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Superflashy newsflash!

It's not all doom and gloom! Here's a new lockdown-friendly eatery, a one-man panto and two family-friendly bears to keep the troops entertained.

New catch for Exeter Quay

Move over Rockfish, there’s a sophisticated new cafe-restaurant landed on Exeter quayside, House of Brine. Open all day and serving up coffee, lunch, brunch and light bites, and during lockdown a Weds-Sunday daytime takeaway menu. Shame we can’t get in for Black Cow vodka until December 2nd as it’s a really cool venue, the old Exeter Cookery School premises opposite the Quay Climbing Centre. It was once a salt store, hence the name, which also reflects the traditional pickling, brining and curing methods of preservations used in their rather tempting cosmopolitan menu which includes salads, soups and sourdough baguettes and fusion-style tapas bites for evening.

He’s *NOT* behind you!

In a victory for social-distancing, Palace Theatre in Paignton have announced a one-man panto on New Year’s Eve. Hosted by Sheffield comic Tom Binns, Buttons is a riff on the-show-must-go-on trope. Buttons (played by Tom) turns up to perform only to discover the actors have all been furloughed forcing him to go it alone, with a little help from a star-studded CBBC cast via video call. Sounds a hoot with three showings on the day, including a glass of fizz to welcome in 2021 a little early.

Learn through play at Bear Town

Start ’em young, I say…

No, not a new Rishi initiative to get kids to save the country from going to hell in a handcart, but a brilliant new indoor family attraction at Cullompton, Bear Town. It’s all about encouraging kids to learn through role play and features 12 areas, where they can dress up as vet, postie, police and hairdresser etc and act out grown-up jobs. Of course, though it only opened on Saturday 24 October, it’s already closing for the month but when its back (Thurs 4 December, fingers crossed) pack the Mudlets in the motor and get on down there.

Fancy going on a Bear hunt?

Yay, more bears and this one of the gorgeous Grylls variety, who due to my son’s obsession when he was younger, I have had the chance to study in great detail though only on the telly. Now here’s the chance to see him in the flesh as the former SAS is coming to Powderham Castle next August Bank Holiday and bringing his Gone Wild Festival with him. Expect much family-bonding with a weekend of talks, survival skills and outdoor activities. It’s weekend tickets only (£172 per adult) so to get your money’s worth you’d better be up and at ’em – making fires, wild swimming, SUPing and getting fit with the marines, so not for the fainthearted! Still, come night-time, there’s an impressive music line-up where you can chill with the Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight and the Ministry of Sound Orchestra.

People in glass houses

Spotted the dining domes popping up around Exeter? Partly funded by Exeter City Council, you can book one (for a small fee) via the restaurant where it’s sited, including Rockfish on Exeter Quay, The Prospect pub, Mango’s and On the Waterfront. Exeter High Street also has a couple outside Artigiano and No. 3 Topsham has one in their cocktail garden. Fully heated so you can sit out with your bubble of 6 and some bubbles in total comfort, and yes, they’ll still be up after lockdown right until the New Year.

Wiggle down to Diggle’s

Tiverton’s Muddy award-nominated book shop, Liznojan Books, has had a baby sister. Owner Kayleigh (pictured) has just opened Tivvy’s first organic grocer, Diggle & Sons, on Gold Street next door. Selling local produce from sustainable farms like Riverford and Taw River Dairy, organic bread and sourdough and deli goods.

What really makes it stand out from the crowd are the home-made dips and pickles, made in-store by Sheila, including the most delicious Romesco sauce and beetroot hummus I have ever tasted. Worth a detour off the M5 when you’re passing, I’d say. Plus, the deli packaging is all plant-based and you can return it to them for recycling so nothing goes to landfill. And yay, it’s open through lockdown.

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