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August was busy with a lot of people returning to the site from previous years along with many new campers. As usual the children were keen to help with the geese – helping with the watering and feeding (1 & 2) and assisting in making Dylan’s (the very old gander) run escape proof. (3) Several families came especially to look for fossils at Charmouth and this boy was lucky enough to make several exciting finds (4). The appetising smells that wafted around the campsite at breakfast time really made my mouth water, (5) and I enjoyed a sumptuous meal with a family who were making their 6th visit to the site (6).

The paddling pool was as popular as ever. (7) I continued to have campers from different parts of Europe and this family from Belgium made themselves quite at home (8) but had so much to pack up when it was time to leave. (9) A lot of people were interested in the old restored tractors around the place and one camper enjoyed taking lots of shots of his children on them. (10) This is a Fordson Major E1A dated 1954. The prize for the most unusual tent this season has to go to the roof tent which was attached to a Landrover (11) This caused quite a stir.


Our first calf (male) of the year was born on 18th August (12). Previous calves that the cow had were also trying to suckle her in this very unusual photo (13). We still have Daisy who is now 13 months old (14). She has grown a bit in the last year (15) but is not as big as the other calves from 2015. A new Texal ram, (16) Eric arrived recently, but is living on his own at the moment. The other two rams Bruce the Suffolk, and Ed the Dorset are still with us, but I am afraid that Bad Tempered Boris has gone. The sheep on the farm are Dorset Crosses and Texal Crosses. The Himalayan Balsam plant continues to cause problems in fields near river banks (17) and needs to be pulled up and burnt before the seeds form.


This summer the espalier William pear tree which is trained up on the house wall has excelled itself this year. The crop is at least 50% more than usual although the fruit is smaller. (18) The Stubbon (Plum Viney in Devon) apple tree on the lawn hasn’t produced so many this year, but it was my intention to process them into the freezer as soon as they fell (they do not keep). But as can be seen (19) this has not happened as I have been too busy and they are rotting. Unfortunately most of the apple trees in the orchards have taken a rest year (some trees are biennial or the buds were caught by a late frost) so I may not have enough apples for my chutneys. My sunflowers, dahlias and sweet peas are in full bloom at the moment, but as we are going to less markets this year I have fewer retail outlets. The sign advertising them on the roadside has not attracted much attention as we do not get much “passing trade” on Bluntshay Lane! Fortunately some of my campers have bought sunflowers. (20)


The wood bunker was originally built with logs, at the back of the double garage in 1988. Over the years the walls have collapsed (21) and it was decided that a secure wood bunker should take its place. So having plenty of pallets lying around we set to and cleared the old logs and constructed a good airy building (22 & 23). It was then necessary to go foraging for dead apple wood (24) in the orchards to make sure that I would have enough for all the campers to use. We also cut down overhanging oak branches on the campsite so that there would be plenty of space for tents in the bottom corner (25). Of course this wood won’t be ready to burn this year and neither will the brushwood, which will be used for kindling next year. I even bought another fire pit for the end of August, as one group had already booked the other ahead of time for the long weekend. (26)


This is held annually at Poundbury in Dorchester at the beginning of August. (27). In addition to the Dorset Farmers’ Market stalls (28, 29, 30, 31, 32) the Festival was full of interesting items to view and buy. DFM has a demonstration unit and at the event Lesley Waters (33) demonstrated Beetroot Hash, Pan Fried Tomatoes with Chorizo, Skillet Scones and Instant Berry Jam. All the recipes are on the Dorset Farmers’ Market website Lesley lives in Dorset and is a celebrity chef who has appeared on Ready Steady Cook, Great Food Live and This Morning. She also runs her own Cookery School in West Dorset.


(34 & 35) William, a 12 year old gypsy cob, and Vikki his owner have been taking people out for carriage rides around the village and estate of Symondsbury, near Bridport for five years. During that time Vikki and William have built up a very loving and special bond which makes the ‘ride’ experience even more heart warming. Whilst sitting in the carriage you can learn about the history of the estate, enjoy the beautiful countryside and have an introduction and understanding of the local wild flowers and their traditional uses.

Carriage rides can be taken to and from holiday cottages, the cafe and from anywhere in the village. They offer special rides for children’s birthdays and surprise birthday rides for adults with a theme of their choice. Picnics are also available. On the day I went to see Vikki and William they were off to distribute leaflets, about an event at the Electric Palace on 22nd July, around the Bridport area.

Vikki is a member of the British Driving Society and has achieved her Road Driving certificate plus Horse Riders first aid.

When there is a special event it takes Vikki 4 hours to get William ready, (36) and a new more luxurious carriage is used for the occasion.


The summer is always a busy time, especially for cream teas. (37). This was put on to raise funds for Blackdown Church which amounted to £820. The event started with a walk from the farm track through the fields to cross a wooden bridge over the River Synderford (38). The shorter walk (one hour) involved walking through grass meadows, a river valley, (39) crossing several other bridges and passing a shepherd’s hut en route. The longer walk (1 1/2 to 2 hours) took walkers to Thorncombe, through a maize field and then on to Chaffeigh Farm. The final leg involved climbing Venn Hill passing Venn Chapel and reaching Causeway Farm from the top of the lane. Causeway is a dairy farm on loam soil.

The cream tea was held in and around a “ state of the art ” machinery storage shed. Most of the Doble family were involved – serving food, (40) doing the raffle, (41) running the bar (42) and making tea. (43). It was a very hot day so people either sat outside and basked in the strong sunlight (44) or sat inside in the cool (45). Farming artifacts decorated the walls (46) – a scythe and two hay knives, and (47) – reap hooks and sheep shears. There was also a pink shovel with a tape measure on display. (48) This was used to form a guard of honour for a bridal couple leaving the church. The shovel signified that the groom is a builder and the tape measure signified that the bride is a curtain maker. (49) A guard of honour is often formed at young farmers’ weddings when pitchforks are used.


On 4th July this group, of which I am a member, travelled to Buckfast Abbey which nestles in the shadow of Dartmoor, in a beautiful wooded valley beside the River Dart. The first abbey at Buckfast was founded as a Benedictine monastery in 1018. The Abbey was rebuilt in the mid 1100s and became Cistercian. By the 14th century Buckfast was one of the wealthiest abbeys in the south west of England. It had come to own “ extensive sheep runs on Dartmoor, seventeen manors in central and south Devon, town houses in Exeter, fisheries on the Dart and the Avon and a country house for the abbot at Kingsbridge ” .

At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries the last Abbot, Gabriel Donne, on 25 th February 1539 together with nine others of his religious community surrendered his abbey into the hands of Sir William Petre, as agent for King Henry VIII. The abbot and the monks were rewarded with annual pensions for the rest of their lives! The abbey site and its lands were granted by the crown to Sir Thomas Denys who stripped the buildings and reduced them to ruins and the abbey site was subsequently used as a stone quarry. Very little remains of the original Abbey (50 & 51). In 1882 the site was purchased by a group of French Benedictine monks, who refounded a monastery and dedicated it to Saint Mary. New monastic buildings and a temporary church were constructed. Work on the new abbey church, which was constructed mostly on the footprint of the former Cistercian abbey start ed in 1907. The church was consecrated in 1932, but not completed until 1938. (52)

There has been a long tradition of beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey. Bee boles, shelves which held straw bee hives (or skeps) have been found in the medieval enclosure which shows that bees were probably kept here by the monks before the Dissolution in 1539. Skeps are still used today by beekeepers (53). The most prominent beekeeper at Buckfast was Brother Adam. (54) (1898-1996) He looked after the bees for over seventy years and his name is known worldwide. In 1919 Brother Adam was put in sole charge of the bees and he set about rebuilding the colonies after 30 out of the 46 had been wiped out by a disease known as Acarine. The bees that survived the outbreak were all of Italian origin.

He began extensive cross-breeding work to develop a new bee which would be hardy like the British black bee, but disease-resistant like the Italian one, and a good honey producer. He made extensive journeys all over the world to get breeding stock. He visited all countries with a distinct indigenous race of bees going chiefly to isolated country areas where the purity of the native strains had been maintained. over the years. He travelled more than 100,000 miles in search of bees. The result of all these travels, and many years of patient experiment at the breeding station on Dartmoor was the Buckfast bee. ” This bee is gentle, a good pollen gatherer, has a lower tendency to swarm than other varieties and is resistant to disease. Buckfast queens are now kept by beekeepers all over the world. (Beekeeping details from “ Beekeeping at Buckfast ” information sheet). When I visited Buckfast in 1995 all the beekeeping equipment that Brother Adam has used during his lifetime was on display. I made enquiries about it during this visit but no one could tell me anything about its whereabouts.


Thank you to the people who helped me with the research for this newsletter: Helen Doble, Evelyn Hooper, Vikki Prevett, Jo Yeatman of Dorset Farmers’ Markets, The Hemsley Family, the Staff at Buckfast Abbey, Alisha Lambert and Caroline Lambert.

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