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Next Saturday, 7 June, sees violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen in concert at Simonsbath Festival. You can find out all about the Festival programme on their website: www.simonsbathfestival.co.uk/events.php  and you can read all about Tamsin in your winter 2013 back issue of the magazine. Here is a little reminder of the feature from last year. Copies will be available at the concert.

sisters of distinction

summer meadowsYou may have noticed a flowery theme in the new issue of Exmoor Magazine. There is an article on how to plant a wildflower meadow, Trevor Beer’s ‘Country Matters’ page is devoted to the poppy (to coincide both with meadows being in focus but also with the First World War Centenary year) and we have an article on artist Lucy Large; many of Lucy’s delicate paper creations feature some of our wonderful native flowers. Flowers are a recurring feature for this issue not simply because it is summer, but because meadows have been thrown into the spotlight this year.

For the first time in its history, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a unique partnership of conservation organisations and local councils – led by Plantlife – a significant sum for a national project to save the UK’s remaining fragments of meadow. There were once natural wild flower meadows in every parish – today only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930’s remain. Nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow have been lost so far and they are still being destroyed.

The Save our Magnificent Meadows Project is a £3 million project which will transform the fortunes of our vanishing meadows and grasslands.  Over the next four years, over 74,000 acres across the UK will be targeted and over 500,000 members of the public will be involved. Save our Magnificent Meadows is led by Plantlife, working in close partnership with ten organisations including county Wildlife Trusts, The National Trust, the RSPB, Cotswold Conservation Board and Medway Valley Countryside Partnership.

What is a meadow?

Wildflower meadow planting is enjoying a huge vogue in gardening; they look beautiful and attract wildlife, particularly threatened pollinators. But real wildflower meadows are vanishing – and with them native flowers such as green-winged orchid, oxlip, dyer’s greenweed, and meadow saffron. Meadows and other grasslands are an intrinsic part of the UK’s natural and cultural heritage: rich in landscape character, farming, folklore and history, they are as much a part of our heritage as the works of Shakespeare.

The Save our Magnificent Meadows project will protect, conserve and restore wildflower meadows and other grasslands across the UK, and will focus on the Fermanagh grasslands of Northern Ireland, the pastures of west Wales, Scottish grasslands from Edinburgh to Aberdeenshire, the calaminarian and whin grasslands of Northumberland and traditional meadows and pastures in southern England

Nicola Hutchinson from Plantlife says: “For the conservation of grassland plants and other wildlife this is incredible news. Our aim all along has been to establish a programme and a profile for the ‘Cinderella of the conservation world’. There has never been a grassland programme of this scale or ambition before and it is an amazing opportunity for Plantlife, for the project partners, for all the beneficiaries of the project and for grassland wildlife.”

Drew Bennellick, HLF’s Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage, says: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is proud to be supporting this project to help protect and sustain one of our most precious yet disappearing habitats. ‘Saving our Magnificent Meadows’ is brilliant in its simplicity, its partnership approach and its ability to harness the power of hundreds of volunteers. The project will deliver a landscape-scale ecological impact working across 55 sites from Scotland to the West Country. It is projects like this that HLF is so keen to support to ensure we continue to benefit from the free ecosystem services these habitats provide and that they continue to survive for future generations to enjoy.”

Find out more here: www.plantlife.org.uk

Photo: Orange tip butterfly on Ladys smock (c) Linda Tillotson courtesy Plantlife

calverstockBack for the third year running, CalvertStock 2014 is bigger than ever. For 2014 there are two stages, and a new venue: The Old Station House Inn (EX31 4NW), just half a mile from Calvert Trust Exmoor. CalvertStock 2014 is a FREE music event in aid of Calvert Trust Exmoor, the South West’s premier outdoor activity destination for people with disabilities. The event takes place on 21 June 2014, from 1pm to 11pm, and will feature an exciting line-up of bands, as well as stalls, fair rides, and food.

Main Stage:

Iron Tyger – http://www.irontyger.com/
Lionstar – http://www.lionstarmusic.com/
Saints of Sin- http://www.saintsofsin.co.uk/
Falling Apart – http://www.falling-apart.co.uk/
Far North District – http://www.reverbnation.com/farnorthdistrict
The Kaos – http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kaos/167097573323084
Black Dogs – https://www.facebook.com/weareblackdogs
Black Tears – http://www.theblacktears.co.uk/

Acoustic Stage:
Daisy Chapman – http://www.daisychapman.com/
Robbie Cavanagh – http://www.robbiecavanagh.co.uk/
Kiera Osment – http://kieraosmentmusic.com/
Roger Beamer Charmaine Lilley Julian Langer – https://soundcloud.com/julian-langer
DRC – http://northdevonmusic.com/audio/d-r-c/
Sam Evans – http://samevansmusic.co.uk/

CTE CalvertStock 2014Rob Lott, Head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor, says: “We are so pleased that CalvertStock is becoming a regular fixture on the North Devon music scene, and gets bigger and better every year! Huge thanks to everyone who has already helped to make this a great event, in particular First Steps Management for pulling everything together and making the event happen, and Lathwell Associates for their support designing the posters and leaflets. We would also like to say a massive thank you to all the great musicians who have volunteered their talents to support us; it’s going to be great day with some fantastic music. I look forward to seeing you all there for a great day out!”

To find out more about CalvertStock 2014 please go to http://www.calvert-trust.org.uk/calvertstock or contact Calvert Trust Exmoor on 01598 763221.

sundew by jane maresFor the second year, First Ecology will be running a mires plants and communities course, aimed at building skills in the identification of acidic mire and alkaline flush plants and bryophytes. This will take place on 13 June at Pinkery YHA. There is a £100 charge for the course but it is completely free for Exmoor Mires project volunteers!

The course will start with a classroom session at the Pinkery Education Centre. This will be aimed at introducing the five groups that the students will be studying in the field – herbs, grasses, rushes, sedges and bryophytes – and discussing the species participants are likely to find in the field and what they can expect to see at drier sites compared with both alkaline and acid wet sites.

Finally, the course will focus on the Sphagnum mosses, a group central to mire communities. This will involve examining some samples and identifying key features for the species common on Exmoor.

For more information go to: firstecology.co.uk/ecological-services/ecological-training-courses/exmoor-mires-plants-and-communities/

Pictured: Sundew by Jane A. Mares

leo davey's East QuantoxheadLeo Davey’s exhibition, ‘From Porlock Weir to Kilve Beach’, begins this week, on 21 May and continues until 1 June Gallery at the Contains Art, East Quay, Watchet Harbour, Somerset, TA23 0AQ. The exhibition of works by Leo explores some familiar and some undoubtedly unfamiliar parts of the remarkable West Somerset coast; experiments with less formal, sketch-based works and with a new series in oils; and incorporates a cartographic depiction that grounds them in their location. It will be open daily, 10am-4pm. Find out more at www.containsart.co.uk and www.leodavey.com

exmoor society walks blogThe Exmoor Society are organising four special walks this month:

9 May
Society Walk – Over the highest point on Exmoor. 10am-1pm. Meet Dunkery Gate (GR896 406). 5.5 mile walk over Dunkery Beacon. Sightings of deer possible. Optional lunch at the ‘Rest and be Thankful’, Wheddon Cross. Rough in places. Dogs under control welcome. (Ref: JR)

10 May
Society Walk – Birdsong around Brompton Regis 10am-1pm. Meet outside The George Inn, Brompton Regis. (GR SS 95072 31486) TA22 9NL. Enjoy a birdsong walk around Brompton Regis, with tips on identifying common bird songs and calls. Bring binoculars if you have them. (Ref: SS)

14 May
Society Walk – Mining & Mystery at Wheal Eliza. 11am-1pm. Meet Ashcombe car park, Simonsbath (GR 775394). A short walk along the River Barle. Hear the history of the Knights, mining in this part of Exmoor and the tragic mystery of Wheal Eliza. Short climbs but easy walk. Return to Simonsbath for optional pub lunch or bring a picnic .(Ref: RT)

17 May
Exmoor Society – “Story Walk with Exmoor Kids” and Christopher Jelley & the Exmoor Youth Club

Find out more on the Exmoor Society website: http://www.exmoorsociety.com/Events.htm

chilli growingRHS Garden Rosemoor, in partnership with the Dartmoor Chilli Farm, will host the county’s first-ever chilli festival this weekend. Devon Chilli Fiesta has a theme of ‘Growing Chillies’ and offers a great day out for chilli enthusiasts, gardeners, food lovers and families alike. Commercial chilli growers and experts from across the UK will be on hand to meet visitors and answer their flame-hot questions.

The Terrace Marquee will be full of artisan chilli companies from across the UK offering chilli plants, chilli seeds, chilli jewellery, mild to wild chilli sauces, chilli chutneys, chilli chocolate, chilli fudge and much more. Two great chefs will demonstrate cooking with chillies, giving visitors ideas and recipes to try at home. With photography and chilli sauce competitions, chilli talks, samba music, dancing, children’s activities and guided walks of the garden, the Devon Chilli Fiesta has plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

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