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ISSUE 1

THE SOUTH WEST MAGAZINE

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

WINTER 2012


Welcome Contacts The South West Magazine Brambleberry Holnicote Road Bude Cornwall EX23 8EJ www.thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk www.twitter.com/southwestmag Cal Irish, Editor cal@thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk Tel: 07808 664440

Welcome to the first issue of The South West Magazine The idea behind this brand new publication is to promote the very best of the UK’s South West region, incorporating Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. We hope to be contemporary and lively, providing a balanced perspective on what makes such a diverse region tick. Beaches and business. Cities and seascapes. Sport and art. Historical but progressive. The green life. The good life. The magazine is written in the South West, designed in the South West and printed in the South West on 100% recycled paper - but distributed in London and the South East as well. As a new venture, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please get in touch and let us know what you think.

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Stuart Churchill, Advertising & Partnerships Manager stuart@thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk Tel: 07764 473168 Contributors Susan Easey, Angela Findlay Design by Pickle Design Pickle Design 27 Two Trees Estate Wadebridge Cornwall PL27 7PQ UK Tel: 01208 895130 Printed by Deltor Deltor Communications Long Acre Saltash Parkway Saltash Cornwall PL12 6LZ Tel: 01752 841717

All the best

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Clive Duncan, Publisher clive@thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk Tel: 07970 148052

Cal Irish, Editor cal@thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk Tel: 01288 352353

© The South West Magazine. The South West Magazine is the trading name of BS Publishing Ltd. Opinions expressed by authors and services offered by advertisers are not necessarily those of BS Publishing Ltd or The South West Magazine. The publisher accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions, or any loss, damage or claim as a result of such errors or omissions. No part of this publication may be copied or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Distribution by Letterbox Letterbox Distribution Unit 65, Lancaster Road Industrial Estate, Lancaster Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire, EN4 8AS Tel: 020 8440 0400 member of the SWTA.

Cover image: The Magdalen Chapter, Exeter. www.thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk

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Contents 01

News Stories that have piqued our interest.

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Somerset’s fashionistas The creative county.

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Comment Rugby review.

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Property investments Hotel holiday homes.

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Top 10 10 great gift ideas from the SW.

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Recipe Cornish Clotted Christmas.

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Christmas markets Where to shop that’s not on the high street.

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It’s panto time! Oh, yes it is!

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New Year family breaks Top family-friendly hotels.

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Get your skates on Outdoor ice skating across the region.

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Modern museums Giving London a run for its money.

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Exeter excels A city on the rise.

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Green machine Inspiration behind Ecotricity.

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Food morsels Foodie news titbits.

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Edible flowers Beautiful and delicious.

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Game on Bodmin’s deerstalker.

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09 31 Photo: Maddocks Farm Organics

Photo: Bath Tourism Plus/Colin Hawkins www.thesouthwestmagazine.co.uk

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News Wellies, woollies & a walk through Christmas

has certainly split opinion in the seaside town. Ilfracombe councillor Mike Edmunds believes, however, that it could be a key component in regenerating the town’s image.

HEART-STOPPING ATTRACTION Whether you’re after a date with a difference or an evening out with mates, head down to AtBristol for a special adult-only evening event on Valentine’s Day. Get hands on with hundreds of exhibits, explosive live shows and a programme of themed activities – but expect dissected hearts and racy Greek myths rather than chocolates and flowers.

“We’ve relied, as a holiday resort, on our natural charm and beauty, but that’s not enough in the present day. Hotels are closing, so we’ve got to do something to boost the economy and we’re looking at the arts as a way of encouraging visitors,” he said. Pentillie Castle on the border between Devon and Cornwall is host to a nativity play with a difference this year. In association with the Moonstone Theatre Company, the Castle grounds set the scene for an atmospheric candlelit tour, accompanied by a time traveller who will guide the audience through The Nativity Wellies, Woolies and a Walk through Christmas. All followed by mince pies and mulled wine back at the Castle. 4pm, Sunday 16 December 2012. WATCHING OVER ILFRACOMBE Damien Hirst’s Verity – a controversial sculpture of a naked pregnant woman – has been erected on the harbour walls in Ilfracombe, Devon. Standing 66ft tall and holding a sword aloft, the bronze statue is intended to be a “modern allegory of truth and justice”. It is on loan to the North Devon town, close to where Hirst lives, for 20 years. Verity, described alternatively as grotesque and beautiful,

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BEST OF BRITISH It’s official. The South West is the most desirable UK holiday region, following its runaway success at the British Travel Awards 2012. There was a clean sweep for the West Country in Best UK Coastal Town Resort category, with St Ives topping the bill, followed by Bournemouth and Fal River in Cornwall. So too did the Eden Project and Longleat Safari Park scoop the gold and silver awards in Best UK Leisure Attraction, while Minack Theatre in Cornwall came third only to Edinburgh Castle and St Paul’s Cathedral in the Best UK Heritage Attraction award. Cornwall was voted Best UK Holiday County or Region, and was also judged to have had the best visitor guide website at Visit Cornwall.

Photo: Diane N. Ennis

WORLD CLASS ISLANDS The Isles of Scilly have been named by National Geographic as number two on a list of the world’s top 10 islands to visit – ahead of Tahiti, Capri and Saba in the West Indies. Lying 28 miles off the western tip of Lands End, the Isles of Scilly boast miles of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, making them the perfect holiday destination. The good news is that from 2013 getting to the islands is going to be a whole lot easier. From the start of the season, not only will the number of scheduled flights to Scilly be significantly increased but upgrades to Lands End Airport and the Scillonian III foot passenger ferry will make the journey speedier and more comfortable.

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A POUND FOR A POUND The Bristol Pound was launched in a blaze of publicity in September. Designed to keep money in the city and support the local economy, the currency has a 1:1 equivalent with sterling, and can be used in cash, online or by mobile phone. Ciaran Mundy, director of the Bristol pound, said 300 businesses had originally signed up to the scheme, but now this total has risen to 400. He also revealed that £125,000 worth of notes had been printed, with thousands already thought to be circulating in the local economy. There is a 3% fee to convert Bristol pounds back into sterling, and accounts are held by Bristol Credit Union which is backed by the FSA. BRISTOL GOES FOR GREEN Bristol has submitted its third application to be named the most environmentally friendly city in Europe.

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The city lost its bid to become the European Green Capital for 2014, coming runner-up to Copenhagen, and lost out to Stockholm in 2010. Now, the city hopes it will be third time lucky, as it attempts to win the award for 2015. It is the only UK city to have been shortlisted for the award. The award is judged in two stages, the first of which is a technical assessment that looks at energy, water consumption, waste, transport and green spaces. PREMIUM PARKING Five car parking spaces in sought after St Ives went on sale in November with a guide price of £50,000 each, which is more than double the average wage in Cornwall. This comes only three months after a single space was sold for a staggering £55,000 in town. It makes the £170,000 paid earlier this year for a beach hut near Bournemouth seem rather good value.

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News NEW FESTIVAL FOR FOWEY Cornwall’s much loved festival of arts and entertainment, the du Maurier Festival, has been renamed The Fowey Festival of Words and Music. Since 1997, Fowey has hosted the annual festival, which has brought many internationally renowned writers, performers and entertainers to Cornwall. The Fowey Festival will continue the eclectic mix of events which gives the festival its widespread appeal and makes it one of the most popular festivals of its kind in the country. The Fowey Festival takes place between 8 – 18 May 2013. NEW LOOK BABINGTON HOUSE WINS The South West scored highly in the 2012 Conde Nast Readers’ Travel Awards, landing four of the top 10 spots for best UK leisure hotels. Best of the best was Babington House, set in 18 acres of Somerset country parkland half an hour from Bath. Described as the original boutique country house hotel, Babington House has just undergone a major refurbishment and scored highest, by some margin, for ambience and interior decor. It was also rated particularly for family friendliness.

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All Aboard the Polar Express The Polar Express has come to Dartmoor Railway in Devon. It is the only railway in the whole of the south to have been selected for the UK launch of this iconic Christmas adventure. Inspired by the hit Warner Bros. film The Polar Express and book by Chris Van Allsburg, the officially licensed train rides will operate from the Old Railway Station in Okehampton until 30 December 2012. “We’re excited about bringing The Polar Express experience to the UK,” says Ed Ellis, President of British American Rail Services, which operates both Weardale and Dartmoor Railways. “We have delighted children and their parents and grandparents at locations across the US for years, and the story’s messages of hope and belief are ideal for the holiday season.” Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, pyjama-clad passengers relive the magic of the story and see their favourite characters come to life as they are whisked away on a magical round trip to the North Pole.

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Enough rucking, let play commence by Clive Duncan

they qualify on the field of play they would not be promoted as their Mennaye Field ground in Penzance does not meet the Premiership’s requirements.

The South West is blessed

with some of the very best rugby union clubs in the country. The cathedral cities of Bath, Exeter and Gloucester have teams amongst the top 12 English clubs, the Premiership; the second tier Championship boasts another three long established outfits in Bristol, the Cornish Pirates and Plymouth Albion; and there are another nine clubs across the next two divisions. With the season now well under way, there is an interesting scenario evolving around three of the top West Country sides. Gloucester’s Kingsholm home is, extraordinarily, at present the only English club ground on the list of potential venues when England host the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Let’s hope that the powers that be see sense and award the South West some

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fixtures in a traditional ground as opposed to a plethora of games played in the soulless football grounds currently proposed. The staggering success in recent times of the Exeter Chiefs is barely believable. Both on and off the pitch strict adherence to a well managed development plan sees the Chiefs now playing in a state of the art stadium and competing in the top European competition, the Heineken Cup. Most recently this dedication and farsightedness have been further rewarded with confirmation that planning has been approved to double the ground capacity to 20,000 and for conference facilities to be added in the years ahead. Contrast this with the shambles that has surrounded the Pirates down in the Duchy. For many seasons now they have been in the mix for promotion to the elite Premiership, in the full knowledge that should

Strenuous efforts to find a solution have been made by a band of dedicated folk who are determined to bring top flight rugby to Cornwall. Set back after set back have been overcome and a suitable site has been found near Truro for what is currently known as Stadium4Cornwall. The Stadium will provide the county with not just a rugby ground. It will create a social and business focus for the residents of the county and, just as importantly, for the increasing number of visitors, both tourist and business, so badly needed to bring long term prosperity to this beautiful outpost of the country. Needless to say the project has been bogged down by red tape, nimbyism, criticism and counter criticism and such lack of vision that quality players are leaving to further their careers elsewhere and the impetus created over many years is in danger of being frittered away. It must be hoped, for the benefit of all who love Cornwall and in particular the South West of England, that the recent re-submission of plans for this exciting and vital facility will progress without further delay in order for the crucial funding to be confirmed and then, let building commence!

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A South West top ten 1

Ten of the best goodies and gifts the South West has to offer this Christmas... in no particular order. HERB CHOCOLATES Twelve solid chocolates in white, dark and milk chocolate flavoured with herbs, including basil, rose and geranium. Great for an after dinner game of Guess the Herb, but no prizes for getting what the green one is. Made by hand, free from colourings, suitable for vegetarians, and using recycled packaging. £9.95 from St Kitts Herbery in Cornwall EXTRA LARGE LUXURY HAMPER Traditionally oak smoked fish, meat and game from a multiple award-winning smokehouse. Smoked salmon, mackerel and trout, roasted chicken and duck, smoked cheddars and salami. Free from artificial additives and flavourings and ready to eat. Throw in a bottle of the renowned Camel Valley Brut for something extra special. £139 from Tregida Smokhouse, Cornwall GENTLEMAN’S RELISH COOKERY COURSE Aimed at men who want to feel more confident in the kitchen, the Gentleman’s Relish weekend from the Cookery School

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of the Year 2012 covers the fundamentals of cookery. By the end of the course students will be able to cook a great three course meal, a perfect Sunday Roast and a selection of delicious desserts. £315 from Ashburton Cookery 2 School, Devon BLUE GLASS Brighten up your table with stunning Bristol blue glass goblets and tumblers. Unique to the city, the glass has been free blown in Bristol since the 18th century. The full range includes decanters, bowls, candlesticks, jugs and vases. Prices from £8.50 from Blue Glass Factory and Bristol Blue Glass South West.

TIMETIDES PONCHO Chunky, nautical knit poncho in four rich seasonal colours – bay green, flag red, light squid ink or parchment. In a soft lambswool cable knit with elegant cowl neck. Lovely for a walk by the seaside, or tucked up at home. 7 £69.95 from Seasalt, Cornwall

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CRÈME DE CASSIS Award winning liqueur made using only fresh blackcurrants and packing a powerful flavour. Perfect for making kir, and for adding zing to both sweet and savoury dishes. Bramley and Gage make each of their liqueurs taste as true to the original fruit as possible, using whole f fruit, not concentrates or purees. P Preservative and colouring free. £ £13.50 from Bramley and Gage, G Gloucestershire

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3 SHEPHERD’S HUT Beautifully-crafted classic Victorian huts, perfect for a home office or glamping your accommodation. You’ll see typical them at the River Cottage HQ, home the National Trust and even office sheds. in the gardens of a church in From £13, 470 incl Piccadilly. More affordable than VAT. Plankbridge Hutmakers, an extension, more striking than Dorset.

between 15cm and 30cm and is about a year old when delivered. It will produce truffles from 4-7 years from planting, and will continue to do so for up to 50 years. £24.50 from Eden Project, Cornwall CAVE-MATURED CHEDDAR Genuine Cheddar Cheese matured in Gough’s Cave in the heart of Cheddar Gorge. A unique flavour and texture, matured for 11 to 12 months. Made with unpasteurised milk to retain the characteristics of the local pastures. Gold winner at the British Cheese Awards From £4.79 for 190g, The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, Somerset TREASURE TRAILS Add excitement to family walks or cycle trips with a downloadable Treasure Trail. An easy to follow route will enable you to crack the clues while taking in some of the most fascinating sights along the way. Three different types of trail – treasure hunt, murder mystery and spy mission. Hundreds of trails across the UK, with 254 in the South West alone. £5.99 from Treasure Trails, Cornwall

TRUFFLE TREE A UK-grown oak tree inoculated with rare native British summer truffle spores. The tree is bare root,

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In the marketplace While the origins of the

Christmas market go back to the late Middle Ages over 500 years ago in Germanspeaking Europe, the practice is, by comparison, in its infancy in the UK.

all of which pull in several million visitors annually – but it’s easy to see why a strong German theme often permeates the UK’s festive markets, promoting traditional

unusual gifts, decorations and food items, with a backdrop of twinkling fairy lights, smells of mulled wine and the sound of carols from the Abbey. visitbath.co.uk Bath Tourism Plus/Colin Hawkins

Lincoln was the first British town or city to host a Christmas market a mere 30 years ago in 1982, and it wasn’t until 2000 that the South West saw its first Christmas festival in Bath. Yet within a short space of time, the popularity and sophistication of the British take on the “Weihnachtsmarkt” has increased substantially. Now more than 300,000 visitors are attracted to the Bath Christmas Market every year, almost two-thirds of whom are drawn to the city specifically for the event. With a £6.6m boost to the local economy in 2010, this is not small business. The idea, of course, is to provide shoppers with an experience that they simply can’t get in sterile shopping centres or in front of their laptops. The aroma of mulled wine in the air, the bonhomie of independent stall holders, the twinkling of fairy lights on a crisp December evening and, of course, those noton-the-high-street gifts that are a pleasure to give. Competition with the famous markets of Dortmund, Stuttgart or Augsburg is clearly unlikely –

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on Corn Street, which is open all year round and offers the largest collection of independent retailers in Bristol.

Bristol

values and quality craftsmanship. Increasingly, Britishness is celebrated across the South West. There is a Victorian Christmas theme in Gloucester, while Salisbury’s inaugural market is pushing its predominance of British products, and the Made in Cornwall Christmas Market takes over Lemon Quay in Truro. Here is a round-up of the South West’s Christmas Markets 2012, in alphabetical order. BATH 22 Nov – 9 Dec, the square and streets surrounding Bath Abbey The South West’s biggest Christmas market. More than 140 traditional wooden chalets offering local, handcrafted and

BOURNEMOUTH 15 Nov – 2 Jan 2013, Town Square Inspired by traditional German Markets – with chalets, an Alpine Bar and authentic German cuisine - the Bournemouth Christmas Festival is aimed squarely at a family audience. Twinkling white lights, a traditional carousel and carol singing. BRISTOL 9 Nov – 22 Dec, Broadmead A German Christmas Market with food and craft stalls, selling decorations, wooden toys, jewellery and smellies. Chocolates, cakes, gluhvein and bratwurst make it a great place to socialise as well as shop. A short walk away is the festivelynamed St Nicholas Market

CHELTENHAM 16 Nov – 2 Dec, The Promenade Now in its 10th year, the Cheltenham Christmas Market has a huge range of wooden chalets selling quality festive crafts and gifts. EXETER 23 Nov – 16 Dec, Cathedral Green Although inspired by continental markets, most of the stalls represent the best of what Britain and the South West region have to offer, with a mix of great food, excellent crafts, unique gifts and decorations. Hosted for the first time on the Cathedral Green in the heart of city and in the shadow of the iconic Cathedral. GLOUCESTER 22 – 25 Nov, Gloucester Quays, Victorian Christmas Market, 14-16 Dec, Gloucester Quays, Festive Fayre Not one but two seasonal markets in Gloucester. The Victorian

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Christmas Market is a Dickensian feast, with Victorian games, a real ale tavern, a carousel as well as 90 decorated stalls, set against the backdrop of the city’s historic docks. Three weeks later, new for this year, is the Festive Fayre, with 60 stalls selling fine, locallyproduced food, drink and tasty treats for your Christmas dinner table.

PLYMOUTH 22 Nov – 24 Dec, Armada Way & Cornwall Street Traditional European-style market with handmade arts and crafts, jewellery, clothing, mulled wine and crepes. Plymouth’s own celebrity chef brothers, Chris and James Tanner, will also be running a foodie haven, tempting shoppers with seasonal turkey, stuffing and cranberry baps. SALISBURY 29 Nov – 16 Dec, Guildhall Square This historic cathedral city is hosting its first ever Christmas Market, right in the heart of the town. Surrounded by medieval houses, Christmas trees and fairy lights, exhibitors are predominantly British and have been selected for their high quality products.

PADSTOW 7 – 9 Dec, Quay Side Now in its fifth year, the Padstow Christmas Festival brings celebrity chefs, culinary delights and festive fun to this Cornish fishing port. Expect live cookery demonstrations, food tastings and boutique retailers, as well as Santa’s grotto, fireworks and live music.

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TRURO 28 Nov – 1 Dec, Lemon Quay This Made in Cornwall Christmas Market showcases products by some of the finest artisans, artists, food and drink producers in Cornwall. Look out, too, for the ice rink (open 28 Nov – 6 Jan 2013) tucked just behind Truro Cathedral.

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Madness & Mayhem by Susan Easey

A Christmas pantomime

has been part of our cultural heritage for more than 150 years, yet even in today’s modern world remains something of a guilty pleasure. As a defined performance style that has its origins in the Italian street theatre of commedia dell’arte, pantomime has always delighted audiences by keeping two of the most anarchic elements of its humble origins. The leading actors will frequently and joyously move away from the rehearsed script to ‘ad lib’ using up to the minute headlines and satirising current affairs, and the success of the performance absolutely relies on the audience NOT behaving in a conventional manner. If you sit quietly in the darkened auditorium without shouting out ‘It’s behind you!’ when the Ghost appears or ‘Get off me doofa’ as the Wicked Uncle approaches Widow Twankie’s favourite pot plant then it is an opportunity sadly lost. Children love the surprising lack of inhibitions of accompanying adults, teenagers frequently forget to be disinterestedly cool for a few vital moments and grandparents tend to beam with lighthouse-wattage smiles. The very fact that there is a totally irrelevant Ghost scene slotted into every well-known fairy tale plot is happily accepted by one and all.

The essential difference between the outdoor performances of the Italian precursor and pantomime is the almost indiscriminate use of all the most fantastical stage machinery that the Victorian engineers could employ, once shows moved indoors to purpose built theatres. Gone now for us are the raising water tanks with ‘live’ mermaids, horse races on the equine equivalent of gymmembership treadmills, or heroic reconstructions such as Grace Darling’s legendary rescue of drowning sailors, that the discerning Victorian pantomime regular might regard as necessary to the performance.

“the success of the performance absolutely relies on the audience NOT behaving in a conventional manner” We still however have high expectations of the Transformation scene, when Cinderalla’s pumpkin magically changes into a sparkling carriage with real ponies, or the echoing conversation between Ebaneezer and Aladdin develops physically into the Cave of Wonders. The

resultant ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the audience - as seemingly solid pieces of the stage scenery dramatically split apart, fly noiselessly up into the roof, and glide smoothly to the side to reveal glorious colours, graceful dancers and sumptuous costumes - are an essential accompaniment to our eagerly awaited moments of pantomime. What’s on where No matter where you are living or staying in the West Country there is a wide range of performances to entertain all members of the family. There are traditional pantomimes with all their familiar motifs, such as men improbably dressed as women, catchy song and dance routines and suggestive gags (productions include Aladdin at Hall for Cornwall and Dick Whittington at Theatre Royal Plymouth). There are new pieces of theatre such as Julia Donaldson’s tale of global travel, The Snail and the Whale, by Tall Stories at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter. There are also creative retellings of childhood favourites such as the swashbuckling adventures of Peter Pan at the Old Vic, and the alarming story of Hansel and Gretel at the Tobacco Factory, both in Bristol. Whatever the style, wherever the venue, all the Christmas shows around the region promise magic, music and, possibly, just a little mayhem. Top: Hansel and Gretel. Bottom left: Peter Pan. Bottom right: The Snail and the Whale.

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New Year fun for all by Cal Irish

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.”

Moonfleet Manor, Weymouth Moonfleet Manor is a handsome Georgian manor overlooking the world famous Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon. Part of the Luxury Family Hotels group, it prides itself on providing unstuffy, homely hospitality, revolving around a nostalgic, English view of childhood. Rock pooling, tree climbing, cookery, gardening, storytelling. All good, clean fun.

BILL VAUGHAN, AMERICAN COLUMNIST

At New Year, expect no different – just more. The Den (crèche) team will whisk away the younger children for organised activities, while the older kids explore the Verandah, formerly an indoor bowling club, now a play area with trampoline, pool table, table football, table tennis and Xbox room. There is also an indoor heated swimming pool where a swimming gala gets underway in the morning of New Year’s Eve, followed by a party in the afternoon.

Bedruthan Steps

Three of the region’s top

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hotels are pulling it out of the bag for children this New Year.

wake-up call from shrill small people testing the bed springs shouldn’t – all things being equal – be paired.

New Year and children is not a combination parents typically embrace. A late night with a beverage or two, and an early

There is, however, a growing trend to go away for New Year celebrations and, on closer inspection, I’m beginning to see

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why. What better way to manage the raw depths of anticlimax once Christmas is packed away for another year, than to have something rather exciting to look forward to a week later? And far from bracing themselves, a select number of luxury West

Country hotels are positively embracing the impending arrival of a brigade of little people. I mean, come on, LEGO room service and lie-ins? A New Year’s break might just be the ticket, and could provide some much needed respite for the grown-ups, too.

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And for the adults, enjoy two days of wine-tasting and sumptuous dining to set you up for 2013. New Year’s Eve itself kicks off with canapés and Champagne, and is followed by chef Tony Smith’s Menu Gourmand and a live band to see in the New Year. Rates from £1,010 for a two-night break. Child rates applicable and under-twos free.

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Bovey Castle, Dartmoor Set in a 275-acre estate with views over the sprawling Devon countryside, Bovey Castle is a five-star luxury hotel in an unrivalled location on Dartmoor National Park. Most children will be beside themselves with excitement at simply staying in such a castle, which hints at adventure and swashbuckling fairytales. It is Hogwarts-esque in its grandeur, with its vast fireplaces, panelled lounges, ornate ceilings and sparkling chandeliers. But in addition to the magnificent setting, children will be wowed by the spread of activities laid on. A scavenger hunt, egg collecting, falconry display and golf tournament. Plus, if they wish to retire to their rooms for some down time, they can order in some Lego room service from the hotel’s toy concierge. Bovey Castle is the only hotel in the world offering children this facility – they simply fill in an order form and await delivery of toys from across the Lego range, from Duplo up to Lego for teenagers. While the children are playing creatively, the grown-ups have the opportunity to get stuck into whisky and cocktail tasting, wine and Champagne tasting, and have a go at making cider and sloe gin. Or alternatively, retreat into an oversized armchair for afternoon

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tea beside a roaring fire. The gala dinner on New Year’s Eve includes a piper, dancing and fireworks. Two-night package from £750 per room, per night, based on two adults sharing. Total price per child sharing their parents’ room £360.

Grown-up guests can look forward to a casino night, canapé receptions and a six-course black tie dinner on New Year’s Eve, complete with live music and fireworks. All this followed by that lie-in, to equip you heartily for the New Year’s Day swim. Alternatively, you could simply enjoy the sea from a distance in the luxurious comfort of the hotel’s spa. For the children, it’s wall-to-wall fun. Billy Whizz magic show, jugglers and stilt walkers, family movies with popcorn, Captain Coconut and his amazing bubble show, cupcake and candle decorating, fancy dress parties and discos.

Bedruthan Steps Hotel & Spa, Mawgan Porth Parents of young children and longing for just one lie-in over the festive period? Bedruthan Steps is the place for you this New Year. This award-winning four star hotel, set into the North Cornwall cliffs north of Watergate Bay and overlooking the Atlantic, claims to have perfected the art of hosting a family New Year. And with the offer of free childcare from 8am til noon on New Year’s Day, they may just be right. Quite simply, woo hoo.

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Bedruthan’s New Year package is a three-night stay, prices from £535 per adult based on two people sharing. Children up to and including 15 years are £165 per child.

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On thin Ice by Angela Findlay

My parents’ ice experience was in the early 1920s when the lake at the local estate in Scotland regularly froze over. Virtually the whole village turned out to skate. Elegance, long dresses, muffs and, apparently, considerable skills were displayed. My own experience as a child was different. The same area but the setting was a frozen flooded field. Grass and reeds grew at random intervals through the ice. Thin ice! The skates were the same, though. My mother’s long brown boots, intricately buttoned, took about half an hour to put on. Forward progress was assisted by pushing an old wooden chair. My falls were frequent and applauded by my slightly more competent brother. We had to trudge home, wet and weary and carrying the chairs, before dark. No twinkling lights there apart from the stars. But it was magic. The lure of outdoor skating remains. Opportunities for skating in the open air as the Edwardians did with such panache all those years ago are snowballing. You can even hire a robust plastic penguin to help your children balance at the well-established rink at the Eden Project. This year there are new kids on the block in the South West for the ultimate in outdoor skating

Cousins Entertainments will run this venture. Profits will go to the refurbishment of the old Cathedral School to create a cultural centre for Cornwall. Imagine the sound of carols as you skate in the shadow of the ancient Cathedral. Think twinkling lights and stardust.

experience. Fancy a break from hectic festive preparations? What about a workout to combat extra Christmas calories? Mostly, soak yourself (not literally for the ice will be thick enough) in the romantic atmosphere that will be created in stunning locations. You won’t have to carry a chair. You won’t even have to be home before dark. But you will experience the magic. Forget the elegance of the 1920s. Dress is optional. If you are an expert, flashy and cool, wear plenty of bling, a leotard and spangly tights. If you are going to be holding onto the sides and other people’s hands wear plenty of padding. I know. I’ve been there. Remember the thin ice. So, where do you go? Truro Cathedral is hosting its first open air rink on Cathedral Green. Following the huge success of the rink at Winchester,

Elegance could be a bonus in Bath. The new rink is at the Royal Victoria Park beneath the iconic Royal Crescent. It is a first for Bath, complete with a rink-side chalet serving festive food and drinks. Think mulled wine. Not too many, though, or you may be sure that you have seen the ghost of Jane Austen gliding serenely across the ice. Bournemouth’s Lower Central Gardens will be lit by myriads of fairy lights and you will skate among the trees of these Grade 2 listed gardens. There will be late night sessions. Think starlight and the soft swish of skates on the ice. Bristol is combating the closure of its indoor rink by hosting an outdoor event at the Podium. It promises to be big on atmosphere and decorations. The rink will be near to the busy market area and high street shops. Grab a break from retail activity and reality. You know you want to. Get your skates on and experience the magic.

Ice skating at the Eden Project

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Golden Age for museums

Council has secured £5m over three years to develop further its six museums and galleries, while Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter and Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery have landed £3.5m over the same period, both as part of the Renaissance Programme launched in early 2012 by Arts Council England.

by Cal Irish

In addition, RAMM in Exeter won this year’s £100,000 Art Fund Prize, the UK’s annual “museum of the year” award. Judges praised the ambition and imagination of the museum, which reopened in December 2011 following a £24m transformation.

“In Bristol, museums have been shown to have one of the highest rates of repeat visit of museums anywhere in theUK ”

Chair of the judges, Lord Smith of Finsbury, explained RAMM’s victory: “It’s quite simply a magical place. The Victorian aspirations to bring the world to Exeter are stunningly realised through some of the most intelligently considered displays on view in any museum in the UK.

contributing to knowledge and skills, driving the creative industries and regenerating our cities, museums are being recognised as core business.

“Every exhibit delights with a new surprise, and provokes with a new question - and at a time when local authority museums in particular are in such danger, this brilliant achievement proves how daring, adventurous and important such institutions can be.”

The South West’s museums have been particularly successful in generating funding and transforming themselves into progressive and inspirational spaces that rival the capital’s in terms of creativity and captivation. And such investment looks set to continue. Bristol City

In Bristol, museums have been shown to have one of the highest rates of repeat visit of museums anywhere in the UK, and are winning deserved national recognition. In less than a year since opening in June 2011, Bristol’s M Shed attracted more than half a million visitors.

At-Bristol Planetarium

The UK’s museums are

undergoing a revival, and The South West’s collections are no exception. With almost a 10 per cent increase in the number of adults visiting a museum or art gallery since 2007, according to statistics from the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, British museums are thriving. In 2008, eight of the top ten UK visitor attractions were museums and galleries, and three UK museums were in the

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top ten most visited museums in the world. There’s no doubt we do museums well.

replaced by innovative, handson exhibitions designed to make learning fun.

The arrival of the National Lottery in the 1990s opened up significant potential funding streams and in addition, the nation’s museums have generated substantial private investment to rebuild, remain relevant and become outstanding. Stuffy, dusty museums full of ancient academics and yawning schoolchildren have been

The country’s museums also make a demonstrable contribution to UK plc.* Visit Britain has identified the UK’s history, heritage and culture as being overwhelmingly the most popular reason to visit the UK. Visitor numbers support this – 35% of visits to national museums in 2008 were by overseas visitors. By attracting tourists,

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Located on the historic dockside, the museum retains the unique character of a former 1950s transit shed and reveals the fascinating story of the city and its inhabitants’ experiences over time. From prehistoric times to the present day, the history of Bristol is played out through the objects and stories of the people who made the city what it is today. With use of film and photography, personal stories, rare and quirky objects and interactive displays, M Shed holds up a mirror to contemporary society. At-Bristol on the harbourside is another South West success story, using the very latest hands-on multimedia techniques to bring the world of science to life. Bristol’s Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2011, the science centre offers a truly interactive family day out, with more than 300 hands-on exhibits, inspiring live science shows and a 90-seater iconic chrome sphere Planetarium. First opened in June 2000 as an educational charity, At-Bristol has attracted five million visitors and raised £25m to develop new exhibitions and support educational programmes. Away from the public floor, the science centre has laboratories, preparation rooms and classrooms in which a wide range of curriculum-linked school workshops, debates and teacher training is delivered by in-house science communicators and education experts. * Source: Museums Deliver, 2010. National Museum Directors’ Conference.

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The Exeter Effect

“embracing the very latest in cool design and smart technology”

by Cal Irish

There’s a style and substance to Exeter these days that cements its position as one of the South West’s swankiest cities. Exeter is buzzing. Its university is ranked in the top 10 in the country; its independent schools are in the top 10 in the South West; its newly re-opened Royal Albert Memorial Museum is the Museum of the Year 2012; and its rugby club, Exeter Chiefs, is sitting comfortably mid-table in English Rugby Union’s top flight. It’s a city that is steeped in more than 2,000 years of history, as the most south-westerly Roman fortified settlement in Britain, and it is dominated by its spectacular early 12th century cathedral. Within the last five years, however, the city centre has undergone a substantial makeover, juxtaposing heritage with progressive architecture.

Picture caption

The ongoing transformation is embracing the very latest in cool design and smart technology, attracting high-end retailers and culminating in the arrival of John Lewis – the first in Devon and Cornwall – which opened in October this year. Alongside the medieval, Georgian

and Victorian buildings is a stylishly modern take on town planning. The Princesshay shopping centre opened only three years ago and provides a mix of quality retailers and restaurants. Take your pick between Reiss and LK Bennett, Hobbs and Karen Millen; pop into Kath Kidston, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Hotel Chocolat; pick up your new iPad Mini at Apple, and sit in awe of it over lunch at Giraffe or Carluccio’s or Wagamama’s. And with the same architectural panache as Princesshay, John Lewis has transformed the old Debenham’s into something else rather enticing. The arrival of such a bastion of civilisation had been talked about for months and for miles around. People from Bude, 60 miles away on the North Cornish coast, were the first in the queue on opening day and the queue continued round the block for much of the store’s first trading weekend. Sales outstripped expectations. In the coffee shop, The Place to Eat, situated on the fourth floor overlooking the city to the Cathedral beyond, hot drinks were sold at more than one per minute and 200 pints of milk were consumed each day that weekend. John Lewis has managed to match the hype by delivering something a bit special, with its new format store. Every concept new to the John Lewis business is being trialled in Exeter, and 75% of the fixtures and fittings aren’t seen in any other John Lewis in the country. There’s an iPad bar in The Place to Eat, 30 terminals around the store where you can search and order products online and, for the men, the gadget

The Magdalen Chapter

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A different genre but equally exclusive is Southernhay House, only a minute from the Cathedral. It’s a beautifully restored 10-bedroom Georgian townhouse from the Burgh Island fold. “A gorgeous small hotel on the loveliest square in town,” exalts Sawday, with “sparkling interiors and deeply spoiling bedrooms”. Popular with the locals, the food has a reputation for being chic and unpretentious, and it’s the place to go for cocktails at dusk. Voted one of the top places to eat out in the UK by Which Good Food Guide, the choice of restaurants in Exeter is comprehensive and international. Fine dining at Michael Caine’s Abode, fish and seafood at The Galley in nearby Topsham, French pancakes at the Gourmandine Crepes Cafe just off the Cathedral Close, authentic tapas at El Bocado on South Street and Jasmine Thai restaurant on Fore Street all get great reviews. Success, it seems, does breed success. The gateway to the far South West, Exeter has long been viewed merely as a stopover city. These days, it’s well worth a weekend break in its own right. Exeter’s John Lewis store. Photography Suzanne Davies.

to end all gadgets - a Samsung interactive table. Exeter’s not-on-the-high-street experience continues to thrive, driven largely by the city’s student population. Vintage fashion, art and craft in the West Quarter; quirky uber cool Gandy Street where retro chic

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Bill’s Restaurant (pictured right) has recently opened; and the Quayside Quarter alongside the River Exe, bursting with antiques, galleries and independent shops. There’s also an award-winning Farmers’ Market on South Street and Fore Street every Thursday, selling top quality West Country produce.

Interiors from The Magdalen Chapter

Exeter’s hotels, too, set the style bar high. The new Magdalen Chapter, sister hotel to The Montpellier Chapter in Cheltenham, and part of the Swire Hotel group, is nothing short of a “contemporary wonderland”, according to Alastair Sawday. Formerly the West of England Eye Hospital,

the iconic building has been reworked to create an eclectic but striking mix of spaces – a walled garden with city veg patch, an inside-out pool heated by a log burner, a lounge complete with Hugo Dalton wall painting and a lively theatre-kitchen restaurant – perfect for weekday business but swanky enough for the

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weekend vibe. The rooms are by no means vast, but the individual and minimalistic style – with more than just a nod to the clinical history of the building – makes up for that. Plus, a complimentary mini bar and use of a hotel iPad for the duration of your visit, is a nice touch.

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The Green Machine

Certainly Dale concedes that windmills are not to everyone’s taste, but he maintains that since the first was built figures consistently show that eight out of 10 people are in favour, one is anti and one is ambivalent. “What we have is a vocal minority of nimbys who insist that windmills have a negative impact on house prices and kill birds, and who are simply missing the big picture,” he said.

by Cal Irish

The big picture is – whatever statistics you choose to cite and there are many and varied – that there is a finite quantity of extractable oil and gas in the North Sea, and it will run out sooner rather than later. Tim Davies, Premier Oil’s exploration manager in the North Sea, told AFP earlier this year: “The easy oil is over and now we have to exploit much more difficult oil – here is the challenge.”

Above: Nemesis. Below right Dale Vince.

Green energy tycoon Dale

Vince is a phenomenon. Fifteen years after founding the world’s first green electricity company, Ecotricity, the once New Age traveller was awarded Best Green Entrepreneur at the International Green Awards in 2011. The 36-strong panel of international judges described him as “an individual motivated by the desire to help, improve and transform social, environmental, educational and economic conditions. An ‘eco-preneur’

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who demonstrates revolutionary thinking and a real game changer who challenges the status quo.” Praise indeed for someone who was once a self-confessed hippy dropout, living in a trailer on a hillside in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Yet it was this low impact lifestyle – fuelled by a trailer top windmill – that proved the inspiration behind a company that now has almost 70,000 customers, and is thought to be worth more than £100m. It took Dale five years from first realising the potential power

of onshore wind in the UK to building his first large scale windmill in Stroud in 1996. He had to break the monopoly of the energy buyers at the time and overcome the public misconceptions that green energy is less reliable, “that the lights might go out”, and that it’s legitimate for a small company to be supplying electricity. What Dale promises his customers is green energy for the price of brown. “We need to stop seeing green energy as a premium product, so Ecotricity price matches the big six UK energy

suppliers’ standard tariff to the penny.” It’s a simple, transparent approach, which is surely one of the deciding factors as to why Ecotricity has the best customer service record of all energy suppliers in the UK. And, as there are no shareholders to answer to, all the profits are ploughed back into building more windmills as well as research and development into sustainable energy generation. Currently, Ecotricity has 53 windmills across the UK.

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Not so, according to Dale Vince. The real challenge for the UK is to find sustainable and independent energy sources, which is the company’s core mission. In 2010, Ecotricity introduced the concept of green gas to Britain, making gas from food waste and putting it into the national grid, which predicts that green gas could supply as much as 50% of Britain’s homes. The company is currently working hard to establish green gasmills as a major energy source for the UK.

“I had a need to reconcile my tree hugger and petrol head tendencies” The withdrawal of subsidies for solar energy generation has, however, had a negative impact on Ecotricity’s solar plans. Dale explained: “Ecotricity had plans for several more large-scale sun parks across the UK, which could also have been generating for the last 12 months. Those plans were mothballed as a result of the government’s decision to pullthe-plug on the solar industry.” But while electricity is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in Britain, it’s not the

In addition to windmills, Ecotricity has developed Searaser to harness power from the waves, and built the country’s first large scale sun park in Lincolnshire, which hit electricity generation targets in its first 12 months of operation, despite the dismal summer of 2012.

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Ecotricity Ion Horse electric TT superbike, Windmill at Lynch Knoll.

only one. Energy, transport and food combine to produce 80% of an individual’s carbon footprint, which is why Dale Vince has extended the work of Ecotricity beyond the boundaries of traditional energy companies. The development of Nemesis, a wind-powered electric supercar which currently holds the electric landspeed record of 151mph, is one such example. “Typically electric car technology has been seen as worthy, but dull. I had a need to reconcile my tree hugger and petrol head tendencies – and to demonstrate the technology in a way people couldn’t complain about, that would stimulate debate,” Dale said. This then led onto work on the world’s first national network of

charging stations, which he hopes will kick-start the electric car revolution in Britain. Only 1,700 electric cars have been registered since the launch of a government grant scheme in January 2011 that gives buyers up to £5,000 off the cost of a new electric or hybrid plug-in car. The Electric Highway, as it’s known, currently consists of 15 high-speed charge points at Welcome Break service stations across the country, which will charge your car from empty to full in 20 minutes, using a free swipecard supplied by Ecotricity. There are another 100 charge points planned in the next 12 months, which not least will connect London to Bristol and Exeter.

Dale also owns the most sustainable football club in the country, Forest Green Rovers near Stroud. The club, which is a significant local employer with more than 100 years of history, was at risk of bankruptcy in 2010. Now, with a vegetarian menu, solar panels, a pitch irrigation system using recycled water and with ambitions for LED floodlighting it’s setting an admirable precedent. “It needed saving, it was local to us, and we were able – those were the first three ingredients,” Dale said. “But the compelling final ingredient was the opportunity to use football as a ‘new channel’ for our message, for our work – which is about sustainability and bringing it to all walks of life. It’s about greening up Britain.” Ecotricity’s Sun Park, Lincolnshire.

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Food Morsels

OUTLAW’S CAPITAL LAUNCH Nathan Outlaw, who runs Britain’s only Michelin-starred fish restaurant at St Enodoc in Rock, opened a new outpost in London at the beginning of October. Outlaw’s Seafood Grill at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge focuses on simply prepared, ecologically sound seafood caught predominantly around Cornwall. Expect Cornish crab on toast,

Hot, Hot Chocolate South Devon Chilli Farm has launched a drinking chocolate with a kick, to keep you warm this winter. Not for the fainthearted, this Mexicanstyle hot chocolate drink comes in a stylish refillable kilner jar, and is hot on many levels. Price £7, available online and in farmshops and delis increasingly nationwide. LOOK OUT, WORLD! PASTIES ARE BACK The World Pasty Championships are returning to the Eden Project on 2 March 2013, following the success of the inaugural event in 2012. More than 100 competitors took part in the first celebration of Cornwall’s most famous dish, which saw amateur and professional bakers compete under their own names by baking traditional Cornish pasties or variations on the classic recipe. While the traditional pasties had to stick to a strict set of guidelines, the open categories received entries such as wild rabbit, peas and lemon zest and smoked fish topped with parsley and saffron. Last year after a long campaign the Cornish Pasty Association won European Union Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status which means that only pasty makers based in Cornwall

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who make pasties in a traditional manner and follow a traditional recipe are able to label their products as Cornish. NEW SCHOOL AT LUCKNAM PARK The luxurious Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa near Bath has unveiled a new cookery school, offering an impressive selection of 24 different day courses. Headed up by chef Hrishikesh Desai, under the guidance of the hotel’s Michelin-starred head chef Hywel Jones, the classes range from seasonal vegetarian cookery and cooking with kids, to Michelin-starred cooking at home. From £175 per person. COOKING UP A TREAT Too many cooks spoil the broth. Not so in the case of The Padstow Cookbook. An impressive line up of big names from the West Country’s food scene has got together to produce a cookbook to raise funds for the Padstow Christmas Festival. Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, Mitch Tonks,

Seahorse wins best restaurant

Mark Hix, Chris and James Tanner, Paul Ainsworth, Hugo Woolley are just some of the top chefs who have contributed recipes to the book. A famous name and a mouth-watering recipe on every page.

grilled lemon sole with potted brown shrimp butter, roasted brill-on-the-bone and whole Port Isaac lobster. “We hope to create the city’s best fish restaurant and will be bringing with us some of the finest produce the South West has to offer that we have been working with over the last 10 years,” said Nathan. Photography www.davidgriffen.co.uk

SURFING CHEF RIDES THE RETALLACK WAVE MasterChef winner James Nathan has opened a new restaurant, The Green Room, at Retallack Resort & Spa in Cornwall. Known as the Surfing Chef, James won the BBC’s amateur MasterChef competition in 2008, after throwing in his job as a barrister. Since then, he has worked with some of the most famous chefs in Europe, including Michel Roux Jr, Michael Caines and Michel and Sebastien Bras, as well as Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow.

The Padstow Cookbook, priced £9.95, is available from various outlets in Padstow, and can be bought via mail order from Padstow Tourist Centre.

Photography Harry Borden

The Seahorse in Dartmouth has bagged one of the most sought after accolades on the British food scene, Best UK Restaurant in the Observer Food Monthly Awards – beating 15,000 other restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner and popular steak restaurant Hawksmoor. The award is the fourth the Seahorse team, led by Mitch Tonks, has taken in just two months, adding it to Best Seafood Restaurant in the Good Food Guide. Allan Jenkins, Editor of Observer Food Monthly, said: “The Seahorse is the sort of brilliant seafood restaurant you hope to find in Italy, France and Spain – and never do. It has a great room, great service and great cooking. With an intensely loyal local following, it made us very happy to see them outgun the big-money, big-ticket, big London places.”

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James says he is hoping to establish The Green Room at Retallack Resort as a destination restaurant, incorporating the best of the local Cornish produce with a laidback bistro style. “I’ll be drawing on my experience of working with some of the top chefs in the world, but of course I’ll also take inspiration from the fantastic local produce on our doorstep here on the north Cornwall coast,” he said.

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Bloomin’ lovely

The rise of the celebrity chef

and the prevalence of fine dining programmes on TV has transformed what we eat. Good food not only has to be full of flavour, but it has to look striking on the plate.

And what could be more attractive than a green salad lifted by hot coloured nasturtiums or strikingly orange calendula petals with their tangy, almost citrus flavour? Eating flowers, however, is nothing new. Ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese herbalists all recorded medicinal and culinary uses for flowers, while the Tudors ate a positive bouquet of roses, cowslips and violets, dianthus, lavender and carnations. Indeed, Henry VIII was well known to have eaten platefuls of daisies to relieve stomach ulcer pains. Flower petals were most often eaten fresh in salads or as garnishes, but they were also dried and included in tea blends and used as the basis for syrups, oils and wines. The Victorians candied violet and borage flowers and used them as decorations on cakes and desserts. Maddocks Farm Organics near Kentisbeare in Devon is leading the way in the revival of edible flowers, and is currently the only certified Soil Association producer of edible flowers in the UK. The farm is run by Jan Billington who, along with her husband Stuart, uprooted the family 10 years ago after, she says, watching far too many episodes of Escape to River Cottage.

Photo: Maddocks Farm Organics.

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The business has evolved with two distinct sides, says Jan,

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Pimms Jelly by Chef Chris Archambault www.hardboiledchef.blogspot.com

which could be defined as savoury and sweet. On the savoury side, she produces organic salad leaves, selling spicy, herb, floral and seasonal salad bags locally to shops such as Darts Farm near Exeter, as well as loose leaf leaves to local chefs. “We aim to dispel the myth that salad is boring by using a combination of conventional, unconventional, wild and downright strange ingredients,” she says. And it was for these salads that Maddocks Farm Organics was the winner in the 2012 Soil Association Organic Food Awards. On the sweeter side, Jan provides masses of edible flowers both locally to caterers and by mail order to chefs – and increasingly to private customers, in the main for wedding and other celebration cakes. “There is a real resurgence in interest in edible flowers in this country and people are getting more confident in using them,” she says. “In any week I may be sending out flowers for wedding cakes, cocktails, jelly shots, ice cubes or as ingredients in wider savoury dishes such as lavender for game.” The uses for edible flowers are

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plentiful. Some such as courgette and gladioli flowers are more robust and can be used for tempura, stuffing, or simply folded into pasta dishes. Others are stunning crystalised, such as corn flower and viola, and used for cake decorating. Primroses and honeysuckle, for example, are great in jellies and jams. “We have doubled direct sales to private customers over the past year – largely due to the fact that we are a very small company and we are happy to pick exactly what the customer wants, which is particularly important for weddings,” she says. The company has also recently started selling salads, unusual leaves and edible flowers online, now supplying a handful of London chefs. Of course, not all flowers are edible and some are poisonous, so it’s unwise to go around the garden munching on anything that takes your fancy. Jan also warns that flowers bought from florists or non-organic garden centres are likely to have been sprayed at some point, so best avoided too.

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You are what you eat by Cal Irish

Locally sourced, traceable

and sustainable are adjectives bandied about with such readiness on menus these days that they have become almost meaningless. True food provenance is hard to find. The Jamie revolution gave us the desire to eat “proper” food but, ironically, on such a large scale that it is almost impossible to deliver. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the game industry, says Simon Wilkins of Cornish Game, a small family business supplying quality wild and organic game. “I know chefs who are, quite simply, lying flat out about the provenance of their food,” he says. “A lot of the bigger restaurants have outgrown themselves, and can’t possibly supply the demand of their customers.” There is an ignorance on the part of the diners that bears this out. Simon recently started Wildfire & Food, a restaurant which pops up once a month on Bodmin Moor, with the purpose of serving truly local and wild food. Hand line caught fish; hand dived scallops; foraged food; animals hunted, shot and prepared all within striking distance of Simon’s farmhouse, and cooked

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by top chefs, the likes of James Knappett. One of the 30 customers asked why everyone was eating a different fish – some had cod, some pollack and some bass. The response from the fisherman was quite simple: “Because that’s what I caught.”

“You are what you eat,” says Simon, “and typically wild deer is healthier and so of a far higher quality than farmed.” The popularity of venison has increased massively in the last few years, due in part to the celebrity chef effect but also because of its low-in-fat, highin-protein properties. Marks & Spencer reported in 2011 that venison sales were up by 340%

on the previous year, and given that there are an estimated two million deer in Britain today – the highest deer population for 1,000 years – one would think that with effective management wild venison should be a free-range, healthy and sustainable resource.

are key.” Certain practices while entirely legal – such as culling females while they’re lactating, leaving their young undernourished, or stags at the start of the rut when their testosterone levels are too high – should simply not be engaged in, says Simon.

However, much of the UK’s wild venison goes overseas, and UK supermarkets largely sell farmed stock. While deer are generally very healthy animals, the intensification of farmed deer increases the risk of disease affecting the herd. “You are what you eat,” says Simon, “and typically wild deer is healthier and so of a far higher quality than farmed.”

So too is correct bullet placement needed to ensure a humane cull; correct and timely bleeding and gralloching techniques so as not to muddy the flavour; immediate transportation to the larder, where temperature and hanging time play a very important part in the meat being set and ready for butchering. In many, many cases, these requirements are simply not being met.

In addition, according to Simon, 80% of game enters the food chain illegally. The countryside is rife with cowboy shooters lacking the knowledge, skill and care to not only cull deer humanely, but prepare the carcasses effectively and according to good practice guidelines. Ultimately, this has a significant impact on sustainability of the herd, as well as taste.

Simon’s knowledge of the subject and exacting standards as a career deer-stalker (albeit with a few years’ hiatus to play golf professionally, dive commercially and sail the world) has meant that Cornish Game now supplies some of the country’s top chefs and establishments. He also offers courses on stalking, butchery, game cookery and firearm handling, determined as he is to educate an industry that could well become a victim of its own success.

“There are many factors that determine the quality of venison arriving on your plate,” he explains, “starting with animal selection – age, sex and species

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On trend in Somerset by Cal Irish

When Alice Temperley –

favoured clothing designer of the Duchess of Cambridge – brought out a new range of clothing exclusively for John Lewis in 2012 and named it after her beloved home county Somerset, it put the place well and truly on the fashion map. Not only did the range sell out online within hours, but it raised an awareness of a county that’s now challenging Bristol as the South West’s creative hub.

“The creativity sector in Somerset is extremely vibrant”

Yet the success of Alice Temperley is by no means unique within the region. There is a cluster of creative people and industries in Somerset that are making a significant quality fashion statement. Mulberry’s luxury leather goods, urban menswear designer Jenny Schwarz, Duo shoes and boots, and world-renowned shoe makers Clarks, are all highlighting Somerset’s credentials as a centre of excellence and a truly inspirational work environment. Jenny Schwarz explains: “There isn’t a better place for my designer-wear business to be based. The creativity sector in Somerset is extremely vibrant and being positioned in the countryside is very inspiring. The location here is fantastic, I can be in London in only a couple of hours and reaching international fashion shows is a breeze, thanks to the close proximity of wellconnected airports.” 35

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Picture: Jenny Schwarz creation

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Somerset’s creative flair goes back centuries. The leather and shoemaking industry dates back over 200 years in the county, and luxury cloth makers Fox Brothers – officially credited as the original creators of flannel – has produced woollen and worsted fabric in Wellington for nearly 250 years. It was the high-end quality, creativity and passion that attracted Dragon’s Den investor Deborah Meaden to buy the company in 2009. As such, innovation and design are firmly embedded within the county’s psyche, says Into Somerset chief executive Rupert Cox. Take Frome-based Duo boots as an example, which has created beautifully crafted boots for women that come in a staggering 21 different calf sizes. While the production takes place in Italy to a very high standard, the innovation is pure Somerset.

Ian Scott, group supply manager at Mulberry says: “We are known for our quintessentially English style, and we have created a thriving business from the heart of rural Somerset. “With significant growth over the last five years we needed to grow our manufacturing base and wanted to keep it in the UK. Somerset remains the perfect location for us to trade from, for our UK and international markets, and was the obvious choice for our second factory. Somerset has a strong tradition in the leather trade and we’re helping to keep these skills alive – and of course we’re benefitting from the skills of staff in the area.”

But it’s not only the fashion-pack that’s impressed by Somerset’s fashion culture, it makes good business sense too, and the manufacturing industry in Somerset is holding its own. Mulberry already has a well established apprenticeship programme encouraging local youths to learn production skills, and 300 jobs are being created by the company’s new factory in Bridgwater.

Above: Alice Temperley.

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Home is where the hotel is interior in Newquay, Cornwall can command £1,000 or more a week during July and August,” said Miles. “However a less modernised property might only command £650. The holiday letting market looks for quality and will not put up with Granny’s furniture anymore, so a new build, well furnished property often better fits the bill,” he added.

St Moritz

A home with a spa,

swimming pool and choice of restaurants? Extraordinarily in this economic climate, it could even prove a prudent investment. If you’d bought a four-bedroom villa at the St Moritz Hotel in Rock, Cornwall, when they were built 18 years ago, you’d be feeling pretty pleased with yourself right now. You’d have paid in the region of £85,000 for a 999-year lease. Should you wish to sell it today, you’d expect to achieve in excess of £700,000. A canny investment indeed. Of course, the popularity of Rock, Polzeath and Daymer Bay in the past two decades has catapulted the area into the country’s hottest upmarket tourist spot.

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That in itself will explain part of the uplift. But the fact that villa owners can enjoy all the facilities of a luxury hotel right on their doorstep, including indoor and outdoor pools, two restaurants and the Cowshed spa, make it a very desirable proposition indeed. It’s not surprising then that, when the hotel was rebuilt five years ago, all the new privatelyowned penthouses and threebedroom apartments were sold off-plan for between £700,000 and £1.3m. Since then, there have only been two re-sales. Both sold at a premium which, given the depressed property market, is impressive. Hugh Ridway, owner of the St Moritz Hotel, acknowledges that buying property privately on hotel

estates is a growing trend in the South West. “Of course, you can buy a damp Cornish cottage and then worry about looking after it when you’re not there, finding a letting agency to help generate income and manage changeovers. Or you can buy into what I call a holiday and forget scheme.” There are, understandably, restrictions to subletting the villas and apartments at St Moritz. Owners can choose whether they wish to let their property or not, but if they do then the hotel holds the exclusive letting rights and properties can only be let out if owners maintain a minimum 4 star standard, which seems reasonable. As such, owners who invested originally are sitting on a 5 or 6 per cent annual yield, said Hugh.

In estate agent Knight Frank’s most recent report into the second home market in the South West region (March 2011), demand for holiday rentals in the region is on the rise. “The number of letting weeks has increased significantly in recent years. Five or six years ago, it typically was around 25 weeks but now it runs for around 32 weeks, driven in part by people opting to take long weekends earlier and later in the year,” said Miles Kevin, head of Knight Frank’s residential development team. “In the softer climate of Devon and Cornwall, this can be as late as November. The signs suggest that the staycation zeitgeist will continue and that holiday

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properties will remain in demand as the economy improves,” he added. The research found that this increase in holidaymaker demand is being matched somewhat by a rise in the number of people considering a second home as a stable, long term investment as well as those that see a second home as a mixture of business and pleasure, who want to use the property themselves and rent it out. “Current yields for new build properties in prime coastal, or historic town pockets of the South West are healthier than ever. We are seeing some of the schemes we’re selling achieve up to 8 per cent. For example, a two bedroom flat with a modern

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The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate, St Austell The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate is a luxury 4 star hotel, with 5 star architect designed detached woodland homes for sale. Set in 43 acres of Victorian parkland, the estate is within a couple of miles of great beaches and quaint fishing villages, and close to The Eden Project and Cornwall’s capital, Truro. Of the original 22 homes built, 20 have already been sold - the vast majority to owners who wish to blend lifestyle and investment. The two remaining two-bedroom properties are available from £237,500 exclusive of VAT. Under all the stay and let schemes available, VAT is partially reclaimable. Under the platinum plus scheme – which allows six weeks’ owner use – it’s not payable at all. In addition, The Cornwall is guaranteeing a minimum net income of 6% for two years – or three years, if you sign up by the end of 2012, which in real terms is a return of about £13,000 per annum. All the woodland homes are sold on a freehold basis, come fully

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The Village The Cornwall

The Village

– and stylishly – furnished, and include access to the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, bistro, spa with pool, tennis courts and gym. Sam Weller, sales director at The Cornwall, said: “The Cornwall’s woodland homes are for those people who want to invest in a luxury property that wipes its own face.” The Village, Watergate Bay The Village is a cluster of beachchic apartments embedded into the cliff-top at the uber fashionable Hotel & Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay in North Cornwall. Each two-storey eco pod is crafted from sustainably sourced, natural materials, and the mind-blowing ocean views are to die for.

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Each of the 21 two or fourbedroom apartments has been designed with beach life in mind, with surfboard racks, outdoor showers and ocean-facing decking. The properties are sold on a 999-year leasehold basis and there is a guaranteed rental return of approximately 7% on the property for three years. They are sold unfurnished, although for an additional £19,000 you can have your pod kitted out for you. Prices start at £495,000 and, according to managing director Will Ashworth, six of the houses have been sold off-plan for the final phases which will be ready in early May 2013. “We understand that the market is tough out there, but the exclusivity, location and attractive return seem to

have been key factors in bringing our partners on board,” he said. Una St Ives, Carbis Bay A slightly different proposition is this new development just a mile from the blue flag beach at Carbis Bay, and two miles from St Ives. While there is no centrepiece hotel as such, all 123 eco-inspired luxury homes will have access to an indoor infinity swimming pool, spa, restaurant, as well as an all-weather multipurpose sports surface and fitness suite. There will also be a full on-site management and optional letting programme.

will be built with exceptionally high levels of thermal insulation, sedum roofs and triple glazed windows. The retreat will also promote a plastic bag free zone protocol, and encourage walking, cycling and local transport links, as well as providing a shuttle bus to the beach and back. One and two bedroom houses are priced between £160,000 and £250,000, three and four bedroom properties from £350,000 to £500,000. Houses should be available to buy offplan before Christmas 2012, and the first show homes will be built by Easter 2013.

The Cornwall

Una

Eco credentials are being prioritised. Houses will be constructed from timber obtained from sustainable sources and

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Recipes Cornish Clotted Christmas For the ultimate in indulgent festive fare with a unique Cornish twist, Christmas cooks can take inspiration from Trewithen Dairy’s exclusive ‘Clotted Christmas’ menu. Each of the recipes has been designed by the head chef at Cornwall’s luxury St Moritz Hotel and spa.

Garlic Clotted Cream, Spinach & Mushroom Bruschetta

Smoked Salmon with Clotted Cream, Dijon Mustard & Honey on Toasted Pumpernickel INGREDIENTS: 230g smoked salmon 3 tablespoon of Trewithen Clotted Cream 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard ½ tablespoon honey ½ a lemon (juiced) Fresh picked dill Pumpernickel METHOD: Mix the Trewithen Clotted Cream, Dijon mustard, honey and lemon juice together. Place in the fridge to chill. Toast the pumpernickel and cut into 1 ½ inch rounds. Spoon the cream mix onto the toast and finish with smoked salmon and fresh picked dill.

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INGREDIENTS: 2 slices of sourdough 2 tablespoon olive oil 20g Trewithen unsalted Cornish Butter 1 x shallot, finely diced 1 x garlic clove, crushed 100g wild mushrooms A splash of Madeira 80g of Trewithen Clotted Cream A handful of spinach Chopped parsley Sea salt and ground black pepper METHOD: Gently cook the shallots and garlic in butter. Turn the heat up and add the mushrooms. Add the Madeira, Trewithen Clotted Cream and bring back to a simmer. Add the spinach and allow it to cook. Add the chopped parsley, seasoning and serve on toasted sourdough drizzled with olive oil.

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For the coating: 50g flour 60g breadcrumbs Topping: 2 tablespoons icing sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Clotted Cream and Mustard Mash INGREDIENTS: 1kg King Edward potatoes 100g Trewithen Clotted Cream 60g Trewithen’s Cornish butter 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard METHOD: Cut the potatoes into large, even sized pieces. Cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes until tender.Drain well ensuring the potato is dry. Mash the potato with a ricer or masher, add the Trewithen clotted cream and seasoning and return to a medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Gently beat in the Trewithen butter and add the mustards. Serve with local seared beef sirloin with braised oxtail, savoy cabbage and balsamic shallots.

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Clotted Cream Rice Pudding Croquettes with Spiced Winter Fruits INGREDIENTS: 100g pudding rice 260g Trewithen’s Cornish Whole Milk 100g Trewithen Clotted Cream 1 cinnamon stick 60g castor sugar

METHOD: Heat the Trewithen milk to a gentle simmer. Add the cinnamon stick, rice and Trewithen Clotted Cream. Simmer very gently for 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sugar; continue to simmer until the rice is cooked. Pour the rice pudding into a large, deep tray and chill for one hour. When the mix is cold, roll into small balls (top tip: damp hands stop the sticky mess occurring). Coat the balls in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Deep fry at 180°c for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Immediately roll the croquettes into the icing sugar/ ground cinnamon mix.

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The South West Magazine  

Issue 1 Winter 2012

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