Monthly Archives: June 2011

SB Review: Toucan Wholefoods, Minehead

Eastern themed cuisine evening – pudding and coffee

The vegetarian cafe at Toucan Wholefoods in Minehead is one of my favourite places to eat in this little part of the world that we now call home. The food is varied, interesting, tasty, local, organic and cooked on the premises, sometimes even to order (lime pancakes with poached eggs) and they will serve almost anything to take-away, which suits me very well. Over the past year, I have got to know the staff, and it is such a pleasure to be greeted by people that remember what you are up to and what you like to eat.

Quite often, I will sit in the first floor cafe for my lunch break, eating my main meal of the day (last week was goats cheese, butternut squash and sage lasagne with three side salads) and reading a book.

So, it was with pleasure that husband and I attended their inaugural themed food evening last night. It was an eastern theme and they had collaborated with Sara from No. 7 Harbour Studios (sorry, I don’t think she has an online link) to decorate the room with Sara’s signature Indian cushions covers. The food itself was lovely – 3 courses including popadoms with beautiful accompaniements, various curries served with cardamon rice, lemony bombay potatoes and pathata bread.

Highly recommended.

Toucan Wholefoods
3 The Parade
TA24 5NL

Tel: 01643 706101


Shop opening hours: 8.30am – 5.30pm. Mon – Sat.
Café opening hours: 8.30am – 5.00pm. Mon – Sat.



Porlock Arts Festival 2011

I realised that I never got around to writing properly about Porlock Arts Festival 2010. I left you on tenterhooks relating to Germaine Greer’s talk of life and feminism (or feminine as the local paper would have it) and how she flirted with my husband but wrote me and my sister-in-law off completely but then I never came back and told you anything about it. Well, perhaps that moment has passed, although I will try and review it later this month. Suffice to say, Porlock is now gearing up for the 2011 festival and I have been sent some initial details.

This year the festival is being held on 8-11 September and so far the following has been annouced:

“Thursday 8th September is Explorers’ Evening!  Local author and keen Festival supporter Sir Christopher Ondaatje will open the evening discussing his new book The Last Colonial: Curious Adventures and Stories from a Vanishing World, as well as his discovery of the secrets of short story writing.  He will be followed by Stanley Johnson, author and former MP, whose family has farmed on Exmoor for 60 years.  He will tell of his recent climb up Mt Kilamanjaro in aid of the Gorilla Organization which raises funds to save gorillas in Africa.  He will also discuss his new book Survival: Saving Endangered Migratory Species.  His appearance in 2009 went down extremely well and we are very pleased to have him back at the Arts Festival.

On Friday 9th September we have the New Scorpion Band, one of the best traditional music groups around today.  Their repertoire includes ballads and close harmony songs, instrumental tunes, poetry, stories and folk drama.  They will perform their programme John Barleycorn is Dead which is a musical celebration of farming and the land and includes several folk songs collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset – John Barleycorn, Bridgwater Fair and the Sheep-shearing Song amongst others!

On Saturday 10th September we have an amazing trio of contemporary writers – Ali Smith, Philip Hensher and Jackie Kay

     *Ali Smith’s first book Free Love and Other Stories was published in 1995.  Her second novel Hotel World (2001) was short-listed for both the Orange and the Booker Prize for Fiction.  Her latest book There But For The is to be published in June 2011.  She is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to newspapers and journals.
     *Philip Hensher is the author of several novels and short stories and he wrote the libretto for Thomas Ades’ opera Powder Her Face.  His novel The Northern Clemency was short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  He has recently published a new novel King of the Badgers.  He is a regular broadcaster and contributor to newspapers and journals.
     *Jackie Kay published her first volume of poems The Adoption Papers in 1991.  She has since published several more collections and her poetry has appeared in many anthologies.  Her first novel Trumpet was published in 1998.  She has also published collections of short stories, and works for children.  Her Maw Broon Monologues were short-listed for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and the autobiographical The Red Dust Road featured as Radio 4’s Book of the Week earlier this year.  She also writes widely for stage and television.

In addition to the regular Festival features – Glenthorne Literary Museum, the Poetry Picnic, the Art Exhibitions and Open Studios, the competitions and the pub quiz – there will be another Local Authors’ Day following on from the successful event in 2010.  And there will be some new events too including an all-ages Choral Workshop and a Sunday afternoon Tea Dance.”

It all sounds extremely interesting and I am looking forward to further details being released in due course.

SB Review: Ways of Seeing, Churchgate Gallery (Porlock)

Paper Works by Toni Davey

Almost a year since they opened and a first gallery exhibition for the Churchgate Gallery in Porlock. I’ve been lucky enough to visit several of their artist events over the last year but I think this is the first exhibition where all of the other work was removed and each artist given their own space. It worked well.

Billed as ” an exhibition of three artists exploring visions of reality and imagination through space, line and materials” the enormous fairytale like structures of Rob Heard were juxtaposed against Toni Davey’s precise laser cut lines with a healthy dose of twee like reality coming from Paul Askew’s black and white paintings taken from his own photography.

I was most taken with Toni Davey’s precise lines, created by laser cuts, creating light and shadow and lifting the two dimensional paper into a third dimension. She appeared to have architectural precision and the works created a calm middle room between the two other styles.

Heard’s fairy tale structures were impressive. I could see them more as a set dressing or permanent installation in a gallery rather than a piece to take home so it was nice to see a local gallery showing things just for the pleasure of showing a piece rather than simply to sell. The structures were taller than me and smelt appealing of modelling wood. They appeared to grow out of what appeared to be driftwood, as if they had been dreamt there rather than created.

Askew’s paintings were evocative to me because many were of London, home to my old life. They made the underground and the sites of London look rather like a black and white film or an old fashion photograph. They too had a slightly fairytale quality and rather gave the impression of a rainy November evening, which is how I fondly remember my time in London, rather as if through rain tinted neon glasses. I enjoyed looking at his images but somehow rather more suited to a greetings card than my wall.

We attended the opening evening of the exhibition which was buzzing. It is a pleasure to have such a lovely gallery so close to where we live and I very much enjoyed the evening. Once again the canapes were excellent, as were the drinks. Well worth a visit if you are in Porlock.

Ways of Seeing: An exhibition of 3 Artists (29 May – 12 June 2011)

Churchgate Gallery

High Street Porlock Somerset TA24 8PT T: 01643 862238
E: W:

Open daily 10.00 – 5.00

*image from Churchgate Gallery