17 August 2014

A Summer Guide to Afternoon Tea in Devon

It may be the last day of National Afternoon Tea week but the pleasure of afternoon tea with a Devonshire scone and some clotted cream on a lovely sunny day is still for the taking.

Nicky Primavesi at Visit Devon, is in the business of knowing what's what and where's how and that sort razzamatazz regarding all that's best about Devon.  Here's a few suggestions of some lovely spots to go to for the best afternoon tea down south.

Angels in Babbacombe is a wonderful little surprise. This tea room and daytime restaurant bustles from the moment the doors open. Fine bone china and loose leaf tea with home made scones, local jams and Devonshire cream make this a must stop for cream tea lovers every where. Locals rave about the breakfast and visitors jostle for a seat in the delightful garden courtyard for lunch. Fresh local produce is used to great effect and there's a stunning view of Lyme Bay thrown in for free.


Royal William Yard in Plymouth is an ex navy victualling yard that has been lovingly restored by Urban Splash over the past 10 years. It is now one of Plymouth's most popular days out and one of their greatest foodie hubs. Surrounded by water, the views are exceptional and each building is full of history. The newest addition is Will's at One, Royal William Yard. This very elegant tea room offers first class service at its core with a choice of sipping tea in a beautifully decorated interior, with crisp white linen tablecloths and sumptuous decor, or in a magical ‘secret garden’ where there is a raised decking area providing spectacular views over Firestone Bay.

Originally a Salt House used by the Benedictine Monks who traded Salt at Exeter Cathedral. The Salty Monk ensure their scones are fresh by baking them to order for every customer and offer a selection of 22 loose leaf teas to accompany this. Scones are made on the premises as are the preserves, while the clotted cream is sourced locally from the nearby Yarty Valley. They offer a Champagne tea which includes a glass of pink bubbles and meringues with fresh berries alongside the traditional cream tea. They also have award winning gardens in which to enjoy them or a gallery room showcasing local artists work.


Gidleigh Park sits majestically on the bubbling upper reaches of the River Teign within 107 acres of mature grounds featuring an acclaimed kitchen garden, croquet lawns and putting course. The house has an air of tranquillity and romance and you will enjoy a genuinely warm welcome. Afternoon tea at Gidleigh Park is a sumptuous affair; the full afternoon tea features a selection of finger sandwiches, fruit tartlets, cakes and scones accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam and the finest teas from the hotel’s in-house selection (£30 per person). Champagnes are also available by the glass for that extra indulgence.

Powderham Castle, the 600 year old home of the Earl and Countess of Devon near Exeter, makes an ideal place to visit for people of all ages during the summer holidays. Families are invited to picnic in the beautiful grounds, enjoy a guided tour of the Castle and spend time in their walled garden play area and pets corner, home to many friendly Powderham pets. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3 - 5:30 pm in the Courtenay Café, which serves up a range of freshly baked cakes and cream teas. Cakes on offer include lemon drizzle, coffee and walnut, Victoria sponge and the ever popular almond cake, as well as a wide range of biscuits and pastries to suit all ages. Gluten free chocolate brownies, fruit cake, macaroons and scones are also available. Up to 25 can be seated inside the Courtenay Cafe with additional seating in the Coach House as well as outdoor seating so that visitors can enjoy the West Country sunshine. The Cafe inside is cosy and has a ramp to make it accessible to wheelchair users.


Otterton Mill, Budleigh Salterton in the heart of Devon is a glorious setting to sit down and relax with a cream tea or two. Their scones are made fresh every day using their finest flour milled on site, with the all important accompaniments sourced only 30 miles away. They also bake speciality breads such as, granary, spelt and rye, so whether you are walking, cycling or riding along the river Otter, go wend your way to Otterton Mill for some freshly baked refreshment.

Finally, The Venus Café in South Devon, overlooks the clear turquoise waters of the secluded ‘Blue Flag’ awarded Blackpool Sands beach. One of only ten companies throughout the UK to have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2010, it is renowned for serving organic, fresh produce. In addition to a mouthwatering cream tea, The Venus Café also offers seafood specials, organic beef burgers, scrumptious sandwiches and a wide selection of child friendly favourites.

If you can’t make it to Devon, there's another solution to getting your cream tea fix without even leaving home. Delimann Hampers can send an authentic afternoon cream tea direct to your door. Delivered anywhere in the UK from their Dartmoor base; freshly baked scones, Devonshire clotted cream, award winning strawberry jam with tea blended in the West Country are accompanied by a selection of other Devon treats, all sent beautifully packaged on a next day courier service. Go to Delimann's or call them on 01626 830372.

14 August 2014

A Glimpse of Festival-ing Sri Lanka style at Kandy Esala Perahera 2014,photos by Emily Nash

With all this talk of festivals in the UK, I thought I'd share some photos I've been sent from my adventuring friend Emily.  Taking place over ten days the Esala Perahera in Kandy, Sri Lanka fuses pageant, religion and tradition in a colourful, musical, dancing and singing spectacle.

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
The Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers and lavishly decorated elephants. It is held in Esala (July or August) which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by Buddha after he attained enlightenment.

The Sinhalese term ‘Perahera’ means a parade of musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats and various other performers, accompanied by a large number of caparisoned Tuskers and Elephants parading the streets in celebration of a religious event.



Kandy Esala Perahera 2014

Kandy Esala Perahera 2014

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
The festival takes place in honour of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the four ‘guardian’ Gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini, where the Kandy Maligawa Perahera is followed in order by those of the Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Pattini ‘Devales’ (Temples dedicated to these Gods) which are situated in the vicinity of the Kandy Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth).

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~


After the Kandyan Kingdom fell to the British in 1815, the custody of the Tooth Relic was handed over to the Buddhist Clergy. In the absence of the King, a lay custodian called the Diyawadana Nilame was appointed to handle routine administrative matters. The purpose of the Kandy Esala Perahera Procession is to beseech blessings of the gods to obtain rain for the cultivation of crops and to enrich the lands of the kingdom.
~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~

This ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha through the streets of Kandy city which is done with exceptional panache. This is considered as one of the most beautiful pageants in the Asia.

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
The first ritual ‘Kap Situweema’ (planting of a sanctified young Jackfruit Tree) traditionally starts off Perahera. The ritual is performed according to an auspicious time decided by astrologers. The Jackfruit tree is sprinkled with sandalwood scented water and offerings are made of nine kinds of flowers and an oil lamp with nine wicks. The priest of the Maha Vishnu Devale (Vishnu Temple) recites his prayers to all the gods.

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
Begun in the fourth century AD, with the arrival of Prince Dantaha and Princess Hemamala, son-in-law and daughter of King Guhasiva of Kalinga in India.  Visiting Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna the King decreed that the Relic should be taken round the city of Anuradhapura once a year.

The most revealing narration of the Esala Perehera is found in the book written by the Chinese pilgrim ‘Fa Hien’ who visited Sri Lanka in the 5th century A.D. The sporadic invasions by the Dravidian Kingdoms resulted in the shifting of the seat of the kingdom from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, then to Dambadeniya and thereafter to other cities. In each retreat, a new temple was constructed to enshrine the Sacred Tooth Relic. Finally, after the shift of the capital to Kandy, the Relic has been undisturbed. ever since and the Esala Perahera has been held annually to rejoice and honour the Sacred Tooth Relic.
~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~

12 August 2014

TEDxBrighton Friday 31st October 2014: Many Hands and a call to mics

In a nutshell if you are unfamiliar with TED, it is about Ideas Worth Spreading and started almost 30 years ago in California.  Now known and respected world wide, TED invites some of the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes on a mind-boggling mix of topics twice a year.

First alerted to this phenomenon by two of my big thinking friends Astro Al and my Cardiff Fella, I'm now keen to share their big thinking ways.  So it seems are a whole load of other people too.  Last year TEDxBrighton packed out the 300 capacity Corn Exchange, leading the organiser Sam Orams to re-locate a few steps to the 1,000 capacity Dome for this year to accommodate TEDx's growing popularity.

TEDx is an independently organized TED event, The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

Peter James TEDxBrighton
Taking place on Friday 31st October 2014, TEDxBrighton is titled ‘Many Hands’, and will explore ideas around connectivity, convergence and community.  It's aim is to celebrate how human beings make sense of a world in constant flux and will look at the prevalence of technology in a networked age.  New dilemmas have emerged, such as social networks creating a sense of isolation and the prevalence of display screens increasing a desire for the physical.  Meanwhile connectivity has narrowed distance; flash mobs, subcultures and the maker movement have emerged and once commonplace skills have been re-packaged as art. 

The speakers announced so far are Best-selling crime author Peter James who will explore how he formed his Brighton-based character, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace.  

Also speaking will be Karl Mattingly, founder of slowXchange a London based internet platform that crowd-sources forecasts on financial performance. He will take a look at how better transparency and greater accuracy in information can lead to innovative ways of sharing power and wealth.
Karl Mattingly TEDxBrighton

In the Dome foyer there will be a free Ideas Lab running throughout the day providing an interactive soap box with ground breaking inventions, designs and new technologies from the South East.

Tickets are now on sale at www.TEDxBrighton.com and are being allocated on a first come, first served basis.

A host of interesting talks and exhibitors are already taking shape, but there’s still room for more. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else to talk at the event then please visit TEDxBrighton.com to download a speaker form.

For details regarding sponsorship or to contribute towards this event please email Sam@TEDxBrighton.com.

Follow TEDxBrighton Twitter @TEDxBrighton

Follow TED on Twitter at TEDTalks, or on Facebook at TED

8 August 2014

Sunday night concert with Brighton based composer, Rob Lane - 10 August2014

Initially interested by the local Kemp town connection, delving a little deeper I got goose bumps when I found out one of the pieces to be performed had been written as a tribute by Rob Lane to the composer's mother in law. The other piece equally increased in fascination when I heard it was called Plath Poems and was directly inspired by the sharp toned wordsmith Sylvia.

Taking place this Sunday 10 August at the Unitarian Church on New Road, Brighton (opposite the Mash Tun), the concert is part of the Brighton Philharmonic's Summer Season.  
Sylvia Plath by Librerose


There will be two pieces by Mozart, String Quartet No.17 ‘Hunt’ in B♭major K. 458 and Exsultate, Jubilate; plus Soprano Katie Thomas and two pieces by BAFTA winning composer Rob Lane.

‘Evocations’, written in 2012, is a 13 minute piece dedicated to the composer's mother-in-law, who was in the last stages of a terminal illness when the music was composed. In Lane's own words, it is a very personal reflection on the power of memory in shaping our lives and plays out as a series of musical evocations of key scenes inspired by a life much travelled. In particular, one of the sections brings to life his mother in law's travels to Africa, while other scenes are designed as musical versions of memories. For instance a child's memory of rain falling on a roof....or a moment of solitude when we become aware of time passing and growing older...in the end, however it will be up to the listener to decide how to interpret the evocations.  

The other piece by Lane was specially written for this concert and is called Plath Poems. Following the tradition of art inspiring art, Lane has found inspiration in three of Plath's poems, Mirror, Morning Song and Edge. Created for a soprano, string quartet and piano ensemble, Lane explains Plath's appeal,"her language captures the highs and lows of life with a rare integrity, and it is the power of her unblinking honesty that I hope to capture musically." Copies of the three poems will be handed out at the concert.

The concert will also coincidentally take place on the birthday of another much loved and inspirational lady who passed away only a couple of years ago and is greatly missed, my Nana, Nell Wallace.

7 August 2014

Festival Guide 2014 - Wilderness Festival by Rosie Davis

~ Wilderness Festival
photo by Claire Williams ~ 
7th-10th August
Wilderness Festival
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, OX7 3DG
Weekend camping tickets £143.50 + £8 booking fee

This is it, festival pick number three! So far we’ve had Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Glynde, and Port Eliot Festival in St Germans, Cornwall. Now we head to Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, to enter the wild and wonderful world of the Wilderness Festival.

Paradise Found. The words flash up on the screen in front of me as I enter the festival’s website. The words have been designed on to a backdrop of Lilly pads floating in a lake, the lake that ticket holders will soon get to swim in. Today the website flashes ‘Fewer than 200 tickets left, Folks’ and ‘One day to go’ (The festival’s crack website team have been on the pulse of the website and social media, so let’s give them a big hand for that). The lake is one step closer, and so is the paradise that is Wilderness Festival.

Wilderness Festival
It’s not only the scenic location that makes this festival very appealing, but also the people behind it. Secret Productions are the team that brought you Secret Garden Party, a festival that is renowned for support of artists, as well as putting on the ultimate party! They also bring us the Secret Emporium, which you will find at Wilderness. Filled with clothes, jewellery, artwork and other delights, the emporium is a showcase of makers, designers and artists. In 2011 Secret Productions set up at Cornbury Park, where the festival continues to take up residency every year.  

Wilderness Festival
Wilderness Festival is a place to dance, dine, dive into the lake, dissolve your worries of the world in a hot tub and bring those weird and psychedelic dreams to life. Banquet with a owl or a stag while being served food cooked by chefs from some of the UK's most praised restaurants; Moro, River Cottage, Hix and St John. The Banquets, Feasting and Gastronomy programme was one of the festival’s quirky yet luxurious elements that drew me in. A gourmet banquet, served to you at a beautifully decorated and laid out table, all done in a field. The combination of glamour and the outdoors lit up with candles and fairy lights makes this a meal to remember. But if that is a bit too glamorous for you wellie mud loving festival goers, there is always Hunter Gather Cook. This is the UK's finest foraging and cookery school, teaching you what to forage for and how to cook it. Almost everything will be processed and gathered on the day from the woods, fields and meadows of Cornbury Park. Which will you be - hunter or gatherer?  
Wilderness Festival

Each night in the Valley there will be a different fancy dress theme. Friday night will see the late night revellers change into a costume for Altered States. Saturday will be Disco Renaissance and Sunday will have you lost in The Cosmos. On the Saturday evening the tradition throughout the festival is for all Wilderness participants to adorn their faces with a mask, for the masked party. As the sun lowers itself in the sky, keep your eyes open for The Animal Stampede. Organised by the Artful Badger at 7pm on the Saturday evening animals of all varieties will storm through the festival. Sign up for free, get your mask made and join in the madness.

You may be reading this and thinking, “but where’s the music?” Do not fret, as there will be music day and night on different stages and areas. There will be live music by well-known names such as Joan As Police Woman, Sam Smith, Jessie Ware, London Grammar and Burt Bacharach.  Burt Bacharach?  Yes! Burt Bacharach. There will also be sounds to take you into the early hours of the morning with the Late Night Revelry part of the programme, featuring tunes from Eats Everything, Zero 7, Whit Mink and Horse Meat Disco.
  
Everywhere you look there will be performances in front of you, beside you and above you!  There will be the Debating Halls and Literary Arts supported by the Huffington Post, The School of Life and the Book Slam. Don’t expect to take it easy as there will always be something for you to do; Horse riding, wild swimming, The Chap Olympics, but if you insist on relaxing then take yourself to the sanctuary for some pampering.

There are still tickets left so have a weekend away and get lost in the wilderness.  
Wilderness Festival

6 August 2014

Hi from Edinburgh! Photos from Edinburgh Fringe 2014 by Carla Caturano

In case, like me, you're not able to head north for the biggest arts and culture festival in the UK, here's a few pics to magically transport us there for a few moment thanks to Carla Caturano.

Princes Street, Edinburgh 2014
photo by Carla Caturano

St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh 2014
photo by Carla Caturano
Princes Street, Edinburgh 2014
photo by Carla Caturano

Carlton Hill, Edinburgh 2014 photo by Carla Caturano

Entrance to Fringe ticket office, Edinburgh 2014
photo by Carla Caturano
Fringe bagpipe playing, Edinburgh 2014
photo by Carla Caturano
Edinburgh 2014 street art in New Town,
photo by Carla Caturano

23 July 2014

Festival Guide 2014 - Port Eliot Festival by Rosie Davis

~ Port Eliot Festival, photo by Michael Bowles ~
~ 24th-27th July ~
Port Eliot Festival
Port Eliot Estate, St Germans, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 5ND
Weekend camping tickets £165 + £7.50 booking fee

 I hope you have recovered after my last preview as Love Supreme brought a whole lotta funk, jazz and soul into the South Downs. Pimms and Grand Marnier all shaken together with a shot of Soul II Soul and a large swig of De La Soul had three generations raising their hands up in the air and becoming hip-hop fanatics. Definitely a grand finale for the end of a triumphant weekend, I am sure we will see Jazz FM and the Love Supreme team back next year.

Now it’s time for something further south, across three counties and into a part of the world that feels like a million miles from England. I’m taking you across the Tamar Bridge and into Cornwall to St Germans, the home of Port Eliot Festival. Imagine a Grade I listed house and gardens filled with cabaret, music, literature, writers, artists, foodies and creative minds all congregating in this one heavenly spot. 
Well, you can now stop imagining and live it at this creative arts festival.

~ Port Eliot Festival, photo by Michael Bowles ~
Port Eliot house is the historic seat of the Earl and Countess of St Germans and the family have lived at the house for hundreds of years, this is still a family home, offering a personal touch to this annual gathering of creative personalities. Port Eliot Festival isn’t the first festival to have inhabited these grounds, back in 1981 a colourful and vivacious festival called the Elephant Fayre set up camp. It integrated all performance art but in 1986 the festival had to come to an end and pull down its tents and flags for good.

Emerging from the ashes of its predecessor came Port Eliot Festival, an idea conjured up in 2003 by Lord St Germans, but this time there would be a literary twist. Writers, poets and journalists were invited to read out work that other literary festivals wouldn’t even look at. The participants were asked to do something different with words, and they took this to new levels adding a performance element to their recitations, which led the way for future Port Eliot Festivals.

Port Eliot drawing room, photo by Michael Bowles
As a lover of books and everything about them, from the layout, to the design, the cover to the texture of the spine, I couldn’t help but find a gold nugget of joy in Port Eliot Festival. For me it brings all of the components of a book to life with the accumulation of talented artists and performers creating your perfect publication. From this year’s line-up my choice of author for my book would be Salena Godden, a female powerhouse known largely for her Book Club Boutique in London and her collections of poetry and short stories. Photographer Martin Parr would illustrate the text with his iconic style of photography, although at this year’s festival his main medium is film, where he will be screening ‘Turkey and Tinsel’.  The book design and fabric would be chosen by the founder of the original Biba, Barbara Hulanicki, and on this occasion she will be outing her pen to paper for a drawing master class for children aged 7-13.  And last but not least, what better way to accompany a good book, than a glass of bubbly and a delicious meal, possibly cooked by Russell Norman from Polpo and sound tracked by the harmonious sounds of Luke Sital-Singh. Now that is what I call a book, I mean festival!     
Louise Gray in wardrobe dept, photo by Fiona Campbell
As a Brightonian (although that could be disputed as I have emigrated here from Cornwall!), I believe fellow Brightonians will be drawn to Port Eliot Festival for its combination of scenic location and flamboyancy. There is a wardrobe department where you can choose an outfit, accessories and a hair style for the Saturday evening; various music stages, as well as a Food and Fodder stage. Catch Martin Parr's film at The Paradiso Round Room Cinema and afterwards why not wander towards the Ways of Weirds, where Salena Godden will be stepping up on stage as well as Nikki Wyrd, a lady greatly involved in group magical practices and occult conferences.

Camping here is a treat not a chore. The parkland has views of the Cornish countryside, the river, hidden mazes and walled gardens. If nylon, poles and pegs aren’t your thing then there are tipis and yurts and glamping choices galore. There is also an option to roll off your inflatable bed and get involved in activities such as kayaking, sunrise yoga, thai chi, screen printing workshops and knitting.

There are still tickets available, so if you are feeling spontaneous there are trains specially arranged for the festival that will stop at the quaint St Germans train station. Hop off and follow the sign to the pedestrian gate and you are merely a stone’s throw away from Port Eliot Festival.  
Port Eliot Festival, photo by Michael Bowles

By Rosie Davis