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The build up to Easter was quite intense. New leaflets about Dorset and Devon arrived and were put into my tourist information centre (1, 2). The board and easel were re-erected showing details about Whitchurch, Bridport and Dorset, the two boards showing the animals and birds on the farm rehung and the OS map spruced up showing Dorset, some of Devon and a little bit of Somerset (3). Several potential campers have asked about having camp fires so I bought a fire pit for a safe way to have them (4). A new clothes line has been erected (5)


I had been asked by the Jurassic Coast Trust to host a fossil morning at the campsite. Easter Tuesday was the day chosen for the event. Before this could happen we had to have a massive spring clean and reorganisation of the double garage which had got very congested over the years (6) The whole place had to be cleaned (7), painted and sealed around the edges. Even one of the campers got involved with the work (8) .

When the day dawned the children were enthralled by the plaster mould fossil painting (9, 10), the fossil dig box (11, 12), followed by games in the field associated with geology, the sea, dinosaurs and fossils (13). To round off the event parents, helpers and children did a walk around the farm to see the sheep and lambs (14). I am hoping to have regular fossil events during the summer involving children on the campsite now that we have had a very successful trial run.

A report written by the Community Co-ordinator Guy Kerr stated that the aim of the programme is to bring Jurassic Coast education to children at local accommodation providers, in order to inspire the next generation of geologist and conservationists. The morning at Crabbs Bluntshay Farm represented a great leap forward for the Trust’s newly invigorated Ambassador and Business Partner schemes, matching up passionate and knowledgeable local volunteers with supportive local businesses in order to deliver fun and education content to children in a safe and entertaining environment.

FARM

The second batch of lambing has started and will soon be in full swing. We are still waiting for one heifer to calve, and hoping for some rain to make the grass grow so that all the animals can leave their winter accommodation and go out into the fields to pasture. One field where some of the animals will move to had to be fenced and a new gate post put up. The positioning of this is very important so that the gate will latch properly (15). To avoid using pick axes, shovels and back breaking manual work an auger was used to drill the post hole (16, 17). Once the hole is dug the scoop on the matbo tractor is used to push the post in. (18) The post is adjusted to a vertical position at the end if necessary.

The three implements that had been moved from the stinging nettles and brambles last year were repositioned into their final resting place (19) as part of my outdoor mini museum (20). All that needs to be done now is to put information cards on the implements so that campers know what they are looking at.

 

GARDEN

Some more manure arrived from a field where it had been stored for some years and deposited ready for spreading elsewhere (21) Some was put into the pumpkin area (22) and the rest on the cottage garden. Our very old rotavator (dated mid to late 1950s) has been used in the garden (23). I shall be just as late in planting as other years – possibly by the end of April. Tulips (24), Forsythia (25) and garden daffodils (26) greeted campers as they arrived on site at Easter, although all the wild daffodils out in the orchards were over by then. The willow, which stands a permanent angle gives plenty of colour in the top garden (27) I have just bought 7 new shrubs to pot up and dot around the cabin and the gardens. (28) In March I gave a lady from the campsite her own private chutney tasting (29). I have recently run out of Apple and Ginger chutney and will soon have no Beetroot, and Apple, Ginger and Pumpkin chutney to sell. I shall have to stand over a hot stove presently to replenish my stocks.

LOCAL EVENTS

The Salway Ash Children’s Pantomime Group put on a brilliant production of The Jungle Book at the beginning of March in Salway Ash Hall. Fifty five children were involved with many adults working extremely hard behind the scenes. This is the 25th pantomime that has been produced voluntarily and all money raised from the show nights goes towards building and maintaining the village play area (30). The Jungle Book was written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894 for his young daughter Josephine. The story is considered to be a fable which uses animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons and is based around an abandoned “man cub” Mowgli (31) who is brought up by wolves in the Indian jungle. He encounters both good and bad animals en route through his life including Shere Khan the tiger (32) and Kaa the snake (33). There was also lots of dancing in the production including the African Ladies (34) and the honey bees (35).


Pauline and John Bale organised a brunch, talk and guided walk at Highway Farm, near Bridport at the end of March. This was done in association with the Jurassic Coast Trust. After brunch a quirky take on the story of the coast (35) about the Triassic/Jurassic/early Cretaceous/late Cretaceous geology was given by Mike Green. Next we set off on the guided coastal walk travelling through Highway Farm and then climbing up and over Eype Down (37). Unfortunately there was a heavy mist that day, otherwise from the top we should have enjoyed panoramic views over Bridport, Symondsbury, Colmers Hill and far reaching views to Hardy’s Monument, Eggardon Hill, Beaminster and Toller Down. Our next stop was at Thorncombe Beacon (38). The walk covered descending steep slopes (39) [when the sun finally appeared] and ascending steep hills eventually getting to West Bay for a welcome cup of tea and a cake. Later we caught the No X53 bus back to Highway Farm exhausted but happy.

PILSDON COMMUNITY

As I gave a guided walk for caravanners and campers around the farm on Easter Sunday morning, (39a) there was only one Easter service that I could attend, in the local area, which was in the evening at Pilsdon. The church dates from the 15th century. Both the porch and the inside of the church were beautifully decorated (40), (41), especially the tomb (42). The Victorian pew seats have been removed from the centre of the church and replaced with straw bales to sit on. The church is attached to Pilsdon Manor. (43) This was built in the early 1600s on the site of an earlier building, which was surrounded by a moat. Traces of the moat were found in the early years of the present century. The most outstanding event in the present house’s history was when Parliamentary Forces (The Roundheads) were convinced that the future Charles II was hiding at the Manor House in 1651. They were sure that one of the young ladies of the house was Charles Stuart in disguise. The soldiers put the entire household under guard while they searched every nook and cranny. Meanwhile Charles had actually spent the night at nearby Broadwindsor and then headed northwards to Trent (on the Dorset/Somerset border).


In 1958 Percy and Gaynor Smith came to Pilsdon having been inspired by the experience of the Ferrar family at Little Gidding, in Huntingdonshire (in 1625), to create a community that would offer shelter to those who might be buckling under the pressures of the everyday world. This is still the purpose of the community fifty seven years on. The core of the community is its community members, led by the warden. The Community offers hospitality to between fifteen and twenty ‘guests’ who want or need to step back from their everyday world for a variety of reasons, among them drug dependence, bereavement, alcoholism, fragile mental health and homelessness. Some ‘guests’ stay for a month or two, but some may be at Pilsdon for years if it provides them with a better way to live. ‘Guests’ are required to participate in the working life of the community, bringing their skills and abilities for the benefit of all. There are also opportunities to learn and develop new skills and Pilsdon can support some specialised training. In addition, ‘wayfarers’ – men of the road – are welcomed and stay for a weekend free of charge as long as they take advantage of the hospitality nor more than once every six weeks, and not be under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol on arrival.

There is a service at Pilsdon every Sunday evening and anyone who attends this is welcome to have supper at the Manor House later on to join the community members and the ‘guests’.

LOCAL SAYINGS

Ash that be green tis fit to burn for the queen – ash wood will burn even if it is green
If you burn elder the devil do sit on your chimney all night
A wish when you do pick your first blackberry will come true
Creaking doors last the longest – a hypochondriac is likely to outlive a healthy person
Ee come to visit us in ‘his sittin down birches (breeches*) – a visitor who overstays his welcome
Ee do look like a pig wie one ear – he looks decidedly different (odd)
Ee do quarrel wie the stones – a very quarrelsome person
Ee ‘as his head well screwed down – he has a short neck

*breeches – trousers extending to the knee or just below, worn for riding etc.


 

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