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Romantic beauty spot in Exmoor that inspired Victorian novel Lorna Doone

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romantic beauty spot in exmoor that inspired victorian novel lorna doone

The National Trust has acquired a romantic beauty spot on Exmoor which inspired the 19th-century novel Lorna Doone.

The charity bought the nine acre site on the border of Devon and Somerset for £1.5 million shortly before coronavirus lockdown measures were introduced in March.  

But the National Trust stressed the site is likely to be its last acquisition for ‘quite some time’ as the lockdown has significantly affected the charity’s finances, with an estimated £200 million loss of income this year.   

The idyllic site includes Lorna Doone Farm in Malmsmead, near Lynton and the nearby Cloud Farm campsite in the wild Exmoor landscape which inspired RD Blackmore’s 1869 novel.

In the book, Blackmore describes the deep green valley ‘carved from out the mountains in a perfect oval’ and wooded hills ‘swept up to the sky-line’ as well as a river ‘gilded out from underground with a soft, dark babble’. 

The National Trust has acquired an idyllic site in Exmoor including the Cloud Farm campsite (pictured) which helped inspire RD Blackmore's 1869 novel Lorna Doone

The National Trust has acquired an idyllic site in Exmoor including the Cloud Farm campsite (pictured) which helped inspire RD Blackmore's 1869 novel Lorna Doone

The National Trust has acquired an idyllic site in Exmoor including the Cloud Farm campsite (pictured) which helped inspire RD Blackmore’s 1869 novel Lorna Doone

Pictured: Amelia Warner as Lorna Doone and Richard Coyle as John Ridd in a BBC One adaptation of the 1869 novel

Pictured: Amelia Warner as Lorna Doone and Richard Coyle as John Ridd in a BBC One adaptation of the 1869 novel

Pictured: Amelia Warner as Lorna Doone and Richard Coyle as John Ridd in a BBC One adaptation of the 1869 novel

Set in late 17th-century Exmoor, Lorna Doone tells the story of John Ridd, a farmer who finds forbidden love after his father is slain by the lawless Doone clan who inhabit an area near to the Badgworthy Water river.    

April Braund, visitor experience manager for the National Trust, said the landscape featured in Lorna Doone was at the ‘heart of the site’.

‘We are hoping that by making this beautiful spot more accessible, we can encourage more people to connect with nature,’ she said.

The National Trust will improve facilities currently at the site, such as a tearoom, holiday accommodation and campsite, car park and public toilets.

Public rights of way connect it to other National Trust places including Watersmeet, a five-mile walk along the East Lyn river, which also features heavily in the novel.

The charity already cares for wildlife in the area including beavers and water voles on the nearby Holnicote Estate and has worked to entice the high brown fritillary and dark green fritillary butterflies back to the landscape.

The National Trust stressed the site (pictured) is likely to be its last acquisition for 'quite some time' as the lockdown has significantly affected the charity's finances

The National Trust stressed the site (pictured) is likely to be its last acquisition for 'quite some time' as the lockdown has significantly affected the charity's finances

The National Trust stressed the site (pictured) is likely to be its last acquisition for ‘quite some time’ as the lockdown has significantly affected the charity’s finances

Kev Davies, lead ranger for the area, said 41 per cent of species in Britain are in decline and the trust is keen to reverse that on its land.

‘The countryside in and around the Lorna Doone valley is a great place for seeing wildlife,’ Mr Davies said. ‘There’s red deer at Watersmeet, peregrines, ancient oaks and further afield on the Holnicote Estate, beavers and water voles.’

The 150th anniversary of the publication of Lorna Doone was celebrated across Exmoor last year.

Blackmore’s romance novel has never been out of print and has inspired films, TV series, songs and even a shortbread biscuit.

Rob Joules, general manager for the north Devon coast and countryside, said the National Trust’s acquisition of the site would ensure its future.

‘Every penny donated or spent on site will be reinvested on our land in the area, helping nature thrive and adding to the enjoyment of people,’ Mr Joules said.

‘It’s great that visitors will be able to stay in this landscape and able to get active in the outdoors by walking along the river, up on the moor or down to the sea along the South West Coast Path.

‘By diversifying our income streams on this part of Exmoor we will be able to increase the funds we spend improving access, creating amazing outdoor experiences and space for nature to thrive.’

Forbidden love and the ‘Last Victorian’: The novel inspired by Exmoor’s idyllic landscape

Pictured: English novelist Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Pictured: English novelist Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Pictured: English novelist Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Richard Doddridge Blackmore, known as RD Blackmore, was an acclaimed novelist in the 19th century often referred to as the ‘Last Victorian.’

He won recognition for his vivid descriptions and personification of the countryside, a movement of romantic fiction continued by Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Though Blackmore’s work is largely out of print, his most beloved novel Lorna Doone has inspired films, TV series, songs and even a shortbread biscuit.

He first struggled to find a publisher for the romance, but eventually published it anonymously in a limited three-volume edition of 500 copies in 1869.  

It was republished the following year and hasn’t been out of print since.

Lorna Doone is set in the Badgworthy Water region of Exmoor in the late 17th century.  It tells the story of John Ridd, the son of a respectable farmer who was murdered by one of the outlawed Doone clan. 

John then falls in love with the novel’s namesake Lorna, who turns out to be the granddaughter of Sir Ensor Doone and is destined to marry the heir of the Doone Valley, Carver Doone.   

The novel was adapted to film in 1951 by director Phil Karlson, starring Barbara Hale and Richard Green.

It was then brought to television in 2000, in a BBC One series featuring Richard Coyle, Amelia Warner, Aidan Gillen and Martin Clunes.

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Death row inmate, 40, says, ‘I’m ready, Father’ as he becomes sixth federal inmate to be executed

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death row inmate 40 says im ready father as he becomes sixth federal inmate to be

A man who killed a religious couple visiting Texas from Iowa was executed Thursday, the first black inmate put to death as part of the Trump administration’s resumption of federal executions.

Christopher Vialva, 40, was pronounced dead shortly before 7pm after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In a last statement, Vialva asked God to comfort the families of the couple he had killed, saying, ‘Father … heal their hearts with grace and love.’ His final words were: I’m ready, Father.’

There was some confusion within the Bureau of Prisons about the official time of death. Inside the chamber, the time of death was announced as 6.42pm, but the agency later said the official time of death was actually 6.46pm.

He was 19 years old in 1999 when he shot Todd and Stacie Bagley and burned them in the trunk of their car. Vialva´s lawyer, Susan Otto, has said race played a role in landing her client on death row for slaying the white couple.

Vialva was the seventh federal execution since July and the second this week. Five of the first six were white, a move critics argue was a political calculation to avoid uproar. The sixth was Navajo.

This undated image taken from video provided by attorney Susan Otto shows Christopher Vialva in the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Vialva is the seventh federal death row inmate to be executed this year

This undated image taken from video provided by attorney Susan Otto shows Christopher Vialva in the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Vialva is the seventh federal death row inmate to be executed this year

This undated image taken from video provided by attorney Susan Otto shows Christopher Vialva in the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Vialva is the seventh federal death row inmate to be executed this year

Victims Todd and Stacie Bagley

Victims Todd and Stacie Bagley

Victims Todd and Stacie Bagley

Victims Todd and Stacie Bagley

Todd and Stacie Bagley, left and right, were murdered by Christopher Andre Vialva

‘I believe when someone deliberately takes the life of another, they suffer the consequences for their actions, Todd Bagley´s mother, Georgia, wrote in a statement released after the execution.

In the video statement released his lawyers released Thursday, Vialva expressed regret for what he´d done and said he was a changed man.

‘I committed a grave wrong when I was a lost kid and took two precious lives from this world,’ he said. ‘Every day, I wish I could right this wrong.’

Vialva´s mother, Lisa Brown, spoke at an anti-death penalty rally Thursday morning across from the prison where her son was later put to death.

‘This is the first venue I´ve had in which I could say to Todd and Stacie´s family, I am so sorry for your loss,’ said Brown, who was expected to witness her son´s execution.

‘Christopher´s mother had the opportunity to visit hi for the past 21 years,’ she wrote. ‘We have had to wait for 21 years for justice and closure. We cannot be with our children for visits or to see them on holidays. We were denied that privilige,’ Bagley’s mother wrote.

Federal authorities executed just three prisoners in the previous 56 years. Death penalty foes accuse President Donald Trump of restarting them to help stake a claim as the law-and-order candidate.

Otto said one Black juror and 11 white jurors recommended the death sentence in 2000 after prosecutors told them Vialva led a Black gang faction in Killeen, Texas, and killed to boost his gang status. That claim, Otto said, was false and only served to conjure up menacing stereotypes.

‘It played right into the narrative that he was a dangerous Black thug who killed these lovely white people. And they were lovely,’ Otto said in a recent phone interview.

According to court filings, the Bagleys were on their way home from a Sunday worship service during a visit to Texas when Vialva and his teenage accomplices asked them for a lift after they stopped at a convenience store – planning all along to rob the couple. After the Bagleys agreed and began driving away, Vialva pulled out a gun and told the couple: ‘Plans have changed.’

A wave of federal executions by the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus have resumed

A wave of federal executions by the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus have resumed

A wave of federal executions by the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus have resumed

After stealing their money, jewelry and ATM card, the teens locked the Bagleys in the trunk of their car as they drove around for hours trying to withdraw money from ATMs and seeking to pawn Stacie Bagley´s wedding ring. The Bagleys pleaded for their lives from the trunk.

The teens eventually pulled to the side of the road and poured lighter fluid inside the car. As they did, the Bagleys sang ‘Jesus loves us’ in the trunk. Vialva, the oldest of the group, donned a ski mask, opened the trunk and shot the Bagleys in the head. Stacie Bagley, prosecutors said at trial, was still alive as flames engulfed the car.

Questions about racial bias in the criminal justice system have been front and center since protests erupted across the country following the death of George Floyd after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the handcuffed Black man´s neck for several minutes.

A report this month by the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center said Black people remain overrepresented on death rows and that Black people who kill white people are far more likely to be sentenced to death than white people who kill Black people.

Of the 56 inmates currently on federal death row, 26 – or nearly 50% – are Black, according to center data updated Wednesday; 22, or nearly 40%, are white and seven, around 12% were Latino. There is one Asian on federal death row. Black people make up only about 13% of the population.

Otto said Vialva´s lawyers during the trial, the sentencing phase and in an initial appeal didn´t appear to raise objections about the racial composition of the jury or the characterization of Vialva as a Black gang leader. That effectively barred subsequent lawyers from raising the issue of racial bias in higher court appeals.

His current legal team instead stressed Vialva´s level of mental development at the time of the killings. Otto said that Vialva was, developmentally, three or four years younger than his 19 years at the time of the killings and so for practical purposes was a juvenile at the time.

Otto says U.S. law doesn´t allow for judges to deem someone facing a possible death sentence to be technically a juvenile and therefore ineligible for the death penalty, something she says should change.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Single radio producer reveals her Tinder date once brought all of his other dates to a house party

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A single Australian radio producer has shared her worst Tinder date of all time, which involved a man inviting all of his conquests to a house party ‘like The Bachelor‘.

Triple M radio worker Jana Hocking, 36, has dubbed Tinder the ‘sleaziest’ online dating app after an encounter she had with a narcissistic male a few years ago.

‘He had just moved into a swanky new apartment and was clearly keen to show off,’ she told FEMAIL. ‘I was meeting his friends for the first time, but turns out I was also meeting the other girls he was dating!’

She described how everyone was sitting in his lounge room getting to know each other when one girl casually mentioned that she was dating him.  

Triple M radio worker Jana Hocking (pictured) has called Tinder the 'sleaziest' online dating app after an encounter she had with a narcissistic male a few years ago

Triple M radio worker Jana Hocking (pictured) has called Tinder the 'sleaziest' online dating app after an encounter she had with a narcissistic male a few years ago

Triple M radio worker Jana Hocking (pictured) has called Tinder the ‘sleaziest’ online dating app after an encounter she had with a narcissistic male a few years ago

‘Then another girl was like, “wait, I’m dating him as well” and I just went straight to the bedroom to grab my bag,’ Jana said.

‘He came in to check on me and I told him about the other two girls and he freaked out, followed me down the stairs as I left telling me not to leave but I was out of there.’

Over the following days the man – who had acted like he was a contestant on The Bachelor – texted, called and apologised to Jana for what had happened.

‘But once a player always a player. Such a douche,’ she said.

After sharing the Tinder fail with her broader friendship circle Jana discovered she wasn’t the only one who had been exposed to sleazy behaviour.  

After sharing her Tinder fail with her broader friendship circle Jana discovered she wasn't the only one who had been exposed to sleazy behaviour

After sharing her Tinder fail with her broader friendship circle Jana discovered she wasn't the only one who had been exposed to sleazy behaviour

After sharing her Tinder fail with her broader friendship circle Jana discovered she wasn’t the only one who had been exposed to sleazy behaviour

‘My friend discovered her stepbrother was on the app. Her MARRIED stepbrother,’ she told news.com.au.

‘Another friend went on a date with a Tinder guy whose girlfriend slid into her DMs to inform her that he lived with her and they were expecting a child.’

She argues that more people are turning to the likes of Bumble and Hinge to procure a date, over the ‘cesspit of f**kboys’ that is Tinder, because you can get a feel for another person’s personality before going out to dinner.

‘Tinder just feels like that seedy late-night bar people go to when they’re just looking for some action,’ Jana said.

Despite her disaster dating story Jana has previously spoken about the importance of seeing ‘more than one person at a time’ to avoid needlessly getting your heart broken.   

Despite her disaster dating story Jana has previously spoken about the importance of seeing 'more than one person at a time' to avoid needlessly getting your heart broken

Despite her disaster dating story Jana has previously spoken about the importance of seeing 'more than one person at a time' to avoid needlessly getting your heart broken

Despite her disaster dating story Jana has previously spoken about the importance of seeing ‘more than one person at a time’ to avoid needlessly getting your heart broken

She believes that having two men at any one time is feasible but any more is a ‘juggling act’.

‘Plus you forget what you’ve said on dates and end up telling them the same story twice,’ she said.

There are some downsides to employing her strategy though, namely that you could be on one date and run into the other ‘date’ while out and about. 

‘I once got caught doing the Bondi to Bronte walk in Sydney with a guy, the morning after I had been on a date with another guy who was on the same walk,’ she said.

‘What was worse is that he stopped to chat and I had to introduce him to my current date.’

Once you’ve been on a few outings with someone and things are looking more likely to progress, that’s when you’ll need to decide who you want to be with.

‘I think you know something is real once they have done something that would normally turn you off, like farting or having a boogie on their face, and you still like them. Not the most romantic answer but true,’ Jana said.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Homeowners are warned to brace for onslaught of more than 200billion daddy long legs 

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homeowners are warned to brace for onslaught of more than 200billion daddy long legs

With record temperatures, it’s been a summer to savour – for daddy long legs, that is.

Now homeowners have been warned to brace for an invasion of more than 200billion of the amorous insects.

Experts say the warm but wet weather has provided perfect growing conditions for crane fly larvae, or ‘leatherjackets’, in their underground tunnels.

Now homeowners have been warned to brace for an invasion of more than 200billion daddy long legs (pictured)

Now homeowners have been warned to brace for an invasion of more than 200billion daddy long legs (pictured)

Now homeowners have been warned to brace for an invasion of more than 200billion daddy long legs (pictured) 

And the ‘sex-crazed’ creatures are now hatching – with hordes expected to swarm into homes searching for a mate. 

Daddy long legs – which have just a few days to breed before they die – are attracted to lights and often find themselves trapped indoors.

Lawn treatment specialist Ian Kettle said the hungry larvae had been leaving bare patches on customers’ grass in Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

He added: ‘I’ve worked in the lawn treatment business for 13 years and never seen so many.’

Paul Hetherington, of insect charity Buglife, said: ‘They cannot eat or drink and only live for a few days. 

They are purely built to have sex and the females lay eggs outdoors. They have got 24 hours or so to find a mate.

‘They are sex machines.’

The name daddy long legs is thought to come from the title of a 1912 novel by American author Jean Webster.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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