Section: Lifestyle

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Rewilding comes to a Devon valley

Simon Chater

Local environmental charities are working to increase Devon’s tree populations. Simon Chater was delighted to take part. For nearly 40 years I’ve lived in an old farmhouse in one of the loveliest spots in the South West – the valley of the Holy Brook, a tributary of the Dart. A livestock farmer sold me the […]

Something lost to find again

Catrina Davies

Catrina Davies discovered her true self in Europe. In September she left Cornwall for Portugal, from where she reflects on severance, belonging and betrayal. When I was ten my parents took me and my sisters to France for a week. We drove onto the ferry at Plymouth, all squashed into our Citroen AX, disembarked in […]

The disinformation pandemic

Tom Scott

In the early hours of New Year’s Day, Dr Matthew Lee, a young medic working at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, tweeted a video of the scene that confronted him when he stepped out of the hospital after completing a late shift in A&E. As he described it: “Hundreds of maskless, drunk people in huge […]

Awards part two: some more good people, thankfully!

Anthea Simmons

Most dogged defenders of our food & farming standards: Devon MPs Ben Bradshaw, Luke Pollard and Dorset MP Simon Hoare stand amongst those who braved the government to demand standards be enshrined in law and not on the table in any future trade deals. (Devon MP Neil Parish almost made it into this select group, […]

Digital divisions and the Tower of Babel

Mick Fletcher

People often talk of the ‘digital divide’, a gulf that separates those with access to IT and social media from others who lack the means or the understanding to engage with it. Some go further and speak of ‘digital natives’, those who have grown up with new technology and assimilated its ways like a child […]

Box set: a pot pourri of delights

Anthea Simmons

We’re not all about politics, climate change and Covid-19 at West Country Bylines. We try to bring you some deliciously diverse fare. Here’s a selection of articles you may have missed. Please enjoy and share!

Hearts of Oak

Canon Robin Murch

Since I was a child I have always had a love of oak trees. In the war years my anxious mother would send my brother and me into the garden to play. It was a nice sizeable garden with a good chicken run to interest us. There at the end of the garden stood a […]

Locked out: a cautionary tale

Anthea Simmons
a close up of a door lock

Yesterday I did a stupid thing. Let me rephrase. Yesterday I did a really stupid thing. I had gathered up some big bags of clothes to go to one of the few charity shops able to take donations, grabbed gloves and a warm scarf and a furry hat and waltzed off out of the house, […]

The shifting sands of travel restrictions

Valery Collins

Christmas and new year are traditionally times for planning summer holidays, but we’re living in a constantly changing situation. It is no longer a question of asking ‘Where do I want to go?’ – more a question of ‘Where can I go’? Even if the UK has put a country on their ‘travel corridor’ list […]

Become a curator: devouring digital culture in lockdown

Rachel Marshall

In the week before our second national lockdown started, I spent a glorious morning at Exeter’s newly reopened Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Six days later the museum closed again. It was such a treat to be able to view exhibits – photographic portraits of influential women and examples of the stunning lace produced around Honiton […]

Weird and wonderful words – week 4

Sadie Parker

Rejoice! Lockdown is almost over – sort of. I was hoping this would be a universal moment of ‘euneirophrenia’: the feeling of contentment that comes from waking up from a pleasant dream. Sadly, for those exiting lockdown to enter into tier three, it probably won’t feel all that much different to being in actual lockdown. […]

Weird and wonderful words – week 3

Sadie Parker

Well that didn’t last long. Here we are, back on the ‘sorry-go-round’ – trapped in a repetitive cycle of depressing actions or events. There were glimmers of good news. Hope of a vaccine, and even of vaccines, plural. Lewis Hamilton became the most successful Formula-1 champion ever, raising the spirits of Britain’s sports fans. The […]

A breath or two of hope

Jo Molyneux

Recently I have begun feeling a little swamped by depressing stories regarding the scale of Covid-19 infections, Tory party skullduggery, disinformation and the state of our planet. There are a million and one minor stresses for us all, on top of that. It didn’t feel quite so bad in the summer, but now the nights […]

…and on another front of the culture war

Eric Gates

“The National Trust has been contacted by the charity regulator over claims that it has strayed from its ‘clear, simple purpose’ to preserve historic buildings and treasures. Regulators approached the charity this month after receiving complaints from the public about its review into links between its estate and slavery during the British empire.” Do people […]

Travelling outside comfort zones: two fingers up to the predictable

Dawn M Sanders

Why should additional needs limit your craving for adventure? Journalist Dawn Sanders, who has a visual impairment, argues impaired sight should not get in the way of free- spiritedness. Two years ago I met a kindred spirit where I would never have expected to: at the Royal National College for the Blind. Before going to the […]

The sea has set me free

Heidi Westbrook

For Heidi Westbrook, sea-swimming has brought joy, friendship and vital solace through the lockdown. For 20 years I’ve been lucky enough to have lived on a clifftop high above Newquay’s famous Towan beach. Over the years, the number of people enjoying the water has steadily grown. Once these were mainly year-round surfers and families in […]

Know your place!

Eric Gates

No, not a Conservative MP addressing his family retainers, but a very useful internet resource. If you live in the west country, or are planning to visit, Know Your Place is a brilliant website that provides details of all sorts of local historical information. If you are interested in history, or like walking, or simply […]

Boxing clever

Anna Andrews

Well, here we are again, heading for the end of the transition period without any real sign that the UK will have a proper trading arrangement with the EU, and amidst  increasingly dire warnings about possible shortages of food and other essentials. The Covid-19 pandemic has also served to expose the weaknesses in the “just-in-time” […]

The new terra incognita

Matt Borne

GPS navigation has led Matt Borne to a library abandoned to moths and mice. So he’s decided to finally switch off his satnav. I was driving to the Eden Project last week for a work thing. I’d been asked to go to the service gate, an entrance I’d used many times over the years, but […]

The Lizard’s vagabond girl

Jenny Steele Scolding

I lie in bed and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. I pull back the covers, cross the bedroom and settle into my rocking chair in front of the window that overlooks the sea. Down in the cove, the fishermen have pulled the boats up high; a storm is brewing. I always start […]

Kids’ puzzles

Alex Pilkington

The first West Country Weekend kids’ puzzles to keep little ones occupied. Suitable for ages 3 to 7. Just click on the file below to download and print out on A4 paper.

Ten unmissable picture books

Anthea Simmons

I love children’s picture books. Some of the most delicious artwork and the most delightful, moving and pitch-perfect writing is to be found within their enticing, large format covers. The best examples of the  genre work on many levels in pretty much the same way as classic films like Toy Story and ET. They appeal […]

Is society broken? And if it is, are we too late to fix it?

Bev Haigh-Jones

Residents in some Cornish seaside towns have said they are too scared to go food shopping because of visitors cramming narrow streets and ignoring social distancing. This lack of consideration reflects deeper social and political problems, argues Bev Haigh-Jones. There’s no doubt 2020 will be one of the strangest years most of us have experienced. […]

Not another one!

Margaret Ellis

“Oh God! Not more courgettes!” they wail, as I return triumphant from the allotment with my basket heaped with produce. It is a truth universally acknowledged that an ‘allotmenteer’ in possession of a glut must be in want of a recipe – better still, recipes. What can we do with that sudden rush of produce […]

The ground beneath my feet

Will Hazell

For Will Hazell, lockdown has been a time to discover and connect with the rich tapestry of landscape and history within walking distance of his home. Tucked beside a footpath near Falmouth, Cornwall, there’s a small gravestone with the epitaph “PUNCH OF MENEHAY A PAL 1937”, erected, apparently, to celebrate the legacy of a much-beloved […]

Blocked by the ‘burdensome estate’

Mick Fletcher

The Strawberry Line is an ambitious project to provide a safe off-road path for cyclists and others, linking the communities along the southern boundary of the Mendip Hills.   It seeks, as far as possible, to follow the track of the old railway line of that name, famous for the boxes of fruit it hauled to […]

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