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THIS NEWSLETTER IS COVERING BOTH OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 2020

THE CAMPSITE

October on the campsite quietly ticked over with several campers arriving at the very end of the season. Three avid motorcyclists came for a Superior Motorcycle Experience weekend in West Dorset and had a wonderful time driving around in the Dorset countryside on their bikes. Two of them hired a bike from SME but one of them brought her own model. (1) Two of them stayed for a second night and used my fire pit to roast marshmallows in the dark. (2)

This new company, Superior Motorcycles Experiences, (3) is based within scenic rural Dorset, amongst some of the finest motoring scenery in the country, a fantastic location to start from for anyone looking for a memorable adventure.

Guests of SME enjoy catering, regular scenic refreshment stops, a support vehicle, use of equipment and clothing, and on any multi-day holiday package: luxurious accommodation and a souvenir package too. (4, 5, 6)

My campers must have done a Trail School during their stay here. This is described as ‘A one-day introduction to off-road motorcycling. This is set in the stunning Dorset scenery and offers guests an introduction into the skill, and access to an exciting network of varied landscapes and skillsets. With access to water crossing, steep climbs, rutted byways and mud and clay, these rides allow guests to build confidence across a diverse range of practises.’ Their website is www.sme.bike.

SME also do 3-4 day tours in the Spanish Pyrenees, both Off Road and Road Tours.

THE FARM

I had a TB test on my small herd in July and had a ‘reactor’. I had to wait 2 months for another test to see if she was still infected. In this case she was. Then I had to wait quite a while until the Animal and Plant Health Government Agency sent transport to take her away to an abattoir. This was very upsetting as she was a good cow and due to have a calf in a few months. I was due to have yet another test on my herd within 2 months but because of Covid causing delays I had to chase APHA to get one booked in. Fortunately when the vet came to administer this test recently all my animals passed. But I am still not able to send them to a normal market until I have had 2 clear tests, so the second one will be after Christmas. The alternative is to sell them to an ‘orange’ market which buys animals from infected herds, but I would get a much lower price for them.

As the weather has been so mild the cows are still out to grass. We need to get them in soon, as they start calving from 5th December, as this is best done in the covered yard. In the meantime the pile of silage bales in the yard has been untouched so will hopefully last until the cows go out to grass in 2021.

The usual winter jobs of tidying up and gathering in logs continues. (7, 8, 9)

GARDEN

A lot of clearing up in the garden still has to be done especially the dahlias which were ‘blacked out’ at the beginning of November. (10) But there is still a lot of colour around, namely Sumat bushes (11), Pampas grass (12), Yucca (13) and a Cotoneaster Horizontalis. (14) Of course, the Halloween pumpkins looked great on display on the milkstand. (15)

BIBI AND ALEX, THE FANTASTIC CLEANERS

You will remember that Bibi and Alex came to spring clean the campsite cabin at the end of June before the summer season started and did a magnificent job. (16, 17) After I broke my right wrist on 10th August it was necessary to employ them on a fairly regular basis for campsite cleaning as I couldn’t keep up with everything with my left hand! I also got them to spring clean my own kitchen, bathroom, utility room and downstairs outside windows. All very necessary jobs as housework is not my forte!

It was very interesting getting to know them. They both come from Slovakia, (previously part of Czechoslovakia). Bibi first came over to England when she was 19 to travel and learn the English language. After working with lots of people from the EU and learning no English at all, she went to New Zealand and did some travelling and learnt a little English. After 3 months Bibi returned to England and found work at the Three Horseshoes at Powerstock behind the bar. She loved this job but had to improve her English very quickly so with the help of several dictionaries and practicing on the customers she managed very well. She was there for 2 ½ years and did various courses including cellar work and gained a diploma in hospitality.

Bibi had always loved cleaning since a small child when she used to help her mother with the housework, so while at the same time as doing pub work she was offered cleaning in 5 star cottages for Friday changeovers. She jumped at the chance. Bibi also helped out with gardening at this time.

She then went back home to Slovakia for a holiday and met Alex through a Karate party. They kept in touch as Bibi had to return to her job in Powerstock and Alex had to finish college in Slovakia. Later Alex joined Bibi at Powerstock and they worked together there for another 1 ½ years. On being made suddenly redundant, which meant they lost their accommodation, they decided to set up a cleaning and gardening business about 4 years ago, working for customers from the pub. This developed into more and more work which included some big contracts. (18, 19)

On top of all this Bibi decided to do a PhD in business, marketing and management in 2019. This will last for four years. She needs to visit her tutor in London several times a year but does everything else on line.

Both Alex and Bibi are keen on exercise, especially Alex who is well on his way to becoming a personal trainer. (20, 21) As already mentioned they are both keen on karate and this photo shows the World Karate Championships in Dublin where Bibi finished 7th in her class out of 57 women. (22)

Bibi comes from a village called Čevený Kameň in Slovakia. (23) Alex comes from a town called Trenčianske Teplice about 25 minutes drive from there. They are both keen walkers and skiers and do this on their holidays ‘back home’. (24, 25)

They are certainly a remarkable, very hard-working couple.

COPSE GATE FARM, BLUNTSHAY LANE, WHITCHURCH CANONICORUM

Copse Gate Farm is 27 acres. Charlie bought this small holding just over a year ago and has made it into a very enterprising business. The farm house is very recent, (26, 27) and was built by the previous owner. It replaced a mundane bungalow which was all that remained after the original farmhouse burnt down in the 1930s.

One acre of the farm is put over to vegetables and at this time of year there are still plenty of greens, with a few pumpkins left. (28) There is quite a lot of produce in his large polytunnel including aubergines and tomatoes (29, 30). Charlie has an outside produce stall in the middle of Whitchurch which operates with an honesty box. (31) He also attends the weekly mini farmers’ markets at Berehayes in Whitchurch.

On the remaining 26 acres he has 5 pigs (Gloucester Old Spot), (32) 18 Suffolk ewes, 10 Angus beef animals and 2 Jersey cows which produce milk and cream for the house and pigs. (33) As you can see from this photo the Marshwood Vale mud is very much in evidence! Copse Gate has its own processing room (34) and a large freezer full of meat produced on the farm. (35). All the meat is prepared according to F5 regulations, and vacuum packed and frozen. Orders can be made by email, or over the phone for the vegetables, eggs, beef and pork products. copsegatefarm@gmail.com. 07812075781

Copse Gate sits on the side of a hill and has amazing views of the Vale. To the north can be seen Pilsdon Pen and Lewesdon Hill, (36) and Coneygar (above Pitt Farm) to the west. (37)

NOMADIC PEACOCKS FROM LITTLE BLUNTSHAY FARM

Over the last few weeks I have been meeting these birds on a fairly regular basis. It has been necessary to put up several road signs including this one (38) to warn motorists to look out for them. Firstly they were spotted walking up the road and into our top yard. By the time I had got my camera out they had made it to the covered yard. (39) On another occasion Malcolm’s carer saw them in the drive but by the time I had my camera ready for a close up they had disappeared. I messaged their owner to say that they were probably on their way to Broadoak, a good mile away, because a neighbour walking from the other direction had not seen them.

Today they were ambling up the road towards my yard when my cows (which were being driven from the field to the yard for a TB test) frightened them and the three peahens went in one direction and Raymond, the 5 year old peacock, went in the other – into my yard. He was obviously very disorientated and his owner had to come to pick him up! When I caught up with them Raymond was tucking into some breakfast cereal and fish cat food. (40) His three wives Julie (5 years old), Gwendolin and Myfanwy (both 2 years old) were at the other end of the garden hopping onto some low scaffolding, quite unperturbed by the recent trauma in their lives! On another occasion they decided to roost on an old trampoline in the corner of our field. (41)

Evelyne, the owner of the peacocks, tends to feed them little and often to ensure that they come home regularly to eat Peacocks need a higher protein diet than hens so they eat chicken food, which is supplemented by cat food (fish). They are also very fond of Rice Krispies for a treat!

At night they roost in high trees in the garden (42) but first need a stepping stone – say a low roof (43) or a fairly high vehicle (44) before they fly into their final resting place. It seems that Raymond sleeps in one tree and his three wives sleep together in another one!

Evelyne is hoping that Julie, Gwendolin and Myfanwy will start laying eggs sometime soon which will probably be in a hedge somewhere. As the hens will be in danger with foxes it is hoped that the eggs will be spotted quickly and put into an incubator before any peahens disappear!

Peacocks are native to the Indian subcontinent. As is well known, the male peacock is brightly coloured, with a predominantly blue fan-like crest of spatula-tipped wire-like feathers and is best known for the long train made up of elongated upper-tail covert feathers which bear colourful eyespots. These stiff feathers are raised into a fan and quiver in a display during courtship. In the wild the peafowl lives mainly on the ground in open forest or on land under cultivation where they forage for berries, grains, but also prey on snakes, lizards and small rodents. Their loud calls make them easy to detect, and in forest areas often indicate the presence of a predator such as a tiger.

The bird is celebrated in Hindu and Greek mythology and is the national bird of India. The Indian peafowl is listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Carol Lee, Evelyne O’Hare, Bibi and Alex, the cleaners, Charlie Stanbury and Superior Motorcycle Experiences.

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