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The campsite has been a hive of activity during the last month with many children coming to stay. Loom bands were all the rage (1) with three very keen girls starting up their own shop to sell their wares (2). There was a family who were keen to keep their dog in training with agility classes (3), another family were keen to keep their children fit with badminton (4) and a cute bell tent was on the site for a few days (5). The geese benefitted from the many helpers every morning and evening what with goose herding, bedding down the goose house with 5 star wood shavings (three times as deep as usual) (6) and regular feeding with wheat (7). Two geese had to be separated from the rest of the group because of bullying and have to be shepherded across a grass corridor twice a day with the aid of a human fence (8). One of the geese kept flying over the fence (obviously not fat enough to be grounded yet) and had to be caught at least twice (9). The animals also had special treatment from the children when they picked up apples from the lawn (10) with one boy brave enough to feed apples from his hand (11)


We brought the cows into the covered yard for a short while so that they could finish calving under cover. We had separated the young stock (last year’s calves) from the others and put them into a field, but three of them decided to jump over fences and push through hedges to rejoin their mothers so in the end we had to imprison them into a high fence in the covered yard for a while (12, 13). All new calves have to be caught (14) and ear tagged (15) and given a passport so that the Government know exactly how many animals are in the country. The covered yard has to be cleared of manure every year (16) and then loaded into a manure spreader (17, 18). This year the manure was spread on a field which has since been ploughed (19,20).

The tractor was a John Deere and the plough was a reversable type. (21). Straw has be brought in from other parts of Dorset on huge trailors for the winter (22). We nearly fill up half the covered yard with square bales (wheat and barley straw) (23). Copsing is an ongoing job especially after all the rain. All the stiles for the conservation walk had to be cut back and so did the bridge over the River Char (24) It was also necessary to pull up the Himalyan Balsam and copse the ancient drinking place (on the River Char), in my biggest field. The water runs broad and shallow at this point and it is believed that cattle must have drunk from here since the Middle Ages. (25). We were lucky enough to see a heron at close hand near the river (26)



A Sustrans National Cycle route has been set up through the Marshwood Vale (27). I would surmise that it would not be the safest way to travel through the lanes with all the large farm machinery that work all hours to catch the good weather. I know of one farmer who tried to keep up with a speeding cyclist in these lanes but she never did catch up with him. We have to hope that the cyclist did not meet a combine harvester!! I had the Drybrook RFC cyling group from Gloucestershire stay over the long weekend with their partners and friends. They cycled 185 miles to raise money for the rugby club’s new gym facility. Their trips took them to Sidmouth and Seaton via Lyme Regis, Charmouth, and through Abbotsbury to Weymouth. At the last count about £1500 had been raised (28)


We attended the Forde Abbey Fair, near Chard, at the end of July with our farmers’ market stall (29). It was a lovely venue to hold such an event, which is steeped in history. It was built as a Cisterian monastry 900 years ago and somehow evaded destruction during the Dissolution of the monastries administered by Henry VIII. Forde Abbey has 30 acres of award winning gardens which includes this lovely lake. (30) The beautiful St Candida and Holy Cross Church at Whitchurch Canonicorum dates back to Saxon times, with the tower being added in 1400 (31) The PCC has held various services over the last few months. The animal blessing event brought two dogs and photos of a ferocious cat and a goat. As I couldn’t bring a cow I pasted up two boards of birds and animals from the farm instead (32). A Free Exchange Cafe which occurs on the first Sunday of the month was introduced in May 2011. (33, 34) The idea was initiated to make the church more relvant and useful to the wider community. The Cafe has been a huge success as it attracts a full spectrum of ages and interests and is a wonderful catalyst for connecting with neighbours, friends and ‘friends to be’ over a cup of coffee and a pastry. The church is lucky enough to have its own toilet. (35).

The Occasional Choir sings at Choral Evenson at Whitchurch every other month as well as at the annual Carol Service and at a special musical programme on Good Friday. The Choir draws its members from singers who live in and around Whitchurch, with some from further afield – West Dorset and Axminster. The choir is a mixture of those new to choral singing along with a nucleus of much more experienced singers. (36)


A local lady, Celia,who is shortly to have a major operation, decided to raise funds for the Southampton Hospital department that is involved with this procedure. At the Clock public house, Chideock, near Bridport friends and family arrived to witness the cutting off of all Celia’s hair. People were invited to cut off a tress of hair after putting money into the donation box. (37). The event had a wonderful atmosphere, with Celia laughing most of the time! Eventually a local hairdresser finished the job until all the hair had gone (38). The event was also advertised on Facebook and to date over £1000 has been collected for Southampton Hospital.


Kittwhistle Garage is situated on the edge of the hamlet of Blackdown near Beaminster on the B3165. This was purchased by Douglas and Winifred Hibbard in October 1947 who had moved down from Slough. When they arrived there was no running water and the only electricity was from a generator. They had to live in a 20 ft x 10 ft converted chicken shed with an outside chemical toilet until a bungalow was built in 1952. (39) The garage was a single 4 inch block building with a corrugated tin roof with a shallow pit. It had two hand wound petrol pumps which Mrs Hibbard cursed about on many occasions especially when it was raining. When the mains electricity arrived in about 1959 new petrol tanks and petrol pumps were installed. By 1966 Mrs Hibbard was running a cafe in her front room. The M5 had not been constructed at that time and a lot of traffic heading for Exeter used the B3165 from Crewkerne to avoid heavy traffic on the A30, so there were plenty of motorists who stopped for a cup of tea. 1966 was also the time when the 1954 Ford Poplar (40) was being driven round local fields by the Hibbards’ three sons.

In 1969 a new workshop was built over the old one and over the years more entensions were added for an MOT bay and a Body shop. This extension and pit were installed in 1988 (41) The garage has run school buses and shopping buses over the years (42) The photo shows the garage forecourt in 1975. The garage had a post office for over 55 years until it was closed when the Post Office in its wisdom closed many small offices. The purchasing of modern equipment has made working on vehicles a lot easier than when Mr Hibbard started in 1947. Rowland, Mr Hibbard’s youngest son took over the business in 1989/90. (43). Kittwhistle Garage is one of the very few rural garages that still sells petrol and diesel. Rowland thinks that fuel sales are an essential part of the garage and he hopes to continue with this and the servicing, repairs and vehicle testing for sometime to come. The modern photos show (44) the garage as it is today, the forecourt (45), the workshop (46) and the MOT bay (47, 48).


When I published this book a few years ago I was keen to document some of the West Dorset dialect. The following is an example

‘ This be a story I ganna tell ‘ere ’bout what ‘appened to oi when oi was a boi. Wun daay oi and moy maet wus playin outsoid the vicurage gaarden an as we wus playin theur we found a woo tin kiddle in the vicurage gaarden ‘edge. Moy maet look at oi and zed “oi goina ‘ave ‘ee. Oi zed “Noo you baint, oi zid en fust, oi goina ‘ave en” Zoo he zed “aright then oi’ll tell ee what we’ll do. The wun oo tells the biggust loies can ‘ave the kiddle”. Zoo we started tellin loies, sum vury baa wuns, when ahl uf a suddun the vicur looked uver ‘is gaarden ‘edge an he looked at us an ee zed “You nawghty young rasculs. Janoo” ee zed “Tis vury wickid to tell loies loike you’ve bin doin. Janoo oi nevur told a loi in moy loife” Moy maet looked at oi and zed “gee en the kiddle Garge, ‘ee’ve wun”.

My book has been out of print for some time, but I hope to have it reprinted within the next few years.

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