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CAMPSITE

I suppose the most exciting news was having Wi-Fi installed on the campsite and in the house in August.  This was planned for last January but because of Covid the idea was shelved, but I should have persevered and had it ready for the season at Easter.  Martin started the installation in the garage (1) then put a an External High Gain 4g Antenna and 4G Router in the garage (2)  Next I was informed that the oak tree in a pot opposite the cabin had to go because it would be blocking the signal for the campsite. (3)  It could not be dug up in August in the middle of the camping season so we had no choice but to cut half of it off.   (4) Next winter it will have to be dug up with a digger (probably disrupting all the drainage underneath)  and then find somewhere else to plant it.

After this I had to co-ordinate a digger to dig a trench, (5) electricians to lay a cable and connect it to the electricity at the last hookup (6) and for Martin to install the Wi-Fi – all at the same time! (7)  This proved quite a difficult feat!  Once Martin had finished, his “report” went as follows:

“Client’s campsite now has full Wi-Fi internet access over two zones and the main farmhouse and probably fields overlapping.  All read from 4g EE Router long range senders and access points.  Previous to this it only had about 5 mb access on the landline.  Now it peaks at about 65 mb and 35 mb in the furthest corner of the site (at the top of the big field).  Client got her camera out (7)  at zone 2 just as it had power directly from a spur installation from a caravan hookup was completed.”

As well as investing in Wi-Fi I bought a fridge for the campers’ use in the cabin, (8) and 2 new fire pits as the ones I bought several years ago are getting a bit rusty with their legs falling off! (9, 10)

Charlie Stanbury, who has a farm just up the road from Bluntshay, is also a butcher.  During the summer he visited all the local campsites in the area regularly delivering his wares.  (11) He had plenty of customers here at Bluntshay. (12)

I have always had problems with the blue towels in the cabin.  They have a cardboard cylinder inside them and I find it impossible to get it out before putting the towel in a dispenser.  There is so much stabbing with a pair of scissors before it is removed.   Paul, who used to be a caretaker at a primary school, was an expert and with some help from his son Andrew, I gave them 18 to do to save my patience.  (13)

I was lucky enough to have my webmaster and his two grandsons stay for a few days to try out a new tent before a bigger adventure in Wales later in the season. (14)

Cow safaris continued in the summer after a gap of a year because of Covid.  Children were always keen to pick up the apples on the lawn which fell in their hundreds.  (15)  This year it was mainly a case of throwing apples over the gate at the animals which proved very exciting for adults and children alike.  (16)

A little girl, who celebrated her 2nd birthday on site had a nice surprise waiting for her, (17) and my old Massey Ferguson 135 tractor continued to be popular with “tots” who wanted to sit in the driving seat. (18)  A very cute baby, who was about 5 months old, stayed on several occasions during the summer and enjoyed having a bath in the kitchen sink.  (19)

Creed step-cousins connected to my great, great grandfather’s second marriage came for a long weekend in August to celebrate a 60th birthday.  Catherine and Kevin stayed at the Shave Cross Inn, while their three sons and families pitched up at the top of the campsite. (20, 21)  The association with the family and Bluntshay goes back to at least the early 1940s when Catherine’s ancestor and my grandfather got in touch via the railway network.  From that point Catherine’s father Lionel used to cycle from Warminster to Bluntshay and spend all his summers on the farm as a teenager.  After he married Julie he brought his daughters Katherine and Susan to stay in a caravan on what was then quite a primitive campsite.  When Catherine and Kevin had their own family they also came to stay.  Now the next generation also camp here.  What a wonderfully long association spanning so many years!

Campers kindly helped me pick the last of the blackcurrants, which were very ripe and squashy by this stage. (22)  A couple who were very keen on nature and saw that I grew little oak and horse chestnut trees took away some spare saplings along with some horse radish roots.  (23) I hope they had luck in growing the latter as the slugs love eating them.

FARM

Alisha decided to rear Saddleback pigs again this year and they arrived on 14th August at 12 weeks old .  (24)  It has been much better having them in the summer this time as they still have grass to roam around in rather than all the mud from last year.  Alisha hopes to breed from some of the pigs later on but will have to wait for 2 years before this can be done.

Nick Gray and Emily from the Dorset Wildlife Trust came in mid-July to check on the reseeding of some of the wild flowers in the meadow opposite the campsite.  It seems that not everything had appeared but there was hope that one of the late varieties would emerge in the next few weeks.  (25, 26)

Within a week of their visit the field was mown.  (it has to be left until all the flower seeds have dropped back into the soil – by the end of July).  Within a few days the grass was sufficiently dry to bale, (27, 28) wrap, (29, 30) and be carried away (31) ready for campers to move in on 1st August.

I collected the three week-old goslings from Tiverton at the beginning of July.  (32)  They had just come “off heat” and didn’t need any heat lamps to keep them warm at night.  At this age they are usually very skittish, being frightened by the slightest thing and crowding into a corner risking the ones underneath getting suffocated.  Fortunately these goslings seemed very cool, calm and collected.  They almost immediately went out to grass right next to their goose house.  Within a week they were down in the field next to the river where they given allocated strips of grass.  The Smiths, from the campsite, became expert goose herders during their stay,   (33) and since leaving the site have wanted regular  photos of the geese to chart their progress! (34)  Two families who have visited the site on several occasions were very helpful in putting up a fence for the geese (in the dark).  (35)  In fact it was so well built I had difficulty in taking it down a week or so later!

Eleanor’s first sheep lambed on 13th June.   The mother is a Dorset and the lamb is a Texel Dorset cross.  (36)

After years of patching up holes in both the roofs of the cider house and the old cow stall along came Jamie and did a brilliant job of making the roof complete.  (37)

After having problems with rats eating the crumbs from the fatballs hanging from the bird table, I was told by the “rat catcher” that I ought to “do away” with the bird table.  This was out of the question, so I had a tray made to go underneath it to catch the crumbs but allow rain to soak through it.  I haven’t seen a rat since!  (38)

ALLOTMENTS OPEN AFTERNOON AT WHITCHURCH

The open allotments and street stalls event at the church seemed a tentative way to bring the village back to some sort of social gathering in 31st July after the trials of Covid.  The village responded enthusiastically, both in offers of help, and on the afternoon, in a huge number of visitors coming to enjoy tea and cakes (40, 41) and to look at the allotments in which local gardeners work very hard.  (42, 43)

The ‘street stalls’ were really varied and those who had precious artwork made the aisle of the church their ‘street’.  (44)  The people who had stalls with bric-a-brac, plants (45) and my particular stall (who were more optimistic about the weather) lined the church path in and outside the gates.   Unfortunately the rain came and played havoc with the labels on my jars, but I had a profitable day despite the dampness.  Overall there was a truly buzzing atmosphere created by all those who participated and those who came to buy.  It was so good to see so many familiar faces after so many months in Covid lockdown.

A total of £162 was raised from the sale of tea and cakes.  Contributions from the stall holders added up to about £300.  The proceeds of the day were divided between Whitchurch church and Friends of St Candida (Whitchurch church).

ARTSREACH EVENT AT BEERLANDS FARM, RYALL

It was so good to see an Artsreach sign at the top of Ryall announcing a theatrical production.  (47) We hadn’t seen one of these for a very long time!  We made our way down the farm lane and then along some tracks until we reached The Pole Barn Theatre (which used to be a covered yard for animals). (48, 49)   Refreshments were already set up inside the barn (50) and the audience sat in family clusters. (51)

The production of ‘Oh Mary’ was a ‘one lady show’ by acclaimed performer Bec Applebee.  It was based on the incredible life story of Mary Bryant (nee Broad) who was a Cornish highway woman, convict, mother and maritime adventurer.  In no time at all the audience was swept up into the amazing life of this courageous woman (52) who although after leaving her Cornish village home to find work in Plymouth, she fell into a life of crime (as a highway woman) and was at first sentenced to hang.  Fortunately this was commuted to seven years transportation in April 1786.

She sailed with the First Fleet to Australia giving birth to a baby girl she called Charlotte en route.  Mary also met her future husband William Bryant during the voyage.  He was a convicted smuggler.  They later married and had a son  Emanuel.  Once in New South Wales William worked in the fishing industry, having done this in his native Cornwall.  After falling foul of the law William made plans to escape Australia.  On 28 March 1791 a six-oared cutter was stolen and William and his family and seven other prisoners set sail on a voyage to Timor, a journey of 5,000 kilometres, which took 66 days.  Fortunately one of the prisoners was an experienced navigator who sailed through the uncharted territory of the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Straits.

Initially the Bryants and the crew were welcomed and treated well by the Dutch in Timor as they claimed to be shipwreck survivors.  Unfortunately William became drunk and confessed to being a convict.  The Dutch, to avoid an international incident, sent the Bryants and their crew back to England to stand trial.  Sadly en route William, Charlotte and Emanual all died of fever.  The survivors, including Mary, arrived back in England on 18th June 1792.

The punishment for escaping from transportation was generally death, but instead they were put into prison.  Their case was taken up by biographer and lawyer James Boswell.  On 2 May 1793 Mary was released from Newgate Prison with a free pardon, her sentence having expired.  Mary is believed to have returned to her family in Cornwall and Boswell provided her with a pension of £10 annually.  What an exciting, but tragic life she had!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Martin Hughes, Briony Blair, Alisha Lambert, Eleanor Lambert, William Browne, Nesta Davies and Eric Smiley.

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