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A Selection of Christmas Books to Mull Over from Devon Life

PUBLISHED: 16:55 01 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:20 20 February 2013

A Selection of Christmas Books to Mull Over from Devon Life

A Selection of Christmas Books to Mull Over from Devon Life

A winter fireside and a good book just go together. Deborah Martin suggests these recently published titles with Devon connections.

A winter fireside and a good book just go together. Deborah Martin suggests these recently published titles with Devon connections.

Reflections of the South Hams, by Nigel Evans

As its title suggests, this book is a visual celebration of this particular corner of the county, which includes the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whose patron, Jonathan Dimbleby, has written the Foreword. Author and photographer Nigel Evans has used his skill to capture the essence of this beautiful landscape in a collection of exquisite photographs that clearly reveal his passion for the area.
As well as sweeping coastline shots, reflective rivers and charming villages, the book includes chapters devoted to the towns of Totnes, Dartmouth and Salcombe, and the Kingsbridge estuary. We see historic buildings, like Dartington Hall, luxurious gardens at Coleton Fishacre, steam trains at Staverton and people boarding the ferry in Salcombe. I particularly liked the textures displayed in many of the photos: wet shingle beaches, sunlit vine leaves, autumnal reed beds and the soft hair on a cows ears. Though many shots were taken on sharp sunny days, they are balanced by softer scenes, like the dappled light dancing over Sharpham boat house, and even some stormy skies, which make dramatic backgrounds.
Each photo has an extended caption explaining a little about the subject matter, such as the history attached to it or the wildlife to be found there. The book is primarily photographic, however; a picture gallery bound into an elegant hardback volume. Anyone who knows
and loves the South Hams will find this an irresistible memento to leaf through on long winter evenings.

Reflections of the South Hams, Nigel Evans, published by Richard Webb, Dartmouth, 20, hardback, ISBN 978-0-9568464-0-2, dartmouthbooks.co.uk

The Coasts of Devon, by David Entrican

This is another book full of glorious colour pictures, in this case focusing on the countys two coastlines. David Entrican, a professional photographer who lives in Devon, has used a panoramic film camera to capture some breathtaking images of the varying moods of our coasts, from sunny crescents of sand to storm clouds sweeping over sheer cliffs. It is noticeable that a large number of the shots are taken early or late in the day, when the sunlight intensifies the colours and brings landforms into sharp relief; the fine detail that this creates gives the images an almost tactile quality.
Most captions are brief, simply giving the location and any relevant information about weather and time. Other than a short introduction, the story of Devons seaboard is seen entirely through the eyes of the photographer as he moves from east to west along both north and south coasts, giving us some dramatic and unusual perspectives on this exceptional landscape.


The Coasts of Devon, David Entrican, published by Frances Lincoln, 16.99, hardback, ISBN 978-0-7112-2596-1

Lundy Island through Time, by Simon Dell

Anyone who has visited this granite isle off the North Devon coast will know it has a special quality that draws people back. Simon Dell is one such visitor and his fascination with the island has led him to compile this book of photographs exploring the changes that have taken place there over the past century or so. Many of the archive photos date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The format is simple, with two images per page, one historical and one modern, often showing the same scene at different periods in time. Linking the photos are extended captions about the subjects illustrated.
Its a very informative book, containing some rare and interesting images. I was intrigued, for instance, by the size of the former Manor Hotel, which is difficult to reconcile with the buildings seen in the village centre today. Boats feature too, of course, including a flat-bottomed ship which was able to beach so that stores could be unloaded by horse and cart. Sadly, theres no index, but this is certainly a book to dip into repeatedly.


Lundy Island through Time, Simon Dell, published by Amberley Publishing, 14.99, softback, ISBN 978-1-4456-0074-1

The Good Green Lunchbox, by Jocelyn Miller

Aimed at children of primary school age, this is a very topical book, bringing together the issues of healthy eating, using local produce and an awareness of overpackaging and the benefits of recycling. And its done in a fun and colourful way based on ideas and recipes that children can prepare for their own lunchbox.
The step-by-step instructions include recipes for nutritious sandwich fillings, beanburgers, seasonal soup, dips, veggie muffins and energy bars, as well as treats like fairtrade fridgecake and homemade lemonade. In addition there are ingenious ideas for making containers out of recycled or reusable materials to hold all these goodies. It all sounds such fun, Im tempted to try some of them out myself!
The author is a recent graduate from Exeter University and the recipes have been put to the test by pupils at a local school, where the book was officially launched. Sounds like a winner to me


The Good Green Lunchbox, Jocelyn Miller, published by Lion Childrens Books, 5.99, softback, ISBN 978-0-7459-6182-8

Gardeners' World Flowers, by Toby Buckland

Written by Devon resident Toby Buckland, a former presenter of BBCs Gardeners World, this book is designed to answer the question What can I grow to make my garden more colourful? Its based on the plants grown at Greenacre, the programmes headquarters, so they are well tried and tested.
The book opens with some general advice on the key points to consider when growing flowers. There follows a chapter on each of the different gardens created at Greenacre, including the bee border, the scented, woodland and coastal gardens, and seed-packet meadows. Within each, Toby gives his choice of plants, advice on a maintenance regime and techniques for making the most of this particular type of garden. The emphasis throughout is on creating year-round colour and interest.
As well as being a practical book, the superb photography by Jason Ingram, illustrating both flowers and step-by-step tasks, makes it a pleasure to browse through especially on days when its just too wet and windy to be out there in the garden


Gardeners World Flowers, Toby Buckland, published by BBC Books, 20, hardback, ISBN 978-1-8460-7865-1

The Fruit Tree Handbook, by Ben Pike

With the renewed interest in old varieties of fruit, this timely handbook by the Head Gardener at the Sharpham Estate will appeal to anyone who wishes to improve or develop an orchard, or just grow a few fruit trees in their garden. It contains all the practical information youll need, from site preparation, choosing trees, grafting and pruning to harvesting and using the fruit. There is a chapter each on apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches and nectarines, and apricots, as well as one on more unusual fruit such as medlars and quinces. It is well illustrated with photographs and diagrams.


The Fruit Tree Handbook, Ben Pike, published by Green Books, 16.95, softback, ISBN 978-1-900322-74-4

How to Grow Your Food, by Jon Clift & Amanda Cuthbert,and Grow Your Food for Free (well, almost), by Dave Hamilton

Two books for anyone new to vegetable growing or aspiring to be self-sufficient. How to Grow Your Food is a guide for beginners and takes a concise, no-nonsense approach to vegetable, fruit and herb growing. It focuses on a range of popular, easy-to-grow plants in turn and also includes basic guidance on getting started and dealing with common problems. Its handy format makes it easy to use.
Grow Your Food for Free could almost be called a self-sufficiency handbook, such is its scope. It is basically a guide to building a productive garden by making the most of whats around you and thinking creatively. It covers everything from improving the soil and collecting rainwater to composting, propagating and wild foraging, as the chapters take us through the seasons. Its packed full of practical advice and the authors informal style makes it both easy to read and inspiring. Excuse me, Im just off to make a bug hotel


How to Grow Your Food, Jon Clift & Amanda Cuthbert, 6.95, softback, ISBN 978-1-900322-68-3; Grow Your Food for Free (well, almost), Dave Hamilton, 14.95, softback, ISBN 978-1-900322-89-8; both published by Green Books

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