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A family who had been coming to the campsite for quite a few years arrived again recently on a Friday after driving all the way from Suffolk. They left home at 3.30 am in the morning, spent the day in Lyme Regis after arriving in Dorset, and then collapsed into bed by 8 pm. They said it was good to have a “power break”. They drove all the way back to Suffolk on the Sunday. Another returner family brought a rare French caravan with them this time. (1) It was a 1979 Rapido Confort and can be towed by a small car as it weighs very little. It can sleep four and has a seating area, and a sofa. (2) Both these areas can be made into double beds or one end can be bunks. It has a cooker and plenty of storage space, with a big box on the front for the fridge and gas bottle storage. It seems that it can be assembled in 15 minutes. It certainly only took the family 15 minutes to take down. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9)


Himalayan Balsam continues to cause problems everywhere in the countryside. The seeds landed on the manure in our yard sometime last year. When the manure was moved to our furthest field for storage the seeds germinated. (10) I should have pulled up the plants when I first saw them after a late frost when they were only small. By the time we got to them the stems were enormous. (11a) They had to be carted off to be burnt. (11b) Whilst we were at the manure heap we bagged up some well rotted manure for the front garden which is having a face lift. (12)

Benji the orphan calf is gradually been weaned off milk and now eats lots of rearing pellets as well as a little drop of milk. He is still an attraction for children on the campsite. (13)

We have tall thistles in our new orchard and we decided to mow them down with a 1960s International B23 mower which is still in excellent working condition. First of all it had to be attached to the International B275 tractor (14) and then had to be greased (15) and oiled (16) ready for action. Once it got to the orchard the cutting blade was gradually lowered to the ground (17) before mowing commenced. (18 & 19)


This proved to be a very successful day for the village and raised over £1600. (20) To register to visit all eight gardens it was necessary to buy a map for £5 showing their locations, along with a brief description of each on the reverse. (21 & 22) The weather was just right for walking around as there was a light breeze and no scorching sun. The gardens varied in size, shape and aspect. (23, 24, 25, 26 & 27)

Another treat was to climb up the church tower (dated 1400) – all 95 steps! (28) On the way up (after 62 steps) we stopped off at the bell ringing chamber and had a demonstration of how it was done. (29) There was even a computer programme to help with the process. This simulates the pattern in which the bells have to be rung. (30) The church clock mechanism, which dates from 1690, could be seen from this room. (31) The clock has what is called a ‘bird case’ movement and is believed to have been built by Ralph Cloud, a clockmaker from Beaminster. After climbing a few more steps we reached the belfry and watched as one bell was rung. (32) Finally we got to the top. (33) The square shapes could be described as the castellated top of the tower with pinnacles. The scenery from this point was amazing. (34 & 35). It was worth the strenuous climb to see the Marshwood Vale from this point. (36 & 37) If you zoom into photo  36 you can see the highest hill in Dorset – Lewesdon on the right, with the second highest Pilsdon Pen on the left.

When I attended Whitchurch Primary School we climbed to the top of the church tower every Ascension Day and then had the afternoon off school. Health and Safety would not allow this nowadays – if Whitchurch School was still open.

Inside the church refreshments were served and there was an Olde Curiosity Shoppe. (38) Twenty two display boards, which I had compiled for a Char Valley Parish Council Exhibition in 2009, were placed around the church. (39 & 40) Amongst them were family tree boards for the Barnes’, Loves and Symonds’. The latter three particularly created a lot of interest with the visitors. The local playgroup had a stall and nearby was a bubble making machine. (41) If you zoom in on this photo you can actually see the bubbles!


It was the end of an era in June when W Frost closed its doors for the last time. (42) Adrian Franklin (who had been at Frosts for 40 years) has sold the lease to the national chain Tofs, the Original Factory Shop which has 180 stores around the country selling discounted homewares, furniture and electrical goods, toys and clothing. Many local residents have been very upset by the closure. It had been run by the Franklin family since 1962 when the Adrian’s mother took it on. Many of the seven staff had worked for the firm for some time, some since leaving school, and had been hardworking and loyal to the company. (43 & 44) The store had sold everything from newspapers to kitchen equipment, watches and toys, household wares and stationery. (45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 & 51)

Mr Franklin said that competition had become fierce in the town, along with the rise in online shopping. He also said that shops like Frosts were disappearing all over the place. Mr Franklin is now enjoying a stress free retirement from business.

I miss nipping into Frosts to buy my daily newspaper. Instead I have to queue up for one in the nearby supermarket.


Thank you to the people who have helped me with the research for this newsletter: Hilary Joyce, Alan Woodbridge, Fay Lewis, Angie Thompsett, Mark Symonds and Richard Colby.

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