Holiday Cottages in Devon & Cornwall Devon & Cornwall offer a year-round calendar of fantastic events and festivals to suit all ages and tastes. We'll help you make the most of your time when holidaying in the south west of England. en-gb Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:20:59 +0000 Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:20:59 +0000 Herring, Jazz and Turning the Devil’s Stone liven up Devon in November The diverse history, superstition and culture which permeates life in Devon is wonderfully demonstrated in our round-up of things to do in Devon in November. Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night celebrations have some stiff competition from Flaming Tar Barrels and even a Turning the Devil's Stone ritual in Shebbear village on 5th November. More down-to-earth activities include the Exeter Gold Cup Day Races, Clovelly Herring Festival and two carnivals at Hatherleigh and South Brent. Read the fascinating story of St Clement which is the focal point for a gathering of blacksmiths at the Finch Foundry, and last but not least we cover the excellent Jazz Festival at Teignmouth. Here goes! Exeter Gold Cup Chase: Only fools and horses! The Exeter Gold Cup Chase on 4th November 2014 is a popular race meeting at Exeter Racecourse before the winter sets in. Our informative article gives you all the information you need for getting to the racecourse, the best tickets and how to enjoy a relaxed meal in the Desert Orchid restaurant with great views overlooking the course. Bonfire Night: It's smokin' down in Devon Families across the country will be celebrating Bonfire Night with fireworks and bonfires on 5th November. We look at some of the best places to attend an organised event whether you live around Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple or Ottery St Mary. Which of these events will you attend? Dig this! Turning the Devil's Stone at Shebbear As an alternative to Guy Fawkes celebrations, why not head to Shebbear on the night on November 5th and watch the annual ritual of Turning the Devil's Stone. It's hard work turning this mysterious "alien" boulder, but woe betide the village if the tradition is ignored! Holy smokes! Watch Flaming Tar Barrels at Ottery St Mary Another ancient tradition which takes place on 5th November each year is the Flaming Tar Barrels event in Ottery St Mary. Learn about the firing of a rock cannon to announce the start of events which are detailed in the following article. Barrels are rolled, transported on sleds or carried aloft through the streets of this delightful village. There's the usual fair, side stalls and live entertainment too. Hatherleigh Carnival: A flaming good time If you fancy a drive into the scenic countryside of North Devon, Hatherleigh Carnival is a great excuse for a day trip on Saturday 8th November 2014. After the crowning of the Carnival Queen and her entourage, watch the decorated floats and torchlit procession in the evening. There's also a Flaming Barrel Run, so be prepared with this topical article. Jazz it up at the Teignmouth Jazz Festival There's just time to squeeze in one last Jazz Festival in 2014, and the Teignmouth Jazz Festival from 14-16 November 2014 pulls out all the stops. Workshops, jams, gigs and talks by performers from all over the country draw thousands of jazz fans and musicians. Get up to speed with what to expect by reading on. Clovelly Herring Festival in the village that time forgot! One of my favourite events in Devon in November is the Clovelly Herring Festival. If you know nothing about the history of herring and love smoked fish, you definitely want to attend this fun and educational event. The harbour village of Clovelly is as charming as ever as it hosts this family day out on Sunday 16th November, 2014. Blacksmiths celebrate St Clement's Day at Okehampton's Finch Foundry If you are not familiar with the St Clement's Day celebrations at Finch Foundry then this is the article (and event) for you! Blacksmiths and metalworkers from all over the Westcountry demonstrate their skills in competitions to celebrate their patron saint, St Clement, on Saturday 22nd November 2014. We cover the history and origins of St Clement, and if you don't know what "firing the anvil" and "clementing" entails, you will certainly learn from this feature article. South Brent Winter Floodlit Carnival is a grand finale before winter The end of the Carnival season for another year is marked by the South Brent Winter Floodlit Carnival which takes place on 29 November 2014. Read the article and join in the fun as you watch the parade of many award-winning floats navigating the streets of South Brent. Want some ideas on where to eat? It's all here in our South Brent Winter Floodlit Carnival article! What do you enjoy most about Devon's festivals – the music, history, food, culture or pagan rituals? We'd love your feedback on what you like to read about to inspire us for next month's blogs. ]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 08:40:48 +0000 Cool November days in Cornwall mean ice skating, beer & film festivals With Bonfire Night and several Torchlight Parades taking place, the skies of Cornwall will be lit up with fun festivities for most of the month of November. We offer a great selection of things to do for all ages and if you're feeling fit and festive, checkout the Santa Fun Run – there's sure to be one near you. The Cornwall Film Festival has expanded to take in four new cinema venues and lasts the whole month of November, so there's plenty of indoor entertainment if the weather turns cooler. With a Beer Festival, carnival parades and plenty of opportunities for Christmas shopping, you won't have a minute to spare! Move over Cannes – It's the Cornwall Film Festival This year's Cornwall Film Festival has grown to four new venues and will now be a whole month long, starting on 31 October and running right through to 30 November 2014. It's the chance to see a whole range of British and International feature films and shorts. We have the full story so you can join in this acclaimed film festival in west Cornwall. Ice skating at Eden: Prancing on ice! You know Christmas is just around the corner when the Ice Skating at the Eden Project begins on 1st November. This pop-up ice rink is in an all-weather dome and the sparkling lights and frosty atmosphere make it truly magical, whether you are skating or spectating with a hot chocolate in your hand. Learn more about the different ice-skating sessions for specific ages, groups and skill levels by reading on…. Bonfire Night: Lighting up the sky in Cornwall Join in one of the traditional Bonfire Night parties and fireworks events which take place across Cornwall on or around 5th November. We highlight a few of the best Bonfire Night events and give a comprehensive list of other celebrations. Checkout the full story – there's sure to be an event happening near you! St Austell Torchlight Carnival lights up the town There's something magical about a torchlight parade and the St Austell Torchlight Carnival on Saturday 15th November 2014 is no exception. There's plenty going on during the day in the town of St Austell with the lantern-lit carnival parading through the streets from 6pm. This is one November event that families will surely not want to miss. Truro City of Lights Festival: The night the lights come on in Truro! Another stunning lantern-lit procession is at the Truro City of Lights Festival which takes place on Wednesday 19th November 2014. This beautiful parade includes giant handmade paper lanterns carried by professional artists as well as crowds of schoolchildren carrying their own lanterns. Our article captures the essence of this seasonal festive event with full details of the route and the park and ride. Trereife Christmas Fair opens with a magical lantern parade Visit Trereife Christmas Fair which starts on the evening of Friday 21st November 2014 with a magical lantern parade and carols. This sets the atmosphere for the classy Christmas Fair which continues at Trereife over the weekend of 22-23rd November. There's a Christmas crafts workshop for kids, a carousel and many handmade gifts and crafts on display in the heated marquees. Our detailed article also gives a little information about this lovely manor house near Penzance. St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival: Biggest party of the year! November 22nd 2014 is the date for all ale and beer drinkers to join in the biggest party of the year at the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival. We describe this top beer festival in detail with information about the 163-year-old family-owned St Austell Brewery which is still a thriving Cornish business. As well as over 130 award-winning ales and guest beers, there is great Cornish pub grub and live music at this event which takes place in the ancient cellars and vaults of this St Austell landmark. Pencarrow Christmas Fair: Shopping in a winter wonderland near Bodmin Hosted in the house and grounds of one of Cornwall's loveliest historic homes, the Pencarrow Christmas Fair is a high-quality event which takes place on 22nd and 23rd November 2014 just outside Bodmin. After picking up some original gifts and delicious food items from the Food Hall, why not explore the parts of the house that are open to the public and enjoy refreshments in the lovely Peacock Café? Santa Fun Runs 2014 in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care Get "reddy" to spread a little seasonal goodwill by joining in one of the 6 Santa Fun Runs taking place from 26th November 2014. Everyone who registers gets their own Santa suit for keeps along with a medal, a mince pie and a hot drink. Find out what, where, when, why and how with our full article describing this great Santa Fun Run in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care. Where will you be doing your Christmas shopping this year? At one of the late night city centre shopping events or in some of the Christmas Fairs that we have highlighted? We'd love to hear your thoughts. ]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 07:54:01 +0000 Blacksmiths Celebrate St Clement’s Day at Okehampton’s Finch Foundry We all know about the bells of St Clement's from the nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons", but St Clement's Day itself is much less well known. November 23rd is the actual date of St Clement's Day and the day is closely associated with the work of blacksmiths. Why not visit Finch Foundry near Okehampton and join in the celebrations which will take place a day earlier, on 22 November 2014? Celebrate St Clement's Day at Finch Foundry Finch Foundry still hosts an annual gathering of blacksmiths from all over the Westcountry on or around St Clement's Day. This unique gathering includes blacksmithing competitions for these skilled artisans to show off their talents in what is a dying craft. Part of the St Clement's Day event is the traditional "anvil firing" which is well worth seeing. The ritual creates a shower of impressive sparks and a massive bang which marked the commencement of celebrations on "Old Clem's Night". This involves stacking one anvil on top of another and sandwiching an explosive charge in-between. When ignited, the top anvil shoots high into the air and lands with a huge crash – quite a sight for such a sizeable piece of solid iron! Other blacksmithing traditions that remain part of the St Clement's Day event include live demonstrations of their metalworking skills. There is also a display of decorative ironware which is part of a national competition. Another event to look forward to on St Clement's Day at Finch Foundry is Morris Dancing. The traditional seasonal refreshments of mince pies and mulled wine can also be enjoyed in this pre-Christmas event. The History of St Clement St Clement (Pope Clement I) is the patron saint of blacksmiths and metalworkers. Legend suggests that St Clement was the first person to refine iron out of ore and he used it to shoe a horse. What is known for sure is that St Clement was martyred, ironically being tied to a heavy metal anchor and tossed into the sea. Historically, towns would celebrate St Clement's Day as a holiday with a parade by members of the Guild of Blacksmiths. This was to honour the saint on his feast day, November 23rd. In some places the smiths would go door-knocking to collect funds in an iron pot (of course!) which would fund an evening of booze and celebration at the local pub. This begging custom became known as "clementing" and evolved into children singing seasonal songs in return for apples, pears and other sweet treats of the autumn season. Apart for horse farriers, blacksmiths are now few and far between so the St Clement's Day celebrations largely died out in the 1940s. However, the practice was revived sometime in the 1950s at the Finch Foundry. This industrial heritage gem is where the last water-powered forge still remains in working order, thanks to the National Trust. A visit to Finch Foundry Finch Foundry is a unique National Trust property as it conserves an important part of Dartmoor's history. Located at Sticklepath near Okehampton, this restored working foundry is still driven by three thundering water wheels powered by water from the River Taw. The water wheels power an impressive array of hammers, shears and sharpening stones in what was once a successful tool factory. Just listening to the roar and clanging noise makes you appreciate just what it would have been like to work for 10 hours a day in a Victorian foundry or workshop. At its zenith, the Finch Foundry produced 400 tools a day, hammering them out of iron. It remains the last remaining water-powered forge in England and makes an interesting day out at any time of year. However, the St Clement's Day celebrations are particularly worth joining in. The whole event is extremely interesting and educational for everyone, so make sure you take note of the date and support the event. Have you visited Finch Foundry? It operates several times a year and apparently is an amazing and noisy operation. Please enhance our article with your personal experience of this industrial heritage. ]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 07:30:14 +0000 St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival – Biggest party of the year! As the festive season gets underway, you may want to join in one of the biggest parties of the season – the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival. This huge event draws ale lovers and beer drinkers from all over the country for the event which takes place on the fourth Saturday in November. St Austell Brewery is one of the oldest and longest surviving breweries still in operation in Cornwall. The Celtic Beer Festival takes place in the brewery's ancient vaults and cellars, lending a certain authenticity and uniqueness to the whole event. The event is only open to over 18s and it runs from 11am to 11pm. 130+ Ales on offer at the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival On offer there are over 130 different ales, stouts and lagers. Of course the four bars in the St Austell Brewery itself will also be pulling pints of their award-winning beers. Traditional Cornish names such as Tribute, Proper Job and Korev decorate the tap handles alongside new and limited edition beers that the brewery produces specially for the beer festival. You will no doubt be familiar with many names as they are on sale across Cornwall, the Westcountry and the UK in pubs, bars and supermarkets. In fact Tribute is a local top seller and one of the fastest growing premium cask ale brands in the UK. Awards for St Austell Brewery pubs and ales Many of the St Austell Brewery ales have won prestigious awards. Most recently they have received Britain's best Regional Brewer Publican's Choice Award 2013 and Southwest's Favourite Regional Cask Ale. The Brewery Visitor Centre has just received the 2013/14 Bronze Award from the Cornwall Tourism Board. Also, five of its pubs are shortlisted for national pub award honours including the Rashleigh Arms at Charlestown, the Ship on Plymouth Barbican, the Pandora Inn near Mylor, the Cromwell Arms in Bovey Tracey and the Central in Newquay. To compare St Austell ales with other well-known beers and ales there will be a good selection of over 100 guest ales from all the members of the Cornwall Brewers Alliance. You can see why Cornwall is known as the best beer-producing county in the UK! Along with a huge array of liquid refreshments, the Celtic Beer Festival at St Austell Brewery will also offer a good range of Cornish pub food and some live musical entertainment, ensuring a great sociable experience. There is an entrance fee to the Celtic Brewery Festival but this includes a commemorative pint glass, a festival programme and a handful of beer tickets. The History of the St Austell Brewery St Austell Brewery is a local landmark and it is now situated right in the town centre although when it was founded, the brewery and its stables of heavy horses would have been on the outskirts. The brewery was founded in 1851 by Walter Hicks and it still remains family owned and totally independent. The current Managing Director is James Staughton who is the founder's great-great-grandson. During your visit to the St Austell Brewery, take a wander through the fascinating brewery museum. These Victorian buildings now house 21st century brewing equipment. The Hicks Bar is one of my favourite places to enjoy lunch when visiting the town and here's another useful tip: the St Austell Brewery Museum Shop has some great souvenirs, gift packs, branded clothing, books and novelties that make perfect gifts for any beer drinker! To date the brewery has produced over 435 million pints, and this figure is likely to significantly increase after this year's St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival! Why not pop down and join in this fun festival which is promoted as "the biggest party of the year for ale lovers". What's your opinion of St Austell Ales? Have you got a favourite – either for flavour or for its novelty name? Let's hear it! ]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 07:19:45 +0000 Santa Fun Runs 2014 in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care The sight of hundreds of red-coated Santas running, jogging or even sauntering through the streets of some Cornish towns last November may have made some people think they had had too many egg nogs. However, it was all in a good cause as hundreds of folk signed up for the Santa Fun Runs in aid of the Cornwall Hospice Care. Get fit with a Santa Fun Run for Cornwall Hospice Care Such was the success, the Santa Series is taking place once again in 6 different Cornish towns, so there's sure to be a run near you! The Santa Fun Runs take place on a variety of dates starting on 26th November 2014. As well as giving you an excuse to exercise and get fit, these fundraisers also generate a great deal of festive spirit. As hundreds of Santa line up at the start, there's a great atmosphere and some Santas even get in a little last minute training with a spot of line-dancing! Depending upon the location the routes are either one or two miles long and the Santa Cycle Fun run in Padstow is a 5-mile course – but then you have to cycle back again. Your very own Santa suit! Everyone who signs up to join a Santa Fun Run gets their very own Santa suit to wear – a red coat, fur-trimmed Santa hat and optional white beard. However, as last year's events showed, the Santa Fun Runners really got into the spirit. As well as running in their Santa suits, participants ran with decorated Santa-sleigh pushchairs and even dressed their accompanying dogs in Santa coats so they could join in. There is the unmistakable jingling of Santa bells as the Santa Fun Run takes off from the start line and it certainly makes for a festive sight for the onlookers who cheer on Santas of all ages, including youngsters. How to take part in the Santa Fun Run 2014 Even if you are not a keen running enthusiasts, you can choose to walk, cycle or jog to help support the fundraising event for Cornwall Hospice Care in 2014. You can also cheer on the runners, sponsor a runner or display a poster (downloadable from the Cornwall Hospice Care website) to ensure an even more successful series of Santa Fun Runs this year. Another great way to support this very worthwhile charity is by doing your Christmas shopping for Christmas cards and gifts in the Cornwall Hospice Care charity shops. The event is open to men, women, boys and girls and those who complete the run get a Santa medal, a well-earned mince pie and a hot drink at the finish. There are six dates/destinations in 2014 to choose from: * The Santa Night Run on Wed 26th November in Truro * The Santa Fun Run on Saturday 29th November in Bodmin * The Santa Cycle and Fun Run on Saturday 6th December in Padstow (this event starts at Wadebridge for cyclists) * The Santa Fun Run on Sunday 7th December at Heartlands, Pool near Redruth * The Santa vs. Rudolph Fun Run on Saturday 13th December in Falmouth * The Santa Beach Fun Run on Saturday 20th December in Newquay Registration is online or by phone and costs £12 for adults and £7 for children which includes your every own Santa suit to keep. Everyone is asked to raise £20.14 in sponsorship and all proceeds go to supporting the vital work in the community by Cornwall Hospice Care. Every pound makes a difference. Were you one of the participants of the Santa Fun Runs in past years? Why not tell everyone what you enjoyed in the comments box below and encourage others to sign up for the 2014 Santa Fun Run series in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care. ]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:31:14 +0000 Pumpkins, apples & geese feature in Devon festivals in October October in Devon suggest fallen leaves, Halloween events and occupying schoolchildren for half-term week. We make it easy for you by providing fact-filled articles and information about what's going on across the county this month. As usual our cross-section of festivals, events and activities covers something for all ages and tastes whether you like music, crafts, cultural events or food. Curious to know more? Read on for the fuller picture... Pickling and preserving at the Powderham Food Festival near Dawlish Saturday 4 October 2014 sees the return of the annual Powderham Food Festival at Kenton. Watch local chefs demonstrate just how easy and innovative it can be to cook outdoors using fire pits, BBQs, tandoori ovens and even a flaming wheelbarrow as a makeshift grill! Stalls selling local Devon produce, demonstrations, competitions, talks and tastings combine to make this a great day out in Devon for foodies in the grounds of beautiful Powderham Castle. Tavistock Goose Fair heralds the start of Christmas Start your Christmas shopping early at the 800-year-old Tavistock Goose Fair on 8 October 2014. Devon families would gather at the fair and buy a goose to fatten up for Christmas. The fair still has livestock sales including geese but most people prefer to buy food from locals stalls or tuck into a toffee apple after a ride on the Big Wheel. Find out what Creber's and the Tavistock Cheese Shop have to offer for your Christmas family feast. Two Moors Festival – classical in every sense of the word The Two Moors Festival is one of two top music festivals in Devon this month and it runs from 15-25 October 2014. Under the patronage of HRH The Countess of Wessex, churches and other venues come to life by hosting concerts and performances as part of this classical music festival. Read more about the Two Moors Festival before booking your tickets to some of these first-class performances around Dartmoor and Exmoor. Cockington Apple Day – A pint of cider without a Wurzell in sight! You don’t have to like cider to attend the Cockington Apple Day on Sunday 19th October 2014, but it helps. This fun festival celebrates the history and diversity of different varieties and uses of apples in the vintage setting of Cockington Country Park. See the huge cider press which churns out gallons of fresh apple juice during the day. Stroll around the apple orchards and enjoy the side stalls and entertainment at this festival which aims to preserve the history of apple-growing in Devon. Tasty treats at the Dartmouth Food Festival More Devonian delights are showcased at the Dartmouth Food Festival from 24-26 October 2014. Join celebrity chefs, market stall holders, wine merchants and local food producers at this delectable event and pick up some tips from the demo kitchens. Read through our "menu" of events and find out the best places to park if you plan to attend the lively Dartmouth Food Festival this year. The Baring-Gould Folk Weekend in Okehampton goes undercover Vying for your attention is the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend with over 30 events and a song school that take over the town of Okehampton from 24-26 October 2014. Our in-depth article not only features the highlights of this folk festival but also looks at who exactly Baring-Gould was and the legacy he left with his collection of folk songs. Bampton Charter Fair has existed since 1258! Still going strong after 750 years, the Bampton Charter Fair has changed a little over the centuries. Taking place on Thursday 30 October 2014, this local village fair includes entertainment from members of the Pennymore Sing Around Folk Club. Read about the history of Bampton Fair from its early days, when Exmoor ponies were rounded up and sold to preserve the grazing for the remaining herd. It's all part of this fascinating article on Bampton Charter Fair. Fright Nights in deepest, darkest Devon at Halloween The last day of October is traditionally All Hallows Eve, better known as Halloween. We offer a roundup of ghostly goings-on across Devon from the Zombie Ball in Exeter to the Brixham Ghost Walk. Youngsters may prefer to dress up and attend the Evening of Mini Horrors at Babbacombe Village or spend the day at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre at Lifton. Decide where you will be spending Halloween after reading this informative article on Fright Nights for all ages. Halloween Tours at Arlington Court in North Devon Visitors and residents in North Devon will find a whole array of Halloween crafts, ghost tours and events at the National Trust-owned Arlington Court. It's always a popular attraction but this old home and grounds take on a sinister new light from 28-31st October 2014. Learn how you can celebrate Halloween at Arlington Court with a variety of activities, tours and events. ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:30:26 +0000 Honey, hikes and Halloween events in our Cornwall calendar for October October is a last chance to enjoy Cornwall's mild weather and glorious countryside on a long weekend break or during half term. We have a cauldron full of events and activities to keep families busy while adults may prefer the Falmouth Beer Festival, the Lowender Peran Festival or the Calstock Jazz and Blues Festival. Watch paddle boarders demonstrate their skills at the Newquay Stand Up Paddle Championships or tuck into tasty Cornish seafood at the Falmouth Oyster Festival and the Boscastle Food Festival. There are dozens of Halloween themed activities over half-term, so why would anyone not want to be in Cornwall this October? Roseland Festival celebrates Cornwall's talent and natural beauty The Roseland Festival embraces the best of the autumn season with 15 days of walks, crafts, drama, music, lectures and films as well as a Heritage exhibition and a family quiz. The event runs from the last week in September through the first week in October (20 Sept-4 Oct 2014) and is perfect for visitors enjoying Cornwall's Indian summer. Brass bands and choirs put on some splendid concerts so read more about it and get your tickets well ahead of the dates. Callington Honey Fair is a-buzz with activity! The 1 October 2014 sees thousands of visitors at the Callington Honey Fair, which has connections as far back as the 1800s. View the exhibits, taste the prize-winning honey and treat yourself to a special Honey Cream Tea. The Lions Club of Callington puts on this splendid community event which includes one of the largest street fairs in Cornwall. British Stand Up Paddle Championships enjoy Newquay's quiet season The crowds return to Newquay's Watergate Bay on 4-5 October 2014 to watch the British Stand Up Paddle Championships. We offer some tips on the many things to see and do on this watersports-themed weekend so plan to get down there are join in the fun! Boscastle Food Festival has character and the Bulldog Spirit The same weekend (4-5 October 2014), and further up the north coast of Cornwall, the Boscastle Food Festival is taking place. It is now 10 years since the flooding disaster that led to the first Boscastle Festival and the event has certainly gathered a firm following since. By day, local chefs demonstrate a diversity of dishes from local produce and in the evening there are a series of musical concerts from Boscastle Buoys to the Plymouth Military Wives Choir. Aw shucks – It's the Falmouth Oyster Festival! Yet more food at the Falmouth Oyster Festival from 9-12 October 2014 as the harbour town celebrates its unique method of oyster dredging to maintain the delicate oyster beds. Enjoy champagne and oysters, watch the Oyster Parade and cheer on the participants in the Working Boats Race. It's all detailed in this article about the Cornwall's top Oyster Festival. Lowender Peran Festival – celebrate your Cornish roots in Perranporth Ever attended a Lowender Peran Festival? Now your chance as it takes place in Perranporth from 15-19 October 2014. Read more about this unique festival of Cornish language, music, history and culture and plan to attend this entertaining event. Our article about Lowender Peran tells you all you need to know! Boot up for the Fal River Autumn Walking Festival You can't beat a bracing walk in the autumn which is why the Fal River Autumn Walking Festival is so popular. It runs from 17 October to 2 November 2014, plenty of time for you to get your boots on and join in the fun. There are town walks, country hikes, city strolls and country rambles so read on and choose which walks you will be joining as part of this healthy outdoor event. Falmouth Beer Festival – beer goggles at the ready... All this activity and action has probably worked up a thirst, so make tracks for the Falmouth Beer Festival on 24 and 25 October 2014. We suggest the best way to arrive in Falmouth, where to go and how to make the most of this top beer festival which features 150 beers and ales. Cheers! Cornwall sings the blues at the Calstock Jazz and Blues Festival The small town of Calstock on the banks of the Tamar is well off the beaten path, but it is worth seeking out for the Calstock Jazz and Blues Festival from 23-26 October 2014. Read all about the village, who's attending and what the festival has to offer. You may just be tempted to book a cottage nearby and enjoy all four days of haunting jazz and blues music in this delightful area of southeast Cornwall. National Trust properties in Cornwall have plenty of Halloween events As usual the National Trust has a whole range of Halloween activities during half term week at over 40 properties around Cornwall. We highlight just a few of the events including spooky garden trails, pumpkin lantern making, scary storytelling and more than a few things that go bump in the night. Attend a murder mystery dinner or bring a torch and join a guided ghost walk around some of the eeriest, emptiest and most haunted buildings in Cornwall. Our article will tell you where to visit – if you dare! ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:22:02 +0000 The Baring-Gould Folk Weekend in Okehampton goes undercover As October in Devon can be damp, the former Baring-Gould Folk Festival is revising its name and its location for the last weekend in October. Now known as the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend, the organisers assure visitors that it is not in a field, you won't get muddy and you don't have to sleep in a tent. All in all that sounds like a great move to ensure a fabulous weekend for folk music fans! Wren Music organises the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend This long-standing Folk Festival has been running since 2001 and includes over 30 different events, concerts and talks. Wren Music is a Devon folk arts charity and they put together an excellent family-friendly festival which this year will take place in various indoor venues around Okehampton's town centre. The programme starts on the Friday of the weekend and includes concerts, dances, talks, a Prize Conker Competition and the Festival Feast. The Feast takes place in Okehampton Church Hall with catering by a local chef to complement the evening of songs and folk music. Street entertainment during the festival is provided by Moulton Morris, a motley crew who perform a series of dances and high energy routines to traditional folk tunes. As if that isn't enough to whet the appetite and attract the curious, the fabulous lineup of performers for 2014 includes Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman who were worthy winners of the Best Duo at the BBC Folk awards 2013. They will be in good company with Tickled Pink who will be leading the Ceilidh on Saturday. Alfie and Jon are returning along with the Wren Team themselves and Lester Simpson running the Festival Choir. Baring-Gould Folk Weekend Song School As part of this amazing folk festival, there will be a Song School running the week after the folk weekend from Monday to Friday. Attendees of this Baring-Gould Folk Song School get the opportunity to work on their voice and song development as part of a singing community. It allows singers from all over the country to gather with others who are passionate about singing and learn from a course specifically designed for those who want to improve professionally or simply enjoy singing for pleasure. In the past, the Song School has brought together professional singers, singing tutors and those who lack the confidence to join a choir or singing group but want to get involved. Tuition is varied with small groups, large groups and one-to-one coaching, depending upon what you require. In 2014 the Song School will be led by the Wren Music Director, Paul Wilson, who himself is an accomplished singer, songwriter, composer and educator for over 30 years. Sarah Owen will be providing input from her experience with folk songs and electronics as a vocal leader with Wren Music. The visiting tutor will be Janet Russell who is best known for her work with Scottish traditional material, having made a name for herself in the 1980s on the folk circuit. Those interested in signing up for the Baring-Gould Folk Song School will also get a free pass to all the events at the Baring-Gould Folk Weekend. Who the @#$%^& is Baring-Gould? The Baring-Gould Folk Weekend focuses on the folk songs collected by Sabine Baring-Gould. He was one of the great social historians and researchers of the Victorian era, living from 1834-1924. Baring-Gould collected traditional songs from peasants and farm workers, particularly in West Devon. His life's work remained largely unrecognized and lay in storage at the National Trust property of Killerton House. In 1992, the collection was dusted off and shown to the directors of Wren Music. The amazing compilation included 650 Westcountry folk songs among the manuscripts, broadside ballads and chapbooks. Wren Music has spent over 20 years digitizing the collection to make it available as a comprehensive resource for academic and other research into folk music history. What does the name Baring-Gould mean to you? Can you share the title of your favorite folk song with us, perhaps from his Victorian collection – we'd love you to contribute to the discussion. ]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 07:40:57 +0000 Historic Dartmouth Royal Naval College opens its doors for tours If you visit the historic town of Dartmouth or take a river boat ride up the scenic Dart Valley, you will have noticed a grand building with its domed tower looking down on the town. This is the Britannia Royal Naval College and until 2013 it was only accessible to Royal Navy staff and trainee officers. The Dartmouth Royal Naval College now provides excellent guided tours through the main parts of this splendid historic facility. However, strict security at this working military establishment means that you must book your place ahead of time and show photo ID before the tour commences. The tours start from the centre of Dartmouth where you will be picked up by coach and transported up the hill and in through the grand gates in style. Britannia Royal Naval College Building Dartmouth has been an important hub for training Royal Navy officers since 1863, when cadets were housed aboard the HMS Britannia moored on the River Dart. The existing grand building was designed by Sir Aston Webb and opened in 1905. Early cadets as young as 13 trained and lived at the college prior to going to sea at the tender age of 17. During World War 2, the college was naturally a target for German bombs, and the building had two hits which caused damage to some of the rooms you will see on the tour. The college has seen plenty of royal trainees in its time including the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and Prince William. It is also where the Queen first met the Duke of Edinburgh. What to expect on a guided tour of Dartmouth Royal Naval College Your informative guide will cover the history of this beautiful Grade 1 building, officer training courses and the role of the modern-day Royal Navy. Guides are usually retired naval officers themselves and often have plenty of anecdotes and stories of their own days as an officer cadet. The tour includes a great deal of information about the Royal Navy ships as well as those who serve aboard them. A visit to the Naval Chapel as part of the walking tour shows the names of all the men and women who have lost their lives serving in the Royal Navy – a sobering moment for all. The tour also visits the Gun Room (Officer's Dining Room) and the huge hall known as the Quarterdeck. In between, you will be walking up some of the long corridors where you will meet cadets, staff, and if you're lucky the Commanding Officer himself! It is truly a journey into the history of our Royal Navy as well as providing insight into what goes on behind that red brick façade. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, which was even better than I had hoped. Almost everyone who has done the tour agrees that the visit and the rich history of the Royal Naval college complex are truly memorable and very impressive. Book ahead for a Britannia Naval College Tour Tours take place on Monday afternoons year-round, and additionally on Wednesdays afternoons in the peak visitor season from April through October. Admission on a guided tour costs £12 for adults with concessions for seniors and children. Places must be booked in advance through the Dartmouth Tourist Information Office (01803 834224). I can definitely recommend this great tour to anyone interested in history, architecture or the Royal Navy. The guided tour lasts around two hours and is both interesting and comprehensive. Of course, there's plenty of time for you to ask questions of the Britannia Association Officer who will be leading your tour, making it ideal for anyone with family serving in the Royal Navy. Have you visited the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, or perhaps the older Royal Naval College at Greenwich? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this aspect of British history. ]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:40:30 +0000 Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary brings exotic wildlife to Cornwall Zebras, meerkats and monkeys – it sounds more like an African safari park than a day out in Cornwall! Porfell Wildlife Park has gradually developed from a smallholding into a specialised sanctuary for exotic wildlife over the last 25 years. What's really nice about this attraction is that it is not a zoo, more a home for needy wildlife where visitors can really get to know each resident creature. The well-presented attraction relies upon visitors to provide funds to look after the exotic animals that live here, so you get a great feel-good factor knowing that the admission fees go to a very worthy cause. How's that for a good reason to visit? Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary is run by John and Joy Palmer and their team of helpers and volunteers near Looe in southeast Cornwall. It has over 250 exotic animals and the sanctuary was founded to fulfill three important functions: * To promote conservation * To provide entertainment through demonstrations about our natural world * To educate and teach visitors why we need to care about the environment It has grown from a smallholding of pigs and chickens into a very special home for exotic birds and animals. If you want to see an Australian kookaburra (and hear its cackling laughter), watch monkeys swing in the treetops, admire grand old tortoises or watch the antics of the gang of meerkats, Porfell is definitely a great day out. Petting farm or Maasai Village? The Children's Farm is a big hit whenever I have youngsters down to visit. They always clamour to go and see the chickens, rabbits, lambs and donkeys. Myself, I prefer the more unusual residents in the recreated Maasai Village. As well as zebras, ostriches and eland you can see an authentic Maasai mud hut and see African warrior clothing and crafts. Take a picnic and enjoy a walk along the boardwalk and nature trails – there are some fun quiz boxes along the way where you lift the lid to see the answers. There are also the lovely Peacock Tearooms, for a pastie and Cornish ice creams all round, and an animal-themed gift shop. Three special activities at Porfell Wildlife Park If you know someone who loves wildlife, Porfell offers three exceptional experiences which cost around £50. As a memorable birthday surprise for kids and adults, why not book a Lemurs Banana Party? This allows up to 5 visitors to join the lemurs in their grassy enclosure under the watchful eye of a trained keeper. You'll quickly discover these furry ring-tailed creatures are gentle and curious, and in no time they'll be feeding from your hand. Ornithologists, bird lovers and would-be falconers might prefer a two hour personal session learning how about owls and birds of prey. After some training the visitor gets to handle the barn owl and even have it fly and land on their arm. I'm sure you can think of someone who would love this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Another more general option for animal lovers, potential vets or zoologists is the "Keeper for a Day" experience at Porfell Wildlife Park. Participants have to be 16 and older and they get a fantastic day with hands-on experience behind the scenes. You never know what you might see as new animals are brought into the sanctuary every day with different needs. However you can pretty much guarantee there will be some animals that need bottle feeding. There's always plenty of practical work needed, not to mention mucking out to keep the animals healthy and happy. It's all in a day's work for a Keeper! Local residents can become friends of Porfell If you live near Porfell Wildlife Sanctuary, for an annual donation of £30 you can become a patron and supporter with an unlimited annual pass and VIP invites to special events. Alternatively you can adopt (or gift an adoption) of one of the cute animals from coatis and lemurs to meerkats and monkeys. It's a great way to show your support for this worthwhile attraction and every little helps! Open from early February to early November, Porfell Wildlife Sanctuary is a memorable family day out with adult admission of £9.50 and concessions for children and seniors. If you've enjoyed a day at Porfell wildlife sanctuary we'd love to hear your feedback. Which part of the sanctuary would you recommend, and what were your favourite animals?]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:04:40 +0000 Hitting the bull’s eye at Dragon Archery Located in the heart of Devon's bandit country (not!), Dragon Archery is a fun all-weather adventure near Holsworthy on the Devon/Cornwall border. This historic market town was mentioned in the Domesday Book back in 1086 and you can just imagine the area being defended by archers from its Saxon hilltop location. Dragon Archery is one of Devon's top attractions If you fancy sharpening your archery skills or trying your hand at something fun and new, archery is a great day out for families or groups of friends wanting some competitive fun. It's within easy reach of holiday cottages in Bude, 9 miles away, or Bideford and Barnstaple. I would definitely recommend it is well worth travelling to even if you are staying further afield. Dragon Archery is one of the best places to spend a morning or afternoon session and was recently awarded the "Most Loved Day Out or Attraction" award. It is also one of the top Devon attractions according to TripAdvisor and is thoroughly deserving of its popularity. The family-run attraction is fully insured and provides all the equipment and tuition you will need to have a really fun session of outdoor activity. The staff are enthusiastic and make sure that everyone enjoys the experience, whatever their level of ability. Shoot dragons, knights and orcs at Dragon Archery Each session starts with some basic information about the ancient fighting skills of archery under the expert tutelage of the instructors. Once you are reasonably proficient with holding the bow, inserting the arrow (there is a right and a wrong way of doing this!), lining the bow up against your cheek, then letting fly, you are let loose to enjoy some of the centre's themed ranges. Whether you want to shoot dinosaurs, knights, orcs, castles or dragons, there's something to fulfill your wildest imaginations here! The ultimate foe is the Great Red Dragon and if you manage to slay it, you join the elite ranks of the Company of Dragonslayers in Devon. What's great about Dragon Archery is that it can still be enjoyed even on a drizzly day as you take aim from covered areas so you stay relatively dry, along with your bow and arrows. Hopefully you will visit on a glorious sunny day when the views from the location can be fully appreciated. Prices for adults are around £29 (2014 prices) with concessions for children who must be accompanied by an adult. However this covers all the equipment, safety gear and targets for a couple of hours AND includes complimentary hot and cold drinks and snacks when you fancy taking a break. Dragon Archery is ideal for beginners Dragon Archery Centre was set up to give visitors and locals an introduction to this ancient mediaeval sport. It's suitable for anyone over the age of 8, and advance bookings are required. The technique of archery is more about skill and accuracy than strength, so I can personally recommend it as being fun for women too! Once you get the hang of aiming and shooting, it gives you quite a buzz as the arrow flies through the air and lands hopefully somewhere close to where you were aiming. If not, there are plenty more arrows in the bucket! One of the highlights for me was seeing owner Andy demonstrating an ancient longbow. Truly amazing! There are also plenty more themed ranges and as you move from one to the next, the challenges and set-ups are truly awesome. Castles, dragons, dinosaurs, Lord of the Rings and more provide new thrills to keep the interest high for the full three hours. Have you ever tried your hand at archery? Did you feel the sense of history of this ancient sport? We'd love to hear from anyone who has visited Dragon Archery, so feel free to leave your recommendations or observations below. ]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 07:27:06 +0000 Top 10 things to do this September in Devon September is one of my favourite months in Devon, and with 10 wonderful festivals and events to share, it's not hard to see why! The quieter month of September in Devon still has plenty of warm sunshine and light nights for enjoying live music, local ales, fresh seafood, dancing, walking, cultural and literary events. Pick one or attend them all! Moor2Sea Cycle Sportive – Devon's answer to the Tour de France! Get out on your bike and enjoy the Moor2Sea Cycle Sportive, a challenging cycle event which takes place on 6 September 2014. Learn how you can participate in the race from the Teign Valley to the peak of Haytor and how you can earn yourself a King of the Mountains jersey or pin! Have a whale of a time at the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast! September is a beautiful time of year to visit the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast down on the quay. Learn to identify local marine life, tap your feet to lively sea shanties and indulge in a tasty seafood lunch as part of this Seafood Festival on 7 September 2014. Join Uncle Tom Cobley and All at Widecombe Fair! Picture seven local rascals riding the lanes of Devon on a grey mare and that's exactly what you'll see at Widecombe Fair on 9 September 2014. Just like the folk song, the giant wooden horse carries 7 local characters at the head of this colourful parade. There's vintage machinery, horses, livestock classes, races, hay bale tossing competitions and a fun family dog show that is not to be missed. Read more about this country fair and plan to attend this rural event. Celebrate Your National Legacy with the Heritage Open Days in Devon Sometimes it feels good to celebrate our rich heritage and the Heritage Open Days from 11-14 September 2014 are a great way to do it. Twenty-five historic properties across Devon open their doors to the public for free, allowing us to share the rich culture and history that lies within. From old hospitals and castles to a lighthouse and Elizabethan Merchant's House there's something to wow every visitor. Something fishy's going on at the Brixham Fishstock Food Festival You can't get fresher seafood than in Brixham Fish Market which hosts the annual Brixham Fishstock Food Festival on Saturday 13 September 2014. Explore trawlers moored in the harbour, see celebrity chefs cooking seafood their way and enjoy live music on the cobbled streets of this quaint sea port. Celebrate the Queen of Crime at the Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay Calling all Agatha Christie fans and amateur sleuths! The Agatha Christie Festival takes over Torquay from14 to 21 September 2014. This literary crime festival with a vintage twist offers a look at Agatha Christie's famous thrillers, her home and favourite haunts. Celebrity guest lecturers include her grandson who still keeps her works alive. Join a Murder Mystery Dinner, listen to successful crime fiction authors or attend a theatre production of one of Agatha Christie's famous works. There's also a new Poirot novel to be unveiled at this fabulous festival. Abbfest Beer & Cider Festival – Devon's answer to Oktoberfest! Head to Fermoys Garden Centre for the 11th annual Abbfest Beer and Cider Festival which will run from 19-21 September 2014. With 120 ales and over a dozen ciders from local and national breweries, you may need to attend every day to really appreciate them all. This local fundraiser makes sure everyone has a good time with a great programme of local musicians entertaining each evening and over 70 stalls of Devon food and local crafts. Attend a D-Day Victory Dance at the Lupton House 1940s Weekend in Brixham As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1 and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, what could be more appropriate than attending the D-Day Victory Dance as part of the Lupton House 1940s Weekend? The event takes place on 20-21st September 2014 and includes a fine display of historic military vehicles and weapons as part of this nostalgic 1940s weekend. 100 Ways to Celebrate the Westcountry with Great South West Walks in Devon 100 great circular walks have been planned as part of the Great South West Walks from 20-28 September 2014. These walks take place along the South West Coast Path in four Westcountry counties. This informative article focuses on walks along the North and South coasts of Devon. These sponsored walks aim to raise £250,000 for the local children's hospice and for the South West Coast Path so your participation is in aid of two very good causes. See how to sign up by reading on. Chagford Film Festival – the new Cannes! Film buffs can enjoy some excellent short films, talks and workshops at the Chagford Film Festival. Keep the dates free from 22-27 September 2014 and plan to take advantage of the 22-seater cinema on the Vintage Movie Bus. The Three Crowns and St Michaels Church are also requisitioned as temporary screens as part of this lively al fresco film festival in a beautiful area of Dartmoor. We know that there's plenty going on in Devon in September. If you would like to add other local events to our list, feel free to add the information in the comments below. ]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:14:45 +0000 Pasties, lobster and ice cream feature high in Cornwall in September After the hustle and bustle of school holidays and summer visitors, Cornwall celebrates a return to a more normal way of life with some first-rate festivals and community events. Why not join in a weekend of music, arts, poetry or walking and sample some great Cornish fare at one of the foodie events this month. As the Looe Music Festival says – See you on the beach! Newquay Fish Festival celebrates the best of the Cornish fish industry The Newquay Fish Festival showcases some of Cornwall's best seafood, not to mention its top chefs, from 12-14 September 2014. Browse the stalls of fresh fish, learn the tricks of filleting fish easily, and sample delicious pilchards hot off the barbecue. You'll know a whole lot more about fish after attending this family-friendly event which ends with a sing-along at the harbour. Sample Cornish Culture at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival More great food might tempt you to the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival, also held this year from 12-14 September 2014. Friday is Miners' Day, Saturday is Pasty Day and Sunday is Miners' Memorial Day, each with their own specific events. Enjoy reading about this historical festival and find out the connection between miners and pasties in our topical article. Brush up on the arts at the St Ives September Festival Once the holidaymakers have left, St Ives gets back to what it does best – being a top artists' colony hosting the St Ives September Festival. This amazing event packs in over 200 events between 13 and 27 September 2014. Started in 1978, it now includes film nights, crafts, exhibitions, workshops and concerts. Find out who'll be there in 2014. Cross the sea to sample the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival A visit to the Scilly Isles in September should definitely be timed to coincide with the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival on the 13 and 14 September 2014. Each island has its own specialty food, from crabs and seafood to wines and ice cream. You'll have to read the full article to find out more details, including the best way to reach the Scilly Isles from the Cornish mainland. Put your best foot forward for the SE Cornwall Walking Festival Get out and about by joining in some of the organized guided walks as part of the Southeast Cornwall Walking Festival. Whether you're a lifelong Cornish resident or a first-time visitor you'll find new walks and haunts you never knew existed. We whet your appetite to join in the fun with this article about the many guided walks on offer around Duloe, Liskeard and Looe. Summer lingers on with the Looe Music Festival The small port town of Looe rocks to the sound of jazz, folk, choirs and solo musicians from all over the UK during the Looe Music Festival. You'll find plenty of artists and bands you recognize on the impressive lineup for 2014 which runs from 19-21 September. Find out what's on, how to get to Looe and where the locals like to sit and listen to the music. Falmouth Arts Festival celebrates with a SPLASH! Falmouth Arts Festival promises a huge splash of colour with its vibrant SPLASH event which runs for 9 days from 20-28 September 2014. From pop-up art to the Poetry Postie there's a whole lot to keep you entertained at this unique event. Read on if you're interested in books, artworks, literature, dance and drama then pay the Falmouth Arts Festival a visit. What sort of festivals do you enjoy attending? We'd love to hear from you if you have attended any of these great events in the past – do share. ]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 07:36:38 +0000 100 ways to enjoy the Westcountry with the Great South West Walks The South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA) is celebrating the natural beauty of the South West Coast Path by organizing 100 circular walks during the last week in September. The Great South West Walks will take place over 9 days in Somerset, Dorset and Cornwall as well as along Devon's North and South coasts. 100 sponsored walks on the South West Coast Path Altogether the charity fundraising event will include 100 sponsored walks along the entire length of this National Trail to raise vital funds for maintaining the coastal path. Each winter, rock falls and coastal erosion require maintenance to keep the path safe and navigable. The proposed maintenance and improvement projects will make this national resource even more enjoyable for everyone. The Great South West Walks will also raise funds for the Children's Hospice South West to provide care and support for children who are terminally ill. The goal will be to raise £250,000 to be split between these two worthy causes. How YOU can be part of the Great South West Walks event Those visiting or living in Cornwall can be part of this giant walking effort by joining in one or more of these walks. Browse the range of walks available which offer a choice of easy, moderate or challenging grades. You can also opt for a theme such as wildlife, historical, scenic views or even tea rooms! You can see the full range of walks on the Great South West Walks page of the South West Coast Path website. The walks are divided into areas and for Devon you can choose from 44 different walks. There are 9 walks on Exmoor; 9 walks along the North Devon coast; 15 walks along the South Devon coast or 11 walks in Torbay and East Devon. Sign up for one or do a series and make a full 9-day holiday out of this organized even. As this is a fundraising project, everyone is asked to donate £7.50 per walk. The website also gives information about how to organise sponsorship to raise more funds from your efforts. Despite the blisters and sore muscles, it is sure to be a fun event and you will play an important part in the association’s history. History of the South West Coast Path The South West Coastal Path covers 630 miles (1,014 km) of scenic coastline with a footpath that runs continuously from Poole to Minehead. It runs from Dorset around the south and north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, and into Somerset. The path traverses many areas that are owned and managed by the National Trust. This National Trail began as a footpath for coastguards to walk from lighthouse to lighthouse, patrolling for smugglers. The path hugs the edge of the cliff closely. It enabled them to look down into the coves and bays favoured by bootleggers bringing contraband and rum ashore, avoiding the customs and excise taxes due. The footpath is funded by Natural England, maintained by the South West Coast Path Team and supported by the South West Coast Path Association, which looks after the interests of all walkers and users of the footpath. Over the last 41 years the SWCPA have campaigned for improvements, produced guides and offered completion certificates to those who complete the whole route. Whichever walk you choose as part of the Great South West Walk, you are sure to be in the company of some great walkers and guides and will have the pleasure of enjoying some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the UK. Have you walked parts of the South West Coast Path? Which is your favourite stretch, and why? What tips would you give to those planning to take part in the Great South West Coast Walk? Please leave your comments below. ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:32:23 +0000 Celebrate your national legacy with the Heritage Open Days Heritage Open Days take place in Devon and all over the UK during the second weekend in September. This special 4-day event sees thousands of buildings that are not normally open to the public fling open their doors and offer free guided tours. Heritage Open Days are celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2014 and include a wide range of government buildings, meeting houses, archaeological sites, historic homes, museums, art venues and town halls. This celebration of our national heritage is free to all, so mark the weekend in your calendar and make the most of it, wherever you find yourself. Some of the sites do require pre-booking so checkout the HOD website ahead of time and make your choice from green-living properties, heritage buildings, guided walks or family-friendly activities to suit your needs. For the less well-organised there are plenty of places that you can just turn up at. Just look for the "No pre-booking required" option. Heritage Open Days in Devon If you live in Devon or plan to visit between the 11 and 14 September 2014, here are just a few places that will be open to everyone for the Heritage Open Days event. Altogether 25 properties will be available. One of the oldest and most interesting open day sites is the Chapel of St Lawrence in Ashburton. This 13th century chapel has unique plasterwork and was formerly the town's Grammar School. You can join a unique tour of the St Anne's Arts and Community College in Barnstaple which is hosting a special free drawing class looking at the architecture of this beautiful building. There are just 12 places per session so you need to book early to join this special Heritage Open Day event. Heritage Open Days in Plymouth The historic maritime and naval city of Plymouth has many interesting heritage buildings, so you can make quite a day or it if you book them all. Start at the Merchant's House on St Andrew Street which was built in the 16th century by an Elizabethan privateer. A visit gives an insight into Plymouth's history including the Blitz and the Victorian eras. Move on to the Plymouth City Museum on Drake's Circus and browse the exhibits including the commemorative display entitled "Plymouth and the Great War". The professional storyteller and musician will have you spellbound with his tales of Plymouth which are aimed at visitors aged 7 to 107! Popular Smeaton's Tower on the Hoe offers free admission on Friday 12 September 2014 as part of its participation in Devon's Heritage Open Day. The Elizabethan House is a short walk away on the Barbican. Built in the late 1500s it has seen plenty of history over its 500 year history. Explore this historic sea captain's home and learn how it was fortuitously saved from demolition in the early 1900s. A more unusual HOD offering is a guided tour of Ford Park Cemetery, the oldest in Plymouth which has many important people buried beneath its 34 acres. Learn the symbolism carved by Victorian stonemasons onto the wonderful headstones. Other Heritage Open Day highlights in Devon Many National Trust properties in Devon offer free admission as part of the Heritage Open Days event. Tour the treasures of Arlington Court, step inside Saltram House and Gardens, take a 3-mile walk in Lydford Gorge, visit the beautiful Coleton Fishacre estate in Kingswear or see the workings of Finch Foundry, all without charge. I think my pick will be Hemyock Castle, a moated mediaeval castle near Honiton with a cider press and archaeological remains. This scheduled Ancient Monument is on privately owned land and the beauty of the Heritage Open Day means it is a rare opportunity to see behind the gates, or should that be portcullis? Have you planned to take advantage of the Heritage Open Days in Devon? Let us know your pick, and why! ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:16:10 +0000 Cross the sea to sample the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival If you've been looking for an excuse to visit the Scilly Isles, perhaps the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival will convince you that the trip is worth it. This two-day event takes place on the second weekend in September and really goes to town on showing visitors what these islands have to offer food and drink-wise. What to expect at the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival The Tresco and Bryher Food Festival started in 2012 and is shared between the two main islands of Tresco and its near neighbour, Bryher. This fun foodie event starts on Tresco on the Saturday and sets out to impress the world with its finest producers, farmers and chefs creating some tasty and memorable culinary masterpieces. As well as the chef's demo kitchens there's the chance for visitors to don a "pinny", roll up their sleeves and take a more active role in the proceedings. There are several excellent workshops and taster courses for everyone to participate in which could be handy for anyone planning to be the next MasterChef. Trestle tables with white cloths are laid out beneath an awning and festival-goers can browse the fresh crabs, dressed crab, homemade cakes and other delicious local food on offer. High on the list for sampling, buying or dining out on are Bryher crab and lobster along with Tresco's fresh local vegetables and dairy produce. The neighbouring island of St Martins joins in by supplying St Martin's wine and there are plenty of local brews, ciders and Cornish ales. For dessert there is only one contender – St Agnes ice cream, served with a dollop of rich clotted cream. After that, a doze in the sun on the beach is probably called for! Tresco and Bryher Food Festival Round 2! If you're staying for the two days, and that's definitely recommended to make the journey worthwhile, you need to catch the ferry to Bryher for Round 2 on Sunday. Bryher puts on its own creditable display of gourmet excellence at the island's community centre. Get there at the crack of dawn ten to enjoy the perfect Bryher brunch, served up by Issy and Gareth Tibbs who work in the local Bryher hospitality trade. They will be selling freshly baked pain au chocolat, warm and flaky croissants and savoury scones. If you're still hungry, get a seat on the front row at the chef's kitchen and you may get some samples of what Hell Bay Chef Richard Kearsley is demonstrating. There are plenty of stalls on both days selling local delicacies and high quality island goodies with a food and drink theme. If you want a truly authentic souvenir of your trip, pick up a traditional Scillonian Tatie Cake from Zoe Dan. Getting to the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival The best way to reach the Scilly Isles, and enjoy some stunning views as you hop across from Land's End or Newquay, is via the Skybus Shuttle. It provides a year-round service from Cornwall to St Mary's and a summer service from Exeter. The 15-minute flight from Land's End airport costs around £159 for adults and a little more from Newquay airport. If time is no object, consider travelling by passenger boat aboard the Scillonian III. The journey takes 2½ hours to travel from Penzance to St Mary's. From there you can get a short local ferry across to Tresco for the start of the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival. You need to book in advance and fares are currently £85 for adults. The former helicopter service from Penzance unfortunately no longer operates. Once you have reached the Scilly Isles there is a regular inter-island ferry service between Tresco, Bryher, St Mary's and St Martins by the Tresco Boat Services. Would you like to visit the Scilly Isles? Would this local food festival tempt you to make the journey, or would you prefer to go in a quieter time and enjoy the serenity the islands are famous for? We'd love to hear your thoughts. ]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:50:15 +0000 Bodmin: 5 reasons to visit and 5 fun facts It's hard to imagine that the quiet town of Bodmin was actually the former county town of Cornwall during the tin mining era. In its rabble-rousing days it was the centre of the Cornish Rebellion in 1497 and the later Prayer Book Rebellion. Situated on the edge of Tamar Valley, this ancient town is linked to Padstow via the 17-mile long Camel Trail. Along with the Grade I listed church, it is home to Bodmin Jail, Berry Tower and the Victoria Barracks which now house an excellent regimental museum. Here are our 5 worthwhile reasons to visit Bodmin: St Petroc's Parish Church in Bodmin is totally out of proportion to the current size of the town. In fact it was the largest church in Cornwall until Truro Cathedral was built. The current church dates back to 1469, on foundations believed to have been laid by St Petroc around 540AD. You can have fun on a treasure hunt inside the church looking for the man with five fingers and a thumb immortalised in the carved misericords (hinged seats in the choir stalls). Easier to find are the 12th century font, the effigy of Prior Vivian lying on a chest and the holy well of St Guron in the churchyard. Bodmin Jail is now a tourist attraction after being the last prison in Cornwall to close, in 1927. Built in 1779, the early prisoners hauled 20,000 tons of granite from the nearby Cuckoo Quarry to build the jail. More than 50 people were hanged during its 150 years history, including the last known public hanging in the UK, in 1909. Not surprisingly, Bodmin Jail is said to be haunted. There are regular guided Ghost Walks and all-night ghost-watches with a psychic medium. The jail is open daily for self-guided tours. Explore the 6 floors of exhibits, the naval prison and the cells before visiting the Warder's Room Restaurant. Visitors to Bodmin should pay a visit to the lonely Jamaica Inn on the A30 at Bolventor. This old coaching inn became world-famous after Daphne du Maurier visited it and wrote a novel of the same name about smugglers, pirates and rogues. Sip Cornish ale in the olde worlde bar, enjoy a meal in the award-winning restaurant and visit the adjoining Smugglers Museum for more tales of Cornish history. Enjoy a walk to the Bodmin Beacon on the outskirts of Bodmin Moor. It is set in an award-winning 83-acre nature reserve just 5 minutes from the town centre. The tree-covered walks and flower-covered hills are a haven for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The 144-foot-high Bodmin Beacon is a local landmark that was erected in 1856 in memory of Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert for his distinguished service in India. He was born in Bodmin in 1785, but is not related to his even more famous namesake. Take a nostalgic trip on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, the only standard gauge railway in the UK to operate both diesel and steam trains. Take a 13-mile journey through Cornwall's scenic countryside on this restored heritage railway to reach the Camel Trail or Lanhydrock House. Look out for special events including dining train experiences, murder mystery evenings, Jazz evenings and the annual Santa by Steam. 5 fun facts about Bodmin Bodmin was the only Cornish town to be recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. The Domesday Book was actually hidden in Bodmin Jail during World War 1 along with the Crown Jewels. The Beast of Bodmin, a black panther-like cat, is Bodmin's answer to the Loch Ness Monster! The name "Bodmin" comes from the Cornish "Bod-Menegh" which means home of monks. This refers to the religious settlement founded in Bodmin in 540AD by St Petroc. The Bodmin and Wenford Railway was the first steam-driven railway in Cornwall and one of the earliest in the world. It was also one of the first passenger trains in Britain. Bodmin Jail was ahead of its time when it opened in 1778. It was the first prison to offer separate cells rather than communal living areas.]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:25:16 +0000 Spotting rare owls at the Screech Owl Sanctuary near Newquay If you drive around Cornwall you may well spot owls perched on roofs and chimneys all over the county. Once you see that they are still there every time you pass, you will eventually realise that most of these are artificial owls, perched on roofs to scare away pigeons! However, a trip to the Screech Owl Sanctuary at Goss Moor near St Columb has only real live owls on display, I promise! The sanctuary is quite an amazing attraction as it has over 130 owls and other needy residents who all require personal attention when it comes to feeding, housing and tucking up for the night. The founding of the Screech Owl Sanctuary The sanctuary is located just off the A30 at Indian Queens and is well signposted. It was started in 1990 and the founders, believe it or not, are passionate owl lovers called Tom and Caroline Screech. You can see a range of beautiful owls up close, learn about their habitats and status (several are endangered species), and see them in flight during falconry demonstrations. One thing that surprised me was how silently a huge owl can glide past – no wonder they are efficient hunters of frogs, mice and other small four-legged snacks! The sanctuary is only open to the public from late March to the first weekend in November. Admission is £9.50 for adults with concessions for seniors and children up to 13. Family tickets are well discounted at £29 (2014 prices). The sanctuary offers a number of discounted theme days including Biker days and Mickey and Minnie Mouse days so it's worth checking the website before planning your visit. Owls from all over the world The owls are fascinating for anyone who is a keen birdwatcher or animal lover. Some of the endemic species of British owls I saw on my visit were white-faced barn owls, little owls and tawny owls. However they were some truly huge owls including European eagle owls, weird-looking Ural owls and scary-faced great grey owls. I wouldn't want to meet these predators on a dark night, and I'm not even on their menu! There seemed to be owls from all over the world represented at the Screech Owl Sanctuary including African, Asian and American owls and species from New Zealand and the West Indies. Screech owls are actually a specific species, but many of the owls seemed to have wicked spine-chilling calls rather than gentle hoots. Many of the owls arrive at the sanctuary after being injured, abandoned as chicks or found sick. The staff are able to offer general care and feeding but may need a vet for more serious cases. Where possible the owls are rehabilitated and returned to where they were found. The sanctuary offers a number of flying displays as well as falconry courses for anyone wanting to learn how to handle owls and other birds of prey. What to expect at the Screech owl Sanctuary Visitors have the chance to meet and touch some of the tame owls in the Hand-Tame Area under the careful instruction of the sanctuary staff. Falconry displays take place weather permitting and are an enthralling way to witness these magnificent birds of prey flying and "catching" food. The sanctuary has a broader interest with other animals to pet and stroke. There are gorgeous black-and-white pygmy goats, Shetland ponies, emus, meercats, alpacas and other animals that have found a home at the sanctuary. Your support in the café and gift shop also raises funds for the ongoing work of the sanctuary. You can certainly pick up some novelty gifts such as pens, key rings and jewellery on a cute owl theme. The 50-seat tearoom has homemade cakes and light meals making it a pleasant day out for visitors looking for a change from the usual sand and sea attractions. Have you ever seen an owl in Cornwall? Do you know what type it was? We'd love to hear your owl experiences so feel free to share them below.]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:07:06 +0000 Butterflies and otters at Buckfastleigh Wildlife Sanctuary Devon has oodles of animal and wildlife attractions from farms and donkey sanctuaries to large-scale zoos. One of the less well-known family attractions is the Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary, located next to the station at Buckfastleigh. It may seem an odd combination, but it does make an interesting attraction with wide appeal. The sanctuary is very easy to find, just south of the Dartmoor. Turn off the A38 at the Dart Bridge junction and follow the signs. The sanctuary is open daily from 10am to 5pm, but I would recommend getting there for one of the feeding times when the otters are at their cutest. They are fed at 11:30am, 2pm and 4pm and it makes a great photo op. A day out at Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary The Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh is a very friendly family affair which is well run by a dedicated team of animal lovers. The Otter Sanctuary has to be my favourite part as these cute creatures are so lively and seemingly full of mischief – I guess they remind me of the younger members of my own family! There are three species of otters to see in the various pens and pools. The small native British otter is actually a European freshwater otter and is now a threatened species. You can identify them by their lighter neck and underbody. The larger North American river otters are as yet still plentiful in their native homeland. They are always keen to show off and play to an audience. They usually only live for 3-5 years, but it appears the Otter Sanctuary in Devon is doing such a good job that their oldest resident otter us actually 25 years old! The third species, Asian short-clawed otters, are tiny cat-sized creatures by comparison and are a vulnerable species in their native Asia homeland. If this sounds like I know a lot about otters, I have to confess that I knew nothing at all until I chatted with the resident otter keeper, Tim, who is always around to answer questions. As well as being an educational and fun place to entertain the kids, the Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary exists primarily to help preserve wildlife, particularly otters and butterflies. They provide breeding and rehabilitation to wild otters and help promote eco-awareness throughout the Devon community. Buckfast Butterfly Farm The butterflies are all housed in a large butterfly house in nice warm humid conditions. This makes it a handy place to go on a potential showery day in Devon as there is always somewhere warm and dry to shelter! As you look more closely you will see hundreds of colourful butterflies perched on the plants and flowers or sucking up the liquid nectar from the feeder stations. It's fun to spot and identify the different species from all over the world and with careful observation you should see some eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises. Visiting the Otter and Butterfly Sanctuary by steam train If you are planning a visit to the Otter and Butterfly Sanctuary, family tickets in 2014 are £25; individual adult admission is £8.25 and there are concessions for seniors and children under 15. You can also get a discounted ticket for combined admission and a ride on the South Devon Steam Railway from Totnes to Buckfastleigh. The station is just 2 minutes from the Butterfly and Otter Sanctuary. Once your visit is done, leave your car on the free car park and enjoy the lovely walk beside the River Dart. It's a great place for paddling, letting your dog swim, having a picnic or letting the kids race sticks and "boats". There's also a maze and children's play area near the footbridge over the railway which incidentally is a great place for train-spotting! Let us know what you enjoyed about the Butterfly and Otter Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh – we'd love to hear your personal impressions about your visit. ]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 07:26:11 +0000 Barnstaple: 5 reasons to visit and 5 fun facts Located where the River Taw joins the Torridge, Barnstaple is within easy reach of Exmoor National Park and the Tarka Trail. It has a characterful historic town centre with some impressive buildings including the Victorian Butcher's Row. Stroll along Queen Anne's Walk to the "Tome Stone" where deals were "struck", visit the remains of the castle and browse the shops in the Green Lanes Shopping Centre. Here are our 5 worthwhile reasons to visit Barnstaple: Foodies will enjoy a visit to Barnstaple Pannier Market, said to be one of the top 10 food markets in the UK. Open Monday to Saturday, the famous 98 metre-long Victorian hall is filled with stalls offering locally made cheeses, organic lamb and beef from Middle Campscott Farm, organic veggie boxes and Rose's homemade preserves. Opposite the market hall is the quaint "Butcher's Row" which now houses fishmongers, veg shops, a florist, butchers and delicatessen. The Tarka Trail is a series of traffic-free footpaths and cycle trails that run through Barnstaple. Altogether they cover 180 miles making it easy to cycle west to Braunton or south to Bideford and Meeth. There are plenty of cycle hire shops nearby and the route includes beautiful river valleys, woods, moorland, coastal cliffs and sandy coves. What better way is there to discover Devon's natural beauty than this? Arlington Court one of the most visited National Trust properties. The neoclassical country mansion houses all sorts of family collections from seashells to model ships. Outside, enjoy the formal Victorian Gardens, conservatory and walled garden which provides produce for the Tea Room. The Carriage Museum has an excellent collection of carriages for all purposes, the pièce de résistance being the gilded State Coach. There are regular demonstrations of carriage driving and horse-drawn carriage rides can be taken around the estate. North Devon's beaches are a great reason to visit Barnstaple in the summer! Beyond the spectacular dunes at Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve, the golden sandy beach at Saunton Sands stretches for 4 miles from the Taw Torridge estuary. It's the perfect place for a walk, a picnic or for reading a good book in the sun. Check out the programme at the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple – you'll be surprised at the quality of performers it attracts and the seat prices are a bargain! The theatre dates back to 1493, when travelling players, minstrels and troubadours would have entertained this farming and fishing community. Nowadays it hosts shows by comedienne Dawn French, singer Elkie Brooks and a variety of entertaining plays such as Noel Cowards' "Private Lives". 5 fun facts about Barnstaple Barnstaple claims to be the oldest borough in the UK, but there are other contenders. The town supplied five ships to fight the Spanish Armada in 1588. The ships sailed from the Quay (now Strand promenade) to join Drake's fleet. Barnstaple once had its own mint which operated from 955 to 1099 AD. The farthing, halfpennies, pennies and silver coins it produced are now extremely rare and valuable. Barnstaple's 11th century motte and bailey wooden castle was rebuilt in stone in the early 12th century. All that remains of today is the tree-covered mound and the dry moat. The Tarka Trail is named after Tarka the Otter, a fictional creature that lived on the River Torridge. The book by Henry Williamson was later made into an epic children's film which was filmed in the area.]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:54:52 +0000 Following in the poet’s footsteps on the newly extended Coleridge Way Walkers in the Westcountry will be delighted to know that there is a new challenge to enjoy from the summer of 2014. The delightful Coleridge Way, which originally ran for 36 miles from Nether Stowey to Porlock in Somerset, has been extended by 15 miles. It now includes the popular Exmoor National Park, the Lyn Valley and ends in Lynmouth. This new footpath will take in some of the most scenic countryside in North Devon and Somerset. It also provides a link for walkers between Exmoor National Park and the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The opening of the extension to the Coleridge Way The newly completed extension to the popular Coleridge Way was opened on 21 May 2014 by someone with close connections to the trail. Rosemary Coleridge Middleton is the great-great-great-grandaughter of the romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The opening event was held in the village of Malmsmead near Lynmouth. It was marked by the presence of the Mayor of Lynmouth and Lynton along with the chairman of the Exmoor National Park Authority and other members of the Coleridge family. The timing was particularly appropriate as 2014 is the 60th anniversary of the Exmoor National Park. Funding for the project was provided primarily by the park and much of the work was completed by the National Park Rangers and Field Services manpower. The connection with Coleridge Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in the area in the 1790s and his home, Coleridge Cottage, is now managed by the National Trust. He is best known for his poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", said to have been inspired as Coleridge was on a walking tour of the Quantock Hills in 1798. He was accompanied by fellow poet, William Wordsworth, and Wordworth's sister Dorothy. Walkers may want to ponder the strange tale about the ill-fated voyage of the mariner and the curse brought on the ship after he shot a black albatross which is considered bad luck by sailors. Rosemary Coleridge Middleton urged walkers to follow in her great-great-great-grandfather's footsteps by using the trail and in her words, "Keep moving, love thinking, do praying, keep talking, just toddle, but if possible do walk." The route of the extended Coleridge Way The Coleridge Way is broken down into 12 sections, from A to L. From east to west, it starts at Nether Stowey, west of Bridgwater in Somerset, and climbs through Alfoxton and Bicknoller to Monksilver. At this point, the route enters Exmoor National Park and continues westwards with easy to moderate ascents in places through Roadwater, Luxborough and Cutcombe. From there it turns towards the coast, taking in Higher Brockwell and descending to the lovely village and weir at Porlock. The new extension of the Coleridge Way continues the route from Porlock to Ash Farm with some challenging climbs, then roughly follows the coast through the tiny hamlet of Oare to National Trust-owned land at Watersmeet and a gradual descent into Lynmouth. Pubs, tearooms and village stores are a frequent source of refreshments. There are plenty of holiday cottages in the area to use as a base for enjoying stretches of this inspirational walk. The full route of the Coleridge Way can be downloaded free and includes directions and points of interest on this scenic walk on the Devon-Somerset border area. Have you ever walked part of the original Coleridge Way? Can you offer some advice about fitness levels, weather and suitable clothing for this area. We'd appreciate your comments. ]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 08:33:45 +0000 Devon celebrates summer with events on land, air and sea during August This month, Devon's towns, harbours, beaches, villages, shopping centres, pubs and public spaces will be the stage for some of the county's top carnivals, festivals and events. There's so much going on with fireworks and airshows above, water carnivals and regattas on the sea, and plenty of land-based events, you'll be busy all month long. Why not make the most of the sunniest month of the year and book a last minute holiday cottage in Devon? With the children off school and the World Cup well and truly over, you can make the most of the August Bank Holiday with a fun-filled family break. Here's a few more ideas to tempt you... Hundreds of events & thousands of visitors at Sidmouth Folk Week Share in the 60th anniversary of Sidmouth Folk Week from 1-8 August 2014. It promises music, storytelling and dancing for all ages. Whether you prefer fiddle to flute or ceilidh to conga you'll have a blast at this down-to-earth cultural event. Sidmouth Folk Week attracts musicians and dancers from all over the UK, Ireland and Europe, along with plenty of well-travelled tourists, making this a very international event. Shaldon Water Carnival? Shall do! Taking place on 2 August 2014, the Shaldon Water Carnival is a fun family event with a difference. All the colourful floats are actually boats in this half-century-old traditional water festival. Look for the local Water Queen and her attendants and join in the games on the beach. Shaldon is situated just across the estuary from Teignmouth, so we provide local advice on parking and how to get to the Shaldon Water Carnival by ferry. Uncle Tom Cobley leads the Combe Martin Carnival More Devon history is paraded through the streets at the Combe Martin Carnival from 9-16 August 2014. You can't miss the 20-foot long wooden horse that is ridden by Old Uncle Tom Cobley and his friends, as per the famous song. Our entertaining article recounts some humourous tales from past events and gives a full account of all the races and events that make Combe Martin Carnival last a whole week! The British Fireworks Championships light up Plymouth Hoe Few free events can match the annual British Fireworks Championships which sees crowds lining the Hoe, Tinside Colonnade, Mount Batten headland and other viewpoints around Plymouth Sound. This year the event is scheduled for 12 and 13 August 2014, weather permitting of course. We bring you the lowdown on these fantastic displays of pyrotechnic excellence that light up the skies of Plymouth with electrifying flashes, crackles, booms and bangs. Plymouth Flavour Fest will tickle your tastebuds Better stay on after the fireworks and join the 150,000 hungry visitors that are expected at the Plymouth Flavour Fest from 15-17 August 2014. Find the very best choice of locally produced cheese, fish, cured meats, chutneys and ice cream and get some free inspiration from the celebrity chef kitchen. Read more about this top food and drink event in the Southwest and take our advice to sample it, buy it, eat it or take it home with you. It's a great way to spend a weekend! Totnes Orange Races offer a zesty challenge! Little did Sir Francis Drake know what he was starting when he sent an armful of oranges rolling down the steep street of Totnes. We look at the story behind the Totnes Orange Races which will be enjoyed this year on Tuesday 19 August. After a series of hard-fought orange races (or should that be chases?) there's a fun-filled Elizabethan Market organised by the local Elizabethan Society of Totnes. Dawlish Airshow takes off right over the beach Dawlish Airshow always commands a lot of attention as a host of aeronautical displays take place over Dawlish Beach on 22 and 23 August 2014. Chat with RAF pilots, watch an RAF display of jets, poke around inside a Hawker Hunter cockpit and salute the Red Arrows as they swoop by. Learn more about the unique historical event that will be part of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight this year – a rare treat for Avro Lancaster fans. Torbay Week is the premiere sailing regatta in the South West Celebrate the August Bank Holiday by the sea at the traditional Torbay Week Regatta from 22-27 August 2014. It brings together four local sailing clubs, umpteen beautiful sail boats and thousands of spectators at this exciting racing event. Whether you plan to be on the beach or on the deck, we have plenty to whet your appetite as we bring you the full story, past and present, of this prestigious royal regatta. We know these events simply would not happen without the year-long preparations made by local organising committees. Let us know who you would like to nominate for a big "thank you" for making these great events possible. ]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 08:20:23 +0000 Surfing, steam engines, circus & sailing sum up Cornwall in August August is the month for seaside holidays, fairs, carnivals and lazy days spent listening to your favourite band. Classic cars and traction engines are high on the agenda, along with contemporary design and circus skills! Whatever you wish for, our August round-up probably has just the thing for you, from regattas and fundraising Fishing Fests to the top Boardmaster Surfing and Music Festival at Newquay. Everyone pulls together for Charlestown Regatta Week Charlestown Regatta Week offers a full week of entertaining activities from 26 July to 1 August 2014. Cheer on the athletes in the opening triathlon and watch the exciting sailing races while raising funds for local community projects. Charlestown Regatta Week includes water polo, raft traces, tall ships and tiny dinghies along with live music, food and drink. It couldn't be in a more charming setting than by the old harbour of this UNESCO World Heritage village. Revving up for the Mount Edgcumbe American and Classic Car Show The grand country estate of Mount Edgcumbe is the venue for the Mount Edgcumbe American and Classic Car Show on 3 August 2014. Find out the best way to reach to reach Cremyll without the long drive from Plymouth, and see what the event has to offer families. Our usual fact-packed article includes a scenic coastal walk, what to see in the Earl's Garden and why you may want to return to Mount Edgcumbe again in the spring! Fun at Boardmasters Surf, Skate and Music Festival in Newquay Fly into Newquay for a fabulous weekend of sand, music and watersports as the 2014 Boardmasters Surf, Skate and Music Festival takes place from 6-10 August. Watch some talented sportsmen compete on land and sea and enjoy some great nights of live music at this well-attended event. BTW, you might want to book your Newquay holiday accommodation ahead of the rush. The Cornish Steam and Country Fair at Stithians Showground Now in its 59th year, the Cornish Steam and Country Fair celebrates our rural heritage. Held in Stithians Showground near Truro, it will run from 15-17 August 2014. See 50 working steam engines, sheepdog demonstrations, heavy horses and rural crafts that ceased to serve a commercial purpose years ago. Capture the essence of this Cornish event in our article, and if you're in the Truro area, consider spending a day enjoying this fascinating Country Fair. Contemporary designs feature at the Cornwall Design Fair near Penzance Browse some of the UK's best designs at the Cornwall Design Fair which takes place from 15-17 August 2014. Held in the grounds of the elegant Trereife Estate, our article covers some of the background to the event as well as insight into the stunning location. Read more about the artisans and designers before heading down to see this exceptional Design Fair for yourself. Roll up! Roll up! It's the Cornwall Circus Camp at Penryn All the fun of the circus can be found at the Cornwall Circus Camp in Penryn. This unusual training opportunity takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend from 21-25 August 2014. It is the perfect place for would-be acrobats and circus performers to learn, practice and perfect some of their gravity-defying skills. Organized by Swamp Circus, this event offers eight lessons a day in circus skills. Read more about what to expect on a typical day at this unusual event. There's something fishy going on at the Newlyn Fish Festival Where better to be than Cornwall for the Bank Holiday Weekend, enjoying the Newlyn Fish Festival on Monday 25 August 2014? Our article covers all that this historic festival has to offer, including fish displays, a puzzle trail, fishy tales, chef demonstrations, competitions and a race between traditional luggers. This family-friendly event raises much needed funds for the Seamen's Mission, so read on to find out more. Where will you be spending August in Cornwall? Let us know your favourite beach, event or secret summer haunt in our comments box below. ]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 07:24:17 +0000 There’s something fishy going on at the Newlyn Fish Festival Newlyn is synonymous with fishing, so it makes the obvious destination for a magnificent Fish Festival. Held on the late summer Bank Holiday Monday in August, it combines fun, food and fish. Well actually, there's a whole lot more besides including live music on Busker's Corner, a Lugger Championship and a Fishy Trail, so read on! Newlyn Harbour The port of Newlyn is one of Cornwall's most distinctive and individual working fishing ports. Unlike Looe and Polperro, where the fishing fleet has almost died, Newlyn Harbour still has plenty of fishing boats tied up alongside. Piles of nets and stacks of crates create the atmosphere of bustling business in this delightful town. Outdoor attractions include a selection of boats to look out along the pier including the beam trawler Sapphire and the Cornish Fisheries Protection Vessel the St Piran. The Camborne Pondhoppers will have a display of model boats in the water and you can enjoy a boating session with the Penzance Sea Cadets. There's gig-racing, RNLI lifeboat demonstrations and jet skis for hire along with some exciting Lugger Rowing Races. Fish auctions & fishy tales at Newlyn Fish Festival The Newlyn Fish Festival began in 1990, so 2014 sees its 25th anniversary. It was the brainchild of Len Scott whose main purpose in hosting the first fish festival was to raise awareness, and some much-needed funds, for the Fisherman's Mission. This important charity provides welfare and meals to seamen. In particular, it supports retired fishermen in need, their widows and families, and sick and injured fishermen, particularly after a tragedy at sea. Highlights of the Newlyn Fish Festival include a series of live cookery demonstrations which are held in the huge Fish Market. The event attracts some top names when it comes to chefs, such as Michelin-star accredited Ben Tunnicliffe, Nathan Outlaw from his two-Michelin star restaurants in Rock, chef/entrepreneur Sanjay Kumar, and some ambitious students from Newlyn School and Penwith College. Once the cookery demonstrations are over, you can bid for your supper at one of the fish auctions which are ruled by the speedy verbiage and smart hammer of auctioneer Edward Buckland. There's something to see all day long from 10:30am to 4:15pm, including watching the contestants competing for Cornish Fishmonger of the Year. One of the things I find fascinating is the Fish Display – who could imagine there were so many different varieties and sizes of ugly-looking fish in our Atlantic waters? The display is presided over by Sue and Duncan Lucas. Duncan worked as a Seafood Specialist for Young's for 9 years and is considered the mostly highly skilled fishmonger in the UK. He even holds the Guinness World Record for filleting halibut! It's a great opportunity to ask questions and learn something new about fish cuisine. A popular workshop nearby features how to handle, prepare and cook a lobster courtesy of Dan the Fisherman. Fishy tales and fishy trails Youngsters may prefer the Fishy Tales Tent where you are invited to peer into the net of storyteller Mary Williams Pier. She is a truly gripping storyteller and will have you entranced with tales of mermaids, fishermen, pirates and of course Sharky the shark! Her stories are complemented by similar fishy stories and puppet presentations from Sqaushbox Theatre. The Sea Show performances start at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. You're not done yet, as there's also a fishy-themed workshop for kids. Even adults will want to sneak a copy of the Fishy Trail Sheet. Once you have found all the clues in the fish market, youngsters can pick a prize from the Newlyn School stall. When you're finally fished out, there's plenty of live music, food and stalls around Festival Square to complete the perfect day. What image does the word "Newlyn" conjure up for you? Is it fishing boats, lobster pots and fish and chips or something more unusual? We'd love to hear from Newlyn residents and visitors alike! ]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 08:20:37 +0000 Plymouth Flavour Fest will tickle your tastebuds Plymouth is the setting for what has become the biggest food and drink festival in the Southwest – Plymouth Flavour Fest. Taking place on the third weekend in August, from Friday to Sunday, it is now in its 11th year. Altogether it attracts around 150,000 visitors. The great thing about Plymouth Flavour Fest is that it is put on by people who clearly love great-tasting food and drink. The collection of stalls are laden with produce actually grown, raised and produced by the vendors themselves, each promoting their own products. Who better to answer your questions and let your sample their fare? Plymouth Flavour Fest is a platform for local and celebrity chefs to come together for a good time. Through demonstrations and shows they share their tips and enthusiasm with wannabe chefs and keen cooks. As well as an open-air cookery theatre there will be big screens so everyone can see what's going on in the kitchen. The pedestrianized shop-lined streets of Plymouth's Armada Way and the central Piazza area are taken over by around 120 different food and drink traders. It resembles a continental-style market with apron-covered vendors all keen to show off their delectable goodies. This being Devon, there is so much good locally produced food such as cider, cheese and fresh fish. Of course there are local oggies (pasties) and plenty of sweet treats too, which all combine to define the true flavour of the southwest. Ready, steady, cook at Plymouth Flavour Fest On the Friday there will be an entertaining live event in the popular TV show format "Ready, Steady, Cook". This is always well attended as top chefs and special guests are invited to show what they can do against the clock. Another area of the food fest is specially for children, so look out for the "Food is Fun" signs. This is an educational area for all ages and has interactive displays showing how food is transformed from farm to familiar everyday meals. This area is sponsored by Langage Farm, and by the way, have you tasted their ice-cream? It's so dairy-delicious! You will find it in supermarkets and ice cream shops all over the Westcountry, but it always tastes better if you drive to the farm, just off the Langage Industrial Estate, and indulge in one of their 40+ unique flavours. If you're stuck for choice, my recommendation is Thunder n'Lightning, but I digress! Food and drink for the grown-ups Parents may want something a little more adult, so head over to the Real Ale and Wine Area sponsored by Exeter Brewery. The Westcountry is famous for its cider and ale production which goes back centuries. There's a relaxed seating area so make yourself comfortable and try some of the best ciders in the UK. Of course, you will not escape Plymouth Flavour Fest without tucking into some great food from the nearby stalls and pop-up kitchens. Historic Boringdon Hall sponsors Plymouth Flavour Fest Although Plymouth Flavour Fest takes place in Plymouth City Centre, the event is sponsored by Boringdon Hall. This 16th century Grade 1 listed Manor House is located on the outskirts of Plympton and is a well-established upscale restaurant, four star hotel and popular events venue. Set in its own grounds, Boringdon Hall has a fabulous Elizabethan Great Hall with a bar as the jaw-dropping focal point. It features high leaded windows and a massive stone fireplace bearing the coat of arms of James I and the date 1640. The former Minstrel Gallery is now the restaurant. If you get the chance to call in for a drink or lunch after attending the Plymouth Flavour Fest, it's well worth visiting. Calling all Devonians! Have you visited the Plymouth Flavour Fest? Would you recommend it to other visitors? We’d love to hear your experience & tips about visiting this delightful event. ]]> Sun, 29 Jun 2014 08:54:32 +0000