Section: West Country Weekend

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Heaven is a boggy bit of Devon

Steve Haworth

Swapping scouse for pasties, misguidedly dissing Dartmoor and a stroll up the Cowsic. When I was 28 work took me from Merseyside to Cornwall: I traded a lively metropolis with easy access to the mountains of Wales and the north west, for the dramatic, breathtakingly-beautiful coastal scenery and pristine sandy beaches of the West Country. […]

“The Politics of Climate Change:” – what can WE do?

Belinda Bawden
art work of politicians trying to avoid drowning in climate emergency

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published on 9 August 2021 was clear: “Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying” The Guardian’s verdict on the IPCC report: “As a verdict on the climate crimes of humanity, the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report could not be clearer: guilty as hell. The repeatedly-ignored […]

Brownsea Island: private paradise to national treasure

Valery Collins

Brownsea is a small island at the entrance to Poole Harbour in Dorset. In the past it has been vital to the defence of the harbour and Poole itself. Originally the island was owned by the church and under the auspices of Cerne Abbey but it was claimed by Henry VIII when he dissolved the […]

The rough stuff!

Jon Vernon
Rider's view from a mountain bike on Dartmoor

I realised a few weeks back that I’ve been riding bikes off-road, in one form or another, for well over four decades. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of a friend’s older brother rescuing rusty bikes from skips and the local scrapyard, and repurposing them as cow-horn-barred “tracker” bikes which we’d spend the summer […]

“Get Britain on its bike”- part 3: E-asy cycling!

Mike Zollo
two mountain e-bikes

In Parts One and Two of this Cycle-paths series, we covered the subject of cycle routes, both on and off-road, for commuting and for leisure. However, ‘leisure’ can be a misnomer where the physical effort to cover distances and climb hills is concerned. If you, Dear Reader, feel a degree of cynicism stemming from concern […]

Pop-up glamping in Somerset

Valery Collins

Everything seems to pop up nowadays – restaurants, shops, bars, campsites. But a glamping campsite? I was not sure about that. However, I was willing to give it a try and set off for Pop-Up Somerset in the depths of rural Somerset. Pop-Up Campsites Visions of compost toilets and bucket showers played in my mind […]

National Meadows Day: a tale of two meadows

Miles King
meadow with orchids

Wildflower meadows have their day in the sun today, Saturday 3 July: National Meadows Day. National Meadows Day is a new thing, just a few years old, but it seems to have captured the public’s imagination, and rightly so. Because wildflower meadows encapsulate a beautiful coming-together of people and nature, creating something sublime which everyone […]

So you’re going back to the office, but what about your dog?

Rachel Marshall
Lonely dogs on the lookout for their owners

The age of Covid-19 has also been the age of the dog. For many people stuck at home all day it was the perfect time to get a pet and they’ve provided important companionship during lockdown. However, a survey by Dog’s Trust found that many existing owners observed increases in behaviours such as barking or […]

“Get Britain on its bike” – Part 2: cycling home and away on routes with roots!

Mike Zollo

“Boris Johnson ‘obsessed’ with encouraging cycling” “Cycling is a top priority in Prime Minister’s drive to tackle obesity in fight against Covid-19 in the UK.” So said Cyclist magazine on 15 May 2020, adding that “Boris Johnson believes that the coronavirus crisis presents the perfect opportunity to ‘get Britain on its bike’ to enable social distancing […]

Cae Hir: a gem of a garden in Wales

Anna Andrews
Cae Hir Gardens - the circuar pond and wedding cake tree

Cae Hir is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited and if you ever get the chance to see it, I would absolutely recommend you go. It sits on the side of the valley of the little Bran river, near Lampeter (Llanbedr Pont Steffan) in west Wales.

“Get Britain on its bike”- part 1: cycle-paths

Mike Zollo
Boris Johnson on a pushbike

what might encourage people to take up cycling, and what support and infrastructure exist to foster cycling … and what might put potential cyclists off! ‘Cyclist’ is a very broad term, ranging from those using two wheels to commute to work or to travel from a to b, through leisure cyclists and touring cyclists to serious club and competition cyclists.

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

Setter’s favourite clue: 3 down. Don’t do cryptics? 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 […]

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 […]