The Totnes Elizabethan House & Museum is due to re-open for the season on Monday 8th April with some interesting exhibitions appealing to all ages scheduled for the year.

From opening day until 25th June, the Totnes Women’s Voices exhibition will celebrate 100 years since at least some women won the hard fought for the right to vote in a general election. This exhibition features the audio/ visual presentation “Totnes Women’s Voices 1918-2018”. In it, you will hear local women and girls from age 3 to 92 give their views on politics and voting, how life has changed and what they feel still needs to change. You will also learn about local women activists from Totnes and Devon who were involved in the suffrage movement and there will be an opportunity to share your views.

From 3rd July – 1st October the exhibition will switch from political to technological when the public is invited to meet “Eric”, a mini replica of the first ever British Robot constructed in 1928 by Captain WH Richards from Totnes. This replica has been specially built for Totnes Museum.

In 1928 at the Royal Horticultural Hall London, to great astonishment instead of the anticipated Duke of York, the original Eric rose to its feet and gave a four-minute address to open an exhibition. In the 1930s Captain Richards built another robot, this one called George. They toured the world where George gave speeches in several languages.

Totnes Museum is very pleased to have won a Place of Science award from the Royal Society to put on this exhibition about WH Richards and his pioneering work.

Alongside the exhibition, Plymouth University Robotics department will be offering workshops for our schools and the museum will be hosting a discussion on the ethics of artificial intelligence.

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Go plastic free with Ben’s Beeswax wraps

Ben’s Farm Shops are always on the lookout for solutions to tackle the single-use plastic issue and here's another one that they hope is going to prove popular with customers. If you're looking for an environmentally sustainable alternative to clingfilm without the bulkiness of Tupperware, then these organic cotton and beeswax food wraps will be right up your street. These colourful little numbers come from Cambridge based supplier Bee Bee wraps. Bee Bee is the brainchild of Kath Austin,who, inspired by a conversation with a friend (and the fact that cotton and beeswax has been used as a food wrapping tool for centuries) started experimenting in her kitchen with various formulas until she hit upon the perfect one...and the Bee Bee wrap was born. The wraps are ethical and sustainable from cotton grower to production, with the company working closely with their beekeeping communities to perpetuate the pollinating population and they aim to be zero waste in everything that they do. Simply made from organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin and organic jojoba oil, the wraps are completely compostable but if cared for properly, each wrap will last at least a year. They are breathable and won't cause food to 'sweat', therefore increasing the shelf life and cutting food wastage to boot. Bee Bee uses low impact dyes and is confident that, whilst the wraps have a beautiful 'beeswaxy' scent, this does not taint food at all and does fade with use. To care for your wrap and get the very best from it, hand wash in cold water and ensure any food to be covered is cold before doing so. Bee bee wraps are not suitable for use in microwaves, dishwashers or washing machines and you should avoid wrapping raw meat and fish in them. They are very malleable when warm so use warm hands to mould them and create a breathable seal around your food - once they have cooled down they will hold their shape. The wraps are available from any Ben’s Farm Shops.  

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.

Sharpham’s new event co-ordinator

More South Hams schoolchildren and families will get to experience the special environment of The Sharpham Estate, now that there is a new Education and Events Coordinator at The Sharpham Trust.
Nature events with Lisa Carnell at The Sharpham Trust
Lisa Carnell will be encouraging Totnes and Torbay primary schools to visit the Estate and learn about its rich wildlife and habitats. And as a biologist, botanist and trained teacher, she'll be sharing her own extensive science and environmental knowledge by leading some of the activities on the visits. Prior to this role, she was Education Ranger at the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust for 17 years, coordinating schools' visits. "I love plants, wildflowers and trees and I did my degree in biology, so this role is perfect for me to be able to be spreading awareness of the natural world amongst young people," said Lisa. "I really like birds as well so it's great to be able to pass on some of my love of the local wildlife." Her post has been funded for a year by the Ernest Cook Trust, a charity promoting learning from the land. In that year, Lisa will be putting on 10 nature days for local schools.