Edition 82 - February 2003

Artwork by: Peter Rothwell

Artwork: Judie Weedon


Another Christmas over and best wishes to everyone for the year ahead - the days are lengthening and spring is on its way.

We have had our fair share of wet and windy weather, but have also seen some sun, frost and cold, very cold, days and nights. However, a lack of sustained cold weather is bringing early growth in the gardens - the magnolias and camellias are well in bud, bulbs are shooting up fast with snowdrops out and evidence of daffodil heads not far off flowing. Once again my yucca doesn't know whether it's coming or going, its spike having struggled to flower since November. Sadly, following the recent very heavy frost in the Valley, I think the battle is over.

On cold nights there is always a warm welcome at Ye Olde Globe as depicted on the cover of this issue - another delightful, but different, view of our village from Peter, this time from behind his pint! Thanks, Peter.

Once again I must thank everyone who has contributed to this issue a varied and interesting selection of articles and some beautiful illustrations.

The next issue will be April and Easter - late this year - and articles, etc., will be needed please by Friday, 14th March at the latest.

Enclosed with your Newsletter is a poster for the forthcoming Berry Broadcasting Company's Show on the 14th and 15th March. Make a note in your diaries and get your tickets in good time!

On the reverse of the poster you will find details of the jigsaws you have kindly donated to the Library and which are available on loan at 25p a time to raise funds for the Newsletter. Please do take advantage and borrow them!





For our December meeting on the 3rd, we were very pleased to welcome our Group members to the Carol Service held in St. Peter's Church. Andrew Jones took the Service of Seven Lessons and Stuart Neale played the organ. Berrynarbor Primary School sang 'Christmas has started', which was very much enjoyed. The retiring collection of just over £50 was donated to the Peninsular Medical School Trust and after the service, tea and mince pies were served in the Manor Hall. Votes of thanks were given by Andrew Jones and Sheila Hale, Group Secretary.

In January we welcomed two new members and then Tim and Jill Massey gave a very interesting talk, with slides, on their holiday in New Zealand. The vote of thanks was given by Margaret Andrews and the raffle was won by Beryl Brewer.

Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, 4th February, at 2.30 p.m. in the Manor Hall when Mary Irwin will tell us about 'Guiding in India'. The competition will be for a floral decoration for the top of a wedding cake and we look forward to welcoming any ladies who would like to join us. The March meeting - same place, same time and again visitors are welcome - will be on Tuesday, 4th March. Debbie Lewis will be talking 'Hats' and the competition will be a simnel cake or watercolour.

Marion Carter - Secretary



Sitting here with a cuppa - 13,000 miles from the UK - it is hard to believe Christmas is around the corner when outside it is 30 Deg C in the shade, there is a warm wind blowing, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and there is not a cloud in sight. Winter and spring have been most enjoyable with an average temperature of about 20 Deg C.

We have settled in Australind, Western Australia, 170 kms south of Perth. We live in a house half way up a hill with views to the hills and the bush where, amongst the trees, the roos, wildflowers and birds have to be seen, especially the orchids, freesias, wattles, kookaburras, parrots and possums. We are not far from the Indian Ocean and only a few minutes' walk to the village and the Leschenault Inlet with its dolphins, pelicans and kite surfers. It's paradise if only the mossies would not bite occasionally to remind you they are there.

Back to Christmas. We are writing rather belatedly to thank everyone for the wonderful send off you gave us and hope you all have a Merry Christmas. We have not forgotten you, far from it, just been a bit busy unpacking, packing and unpacking. We have just spent a most enjoyable few days with June and Bernard, from Pink Heather, catching up with all your news. If anyone else is this way, they would be very welcome.

We wish all our friends in Berrynarbor A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2003.

John and Jacqui Weaver



The first day after Christmas,
My true love and I had a fight.
And so I chopped the pear tree down
And burnt it, just for spite.
Then with a single cartridge
I shot that blasted partridge
My true love gave to me.
The second day after Christmas
I pulled on the old rubber gloves,
And very gently wrung the necks
Of both the turtle doves.
On the third day after Christmas
My mother got the croup,
I had to use the three French hens
To make some chicken soup.
The four calling birds were a big mistake
For their language was obscene.
The five golden rings were completely fake
And turned my fingers green.
The sixth day after Christmas
The six laying geese wouldn't lay,
So I sent the whole darn gaggle to the R.S.P.C.A.
The seventh day after Christmas
What a mess I found,
The seven swans-a-swimming,
All had drowned!
The eighth day after Christmas,
Before they could suspect,
I bundled up the
Eight maids-a-milking,
Nine ladies dancing,
Ten lords-a-leaping,
Eleven pipers piping,
Twelve drummers drumming
[Well, actually I kept one of the drummers]
And sent them back 'collect'.
I wrote to my true love,
"We are through, love!"
And I said in so many words
Your Christmas gifts were for the ... birds!

With thanks to Steve and Cindy

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Do you remember the good old days at Barnstaple Cattle Market? Have you ever thought that unless these memories are recorded they will be lost to future generations?

Then you will be interested in an exciting new project being run by North Devon College and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon to put together a permanent record before it's too late. The aim is to produce a booklet of rnemories - your memories - of the good tirnes and the bad, the funny stories and the sad, the people and the animals - of everything that made the market such an important part of North Devon life.

As well as talking about what you remember, you will have the chance to write it down. Don't worry if you have no idea where to start, as help will be given and there will be an opportunity to learn skills you may not have had time for in the past.

Why not come along to the Henry Williamson Room, Barnstaple Library, on Friday 7th February at 10.30 a.m. to find out more? Bring your photos and mementoes, meet up with old friends and chat about how it used to be. Refreshments will be provided and it's all completely free.

If you do decide to take part in the project, you will receive your own copy of the finished booklet, which will also be put on display at Barnstaple Museum and eventually become an important part of its permanent archive.



Living in New Zealand and having a seven month old baby at the proposed date of the reunion meant it was never going to be easy to attend, despite being given nearly two years' notice! However, three weeks before, and the news that my English houseguest couldn't be with us for Christmas as planned, spurred me into action.

Arriving the day before the reunion after a 25-hour sleepless flight with my baby, I seriously wondered whether I'd be in any fit state to enjoy it! Sure enough, the next day found me extremely tired, especially as baby Thomas couldn't understand why I wanted him to sleep through the night, during what is normally his day!

Did I really want to go and party and see people I hadn't seen for nearly 19 years feeling, and more importantly, looking shattered? However, I didn't bargain on the huge adrenalin rush the whole event would give me.

Dot [my Christmas houseguest, who was my main reason for changing my mind and being here] and I decided to go and say hello to Wendy, the main organiser of tonight's reunion. After seeing her and a few others who were in the hotel, and seeing all the preparations happening, the excitement began to build, and so did the nervousness! Why hadn't I lost all my weight since the baby? How was I going to talk to people after being so long away? Would I still get on with my old friends? So many thoughts buzzed round my head and the last 19 years dropped away and I felt like a nervous teenager all over again!

Dot and I had decided to stay in the hotel and get a baby-sitter to look after Thomas in my hotel room. This proved to be a godsend as he certainly didn't want to sleep much. The time arrived and we went downstairs and the party started - what can I say except "What a night!" The buzz and excitement in the room was similar to the atmosphere at a rugby test match back in New Zealand - and just as loud! It was amazing. Seeing old friends walk through the door whom I hadn't seen since school was just fantastic. I spent almost eight hours at the party, but when I finally went upstairs to bed it felt like it had all been over in a minute. Had it been worth flying several thousand miles to attend? Definitely!

A couple of days later I had a wonderful night with two special friends from school who come from Berrynarbor - Louise Walls and Lisa Stevens. Once again, the years just dropped away as we chatted like we used to as teenagers. If either of you are reading this - thanks for a wonderful night. It will stay with me for a long time.

As for Wendy who organised the reunion - what an amazing person. She 'phoned me in New Zealand three or four times over the last eighteen months and kept the possibility of coming over in my head. I'm so very glad she did. She did a wonderful job and has left so many people with so many special memories.

Lastly, to all those who didn't attend you missed a night to remember ...

Jackie [nee Eastwood]




As all regular customers will know, your Berrynarbor Post Office and Stores is still open for business. The small committee working towards a long-term future for a shop in the village is making progress, and the future is bright. In the meanwhile, however, nothing stays constant and the prospect of Pensions and Benefit payments directly into bank accounts is rapidly approaching.

In order to benefit your Post Office, people should opt for receiving their benefits and pensions via the post office. To achieve this aim, the following options are listed in order of preference:

  1. A Post Office Card Account will be operated with a plastic card a personal identification number [PIN]. This will be the only method available for those who do not wish to have a bank account. The card replaces your payments voucher book. To receive a card, just wait until you receive a letter asking you to select an option. Then please send off a simple letter in response requesting a Personal Invitation Document - a preprepared letter for this is available from the post office. Once received take it to the post office in order to open an account.

  2. A Basic or Introductory Account will be provided by all major UK banks and other financial institutions. This account will enable anyone to pay money in and draw money out at the post office, and provides further limited banking facilities. The options letter will explain how to open such an account.

  3. A full normal bank account at Lloyds, Barclays, Co-op or some other bank which utilises the Post Office as its agent for cashing cheques and making deposits.

  4. A full account at a non-co-operating bank - currently this includes Nat West and HSBC and this option does not benefit your post office in any way.

Whatever method you choose, the post office and shop will continue to operate as a local convenience store and a centre for social interaction, information exchange and advice, if there is a regular flow of custom. The weekly benefits and pensions collections are a major feature of this - and long may it remain so.

Alan Rowlands


Artwork: David Duncan


A beautiful Christmas was celebrated in Berrynarbor. Best attendance [well over 100] was for the Carol Service, closely followed by the evening service on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, several visitors came to swell the congregation on Christmas morning! It was interesting to note that about a third of those who came to join us did not take Communion, which seems to indicate that, although not regular church-goers, there are quite a few who do not place all the emphasis on presents and food, but still seek out the true meaning of Christmas.

Our thanks to everyone who took part in any way. The Choir's rendition of 'Silent Night', partly in German, and the Sunday School play with an anxious Baboushka searching for the Christ Child will long be remembered. As will the shepherd who fell asleep just before his acting debut, snored gently through the performance and woke up when it was all over!

Collections for The Children's Society amounted to £280.

Services will follow the usual pattern through February and March. Special dates:

  • 5th March - Ash Wednesday
  • 9th March - First Sunday in Lent
  • 29th March - Mothering Sunday - special Family Service with the Sunday School

Our next Friendship Lunches at The Globe will be on Wednesdays, 26th February and 26th March. Anyone is welcome to come and join us. Please ring me first [883881] to add your name to the list.

Mary Tucker




Christmas over, a new year begun with a very cold start, but a few bulbs are poking their heads through the hard ground, bringing assurances of warmer days ahead.

The Sunday School's performance of Baboushka was a great success, despite a problem with the microphones. Congratulations to Juliet for all her hard work in its production. All the children played their various roles with enthusiasm, particularly Eloise who was a very realistic house-proud Baboushka - well done all of you.

The children's party went with a swing; Edith and Karen put on a wonderful spread and we thank them for such a variety of food and for allowing 30 children to swarm all over The Globe!

Now a new term has commenced. Our next date to remember is Pancake Day, to be held again this year in the Manor Hall, on the 4th March at 10.30 a.m.

True Story

The beginners dancing class was giving a display. For the final item, the children had to perform something of their own choosing. The first little girl gave her impression of a butterfly, the next interpreted a swan, another a deer and so on. Last was five year old Irene - she baffled everyone by wobbling from side to side and finally disappearing into the wings with a big lurch.

Stumped, the dancing teacher asked what she was representing. With a triumphant, gappy smile, Irene answered, 'A loose tooth!'

A happy, healthy and peaceful New Year to you all - from the Sunday School.

Sally B


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook

to our new, young arrivals

With work nearly complete, the new Monks Path is now home to Gemma and Matt Bacon, who moved in just before Christmas.

Gemma, who helps with the family business at Napps, and Matt, who runs his own scaffolding company, are expecting their first baby in February. We wish you both every happiness in your new home and look forward to hearing about the new arrival in the April issue.

With Olive happily settled in her new home, it is good to be able to welcome Sarah and Chris Townsend to Woodlands Cottage. Sarah and Chris have a job on their hands, renovating and repairing, but are looking forward to the challenge.

Chris has come from Devon - his parents farm at Tiverton - whilst Sarah hails from Birmingham. They have, however, moved here from Holland, where their cat, Mushroom, is waiting for her passport to enable her to join them.

Chris is with Marconi and Sarah is currently a lady of leisure [!] - learning to drive is her no. 1 priority!

Welcome to Berrynarbor, we hope you will be very happy in your new home here.



The District Hospital is often referred to as the 'Pilton Hilton', but there have been too many villagers staying there, or the Tyrrell, recently!

Gerry Marangone is home and recovering very well from his operation, and Reg Gosling is also home. It is hoped that by the time you read this, Doreen Siviter will again be home, although sadly Vi still remains at the Tyrrell. We send our best wishes to you all.

Keith Cooper, after a rough time over Christmas, is progressing slowly. Our thoughts have been with you, Keith - keep your 'pecker' up - and with Maureen and all the family. Ivy White is also in hospital and we hope you will be more comfortable and home soon. Carol Heymer unfortunately had an accident on New Year's Eve resulting in a broken collar bone, hopefully you are now in less pain and able to get out and about.

To you all, and everyone else who has been or is unwell, keep smiling and we hope you will be feeling better soon.

Gerry and June would like to thank their many friends in Berrynarbor for their care and concern, cards and telephone messages whilst Gerry was in hospital. He is fine now!




Here we are in 2003 already, whatever happened to 2002? We have collated the weather information for the last year, but first we'll have a look at November.

Chicane's sunshine total of 16.93 hours reflects the wet, gloomy month. We collected 245 mm [9 3/4 "] in the rain gauge which was quite a lot of water, but although it was the wettest month of the year, it did not break any of our records. The wettest day was the 2nd, with 39mm [11/2"], but we did record some rain nearly every day. The temperatures seemed a little higher than the previous November, with a high of 17.3 Deg C on the 5th and a low of 3.5 Deg C on the 17th. In 2001, we did have a small amount of snow. The winds were pretty average for the time of year, with maximum gusts of 30 knots on the 8th and 22nd.

December was a month of contrasts, starting wet and muggy with a nice crisp, dry spell in the middle, then back to wet and muggy. Chicane's solar panels only received 5.75 hours of sunshine in the whole month! [However, the sun is behind the hills for a good part of the day]. The total rainfall for December was 182 mm [7 1/2"] with the wettest day being the 21st with 29 mm [1 1/8"]. This was up on the previous year but down on 2000, and well down on 1999 when we recorded 378 mm! No doubt those who were flooded remember it well - Temperatures were similar with a maximum of 12.9 Deg C on the 23rd and a minimum of -1 Deg C on the 18th. The average temperature for December 2002 was 6.95 Deg C. We recorded a wind chill of -13 Deg C at 06:41 on the 10th and a maximum gust of wind of 31 knots on the 1st.

  • Total Rainfall: 2002 1548 mm [61"] 1994 2032 [79 3/4"]
  • Wettest month: 2002 Nov. 245mrn [9 3/4"] 1999 Dec. 378 mm [15"]
  • Wettest day: 2002 17 May 59mm [2 5/16"] 1996 24 May 60 mm [23/8"]
  • Dryest month: 2002 Aug. 39 mm [1 1/2"] 1995 Aug. 11 mm [1/2"]
  • Max. Temp: 2002 16 May 27.- 1995 11 Aug. 32.4 0C
  • Max. Wind: 2002 27 Oct. 51 knots 1998 4 Jan 54 knots
  • Wind Chill: 2002 10 Dec. -13 - 1996 31 Dec. - 20 0 C

Barograph records from 2000:

  • High: 2002 6 Jan. 1036 mb 2000 16 Jan. 1043 mb
  • Low: 2002 14 Nov. 972 mb 2000 11 Oct. 973 mb

We should like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Sue and Simon


Brian Wright

Solution in Article 27.


Three Verses from

John Clare 1793-1864

The snow has left the cottage top;
The thatch moss grows in brighter green;
And caves in quick succession drop,
Where grinning icicles have been,
Pit-patting with a pleasant noise
In tubs set by the cottage-door;
While ducks and geese, with happy joys,
Plunge in the yard-pond brimming o'er.
The sun peeps through the window-pane;
Which children mark with laughing eye,
And in the wet street steal again
To tell each other spring is nigh:
Then, as young hope the past recalls,
In playing groups they often draw,
To build beside the sunny walls
Their spring-time huts of stick or straw.
And oft in pleasure's dreams they hie
Round homesteads by the village side,
Scratching the hedgerow mosses by,
Where painted pooty shells abide,
Mistaking oft the ivy spray
For leaves that come with budding spring,
And wondering, in their search for play,
Why birds delay to build and sing.

John Clare

Artwork by: Paul Swailes

Known as a 'nature' poet, John Clare was deeply attached to the place of his birth, Helpstone in Northamptonshire, where he worked as an agricultural labourer. Writing his poetry mainly between 1821 and 1835, he suffered from fits of melancholy and was pronounced insane in 1837, spending most of the rest of his life in an asylum.

Today John Clare is recognised as a poet of truth and power and is appreciated for his highly personal evocations of landscape and place. His work, characterised by the use of dialect and idiosyncratic grammar laments lost love and talent, vanished innocence and the death of an earlier rural England.



I forgot to tell you in my last letter of the fun Queenie and I have together. She loved my pink wellies so much that we thought it would be funny if she wore them for a special occasion, so she put them on under her beautiful cream gown and long blue velvet cloak to wear to the State Opening of Parliament. Following her speech, she was going to sit on the throne, cross her legs and lift her hem a little to flash the wellingtons! But on the way in the state coach, dear old Phillip saw them and banned her from doing it - such a Party pooper that man! Mind you, she did have fun as the wellingtons made all sorts of noises on the thick carpet as she walked towards the throne - she almost burst into a fit of giggles but just managed to stop herself in time. Now she borrows them to walk the corgies every morning - well, us girlies must stick together!

Love to you all,

Lady F




Members and their partners enjoyed an excellent Christmas Dinner together at The Globe on 13th December. It was good to have a social evening and the ladies steered the conversation away from bikes for at least some of the time!

January kicked off with a 'chat' evening and some plans were made for the coming year. Our first event is on 5th February when Paul White of ROSPA will be coming to discuss all matters relating to advanced riding techniques. We should welcome any other riders who have not previously joined us to come along and hear what Paul has to say.

If the weather permits, we plan to attend the Classic Bike Show at the Royal Bath and West Showground on 8th February - watch for the poster in the Post Office or ring Brian on 882388 for the current situation. On 23rd March there is a Hill Climb at Hartland Quay and a group will ride down there to watch the fun. Please contact Brian for details. March should see the resumption of our ride-outs, but due to dark evenings the first one will be on Saturday, 15th March at 1.30 p.m. Meet at the rear of The Globe.



Artwork: Paul Swailes


The Christmas Card, Sherry & Coffee Morning was again well attended. It is really nice to see so many people coming together for a mince pie and a chat and then helping with the distribution of the cards afterwards.

Although I lost count past 800, I think we must have handled about a thousand cards all told and the Hall funds have been swollen by about £150. Many thanks to you all for your support.

Here are a few dates to enter on those brand-new calendars:

  • Wednesday 2nd April - Annual General Meeting, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
  • Saturday 19th July - A Musical Evening, 'Songs from Films' by the South Molton Singers
  • Tuesday 29th July - Berry Revels
  • Saturday 6th September - Horticultural and Craft Show

John Hood




Alex Parke and Ted Paynter gave us a wonderful Christmas Wine Evening, ably supported by Pam and other ladies who provided suitable 'eats' to compliment the wines and champagne. There were even delicious mince pies by courtesy of Julie and Carmen.

The Members' Own Wines meeting in January was again a great success with a very wide range of wines, mostly red, being enjoyed by all the members present.

Our February meeting on Wednesday, 19th February, will be Jan and Tony's 'Special' evening, and we are still guessing! This will be followed in March - again on the 19th - with Kath Arscott presenting Spanish 'Rioja' wines - one definitely not to be missed if Kath's previous presentations are anything to go by.

Tom Bartlett




It is a pleasure to report that Alan and Anne Bacon are delighted to announce the arrival of their first grandchild. Hannah Rachel, weighing in at 7 lbs 7 oz, was born at 3.00 a.m. on Boxing Day at Leeds Infirmary.

Congratulations to the proud parents - Sarah [nee Bacon] and Andrew - and the grandparents and a warm welcome to baby Hannah.

Alan and Anne are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of their second grandchild, due in February.


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


Congratulations and very best wishes to Margaret Andrews and Michael Taylor who, on the 8th December 2002 at a Special Service Of Admission and Licensing conducted by the Bishop of Crediton, were admitted as Readers in the Church of England, North Devon Coast Team.

Michael and I thank you for your prayers and attendance at our Service of Admission... We were overwhelmed by your cards, letters, presents and good wishes, and are at your service should you need us.

Margaret Andrews

Congratulations and best wishes to Olive Kent who celebrated her 90th birthday on the 16th December. The staff and other residents at Park View, where Olive is happily living now, did her proud with a wonderful tea party for family and friends, when she was overwhelmed with gifts and cards.

Thank you so much for remembering me on my 90th birthday and at Christmas. It was lovely to hear from so many friends in Berrynarbor.

Olive Kent


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Ode to Berrynarbor

I lived in Devon once you see,
And Berrynarbor is dear to me.
Remembering places like the Manor Hall
Gatherings for dances, drama and all.
There's Broadsands, Sandy Cove, Sandy Bay,
The summer months - one long holiday.
Sawmills, Berry Corner, Watermouth Harbour,
Lots of places close to Berrynarbor.
When I was a lad it was all the rave
To collect stalactites and see bats in Napps Cave.
At nearby Combe Martin there are Hangman Hills,
A walk up these gets rid of your ills!
Newberry Beach, a beautiful sky,
Camel's Head and Camel's Eye.
Birdswell Lane, Sterridge too,
The Globe, the Church for me and you.
Many farms I can name,
North and South Lee are not the same.
There's Moules, Ruggaton and others
Often run by relations or brothers.
From time to time I return to see
Berrynarbor that is dear to me,


Illustrated by: Peter Rothewell

Tony Beauclerk
Evacuee, 1939-1945


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

One of my favourite pastimes is to listen to classical music, when I get the chance! I love listening to the symphonies of the great composers. I love the variations, the different textures, the different harmonies, and the different combinations of instruments and the different speeds of the four or so movements of a symphony.

Always the music is moving onwards towards the end, until we reach a memorable climax. At times the music is soft and gentle, at other times it is agitated and threatening. The first movement is often fairly quick in tempo, while the second movement is slow and thoughtful, the third movement is often dance-like and the final movement often march-like and quick! Very often the symphony paints a picture in your mind, like Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony or Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

All this seems to be saying something about a New Year and changing circumstances and the different problems we have to face. We can often feel overwhelmed by what is happening, but if we have faith, then it's like trusting the composer with his symphony. There has to be change and modulations in the music. There is often change and modulations in our life, but with a faith in a loving God who cares for and loves us, we can feel secure in our spiritual journey and that we are in good hands. Whatever happens there are 'the everlasting arms' of a loving God [see St. John 3:16 and 17].

The world is always changing and we often change our minds, but God's love for us never changes. He is like the Good Shepherd who is always looking after his sheep, even when they wander off.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

Illustrated by: Debbie Rigler Cook




1st May 2003

Elections take place every four years to give an opportunity for the electors to choose who shall serve on their Council.

It should be your choice of volunteer who serves on your Council.

Unfortunately, at the last two elections in Berrynarbor, the number of candidates has equalled the number of seats available that is NINE. So no poll was required and everyone was returned unopposed. It is twelve years since there was a contested Parish Council Election in Berrynarbor.

In my view that is terrible!

The 2003 Election is on 1st May and the Nominations will close at noon at 1st April.

Nomination Papers are very simple to complete and will be available from 10th March. They can be sent to the Civic Centre at any time from the 10th March to noon on the 1st April.

The work, should you be elected, is neither difficult nor complicated. Debates take place in a friendly and courteous manner. Decisions, once taken are usually respected by everyone.

The Council normally meets on the second Tuesday in every month, except August. From time to time, members will be asked to do other things, but the entire time commitment is not huge.

If you can persuade a dozen or more people to offer themselves for election, that would enrich our village and create real interest.

Don't forget, you can vote by post rather than go to the polling station. Applications for postal voting close on 23rd April.

Graham E. Andrews
Berrynarbor Parish Council


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Sterrage Valley. 1. near Ilfracombe

This is another photographic postcard taken by A.J. Vince of Ilfracombe in 1908, or possibly earlier; numbered V45 it is the second of his two views of the Sterrage Valley [see Newsletter No. 81, December 2002].

It is my belief that this view has been taken from just above Middle Lee Farm, looking south down the Sterrage Valley with parts of South Lee Farm just showing on the left between the trees and bushes. The field in the Valley was known as Broad Meadow and now has several properties on it, All were built after 1950 when by Compulsory purchase order, Broad Meadow was bought from Mrs. Ley for £120, and the four council houses built at the southern end.

Half way up on the left, part of the old Temperance Hall can just be seen. In the late 1800's and very early part of the last century, the Temperance Hall was used for village dances, concerts, Bible classes and meetings. [See Newsletter No. 40, February 1996.] These days only parts of some walls and foundations of the Hall remain, situated behind and to the north of Orchard House.

Orchard House was built by Tom Ley in 1926 [see Newsletter No. 29, April 1994].

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage, January 2002
e-mail: tomandinge40@gmail.com


First Verse of

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud - and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes mediation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its rotation in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, everywhere
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.


Illustrated by: Nigel Mason




The school community would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Last term ended on a very successful note, with the excellent pantomime performances, beautifully presented Carol Service and a special Christmas Dinner for senior citizens. This was planned, prepared and presented by the children of Class 4 and Mrs. Lucas.

We also had a letter from OFSTED confirming that the latest visiting Inspector was pleased with the progress the school is making towards achieving its school improvement targets. Staff and children were proud of the press coverage given to the outstanding results achieved in Key Stage 2 SAT's, 2002 - the result of good work by staff and pupils during the last academic year.

The Spring Term is very much a time for working hard at the basics in school, as Years 2 and 6 prepare for this year's SAT's Tests. The children will have a little light relief on Thursday, 30th January, when a visiting theatre company will be performing a pantomime for them in the Manor Hall. We shall be joined for this event by pupils from Parracombe and Kentisbury Schools.

The Governing Body has a busy schedule of meetings lined up and continues its seach for a new permanent Headteacher. Governors work in a voluntary capacity and the school is grateful for the time and energy they offer so unstintingly.

Advance warning - the PTA will be holding its Summer Fete on Tuesday, 15th July.

Do contact the school if you would like further information on any of these issues.

Linda Simmonds - Interim Headteacher

A Very Special Invitation

It arrived - a week before the day - a hand-written, decorated invitation from the children of our Primary School, to a Christmas Dinner at the school at 1.00 p.m. on 19th December.

We, thirty elderly village residents with a few specially invited guests, were there 'on the dot', being welcomed into the warm and beautifully decorated school by a team of smartly dressed children, in their white shirts with smiling faces, who took our coats and offered us 'nibbles' and a seat until, in a few minutes we were ushered into the Dining Room - to our tables. Once settled, we were welcomed by the Headmistress, who stressed that the whole event had been taken over by the children themselves - preparation, cooking and serving, writing the invitations and decorating the room.


Artwork by: Reve Williams

While gentle Christmas music played in the background, teams of children came in and out, serving each course immaculately with 'silver service'; helping each one of us with courteous and cheerful attention and watchful of our every need. We were given a starter of melon balls in syrup, a full Christmas turkey dinner with all the accompaniments, the most delicious Christmas pudding we have ever tasted or a tasty trifle. There was cider to drink and afterwards tea or coffee with hand-made chocolate coated mints. What a feast! One could not fault the care and attention to detail and lovely happy attitude of our village school children, who gave us such a lovely Christmas experience - even entertaining us afterwards with songs, poems and carols, and then giving us a gift of home-made sweets to take home.

It seemed that every child in the school had a part to play. Thanks to all you lovely children and your staff, It makes our hearts swell with pride to think we have such a lovely spirit in our local school.

Grateful thanks from a pair of appreciative 'Oldies'!

We made a Christmas meal
In the Christmas pud we put peel
A Christmas meal to Remember
That was in cold December We prepared and cleared
We sang and they cheered.

Rebecca Farrell


Artwork by: Charlotte Ross

The Berrynarbor Class 4 children set up a lovely Christmas meal for the pensioners.

The children made, cooked and served a starter, main course and a pudding. After the food, the whole school entertained them with Christmas songs. We all say it was a day to remember.

Becky Walls

School Dinner

What memories those two words evoke! Very different from the delicious Christmas meal which some two dozen of us senior citizens sat down to at Berrynarbor School on the 19th December.

Everything was perfect - we were greeted at the school gate by smiling, polite pupils who took our coats and led us into school where we met our fellow diners.

Then we were shown into a classroom which had been transformed into an attractively decorated dining room. We were served with a delicious roast turkey Christmas dinner. The children had helped to prepare and cook the food and waited upon us. I understand the proficient silver service had been perfected by practising with raw carrots! There were plenty of second helpings, apple juice and crackers. Then a choice of super Christmas pudding [my choice] or trifle. This was followed by coffee or tea.

After the meal, the whole school entertained us to Christmas songs which were beautifully performed. Finally, time to go home but, in the tradition of all good parties, we had a gift to take with us. Everyone received a beautiful hand-made decorated box which contained delicious hand-made sweets.

What a very enjoyable experience! Our thanks to everyone involved and our good wishes for happiness and success in 2003.

Jill and Iain McCrae

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner, "please sit here.
"Hello, how are you? Sit down dear."
Rich and pleasant with the laughter,
l'd like to chat with them after.
Silver service, fork and spoon,
Then we said "please come back soon."
Men and women, happiness galore.
A carol or two, "who would like more?"
Sweets, presents and final Good Byes.

Ryan Beal

T'was the day of the school Christmas meal
The classroom and kitchens all fluttering
The candles were lit,
We got in a fit,
Then all that there was some muttering.
T'was the day of the school Christmas meal
The time was one o'clock at school,
We're waiting for them to come,
Yes, yes here come some,
Aaaah! They're all waiting out in the hall!
T'was the end of the school Christmas meal.

Daisy Ivan



The Stable Block at Arlington Court was built in 1864 for the Chichester family carriages and horses. In 1966, it was opened to the public with an exhibition of a few examples of 19thC carriages which came from the Marquis of Bute, the Science Museum and Sir Dymoke White. It is now not only the National Trust Collection of Carriages, but also one of the most impressive collections in the country. It has grown to over 50 vehicles, with others in store. They come in all shapes and sizes, from small simple stick wagons and children's carts drawn by dog or goat; through fast two-wheeled gigs, broughams, elegant victorias, phaetons, landaus to stunning state chariots and an enormous private drag, and the rather unusual 1830's coffin carrier, complete with 11 large black horsehair plumes.

Visitors are fascinated by the miniature coach made for General Tom Thumb of Barnum's Circus, USA, and used by him during the circus tour of England in the 1860's.

English coachbuilders and harness makers of the 19thC were among the finest in the world and carriages were made to customers' specific requirements. In 1888, a brougham could cost you from 100 to 220 guineas, depending on cost of labour and quality of materials used, e.g. type of springs, interior trim, lamps, etc.

The oldest carriage in the collection is an 1810 travelling chariot, complete with sword case. This type of chariot was used by families for the 'Grand Tour' of fashionable cities in Europe. The tour could take years and horses were changed every 10 miles, stopping at coaching inns en route. The journey was somewhat hazardous as the occupants were constantly at risk from highway robbers.

Caring for the collection takes time, patience and skill. The programme of cleaning is similar to the one used by the Housekeeper in National Trust mansions, but our objects are much larger and tend to be displayed in unheated areas. Keeping the environment controlled is very important, as dramatic changes in the humidity and light levels can cause damage to the wood, textiles, leather and metal surfaces on the carriages.

Our carriage horses at Arlington are a great attraction. They live at the stables at Arlington and graze in the paddocks all through the year. The horses, Barnaby, Bumble, Copperfield and Magnus, are used for the daily visitor carriage rides and for teaching traditional carriage driving. We have two modern carriages, a wagonette and a marathon, built in Devon, and with rubber tyres, comfortable seats and disc brakes.

Visitors enjoy watching the staff preparing the horses and cleaning the leather harness in the harness room; and the sound of the horses, their hooves and the carriage wheels on the gravel, bring the stable yard to life.

We have been involved in several events off the property - carnivals, weddings, local and national television work. The most exciting event was when we were asked to attend the Queen Mother's 100th Birthday Pageant on the 19th July 2000. All four horses, two carriages [the wagonctte and a state landau] and staff travelled to London in one of the hottest weeks we had that summer and were away from Arlington for three days. The horses behaved beautifully and coped with the cheering crowds on the route through Birdcage Walk, driving past the Queen Mother in the arena and then down The Mall back to Birdcage Walk. We all thoroughly enjoyed the event and were very proud to be part of such a historic occasion - a truly memorable experience for us all.

For some years there have been plans to extend the Stable Block carriage display area by adding a new wing and it is hoped to begin this project within the next month or so. The additional building will be used to display the collection with space around each vehicle so that visitors will be able to look at the whole carriage and also see the stunning silk and leather interiors. Other items, particularly livery, which have been stored and never shown to the public, will at last be on display. We are collecting coaching prints, paintings, coachbuilder records, drawings, timetables, etc., to add to the display.

All thanks must go to the staff and volunteers at the Stables and Carriage Collection - it's a team effort!

Patricia Stout - Curator, Carriage Collection

It is hoped that in the April issue, Patricia will tell us more about the plans for the new wing and also the acquisition of the diminutive Tom Thumb's suit, as reported recently in the local press.

However, in the meantime, if you think you would be interested in helping at the Carriage Collection, or the House - volunteers are always needed and most welcome! - please contact Patricia at the Carriage Collection [851117] or Shelagh Metcalfe at the House [850296]. Or if you would like to learn a little more, have a word with either Jill Jones or Judie, who steward the house, or Sue Kemp who stewards at the Carriage Collection. As a bonus, regular volunteers receive a National Trust discount card for use in all NT shops, which also gives them free admission to other properties!

Arlington Court and the Carriage Collection will open for the 2003 season on Saturday, 29th March and will be open daily, except Tuesdays.



Rosie, with Copperfield & Barnaby



Thanks Our thanks to Alan and Nora for allowing us to put some holly outside the Post Office and for the kind donations which amounted to nearly £25. This has been given to CLIC via llfracombe College - the chosen charity for the year for our daughter's House.

Julie and Michael Parkin - Bowden Farm

Trans-Send Sustainable Energy in North Devon. Monthly meetings recommence in the upstairs room at The Lantern [1st Wednesday each month, February to July, inc.]. The February topic is 'Healthy Buildings and Sustainability, the speaker, Clive Jones. Everyone is welcome. The meeting will commence at 7.15 p.m. and there will be tea or coffee available.

'Meals with Care' Are there times when you [or a relative or friend] find the thought of preparing a main meal altogether too much?

If so, then the WRVS could be of help ... we have recently introduced a new 'Meals with Care' service that is available to anyone living in the North Devon or Torridge areas. There are no assessments, no forms to fill in, just pick up the phone and ask for 'Meals with Care'.

We offer good quality, individually frozen, meals that are delivered direct to your door. We can even stock them in your freezer if you would like!

From the comfort of your own home, simply choose from our extensive catalogue, then phone or send your order to our Barnstaple office - diabetic and special diets are catered for too. Your meals will be delivered on a fortnightly basis by one of our fully trained volunteers, who will show you how to heat up the meals and answer any questions you may have,

'Meals with Care' offers you the flexibility of eating when you feel like it, without having spent hours in the kitchen first! Simply heat, serve and enjoy! For a special treat or when entertaining visitors, why not try our 'Millennium Specials' - an outstanding range of a la carte menus.

If you would like to know more, please telephone Alison on 01271-3445010. I shall be happy to send you our full colour brochure and answer any queries you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!



At the beginning of a new year, it is nice to reminisce on the highlights of the previous year. The highlight for me was a trip to Canada at the end of September, to visit my pen-friend, Dorothy.

We first corresponded whilst at school - many moons ago! I cannot remember the exact date, about 1950 I think. We wrote to each other for about six years and exchanged gifts. Oh, the joy of receiving a pair of nylon stockings! In Reading, where I worked, we had to queue for them. Can you believe that?

When Alan and I married in 1957, sadly Dorothy and I lost contact, but in 1997, after Alan died, I came across Dorothy's last letter and wrote to her to see what she had been doing over the last 40 years. I was delighted to receive a reply about three months later, from which I learnt that she had four grown up children, all married, and that she had been widowed after ten years. What a feat, bringing up four children on your own!

We met briefly in Berrynarbor at the end of 2000 when she visited with her son, Andrew, and daughter-in-law Michelle. At that time they urged me to visit thern in Canada, so it was with much excitement and a little trepidation that I boarded the plane at Heathrow on the 23rd September, bound for St. John, New Brunswick via Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Dorothy met me and took me to her summer home in Westfield a delightful house overlooking the St. John River. Of clapboard construction, it was built in 1903 by her grandfather who had emigrated to Canada from Scotland about that time.

I could write at great length about my experiences but will just briefly mention the itinerary.


Doreen & Dorothy at Niagara Falls


Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre en route to Quebec City

We spent three days in New Brunswick with Dorothy acting as my guide and chauffeur. From there we set off for her family home in Montreal, stopping off for a day in Quebec, where we spent a night in a motel overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

During our stay in Montreal, we drove west to Ottawa and saw the beginning of the 'fall' on this route. The colours were magnificent. Unfortunately, the fall was late so I didn't see much colour but the scenery was nonetheless breathtaking.

From Montreal we drove to Toronto, where I stayed four nights with Andrew and Michelle.

Something I shall remember for the rest of my days was the trip to Niagara Falls with them and their little daughter, Abigail and Dorothy.

The roar of the falling water [the guide books tell us 14 million litres per minute] and the spray were just incredible. Michelle and I donned plastic rainwear and went on the boat, the Maid of the Mist. As we got nearer the falls, it was like being in torrential rain! What an experience that was!

My flight home was from Toronto and to round off a lovely holiday, the evening before Dorothy and I went to see 'The Lion King' very entertaining and the reality of the costumes was splendid.

I hope in the not too distant future I shall be able to introduce Dorothy to our beautiful North Devon. I found Canada and its people very welcoming and I should love to return one day.

I wonder what the highlights of 2003 will be?

Doreen Prater



Manor Hall

Saturday, 15th February, 2.00 p.m.
Entrance 20p
Refreshments Raffle
To book a Table for £5, please ring Ann 883837 [evenings]
Items for the Sale may be left at the Hall on the morning of the Sale

Proceeds to Berry in Bloom and Carnival Float Funds


Artwork: Harry Weedon


Berrynarbor has been selected to represent the South West in the National Britain in Bloom 2003 Competition. We are holding a meeting to discuss how, what and where we are going to approach our entry.

If you would like to get involved, a little or a lot, please come along to The Globe on Tuesday, 18th February, 7.30 p.m. for a short meeting.

Just looking after one hanging basket can make a huge difference!!


Artwork: Helen Weedon


With a number of property programmcs filling my T.V. screen during these winter evenings, my mind has frequently drifted back to the day I first ventured into an estate agent's office. Lunged into a chair by an over-enthusiastic young lad, shaking with excitement at the commission pound signs above my head, he launched into his ready prepared questionnaire lying neatly on the desk in front of him. In his frenzy he turned over two pages at once, completely missing the page requiring all my personal details and the bit about how much I could afford. "Now Sir, firstly the type of property. Is Sir requiring a flat, a house or a bungalow? And how many rooms? And is Sir preferring a small Mediterranean back yard or an acre of land?" Before I could answer he whipped the page over and just carried on with his questions.

"And is Sir a townie or more the rural gentleman? Village or hamlet? Or maybe completely isolated, if you prefer? Is privacy a factor? And what about noise? We have both town houses in cul-de-sacs or country cottages on busy main roads on our books, Sir. Does being far from amenities bother you?" And so he went on.

We covered what age of property I was looking for through to appearance, condition, and so on. By the end of it all, I didn't know if I was coming or going; or buying or selling come to that. In the end, I think I walked out with details of a run down penthouse suite in the centre of town with an acre of land some ten miles away.

Now what, I'm sure you are wondering, has all this to do with reflecting rurally? Well, you see, for some weeks now I have been carrying out a similar search again as I did all those years ago except this time for a tree. Yes, that's right, a tree.

It all started when taking the dogs for a walk one morning. Admiring the unique physical impression that every tree beholds, more so at this time of year, I thought I would try to single out one tree that, if I were a bird, I would choose to nest in and call my home. So, recalling from my mind the questions blasted at me by the young estate agent, I began to look for my tree. Firstly the type, or species. For me, that eliminated all evergreens, as I wanted mine to strongly reflect the changing seasons. Sycamores were also out of the question, as I do not like the way they take over and make it difficult for the light to penetrate through. It would, however, need to be a common species, like an ash, oak, hazel, or beech, say. Singling out one particular tree would then make it more special.

Next came its location. Of prime importance was the requirement that nobody else could readily see it. This meant either finding a lone tree right off the beaten track, or finding one in a wood. The latter seemed the sensible option, though I did not want my tree to be hemmed in by others around it either. Accessibility was not essential, as I would after all probably only look at it the once; and for this reason it did not matter whether it was in a nearby wood or not. But I wanted it to be in a quiet surrounding, though the sound of bird song, farm life or running water would be a bonus. Finally, came age, appearance and size. My tree, I decided, needed to be well established though not too old and of at least 20 feet. I fancied that the branches should come off from the main trunk liberally and equally all the way round and that the trunk should be clearly visible rather than covered all over with ivy.

Specifications complete, I began my search; but as the weeks passed by, what I thought would be the simple task of finding my imaginary tree home became harder and harder. Had I been too strict with my specifications? Or was I doing something so stupid it could not happen anyway? To my latter question I soon replied "no". After all, people have a favourite plant in their garden, the one that makes them go "wow!"

Thinking this, I suddenly realised why I had not yet found my ideal tree home. It was not that my requirements were too strict, it was that I had forgotten the most important specification of all: that "wow" factor. Just like when looking for somewhere to live there are times when the property does not do anything for you when you first walk into it. So I realised it was the same situation with my tree. I had not yet seen one that made me go "wow!"

So watch this space...and in the meantime watch out also for the lengthening evenings. It is a sign that spring is on its way.

Artwork by: Dave Walden

Steve McCarthy



4thW.I. Meeting 2.30 p.m. Manor Hall: Guiding in India - Mary Irwin
5th Bikers of Berrynarbor, 7.30 p.m., The Globe - Paul White ROSPA
Trans-Send: Health Buildings - Clive Jones, Lantern 7.15 p.m.
7th Making Market History : Barnstaple Library, 10.30 a.m.
8th BOB, Classic Bike Show, Royal Bath & West Show ground
11thParish Council Meeting, 7.30 p.m., Manor Hall
12thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
15thJumble Sale - Berry in Bloom/Carnival, Manor Hall, 2.00 p.m.
18thBerry in Bloom Meeting, The Globe, 7.30 p.m.
19thWine Circle, 8.00 p.m., Manor Hall: 'Special' Wine Evening
24thto 28th February, inc. College & Primary School: Half Term
26thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
Friendship Lunch The Globe 12.30 p.m.
4th Shrove Tuesday: Pancake Coffee Morning, Manor Hall 10.00
W.I. Meeting 2.30 p.m. Manor Hall: Hats - Debbie Lewis
5th St. Peter's Church: Ash Wednesday
9th St. Peter's Church: 1st Sunday in Lent
11thParish Council Meeting : 7.30 p.m., Manor Hall
12thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
15thBikers of Berrynarbor: Ride Out, The Globe, 1.30 p.m.
19thWine Circle, 8.00 p.m., Manor Hall: Rioja Wines - Kath Arscott
23rdBikers of Berrynarbor: Hill Climb, Hartland Quay
26thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
Friendship Lunch, The Globe, 12.30 p.m.
29thMothering Sunday
St. Peter's Church: Special Family Service with Sunday School
2ndManor Hall Management Committee, AGM, 7.30 p.m.
8thAnnual Parish Meeting, Manor Hall, 7.00 p.m. followed by Parish Council Meeting

Manor Hall Diary:

MondaysBadminton, 7.30 p.m.
Tuesdays2nd & 4th in month: N.D.Spinners, 2.00 - 4.30 p.m.
Yoga, 7.00 p.m.
ThursdaysWhist Drive, 7.30 p.m.
FridaysShort Mat Bowls, 7.00 p.m.
SundaysShort Mat Bowls, 2.00 p.m.

Mobile Library:
(Assistant - Jacqui Mackenzie)

11.30 - 11.45 a.m.Sandy Cove
11.50 - 12.05 p.m.Barton Lane
1.15 - 1.40 p.m.The Square
1.45 - 2.05 p.m.Sterridge Valley


Artwork: David Duncan


Happy New Year Everybody!

A good night was had by all at the Globe on New Year's Eve - thanks to everyone who made the effort to dress up: there were lots of good costumes and photos to embarrass you will be placed above the bar shortly. So now for February and March:

  • Sawmill - Throughout February [except 14th] we have a '2 for 1' meal offer - order 2 meals from the board and get the cheapest one free [not available Saturday nights or Sunday lunch]. We also have our Carvery up and running, available every Sunday lunchtime at just £6.95.

    To mark the Chinese New Year we shall be having an 'All You Can Eat' Chinese night on Saturday, 1st February [booking advised].

  • Both pubs - Will celebrate St. Valentine's Day by offering a selection of Specials as well as the usual menu - with table service at the Sawmill and in the dining room at The Globe. Booking is advised - that's 14th Friday 14th February, fellas!]

    In March you can look forward to St. Patrick's Day when Murpheys at The Globe and Guinness at the Sawmill will be £1.50 a pint! [Monday, 17th March]

    And don't forget Mothers' Day ... Sunday, 30th March. We advise early booking for both pubs as this is a special day indeed - I'm looking forward to me 'cuppa' in bed, boys!

  • At the Globe - We shall be holding an event for the Grand National on the 5th April. Hopefully, 'A Day at the Races' with a picnic in the garden. So, get your hats ready ladies and we'll give details soon.

And finally ... congratulations to The Globe. Mum's [Edith] daily efforts of lighting the fire have paid off, as we are very pleased to have won the 'Real Fire Pub of the Year' competition for Devon. Thanks also go to Len at North Devon Fuels [Hele Bay] for his nomination as the supplier of fuel! We shall be holding an event to celebrate some time in February - look out for details.

We hope you all have a happy and prosperous 2003 and look forward to seeing you soon.



"What are you doing? Why is it so?"
Like the learned professor, he just has to know.
"Come sit in the sun and look at this book."
My answer is always, "There are meals I must cook."
My shopping's becoming a hassle these days,
I'll push the trolley - his eyes start to g!aze,
Hands flying out and grabbing with glee
All sorts of goodies which I never see.
The telephone rings, he pulls up a chair,
Immediately hisses, "Tell me, who's there?"
I'm under surveillance from morning to night,
 Feeling quite desperate and looking a fright.
"Come watch the telly, you've got to see this."
 A few hours of silence would be perfect bliss!
My routine has gone, I'm constantly tired,
No, I don't have a toddler - my husband's retired!



It's not just
That she rides to school on a horse
And carries a Colt 45 in her bag.
It's not just
the way she walks;
hands hanging over her hips.
It's not just
the way she dresses;
Stetson hat and spurs on her boots.
It's not just the way she talks;
calling the playground the corral,
the Head's office the Sheriff's office,
the school canteen the chuck wagon,
the school bus the stagecoach,
the bike sheds the livery stable.
What gives her away
Is when the hometime bells go.
She slaps her thigh
And cries, "Yee ha!"

John Coldwell



Our story starts ...

Mid afternoon on Friday, 2nd January, I was working in the garden at Riversdale when I perceived a movement out of the corner of my eye. Moving along the wall which runs parallel to the driveway, was a small animal, about eighteen inches in length and mainly dark brown in colour. I did not know what sort of animal it was, although it was obviously very young. I had no idea what a young badger or mink looked like, in fact I felt quite ashamed that although I take a very keen interest in wild life, I could not guess what it was. It moved further along the wall until it reached a point where it either had to turn back or try to get down from the wall. It chose the latter and performed an almost perfect somersault on to the driveway. It did not appear to have suffered any injury and moved under the car where it stayed. I called for Jill to come and see it and bring my camera, which she did very quickly, although the little animal was even quicker and moved from under the car to the cover of shrubs. It was so well concealed that we could not see it, nor take a photograph, which was disappointing.

Sterridge in the arms of one of her many carers

After a few minutes, the little creature started to make a very shrill cry, making me aware that it was almost certainly calling for its mother and I decided to make myself scarce in case the mother was close by and waiting for the opportunity to rescue its offspring. I kept a watch until it was going dark, but there was no sign of the mother and I decided that I was perhaps too close and went into the cottage.

Later that evening, I went out to see if anything had happened and to my delight there was no sign of the little thing, so I returned indoors believing and hoping that the baby had been rescued by its mother and had returned to its home.

The following day, as we were having lunch, and for the second time in two days, I was surprised to see the same little animal padding along the road coming over the bridge. Again, I called for Jill to come and see but at the same time noticed Rosie, our neighbours' springer spaniel, running towards it, whereupon I rushed outside as fast as I could. Fortunately, Pat was nearby and immediately called to Rosie to "Stop!" To her great credit she did. "It's an otter," shouted Pat, which did several things to me all at once. The main thing, however, was the realisation that she was absolutely right and what the heck was an otter doing in the Sterridge?

Meanwhile, the little creature had turned into the small riverside Garden belonging to Brookvale, had gone into the undergrowth and was in danger of going into the very thick hedge, from which it would be very difficult to recover without injury. Fortunately, at this point June and Bernard from Pink Heather walked by and I was joined by Malcolm, allowing Pat to go and ring their close friend, David Chaffe, the otter expert.

Bill Jones

it continues ...

On that beautiful Saturday lunchtime, I had arranged to collect Emma from Smythen Farm Cottages and from there we were heading for Woolacombe Bay and a walk with Rosie. On the way to the car, imagine my surprise and delight when I saw a baby otter on the lane outside the cottage.

By the time I had 'phoned our friend, David, for advice, we had been joined by Janet and Judie. Acting on David's advice, we were able to get the otter into a cat basket provided by Judie. In the meantime, David had contacted the vet at Torbridge Veterinary Centre to expect our otter within the hour. He and I agreed to meet half-way between here and Bideford.

Emma was waiting for me at the top of the Valley. I can't begin to tell you how I felt. During the journey, Emma asked lots of questions about otters and we talked about the baby we had on board. I quietly prayed that its life would be saved.

As arranged, half-an-hour later, we met David and his daughter, Olivia. Quickly the baby otter was transferred to their car and away they sped. Emma and I then decided we would return home for a well earned cup of tea followed by a walk with Rose in the Sterridge Valley, and await news of our baby otter.

Pat Sayer

and goes on ...

Sterridge was a lovely otter, she was swept down the stream in the Sterridge Valley where Bill and Pat found her. Sterridge was what we called her, she was found near a wall just by the stream.

Pat had phoned me up that morning to see if I wanted to go down to the beach with her to take Rosie for a walk, but then Sterridge was found so off we went to Barnstaple to meet David, who knows about and takes care of otters. We all waited for some news on Sterridge, so 3 days later Pat phoned David to see how she was, but sadly she had died. I shall always remember her and was so pleased that I had the chance to meet an otter close up.

Emma Elstone

and finally ...

Two telephone calls later and a travelling box with the tiny cub was speeding to a rendezvous and the Torbridge Veterinary Centre in Bideford. Because the previous night had seen sub-zero temperatures, the veterinary surgeon on call had difficulty in raising the cub's temperature. It was immediately placed on an electronic heating pad to see if a survival process could be initiated. Recovery was unlikely, but care from the nursing staff was on hand and their fingers were crossed.

Forty-eight hours later, the decision was taken to move the cub to the Tamar Otter Sanctuary at North Petherwin near Launceston. There had been some slight improvement but nothing significant and it was felt that the one-to-one support which Mick Sidnell, the Manager of the Sanctuary, could offer, would be the best option.

After a continuing hour-by-hour vigil, however, the cub passed away peacefully at four o'clock the following morning, despite every effort to sustain its life. A close examination confirmed the cub to be a bitch; it also revealed several ticks in the early stages of growth which suggested she had been relatively lifeless for longer than had been previously assumed.

Everyone involved was sad to learn that the little cub had not made it. However, the good news from the occurrence is that it is clear that otters are continuing to recover their numbers after the severe declines they experienced over thirty years from the mid1950's. Sadly, cubs will still come to grief but the professional people are now in place to help, as happened in this case.

Wild bitch otters, on heat every forty-five days and with a 63 day pregnancy, usually give birth to twin cubs weighing around 78 grams each. They can, and do, breed in any month of the year. The mothers will often move their cubs at around six or seven weeks of age to an alternative holt. This little cub, weighing 1060 grams, could well have been one of triplets but could, as well, have been losing ground on its siblings for some time. The mother otter possibly left this cub behind in the original holt.

My first wild otter cub was fetched by a springer spaniel from wet mud on an ebbing tide on the north Norfolk marshes on Boxing Day 1966. The second, Storm, was found by a postman high on Exmoor, eleven years ago this coming mid-February. She weighed only 1 lb 7 oz but survived, just, to become nationally known through her appearances with me at lectures and on film.

Sterridge was only my third wild cub in thirty-seven years, she was also discovered by a springer spaniel. Sadly, her time with us was all too brief. I thought history was going to repeat itself but not this time - third time unlucky. Without doubt, however, there will be others and most of them, for sure, will be blessed with a better share of the luck that all wild otters need.

David Chaffe

We are all most grateful to David for his contribution to Sterridge's story and readers are well advised to read his book about Storm, entitled 'Stormforce'.

In his acknowledgement of the book, Nick Gordon [wildlife film-maker] says: 'If there is anyone who can read the mind of an otter it is David Chaffe. During twenty years of making wildlife films, I have not met anyone more enthusiastic or knowledgeable about our Country's most endearing creature. This personal and touching story is simply delightful.'


"Ring, happy bells, across the snow."

Snow still lingered on the fields at Taddiport. It was a cold Sunday in mid -January and we had just walked along the River Torridge from Rothern Bridge, with the intention of exploring two very different buildings - one, an Art Deco monster; the other, a tiny and poignant relic of the Middle Ages.

The track led straight into the dairy site and the right of way takes one between the most interesting buildings of the old creamery, which are now derelict and unfortunately becoming dilapidated.

There are many features typical of the Art Deco style; long windows with decorative brick surrounds; fluted panels and the use of smooth curves and geometric shapes. We passed beneath a covered bridge, with portholes and a central clock, linking the buildings at first floor level. At one corner is a curved tower faced with glass bricks.

Despite decay, the scale of the building is still imposing and some of the glamour of its early 20thC bold modernist style remains.

In sharp contrast are the thatched Torridge Inn opposite and, beside the 17thC bridge, the pretty stone Toll House - narrow fronted with a parapet.

Artwork by: Paul Swailes from a postcard, c1921 - Tom Bartlett Collection

The name Taddiport may be derived from the Old English for Toad Pitt. We crossed Taddiport Bridge to reach the little church. Nearby were two traditional, painted caravans. The church was originally the chantry chapel of the leper hospital of Saint Mary Magdalene, founded in 1344.

It has a very small tower and the nave is only thirty feet long. A stained glass window depicts lepers being blessed whilst working in the fields, with the castle walls of Torrington shown above. It bears the injunction, 'Remember the lepers who lived and worshipped here and all who befriended them'.

On the walls are painted the ten commandments and biblical texts including one from Micah which alludes to coveting fields and taking them by violence. There had been a problem concerning the misappropriation of some of the leper colony's land.

There is a small reredos of carved wood incorporating a painting of the nativity. Glass shades remain from the calor gas lighting system installed in 1948. The church is well worth a visit although Pevsner claims there are no noteworthy features apart from the three-light Perpendicular window of oak above a blocked doorway. It does have a simple beauty and the blocked doorway creates an alcove in which a little wooden settle has been wedged.

Going back over the bridge we were able to enjoy the view of Torrington high above. We walked up Mill Street which links Taddiport with Torrington. A long, winding and very steep road of assorted terraced cottages with a broad raised pavement, reminiscent of the famous hill at Shaftesbury, featured in Hovis adverts.

From Castle Hill we looked down at the river far below and across to the two remaining leper fields on the other side. They are long and very narrow. Until quite recently there were several more but hedges were being removed to create bigger fields so the last two were bought by public subscription to serve as a memorial to Taddiport's leper settlement.

The escarpment drops away dramatically. Leading down the almost sheer slope to the River Torridge is a network of paths. Despite the weather, a lot of people were out and about. Clusters of walkers, huddled in warm hats and thick layers of clothes against the cold, trudged down the zig-zagging paths, looking like figures in one of Bruegel's winter landscapes.

Sue H