Section: West Country Weekend

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Long Covid kids

Sammie McFarland

A year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all become armchair experts. It’s hard to remember a time when it was new and we had so little information about what to expect if we were unlucky enough to catch it. A few key messages emerged early in the first lockdown in March. […]

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 […]

Bugs, bees and banned toxins

Milly James

There seems to be quite an upset brewing, understandably, over the government allowing the use of neonicotinoids in the UK after reports like “Government to let farmers use bee-killing pesticide banned by EU”  appeared in the press and across social media from environmentalists and the concerned public. The current reporting on the renewed use of […]

Fish – it used to be so easy…

Julian Andrews

Mention “Samways” to locals around the west Dorset town of Bridport and they’re most likely to tell you simply, “they’ve got that fish shop at West Bay”. They’re right about the fish shop, but Samways are a lot more than that. Clifford Samways started selling fish from a wooden barrow in West Bay in 1961 […]

The US has foiled a coup, but could we?

Mick Fletcher

Several writers, including West Country Bylines’s Tom Scott and Sadie Parker, have drawn attention to the disturbing parallels between the anti-democratic activities of Trump in the USA and Johnson here. Many, however, are reluctant to accept that Johnson is in effect Britain’s Trump, despite the fact that this dubious accolade was bestowed by none other […]

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 […]

Dark Wednesday: Trumpism has also stained and frayed British democracy

Sadie Parker
montage of Johnson and Trump pictured together

Judging by the liveliness of social media platforms well into the night, as 6 January rolled into 7 January on the European side of the Atlantic, half the UK was glued to CNN – watching agog as insurrectionists invaded government offices in Washington D.C. They stormed the Capitol building, the heart of American democracy, equipped […]

Have your say! Letters to the editor

Anthea Simmons

Would you like to express a view on one of our articles? Add to the information? Give us a different perspective? Then, please, do email us! Tell us who you are and where you come from and if you have a particular expertise in the relevant field add that, too. We may publish your letter […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 1 – the dark wood

Simon Chater

1. The Dark Wood Dante is at once the most influential and the most neglected of Europe’s poets. Since the early 14th century, when he wrote, he has inspired countless other writers in almost every European language, yet today he has few readers outside academia and Italy. In this series of commentaries written to mark […]

In a stew over fish…

Mike Zollo

From fish’n’chips to calamares In my childhood days, my experience of fish was usually limited to a somewhat greasy lump of batter, with a trace of white matter within it, presumably cod, accompanied by equally greasy, soggy chips. They were served in newspaper, liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Perhaps my palate-memory is rather jaded […]

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 […]

Who is to blame for the Brexit we are getting?

Sadie Parker

You might be surprised to discover that, according to a clutch of pro-Brexit pundits, it is Remainers who are to blame for the inglorious Brexit we’re about to receive. Odd how a rash of articles spinning this premise suddenly appeared one after another in a very short timeframe. It’s almost as if they’re all in […]

Our thanks and a message to you, dear reader

Editor-in-chief

First of all, a big thank you for reading and sharing our articles. We’ve only been going five months, but 360,000 people have paid us a visit and that’s fantastic. We are all doing this for love. Love of truth. Love of justice. Love of our country and of our fellow denizens of this precious […]

While hedge funds shorted stocks by night…

Tom Scott

A timely reworking from Tom Scott of ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ for the secular, Brexiter age. While hedge funds shorted stocks by nightAnd bet against the pound,A WhatsApp from BoJo came down,And glory shone around. “Fear not,” said he, for mighty dreadHad seized their troubled mind;“Glad tidings of No Deal I bringTo […]

Cryptic crossword for Christmas

Anthea Bareham

Across 9              Soften up with a brew of tea that is taken around Ms Flanders (9) 10           Trim eyeshades to see the prize (5) 11           A 50:4 mix for 12,14 (5) 12,14      As D Trump digs in, church leaders are in despair for festive fare (9,7) 13,25d    Honest sounding copper is needed for 12,14 (7,4) […]

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!

Covid-19: the effects on rural churches and communities

Susanna Metz
Sheepwash Church, Devon with thatched cottage.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The opening of A Tale of Two Cities came to mind when I was asked to write about the effect these very difficult past ten months have had specifically on ‘the Church’ in rural areas. If I were not too old to start […]

In search of Cinderella – a virtual pantomime for Somerset

Richard Crowe

“In search of Cinderella” came out of a conversation between Deb Richardson, producer at Somerset Film, and me. It was late July/early August when theatres across the UK were announcing there would be no pantomime this year.  This was an intolerable proposition for a county like ours, with its numerous local societies producing an annual […]

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 […]

John le Carré – prescient chronicler of a nation betrayed

Tom Scott

Obituaries describing John le Carré as a “Cold War spy novelist” are selling him short. More than any other contemporary writer, he had a finger on the dark pulse of our times. It’s not often that the death of a novelist can be described as a national event, but the passing of David Cornwell, better […]

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 […]

Brexit is the UK’s Tulip Mania

Sadie Parker

When I went to work in a Dutch company at the start of my career, I was given a copy of Charles Mackay’s “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”. Remember the “dot.com bubble”? The delusions recounted in Mackay’s book are similar, only more colourful, ridiculous and harmful. My personal favourite is tulip mania, […]

Wishy-fishy in a dishy

Des Hannigan

Much of the British attitude to fishing, and especially to foreign fishermen, is based on prejudice and ignorance. We need to see ourselves as others see us. Fishing, eh? Symbol of Brexit Britain! Sovereignty! Taking Back Control! Getting our moat back! It’s OUR ‘English’ Channel! It’s also La Manche according to those damned Frenchies over […]