Saturday, October 31, 2009

Andrew Cotton scores huge surf at Nelscott Reef Competition

Last week was a pretty incredible one for North Devon surfer Andrew Cotton of West Wetsuits. He first of all caught huge Aileens on the Tuesday followed by a flight to the West coast of the States and big Nelscott Reef on the Thursday and then back to Aileens for more of the same on his return. There's a great picture of him at Nelscott reef at
Surfers Village and there are more details at and Salem News.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Bourgeois Bicycle Caravan

There's a great new blog called The Bourgeois Bicycle Caravan which follows the adventures of surf and fashion photographer James Bowden and writer Harold Hobart Hellybutt. The blog describes their adventure in the following way: "Plunging southwards along the western seaboard of France, the caravan will be a concert of motion, conducted from the seat of a bicycle. There will be trailers brimming full with necessities. Surfboards, cameras, pens and pencils and books of Russian beat poetry. This experiment will no doubt encounter waves of consequence, Wild West frontier folk and an endless road of tumultuous joy."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mundaka on fire

Fabled Mundaka was going off on 21 October a week after the pro contest had ended. There's an incredible video on SurfLine which you can view here.

Are Amazon charging different prices based on our buying histories?

I see that MoneySavingExpert have started a forum about buying from Amazon. One of the suggestions is that are charging different prices to different people depending upon our past buying habits. The implication is that if you buy from a computer with a different identifying IP address, you may be given a different offer. It'll be interesting to see how this develops and if indeed it is their practise.

Barrister Blog featured at the Laws website

Nice feature on this blog at the Laws website. With particular thanks to Dominic Sebahia and Timothy Du for organising and writing this between them. To read the article, click here or see below.

Tim Kevan is not your ordinary barrister. He is a surfer at heart, living by the sea and writing from the heart. In fact, he is no ordinary surfer either! The blend of a smart legal mind and a free spirit is a combination not commonly seen. With two books under his belt, including one that uses surfing as an ingenious metaphor.

The Barrister Blog is Kevan’s online repository for his thoughts, interests, and causes. It never fails to entertain, whether through music reviews, captivating articles, book recommendations or guest posts, there is never a boring moment with the Surfing Barrister. Filled with humor and earnest insights on a wide range of subjects, The Barrister Blog is a perfect example of a versatile law blog. Kevan continues to amaze his readers with surfing, law, and art, creating a cocktail that makes one question whether the barrister is but a barista of amusement.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Interview for Writers and Artists Yearbook website

I have just recently done an interview for the Writers and Artists Yearbook website about getting a book deal which can be read here. I also wrote a blog post for them which appears here and extracts from the book are published here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is North Devon MP Nick Harvey putting interests of business and landowners over those of surfers, walkers and others wanting to access our coastline?

I recently wrote to North Devon MP Nick Harvey asking him to support the government's Marine and Coastal Access Bill, the text of which is below. As it stands the Bill would help towards the creation of a National Trail around the whole of the English Coast. For my part I hope very much that is passed as it will not only give walkers the right to access coastal land around the whole of our coastline but also surfers the chance potentially to surf new and unexplored breaks which currently sit in front of private land.

With this in mind Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey MP's response was extremely surprising. It can be read in full (other than my address) by clicking on the image on the left. It said in particular "I have been lobbying the Government on behalf of North Devon Holiday park owners and holidaymakers who are rightly concerned about the impact of the access proposals under the...Bill. This has all sorts of implications for security, safety and public liability and has rightly caused alarm with members of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association...Nor do I welcome the prospect of the Secretary of State riding rough shod over landowners' objections."

My original message to Nick Harvey MP
Dear Mr Harvey, I would respectfully request that you, as my MP, support the aims of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill when it comes up for Report and 3rd Reading Stages on 26th and 27th October 2009. The Bill, as it stands would help towards the creation of a National Trail around the whole of the English Coast.We in North Devon understand how wonderful access to the coast can be with our magnificent South West Coast Path. I feel it is important to extend this legal right of coastal access to the whole of England particularly as walking and outdoor pursuits are becoming increasingly popular....and revenue generating. Thank you for your time. Yours sincerely, Tim Kevan

I have since had an answer from Nick Harvey MP in which he clarifies his position. It can be read

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Erin Matthews' new album and launch party

Heads up for an excellent new album from North Devon singer Erin Matthews. It's called Frog Street and is available both to listen to and pre-order here (for £10 incl p& p). The official launch party is this Saturday 24th October in the Parish Hall, Braunton. Doors open at 7.30pm and the evening will kick off with sets by Clare King-Smith and Nick Parker. Erin’s band for the evening will be Mirande Goode on vocals, Will Greeves on cajon and percussion, Rupert Oxlade on guitar, Ant Parker on bass, Sylvia Kerslake on piano, Kate Collingham on violin, Jenny Collingham on Viola and Emma Collingham on Cello. Tickets are £3 or free if buying the new CD. The album will also be available from The Corner Bistron in Braunton from Monday 26th onwards.

Book recommendation: Intelligent Marketing for Employment Lawyers

I've just received my copy of Intelligent Marketing for Employment Lawyers: How to Boost your Profits in a Recession by barrister Daniel Barnett and Eugenie Verney. It really does have an incredible amount of helpful suggestions both for lawyers and non-lawyers on how to improve their marketing. Invaluable to all businesses and essential reading in a recession. To buy a copy, click here. To get a FREE entitled 'Top ten Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make...and what you should do instead' by the same authors as a pdf click here.

BabyBarista Book Launch covered by Devon Life's Social Diary (click to enlarge)

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 11/09: Extreme Sports

The fifth in a series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf'. For more information on Devon Life, click here. To read the article, see the text below or click to enlarge the pictures of the original article below that. To see the whole series, click here.


Barrister and writer Tim Kevan meets a big wave surfer, an extreme snowboarder and the boss of a champion superbike team.

Maybe it’s something in the air or just the inspiration of the wild coastline but when ex-Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones came to present a TV programme called Danger Hunters, the stars of two of the episodes both came from North Devon: big wave surfer Andrew Cotton and extreme snowboarder James Stentiford. But it’s not only them. North Devon is also home to the British Superbike Cup winning team for 2009.

The big wave surfer: Andrew Cotton
Andrew Cotton started both surfing and skateboarding at an early age and even when he left school he planned his continuing education around the surf, taking a part-time job at local board-maker Gulf Stream and also managing to take three months off a year to travel to some of the more demanding surf breaks, including trips to the big waves of Hawaii. But perhaps the turning point came when he was 25 years old and was forced to undergo a knee operation which put him out of action for several months. This gave him an opportunity to take stock and when he returned he was more committed than ever to forging a path as a professional surfer.

First came a sponsorship deal with among others West Wetsuits. This was followed by a trip to Madeira with Irish surfer Alistair Mennie which marked the starting point of what has now become a famous partnership in the history of European big wave surfing. On their return they spent four days tow-in surfing enormous waves at Mullaghmore Head in Ireland. This was some four years ago and at the time tow-in surfing was a relatively new sport, particularly in Europe. It involves being towed into waves by a jet ski which allows surfers to catch much bigger waves.

Since then Andrew and Alistair have led the way, helped in part by Andrew’s sponsorship by Analog Clothing and Gravis. The next Summer they surfed the now notorious Aileens in Ireland and their exploits soon started to get international attention. For the last two years they have both been nominated for the prestigious international big wave XXL awards and the have also had a documentary made about them entitled ‘Driven’ by Plymouth film-maker Anthony Butler (Mr B Productions, 2007). Then, in October 2008 they were invited to compete in the APT World Tow Surfing Championships in Punta da Lobos in Chile and achieved tenth place overall. But despite his achievements, Andrew remains modest, describing himself as “Just a surfer who enjoys getting barrelled and pushing personal boundaries.”

The extreme snowboarder: James Stentiford
Equally extreme are the activities of professional snowboarder James Stentiford who also has his home in North Devon. Like Andrew, he got into his sport when it was in its infancy which for him was back in 1987 when he taught himself to snowboard. He was immediately hooked and over the next few years carved out a life which allowed him to spend as much time as possible on the slopes eventually spending around four months a year in Chamonix. It was perhaps his connection with the Alps which fired his imagination for tougher rides but it wasn’t until a trip to Alaska in 1997 that his riding first became extreme and he experienced the possibility of dropping off tiny peaks and riding down the exposed side of the mountain.

Since then he has gained world renown and is not only the best free-rider in the UK but one of the leading snowboarders in the world. This was underlined recently when he was selected as one of only four snowboarders for the elite team of extreme athletes set up by Nissan as well as finishing seventh in the free-riding world championships. So too by the fact that he is sponsored by leading brands such as Quicksilver, DC Shoes and Lib Tech Snowboards and it is his sponsors who also provide him with the dream day job since he also runs the UK surf, skate and snow teams for DC Shoes and the UK skate and snow teams for Quicksilver. He’s also travelled the globe and has heli-snowboarded in Greenland, Russia, New Zealand, Alaska, USA, Turkey and Macedonia and been cat-skiing in Canada, Japan, Morocco and Cashmere.

But well beyond the glamour of big name sponsors and international travel there is the feeling of peace he gets when he’s in the mountains along with the speed and the sensation of weightlessness. As he says “The world makes sense and I feel most comfortable when I’m in that environment.” Like Andrew he also credits the need for challenge as part of his drive and he sees snowboarding as a form of self-expression which coupled with the physical challenge leaves him still wanting more after all these years.

The superbike team: Quay Garage Racing
Away from the sea and the hills, another extreme sports is motorcycle racing and it’s a little know fact that Braunton-based Quay Garage Racing has grown into the leading privateer team in British superbike competition. It is run by Ian Woollacott who oversees all the work involved in keeping their Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR on the track as well as running Quay Garage as his day job. He started in 2003 in order to support North Devon rider James Buckingham who went on to win the 2005 British Superbike Cup Championship. When James eventually retired it didn’t stop Quay Garage who have just recently won the same title with their new rider Gary Mason. In doing so they qualified third at Thruxton and made history as the highest ever placed privateer team on the grid.

Above all, what shines out from all of these people involved in extreme sports is their ‘can do’ attitude and spirit of adventure. The desire to push forward the boundaries and to achieve something which hasn’t been done before. It’s an heroic ideal which is all too lacking in our health and safety conscious day to day lives and stands out all the more as an inspiration to us all.

Tim Kevan is the author of the comic novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ (Bloomsbury) and the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Andrew Cotton off to Nelscott Reef on Thursday

Good luck to North Devon's Andrew Cotton who will be taking part in the International Nelscott Reef Big Wave Contest from this Thursday 22 October. For more information, click here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Please support Ocean 2 Summit and Marie Curie Cancer Care

North Devon doctors and extreme adventurers Rob Casserley and Stuart Burbridge are preparing for an epic adventure: to row the Atlantic this Winter and then climb Mount Everest in the Spring. Now, okay, Rob has already climbed Everest five times and is one of only three Westerners to summit twice in a week. But it's a rare thing to have a first and this is one of those since no-one at all has ever done what they're now proposing. What's more they're doing it to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. You can sponsor them at by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alternatives to the Royal Mail and the Post Office

With yet another postal strike looming, Money Saving Expert has provided a fantastic guide to alternative postal providers. What it says is: "While Royal Mail is still cheapest for sending cards, letters and packages weighing under 2kg...anything heavier will set you back over £7, and that's without tracking and insurance. Yet you can buy a 48 hr service which includes both, for around the same price." For details and the full article, click here.

In addition, The Guardian has highlighted DHL's Servicepoint system which it says "means you can take your letter to a participating retailer (most WH Smith, Staples, Ryman or Safestore outlets will do), package it up in an appropriately sized DHL carton and pay a flat rate at the till. The smallest package costs £5.95 (including VAT), and has room for a card and a DVD or two (up to a weight of 200g). It will arrive in one to two days. But take note: you can't send vouchers, decorative swords and garments trimmed with fur, so choose your gift accordingly." For the full article, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Article for The Bar Society of King's College London

To read the original article, click here or see below.
Writing for Harry Potter’s Publisher
Tim Kevan tells us how he came to write a novel for Bloomsbury Publishing

Back in early 2007 I had been practising as a barrister at 1 Temple Gardens for some nine years and was enjoying the life of a common law practitioner based in London. One of the wonderful advantages of being a barrister is the independence that being self-employed brings with it and the ability to be able to do other things as well as practising if so desired. So it was with me that I started doing some writing about a fictional young barrister doing pupillage who I called BabyBarista, a play on words based on his first impression being that his coffee-making skills were probably as important to that year as any forensic legal abilities he may have. It’s a strange thing to say but I discovered that this bold, irreverent and mischievous voice along with a collection of colourful characters had simply jumped into my head and the words started pouring onto the page. I wrote it as a blog and was hopeful it might raise a few smiles but in my wildest dreams I hadn’t imagined quite the extraordinary set of circumstances which then unfolded. First The Lawyer Magazine commented “If this is a fictional account it is genius”. I then emailed a few publishers and started getting interest as well as taking on a literary agent who had approached me direct. In the meantime, I was contacted by Alex Spence of The Times and he very kindly offered to host the blog and finally, I was offfered a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing of Harry Potter fame - all within the space of less than three months.
Since that hectic start, it’s been a long haul. I took a break from practising as a barrister and moved to North Devon where not only have I been able to go surfing a little more frequently but I also finished the first book in the BabyBarista series as well as continuing to write the blog. The book finally came out in August and does seem to have been well-received with broadcaster Jeremy Vine describing it as “a wonderful, racing read - well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud” and The Timescalling it “a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones's Diary...a gallop of a read”. Perhaps most flattering of all, given that I am a fan of John Mortimer was Counsel Magazine which said that “BabyBarista has certainly earned the right to stand there alongside Rumpole in the pantheon of legal fiction”.
The book is called BabyBarista and the Art of War and centres around BabyB’s first year in chambers where he is fighting his fellow pupils for the coveted prize of a permanent tenancy. It’s a fictional caricature of life at the Bar and includes characters that probably exist in most workplaces such as UpTights, OldRuin, BusyBody, Worrier and even JudgeJewellery and her penchant for stealing cheap jewellery. Alongside the pupillage race is an altogether different battle with BabyB’s corrupt pupilmaster TheBoss whose dishonest fiddling of chambers’ records to avoid a negligence action all starts to unravel and threatens to embroil BabyB’s entire career.
With the first book finished, I’m continuing to write the blog as well as working on book two in the series. Ultimately I intend to return to the Bar part-time and based in Devon but hopefully through my chambers in London. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy life down here by the sea.
Tim Kevan is a member of the Middle Temple and the author of ‘BabyBarista and The Art of War’ published by Bloomsbury and available on amazon for £8.39 (incl p&p). For more information visit

Friday, October 9, 2009

North Devon's Andrew Cotton in another international big wave competition

Congratulations to North Devon's own Andrew Cotton for earning another invitation to the prestigious international big wave event The Nelscott Reef Tow In Classic along with tow-in surfing partner Al Mennie. Andrew and Al (both ‘West’ wetsuit team riders) are again the only representatives from Europe. The contest has a three month ‘holding period’ (Ocotber 1st – Dec 31st) to allow for the optimum conditions for the contest organiser, John Forse, to give the competitors the ‘green light’ to travel. This may result in as little as 48 hours notice for Al and Cotty to travel to Oregon. For more in formation visit West Surfing and Surf Europe. The photo is of Andrew training at a secret spot in Ireland.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 10/09: The Shepherd and The Falconer

The fourth in a series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf'. For more information on Devon Life, click here. To read the article, see the text below or click to enlarge the pictures of the original article below that. To see the whole series, click here.


Barrister and writer Tim Kevan meets a shepherd and a falconer.

There are few things that personify the English countryside more than the sight of a shepherd and his dogs herding sheep or that of a peregrine falcon swooping down for a feed and for over ten years that is exactly what David Kennard and Jonathan Marshall have been delighting people with in their joint exhibitions at David’s Borough Farm just above Woolacombe in North Devon. Yet despite their firm grounding in the region, they have both taken on a national profile in the last few years.

The shepherd: David Kennard (
What both David and Jonathan have in common is that neither of them were born into the job and for that reason both have had to make that extra effort to break into a world that is often seen as closed to newcomers. David is originally from Kent but he used to holiday as a child on the next door farm to where he is now based and would spend many magical hours helping out with the work. Then, as soon as he hit seventeen and passed his driving test he flew the nest and started work on a Youth Training Scheme at a farm in East Kent. It was there not only that he eventually became a shepherd but also that he met his wife Debbie.
After a few years he was drawn back to the South West where he took over Borough Farm as well as the National Trust land covering the stunning Morte Point. Then, eleven years ago he realised that he needed to diversify in order to survive financially. This started with sheep dog displays and was followed by a film about life on his farm entitled ‘The Year of the Working Sheepdog’. It caught the popular imagination and was followed by his book ‘A Shepherd’s Watch’ which was also a success. It is a beautiful and evocative book which is written with the same wry humour that you can hear when watching his show and has lines such as: “I can’t say that all sheep are stupid, I haven’t met them all. But the ones I have encountered tend to be on the lower side of dim.” But above all the book brings to life not only this ancient and noble profession but David’s passion for the countryside, nature and all its living things.
Since then he has truly gone global with not only another book, ‘The Dogs of Windcutter Down: One Shepherd's Struggle for Survival’ but also the launch of a new film on Channel 5 ‘Mist the tale of a sheepdog puppy’ and the two follow-up series which have since followed on both TV and DVD. In this again it is David’s gentle humour and sense of mischief which carries us along as we watch Mist develop into a fully-fledged working dog. People might think of James Herriot or Johnny Morris’s ‘Animal Magic’ but the truth is that David Kennard has a voice which is as unique as the breathtaking scenery on which he works. It is a voice of a modest country man which lifts the heart and, without even trying, reminds us how precious our rural heritage is to all of our lives. Yet it also reminds us how fragile is its continuation as the job becomes less and less financially viable. As he says in ‘A Shepherd’s Watch’: “It’s a sobering, saddening thought, but I do sometimes wonder whether I represent one of the last generations of shepherds.” We can only hope that this does not turn out to be true.

The falconer: Jonathan Marshall (
Thoughts of keeping traditional country skills alive are even more on your mind when you watch Jonathan Marshall taking his Harris Hawks hunting rabbits on a country estate or see the way he handles his peregrine falcons at a display. This is another person who through sheer force of personality and love for what he does has not only managed to carve a career out of his passion but has also become extremely well-known for it throughout the world.
Like David he also became hooked as a child after having been fortunate enough to see a golden eagle in the Grisedale Forest when he was eight years old. After that he got a kestrel for his birthday and when he left school he went to work with Bob Haddon and his birds of prey at Windsor Safari Park. From there he joined the RAF and afterwards the Hawk Conservancy before setting up the falconry centre in North Devon’s Milky Way Adventure Theme Park in 1991. Having learnt his trade from all of the various angles he eventually set up by himself in 2001 and now has over 40 adult birds.
When you meet him you can see that he lives and breathes birds of prey. But it is also clear that they fire his imagination and specifically that part which dreams of daring deeds and great adventure. This has led him to produce some of the most spectacular displays of falconry in the world including hang-gliding and flying a micro-light plane with his golden eagle Sampson, sky-diving with his peregrine falcon Nico and hunting on horseback with peregrines and Harris Hawks.
But what comes across most is his desire to share his passion with other people. To fire their imagination with that same love for wildlife and to bring them a little closer to what is in reality living history, a whisper on the wind of time from the Middle Ages and beyond. Like David, he is charismatic, interesting and genuinely funny both in his big displays and also on the private days out which he offers and it is no surprise that he regularly appears on television programmes such as The One Show. But also like David you get the impression that after all the hullabaloo has died down he is extremely happy to retreat to the peace and quiet of the countryside and away from the noise of the modern world.

Tim Kevan is the author of the comic novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ (Bloomsbury) and the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest).

Photographs provided courtesy of

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pet Shop in Braunton, North Devon

If you either live in or are visiting North Devon and need to find a pet shop then look no further than Martin and Annette at Top 'n' Tails at 19 Cross Tree Centre in the middle of Braunton, North Devon. Not only are they both incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful but they also have an enormous array of stock to suit all your needs including natural and homeopathic supplements and remedies should you require them. They also offer independent expert nutritional advice and assistance in choosing the right products for your pets. What's more, if they don't have it in then they're always happy to order it. Oh, and if you can't make it to them then they also deliver to much of the North Devon area. Martin and Annette are both passionate animal lovers through and through and they have been a great help to me as I have been bringing up my little border terrier Jack and I couldn't recommend them more highly. For more information, visit their website at where you can also order online.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book recommendation: 'The Glass Room' by Simon Mawer

Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2009 and published by Little, Brown, this book provides a look at some of the huge issues of twentieth century history through the microcosm of The Glass Room or brand new, state of the art house built in the 1930s on a hillside near a provincial Czech town for Victor and Liesel Landauer. But when the Nazis arrive they are forced to flee and the house subsequently passes from Nazi hands to the Soviets and then to the Czechoslovak state. The story brilliant intertwines the history of the house and the characters that pass through it and provides another perspective on the choas and destruction which came out of the events of the 1930s. Macro and micro histories all through a glass darkly. A great book.

Book recommendation: 'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters

Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2009 and published by Virago, this is a ghost story which will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Set in post-war rural Warwickshire, Sarah Waters wonderfully evokes both the period and its class-ridden society. The story follows the local doctor as he pays an increasing number of visits to the big country house which like the dowager duchess's dress was once grand and is now crumbling away and in permanent decline. As he does so he struggles to explain a number of curious incidents which occur. It's beautifully written in such a way that it seems to creep up on you like the evening shadows and will have you thinking about it long after you've finished. A great read and highly recommended!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This blog picked as one of world's top 100 surf blogs

Nice to see that this blog has been picked as one of the world's top 100 surf blogs by The Daily Reviewer. To see the others, click here.

Inspirational story: The boy who harnessed the wind

The extraordinary true story of William Kamkwamba, a Malawian teenager who transformed his village by building electric windmills out of junk, is now the subject of a new book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. To read the full story on the BBC website, click here. To buy the book on (shipping from the States), click here. To read William's blog, click here.