It’s my sons birthday today, he’s 11 and really misses his 2 sisters who live away at University and college. Although the one at college gets home most weekends she couldn’t this week so he thought he wouldn’t see either of his sisters near his birthday. How wrong he was!
His eldest sister arranged to come home as a surprise to see him, this was organised a few weeks ago and was quite difficult to keep a secret, but I managed, but what I really want to tell you about is when we went to meet her from the bus. Son doesn’t usually want to come to South Molton shopping with me, so I had to make the excuse that there was something important I needed him for related to his birthday – he named it the mystery birthday surprise. Once there, he kept on at me ‘Where are we going? What’s my surprise?’ We were stood up the street from the bus stop, and when he saw his sister get off the bus ran up the street straight into her arms, he hadn’t seen her since the Christmas break. The look of joy on his face and his reaction ‘So this is my birthday mystery!’ was wonderful. I felt so proud of my family and on reflection no matter where your family are and how often you see them, family certainly matters to me.
At the Economic Forum held earlier this week in Bideford we discussed the Local Plan – we have to comment on it by 15th March & it can be found on both the North Devon District Council & Torridge District Council websites.
What was interesting is that businesses, not just residents, are needed to comment – the plan is after all a plan to grow North-ern Devon (dislike this term myself) and to do that we need jobs, inward investment, houses & importantly “employment areas” – where are these new businesses going to go?
One of the aspects that made me think was that some of this employment areas will be on greenfield sites – once the land is allocated, new businesses will be able to get planning permission far easier than on brownfield sites, particularly as the cost of cleaning up the mess that is already there needs to be taken into account – contamination was one area that creates a barrier to wanting to take over a brownfield site!
This plan does not include rural development, it only includes the major towns, Bideford, Torrington, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and the like (are there many more?) and each town has to build so many houses, have so much employment land, recreation land etc…, but it doesn’t yet include rural development – that comes later in the process, but the villages and rural parishes will have to come to the party!
A suggestion, and it was only a suggestion, that each parish will have to come up with employment land – let’s say half an acre each – as well as housing to support the jobs that this land will create!
What do you think – is it a good idea to extend the development of the area in both the towns & the more rural villages, or should it be left to the towns to absorb the anticipated growth?
I’m a contributor to a few blogs including this one (Devon Social Media), North Devon Business Alliance and we have a B My Office blog – so with these needing attention, not to mention Twitter, Facebook and others plus needed to work for clients it’s certainly a challenge so why is it important to find the time to blog?
From a business point of view I believe it really helps with SEO, when I do research into searching for telephone answering in Devon I can find at least a couple of blogs that I have written on the subject normally on page one which is great! I also think that it give us the opportunity to give something away like tips or experiences that we have found works for us and could be picked up by a fellow business owners.
Finally from a personal angle it gives us a relevant arena to voice our opinions and values on certain subjects that are affecting our lives or those close to us.
I haven’t cycled for many years so when I was lucky enough to win the use of a pair of electric bicycles for the day, courtesy of Experience Exmoor, I was quite apprehensive about my ability to pedal across Exmoor. I asked Paul Clews (@paulkclews) if he would like to join me for a day of exploration and he jumped at the chance.
On a marvellous August Friday, we arrived at Waytown Farm Shop, just outside Combe Martin, where Neil Osmond met us and demonstrated how the bikes work – they assist you when pedalling and provide a range of powered assistance from eco to standard and up to maximum. Neil also provided us with helmets and panniers (for our picnic and drinks) plus all-important chargers. Neil explained the bikes’ range, how to get the best performance and when and how to charge them. After cycling round the car park a few times to acclimatise ourselves to the assistance the bikes provide when you pedal, Paul and I set off for Lynton and Lynmouth.
Once on the road, it felt exhilarating. We cycled down Coulsworthy Lane and towards the coast where the views were stunning. We really felt the benefit of the electric assistance the bikes provide on the steep Exmoor hills. They still require effort but the help makes all the difference for casual cyclists so that anyone of reasonable fitness could cycle the route we took. I’d only ever been along these lanes by car and cycling felt a lot freer: definitely one of the best ways to see Exmoor.
We stopped off at Hunter’s Inn for an ice cream and chatted to Julian Gurney (@NTExmoorRanger) before setting off once again. We cycled up to join the A39 and made our next stop at Woody Bay Station, on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. For a moment, I thought Paul was going to cheat and hop on to a steam locomotive!
Once again, we set off, turning left at Barbrook towards Lynton and Lynmouth. Before making the descent to Lynmouth, Paul and I stopped to discuss whether we were fit enough to cycle back up again! Pitting our adventurous spirit against common sense, we decided the question with the toss of a coin: down we went! Paul filmed the ride down with a camera on his handlebar:
Now I never thought I would ever cycle down this hill and it was even more exhilarating, especially as we whizzed past the escape lanes with emergency instructions in four languages. We were relieved that the brakes on the bikes enabled us to control our speeds and were surprised to pass Neil at the bottom in the Experience Exmoor Land Rover Discovery.
Paul and I had considered the option of taking the bikes back up on the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway and as we went round to check it out (and it does carry bikes), Neil caught us up. After gently pointing out that it would be cheating, Neil persuaded us to stick to pedal – and electric – power for the ascent.
Before we attempted this, we needed food, drink and a rest and the batteries needed charging. We popped into the Glen Lyn Gorge, one of Experience Exmoor‘s charging points, where we plugged the batteries in to charge for an hour. Meanwhile we enjoyed our picnic by the river in the sun before finding a café for a cup of tea and a glass of coke.
Suitably refreshed, we collected the bikes and, having replaced the batteries, made our way back up the hill, which required more effort and took quite a while longer than our descent.
Once in Lynton, we made our way through the stunning Valley of the Rocks, stopping off at Mother Meldrum’s Tea Room and Garden for cherry pie and clotted cream and a small charge for the batteries. Even with electric assistance, our bodies needed fuelling.
For the return we cycled along the cliff road, passing the White Lady, Lee Abbey and stopping frequently to enjoy the sea views. By now we were tiring. Even though it was a hot day and I was not used to cycling like this, we still found energy reserves to cycle back through Woody Bay and Martinhoe, passing back past Hunters Inn, resisting the urge for a pint.
When we turned off the road to hand the bikes back to Neil, I felt a little twinge of regret. I wanted to cycle mine home!
Looking over the day, the electric bikes certainly enabled Paul and me to experience Exmoor in the best way possible. I want to do it again and have rediscovered cycling.
For anyone thinking about trying out Experience Exmoor‘s electric bikes, I would thoroughly recommend them. They are easy to ride and make climbing the steep hills accessible for those of who aren’t born athletes. After 20+ miles of energetic cycling, I woke up the next morning with few aches.
I’d like to thank Neil and Christel at Experience Exmoor for opening up my eyes to the beauty of Exmoor in a way that I hadn’t got round to experiencing before.
I enjoy walking in Bicclescombe Park in Ilfracombe to relax, but for wildlife it’s a battlefield with death lurking around every corner.
This morning I was delighted to see a mother duck with six tiny ducklings. They have a hard time. On some mornings we see duck feathers on the grass: someone has had a tasty meal overnight.
Then there’s seagulls. I spoke to our friendly park keeper who said that yesterday the mother had 12 ducklings. Someone decided to feed the ducks, which attracted the seagulls. One of them seized the only yellow duckling and flew up a tree. Our heroic park keeper banged a wheelbarrow against the tree to distract it and the seagull dropped the chick. It fell . . . right into the hands of our park keeper, who returned it to the water unscathed.
Sadly, there’s no yellow duckling this morning and half the fleet have gone since yesterday. As well as seagulls, we think there are badgers in the park and then there’s domestic cats.
If you think you’ve got a hard day, be thankful that you don’t walk into the jaws of a predator every time you turn a corner.
Over at the North Devon Business Alliance they have a blogging competition going on – plenty of details can be found here - http://www.ndba.org.uk/awards/ndba-blogging-competition – and I know for a fact that there are plenty of people in North Devon who write blogs, but so far the number of entries appear to be quite low!
It is the first month of six monthly competitions, with a winner of winners announced later in the year at the awards event that the NDBA will be a hosting! Competition will hot up as the months go by and so the first month will be probably the best chance of getting into a podium finish, but do people realise that their blogs are actually blogs and that they can enter, whatever the subject matter. Be it gardening, photography, writing, hobby related, retirement related, plus many more, all of these blogs are of interest to the rest of North Devon and beyond.
Have you wondered how you can get more people to visit your blog on a more regular basis?
Having a go in a competition has to rank as at least one way to get noticed – it doesn’t matter whether you win, people will want to know more about you and will find your main blog – mainly because you’ll put a link in it so that people can find it – links are good aren’t they for promoting your website and/or blog, so just from that perspective it is worth having a go, isn’t it?
I have entered this month & it focuses on my llamas – just in case you would like to read it – you can find it HERE! What do you think – a winning entry – could you do better – go on – have a go!
Yesterday at the B2B event in Barnstaple I picked up the latest copy of the North Devon Business Alliance magazine. I had a chance to have a quick read this morning and must say it’s a very good read. This copy focuses on Twitter and has some great articles on Twitter basics and getting the most out of Twitter.
The magazine has articles written by local North Devon business people, but I must single out one of them. Robert Zarywacz not only wrote articles he also edited, designed and arranged the publication of the magazine. This obviously takes time and I would like to offer my personal thanks to him for all the effort and hard work that he puts into it as well as his other business activities.
Their customer service is great and if there is something I need a bit of advice on I know I can give them a call or send them an email and they are only too happy to help. Their delivery is also fantastic and super quick and products are great quality and value for money.
The final bonus is they are local and it’s great to support local business!
Thanks for the great service Sue and Lance – looking forward to many years of placing orders!
Today I went into Pedlar’s, a department store in Ilfracombe. Nick Pedlar, the owner, was on the phone trying to source a scarce item for a family. They had found what they wanted online, but because Nick had helped them find something previously, they wanted to give him their custom. Once again, he was phoning around trying to source what they wanted.
I’d gone in to buy some potting compost. I picked up a bag I saw and went to pay for it. Ivan, who works with Nick, asked if that was the size I needed and pointed out another size in the shop and two more larger sizes they kept out the back. As it happened, I did want one of the larger sizes and left very satisfied because I’d got just what I wanted.
It’s unlikely that this level of service would be available at many national chains. How often have I heard: “If it’s not on the shelf, we haven’t got it.”
It’s no surprise that a number of national retailers are failing. What is more surprising is that so many have survived until now when they have provided such poor service.
What is so valuable in Ilfracombe, and I’m sure it’s similar in some other North Devon towns, is very helpful shopkeepers who offer a personal service. They care for their customers.
That is why I always go to Pedlar’s first for my garden supplies and other local shops for other goods before even thinking of a big garden centre or national chain.
Perhaps larger retailers and high streets could learn from this?
It’s been on my mind now that we haven’t had a tweet-up for quite a while – yes I know that there was a successful tweet-up at Lilico’s last month, but I couldn’t make it!
As I tweet a lot about business it is always assumed that if I ever organise anything there has to be a business angle to the tweet-up, so I have put a bit of thought into it and along with Ian Starling at The Voice we have a plan.
As some of you may know, the Voice will be broadcasting around Barnstaple on FM 107.1 for 28 days from 16th March to 12th April and are also working hard to get a DAB radio station and/or a full time FM licence to broadcast to North Devon. What better way to promote the launch of the next 28 day license than have a tweet-up at their premises the day before the launch.
A chance to see the studio in action – they’ll be broadcasting online, as they are now, (listen here) – meet some of the presenters and have a slice of cake made by the wonderful Mrs Starling herself.
A pure social tweet-up from 5.30pm – get to listen to some great music – talk to other tweeters and show some support for the Voice FM.
The Voice is located at:-
Back Of Coop, 21 High Street, Barnstaple. Need to go towards church yard. Blue door – numbered – at back!