Thursday, 31 July 2008

The man they couldnt hang

One of the questions in last nights quiz concerned John 'Babbacombe' Lee remembered as the man they couldnt hang, after attempts to hang him for murder at Exeter prison failed after the trap beneath his feet failed to open on three occasions. What may not be so well known is a story that I once heard that, following his eventual release from prison, he once came to Silverton with a group of friends and played Darts at the Lamb Inn.

Other celebrities who have passed through the hostelries of Silverton at various times include the actor who played Tom Forrest in the long running radio soap 'The Archers' (Three Tuns) and the late actor and comedian, Arthur English who visited the then New Inn in the 1970s. The author, Ian 'Emma' Blair was also, of course a regular at all three establishments for a number of years whilst living in the village. I am sure that others could be added to the list.

Heroes and Villains: Quiz night at the Lamb

The annual street market quiz took place at the Lamb last night based around this years theme 'heroes and villains'. The quiz was as ever well attended and eventually resulted in victory for the team known as 'the marketeers'. Thanks to Maxine and Richard for writing the quiz. The picture round, as ever, proved tricky with this particular participant misidentyfying Gen Sir Redvers Buller as General Pinochet, although I suspect their politics probably were not dissimilar. Our team, largely the same as the one that played at The Trout on sunday, again finished fourth. Sport again proved problematic along with elements of popular culture.

Whilst participating in the quiz I was reminded that its worth remembering how many of those who appeared in questions in one category, could in different circumstances have appeared in the other. Although Nelson Mandela would be regarded by most these days as being in the hero category its not so many years ago that Young Conservatives attended their conference wearing T Shirts demanding that he be hung. Che Geuvara may well be a hero and inspiration to millions around the world but would be seen very differently if you held a similar quiz in Miami. Gen Sir Redvers Buller might have been a hero to Brit imperialism in the 19th century but was no doubt viewd very differently by the Boers and Zulus who he came into contact with in a military capacity. Not forgetting of course Maggie Thatcher... but there again who could forget her. I suspect we shall see some very different views of her status as hero or villain displayed if the current proposal that she merits a state funeral is ever implemented.

Pies, Pies, Pies.

Anyone going out for a meal and who might fancy a decent pie need look no further then the range of excellent pies now being produced by Shane Radmore at the Silverton Inn. They are all home made with puff pastry and served with fresh vegetables. I can especially recommend the steal pie with the fiery peppercorn sauce for those with a taste for such things. Always worth reminding people on a tight budget that you can get a meal and a drink for £5.25 at the Silverton on a tuesday evening between 6 and 8pm and that Shanes pies are always on the menu.


So a Liverpudlian comes to Silverton to stay with a former partner now involved with the local drama group. The drama group are short of an actor for their street market production and the Liverpudlian gets roped in. Who does he play ?. A gangster of course. Dear me.

Danger, regional stereotyping at work.

Good luck, Mark on your acting debut on saturday.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Sweeny Todd now on sale

Exe Valley Breweries latest brew, Sweeny Todd, is now on sale in the run up to street market. On first tasting it does seem to be of a better quality then their previous offering, Gutzache. Anyone with a taste for real ale should give it a go. On sale currently in the Lamb and doubtless in the other hostelries by saturday.

The Leat.

The Leat (or the Gutter, as we used to refer to it when I was young) has been a feature of Silverton life for centuries probably. Rising from the ground somewhere off Butterleigh Road it flows down the High Street and then down Fore Street until it disappers under Tiverton Road on its way to join the Exe. The Leat has been a source of enjoyment for generations of village children who have floated their pooh stcks down it was well as providing an extra hazard for those who might encounter it after one too many pints in the Lamb or The Silverton Inn of an evening. Whilst its role in the village is mainly benign it has flooded parts of Fore Street on occasions, most notably in 1996, and often requires the sterling efforts of parish councillor Marsden to keep it flowing freely. Although its blockages can lead to additional hazards in the form of ice if it freezes during the winter, Silverton without its leat would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower. It is an essential part of what makes the village what it is.

Dont forget....

Silvertonia.... The Board. You can find details of its location in an early post. Its open for business and so far has one member. Welcome Mowgli. I wonder which jungle you are active in. Could be a Celtic supporter I suppose.

Its Not Looking Good.

the weather forecast for street market is not looking good. the latest forecast that I have seen is for rain for most of the day. hopefully, as has happened on previous occasions the event will get a last minute reprieve from the weather, that seems to be about all we can hope for at the moment.

Whatever happens, as long as some sort of event goes ahead, this blog will be doing its best to cover as much as possible and to post photographs as soon as is practical. We shall endeaver to post all the news thats fit to print and perhaps some that isnt. Hopefully some embarrassing moments may appear here. Not ones involving this blogger if they can be avoided.

100 up.

This is the 100th post since we started and looking at how many times my profile has been viewed it seems as though we are beginning to attract some interest. At the moment we are covering all the news from Silverton that comes to hand but if anyone has something of interest that they think deserves wider publicity we would be glad to post it here.

At the moment this blog is doing what it set out to do when it started less than two months ago but we could certainly do with more feedback.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Wheres the flag ?.

Whats become of our recently aquired Devon flag ?. Whilst on my dog walking rounds this morning I noticed that the green and white Devon flag has been replaced by its predecessor, the flag of St George. Have rabid english nationalists made off with our county flag in the night or is it in the wash ?.

I think we should be told.

belated best wishes

To Ann Vanneck and other staff at Cabbages and Kings following the closure of that establishment last weekend. As another village institution bites the dust we hope that Ann will have a long and happy retirement with Robert and the family.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Hall site sold....again

The 'sold' sign has again gone up on the site of the late, lamented New Hall and so and so the saga enters another chapter. Will anything actually get built on it this time around ?.

Will the old Londis building be next ?.

This months Trout Quiz

A six strong contingent from the Lamb, playing as MagNets, took part in this months quiz at the Trout Inn in Bickleigh last night. Although the overall attendance was down on last month we unfortunately fared no better then before. To what extent this may be down to the fact that two members of the party might well have been still recovering for certain accesses on saturday is uncertain, but it is doubtful whether consuming considerable quantities of ale and gin and tonic combined with unspeakable behaviour with cucumbers aids the mental processes. Nevertheless on the jackpot round we got 5 out of the 7 questions right and as nobody else got all seven right the jackpot rolls over to £240.

The next quiz at the Trout will be on Aug 31st.

Abstinence may well be the order of the day next time around.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

More street market music

The band, 'Shufflebones' will be playing at the Silverton Inn on street market night. approximate time of start, 9.00pm.

A sea of glasses

Anyone entering the Lamb Inn yesterday at about 1.00pm would have been confronted with a sea of empty glasses covering the entire bar. This was the result of one of the biggest weddings that I can recall, being held at the Methodist church across the road. As is often the case these days, neither of the main protagonists were from the village but arrived at the wedding with about 250 guests. Although the reception was to be held at the Thorverton arms the first drink was at the Lamb and it would seem that for about an hour the wedding party not only took over the pub, but most of the street outside even spilling into king street for a while.

Busy as things were at the Lamb, as one of the bar staff pointed out it was really only a dry run for the real big event next weekend. street market.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Crime Corner

I hear that a number of young people were spotted on the roof of the primary school in the early hours of wednesday morning and an alert local resident phoned the police who reportedly took 45 minutes to arrive. Luckily for the boys and girls in blue the micreants had not legged it and several of them were duly removed from the scene in a police van.

45 minutes does seem a long time to answer a call of this type, if the reports received are correct. I hope that we are not into one of those situations once more, where because the village is generally quiet for a period, it takes a lower priority than some other areas when it comes to issues of crime management.

wheres Lilly ?.

  1. I notice that our occasional commentator, Lilly, has been noticeable by her (and I am almost certain it is a 'her') absence over the past week or so. It could of course be that 'she' is on holiday or has work commitments, or as many of us do from time to time, has a computer problem.

On the other hand it could be, of course that 'she' has transferred her affections to one of the boys with the big blogs. If so, it should perhaps be pointed out that with blogging, as with other things in life, size isnt always everything. We may be small but hopefully we sometimes reach places that other blogs dont.

Another Random Thought.

I had a rather bizarre exchange with someone yesterday about the dangers of knitting after taking one drink too many. I pointed out that this could lead to pullovers turning into blankets and hats turning into tea cozies.

I also pointed out as well that you could end up with knitted condoms which could prove disasterous for all concerned.

Friday, 25 July 2008

I called that one badly.

Elsewhere on the internet yesterday, just for a bit of fun, I made a prediction on the outcome of the Glasgow east by election. My prediction was that Labour would hold it with a bigger majority than most imagined, and that amongst the minor parties Solidarity would outpoll the Scottish Socialist Party. I based my prediction on my assumed knowledge of the area and on my knowing some of the runners and riders. As those who have seen the results know the seat went to the SNP and the SSP beat Solidarity.

Needless to say this blog will not be giving racing tips any time soon.

Thanks again

Thanks to Shane at the Silverton Inn for kind words regarding the blog. Our band of readers continues to grow it seems.

With Street Market approaching we are going to try to give this blog some extra publicity. There may well be posters appearing round and about over the next week or so.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

School Holidays

All the schools have now broken up for the summer and the weather seems to have taken a turn for the better, at least temporarily. Thinking back to my own schooldays, like a good many other people, you seem to remember that the summer holidays were just one long parade of sunshine, although experience since tells it otherwise. The summer holidays were when we went on the School and Sunday School trips to Teignmouth and Torquay and then went off on exotic breaks to the likes of Minehead. When I was fourteen however, I did get to go on the school holiday to Lugano in the south of Switzerland where, as might be expected, I went down with a very unpleasent stomach bug. The highlight of that trip was a day in Milan and a visit to Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'. I only wish I had been in a better state to apprieciate the masterpiece.

Today, of course things are a little more advanced when it comes to school trips abroad. One of my younger neices who attends a school in Hertfordshire, is currently in China and her sister will next year be heading for Brazil. Presumably, in a few years time trips of this type will indeed have become as unremarkable as were our trips to Teignmouth and Torquay in the 50s and 60s. What changes half a century can bring.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A few reminders.

A few reminders of things coming up over the next week or so. On friday evening the redoubtable Honest John will be bringing his individual brand of mellow music to the Lamb Inn, start time, 8.30pm (approx). On Sunday evening we have the monthly quiz at the Trout Inn in Bickleigh with a jackpot this month of £230. Start time 8.00pm sharp, and next wednesday we have the annual Street Market quiz at the Lamb, this year with the theme 'Heroes and Villains' start time 8.30pm (approx).

If anyone has any other event they would like publicised, this blog will only be too happy to oblige.

I understand that Honest John will not now be appearing at The Lamb due to illness.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Acoustic Solutions.

I Went along to the History Society meeting at the community hall last night to hear Brian Jenkins giving a presentation on the history of Schooling in Tiverton. Interesting to hear of the pivital role of 'Flogger' Richards of Silverton in the history of Blundells School. The talk would have been more interesting still had not the speaker been thwarted from communicating with his audience on a number of occasions by the continuing rotten acoustics. If a considerable amount of the profits expected to accrue from street market do, as usual, go to the community hall, is it too much to ask that something be done as a matter of urgency to rectifiy the problem of poor acoustics ?.

Monday, 21 July 2008


Just a reminder that with Street Market drawing ever closer help is needed with the organisation and workers are needed on the day to man the gates and for other duties. Leaflets are being distributed that contain a reply slip for those who wish to help and the completed slips can be handed in at SPAR or the post office.

A point worth making

I did make a point in a reply to a post from Lilly a couple of days ago that I think needs repeating. This is not a going to be a political blog. For the record, as far as I am concerned replacing nu labour with the tories is a bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, fundamentally because none of the existing political parties are prepared to admit the scale of the problems that face both the entity known as Great Britain, or the planet in general because if they did they would have to admit their complicity in causing them.

I believe that people need to rely less on so called leaders and more on their own efforts in order to create societies both local and transnational which are geared to the needs of the majority of the population of this planet rather then to either the seemingly insatiable needs of giant corperations for profit or the equally insatiable need of politicians for power and recognition. I suspect that the chice that is faced by humankind over the next few decades is either to move towards such societies or to return to a very unpleasent form of barbarism. Whether humanity can achieve a better form of existance is, of course very much open to question.

And thats the extent of the political position that will be expressed here.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Last night saw the annual concert at Killerton which has now become a regular fixture on the Devon social scene. This year those prepared to shell out £30 were able to boogie the night away to the sounds of Jools Holland and his big band. By all acounts there was a good turnout from the village despite the weather being rather chilly for the time of year. While I am sure that all those who attended had a good time perhaps we can hope that next year those who attend end their celebrations when they reach their front doors rather than having extended, noisy, conversations in the street in the early hours, waking up those trying to sleep and causing agitation amongst the more nervous members of the canine community.

Walking After Midnight

Well, not quite after midnight, but near enough for me to use a song title made famous by the late, great Patsy Cline. It was a good night to walk the dogs around parts of Silverton last night. The Moon was full and the stars were shining bright and it was just the sort of evening to be discussing whether women are indeed from Venus and men from Mars and whether the moon is made of cream cheese after all.

And I can assure all our readers that the participants in the walk were stone cold sober.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

More Random Thoughts.

Someone said to me recently that if humans had tails like dogs they would be less able to conceal their emotional responses when out in public. Whilst this is an attractive idea given the duplicitous nature of much human conduct, I suspect that humans, being concious beings would have learnt to control their tails in order to further their own ends.

Another random thought. Some say that for some women a bar of chocolate is better than sex. Can this be true and is the reason the human race has not died out is because sex got established before Cadburys.

You can tell its a slow news day, cant you ?.

Advertising and the blog

As some of our longer established readers will be noticing some advertising is now appearing on the blog. I have decided to take a small amount of advertising and any money raised through this will be donated to the North Devon Childrens Hospice appeal.

Friday, 18 July 2008

The Resonian

The Resonian was a magazine produced by the boys of the old Richards Endowed School in the late 1920s and early 1930s of which a few copies still survive. Considering that it was produced by pupils at a small village school in an age before digitization its surprising how well it stands up in comparison with what could be done today in terms of literacy and the standard of print. The one area of course, where such a publication is lacking is in the use of illustration, but not all modern publications are aided by the use of ditigized graphics. The Resonian stands as a trbute to the dedication of the teaching staff of the day and to the undubted talent of many of the pupils. You wonder how much of the printed output of schools today will still stand up to scrutiny in eighty years time.


Used to be seen in the village when schoolchildren went from the old primary school at the bottom of school road, to the building that later became the British leigon club. The building, originally the Richards Endowed School, now being converted into dwellings, was in my youth the school canteen and every day during term time you could see a crocodile of schoolchildren heading up school road for the delights of bangers and mash followed by spotted dick in the room that later became part of the bar of the Leigon Club, under the watchful eye of the teaching staff and Miss Marsden, the head cook. Compared to much of the junk food that all too many children today still seem to exist on, the food, whilst it might have been basic was healthy and nutritious, although I drew the line at having my protein intake in the form of a large caterpillar that appeared out of the lettuce on a plate of salad one lunchtime.

That experience put me off lettuce completely for a number of years and I am still wary about it to this day.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

More Photos On Flickr.

I have now added some more photos to the collection on flickr. Most are from Street Markets in 2003 and 2004 and were taken with the camera attachment on an old Archos Multimedia AV 120 which means that the quality although acceptable, is not brilliant.

The Big Ride

I understand that there are plans afoot for for a marathon charity cycle ride next year. The plan as I hear it, is for a team led by Robert 'Barney' Barons to ride from Silverton to Lands End and then from there to John O Groats and then back to Lands End and finishing in Silverton. This undertaking is to be performed in aid of the North Devon Childrens Hospice, is expected to take about 2 weeks and will cover some 2,000 miles in total. It is believed that the ride will be happening around about April or May next year. 'Barney' Barons is a veteran of several such efforts, the last being a cycle ride around Ireland in 2007.

Although cycling from one end of the island to the other is not an uncommon event these days, it is believed that teams doing the double run are comparatively rare. Hopefully, if this event takes place a scheduled, a considerable amount of money will be raised for this worthwile charity.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Random thoughts.

You tend to get these when rampaging through the undergrowth as I was this morning with the dogs. My random thought for the day was, why have strawberries become associated with Wimbledon when in most years, the world famous tennis contest is better know for weather that would rot any strawberry unfortunate enough to come into contact with it.

I was also told the other day that strawberries appear as a design on some items of underwear. I will leave it to more fertile imaginations then mine to work out why that might be.

Gutzache Update and Wheres Homer ?.

Good to see that the Tiverton Gazette carried a big promotional piece on Silvertons very latest brewing product on its front page this week. The article carried a splendid picture of our very own Alan Isaac of The Lamb Inn.

And while on the subject of the Lamb, What has become of Homer, the Simpsonesque Christmas doll that was kidnapped from that hostelry by unknown ruffians last christmas. I understand that he has been forced to telephone his owners by his captors on a number of occasions but of the little fellow himself there is still no sign.

Hopefully the villainous swine who abducted Homer will make sure that he is back in his rightful place before next christmas or they may well find that it will not be a season of peace and goodwill for them should theuir identities become known. Already a deadly secret society known as 'The Friends Of Homer' are said to be planning countermeasures. Garden gnomes could be under threat.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

A Few More photos

I have added a few more photos today. three from around Christmas and New Year. They show Sal, the former barperson at the Silverton Inn in 'dippy princess' mode. The real Lilley. And the Frosts, father and son, bonding at the Lamb on Christmas eve.

For other photos from my collection taken in Silverton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayr over the past few years, visit The pages will be updated and descriptions added from time to time.

Does My Blog Look Better Like This ?.

The new template for this blog has not met with the approval of my layout advisor. She has particular objections to the yellow star that was at the top of the page and also to the fact that the blog archive list was below the photos. Knowing that it is not good policy to get into disputes with ones colleagues unless absolutely necessary, especially when they are female, changes have been made.

It wouldnt surprise me though if there are not more adjustments in the offing.

I would hold a poll on the layout but I doubt that anyone would vote in it. Comments are welcome though.

Monday, 14 July 2008


As our regular readers will notice the blog has had a substantial makeover. Now that we are beginning to reach a wider readership its about time that we spruced ourselves up and made ready to greet new arrivals. Its time to put on our blogging equivalent of our best suit.

Not that I have such a thing, actually but you can but dream. Dreaming is free as Blondie put it in one of their songs.

Street Market 2005 photos

You will now see on the sidebar of the blog some photos from Street Market 2005. I shall be adding photos from other street market events in the future.

Free Money

Not one of those dodgy spam messages that turn up in your inbox from time to time but a plea that someone, somewhere rectifies the situation within the village whereby if you need cash you either have to pay £1.75 at Dave Haggets in order to get money out of the cash machine or, use the cashback facility at Haggetts or one of the pubs that entails paying a surcharge of some sort or purchasing things that you may not particularly want. You can of course, get your money through the post office if you are lucky enough to be with a bank that participates in the Post office account setup, but if you are with other banks such as the NatWest that rpoute is closed to you and if you want cash outside Post office opening hours its back to square one whoever you are with.

Surely, it should not be beyond the realms of possibility that a link machine could be installed somewhere or is it the case that being able to access your own money without having to pay for the privilage is just another of those things we have to forgo for the joys of living in the country.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


Comments on the contents of this blog are always welcome and will be replied to where a reply is necessary.

I have replied to 'Lilley'.

Woof, woof.

Canines are welcome to reply on the blog as long as they dont do anything naughty where they shouldnt.

Remembering 'Silverton Week'.

As we draw closer to Street Market, I thought it might be worth remembering an earlier community event, This was Silverton Week which ran between 1972 and 1978 (approximately). The idea behind this event was because the Village was undergoing some rapid expansion with the development of first Silverdale and Applemead, and later Wyndham Road and its surrounding area, there was a need to do something that would help the village maintain a sense of community and also raise some much needed funding for the refurbishment of the village hall..

Silverton Week was nearer to the tradition of the old village carnival then to the current street Market. You had the grand parade through the village and a Silverton Week queen competition, but also prizes for the best decorated house and business. There were exibitions of art and photographs, and Silvertons first exibition of local history, organised by the late Dave Edmunds in 1976. There were also tug o wars and comedy football matches where men dressed up in womens clothing. Pram races were also a regular feature. The Week inevitably always ended with a dance in the village hall. Silverton Week eventually become an event spread over a fortnight and finally failed for the all too common reason that too few people were prepared to take part in the very considerable degree of organisation and the success of the event ended up resting on the same few shoulders.

While it was fairly short lived when compared to the timescale of the continuing Street Market, Silverton Week succeeded very well in terms of what it set out to do. It did create a situation where Silvertonians of all kinds could participate in an annual event and brought a great deal of enjoyment to those who took part and it was a successful fundraising event. I think it also created the conditions and the interest that groups like the local history society were able to build on. Where it failed, and I think that similar problems exist with Street Market, was that it failed to generate enough committment amongst a wider layer of the population to aid with the organisation of the event. At least with Street Market this is a situation that has not become a critical factor in its continuing existence.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Demon Barber

The name of the Beer produced for Street Market is, I hear, to be Sweeney Todd. Todd, of course was the demon barber of legend who gained infamy by chopping up some of his unfortuate customers and turning them into meat pies. While the name Todd' connected with villainy might ring a few bells amongst some silvertonians this would be for reasons far removed from haircutting. Our best remembered barber was someone totally unlike the ghastly Sweeney Todd.

Older Silvertonians will certainly remember George Carpenter who plied his trade from a tin shack at the bottom of Tiverton road next to Archie Tremletts forge, which can now be found in Tiverton museum. Despite having serious mobility problems, George was always cheerful and had a considerable knowledge of village affairs of all kinds. I can still remember qeueing up at his shop on a saturday morning and reading surruptitiously his collection of rather risque (for the 1960s) magazines while listening to George and his collection of mainly elderly friends discussing the events of the day. The qeues for his services were always long as long hair had not really become fashionable in these parts for most of the period and and a good few men used the shop as a social meeting place in the way they would have done with the pub. As I remember it, Adult haircuts cost one shilling and boys were sheared for sixpence. The village lost part of its character when George gave up the business and his shack was replaced by housing just as it did when the forge went the same way. We didnt know it but we were watching a world sliding away before our eyes.

Perhaps we should see people like George and Archie as the amongst the real Silverton heroes. They,and others like them, helped give Silverton its iindividual character and helped maintain its sense of community in ways that are often lacking today.

Friday, 11 July 2008


Not what I am suffering from this morning, although some here might if they find some of the contents of this blog a bit indigestible at times, but the latest production of Guy Shepard and Exe Valley Brewery. The reason for the rather bizarre name of this brew is that it was produced to celebrate the 150th birthday of The Tiverton Gazette and that the nickname of the Gazette in the Tiverton area was 'The Gutzache'.

So for gutzache go and try a pint, available at The Lamb, and other good hostelries I should think.

Free Public Transport ?.

Can such a thing be ?. It already is in the city of Hasselt in Belgium where car usage has been slashed. With the rises in petrol prices and road taxes and other motering costs as well as the seemingly neverending rises in the cost of public transport for its users, inevitably travellers and governments are going to be looking for more radical solutions. In the Scottish context, The Scottish Socialist Party have now launched a campaign for free public transport details of which can be found at a website which also contains information on the Hasselt experience.

I suspect that it can only be a matter of time before groups within England begin to look towards more and more radical solutions for the current problems of public transport as private motering becomes ever more expensive and environmentally damaging.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Parish Magazine: Time for a rethink ?.

For several decades now the main channel of communication in Silverton has been through the CofE produced parish magazine. Whilst it has, for obvious reasons, always been centred on the local church of england parishes it has also carried news from the other christian churches in the area and reports from most of the main social organisation within the village. Whilst it has performed a very useful task in allowing the churches and other organisations \to communicate with the people many it would seem from conversations that I have had, that its limitations are becoming more apparent when it is \set against other publications of the same type.

Most people would recognise that Silverton has undergone major social changes in recent decades, not least in that an increasing percentage of the population are now either newcomers or are people who probably are not going to be residents in the long term. Its also true that an increasing number of people do not have the Christian church, in whatever form as the centre of their lives and an unknown number within the village who reject the church in whatever form it takes. This means that there is a growing need for a publication that while it does the job currently done by the existing magazine, is able to engage with a broader layer of people within the village and to articulate a wider vision of what it means to be a Silvertonian in the 21st century. There is also an urgent need for such a publication to encourage debate and discussion within the village on the range of important issues such as the 'we live here' initiave recently discussed by the parish council, that people are going to have to engage with in the current climate of increasing and accelerating social change.

A good model that might be worth looking at is the equivelant magazine in Thorverton. This is a lively and well produced magazine that encourages participation from its readers. Although internet publications like this blog can do some of the required work it has to be recognised that in order to reach, and engage with the largest number of people there is still the need for an imaginative and lively print publication.

Air Ambulance lottery.

I understand that collections for the Air Ambulance lottery will be taken over by the Post Office when Cabbages and Kings closes at the end of the month. Given that its important that this vital resource recieves as much funding as \is possible everyone should make an effort to pay into this lottery regularly.

Its also worth noting that quite a number of people from the Silverton area have won the weekly top prize. There are considerably better odds on winning this one then you will find on the National Lottery or on Euromillions.

Flag controversy

I understand that the decision to fly the Breton flag from the flagpole in the little rec as part of the celebration of Silverton twinning with St Thegonnec has caused a degree of controversy locally with some complaining about a foriegn flag flying over the war memorial. I think that two points need making.

Firstly, there is no direct connection, as far as I am aware between the flagpole and the war memorial. They just happen to be in the same area of the village and in fact, when I was young, there was no flag flying permanently from the flagpole as is now the case.

secondly, whilst accepting the sensitivities that some obviously feel over the issue, it needs pointing out that the twinning movement has been a small part of the process that has ensured that there has been a prolonged period of peace in western europe and that the human contacts established between communities and individuals through such initiatives make it less and less likely that there will ever be another one. Given that, I think that flying what some might regard as a foriegn flag in the village for a very limited period is a small price to pay in order that we never see a situation again where the names of the young men, and nowadays women, of Silverton are added to the sad role recorded on the memorial in the square. Perhaps those with an interest in twinning should now be extending there interests to twinning further afield to areas of the world currently embroiled in conflict in order that perhaps it will be more difficult for leaders of nations of whatever political shade find it more difficult to send young men and women into situations where they end up as names on a block of stone.

And its worth pointing out to those with objections to France and its inhabitants that Bretons are no more French than the Welsh are English. Indeed, the Bretons are a proud celtic nation who probably have more in common linguistically and culturally with Cornwall then with much of France.


To those who have now been reading this blog and have commented favourably on the way its going. Whilst I accept responsibility for the written content posted here I think that its only fair to point out that without the continuing input and encouragement from Carolyn Frost, this effort might have ended up by now as yet another dead blog floating around lost in cyberspace.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A rosey view of the past.

I met a young fellow in the Silverton Inn last night who seemed to think that in the past, which in his case seems to be about five years ago, he was only nineteen after all, there was some golden age when youth respected their elders and we lived in a land of peace and contentment. I am afraid he had to be seriously put straight on these rather odd ideas by having it pointed out to him that Silverton was never some idyllic backwater and that the very pub he was standing in had been smashed up by some of the locals in 1968 leading to the rapid departure of the then proprietor after only a fortnight and that the village hall which used to dtand just over the street had been the scene of frequent disturbances when dances and discos were held. We had to also patiently try to explain to him that Exeter, although it might well have its problems, was not stab capital of Britain, especially when compared to cities like Glasgow. Unfortunately, it seemed that he was not to be reasoned with on these matters.

Whilst it might not be unusual to find older people with such ideas it really does show up some basic lack of knowledge of the basic social history of the area that you live in when you come out with stuff like this. I put it down, largely, to the fact that there is such a large turnover of population in villages in places like Silverton that so many people here now have almost no knowledge that they are able to pass on to young people about the places they live in.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Silverton Inn Website.

I just noticed that the Silverton Inn now has a website. It can be found at:

The Somerfield Bus

There has been a free bus running from Silverton and the next door village of Thorverton to the Somerfield Supermarket at Broadclyst for a number of years. Despite the port being free the number of people who use the bus on its Tuesday afternoon run seems to have been in steady decline until recently when there seems to have been quite a turnaround. I wonder if this could have anything to do with the continuing resistence in some quarters to the expansion of the Haggett empire and lingering resentment over the closure of the Londis ?.

Personally, I dont find the Broadclyst Somerfield, or indeed Somerfield in general the best of the supermarkets. The last time I was in the Broadclyst supermarket, the shelves were decidedly understocked for two thirty in the afternoon. When I lived in Scotland we had a choice of most of the big supermarket chains and Somerfield lagged behind all the others on most aspects of shopping, most notably on prices.

I wonder how the coming opening of a branch of Tescos in Cullompton will affect the local balance of power amongst the supermarkets in Mid Devon. I would imagine that the Somerfield stores in Cullompton and Broadclyst will feel a very chill wind.

Whilst on Cullompton shopping I hear that the excellent town centre butchers, Veyseys may be closing soon due to the retirement of the owner. If this does happen it will be a sad loss to local shoppers in search of good quality meat.

Monday, 7 July 2008

When will it end ?.

The main topic of conversation at the weekend was the continuing bad weather. It is beginning to look as though summer 2008 is going to be as big a washout as summer 2007. It seems a long time ago now but its only two years ago that we had a heatwave in July and everyone was nearly praying for rain. I was still living in the west of scotland and even in a part of the \world not noted for heat it was nearly too hot to bear. If global warming means that we are going to have to develop webbed feet in order to survive perhaps thats another good reason for fighting climate change. I dont think that many will be spending the remaining summer evenings sitting in their gardens with a glass of something cool the way that things are going.

welcome back

Welcome back to Alan and Jane at The Lamb from their holidays in Canada. I am sure that they will find watching the antics of some of their customers a little less interesting than their own recent bear and whale watching activities.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Mobile music

I have at last worked out how to get music tracks onto my mobile phone. No small achievement for someone as technically incompetant as I am. I have been busy downloading them from the main computer today. So now I can walk around the district with the dog annoying people with the sounds of the past five decades.

Fishermans Blues

Mr Frost, Mr Northey and Mr Dolman were away to Somerset early this morning to indulge in a spot of fishing. I must admit that sitting around on a river bank in the pouring rain waiting to hook a denizen of the deep has never really appealed to me. My grandfather apparently used to go on fishing trips in the midlands but my dad who went with him when young reckoned that he only went along to get a share of the beer that was carried in the boot of the bus. Still, I suppose that the social side of the sport is equally asa important as actually catching the fish.

I never have really got into that kind of outdoor hobby. My hobby, when young was stamp collecting. I had a big collection when about ten, some of which were quite valuable, or so I have been told. Predictably, when I got a bit older and other interests became more important I gave the entire collection away. When in my thirties I took up serious Record collecting for a while but the collection took up too much space and was difficult to transport when moving and eventually had to go.

Perhaps its time now that I have reached 'later life' to find a new hobby beyond writing this blog. I dont really think you can count dog walking as a hobby, more of a chore. The problem is that most hobbies seem to cost the earth these days so I expect that I shall have to just keep people watching in the pub.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Bus Passes: One Step Forward.

I note that its reported in the Parish Magazine that the parish council are tom contact Angela Browning regarding complaints regarding the new national bus pass scheme. I would imagine that this relates to the ban on pass holders using their passes before 09.30. There is, I would say another equally serious flaw in the current Bus pass setup.

The National bus pass scheme introduced in England in april whilst it has undoubtedly opened up travel on public transport to a wide range of disadvantaged people, is in fact less comprehensive then its Scottish equivelant. In Scotland there is no restriction on people using their passes from 09.00, and more importantly, it allows disabled people to have carers or friends accompany them free of charge. This means that people with mobility problems can have assistance in travelling without the added worry of needing to be concerned about the travelling expenses incurred by a companion. Although the Scottish bus pass scheme is now having its funding reviewed by the scottish government, ironically because of the success of the scheme, if the authorities in England are serious about extending access to public transport to the elderly and disabled, as well as cuting reliance on private cars, something along the lines of the Scottish scheme should be introduced.

Friday, 4 July 2008

A Flag For Silverton

I see from the parish council notesin the parish magazine that Silverton will soon be flying the green and white flag of Devon from the flagpole in the square. Whilst that would certainly be a change from the Cross of St George and a definate improvement on the Butchers Apron, is it not time that the village had its own flag to fly ?. Perhaps someone could start a competition for a design. It might be a better idea then the current one fore heroes and villians.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

One Year On From The Smoking Ban..

On July 1st 2007 smoking in pubs was banned. This was accompanied by a massive outcry from trade organisations who claimed that the ban would drive pubs out of business and, rather than causing people to give up smoking would merely lead to people smoking at home. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that many businesses have indeed been badly affected its more difficult to judge how the ban has affected trade within the pubs in the village.

I was not resident in Silverton at the time the ban was imposed but as a fairly regular visitor to the village prior to the ban I cant really see that trade has been seriously harmed. Those who like going out for a drink and for social reasons are still doing so and if smokers seem to have ajusted to the situation where they have to indulge their habit outdoors. This seems even to have held true during the winter when we were warned of the direst consequences for the licensed trade. People adjust here just as they had to in Ireland and Scotland where the ban was introduced earlier. Additionally, people who could not bear smoky atmospheres for health reasons can now go for a drink or a meal without suffering the ill effects. Whether, as some claim the absence of tobacco smoke in the pub atmosphere as allowed other, less pleasent smells to come to the fore is something I cant say that I have noticed. Bar staff on the whole seem to be ever more appreciative of the cleaner air that they now can work in.

I must say though, as an ex smoker and a frequenter of public houses for the past forty years that there is still something missing when you walk into a pub and you cannot smell the once familier aroma of tobacco smoke mixed with the smell of beer. I doubt that those of us whose drinking lives extend back before the ban will ever feel entirely at home without it.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Loo's no more.

I hear that the fate of the expensive white elephant that are the closed public toilets in the car park has now been settled. Apparently they are to be taken over and converted by the nearby medical centre for use as an extension to be used by the chiropodists.

And so we are now back to the situation where a village with a population topping 2,000 and rising has no public convieniences a very poor situation for both locals and visitors. We no longer have the option of using the toilet that was once behind Bradys garage should we need it at night. Those who complain about dog droppings might also give a thought to humans who get taken short who are not even as fortunate as the dogs in that if they behave indiscreetly in such matters they are likely to face a criminal record rather than just the wrath of the dog warden and a potential ASBO.

Blot On The Landscape.

ts now 20 years since the new hall was closed pending demolition. Due to contentious claims about structural faults Silverton lost a perfewell used community resource in a central location on Fore Street to have it replaced by something that looks like an industrial unit from the outside and a prison gymnasium from within stuck away off the car park which is itself hardly fit for purpose. Those who forced through the decision much against the wishes of most genuine Silvertonians are no longer resident in the area and cannot account for that which their actions have created.

We are now left with a monstrous blot on the centre of the village in the form of the site of the former New Hall. Due to a consistent failure by sucessive owners to develop the site we are now left with what is in effect a scrap yard situated in the village main street. The only respite from this eyesore has been the once a year relief when the scrap vehicles have been removed to allow the site to be used for Street Market events but now that is no longer the case because of the alleged risk of fire. After a recent period when the site was supposedly sold for development and subsequently partially cleared the collection of scrap vehicles are steadily returning to haunt us.

That this state of affairs is allowed to continue is a disgrace. We read in the papers almost weekly about councils excersising their powers in order to regulate and remove threats to the environment. The people of Silverton have the right to know why steps have not been taken to ensure that this site has not been cleared out and secured whatever its current ownership or planning status.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Londis building for sale.

I note that the old Londis shop is on the market again. I also understand that a condition of sale is that it will not be used as a retail outlet. Given the current climate regarding house building I imagine that it is likely to be on the market for some time.

Bang your head against the wall.

Why is it, that despite the development of newer and more efficient forms of communication its actually now more difficult to contact those you are trying to reach ?. Why is it that when you phone someone and go through the relevant keyboard options and had someone trying to sell you a service that you never wanted in the first place, you end up talking to someone in Ulan Bator or similar, with a minimal command of english who appears to be just out of basic training. Why is it that when you get through to a council official you often end up talking to someone who makes it clear that they would rather be on their lunch break, or someone substituting for the person you wish to speak to who actually is away for their lunch. Why is it that it was actually easier to deal with people when you just sent them a letter or went into the relevant office. More means of communication evidently does not always mean better.

Location, Location.

Whilst walking the dog over the big field beside Silverdale last night. The one that is now undder consideration for housing development, I was thinking what a great view of the village and the surrounding area any potential residents of a development will get. I dont think sometimes that we realise what a wonderful view of this part of Devon we get from the hills around the village, after all, if you get to the top of Criss Cross you can see all the way to the Sidmouth gap, The Exe estuary and Dartmoor on a clear day.Its no wonder that those tired of city and suburban life are prepared to spend so much of their incomes in order to live here.

I suppose I have been lucky in the locations I have lived in during my life. Having been born and lived for the first 37 years of my life in Silverton, I then relocated to the Ayr area of the Clyde coast in the west of Scotland and for the next 21 years had spectacular views across the Clyde estuary to the Isle Of Arran, the Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre in daily view. Both the residents of the Exe valley and the Clyde coast have been inclined to take their surroundings for granted