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What’s on – August

It's back, baby! Eating, drinking, partying and more! Muddy's found you over 30 things to do this month in Devon, handily split into outdoor and online. Go forth and have fun!

KIDS: Roaming with RAMM, Exeter, from 24 July

While Exeter’s museum may still be closed, it’s no slacker, and is providing fun, educational things for kids to do, including this six part detective-hunt around Exeter, complete with one clue per week through the summer hols, to help kids get clued up (sorry) about the city’s history.

OUTDOORS: Tinside Lido, Plymouth, re-opens 1 Aug

Grab your cozzy! Plymouth’s iconic lido re-opens at the start of the month for 2-hour timed sessions, 10.30am to 5.30pm daily, with an evening swim on Wednesday. Changing rooms are closed, so come ready to swim.

EXHIBITION: Richard Long: Being in the Moment, Thelma Hubert Gallery, Honiton, until 31 Oct

Thanks to the new Covid rules, here’s a unique opportunity to have your own private viewing (up to 5 people) of the work of British sculptor and land artist, Richard Long.

GARDENS: Stone Lane Sculpture Garden, Chagford, open daily 10am-6pm

Always a scrumptious place for a picnic on the edge of Dartmoor, in a 5-acre National Collection of birch and alder trees. Their 2020 sculpture exhibition, Re-awakening in Mythic Sculpture Garden is slightly smaller more intimate affair and (if a picnic is too much of a faff) there is the new addition of a delightful little tea room filled with local goodies. No booking required, dogs welcome.

WORKSHOP: Botanical Drawing, Coastal Collective, Seaton, 3,10,19 & 24 Aug

Inspired to capture your garden on paper? Join this four-part morning or afternoon workshop throughout August, starting with the basics then focusing on a single subject for the remainder of the sessions.

EAT: Lunch for a Fiver, Spelt, Bampton, 4 – 26 Aug

Yep, you heard that right. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, Paul and Donna, owners of multi-award-winning gastropub, The Swan at Bampton, have reduced their usual week-day £10 for two courses (not including drinks) at their new eatery, Spelt, to just £5.

KIDS: Great Big Brick Safari, Paignton Zoo, from Weds 5 Aug

If 2,000 animals, from red pandas to rhinos and cheetahs to crocodiles, botanical gardens and outdoor play areas isn’t enough, you can also check out the zoo’s new Great Big Brick Safari, featuring over 80 wild animal creations made from thousands of bricks.

EAT: Steak and Wine Night, Darts Farm, Topsham, 6 Aug, 6.30pm

Darts are back doing what they do best, introducing us to lovely local producers. Darts Master Butchers and Mark Sharman of Sharpham Cheese and Wine are combining an evening of tastings and tales in the Darts Farm Tipis. Your ticket includes a welcome drink, a live butchery demo showing you exactly where your steak comes from, a steak tasting experience with paired wines, and a cheese tasting experience paired with a little more wine. Ticket bookings are groups of 2 or more.

CLASS: Summer Blooms Workshop, Riverford Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh, Fridays 7, 14, 21 Aug

Spend a morning getting green-fingered tips from Riverford’s head gardener, Penny Hemming, with a quick tour round the gardens, then get hands-on and make your own beaut of a bouquet to take home.

DRINK: Quick Pink Gin Launch Party, Spoken, Exmouth, 13 Aug

The second line of Spoken cocktail bar’s own-brand gin is having a launch party and you’re invited! It’s an excuse to dress up- cocktail party is the theme and there will be drinks outside and a specially TBC themed menu.

DRIVE-IN:  Car Park Party, Powderham Castle, Kenton, Fri 14 and Sat 15 Aug

Something for everyone, including theatre, comedy and karaoke. 
There are different time slots in which to drive your motor into Powderham to either sing along with hits from the musicals or 80s bangers, laugh at live comedy from the Comedy Store or giggle at the grosser side of history with the Horrible Histories team, all from the safety of your own car but with a companionable feel. Food and drinks available, and hot off the press, a £30 ticket for 5 gets you free entry into the castle worth £39 and a reduced price to their Lego tour. Bargain!

OUTDOOR THEATRE: Alice in Lockdown, Dartington Hall, Totnes, 3pm, 19 – 20 Aug

Alice for the Covid-era! Bring a blanket and a picnic to join Alice for an hour on the Dartington Lawns as she ventures through the Lockdown Looking Glass and explores a curiouser and curiouser world, while keeping a safe distance and using PPE to do her shopping. Ages 5-plus.

EXHIBITION: Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, until 31 Aug

The Burton at Bideford has re-opened its gallery and its bistro style Cafe du Parc (booking essential on 01237 429317) and two new exhibitions. Seeds of Hope is a upbeat curated response to the Covid crisis, with selected artists showing drawings, tiles and an art installation featuring grains of rice. Plus, every Tuesday and Thursday, you can join them for a range of activities, including music, stories, folklore and dance, in a Good Afternoon @ The Burton.

EAT Midsummer Night Market, Westpoint, Clyst St Mary, 20 – 30 Aug

 A little softener for you if you have been missing out on festival food over the summer. Westpoint is hosting a shopping experience full of artisan traders with plenty of family-friendly entertainment to keep your entourage engaged in the open air of the mahoosive grounds. (As an added bonus a percentage of ticket sales are to be donated to NHS charities)

DRINKS: Al fresco Cocktails, Dr Inks, Exeter Quay, Weds – Sundays

This delightful but teeny little den of curiosities and peculiarities is too petite to throw the doors open safely yet but, if you have been missing the bar or, like me, have had your tastebuds tantled by their innovative DIY cocktail kits during lockdown, the newly expanded outside bar will be open Wednesday to Sunday. Hurrah! 

WALK: Dartmoor Walking Festival, 22 – 30 Aug

Welcome news: the popular walking festival will be going ahead with vigilant attention to the obvious and lots of opportunities to explore the moor. This is their fifth annual festival, looks like people are voting with their feet. Could be a keeper.

BOATING: Devon Sea Safaris, Teignmouth, daily
In their safe and stable – and as I can personally attest – highly speedy – 10m Humber RIB boat, these cheery and highly knowledgeable guides make tours that explore the Devon coastline. Viewing marine wildlife and the beautiful geology of the area whilst providing an exciting trip on the water, you set off conveniently from Teignmouth Fish Quay Pontoon which just so happens to be near to a number of rather good eateries. A day out beckons.

KIDS: Exmoor Zoo, Bratton Fleming, near Barnstaple, open daily 9 -5

Think pink! The zoo have welcomed a flock of friendly flamingos to their collection of cats, reptiles and ununusual animals but just for the summer. Booking essential and there’s a one-way system in place and the cafe is open but just for takeaway.

CINEMA: Mulan, from 21 Aug 

Disney’s Mulan has been moved yet again and will now be released on 21 August in most cinemas, presumably with greatly reduced capacity so early booking might be a plan. Also, 12 August brings Tenet and the 14th sees Bill and Ted off on another adventure, apparently to ‘face the music’ after all these years.

KIDS: Circus Berzerkus, Stiltskin Theatre Company, Plymouth, Sat 22 Aug

Book your socially-distanced family tepee for an outdoor – but undercover – showing of unicycling, breath-taking ladder balancing, juggling and a touch of magic. That’ll keep em quiet for ooh, a whole 50 minutes. Yay!

EAT: Sunday Jazz and Roast, Honky Tonk’s Wine Library, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, Sun 23 Aug

Chow down on your Sunday roast to the smooth sounds of jazz, in the chic surroundings of Honky Tonk’s lush wine library and deli, with stunning harbour views, to boot.

FESTIVAL: Exeter Street Arts Festival, Exeter, Sat 29 Aug

At the time of writing plans are still coming together but I do know the festival is having their launch on the rooftop of John Lewis.

National Trust, various across Devon

Don’t forget, even if you’re a member, you can no longer just turn up and expect entry to NT properties, such as Saltram House and Overbecks (above), so book your timed entry for any of a dozen or so properties open across the county. Members can book for free, while non-members will need to pay when booking.

OUTDOOR THEATRE: Wind in the Willows, Cockington Court, Torquay, 31 Aug

Poop poop! An outdoor performance of the classic Kenneth Grahame riverbank tale of Mr Toad, Mole, Rat and badger courtesy of Ililyra Theatre Company. Two performances, afternoon and evening, lasts and hour, with refreshments (and loos) available. If you go in the day, the pretty gardens and craft studios are re-open too.


NEW CITY TRAILS: Plymouth Trails App

With the Mayflower 400 celebrations mostly cancelled or postponed to 2021, now you can access the city’s history with a new app, offering three different trails around the historic ocean city. Available in android and iOS, the app allows you to overlay video and images onto the landscape you’re viewing to experience a ‘then and now’ snapshot of the city, and there are accompanying children’s activity guides to keep the littlies engaged..

FESTIVAL: Sidmouth Folk Festival online, Saturday 1st August 5-9pm and Sunday 2nd August 5-9pm

East Devon’s popular folk fest goes online, with a mixture of live streaming (1-2 Aug) from a secret location and the best bits from 2019. You can also register for online workshops on dance, song and story-telling.

MAGIC: An Evening (IN) of Deception, Palace Theatre, Paignton, 7 Aug

How very en vogue, with a price per device system and what a creative way to keep theatre alive and, as for the elements of trickery and deception, how very 2020. Expect an intimate evening of magic, with three professional full-time magicians directly to your homes from theirs via the power of Zoom. Featuring magic that has been specifically designed to work digitally on screen, you can enjoy an immersive and interactive LIVE magic show with 3 performers, a host, an interval and plenty of audience participation – just like a real magic show – but all from the safety of your sofa.

KIDS: Lockdown – Young People’s Photography Competition 2020, Torre Abbey, entries until 31 Aug

Got a budding David Bailey or Annie Leibowitz in the family? Torre Abbey are working with Royal Photographic Society (South West Branch) to run a young person’s photography competition. They’re calling for fun, emotional or inspiring pictures that show how you, your family and even your pets are coping in lockdown. The winners will be displayed in a virtual gallery.


FESTIVAL: Appledore Book Festival – 2020 Drive In, Skern Lodge Appledore, 18 – 22 September

Bravo, Appledore! They’re not going to let a little thing like a global pandemic ruin their culture fix and have turned their annual book fest into a five day drive-in, where you can sit in the safety of your car, enjoy your fave author, buy books contactless and have pre-ordered refreshments delivered direct to your car window. The confirmed line-up includes Jeremy Vine, Viv Goskrop, Kate Humble, Lucy Porter and Shobna Gulati.

Christmas Train of Lights, Dartmouth Steam Railway, Paignton, 2 – 30 Dec

I know, I know! It’s way too early to mention the c-word but with limited bookings on the agenda for 2020, Dartmouth Steam Railway are already taking bookings for their awesome Christmas Train of Lights, a train festooned with coloured lights which puffs you through a wintry snow-strewn wonderland of christmassy scenes from Paignton to Kingswear and back again, with Xmas toons to cheer you along the way. Magical, recommended.


EXHIBITION: Summer at Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Somerset, various dates until September

hauser and wirth somerset
Installation view ‘Not Vital. SCARCH’ Hauser & Wirth Somerset 2020. Photo: Ken Adlard. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth © Not Vital

Take a sensory tour, a guided walk or make art in the Oudolf Field plus a tour around the outdoor sculptures. The exhibitions by world-renowned Somerset photographer, Don McCullin’s The Stillness of Life, and ‘SCARCH’, a solo exhibition by Not Vital, are also now open. 

THEATRE: Educating Rita, Minack Theatre, Cornwall, 18 – 29 Aug
Ok, so it’s not Devon and I may have mentioned this place before but it was so blimmin splendid and it’s such a joy to see live theatre being performed once more I couldn’t resist sneaking it in.

With additional reporting by Ashley Tremlett.

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