CAMPSITE

Bookings are now coming in for this season. I have kept the cost the same as last year. 1.11.17 to Maundy Thursday – £15 for an electrical hookup/night, £13 without a hookup/night. Good Friday to 25thMay – £16 for an electrical hookup/night, £14 without a hookup/night. 26.5.17 to 20.7.17 – £17 for an electrical hookup/night, £15 without a hookup/night. 21.7.17 to mid September 2017 – £18 for an electrical hookup/night, £16 without a hookup/night. There is quite a lot of painting and repairs to do before Easter.

FARM

There is always plenty of fencing to do on a farm to make sure animals don’t escape into the neighbouring farms or onto the road. In the Sheepwash field the hedges were cut right back and then an augur was used to make the holes (1). The easiest way to put the stakes into the ground was to use the matbro tractor (2). It looked really professional when they finished along the road side hedge (3). The sheep were let into the field. Note the one with the harness in the left centre of the photo. He is wearing raddle on his stomach so that we can see which sheep he has been active with. (4) Sideland ground is always a problem with undergrowth as the mower for cutting grass cannot venture on this land for fear of tipping over. The animals when they graze the field do not keep up the with grass so it becomes a thicket in a short time. It took hours to clear the area. (5)

Fortunately we have plenty of wood for the Rayburn but a lot of it needed splitting and the only way was to wield an axe. (6)

Unfortunately we had to chop down our second plum tree after it blew over and hardly produced any fruit last autumn. (7 & 8) We used to have another one which keeled over a few years ago because it was heavily laden with plums. My father planted both of them in the 1960s/70s.

THE QUEEN MOTHER SQUARE, POUNDBURY AT DORCHESTER

Last autumn the latest part of the Prince of Wales “experimental town” – Queen Mother Square was opened by Her Majesty the Queen with the unveiling the statue. (9) At the same time a new public house called The Duchess of Cornwall Inn was opened by its namesake. (10) Construction of Poundbury, built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, began in 1993. About 3,000 people now live there, with the population expected to almost double by its completion in 2025.

I attended the Poundbury Farmers’ Market just after the event on a brilliantly sunny day. A stall next to me was the Dorset Wildlife Trust (11) with a notice telling us that the UK has lost 98% of all wildflower meadows, 75% of heathlands, 80% of our ancient woodland and 180,000 miles of hedgerows. (12) A lot of this is because of modern farming methods and housing development. Along with other stalls there was a colourful vegetable and flower seller (13) and Elwell Fruit Farm (14). They have 30,00 trees. The business started in 1949. The oldest trees are 60 years old. They replant 2,000 every year to replace old ones, where the fruit will become smaller over the years which have also got diseased and subsequently died. Some grafting is done for new apple and pear trees but new trees are usually brought over from Holland. The new varieties which are now available will crop after only two years. Varieties on sale at the stall included Jonathan, Blenhem Orange, Cox, Egemont Russet, Red Pippin. Mr Jackson will be selling apples until the end of February.

On my stall I was selling flowers and asked a gentlemen whether he would like to buy some. He said the last time he bought flowers was when his wife had their last child. He mentioned that her age was now 78. One may assume that the flowers were bought at least 45 years ago. I felt like asking him whether he would like to take some free flowers for his wife to give her a wonderful surprise.

At a later Poundbury Farmers’ Market I met the person running the Dorset Herbals Ltd. .All the teas are blended in rural Dorset with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. (15)

PRIME COPPICE

Prime Coppice is 52 acres of woodland and woodland pasture set in the Marshwood Vale in West Dorset. This semi-natural ancient woodland consists primarily of hazel coppice, ash and mature oak tress with other species including willow, silver birch, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn, aspen, spindle and Norway spruce. The area has a long history as a working wood hence the name Prime Coppice, but in the last 30 years there has been no active management. Ruth and Kit Vaughan (16) have owned the site since 2011 and are now restoring the woodland, bringing the coppice back into rotation, opening up the woodland rides and tracks and increasing the biodiversity through careful management. Their vision is to develop a sustainable woodland which delivers social, environmental and economic benefits. They are also looking at how to manage the woodland in the context of climate change. Products from the woodland include firewood (seasoned oak, ash, hazel, willow and soft wood), charcoal, wood chunks and quality ash and oak for timber and greenwood working. There are also coppice products which include beanpoles, pea fans, hurdles, thatching spars and gads, hazel rods for hedging posts, cleft ash and oak gates, and wood for spoon making.

In 2014 Prime Coppice joined the burgeoning Community Woodland Network, which is supported by Communities Living Sustainably in Dorset. Since this time they have held a number of training events and courses, including green woodwork skills, bushcraft, sustainable firewood production, coppicing, working woodlands with horses and climate resilient woodlands. There have been opportunities for different interest groups including children’s groups keen to introduce the woodland to their children for forest school activities. Kit and Ruth also run an active working woodlanders group where people are able to access firewood or wood products in return for working in the woods for a day. Their recent film together with the charity Common Ground explores that in more detail (https://commonground.org.uk/prime-coppice/).

On the day that I visited Prime Coppice there was a course in full swing in which the ancient woodland was being restored with horses. (17, 18 & 19). Trees that were sawn down had already been windblown over into other trees. (20). The chain saw had to be used carefully to avoid any spring back of the tree trunk. (21). Later we had an alfresco meal (22) in the wood with Kit being charge of the tea making (23).

The professional horse logger “Crunchie” was in charge of the transportation (24 & 25). He has been horse logging with his cob ponies (Holly and Ivy) for 11 years. Using horses in woodland has a much smaller impact on the ground than using tractors and machinery, and working horses are ideally suited to steep sites, wet sites and environmentally sensitive areas. It also reduces compaction and damage to the wood floor whilst giving no pollution from fossil fuels.

I hope to write something of the history of Prime Coppice in a later newsletter. There are a few gaps in my research at the present time.

DOUGLAS HUXTER

My Uncle Douglas, along with 3 brothers and 2 sisters, was born to John and Amelia Huxter of West Loscombe Farm, Melplash near Bridport in April 1922. In the late 1920s my grandparents moved to Cutty Farm, Whitchurch Canonicorum and the children went to the local school. Douglas was quite a bright boy but felt he learnt very little there. After the family moved to Atrim Farm in Broadoak the children attended a Bridport School which Douglas enjoyed a lot more, but his report card said “Worked when watched”. (26) As a farmer’s son he missed school to help with the haymaking and harvesting, and sometimes for chasing after the fox hunt with his brother Robert! My grandparents managed to keep all their children working at home on the farm. Up until after WW2 farmers didn’t actually have to pay their children any wages. Once the war had started Douglas joined the Home Guard. Farming was an exempt occupation because food production was such a priority, but in 1942 Douglas’ parents received a letter saying that four boys at home were too many.

Douglas volunteered and signed up for the RAF for training at Yatesbury and then Blackpool. He was keen to go, but was worried that he might fail his eye exam, so when he got the chance, he memorised the eye chart just ahead of the test. He was away for his 21st birthday, but sent a postcard with his photo with the message “To mother and all with love from Douglas” (27)

The family still have Douglas’ Flying Log Book listing his Navigators, Air Bombers and Air Gunners training which makes fascinating reading. This training was at Gianacalis in Egypt.

After this the crew he would fly with for the rest of the war was assembled. (28) They all had nick names with Douglas being called Dorsey (because of his strong Dorset accent). He kept in touch with that crew for over 45 years after the war. (29) They were high spirited young men having an incredible experience in countries far from home. More practice continued with bombing and air gunnery, all done over the Mediterranean. On 9th December 1944 they crossed the Mediterranean to southern Italy and flew their first bombing mission 2 days later at 9.35 am. It was atrocious weather with no ground visibility and they returned to base without dropping their bombs. They were immediately hauled up in front of the commanding officer who told them their actions endangered the whole base –never come back with your bombs! He sent them straight back out at 2.30 pm. During the second raid they were shot at. The log records 9 anti aircraft bursts.

He was in 500 County of Kent Squadron. (30) This photo shows the wings that were sewn on his uniform. In total Douglas flew 61 raids in Baltimore bombers as an agwop as he loved to call it (air gunner wireless operator). By the end of May 1945 they were do ing parade fly pasts. The war was over. By his last entry, recorded 25th June, he had logged 217 daylight and 58 night time flying hours and must have enjoyed the experience as he returned home on leave only briefly before volunteering to go back to Italy to help with demobilization and cleaning up the bases.

In 1948 Douglas met Helen White, a local farmer’s daughter and they were married at Marshwood in May 1950 with the reception at the Shave Cross Pub. (31) One wonders whether Douglas would have stayed in the RAF after the war if he had not met Helen White! John Huxter, Douglas’ father, started the Broadoak football team after the war in the Marshwood Vale in the hopes that this would help returning servicemen settle back into West Dorset.

Douglas and Helen moved to Devon after their marriage where he did cow man work but after a short while moved to Oathill Farm, Wayford on the Dorset/Somerset border. They made a good living on 40 acres as dairy farmers for 32 years bringing up their four children, Terry, Linda, Pat and Glenda. Douglas and Helen were keen that all their children should have a good education. All his children went to university and got degrees, with both Linda and Terry also gaining a Masters. Terry attended St Andrews in Scotland and gained a PhD in botany. (32)

For years Douglas played in the Shave Cross Skittle Team with many trophies to show for it. (Douglas is the second from the right). (33) He was also keen on rabbiting, ferreting and pheasant shooting which added some tasty food to the table to add to all the vegetables he loved to grow in the garden. Hedging was another one of his skills. He was also more or less “unbeatable” at chess and draughts.

When they finally bought a TV in the 1970s Douglas and Helen fell in love with horse racing, following the form, placing 5 shilling bets on their weekend selections. The high point for them was being at Aintree in 1973 to see Red Rum win the Grand National, overtaking Crisp on the final stretch.

In the 1980s they gave up dairy farming and moved to beef production, and found that they had more leisure time so took up dancing which they enjoyed for the next 25 years. (34) In 1987 they retired from livestock altogether and spent time visiting their son Terry and wife Elizabeth in Canada where the grandchildren were the magnet that drew them over.

At the beginning of 2005 Douglas faced a challenge no one can really fully imagine when a stroke removed much of his memory. Nevertheless his sense of humour remained to some degree in the years that followed. The Crematorium in Yeovil at the end of 2016 was full to capacity showing that Douglas had touched the lives of a great many people over his 94 ½ years.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to all of the people who helped me with the research for this newsletter: Caroline Lambert, Kit and Ruth Vaughan, Crunchie’s Cobs, Terry Huxter. Ross Tapley and William Jackson.