Sunday, January 31, 2010

Switzerland to hold referendum on lawyers for animals

According to The Telegraph Switzerland will hold a referendum next month on whether domesticated animals should have the right to be represented by lawyers in court.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sponsored Blog Post: Predictions for 2010

As part of a series of predictions for 2010 David Phillips & Partners Solicitors have begun by issuing a warning regarding ‘Third Party Capture’ and its use by Insurance companies in accident claims. Although Insurance companies are regulated by the FSA, they are allowed to contact accident victims in order to settle claims out of court for, potentially, a lot less than they are worth. The FSA’s current stance is for a “industry led solution”, which potentially could see accident victims lose out on the full compensation that they are entitled to - by settling with an insurer first rather than also seeking independent legal advice. Stephen Higham, a partner at David Phillips & Solicitors, comments: “accident victims should always get independent legal advice, no matter what the insurers say.” If you have been involved in an accident you can get expert legal advice by contacting David Phillips & Partners Solicitors on 0800 027 7870 or at www.dpp-law.com

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 2/10: North Devon's Musicians

The eighth in a series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf' for Devon Life. 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.

NORTH DEVON’S MUSICIANS

Barrister and writer Tim Kevan discovers a rich tradition of live music on the North Devon coast.

With the increasing popularity of the likes of Jack Johnson in recent years, surfing has become increasingly associated with singer songwriters. But in North Devon this is nothing new as there is a rich musical heritage and Warren and Shaun Lathams’ GoldCoast Oceanfest and musicians Amy Newton and Douglas E.Powell are three good examples.

GoldCoast Oceanfest
Back in the mid-seventies, Warren and Shaun Latham were growing up in Durban and they lived to skate and surf. It was a great time to be around with professional surfing just starting to take off and the likes of fellow Durban surfer Shaun Tomson at the very heart of the battle to break down Hawaii’s monopoly of the sport. It was ‘Dog Town’ Durban style as they describe it and perhaps the biggest influence on them looking back was the Gunston 500 surf competition.

Little would they have imagined that over twenty years later and after many adventures they would be in North Devon launching their very own Goldcoast Oceanfest. So, with the help of local surf companies such as Tiki and Saltrock they got the ball rolling in 1999 and it has grown from there. But unlike the Gunston 500 their event isn’t just about surfing. It’s got skateboarding, volleyball, surf lifesaving, aquathon and any number of other beach sports. Oh and that’s not forgetting the incredible array of musicians they manage to attract to the event which for many people is perhaps the main attraction. Only last year for example, they had international superstars Jason Mraz and Newton Faulkner headlining and they’re already booking for this year’s event which is set for 18-20 June.

But what many don’t realise is the valuable contribution they make to the local community not just through bringing people to the area but also through encouraging greater participation in projects such as skate parks, beach sports and climbing walls. The brothers are also deeply committed to the environment and as well as helping to raise awareness of ocean-related issues they also practise what they preach and have an extremely forward thinking green policy which ranges from education of both staff and contractors to insisting on such things as biodegradable plastics and electricity which has come from renewable sources. But above all, what shines out from these brothers is a true passion for life and for giving back to others some of the enjoyment that they’ve obviously had on the long journey which has, fortunately for us, brought them to this part of the world.

Amy Newton (www.amynewton.com)
One of the local musicians who has played at the GoldCoast Oceanfest is singer-songwriter Amy Newton who was brought up in Croyde. She started out at the age of ten with a gig in the Croyde Village Hall with her professional musician father Roy Newton along with local surfer Ralph Freeman and Second Skin surf shop owner Andy Shollick. From those early beginnings she went on to study music and guitar at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts where she was taught by among others Paul McCartney, Mark Knoffler and Joan Armatrading.

She then moved to the bright lights of London where Damian Hirst lent her his houseboat and she performed in venues such as The Bedford and The Ginglik alongside the likes of Newton Faulkner. She’s also toured the country’s festivals from as far afield as the Wicker Man in Scotland to the Pontadrwe Festival in Wales and closer to home at Glastonbury. But as is so often the case the pull of North Devon and its beautiful coastline proved too much and Amy returned to her roots where her career has continued to thrive. Her first album ‘Lost for Words’ was launched in 2006 to critical acclaim and her second album ‘Which Hand’ was released in 2008 also proved a success. But it is perhaps in her live performances in which her talent shines most brightly. Gauging her audience perfectly, her passion and musical energy are guaranteed to please. Taking her influences from the great tradition of the blues and the likes of BB King, Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton, Amy is now working on her third album and is in this respect too moving back to her roots with a more blues than Americana feel to the music. She can also be found each Sunday evening at the Open Mic night at The White Lion pub in Braunton.

Douglas E.Powell (www.douglasepowell.co.uk)
Another local singer-songwriter who recently performed at GoldCoast Oceanfest is Douglas E.Powell who has lived in Braunton for the last ten years having moved here for the surf. Although he had been involved in both bands and poetry previously, the musically fertile ground of North Devon provided fresh inspiration. Early on he worked with another local musician Mike Stocks and then after one album as Stocks and Powell he decided to go solo with his own brand of folk mixed with Americana.

Now I know that many might associate folk with itchy woolly jumpers, beards and Morris Dancing and I make no criticism there. But Douglas provides an altogether more modern version whilst at the same time tipping his hat to musical heroes such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bert Jansch. This can be seen both in his first album ‘The Still and the West’ which was released in 2007 and his second ‘The Iron Coast’ released in 2008 (and which includes expert banjo playing from local architect Jim Gardner). In both there is a wonderful mix of laid back soulful tunes mixed with often intensely personal lyrics. A sea breeze on a gentle swell in which the poet in him finds true voice. It’s this combination which has led to him getting gigs from as far afield as London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Brighton and Cornwall as well as regular slots at The Tobacco Factory in Bristol and Lilicoes in Barnstaple. But of all the gigs he’s played, he’s most proud of one at Pilton Village Hall in 2009 in which he supported legendary American folk singer Otis Gibbs though that’s not forgetting his memorable performances with the legendary North Devon group the East Street Maritime Folk Collective.

So with the likes of Doug, Amy, the Latham brothers and no end of other talented musicians such as Jim Jones and Erin Matthews, there is one thing of which we can be sure: that the musical traditions of North Devon are as strong as ever and likely to be around for a good many years to come.

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). www.timkevan.com.

Jack surfing

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mention of BabyBarista on the 'Leaving Law' website

You can read the article here or below.
Tim Kevan
Now in:
Creative Writing, Portfolio Careers, Arts and Media
Went about it:
I practised as a barrister for over ten years at 1 Temple Gardens in London. During this time I wrote or co-wrote a bunch of law books which in many ways helped to develop my practice. These were later followed by a motivational book entitled ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ which I co-wrote with Dr Michelle Tempest and which encouraged lawyers to look for inspiration outside of law and used surfing and the power of the ocean as metaphors for living the day to day. But I still had an ambition to write a novel and after the first draft of the surf book was finished I very much wanted to sit down and write a legal thriller. But instead what popped out was a legal comedy about a fictional young barrister doing pupillage. I called him BabyBarista which was 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 in the form of a diary and posted it online as a blog at http://babybarista.blogspot.com. I 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 commented “If this is a fictional account it is genius”. I then emailed a few publishers and started getting interest. I was also lucky enough to be approached by a couple of literary agents and chose to go with Euan Thorneycroft of AM Heath who has been extremely helpful at all stages of the process from looking at the story itself to negotiating with the publisher. In addition, I was also contacted by The Times which offered to host the blog (at http://timesonline.typepad.com/baby_barista) and finally, I got a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing of Harry Potter fame - all within the space of less than three months. The book came out last August and is called BabyBarista and the Art of War. It’s a fictional caricature of life at the Bar and centres around BabyB’s first year in chambers where he is fighting his fellow pupils for the coveted prize of a permanent tenancy. Thankfully, it appears 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 Times Law Section calling it as “a gallop of a read” and their Books Section mentioning its “relentlessly racy, rumbustiously Rumpolean humour”. In the meantime I had co-founded a couple of legal businesses and these started to take off. The first provides free legal email newsletters (www.lawbriefupdate.com) as well as a subscription law journal. The content is provided mostly by barristers and solicitors and aims to digest into manageable form what can often be an overload of information for the legal practitioner. The other business provides online CPD training for personal injury and employment lawyers through video seminars or webinars (www.cpdwebinars.com) and this has proven to be particularly popular due to the fact that lawyers are able to gain their CPD hours watching and interacting with top speakers whilst not having to leave the comfort of their own desks or perhaps more importantly not having to lose a day out of the office going off to a conference or the like. With all this going on I was still trying to get down to the coast as much as possible and had bought a house in North Devon which was not far away from where I had been brought up as well as being next to the various surfing beaches in that area. Whilst trying to juggle all of these things I eventually decided to move down there full-time and take a break from the Bar in order that I could finish the novel and work on the businesses as well getting into the sea whenever there was swell.
Comment
It’s certainly been an exhilarating time and wonderful to have some time out to concentrate on other things than law. Being back down by the sea has really made me appreciate how important it is to concentrate on quality of life and to give yourself the time and space to pursue all manner of passions and interests which you might have. For me that meant getting out into the sea and enjoying all that the countryside has to offer. This has not just been through surfing but also through simple pleasures such as taking on a little border terrier puppy and getting him out onto the beach and into the hills, growing stuff in the garden from runner beans to rhubarb and even brewing elderflower wine or making sloe gin. It’s also a real pleasure to be back living in a rural community with all its various traditions and institutions, a place where neighbours look out for each other and friends often live just a short walk away. Ultimately I intend to return to the Bar part-time and based in Devon though hopefully through my chambers in London. But with the perspective of having spent time out it will hopefully help me ensure that I maintain some sort of balance not only between work and play but also between the various different types of work which we as lawyers are able to take on. Photograph: Copyright Jay Stirzaker

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In memory of Mickey Dias (1921-2009)

I was very saddened to read recently that Cambridge University's Mickey Dias passed away on 17 November 2009. He was one of the truly great men that I have had the privilege to come across during my time in the law. He had a wonderfully dry sense of humour and an enormous patience for those not blessed with the same incredible intellect as he. "But where is the duty of care?" I can still hear him chuckling in a tort supervision as his eyes twinkled and his face lit up with a mischievous grin. With Mickey Dias law became both understandable and fun. He will be much missed. The Squire Law Library has more information here and also has a series of three interviews here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book recommendation: 'Hesitation Marks' by Thomas Farber

Heads up for another book by Thomas Farber entitled Hesitation Marks. Olivia Dresher, editor of IN PIECES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FRAGMENTARY WRITING comments: "Every epigram in HESITATION MARKS is a surprise, a little jolt, a stab of wit. Farber exposes truths behind human behavior by playing with language, daringly juggling such themes as aging, hypocrisy, betrayal, envy. These epigrams offer little comfort, except in their originality and skillful compression they almost transcend themselves." Leonard Pitt, author of Walks Through Lost Paris says: "Thomas Farber has a weird and wonderful mind. He sees everything we see but more. Because he sees more and is so good at saying less, his epigrams translate human experience into playful gems of meaning. The art of the epigram is not only alive and well but thrives under Farber's thoughtful observations."

Thomas is the author of among other books, the two wonderfully reflective volumes on surfing and water entitled Face of the Deep and On Water.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blacksmith in Dent in the Yorkshire Dales

There's a great programme on the BBC iPlayer at the moment about the beautiful Settle to Carlisle railway which is presented by Michael Portillo. One of the people who is featured is Lucy Sandys-Clarke who is a blacksmith in Dent which is at the top of the Yorkshire Dales and just down the road from Sedbergh and the Howgill Fells. It's fantastic to see traditional crafts flourishing and helping to maintain the economies of such beautiful rural areas. The picture on the left is a window grille which she made based on a traditional design and more details of her work can be found on her website. This is what she says about her work:
"I took over the running of the village smithy in Dent in 2006 after serving an informal 5-year apprenticeship working for an established blacksmith. My work is varied, ranging from small and intricate one-off fittings to larger scale architectural installations and pieces of furniture. My special interest is in the employment of the traditional techniques of hot forgework, and whilst I acknowledge the contribution of modern labour-saving fabrication methods in bringing down the cost of the readily-available ironwork on the market, I do not believe in compromising the integrity of a piece with such economies when a more time-consuming technique is the ideal. However, if using old skills and tools is essential in the true recreation of original designs for restoration projects, my commitment to the traditions of my craft does not restrict me to following only traditional designs. There is no reason why these techniques cannot be applied to the most contempory of forms, and nothing to stop quite original ideas being realised by time-honoured means. Although often very decorative, almost everything I make serves a useful purpose of some sort, and the efficiency with which it does so is as important to me as is its aesthetic qualities. I am happy to collaborate with other involved parties - architects, designers, joiners, furnituremakers and stonemasons - to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ocean2Summit team set off on epic adventure!

North Devon doctors and extreme adventurers Rob Casserley and Stuart Burbridge are setting off this afternoon on the first leg of an epic adventure. They are about to set off from La Gomera in the Canaries and row to Antigua which as the crow flies is over 3,000 nautical miles. Then, as if that's not enough, they're going to 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 most definitely one of those. What's more they're doing it to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. You can sponsor them at JustGiving.com and can follow their progress by map and on Twitter. I spoke to Rob today and he sounded in fine fettle. We've got a team of three surfer weather forecasters here in Braunton and I'll be sending Rob and Stuart updates via satellite phone during their trip. You can read more about Rob in my column for Devon Life. I'm looking forward to joining him on a trek to Everest Base Camp at the end of March followed by an ascent of the 6,000m Island Peak. In the meantime, if you want to get technical, then two great websites for weather forecasting an Atlantic row are www.passageweather.com and www.magicseaweed.com.

The photograph is copyright Susanna Stanford.

'Morning of the Earth' by Albie Falzon

Friday, January 1, 2010

Book recommendation: 'Grey Skies, Green Waves', by Tom Anderson

Grey Skies, Green Waves is the new book by Tom Anderson, the author of two other excellent surf books Riding the Magic Carpet and Chasing Dean. Whilst it's not out in the shops until June, I've had the pleasure of reading an uncorrected sampler and can say with certainty that we're in for a treat when the final version is released. It's a complement to Tom's other two books and follows the author on his travels around these shores. As with all of his writing, it's written with the same dry, self-deprecating humour which not only makes you smile but also gently informs along the way. Then there's the characters and stories that are more than enough to keep the pages turning. It's likely to become not only one of the defining books on British surfing but I would venture to suggest on the essence of surfing itself and why we all continue to paddle out in freezing cold mid-Winter conditions in the hope of catching a few walls of saltwater back to shore.

The publishers have so far provided the following summary: "So this is surfing in Britain, I told myself as I grumpily walked up a slope of wet rocks and wispy beach grass, trying to keep a foothold as rain and wind both tried their utmost to send me skidding back down to the freezing beach below." Tom Anderson has always loved surfing - anywhere except the UK. But a chance encounter leads him to a series of adventures on home surf...As he visits the popular haunts and secret gems of British surfing he meets the Christians who pray for waves (and get them), loses a competition to a non-existent surfer, is nearly drowned in the River Severn and has a watery encounter with a pedigree sheep. All this rekindles his love affair with the freezing fun that is surfing the North Atlantic. This title includes: national radio and newspaper interviews, features and reviews; extensive coverage in surfing, sport, travel and youth media (including websites and blogs) as well as regional coverage in Wales and South West. The author writes for the surfing press and has a big following. His previous book has been entered for a major Welsh book prize, if it is shortlisted, it will receive much publicity." You can pre-order the book from amazon.

Suns along the Mohawk

Heads up for the photoblog from legal campaigner, haiku writer and author of the f/k/a blog David Giacalone. It is called suns along the Mohawk and presents views of and from the Mohawk River, Riverside Park, and the Stockade Historic District in Schenectady NY.