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I continued to have a steady trickle of campers during the rest of the winter with several people trying out their unit for the first time on a trial run to the campsite. These two lovely retired ladies (1 & 2) from Southampton stayed for a couple of days. They had plans to do a lot more caravanning during 2017 with trips to Henley, Berks, Peterborough, Hellingley, East Sussex, Pentewan, Cornwall and Keswick in the Lake District and Cumbria. A friendly couple from Sweden stayed and bought some of my wares. (3) Cleaning and maintenance continue in and around the cabin (4) and new offcuts of lino have just been laid in the showers and toilets today. (5, 6 & 7) The lino for the kitchen floor will have to wait until 2018.


We had more young apple trees fall over in the new orchard. Part of the reason for this is that it is difficult for trees to grow deep roots into clay soil. The trees had to be pulled up and restaked (8) with a triangular frame to make sure they stay up this time (8a) The orchard hedge had to be cut along one side on that particular day (28th February) being the last day that you are allowed to cut hedges in the winter, to avoid birds nesting and the like. (10 & 11). This hedge looked neat after the work was finished unlike some of the ones you see on the side of the main road that have been hit really hard with a flail cutter after there has been more than 2 years’ growth (12). When older apple trees fall over they continue to survive even at a 45 degree angle. But this one didn’t, it died straight away. (13) After my father died we found a lot of young apple trees on the bee site. As they were all unlabelled we had to wait several years for them to fruit before we knew what varieties they were. We actually planted them out on March 21st the following year, so it was sad that this one didn’t survive much more than 30 years.

The stock netting was added to the stakes that were erected several months ago in the sheepwash field. This was reeled out behind the tractor. (14) Sometimes the netting has to be joined (15) In some cases the netting was put behind the stakes to make it stronger and more stable. (16) Once the netting gets to the gateway it is cut. (17) A strainer rod is attached to the netting (18 & 19). This is then attached to a strong rope (20) which is pulled by the tractor to get as much strain as possible to get the netting tight. (21) Staples are then hammered in to secure the netting to the stakes. While their parents were busy with the fencing the children decided to clean out the water course leading to the sheepwash. (22 & 23)


The snowdrops are over now, but were a real show in February, (24) Wild daffodils are everywhere at the moment (25) as are primroses. (26) Along the River Char can be seen catkins (27) and hawthorn blossom (28) We have several piles of rotting wood in the old orchards, (29) which are supposed to be very good for minbeasts to inhabit.


Petites Annonces (French for “want ads”) (30) recently played at Broadoak Hall. The venue was packed out as we listened to gypsy swing, punk manouche and French chansons – the sounds of 1940s Paris. The atmosphere was electrifying and quite intoxicating. Petites Annonces was established in 2005 and have played in London, Ireland, Salisbury, Shaftsbury and entertained at many weddings and private events. A very cheerful bar lady met us as we arrived, (31) with raffle tickets for sale on another table. (32) During the interval delicious food was served from a brand new kitchen (33) The photograph of the group was taken at a previous event by Kathy Horniblow.


There seems to be an epidemic of fly tipping in England at the present time and West Dorset has not escaped this scurge (34)


At Whitchurch there is whist drive on the third Wednesday of every month. Fortunately, the skill to play whist is alive and well in West Dorset although the attendance has shrunk over the years. There doesn’t appear to be the younger generation coming on to fill up the tables. It seems that children from 7-12 come with their parents to play and are enthusiastic, but once they become teenagers their interest is diminished. (35) Anyone from 7 to 90 is welcome at whist drives.

There was a “welcome” table as you walked into the hall where £3 was paid for the evening including tea, coffee and biscuits (36). Money is usually given for whist prizes. There was also a table where people had given prizes for the raffle. (37)

A standard 52-pack is used for the game. The cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest – Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The suits are Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs. (38) Whist is played by four players, who play in two partnerships with the partners sitting opposite each other. Players draw cards to determine the dealer. To comment on the cards is strictly forbidden and one may not signal to one’s partner about the “state” of their hand. The cards can be shuffled by any player. The cards are cut by the player on the dealer’s right before dealing. The dealer deals out all of the cards, one at a time, face down, so that each player has thirteen cards. Trumps are always played in the same order of hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades During the evening 24 whist hands are played. The player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. They may lead any card in their hand. The other players in clockwise order, each play a card to the trick and must follow suit by playing a card of the suit lead if they have one. If they haven’t got cards of that suit they may play any card, either ‘discarding’ small cards from other suits or by trumping. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump is played in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of the trick leads the next hand. Play continues until all thirteen tricks are played at which point the score is recorded (39). Obviously, the number of tricks won in one game can be thirteen to one pair of players, and nil for the other pair, but that is rare. There can never be a draw in the number of tricks. The game at Whitchurch had the winning pair moving on to another table to sit with losers on another table. In some cases when the number of people attending the whist drive is not indivisible by exactly four a table with three players has a “dummy” player. This means that a card is turned face up and is played by all the players in turn with ‘dummy’ leading first with each card turned up separately.

A score of 170 or over is considered a good one. A score of 140 or under is considered a bad one. Occasionally the whist drive organisers will give a booby prize for the lowest score. The highest score on the night I visited was a really good one of 176. The hand of cards that I photographed was only a “fair to middling” one and would probably have only got a maximum of 5 tricks.

Philip Page has been running the Whitchurch whist drives for about 15 years. He has also been running a monthly one at Salway Ash Hall for approximately the same time. He attends two or three other whist drives in the district on a monthly basis. His experience of whist playing spans 45 – 50 years. The game takes its name from the 17th Century wist, meaning quiet, silent, attentive, which is the root of the modern wistful. The game was first played on “scientific principles” by a party of gentlemen who frequented the Crown Coffee House in Bedford Row, London around 1728.

The actual history of playing cards is extremely interesting. It seems that they were invented in China before AD1000 and then spread to India and Persia (modern day Iran). From there they are believed t o have spread to Egypt during the era of Manluk control and from there into Europe through both the Italian and Iberian peninsulas in the second half of the 14th century. Designs of European cards seem to derive from Egyptian cards from the 14th century. The suits were goblets, gold coins, swords, and polo-sticks. The early European ones were transformed into batons or staves, together with swords, cups and coins which are still traditional in Italian and Spanish cards. Over the centuries the Germans experimented with the suits. The French started producing playing-cards by means of stencils thus simplifying the German shapes into trefle (clover), pique (pike heads), coeur (hearts) and carreau (paving tiles). English card-makers used these shapes but varied the names, thus ‘pique’ became Spade.

Early decks had no Queens, which reflected the fact that courts were male-dominated. Even today Italian, Spanish and German cards have a variation of the 3 male court cards. The exception is the French design, which does have a Queen! The common red and black suit colour scheme that we know today was invented in France. This simple creation offered better readability and became the basis for the modern deck.


Bridport Barnardo’s committee celebrated this event with a wine and cheese evening at the Bridport Town Hall. The committee can trace its own history back to 1886 and the current committee’s combined years for service amount to 224 years. Three members have completed more than 50 years of service each including Carol Lee, Kathleen Parsons and Sandra Brown (40). Carol and Kathleen each received a basket of flowers from the local group (41) and a Certificate of Thanks from Barnardo’s. (42) The event was attended by 100 guests, including the mayor, the deputy Lord Lieutenant and Hugh Sherriffe, Regional Director of Barnardo’s (43). Music was played throughout the evening by the Mood Indigo Trio (44) Display boards showing case studies of children who Barnardo’s has helped (45) made very interesting reading. Later on tasty food was served (46) and the local auctioneer, Jim Rowe used his skills to sell a bouquet of flowers, bottle of wine, dining voucher, basket of fruit and a food hamper. (47)

Barnardo’s believe in children – no matter who they are, what they have done or what they have been through. This belief started with their pioneering founder, Thomas Barnardo, who stood up for the most vulnerable children in society. Barnardo’s is the children’s charit y with the largest number of services on the ground in the UK. They run more than 900 services in local communities and every year they transform the lives of more than 200,000 children, young people, and their families.


Thank you to the people who have helped me with the research for this newsletter: Carol Lee, Phillip Page, Caroline Lambert, Broadoak Hall committee and Petites Annonces.

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