Tag Archives: countryside

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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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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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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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.

Get a feel for Dartmoor with Dartcam

For classical music organisation The Two Moors Festival and other lucky people who live across Dartmoor and Exmoor, stunning views across the great British countryside are the norm but not everyone is fortunate enough to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Now, however, you can get a feel for this rural idyll wherever you are in the UK thanks to the wonder that is the internet and Dartcom, a manufacturer of weather satellite and remote sensing ground stations. The company has set up Dartcam, a live webcam set up to take a photo of the gorgeous Dartmoor landscape every five minutes so that you can see just how beautiful the countryside is.

We can’t imagine what life would be like without the spectacular views we’re so used to – so we think it’s a great idea for Dartcom to do all it can to share this with others. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to come on down to Devon to see us… and maybe join us for a concert or two in October, when our main two-week event takes place (15th-25th).

For further information about the festival and to order a 2014 brochure, visit our website today.

The history of the Exmoor pony: a talk at the Two Moors Festival 2014

At this year’s Two Moors Festival main-two week event, taking place between October 15th-25th, we will be putting on a series of interesting talks as well as classical music, all relating to Devon – where the festival takes place every year.

This time around, we’re holding a talk on the history of the Exmoor pony at Dulverton’s Exmoor Pony Centre on October 19th with an outdoor tour of the centre (weather permitting, of course!). In case you’re unfamiliar with these beautiful creatures, they are one of the last native breeds of pony to be found roaming wild in Britain and, year after year, prove to be a big draw for people coming to the area. Everyone wants to see them on a holiday to Devon!

Make sure you keep your eyes well peeled for these majestic beasts as you travel from church to church in October, going to and from the different Two Moors Festival concerts, but if you’re in Exmoor before then you could also make sure you attend the Exmoor Pony Festival 2014.

Taking place between August 9th and 17th, the event includes herd open days, safaris, lovely long walks in the Devon countryside, shows and rides – so it’s the perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Exmoor pony before coming along to our talk in October.

The Two Moors event is free (although you will need to reserve a ticket) and there will be a collection, with all donations going towards the festival’s education programme. We’d love to see you there, so do include the date in your diary.

If you’d like to find out more about this year’s Two Moors Festival programme and to order a brochure, please visit our website today.

Design the official Exmoor flag!

BqKwBNJIUAA5MWrDo you have a creative streak? Do you want to see one of your designs out there for all to see? Then you absolutely must enter the Exmoor Flag Competition, which is calling on everyone the UK over to come up with a design for the first official flag for Exmoor and show just how much they love this little corner of the world.

Free to enter, the competition has been devised as a way of honouring the 60th anniversary of the designation of the Exmoor National Park this year, with entry forms and hints and tips for your design to be found on the Exmoor Flag Project website.

What a great opportunity to really show your appreciation for Exmoor, which we here at the Two Moors Festival think is one of the most special places in the world to live, work and visit. Let us know if you plan to enter – and let us know just why you love Exmoor so much!

How to make the perfect cream tea!

Devon knows how they make it so creamy – and if you’re keen to sample some of the county’s delights before coming down to this part of the world for the Two Moors Festival’s main two-week event in October, then you absolutely must give a traditional cream tea a try… and then sample a true-blue Devonshire one when you arrive.

There’s no better way to welcome in the summer than with a deliciously fluffy scone with dollops of clotted cream and strawberry jam on top, and a refreshing cup of tea – and if you’ve been to one of the Festival’s garden parties in the past, you know we can make a mean cream tea!

Apparently, the many cream tea shops to be found around here contribute about £85 million to the county’s economy and all those people just can’t be wrong, can they? So follow our little recipe to make the perfect cream tea and break them out when the sun shines over the next few months.

Arguments have been raging for years about what order to put the jam and cream on your scones. How do you like yours?



Scones (makes 12)


– 8oz self-raising flour

– 2oz margarine

– 2tsp bicarbonate of soda

– 1/4 pint of milk

– pinch of salt


1. Mix the dry bits together and rub until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the milk and mix until it forms a dough.

2. Knead lightly until smooth and roll out to around 1/2″ thick. Cut out with a 2″ cutter, then brush with milk and bake at 220-230 degrees C for 10 minutes. Leave to cool.

3. Split the scones in half, then cover with lots of strawberry jam, a thick layer of Devonshire cream and serve on your finest china.


Where to go for a Devon cream tea

A few tea shops to tickle your fancy when you’re next in the area.

Primrose Tea Rooms, Lustleigh

Watersmeet House, Watersmeet

The Salty Monk, Sidford

Or try Delimann if you’re not in the area, as they’ll actually send you traditional Devonshire cream teas by post!

To find out more about the Two Moors Festival and how we help support local Devon businesses, visit our website today.

Off out in the Devon countryside

While we were busy doing the final round of our Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform competition over the weekend, we also (somehow) managed to find the time to get out and about in the beautiful Devon countryside to snap a few photos for our brochure. Sadly, the weather wasn’t brilliant but we think we got a few lovely ones, so let us know what you think.

And if you can think of any beautiful spots across Dartmoor and Exmoor that you think we should capture for our brochure, let us know. (Watch out for a glimpse of Festival dog and cat, Flora and Pip, as well!)

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Exmoor Wildwatch 2014

One very good reason for a holiday in Exmoor is the excellent opportunity to see some of the most beautiful wildlife the UK has to offer – and you’re sure to see more than just sheep if you go rambling around and about the countryside.

Now, walkers are being encouraged by the Exmoor National Park to take part in Exmoor Wildwatch 2014 to help the group gain a better understanding of the moorland wildlife by recording their sightings on the Wildwatch website (where you can also access free identification guides to help).

The key species the Park is keen to learn more about are  the cuckoo, kingfisher, brown hare, adder, common lizard, waxcap fungi, round-leaved sundew and heath fritillary, small pearl-bordered fritillary and comma butterflies.

“Exmoor National Park is home to a fantastic array of wildlife and we would like everyone’s help to find out a little more about some of the special species that live here … some of which are nationally rare and others we simply do not know enough about. Some, like the cuckoo, are distinctive, while others such as the round-leaved sundew may require more searching in some of Exmoor’s fantastic bogs,” conservation officer Ali Hawkins said.

The idea is being supported by free wildlife and surveying events you can get involved in if you’re on holiday in Exmoor, from helping remove silver birches from moorland (with baked potatoes cooked in the open air for lunch!) to learning how to read maps accurately.

Meet Exmoor pony Monsieur Chapeau

Visitors to Devon and Exmoor are always keen to spot the many wild ponies that roam the hillsides – and we’re very lucky here at the Two Moors Festival HQ, with lots of the horses to be found in the immediate area.

We always see them as we drive to Dulverton or on our way to Minehead on the hill before the bridge at Landacre, and it was around this part of the Devon countryside on Dunkery commons that Monsieur Chapeau – arguably one of the most famous Exmoor ponies of recent times – was found, orphaned and suffering from pneumonia.

He was taken to Holt Ball Exmoor Pony Stud after he was discovered and is now well on his way to recovery – his story capturing the imagination of the internet and his blog, run by owner of the Exmoor Pony Club Dawn Westcott, getting over 23,000 hits as people watch him get back on his hooves.

“The Dunkery Commons are breathtakingly beautiful but consists of some of the most varied and challenging terrain in Exmoor National Park. While the area offers an incredible environment for wild ponies to roam, it also contains the inevitable harshness that means not all ponies are able to survive, such as orphaned colts who may evade the round up by hiding in nooks and crannies,” Dawn says.

Take a look at the little chap here: 

If you would like to get involved and support the Moorland Exmoor Foal Project with sponsorship, fund raising help, volunteer help or to offer a moorland foal a good home then please contact Nick and Dawn Westcott on 01643 862785 or email marketing@equinetourism.co.uk.

You can make a donation to the Moorland Exmoor Foal Project via Paypal at www.paypal.co.uk quoting reference, moorlandexmoorfoalproject@hotmail.co.uk

An interview with: Bassoonatics

At this year’s Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October, we’ve got a particularly entertaining concert for all you classical music lovers – A Bit of Light Relief with Bassoonatics, playing a programme that includes Ridout’s Pigs and Addison’s Four Miniatures in a rather interesting venue… the shop Mole Valley Farmers in South Molton! To find out more, we caught up with Jo Stark, one of the quartet’s members, to see just what audiences can expect on October 22nd.

Jostark2MF: What can you tell us about your programme at the 2MF this year?

JS: We’re really excited about coming down and playing at the Mole Valley Farm Shop! It’s great to get the chance to play to a wide variety of people who will probably have never heard a solo bassoon, let alone four together. With this in mind, we’ve tried to pick things that show all the colours, ranges and possibilities of the bassoon, that will also get our audience’s feet tapping!

2MF: How did you go about picking the pieces?

JS: We tried to pick a variety of things that would demonstrate the whole spectrum of bassoon quartet repertoire, while hopefully keeping it fun and fairly light. As we know we’re playing in a farm shop we didn’t choose anything that was too quiet or too long – we wanted to choose fun things that would grab listeners’ attention. We also had to pick Alan Ridout’s Pigs as we are playing in a farm shop!

2MF: Which do you think the audience will enjoy the most?

JS: We would like to think that there’s something for everyone, but Tico Tico always gets audiences going, and Danny Boy is always a popular nostalgic tune.

2MF: And your personal favourite to play?

JS: Maybe Danny Boy for all the hidden extra tunes in it – and Prokofiev’s Scherzo is really well written for the instrument.

2MF: What do you think of the festival’s theme of light?

JS: It’s a great idea that can be adapted in so many ways. Unfortunately, the bassoon quartet repertoire is a bit limited, so we only have the tenuous link that we are one of the heaviest instruments playing some of the lightest tunes!

2MF: Have you ever played in a shop before?

JS: Never!

2MF: What’s the oddest place you’ve ever performed?

JS: As the bassoon quartet, probably here! But as individuals we have played in groups in all sorts of different venues, including on top of the 37th floor of the Willis Building in London and in someone’s very small sitting room on Valentine’s Day!

2MF: Which festival concerts are you hoping to see?

JS: Sadly none as we are just having a flying visit down from London this year – but in previous years both Sinead and myself have played in the Two Moors Residencies, so we have enjoyed being around for longer during the festival. The small concerts in unusual venues are always highlights!

2MF: Where can people hear you all play after the festival?

JS: In different recitals around the London area – or in their own sitting room if they desire!

What do you like most about playing the bassoon?

JS: That it’s such good fun! You have to have a sense of humour.

2MF: Any tips for beginners?

JS: Try to play every day on any instrument – and as a bassoon player eat lots of eggs to make yourself strong enough to carry it around!

Entry to this concert is free, so just pop into Mole Valley Farmers on October 22nd just before 3pm to have a listen.