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A lovely Dutch lady, who was a keen photographer, snapped a lot of photos during her stay at Crabbs Bluntshay. On my conducted walk the photos include the two rams, (1) cattle, (2) sheep, (3), children racing across a field (4) and a rabbit. (5) Capturing a deer on camera still seems to allude us. During their stay in Dorset her family witnessed the Red Arrows at Lyme Regis with their colourful display. (6, 7) Other adventurous campers participated in lots of water sports at Portland during their stay. (8, 9) and then enjoyed individual barbeques on one of the campsite’s hard standings. (10) An even more ingenious trailer tent arrived at the end of the season. (11, 12)


We brought the cows into the field next to the campsite as they are due to calve. Nothing has happened yet, and we have had to bring in silage for them to eat, the grass being in short supply. I invested in a new ring feeder (13, 14) to add to the existing one so that we do not need to trundle over the wet ground too often. Bullying by large ganders this year has meant the 4 smaller birds had to be put into a separate area. (15) One of these “victims” must have enjoyed being harassed as she flew over two gates to get back to the perpetrators. I suppose you could call that “battered wife syndrome”. The Melplash Show Annual Ploughing Match was held in at Chideock Manor in September. (16) My husband, having restored his International McCormick tractor and plough, (17) decided to enter into the 3 furrow class. He had not ploughed for over 40 years and did it to try out the plough. (18). My cousin Brian, on the other hand, had been doing competition ploughing for many years and was this year’s champion. (19)


Not a lot to report. The sweet peas hardly flowered – mainly because we did not have enough sun and rain at the appropriate times. Whereas in the past I have had 140 + bunches flowering until the frosts came, this year I had fewer than 10. The sunflowers are as beautiful as ever (20) but it seems that they are not in vogue at the moment. My tomatoes in the polytunnel, being neglected most of the summer, just sprouted everywhere. In finally bringing them to heel they are now propped up with supports and |I have cut off most of the leaves in a bid to hasten the tomatoes to ripen. (21, 22) Butterflies have been in abundance this summer. (23)


This show has been going for over 100 years and had lovely weather this year. A scarecrow class was right next to my stall and I felt I was being watched all afternoon. (24) Trying to sit on the rolling horse proved as difficult as ever. (25) Table skittles tested the skills of both old and young. (26) The miniature gardens took me back to my childhood when I used to enter in this class. (27) The Ride and Stride stall (28) was advertising the 9th September event whereby sponsored participants ride a horse, ride a bike or walk to as many churches as possible in one day between 10 am and 6 pm. The event is organised by the Dorset Historic Churches Trust. The photo shows the participants in the 2017 event in West Dorset. (29)


During a visit to a recent Garden and Harvest event at Forde Abbey I came across scything demonstrations. (30) My father and many generations before used this implement for mowing grass. (31) There has been an upsurge in recent years to keep this tradition going. (32) Before mechanisation the grass would have been turned by a large rake (33) helping it to dry into hay ready to put it into wagons and thence to hay ricks. The scythe was invented about 500 BC and appeared in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. It replaced the sickle (reap hook) (34) for reaping crops by the 16th century, the scythe allowing the reaper to stand rather than stoop. This much smaller implement can still be used for hedge and grass cutting. Also there is the bill hook (35) which is still used for splitting wood and hedge laying. This “mini” scythe (a lightweight hook for cutting grass) (36) is always in constant use by its owner. The image of the Grim Reaper carrying a scythe to reap the dead came about in the Middle Ages when there was largely an agrarian society. My great grandfather Creed (37) made agricultural history in the Marshwood Vale in the 1880s by introducing a horse drawn mowing machine into the area. The local scythe gangs revolted by putting upright iron bars into fields that Tom Creed was due to mow to sabotage his efforts.


The monthly Short and Sweet service last summer featured organ music. The Whitchurch organ is 104 years old, has 586 pipes and was made by the Hele Company in Plymouth. (38) Firstly the congregation (with many children attending) was welcomed by Ros (39) who introduced the organist Richard Godfrey. (40) Each child participating was given a paper plate which had been divided into eight. Following this 8 pieces of music were played and the children were asked to listen carefully and a draw of picture of how they felt for each tune. (41) Of course grown ups were allow to join in as everyone in the congregation was given a plate. (42,43) Some of the plates are on display in the children’s corner at the church. Later on in the service the children were offered the chance to have a closer look at the organ. (44) Then any budding organist could have a go! (45) A mouse appeared above the pulpit. (46) His name is Arnie and features in some of the stories which Ros tells in her children’s services. It was such a lovely way to spend an hour or so in this historic church. Refreshments were then served.

Mr Godfrey is a leading light for the Diocese of Salisbury. He co-ordinates a scheme called PipeUp which specifically encourages children aged 8-18 to learn the organ. At the moment there are 7 tutors scattered across the Diocese and about 24 children currently receiving tuition. Mr Godfrey has been a tutor since 2008 and has taught over 20 children. Several of these students are now playing regularly for churches. One became Organ Scholar at Wells Cathedral, and another gave her first solo concert in Lyme Regis in September. Mr Godfrey started learning the organ aged 12. The biggest organ he has ever played is in Salisbury Cathedral which has 4000 pipes.


The Charmouth tunnel was constructed of local stone and brick by the Bridport Turnpike Trust and opened in 1832. It was 65 metres long, 6 metres wide and 6.5 metres high. Seven hundred people congregated to witness the official opening. The Bridport Town Band was in attendance greeting the mail coach drawn by four spirited horses as it emerged from its journey from the “subterranean and novel passageway.” (Dorset County Chronicle January 1832) This tunnel which later became part of the A35 (which ran between Charmouth and Axminster), in Devon was in use for 158 years until the Charmouth bypass was opened in 1990. The photo shows the tunnel in the 1930s. (47) It then became redundant 60 years later, neglected and largely forgotten even though it was a Victorian Grade II listed structure. (48)

Later it came into private ownership. When it was put on the lettings market it created a lot of interest. A water supply and electricity had already been supplied by this time. All sorts of ideas were put forward – including a mushroom farm, a car storage area, a dwelling, health club, animal sanctuary for moles, badgers and rabbits, giant bird hide and a nightclub. Eventually in 2010 it became a dedicated shooting range for experienced shooters and competitive shooters as well as novices. (49, 50) They are affiliated to the National Rifle Association and aim to provide an all round service for air gun, small bore and full bore shooting. In August they celebrated their seventh birthday by having an open day (51) From the car park one could walk down through the wood to various activities. (52) People could participate in all sorts of activities including archery. (53) Also in the wood was an experimental set of platforms. The owners hope to build a complete set of tree top activities including zip wires for families. (54) Once inside the complex I met the owner in the cosy cafe area, (55) and looked in on some of the activities going on – the 100 metre range, and for the youngsters – 25 metre range. The Tunnel became the Olympic training facility in 2011 and continues as the Olympic Pistol training facility. The whole visit was quite an experience!


Thank you to all the people who have helped me with the research for this newsletter: Richard Godfrey, Ros Woodbridge, Hayley Joseph, Malcolm Castle, Nigel Lee, Caroline House, Richard Clist, Michael West and Elly Volkerink-de-Vries

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