Exeter Living - Issue 291

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ISSUE 291 / JANUARY 2022 / £3


17 MARCH 2022
















ABOVE: Kirsten Berggren and Julia Roquette

from Ride On, page 34;

BELOW: Sporty-inspired fashion, page 22


or those of you capable of drawing a line in the sand on 1 January and cutting off the flow of WCC (wine, cheese and chocolates) I commend you. In fact, I’d really like to be you. Alas, I am not one of those people. January is not the kindest of months and I still need WCC and plenty of telly time. I do, however, do some all-important thinking at this time. I think about the things I might want to do (a bit later) this year – things that are going to make me feel stronger, happier and healthier. And where I’m going to get my fun this year (this has to be a priority, we’re still in minus-points fun-wise because of Covid; we have catching up to do!). To this end, we have a big focus on health and wellbeing in this issue, which hopefully will provide some inspiration for you. From page 29 – 35, we chat to the amazing teams behind classes that include kayaking, paddleboarding, wall climbing, yoga, circuit training, family workouts, bike engineering workshops – I could go on and on because there are just so many different exercise options in the city. The health and fitness offering in Exeter has exploded recently and it’s ours for the taking. Fortunately, it’s also less about pumping iron and pricey memberships and more about having fun in a friendly, inclusive setting. Do check out the shopping pages too (page 23 – 25) for exerciseinspired fashion finds from the local indies. For other kinds of fun, we chat with music legends Suggs (page 66) and The Zombies’ leader singer Colin Blunstone (page 18) ahead of their respective gigs in Devon. Elsewhere we have a bumper property section (page 50) where we ooh and aah over Devon’s coolest, greenest properties. Enjoy!


Follow us on Twitter @ExeterLiving Instagram @exeterlivingmag

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Issue 291 / January 2022 COVER Inside a Dunsford property, image by Joakim Borén; head to page 54


6 SPOTLIGHT Big theatre news 9 JP HEDGE Splish-splash, it’s all about St Sidwell’s Point 66 LIVES Suggs lifts the lid on his extraordinary life


11 ARTS 80s faves our heading this way 12 WHAT’S ON Theatre, music, art and a bit of comedy 15 BOOKS A perfect selection of books to spend that Christmas

voucher on

Colin Blunstone, lead singer of The Zombies

18 THE BIG INTERVIEW Chatting with the dulcet tones of


23 INTRO Sporty outfits have never looked this good 24 EDITOR’S CHOICE Exercise apparel from the local indies 27 2022 TRENDS The Pantone Colour of the Year is...


29 THRILL SEEKERS Climbers, kayakers and water babies,



this one’s for you

32 FIT TOGETHER The Exeter organisation making exercise

accessible to all

34 ON YOUR BIKE Empowering people – through cycling


36 NEWS A new opening, and fish takeaways just got posh 37 RECIPE A hug of a recipe from The Pig-at Combe


39 EXETERWORKS Business wins and a look ahead to Exeter’s

economy in 2022

42 EXETER LIVING AWARDS 2022 All the details about

the big shindig, including details on how to nominate your business


44 CAR REVIEW Think you know electric cars? Think again


spotlight on new builds

54 ARCHITECTURE Thinking of building your own home?

Check out this Dunsford beauty for design inspiration

62 SHOWCASE Check out this historic house, on the

market now...

Editor Harriet Noble harriet.noble@mediaclash.co.uk Managing Editor Deri Robins deri.robins@mediaclash.co.uk Senior Art Editor Andrew Richmond Graphic Design Megan Allison Cover Design Trevor Gilham Contributors Richard Barber, JP Hedge, Simon Noble, Charlie Richards Advertising manager Paula Miller paula.miller@ mediaclash.co.uk Production/Distribution Manager Sarah Kingston sarah.kingston@mediaclash.co.uk Deputy Production Manager Kirstie Howe kirstie.howe@mediaclash. co.uk Production Designer Gemma Bourne gemma.bourne@mediaclash.co.uk Chief Executive Jane Ingham jane.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk Chief Executive Greg Ingham greg.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk Exeter Living MediaClash, Carriage Court, 22 Circus Mews, Bath, BA1 2PW 01225 475800 www.mediaclash. co.uk @The MediaClash © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. We’re a Bath-based publisher, creative agency and event organiser Magazines Our portfolio of regional magazines celebrates the best of local living: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter. Agency From the design and build of websites to digital marketing and creating company magazines, we can help. Events We create, market, promote and operate a wide variety of events both for MediaClash and our clients Contact: info@mediaclash.co.uk

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50 NEWS Movers and shakers from the property scene and a



Exeter Northcott Theatre has announced that it has taken over management of the city’s Barnfield Theatre. The move, which aims to secure the future of the 1890 building as a performance space, incorporates a three-step plan: to ensure the sustainability of this important cultural venue; to enhance the range of creative activities available in the city centre and broaden the range of participants engaging in the theatre’s activities; and to work towards a major transformation of the Barnfield into a vibrant creative hub serving the communities of Exeter, Devon and further afield. “The Barnfield Theatre is one of Exeter’s hidden gems, home to so much creativity for nearly 50 years, and with the potential to reach out to even bigger, more diverse audiences in future,” says Daniel Buckroyd, artistic director and chief executive of Exeter Northcott. “We’ve been working with the Barnfield team to imagine what the next fifty years might look like. Our audience and our local community are at the heart of everything we do, so we want the Barnfield to be a space where everyone feels welcome – to see a show, to take part in a creative activity or simply to join us for a coffee and a chat. We’re looking forward to meeting new friends, exploring new ways of doing things, and imagining the future of theatre in Exeter, together.” For more: www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

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above: Barnfield Theatre has already been hosting talks, events and workshops under the banner Northcott Futures; below: Northcott Theatre plan to increase engagement with audiences


Artistic director and chief executive of Exeter Northcott Theatre When happens next? “Although we’ve now taken over management of the Barnfield, the extended shutdown caused by Covid has had a big impact on the groups who have traditionally used the venue, and the building itself is in a poor state of repair, so it’s going to take a sustained effort to turn things around. We’ll be starting with an initial period of essential maintenance ahead of a fullreopening in late spring/early summer 2022. We’ll also be working with community groups to support them getting into the building again, and looking at increasing the range of professional shows taking place at the venue from Autumn 2022. We also expect to launch a fundraising campaign in Spring 2022 to secure the medium-term future of this historic building, which needs investment to put it back into a reasonable state of repair and begin addressing environmental sustainability.”



Antigone, one of the performances at Exeter Northcott 2021 Rehearsals from Honey Man

How can people get involved? “We can’t do this on our own. We need Devon-based artists, young people and communities to tell us what creative activities they want to see happening in the city, and get involved in helping make that a reality. We need volunteers to assist us in running events at the venue, or to get involved in a DIY task force to help us breathe new life into the building. If you’re passionate about the performing arts and have time/ skills/enthusiasm we’d love to hear from you [you can get in touch at barnfield@ exeternorthcott.co.uk]. And, to celebrate the start of this next phase of the Barnfield’s story, we’ll be throwing the doors wide for an ‘Open House’ event on Sunday 29 May – a fun-forall-the-family chance for anyone interested in getting creative in Exeter to come and say hello, find out about the activities already going on at the venue, and hear about our plans for the future of the venue.”

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It’s practically a day at the beach

Sporting chance


ave you seen the new St Sidwell’s Point leisure complex change colour? Its rich exterior appears to be a chameleon – and I’m obsessed. Cycle down towards the Paris Street roundabout and it looks unquestionably covered in a strong silver hue. But catch it in the right light and it beams a deep, vivid and rich golden colour. You could out trump Trump with it. The dynamic metallic colouring isn’t the most amazing thing about the building. In fact it’s not even in the top 10. I’m very late to the party with this astounding project. Its concept started well over 10 years ago when pandemics were the confines of historical references. I’ve been working conceptually

St Sidwell’s complex is shaping up to be a groundbreaking facility in the city. JP is just a tad excited... on SSP for around the past four years. What I have learnt recently, having stepped in for the first time, is that there is a Wookey Hole-esque chasm between the concept and seeing the reality come to life. I can’t wait for the people of Exeter to see it and feel it for themselves. I visited last week early in the morning right in the middle of storm Bara. Umbrellas were inside out and the visiting party were somewhere between drenched and bedraggled. The unique airflow around Passivhaus means the building is a constant, glorious, temperature. You are left with the benefit of excellent indoor comfort with no draughts and no condensation or mould. Temperatures are comfortable and consistent in both summer and winter. The other thing that is quite tricky to explain is the noise, or

“The finish of the spa will blow your mind”

lack of it. Currently the divers and underwater tilers are in both the 25m pool and 20m pool. Because the bottom of the floors can be raised and lowered for any event, it requires a lot of specialist attention. There must have been 40 workers on site in the area of the pool nearest to the traffic laden roundabout. Yet you could have a conversation at whisper level. It turns out that the building had an acoustic practitioner from the very outset. The bit that I adore, as an advocate for the city, is that this insane effort is not for the benefit for elite athletes, the wealthy, or a specific section of the city. It is ours. It is yours. It is for the people of Exeter – because a while ago people agreed that quality of life for us all should be the top priority. Now it is quite amazing that my team get to come in on the last lap and bring the project home. We are trying to do you proud. My leisure team are now on site with the builders Kier, coordinating all the aspects such as gym equipment, the soft play, café and spa. The finish of the spa will blow your mind. When Covid stops poking

us with delays and the project opens, it will mark the end of a very long journey – and the beginning of a new one – in which the Council’s environmental ambitions and commitment to health and wellbeing have been put into practice in the most extraordinary way. Say what you like about the building but I don’t think anyone will build anything of this quality again. From January I’ll be leading the work of the Sport England Delivery Pilot to try to break down as many barriers that turn people away from our facilities. People think that this facility and others is out for reach for one reason or another is ground zero for us. The start of 2022 will see one of the best leisure facilities in Europe open in the heart of our city at the most affordable rates. Whatever Covid is doing, that is one thing to really look forward to this New Year. ■ Jon-Paul Hedge is a director at Exeter City Council where he currently looks after leisure. He is a former newspaper editor and lives in the city with his wife and two young children. www.exeter.gov.uk

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The Devon Shutter Company Ltd British Made Shutters Since 2007 info@devonshutters.co.uk www.devonshutters.co.uk



Dust off the shelf in your brain marked lyrics to 80s classics and start practising Shout, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Mad World, Sowing The Seeds Of Love, and Woman In Chains because the legendary duo Tears For Fears have announced a UK tour for 2022 which will see them perform at Powderham Castle, near Exeter, on 26 July. Supported by Alison Moyet, the 80s favourites will be belting out all the classics, as well as performing tracks from their first new studio album in nearly two decades, The Tipping Point, which is released on 25 February. Speaking about going back out on the road TFF founding member Curt Smith says, “We couldn’t be more excited to start playing concerts again. We’ve missed seeing our friends on the road around the world and the energy of performing live.” Tears for Fears at Powderham Castle on 26 July; www.powderham.co.uk

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‘Sisters’ Flo and Joan will be performing at Exeter Phoenix

WHAT’S ON 7 January onwards

THEATRE/ SHOWS 12 and 15 January

2 GRAVES In 1978 Jack’s dad has a shot at the world darts championships, but the outcome of the tournament leads him on a journey which changes his life forever. This brutal and, at times, funny one man play, by award winning write Paul Sellar and performed by James Brough, is a lyrical feast of revenge at any cost. 7pm, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

13 January

THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN This play engages the audience in a theatrical conversation to explore possible outcomes to communication challenges faced by people with dementia. Four key scenarios are presented where the situation could be made better or worse by someone interacting with a person with dementia. You – the audience – contribute to how the scenes play out.

Always check COVID-19 restrictions and instructions with venues before your visit

7pm, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk


29 January

FLO & JOAN: SWEET RELEASE The multi-award winning comedy musical duo, viral sensations and hilarious suspiciously unsimilar sisters Flo & Joan (Live at the Apollo, The Royal Variety Performance, Jonathan Ross’ Comedy Club), are back with a brand new show for their biggest ever UK tour. 8pm (doors 7.17pm), Exeter Corn Exchange, Market Street, Exeter; www.exetercornexchange.co.uk

HOW TO LIVE A JELLICLE LIFE This five-star reviewed show has been called ‘the tonic we all need’. It’s described as a jellicle discussion about the jellicle aspects of the jellicle cats in Cats and how you can apply them to your life in order to make it truly jellicle. Expect jellicle laughs, jellicle dance and a very jellicle PowerPoint presentation. Cygnet theatre, Friars’ Gate, Exeter; www.cygnettheatre.co.uk

12 February

THE BALLAD OF MULAN For ten years Mulan, disguised as a man, has fought for the Chinese Empire. Now the fighting is coming to an end, one last battle and she will be going home – but can she return to her old life and become a woman again? This is the real Chinese heroine that inspired Disney’s animation and livefeature Mulan. 2pm and 6pm, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter; www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

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6 February

10 February

PAUL FOOT The kooky left field comedian brings his brand new show; audiences can expect important topics including interfering ambulance drivers (self-appointed busybodies!), plus Billy Zane’s valuable diamond (c/o RMS Titanic). 7.30pm, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter; www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

13 February

ED GAMBLE: ELECTRIC Providing the laughs is the co-host

of the award-winning mega-hit podcast Off Menu with James Acaster, Taskmaster champion; he even has his own special Blood Sugar available worldwide on Amazon Prime. 7.30pm, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter; www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

MUSIC 14 January

LANTERNS ON THE LAKE The five-piece indie rock band from Newcastle were nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2020; their music has been described as, ‘gauzy dreampop and monumental post rock.’ 7.30pm, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

15 January

JAH WOBBLE’S THE INVADERS OF THE HEART Join Jah, the original bass player from Public Image Ltd, will be treating the audience to innovative reinterpretations of classic PIL numbers such as Poptones and Public Image along with his solo work and collaborations. Divided into two sets punctuated by his inimitable stage


UNQUIET AND SEAWOMEN These two immersive film installations show the experience of two very different communities; fisherwomen from the haenyeo community on Jeju island, Korea, and children brought up by the geothermal powerplant in Devil’s Valley, Tuscany. Both communities have a unique relationship to their environment which is rich in natural resources; as processes of extraction evolve, this way of life is increasingly threatened. Children of Unqueit is at Thelma Hulbert Gllary in Honiton, Seawomen is on at Ocean, Queen’s Drive, Exmouth; www.thelmahulbert.com

29 January – 29 May

IN PLAIN SIGHT: TRANSATLANTIC SLAVERY AND DEVON This exhibition explores the museum’s and Devon’s links with centuries of trading enslaved African people across the Atlantic. The exhibition investigates aspects of the transatlantic slave trade that are all around us, but for some remain ‘hidden in plain sight’. Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Queen Street, Exeter; www.exeterramm.admit-one.eu


Head to Exeter Northcott Theatre to see Ballad of Mulan, and comedian Paul Foot

presence, offbeat cultural references and witty banter. 8pm, Exeter phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

16 January

THE SIMON AND GARFUNKEL STORY Direct from its success at London’s Lyric Theatre, this worldwide tour is back. Using huge projection photos and original film footage, this 50th anniversary celebration also features a full live band performing all the hits. 8pm (doors 7.15pm); Exeter Corn Exchange, Market Street, Exeter; www.exetercornexchange.co.uk

17 January

LIME CORDIALE This fun group from Sydney have been heralded as the one of the buzziest bands to come out of Australia in recent years and have recently collaborated with actor and musician Idris Elba. 7pm, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter; www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

21 January

SUGGS Vertigo on the roof of Buckingham Palace and nearly blowing the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Things have gone a smidge surreal since the Madness frontman was a 12-year-old in shorts on the tough streets of North

London. With help from Deano his trusty pianist, he tells his story in words and music with the help of some Madness classics. 7.30pm, Exeter Corn Exchange, Market Street, Exeter; www.exetercornexchange.co.uk

28 January

THE SUPERMERCADOS/ FREAK BY WIRE These two local alternative rock bands will be playing at the recently reopened pub and music venue King of Clubs. Originally the coaching stables, it’s a selfcontained music venue and part of the fabric of the Kings Arms pub. More live music events are planned for this refurbished venue for 2022. Doors are open from 7.30pm, King of Clubs, Kings Arms, Gold Street, Ottery St Mary; www.thesupermercados.com/gigs

10 February

THE ZOMBIES “British Invasion” legends The Zombies return home to celebrate their long-awaited induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Expect all the classic tines, such as She’s not there andTime of the season. Read the full interview with lead singer Colin Blunstone on page 18. 7.30pm, Exmouth Pavilion, Esplanade, Exmouth; www.ledleisure.co.uk


Until 30 January

SOUTHCOTTIAN Multimedia artist John Walter combines digital animation, 3D scanning, religious memes and an explosion of visual mash-ups to focus on Devon-born Joanna Southcott’s false pregnancy at the age of 64, which she and her 14,000 plus followers believed to be Shiloh, the new messiah. Walter narrates Southcott’s story as an allegory of Brexit. Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Queen Street, Exeter; www.rammuseum.org.uk

Until 26 June 2022

31 January – 13 February

PAUL GIBLIN: GARDEN SKETCHES STARTED IN LOCKDOWN Phonic FM’s Paul Giblin was working hard on his laptop during Covid, and needed to find something mindful and and off-screen to balance himself. The result is an amazing collection of carefully considered colour sketches of the plants from his garden. The Glorious Art House (upstairs in the gallery), 120 Fore Street, Exeter; www.thegloriousarthouse.com ■

RAY BALKWILL’S THE RIVER’S VOICE “If you have ever sat on the banks of the Exe marvelling at its beauty as the sun slowly sets behind the Haldon Hills, perhaps you will understand why I am so passionate about the place and why I constantly have to try and capture it in paint,” says artist Ray Balkwill. This exhibition is a love letter to the Exe Estuary, captured in just about every medium possible. The Café at Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Queen Street, Exeter; www.rammuseum.org.uk

17 March 2022

15 January – 5 March



EXETER LIVING AWARDS We cannot wait to invite hundreds of you back to our extra-glam red-carpet extravaganza. Nominations (which are free to submit!) are open now on our website, and there are sponsorship opportunities ready to be snapped up. To find out more about sponsorships, contact paula.miller@mediaclash.co.uk or harriette.dixon@mediaclash. co.uk. For more, see page 42.

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R Paperback writer Recipe books (perfect if you’re doing veganuary), books to inspire creativity, novels to dive into – it’s an eclectic bunch catching Charlie’s attention this January

olling out all the clichés for January, the time of fresh paperbacks (and cashing in those book tokens), new year resolutions, and all things vegan, here’s a (possibly) ill-fitting combination of books to celebrate all these things. Happy New Year! Paperbacks. If you’re someone who holds off for the paperback then we admire your patience; January rewards you with some sweet choices. Mrs Death Misses Death is by Salena Godden, and the story of Death, an old woman who commissions a young, troubled writer to write her memoirs and unburden her weary conscience. While the two grow close as they reflect on love and loss, Death keeps on appearing in and disrupting the lives of others when they least expect it. Author Salena Godden is a poet, memoirist, and essayist (her essay ‘Shade’ is part of anthology The Good Immigrant) and brings a poet’s deft touch to the novel. In Luster, by Raven Leilani, Edie is a young black woman who feels like she is making a mess of her life and begins an affair with an older, married white guy. Before long she’s moving into his home in the suburbs with his wife who is unsure about their open marriage, and befriending their adopted black daughter. In parts funny, desperate, and bittersweet. Also look out for Detransition, Baby, by Torrey Peters and Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic. For those looking for a creative boost for the new year, we have a decent selection of books to inspire writing, art, or creativity. A classic in this field is The Artist’s Way: A

Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron, which uses a series of daily exercises designed to get you to start ‘doing’. These include beginning each day by writing three pages, freehand. Write anything – just write. A new surge of interest in this book throughout the pandemic makes total sense, and there are groups online going through the process together which might be fun to join. If you’re considering digital detox, Mark Boyle’s The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology talks about the author’s journey into doing just that. The author discovers the hard won joys of building, repairing, sowing, and living life the old school way in Ireland, checking his email one last time at the beginning of the book. And doesn’t that sound enviable? Finally to Veganuary. We have a section on environmental writing, some of which details why it makes sense to eat more sustainably, not hard when Devon is full of farms growing delicious, easy-to-source veggies. The right menu inspiration is everything! Luckily, there really are good cookbooks around – we like The Contented Vegan by Peggy Brusseau, where you’ll find recipes plus her whole lifestyle approach; The Green Barbecue: Modern Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors & In by Rukmini Iyer, which is full of great vegan burge recipes; and In East: 120 Easy and Delicious Asian-inspired Vegetarian and Vegan recipes Meera Sodha follows up from her popular book Fresh with vegan and veggie variants. Yum. Charlie Richards is the co-owner of Exeter bookshop Bookbag, 7-10, McCoy’s Arcade, Exeter; uk.bookshop.org/shop/bookbag

“The author discovers the hard-won joys of building, repairing, sowing, and living life the old school way in Ireland”

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DEVON’S SOUTH COAST SECRET Perched on a secluded clifftop across the water from Salcombe, GARA ROCK is a boutique hotel like no other


ucked away at the end of winding rural lanes and with a far away quality, you will feel as if you’ve stepped into another world when you arrive. Greeted by panoramic views of the spectacular coastline, we like to think of it as our gorgeous little secret on the South Devon Coast. Step out of the car and breathe in the fresh sea air. Listen to the waves crashing below. Blow the cobwebs away on the scenic South West Coast Path. Or head to the sandy beach below and enjoy a picnic when the sun shines. The hotel itself provides an easygoing and down to earth atmosphere and welcomes families, couples, good friends and dogs too.

The interiors feature lots of soft, earthy, natural colours and textures, which are inspired by Gara Rock’s rugged surroundings. Every area of the hotel has been created to feel soft, comfortable, informal, and inviting, day or night, whatever the season. It’s obtainable luxury that’s made up of sumptuous comfort and warmth, which can be seen in all the hotel accommodation.

“YOU WILL FEEL AS IF YOU’VE STEPPED INTO ANOTHER WORLD WHEN YOU ARRIVE” STAY... From Gara Rock rooms and luxury suites boasting sea views through to self-catering apartments, you’ll find something for you… a dreamy getaway for two, a family escape with your fourlegged friend or a break with friends. If you’re looking for something extra special, take a peek at the Out of the Ordinary collection. Get comfy in the master bedroom of the Penthouse with wow-factor sea views and freestanding roll top bath or put your feet up in the sumptuous open plan living area. Feel instantly relaxed in the living space of the Signal House or unwind in the bubbling hot tub. The Secret Suite is hidden from the main hotel. Nestled on the clifftop with glorious sea views, an inviting hot tub and luxurious styling, it’s a place to snuggle up and shut out the world.

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EAT & DRINK... Food is something delighted in at Gara Rock. Enjoy a real taste of Devon in our award-winning restaurant, offering seasonal dishes prepared by our talented chefs. In summertime, the terrace will be your new favourite spot. Incredible views, sea breeze, all the glorious weather and the enticing aroma of the ‘over the coals’ menu. Alfresco dining on sun-kissed days never looked so good.

PLAY… When you are not taking in your surroundings or catching the ferry to Salcombe, the hotel has an indoor pool with jacuzzi overlooking the sea… bliss! And when it’s sunny, there’s no better place to be than the outdoor pool, with amazing views. The spa is where you can take time out for you. Using local, organic products choose from a range of treatments including reflexology, body massages and facials. On rainy days, order a drink and some popcorn and sink into the large comfy chairs in our cinema room. ■

Forget it all for a few nights (or more!) by the coast, come stay at Gara Rock. Contact us on 0330 134 2809 or see Gararock.com

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COLIN THE SHOTS The Zombies gave us some of the most era-defining songs of the 60s, She’s Not There and Time of the Season to name a couple. Lucky for us, they’re playing in Exmouth this February. Simon Noble chats to lead singer Colin Blunstone about ambition, playing with the greats and the joy of being back on the road…


pparently Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and even Jedward are all musical legends. With the risk of sounding old and curmudgeonly, I am 41, I think not… A musical legend is someone who has put in the miles, grafted hard at their art, been imperious to all the zeitgeists and fads and stayed true to themselves as an artist. A musical legend is a survivor. Recently I spoke to Colin Blunstone, the lead singer of The Zombies. Colin is a legend. It is a mystery that when there is talk of the ‘British Invasion’ of America in the 1960s, a few bands eclipse all the rest. The Zombies, although well loved by their fan base, never seem to have been placed within the same pantheon as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. However they were there… they were the first British band to secure an American number 1 after The Beatles with their debut single She’s Not There, their follow up Tell Her No also went into the top ten. In 1968 they released the album Odyssey & Oracle which Rolling Stone magazine placed at 100 in their top 500 albums of all time. The album also spawned the single Time Of The Season which was a global smash. Ironically the band had decided to call it quits before the release of Odyssey & Oracle so they never got to experience their greatest success as a band in real time together.

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“It was very exciting to be 19 years old and in the music business. Anything was possible…”

The Zombies have been reunited for some years now and are back in the studio recording the follow up to 2015’s billboard-charting Still Got That Hunger. They are touring the UK this spring kicking off down the road at Exmouth Pavilion on 10 February. They performed their only show of 2021 as a streamed concert from the hallowed Abbey Road Studios. For a career as rich as Colin’s that has spanned five decades, there are many questions to ask; I kick off with the question everyone is asking anyone at the moment… How have the last 18 months been for you? It has been a really challenging time, I have missed being out on the road and playing live. The Zombies are continually touring so there has been a massive hole in my life. It has been difficult but no more for me than everyone else. It was a great joy last week when we played at Abbey Road. I have such a strong relationship with the place having recorded there with The Zombies, The Alan Parsons Project and solo material. It has such an incredible history. You are recording a new album currently, how is that going? This time away from touring has allowed us to go back in the studio and we are about half way through recording the new record which will be released next year hopefully. We find it really important to have all the members of the band in the studio creating the music at the same time which is not that common nowadays. We find that there is an energy that is created that will affect your performance when you play off of one another. It is the same technique as when we recorded in the 60s at Decca studios in West Hampstead and is absolutely what has dictated The Zombies sound.

Colin Blunstone was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2019



The last couple of years have been pretty crazy. Have the stories that have been in the headlines influenced any of the themes on the album? Out of the songs that have been recorded I don’t think there is a direct parallel to what is currently going on in the world. They focus more on universal themes of love and loss, happiness and sadness. We focus on what we want to write. We have never paid much heed to what is popular and in the charts at a given time in terms of influence. Though informed by what is going on in the world, we hope that the things that interest us will be the things that people will want to listen to. It makes us unique. You might like our music or you may not, but it doesn’t sound like anything else. It has given us our longevity. There are not many bands out there who started recording in 1964. What music influences you? I have a theory that people stay loyal to the music they listened to in their formative years between the ages of 14 and 24. It is definitely the case for me; I listen to Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor for instance. I don’t really listen to much on the radio today. Looking back at the early Zombie years what was it like to be a part of the British music movement that captivated the globe? I do look back with fondness. It was very much lead by The Beatles. I do think the influence of bands from Britain at that time started a massive cultural and social revolution. If you talk to Americans about that time, the Brit invasion meant a huge amount to them. It started with music but then things like the fashion of Mary Quant and the theatre of John Osbourne filled with people like Michael Caine; there were so many British people that influenced the world. It was very exciting to be 19 years old and in the music business. Anything was possible.

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left to right: The Zombies: Steve Rodford, Tom Toomey, Søren Koch, Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone

“You have to be sensitive enough to be an artist but also have a toughness to last out the dark periods”

2022 marks the 58th anniversary of your first release. What keeps the hunger alive in you to keep making music and going on the road? First of all we really enjoy the process of writing, recording and performing. It is a genuine love of all these aspects of the industry. I always say that to choose this life you have to have a coupling of traits in your character in that you have to be sensitive enough to be an artist to write and record but you also have to have a toughness to last out the dark periods. In any musician’s career there will be challenges and you have to be built to get through those. Touring itself can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining at times. Are the relationships you have with the people you tour with as important as the musical relationships you have creating music? Yes, they are really. When you are in a confined space travelling, which if you are in America could be 500 miles a day, it is really important that we are all friends and we get on really well. I have worked with bands that have said that if they had to travel together they wouldn’t last a week.” In 2019 you were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, what did that mean to you? It meant a huge amount in the most part because it was recognition from our peer group that they have noticed and appreciated our musical contribution. It gives you self-belief, it validates what you have been doing over the years, it is just a wonderful recognition of your career. Without a doubt it is the most exciting thing that has happened to me. We also got to perform at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn in front of 17,000 people alongside a wonderful line-up including Def Leppard, The Cure, Roxy Music, Radiohead, Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks. A magical evening, I’ll never forget it.

above: The Zombies started recording in 1964;


below: The band will head to the USA later this year to continue the tour

It is clear that the Rock & Roll Hall of fame induction has invigorated The Zombies to roll their sleeves up and get back ‘at it’ especially seeing, as Colin dryly puts it, they might be in the autumn of their careers now and there is a possibility that they might not be doing this forever. He still has ambitions to learn and improve his craft and would like to be able to write at least one more evergreen classic song that will stand up alongside their many hits from the past. He knows Devon well and has often holidayed in the South West which adds to the excitement for him in getting this tour underway. In fact, he says it his favourite part of the country. Colin is an engaging person to talk to, he is enthused by all aspects of his career both past and present. During our chat he tells a hilarious story about being on an American TV show called Hippodrome where his performance had been choreographed by an American actor. He was singing live, the stage was set up so he couldn’t really hear the rest of his band and he was surrounded by twenty young ladies bedecked in feather boas. Quite a lot for a teenager from Hertfordshire to take in. He also talks about the challenges of coming up with a set list these days, marrying the old and the new to keep the faithful happy while also introducing them to new music and perhaps a few deeper cuts. The canon from which they can choose from is huge; alongside Zombie hits such as She’s Not There and Time of the Season, crowd favourites which they play include God Gave Rock and Roll To You, a hit for the band’s Rod Argent, and Old and Wise by Blunstone’s The Alan Parsons Project. There are not many bands that can claim, even if they would be too modest to do so, to have been a part of the greatest era for British Rock and Roll music. The Zombies are a great band with great tunes. I can’t imagine a better way of celebrating the end of January, and the potential a new year can offer, than going down to Exmouth on 10 February to see them… n Exmouth Pavilion, Esplanade, Exmouth; www.ledleisure.co.uk/exmouth-pavilion

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Do you have a wedding business you want to promote? We are publishing a beautifully designed wedding feature on the 28th January in Exeter Living - Exeter’s most incisive and aspirational read.

To find out more about advertising, contact Paula Miller 07563 529772 paula.miller@mediaclash.co.uk

Redefining Muscle Sculpting. TruSculpt® Flex is a non-invasive muscle sculpting technology that is designed to strengthen, firm and tone muscles on the abdominal region, buttocks and thighs. We can offer personalised treatments based on patient fitness level, shape, and body goals. TruSculpt Flex with Multi-Directional Stimulation (MDS) deploys a unique method of electrical muscle stimulation to target specific muscle groups using three treatment mode options, covering the largest treatment area in the body sculpting industry. The treatment mode options are designed to simulate different workouts by replicating intensified twisting, squat, and crunch actions, the TruSculpt Flex is capable of replicating the equivalent of 54,000 crunches! Regular exercise combined with TruSculpt flex can certainly work together to build stronger muscles, as with many training programs consistency is key to seeing results AND keeping them.

A full consultation is required prior to treatment commencing, if you’re looking to introduce Trusculpt Flex to your work-out plan please call 01392 547791 to schedule your initial appointment. hello@skinsouthwest.co.uk | www.skinsouthwest.co.uk T: 01392 547791 M: 07544965213 | f 



This achingly cool, 80s-inspired tracksuit comes from the Girlfriend brand and has eco-credentials galore. It’s made from recycled bottles, is water resistant, and is 100 per cent recyclable. For more activewear from Girlfriend, turn over the page. Girlfriend summit tracksuit, bottoms £75, windbreaker £85, available to buy at Sancho’s, 117 Fore Street, Exeter; www.sanchosshop.com

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ODDBALLS STRIPED BOXER SHORT, ADULT, £12.95 How can you show your love for your hometown football team? Easy. Don a pair of these Exeter City football boxers. These jollies come from the The OddBalls Foundation to raise awareness of Testicular Cancer, so they’ll be a friendly reminder to check your balls as well. From Exeter City FC shop; www.shop.exetercityfc.com UNIVERSAL WORKS ORGANIC PEACE, LOVE AND SOUL T-SHIRT, £44 Crafted from 100 per cent organic cotton for an ecoconscious everyday wear, this pastel pink Universal Works T-shirt offers a comfortable relaxed fitting for elevated freeflowing mobility. Peace out. From Always in Colour, Unit 1, City Arcade, Fore Street, Exeter; www.alwaysincolour.com

MAKE YOUR MOVE Whether you’re heading back to the gym, re-starting your yoga sessions or simply taking the dog for a walk, these clothes and accessories from the local indies will help you get that body moving...

CORN ROKA CANFIELD B SUSTAINABLE NYLON RUCKSACK SMALL, £59.99 Made using 12-15 recycled bottles, this eco-friendly bag is weather resistant, durable and sleek, making it perfect for a walk on Dartmoor or to take to the gym. From Toot Garouk, 19 Queen Street, Exeter; www.tootgarook.co.uk

LIMB YOGA HOODIE, £49.60 This is ideal for both pre and post class: a staple of anyone’s yoga and meditation wardrobe, with comfortable thumb holes to keep your wrists and pulse points warm and to help regulate your body temperature. From Yoga Fish, www.yogafish.co.uk

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BAMBOO NAMASTE LADIES SOCKS, £6.95 Made from sustainable bamboo material, these super soft socks will keep those tooties refreshed yet cosy during a yoga sess. And stretch… From Hyde & Seek, Unit 1, Harlequins, 1 Paul St, Exeter; www.hydeseek.co.uk

ED’S CHOICE ECO WOLF YOGA MAT: SATIN PURPLE, £50 No more sweaty palm problems or sore knees with this mat. Cushioned enough to take away the pain but sturdy enough to turn upside down, with the perfect thickness and firmness to ensure you don’t start slipping when you start sweating. From Luna & Wolf, The Dutch Barn, Dawlish Road, Exeter; www.lunaandwolf.co.uk

CHILLY'S BOTTLE EMMA BRIDGEWATER BUGS & BUTTERFLIES 500ML, £26 This bugs and butterflies bottle will keep your water ice cold for up to 24 hours and warm beverages toasty for up to 12 hours. From Insideout, 1 Bampfylde Street, Exeter; www.insideouthome.co.uk

SAYE MODELO 89 GREEN VEGAN TRAINERS, £129 These retro trainers will stand you in good stead for general sport, equally they’ll look the cat’s pyjamas with a pair of jeans. The company who make them plant two trees for each sale of sneakers; that’s 170,000 trees planted and counting. From Lorna Ruby, 17 Catherine Street, Exeter; www.lornaruby.com

GIRLFRIEND FLOAT SEAMLESS HIGH RISE LONG LEGGINGS, £65 AND GIRLFRIEND BRA, £35 Made from 90 per cent recycled plastic bottles (RPET) and 10 per cent spandex, these leggings are made for low to medium impact activity, the soft and compressible fabric is perfect for lounging round the house or getting active. Match with the amber bra and you’re all set. From Sancho’s, 117 Fore Street; Exeter; www.sanchosshop.com

NEON RAINBOW WALKIES SWEATER IN NAVY, £55 Wear this and your pooch will know what’s in store – cue jumping and waving of tail! It also comes in grey and you can also have it personalised with your dog’s name on the sleeve. Woof woof ! From The Distinguished Dog Company, www.theddcompany.com

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1 2

The Pantone Colour of the Year 2022 is...Very Peri


cross the worlds of fashion and interiors, the Pantone Colour of the Year is a huge deal. For 2022, the global authority for colour communication and inspiration since 1963 has selected ‘Very Peri’, described as a ‘dynamic periwinkle blue with a vivifying violet-red undertone’. The colour they select aims to sum up the mood of the year, and trickles down through trends in everything from nail polish to wallpaper.








1. Maison Anje Lefreedom knit, £105, from Lorna Ruby, 17 Catherine Street, Exeter; www.lornaruby.com 2. Purple lamp, £40-£180, from Love Frankie, 34 High Street, Totnes; www.lovefrankie.com 3. Assorted vases, POA, from Bøde Living, Alexandria Trading Estate, Alexandria Road, Sidmouth; www.bode-living.com 4. Margot reading glasses, £13.99, from Insideout, 1 Bampfylde Street, Exeter; www.insideouthome.co.uk 5. Diamond Eye handstitched pattern belt, £345, from TBM The Belt Makers, 119 Fore Street, Exeter; www.thebeltmakers.com 6. Zao nail varnish, £11.50, from Soapdaze, 126 Fore Street, Exeter; www.soapdaze.com 7. Dartington Crystal small cushion vase, £27, from John Lewis, 1-11 Sidwell Street, Exeter; www.johnlewis.com 8. Freya gingham dress, £112, from Sancho’s, 117 Fore Street, Exeter; www.sanchosshop.com

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More and more people are seeking adventurous forms of exercise, from canoeing to paddle boarding, wall climbing to caving. Enter Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre, Exeter’s onestop-shop for thrilling capers…

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Haven Banks’ facilities include caving and climbing

he desire to get out and be social, fuelled by not being able to do so for so long, has definitely extended to how we now like to exercise. The thought of paddleboarding on the River Exe at sunset with a couple of mates sounds a lot more appealing than jogging solo on a treadmill. So it’s no surprise that places like Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre are becoming increasingly popular. You’ll have seen the quayside facility on your walks, and probably noticed the groups of water-based activities taking place, such as paddleboarding and dingy sailing. But did you know that Haven Banks also offers rock climbing and abseiling? In his own words, centre manager Ben Hedden tells us about the adventures on offer…

The centre is open and activities run all year round. Generally, stand up paddleboarding, coasteering and sailing don’t prove as popular during the colder months, although our full time Exeter College students continue to train in these activities throughout the winter. In addition, the winter gives us access to kayak and canoe some of the countries best white-water river sections, right here in the South West! In addition, caving and hill and moorland walking also prove popular at this time of the year. This all said, we have two local primary schools who kayak with us every week throughout the year!

The centre has a replicated and realistic climbing wall and artificial caving system located on-site. This is a great teaching and learning space but because this cannot be seen by the public, some do

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Hiking trips to Sourton Tors on Dartmoor






“You might not feel as motivated at this time of year but put your warm clothes and waterproofs on and get your family and friends out in to the open air”

Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre is located on Exeter Quay

Sea Kayaking in Devon’s waters

As well as the social interactions which take place on the activities we offer, we feel the outdoors in general offers a far more


stimulating experience with increased benefits to our health, fitness, welfare and wellbeing.

not know of their existence. In addition, the iconic 23-metre stainless steel tower provides the thrill seekers among you with 20-metre climbing and abseiling experience, as well as the “freefall experience of your life” when stepping of the platform for an adrenaline fuelled “Powerfan” descent. The centre’s progressive approach allows participants to go from ‘zero to hero’ if they wish. The centre offers one-off taster

sessions, as well as courses, qualifications and certification in many of the activities we provide. Our aim is to provide a life-long love of the outdoors and outdoor and adventurous activities. In addition, we will always provide advice and guidance for future participation and progress. Exeter and the surrounding area has many clubs where participants can continue their outdoor activity ventures.

All our activities offer a social aspect in one way or another.

The obvious is the shared experiences and while doing so, participants engage with one another to build confidence, respect and mutual trust.

Haven Banks prides itself on being fully inclusive. We offer a fantastic range of activities and courses for adults and corporate groups, schools, colleges, youth and family groups, birthday parties, groups and individuals with additional needs. In addition, the centre offers school holiday sessions and courses for 8-14 year olds on all but the Christmas school holiday. This also includes our Little Adventurers school holiday activities for 5-8 olds. Not forgetting we also have over 60 full-time further education students studying Outdoor & Adventurous activities as part of their studies with Exeter College. There really is something for everyone and we actively encourage everyone to give something they have never done a try. Our instructors provide a supportive caring experience regardless of age or ability. For 2022 we will be offering stand up paddleboard yoga classes,

starting in May.

The outdoors and outdoor activities offer evidenced benefits to people’s health, happiness and wellbeing. You might not

feel as motivated at this time of year but put your warm clothes and waterproofs on and get your family and friends out in to the open air. Guaranteed you’ll make a habit of it. It’s been a challenging 18+ months and it’s all too easy stay home and stay indoors. With that little bit of motivation you really will see and feel the benefits of being outdoors and breathing in the fresh air.

We are in the fortunate position that getting outdoors and active is part of our work and everyday lives but we do understand

motivation can lapse for people during these shorter, colder and often wetter days. That little bit of motivation to get outdoors and active, regardless of the intensity really will pay dividends! n www.haven-banks.co.uk

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Smiley happy runners

“Our groups are incredibly sociable”


What if there were loads of fun and friendly exercise groups all over the city, providing everything from dance classes to circuit training – all completely free. Welcome to Freemoovement, the health and fitness provider in the city on a mission to make exercise in Exeter accessible for all. 32 I EXETER LIVING I www.mediaclash.co.uk




s with all great ideas, Freemoovement started as a very small group of people (four) getting together to exercise and support each other to be more active. Because of its simplicity in being outdoors, in local parks and totally free, the group grew incredibly quickly – to the point that they are now the largest provider of outdoor health and fitness activities in the city. Paul Mouland (above), one of Fremoovement’s founders, tells us more... We run various activity programmes throughout the year including circuit training fitness classes, social cycling groups, online yoga, family playdays, running groups and dance classes. The most consistent sessions are our outdoor exercise classes which take place six days a week. Our aim is to help people achieve the recommended 150 minutes of activity a week by moving more and offsetting the sedentary lifestyle which is so easy to fall into.


Can you tell us a bit about the different classes you run?

Wheely fun bike rides around the city

Is there a social aspect to the classes?

Who is your demographic?

Where are these classes happening in Exeter?

Any new classes starting in January?

Our groups are incredibly sociable even though we are still socially distanced. This social, community focused element of our groups is arguably the largest benefit of joining Freemoovement. You will meet so many new friends in your community, all keen to improve their health and support each other while doing so. We have sessions all over the city including St Thomas, the Quay, Newtown, Heavitree and St David’s. We encourage people to come along to any session, mix things up and meet new people. What is the advantage of going to these classes, as opposed to, say, a gym?


Lots. Being in the great outdoors and fresh air, connecting with nature, getting the sun on your face, zero cost, engaging with your community, using your local parks more, and safely socialising with new friends.

The outdoor exercise classes in the parks are really popular

We don’t really have a typical client as everyone is encouraged and welcome to attend regardless of age, gender, fitness level and ability. We want to remove barriers to being active so make all our groups inclusive. It’s not about competing with others, just moving more and improving your health. We will be starting a new Sunrise Running Group in January and already have 50 people signed up with all kinds of abilities. The group will be catering for non-runners wanting to do a couch to 5k beginners’ course, all the way through to regular runners who want a more social and supportive environment to go running in. What advice do you have for this time of year in terms of feeling healthy and happy?

We all have great intentions of improving our health at the start of a new year but trying to achieve this on your own can be difficult. With the backing of a group like ours, you will get the support, encouragement, and motivation to help you achieve your goals. We all know it’s much easier to put your trainers on, go running or attend a fitness session if you have a dedicated time and day in the diary and know there will be others there that can motivate you. It means you don’t have to think too hard about what exercises you need to do because its already planned for you. Many people also feel pretty lethargic in January...

Being healthy is easier if we can get into a proactive and optimistic cycle. It’s important to listen to our bodies but also just as important to set ourselves achievable target and goals, no matter how small. Having worked in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years, the most consistent thing I have seen is the optimism and enthusiasm people have on the first few days of January, which inspires them to immediately rush and take advantage of a discounted gym offer, then getting locked in for three or six months. We all know the next part of the story, which is a two or three week burst of activity, followed by the guilt of paying for a membership we aren’t using. I know this from being that guy too. The great thing about Freemoovement is there are no costs or feelings of guilt. Instead, you motivate yourself with intrinsic motivation of wanting to get healthier, not by fear of getting your money’s worth from the gym membership you’ve paid out for but may not use. This then helps you place your health improvement as the main driver not the money you are wasting. For more: www.freemoovement.com

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Kirsten Berggren (left) and Julia Roquette (right) at Ride On

ell us a bit about Ride On and your association with the organisation?

Kirsten Berggren and Julia Roquette are both volunteers at Ride On, the cycling charity based on the Quay. Here they help run friendly and inclusive workshops where wom+n can learn bike mechanics. We caught up with Julia (also an astrophysicist at The University of Exeter) to find out more… 34 I EXETER LIVING I www.mediaclash.co.uk

Ride On is a charity that has the goal of helping people to cycle. This is achieved by offering refurbished bikes at affordable prices and various bike-related activities, from taught workshops to social rides. I am a mechanic volunteer at the workshop, where I spend my Saturdays helping their lovely staff refurbish bikes. I am also a co-founder of the wom+n’s workshop, which happens every Tuesday evening.

How did the workshops come about?

They grew from conversations between a few of Ride On’s female volunteers and the charity’s staff. We discussed Ride On’s potential to reduce the gender gap that permeates the bike community in general, and the idea of a female-led workshop grew from there. From my side, I come from an academic background in Physics. As I’ve gotten used to navigating myself in cis-male dominated environments, it was easier to integrate myself in a bike-mechanics workshop. But I noticed that I was often the only



woman present in the workshop. So I started pondering on ways I could help attract other women to the bike-mechanics world. That’s when my path crossed with Kirsten Berggren and Anna Ross, the other two co-founders of the wom+n’s workshops. They noticed that while a lot of women own and ride bikes, they didn’t have enough knowledge and confidence to fix their own bikes, and they wanted to contribute to change that. Do you feel there are barriers, societal or otherwise, to women acquiring knowledge and experience in all things mechanical?

We hear the same type of story all the time from attendees at the wom+n’s workshop. They always mention that even though they have been riding bikes since they were children, they always had a man in their lives, be it a husband, dad or brother, who would always take the role of maintaining their bikes. They usually leave the workshop quite happy about finally getting to learn how to do it themselves! For anyone that might feel a bit intimidated about getting to grips with mechanics, how do you put people at ease?

One of Ride On’s values is to offer an inclusive environment. The workshop is really a place where bike mechanics’ knowledge is shared horizontally, with beginners learning from their professional mechanics and more experienced volunteers, providing a space for each person to learn at their own pace. With the wom+n’s workshop, we are trying to extend this learning environment to a public that, due to societal or cultural barriers, wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable to join the workshop. We are trying to change the old image of men as holders of the bike mechanics knowledge by having female-led bike mechanics sessions every Tuesday night. In these sessions, we try to create a pressure-free environment where people can learn basic bike mechanics and be empowered to maintain their own bikes. We also recognise that women are not the only ones normally excluded from bike workshops, and we are open to anyone who feels excluded from cis-male dominated environments (that’s why we added a ‘+’ to our name!). What led you to become a mechanic?

I am actually an astrophysicist, and I work full time as a research fellow at the University of Exeter. I’ve dreamed about bike-touring since I was a kid. In Brazil, where I come from, we don’t

Julia started off by doing a beginners course at Ride On

have as many cycle routes, and it can be really unsafe for cyclists to take the road, especially for women. When I moved to the UK, I was really excited about finally having the safety and infrastructure to start cycle-touring. Still, as my tours grew longer and longer, I started feeling anxious that my bike would break, and I didn’t even know how to fix a puncture! This was when I found out about Ride On, back in early 2020, as they sometimes offer a beginners bicycle maintenance course. I really enjoyed it and during the course, I learned about the possibility of becoming a volunteering mechanic trainee at Ride On. I had to wait for the first lockdown to be over, but in mid 2020 I started volunteering at the workshop. In the beginning, I did lots of scrapping bikes for parts, but with time and lots of knowledge shared from other volunteers and the Ride On Staff, nowadays, I can fix most things myself. I learned how to build bike wheels from scratch, and my partner has been touring with a bike I built myself from a frame bought from Ride On. What do you like about it and what are the challenges?

It is a screen-free activity! This is really good for people like me who work all day long at the computer. I also really love the problem-solving aspect of bike refurbishing, even though sometimes it

“While a lot of wom+n own and ride bikes, they didn’t have enough knowledge and confidence to fix their own bikes, and they wanted to change that”

can take you several days to finish refurbishing a single bike! For anyone who doesn’t currently ride a bike in Exeter, can you sell it to us?

Riding a bike is fun, healthy, good for the environment and by bike, you always have the best view of the landscape. Where are your favourite spots to cycle in Exeter?

I love cycling the rural roads around Exeter. Hollow Lane, Mosshayne Lane, Poltimore Road and Higher Lathy’s Cottages Road are among my favourites. When you’re not working, what do you like to get up to?

Fixing bikes at Ride On, cycling around Exeter or cooking some Brazillian food.

What gives you joy in your day-to-day life?

Hearing the noise of my partner coming back from work on her bike.

What’s the most surprising thing about you?

I also do cheesemaking as a hobby.

In an uncertain world, what do you know for certain?

Physics always works!

Who would play you in a movie about you?

No one, a movie about me would certainly be an animation!

Wome+n Workshops are held every Tuesday evening, from 6pm – 8pm. The sessions are run by Karen Stokes, Kirsten Berggren, Anna Ross and Julia Roquette. Prior booking is necessary. Ride On, 61 Haven Road, Exeter; www.rideoncycling.org

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FOOD & DRINK NIBBLES FROM EXETER’S FOOD SCENE There are lots of vegan options too

NICE TO MEAT YOU Meat 59, an independent multi-site burger restaurant, has recently opened its doors in Princesshay. Located next to Lucciano’s, the restaurant specialises in burgers and craft beers and was previously located on Magdalen Road in St Leonards before shutting earlier last year. “Customers can definitely expect the same experience they are used to at Meat 59; great food, great service,” says Meat 59’s Jenna Heasman. “We’re excited to be appearing in Princesshay. It’s certainly not our usual turf but we’re glad we’re going to be more accessible to people in the city. There should be some exciting collaborations with other independent high quality businesses coming up so watch out for that.” www.meat59.com

The restaurant has a strong following in Exeter

The spacious site opened in December

TOTALLY BRILL Mitch Tonks, founder of local restaurant Rockfish, has launched Seafood at Home – an all-new way to buy and eat fish at its freshest. From sea to plate in 24 hours, Seafood at Home aims to change how we buy, cook and eat fish. Launching in early January, Rockfish’s service means customers have online access to the renowned Brixham Market where they can choose their own catch. The seafood is then transported just 17 metres Nice to sea you

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where the fish is immediately cleaned, portioned, and packed directly next to the quay, arriving straight to the customer’s door the following day. Fish and seafood on offer will change daily depending on what is landed, but options will include everything from monkfish to cod, sea bass, gurnard, brill, john dory, dover sole, cuttlefish, scallops, crab and much more. “For too long the fish supply chain has meant that getting our hands on really fresh fish is only possible for those living by the sea,” says Mitch. “For the rest of us, our choices are what is available pre-packed and ‘fresh’ from the supermarkets, severely limiting not only our choice but the quality and provenance too. “By changing the process entirely, Seafood at Home will instead bring the joys of the market – finding the best quality, fresh British seafood – to everyone, in the end hoping to help us Brits eat more seafood, better.” www.mitchtonks.co.uk

The deliveries will include recipe ideas

The fishy options will change daily



Serves 4

A comforting bowl of loveliness, brought to you by the chefs at The Pig-at Combe and featured in their book THE PIG: Tales & Recipes from The Kitchen Garden and Beyond; www.thepighotel.com

3 sprigs of thyme 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 300ml (½ pint) tomato juice Salt and pepper Crusty bread, to serve

Ingredients 4 garlic cloves, chopped 2 onions, chopped 2 celery sticks, chopped 1 leek, chopped Rapeseed oil 500g (1lb 2oz) soft plum tomatoes) 500g (1lb 2oz) cherry tomatoes 3 sprigs of rosemary

Method 1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, 180 °C fan (400°F), gas mark 6. 2. Sweat down the chopped garlic, onions, celery and leek in a pan with a little oil. 3. Roast both types of tomatoes with the rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size and ripeness of the tomatoes. You want them

to have a little colour and to be nice and juicy. 4. In a good-sized pan, combine the sweateddown veg and roast tomatoes with the vinegar and tomato juice. Make sure you’ve got your pinny on as it can spit a bit at this point. Simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes. 5. Now it should be smelling good, so blend with a hand blender or in a food processor. It will be quite thick, so add water or more tomato juice to get the consistency you like. 6. Pass through a sieve to get rid of any herb stalks, pour into bowls and serve with crusty bread.

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It’s the city’s business


EXETERWORKS Great news for the city of Exeter


The forecast for 2022...

A new report has predicted that Exeter’s economy will be in a strong position this year, with the employment sector in particular set to flourish


he UK Powerhouse report, produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr), analyses 50 of the largest local economies by employment and GVA (Gross Value Added) growth. The report says that Exeter’s economic output will remain steady, with a predicted growth of 3.6 per cent by the end of 2022, maintaining the city’s eighth place spot out of the 50 cities surveyed. In terms of the number of people in jobs, Exeter is expected to see a significant improvement, with a 1.9 per cent year-on-year growth, lifting the city from 22nd place in 2021 to twelfth by the end of 2022. A key component is set to be innovation and UK Powerhouse shows the South West has the largest share of businesses engaged in innovation,


on 41per cent. This equates to 9,900 businesses actively innovating in the region, with improving the quality of goods or services the key factor driving the change. “The projected experiences for both Bristol and Exeter give a fascinating snapshot of how the South West is set to perform in the coming year,”says Hannah Clipston, partner at Irwin Mitchell. “On the face of it, the South West leads the UK in business innovation and it may be that factor that is keeping Bristol from slipping even further in economic output and delivering something of a bounce back in the jobs market by the end of 2022. “Exeter may not have Bristol’s much touted creative sector, but it is set to eclipse its northern regional rival in terms of economic growth, and being a top ten city for GVA output in 2022 is no

mean achievement and employment will improve to be only just outside the top ten rankings too. “Back in 2019, we reported Exeter had one of the fastest growing economies in the South West and the resilience of the city continues to see it match many others during a challenging period across the country. Exeter has always had a reputation for robust IT and professional services sectors and this feeds into the innovation angle identified in the report as a key driver for success. “The projections for Bristol show innovation is not necessarily enough on its own to deliver a headline grabbing economic boost but with Exeter, both show that innovation and embracing the digitisation of the economy is essential.” For more: www.irwinmitchell.turtl.co

Virtual one hour sessions, all free to attend Search Exeter Living on LinkedIn for upcoming dates and registration If you would like to get involved, please email events@mediaclash.co.uk

EXETERWORKS The latest from Exeter Chamber

The socials will continue in 2022


I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe it’s now 2022, to say the last two years have been a bit of a rollercoaster is an understatement. I, like many, was extremely pleased to see the return of our Exeter Chamber face to face events, there really is nothing like human interaction (two metres apart obviously) and of course a good cup of coffee or splash of splosh! Our Coffee in the City events were right up there when it came to meeting and talking to ‘real’ people again. I am pleased to say that a hot cup of coffee will be waiting for you on Wednesday 12 January at Barnfield Crescent from 8.30am – 9.30am, served by the talented Matt from the popular Timber Coffee cabin. The event will be hosted by new Chamber board director, Charlotte McGregor of Wollens Solicitors as part of our new Exeter Chamber hosts events. This is a fantastic opportunity to put a face to a name and learn about how Charlotte’s passion for supporting local businesses and communities will help shape the future of the Chamber going forward. As always, the first cup of coffee is on us (because we’re nice like that) – the event is outside, so wrap up warm, and come armed with your new year’s resolutions, as they’re always a great conversation starter! Our events are a brilliant way to connect with the many amazing businesses we have in our city. We look forward to seeing you for our first coffee meet of the new year.



To book your place, visit www.exeterchamber.co.uk/events Happy New Year! Yvan

Someone’s stealing the limelight

OUT TO LAUNCH Exeter-based paid media agency Launch has been named as one of the top ten agencies in the UK by The Drum Recommends, a global service to help companies choose which agency to work with based on their client reviews and ratings. Launch is the only agency in Devon and Cornwall to be named in the prestigious list and follows huge advances for the business over the past 12 months, driven by the boom in digital during the pandemic. Since the start of the year, the agency has doubled its revenue to exceed £1m and employed a further 10 people to grow the agency’s total headcount to 20. Ambitious plans for 2022 have the company on track to grow a further 50 per cent to exceed £1.5m. “It’s a real honour to be listed among the giants of the industry, and it’s testament to the brilliant work and effort our team puts into client accounts,” says Jaye Cowle, managing director of Launch. “We have more than doubled in size this year and we’re excited to continue putting our clients at the forefront of paid search in 2022.” For more: www.launchonline.co.uk

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The Blugrass lot: it’s a rock and roll kind of team

BUSINESS SERVICES WINNER Congratulations! How did it feel to win the Business Services award?

Incredible! After such a tough year for everyone it really felt like the best possible moment to win such an award. The whole team felt elated, and it was great to add the trophy to our award cabinet in the office the next day. How did you celebrate?

Apart from having a cracking night at the awards, we also shared the celebration with the whole team by giving them all a £50 voucher. The award win was a team effort after all, so this only felt fair. For those not in the know, in a nutshell what do you do?

We’re a managed service provider, which means we partner with SMEs to take care of their IT, cloud services and communications. We support their staff and infrastructure daily. We also become their strategic partner, advising on business goals, to ensure their use of technology is maximising their efficiency and productivity. What’s your USP as a business?

We care. We genuinely feel pain when our clients have issues. That’s why we’re a 24/7/365 support business. Because if clients need us at two in the morning, we’re there for them. The judges’ comments were: “Thoughtful Bluegrass has gone


IT support company BLUEGRASS scooped the Business Services Award at the Exeter Living Awards 2021. Sarah Bailey, head of marketing at the firm, chats about cyber security, cracking tricky IT issues and going the extra mile

the extra mile to exceed its clients’ needs: enhanced its offering, is respected as a trusting employer and gave free tech support generously to pandemic strugglers.” How do you go “the extra mile”?

Total flexibility. We understand every business is different and one size does not fit all. We launched three support packages with varying levels of support, but we also offer block hours support. Which is like a payas-you-go model. During the pandemic, we reached out to clients regularly, but not just on IT-related matters. We offered our help on anything they needed. We partnered with other local business to come up with support in areas such as mental health and marketing. We wanted to ensure our clients felt supported by us, as we are a business partner, not just a supplier. If they had the hard job of putting staff on furlough, we reduced their contracts appropriately. We’re aware that other IT companies didn’t do this, but to us it was an obvious way we could help. How did your IT support change during Covid?

Our first priority was the safety of our staff and our clients. We moved all staff to remote working before the official announcement was made and we ceased on-site


to-one’s, the directors are extremely open and approachable when it comes to flexible working and childcare commitments. They offer trust to their employees to manage their time.

support. When we reintroduced on-site support, we took all thorough precautions. We’re now visiting sites as and when needed, however all of our staff do a weekly lateral flow test, and all of our engineers are double jabbed.

And the most challenging?

A lot of people are not at peace with IT. How do you deal with people who may, for whatever reason, have a negative relationship with all things technical?

By providing proactive IT support, (resolving issues before clients know about them) our aim is that our clients don’t even notice their technology. But nothing is perfect, and technology will faulter every now and again. As a standard we avoid jargon and acronyms where we can. We use language that resonates with our clients, and we explain technology in a simple and straightforward way. We always use examples that relate to their role, their individual needs, and their specific pain points. At the end of the day, all our clients really want to know is how will it make their life easier or how will it improve their performance and that’s what we concentrate on when it comes to the way we communicate. What’s the best thing about working at Bluegrass?

All three directors have a strong focus on employee wellbeing. Yes, the business needs to be profitable, but the second priority is staff wellbeing. As well as monthly one-

Talking to clients about cyber security. It’s something we’re very passionate about as we’ve seen how devastating the effects can be for a business who has suffered a cyberattack. Yet, there is a danger that when we talk about it, it can feel like we’re just scaremongering. The truth is, it is a scary subject and businesses should fear a cyber-attack. It’s a fine balance trying to get this across without being all doom and gloom. Seeing our solutions catch potential attacks day in and day out reinforces how important these cyber security solutions really are. Any exciting changes or developments in the pipeline for 2022?

We’ve got offers out to several new staff as we speak, so expansion is definitely on the cards for the new year. We’ll also be keeping our fingers on the pulse on the latest cyber security solutions to ensure our clients have the best tools in place to keep them safe throughout 2022. There is more, but we can’t reveal that just yet, so watch this space!

For more: www.bluegrass-group.com

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A few pointers for writing a nomination that stands out…

Your seat awaits for the 2022 Exeter Living Awards. First step: nominate yourselves!

Time to get nominating...


he 2022 Exeter Living Awards are now just around the corner (17 March) and we cannot wait to see hundreds of you again at The University of Exeter’s Great Hall to celebrate the fantastic people and businesses in Exeter and beyond. The event has sold out every year since we founded it, and it’s always, always a night to remember with a champagne reception, three-course meal, the awards announcements, followed by a very merry after-party. If you haven’t been before, check out the images and videos on the Exeter Living Awards website and social media pages for

a glimpse of the glitz and glamour from previous years. NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN! Please do nominate your organisation for an award (you can’t be nominated, you have to do it yourself); this is not a time for modesty – you know you’re great, we know you’re great, now it’s time to shout about it! Nominations are free to enter and the deadline for submitting your nomination is 27 January. You never know, you could be one of our winners on the night! We are consistently overwhelmed at the sheer brilliance of the nominations we receive; they say so much about heroes of Exeter, going over and above to make the city the thriving place it is. For more: exeterlivingawards.co.uk

BECOME A SPONSOR The Awards are a great opportunity to get glammed up and have fun, but they also provide invaluable networking for businesses from all the diverse sectors of the city. To find out more about sponsorships contact paula. miller@mediaclash.co.uk or harriette.dixon@mediaclash. co.uk.

Sponsors on board for 2022 so far include: Regus, Warwick Event Services, Powderham Food Festival, Yellowtail Financial Planning, Princesshay and Guildhall. When it comes to sponsorship, business is done from, at and around the Awards. Countless conversations are triggered by

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deep association with the city’s leading business marketing activity. It’s efficient, too, as one deal reaches thousands of people. We support your business promotion through our magazines, social media, email, networking events, our website, the programme, the review, and, of course, on the night itself.

• Please – we beg you – don’t leave your nomination until the February deadline looms. Submit it in plenty of time. • Everyone says ‘we’ve had a great year’, the judges want much more than that – they want to know precisely why it’s been great. • Consider the experience of the Exeter Living Awards judge: you’re faced with thousands of pages of information about local businesses and projects. Make it easy for them. Get to the point. And say something extra memorable. • Gathering testimonials is an ideal way to persuade judges of your greatness. • Have fun with it. Seriously. It’s all too rare that we make the time to sit and reflect about everything that’s gone well in the last year. Take this as an opportunity to give yourself a hearty pat on the back. See more top tips at www.exeterlivingawards.co.uk


NOW Nominations open 27 JANUARY Deadline for submitting your nomination 3 FEBRUARY Grand Reveal Day 16 FEBRUARY Finalists’ & Sponsors’ Reception 11 MARCH Official Awards Preview in Exeter Living 17 MARCH Exeter Living Awards 2022 22 APRIL Official Winners’ Guide in Exeter Living

NEW AWARD ALERT: SUSTAINABILITY The Sustainability Award is open to any local company or organisation which has been demonstrably thoughtful about its approach to sustainability – supply chain, transport, products, services, energy: anything. Do you have a new or enhanced initiative? Which practices make your organisation stand out? How have you been changing your business or organisation? We are looking forward to receiving your nominations!

Reach the best in the west Affluent, active and influential and just a call away...

Contact Paula 07563 529772


Combining understated luxury with remarkable range, Audi’s new Q4 sees the electric car come of age Words and pictures by Matt Bielby

A chunky, handsome, well-equipped family-size SUV



ny new tech can feel not-quite-ready-forprime-time in its earliest incarnations, and that’s certainly been the case with electric cars. But they’ve been developing at an astonishing pace – and the new Audi Q4 e-Tron makes perhaps the most convincing case yet for why we all need one in our lives. This slick iteration of the VW Group’s MEB electric platform poses an intriguing question. Not ‘why should I buy it?’ but ‘why should I buy anything else?’ A chunky, handsome, well-equipped familysize SUV with a solid infotainment system and impressive real world range, the Q4 isn’t exactly cheap – realistically think around £50k – but it’s probably all the car you’ll ever need. Since it does so much so well it’s hard to know where to start, but let’s begin with the fact that it’s a doddle to drive – indeed, I’ve found few recent cars as easy to park without relying on cameras or warning pings. It’s quiet, smooth and well-balanced, and though the mid-range 40 model quotes a sluggishsounding 0-62mph of 8.5 seconds, it actually feels much pokier, surging forward the moment you put your foot down. No need to turn on the engine or mess around with handbrakes, by the way: just unlock, get in, foot on the brake, slip the lever into Drive and you’re away. Physically, the Q4 takes up little more room than the Q3 – Audi’s entry level SUV – but has interior space to rival the larger Q5; in fact, the overall feel is notably spacious and uncluttered, with all the top-notch fit and quality surfaces

This is not a flashy car, instead giving off a vibe of restrained, relaxed practicality

Audi is known for. The doors open nice and wide, the floor is flat, and there are plenty of storage bins. There’s good headroom too, and a 520-litre boot, making it a genuine proposition for five people and their kit, as long as they’re not the most prolific of packers. Seats are comfortable and the tech intuitive, much of it revolving around an impressive 10.1 inch touch screen. A head-up display projects essential info onto the windscreen itself (a novelty that soon starts to feel nearessential), but in general this is not a flashy car, instead giving off a vibe of restrained, relaxed practicality. (It does, however, have its eccentricities, not least a bizarre squared-

“Not ‘why should I buy it?’ but ‘why should I buy anything else?’” off steering wheel, oddly reminiscent of the much-mocked ‘quartic’ wheel of early Austin Allegros – if much more pleasant to use.) Most relaxing of all, of course, is that this is the rare electric car where you won’t be fretting about your range the entire time. I wasn’t able to check the claimed 316 mile maximum, but driving around all day only knocked 10 miles or so off the computer’s projected range. A handy fast-charging capability (under 40 minutes to get back up to 80 per cent) cuts most of the planning and paranoia out of

AT A GLANCE Audi Q4 e-Tron Prices From just over £40,000 to around £65,000; ours was right in the middle. Under the floor Assorted electric motors, from the 35 model with its 52kWh battery and single, rear-mounted 168bhp motor to the mid-range 40 variant (77kWh battery/201bhp) and the 50 quattro, with its extra motor at the front and 295bhp. Equipment specs Trim levels rise from Sport through S line and Edition 1 to the very fancy Vorsprung, but even the cheapest Sport 35 gets 19-inch alloys, a 10.1-inch touchscreen and that Virtual Cockpit display. Performance These aren’t rocketships (the cheapest model reaches 62mph in nine seconds and has a 99mph max speed), but the Q4 40 certainly feels more lively than the stats suggest. In a nutshell Immensely practical and typically well screwed together premium family SUV, its immense range the icing on the cake. Model tested Audi Q4 e-Tron 40 Dealer Audi Exeter, 1 Matford Way, Marsh Barton, Matford, Exeter More info www.audi.co.uk

lengthy trips, and if you’re almost there (but not quite) you can add an extra 80 miles in about 10 minutes. Stick the gear lever in B rather than D, by the way, and you’ll effectively be driving using only one pedal 90 per cent of the time – the moment you take your foot off the gas, the car immediately begins to brake, automatically recuperating electricity as it does so. What’s wrong with the Q4? Very little, I’d say, though, getting your head around which power set-up to go for is a bit of a melontwister. With its smaller batteries, the entry level 35 is slower and lacks range, but would be a great commuter car. The 50 quattro is fastest, but prohibitively expensive. Which leaves the mid range 40 as, like Baby Bear’s porridge, just right, more than quick enough and with the most impressive range of the three. Oddly enough, the 35 and 40 are both rear wheel drive cars – a common layout for BMWs, but unheard of on recent Audis – and even boast a form of drum brakes at the rear, necessary for that regenerative braking. Strange how this most futuristic of cars can also seem unexpectedly old-fashioned, at least on paper, in the details. This is not your daddy’s electric car, then – it’s far, far better. Earlier efforts have often shown off with eerie silence and neck-snapping acceleration while remaining hopelessly impractical for everyday living, but the Q4 spearheads a generation in which the technology has come of age, prioritising range over muscle, charging speed over top speed, and the extra interior space that electric allows over flashy design. Cars like this will soon stop feeling like the niche choice and start to become the new normal. Motoring is in safe hands – even if there’s no traditional motor at all. n

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MINECRAFT ENABLES PUPIL VOICE EXETER JUNIOR SCHOOL computer science coordinator and Global Minecraft ambassador Siobhán Morgan looks at how using Minecraft was an ideal way to collate pupils’ views on a brand new playground


hen Exeter Junior School returned after the winter lockdown in March 2021, many of our pupils had not seen their peers since before Christmas. An exciting new playground was on the horizon and we were keen to gather our pupils’ views to find out what they thought would make a great playground. Assemblies took place and pupils were asked to share the ideas they had. As a school, we have been able to use Minecraft as a 3D modelling tool across the curriculum. In history, pupils have explored the Roman cities of Exeter and Bath. They have wandered through scenes from Fantastic Mr Fox’s world to support their writing in English lessons. In religious studies lessons, pupils built synagogues and mosques before planning virtual tours using green screen technology. During the first lockdown, we even kept our Minecraft Club going online with pupils logging in from home. As a result of this, our pupils were familiar with Minecraft as a creative tool so it made sense to utilise this when gathering pupil voice. We introduced the Minecraft Playground Challenge to pupils and added a competitive element by splitting each class into two and presenting it as an esports challenge (esports is defined as online, competitive gaming). This provided a motivational and engaging structure to our challenge. Each of our ten classes in

the junior school were given a limited time to present their ideas on Minecraft, whilst competing against the other half of their class. The esports arena placed each team on a giant pirate ship with the time limit displayed on the sails, adding extra excitement as they created their playground designs. Completing this challenge on Minecraft allowed our pupils to collaborate in the virtual world, whilst interacting in the real world. Having communicated primarily through Google Classroom and Google Meet throughout the lockdown, having all of our classes back in school working together on a fun and meaningful project was a great way of re-starting their time back in school. An added benefit of building their designs on Minecraft was that they could be exported as CAD drawings and edited later. We looked at 20 designs produced collaboratively by 10 classes and had a very clear idea of the features that our pupils wanted in their playground. We saw that they wanted areas for climbing; sheltered areas and castles were a popular design feature too. Having our pupils’ ideas represented as 3D models allowed us to build a playground that recreated what our pupils really wanted, not what we thought they would want. Over the summer holiday, our new playground was built and received a fantastic response from our pupils. Including our pupils every step of the way has meant that they are

proud of their new playground and feel a sense of ownership towards it. Having consulted them throughout the process and encouraged them to present their ideas to us in a range of different ways, we are proud to have a playground that suits all our pupils throughout the 7-11 age group. They now have a wonderful place to play with their friends – the key thing that they missed whilst they were learning from home. ■

Exeter School, Victoria Park Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 4NS; 01392 307080; head@exeterschool.org.uk www.exeterschool.org.uk f    @ExeterSchoolUK

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P L A C E S T O L I V E , W O R K A N D P L AY

Canon Chris Palmer and Allchurches Trust’s Paul Playford by the newly installed glass lobby of the Chapter House

The beautiful, ornate ceiling at Chapter House

A NEW CHAPTER Exeter Cathedral’s Chapter House recently reopened following a year of conservation and improvement work. The work brings a number of benefits for visitors to the medieval building, including level access designed to make the Chapter House a more inclusive event space. The improvements also play a key role in Exeter Cathedral’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint. Newly installed underfloor heating and low energy lighting has improved energy efficiency, while a new glass lobby, funded by Allchurches Trust, helps to reduce heat loss and maintain a stable temperature. The work has been complex due to the historic significance of the building, involving a team of archaeologists, cathedral architects and heritage conservation specialists. The stone floor was lifted and replaced, in order to remove a defunct heating system installed 50 years ago, and detailed investigation and restoration work was carried out on the ceiling timbers. “The Chapter House is a beautiful space which can now be used comfortably all year round,” says Jill Taylor, Exeter Cathedral’s director of development. “We’ll no longer experience the draughts that used to whistle in via the old medieval door! It’s now a warm and cosy space for meetings, events and activities.” For more: www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk


Property consultancy Knight Frank has recently appointed David Lewis as head of rural sales for Devon and West Somerset. David kicked off his career in residential property working as a sales negotiator in prime central London; most recently he was an associate director at Jackson-Stops. David Lewis Born and raised in Devon, his new role at Knight Frank will see him focus on the sale of farms and estates across Devon and West Somerset. “We are delighted to welcome David to the Exeter team,” says Mark Proctor, South West regional partner at Knight Frank. “He has an excellent track record of delivering superb results for his clients and an in-depth knowledge of his market. I have no doubt his addition will help consolidate our position as the go-to agent within the rural market in the South West.” For more: www.knightfrank.co.uk

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He’ll be cooking up some property deals


West Country housebuilder Devonshire Homes has appointed a new managing director. Angus Cook has taken the reins at the firm, which is based in Tiverton, and joins from Bewley Homes where he was the land and planning director. “One of my aims is to drive the land strategy to enable us to bring more quality housing to areas that need it in the West Country, by identifying key land opportunities and giving more people the opportunity to become homeowners,” says Angus. “Land acquisition is fundamental to growth and as a privately owned housebuilder, with the ability for swift decision making with landowners, we really have the opportunity to expand throughout the South West.” For more: www.devonshirehomes.co.uk




The homes are designed to be energy-efficient

3West’s founders: James Fowler and Colin Palmer

THE ONLY WAY IS EXMOUTH Work is starting this month on almost 200 new homes in a 12-acre plot in Exmouth. 3West, a South West based property developer, has shared its vision for a flagship scheme which is set to transform a large section of the former agricultural site known as Goodmores Farm (located off Hulham Road and Dinan Way) into a development of two-, three- and four-bed homes. The site will also include a new school, football pitch, five acres of mixed employment land for the community, along with woodland walks and open spaces. 3West was formed in January 2021 by James Fowler, a third generation property developer, and Colin Palmer, a housebuilder with a history of creating homes across the West Country. “Our new homes are within easy reach of some of the most picturesque scenery East Devon has to offer, with two miles of beautiful coastline minutes away and the rugged terrain of Woodbury Common right on its doorstep – homeowners will be spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring the outdoors,” says James. There’s a fabulous lifestyle on offer in Exmouth, with a great selection of restaurants, an abundance of outdoor pursuits and a wealth of fun family days out too – all of this makes it an attractive place to live.” Work is due to start at Goodmores in January of this year. For more: www.3-west.com

HEADING EAST The final homes are currently being built on a new Equinox development on the eastern outskirts of Exeter. The development site from Cavanna Homes, offers two- to four-bedroom homes which would suit families, first-time buyers and downsizers. The new homes at Equinox are designed to be energy-efficient with double glazing, insulation and offer the latest heating systems as an optional upgrade. To keep costs down and reduce the amount of carbon needed to heat the home in the winter months, every property is linked to a sustainable district heating system. The interiors have been designed to be light, bright and comfortable, while the exterior of the homes have been finished in a crisp white render with timber effect cladding. One of the standout features of the three-bedroom Dart style home is the space to transform one of the spare bedrooms into a home office using the fit-out package. If buyers reserve early enough in the build process, they can choose the room they’d like to transform into a study and complete the room using the upgrade options available which include furniture choices and fixtures and fittings from an extensive range. There is a 15-acre country park close by, perfect for walking the dog, cycling, running or relaxing, plus a play area for children and a pond. For more: www.cavannahomes.co.uk

The Cavanna homes are styled in neutral tones

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FRONT OF HOUSE The brief was to create an eco-friendly family home. The clients’ vision was rather unusual though – they wanted an ‘upside-down’ house. Stuart Bayley, co-director at Living Space Architects, tells us how they did it... Images by Joakim Borén

The family home in Dunsford, near Exeter


The main living space is surrounded by green, open spaces


s anyone who loves their property programmes will know, connecting with nature is currently a big theme for those designing and building a new home, especially in these parts. Few pull off a development which immerses itself so unequivically in the surrounding landscape as this family home though. Located in Dunsford, just outside of Exeter, and nestled in lush greenness, the smooth, curved roof is the first thing you notice. It sets the tone for the property and conveys that this is a place of calm; a gentle space where there is something of a free flow between inside and outside. “The roof was originally conceived to replicate the form of local Dutch barns which sit around the lower edges of Dartmoor,” says Stuart Bayley, co-director at Living Space Architects, the local architecture firm who designed the house. “Our client is a big surfer and loved the idea of the natural wave form. The green roof sits on a highly insulated roof with a rubber membrane waterproof finish so the green roof is a significant visual improvement. The natural environment benefit for birds and

insects from a green roof is significant and enjoyable.” The house’s split-level is a quirky design; all the bedrooms are on the ground floor, the living spaces on the first floor (hence being called an ‘upside-down’ house); and, amazingly, all rooms in this property have access to the outside garden. “As you enter the house, the light and staircase draw you up to the first floor living accommodation,” adds Stuart. “The open-plan first floor configuration creates the sense of open space with no internal walls to disrupt the light across the space from all four sides of the building.” Stuart tells us that his favourite space are the windows of the ground bedrooms as these are designed to avoid any potential overlooking of the neighbouring land and house. “They create a unique character to both the inside of the rooms as they draw your eye to a different view, whilst the north-facing elevation glazing is reduced to keep down the heat loss and an intriguing rear elevation is created.” What are the other eco-friendly credentials of this property? “The house is a timber framed, highly insulated and air-tight building which helps to reduce the overall heating requirements. The heating itself is provided by the air-source heat-pump which is an increasingly popular method of heating our houses.” n

“Our client is a big surfer and loved the idea of a natural wave form”

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The property has a large patio area

BUILDING YOUR OWN HOME? We asked Stuart Bayley for his top tips... What ‘homework’ should a person have already done before they approach an architecture firm like yours? It is helpful to have created a scrapbook or pinterest board of houses and projects that you like – including their materials. What is a really important thing to think about before proceeding? Consider the orientation of the house to the sunshine and views – ideally combining the two together so the house can open up to the landscape whilst still benefitting from an ideal solar orientation for natural / passive design. What are the main pitfalls? Rising material prices and construction costs are

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increasing the contingency that builders are having to apply to their tender / fixed prices, making the overall projects more expensive. When it comes to design how much do you do and how much does the client do? How does that relationship work? We like to create a few alternative layouts at an early stage for our clients which can then lead on to a strong element of client guided development and working together in developing a suitable design. Many of our clients are families and couples – rather than developers – so they engage us to help them create their unique dream house.

Any new trends we should be paying attention to? The increasing need to incorporate renewable technologies to heat our houses in the future and the need to create our own PV for electrical supply, often in conjunction with a large storage battery for the home. Will we struggle to find a plot in Devon? Land with planning permission that is suitable for new houses is in short supply so consider barn conversions or replacement dwellings as a fall-back position for a new contemporary home.


“It is helpful to have created a scrapbook”

clockwise: The smooth curves mimic a seawave, the house peeks out over the trees, clean and sharp staircase design, light and bright kitchen leading out to a patio terrace, children’s bedroom on the ground floor

62 I EXETER LIVING I www.mediaclash.co.uk



Experience serious cosy vibes, and a bit of local history, in this charming Christow property By Imogen Davidson-Smith


ituated in a peaceful rural position just half a mile from the popular Teign Valley village of Christow is Hill, a pretty Grade-I listed L-shaped cottage. This is a house where you’ll want to start making your own marmalade, baking your own sourdough (there are 16th Century bread ovens here, naturally), all in an Arran jumper accompanied by rosy cheeks. There is no end to the cosiness with this property but there are also nods to its history at every turn. For example, if you’re sleeping in the principal bedroom upstairs you’ll be staring up at a spectacular ornamental plaster ceiling and elm floorboards from 1640. And if you step into the Grade-II listed barn, formerly the stables, you’ll see historical inscriptions carved into some of the timbers and made by the workmen of the farm, some of them dating back to the 1800s. The main house is constructed of cob and stone under a wheat straw thatched roof (the exterior was repainted as well as the roof rethatched in 2020). The full height medieval hall lies at the heart of the building, joining the two storey south and east wings, which were added in the early and late 17th Century. The pretty Georgian front door opens into a cross passage hallway which has a polished lime mortar floor and an exposed dressed granite wall forming the back of the chimney stack. On one side of the cross passage hallway is a well-proportioned parlour/sitting room with underfloor heating beneath the oak floor. Within an alcove is an early domestic piscina or sink. On the other side is the hall, retaining its full original height, and benefiting from a large granite inglenook fireplace and bread oven. There is also a long fixed bench seat and a window seat, where you can dive into a novel, blanket on your lap, tea in hand. The kitchen and dining room are adjacent to the hall and come with a custom built Corian fitted kitchen with modern Siemens appliances and worktops. A plank and muntin oak screen separates the kitchen and dining area, where there is a large open stone fireplace with another bread oven. Completing the ground floor accommodation is a modern family bathroom with underfloor heating, as well as a utility room with bags of storage. Upstairs, the three bedrooms have windows that www.mediaclash.co.uk I EXETER LIVING I 63

overlook the gardens and out towards Canonteign Woods. Completing the accommodation is a bathroom with original oak floorboards and an oak and etched glass capsule shower room with a basin, loo and shower. One of the most attractive features of Hill is the large garden behind the house, measuring approximately an acre. Formerly an orchard, it is south facing, well stocked and mature, and is entirely private, bordered by native mixed hedging and trees. Several pathways lead through the gently sloping garden which has been landscaped and is divided into discrete areas, incorporating stone walls, hedges, banks and rills. The gated rear yard opens out to an enclosed lawned area surrounded by hedging and fences with flower and shrub borders. Overlooking this is an insulated, cedar-clad garden studio or office with heating and electricity. There is also a stone and timber workshop within the garden, close to the house. Hill is accessed from the lane and there are parking areas for several cars within the grounds. A gate leads into an attractive walled front garden planted with roses, clematis and shrubs alongside a high walled barn yard with fruit trees. Accessed via a separate driveway is the impressive Grade-II listed barn where the inscriptions are. Elsewhere outside, a pathway leads past the barn gardens to a productive vegetable garden and soft fruit beds of strawberries and tayberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes; and a stream feeds a winterbourne and two bog gardens planted with Gunnera, Darmera and Rodgersia. A cut flower garden of perennials producing flowers from March onwards such as Camassia, Calla and Fox Tail Lilies borders the lane. In addition to apple 64 I EXETER LIVING I www.mediaclash.co.uk

trees there are pear, plum, cherry, quince, medlar and walnut trees; other plants include yew, acacia, maple, ash, oak, tulip, gingko, spindle, chestnut trees and magnolias. From primroses in January to hellebores in December, there are flowers throughout the year. Tended organically since 2004 it is a natural wildlife haven and its evolution the subject of a recent exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen, ‘HORTUS: A Dartmoor garden over time’. What’s the village of Christow like? Well, it sits within the Dartmoor National Park and has a tennis club, garage, shop and post office, the well-known Artichoke Inn, primary school, GP surgery and a modern community centre. Also under a mile away from the property is Lower Ashton, a pretty village which offers everyday amenities including a parish church and the Manor Inn restaurant and pub. The cornucopia of selling points for this property are evident: whether it’s the oaky-beamy cutesy-cosy character paired with the mod cons or the luscious gardens and dynamite location that are making your heart soar, this delightful property is wholly unique. n

HOUSE NUMBERS Where? Half a mile from Christow, Exeter is approx 10 miles away Nearest train station Exeter St. Thomas station, 6.9 miles away Bedrooms 3 Bathrooms 2 Outside An acre of garden, plus a garden studio/office, workshop and Grade-II listed barn Guide price £1,000,000 For more Strutt & Parker, 24 Southernhay West, Exeter; www.struttandparker.com



“It will be great to come back to Exeter”

SUGGS The Madness frontman is back on the road and bringing his celebrated one-man show – A Life In The Realm Of Madness – to Exeter Corn Exchange on 21 January when he’ll be regaling tales from his days in the band and singing a few of the favourite back catalogue tracks Interview by Richard Barber


he first show was all about how I got from being Graham McPherson working for a butcher in Chapel Market, north London to becoming the front man of Madness,” he explains. The success of that tour led to a second, Suggs: A Life In The Realm Of Madness, which sees the Madness frontman back on the road in 2022. This second tour was triggered by a defining moment in Suggs’ life – his discovery of a sister living in Ireland.

“I kind of knew my mother had had a daughter she’d put up for adoption as a baby. But I had no recollection of her and it was something we never spoke about. “Then, completely out of the blue, Mum got a message on Facebook saying: ‘I think you might be my mother.’ It turned out this woman – her name is Julie – had seen a repeat of my This Is Your Life on which my mother was introduced by her maiden name, Edith Gower. “Julie recognised the name and spotted the physical

66 I EXETER LIVING I www.mediaclash.co.uk

resemblance. Then she got in touch. This was about six years ago and I’ll never forget it. Mum flew to Dublin to meet Julie and, when she came back, she was different. “Her shoulders had dropped. It was as if she’d carried a tension inside her every day of her life since she’d been forced to part with her daughter. An innate sadness had instantly disappeared. And it all happened just in time.” Suggs’s mother passed away in April 2018 aged 79. Suggs married his wife, Anne – known professionally as Bette Bright, singer with the band, Deaf School – when he was only 21. “I think I was probably looking for a bit of structure in my life. But I married for love – and we’re still together.” They also have an elder daughter, Scarlet, who married in the summer of 2018. Early success with Madness was balanced by a rock steady home life, something for which he’ll always be grateful. “Fame doesn’t really interest me,” he says. But it does, of course, open some pretty impressive doors. “A couple of weeks before the Diamond Jubilee, I’d said something disparaging on the radio about Brian May’s hair. It triggered a tsunami of angry tweets from Queen trolls. “A few days later, Anne said to me that I’d been sent a letter from the Queen. I said: ‘What? They’ve got their lawyers on me, have they?’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘not Queen. It’s from THE Queen.’ “Well, of course I didn’t believe her. But it turned out to be an invitation for Madness to perform at the Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace.” On the day however, both Elton John and Paul McCartney insisted on their own pianos being tuned on the spot – leaving

no room on stage for Madness: “Then some bright spark shouted out, ‘Why don’t you put them on the roof?’,” Suggs recalled. “So that’s exactly what happened. But, as someone pointed out, the first man to play on the roof of Buckingham Palace was, yes, Brian May... “I suffer from vertigo but I just about managed to hold it together. And I couldn’t believe the reaction. Next day, we sold out every single ticket on our upcoming tour.” He represented his country again when Madness performed Our House at the Olympic closing ceremony a couple of months later. “So there I was on the back of a truck somewhere in the East End. In front were The Who, on the right were some spotty Herberts called One Direction. On the left, the Pet Shop Boys were riding bicycles with traffic cones on their head. And behind us, the Spice Girls were doing vocal warm-ups until Pete Townshend called out: ‘Someone throw them a f***ing fish!’ “Way back in the day, I believe in 1979, Madness played at the University of Exeter as part of the Two Tone tour with The Specials and The Selecter. I’ll be honest and say I can’t exactly remember a gig that far back, but as it was to a uni crowd and in our early days, I’m guessing it was a bit of a party night and we’ll all have had a riot! This marked the start of the big time for Madness so it will be great to come back to Exeter and tell you lovely lot all about my life.” n SUGGS: What A King Cnut – A Life in the Realm of Madness,

7.30pm (doors 6.45), 21 January; Exeter Corn Exchange, Market Street, Exeter; www.exetercornexchange.co.uk

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