Tag Archives: devon

The hills are alive with the sound of moo-sic

The powers of classical music have long been appreciated by many people from all walks of life – and for many different reasons. Some of you just love to listen to the beautiful strains of Rachmaninov and the like, quite a lot of you play it to your babies to make them geniuses and there are a few – not sure how many, mind – that believe it can help your tomatoes grow.

Well, you can now add farmers to the list of those who believe that music is much, much more than just notes on a page. According to a new survey RSPCA Freedom Food, 77 per cent of farmers either play music, have the radio on, chat or sing to their livestock to keep them calm, cool and collected.

Radio 2 has emerged as the most popular station, played by 23 per cent of those asked, with ten per cent admitting they themselves sing to their flocks and herds, including opera, hymns, songs from the 60s and 70s and – rather bizarrely – the soundtrack to the film Born Free, although no mention was made of Old Macdonald Had a Farm. Some of the most popular bands were Aerosmith, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Eminem.

“Put simply, a stressed and unhappy cow won’t drop her milk but we never have that problem with our girls.  The secret to their happiness and good production is not only giving them the best care we can, under the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme, but tuning into the local radio or Planet Rock at milking time. The cows love a bit of Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. It makes them chilled out and relaxed and that’s what produces great milk,” Freedom Food farmer David Tory said.

It’s certainly moo-sic to our ears, at any rate!

What would you play to your cows if you had a herd of your own?

From Fossils to Fabric at the Two Moors Festival

It’s not all classical music at the Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October – although, of course, we have an abundance of stellar performances on offer this year as per usual. We also put on a series of interesting talks that highlight the best that Exmoor and Dartmoor have to offer and 2012 is no exception.

This time around, we’ve enlisted the services of head of leisure and museums at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum Alan Caig to give a talk about the museum itself, its origins and how it’s gone on to become the region’s flagship gallery.

The museum has undergone an extensive redevelopment and all the hard work has certainly paid off, with the exhibition space being named this month as Museum of the Year and awarded the Art Fund Prize of £100,000 for its refurbishment project.

Chair of judges Lord Smith of Finsbury said: “The new Royal Albert Memorial Museum is quite simply a magical place. The Victorian aspirations to bring the world to Exeter are stunningly realised through some of the most intelligently considered displays on view in any museum in the UK. Every exhibit delights with a new surprise and provokes with a new question, and at a time when local authority museums in particular are in such danger, this brilliant achievement proves how daring, adventurous and important such institutions can be.”

Mr Caig’s talk will focus on the museum’s origins in the mid-19th century, as well as on the renovations, which saw structural damage repaired and a new temporary exhibition space constructed – all part of grand plans to propel the museum into the 21st century.

Here at the Two Moors Festival, we’re always keen to support the local area in any way we can and – as many of our followers will know – we like to include something a little different in the festival programme for October. “It’s normally something to do with the area or someone from the area. The talks add another dimension and serve as another purpose to entice people to this part of the world,” festival artistic director Penny Adie said.

From Fossils to Fabric promises to be a really interesting, eye-opening discussion – certainly not one to be missed on the festival calendar. You’ll definitely want to visit the museum after hearing what Mr Caig has to say!

From Fossils to Fabric: Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum revealed

October 12th, 11:00, Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster

Tickets: Free entry by ticket only. Collection in aid of the Museum and the Two Moors Festival Education Projects

The Two Moors Festival Garden Party: In Pictures

Sadly, the Two Moors Festival’s annual garden party is over for another year. We had a great two days over the weekend listening to lots of wonderful chamber music, gorging ourselves on Devon cream teas and strawberries, running about in the rain and getting a bit riotous over a couple of parlour games. Here’s a slideshow of the party – a true behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the most popular events on the Two Moors calendar.

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Doesn’t it look like fun? Hope to see you there next year!

A Two Moors Festival garden party sing-along

This year’s Two Moors Festival garden party (a wonderful event where professional musicians can come down to Devon and just really have fun playing and singing in impromptu groups) may well be over for another 12 months but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. If you want to relive the magic of the two-day event – or want to see just what you missed out on – have a look at these videos. We’ve got some madrigals for you (with Flora the dog joining in very nicely, watch out for her woofing!) and a very funny round of Liverpool Street Station. Enjoy!

That’s your lot folks – hope you enjoyed it! The garden party will be back on again next year, so hopefully see you all there!

Two Moors Garden Party 2012

Well, folks – that’s it for another year. The Two Moors Festival Garden Party has been and gone and what a wonderful couple of days it has been, despite the terrible weather on the Saturday.

It all kicked off on June 23rd, with the sun shining intermittently and the strains of Beethoven floating down the Exmoor gallery from the gallery above the courtyard, where a group of young musicians had congregated – happily leaving concert attire behind in favour of jeans and wellies – to play a bit of classical music, in between supping on Pimms and devouring Devonshire cream teas.

In all, 17 musicians flocked to Barkham to give impromptu performances of their favourite music. This year, Two Moors stalwart singer Vic Barton, pianist Mark Austin, viola player Laurie Anderson, horn player Rebecca Alexander, tenor James Crawford, oboist Peter Facer, pianist Alison Farr, bassoon player Sinead Frost, clarinettist Lizzy Mace and flautist Harry Winstanley, among others, came down to the countryside to perform, play Articulate! and drink lots of wine. We also welcomed one of the Two Moors Young Musicians Platform winners Laura Deignan, who impressed us yet again with the calibre of her playing.

Highlights of the weekend included madrigals under the gazebo, an arrangement of pieces by The Corrs, howling cameos by Flora the festival dog and many renditions of Liverpool Street Station, a very funny piece sung in rounds (watch out for the video later on this week).

As one happy member of the audience said at the end of the Saturday: “It’s a very nice relaxed way of hearing music outside the formality of the white tie and tails, where people are clearly enjoying the music. They’re not afraid to stop if they make a mistake. It’s the informality and the sheer pleasure of playing – there’s no pressure.”

Couldn’t have put it better ourselves! Here’s what some of the musicians had to say about the garden party and why they love to come down to Barkham to take part each year.

Did you make it to the garden party? What were your highlights?

As always, send in any of your photos for our readers’ gallery!

Pimms o’clock at the Two Moors Festival garden party

Hurrah, the day is almost upon us! That’s right, folks – the annual Two Moors Festival garden party’s taking place this weekend and we’re already feeling excitement butterflies in our tummies at the thought of an abundance of classical music out in the open air (weather permitting!) and, of course, countless jugs of Pimms and plates of sinfully good Devonshire cream teas.

To help you celebrate, we’ve come up with the perfect Pimms recipe so you can share the fun with us, even if you can’t make it to Devon over the weekend. So…raise your glasses! Cheers!

Hope to see you at the party – come and join the fun!

The Dartmoor Tors

We’re massive fans of the wild expanses of the Dartmoor countryside here at the Two Moors Festival, even though our base has always been a few hours’ drive away among the Exmoor hills. It’s hardly a surprise that so many people travel to the region year in, year out to spend days walking around and about, enjoying the fresh air and fantastic views.

We reckon that more and more tourists will be making their way to Dartmoor in the future, particularly geologists and history-lovers, now that researchers from the universities of Durham and Exeter, and Stockton Riverside College have discovered that the rocky landscape of the area was formed in large part by ice during the last Ice Age – a challenge to all previously held theories on the subject.

Dartmoor is home to one of the largest areas of exposed granite in Britain (which was used to construct parts of Covent Garden, the National Gallery and the British Museum) and the world-famous Ten Tors hike. Tors themselves develop because of weathering and the removal of weathered rock, with the study authors now believing that glacier ice helped form the distinctive Dartmoor landscape.

One tor not to be missed by any walkers heading to Dartmoor is the Dewerstone, a hike that ends with some simply stunning views of the Plymouth Sound bay, fields and forests. The route is suitable for climbers of all abilities, as there are 100 different ways up the Dewerstone. You can go on a bit of an amble and just follow the path if you want to take it easy and enjoy the views, or you can really challenge yourself and give the jump from Pinnacle Buttress to the main crag a go.

The legend of Dewerstone is just as interesting as the formation of its crags, telling the tale of Dewer, a demonic hunter who chased down people who had become lost on the moor, accompanied by a pack of ghostly dogs, the Whist Hounds, and drove them to their deaths off the highest cliff on the tor – the Devil’s Rock.

If you’re planning a Devonshire holiday then this part of Dartmoor will certainly prove impressive – although you’ll have to take your chances with the weather! Let us know if you go – and send in any pictures you’ve taken for our readers’ gallery!

What’s your favourite Dartmoor tor?

Slugs, begone!

Oh, for the burning sunshine of a few weeks ago! We’re afraid here at the Two Moors Festival that summer’s been and gone for 2012 and, not only are we very upset that all this wet weather means we have to walk our beautiful German shepherd Flora in water-logged wellies and put up with wet-dog smell for weeks on end, we’re also rather devastated about the state of our vegetable and flower gardens.

All the rain we’ve been having means our grounds are under attack from an over-abundance of slimy slugs, who all seem to be having a fantastic time munching away on our beans and lettuces. Do you know, we found 27 – yes, 27! – pesky little molluscs slithering about on a single plant yesterday? With our garden party just around the corner (June 23rd and 24th), the timing couldn’t really be worse and this slime wave, as it’s been dubbed, looks set to continue, with leading slug expert Dr Richard Meredith of Bayer Crop Science suggesting that mollusc populations have doubled or even tripled in 2012.

So what on earth can you do to tackle slug slime and protect your beautiful garden? Well, getting in there early is always advisable, so keep an eye out for signs like silvery trails on leaves and stems and irregular holes in plant tissue.

If your garden is truly suffering, then apply a bit of Nemaslug (a biological control that only affects slugs and infects them with fatal bacteria) in the evenings to moist but well-drained soil. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, you can also set out a few traps, like jam jars half-filled with beer and scooped-out melon, grapefruit or orange skins placed cut-side down. If you’re feeling particularly vigilant, you can of course head out at night with a torch and a bucket and pick up the little blighters yourself – but that really depends on the size of your garden!

Horticulturalist Liz Pile – who does a lot of work with the Two Moors Festival and helped us take gold in the courtyard garden category at the 2010 Chelsea Flower Show – also suggests: “Slug pellets work to kill slugs but are dangerous to dogs. There are various slug repellents that aren’t toxic, but they’re not terribly effective. You could perhaps avoid growing plants that they really like, such as lupins, delphiniums and marigolds.”

Sadly, slugs are so abundant that you’ll never get ’em all – but don’t give up without a fight! Come and see how we’ve got on in our slug war at the garden party next weekend.

What do you find to be the most effective way of de-slugging your garden?

Celebration Day!

The festivities just keep on coming this year, don’t they? We’re going to be all partied out very, very soon, what with the Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee and now Celebration Day in Exeter Cathedral on June 16th.

This particular event – while perhaps not on such a grand scale as the Queen’s ceremony or the biggest sporting competition in the world – will definitely have fans of church music counting down the days until singers from all over the south-west congregate in what is one of the greatest cathedrals (and one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture) to be found in the UK. Here at the Two Moors Festival, we’re certainly looking forward to it – and hope to see some of our friends taking part!

Choristers from the Royal School of Church Music-affiliated choirs are invited to join those already singing in the service, which starts at 15:00. Do let us know if you’ll be singing or even if you’re just going to sit back, relax and thoroughly enjoy some of the finest music in one of the best buildings the south-west has to offer.

“Celebration Day is indeed a happy occasion and a musical feast. It’s always very thrilling and uplifting to hear a large choir in a wonderful building such as Exeter Cathedral,” Lindsay Gray, director of the Royal School, remarked.

Hymns and other musical works to be sung include Angel Voices Ever Singing, Christ is Made The Sure Foundation, favourites by Brahms and Stanford, and a piece all the way from Ghana.


Now that the Jubilee celebrations are over and done with you’re probably looking through your diaries, wondering what you can get up to next. Well, if you’re keen to continue the excitement of the last couple of days and want to get down and dirty in the countryside then you should definitely head to Simonsbath in Somerset on June 9th for Bogtastic, an adventure day suitable for all ages that will take you sploshing about through the mud between Blackpitts and Brendon Two Gates.

Between 10:00 and 16:00, you can try your hands and feet at welly wanging, dam-making, stream-dipping, bog-trotting, guided walks and conservation challenges, all hosted by the kind-hearted folk at the Heart of Exmoor, the Exmoor National Park Authority and the Exmoor Mires project.

Make sure you bring wellies (both for wanging and for wearing!) and suitable outdoor clothing, as it seems the sunny weather of a few weeks ago has once again forsaken the UK.

“This will be a fantastic day for all ages exploring this wonderful site – come and enjoy the fun. The day also includes an opportunity for youth workers and teachers to get free Environmental Survey Training from an experienced practitioner from the Peak District National Park – where they say that their peat is deeper than ours,” the Heart of Exmoor’s David Rolls remarked.

If you do go and take lots of pictures, please do send them in for our readers’ gallery. We’d love to see what you get up to on the day!