Section: West Country Weekend

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Natural remedies: how you can help address the bio-diversity crisis

Anna Andrews

“The UK has ‘led the world’ in destroying the natural environment” The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) produces a ‘Red List’ of threatened species. Of 8341 UK species assessed under IUCN criteria, 41 per cent have declined since the 1970s and 15 per cent are threatened with extinction; 133 are already extinct. Those […]

Who rebuilt Blandford Forum? The Ingenious B’stards!

Valery Collins

Blandford Forum is a pretty market town on the River Stour in the depths of the Dorset countryside. Visitors will be enchanted by its unique Georgian market-place and fascinated by the story of how the town recovered from a disastrous fire in 1731, which destroyed 90 per cent of the old town. An unusual chain […]

Brexit…out of fashion in Somerset

Richard Wilkins

It would be fair to say that businesses in Somerset are now really starting to feel the effects of Brexit and our new trade deals with the EU and the rest of the world. From all the businesses I have spoken to so far the effects have ranged from bureaucratic nightmares with unnecessary paperwork and […]

Nine investigations into misconduct: is Johnson on his last political life?

Sadie Parker
Boris Johnson and 9 cats

Former President Donald Trump once boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Impunity makes for arrogance and a blindness to reality, which eventually brings bad leaders down. Johnson appears to have reached Trump-like levels of hubris, with the blindsiding, deflection and outright lies in […]

Spring Bank Holiday cryptic crossword

Anthea Bareham

Most cryptic crossword clues are in two parts: (i) something to indicate the answer and (ii) the word play – references to the letters that make up the answer.  However, in this crossword there are 10 theme words for which there is only the wordplay – nothing to indicate the answer other than the knowledge […]

In conversation with David Nicholas Wilkinson: on making documentaries

Sadie Parker

Actor, producer, distributor and director David Nicholas Wilkinson is a regular fixture at the London Screenwriters’ Festival, generously sharing his experience with eager new writers and filmmakers. This year was no exception, although the format was different, of course, with everything online in one format or another. David chose to do his slot by Zoom, […]

The Hypatia Trust – celebrating and enabling women’s achievements in Penzance

Tillie Holmes

The Hypatia Trust is a charity based in Penzance, Cornwall, which strives to support women’s education and achievements. Named after the remarkable hellenistic neoplatonist mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, the trust was founded 25 years ago by Melissa Hardie . She initially set up the charity with the primary aim to protect, maintain, and develop the […]

Easter crossword challenge

Anthea Bareham

9    Badger sought and found a cross breed(9) 10 Bill gets in through Strider (5) 11 About to sicken, I get backbone (5) 12 Anticipating it’s over, puts procedure into first half of game (9) 13 One hears of crazy dare, taken with spirit (7) 14 Takes in protection covered by half-back (7) 17 Anglican […]

Virtual unreality and the over-centralised state

Mick Fletcher

It is not the worst decision taken by the current administration, but one that neatly encapsulates the insularity and arrogance of our over-centralised government: the powers that enable local authorities to function safely during the pandemic by holding meetings on-line will lapse on 7 May, and will not be renewed. The reason, to be blunt, […]

¿Cómo nos ven? How the Spanish press sees us

Mike Zollo

“Always look at both sides of the argument before you decide”, my father used to say in his wisdom when I was young. His life’s experience had taught him that: he had grown up as a young man who was categorised as an ‘enemy alien’ in 1939, yet who volunteered to join the British Army […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land – part 3: what can be done?

Tony Whitehead

In the first two parts of this series I looked at the parlous state of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation. I gave reasons for how it came to be in such a poor state, and covered the influence of post war agricultural policy. In this final part, I will look at what can be […]

Welcoming prickly visitors

Helen Fairhurst

As nature starts to beckon in the spring, my thoughts turn to welcoming some prickly visitors. Each year I’m hopeful that I might see the return of hedgehogs on my little patch as they awake from hibernation. Sadly, the hedgehog population is in serious decline in the UK. The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report […]

Somerset businesses hit by Brexit: box set

Richard Wilkins

Data published 22 March by UK Food & Drink Federation showed exports of food & drink to the EU from the UK dropped by more than 75 per cent in January. There was a 40 per cent decline in exports overall, and business leaders are saying that this is almost entirely due to Brexit. A […]

Time to call out the hate that dare not speak its name

Rosemary Schonfeld and Simon Chater

Politicians and opinion leaders must speak out on the benefits of immigration if Britain is to have any chance of regaining its rightful place at the heart of Europe. Elephant in the room As James Carville didn’t quite say during Bill Clinton’s 1992 US presidential campaign, “It’s immigration, stupid”. That’s the issue that drove the […]

Walking for health

Barbara Leonard

Just over a year ago I was one of small group of volunteer walk leaders sharing thoughts about a new virus being talked about on the news in the UK. Some of us had just returned from visits abroad where warnings about Covid 19 and measures to limit its spread were already happening, in sharp […]

Zebra crossing in the Masai Mara

Valery Collins

Driving through the Masai Mara Nature Reserve, I had to stop to let a herd of zebra cross the track in front of me. And not just zebra: wildebeest and the occasional giraffe as well. Mine was the only vehicle for miles around and wild animals were the only pedestrians on the vast open plain. […]

Puppy lust: the rise in heartbreaking pet theft

Sadie Parker

Imagine having a pair of dogs for company. They’re your everything, now that your spouse has passed on. Between walks they like a frolic in the garden. One day you let them out as you put the wash on and potter in your utility room. When you finish a short while later, you call out […]

The royal row and tabloid tyranny

Mick Fletcher

Good drama can hold up a mirror to the world and the real-life drama unfolding around the British royal family certainly does. What it shows reflects very badly on aspects of our culture, particularly the sheer toxicity of much of the tabloid press. Less obviously at the moment, it also has a serious message about […]

“My small business is in ruins and I see no way out.”

Anthea Simmons

My £1m UK small business is in ruins and I see no way out. Tried everything, feel utterly powerless. Trade with EU virtually impossible. This was so predictable and predicted. Bastards! This is the tweet that could be sent by thousands of small businesses up and down the land. It is the tweet that should […]

The Third Gentleman of Swanage

Valery Collins

During the nineteenth century the fortunes of Swanage were dictated by a trio known as the Three Gentlemen of Swanage. Two of them, John Mowlem and George Burt developed the Purbeck stone trade, contributing to the fabric of the town as their business prospered and grew. It was the third, philanthropist William Morton Pitt, who […]

Gaslit nation

Anthea Simmons

I decided to reissue this after seeing the advertorial being run by the government in Metro, presumably at the taxpayers’ expense. In this jolly reportage we are supposed to have our minds set at ease by the tales of businesses absolutely buzzing in the post-Brexit world, sailing through all the additional bureaucracy with no problems […]

Flag of convenience

Mike Zollo

“A poke in the eye! That’s what you’ll get, so I’ll take your sticks away before you hurt one another!” Imagine a little 6-year-old boy, so excited at holding his very own flag for the first time. As we lined up in the school yard ready to troop off to the venue at which hundreds […]

Out-Foxing the Reclaim Party’s ‘war on woke’

Vicky Rosier

West Country Bylines has previously reported on the government’s culture war against perceived left-wing or liberal bias in the arts, cultural heritage and higher education sectors. In October 2020, Virginia Button outlined government pressure on arts institutions and museums to toe the line on their involvement in contested reassessments of British colonial history, at the […]

Valuing the feminine: the ‘Virgin’s Promise’

Sadie Parker

One of the things that makes life worthwhile is the opportunity to keep learning something new. The first week of the London Screenwriters’ Festival online has been what I’d call a ‘chocolate mousse’ learning experience – intense, exquisite and deliciously inspirational. Every session has been brilliant, and some have been a revelation, like Tales of […]