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In October a couple with 6 dogs visited for a few days. The dogs were very friendly and soon made themselves at home on the campsite and in the field next door. They were quite a mixed bunch with Splatt, a Jack Russell (aged 10/11), Biscuit, a Border Collie (aged 7), Bill, a working Cocker Spaniel (aged 9), Meg, a Border Collie (aged 14), Bentley, a Border Collie (aged 3) and Skye, a ginger working cocker Spaniel (aged 1 ½). Biscuit and Skye are good at Agility, along with Bill who originally was a gun dog and is grade 7 in the Agility world. With such a large number of dogs the owners have always looked for beach walks, public footpaths and bridleways when choosing a holiday destination and West Dorset has those in abundance. The best beach for dogs is Chesil Beach where dogs can run free for most of the year. (1, 2, 3)


An Aberdeen Angus bull arrived from a different breeder this year. His official name is Grandan Presley H351 (4) Hopefully he is now being kept very busy with our cows. As we will be selling two old cows shortly we have replaced them with our heifers who are old enough now to have calves in just over 9 month’s time, instead of sending them to market in December as we normally do. Before the bull arrived we had to separate our three steers from the other animals and put them in another field (otherwise there is a risk of bullying by the bull and damage to the steers). This meant getting all the animals going into the yard after they had followed the tractor from the field (5), having fun singling out the steers, (6) and then taking them into the field next to the campsite. After this the cows followed the tractor back into another part of the farm (7)

As part of my plan to create some sort of museum in the future we pulled agricultural machinery out of the stinging nettles and moved three items by Matbo tractor through the yard and into the area by the campsite. Firstly there was the Bamford mowing machine (8, 9) then the cultivator (10) and lastly the 2 furrow Ransome plough (11). The cultivator was last used when my father grew wheat in 1966. As usual I have had half my hedges cut on the tops, the boundary hedges cut half way across (12) and all hedges cut down the sides. Oak trees are protected so you need special permission to cut them down. This tree (13) is more or less dead but a lot of wild life will live off the dead branches and ivy, so it will stay there until it becomes dangerous.

About a month ago we had a hornets’ nest which made its home on the bird box on the barn. They were at least an inch long and there were millions of them. They positioned their nest on the outside of the box by making propolis through masticating straw, dry grass and decaying wood together. (14) Although hornets have a very bad press they only sting in defence of their nest or when someone accidentally picks them up.


As the weather has been so mild I was able to sell dahlias and sweet peas to well into October. My roses (15) and Azaleas (16) were still attractive until the first hard frost only a fortnight ago. I am still selling chrysants and am very pleased with the two new varieties I bought earlier this year (17)

I leave the runner beans on the vine until they go dry and brown and then pick them in on a dry day so that I can use the mature beans for planting next year (18). Onions and garlic can be strung up by plaiting with heavy string and hung up in a dry airy place until needed (19) My father used to plant his onion seeds on Boxing Day and by the following August they were enormous. I’m afraid I don’t have time spend 8 months tending onion plants so my onion sets are planted in April. As usual we had some crab apples this year and I made them into jelly. It is necessary to chop them in half, cook them in water and a few cloves for quite a while, hang the pulp in a muslin bag over night (20) and then boil the juice with sugar until it is set. The fig tree (Brown Turkey variety), hardly had any ripe figs this autumn but produced a lot of “false ones” which will never mature and will fall off during the winter (21) Figs were one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans which started in about 9400 BC and are native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. There are several superstitions associated with fig trees dating back to at least the seventeenth century which are “They say that the Fig Tree, as well as the Bay Tree are never hurt by lightning; as also if you tie a bull, be he ever so mad, to a Fig Tree, he will quickly become tame and gentle.” One wonders how you would get a mad bull to the fig tree in the first place.


Prior to the service the church was beautifully decorated by a team of ladies and one gentlemen using their artistic skills with flowers. In the photos flowers can be seen on the altar (22), the Saxon font (23) in the porch (24) and in one of the windows (25). Whilst the actual service was going on local children with the help of adults learnt how to make chocolate crispy cakes. It was very well organised with Ros and Alan running the “kitchen” (26). The children broke up chocolate bars (27) and then heated them over a mini stove (28). Next the breakfast cereal was poured into the melted chocolate (29) and the mixture put into paper cases (30). The last process was sprinkling all sorts of exciting things onto of the chocolate creations. (31, 32). As there wasn’t enough room for all the children to do the cooking at once some of the children did art work in the children’s corner in readiness with the packaging for the cakes (33, 34)

The children then took the cakes they had cooked in the harvest baskets up to the altar to have them blessed by the vicar. (35). Later a story entitled The Shopping Basket was read which involved the children and congregation filling the basket with ingredients. It was good for the children’s concentration and maths! At the end of the service the cakes were shared with the congregation as part of the refreshments.


John Bright Fencing (36) has just celebrated 20 years of having its business at Salway Ash near Bridport. They unveiled their new look, (37, 38) and larger store complete with exciting new ranges last week. At this event there was a hog roast (39) and a bar – with all patrons at the time from Ryall (a small hamlet near Whitchurch) (40). One of the features at the open day with the Birdline Parrot Rescue. (41) John, who was a butcher, starting making fences at Broadwindsor in his spare time. In 1983 he started fencing during the day and made gates in the evenings. They moved to Paverlands Farm, Salway Ash in 1994 and opened the country store with garden furniture, sheds and buildings, animal husbandry items, food and clothing and accessories. They now have three teams of expert fencers. In 2003 Beth, their daughter joined the family business. (42).


The Five Bells Inn is the only remaining pub left in the Char Valley Parish. It was originally an old thatched building with a stable attached (43) An arsonist set fire to the thatch on 5 November 1905 and it burnt to the ground. The publicans did manage to get the horses to safety and to save a few pieces of furniture. It was necessary for them to camp out in a nearby stable to continue running the business before a new inn was built in 1906. The names of landlords can be traced back to 1847 (but I am sure that the pub goes back further than that) The landlords at the time of the fire were Albert and Bessie Smith (44) The photo was taken in 1932 on the occasion of their Golden Wedding anniversary. Two of their grandchildren in the photo are still alive and living in West Dorset with other descendants living in Whitchurch.

The aerial photo shows the Five Bells in the late 1960s. (45) The Leggs were living opposite at Belvedere and were running a petrol station and had a very large vegetable garden. Next to the pub on its left can be seen a pound (for keeping straying animals safe until the owner came to collect them) Two large houses have since been built in the same area. The hunt used to meet on a regular basis outside the pub. (46) The photo is dated 1962. A regular was Charlie Wills who was a famous local folk singer who recorded for the BBC (47) He has dozens of descendants still living in the area. Over the years the Five Bells has seen many interesting events but one major one was in 1980 when the church was celebrating being over a thousand years old and everyone dressed appropriately for the occasion. (48)

The current landlady, Pat Hawkins, has just celebrated her 17th anniversary at the helm (49) On the actual day she was selling Palmers beers at 1997 prices which was a great success with lots of extra punters. Prices included,

IPA £1,90 a pint £3.40
Light Ale 85p a bottle £1.80
Ginger beer 65p bottle £2.20


She do swing her tongue around too much for oi – she is too much of a gossip/chatterbox

Pick up sticks (kindling wood) on a Sunday and the devil will be wie ‘ee all the rest of the week

Archit – orchard

Barken – barton, farmyard

Zidlin ground – sideland ground

Nish – tender as in eating meat

Swarmer – a farm dog which roams and causes problems to its owner

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