The history of Hot Penny day……

Honiton Hot Pennies Ceremony dates back to the 13th Century, when Honiton was granted a Royal Charter, the ceremony remained unbroken for several hundred years, and to this day has always taken place on the first Tuesday after July 19th.

Hot penniesThe proceedings begin at 12 noon from the Old Pannier Market, with The Town Cryer (accompanied by The Mayor and local dignitaries) hoisting up a garlanded pole with a gloved hand at the top, proclaiming that “No man may be arrested so long as this glove is up.” This was done to ensure that everyone would come to Honiton for the fair which followed the ceremony, without fear of being arrested for their debts; they would otherwise have stayed away.

The first pennies are thrown from the balcony of the former Assembly Rooms above The Old Pannier Market and then a procession follows the garlanded pole to a number of Public Houses from which “hot pennies” are thrown to hundreds of scrabbling children. The pole is kept on show for the remainder of “fair week” at the last Public House.

The reason behind the pennies being thrown hot was that the affluent people who threw out the pennies took great delight in seeing the peasants burn their fingers whilst collecting them.  Nowadays the pennies are merely warm!

Hot pennies 2This tradition has also been adopted by the nearby village of Sidbury, where the local primary school pupils enjoy scrabbling for the coins as their ancestors did before them.




Posted in Uncategorized

A novel place to eat!


River exe cafeDevon is famous for its fresh local food and I love finding a new restaurant to try.  My daughter recently organised a trip to a restaurant for our wedding anniversary and it proved truly memorable.  We drove down to Exmouth seafront and parked.  My husband and I started to eye up a lovely looking seafood restaurant, but were told “We’re not eating here – follow me!”  My daughter is a school teacher so we did as we were told and duly followed.  We ended up on the marina without the sign of anywhere yummy to eat.  Then a little boat pulled alongside with ‘Water taxi’ scribed on the side.  We hopped on board and were soon bobbing along.

It was enchanting.  There was barely a cloud in the sky and the sea looked so blue I was nearly tempted to jump in.  After a few minutes in the taxi I spied something in the middle of the Exe Estuary and guessed we were heading for it.  I was right.  Floating in the middle of the Exe Estuary is a pontoon on which the River Exe Café is located.  The location is really picturesque and the rustic café is delightful.  The menu did not disappoint as it changes daily, depending on what seafood has been caught that morning.

We chose the seafood platter to share.  The prawns had a light lemon aioli dressing and the Lyme Bay scallops and Dorset clams were my favourite.  After lunch we sat and enjoyed the view before heading back to the coast on the water taxi.

river-exe-cafeI would recommend this to anyone, particularly to seafood lovers, although there are a selection of other foods.  Remember it is very popular, so it is advisable to call ahead and book a table.  Enjoy!

Go to: 



Posted in Beach, Boats, Ferry, Member Farms, Restaurants, Sailing

The Red Arrows AND the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight!

Not only have Sidmouth Town Council secured a booking for another spectacular aerial display by the Red Arrows in Sidmouth this year, but they are delighted to be able to host the historic Memorial Flight (BBMF) consisting of Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and a Lancaster bomber.  The RAF aerobatic team returns on Friday 25 August 2017.

Battle of Britain flightExact times are to be confirmed but the two displays will take place between 6 and 7pm on Friday 25 August 2017 as a prelude to Sidmouth Regatta that weekend.

Flown by regular serving RAF Aircrew, the BBMF Flight operates six Spitfires, two Hurricane Mk 2Cs, a Lancaster, a C47 Dakota and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily used for training). Three of these aircraft will perform a display together and individually before the nine jets of the ever popular Red Arrows arrive to thrill the crowds.

Red arrows 22016 saw huge crowds in the popular seaside town and thanks to the generous donations of the public, the return of the display team was secured for another year. The Chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, Jeff Turner commented: “I am delighted to welcome not just the Red Arrows but also the Battle of Britain Flight to display over what must be one the most perfect arenas in the country for an air display, our beautiful seafront.

Don’t miss it!
Display subject to weather conditions.


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Put the North Devon Show in your diary!

North Devon showThis is North Devon’s premier agricultural spectacle which celebrates North Devon’s agricultural roots.  There are a plethora of livestock classes throughout the day in the arenas, including Alpacas, cattle and sheep.  There are also show jumping classes, an open dog show, various attractions, displays and demonstrations.  Alternatively you and your family can browse the many trade stands, catering for all tastes.

The show site is a completely level area of approximately 50 acres with an adjacent car parking area of 42 acres with good access on to the A377.

Posted in Cows, Rams, Sheep, Shopping, village show

Do you fancy a night at the theatre? Try the Manor Pavilion at Sidmouth……..

This beautiful and very popular theatre is situated in the heart of Sidmouth. It seats 277 with raised seating and is open all year round, covering all aspects of entertainment at affordable prices.  Visitors can enjoy plays, musicals, comedies, concerts, variety shows, dance shows, ballet and pantomime.Manor Pavilion Auditorium_Interior

During the summer months the venue is proud to have the last standing weekly Professional Summer Repertory Season in the UK, with 12 plays in 12 weeks presented by Paul Taylor- Mills Ltd.

Manor Pavilion showsThe Theatre has great local support and also attracts visitors from all over the UK.  The venue has its own bar, which is open before and during the interval for performances.   A very warm welcome awaits you at the Manor Pavilion Theatre.  Their motto is, ‘Your Entertainment is Our Passion’!

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Wonderful Woolacombe!

Voted number one on Tripadvisor, Woolacombe beach has it all – miles of wonderful golden sand, great for surfing, swimming and stunning views. There are areas where dogs are allowed and for those who love a good stroll you can walk the 2 miles plus from Woolacombe to Putsbrough along the beach, then return inland along the dunes and Marine Drive.

woolacombe-beachThere are 3 car parks in the village – one close to the beach or drive a little way to the south and park along Marine Drive, then enjoy a tramp across the sand dunes to the beach.  There are usually fewer people that way so you can often choose a secluded spot all to yourself.

Woolacombe village has a laid back surfing vibe.  You can chill out in the Red Barn, Bar Electric or Boardwalk Restaurants, with great views across the Atlantic and where you can watch the sun set over the sea or grab fish and chips from the Woolacombe fryer to enjoy on the beach.  There are plenty of surf shops, gift shops, a post office and grocery stores too.  Visit Woolacombe TIC for lots of local information and to hire the all-terrain Tramper for those with mobility difficulties.

If you’ve always fancied horse riding along a sandy beach with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair then Woolacombe Riding Stables will be pleased to help you fulfil that dream – although sunshine is not guaranteed!!

The worst kept secret in North Devon is tiny Barricane Beach and its delightful café which opens in the spring and summer months, serving delicious curries in the evening.  A perfect setting, you must bring your own wine and beer but be sure to arrive early as it is very popular with holiday makers and locals alike.



Posted in Beach, Restaurants, Retail, Surfing, walks

Sidmouth Literary Festival  23rd-25th June

The programme for the 2017 Sidmouth Literary Festival is now available to collect from Winstone’s bookshop or various outlets around East Devon.  Alternatively you can have a look at the Events page at for full listings.  The line up includes Sophie Hannah, Adele Parks, The Unmumsy Mum, Tim Pears and Bryony Gordon plus, in partnership with Radio Devon, an opening event featuring Christopher Biggins and a trio of Devon focussed authors.

Why not come along and listen to one of your favourite authors in this wonderful setting?


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Lee Bay

Lee Bay is a delightful place to visit at any time of the year.  The rocky cove is great for rock-pooling and as the tide falls a sandy beach appears.  It’s a great place for kayaking too, especially with a boat rod or line when the mackerel are running.  Visit on the falling tide and you can take a ‘secret’ path cut through the rock to neighbouring Sandy Cove with its wonderful flat stone shingle.  You can either have a stone skimming competition or challenge each other to see how high you can stack them.  Don’t worry about getting cut off as the tide comes in.  There are wooden steps up the side of the cliff you can climb up then walk back into the village.

Smugglers Tea Room overlooks the bay and is open during the peak season, serving teas, light lunches and, of course, the compulsory Devon ice cream!

There’s more to Lee than just a beach, the village itself is very pretty and well worth a walk round.  Be sure to call in to the Grampus pub, a proper, traditional hostelry with great beer and delicious food.  Drop in on open mike night and the landlord, Bill, is sure to be up there playing his fiddle.

The Old School Room Craft Gallery has a wealth of beautiful things where you can choose yourself a souvenir of your holiday in North Devon or a gift for someone at home.

Locally Lee is often referred to as “Fuchsia Valley” – during the flowering season, many of the hedgerows along the lanes and in the village are ablaze with the scarlet flowers.

If you enjoy walking then Lee Bay is a good place to start, with free parking down by the bay and opportunities for coastal as well as countryside walks.  Head eastwards along the South West Coast Path to Ilfracombe or west towards Mortehoe and Bull Point, then make your way inland and return to Lee through the beautiful countryside.

On a hot summer’s day there’s no better place to be as Lee remains relatively undiscovered and, as you swim out to one of the rocks, you sometimes feel you could be on some exotic foreign shore!Lee Bay

Posted in Beach, Pubs, Restaurants, Retail, walks

Visit RHS Rosemoor in all its glory!

Take a trip to RHS Rosemoor near Torrington at any time of the year and you are guaranteed a great day out.  Whilst it is a true plantsman’s garden there’s always plenty to keep everyone amused with workshops, children’s activities and an award winning garden restaurant where they cook fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the gardens. There’s a wonderful plant nursery too with a very diverse selection of plants and shrubs for sale.

It’s great to explore the varied garden spaces which change with the seasons and contrast each other beautifully. The traditional cottage garden with its brick pathways and beds crammed with a classic mix of flowering shrubs, perennials, annuals and biennials contrasts with the hot garden, where in summer the vibrant colours and ornamental grasses are at their peak. The peace and tranquillity of the woodland garden with its huge variety of ornamental woodland trees and shrubs is a joy.

For those who have difficulty walking there are wheelchairs and all terrain Tramper mobility buggies to hire for a small fee.

It’s worth having a look at Rosemoor Garden’s What’s On Guide, as there are always some really interesting events happening throughout the year too.RHS_Rosemoor_2

Posted in gardens, Member Farms

A thief in my lambing yard!

Here at Yellingham Farm we always lamb indoors, which makes it easier for me.  It also means any problems, particularly in the night, can be spotted early and dealt with.  Yes, it costs more money because of bedding etc. and yes, the risk of infection is obviously higher, but with the highest standards of cleanliness and good shepherding the process works for us.  It had been a particularly busy day in the lambing yard so husband Edward kindly (not really!) offered to do the night… actually, he was ordered to do the night, and given my mood was tetchy to say the least, all family members knew that if you did what you were told, life would be much more pleasant.  However, if there was a problem I always want waking, whatever time of night.  It was just after 6am and I heard the kitchen door go, which meant only one thing.  Quietly Edward said there wasn’t a big problem, but he was concerned about a ewe.  Every night before I go to bed I lay out my work clothes so that it is a quick process to get dressed.  Actually, it’s normally only socks, jumper over the pyjamas and rubber trousers – what a sight!  He informed me that a short time ago, a ewe that had been scanned for twins had only had a single, wasn’t pushing and he thought she seemed to have given up – so could I take a look at her.  It was light, at last, after the long dark mornings of the winter.  The early morning sun was streaming in through the wooden slats in the barn, lighting up the interior – it always makes me feel good and glad to be in a position to enjoy it. Leaving my warm bed didn’t seem so bad after all.  On spotting us human beings, the ewes first thought was food – the bleating began and reached a deafening crescendo in no time.  The peace and quiet of that stroll down to the barn was over.  Before any feeding commenced I was keen to look at the night’s activities and check on all the ewes that had lambed. We prioritised and I asked Edward to show me the ewe who had the single but was scanned for twins.  He said she was showing no typical signs of having another and therefore decided to move her out of the large pen where she had lambed and put her and the lamb into one of the small pens where they stay for 24/48 hours to mother-up.  Slightly concerned that she had only one lamb he thought he’d, “call the midwife”, which is exactly what he did.  The rules are, if you call me in the night, don’t expect too much conversation – just give me the facts, short and sweet – no banter and certainly no jokes. The scanner we use is brilliant and normally very accurate. The ewe in question had been penned up with her single lamb. It was a cracking large single lamb and my immediate thought was that the scanner was wrong, but I had a niggle at the back of my mind.

Yellingham thief“Can you check her to see if she has another inside?”

My hands are so small and perfect for the job which lay ahead. The ewe was still looking huge and I suspected there was another inside.

On examining the ewe, it was evident within a second that there was a problem. Well, in fact there was no problem. I hadn’t checked her back end as she was stood facing me when I first saw her in the pen. There was no visible evidence that she had lambed, no blood, no afterbirth, nothing.  I didn’t think I needed to examine her, but just to satisfy my theory, I tried; my little hands weren’t going anywhere… she had not lambed. I looked up at Edward and was about the mutter “idiot”, but decided to smile instead.

“What are you smiling at, why don’t you examine her?” My dear husband was confused.

“That lamb is not hers, she has stolen it from another ewe, which means there is a ewe in the big pen where she came from that has lambed and literally has been robbed and this ewe here has yet to have her lambs”.

Edward shook his head in disbelief.  He explained that he didn’t see the ewe lamb but had found her cleaning it up when he came down to the barn and did a check. I asked him if he had his glasses on when he checked!  I nearly added that if he had looked at her back end, I might still be snuggled up in bed, but thought the better of it!

Yellingham-Lambing-YardOur ewes are housed in big pens and no one is perfect – things do get overlooked. We both went into the big pen in question and sure enough, there sat in the corner, quite unperturbed was a ewe pushing and in no time at all a lovely large Jacob lamb was born. On getting closer, I said, this is the mum of that other lamb you penned up. She was scanned for 2, the first she had was stolen by a very jealous mother to be. Edward was obviously upset and still waiting for an earful, so with a cheeky, sympathetic grin I said,

“This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it isn’t the last, so don’t beat yourself up – you did the right thing by calling me, otherwise I might have beaten you up!”

All was well in the end.  I was right with my prognosis.  At least that ewe had one lamb to look after, even though she should have had twins!  We let the thief keep her stolen goods until she lambed herself and, because she did have twins, sadly “orphan Annie” as we called her was taken away and put on the bottle with other motherless, but very happy lambs.


Janet East


Posted in Lambs, Member Farms, Sheep, Shepherd