Edition 141 - December 2012

Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook

Artwork: Judie Weedon


Thank you for once again sending your Christmas messages through the Newsletter. The Manor Hall and Newsletter are both set to get quite a boost to their funds. My thanks to Debbie, who has not only given us the colourful festive covers, but also the border for the messages.

With another full issue there is only enough room for me to thank everyone for their contributions and illustrations and say that items and articles for the first issue of 2013, February, will be welcome as soon as possible and by the 8th January at the latest please.

There are lots of festive events planned and 'fairs' to buy some Christmas gifts and produce, so make a note of the dates and enjoy!

A sincere thank you to you all for your support of the Newsletter throughout another busy and eventful year, and my very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy year ahead.

Judie - Ed


Artwork: Alvary Scott


'Come, you thankful people come,
Raise the song of harvest home!'

We were all [nearly 100 of us] gathered once again on the first Sunday of October to celebrate the Harvest Festival. The church was beautifully decorated with autumn flowers, the loaf and grapes on the altar. Celia Withers led the service, involving the children in her address. The choir sang John Rutter's arrangement of 'For the Beauty of the Earth' and the school children sang and said prayers whilst laying gifts on the altar.

The church bells summoned us back to church on the Wednesday for a short evening service followed by the buffet supper. A lovely spread welcomed us to the Manor Hall with mouth-watering desserts to follow. There were fewer of us this year and we did not have so much produce to auction but we shall still be able to send £100 to WaterAid, the charity helping to get clean water to deprived people in poorer countries.

Two special services in November. On the 1st Sunday the annual Candle Service was held in the afternoon, led by Rev. Chris. At the end the choir sang softly as we all went up to light a candle to be placed on the altar. There was a chance to talk afterwards and enjoy a cup of tea.

A muffled peal of bells called us to another well-attended service the following week for Remembrance Sunday. Again the service was led by Rev. Chris and we were joined by members of the Parish Council. The two minutes' silence was observed at the War Memorial, the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by bugler Ivan Clarke and wreaths were laid by Theresa Crockett on behalf of St. Peter's and Adam Stanbury for the Parish Council. On returning to church, Adam read the lesson and the choir sang unaccompanied 'God shall wipe away all tears' by Karl Jenkins. Before leaving we were able to read poems written by the school children and arranged on the Lady Chapel altar rail. Our thanks go to the bell ringers who turn up without fail and to Sue Neale for the lovely flower arrangements.

Advent Sunday falls on 2nd December and the first candle will be lit on the Advent Wreath. Looking forward to Christmas, services are planned as follows.

  • Wednesday, 19th December, 6.30 p.m. Carol Service when we hope to be joined by the choir and school;
  • Christmas Eve, 9.30 p.m. Blessing of the Crib and first Communion of Christmas;
  • Christmas Day, 11.00 a.m. Family Communion;
  • Sunday, 30th December, 11.00 a.m. Family Communion with carols.

During January Services will continue every Sunday beginning at 11.00 a.m. It is essential that we keep attendance up, to average over 20, so if you have been thinking about returning to church or come for the first time, don't hesitate, you will be very welcome.

There will be no Friendship Lunch at the end of December and we shall resume in January on Wednesday, 23rd, from noon onwards.

Mary Tucker




We expressed a hope in the last Newsletter that we should be writing about lovely weather in this one but it wasn't to be.

There was a brief respite from the weather in September with only 18mm (3/4") of rain up to the 23rd and warm sunnier days but this soon changed and on Sunday the 24th the country was hit by very stormy weather - according to the Met. Office it was the most intense September storm for over 30 years and it brought widespread flooding. We recorded 44mm (1 3/4") in the 24 hours and by the end of the month the total rainfall was 110mm (4 3/8" ) which was slightly less than last year. The maximum temperature was 22.7 Deg C with a low of 7.8 Deg C and a maximum gust of wind here of 24 knots.

Peter Rothwell

October is often a wet month and this year was no exception with a total of 207mm (8 1/8") - probably about average but seeming much worse after such a wet summer. The wettest day was the 12th with 28mm (1 1/8") but there were several days which topped 20mm (11/16"). On the 11th when Clovelly flooded we recorded 23mm (15/16") and also recorded 16.8 Deg C which was the maximum temperature for the month. The minimum was 3.5 Deg C on the 14th and the maximum gust of wind was 25 knots. On the 31st we had quite a deep low move through with the barometer falling to 981mb.

The sunshine hours for September were, in spite of the inclement weather up 11% at 120.61, whereas October at 59.35 were down, but last year's figure was one of the highest recorded for that month.

On Sunday 27th October there was snow in the north of the country and on Monday 29th Hurricane Sandy hit America. According to some papers Britain is in for a freezing winter again!

We wish you all a Happy (white?) Christmas.

Sue and Simon





On Sunday, 16th September our dear daughter Eileen passed away at her home in Ilfracombe at the very tender age of 49. She has left three children to face life without the love and care of a mother. Although she spent most of her life outside the village, she is none-the-less very sadly missed by all of us and those she cared for.

Do please remember her in your prayers, especially during this the month of the Holy Souls. Requiescat in pace.

Peter and Margaret and Peter John Hiscox at Little Woolhanger.

Such very sad news and our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time of sorrow.


It was a sad day when we learnt that Marion, after several years of coping with poor health, had passed away peacefully at home on the 17th October. Our thoughts have been with her and John during the last few difficult years and continue with John who always gave her the most wonderful loving and tender care but especially of late.

Our thoughts also go to their three children, six grandchildren and all the family at this time of grief.

Marion and John, who were married for 53 years, came to live in Berrynarbor 18 years ago from Birmingham where they were both born. Following the birth of their children, Christopher, Melanie and Richard, Marion worked at the University of Birmingham, firstly in research [of solarnum, or to us potatoes] and then in library work particularly with overseas students. Marion was a keen reader. She loved Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies as a child and enjoyed reading them and looking at the delightful illustrations with her children and their children.

Song of the Snowdrop Fairy

Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not head, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

After John's retirement as a Police Officer and moving to Berrynarbor, they spent a lot of happy times walking locally and on Exmoor, and enjoyed travelling abroad on holiday, as well as helping and supporting many of our village groups and activities.

John would like to thank everyone for their cards, messages of sympathy and words of comfort, the Revd. John Thompson for a beautiful service at the Crematorium and the many family members, friends and neighbours from the village who attended Marion's funeral.

He would especially like to pay tribute to their granddaughter Katie who came to stay and kept Marion's spirits up during his treatment in Exeter, and to congratulate her on taking and passing her practical driving test whilst here. It was, he says, so fortunate and comforting that she was here at this sad time.



It was the mis-quotation in the Journal's article about Ron's book naming Jan Bragg's Hill as Yan Briggs Hill that prompted me to write in the last Newsletter. The interviewer couldn't have been tuned into Ron's rich Devonshire accent!

To correct myself, this is Michael Wharburton's copy of the 1842 Tythe Map showing Rectory Hill and the footpath that runs through The Lawn. The hill is part of the ancient Parish Road system lellading from the village to the Valley and Ruggaton Lane. The older map shows the road travelling around Rock Hill past the Old Parsonage.

Jan Bragg was born about 1795-6. The 1841 census records him as a quarryman living in Berry Village. The 1851 census records him as blind. I think it is feasible that he was working on the widening illHill and improvement of Rectory Hill when the accident occurred. Hence the local name Jan Braggs Hill.

On a personal note, my granfer, Dick Richards, as a young man working in Bament's Quarry, was caught too near a blasting explosion. As a child I was fascinated by the blue gunpowder spots that peppered his forehead. He always said he was lucky to be alive and not blinded.

Judith Adam kindly solved my problem with the word 'knap': Knap, Knapping and Knapping hammer = a dialect word meaning to hit, hammer or chip. History - 15th Century'. Funnily enough, Bament's Quarry lies above the Sawmills in an area known as The Knapps.

"The 1555 Highways Act made each Parish responsible for its own roads and local people were expected to work on the roads for 6 days each year. This was unpopular and the roads were neglected, especially in Rural Devon. Wheeled traffic was consequently both difficult and rare. There were few new roads built and the road network changed very little between the Iron Age and the mid-18th Century. An Act of Parliament in 1706 permitted Turn Pike Trusts to build roads and charge tolls."

My thanks to Gary Songhurst who, knowing my phobia with the computer, prints off any local history material which he finds on the internet. Also to Michael Wharburton who was brought up at Hammonds Farm and has an in-depth knowledge of the history of mining in the locality.




Mary Tucker moved to Berrynarbor in 1986 with a passion to serve her community. The Church is a focal point of the village and Mary chose to serve on the Parochial Church Council as Church Warden and Treasurer.

Mary has been involved in various church activities including flower arranging, cleaning, acting as a Deacon in administering the chalice and welcoming visitors and holiday makers into the church.

In addition, Mary started a village lunch scheme, which meets every month at the local pub and caters especially for the elderly and lonely. She also regularly visits people in the village who need help in one form or another - sitting, talking, shopping or helping in the home.

Mary has been actively involved in fundraising events and was instrumental in raising the money to set up the village Post Office and Shop.

For over 20 years Mary has been a pillar of strength to many people living in Berrynarbor and her impact on the community has been profound as she always goes that extra mile to be supportive.

Mary Tucker receives this BEM award for services to the community of Berrynarbor in North Devon.

Award Presented 8 October 2012 by
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, Mr. Eric Dancer CBE JP

What a special day! After an enjoyable pub lunch on the outskirts of Exeter, the five of us arrived at County Hall in good time for the presentation ceremony. Nine people were there to receive awards each accompanied by a few family members and friends, and we took our seats to await the arrival of the Lord-Lieutenant, the High Sheriff and party of Devon dignitaries. After the playing of the National Anthem, the Lord- Lieutenant gave a welcoming address and then began the formal presentation of medals.

It came to Mary's turn. Her citation was read out and she went proudly forward to receive her British Empire Medal. When the

Lord-Lieutenant had congratulated her and pinned on the medal, Mary's photograph was taken in front of the large portrait of the Queen before she returned to her seat with everyone applauding.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, we were served with cream teas and were able to enjoy a relaxed chat with some of the other guests and dignitaries before departing for home. It had been a very special and memorable day for all of us, but especially for Mary - to receive the honour and recognition she so richly deserves!

Malcolm Sayer

. . . and Mary herself says: Monday 8th October - a red letter day when my guests and I were invited to County Hall in Exeter for the presentation of British Empire Medals by the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon on behalf of the Queen. It turned out to be a lovely occasion, well organised but not too formal and very friendly and relaxed.; There were just nine of us being honoured and dignitaries present included Lord Mayors and Chairmen of Devon District Councils. And yes, we were given tea afterwards!

With Mary, are the Lord-Lieutenant, Doreen, Malcolm and Mary's
brother Peter and sister-in-law Margaret



Sadly it has not been possible to give away any prize Book Tokens as no-one, but no-one put in an entry for Mike Hancock's crossword! Was it too hard? Certainly it was cryptic! Here are the answers:

As Editor, I should be interested to hear from readers whether this was the case, and whether in fact you do the crosswords? Please let me know.


A Trip to North Devon
Mike Hancock - August 2012

We just bin down to Devon with some very good friends of ours;
We came from south and west and so we came in different cars.
We stayed with Mike and Wendy, the Amos-Yeo two,
In Berrynarbor Devonshire, paradise to me and you.
Now some of us done swimming, and some of us done chat,
And others simply hung about and talked of this and that.
And sometimes we played snooker, and sometimes we played pool
But all the time the most of us had drink and played the fool!
We visited the village, took snaps and walked about,
And ate our lunch in an empty pub - now what's that all about?
We saw the village shop you know - such an enterprising thing,
For when the owners shut it down, the village opened it again.
So now when I think of Devon as somewhere nice to go,
I think of Mike and Wendy's place and then I really know -
The welcome there is legend, full of heart and love and soul -
That's not just Mike and Wendy's place - but Berrynarbor as a whole!



If you missed this pre-Edinburgh Fringe stage presentation you missed a treat, for it was exactly what it said on the bill - a wonderfully surreal, comedy, horror as inspired by Hitchcock's 'The Birds'. I hope I'll be forgiven by paraphrasing the story line as follows.

The drama started with a warning that the presentation would invoke fear, terror and death, and so it turned out.

Apparently there were only four survivors of the tragic situation whereby the birds of the air turned upon the human race and attacked them in flocks. Men, women and children were torn to shreds and left to die, and Hitchcock told the story through the history of one lonely house on the cliff edge, where among other things a flock of pigeons had suffered an isolated local defeat.

The four ladies of the cast, apparently playing the only 4 remaining survivors of the birds' uprising, were dressed in classic and authentic 1955 costumes. They appeared trapped within the now decrepit, local cinema. They were clearly traumatised by the birds' revolt and played with realistic bird puppets singing and acting as true a representation of birds as anyone could wish, flying off behind the screen and even going as far as appearing to lay eggs. The owl was wise and the black, black crow was evil and DEATH abounded. Despite their fate, all the survivors entertained us well to a programme of fun, song and music, attempting to avoid the TERROR of their fate.

Just as one survivor died there came a strange announcement over a tannoy: "The old, tumbledown cinema is to be demolished to make way for a new 10 screen, multiplex cinema". A moment's thought and of course - the birdsong, the flying and the eggs now made sense! The birds' uprising had only been local and not world-wide. Human kind had not been eliminated and the 3 survivors were not human but really the remaining trapped birds of the uprising, and even they would now be freed. A happy ending after all the trauma.

Hopefully the Newsletter will be out just in time to remind you if you have not done so already, to book your ticket for the next Beaford presentation in the Manor Hall, Friday 30th November. Murray Lachlan Young 'Christmas Comes But Once a Year' - adult comedy. Tickets £8.00, and bring a plate of festive goodies to share, are available from the Shop.

Alan [Rowlands]



Drake's Drum

Drake he's in his hammock and a thousand miles away,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,
And dreaming all the time of Plymouth Hoe.
Yornder looms the Island, yornder lie the ships,
Wi' sailor lads a-dancing' heel-an'-toe,
And the shore-lights flashing, and the night-tide dashing,
He sees it all so plainly as he saw it long ago.

Drake he was a Devon man, and ruled the Devon seas,
(Capten, art tha' sleepin' there below?)
Roving tho' his death fell, he went with heart at ease,
And dreaming all the time of Plymouth Hoe.
"Take my drum to England, hang it by the shore,
Strike it when your powder's running low;
If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the port of Heaven,
And drum them up the Channel as we drummed them long ago."

Drake he's in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot, listening for the drum,
And dreaming all the time of Plymouth Hoe.
Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,
Call him when you sail to meet the foe;
Where the old trade's plying and the old flag flying
They shall find him ware and waking, as they found him long ago!

Sir Henry Newbolt

English poet who wrote Drake's Drum in 1897 which has been set to both classical and folk tunes.

Drake's Drum can be seen at Buckland Abbey [NT], the 700-year old home of Elizabethan seafarers Drake and Grenville.

Your Mountain Sack

Your mountain sack, your Frontinae,
Tokai and twenty more sir;
Your Sherry and Perry
That make men merry
Are Deities I adore sir.
And well may Port our praise extort,
When from his palace forth he comes,
And glucks and gurgles, fumes and foams,
Gluck, gluck, gluck, gluck,
Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle,
Gluck, gluck, gluck, gluck,
Hickup, hickup, hickup, gurgle and gluck,
Hickup, gurgle and gluck.

The Briton, Sir John Barleycorn
Stands highly in my favour;
His mantling head may well adorn
His valour and his flavour.
Nay, Cyder-an
Is a potent man,
When from his palace, etc.

Madeira monarch, him I sing!
And old Hock is another!
Champagne is my most Christian King;
And Burgundy his brother.
Bordeaux too,
Shall have his due,
When from his palace, etc.

Old Rum, Arrack and coniac,
Are known for men of might, sir;
Nor shall Sir Florence Flasket lack
A place among my knights, sir;
Don Calcavallo
Is a noble fellow,
When from his palace, etc.

If singly thus, each champion may
So many laurels gather,
Gods! What a congress they,
When all are met together!
When high in state,
Each potentate
Forth from his spacious palace comes!
And glucks and gurgles! Fumes and foam?

Another from the Musical Miscellany, this one a catalogue of alcoholic drinks, some unknown to me.

Sweet Poll of Plymouth

Sweet Poll of Plymouth was my dear,
When forc'd from her to go,
Adown her cheek rained many a tear,
My heart was fraught with woe.
Our anchor weigh'd for sea we stood,
The land we left behind,
Her tears then swell'd the briny flood,
My sighs increas'd the wind.

We ploughed the deep, and now between
Us lay the ocean wide,
For five long years I had not seen
My sweet, my bonny bride.
That time I sailed the world around,
All for my true love's sake;
But press'd as we were homeward bound,
I thought my heart would break.

The press-gang bold I asked in vain
To let me once on shore;
I longed to see my Poll again,
But saw my Poll no more.
"And have they torn my love away,
"And is he gone?" she cried.
My Polly! sweetest flower of May!
She languished, drooped, and died.

This little tragedy, again from the Musical Miscellany of 1808. is typical of the press-gangs of the Napoleonic Wars who let nothing stand in the way of keeping warship crews up to strength.





There were 24 members of the public at the October Meeting concerned with the issue of the Parish Road in the Sterridge Valley.  The Parish Council have not submitted an application for this to be made a public right of way, nor does it have any plans to do so.

Claude's Garden is at present closed due to essential garden work being carried out by Chris Townsend, whois funding the planting of soft fruit trees himself and for which Councillors are extremely grateful.

Councillors Clive Richards and Lee Lethaby represented the Parish Council at a Planning School organised by Barnstaple Town Council.

The Parish Clerk represented the Council at a Meeting regarding the Parish Grant.  Small Parishes will not have the Grant withdrawn but Parishes with a population of 500 - 1,000 [Berrynarbor] will see the Grant reduced by 20% over three years from the 2014/15 financial year.
A Site Meeting is being organised between Councillors and the Churchwarden/PCC Members of St Peter's Church regarding the War Memorial and Churchyard wall.

Ilfracombe Town Council has approached the Council regarding the TAP [Town and Parish Grant] Fund.  Parish and Town Councils are eligible for £1.10 per electorate towards something to benefit towns and parishes and the idea is for one or more parishes to work together and submit a bid.  Ilfracombe Town Council wishes to submit a bid for an all- weather pitch and asked Berrynarbor if the sum allocated to them could be included with Ilfracombe.  Other parishes have agreed and Councillors were also in agreement to help boost the fund for this facility.

Tenders for the 2013/14 financial year were awarded at the November Meeting in respect of Grass Cutting and Seats and Shelters.  The successful tenderers were Chris Townsend and Gary Songhurst.

Sue Squire - Clerk to the Parish Council




We were all very sad when Anita gave notice that she would be leaving our shop at the end of November. She has done a great job over nearly five years in helping to create a shop that has won admiration - and customers - from the whole area, and always with a smile and good nature. She will be very much missed and we all wish her well in whatever her future plans are. By the time you read this, her successor should have been appointed and we look forward to working with our new Sub-Postmaster.

Plans are underway again for our annual competition for the village school, which Peter Rothwell has kindly agreed to judge once more. This year, using a tissue box, the younger ones will design a 3D postbox and the older ones a telephone box. Parents please support and encourage them!

Now is the time to place orders for Christmas poultry, cakes and puddings, cream and vegetables. All order forms are now in the shop. Oh! And if you need last posting dates for cards and parcels, you can pick up a Royal Mail leaflet 'Delivering More' on your next visit.

All that's left now is to wish our customers a Very Happy Christmas, and Good Health and Happiness in the New Year from the Staff, Volunteers and Committee.

PP of DC



Christmas comes but once a year! "And a good thing too." I can imagine many a harassed parent saying.

I suppose the nearest to a second one is Easter with its cards, hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, but it isn't as yet commercialised to anything like the same degree, thank goodness! Easter cards are not common and gifts almost non-existent. So, Christmas remains a unique festival and long may it stay that way.



A True Historical Tale
Denny Reynolds

None of us truly ever own anything in life - property, chattels -possession is as transient as we are for there are no pockets in a shroud. We are custodians of what we have during our lifetime. We leave our footprints behind us and time marches on.

The older a property is the more footprints are left to find for those who choose to look.

I have a natural affinity for old properties and consider myself fortunate to have lived all my life in very old and interesting homes, or buildings that have a special and often unique historical interest and importance.

The house in which I was born turned up a Roman burial ground in the garden. The first house that I owned myself was where the Cosworth engine was designed, and the last property that I sold before moving to North Devon was Tudor in origin and consisted of salvaged stone features from the destroyed castle where Katherine of Aragon was imprisoned whilst she awaited her inevitable divorce from Henry the Eighth.

I suppose that this is from where my love of history and times-past comes. With family business interests in property and development and a personal background in sales and conveyance, it was inevitable that I would become a property sleuth, and have come to know all of my past homes as well as one would a good and trusted friend.

Venture Cottage, our home here in the beautiful Sterridge Valley, is true to form and no exception to the wonderful richness of history that almost seeps from the very fabric of the building.

The cottage came on to the open market on a Saturday and by the following Friday palms were spat in, hands were shaken and the deal was done. Venture Cottage was to be ours. Dan and I moved into our new home in January 2007, shortly before the birth of our little girl Ruby.

We love our home, and let's face it, what's not to love?

Venture Cottage started life as 76 Sterridge Valley when Watermouth Estate cottages were identified by numbers rather than the fancy names that they all have now. Following the death of Harriet Mary Bassett, the Watermouth Estate began selling off its land and property assets at auction, giving many of the tied tenants the opportunity to purchase the freehold of their homes, including Philip Jones who was the then tenant of this property. The land opposite No. 76 was known as Venture, and it was the saying of Philip Jones at the time of the auction, "'Tis my venture to buy the property." On his success in being the highest bidder at the auction, Philip Jones duly signed the contract on the 23rd June 1921 putting his name to paper alongside the wax seals of Edith Bassett Curzon and Charles Ernest Bassett Lothian Curzon.

From that date on. No. 76 Sterridge Valley was known as Venture Cottage and we are fortunate enough to be in possession of all the original documentation relating to the sale and purchase. Venture Cottage then remained in ownership of the same family until 1977!

Florence and Mary Jones - c1906

Of course, Philip wasn't new to Venture Cottage even in the 1920's, having been a tenant here since 1888. Originally from West Down, he was married to Mary and they had nine children - Philip, Daniel, John (known as Jack, as was common), Albert, Frederick, Nellie, Emma, Elizabeth (Lizzy) and Florence. Florence was the baby of the family and was either born here at Venture Cottage or was a babe-in arms at the time her parents moved here. Florence plays an important part in the story of Venture Cottage.

Before taking up a tenancy here in the Sterridge Valley, Philip rented a property with his growing family at Haggingon Hill. He was employed as a groundsman and was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of both churchyard grounds and the then vicarage of the time. I am not sure whether this meant that he would have been paid by the Watermouth Estate as a tied worker, or was retained by the church, or possibly a combination of both.

Anyway, he was a man of stature, in every sense of the word. He worked physically hard all week, and on Sundays he was a travelling Methodist preacher who went about North Devon on his horse preaching in the various parishes. Mornings were given over to services and sermons and then a break for lunch was in order. After lunch, however, Sundays took a very different course indeed, for Philip Jones was a well-known, and very much respected amateur all-in wrestler.

One particular Sunday, having been preaching in Parracombe, Philip was making his return journey on his horse when he was set upon by two footpads, or highwaymen of the time. With no knowledge of who their intended victim was, it was only a matter of minutes before both would-be assailants found themselves half-cocked against a man who was a far superior adversary! They were trussed up and tied to the nearest gate before Philip calmly resumed his journey.

In a further, and far more sinister and terrifying ordeal, Philip and Mary Jones were to suffer every parent's worst nightmare. Travelling gypsies or tinkers as they were known at the time had passed through the village, calling at all and sundry to sell pegs, sharpen knives and tell fortunes. The travellers had received short-shrift from the Jones household and had passed on. Shortly after the door-step encounter it was discovered that Florence, who had been sleeping in her pram in the garden, was missing!

With all haste Philip saddled his horse and gave hot pursuit down the Sterridge Valley. The tinkers in their caravans were caught at the quarry point near Harpers Mill.

As any father would do in the given circumstances, Philip Jones, with a single-handed and single-minded animal ferocity, beat all those suspected abductors who had the courage to confront him to within an inch of their lives. Those that realised it would be prudent to stand back from the affray left the devoted father unchallenged as he recovered his baby from within one of the caravans where she was discovered hidden. Philip Jones left the scene to return his infant daughter to her mother's arms.

Philip Jones enjoyed his freehold of Venture Cottage until July 1929 when he died. His death was shortly followed by that of his beloved wife Mary in October of the same year. Venture Cottage then passed into the hands of Florence, but that is another story . . .

Image: Florence and Mary Jones - c1906


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The Brennams were a large family, a very successful family too, all living in the town of Cranley. Some had made small fortunes from computers and others from building industrial estates. All in all they had done well!

Mr. Bill Brennam and his wife Mary had a daughter, six sons and many grandchildren and they all lived nearby. They were thinking about the usual family Christmas meal and the arrangements to be made. They loved the annual get-together.

Their eldest son Fred and daughter Jane were usually given the task of catering arrangements for the family at a local hall. One evening in mid-December, whilst visiting their parents, the subject of the Christmas dinner came up and Fred and Jane were asked to arrange it all.

"Fine," said Fred, "We'll see to it, no worries."

Fred and Jane were very close and the thought of wandering down to their little town of Cranley occurred to Fred, Jane agreed and off they went.

As they walked along, they soon came to houses illuminated with Christmas lights of all kinds. Some had little Christmas trees in their windows with brightly lit lights. Others had huge Father Christmas's flashing, blinking and twinkling. Further along the road they came to what might be called competitive illuminations with all sorts of reindeer, stockings, snowballs, flickering lights and floodlighting - a large strain on their electricity bills, let alone health and safety with their wiring, and what if it rained?

Soon they reached the town and the local council had done their main street and square proud. Twinkling lights strung between lampposts and a huge and beautiful Christmas tree stood in the centre of the square. The Salvation Army band was playing all the well-known carols and the surrounding crowd were all happily singing along.

"What a lovely time of year this is." Fred remarked, "Shall we have a little drink before we go home?" "Why not?" replied Jane as they entered The Crown. They sat down in front of the huge log fire and enjoyed their drinks before returning to their respective homes.

A few days later when visiting their parents the matter of the annual meal came up.

"I've arranged it all with Smith's Catering at the village hall for the 21st" said Fred. "No, I've arranged it at the church hall for the 21st," Jane replied, looking a little puzzled. "Well, you'll have to cancel one of them," their father Bill interrupted.

Jane and Fred got on the telephone straight away but neither firm would cancel. "It's too late", they said. "I'll think of something," their mother Mary chirped in, "I know you both meant well."

Fred and Jane left, both feeling rather silly. Straight away their mother got on the 'phone. "Is that Cranley Home for Waifs?" she enquired. "Indeed, it is" a voice replied, "And this is Mr. Clancey speaking. How can I help?" "What have you in mind for your boys and girls this Christmas?" asked Mrs. Brennam. "Not very much I'm afraid. It's been a bad year with donations and so many charities are finding things difficult."

"Very well, please take all your children to the village hall at seven o'clock on the 21st. I am sure you will be pleased" Mrs. Brennam added. "You are so kind and I will call to see you soon to thank you properly" Mr. Clancey replied, hardly believing his luck.

On the 21st both the Brennams and the Cranley Home for Waifs had fine Christmas dinners. All were so happy and it showed that there can be a good outcome when mistakes are made.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket



Macmillan Afternoon Tea

A Huge thank you to everyone who supported us at the end of September when we hosted a fund raising event for Macmillan at Lee, serving coffee, cream teas and delicious home-made cakes. There were local crafts for sale, a raffle and fun things to do for the children as well and it was lovely to see so many locals and visitors enjoying a chat over a cuppa and cream tea! We raised a fantastic £408.98 - thank you all so much, we could not have done it without your help!

British Red Cross

The Red Cross operating in the North Devon area is desperately short of volunteers and struggling to keep up with demand. The charity is appealing for people to help especially in the Ilfracombe area. Service Co-ordinator, Jen Kirk says, "We're actually having to turn people away. We don't ask for a huge time commitment from our volunteers and all expenses are paid so no one's out of pocket."

Care and Support Service volunteers offer practical support to people after a stay in hospital and can often prevent people going into hospital by offering similar support. The volunteers take clients home, settle hem in and help with such things as shopping or collecting prescriptions. The service is free but donations to the Red Cross are always welcome.

If you can help for just a few hours a month and really make a difference to some please contact Jen Kirk on [01271] 326662.

Don't Miss Out on your Bus Pass!

Please contact DCC if you have moved home since your pass was issued or if you would like a new photograph on your pass. The Majority of passes issued by DCC will expire on 31st March 2013. We are in the process of issuing replacements. If we do not know where you live then you will not receive new bus pass and if your photo does not look like you [!], drivers may refuse you free travel.

Contact us on [01271] 383688.

North Devon Theatres

On target to be the Queen's Theatre best ever Christmas Show - Robin Hood will be riding in to Barnstaple with much merriment and mirth from the 15th December. Based on the much-loved English folk tale, Robin Hood is to be an action packed show with stunning new costumes, fantastic live music, brand new script and the usual comedy mayhem you would expect from the Queen's Theatre Pantomime. Tickets are £12-£19, young person £11-£14.

For further information or to book, call the box office on [01271] 324242.






I cannot believe we are already on the countdown to Christmas! We have all just enjoyed a two week half term. The children are now refreshed and looking forward to the busy end of term ahead.

We should like to welcome two new children to our school: Austin who joins Mr Jones in class 3 and Alex in class 1 with Mrs Wellings. We hope they have a very enjoyable time with us.

In the next couple of weeks we shall be holding our Inspire Mornings. This is where the children have a family member or friend come into school to see them work for the morning. We have very good feedback from these mornings and the children really do enjoy it - even if the teachers are a little nervous!

This year we are involving the whole school in a big 'stir up' of an enormous Christmas pudding. These puddings will then be shared with the older members of our community ... should there be any left, we shall be enjoying them for our school Christmas Dinner!

As a school we raise lots of money for charity by holding various events and activities throughout the year, currently the children are: donating shoeboxes for 'Operation Christmas Child'. This is a very worthwhile cause and brings the joy of Christmas to many children.

On Friday 23rd November the whole school will have done a fun run around the village in aid of Children in Need dressed in their pyjamas! We should like to thank Edie Maytum in Class 2 for this great idea - please look out for them and give them a cheer!

As you can see the children really do have a busy, but exciting time ahead and below are more events that will be taking place.

  • Friday 7th December - PTFA Christmas Bingo
  • Friday 14th December - Reception to Year 2 - Nativity Play in the Manor Hall [friends & Family welcome], 2.00 p.m.
  • Monday 17th December - Reception to Year 4 - trip to Rosemoor Gardens
  • Monday 17th December - Senior Dudes Meal. This is a bookable event, please look out for the poster in the Community Shop.
  • Wednesday 19th December - School to perform Christmas Songs and Carols from 6.00 p.m. to welcome everyone to the Carol Service at St. Peter's at 6.30 p.m.
  • Friday 21st December - Last day of term and School Carol Service in the Church

We should like to wish everyone
A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sue Carey - Headteacher


Artwork: Helen Weedon


In my February article I wrote that 2012 could be a year of broken records, both Olympian and meteorological. The latter suggestion was based upon extremes in our weather conditions over recent years - extremes that have occurred with such regularity that, like the Olympic Games, one has come to view the excelling of previous records as a mere expectation.

This year our weather hardly excelled itself. But records were still broken. First we had the driest ever February, leading to hosepipe bans in the eastern counties of England. A warm and sunny March then lead to hopes of a spring that would be a carbon copy of recent years. There was disquiet, however, that each of these previous unseasonable springs had given false assumptions that summer had already arrived.

This year was to be no exception. Not only did spring dissolve as April progressed. Summer chose to make only the briefest of visits. For our flora and fauna this last summer was hardly a seasonal vacation, more an occasional excursion made on the days when the clouds chose to evaporate; days that were so rare we consequently experienced the wettest summer in over 100 years. Even the autumn weather gods failed to deliver on their tried and trusted guarantee: 'If during August cloud and rain be here, When school bells start ringing sun and blue skies reappear".

The absence of a prolonged or memorable spell of good weather will make this winter hard for some to bear, particularly those that suffer with S.A.D. But I may have a remedy. Every winter I endeavour to set myself an indoor project that will keep me occupied during the months of lesser daylight hours. This year I have taken on the mammoth task of sorting out all of my 'un-albumed' photographs. My system, placing each picture in an appropriately labelled box, is working fine, but it is the length of time that it is taking. Not only am I mulling over all the old photographs destined for the boxes labelled 'family', 'friends', or 'pets'. I am utterly losing myself in the pictures being prepared for the album entitled 'flora, fauna and landscape', but it is turning out to be quite therapeutic, for they are drifting me back to a time when our countryside was awash with varied and vivid colours.

I have come across pictures of wooded paths lined with ransoms or celandine, a lone violet peeking out from the ivy; a cherry tree loaded so heavy with deep pink blossom, its branches are forced to hang over a stream where newly born ducklings seek refuge, the dappled sunshine on a woodland floor carpeted with bluebells, a parade of foxgloves leaning out from a hedgerow, a line of swallows resting on a telegraph wire, a burnt orange sun sinking behind the Tors, a herd of Friesians seeking shade beneath the tall oak tree, a red admiral basking on an ancient stone wall and a low harvest sun pouring its rays upon the deep purple heather of Exmoor.

My partner and I have also been privileged to be given a book of which only a handful were published. Compiled by the father of a dear friend, it is a photographic record of his visits to public gardens and houses in Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon. Taken between the summers of 2005 and 2011, a study of the photographs enables me to do virtual walks around gardens such as Marwood Hill, Rosemoor and Castle Hill when at their very best, and more significantly allow me to forget about the dark wintry nights hidden behind my drawn curtains. So find yourself some photographs, a magazine or a book with pictures that reflect our countryside when it is lush with greenery and filled with its amazing varieties of deep colour. Remember, too, that as you wake on Christmas morning the winter equinox will have passed. Daylight hours will be on the increase again and gradually your curtains will be drawn a little later every day.

Merry Christmas

Steve McCarthy


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


Warm congratulations to Judith Adam whose very impressive book of Berrynarbor is a memorable record of local life and captures what will otherwise be lost. What next though I wonder? . . . secretary of the Wine Circle, local author . . . !

I have plenty of memories of my own arising from my recent mountaineering expedition. My goodness, what a challenge! The summit of Kilimanjaro is in fact the rim of a volcano. It is the highest point on the planet you can trek to without ropes and technical climbing assistance. At nearly 20,000 feet, you face extreme altitude, extreme effort and extreme cold that seeped through two pairs of gloves.

Nevertheless, despite there being only 50% less oxygen, seeing the sun rise over Africa and walking round its frosty roof is an exhilarating experience. I didn't suffer from altitude sickness but on the way down, my leg muscles were protesting in no uncertain terms! Nothing that the warm seas of the Indian Ocean didn't put right afterwards! If there is a local interest, I shall be pleased to do a slide show.

For now, the church calendar moves forward in orientation as we enter the period of Advent. I am saddened that people tend to gloss over this and rush towards Christmas. That can only reflect a materialistic age for there is much in Advent to make us think. It is far more than a build-up to the main event, as I used to think. Advent is about preparation, entering into a time of self-examination which used to be called a 'penitential season'. That sounds heavy but basically it means making room in our busy lives for God.

I pray that Advent may come to mean something to us this year, so that in turn, Christmas may be more deep and meaningful.

There will be full Christmas services at the church. Beat the rush and come early to avoid disappointment!

Your friend, Rev Chris




The Organising Group would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Also, to let you all know that one of the photographic categories for next year will be: Christmas in Berrynarbor. So, get those cameras clicking, as if you need an excuse, and we'll look forward to seeing them next year. Remember - they are not to be enhanced in any way. Thank you.


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


Floored - Regular users of the Manor Hall will know that it was necessary to close the Main Hall for several days during November in order for the floor to be refurbished, all of which is now complete, with the floor looking almost as good as new! Prior to the work the opportunity was taken to replace the mains water pipe that runs under the floor, which had a history of leaks. In the interest of safety for all users, not least for the badminton players for whom new court markings have also been applied, the floor has been sealed with a special non-slip coating to preserve the surface.

With apologies for any disruption caused while the work was being carried out, our thanks go to all our regular users, not only for their understanding but who accepted the need, where necessary, to relocate their activities into the Penn Curzon Room.

Christmas Card Distribution - With Christmas just around the corner, the Annual Village Christmas Card Distribution will again be available, with the Collection Box in the shop until Friday December 14th. Although no exact 'postal' fee is levied, please be generous with your donations as in previous years, which go towards the upkeep of the Hall. The card distribution Coffee Morning will take place in the Hall on the morning of Saturday 15th December, 10.30 a.m. - a date for your diary and a time to come along to meet friends over a coffee and a mince pie, take your chance with the raffle and, of course, collect your cards. PLEASE put your cards in the box well in advance of the 14th, so that the majority of sorting can be done ahead of the Coffee Morning.

Bingo - Fast becoming a regular event in the Hall, another Bingo Evening is planned for Friday 7th December as a fund raiser for the School and Pre- School - another date for your diary! So come along and have a go and if you really enjoy it, perhaps you too would like to arrange a similar event in the New Year as a fundraiser for your own dedicated Group. While you are thinking about it - perhaps there is some new activity you would like to start in the village, for which the Manor Hall could be the ideal location!

Farewell - [Having sold their house and presently uncertain of where the next home will be, in November we said farewell to Colin Trinder, who stood down as Committee Chairman after a second term, having previously held the post for a number of years during his 10 year total as a committee member. In that time Colin has handled and seen through some difficult issues, devoting many hours of his time to drive forward and oversee a number of improvements, not least essential maintenance, the renewal of the kitchen area and now the 'new' floor. Our thanks to Colin for all he has done over the years, we wish him and Annie a quieter but long and happy future life, wherever that may be.

The Manor Hall Committee




Inventor of the Christmas Cracker

At Christmas, we all enjoy pulling crackers, laugh at those corny jokes, put on the paper hats, and ponder whether we'll ever use the small gift - it's all part of the fun! But it was Tom Smith who made it possible.

Now we all know how crackers work: a cardboard tube, covered in a brightly coloured paper twist, and when pulled by two people, the friction of a strip of chemically impregnated paper gives the 'pop' and the lucky one gets the goodies! But how did it start?

Tom Smith began work as a small boy in a bakery in London early in 1830. The shop also sold confectionary - fondants, pastilles and pralines. Tom enjoyed his work and particularly the wedding cake decorations. It didn't take him many years to leave and start his own business in Clerkenwell, East London. Often he travelled to Europe for ideas and in 1840 on a trip to Paris, he discovered the 'bon bon', a sugared almond wrapped in a twist of tissue paper. He brought some back to London which sold well at Christmas but then died in January. To stimulate sales, he added a love motto and persuaded his regular customers to buy these. Sales rapidly increased. He knew he had a good idea, but still continued with his wedding cake ornaments and confectionary business.

Wanting to increase his 'bon bon' sales, it was casually throwing a log on the fire which crackled that gave him the idea that produced today's cracker. He worked hard and experimented, and eventually came up with a cracking mechanism that went 'pop' when the [by now larger] 'bon bon' wrapping was broken.

By 1847 he had moved to larger premises and his ideas had evolved into crackers. He had dropped the 'bon bon' in favour of a small gift, increased the size and called his new product 'Cosaques' - Cossacks. That name was quickly replaced by the eponymous 'cracker'. He had overnight success with this one design, decided to export it and it was only marred when he discovered that an Eastern manufacturer copied his idea and sent crackers to Britain just before Christmas.

Not to be outdone, Tom designed 8 different types of cracker, worked his staff day and night and delivered stocks all around the country in time for Christmas. From then on he never looked back.

When he died he left his business to his 3 sons, Tom, Henry and Walter. Walter took up the challenge of continuing improvements changing the love mottoes to those of topicality, employing special writers to compose snappy references to every important event of the day. Eventually these were replaced with puzzles, riddles and paper hats - not the thin tissue of today's hats, but elaborate ones good enough to exhibit on proper hat makers' stands. He went to Europe to find surprise gifts such as Bohemian bracelets, scarf pins from Saxony and tiny pill boxes filled with rouge and a powder puff.

Tom Smith crackers expanded into special orders for companies and private people. In the records is an order for a six foot cracker to decorate Euston Station One order in 1927 was from a gentleman who wrote enclosing a diamond engagement ring and a ten shilling note for a special cracker for his fiancee. The only problem was he forgot to include his address and never contacted the company again. The ring, letter and ten shilling note are, I am told, still in the company safe today - and no doubt the marriage didn't take place!

In the early days, Tom Smith made specialist boxes of Wedgwood crackers, Japanese menagerie crackers and crackers relating to current affairs, War Heroes, Charlie Chaplin, Wireless, Motoring, and the Coronation etc. Exclusive crackers were made also for the Royal Family - and still are to this day, although it is a secret what designs and contents are used. Since 1906 when they were granted their first Royal Warrant by the Prince of Wales and this they have retained.

And so today, crackers are found in many countries. In Russia, where they are called хлоиүшқ - from my 3 session Russian Language Survival Course on a recent holiday, I think that is pronounced 'Helonyooshka'. In some countries of the former USSR, crackers are a tradition of New Year celebrations, but are more like our fireworks. One person activates them, they are used outdoors, and produce a large bang and lots of smoke. In Southern Germany they are practically unheard of.

Over the years, several mergers have taken place and today, the Tom Smith group is a subsidiary of Napier Industries, the largest manufacturer of crackers in the world. A few years after Tom Smith's death, Walter erected a drinking fountain in Finsbury Square in memory of his mother, Mary, also commemorating the life of his father.

So as you sit down to your Christmas lunch, give a thought to Mr. Thomas Smith, the man who invented the great British Cracker - and don't forget the hat. Happy Christmas!

PP of DC



K9focus is a local dog rescue charity founded by a lady called Lynne Hall about three years ago. In this country an unwanted dog is put to sleep every hour that passes. Not many people know that horrible fact! Like many other rescue charities, we want to save as many of those dogs as we can and give them second chances in good and loving homes.

We are often able to help local people who are unable to care for their pets any more due to ill health or financial hardship and re-home them. We can vet the new owners and follow them up so we know their beloved pet is going to a good place, providing reassurance and comfort to people who are giving up a pet at an already difficult time in their life.

Most of our dogs are strays or come from pounds where the clock is ticking - when a dog is picked up by a warden they are only given 7 days to be claimed. If no one comes forward they are put to sleep.

In April we celebrated re-homing our 100th dog, called Tia she was used for breeding then dumped still full with milk for her pups. We managed to get some newspaper and other media coverage and by November this year we have re-homed another 50 dogs those numbers are amazing and show the power of the media is quite staggering.

K9 focus is lucky that it has a dedicated bunch of volunteers who work hard at shows, fetes, collection days, generally raising money whenever and wherever they can to help dogs like Tia to be given a second chance. Every dog we have is vet checked, neutered, vaccinated and chipped before being sent out to its new home.

We are always looking for new volunteers to do the variety of tasks the charity needs. For example fundraising, fostering, home checks, computer work, etc. So if you are interested please call Lynne on 01769560928.

Check out our website k9focus.co.uk to see some of our dogs and read more about our charity, and remember if you are thinking of getting a new best friend in your life the best breed of dog is a rescue dog!

Our dog of the month this month is Kia. Kia was waiting to go to his last destination - the vets to be put to sleep. We took one look at his face and loaded him in the van! He is a 3-year old Staffie whippet cross, fully vaccinated, chipped and neutered. His owner was notified that he was in the pound but didn't want him back - he had a new puppy! Can anyone offer a home for our thrown-out boy? He is very friendly and loves to run. We do not know what he is like with children or cats but appears friendly when walking past other dogs. If you can offer this lad a home of his own, please call Lynne on 01796560928.

All I want for Christmas

Someone to love me and give me a home,
Somewhere safe to call my own.
Children to play with would be great
I'd even love a cat if he'd be my mate.

A fire to curl up in front of would be very nice
'Buster' says fantastic you wouldn't have to ask me twice.
Turkey and plum pudding in my tum,
Oh and a soft pillow under my bum.

Fuss and cuddles just for me
Then not to be thrown out after tea.
A ball to play with, a toy to chew
Walks, frolics and adventures new.

So many wishes, will they all come true?
Santa we are relying on you
To make dreams come true - we hear that you can,
We've been so let down in the past by man!
Together we have but one request

A forever home with love would be best!

Have a fantastic Christmas and don't forget if you are still looking for presents that k9 focus are selling some wonderful calendars in the Shop.





We should like to invite you to take part in our


After a very poor summer weather-wise we are now into early winter with dark evenings and cold weather, so my plants are resting [what is left of them] and I am thinking about my plant sales for next year. This year has been very good and I am pleased to say £100 up on last year to £800. This seems too good to be true

The Children's Hospice sent me a letter the other day thanking me and saying how much each donation meant to them with some words from the families and children on the support they receive:

Little Bridge 'makes you feel important and puts you in a good mood. They understand you.' It is 'wonderful and we love going there. It's great.' 'They look after me and cook for mum and dad.' A 'brilliant place, everyone is happy and friendly.' Our Children's Hospice is the 'best place in the world!'

They also extended an invitation to anyone who would like to look round Little Bridge House. Each month they open their doors to supporters to give them an insight into the hospice life. They do not have any planned family stays during these days and use it as an opportunity to carry out maintenance and so can provide donors and volunteers with a day of thanks for all their on-going support. To book and find out more ring [01271] 325270.

Believe me, it IS a wonderful place and a happy one. Thank you everyone for your support.



Artwork: Harry Weedon


This year it feels as though we have had no summer and the autumn seems to have slithered straight in to winter. We are very relieved that we did not enter any competitions and although we planted up the tubs and hung up the hanging baskets we were more relaxed about how they looked after all the hard work and stress of representing the south west in the national competition last year. However, every rain cloud has a silver lining and one of these was that we did not have to worry about the watering quite so much, in fact I think some of the plants must have grown flippers and water wings it was so wet.

We have tidied up and planted the tubs with bulbs and bedding plants and pray and hope that next year the weather will be kinder to all of us.

Thank you to the entire Berry in Bloom team for litter picking, opening their gardens, baking, weeding and planting, and all the villagers who support us in whatever way. Don't forget we are always looking for more good folks to join us!

This year I am determined to cut down the costs of Christmas and one really nice way is to give home baked Christmas gifts. I have made these cookies for fetes and coffee mornings and when presented in a clear cellophane bag tied with a Christmas ribbon I think they will look and taste very seasonal. [I buy the cellophane bags from Lakeland www.lakeland.co.uk, Catalogue reference 12007, 50 bags for £2.99].


Wendy Applegate


Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Cranberry and white chocolate Cookies

Makes 20 to 30 cookies

  • 225g/8oz-unsalted butter softened
  • 225g/8oz golden caster sugar
  • 170g tube Carnation condensed milk
    [or weigh out from a small tin]
  • 350g / 12oz self-raising flour
  • 150g / 5.5oz white chocolate chopped
  • 150g / 5.5oz packet sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180 Deg C, 350 Deg F, Gas mark 4

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until pale and then stir in the condensed milk. Sift in the flour and work in to a soft dough with your hands. Mix in the chocolate and cranberries.

Take a small handful of dough and flatten with your fingers. Place onto parchment lined baking trays, spacing out well, as the cookies will spread as they heat in the oven.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown at the edges but still a little soft. Leave to cool slightly and set before transferring to a cooling rack.

The dough can be made 2-3 days before baking if kept in the fridge or better still when you are busy at Christmas in the freezer for up to a month, freeze in slightly flattened chunks and bake as required.

[I usually double the recipe and make half as cranberry and white chocolate, but omitting the chocolate and cranberries make the second half with grated zest of 1 orange, 150g/51/2oz raisins and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. If you choose to do this you can decorate the bags with cinnamon sticks and slices of dried orange.]

Happy Christmas baking and giving.

Wendy Applegate



Greenfinch © Mike Langman

I sometimes get asked why Greenfinches have disappeared from many of our gardens. Certainly in the 12 years that Tim Jones and I have lived at Harpers Mill we have noticed fewer Greenfinches in and around the village, as well as at Smythen Farm. For some reason Greenfinches are only infrequent visitors to our garden, despite lots of apparently suitable habitat. Among several diseases which affect birds, one in particular, trichomonosis, has been the principal cause of the decline in Greenfinches, and to a lesser extent Chaffinches.

Trichomonosis typically causes disease at the back of the throat and in the gullet. Affected birds show signs of general illness, such as lethargy and fluffed-up plumage, and may show difficulty in swallowing or laboured breathing. Some individuals may have wet plumage around the bill and drool saliva or regurgitate food that they cannot swallow. In some cases, swelling of the neck may be evident. The disease may progress over several days or even weeks. It does not affect humans or other mammals.

An item on the British Trust for Ornithology's website in mid-September reported new research that brings our understanding of the disease outbreak up to date.

The widespread emergence of trichomonosis in 2006 has resulted in a substantial decline in the Greenfinch breeding population. The new research demonstrates that mass mortality in Greenfinches continued in 2007-2009 at a rate of more than 7 per cent of the population each year, but with a shifting geographical distribution across the UK. In this time the population of Greenfinches in Great Britain fell from some 4.3 million to about 2.8 million birds. It appears that the disease jumped from pigeons or doves to finches, but quite why Greenfinches suffered more than other small birds remains unknown.

For more information on trichomonosis and other bird diseases, visit the BTO website at www.bto.org and follow these links: home > volunteer-surveys > garden birdwatch > gardens & wildlife > birds > disease. This will take you to a page on 'Disease and garden birds'. Here you will find advice on what you can do to look after your garden birds, especially the need to keep feeders clean. If you would like to report finding dead garden birds or signs of disease in garden birds, there is also an online reporting form.

Tim Davis



Standing: Sophie, Jane, Craig, Jenny and Darren
Seated: Sheila with Shaun, Ron, Tony with Katie

I'm sure when Ron Toms was clearing the parish ditches then ploughing fields he never expected in his wildest dreams that on a November Saturday in 2012, he'd be asked to sign copies of his biography, but he did.

More than 50 people arrived in the Family Room of Ye Olde Globe to see Ron and have their copies signed. He apologised for his 'shaky hand' and admitted he'd never 'liked writing at school', but the smile on his face and his chatter conveyed that he was enjoying the moment. Indeed, Sheila, his daughter, had a job to 'drag' him away from the pub and return him to Lee Lodge!

The evening was a rarity as he hadn't left the home for many months. Furthermore, it brought four generations of the family together: Ron, the patriarch, daughter Sheila and her husband Tony, their sons Craig and Darren and their wives and Ron's three great-grandchildren: Sophie, Shaun and baby Katie.

It proved to be a memorable 'moment' and will stay with his family, and me, for the rest of our lives. Life continues to amaze me, because this book began with a comment about capturing Ron's memories before it was too late, became notes in an exercise book, a script downloaded on to a memory stick and then the published and permanent descriptions of times past.

The Book of Berrynarbor is still available for purchase via the Community Shop. Additionally, I have copies at home.

Judith Adam - Flowerdew Cottage.




Fauna among the Flora at Marwood Hill Gardens

Our esteemed editor had kindly given ma a voucher for entry to Marwood Hill and as most of our previous visits had been in Spring or Summer, we decided to delay our visit this time until the Autumn. I was curious to see what colour might remain in late September - especially after the soggy Summer - and before the russet and golden tones of Autumn leaves had got underway.

On arrival we headed for the quarry garden and soon discovered on a path, beside the ericaceous border, a dead mole. It is unusual to see these industrious and beautiful creatures above ground alive so although regrettable to find poor Moldy Warp like this, it did provide a rare opportunity to observe the special features which adapt it for a life underground, excavating its system of tunnels; the large muscular 'hands' with shovel-like palms and strong claws, the long flexible snout, club shaped tail and coat of dark velvety fur.

Moldy Warp. the creation of Alison Uttley in her Little Grey Rabbit books

We went down to the middle lake where a secluded seat enabled us to pause to enjoy the view of the little island with its fine sculpture of a mother and two young children by John Robinson.

When we first visited Marwood Hill in the 1980's there were mandarins on the lake; the neat little ducks which looks as if they have been carved out of wood and painted in bright colours. They are no longer there and now there are mallards with moorhens and a few Canada geese. Grey wagtails flitted to and fro across the lake.

The rabbits we encountered among the eucalyptus trees were not at all timid. At the top of the hill is a spiral seat inside a circle of six silver birches.

In late September there were still a lot of flowers blooming in the bog garden; alpines flowering in the scree beds and in the Summer Garden, beyond the folly, the herbaceous plants were attracting red admirals and small tortoiseshells.

But the greatest number of butterflies were around a large shrub near the walled garden. The shrub was unfamiliar to me so I asked one of the gardeners what it was. She told me it was a clerodendron, also known as clerodendrum or glory tree. The fragrant flowers in August and September are followed by turquoise blue berries.

It was here I found the only painted lady butterfly I have seen all year. I like its Latin name Cynthia cardui. It is a migratory butterfly which cannot survive the British winter. I imagine the painted lady in a love triangle with the small and dull grizzled skipper jealous of his much larger and more colourful rival, the red admiral.

A curious plant caught my eye. I was surprised to learn it was a member of the pink family. Dianthus superbus. With its shaggy pink, deeply fringed petals it resembled a ragged robin.

A small rodent shot out from under the dianthus, crossed the path and disappeared among shrubs. It was a bank vole; its back being a rich reddish brown. A field vole would have been greying brown. This is the easiest way to distinguish between the two if you only have a glimpse.

Other differences are the length of tail. The bank vole's tail is about fifty per cent of the length of its head and body, whereas that of the field vole - alternatively named short-tailed vole - is only 30 per cent of the length of the head and body and all one colour. The bank vole's tail is bicoloured, dark on top and pale below. Both voles have very small ears but the field vole's ears are less visible than those of the bank vole.

Our autumnal walk of discovery around the gardens demonstrated that there's more to be enjoyed there than trees and flowers.

Footnote: A big thank you from the staff and volunteers at the Garden for the support received for their Macmillan Fund Raising Event which raised over £1700 for this worthy cause! £491 was raised on the day but a fantastic amount of £1,244 came from Sage, the Eurasian Eagle Owl's collecting box throughout the season.

The Gardens are now closed for the winter but will welcome you all again from Friday,1st March 2013.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Sue H



30th Bring & Share Lunch, 12.00 noon, 9 Berrynarbor Park - in aid of North Devon Hospice.
Beaford Arts Event, Manor Hall: Murray Lachlan Young - take a plate of festive goodies to share.
1st Charity Christmas Fair with Santa, Mill Park, 2.00 - 7.00 p.m.
7th Primary School PTFA: Christmas Bingo
9th N.D. Hospice Santa Fun Run
11th Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m. Manor Hall.
12th Mobile Library in Village from 10.55 a.m.
Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m. Festive Tastings
14th Primary School; Nativity Play, Manor Hall, 2.00 p.m.
Last Collection Day for Village Christmas Card Distribution
15th Manor Hall M.C. Christmas Coffee Morning, 10.30 a.m.
16th Christmas Craft Fayre & Farmers' Market, Manor Hall, 11 to 4
17th Primary School: Senior Dudes' Christmas Meal
19th Primary School: Christmas Nativity and Carols
St. Peter's Church: Carol Service, 6.30 p.m.
21st College and Primary School: End of Autumn Term
23rd Carols in the Square followed by Reindeer Drive at The Globe
24th CHRISTMAS EVE St. Peter's Church: Service, 9.30 p.m.
25th CHRISTMAS DAY St. Peter's Church: Family Communion 11 am
30th St. Peter's Church: Family Communion with Carols, 11.00 a.m.
31st New Year's Eve: Party at The Globe, 7.30 p.m. onwards
7th Primary School: Start of Spring Term
8th Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m. Manor Hall
9th College: Start of Spring Term Mobile Library in Vilalge, 10.55am
16th Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m. Presentation: Pam and Alex Parke
23rd Mobile Library in Village from 10.55 a.m.
Friendship Lunch at The Globe, 12.00 noon onwards

Manor Hall Diary:

MondaysUpholstery, 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
Craft Group, 1.30 p.m. onwards
Badminton, 7.30 p.m.
Tuesdays2nd & 4th in month: N.D.Spinners
Yoga, 7.00 p.m.
WednesdaysPilates Body Workout, 9.00 a.m. School p.m.
ThursdaysZumba, 7.00 p.m.
FridaysToddlers Soft Play and Activity a.m. School p.m. *
Penn Curzon RoomMonday - Friday Mornings: Pre-School *

*School, Pre-School and Toddler Group - Term Time only

Mobile Library:
(Assistant - Jacqui Mackenzie)

10.45 - 11.30 a.m.Village Shop
11.45 - 12.15 p.m.Sterridge Valley




6 + 17 + 20 + 42 = 1st Berrynarbor Wine Circle meeting of 2012-13.
and in reverse order . . .

Forty-two members, new and old, were reminded that our Wine Circle has existed for twenty years in its current form by Alex Parke, our Chairman, who was also the Master of Ceremonies for this season's first meeting on 17th October . Six wines were presented by Paul Firman, Manager of Barnstaple's Majestic.

Paul has become a regular with our Circle, but this presentation was a special, entitled Award Winners - a summer theme this year, if ever there was one! A white Rioja, and an Argentinian Malbec for under £10 were voted Best in Show by the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards, 2012 and were just two sampled by those present.

November's meeting on the 21st will be hosted by yet another visiting professional, Jonathan Coulthard. Jonathan's wines are, however, his own, from his vineyard: Domaine Gourdon in south-west France. His wines are, certainly, worth tasting and worth buying, which will be a possibility.

Our festive tastings will be on 12.12.12, accompanied by a 'bring and share' meal - the tables groan, but the participants don't! A great time is had by all.

Judith Adam - Secretary and Promotional Co-ordinator


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


This photographic postcard was published around 1927 or earlier by, I believe, Meakings of Combe Martin. The postcard is numbered 12461 and has an Ilfracombe 6th August 1927 postmark over a red 1d King George V stamp.

The card shows our village and St. Peter's Church taken from the road towards the Sterridge Valley and Berry Down. Our National School, complete with bell housing, can be seen on the right and Bessemer Thatch and Little Gables are thatched. To the left of Bessemer can be seen part of the roof of Miss Muffet's, Dormer Cottage, whilst the white cottage behind is 51 The Village, Tower Cottage. Further to the left, the Manor Hall and roof of the Elizabethan Manor House, now the Men's Institute snooker room and Penn Curzon Room can be seen. It is noticeable that the only visible building on Barton Lane is Sea View, just to the right of the church tower. Above the School and to the left is No. 54, Dunchideock, where Claude Richards had his Dairy. To the right are two of the three cottages, which were formed from the original Jacobswell Cottage, the first being Olives, the next Jacob's Well and the third Ferndale.

On the extreme left of the picture we can just see part of The Globe and the cottages next to Bessemer Thatch and the Manor Stores - Flowerdew Cottage.

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage
e-mail: tomandinge40@gmail.com


Artwork: Paul Swailes


Christmas Menu available, by reservation only, from 1st - 24th December. 2 courses £12.50 or 3 courses £16.00. Let me know if you would like the menu and booking form e-mailed or posted to you.

Quiz Nights for December are:

  • 2nd December - our usual quiz night. Everyone Welcome. 8.30pm start.
  • 16th December - Christmas Quiz. Booking is advised. 8.00pm start. [After a fun afternoon shopping at the Craft Market at the Manor Hall, finish the day off with more Christmas Fun here at our Christmas Quiz.]

Boxing Day Night - End Of Year Quiz. A very busy night so EARLY Booking is Strongly Advised. 8.00pm start.

Other Events for the Christmas period:

  • Sunday 23rd December - Christmas Carols in the Square with Mulled Wine and Mince Pies, followed by a REINDEER DRIVE in the Family room. No Reindeers will be harmed in the playing of this game [similar to a Beetle Drive], which start at 7.30/8.00 p.m. All welcome, but as I shall need to arrange tables please let us know if you want to book a seat..
  • Friday 28th - Christmas Games Night. Play Killer at Skittles, Pool and Darts. Put your names down at the bar and teams will be decided on the night. These events are just 50p per player to take part.

New Year's Eve Party. For those of you who like to start early, Tickets are available from the Pub or the Shop at £10.00 each which includes: Food served at 8.30 p.m. 2 courses [see menu at Pub or Shop]. Raffle Donation to R.N.L.I.

Party Music will be playing in the backroom and the bar all night from 8.00 p.m. to 1.00 a.m. There is no entry fee so if you want to just come along for the beer, atmosphere and music then just come along at any time, but those wanting to eat at 8.30 p.m. should purchase tickets in advance.

Fancy Dress is optional, but so much fun, and the theme is Jubilee/ Olympics. Our usual Complimentary Buffet will be available to loyalty card holders at 10.00/10.30 p.m. Please let us know in advance if you would like to be catered for.

To contact us: 'phone 01271 882465 or email yeoldeglobe@googlemail.com