Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Active Dartmoor magazine. The excitement of publishing.

Active Dartmoor magazine, summer issue 2014. It's done! We await with much anticipation the delivery of the hard copies at the end of this week. This is what it's all about, the months of preparation, planning and discussions, the late nights, early mornings, writing copy, editing, editing again, endless chasing up of content and artwork and rising stress levels culminate in a moment of huge relief as the proofs are uploaded to the portal at the waiting printers, and they take over the process.

The most exhilarating moment of course, is still to come! This Friday Simon and I will take delivery of thousands of copies of the magazine in its printed form, and oh the nervous excitement! First of all, the heady smell, I can never resist burying my head in the first copy and breathing deep, then the slightly anxious scan through the pages. Do they look good, are the colours bright enough, do the headlines and titles stand out as we planned, so many things to look at in those first seconds! Then the rush of joy, the realization that it's okay, it looks fantastic, everyone will be happy! Then that look at each other...."Okay, brilliant, let's get on with the next one!" Addictive, exciting process..... publishing a magazine!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dartmoor is magic for children of all ages :-)

My deep and abiding love for Dartmoor was born in me as a child and has only got stronger over the (many) years. I was blessed with parents who had enough patience and love of the outdoors to load up our old Bedford Van with my brothers and me, plus assorted friends and other family members and cart us all up to Dartmoor from our home in Paignton.
And oh what fun then ensued! My dad was never one for shortcuts to camping and eating al fresco, we had old fashioned canvas tents, washed in the river, and all food was cooked from scratch over a camp fire. For me, pony mad since I was a toddler, the highlight was always finding and watching the beautiful Dartmoor Ponies. Over fifty years later, nothing has changed, my favourite moments are still spent amongst the ponies, losing all track of time as that old enchantment washes through me.

So now, when my own grandson came to visit me on Dartmoor with his parents last weekend, from his home in Finland, it was with joy and excitement that I led him on walks to discover for himself the magic of Dartmoor.

 We started close to home, there's something about small boys, a pond, a stick, a dog or two and complete freedom! In his element he discovered goldfish, dragon flies, frogs and a band of Dartmoor Mares and foals, all around the perimeter of a gloriously muddy edged pond.

We graduated to walks up the steep side of Cosdon Beacon, collecting "Dinosaur bones" and running through ferns that have grown twice as high as him. Apparently grown ups, and especially granny who is recovering from a knee replacement, are a bit slow for an energetic five year old, so he took to following in the dogs footsteps instead. Oh to have that energy!

Sunday saw us exploring the base of Belstone Tor and the Nine Maidens stone circle on the far side of Watchet Hill. Sitting on a handy granite boulder watching him run with the dogs as fast as his legs could carry him down the hill to the brink of flying off his feet, it occurred to me yet again how immensely privileged those of us who either live on or visit Dartmoor are. This extraordinary wilderness over which we are able to roam at will, with its history, stories and legends to fascinate us. I hope we never, ever take it for granted, and that everyone enjoying their time here cares for it well.

As if the weather gods knew this was such a special and magical weekend for me and my family, the sun shone throughout the afternoon for the Belstone Fair. My son and I had the fun of introducing his Finnish wife and their now bi-lingual son to the somewhat eccentric and traditional customs of a Dartmoor village summer fair.
Maypole dancing, coconut shy, egg throwing, egg and spoon races, dog races, men running up and down Cosdon at speed, for fun, and not least of all tea and cakes.
This was indeed a perfect weekend, one I hope young Oli will remember for a long time, and that will have sown the seed in his heart of a life long love and enjoyment of Dartmoor. Just like it happened to his Granny.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Active Dartmoor gets an evening out :-)

 Wonderful evening last night at the High Moorland Visitor Centre to celebrate the refurbishments. Richard Drysdale doing a great job of hosting the event, lovely "Twitter Sam" chatting with Peter Harper (right), newly elected Chairman of the Dartmoor National Park Authority
 All sorts of lovely new merchandise now on sale in the centre, all promoting Dartmoor as a rich source of natural and locally produced goods.

 Alex Nail and Guy Richardson tell the story of the Time Lapse film they produced under such testing conditions.
 Even Sherlock Holmes is fascinated, he is one of the lovely new interactive displays in the gallery.
Not a sound from the audience as we were treated to a viewing of the magical film. If you've not seen it yet, do try to make it up to Princetown, it's beautiful and so worth the effort!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Alex Nail/Guy Richardson time lapse film. Active Dartmoor finds the story behind it.

Many people have made excited noises about the wonderful time lapse film that's showing in the gallery at the High Moorland Visitor Centre, Princetown. This 8 minute long, enchanting film was the brainchild of Alex Nail and Guy Richardson, both superb photographers who decided they wanted to try something on Dartmoor National Park that had hitherto only been done on this scale in the American National Parks.

When Active Dartmoor was invited up to High Moorland Visitor Centre to view the film and gallery I was so impressed I asked Alex and Guy some questions about the background, process and difficulties encountered in the making of the film. To my surprise I have received a wonderfully detailed account of what it took to produce this true work of art, born of dedication and a deep love of Dartmoor.

The whole process from start to finish took this intrepid pair 13 months, using all of their experience of Dartmoor locations, photographic expertise and technical skills, not to mention endless patience. There is a wealth of fascinating fact and figures in the background information they have given me about the project, so I am going to take the time to write a full feature and publish it on the website and hopefully in the magazine too. I plan to get it onto the website next week, along with the short trailer, and will keep everyone informed as to when they can read this inspiring, exciting account of when, how and where this wonderful film was created. For now, Alex and Guy, Active Dartmoor salutes you!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Active Dartmoor goes foal spotting

 It was brought home to me yesterday how lucky these glorious mares and foals are to have this part of the moor, and the village as well to call home. We were driving across the moor between Princetown and Ashburton to visit Adventure Clydesdale and passed several bands of very scrawny, rough coated thin ponies of all colours and sizes. Many of them had foals at foot, but quite a few looked as if they were struggling to cope with the demands of feeding them.

The mares and youngsters here seem to have an easier time of it, even though high up on the North Moor here the weather can be savage and hard to deal with. They seem to have discovered the joys of a fairly easy, quiet life in and around the village, and funnily enough the visitors do tend on the whole to be respectful of their space. There are some beauties here, these two are slightly different types but absolute crackers!

I wish something could be done to give the little ones we saw yesterday a bit more of a chance, they look as if they are having a tough time of it. So many visitors were stopping on the side of the road to take photographs, but I can't help but think they will go home with a slightly skewed idea of what a Dartmoor Pony really looks like, not much of a likeness to the emblem on the National Park signs of the iconic pony.

So far this year, we've got this little piebald colt, a really sweet skewbald filly and today a tiny bay filly who's pictures will appear soon!
These ponies are just as tough and hardy as any Dartmoor pony needs to be, they cope well with the extreme weather up here, but they're bright and smart enough to  take the easy life when it's available to them!