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As I am open all year campers have been staying during the autumn. This enthusiastic couple were interested in everything (1) and it would have been good if they could have stayed longer. As they left I realised that they had a very interesting number plate. (2) A family who had to cancel their August Bank holiday booking on the site, came instead during the October half term. They were lucky with the weather and visited a lot of local tourist spots during their stay including Charmouth, (3), Lyme Regis, (4) Upton Country Park (5) and Blackgang Chine (6)

My father planted a chestnut in a rusty bucket which I found after his death. I planted it on the edge of the drive but after 2 years’ growth it was nearly demolished by sheep. When it recovered the young tree developed three branches and has been this peculiar shape ever since. (7) Some drastic action was needed as it was overhanging the campsite recycling centre and drive. The space it has left shows that some painting is now necessary. (8)


Our ginger tom cat Tiger arrived in the middle of August 2010. (9) Normally we would never have been down in the covered yard that month, but on that particular day we were treating a cow with an infected eye. Suddenly we heard a loud meow which made us all jump. Over the other side of the building there was a tiny bundle of ginger fur. Someone must have put him through the hole in the door and abandoned him. He would surely have perished if we had not been there. I fed it on milk and eventually, after several fruitless attempts, managed to get him into a cat basket so that the vet could examine him, treat him if necessary, and tell us what sex it was! The vet advised me that the kitten could not be neutered until the beginning of January 2011 so Tiger had to live in the barn until then. Unfortunately there must have been wild cats around trying to steal its food, as it was quite a “damaged” pussy cat by the time it had been operated on and brought into the farm house. Over the years since, its very nervous disposition gradually lessened, and now it is a very affectionate cat, although it is still wary of visitors.

Until recently we had another cat called Rhubarb (10). Her and her twin sister Custard were given to me in 2006, their birthday being 21.6.2006. They were adorable kittens, always escaping out of the house and into the orchard if they had the chance. Unfortunately in April 2007 Custard was mown down by a huge tractor in the lanes and was then buried under the lawn. One wonders whether she was ill and didn’t have the strength to jump into the hedge as Rhubarb had done.

It is a long time since we have had a dog at Bluntshay. Scamp was born in the spring of 1985 and the photo shows her with my father in August of the same year. (11) Unfortunately my father wasn’t well enough to train her properly and she used to chase cars up and down the road! She was very good at getting the cows in from the field for milking, with my father only having to say “cows” and Scamp would race off and find them and drive them at full pelt through the rest of the farm to the cow stall in the farm yard. Her manic behaviour with cars got worse after my father died and to avoid a fatal accident with a tourist swerving to avoid Scamp in the road it was necessary to tie her up and then take her for walks every day. All the locals knew she was a maniac and ignored her! A neighbour used to give her chicken bones to eat. This eventually gave her mouth cancer. After repeated operations to remove the growths it got to the point when we had to say a sad farewell to her.


In October Jurassic Coast Ambassadors were invited to a private viewing of Colin Bentley’s Jurassic Coast art exhibition at Kennaway House, Sidmouth, Devon. Here is the artist himself with two of the Ambassadors. (12) The exhibition featured 35 landscape paintings of the Jurassic Coast between the Site’s beginnings at Orcombe Point, Exmouth (13) and the East Devon town of Seaton. These paintings also included Sidmouth Hill (14), Salcombe Hill (15) and Beer Head (16, 17) and (18). The most highly priced painting was Beer Head at £35,000 – this didn’t sell, funnily enough!

Comments from visitors during the week-long exhibition included, “What fabulous paintings of the vivid and vibrant part of our world, with such skill and love” and, “An amazing collection of paintings; they really do capture the essence of the Jurassic Coast.” Colin donated part of the proceeds from sales of the artwork to the Jurassic Coast Trust, the charity responsible for looking after the World Heritage Site and inspiring people with its incredible stories. The Private View was a buzz of activity, with 12 painting selling in the first two hours. Over the course of the week, 19 paintings were sold in total, raising over £8,000 for the Trust.

Colin’s next exhibition will pick up where this one left off, beginning at the small port village of Axmouth and continuing until the Isle of Portland. This will encompass iconic Dorset locations like Golden Cap, West Bay and Chesil Beach. Colin’s 2018 exhibition will be held at Symondsbury Estate’s Tithe Barn, just outside Bridport in October. It promises to be a fascinating exhibition, inspiring people with the incredible World Heritage Site on their doorstep.

As well as landscapes, Colin’s exhibition featured 8 portraits of Jurassic Coast Ambassadors, volunteer local expert who have helped Colin to create his artwork. (19) This photo shows 5 of them. These portraits are not for sale, and will travel with the exhibition as it heads east into Dorset. I hope to have my portrait done by Colin, but will have to make do with a photo of it, because the exhibition may go on for several years. Guy Kerr, who is the Programme Manager for the Jurassic Coast Trust, organised the brilliant event. (20)


This event was marked with several events at Blackdown Village Hall in October, one being a showcase of everything that the WI stands for, and an exhibition showing some of the history of the village and the WI. Helen Doble was instrumental in the research and presentation of the historical exhibition. (21, 22, 23) Several photos of past anniversaries – 40th, (24) 50th (25) and 60th (26) were on show. The cake was made and decorated by Samantha Fursman. (27) The hall was abuzz with all sorts of activities – spinning, (28) weaving, (29) sewing with a very “state of the art” sewing machine, (30) card making, (31) cake decorating (32) and crochet. (33) One WI member, Helen Huxter – a past president of the Blackdown WI, had made a banner for the occasion, (34) She also made a lot of the items in this photo on her knitting machine. (35) The oldest item to be exhibited was a cushion cover made by a lady who lived well into her nineties. (36) Local produce was also on show. (37) The tea ladies did a sterling job with refreshments. (38)

The Women’s Institute, a community based organisation for women, was founded in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada in 1897 as a branch of the Farmers’ Institute. The movement brought women together from isolated communities and offered training in home economics, child care and those aspects of farming that were traditionally done by women, such as poultry keeping and small farm animal husbandry.

The British WI movement was formed in 1915. It had two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during WW1. Since then the aims have broadened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK.

Lady Hester Pinney (39) started the Blackdown WI in her sitting room at Racedown, (40) (of Wordsworth fame). She remained President for many years putting the Institute on a very firm footing. In 1922 she provided a plot of land at Blackdown and the first hall (an ex-Army Hut from Salisbury Plain) was built. After a fire in 1976 the present hall was erected.

At another event Susan Parsons, a WI member, composed and narrated a brilliant script as seen through the eyes of Lady Hester Pinney. (41) Excerpts included:

“I had difficulty finding my way in this evening as the door used to be on that side of the wall with a porch outside. Inside was a large black metal stove and at the far end a big table with an enamel bowl to wash dishes and a tin tray for a draining board”

“The lavatory was a wooden shed with a plank of wood across one end with a round hole cut in it. Whether or not there was a bucket underneath I don’t know as I never tried to use the facilities.”

“The lives of rural women was very hard years ago. If you lived in a remote area it was said that, when a stranger appeared, the older children ran and hid among the cabbages, whilst the little ones peeped out from behind Mother’s long skirts.”

“A farmer’s wife with several small children, found her husband in a very compromising position in their barn, with the local junior school teacher. The thing which hurt her most was, that he had bought a bottle of alcohol for the occasion and money was desperately needed for other things. This shows the plight of some women when WW1 started.”


The Whitchurch, Morcombelake, Ryall and District Poppy Appeal has been involved with running the outdoor service for many years. (42) Firstly the Minister and Choir walked from the church to the war memorial. (43) The congregation had gathered in front of Church House (formerly the village poor house in the distant past). (44) The organiser, Nigel Carter, (45) introduced the service. After the hymn Supreme Sacrifice was sung Nigel read out all the names of the servicemen who fell during WW1 and WW2. These names are engraved on the War Memorial. Another one is commemorated on a plaque inside the church, this being Lieutenant Commander Edgar Christopher Cookson VC, DSO, RN of HMS Clio. (46) Two wreaths were laid (47, 48) One was a traditional Royal British Legion wreath for the men who had died, and the other for the women who suffered in the conflicts. During the service the music for the Last Post, and the Reveille were played by Elizabeth Carter on her flugelhorn. Nigel, who created the original formal Order of Service, has been running the service since 1987 with his wife Elizabeth playing the music.

On the Tuesday before the Remembrance Service the local bell ringers rang a quarter peel (which took 45 minutes) before their practice session. (49) Some of the peel was “half muffled” whereby a bell muffle made of leather (50) was put on the side of the bell clappers to soften the sound. The quarter peel was for a local man. Private Hubert John Bugler who died 100 years ago on 14th November 1917, aged 20. I managed to catch up with some of the bell ringers involved in the quarter peel in the church belfry. (51) “Muffled bell ringing” also occurs at funerals and on New Year’s Eve as a sign of mourning and remembrance. On New Year’s Eve the muffles are used for ringing until midnight on 31st December. Once the New Year dawns the muffles are quickly taken off and the bells rung normally.


I use my old milkstand (where we used to place milk churns for collection) as a noticeboard and at this time of year lots of events are going on including Christmas Wreath making, Christmas Pudding stir up, Making a Christingle, Christmas Bingo, Charmouth Christmas Market, Eype Christmas Market, the production of “A Christmas Carol” at Broadoak and Bridport History Group’s December event, (52).


Thank you to all the people who have helped me with this newsletter: Jane Rudkin, Helen Huxter, Helen Doble,”Beatle” couple, Nigel Carter, Mark Symonds, Susan Parsons, Joanne Jones, Guy Kerr, Dean Wildbore, Sue Johnson and Glenda Huxter.

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