CAMPSITE

I was interested to learn from a recent camper that he spends a lot of his spare time doing up recycled caravans. The caravan he used at Bluntshay was in fact one of them. (1, 2, 3) It seems that some enthusiastic campers may spend a huge sum of money on a very up to date model and because they don’t want the bother of storing it at their own home, they pay landowners yearly rent to house them in large sheds. After the enthusiasm wears off some of the caravan owners collect and take out their models less and less frequently, until they are more or less forgotten and are totally neglected. The farmer/landowner obviously keep a record of the movement (or not) of these caravans and has to negotiate the future of them with their owners. My camper has bought and refurbished quite a few of these units, usually selling them on to new owners. The dogs gave me a very noisy goodbye. ( 4 )

Back in the summer three enthusiastic walkers arrived after dark having spent the previous two hours at the pub up the road recuperating after a long day’s trek. (5) They pitched their tent with the help of car headlights. They had contacted me a few days before to say that they were walking the Liberty Trail and had hoped to make it as far as Bluntshay on the day they arrived.

The Liberty Trail (6) recreates the journey of villagers from Somerset and Dorset who walked to Lyme Regis in 1685 to show their support for the Monmouth Rebellion. Starting at Ham Hill in Somerset, one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Europe, the route passes through or near many historic sites including the former Cistercian monastery at Forde Abbey. It ends at the attractive seaside town of Lyme Regis with its famous harbour. (7)

The Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, felt he should be the king and not James II. Unfortunately most of the followers of the Duke of Monmouth came to a very sticky end at the hands of “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys at Dorchester Court.

FARM

THE RENEGADE GOOSE

As the nights are drawing in the geese have to be “penned up” (put to bed ) – earlier and earlier. Just recently when guiding the birds towards the goose house door they tend to shoot off in all directions, even if there is someone to help me with this job. (8) A single bird has become more and more problematic over the last week and races back into the paddock from whence it came – staring defiantly at me. After causing general mayhem and pushing through two fences to escape my advances I finally caught him when he got to a brick wall, and I grabbed him by the neck. Amazingly he didn’t flap his wings frantically (which would have given me black bruises) but just squawked frantically until I threw him into his pen. What a performance!

There has been a bumper crop of apples this year. (9) I am hoping to persuade people at the next Exchange Cafe to come and pick their own. Someone from the village has already picked some cider apples so hopefully we can see something of their cider making next month.

GARDEN

During this year I have been trying to have a big tidy up with my large pots, many of which had got overgrown. Japanese Anemones, Ice Plants, Amaryllis, Hazel saplings and other plants have been extracted from brambles, dandelions and the like to new pots.

I have decided to give away the lilacs I planted as saplings at the Exchange Free Cafe at the church. I would like to get my pots back afterwards though. (10)

I have had a very successful year with dahlias and am hoping for a late frost so that I can keep selling them through the whole of October. (11)
About a month ago I was amazed to see that after over 20 years my myrtle bush had at last flowered. (12) I was expecting the whole bush to be decked with flowers within a week, but the single flower died after 2 days. The main reason for getting the shrub in the first place was the association it had with Queen Victoria who had myrtle in her wedding bouquet. Every royal bride in this country has followed suit with the custom. I thought it was quite romantic to have my own myrtle, but I have been sorely let down.

PERCY THE RACING PIGEON

We found this pigeon in the sitting room one day. (13) It was obviously used to people because it didn’t take fright when we came close. We presumed that it was a racing pigeon that was taking a rest before flying the rest of the way home. It had an identifying leg band, which we didn’t check. We gave it wheat, and water to drink. Percy stayed for about 24 hours before flying off again.

The subject of pigeon racing is indeed a fascinating one as the history of messenger (carrier) pigeons which dates back 3000 years. They were used at the Ancient Olympics, by Genghis Khan, and for notification of the start of the Battle of Waterloo. Pigeons played a vital part in the invasion of Normandy as radios could not be used for fear of vital information being intercepted by the enemy.

An obvious hazard to these birds flying great distances are birds of prey. Another is flying into objects they sometimes cannot see, mostly when flying at high speeds or in darker weather conditions. The most common obstructions are electricity pylons or TV aerials. It is thought that racing pigeons rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way home. Some evidence has surfaced to indicate aspects of modern technology seriously interrupt the birds’ navigation patterns.

PHOTOS FROM THE PAST

I have been lucky this year in that I have been sent several sets of photos, which were taken by friends, of yesteryear – seems like a long time ago. This photo (14) was taken when we were still living at Peace Farm, which was a small holding of 8 acres where my mother milked 4 cows and kept hens and geese. My father used to cycle along the road to Crabbs Bluntshay to work for his father in those days. As children we were fortunate to have an old bus, situated in the orchard, to play in.

The next photo (15) must have been taken just after we moved to Bluntshay. The metal greenhouse on the left of the photo is still standing with the same grape vine. It is interesting to note the two huge hay ricks in the background covered with tarpaulins against the weather. In the very old days when ricks were made of loose hay my father would have thatched them against the elements. He won many prizes for this art.

The last photo in this set was probably taken at Charmouth. (16) As we did not have a car in those days we would have walked the 5 miles from the farm to the sea.

This photo (17) was taken later on when I lived in London. I assume that we were out for a Christmas meal. I was quite astonished to see the ‘little black number’ I was wearing. I still wear it today, as it is dateless, but mainly to funerals

BURTON BRADSTOCK FESTIVAL

This event celebrated its 39th birthday this year and is held mainly in the 14th century church. (18) (1*) I think I have been attending it for about 15 years and this year it was as brilliant as ever. (19) In order to get the best seats (in Burton Bradstock church) it was necessary to be in the queue outside BB hall from 7.30 am onwards. I did manage that on the appointed day but found I was second to a lady who had beaten me to it by 60 seconds. (20) At 8.30 we were given the appropriate number to enter the hall to get our tickets. (21) No cheating was allowed! When we were called up to the tables we then chose our seats. (22) Some of the best seats had gone already as the sponsors to the event and volunteers had first choice. I did manage to get front row tickets for 3 out of the 5 concerts. Volunteers were ready at the food hatch with a cup of tea for those shivering in the queue for an hour. (23)

The theme of this years event was numbers which included the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 lunar module landing on the moon, 200 years since Napoleon created the Civil Codes which forms the basis for many of the world’s legal systems, and the 100th birthday of Britain’s greatest jazz musician George Shearing.

Bill Cain, the chair of the Festival Committee, (24) continues with the flow of numbers: “More than 2,500 visitors will view and buy art at the Art Festival. More than 50 volunteers will be on hand to help. 1000 audience members will find their seats. Twenty sponsors will support the event along with 130 friends of the Festival

Three concerts where held on most days, being one at lunchtime, one early evening and lastly a late night recital starting a 9.45 pm. People were encouraged to attend the late night one by having free soup and a roll in the village hall at 9.15. Friends and I attended 5 concerts over the week which included (25) the concert given by Atea Wind Quartet. During each interval the village hall was open for concert goers to have light refreshments and to view the paintings etc on sale. (26, 27, 28)

The Festival was founded by the distinguished flautist Mary Ryan and her husband Ron Gillingham, who owned a house in the village. They brought their friends, who numbered some of the UK’s finest musicians, down to Burton for a series of weekend concerts. These evolved into a fully-fledged festival, with the addition of the art exhibition nine years ago. Long may it continue.

(1*) In the churchyard it was sad to see that all the headstones have been removed from their original resting places and resurrected against the church wall to make mowing the churchyard easier. (29)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Bill Cain and Raymond Newman.