It’s beginning to look a lot like….

Christmas on Exmoor….

Dunster by Candlelight will take place again on 6 and 7 December 2020.

This year, the shuttle bus will leave from Butlins, and parking at Warren car park in Minehead will be free on both Friday and Saturday.

There will also be buses running from Porlock, Williton, Watchet, Washford, Carhampton, Wheddon Cross, and Timberscombe. More information is available on the Dunster by Candlelight website.

FRIDAY 6TH – 5PM TO 9PM
SATURDAY 7TH – 4PM TO 9PM
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Late Night Shopping in Porlock – Saturday, 30 November 2020, from 5pm

(Photo by Myrtle Cottage)

Light Up Lynton – Sunday, 1 December

Ilfracombe Christmas Festival, 30 November & 1 December 2020

 

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Dulverton by Starlight – Sunday, 1 December 2020

Dulverton by Starlight is a magical event held every year, open to all. Every December the pretty Exmoor town of Dulverton is decorated with Christmas trees festooned with lights, and for one Sunday all of the shops are open for people to do some local Christmas shopping.  Festivities take place all afternoon and into the evening. Dulverton has a wealth of independent shops, businesses, organisations, restaurants, takeaways, pubs, cafes and tea rooms all of whom help to make this a special place to visit not just for Starlight but all year round.

 

Chefs for Hope Tasting Dinner at Knowle Manor

19 NOV 2019: TASTING DINNER AT KNOWLE MANOR

Six Chefs – Six Courses

Followed by an Auction of Promises.

In aid of MIND in Somerset.

£85.00 per ticket (£25.00 wine flight optional)

7pm for 7.30pm

 Chefs for Hope are organising a Tasting Dinner in support of the local charity MIND in Somerset which will take place on 19 November 2019 at Knowle Manor.

Six outstanding chefs will be cooking an exquisite six course dinner, providing guests with a top dining experience – James Mason, Ellis Pannell, Paul Berry, Olivier Certain, John Bradley and Liam Finnegan will be supported by learners from Foxes Hotel.

All chefs are from award-winning restaurants: James Mason, former Head Chef at Kentisbury Grange, now runs his own event company, New Coast Events. Ellis Pannell is Chef Patron of the Pyne Arms in North Devon, Paul Berry the Chef Patron of The Swan in Bampton, a Top50 Gastropub, where Olivier Certain is the head chef. John Bradley is the Chef Patron of Dunkery Beacon Country Hotel, and Liam Finnegan the head chef at The Castle in Taunton.

The dinner is in aid of the charity MIND in Somerset – Chefs for Hope are hoping to raise £5,000 to set up a youth service in Minehead for children with mental health issues in West Somerset. MIND in Somerset help young people who struggle with finding enjoyment in things that used to be fun, feel isolated and lonely and that life seems a bit pointless.

Chefs for Hope was set up by Mike Griffiths, former head chef at the Farmers Arms in Combe Florey, and Elke Winzer, organiser of the Exmoor Food Fest.  The objective of Chefs for Hope is to help local charities raise much needed funds.

“We are delighted that six fantastic chefs are joining us for our first Tasting Dinner in November”, said Elke Winzer.  “We are grateful to all of them to give up their time to help us raise money for MIND in Somerset.”

“Many chefs struggle with mental health, and supporting young people is a matter close to our hearts”, added Mike Griffiths. “We do hope that we will exceed our target of £5000 to be able to fund more than one youth group in West Somerset.”

The dinner will be followed by an Auction of Promises – information about the auctioneer and the items to be won will soon be published!

Tickets are available via the website http://www.chefsforhope.org

If you can’t make it, but still wish to contribute, then please consider supporting our Crowdfunder: 100% of the money donated will go straight towards our project.

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival: 14 Oct – 3 Nov

Exmoor National Park is home to some of the darkest skies in the country so it’s a great place to gaze at the stars.

For thousands of years, humans have looked up at the night sky and wondered at what they saw. This wonder helped to define our sense of who we are, our myths and legends, our religious beliefs and a sense of our place in a wider cosmos.  But the dark skies that were the night time backdrop for the vast majority of human history are for many of us now a rare sight. Our night times are filled with the orange glow of street lighting and we are all more likely to be looking at a television or a smartphone than gazing at the stars.

So why not take the time on Exmoor to look up and rediscover your sense of wonder? Good spots are Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. On a clear night the night sky of Exmoor is simply stunning when many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye and even more can be discovered through a telescope or binoculars.

To help you get the most from Exmoor’s dark skies we have produced a new Dark Skies Pocket Guide – download it  here or pick up a copy from one of our National Park Centres where you can also hire a telescope ! –  you can see one of the telescopes and and how to use them in this short video.

Here is the link to the full programme.

Good weather for stargazing? Check out the Exmoor Weather forecast from the Met Office here

The Minehead Sailor’s Hobby Horse

At 6am on May Day, the drums can be heard across Minehead…  The Sailor’s Hobby Horse will dance around town for three days .

Here is the official story:

It is an old May Day custom from The Quay, Minehead, which has continued for hundreds of years. The custom is so old that there is no accurate record of its commencement. In fact, the origin is lost in the mists of time.

The Sailor’s Hobby Horse comes out on the eve of May Day, and for the first three days of the month dances and frolics freely around the streets.

The Horse’s frame is made from withy sticks lashed together with tarred cord into the shape of a boat with a dome shaped head and a tin painted face. A mast is made fast to the head, and spliced to the after end is a length of rope with a cow’s tail made fast. The whole frame, head and rope tail is covered with brightly coloured ribbons, and attached and draped to the ground from the frame are sacks brightly painted with different coloured rings. This is the so-called “Horse”.

The “Horse” weighs about one-hundred weight. It is carried by one man dances to the sound of melodions and drums, and if folks fail to give the “Horse” a coin, the “Horse” aims it tail at them.

The Sailor’s Horse is accompanied by a drum which has dates back to the 17th century. It is legend that the original intention of the “Horse” was to scare away Danes and other invaders from the coast.

It is an important custom that the “horse” proceeds from The Quay over the hill through Old Minehead Town, knows as Higher Town, to arrive at White Cross at 6am on May 1st.

It has been known for one of the Bratton Maids to be crowned Queen of the May at this time; and it is legend that on that day and at that time a Dane was killed there.  Also on this day it is a custom for the ‘Horse to proceed to Dunster Castle’.

On the third night there is a booting at Cher Steep, on the outskirts of Minehead, when victims are caught in the street and are booted ten times by the heavy fore bow of the “horse” while  being held by the arms and legs by two members of the crew. There is then a further penalty for the victim to dance with the “Horse” while avoiding being lashed by its tail.

The booting is then repeated in Wellington Square, in the centre of town. and it is here that the old “horse” take his final bow of the festive season and after a light refreshment returns to his stable at The Quay until the following May Day Eve.

By invitation the “Horse” and its attendants have appeared twice at The Royal Albert Hall, London, The Commonwealth Institute London, The Universities of London and Exeter, two of the World Trade Fairs, at Brussels in Belgium and Olympia in London, the television programme “Pebble Mill at One” from Birmingham and The Assembly Rooms, Derby. The spectacle has been filmed for television and other purposes on numerous occasions.

THose connected with the “Horse” give their services freely. Money collected and donations received are disbursed to Minehead Mencap and the Minehead branch of the RNLI.

You can follow the Minehead Hobby Horse on Facebook.  Here are some photos from the Official Minehead Sailor’s Hobby Horse FB page:

 

Date for your Diary: “The Guardians” at Stogumber Cinema

Date of Event: Friday, 1st March 2019

Location of Event: Stogumber Village Hall, Stogumber, Taunton, TA4 3TG

Website: www.stogumber.org.uk

The Guardians (Certificate 15) is the next film presented by Stogumber Cinema. It is directed by Xavier Beauvois and concentrates on those left behind rather than the battles being fought at the Front.

It is an affecting human drama of love, loss, and resilience. The women of the Paridier farm, under the deft hand of Hortense, the family’s matriarch (Nathalie Baye,) grapple with the workload while the men are off at the front. Hortense reluctantly brings in an outsider, a teenage orphan, Francine (Iris Bry), to help her daughter Solange (Laura Smet). Newfound independence is acquired, yet emotions are stirred especially when the men return from the front on short leaves. French with English subtitles.

Doors open at 7pm when a short film or trailer for the next film, Bohemian Rhapsody showing on Friday 5th April, will be screened with the main feature film starting at 7:30pm. Refreshments will be available including Styles ice-creams, tea, coffee and a range of drinks from the bar. Tickets are available from stogumbercinema@gmail.com or on the door, £5 adults, £3 accompanied under 16s.

An Audience with G. D. Abson, author or “Motherland”

G. D. Abson, author of “Motherland” will be at the Exmoor Store on 16 February 2019 from 2pm till 3pm.

Headshot of writer Garry Abson by Photographer Jonathan Bowcott

G.D. (alias Garry David) was born in County Durham and brought up on army bases in Germany and Singapore before returning to the UK. He developed a lifelong obsession with Russia after studying the revolution at school and Russian politics at university. He is the author of MOTHERLAND, the first in a series featuring Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova battling crime, chauvinism and corruption in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

 Motherland was shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and this Summer the novel was a “Star Pick” in The Times/Sunday Times Crime Club.

This is what people had to say about the gripping crime thriller set in the dark heart of Putin’s Russia:

‘The dark heart of Putin’s Russia beneath the glitz of St Petersburg provides the heady setting for this excellent and gripping debut. Abson, who was shortlisted for a Crime Writers Debut Dagger for Motherland, is surely a name to watch. A Child 44 for Putin-land, this classy page-turner oozes with atmosphere.’ –David Young, bestselling author of STASI CHILD and STASI WOLF

‘Senior Detective Natalya Ivanova does for St Petersburg what Martin Cruz Smith s Arkady Renko did for Gorky Park… taut, fast-moving and compellingly believable.’ –Tom Callaghan, author of A KILLING WINTER

‘Gripping, authentic and fast-paced this is a fine thriller that will delight fans of Martin Cruz Smith.’ –William Ryan, author of THE HOLY THIEF and THE BLOODY MEADOW

ORDER YOUR TICKET HERE

Gin Tasting: Exmoor Distillery at the Exmoor Store

Join us for a tasting of the latest gin produced on Exmoor at the Exmoor Store* on Saturday, 15 December 2018, from 2pm till 4pm.

Dulverton based Exmoor Distillery will be here to explain all there is to know about Northmoor Gin. You can also buy gin from the Exmoor Store between 15 and 21 December – we are now taking pre-orders!

Here is a bit more info about Northmoor Gin:

‘Infused with passion’

Named after the historic estate of Northmoor, nestled amongst the steep wooded valleys on the southern edge of Exmoor, our Northmoor Gin is a delight for the discerning gin connoisseur. Light on the lips, this full-bodied gin, with 44% ABV, has a punchy three-dimensional taste, leaving a deliciously smooth flavour at the back of the mouth.

Our premium recipe packs an authentic taste sensation of the traditional juniper berry with personally chosen botanicals of angelica root, citrus and spice. Our gin, fine enough to sip neat over ice, comes into its own when mixed with a quality tonic to produce a classic G&T with wonderful citrus notes that linger on the palate, or as the premium ingredient to many a cocktail.

Harvested from September to January, there are over 50 species of juniper grown in the Northern hemisphere. Hand-picked by collectors in the mountains, only the very best berries and botanicals are sourced for our Northmoor Gin.

Located in the idyllic Somerset countryside, near the border of Devon, Exmoor Distillery sits on the southern gateway to Exmoor at Dulverton, on the edge of the Exmoor National Park. 

This historic location, mentioned in the Domesday Book, is the perfect setting in which to distil one of the UK’s finest small batch artisan gins.

With the refined juniper flavour dancing in your mouth, where better to enjoy this premium spirit, than in the rolling hills and valleys of the English countryside at any time of year.

Developed from our own passion for fine spirits, Exmoor Distillery is a small family run distillery, sharing our love for a premium quality gin.

After sampling many of the world’s gins on our travels, there was nothing that quite hit the spot, so we decided to produce our own. Customers love the complex flavours of the juniper and botanicals that give our gin a decidedly country taste and smooth texture.

 

  • Exmoor Store, 1 Friday Street, Minehead TA24 5UB. Tel 01643 704788

You can pre-order the Northmoor Gin from the Exmoor Store for pick-up between 15 and 21 December.
35cl = £19.95  70cl=£35.00
(Send payment via PayPal to exmoorstore@icloud.com using Family & Friends, call the shop on 01643 704788 to pay over the phone, order online or just pop into the shop!)

 

10 Nov ’18: An Audience with Author Tracey Gemmell

10 November 2018 * 2pm
Exmoor Store, 1 Friday Street, Minehead TA24 5UB

Tracey is a self-confessed Exmoor addict who would like to make it perfectly clear she’s NOT seeking a cure. In fact, after many years living in the United States, she’s planning her return to the area where she ‘sleeps the best and breathes the deepest’.

Join Tracey at the Exmoor Book Fest for a humorous conversation about life as a homesick expat. Then follow her through her writing process. Dunster’s Calling is now a tale of the bond between a girl and her pony, and a woman and the country she left behind. But it didn’t start out that way …

Dunster’s Calling was a runner up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition. Tracey’s short story, ‘Scooby-Doo and Hobnobs’, received an honourable mention in the humour category of the 2018 Jade Ring Contest. It’s been published in the Wisconsin Writers Association Anthology. Visit http://www.traceygemmell.com for more details.

Reviews for Dunster’s Calling:

‘It is a remarkable writer that can take you on a journey that allows you to feel something beyond the scope of your own experience and leave you changed because of it. Tracey Gemmell is that writer, and Dunster’s Calling is that book.’ Kashmira Sheth, author of Boys Without Names

‘Perfect for Anglophiles, horse-lovers or anyone who wonders if their life has played out the way it should.’ Pauline Wiles, author of Saving Saffron Sweeting

‘I would read this book again just for pure enjoyment! Moreover, this book has piqued my interest, big time, for a visit to Exmoor one day… it’s been added to my bucket list!’

5-star Amazon review

Book your ticket now!

Exmoor’s night skies – Dark Sky Destinations releases short film exploring the magic of stargazing from Exmoor

Budding stargazers and astrophotographers can learn about the magic of Exmoor’s night skies thanks to a new short film released by Westcountry-based course provider Dark Sky Destinations.

The 5-minute film has been produced to give visitors to Exmoor, and potential course attendees, an idea of why the region is so special for astronomy. 

To watch the film you can visit the Dark Sky Destinations website https://www.darkskydestinations.com/ or view it on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/283467668.

On the 8th September, Dark Sky Destinations will be holding its first astrophotography course on Exmoor.    

Led by astronomer Will Gater, the evening course – entitled “An introduction to nightscape astrophotography” – will explore the art and science of how to capture beautiful nightscape photos with a DSLR camera. If the weather is good, the course will finish with a guided practical workshop under Exmoor’s exquisitely dark night skies where delegates will have a chance to put what they’ve learnt into practice with their own equipment. 

A small number of spaces are left on the September course, so if you don’t want to miss out book your place via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-nightscape-astrophotography-tickets-44449838664 (booking in advance is required).

7 Chefs for 7 Courses: Taste Exmoor Dinner at The Beach Hotel

Join us on 2 February 2018 for an amazing Tasting Dinner at The Beach Hotel in Minehead to celebrate the first weekend of the 4th Exmoor Food Fest!

Amuse bouche by The Beach Hotel apprentices 

Starter by Steven Hadley 

Goats cheese mousse, caramelised walnuts, beetroots, apple & Thyme bread

Vegetable course by  Kate Gardiner

Crostini of grilled polenta, porcini Mushrooms & Taleggio

Meat course by Sam Salway

Duo of Exmoor lamb, noisette, served pink (sous vide), braised shoulder, red cabbage puree, roasted celeriac and parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, baked potato cake.

Fish course by Werner Hartholt

Soy marinated seabass with crispy lobster.

Dessert course by Andrew Richards

Chocolate and hazelnut parfait, hazelnut crumble, chocolate soil, coffee mouse and milk sorbet.

Petit Fours by Connor Bazley. Beach Hotel Apprentice.

£45.00 per person

Book 4 tickets or more:
£42.00 per person

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