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I have had a very busy May long weekend with quite a few “returners” and also new people to the site. The site was full up with large tents and campervans (1) and lots of children around who enjoyed playing in the wild flower meadow just over the fence. Earlier in the month I had a cyclist with a tent who had cycled from Newton Abbott in Devon to Bluntshay and then planned to travel to the Isle of Wight when he left here to meet up with his family (2). A “returner” decided to celebrate his 45th birthday on site (3) and bought exotic meat locally in Bridport from the longest established butcher in the whole of England – R J Balson & Son (1515). Purchases included crocodile burgers. (4) I have been giving away rhubarb again this year to anyone who will take it. (5)


Instead of picking up goslings at a day old as I have done for quite a few years, this year they were over three weeks old. They travelled in honey jar boxes in my car (6) and they were so big I thought they were going to escape! After settling in they were out to grass in no time. (7) As usual we had a few pet lambs (8), but unfortunately we also have an orphan calf (Benji) to rear as its mother died two weeks ago. (9) Yesterday the children from the campsite enjoyed visiting him. (10)


We had a very late frost which “caught” the pear blossom, so I won’t have much fruit this year. The campsite looked as if it was back in February (11) and my chrysanths looked the worse for wear. (12) To prepare the main garden for all the flowers I will be planting out in June we collected farmyard manure from a pile that had been accumulating for years. (13) A bold pheasant was keeping its beady eye on us. (14) We then rotovated the manure into the garden. (15) New chrysanths and dahlias arrived by post and had to be planted out in pots immediately. (16) I also planted out sunflowers and sweet peas seed into trays and covered them with various bits of recycled ironmongery. (17) The new bird station soon leaned over and had to be supported by the old bird table and a pot plant. (18)


Pete and Marion Ray moved to Hinkhams in 1980 with their children Maya and Sasha. Tom was born in 1987. (19)

Hinkhams is 26 acres. During Pete’s farming career in the Marshwood Vale he has also farmed Dedley on the Ryall Road, and Prime on the edge of Marshwood, totalling over 100 acres. He kept sheep and had beef animals. He also did relief milking for large local dairy farmers from 1973 until he retired. An interesting aspect about Hinkhams is that it has 6 fields which are all under 4 acres, the biggest being 3 acres. This must be unique as no bulldozing of hedgerows has taken place to make the fields bigger. This photo shows the first haymaking that the Rays did at Hinkhams after they arrived in 1980. (20). Pete has now retired and only retains 5 acres of the farm, the rest being farmed by his son Tom and his wife Gabrielle. But Pete still in fact does milk recording 5 days a month for the National Milk Records for five farms. He has done this since 1982. Pete has always been very involved with the local community. He was chairman for the flower show committee for 15 years, and also chairman of the village hall committee. He was on the local parish council for 2 years and is a Friend of St Candida (the local church)

Tom Ray (21) started contracting work about 14 years ago as soon as he left school, and had several buildings erected for that purpose but it ceased operations in 2015 as he found it very stressful, with unsociable hours, and it was difficult to plan with the inclement weather. It was sometimes necessary to work all night in order to complete the work before the rain set in.

Tom started a livery business [Hobby Farm Equestrian] (22) with his wife Gabby, who is a keen horsewoman, in early 2016 using the same buildings. (23). A new hay barn is shortly to be erected on this spot. (24) The local area has many people interested in horse riding so it was relatively easy to start the business using lots of local contacts. (25)

The maximum number of horses that can be kept on livery is 13. Tom and Gabrielle and one full time member of staff run the business with an apprentice who is working towards her NVQ stages 1, 2 and 3 for Equine Studies. This will enable her to teach riding.

The work includes mucking out, skipping out (only removing fresh manure), feeding and picking out the horses’ hooves on a daily basis. There is one “DIY” local girl who has her horse on livery who does her own mucking out, feeding and changing rugs every day.

It seems that horses need a rug for the day, one for the night, a waterproofed one for the rain and an extra thick one for winter during the day. The tack room was very spacious and clean. (26 & 27)

They are fed on hay and haylage (never silage) plus four food supplements. Some horses have “steamed”hay which means 40 minutes in a steamer to de-dust the fodder.

There is an automatic water supply (28) for each horse. As soon as the horse starts drinking the bowl will automatically fill up. Each stable unit has a rubber matting floor with fine shavings for bedding along with hay and coarse mix to eat. (29)

In the winter horses stay indoors at night and go out in the morning. Legs are washed every night to stop mud fever. The horses have a hot water shower once a week. In the summer the horses come in during the day and go out at night and eat grass. There is a particular type of electric fence for horses which is wider and more prominent than that used for cattle. (30)

Hobby Farm is working towards the British Horse Society membership, and in the not too distant future it is hoped that a riding school for between 4 to 6 horses will be in operation.

The name Hinkhams dates back to the Middle Ages, and means the Valley of the Hind (deer). Up until the Civil War, which started in 1640, the Marshwood Vale was the most important barony in the whole of Dorset and boasted several deer parks.


In April the Great Dorset Beach Clean, which was part of Litter Free Coast and Sea Week, took place along the Dorset coast. I chose to do my stint at Burton Bradstock on the Hive beach one of the attractions being that there was free parking! When I arrived for duty at 10 am I thought I was going to be one of many ready to litter pick. (31) But I was only number 2 and was met by 2 officials (32) with all the necessary gear. The beach was almost deserted. (33) (34). I caught up with No 1, (35) and we discussed the lack of litter. He showed me lots of green glass that he had picked up for his collection, which had been pounded by many tides after being dropped from ships many miles away. (36)

It was a very interesting walk along the beach seeing holiday cabins on the brink of falling over the cliff, (37) a new landslide which had happened overnight (38) Cogden Beach steps beginning to topple, (39) a lone fisherman, (40) metal detectoring, (41) stone sculptures (42) and the inevitable abandoned poo bag. (43) After about two hours I hadn’t collected very much litter (44), but did find quite a lot of rubber bits which seemingly had been washed up from a dinghy which had capsized in 2014. I did see a disposable barbeque and a broken lobster pot but they were too awkward to carry. I suppose that if there had been a howling gale the previous night I would have had plenty of litter to pick up.

As part of trying to achieve cleaner beaches the organisation Pooo Pin were at the Hive handing out poo bags donated by Dicky Bag, Kennel Club and Bredy Vets. This organisation goes around the beaches and along the coastal path and sprays any poo found with a non toxic paint. This is to highlight the problem. Within a day or two the painted poo is collected, or in some cases it has disappeared all together!

The Hive Restaurant is a great place to visit. (45)


I first met Heather, through my family history research, at the end of 2015. She happens to be descended from one of my grandmother’s cousins who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900s. I was thrilled to be invited to her marriage to Billy whom she met 4 years ago in Ireland. The registry office was only a short walk from the hotel where guests were staying so as the weather was fine the bride walked to the ceremony (46) The beautiful dress was bought from Wed2B in Southampton.

I found the ceremony quite moving. Heather wore a green stole and green shoes to mark St Patrick’s Day. (47) The weather stayed fine so some really good photos were taken outside the attractive building (48 & 49). The wedding cake depicted Heather’s passion for greyhounds (50) and it was cut with a ceremonial sword. (51) As can be seen Billy is in the army and was dressed in his full regalia. His medals (52) depict the following (from left to right) – Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Golden Jubilee, Diamond Jubilee, Accumulated campaign Service Medal and Long Service and Good Conduct (15 + years service). A few days after the wedding Heather and her brother and sister (both over from Canada) came with me to the Ilchester Arms in Symondsbury for a meal, (53) and later we did a short “roots” tour to see some Love family connections, Loves Lane in Morcombelake being one of them. (54)

Just to finish I would like show you the phenomenon of the “sun drawing the water up from the seas”(55) and a truncated rainbow disappearing into the clouds, offset by a pylon (56)


Thank you to the people who have helped me with the research for this newsletter: Carol Lee, Heather Love, Billy Boyle, Pooo Pin, Pete Ray and Tom Ray

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