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THE CAMPSITE

The long May weekend and half term holiday were busy. As usual there were all shapes are sizes with regards to tents. (1, 2) I gave my Conservation Walk around the farm during this time and took a group photo when we got to the old farm machinery display. (3) Duke of Edinburgh students from a local East Devon secondary school used my campsite again this year with even more students than previously. There were 31 students and 4 leaders. (4) Another couple brought some of their plants with them (5) and displayed some of the rhubarb I have been trying to give away for months.

THE GOSLINGS

The goslings are now two months old and have been out to grass for some weeks. They are still vulnerable in wet weather and hot sunlight because they are not totally feathered up. I put up a gazebo for them on this occasion and hoped that they had to sense to go under it if necessary. (6) Today they went into Dillon’s patch of grass. (He is the very old gander) I had to keep them separate otherwise he would have gone for the goslings’ necks. (7)

LOCAL EVENTS

A LOCAL CELEBRITY

Paul Atterbury, well known for working with the ‘Miscellaneous’ team on the Antiques Roadshow recently gave a talk, at the Bridport Town Hall, covering his career as a freelance writer, lecturer, broadcaster and exhibition curator. (8) He was invited by The Bridport Area Development Trust, in a bid to raise further funds towards the restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute Grade II Listed building in Bridport. It was constructed in the 1830s (9)

A BINGO GAME AT SALWAYASH

The management of the Under 13s Bridport Rugby Club organised a bingo at Salwayash to raise funds for a the Club to go to Ireland to play. When I walked into the hall I could feel the intense concentration permeating in the room. (10) About 10% of the players were children. It took me back to my childhood when I used to play and presumed that the caller still used such phrases as ‘On its own – number 1’, ‘Legs – 11’, ‘Unlucky for some – 13’, ‘Key to the door – 21’, ‘Clickety click – 66’ and ‘Two fat ladies – 88’. (11) I expect the prizes are still given out for Four Corners, Top Line, Middle Line, Bottom Line and Full House. It was probable that the majority of players had four cards for each round (12) and by the time a full house was called most of the numbers would have been covered up (13)

CELEBRATIONS FOR THE QUEEN’S 90TH BIRTHDAY

Every village in West Dorset appeared to celebrate the Queen’s 90th. Marshwood had a bonfire and a light supper. (14) Broadoak had a brunch (15, 16) with lots of volunteers working in the background to make the event a success. (17, 18, 19) There was even a cow on display as a symbol of dairy farming in the area (20) and lots of activities for the children to do. (21) At Bettiscombe they had a hamper lunch (22) with a birthday cake (23) and diners dressed in a party mood. (24)

A TRACTOR TRUNDLE

Until I heard the hum of all these old tractors travelling past the campsite I had never heard of a tractor trundle. I raced after the last one to find out what was going on. (25). It transpired that at least 60 tractors had left the Chard area in Somerset several hours before and had trundled their way past the South Chard Milk Factory, Holditch, across the top of Thorncome, Sadborrow, Birdsmorgate, through Marshwood, and then down past Fishpond and finally to Whitchurch at which point they joined Bluntshay Lane and completed their journey at the Shave Cross Pub for a refreshment break. The parked up tractors looked like a vintage rally (26) and some of the trailers being pulled by them were quite ingenious (27). The oldest tractor was a 1947 Field Marshall Diesel (28). This was the slowest tractor (maximum 12 mph) so it had to lead and set the pace otherwise it would have been left behind! They all left the the Shave Cross in convoy after the break to be back in Chard before dark. (29) The event was organised to raise funds for Cancer Research and the Air Ambulance.

MY CONSERVATION AND FOSSIL WALK

This was at the beginning of June on a beautifully sunny day. Mike, a geologist from the Jurassic Coast Trust, started the event by explaining the geology of the local area. (30) Crabbs Bluntshay is on the same strata as Charmouth and in the past we have found similar fossils (ammonites and belemites). Next Norah, another geologist, showed us a selection of less well known fossils (31) found along the Jurassic Coast. This comprised of ‘trace fossils’ – mud cracks (formed in dried out puddles and ponds), ripples (formed by lapping water) and calcretions (they form around plant roots). We then ventured down Bluntshay Lane into my fields and looked at the ancient sheepwash, new orchard and hedge, possible site of a Saxon settlement and the Medieval ridge and furrow field system. When we reached the highest point on the farm we looked out at the twelfth century patchwork quilt landscape and Mike explained how the Marshwood Vale was formed (32) This is far too complicated for me to explain here!!

After this we continued around the rest of the farm looking at a cob clay pit – the clay was in the distant past used to build cottages and farm buildings. At an ancient drinking place on the River Char we espied a beautiful damsel fly which we tried to photograph (33). On the last leg of the walk we crossed over the River Char and saw the geology at first hand with large slabs of blue lias stone on the river bed, with alluvial silt, clay and red flint above this on the bank. After travelling through two small orchards we came to a retting pond (presumably dug out in the 1700s) which was used for soaking flax and hemp for use in the shipping industry. We then had a well deserved cup of tea with biscuits where we viewed some of my fossils and more of Norah’s specimens. (34)

BEER QUARRY CAVE, EAST DEVON

I took my Canadian friends, who were on the last leg of their 9 week honeymoon, to this vast man-made complex of underground caverns. (35) The Romans first started quarrying the stone 2000 years ago followed by the Saxons and the Normans. Extraction of the stone was particularly intense during the Middle Ages. Quarrying continued until the 1920s. Notable buildings which have Beer stone is Exeter Cathedral, London Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey among others. Firstly pick axes and wooden wedges were used but later saws were introduced. We were given an hour’s tour in very cold temperatures (36) and saw good examples of the sawn stone with names scrawled across them (37). We passed the openings into where other vast areas had been worked but it was deemed too dangerous for tourists to explore. (38)

TRIP TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

In Alberta we took a day trip to the Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains. Here we saw a statue to the legendary Canadian North West Mounted Police created in 1873. (39). In the same area stood the Banff Spring Hotel opened in 1888 as a grand railway hotel to encourage tourists. (40) All around there was spectacular scenery such as Bow Falls, (41) lakes, and snow capped mountains. (42) A very interesting feature was hot mineral water bubbling out of the bowels of the earth (43) which culminated in a specially built pool (at 40 degrees) for people to soak up the health giving nutrients. (44)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to the people who helped me with research for this newsletter: Mike Green, Norah Jaggers and the Bridport Under 13s Rugby Club.

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