A campaigning charity called The Rivers Trust has dug up some figures suggesting that the River Walkham is a lot dirtier than we think – and a lot of it is down to Horrabridge.

In flood situations, the water companies are allowed to discharge overflows of surface water mixed with raw sewage when the drains cannot cope. It is supposed to happen occasionally when there is enough water in the river to dilute it all pretty effectively anyway. But in 2019, overflows upstream of Bedford Bridge happened 48 times for a total of 716 hours, which sounds quite a lot. And there is every chance it will have been worse in 2020.


It might have happened that often before but the figures are hard to get at. The Rivers Trust had to use freedom of information law to get the figures for 2019, which showed that the emergency licenses were being used way above the original target levels all over the country. And, of course, here and elsewhere, there is a lot more sewage per hour when the floodgates do open.


It would cost a lot to improve the infrastructure enough to make a difference but that is one possibility being discussed. Another is to deal with surface water better, using lakes and vegetation to hold it back a bir. The Greens say the problems to tackle are climate change, meaning more rain every year, and farming slurry, which is an even bigger problem than human waste and often includes sludge from the sewage plants, recycled and sent back into the water catchment.

Sian Aubrey, above at Bedford Bridge, a Green  activist in Buckland Monachorum, drew our attention to the issue locally. She wants everyone to lobby Geoffrey Cox MP to support a Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill which would impose higher standards all round. Anyone wants to get involved, call her on 07773 193704.



Tavistock Times last week revealed a proposal to take the town up in the air with a five-storey care  home at the centre of a new residential estate proposed by Baker Estates.

It would be the tallest building in town apart from church steeples.

Full briefing on the Baker Estates website. For those still wondering exactly where it would be, the answer is land adjacent to Morrisons on the left of the Plymouth Road before town …



Devon Contract Waste recently relaunched a scheme which pays a shilling or two at a time to Dartmoor Zoo and the Mind charity in return for high-grade plastic like Quality Street tubs and milk bottle tops. Other fund-raisers can apply.

Got us thinking, here in The Shed, where we spent the summer clearing it out at least three times, like everybody else – and ended up with a bin full of screws, nails, fixings, wire, broken tools and tin cans. If you can sell yoghurt pots, what about clean mixed scrap metal?

We called a scrappie, who told us: “The price for unsorted metal varies from day to day, depending on the commodities index and the price of crude oil, because of the energy component in recycling. But today we might give you £60 a tonne.”

A rough calculation reveaked that The Shed’s disposable assets were worth about 60p.

The only way to make money out of metal is to sort it. Brass is still worth something. And so are aluminium cans.

Somewhere along the way, we picked up a useful reference from West Devon Council – a list of prices for all kinds of scrap at




For once, tv  had a slightly optimistic documentary on Cornwall this week, featuring a couple of small-time fishermen who were carving a new niche by catching to order, using lines and single pots, and delivering to the doorsteps of chefs in London and locals cooking for their lives in lockdown. We left them with Brexit still to deal with but it was a glimpse of a possible way forward, concentrating on quality rather than tonnage.

The programme also featured a laid-back hotelier who was happy to shut down for a bit in anticipation of the mother of all tourist booms when the brakes come off. And this week the bookings companies have been warning anyone planning a staycation in 2021 to get their bookings in early. Inquiries for Devon and Cornwall are up 200 percent on a normal year.



Rugby writer Robert Kitson has a new book out, Exe Men: The Extraordinary Rise Of Exeter Chiefs, telling the story of how a beery second-string club grew into the machine which put the West Country back at the top of the English game. Looking forward to reviewing it here. Meanwhile, to cheer us all up, here is a quote from the Preface, from the 18th-century artist Thomas Gainsborough:

“I begin to think there is something in the air of Devonshire that grows clever fellows. I could name four or five, superior to the product of any other county of England.”



The Shed’s filing system, which now stretches for many miles underground, took in this week a recipe from the Weather Eye column in The Times for the best way to produce frozen bubbles for arty photos in the winter. Recipe is a cup of washing-up liquid with half a cup of golden syrup and three cups of water. At minus 2C or below, blow it across a cold surface like the ground or a car bonnet, said writer Paul Simons. The syrup gives the bubbles enough strength to be handled.

and that’s allfornow …

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.