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A local potter from Marshwood decided to spend three nights on my campsite in a small tent, surviving a frost on one evening. (1) She set up her little stove and was well away with having hot breakfasts. (2) Fenella works locally at New House Farm Pottery and was teaching a student on the day that I visited. (3) shows that Fenella has let a Cobalt oxide solution settle on to a bisque-fired plate prior to glazing. (4) shows Nicky, the student, dipping a bisque bowl into a glaze solution. The October Half Term holiday is the time of year when we have to drain all the water out of the system in the cabin to avoid frost damage during the winter. All electrical equipment is covered up with blankets for insulation. Unfortunately I had to buy a new heater this year as one was stolen during the summer. (5) The two heaters are on all the time but only activate when the temperature falls below freezing.


The new calves continue to thrive and now there are 14 of them growing fast. Part of their diet is starter pellets (6) and they will continue on milk powder for a while. (7) The milk feeder has to be washed after every meal. (8) I have been having trouble with a badger tipping over the goose feeder during the night, so I have had to put fencing stakes to secure it. (9) We have had our very old chain harrow repaired (10) and have just used it to pull off stoleniferous weeds and to level and aerate the soil. We are having a massive tidy up around the garden and yard in readiness for a big party I am holding next week .(11 & 12)


There is still lots of colour in the garden. The yellow daisies spread like wildfire but look good as you enter the campsite (13). Another plant that spreads rapidly is this type of St John’s Wort (14). It has yellow flowers, and then red berries which turn black, with variegated leaves, so is attractive to have about. The Ice Plant (Sedum Spectabile) is easy to grow and good for cut flowers (15). My pompom dahlias have been amazing this year and will go on flowering until we have a hard frost when they will turn black. (16). The Horizontalis Cotoneaster has thrived in this pot and is colourful into the winter months. (17) There is a story behind this bonsai’ed fir tree. (18) I found it after my father’s death. He had grown it from a fir cone. Gradually I repotted it up into larger pots.

It was even our Christmas tree on several occasions until it grew too tall. We planted a similar fir in the garden but within a few years it keeled because the roots couldn’t get through the clay soil so were not deep enough to support it – so it had to be chopped down. With this one it has survived in a pot for years but will never grow any bigger, and is a permanent reminder of my father. Horseradish escaped from a pot a long time ago and found its way into the join between the wall and the path (19). This year it didn’t flower because it was too dry in the growing season. Painting beehives is an on going job, (20) as is keeping the area tidy around protected apple trees (that I grafted from cuttings onto root stocks about 15 years ago) . (21)


In September Jurassic Coast Ambassadors were invited on a cruise which would travel from Exmouth along the coast as far as Sidmouth and back. The boat Pride of Exmouth (22) from Stuart Line Cruises left the marina at 6.30 pm. A very dynamic Australian, Guy Kerr, organised the trip. (23) Commentaries on the spectacular cliffs were given by Sam Scriven and Anjana Ford from the Jurassic Coast Team. It was important to take photos on the eastward outward journey as sunset was at 7.46 pm.

The Triassic cliffs of sandstone were laid down about 220 million years ago in a hot dry climate. The striking red colour is caused by iron oxide which tells us that the layers were formed in a desert. The white on this part of the cliff (24) is guano (bird poo). En route we saw the Devon Cliffs Holiday Park at Sandy Bay, near Exmouth. There just seem to be hundreds of caravans up there on the cliff. (25) In some places the water was very muddy showing erosion from the cliffs by the sea (26). We passed by Budleigh Salterton beach (27) with its distinctive pebbles and then on to Otterton Point (28). The most spectacular part of the cruise was seeing the Ladram Bay stacks (29) which have eroded away from the cliffs. The pilot on the boat was obviously very experienced taking his vessel around the stacks to give us the chance to take close up photos. (30) Before we started our return trip we came to Sidmouth sea front (31). Just before the light faded altogether I managed to get a photo showing fault lines in the cliffs (32) and a big cliff fall east of Sidmouth. (33)


Dottery is a small hamlet between Bridport and Salway Ash. It sits on the four crossroads which lead into the Marshwood Vale, to Broadwindsor, to Pymore and eventually to Beaminster, and to Bridport. Even though Dottery covers less than a mile in all four directions the people living there form a very active community. I was invited to the their Harvest Supper recently at Salway Ash Hall which was full of local people and their friends (34). The meat was being carved by John of John Bright Fencing who in a former lifetime was a butcher, and Sue Dean. (35) Six lovely ladies, dressed in pink, did a sterling job in serving food (36)

Dottery has the only “Tin Tabernacle” church in Dorset in which regular services are still held. (37) This was built between November 1881 and January 1882. It was dedicated in February 1882. The vicar Alfred Edersheim, at Loders decided that people in the Dottery and Pymore area were a very long way from the parish church. He began holding services in one of the Dottery cottages, but by 1881 the congregation had outgrown the capacity of any cottage and it was obvious that they needed a church of their own. He enlisted the help of the local landowners, farmers and parishioners who together collected enough money to build St Saviour’s Mission Church. There are still two services held every month, along with a monthly knitting group. There is a flower arrangement group which makes sure the church will always look beautiful and the churchyard is kept in apple pie order with maintenance from a regular team of volunteers.

The inside of the church is attractive (38) and contains the large prayer book and bible that were given by the Rev Edersheim. (39 & 40) For over 40 years my aunt played the church organ (41 & 42) Initially it was only going to be a temporary post but eventually it lasted her lifetime. It is a pump organ and it was definitely a special art to play it successfully. The organ stops have beautiful names such as Dulcet 8, Vax Celeste 8, Viola 4 and Bass Coupler. The organ was manufactured by the Taber Organ Company in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. They started production in 1875. The firm was known for building very elaborate, ornate organs which were at the height of lavish Victoria style. The musical quality of these organs was equally as impressive as their aesthetic appeal and the firm enjoyed an excellent reputation. The Dottery organ dates from 1890 onwards when the firm’s name was changed to Taber. On the internet I found a similar organ which has just been sold for $2,560. The organ has now been pensioned off and a newer one put in its place. The churchyard (see 37) has several family graves including my maternal grandparents Huxter, my aunt (and godmother) and her husband, and a great aunt (who nearly made it to 100) and her husband (43)

A local landmark at Dottery was the thatched Blue Ball Inn (44) which was about 200 years old. Unfortunately this was burnt down in March 1947. The fire was thought to have started with a paraffin heater in a lean to at the back of the pub. Water was being pulled up from a well to extinguish the fire but a very strong north-easterly wind fanned the flames. Owing to the difficult roads the Bridport Fire Brigade took quite a while getting to Dottery as did the one from Weymouth, but they were far too late to save the whole place collapsing, which was also hampered by the lack of water. A new Blue Ball Inn was built in the mid 1950s (45). As with many other pubs The Blue Ball ceased to be a public house during the latter part of the last century and was converted into a private house, now called Dottery House, but the blue ball can still be seen on the side wall. (46). Dottery must have had more dwellings than at the present time because there was a second public house just down the road towards Bridport called the Gardeners’ Arms. (47) At one time my grandfather Creed’s much older first cousin ran the pub, but I understand it ceased operations at least 100 years ago. You can see from the photo that two of the windows were bricked up. This was because up until 1851 householders had to pay a tax on windows with houses that had 7 or more of them.


Nesta, who lives in Whitchurch, had an open studio weekend recently so that people could look at her work as a bookbinder and view the equipment and materials that are used for the processes. (48) In readiness for housing this she got planning permission to erect a studio (or bindery) especially for her work. (49 & 50) Nesta runs short courses and workshops, as well as teaching in London. Inside the new building it was like an Aladdin’s Cave (51) showing equipment which is still being used today which included nipping presses, a Finishing press and many brass hand tools and letters for use in decorating and lettering leather. An interesting job in progress was a book being sewn on linen tapes fixed up on a sewing frame. (52) This weighty piece of equipment (53) is a thermostatically heated block for making multiple or large labels on leather or cloth. Nesta demonstrated how to use a spokeshave to pare the leather for a binding. (54) Another aspect of her art is making new books in a variety of structures such as the Star Books shown here. (55)

The use of marbling (56) is done to great effect on paper which is used for the covers of some paper bindings. The most interesting item on show was a 1720s small gold tooled book cover which Nesta had acquired in a box of covers from a retired binder’s stock. (57)

The craft of bookbinding probably originated in India where religious sutras were copied on to palm leaves (cut in two, lengthwise) with a metal stylus. The leaf was then dried and rubbed with ink which would form a stain in the wound. The finished leaves were given numbers, and two long twines were threaded through each end through wooden boards, making a palm-leaf book. When the book was closed, the excess twine would be wrapped around the boards to protect the manuscript leaves. Buddhist monks took the idea through Afghanistan to China in the first century BC. I found bookbinding a very interesting subject to research. Bookbinding is a specialised trade that relies on basic operations of measuring, cutting and gluing. A finished book depends on a minimum of about two dozen operations to complete but sometimes more than double that according to the specific style and materials.


Thank you to all the people who helped with the research for this newsletter: Peta Johnston, John Dean, Fenella Stride, Caroline Lambert, Guy Kerr and Nesta Davies

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