Monday, 30 June 2008


Some summer heat is now hitting the South West and along with the strong breeze that has been affecting these parts of late, is creating the conditions where exposed parts of the anatomy are beginning to be affected by the reddening effects of sunburn. Time to get the sunblock out folks, even if, this being the country it is and summers being usually shot and sweet, you are not likely to need it for long.


Given that people live longer and that death and time take their toll on relationships, perhaps its time that Silverton had its own internet dating agency. I am sure there is no shortage of eligable single people from the village who could take advantage of such a service and that much good could be achieved by uniting the lonely hearts of the parish.

Such a service would certainly be much cheaper then the likes of Match.Com and might attract some of the more exocitic people who seem to frequent some other Internet dating sites. Silverton being what it is, I doubt whether we would have much attraction for those of a sado- masochistic nature or those who prefer their partners wrapped in clingfilm, but I supppose that know one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, even in Silverton. Whether we might be able to stop our clients being emailed by dodgy people with a poor command of the english language may also be open to doubt... but I expect it would be very difficult to keep people from Thorverton out altogether.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Annoying people

Someone I know got onto a bus recently, after a disturbed night to be told by one of the other passengers that they were not looking 100%. If you are not on top form do you really need reminding of it ?. There are just some people who just cannot help but be annoying other example being the sort of people who have conversations about dog droppings in the pub and football obsessives. Perhaps we should start a poll to find the most annoying person in the village.

It could be topped by a blogger of course.

Why do they do it ?.

As soon as summer comes along some people seem to lose any degree of sense they might once have possessed and assume because the temperature rises into the low twenties that as far as dress is concerned, anything goes. Thus we have the spectacle of fat blokes wondering around in shorts with their bellies hanging out of overstretched T Shirts and women, past middle age parading about in boob tubes.My dad, who did his time in north africa during WW2 always said that the arabs, with thousands of years experience of the sun, had the right idea about how to deal with the suns rays and kept themselves covered up. Some in these parts should do likewise both for health reasons and to preserve their own dignety.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Local homes for local people ?.

During my time sitting on the Council housing waiting list people have said to me that because I was born in Silverton I should have some sort of priority. The issue of council housing is one of supply and to prioritise local people for housing in any one area lets the relevant authorities off the hook. The basis of the problem lies in the policy of the Thatcher government, and one continued by Blair and Brown, of selling off council housing stock and refusing to adequately invest in replacing it. We now live in a world of increasingly mobile populations and one where we are told that we should be prepared to move to get better employment or life prospects. This means that Governments both local and national have to be prepared to treat social housing of all kinds as a priority and not just rely on the market to sort it all out. I suspect that the economic crisis which is now emerging both here and across most of the rest of the world is going to put state intervention in economic affairs firmly bsack on the agenda in housing as indeed in much else.

Access to public transport: Update.

I am glad to see that Cooks Coaches/Stagecoach have now aquired and are using a low loader bus on the 355 route. I would like to think that the power of the blog plus a few words in the right ears had an effect but I suspect its just coincidence.

Friday, 27 June 2008

The Joy Of Text

I sent my first ever text message today. It took me about a quarter of an hour to do it, but I did it. Even for the technologically inept such as myself it seems that its necessary to get to grips with such things. Give it a year and I might be able to send a text in er, five minutes.

Now when we can get the recipient of the text into blogging we shall be getting somewhere.

Moonlight and Wurzels

To many a first date might conjure up images of a candlelit meal, a glass of wine and a stroll hand in hand through some moonlit romantic location. Not for everyone however as we hear that a certain regular of The Silverton Inn chose to take the lady of his choice to a Wurzels concert.

So rather then a romantic meal and a glass of wine I suppose he wooed her with a pint of scrumpy and a packet of pork scratchings.

Could this be the same chappy who was told by a certain young lady of the village (not the one of the Wurzels concert) at the weekend that if he was not married by the time he was forty she would marry him ?.

He turns forty in a few weeks time.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock.

Welcome back to the Tivoli

Many will be glad to see that the Tivoli cinema in Tiverton will be reopening tonight. Its good to see that a vigorous and effective local campaign has saved one of the last independent cinemas in mid Devon from permanent closure. It goes to show again that its not inevitable that people power will always be defeated. Its the sort of canpaigning we should see more of on a range of issues in an era when apathy appears to increasingly rule the roost.

Hopefully, all those who signed the petitions in support of the Tivoli will now make sure that they attend as often as possible in order to keep this important local resource vibrant and viable.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Mobile Madness

I have just spent the best part of the last two days trying to set up my new mobile phone. Admittedly, I am not the most technically proficient person on earth but every time you buy a new mobile they seem to take more time to get activated. My first problem was getting the back off the thing to insert the battery and sim card. It took three of us to manage that operation. Then it wouldnt connect to the network to activate. Then this morning it would connect, recieved the appropriate text and phone number. However, when I tried to phone the number from the landline it kept getting put through to someone who said they were 'Stan's answering service'. After several attempts I took it to the Orange shop in Exeter where the helpful assistant said he had sorted out the problem. On returning home and testing it again the same problem arose until I managed to find the relevent entry on the phone for the phone number which I noticed contained one digit different to the one that I had been sent. Now success.

Then, of course, I had to get the phone topped up which entailed phoning a number somewhere in foriegn parts where the assistant appeared to be just through training. After much fiddling about he eventually managed to get me topped up and ready to roll. Having had my fill of such excietments for the day I decided to leave investigating the radio and MP3 functions until tom orrow .

Modern technology is a wonderful thing but there must be easier ways of doing a reletively simple job.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Birthday Greetings.

To Geoff Carroll on his 56th birthday.

Its A Dogs Life

Its reckon by archeologists, anthropologists and the like that dogs have been companions to humans for at least 14,000 years. For much of that time they have been our hunting companions, our herding assistants, our house guards and or confidantes and their presence was accepted as a necessary part of our existance. Unfortunately it would seem that now that humans have become urbanised, what dogs do naturally becomes offensive to some. Part of what dogs have been bred for is to defend their territory and the territory of those they live with. It now seems that the dogs natural method of carrying out this duty, barking, creates offence for some who find that what in the old days, would have been a possible warning of approaching danger, is now regarded as disturbing their beauty sleep. It would seem also that some find that complaining about a dog barking is good cover for them to persue their own petty vendettas.

Personally, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I could think of worse things then to come back as a dog in a good home with people ready to feed and exercise me and with plenty of doggy friends to have a romp with. I would however, hope that should I be reincarnated in such a manner it would be in a time and place more friendly to the canine lifestyle then the present.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Why Tobireg ?.

Some may wonder why I choose to write this blog under the name 'Tobireg'. Back in the day, well, early 2001 to be exact I started posting on the notorious, and now defunct, Red Action discussion board. The RA board was populated by some of the wilder fringes of UK politics and though a good place to engage in a bit of heated debate,was not the sort of place where you would want too many personal details appearing. Consequently, I decided that it would be wise to adopt, as most did, a non de plume and for that purpose I combined the names of my then pets, Toby (the sawn off Collie) and Reg the cat. Toby has since gone on to the great Kennel in the sky but Reg is alive and well and living in the Belmont area of Ayr. The name Tobireg then continued on through various discussion boards and comments sections of Blogs including Urban 75 and Harrys Place as well as some of my own earlier blogging attempts so I decided that it would be appropriate to keep it going for this effort.

Its not my only pen name though. Those who seek far enough could also find contributions to boards and blogs under the names Tollbar (after my former local in Prestwick) and Glenn Dale (I used to live in Glendale Crescent in Ayr) but you would need to do a hard days googling to find them as references to other people and places with those names are not that uncommon..


Congratulations to Ian Northey on winning a weeks holiday in Cyprus in the draw held at Louise Banks 'Red and Black Ball'. Glad to here that this event was a financial success but I am surprised to here that the visit to the set of 'Deal or No Deal' donated by Noel Edmunds only sold for £170 in the auction.

The Grass Is Greener, The Sneezing Starts.

As we move beyond midsummer and the grass seems to grow quicker every day to the extent that, unless you keep on top of it, your lawn can go from the stage where you can sing 'One man went to mow' to 'Sheep may safely graze'almost overnight, large sections of the population begin to feel the familier signs of hay fever impinging on their everyday lives. You can be walking down a pleasent country lane with not a care in the world and before you know it you feel as though you have developed the mother of all colds the next, with the additional delights of swollen eyes to make the experience even more memorable. I only started suffering from this condition when I was nineteen and, unlike many sufferers, I was lucky enough, if you can call it that, only to get the worst symptoms for about six weeks of the year rather then for months as some do. Hay fever was a constant companion at this time of the year through most of my later youth and middle years but seems to have declined sharply in its severity over the past decade.

Perhaps there are some compensations to be found in your advancing years after all.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Post Londis note.

With the demise of the Londis, it seems that the post office is to extend the range of merchandise it sells. Newspapers are on offer and it is reliably reported that it will soon be possible to purchase milk and some cold meats, including, I am informed, the excellent Chinns sausages produced in Crediton.

Quiz night at the Trout

And so, I had a trip out of the village last night to visit The Trout Inn at Bickleigh for the monthly quiz night. In travelling from Silverton to Bickleigh we move from one small village to an even smaller one and one that is unusual in that its two pubs, The Fishermans Cot and The Trout Inn are seperated from the village of Bickleigh proper by the river Exe and that they are only accessible to the villagers by the old river bridge that also carries the main Exeter-Tiverton road.

The Trout Inn is a large and roomy country pub that has built up a good reputation for good food but is now also becoming well known for its monthly quiz that can carry a potential jackpot of £200 plus. Currently it stands at £230 which is probably why last nights quiz attracted 90 participants. The Silverton team consisted of 3 members of the Lamb Inn quiz team, myself who acts as a team reserve on occasions, the partner of one of the team members and last night a woman called Bernice from Tiverton who just happened to turn up and got included out of politeness.

We had 6 rounds of general knowledge and a picture round and the scores between the various teams were very closely matched throughout. Eventually, we lost out on getting a share of the regular prize money, which depends on the number of people entering, by one point and had we played our joker on one of the rpounds that we had originally considered rather than falling back on the easy option of pot luck, we would have probably one the £40 first prize. On the Jacpot round where it is necessary to get all the questions right (the number of questions decline as the Jackpot increases, last night there were eight) I think we got four. No one won the Jackpot so for the next quiz on July 27th the Jackpot goes up another £10.

So if you want to play a general knowledge quiz in the company of teams with names like the 'Nonorts' and the 'Tamworth Two' in a relaxed atmosphere and where you could win £230, not to mention where you can sink a few locally produced pints in a friendly atmosphere, you could do worse than heading on down to the Trout Inn at Bickleigh on the last sunday in july for an eight o clock start. We shall all be there, with some more knowledgeable additions hopefully. The trick to winning Quizzes is having people with a breadth of knowledge rather than necessarily any great expertise in one particular field.

Sunday, 22 June 2008


You could be forgiven for thinking that it was mid September rather than midsummer. That was the thought that crossed my mind when I was somewhat drunkenly, walking the dog around the village yesterday evening in the thick drizzle. This year seems to be turning out to be particularly dismal in terms of weather and it is a worrying thought that we are now past the longest day and before long we shall see the nights drawing in again and we shall be on the high road to winter. One can only hope that July and August may prove to be drier and warmer than what we have been experiencing so far this summer and that we shall not be looking back come autumn wondering where the summer went.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


Back in the winter, whilst walking the dog, I noticed that a recent gale had demolished the old corrugated barn at Stumpy Cross. This reminded me of the role that barns and haylofts played in the lives of children growing up in the countryside in the past and the changed nature of childhood and young adulthood in the countryside today.

Some of my earlist memories are of playing around in the hayricks in the big field at the side of Forden Lane (the small track that can be accessed from Silverdale), we built our camps there and watched the rabbits running out of the grass when the hay was being cut. Later in childhood, we had our gang headquarters in various barns and tallets around the village and hid out from opposing forces. Later still, I would imagine that a lot of us had our first cigarettes in the barns and haylofts without ever seeming to burn them down, the occasional can of Cider or similar and I suspect that many will have had their first sexual encounters of one sort or another in them, many of which I am sure have left a lasting impression. The barns and haylofts were for generations an important part of the process of growing up.

With the development of farms as agribusinesses, the rise of the culture of health and safety and the now ever present fear about the safety of children in particular, barns and the like, where they still exist, have become largely off limits to the young. Whilst one can see the necessity for greater control over the countryside and the uses that are made of it, the removal of barns as a part of the social life leads inevitably to young people having a restricted enviornment in which to explore themselves and the world around them.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Cabbages and Kings : Another One Bites The Dust.

Thanks to Caz Frost for suggesting this topic.

Another era in Silverton retailibg will come to an end in the last weekend in july with the retirement of Ann Vanneck and the closure of the fruit and veg shop, Cabbages and Kings opposite the Silverton Inn.

When I was very young the shop that is now Cabbages and Kings was a boot and shoe repair business run by a man named Walker. People could make a decent living out of shoe repairs even in a place like Silverton in those days when shoes were more expensive and made to last.Mr Walker, besides performing orthodox shoe repair was also expert at orthopeadic work. After his departure, which I suspect coincided with the beginnings of the trend towards mass produced shoes at less expensive prices the shop ceased to operate as a retail outlet until the very early eighties when Robert Vanneck began selling second hand fridges, freezers and washing machines and also did a sideline in fresh eggs. Following the end of the secondhand white goods business the shop passed through a couple of other incarnations firstly an antique shop, and later as a financial advice centre . It then became what is now Cabbages and Kings eventually becoming owned and managed by Ann Vanneck. It looks as though whatever future the shop may now have it is unlikely to be selling fruit and veg. It seems that, despite all the talk about the desirability of locally produced fruit and veg,

when the chips are down it seems shops like Cabbages and Kings in a village the size of Silverton are unable to compete against the supermarkets and the availability of imported produce that can be grown all the year round. Perhaps the best solution for those who want fresh, local produce is to return to growing it in their own gardens or joining the queue to rent an allotment. Given the demands of current employment practices and other demands upon the time of working people, neither of the two alternatives will be attractive options for many.

Thanks To Caz

Thanks to Caz for spotting two spelling errors in the Fish and Chips post. Its good to know we have such eagle eyed readers.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Haunted Silverton

I suppose that Silverton like most other communities has its fair share of stories of houses and locations that are reputedly haunted. The ones that I know of are one of the houses on the left as you go up School road where footsteps are reported to have been heard on the stairs and a young girl is said to be present. The ghost of an elderly woman who was reported to have been seen crossing from a gateway in Windmill lane and some incidents that have occurred in the Lamb Inn including an unseen agency breathing on the neck of an unsuspecting customer who was using the gents toilets, A table being mysteriously rapped and glasses occasionaly flying off shelves.

I have had one or two experiences that could be put down to some supernatural activity myself. Back when I was a young teenager I was standing outside the gate of the old school at the bottom of School road with a friend one evening when we saw two figures, apparently dressed in monks garb cross from the churchyard to what is now the entrance to Wyndham road. What was interesting about that was that the figures were some way above the current road level. The other experience I had was when I was a boy I was in the church choir and one night whilst on my way to choir practice I heard a horse come along park road and turn into church road opposite the school. Despite looking I could see no horse which was strange as thgough it was dark there was a street light on the corner.

Although a sceptic about such things such stories add to the character of a village and remind us that we are all part of the continuity of the existence of the community that leaves footprints real and imagined that you can find just outside the eyeline of evereyday life. Silverton like all communities would be poorer without them.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Fish and Chips

We now have two regular outlets for fish and chips in the village. On wednesdays The Lamb does fish and chips to take away at lunchtime and in the evenings and the Chris and Chips mobile fish and chip van comes around on a thursday evening.

The thursday evening Mobile chip van has a long history in the village. As far back as the late fifties and early sixties we had the mobile chip van of Johnny Rose of Ottery St Mary coming to the village and I can remember when I was in my mid teens qeueing up with the other residents of what was then Lily Lake (now Coach road and the surrounding streets) for the arrival of our thursday evening treat. The only problem was that because of the popularity of Johnny's chips elsewhere the van got steadily later and later and those with access to a car would drive as far as Ellerhayes in order to get their supplies.

After the demise of the Johnny Rose van there was a hiatus before another chip van made an appearence in the early eighties, this time on a wednesday, and there has been a fairly consistant pattern since of visits on either a wednesday or a thursday. A sad conclusion to one of these visits was when one of the van proprietors collapsed and died whilst cooking.

Whilst undoubtedly the Lamb now provides very good quality fish and chips and a pleasent environment to consume them if you wish to eat on the premesis, you cannot beat the magic of buying your fish and chips off a mobile van and carrying them home in warm paper to consume them at your leisure.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


I was talking to a couple of people in the pub last night and the subject of Glastonbury came up. The couple concerned are off to this years event next week attending in a strictly administrative capacity although both are well into middle age. I pointed out that I was never at the actual Glastonbury event but was at its predecessor, the Bath Blues Festival of 1970 which gave Michael Eavis the idea for the annual event that followed which has of course, now become as much a part of the annual summer scene as Ascot and as much part of the rite of passage to adulthood for maany young people as the first pint down the pub. Whilst Glastonbury has become a multi million pound business I suspect that it has had a major effect in promoting mini festivals right across the country, especially in this part of the world, and encouraging people to take up music making who would never have done so and persuading those who played in their youth but have since retired from playing to get their instruments out and return to the stage.

In Silverton, of course, we used to have our own mini festival in the car park as part of street market and for many of us it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the proceedings. You could have a few pints and watch local bands playing under the august evening sky along with an assortment of people ranging from old age pensioners to the Satans Slaves Motorcycle club. Sadly, the usual crop of regulations and complaints from the NIMBY element put a stop to this event but perhaps some enterprising people could think about putting something similar on in a less contentious location. Most of the post 1945 generation tend to enjoy good music and good company in an outdoor location. As good a venue as the Lamb Inn Shed is its not the same as having music in the open air.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Walking The Dog

One big change I have noticed since returning to the area last year is the volume of traffic on many of our narrower country lanes. Back in the eighties when I was last living here and owned a dog it was quite possible to have a quiet walk around the New barn road, Babylon, Kenson hill circuit hardly seeing a car on most days, now on many occasions you have to get into the hedge to avoid frequent passing 4X4s and the like and I have now had to change the direction of one of my walks to avoid a milk tanker which uses the same route at about the same time . White van man is also someone to be avoided as they use the country back roads to keep to schedules.

Whilst it is undoubtedly the case that the growth in ownwership of 4x4s creates problems the use of GPS technology now means that people who would never have thought of using country back roads in the past now use them frequently and some of them seem to think that the use of satellite technology provides them with infallible routes and somehow protects them from having to run into inconvenient hazards like dog walkers. Some of them need reminding that some of the roads they are using were main roads when pack horses were the main form of transport and meeting an oncoming horse and cart would have created the sort of navigation problems they would only be able to have nightmares about.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Visiting Exeter yesterday afternoon I was plunged into reminisence by the sound of a busking bagpiper opposite the new 'Next' building. Having lived in and around the Glasgow area for over 20 years one became accustomed to busking bagpipers in Buchanan Street and I remember one of them who was somewhat unusual. This was Alejo Rodreiguez who hailed from Beunos Aries and for reasons I never knew, having become interested in the pipes at an early age travelled to Glasgow to enrol in a piping college. Unfortunately for Alejo, the college he enrolled in was not one recognised by the government for funding and Alejo had to make his way in Scotland as best he could by playing on the streets of Glasgow. Bizarrely, he was taken up by a leading figure in the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement and played at their rallies and headed their annual John Maclean march and even appeared at the annual Glencoe commemmoration, so a link was formed between Argentina and what many might regard as one of the more extreme wings of Scottish nationalism. They even clubbed together to by him the full dress jacket and kilt.

As far as I recall Alejo did eventually get regular funding for his course and I suppose has now returned to Argentina, presumably to play for whatever Scottish exile community they have in those parts. It certainly was good to hear the sound of the pipes echoing down the High Street yesterday though.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Food Glorious Food.

Sitting in the Lamb last night, watching the friday night diners, reminded me of the old days when pub food usually meant a packet of crisps and a pickled egg. Until the early seventies none of the Silverton pubs provided anything more advanced then that and it weas a \big day when the Three Tuns first aquired a microwave. The Tuns of course rapidly then developed its food output both in quantity and quality and by the mid eighties had developed a considerable reputation for its cuisine under a sucession of different owners. As far as I recall the New Inn (now the Silverton Inn) was the next to follow with a more basic menu from the early eighties, but had a full resteraunt attached for a while in the late eighties- early nineties. The Lamb was the last into the field from the mid eighties but really developed a major reputation as a food outlet under the current owers, Alan and Jane Isaac.

All the Silverton pubs now feature menues containing a wide range of good food at reasonable prices and it is a sign of the changing nature of the village that eating out has now become a regular feature of the lives of many. Another changed feature of life is that all the pubs are to a greater or lesser extent family friendly. I think its a major ytribute to all the pubs in the village that they have moved with the changes in the social composition of the clientele of their establishments without destroying entirely the traditional nature of the village pub.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Silverton's Street Parking Problem

During last weeks traffic chaos caused by the accident at Chitterley it was noted by a number of people that the situation was considerably exacerbated by the street parking in Fore Street and High Street. This has been an ongoing problem now for many years and seems to be a problem now common to many Devon villages. Its been said for years that one day the partial blockage of the streets will one day create access problems for emergency services with the obvious potential for tragic consequences.

In Silverton the problem regarding street parking in the centre of the village has not been helped by the location of the car park which is only accessible by a circuitous route from the centre of the village and has, in any case, very limited parking facilities. Controversial as the proposal my be, I would be in favour of converting the 'Little Rec' into a car park as its now clear that some drastic measures should be considered given the ever increasing amount of traffic seeking to park in the main streets and the square given also, that the appropriate authorities seem not to have either the will or the resources to deal with the current parking situation.

An old blog

Whilst searching about on the Internet the other day I came across one of my earlier efforts at blogging. Those interested can find it at:

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Northern Invasion.

Its noticeable around the pubs these days that there seem to be a large number of people in the village from areas north of Birmingham. Merseyside seems to be a particular place of origin for many of the newcomers and Silverton is beginning to sound more like Bootle then the Exe valley. You wonder how all these people get to hear about us. Does Silverton feature on some website somewhere where Scousers can pick their dream destination, if not in the sun, at least well away from some of the more obvious social problems that affect Liverpool and its surrounding towns.

Although from what one hears some of the incomers bring their problems with them. I suspect this is a subject that may well be pursued another day.

Quiz night at The Lamb.

Once more the massed intellects of the village gathered at the Lamb Inn for the regular general knowledge quiz. This time the quiz had been drawn up by someone bother then the owners and besides a notably difficult first round contained a picture round on famous Album covers and an interround section wanting the full lit of 'The Cronicles Of Narnia'. Having never read any of these well known examples of christian propaganda, I found myself at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with that section. After a long struggle my team managed to make it to joint third, whilst the top honours as as is often the case, went to a team of university professionals who seem to have a strong interest in popular culture. Still, I suppose a free pint of Stowford Press, which I got for the joint third position is better then nothing.

The next quiz will be on the 30th of July and will be on the theme of this years street market, Heroes and villians. Could be interesting. I am working on an idea for a great british quiz later in the year. We shall have to see if we can make it a bit controversial.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


walked the footpath from Roach Lane to Ash Farm this morning with the dogs. I am very glad to see that efforts are now being made to keep the paths clear. With the message about the need for excercise being promotrd ever more strongly by the health professionals our footpaths are going to become ever more necessary. Users should not hesitate to inform the parish council if they are not being maintained properly.

I walk the line

Strange conversation with a friend of mine last night about what people do when they become agitated whilst waiting for a bus. Some it seems walk up and down in straight lines while others walk around in circles.

Do the two groups have distinct psychological profiles ?.

Morris dancing..

We had morris dancers outside the Lamb last night. Does anyone really like Morris dancing beyond those who take part in it ?. The best that most non participants seem to be able to say about it is that it continues and preserves an english tradition. The morris dancers who were performing last night seemed to be mainly concerned with preserving the Morris dancing tradition of NW england. Problem is, how much of this is actually preserving a living tradition rather than reinventing it as was done with much of english folk music at the start of the 20th century and again by people connected to the Communist party like Ewan McColl and Karl Dallas in the 1950s, concerned with developing the idea of english folk music as part of a distinct working class tradition. I certainly dont recall hearing of any tradition of morris dancing as being part of any tradition in Silverton, unlike the Silver band which was a major feature of village life in the 19th century along with the annual performance of the mummers play. Morris dancing, like Church bellringing and trainspotting (The type done on stations, nothing to do with the famous novel by Irvine Welsh) seems to be the preserve of a particular type of english eccentric and not to have the sort of popular base associated with Irish and Scottish dancing and traditional music.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

There's Klingons on the starboard bow.

I have just remembered that its thirty years ago this year that the area had something of a UFO scare when unidentified flying objects were allegedly sioghted over Christ Cross leading to more than a few locals heading for the hill hoping to greet the arrival of ET, or at least provide the excuse for a good party. There were even reports of the arrival of mysterious men in suits, carrying briefcases, presumably the local equivelant of the men in black. As is so often the case however, the whole thing died the death after a few days when presumably, ET decided that there were better places to be in the universe then flying around the top of a big hill in Devon in august.

UFOs seem to have gone out of fashion these days and seem to have been replaced here, as elsewhere with reports of sightings of anomolous big cats lurking in the undergrowth. Having had an encounter withn something that appeared to be one of these beasties in the same area on a foggy afternoon in the mid 1980s I certainly think that there may be things lurking about in the hedgerows that might well be of more immediate interest then alleged sightings of extra terrestrial vehicles.

as always, for those with an interest in such matters there is nowhere more useful for a visit than.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Silverton local history society.

The SLHS has a website.

A useful resource for those interested in Silverton.

And whilst on matters internet, was an archive ever made of the stuff on the old 'virtual silverton' site?.

Summers here and the time is right......

For the stench of barbeques to spread across the land. Funny isnt it, that whilst good old fashioned bonfires are banned its quite alright to pollute the atmosphere with the stench of burnt portions of birds and animals whilst people usually english in origin play at being australians or pretend that they live in Texas.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

heroes and villians

The theme of this years Street market is to be heroes and villians, a poll has been started to find a local hero.

What about one to find a local villian. I am sure there would be a good few nominations for candidates past and present.

Village Idiots

You really have to wonder at what goes on in some peoples heads. After making more than misleading statements to the press about the closure of the Londis, we now have the proprietors posting a statement in the shop window blaming the Express and Echo for the adverse reaction to the newspaper stories that the owners personally inspired. Never was the old cliche about when in a hole stop digging more appropriate.

The long, slow death of the Londis.

Earlier this week, stories appeared in the Tiverton/Culm valley gazette and the Express and Echo regarding the imminent closure of the Londis store in the village square. The stories were based on interviews with one of the proprietors, Cristine Read and the basis of the story was that the Londis had been forced out of business by the growth in internet shopping. As most people in the village recognise the truth is somewhat otherwise.

There has been a general store on the site of the Londis, reputedly for some 200 years. When I was young, and for long before that, the shop was owned by the Perratt family and sold just about anything that most people would want. As with most general stores in the days before modern health, safety, and envioronmental legislation it was highly individual when it came to standards of hygene and many older Silvertonians will remember Mr Dibsdale with his drippy nose cutting up the bacon and the paraffin being stored next to the cheese. With the growth of the supermarkets and the rapid expansion in car ownership that accompanied the long post war economic boom, Perrats went the way of many such small village general stores and by the late 60s had been sold on to become a franchised convienience store, first owned by Vivo, then by SPAR and finally by Londis, now part of the Budgen group, I believe. A couple of years back, the Londis encountered serious opposition when Dave Haggett, the local butcher took over the newspaper shop next to the butchers and obtained a franchise from SPAR to reopen the shop as another convienience store.

The competition between the two shops set off quite a serious conflict within the village with peopledeclaring alliegence to one or other of the two stores. There were those who, whilst using one store would not set foot inside the other, and in the case of the Londis the situation was excacerbated by tyhe fact that there was quite a poor shopping environment with recurrent problems with air conditioning. The situation was not aided by the proprietors health problems. The shop went into a slow but steady decline leading to the eventual closure due on June 11th. Whilst the growth in Internet shopping certainly played some part in the downfall of the Londis, it was almost certainly not the key factor.

In my view two themes emerge from this sad saga, firstly, a clash between two business models, a traditional convienience store and a convienience store aiming at the upwardly mobile class that has increasingly come to dominate the village in the past thirty years. Given the changes in Shopping habits within the village and the inability of the Londis management to match the Haggett setup in terms of investment and business expertise there was only ever going to be one winner. Secondly, the Londis-Spar clash again illustrates the tensions between the old Silverton and the new that first became apparent with the demolition of the old village hall and the construction of the new community hall nearly twenty years ago. Cristine Read in her interview, unconciously recognised this in her interview when she pointed up her ancestral connections with the village. The reality now is however that appeals to to the traditional village community, many of whom loyally supported Londis to the end, cut little ice when set against changing economic realities and the continuing reinvention of Silverton as a dormitory village.

Silvertonia-The board

We now are proud to present the Silvertonia bulletin board, a board where those with an interest in the village past and present can discuss life in Silverton in all its many guises.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Access to public transport

Much is being made by both national and local government about the need to enable those either elderly or with disabilities, to have adequate access to public transport. Unfortunately, in Silverton, this is far from the case. The Stagecoach company which now has a monopoly of Bus services after aquiring the independant operator, Cooks coachs are continuing to run Minibuses wioth high steps making access difficult for many elderly or disabled. Access is also impossible for wheelchairs and for young parents with buggies which creates serious problems for those sections of the community with the greatest need for an adequate public transport system.

Compare and contrast the situation in Silverton and that in the Scottish town of Ayr where I used to live. There Stagecoach run low loader buses on all the main routes and the former administration on South Ayrshire council undertook a major programme designed to raise the levels of pavements at bus stops to the level of the bus platforms in order to allow Wheelchairs, Buggies and Shopping trolleys unfettered access.

Given that communities like Silverton are almost bound to expand in the coming years and are certain to contain a higher percentage of elderly or disabled people then is currently the case and given that Governments of all political persuasions at both local and national levels are actively campaigning to reduce car use, surely it is time that serious consideration was given to ensuring that everyone has adequate access to the public transport system. Perhaps the Parish council should take this up as part of their 'we live here' strategy.

More mayhem on the A396

The village became a scene of traffic chaos, yet again, yesterday afternoon after another serious accident blocked the A396, this time in the Bickliegh area. Police blocked off Fore street to northbound non local, traffic after the narrow street became blocked with both north and southbound diverted traffic trying to get through the centre of the village. The diversions continued well into the evening.

As far as is known the accident was yet another example of a young driver going too fast on a road whose A status is seriously open to question. There should be a serious campaign mounted to upgrade the A396 in an era when increased traffic flow and the easy availability of powerful cars to young motorists create a lethal combination. Accidents like this yet again highlight the serious planning defiancies that have blighted the massive growth in road use over the past 30 years. Its easy to draw the wider lesson that successive governments have failed massively in being prepared to provide sufficent investment for infrastructure in a part of the world where demand for transport and housing have now created major strains on the system.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Welcome to Silvertonia

This will be a blog principally about living in the village of Silverton, Devon but will invariably extend its reach beyond the parish boundaries. For those who dont know it, Silverton lies about 8 miles north of the city of Exeter in the county of Devon in the south west of England. Silverton is claimed to be one of the oldest saxon settlements in Devon with a continuous history of existance on its current site dating back to the 6th century AD. It lies in the caldera of an extict volcano under an 800ft hill known as Christ Cross and is situated between the rivers Exe and Culm. The current population is about 2,000. Although though it has a history as both an industrial village through papermaking and as an agricultural settlement, it is now largely a commuter village for Exeter and also has a sizeable retired population. It now has only one village store/butchers, but retains three public houses-The Lamb, The Silverton Inn, and The Three Tuns Inn as well as three places of worship, St Marys (Church of England) and a Methodist and an Evangelical chapel. A major annual event is the street market, held at the beginning of august and there are a good number of community organisations including a thriving local history society and a recently formed drama group.

Given that the author of this blog is something of an observer of the passing social scene it is probably inevitable that there will be more then a few comments on what goes on in the various licensed establishments for in Silverton, as elsewhere, much begins and ends in the Pub.