Category Archives: Devon Life

Getting ready for 2017

It’s been a busy for months and we may have been keeping quiet with our news in the recent months, but we are now back in full swing! We aim to keep you up to date with the latest festival news and behind-the-scenes snippets through our blog and we can already share with you that 2017 is shaping up to be another fantastic festival!

Keep your eyes peeled here as we soon to reveal the 2017 Two Moors Festival programme …and we are super excited about it. Also, did you know we are now on Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter? Follow us on the platforms so you see what we like to discuss within our area of the country as well as interesting topics surround the industry of classical music.

For now, here’s a preview of the festival programme….watch this space!

Exmoor’s World Championship Crabbing Competition

So this may not strictly be a Devon event, but it takes place so close to the Two Moors Festival headquarters (and it’s still on Exmoor) that we just had to blog about it, not least because it sounds so much fun.

The Exmoor World Championship Crabbing Competition is taking place this month on May 30th at Porlock Weir in Somerset, so if you happen to be on holiday in the region and are looking for something different to do, this would be an excellent choice.

Festival organisers John and Penny Adie, and their three children, used to spend many a happy hour crabbing on the pontoon in Dittisham, a delightful little village in South Devon that you must visit if you’re ever in the area – and they’re all sorely tempted to make their way to Porlock Weir to take part in this particular event, if just to reminisce about the good old days!

Everyone is eligible to compete and you could walk away with a beautiful trophy handmade by Bristol Blue Glass… all you have to do is bring your own line, bucket and bait.

If you’ve never done it before, here are a couple of crabbing tips to help ensure success at the competition.

1. Don’t forget the weight

If your bait is heavy enough, you might not need it, but a weight will help drag your line down and keep the bait at the bottom where all the best crabs are hiding.

2. Consider your bait

Don’t just use any old thing lying around the kitchen as bait. Crabs can be quite fussy! Bacon, chicken or bits of fish will work well, but crabs are particularly partial to sand eels so see if you can find any of those.

3. Bring a net

The hardest part about crabbing is getting your catch off the line and into the bucket, but a net will help ensure that they don’t escape back into the water. Bring a large bucket as well – you might catch so many that you run out of room!

We’ve Got Chickens!

We’ve taken a bit of a break from writing about UK chamber music festivals on the blog this week to let you know that we here at the Two Moors Festival have had a very exciting addition to the family.

Not only do we have festival dog Flora and festival cat Pip, but we’re now very happy to say that we’ve got four fat and plucky festival chickens, who have come home to roost.

If you’ve been following the festival since it started in 2001, you might well be aware that we also used to be home to some rather fantastic peacocks, which did make rather a racket while all the classical music concerts were going on. There was Poppy, Peter and Percy and, although they’ve long since gone, it’s delightful to have some more feathered friends clucking about all over the place.

Artistic director of the festival Penny Adie gave the four chickens to husband John as a Christmas present, along with a rather large coop and they’ve proved to be very successful hen-layers thus far. We’ve named them Mim, Mable, Doris and Rebecca Johnston, and we couldn’t be happier with our new additions to the family.

So the next time you come down to festival HQ for one of the lovely chamber music concerts that we put on in our gallery – or indeed for the festival itself in October – make sure you make some time to come and say hi to our little chickens. We know they’re going to be huge fans of classical music – how could they be anything but?

Two Moors Festival chickens

Two Moors Festival: Notus Winds Residency

Not only is the the Two Moors Festival’s residency project serving its purpose, but it also creates an atmosphere of the utmost fun within the Adie household. This doesn’t mean to say that routine life is dull – far from it!

This week has seen Notus Winds, one of the most talented wind ensembles to burst onto the concert scene, rehearsing in our studio in preparation for the Nielsen competition held later in the year. As you can imagine, this quintet has been high on the agenda along with a diverse range of works that included the first movement of Ibert’s Trois Pièces which they decided to learn from memory.

classical music festivals

They imposed a punishing schedule upon themselves – three hours’ rehearsal each morning, building up a healthy appetite for lunch followed by more sessions over the rest of the day. How Carys Evans’s lip stayed the course, we shall never know – but that’s suffering for one’s art.

The beauty of our residencies is that artists are completely free to run their own timetables, rummage for food and help themselves to wine (although so far, no one has gone to those lengths first thing in the morning!). In the case of this group, because the weather was so glorious, they gulped vast quantities of unpolluted air whilst striding the across the moors in their self-imposed spare time.

classical music festivals

Exmoor has been at its finest this week proudly showing off its spectacular scenery, colours not to mention the first primroses appearing in the banks. I have to say that the ensemble’s interpretation of clear verbal directions differed from ours! As a result Flora, our dog, had so much exercise that she expressed no interest in going for a walk on the day the team left.

The pressures of city living are such that artists take a while to switch off. Invariably they feel the urge to practise the moment they get here thinking that they have a time limit on the availability of a hired studio. Life is very different here and it’s only after several glasses of wine and wholesome food that musicians begin to let go.

The fact that there is no payment involved (even expenses are covered) also takes a day to sink in. We notice a huge difference in the approach to work, the feeling of achievement following a constructive rehearsal, and a sense of well-being on discovering an improved level of playing. As a team, there is time to explore varied interpretations of a piece, a greater opportunity to listen to each other and to work on a better cohesive sound.

classical music festivals

There is no doubt that residencies here play their part in the structural development of a young group of artists. This ensemble has benefited in spade loads. Their concert on the final night was of a standard equal to any recital one might hear at the Wigmore Hall. Here’s to the future of Notus Winds – they deserve to do well!

Penny Adie

What Does A Clever Cat Do When It’s Snowing?

It’s jolly cold down here in Devon at the moment, so much so in fact that it’s snowing. Not a lot, granted, but certainly enough to put the wind up Two Moors Festival cat Pip a little.

But luckily, he’s got more than his fair share of brains and has worked out exactly where to go when the snow is coming down – inside the bird house, of course!

We hope you like this little picture of our clever cat, Pip. Do you have any funny photos of your pets being a little bit silly? We’d love to see what they get up to so post some pictures in the comments below.

Funny cats

Q&A With Devon Photographer John Spurr

We here at the Two Moors Festival were perusing Twitter the other day and a beautiful photograph caught our eye of the sun setting over Saunton Sands. Taken by the very talented John Spurr, we wanted to find out more about the man behind the lens – and what we discovered was a true Devon fanatic who loves this part of the world just as much as we do, but who’s just so much better at capturing it on film than we are.

We caught up with him to find out just what it is about Devon that captures his imagination. Take a look at his photographs – we’re sure you’ll love them as much as we do.

2MF: Are you Devon born and bred?

JS: I grew up in Dorset, moving to North Devon with my parents in 1999 just as I finished school. Initially, in all honesty, I felt thoroughly annoyed at being uprooted to a rural village and landscape that made Dorset feel positively rushed. But as the months passed and I began to explore the area in between terms studying philosophy at university, I realised that Devon was a county with unique depth and beauty. Now my family live in Gloucestershire and I can’t be persuaded to leave Devon!

2MF: What appeals to you about this part of the world?

JS: It’s very quickly become something much deeper than a place to live. Being someone who likes to be outdoors, the Devon coast and its incredible surf to the north (especially in autumn) is a place for both adrenaline and reflection. As if that wasn’t enough, our two immensely varied and beautiful moors, changing dramatically in mood with the rhythmical rolling of the seasons, are an outdoor person’s dream, with or without a camera!

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John Spurr 7
2MF: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

JS: I’ve seen some incredible places on my travels abroad and love exploring new places, but I can’t imagine living anywhere other than among Devon’s rolling hills, sparkling green woodlands in spring and year-round stunning coastline. Nothing comes close that feeling of surfing beyond sunset as the first stars shimmer above Saunton Sands.

2MF: What’s so good about photographing Devon?

JS: Devon is such a vibrant and varied county, and the people are usually very friendly. The colours of Exmoor are enchanting through the year and, actually, across the county over each hill there is something unique to tempt a photographer. Certainly, the undulating terrain creates endless composition ideas for landscape photography, and the wide variety of wildlife in such a small area like, for example Exmoor, is in itself quite unique.

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John Spurr 4
2MF: What are your favourite subjects?

JS: A tricky question to answer! I love being outdoors so anything connected to nature will always have a massive draw. Capturing images of wild animals in their natural environment is such a thrill – something I’m finding increasingly addictive! I’ve recently photographed some newborn children with their mothers. The experience was really moving and inspiring. I’d love to do more of that.

2MF: What photography hotspots would you recommend for people to take their cameras to?

JS: I’d certainly recommend anywhere on Exmoor, especially in spring – wonderful colours and wildlife and birds everywhere! In South Devon, the South West Coast Path is always a good place to have a camera to hand – mine is usually with me in the car anywhere I go in Devon. Clovelly is also a really lovely place to photograph.

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John Spurr 6

2MF: Any photography tips to help people get the perfect picture?

JS: My best tip to getting photographs you’ll want to keep is to wait for the right light. It’s best to forget about taking outdoor photographs of anything when the sun is high in the sky – the light around dawn and the hour before sunset is just magical.  Secondly, keep things simple – don’t try to have too much in the picture. Lastly, some of my favourite shots have been completely unplanned – don’t forget to look around you for other opportunities!
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John Spurr 9Have you got any photos of Devon you’ve taken and would like to share? We’d love to see them, so post them in the comments below.

When Things Go Slightly Wrong…

Readers might like to know that artistic directors and chief executives are not immune to domestic trials and tribulations. They always say things go in threes, don’t they!

Firstly, our well dried up. Now, you may think this is impossible bearing in mind the time of year and also the fact that Exmoor, where we live, is one of the wettest parts of the country. However, as dry as a bone, it was. After much archaeological digging at a five foot depth, and across our large lawn (moss really as grass is too grand a word for it), it turned out that there was a leak in the feeder pipe. Once repaired the mounds of soil, now looking like prehistoric mole hills, had to be shovelled back into place leaving a trail of thick semi-frozen mud. So that was issue number one.

On to the next hiatus. Did you know that if you keep a fridge freezer with a thermostat in the fridge compartment, in a very cold environment such as a garage, the thermostat will automatically switch off thereby causing the freezer to defrost? Our freezer, as it happens was not in a garage but in one of our cottages where without heating switched on, had become so very cold as for this to happen. Well, you’ve guessed – the freezer ceased to work leading to loss of lasagne, cakes, Tarte Amandine (times two), brownies, apple pie, chicken pie and much more besides. Hey, ho, at least I’ve got the bowls back!

Now for the collapse of the third gadget – this time our new dishwasher which decided to go on strike through lack of water pressure. Apparently, most models work on high pressure and although there are some that operate on a slow inflow, there is nothing in the literature to say which. Would anyone like an almost-new Bosch dishwasher? It looks as if we shall be washing up by hand for the forseeable future which means going through many pairs of Marigolds! The Festival’s Artistic Director never wanted perfect nails so that’s okay.

On a more serious note, the Friends’ Newsletter is ready to go to print. The programme for October is taking shape (famous last words?) and my wonderful husband has submitted over 50 funding applications to trusts in hopes of obtaining much needed financial support. I should add that these applications don’t mean churning out the same letter but require individual attention, research and several phone conversations before putting pen to paper.

We’ll keep you posted!