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To all my readers. Many apologies for the lateness of this month’s newsletter. I have struggled with very frustrating Internet problems preventing me from uploading the photos for this edition.

CAMPSITE

Tidying up around the place ready for the main season has stalled somewhat because my gardener/handyman is convalescing for a few weeks after an operation. Unfortunately my internet ‘went down’ for several days and I lost some camping bookings because of it. I have now dragged myself into the 21st century by having emails put onto my mobile phone so that it doesn’t happen again. Nevertheless several campers came along for the half term holiday including this lovely family who had a quick tour of some of the farm. (1, 2). A couple actually arrived from Bridport last night to try out their new motorhome and Jill really brightened up a dull morning before their departure this morning. (3)

FARM

A VISIT FROM THE BULL

This Simmental bull, born on 27.6.16 arrived for a working holiday with my cows in early February. (4, 5) He will stay about 6 weeks. His official name is Ryall Hannibal 16.

PRUNING APPLE TREES

This new orchard was planted in 2000 with 30 trees all nine feet apart. They have been neglected of late with the caging starting to grow into the base of some of the trees (6) and side shoots on the trunk (7) which should have been cut off a long time ago. Also the trees haven’t been pruned in all that time, so major surgery is now being done to get the growth under control. It is necessary to prune in the winter before the sap rises, thus opening up the trees by cutting some branches from the middle and removing crossing branches generally, especially those that are chafing, Dead wood also has to be cut out and some of the youngest growth (spurs) have to be pruned back to half the length to an outfacing bud. It is important that the pruning is not too drastic or the effect would be too “shocking” for the tree. All side shoots and suckers on the trunk should be removed. Here are two examples of “the before and after.” (8, 9, 10)

Various tools are used to do this skilled job including a pole lopper with rope attachment for cutting high branches, (11) ordinary toppers, (12) a pruning knife (13) and saw. Each piece of equipment has to be sterilized between each tree which is done by painting pasteurized milk onto each blade. (14) An archaeologist, who happened to be on one of my conducted walks during a Dorset Food Week a few years ago, informed me that the shape of the land where the orchard is situated and part of the adjoining meadow indicated that it was in fact a Saxon settlement in the past. (15) We have yet to find any artifacts!

GARDEN

In early February we had some snow which actually made the garden and area around the house look quite neat and tidy. (16, 17, 18, 19)

Alisha has been helping me when she can but with her GCSEs looming her time here is short at the moment. Fortunately she had a few hours to spare yesterday so we moved pots around the cabin so that the most attractive ones were at the front. (20) All the daffodils were transferred to the campsite (21, 22) and we planted out some new tulips. (23) The new Christmas tree bought in 2018 was transplanted into a slightly bigger pot so that it doesn’t grow too much before next December. (24)

CRABBS BLUNTSHAY FARM HOUSE

The farmhouse is supposedly dated from about 1870 according to family legend. (25) Prior to that the building which it replaced (possibly a Dorset long house) was burnt down, as were so many thatched buildings in those days. The farm at that time was part of an estate and I surmise that the “new build” was “thrown together” without a surveyor or architect involved! There are very few ‘square corners’ in the house, so wall papering in the past has been very stressful. A buttress was constructed sometime after 1920 to prevent it from falling forward. (26) The 1870 building had no foundations, (and damp courses had probably not been invented at that time). Consequently the front of the house is still gradually falling forward and cracks appear between the tops of walls and ceilings on a regular basis. (27) This causes a lot of dust. Fortunately housework is not a priority for me!

The kitchen floor is about 8 inches below the outside path which increases in depth on one wall in the sitting room to at least a foot. This means that damp plays havoc with the plaster inside the house, (28) and regularly moves wall paper. (29. 30. 31) A builder, who came to put in a new kitchen for me in 2003, advised me that something will need to be done about this situation in the next 80 years otherwise there will be massive problems. Ideally the whole house needs to be gutted with all the plaster taken off, all the original flagstones taken up and foundations put down. This would mean moving out for at least 6 months and spending a fortune on refurbishment. As it is way beyond my budget I guess that if I live to be very old little old lady the house will be quite derelict by my date of death!

HILL VIEW RIDING STABLES

Alisha is doing very well with her GCSE riding course and videos are made of her progress. These are evidence of her standard of riding. (32) She has been having regular lessons on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Alisha went on her first “hack” (ride out) recently, on a beautiful sunny February day, and really enjoyed trotting and cantering through the farm and out into the local environs. (33) The horse is called Joe, he is an Irish cobb and 20 years old. He stands at 16 hands high and has been at Hill View for 11 years.

AGINCARE – CARING IN THE COMMUNITY

About a year ago Agincare started attending my husband for half an hour each morning. These visits were as much to take some of the stress from me as it was to look after him. He is able to wash himself but needs help with washing his hair and feet. The carers also make the bed (34), sometimes do the washing up (35) and bring in coal every day for the Rayburn. (36) Occasionally they help with logs and odd jobs like taking down the string from hanging Christmas cards. (37) They then have to write copious notes about what they have just completed. The carers are a lovely group of people and usually very interesting to talk to. They all seem to have had other careers in the past and for various reasons came to Agincare to work.

Anyone wanting to plan a career path with Agincare would obviously start as a day to day carer, and then progress to higher care work, followed by senior care work. This could be followed by becoming a field care supervisor. The next step would be a co-ordinator in the company’s office followed by becoming an Area Manager. The age range of the personnel is 18 to 65 and the longest serving carer has been with the company for 11 years.

The company was started from scratch in 1986 by Derek Lockhurst. The head office is in Portland with other branches at Bridport, Dorchester, Weymouth, Poole, Bournemouth, Chippenham, Nottingham and Bristol. They also have two care hostels in Dorchester. The catchment area for Agincare’s work goes as far as Lyme Regis, Marshwood, Beaminster, Long Bredy and Askerswell.

BRIDPORT PANTOMIME PLAYERS

The BPP have been putting on pantomimes in Bridport for over 50 years. I usually attend every year and this year’s production was even better than usual. (38) It was held at the Electric Palace in Bridport, (39) and although I was not allowed to take photos of the actual production I “clicked away” in the Foyer (40, 41) and theatre. (42, 43) Glancing through the pantomime programme always makes interesting reading as I know some of the people involved. (44, 45, 46).

Bernard Gale, (47) who had already started a dancing school, staged small pantomimes which proved very successful and popular. This encouraged him to have ‘grown-ups’ in them as well, so the Bridport Pantomime Players were established in 1966. Initially their productions were at a small venue, but it was decided after a lot of fund raising (jumble sales, coffee mornings, and other events) the big step was taken to move it to the Electric Palace Cinema, South Street, Bridport. (49) So in 1968 Red Riding took to the stage at the Palace and pantomimes continued there every year until 1999. At this stage the Palace was unexpectedly closed so Bernard and the Players went ahead and for the next seven years the shows were staged on a much smaller stage at the Lyric Cinema in Barrack Street, Bridport. Sadly Bernard died and The Lyric had to be sold, but much to everyone’s relief Peter Hitchins purchased the Electric Palace and so pantomimes went back there in 2007 with Cinderella. It is now owned by Susan Warren, from a local family in West Dorset.

Throughout all of the fifty odd years of pantomime so many people have appeared on stage – from the tiny tots, children’s tap and ballet, to the Players themselves. There has also been an army of those who have worked back stage, scene painting, props, lighting, sound, costumes, make up, orchestra, front of house – the list is endless. Past productions speak for themselves. (50) Two people who have been continually involved with the pantomime for a very long time are Jo Hawker and Teresa Grinter. Every year specific groups come along to be entertained. This year included Felicity’s Farm Shop, The Mayor of Bridport and Council Members, Bothenhampton Brownies, Symondsbury School and the 1st West Bay Cubs and Scouts. The BPP is an amazing institution who has entertained several generations of people of all ages in the Bridport area. Long may it continue!

Delving into the history of pantomime makes fascinating reading. The word pantomime came from the Latin word ‘pantomimus’ which looses translates as ‘a dancer who acted all the roles or all the story.’ Pantomime has a long theatrical history in Western culture dating back to classical theatre. It developed partly from the 16th century commedia dell’arte tradition of Italy and other European and British stage tradition, such as 17th century masques and music hall. An important part of the pantomime until the late 19th century was the harlequinade. (Harlequin – a stock comic character usually wearing a diamond patterned multicoloured costume and a black mask). Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing. It employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story more or less based on a well-known fairy story.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to all the people who have helped me with this newsletter: Val Newman, Jo Hawker and Amy Wheatley, Electric Palace Personnel, Agincare Personnel, Will Dixon, Marcia Bishop, Alisha Lambert, and Caroline Lambert.

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