CAMPSITE

I continue to be educated about all the elaborate units that visit the campsite. (1, 2) This enterprising couple were trying out their VW T6 with a Slidepod unit. They are handmade in Devon and are specially designed to fit into VW vans and provide sink, gas hob, storage and shower attachment which slide out of the back with a detachable table. This meant that they didn’t have to have a full conversion as its removable. The bed rolls over the top of the pod and seats so it is almost kingsize. The back seats remain as standard so 5 people can travel in the vehicle.

Beaminster School DOE students again used the site, and this year the weather was glorious. Most years when they have visited it usually rains! (3, 4) Alisha knew some of them through riding so they had some time catching up with ‘gossip’.

I gave two young families a guided tour around the farm. Two of the children had a wheelbarrow ride all the way around. (5) One of the husbands was keen to have a look at Malcolm’s stationery engines. (6) This is a powerful Lister 9 hp engine which was for general use on a farm in days gone by.

FARM

We have had a bumper year with the number of silage bales made. (7) Both George and Alisha are expert handlers of the telehandling machines when it comes to moving bales for winter storage. (8, 9) Occasionally the plastic has a small spilt which has to be remedied straight away otherwise the rain will get in and spoil the silage. (10) Alisha had her first go at ‘topping’ a field of the dead grass left after the cows had finished with it. (11)

Alisha has enrolled to attend Kingston Maurward Agricultural College in Dorchester to study for 2 years. (12) This will involve studying general farming as well as getting licences to drive various agricultural machinery including tractor,. telehandling, forklifts etc.. The course starts in September this year and she starts at level 2 because of all the experience she has already had at Crabbs Bluntshay.

My goslings are growing well, but I have discovered one that is a different colour. (13) The dealer from whom I bought the birds says that she had a Toulouse cross gander running with the white females and she considered it was a bit like finding a four leaf clover having the brown one!!

Ruth, the daughter of some friends of mine who moved to the village a little while ago, is studying for an MSc in Environment and Development at the University of Edinburgh (Geosciences department). Her project is broadly looking at the relationship between food production and nature in farming perspectives, particularly in relation to marginal land uses. The idea is to look at how far perspectives from farmers line up with academic debates on national/international land use for food and nature, and what those perspectives can reveal about what is missing from the academic debate.

In the end she interviewed a total of 20 people, 15 farmers and 5 farm advisors and conservationists, all from within the West Dorset/East Devon area with the majority in the Marshwood Vale. She came across a lot of different farm sizes and styles, and many different views. Some pressure felt quite similarly across participants (bureaucracy, for example) and others more individually.

Ruth found the whole process very enjoyable with every visit being different. When she visited me I took her on a safari around the farm (14) where she met all my cows, and geese.

Unfortunately a few of the farmers in the Marshwood Vale have been cutting the sides of their road hedges. This is not allowed until 1st September. Early cutting may damage wildlife. The local Council usually cuts the verges on the banks underneath the hedges earlier than that which is permitted. This is to make sure that the roads are safer for cyclists and walkers and keeps the areas tidy.

WHITCHURCH’S GOT TALENT

This event had been in the pipeline for months and I was intrigued to know what talent there was in the area. (15) It turned out to be an amazing evening. There was such a great cross-section of talent: the U3A Music Group gave us an introduction to the treat, (16) along with a fencing display by Nigel with three of his students, Mia, Zac and Ottilie (17) and Syd (18) entertained us on the piano with his own composition.

John played us a good selection of popular guitar tunes, (19), Pete played guitar and sang a version of a Neil Young song, (20) Margaret accompanied by Betsy and Briony, sang a song composed by Margaret, charmed us with their voices (21) and Elizabeth belted out tunes on the flugelhorn. (22) Tina (who has often organised similar events in the past) sang a song. (23)

There was a sedate pole fitness demonstration by Biddy as well, but she moved so fast I never did get a good photo.
The main organiser of the talent show, (Carolyn) (24) read us an interesting story she had written especially for the event – with a twist at the end. The biggest surprise for me was the powerful voice of Ginny (one of our team vicars) who was accompanied brilliantly on the piano by Eddie (25)

The winners of the competition were Margaret, Betsy and Briony, with the runners up being Nigel with his students, and Biddy.

The event raised about £700 (after expenses ) which will go into village funds. The raffle, run by Rose and Sue (26) raised nearly £200 for YoungMinds, UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health.

PRESENTATION TO THE BAINS

John and Cynthia Bain, (27) who left Whitchurch in May after living for 43 years in the village, were invited back to a presentation at the village hall. Many people who knew them in the local area wrote a warm message and/or gave photos which culminated in a big book which would serve to remind them of their time at Whitchurch. A delicious tea was served to celebrate the occasion. (28)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to all of the people who have helped me with this newsletter: Caroline Lambert, Carolyn Peck, John Day, Ruth Mattock, Yvette Milton and Ros Woodbridge.