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CAMPSITE

I have just started organising safaris up into the fields to see the animals. One involved part of a boy’s 5th birthday treat. (1, 2, 3) Yesterday we delivered the first fallen apples of the season to the cows which they devoured in no time. (4) The third one involved being transported in a camper’s van. On each occasion we visited a second field which had the bull and two calves. (5) We witnessed some very interesting activities on these safaris.

A hearty group of slightly more mature cyclists arrived at the campsite being part of the CTC Wessex Cycling Group. They were on the last leg of the Tour de Manche. (6) They had originally caught the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen, in northern France and cycled around the French coast to catch another ferry at Rostoff, heading back to England and docking at Plymouth. From there they cycled the back routes and stopped off near Exeter. Crabbs Bluntshay was their last port of call. There were 10 cyclists with 3 backup/service vehicles (motorhomes). All the cyclists slept in individual tents. The youngest amongst them was 59 with the oldest being a sprightly 78 year old. The CTC Wessex Cycling group, based in the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch area was formed in about 1900. This association is affiliated to the Cyclist Touring Club which was established in 1878. They left quite early the next morning (7) heading off to their home area with the members going their separate ways at Wareham. The club publishes a quarterly magazine called “Cycle Ink” which includes a very full programme for these avid travellers. (8)

This tent must be one of the prettiest I have had on site. (9)

FARM

We are desperate for wood to use in the Rayburn next winter. It is a case of spotting a dead tree and cutting it down. A wedge has to be sawn into the trunk so that it will fall in the right direction. (10, 11) Yesterday we found logs already sawn up out in the orchard under very tall stinging nettles (12) which filled up a tractor box with wood to take back to the wood bunker. (13) The hunt for wood has to continue!

I finally went to collect some goslings (hatched 18th June) from a farm near Tiverton, Devon. I normally get them in the middle of May, but have had so much on my plate it had to be delayed until now. Twenty two goslings were awaiting my collection. (14) Yvette Milton, the owner, gave me a quick tour during which I saw her 260 breeding geese (15) and various small groups of goslings. The number in this group (16) had been depleted as a stoat or rat had recently taken a few during the night. A gander has since been put in with them, which acts as a very good guard dog.

The goose business was started about 40 years ago, with some of the offspring of the early birds still being around today at about 22 years old. The original birds were Dutch Legarths. The present birds are a commercial hybrid as the Miltons breed their own replacement stock. Yvette took over the running of this enterprise about 3 years ago. I was fascinated by the sheer scale of the operation. They start collecting eggs at the end of January and put their first set in the setter on the first Saturday in March. This year they hatched around 5000 goslings! They stopped setting eggs at the end of May but the birds are still laying through June and can be used for making excellent cakes and pancakes. She also showed me the inside of the hatchery, where I saw several pieces of equipment which was all part of the incubation period (30 days) before the eggs are hatched. (17, 18) The Miltons also rear Aberdeen Angus calves until they are ready for market, as well as a small suckler herd of Ruby Red Devon cows. This is a new venture for them. They have just bought their first bull. They also run a flock of 400 Lleyn sheep.

On arrival at Bluntshay straw was brought into the goose house to bed them down, (19) and they stayed indoors for a few days until I had help organised to put up some shade from the relentless sunshine – otherwise they run the risk of getting sunstroke, especially being such young birds. This consisted of a gazebo with bed sheets attached which flowed out to fence posts and the like to secure them. (20) The gazebo also had to be weighted down. (21) When they arrived at their “marquee” they were sensible enough to stay out of the sunlight. (22) Over the last few months I have fenced some areas so that the sheep do not demolish every last blade of grass, and the goslings have something to eat in the coming weeks. (23)

GARDEN

After months of watering the garden nearly every day the rain has finally arrived. I was recycling my washing up water by throwing it on the parched lawn, and putting the boiling water from cooking vegetables onto the moss that was growing in the path. My cash crops of flowers are doing well. (24, 25, 26) There has been a fairly good crop of loganberries this year, (27) but I only seem to get one punnet of ripe ones at a time to sell. (28) They also need to be sold within a day. In researching the origin of the loganberry I was fascinated to find out that a Californian, James H Logan, created the first cultivar in 1881 through natural cross-pollination of two raspberry varieties and a blackberry variety. Once the hybrid was created it was then used to create the Boysenberry (loganberry x raspberry x blackberry). Even though the loganberry was created to make a fruit more superior than its origins it does not have the commercial value of its parent’s berries, primarily due to its acidic nature and its lack of shipping and storing qualities.

THE FLOWER FESTIVAL AT WHITCHURCH CHURCH

In order to raise money to buy the flowers for the festival a cream tea was organised at Whitchurch village hall. (29) At this event Tina, a florist, demonstrated flower arranging. (30) She also organised the festival giving it the theme “A Way with Words”. There were 15 exhibits in all in the church with an appropriate poem attached to each. The font was decorated with lavender and roses. (31) The poem for this being:

“There are times when things click
They feel right, belonging
Whether colour, dance or two hearts
As one,
Lavender and Rose …….. “

Number 12 (32) was expressed movingly with the words:

“The 11th of November
Is the time to remember
We remember cadets
Who flew in jets ……. “

No 9 (33) spoke the words of a very famous poem:

“Loveliest of trees, the cheery now
Is hung with bloom along the bough
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide …. “

The altar (34) flowers spoke for themselves:

“ You love the rose and so do I. I wish
the sky would rain down roses, as the rain
From the shaken bush. Why will not? ……”

My personal favourite was the display which showed wheat and cornflowers (35)

“The earth was green, the sky was blue
I saw and heard one sunny moon
A Skylark hang between the two
A singing speck above the corn
A stage below, in gay accord
White butterflies danced on the wing
And still the singing Skylark soared
The cornfield stretched a tender green ……………..”

Quite a few of the flowers were arranged by local people including Tina herself, whilst others were crafted by friends who lived further away. Tea, coffee, cakes and bacon butties were served by our stalwart group of tea ladies. (36)

VISIT TO UPWEY WISHING WELL

The Bettiscombe Ladies Group, of which I am a member, was invited to this venue near Weymouth by Elizabeth, a very sprightly 92 year old, who lives locally at Portisham. (37) The Wishing Well is a natural spring and the source of the River Wey. The tradition of a wishing well is said to have begun as a visitor attraction in the early 20th century, but the water’s healing properties, especially sore eyes, were known for hundreds of years before that. George III often visited the village of Upwey during his many stays in Weymouth. He was particularly attracted by the spring and it is said that this caused a seat to be set nearby for his use. It is also said that the gold cup that the king drank from later became the Ascot Gold Cup. The well is “dressed” on May Day every year. This tradition originates from pre Christian times, but commenced in Upwey in 1976. It is a thanksgiving for the supply of pure water.

The well dressing is often based on special events or on a particular subject based on historical, art, literary, wildlife or cultural interest. It is very much a community effort and many people, locals and visitors, get together just before the event to create the theme of the year. For 2018 the theme is “Little Egrets on the River Wey.” Once a rarity, these beautiful birds have been seen in increasing numbers down the river. (38)

The collection for this year will go towards the installation of a defibillator on the wall of the Old School Village Hall opposite the entrance to the Wishing Well Cafe.

The well is set in a small sub-tropical garden, (39, 40) with a tea shop at its entrance. (41, 42) It seems that a church has stood on the site of St Laurence since 1201. (43) The Black Death first entered England via Melcombe Regis, near Weymouth in 1348. The vicar at this church was one of the first to be struck down by the disease.

On my way home via Portisham we drove through spectacular scenery. Portland can be seen in this photo. (44) Whereas this photo was marred by having a graveyard for cars in the middle of it, but still had a beautiful view of the Fleet and the ocean! (45)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to all the people who have helped me with this newsletter: James Gardner, Joep Jol, the Skidmores, Elizabeth Morse, Tina Hedditch, Mike Walsh, Ros Woodbridge, and Yvette Milton.

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