Section: West Country Weekend

Page of 5

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 […]

From star to satellite – science in a post-Brexit world

David Love

In matters scientific, European nations do far better working together Our civilisation has advanced dramatically in the last few hundred years and we have only to look to the leaps made in science and technology to understand why. Yet how many people realise that a key element of science lies in cooperation between different nations?  […]

Is our democracy toast? Part 2 of the double-barrelled piece

Sadie Parker
Rees-Mogg standing in front of a burning forest with democracy fishing agriculture, food e-commerce and financial service all burning down

Fishers feel betrayed. Boats are in dry-dock, fish markets are bereft of trade, and five-generation businesses are facing bankruptcy. No Brexiter politicians are posing with them now. No Brexiter politicians are even listening to them now. Similarly, agri-food businesses, no matter how well prepared they were, are seeing the fruits of their labours spoiled, at […]

Has Brexit wrecked my life’s work?

Mike Zollo

“You may buy from us in English … but you must sell to us in my language!” This much-quoted maxim highlights the importance of language skills to international trade. What German Chancellor Willy Brandt actually said in the early 1970s was: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen […]

Iconic Somerset cider business hit by Johnson’s trade deal

Richard Wilkins

The first thing people ask when they find out you are from Somerset is “how much cider do you drink?”  The apple-based drink is synonymous with our county. It has imprinted itself on our culture, forming much of our history and traditions. For instance, wassailing is an ancient West Country cider festival which ensures a […]

Jackie Weaver for prime minister?

Sadie Parker

I first became aware of Jackie Weaver when Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent at the Financial Times, put up a poll asking the public, “Who do you want as PM [prime minister]?”. The four choices were Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson, Ed Davey and Jackie Weaver. Keir Starmer was winning comfortably, but Jackie Weaver was in […]

After the flood…

Anna Andrews

On 22 January, after Storm Christoph hit the UK, George Eustice said on camera that 70 homes had been flooded. Given the pictures of inundated towns across England and Wales, this figure seemed something of an understatement, with the Daily Telegraph, amongst others, reporting a figure more than five times higher: Storm Christoph: Around 400 […]

Vaccine ‘wars’? What on earth is going on?

Sadie Parker
globe, syringes like missiles doing battle

“EU vaccine war explodes,” screamed the Daily Mail in its first edition. Then hours later its headline had changed to “EU Jabs Climbdown” as it accused the EU of performing a ‘screeching U-turn’. Wait. What? There had been a war and it was all over eight hours later? What on earth was going on? It […]

Bikes, beeswax and bloomers – all b*ll*xed by Brexit. Part 1 -bikes

Mike Zollo

Back in 2000, Totnes was absorbed with the romantic phenomenon of a ‘world-beating’ local product: the catamaran Team Philips, the largest yacht ever built, designed to break the record time for sailing around the world. Like many Totnes families, we helped to sponsor it, and our names were among thousands painted on the hull. As […]

Gardening for wildlife: get ready for Spring!

Anna Andrews

The hours of daylight are slowly beginning to increase again and nature is responding to the lengthening days: spring is not all that far off. In February while the trees may still be stark and leafless, look really closely at the branches and you will almost certainly see the buds, the promise of this year’s […]

The ballast of Swanage

Valery Collins
Wellington Clock Tower, Swanage. Deep blue sea, blue sky, cliffs in the background

To many, Swanage is a traditional, old-fashioned English seaside town, a place to wander along the sea front enjoying the murmur of the waves. Some may notice the old tram tracks embedded in the concrete and ponder their significance as they pause on the Stone Quay. Purbeck Stone Brings Prosperity to Swanage During the 1830s […]

The anti-democracy and not-so-Unionist party

Sadie Parker
Johnson claiming no Brexit trade barriers

As democracy has been trampled under a tsunami of lies, scams and evasion of scrutiny this month, perhaps the Conservative and Unionist Party needs a new name? I’ll go first: the Anti-Democracy and not-so-Unionist Party. Here’s why… Boris Johnson can’t stop lying. To dismiss that with an exclamation of, “oh, but all politicians lie,” is […]

Winter gardening for wildlife: part 1 – feed the birds!

Anna Andrews

Continuing her series on gardening for wildlife, Anna Andrews looks at how to attract birds to your garden Ok, I know it’s not really ‘gardening’, but probably the best and most immediate way to help wildlife is to feed the birds, and virtually any outdoor space can be used whether you have a garden, a […]