CAMPSITE

The cabin has now been closed down for the winter with no running water, and all the appliances covered with blankets.  Of course the shower down at the side of the farm house is still open for campers.  I have left a water container in the kitchen with an electric kettle for campers to do their washing up.  They will need to get water from the standing pipe outside the cabin. As most people who turn up in the winter would normally have all their own facilities my electric kettle is not used very often.

I was reminded today that my campsite is listed as being open for passing caravans and campervans to empty their tanks into my sewerage system – for a fee, as well as having a shower during their brief visit.  I have produced a poster to go on my campsite boards telling people I am open all year.  (1)

FARM

The first calf of the season arrived about 2 weeks ago.  He had been born about 5 minutes before this photo was taken and was still wet. (2)  The other four cows have not yet calved.  This should happen by 20th December which is 9 months after the bull moved out.

The young stock (calves from last year) had to be brought from the Meadow next to the campsite into the yard ready for their TB test the next day.  What fun and games we had doing this.  Three of the animals did as they were told and came through the orchard and then into the yard. (3)  The other two shot off in the opposite direction, jumped the live electric fence into the campsite and sped up the lane towards the  Shave Cross Pub.

John raced after them in the vehicle and drove into the hedge just before the pub to stop their antics.  If they had gone beyond the Shave Cross all hell would have been let loose.  It didn’t stop there, because when they got back into the yard they took a right turn into the plot which only had fencing for geese.  If they had jumped this the animals would have landed in the River Char!!  Fortunately, they eventually came into the covered yard and were greeted by their mothers. (4) 

BRIDPORT HISTORY SOCIETY AND A BOOK LAUNCH

I have recently joined the committee of this society as treasurer, but have been a member for several years.  We had a bumper attendance (5) at our last meeting on 12 November because it was the book launch of  ‘Where the Dipping is Ripping: the Dorset photographs of Joseph Robert Potts’ (6)  written by one of our committee members Carlos Guarita.  (7)

Carlos had done extensive research and found that by 1913 Potts was working as a photographer in Bridport.  During WW1 he enlisted in the army and was sent to India where his photography captured many events unseen before in the West. Later on he also recorded events such as the funeral of T E Shaw ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in Moreton, in 1935 which included Winston Churchill accompanying the coffin to the graveyard. 

Carlos, himself a professional photo-journalist, won a World Press Award for his anti-war photographs. During the event he met up with one of the grandchildren of  J R Potts, (8) and signed many books during the afternoon. (9)  Carlos’ wife and son were also in attendance and had copies of all the books which had been written by him,  (10) one of these being “Clarence Austin, Photographer and the Bridport Wild Cat Women.”

AN ABANDONED BENNINGTON CARRIAGE

As I was driving to Marshwood last week I passed an abandoned carriage.  It looked so forlorn. I thought it would make a good photo, but alas I didn’t have my camera with me.  I immediately thought that something dreadful had happened to the horses!

On returning a little later with my camera I came upon the carriage being towed by a car with George holding the pole for safety.  (11)  They couldn’t stop so I had to snap them in motion.  It seemed that the horses hadn’t collapsed but the main cylinder for the rear brakes had seized up so the brakes were stuck and the back wheels were dragging.

So they had to ‘shut the horses out’ and lead them home and the return to sort out the brakes.  George has since found out that getting a replacement is not easy so modifications are having to be done by a special engineer.

The Bennington is a general purpose carriage and can be used for exercise classes or pleasure driving classes, but not for private driving classes which demand a traditional vehicle.  That implies that this carriage is a relatively modern vehicle which is supported by the presence of disc brakes and the like.

Modern usually means safer especially with all the traffic on the roads today.  It probably dates from the 1980s/1990s.  It can be used with one or two horses.  Shafts are fitted for one horse, and the pole for two horses.  In the hilly Marshwood Vale it is better pulled by two especially if you want to take some friends with you on the ride.

THE “ANTIQUES ROADSHOW” AT LODERS VILLAGE HALL

This very interesting event took place in October.  (12) The Friends of the Bridport Museum set it up as a small fund-raiser for the Museum.  They chose Loders Village Hall because it has a good kitchen and ample car parking outside.  Chris was in charge of collecting the entry fee,  (13) and also with providing a magnificent spread of delicious food.

Matthew Denny and  Miranda Bingham were the valuers from  Lawrences Auctioneers in Crewkerne, Somerset. (14, 15)  Lawrence Auctioneers are a long established local firm. (16)  Among the items to be valued was this very ornate side table  (17),  shell brooches dated c1890, (18) a painting of a view of Lyme Regis from the early 1900s, (19) and a Cloisonnes Vase dated from 1880. (20)  It seems that the latter was bought in bulk from Japan.  Another item of great interest was a Victorian 4 piece presentation tea set, which was still wrapped in its original cloth and in pristine condition.  This was valued at a four-figure sum.

When asked which were the most valuable items they had seen during the morning the valuers said there had been a diamond solitaire engagement ring worth £1000, and a stainless steel watch valued at £300.

The most unusual item of the day had to be a large book dated 1948 which was presented to the Directors of Hoover in Wales at the time of the factory opening.  A branch of the Hoover factory had been brought to Merthyr Tydfil, Wales from the USA by Dyson and Colston to trade in Great Britain.

The book covered all aspects of this momentous occasion including a special dinner with the guest lists, French menus, flowers used on the tables, decorations and train timetables (so that everyone would arrive at the same time)  (21)  Mrs Hoover, wife of the original founder, attended the opening and dinner.  The key to the factory was also on display. (22)  The person who brought these historic items to Loders was the granddaughter of Mr J A White (who was the deputy chairman for C B Colston Esq).

Loders Hall is just 20 years old, with its doors opening in 1999.  (23, 24)  Prior to this a lot of fundraising was done including a lottery grant.  There was also a system whereby someone could “buy” say a door and the money would be donated into the funds with the donor’s name displayed on a board inside the hall.  The old hall and its footprint were sold for housing. (25)

LANDSCAPE ENHANCEMENT INITIATIVE – DORSET WILDLIFE CONSERVATION TASK

Nick Gray, the West Dorset Conservation Officer, came and did a “recce” a little while ago (26) to see what needed to be done along this stretch of the River Char so that more light would be available for the surrounding habitat and to encourage more wildlife. The technical terms for this are daylighting and canopy-reduction.

A fine winter’s day dawned – just right for the work ahead on the river banks.  Several tree surgeons arrived with Nick at 9 am and started their task for the day. (27)  cutting down black alders.  At 10 am seventeen DWLT volunteers (28, 29) started working a little upstream from the tree surgeons on both sides of the River. (30, 31)  Soon a bonfire was burning brightly (32) and then in no time it was coffee time.  (33)  By lunchtime a lot of the branches of the first alder had been “stripped off”. (34)

By the end of the afternoon the whole area had been opened up (35) with several piles of wood in place, (36) and a minibeasts’ home (37) constructed.  The technical name for this is a habitat pile which is interspersed with larger diameter pieces, to make a nice, tightly-packed pile full of niches for invertebrates and birds. One of the tree surgeons had cut a hole high up in one of the alders to encourage woodpeckers. (38) Also niches were made on the tree to encourage the roosting and nesting of bats and birds.

I was interested to see during the last two years a mini dam had built up in a fairly shallow part of the river (39) One lucky volunteer found a fossil. (40)

Another volunteer, Alan, had discovered a very rare piece of barbed wire, which had been wound anticlockwise.  (41)  Traditional barbed wire in the UK has the main wires twisted around each other in a clockwise – right-hand direction.  Anticlockwise wires seem to be more common in France.  More recently the two wires are twisted alternately clockwise and then anticlockwise between the barbs.  All these types have specific names, which I won’t confuse you with.

Exceptionally rarely the barbs are wrapped around a single strand of wire.  Alan said that he knew of only one length of this type of wire locally and that was along the path next to Lidl in Bridport. It would take someone who had been involved with fencing all his working life to spot something so unusual.

The whole working day was brilliant with such a great atmosphere and very enthusiastic volunteers busy in this tiny corner of West Dorset.

The last time the alders were felled was in 1967 when my father had to make a “staddle” as a base for his new hay barn. (staddle – a wooden frame to support a rick of hay [or in this case bales of hay]).  The staddle would prevent the hay closest to the ground from rotting.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Caroline Everall, Nick Gray, Helen Doble, Celia Martin, Carlos Guarita, George Rendall, Alan Hobby and Tina Cornish.