A radical new organic inn for Devon, squaring up to the seasonal veg hijackers and leading the way in doing business better.

Is it possible for a pub to lead the way in sustainable food and ethical hospitality? It can, says organic publican Geetie Singh- Watson, provided fairness and authenticity as well as profit are at its heart. Geetie and the team behind the eight-bedroom organic inn aim to show through their actions that it’s possible to make choices based on decent values while being a serious player.

Jump back 23 years when Geetie started out in the pub industry, ethical working practises weren’t even part of the industry agenda. Now, at least, the hospitality trade has woken up to the fact it needs to seriously shift its priorities. But there’s still far too much chat and not enough action. On the whole, it scores low when it comes to green thinking. Half-hearted requests to reuse towels aside, staggering water usage and eye-watering food waste are still the norm.

In contrast The Bull Inn in Totnes, Devon will reopen its doors in early December 2019 after complete renovation, but this is not your usual we’ve-done-up-a-gastropub story. You will never see a generic foodservice delivery van outside, only farmers, co-ops and artisan producers making deliveries, and there will never be a packaged snack or bottled, transported water served at the bar. Instead this is an inn whose relationship with its community and its impact on the environment is as refreshingly engaged and honest and as you can hope to find.

The inn aims to be sustainable to its core; with manager Phill Hughes and chef James Dodd at the helm the food served will be organic and the sourcing will be rooted in a logic that acknowledges the complexity of what we need to do to feed ourselves sustainably, but without being martyrs. This is a pub where you won’t find menu marketing greenwash.

“The term ‘local, seasonal veg’ has been completely hi-jacked and is bandied around and abused so much that it now means nothing. A season for what? So often when you challenge places serving so called seasonal food it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But we won’t be serving woody turnips in April when the UK crops run out; instead we will source beautiful veg from farmers we know further afield around the UK, Europe, alongside Fair Trade tropical fruit. But will never air freight and will never say we are something we are not,” explains Geetie.

With no whiff of a theme or fairy light in sight the inn has been revived using upcycled, recycled and reinvigorated décor, from tables and curtains to radiators and doorknobs. The team is proving that new is not always best, that craftmanship should be valued above all instead of seeking homewares manufactured far away with cheap labour to feed the latest style trends.

“We’ve got to find a way to live and enjoy life sustainably, and I believe that’s an exciting thing. We need to push ourselves out of the way we have always done things; Like all other business areas hospitality needs shaking up. Our aim with The Bull is to show that you can work with integrity and succeed,” Explains Geetie. The opening comes at a time of social and political upheaval in the UK, and the hope is that The Bull will be a beacon of togetherness and inclusivity for the Totnes community, visiting travellers and the team that works there. It will be a proper inn and a decent boozer, where brilliant food, ale and wine will jostle alongside a raft of community goings on.

“I want to prove you can be radical, effective and have a positive impact on society and the environment while running a successful business too. It is not impossible!” continues Geetie. “We don’t claim we are perfect but we are trying our absolute best. You have to have hope that there is a better way.”

This is Geetie’s fourth pub refurbishment, with the first being the iconic Duke of Cambridge in Islington. Organic since the beginning, Geetie was trailblazing sustainable business and thoughtful food in the 1990s, way before anyone gave a second thought to plastic straws and bottled water.

Having said all that, The Bull is not a place steeped in worthiness; There will be plenty of fun there too. “By that I mean fun for all – the team, the suppliers, the customers. Fun should spread. It has always been a really strong motivator for me. Everything should always come back to doing things well and watching others getting fun out of it too.“

www.bullinntotnes.co.uk

The Bull Inn will open its doors on 1st December 2019. Alongside amazing food and rooms, we have a beautiful on-site treatment space. Sharing the same sustainability values as The Bull, Sarah Carr and Jo Woolvett will be offering natural beauty treatments and holistic facials for men and women.

Walking the walk:
• Heat capture systems in the kitchen to create hot water downstairs
• Solar capture on the roof to power heating in the bedrooms
• 100% organic linens from Greenfibres in the eight bedrooms
• Bedside lamps carved from Dartmoor wood by local craftsman Rodney Lomas
• Ceramics by local artisan Pippi & Me
• Mattresses from Naturalmat in Exeter

About Geetie Singh-Watson MBE
Geetie Singh-Watson is the founder of the first official organic pub in Britain, The Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub, in Islington, London. In 2009, she was awarded an MBE for ‘Services to the Organic Pub Trade’. An active campaigner and environmentalist, Geetie firmly believes that businesses must act responsibly and be led by their ethics and values. Her broadcast work includes presenting on BBC Back to the Land.

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New retreat venue at Sharpham

Charity invests £1.6million in a new retreat venue at Sharpham

The Sharpham Trust is investing £1.6 million to convert a stable yard behind Sharpham House to a new centre for mindfulness courses and retreats.

The charity, which works to connect people to nature and themselves, has begun the creation of The Coach House - which will feature a new meditation space and 18 en-suite rooms.

The current, disused stableyard is a Grade II-listed building, dating back to 1760 when Sharpham House was built for the naval sea captain Philemon Pownoll.

Now work has begun to develop the single-storey quadrangle directly behind Sharpham House into a new retreat centre where participants can stay, amid historic grounds thought to have been landscaped by Capability Brown.

The Trust runs an annual programme of courses and retreats featuring mindfulness meditation and nature connection on the wider Sharpham Estate and on the adjacent River Dart.

“Prior to the pandemic we were finding that our programme was fully booked with long waiting lists,” said Trust Director Julian Carnell.

“As a charity we want to help as many people as possible and so creating more accommodation became a priority. The stable yard had become rundown and so there was a fantastic opportunity to give the building a new lease of life and restore it as part of the Sharpham Estate’s important heritage,” he said.

The Coach House behind Sharpham House INSIDE April 2021 LO RES
The Coach House

Retreats in The Coach House

The Coach House will join the Trust’s other retreat venues Sharpham House, The Barn Retreat and Woodland Campsite and it will offer a weekly programme for those in need of developing and deepening their mindfulness practice, compassion and their connection to nature.

Participants staying there will be able to spend a week living in community surrounded by the amazing natural environment of the Sharpham Estate.

They will spend time volunteering in the 18th century Walled Garden – helping to grow food for the retreats at Sharpham – and conserving the heritage and wildlife of the wider estate.

Helping 1,000 more people a year

Chairman of Sharpham’s Trustees Daniel Stokes said: “Our mission is to connect people to nature and foster mindfulness and wellbeing. There is now a plethora of research showing the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

“This project will enable us to help another 1,000 people a year, giving them a chance to spend time slowing down and reflecting in a beautiful natural setting,” he said.

Using local construction companies

The Trust is using South Devon firm Carpenter Oak to build the frame for an eye-catching glass structure linked to The Coach House which will be the new centre’s meditation and dining space.

Classic Builders, a local South West-based construction company, has been awarded the contract to convert the Coach House and hopes to complete the works by January 2022.

“We are delighted to be working with The Sharpham Trust on this significant local project. The Coach House is an important listed building, not only in a sensitive location but also next to Sharpham House. We’re looking forward to drawing on our years of experience delivering comparable works in similar settings to make this project a success,” said Adam Brimacombe, Director at Classic Builders.

The Trust has been busy over the last ten years developing its charitable programmes and refurbishing the heritage of its listed landscape and properties. Every year, some 2,000 people attend retreats, courses and events on the Sharpham Estate.

See our events here: www.sharphamtrust.org/Calendar  

A new fish finger takeaway in town

Cormack's Seafood recently launched a takeaway lunch menu from our fish shop. We sell a range of four sandwiches, featuring our handmade products. On offer at the moment is:

Classic Fish Finger Sandwich  £8
shoestring fries, tartar sauce, iceberg

Nashville Hot Fish Finger Sandwich £8
fish fingers, hot chilli dust, pickles, Cajun mayo

Plaice Katsu Curry Sandwich £9
Curry mayo, pickles, cabbage

Brixham Crab & Avocado Sandwich £10
Coconut, lime and chilli mayo, smashed avocado, crispy fried onions

Our fish fingers are made using line caught pollack from Devon and are battered in panko breadcrumbs, dill and spices. Our katsu fillets are inspired by Aarik’s (owner and chef) time working in South-East Asia and are made with plaice landed in Brixham.

fish finger

The takeaway is available every day from noon Tuesday to Saturday. We are located on Ticklemore Street in Totnes. 

Businesses reopening

As per the latest Government advice, some of our non-essential shops opened their doors again from 15th June and were very happy to safely welcome some of you back. Restaurants, bars & visitor attractions should be able to open from 4th July with our local businesses working hard to make things as safe as possible.  Totnes Town Council has been working tirelessly to try and make the town as safe as possible for your return and have had a modification of the current speed limit to 5mph on Fore St / High St and The Narrows allowed by DCC to ensure the possibility of shared space and safety of pedestrians while social distancing.  There is also a road closure every Saturday from 9am - 1pm as a temporary measure so long as social distancing is required offering a good time for those who are more vulnerable to visit the town, however, bear in mind that the Saturday Market will be on this day as well which can get quite busy. There are no markets Mon - Thurs.  Here are just some of the shops, eateries, galleries and attractions that have or will be reopened:
GIFTS / FASHION Conker Shoes - open The Shops at Dartington - open ME AND EAST - opening Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays with a one in one out (or one family group) at a time Salago - opened ground floor only initially. Mon - Fri 12 - 5pm and Saturday 10am - 5pm. You can still shop online with click & collect China Blue - looking to reopen on 6th July. Products available online still Holly Keeling Interiors - open Apothespa : Organic & Natural Skincare - open  Narnia Totnes - open Out of the Blue - open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday  Miss Beaujangles - open Weds - Sat  Eleven Clothing - open 10am - 4.30pm with appointments available. Call 01803 834006 or message. Offering refunds within 5 days to allow you to try at home Fifty5a - open 11am - 3pm & from 10am Fridays. Sundays closed. Private appointment for 30 minutes available - email or DM shop@Fifty5a.com. Priority to customers from the vulnerable sector. Appointments scheduled from 9-11am or after 3pm Firefly_Totnes - open Fox & Company - open Thursday 10.30am - 4.30pm, Friday 10.30am - 5pm (limited fresh flowers on fridays), Sat 10.30am - 5pm Fusion - open  Pagoda Interiors - open Monday - Saturday 10am to 4pm. Allowing one person or two from a household at a time All the Best - open Mon - Sat 10am - 4.30pm  Moonstone Hare - open on Saturdays from 20th June from 10am - 4pm. Happy to arrange collection of orders outside these times wherever possible. Dobles - open Stone Fabrics & Sewing Surgery - call and collect service, check their website for all the fabrics online and a lot of haberdashery. Call 01803 868608 or drop a note in for free samples (can be collected or posted) 
BOOKS Totnes Bookshop - open from Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm
ART White Space Art - open with reduced opening hours from 10.30am - 2.30pm. Please call to make appointments at other times. Eastgate Gallery in Totnes - open Creative Crafts and Needlework - open 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday. 3 customers into the shop at a time  the bowie gallery Totnes Devon - gallery is open by appointment plus always Friday 10am - 4pm. Call 07956412278 or 01803 863054 for appointments Yvonne Coomber Art Gallery - will open on Saturday 4th July & then Friday & Saturday 11-3pm during July. For appointments Monday - Thursday please call 01803 840161/07779058735 or email info@yvonnecoomber.com. They're offering 15% off prints, hand embellished canvases & original paintings to NHS/Key workers during July - email info@yvonnecoomber.com for information 
GARDENING / SERVICES Footworks Podiatrist on Castle Street. Rosanne and her specialist team Alex and Polar are available by appointment www.footworks-podiatry.co.uk / 01803 868888  The Potting Shed Totnes - open Tues to Sat 10am till 4pm with people allowed inside from 15th (under social distancing rules) The Potting Bench Totnes - open Thurs to Sat 10am - 4pm  The Totnes barbers - will reopen from 4th July  The Cobblers & Cleaners - open  Totnes TV and Electrical - open  Go Mobile - open  Barnes the Cleaners - reopening from 29th June
FOOD & DRINK The Hairy Barista - opening from 29th June The Green Cafe - open for takeaway and will open for indoor and garden tables from July 4th The Cellar Door at Sharpham Cheese - opening Wednesday - Saturday from 24th June  Green Table at The Dartington Hall Trust - open 11am - 4pm (closed Mon & Tues) Roly's Fudge Totnes - open with a serving hatch at the door and you'll be able to watch the fudge being made from the window  Ben's Farm Shops - open  Sharpham Wine - wine and cheese shop open Mon - Fri 11am - 4pm or order online with 10% off using code SHARPHAM10 Earth.Food.Love - open  The Kitchen Pantry by The Kitchen Table - new shop open Mon - Fri, 10am - 3pm selling home & locally made fresh & pantry food stuffs on the Industrial Estate  Delphini's Gelato Totnes - open 7 days a week 12 to 5pm, take away with card payment only Eversfield Organic Farm Shops - open from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Monday to Saturday The Curator Totnes - reopen for takeaways  Totnes Little Asia - open for takeaway & home delivery service from Wednesday 24th June. 5-9-30pm. Call 01803 868803 or 01803 868866 after 5pm for order  Silver Grill - The Totnes Chippy - open Tuesday - Thursday 4:45 - 8pm, Friday - Saturday 11:45 am - 2pm, 4:45 - 8pm. Order over phone, one entrance and one exit Bull Inn, Totnes - will be reopening on 8th July to overnight guests and customers for food only at first from Wednesday to Sunday initially. Check their website for more information: https://www.bullinntotnes.co.uk The Signal Box Cafe - (railway station) open for takeaway food, drinks, newspapers etc Back for 2 Seconds – open The Happy Apple - open  Bridgetown Stores - open 6am - 9pm 7 days a week Follaton stores - open 7am-8pm Mon to Sun  A W Luscombe Butchers - delivering with a range of products from other local businesses including Annies Fruit Shop, New Lion Brewery, The Almond Thief, The Wild Fig Deli and more Bridgetown Butchers - call 01803 866165/863323 to order where possible to help reduce waiting times. Minimum order for delivery £25 - free delivery within the Totnes area McCabes and Halls Butchers are both also operating Many businesses have been offering takeaway food, click & collect services or are selling online as well. Some of the restaurants / cafes / bars will be opening from 4th July (all being well) but in the meantime here is a list of those still operating online or with takeaways / click & collect until then: 
GIFTS - ONLINE  Love Frankie - buy online https://www.lovefrankie.com Little Blue Budgie - buy online https://www.littlebluebudgie.co.uk/ or phone 01803 847800 / message via facebook Penelope Tom - buy online https://www.penelopetom.com/
FASHION - ONLINE Colony Life Store - online orders via their website with FREE delivery on orders over £20 https://colonyshops.com SMALL-FOLK - check their online shop & free UK shipping (no end date). Use code POSITIVITY at checkout for the free postage https://small-folk.co.uk
FLOWERS ONLINE AND COLLECTIONS Blue Geranium Florist - continuing with online, phone and collect. Fresh flowers available Wednesday, Thursday and Friday every week
TAKEAWAYS & HOT FOOD COLLECTIONS Bianca e Massimo - open for takeaways  The Cott Inn - open 7 DAYS A WEEK Monday to Saturday 4 - 8 pm and Sunday 12 - 3pm for takeaway services, drive through collection in the car park. https://diningpubltd.touchtakeaway.net/menu Willow Vegetarian Restaurant - take-away Waterside Bistro Totnes - their take-away menu is now available from Wed-Sat 5-8pm. Please order online https://www.watersidebistro.com/ The Wild Fig Deli - order and collection service. Check their page for menu Totnes Grill – kebab and pizza delivery, call 01803 863835 Cafe Mumbai – take away from 5.30pm Tuesday to Sunday call 01803 866171 Room 101 – pizza delivery Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm call 07727 278428 The Kitchen Table - order for delivery call/ text Sima on 07583400998 or email sima@thekitchentable.org.uk to collect from the Totnes Industrial Estate kitchen Pie Street - take away & delivery Wednesday to Sunday 1pm-8.30pm. Call 01803 868674 to order http://www.piestreet.co.uk/ Lamaro Bakery – Italian food on Friday and Saturday 5-9pm, call 01803 862288 tamarindtree.totnes - on the Industrial Estate next to Kitchen Table with Indian food on Friday 1-8pm or Saturday 4-8pm. Order by DM, phone 07768964024 or email tamarindtree.totnes@outlook.com Taguchi-ya Canteen - Japanese food on Friday and Saturday collect 5-9pm, order online by Wednesday 12pm https://www.taguchiyacanteen.com/takeaway Good Food House – Delivery from 6-10pm every day (except Tuesday when closed), call 01803 864696 https://goodfoodhouse.co.uk/ Pizzaside – Thursday to Sunday 5-8.30pm for collection or delivery. https://www.pizzaside.co.uk/
FOOD & DRINK DELIVERIES / ONLINE Majestic Wine - email for delivery or call if over 70. tot@majestic.co.uk Annies Fruit Shop - online with delivery to Totnes & the wider area www.anniesoftotnes.co.uk The Refillery Totnes - daily deliveries to Totnes & Dartmouth areas, visit the website or call Tracy 07950 269955 Dartmouth Dairy - deliver to Totnes & surrounding villages on Monday & Thursday 🐄 https://www.dartmouthdairy.com Wine & Greene - delivering nationwide via courier and doing local drops every weekday (free over £20 to TQ9) - www.wineandgreene.com Dartmouth Fine Foods - home delivery of frozen ready meals, alongside boxes of veg and essentials to Totnes and the surrounding areas - www.dartmoutfinefoods.co.uk
LEISURE Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company - reopening 6th July. You are not expected to wear a surgical style face mask, any face covering will be accepted. We have been working hard to ensure that we meet all the guidelines and will not put our customers and staff at risk.  Pennywell Farm - planning a phased reopening from early July: https://www.pennywellfarm.co.uk/…/were-planning-for-a-phas…/ Paignton Zoo - will reopen 6th July Totnes Fashion & Textiles Museum - will not reopen this year but you can check out a virtual exhibition on their website: https://totftm.org Sea Kayak Devon - NOW OPEN for groups of up to 5 people. All bookings are completely amendable or refundable if they are unable to run due to COVID 19. https://www.seakayakdevon.co.uk Totnes, Berry Pomeroy & Dartmouth Castles will be selling pre-bookable tickets online from July for an August opening: https://www.visittotnes.co.uk/see…/inspire-me/totnes-castle/ Totnes Rare Breeds Farm - open
PHARMACIES Most pharmacies are open with reduced hours and social distancing - please check each page and site for more details.

Great news for the music scene in Totnes

The Barrel House Ballroom & The Black Bird Collective, through Arts council funding have curated a series of 8 video sessions to be released bi-weekly.

Anyone who has attended the Black Bird Open mic nights knows that Christian Murison brings so many great artists out of the woodwork and into the warm setting of the Totnes Brewing Company.

https://youtu.be/R95D0TzHNVg

With this in mind they have created something that feels in keeping with the open mic, a series of video sessions showcasing a diverse and eclectic mix of musical talent.

The first session featured one of the finest contemporary folk bands in the land - Harbottle & Jonas Trio - which premiered on Tuesday 2nd February 2021 to a truly appreciative audience on The Barrel House YouTube channel.

This exciting series will continue with the following sessions lined up and ready to roll...

Tuesday 16th February 2021
DANIEL MARCUS CLARK

Tuesday 2nd March 2021
LILAH BOWDEN

Tuesday 16th March 2021
JEWEL IN THE JACKDAW

Tuesday 30th March 2021
LILY

Tuesday 13th April 2021
FIONN COX-DAVIES

Tuesday 27th April 2021
KERRY LAYTON

Tuesday 11th May 2021
KUKI & THE BARD

These sessions have been made possible thanks to the determination, love and enthusiasm of the hard-working team at The Barrel House Ballroom, Sorting Room Studios, The Black Bird Collective and funded by Arts Council England.

daniel
Daniel Marcus Clark and Sam Walker

Eat al fresco in and around Totnes

There are many ways to enjoy eating al fresco in and around Totnes with delicious menus at riverside restaurants, pretty pub gardens and high street tables, but why not take your open air eating to another level and have a picnic in a unique location with far reaching views of the countryside. With July being National Picnic Month what better time to do so. When it comes to deciding where to kick off your shoes and lay your blanket we have many beautiful locations for you to try. Why not explore the River Dart and neighbouring coast from a whole new perspective with Canoe Adventures and Sea Kayak Devon and choose a secluded spot along the way to stop for lunch. Or with the Dart running through Totnes you can sit along the bank of the river and watch the boats go by while enjoying your plate of nibbles. There are also many natural and leafy parks and gardens in and around town and on Dartington Estate where you can stop and relax, enjoy your food at leisure and watch the children play. You could combine your picnic with a short walk or cycle from Totnes to Sharpham Cheese and Wine, Dartington Estate or the Shops at Dartington where you can stock up on more local food and drink, have a wander and soak up the superb views of each location. Take a steam train to Buckfastleigh with South Devon Railway where you can walk (or take a bus) to Buckfast Abbey and enjoy your food in the stunning grounds, or walk along the river while listening to the birds sing. Climb to the top of Totnes Castle and gaze at the wonderful views of Totnes and beyond or visit Berry Pomeroy Castle, both offering the perfect location to enjoy your refreshments. When it comes to deciding what to pack for your picnic the wide variety of delis, cafes, independent shops, farmer’s markets and bakeries in Totnes, Dartington and Sharpham mean you can ditch the soggy sandwiches and create a fresh, local and seasonal feast fit for all. If you fancy some Devon Blue or Sharpham Rustic cheese to go with your crusty bread, visit Sharpham Wine and Cheese or Country Cheeses and Saveurs, The Old Bakery or Flour & Rice for the loaf. For some fresh fruit and the all important salad grown locally in Devonshire soil try Annie’s or The Happy Apple, or if you’re feeling more Mediterranean why not grab some olives, charcuterie or continental cheeses from Mangetout, Jano or Amalie’s Deli. And no picnic is complete without a slice of homemade cake so stop off at Waterside Bistro or one of the many cafes or bakeries in and around town for some tasty treats. Most cafes and independent food outlets in town will also supply take away drinks from the likes of Luscombe to keep you hydrated on those balmy summer days...or why not sample a bottle of something fizzy or fruity from the Totnes Wine Company, the only shop in town to stock the entire range of Sharpham wine. For those who’d like all the pleasure of eating in nature but don’t have time to prepare the food, The Kitchen Table specialises in outside catering and sources all of their key ingredients from within 30 miles of Totnes, so you will get quality, local food without any of the hassle. Don’t forget to pack your sun cream or raincoat for those unpredictable days but most of all, stop, relax and enjoy your day being at one with the world.
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