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A very interesting Dutch couple came to camp for 6 days just before Christmas and stayed in this “tipi”. (1) They said that it was a very luxurious way of camping (or even “glamping!”). Inside was a robust wood stove which kept them very warm for their winter camping expeditions. (2, 3) The “tipi” glowed at night! (4) A water bag was hung outside on the fence for making tea! (5) I have recently introduced a water container inside the cabin so that winter campers can easily get hot water to wash up at the sink. (6) The water in the cabin is turned off during the winter.

During their stay at Bluntshay Jolien found a really unusual fossil at Charmouth. (7, 8) When they took it to the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre it was special enough to be photographed for the Official Record, but it was not precisely identified. A photo of the fossil has been shown to local World Heritage and fossil expert Richard Edmonds and even he has seen nothing quite like it before. Although small, photos of the fossil will have to be sent to further experts to try and secure positive identification. How exciting!

As both Keith and Jolien have lived in the UK previously they like to come back from time to time to enjoy the beautiful countryside, which is what they miss living in the crowded “Ranstad” area in Holland. This was the first time they had visited Dorset, and they said it was well worth it. The Jurassic Coast and Bluntshay Farm will stay in their memory for a long time to come.

Jolien likes to go on sea kayak trips for a week or two and fits everything she needs into a small boat, including food, water and a one-person tent.

WINTER GARDENING AND APPLES


The children helped me take down the sunflowers. (9, 10) I left these as long as possible so that the birds could feast on the seeds. George found it very boring raking up leaves. (11) After pulling up the few beetroot I grew Alisha enjoyed chopping off the tops so that they could be cooked, ready for the freezer. (12) I tried to be very organised this year and labelled the dahlias that were shortly going to be dug up, (13) and also did the same with some of my outdoor pot plants (14) including Michaelmas Daisies (now called Asters I believe) and Ox Eye daisies. (15) In 2018 I shall then know which plants haven’t survived, if any! This photo shows a very old variety of Chrysanthemum. (16) It is so old that it is not listed anywhere. A relative was given a cutting in 1941, and our family have propagated it ever since. Unfortunately when I have tried to sell them they are “misunderstood”. I presume that potential buyers think that they “are going over” and do not buy them. The wooden greenhouse which was erected in 1992, (it was already second hand then) needed a new pane of glass. (17, 18) It is also in need of a coat of paint. I was still trying to give away the mountain of apples lying on the orchard floor in November. One taker was a local vet who came with her small son to pick up a bagful. (19)

A VERY MEMORABLE FARM AUCTION


On 30 November I attended the auction of Stoke Knapp Farm, Stoke Abbott, at the Guild Hall, Axminster, Devon. (20) The auction room was nearly full to capacity (21) (not the best photo I have ever taken!). The auction was conducted by Symonds and Sampson, (22) and the auctioneers were Ross Wilmington and Jim Rowe. (23) The atmosphere was electric with anticipation! Stoke Knapp Farm consisted of a handsome early 18th century farm house (Grade II listed), (24, 25) and 130.39 acres (52.77 hectares) of pasture and arable land, (26, 27) The land included Waddon Hill Roman Fort with panoramic views of the surrounding West Dorset countryside. As can be seen by (map – 26) the sale by auction was divided into 6 lots.

The Order of Sale notice showed the guide price for each lot. (28) There were just two bidders for Lot Three which took the price to a staggering £1,520.000! Lot Four, which had a Guide Price of £5,000, went for £50,000! By the time we got to Lot Five everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats. Lot Five’s guide price was £145,000 but sold for £258,000. Lot Six sold for £31,000 more than the Guide Price, with Lot Seven £12,000 more, and finally Lot Eight going for £16,000 more. During the auction some of the bids were made over the telephone. (29) The total Guide Price for the farm was £1,070,000. It actually sold for £2,007,000. One man, who already owns land in West Dorset, bought most of Stoke Knapp Farm. A representative of Symonds and Sampson later said that they were amazed at the prices made during the auction – even though they had been involved with many farm auctions in the past. I was absolutely flabbergasted by the whole event!

DORSET AND SOMERSET AIR AMBULANCE PRESENTATION

In November The Whitchurch, Morcombelake and Ryall Flower and Dog Show committee made a presentation of a cheque for £1,568.00 to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. (30). During the event a representative from the charity gave a very informative talk, (31) telling the audience the following facts:

  • The operational costs are £2,000,000 a year, (which is solely from fund raising).
  • Each mission costs approximately £2,500.
  • Wherever you are in Dorset or Somerset the air ambulance can get to the injured person within 20 minutes.
  • A new helicopter was purchased (the previous one had been leased) at a cost of £7,000,000 and started operations on 12 June 2017.
  • The new helicopter is much bigger than the previous one allowing the patient to be accessed by 360 degrees.
  • It can also fly by night and is currently operational between the hours of 7 am to 2 am- a total of 19 hours.

After doing more research I discovered that the Air Ambulance announced a competition to find a name for their new aircraft and entries immediately began flooding in. By the time the closing date arrived, nearly one thousand entries had been received. The winning entry was Pegasus.

This year’s Flower Show (32) was a huge success (as usual). As well as the Air Ambulance cheque, other recipients were Whitchurch Church £1,000, Whitchurch Village Hall £1,000, RNLI £500, Julia’s House £500, Wyld Morris Dancers £100 and the Pilsdon Community £250. All this has been made possible by all the people who help and support the Flower Show over the years. A large proportion of the donations came from the 2017 Flower Show.

CHRISTMAS EVENTS IN WEST DORSET AND EAST DEVON

The annual Eype Christmas Maker’s Market occurred at the Martin’s Bar and Restaurant area of the Highlands End Holiday Park. (33, 34) This was brilliantly organised by Pauline Bale. (35) The event showcased a unique and unusual mix of over 40 local artisans, makers, photographers, bakers, craftspeople and more. The stalls included Ali’s Homemade Produce, (36) Rosalind Atkins, Smocking & Dorset Buttons, (37) Nataviva who made linocut prints and products, (38) and Ashville Design who is an award-winning floral designer. (39)

I had a market stall at the Jurassic Art and Craft Fayre which was held at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. (40) The first stall as you walked in displayed delicious food which had been donated by the Friends of the Centre. (41) Just before the event closed we espied a warm glow over Charmouth beach as the sun began to set. (42)

I went along to a charming Christingle service at Marshwood church. I arrived in time to see the candle being lit. (43) The idea of Christingle began in Marienborn, Germany in 1747. At a children’s service a Bishop looked for a simple way to explain the happiness that had come to people through Jesus. He decided to give children a symbol to do this. This was a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon. In 1968 John Pensom of The Children’s Society adapted Christingle and introduced it to the Church of England. Besides having a red ribbon and candle he introduced an orange, dried fruits and sweets to create a new visual representation of Jesus. The following photos show the various tasks that the children performed (44, 45, 46) before they stood in a circle and had the candles lit for the occasion. (47)

On Christmas Eve I visited The St John the Baptist Church, Hawkchurch, East Devon, to view their Christmas Tree Festival. (48) I was amazed at the variety and ingenuity of everything on display. There were nearly 40 trees to view ranging from “A Soldier’s Tale (WW1), (49) “The Memory Tree” (for those departed), (50) “Christmas Afternoon” (showing opened Christmas presents), (51) an upside down tree – which appears to be all the rage this year, (52) “The Sweetie Tree” (made of sweet wrappers) (53) and lastly a tree made entirely of horseshoes. (54)

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to all the people who have helped me with this newsletter: Ros Woodbridge, Terry Sweeney, Jolien and Keith, Pauline Bale, Ross Wilmington from Symonds and Sampson, and Caroline House.

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