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Recently I was invited along to a Jurassic Coast training session. The people attending were invited to become Jurassic Coast ambassadors and to join the Jurassic Coast Business Partner Scheme (1) This will mean that I shall support the education and conservation projects on the coast. I hope that I shall be able to run classes associated with fossils at the campsite and do some of my conservation walks. In the autumn a couple who had run a campsite in Port Maddoc for 8 years stayed for a weekend (2) It was enlightening talking to fellow campsite owners and we discussed problems such as campers arriving late at night and then leaving early in the morning without paying. We also had had similar experiences with caravanners “hiding” extra adults in their unit who hadn’t been paid for!


The annual TB testing came around again at the end of November. This meant that the animal crush had to be put in place in the yard (3). On the day we had to put a series of gates in the yard to channel the animals into the testing bay (4). Quite a few of them were very uncooperative! Once each animal was “imprisoned” in the crush the vet could then do his testing (5). I had to be secretary and took all the readings. (6) The bull looked on bemused whilst this was all going on (7). The straw chopping machine saves a lot of manual work (8). Once loaded it will blow straw into the covered yard for the cows to sleep on (9). The geese were oblivious to the fact that it was their last week in this world (10) as were the turkeys (11). I sent three steers to market last Saturday and was very pleased with the prices they made. Two barren cows went on this morning. The bull is leaving us this afternoon. Hopefully he has been very active during his stay here.


The cherry tree had to be heavily pruned as it was affecting the slate roof of the cider cellar (12) (although it was the wrong time of year to do it). My gladioli weren’t very successful this summer so we dug them up and stored them in other soil for the winter (13). The bird table still serves its purpose even though it is getting very dilapidated. (14) Before we had cats we used to get woodpeckers, robins, thrushes and kingfishers. Now we only get blue tits and grey squirrels. There is some colour left in the garden even though it is December. We have Elaeagnus Punges, (15) Ivy (16) Holly bushes (which should have produced berries this year as they are male and female plants, but didn’t) (17a), Red leafed Azalea (17b), Cotoneaster Horizontalis (17c), Heather (17d) and a Hebe (17e)


Pink Pig Racing South West came to Salway Ash Village Hall on a Friday in November. (18, 19) The event was in aid of the Marshwood Vale Young Farmers’ Club, and Bowel Cancer. The hall was packed out with 160 race goers all expecting to make their fortune on pig betting. Pigs could be bought for £5 and owners got to put them in the “stys” before the race. (20) There were lots of interesting pig names such as Piggy Sue, Snorty Pig, Pink Trotters, Little Boy Pink to name but a few. Each race had eight pigs and each bet was £1. Amazingly No 2 won 6 consecutive races (but it wasn’t the same pig each time, as they were swapped around or had changed batteries. (21) The winnings for the 5th and 6th races for No 2 were distinctly smaller.

When No 8 came in as an outsider the few people who had bet on it walked away with over £20 each. (22) After each race the winner’s owner won £20 and a rosette. (23) The atmosphere was electric and people got so excited with some even standing on chairs to watch the races. (24) For the last race people were able to “buy” a pig by auction. The highest price paid was £60. The person who had originally paid £5 for the winner of the last race collected £129! At the end of the evening the total betting was calculated to be £1015. Money was also made at the drinks bar, for the meal and raffle. The organisers said it was the best event they had ever put on. I must say that it was one of the most hilarious nights I have ever experienced.


At the end of October The Dorset Wildlife Trust invited local farmers whose land had the River Char running through it to this event at Befferlands Farm, Whitchurch. (25, 26) The event was instigated by The River Char Restoration Project in 2012 to monitor the river at this point to estimate fish populations (27) The fish after being stunned are caught in nets and then identified and counted. They found bullheads, minnows, and stone loach. Invertebrates were found from a kick sample (28, 29). Nearby there was a cattle watering device. Nick demonstrated how when the animal put its head on the base for a drink it would start operating a pump for the water to flow through. (30)


Land in the Wootton area has been inhabited since about 3700 BC as artefacts such as stone axe, stone loom weight and a hammer have been found dating back to that time. A brilliant book “Wodetone – A Wooded Place” written by the late Guy Bryan outlines the area from the Neolithic Era to the present day and is a very good read for anyone researching this part of West Dorset. The Village Hall is of interest as it was built in the Arts and Craft style in 1906 and designed by Francis Troupe. (31) It was erected as a memorial to Alfred Capper Pass, who died in October 1905. He owned the Wootton Fitzpaine estate which was bought in 1895. His son Alfred Douglas Pass then inherited the estate at the age of 20. By the end of the 1980s the whole of the estate had been sold off thus ending over a thousand years of the Wootton Estate which had its origins in Saxon times.

The Village Hall is regularly used by the Guides, the toddlers, Artsreach, meetings of the Parish Council, the harvest supper, exhibitions and for private functions. The clock above the door is the village war memorial for the fallen in WW1, but it was also used by the estate workers to know what time to have lunch and to go home. The village has won The Best Kept Small Village on two occasions. (32) The telephone kiosk outside the hall was recently purchased by the village hall committee for £1 and has been freshly painted and now has a new lease of life as a village library and is well used. (33) One interesting feature which has survived the centuries is the village pound (34). The most recent event in Wootton involved a fireball which sped through the village down the main street and then hit a house on a corner and demolished a bedroom in the middle of the night (35). Fortunately the couple living there had gone downstairs to see the result of the Scottish Referendum just before the devastating event, so escaped injury or even perhaps death. The direct hit caused the electricity to be cut off and all the telephone and broadband connections to be blown up for several days. A new Superfast Broadband hub had previously just been fitted in the village and this was severely damaged.


The local gardening group met to make Christmas decorations. The oasis and its holder had to be soaked for a few minutes (36) before greenery and berries were added . The group made hanging wreathes (37, 38) and a table centre (39). We were also shown how to make accompanying bows (40)

Symondsbury Estate had their Christmas Market again in November and it was amazing to see how much work had been done on the manor buildings in the year since we were last there. The tithe barn has been completely refurbished but the dove cote remains (41). It is now a favourite venue for weddings and there is plenty of space for all sorts of events (42). Other buildings around the Manor Yard have been developed (43), and the cafe, which was launched this time last year, now has longer opening hours (44). There were more stalls this year which included a chestnut seller (45) a barn full of memorabilia (including a 1932 Morris Minor) (46) and a fossil and unusual gem stall. (47)

It is appropriate to include this well known saying at this point

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, then a ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you.


Craykums – stomach ache and wind

Nammies – a meal

Toodree – two or three

My lover – a good friend

Back along – a while ago

Cock a roo – showing dislike for something

She wasted her breakfast down over her dress – She spilt food down over her dress

A HAYMAKING SONG as sung by a relative (born in the early 1900s)

My name is Joe Muggins a farmer am I

I once courted a cook and I felt rather shy

She said Joe could you come into the kitchen for a minute or two

Be gad I said lassie don’t care if I do

I ate up my dumplins and was ready to go

And she looked at my eyes which looked rather blue

She said Joe give us a kiss, as lovers so true

Be gad I said lassie I don’t care if I do

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