Sites and a good Spring of Water on this Lot. The Apportioned Tithe on this Lot is 16s.6d.

At that time there were no other cottages or houses on Barton Lane except for Home Barton Farm, and so it is little wonder that this cottage was renamed 'Sea View'.

Older residents of Berrynarbor will no doubt remember 'Granny Gray', or Alma Annie nee Huxtable, at Bessemer Thatch. She was born in this cottage in 1888 which at that time belonged to her grandparents, Her parents, John and Alma Huxtable, moved to Middle Cockhill in 1890, when she was just two years old, and had a small market garden. In the same sale of 1920, her parents purchased Middle Cockhill for £750 as Lot No. 18. William Huxtable was a thatcher and made and repaired thatched roofs as well as 'cobs' for bees and worked with reeds in covering corn 'mows' [small stacks of corn]. He was the village expert on bees and if ever a hive split up, he would be called upon to collect and move the swarm from a hedge or wall into one of his cobs, and would then either sell them or keep them.

Sadly, Granny Gray's father John was a cripple, but he managed the small holding and like his father became the village expert on bees and carried out thatching in spite of his disability, living right into his '80's.

My thanks to Gary Songhurst who replied to my request in my previous article on Watermouth Harbour. He informs me that the sailing boat in the top picture was the 'Hydra', one of the last Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters owned by Tom Bidgood.

The boat in the second picture was 'The Curlew', built and made of mahogany for Alan Wickendon who at the time owned Watermouth Castle and Harbour. Gary recalls that the wall on which the boy is standing was the old breakwater, and shortly after Gary's father designed and he helped to extend the breakwater for the Wickendon's. They used old railway sleepers from the Ilfracombe line, some of which were made from mahogany! The smaller boats behind The Curlew were owned by the Darch family from Combe Martin and 'Pride of Devon' by Claude Parkin.



Tom Bartlett,

Tower Cottage, July 2011

e-mail: tombartlett40@hotmail.com