Category: Blog

Sir Francis Drake and the Totnes Orange Race

Sir Francis Drake is famous for many things – he helped defeat the Spanish Armada, brought the potato to England, and when he wasn't messing round with spuds inadvertently started Totnes's famous orange race. On the third Tuesday of every August crowds gather to watch participants chase their juicy citrus fruits down the high street. And it all started when Drake didn't dodge a delivery boy.

A juicy legend

The story goes that Sir Francis Drake bumped into a delivery boy carrying a basket of oranges at the top of town, sending the citruses tumbling down the hill. Because oranges were an exotic and expensive fruit at the time all the town's children decided to chase after them and a legend was born. Another version of the story, which identifies the boy as John Hayman, says that Drake offered him an orange which he dropped (perhaps in surprise as he had not seen an orange before) and let roll down the hill. It wasn't until the 1970s however that the first modern race was held, organised by the Totnes Elizabethan society.

Orange Tuesdays

Although the origins of the race may be legendary, the one rule is very real - competitors cannot carry their orange. They can however kick, throw, or roll it to get ahead. And if you're wondering how judges tell the oranges apart they don't – the rule is simply that the first person to cross the finish line with an intact orange wins. The course runs for 450 metres from the Market Square and everyone is welcome to join. Younger participants race from the top of the high street and finish at the market square, for older ones the finish line is at the Seven Stars hotel. Winners get trophies and the satisfaction that they can run faster than a piece of fruit, and afterwards a charity auction is held. Of course oranges aren't quite as valuable now, and if you don't fancy running down the hill after one you can walk into one of the town's food shops and find a zesty treat.

Totnes and surrounding area in the Spotlight . . .

Written by Jeremy Holloway, Visit Totnes Informtion Officer Totnes, and the surrounding South Devon area, has often had a starring role in films and television series. Churches, historic houses, ferries, even harpoon guns, carnivorous crabs and suicidal fish, they’ve all played their part. Down the River Dart from Totnes is “Lighthaven”, as featured in the television series The Coroner, a town better known as Dartmouth to locals of course. The hit daytime show stars Claire Goose as single mum Jane Kennedy who returns to her hometown to investigate murders alongside childhood sweetheart Detective Sergeant Davey Higgins. Producer Sandra MacIver says “We wanted to feature Dartmouth as a major location as it’s so beautiful and the view across to Kingswear is breath-taking. The way the light twinkles across the River Dart always makes it feel like summertime, even in February. The slogan we use for The Coroner is ‘summer holidays all day long every day’. "Dartmouth provided us with a town feel to our fictional Lighthaven,” says Sandra. “We’re made very welcome by the locals. They help us out a lot and we in turn we try and keep ourselves discreet and not get in the way of the busy town.” Amoungst other sites used in the filming of The Coroner are Blackpool Sands, Leonards Cove, Slapton Sands, Bellever Forest, Bonehill Rocks, Hound Tor and Salcome. And not forgetting the Dartington Estate of course as this features regularly throughout the series, and is where The Coroner’s production office was based. Dartmouth is not of course new to being featured on television as it was also used for the Onedin Line, a 1970s BBC shipping drama set in Liverpool. Bayards Fort, the scene of many TV series, was used in the series and is at the far end of Bayards Cove from whence to Pilgrim Fathers sailed a long, long time ago. Further along the coast at both Bigbury on Sea and Burgh Island Agatha Christie’s two famous sleuths and acclaimed crime-solvers Poirot and Miss Marple have been filmed, starring David Suchet and Geraldine McEwan respectively. The beach at Bigbury on Sea has also been seen in television shows such as the 1980s' classic Lovejoy and GMTV's slimming segment Inch Loss Island (starring Anton du Beke). As well as the setting for various adaptations of Christie's Evil Under The Sun, the location also featured in the 1965 film Catch Us If You Can, starring the British band The Dave Clark Five. Further along the coast is the port and seaside town of Teignmouth, used for The Mercy, the Donald Crowhurst Movie. Filmed in Teignmouth in June 2015 and starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz the film tells the story of the doomed yachtsman Donald Crowhurst. The film was released in February 2018. Moving inland as far as the parish of Marldon, in the small village of Compton, Compton Castle was used as the estate of one of the characters in the film Sense and Sensibility. Sense and Sensibility was a hit screenplay directed by Ang Lee and based on the Jane Austen novel. With an all-star cast, featuring Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant it managed to be nominated for seven Academy Awards with Emma Thompson scooping the Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, having written the script as well as staring in the film herself. St Mary's Church in Berry Pomeroy also makes an appearance in the final wedding scene of the film and is situated not far from Totnes. Built in the 1490's this historical building is still a large part of the community at Berry Pomeroy. Nearby is Berry Pomeroy Castle, rumoured to be one of the most haunted places in England, making the Castle and St Mary's Church a great day out for film lovers and history buffs. Moving even further inland and thanks to the release of the popular film War Horse, co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, Dartmoor National Park is now a must see destination when coming for a holiday in South Devon. The box-office hit, released in the UK on 13th January 2012, focuses on the captivating story of a farm boy from Devon, Albert Narracott (played by Jeremy Irvine) who grows attached to his young horse, Joey. After a heavy downpour which destroys the family’s turnip crops, his father, is forced to sell the horse to the army so that he can pay his rent. The blockbuster takes the audience through a moving journey about how Albert joins the army in search for his horse Joey after he is shipped to France during the First World War. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston have roles in the movie. Locations used included Haytor, Combestone Tor, Venford Reservoir, Meavy and Sheepstor. Spielberg praised the beauty of Dartmoor, saying "I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor." Many of the locations used in War Horse are in rural areas on Dartmoor but are still within a short driving distance of Totnes.    

Watersports in Totnes

As we move into 2019, being active and healthy is top of the agenda for many people. It can be a struggle to get motivated during winter, as gyms can be expensive as well as overcrowded and temperatures outside plummet, making outdoor exercise very unappealing.

Weaving healthy activities into a weekend away is a great way to stay active whilst having fun. From canoeing in the Isle of Wight to hiking in the Lake District, last-minute holiday marketplace, Snaptrip has compiled the best spots in the UK to get some fresh air and stay active this January.

Watersports in Totnes

Totnes is bursting with outstanding natural beauty. Sitting at the head of the estuary of the River Dart, it’s the perfect location for watersport enthusiasts. There’s plenty of spots perfect for paddle boarding or exploring the river by inflatable SUP. The river winds its way through both Dartmouth and Totnes, so there’s a chance to explore both towns too. Paddle the river during the summer months and you’ll be welcomed by rolling hills and flourishing greenery.

Be an eco-tourist

Be an eco-tourist - by Blueriver Cottages

At Blueriver Cottages, we strive to make the right choices for environmental sustainability. In this blog, we offer a few suggestions so that our guests and other visitors to this beautiful area can help us to protect the local environment, wildlife and economy for all to enjoy!

How to go green

CONSERVE ENERGY
At your cottage, reduce energy by switching off lights and closing windows if heating is on. Please visit energysavingtrust.org.uk for more information on what you can do to save energy at home and when on holiday.

SUPPORT THE REAL LOCAL ECONOMY
Locally made crafts and souvenirs are not always cheaper, but purchasing them ensures your contribution to the economy will have a more direct and positive impact.

CLEANER JOURNEYS
Some destinations are just harder to reach, so consider renting a hybrid or hybrid vehicle. Walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around whenever possible.

SAY NO TO PLASTIC
Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill over and over again at many eateries. Refuse plastic straws.

BEACH CLEANS
There are monthly beach cleans to take part in but you don’t have to wait for those - spend 10 minutes before you leave the beach to do your bit.

EAT LOCALLY SOURCED FOOD
Support the region’s farmers, get a more authentic taste of the cuisine and cut your carbon footprint even more.

TAKE AN EDUCATIONAL WALK
Totnes is the world’s first Transition Town. Take part in one of their walks to find more out about the pioneering projects.

RESPECT NATURE
Help us to look after the beautiful landscape and wildlife of our county by not littering, guarding against fire and using footpaths and cycle-ways responsibly. Ensure you follow the Countryside Code.


You can take a look at Blueriver Cottages’ collection of holiday homes in South Devon and Torbay by clicking here.


The Sharpham Trust receives lifeline grant

The Sharpham Trust is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

445 organisations, including The Trust, will share £103 million, to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

The Sharpham Trust has been awarded £98,000, which will help the nature and mindfulness education charity continue to operate.

The Trust offers mindfulness retreats and courses, puts on nature-connection events, offers weddings and operates Sharpham Meadow Natural Burial Ground. Like many organisations and businesses, the Trust has been severely impacted by the restrictions imposed as a result of Coronavirus.

Julian Carnell, Trust Director, said: “We were forced to close back in March and although we managed to partially reopen in August we have been operating at a much-reduced capacity as a Covid-Secure venue.

“There is a huge demand for our courses and retreats in these difficult times and we are working hard to make sure we can keep offering people these experiences safely.

“This latest £98,000 grant from the government through the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is very welcome. Despite losing around 50% of this year’s income I am proud that we have been able to keep all our staff employed and continue to support our users in the face of severe challenges.”

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Helping the Trust to stay open

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritageand the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arms-length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post-Covid.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19.

“These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

A UK first in Totnes

Totnes has always attracted forward-thinking businesses with social responsibility at the core. Earth.Food.Love is the UK’s only, family-run, organic, bulk-buy, zero waste shop! Focusing on creating a better future, they decided to look back to the past, where eating real food with minimal packaging was normal practice. They believe returning to these simple ways will benefit not only our own health, but the planets too. The shop stocks a wide range of products such as grains, cereals, beans, legumes, flours, sugars, herbs, spices, loose leaf teas, nut butters, syrups, oils, vinegars, cleaning products and personal care products. Everything is self served and priced by weight, eliminating the toxic and wasteful packaging. Just take along any bottle, jar, tub or container; if it can be weighed, it can be used. Earth.Food.Love is located at 101 High St, to find out further information check out their website thezerowasteshop. You can keep up to date by by liking their The Zero Waste Shop Facebook page.

Swap bricks for canvas this summer

Did you know it’s National Camping Month? With the hustle and bustle of life and many of us relying so heavily on our phones and other electrical devices, what better way to switch off and relax than to take to the great outdoors and go camping or glamping. Put the phone down and listen to the birds sing, take away the ipads and build a den with the kids, and get away from the TV to gaze at the stars. With June being National Camping Month there’s no better time to try it - whether a first-timer or camping aficionado, there are many places in and around Totnes where you can escape to the country and get back to nature. Higher Broadgates Campsite is based in the beautiful village of Cornworthy, just 20 minutes from Totnes, where you can secure a pitch on their flat, working farmland for only £10 for 2 people. If you’d like all the joys of sleeping al fresco but you’re not ready to bunk in a sleeping bag, they also have 2 Bell Tents which offer many homely comforts including beds, fairy lights, BBQ, hamper and games costing £55 a night. The family run farm has a toilet and shower for visitors to use and is dog-friendly as well, offering the perfect excuse for a long, country walk. Just 3 miles from Totnes in the village of Littlehempston, Devon Yurts offers an excellent base for a short break or longer holidjay with their comfortably furnished traditional Mongolian yurts and beautifully rustic Shepherd’s Hut. Visitors will be able to cook a hot meal on site in the communal kitchen, toast marshmallows on a campfire or dine in one of the traditional, local pubs, while enjoying on site comforts including fully flushing toilets, hot showers and solar power. Prices start from £50 per night for 2 people in low season. If you’re camping on a budget and have all of your own equipment, Beara Farm is the perfect place to pitch up a tent or park your campervan. This 3.5 acre level meadow is only a 15 minute drive from Totnes just outside of Buckfastleigh, or if you’d prefer a more leisurely journey you can take an historic steam train from South Devon Railway which is a 30 minute walk or 5 minute drive from the campsite. At Camp Dartington just outside of Totnes you can wake up to views of Dartmoor, wander through 1,200 acres of stunning woodland and listed gardens, and enjoy many delicious treats at one of the onsite cafes and Shops at Dartington. The site also boasts a traditional 14th Century Barn Cinema and goat’s milk ice cream made fresh at Dartington Dairy! Other local sites include Steamer Quay Caravan in Totnes itself, Broadleigh Farm Caravan Park and Higher Well Farm & Holiday Park both near Stoke Gabriel. So consider swapping bricks for canvas this summer, breathe in the fresh Devonshire air and stomp your stresses away in the countryside.

Plastic Pollution: The Problem

Plastic pollution is a global problem that is growing exponentially due to both an increase in consumerism and an increase in the number of plastics used to manufacture the things we use on a daily basis. Many of these items are single-use items, which are used once and then tossed in the trash. But what happens to this plastic once the trash can gets emptied? It doesn’t simply disappear into thin air. It usually ends up in the environment in some manner or form, with a great deal of it eventually ending up in the ocean Arguably one of the most pressing environmental challenges that we are faced with today is marine plastic debris. The two common sources marine debris originates from are:
  1. land-based, which includes litter from beach-goers, as well as debris that has either blown into the ocean or been washed in with stormwater runoff; and
  2. ocean-based, which includes garbage disposed at sea by ships and boats, as well as fishing debris, such as plastic strapping from bait boxes, discarded fishing line or nets, and derelict fishing gear. . While discarded fishing gear takes its toll on the marine environment by entangling marine life and destroying coral reefs, it only comprises an estimated 20% of all marine debris – a staggering 80% of all marine debris stems from land-based sources. This is not that surprising, considering that around 50% of all plastics are used to manufacture sing-use items which are discarded soon after they are first used.

How Can We Solve Plastic Pollution?

We need to tackle the problem of marine debris head on. It’s not just an issue for environmentally conscious, it is an issue that ultimately affects human health. Man is a top predator that feeds on a variety of ocean fish, shellfish, and other marine species. We face the same risks as the killer whale and polar bear. While any plastic or polystyrene pellets that may have been clogging the gut of the fish that is nicely presented on our dinner plate have been long removed, the toxic contaminants originating from that debris remain stored in the flesh we are about to eat. Food for thought indeed. To read more click here.

Why we love Totnes

Why We Love Totnes - by Blueriver Cottages.

One of the first things you might notice when you visit Totnes is the eclectic fashion and alternative attitude to life. Don’t be surprised to see festival dress or the occasional parrot on someone’s shoulder as you make your way to one  of the many cafés and coffee shops.

Totnes is the first transition town with a global reputation for its interest in environmental and sustainability issues. Take a trip over to Dartington Hall which has a programme of wonderful courses, talks, festivals and events set in beautiful surroundings.

Staying in the town centre, a visit to the Totnes Museum will give you a rich insight in to the history of this enchanting town. Right in the middle of the hubbub is Totnes Castle which offers super views of the town and surrounding area.

Totnes prides itself on its high percentage of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. Interestingly, in 2012, the town came together to protest against a large coffee chain opening locally and won. This is a town with heart and spirit.

Its narrow winding roads, hidden passages and half-timbered housing give Totnes a certain Harry Potter charm. It’s hard not to succumb to the magic of this quirky, friendly town.

The team at Blueriver Cottages are passionate about where they live. Gemma, local Property Recruiter and Quality Assessor shares what she loves about the town..


" Down the road from Dartington, this arty town has plenty to satisfy all senses from the food, to the entertainment, and the views.

TIPS FOR EATING OUT
Pie Street is a great place to visit if you are looking for great comfort foods.

BEST VIEW
Standing at the top of Totnes Castle looking out over the town.

DON'T MISS
The Totnes Elizabethan Market is unique. I also love the Christmas markets which are great to get a bargain."


You can take a look at Blueriver Cottages’ collection of holiday homes in Totnes and surrounding area by clicking here.


Celebrate valentines with The Kitchen Table!

Can't go out? No worries, we have you covered.

Order your ready-to-cook-at-home romantic feast and make the evening a gorgeous, delicious, intimate evening.

£50 per couple.


Starters

Gravadlax Chalkstream trout, horseradish creme fraiche, pickled beetroot & winter leaves (gf, can be df)

Baked Whitelake goat cheese with homemade onion marmalade, maple-glazed walnuts & winter leaves (v, gf)

Thyme & brandy mushrooms in garlic cream on toast with winter leaves (vg can be gf).


Mains

Local free-range duck leg roasted in orange, rosemary & red wine (df, gf)

Roast squash & blue cheese wellington (serves 2) (v, can be made vg and can be made gf)

Served with Chargrilled savoy cabbage with hazelnut vinaigrette (vg, gf).

Potato dauphinoise (v, gf) (thyme & garlic roast potatoes for vegans).

Crushed carrots with cinnamon & chilli (vg, gf).


Desserts

Toffee apple & vanilla cheesecake with ginger base (gf).

Chocolate tart with rose mascarpone

Vegan chocolate tart with rose cream.


Order by 11th Feb for collection on Saturday 13th Feb 12-3. I will deliver to any couple shielding within a 10 mile radius of Totnes with fuel surcharge of £3-5

Food will be in compostable or recyclable containers, with easy to follow cooking & serving instructions and a beautifully printed menu to make it a really special evening!

Order by email sima@thekitchentable.org.uk or call 07583 400998.

Collect from Unit 6, Burke Road, Totnes Industrial Estate, TQ9 5XL


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