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The annual PAT testing came around again with everything from freezers, extension leads, heat lamps and heaters, etc being checked. Any piece of equipment that campers may come into contact with has to be tested. (1) The roadside verge is often ‘carved up’ by heavy vehicles so I had it cut back to where the road was originally, had the space filled in with road planings (2) and then had stones put along the bank for its protection. (3) This made the approach to the campsite look much tidier. We recently had Steve, a model aircraft enthusiast stay at the campsite. (4) He had been flying radio controlled models for about 30 years and found it to be a very absorbing and satisfying hobby. The average cost of a small electric powered training model is less than £130. During his stay he flew the “EasyStar” and the “FunCub” in the field next to the campsite. (5) He also visited a local model site at Pymore Farm, near Bridport, which opens most weekends.


The rams (from the left) Bad Tempered Boris, Bruce and Billy have been moved to new pasture. (6) and a new calf, Bambi, was born after what seemed like a long wait. (7). The orchards are full of apple blossom. This tree is one of our oldest and is a rare cider apple called Woodbine.(8) It fell over years ago and new growth has sprouted from the trunk.


On the way to Winterbourne Abbas about a month ago thin plastic was seen covering acres of ploughed land. No one seemed to know what it was all about, until some one who had visited the United States informed me that it was probably potatoes with a plastic covering (9, 10). The process is called plasticulture and the main benefit is the soil is warmed up earlier in the spring with no danger of frost damage. It seems that there are increasing acres of this plasticulture in West Dorset but most of it would be maize which would allow the crop to be taken off a few weeks earlier in the autumn thus allowing that land to be ploughed up and more timely sowing with winter wheat or grass. Another advantage is that there is a greater yield using plasticulture, but obviously more cost, but at the end of the day the crop would break even. The plastic is biodegradable. These photos show the latest developments in the plasticulture seen at the side of the road near Winterborne Abbas. (11, 12) It seems that the plastic has holes in it which the maize will push through to continue growing.


In readiness for the goslings to arrive the goose house had to be swept out then whitewashed. (13) Then the heat lamps had to be assembled at 2 ft from the floor. (14). Next three plywood boards were screwed together to make a circular run. (15) It is important that there are no corners because young goslings can get quite skittish and panic to the side of the run. They arrived on 3rd May (16) as 2 day olds and immediately started eating (17). They are now 11 days old and growing fast (18) Today I had to pull up the heat lamps to a higher level as they were already pecking them.


The garden is full of wild flowers at the moment, lady’s smock/cuckoo flower (19) cuckoo pint/lords and ladies (20), red campion (21) and an unfurling fern (22), and garden flowers that spread – bearded iris (23) and orange cowslips. (24)The lilac is glorious at this time of year. (25) I managed to photograph an elusive robin (26). After rotovating the garden we normally use a 1960s Howard 300 ridger (27) to make the soil finer and to aid drainage until it is raked level when the planting starts.


This was organised in connection with the Jurassic Coast Trust and I volunteered to find some children to help with the making of a video at Lyme Regis. Three children from Salway Ash School and two children from a local organisation met up at Lyme Regis Museum where the filming started. Firstly we had a chat about Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter ever known**. (28) We then went inside the building and the children had a close up view of the head of an ichthyosaurus (fish lizard) (29). Next they were able to handle fossils including ammonites (30). Later Victorian clothes (as worn in Mary Annings’ time) were tried on (31, 32) with much amusement.

Then we walked all along the promenade until we arrived close to the Cobb. From here we started trekking across Monmouth Beach. This was quite hard going with large rocks and slippery blue lias slabs along the way. We eventually got to the Fossil Pavement (sometimes known as the Ammonite Graveyard) which was quite an amazing site (33) dating back 180 million years. The pavement used to be much larger but is gradually being broken up by the waves and storms. It is thought that within 25 years the whole pavement will be gone. At the end of the filming the children posed with all the fossils that they had found during their walk. (34) They were later all presented with a Lottie Fossil Hunter Doll.

**Mary Anning was born in May 1799 in Lyme Regis. Mary’s father Richard, who was a cabinet maker and amateur fossil hunter, often took Mary and her brother Joseph fossil hunting around the cliffs of Lyme Regis. They sold their finds to tourists. In 1811 Mary spent months painstakingly uncovering an almost complete skeleton of an ichthyosaurus. In 1823 a complete skeleton of a plesiosaurus was found, along with a pterodactylus in 1828 and a Squaloraja in 1829. Mary’s discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time. They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth.


The walk started off a Broadoak Hall, near Bridport and was led by George Streatfield (35). It was very easy going to start with as we skirted around Lower Denhay Farm (36). Next we travelled through a wood on Lower Jan’s Hill (37). It was slightly early for bluebells but we did see a few in this area (38 ). We then came upon a pond between two woods which was built in 1979 (it was already a boggy area) for wildlife (39). In 2014 a “ram” was installed which pumps 20% of the water out to be used at Denhay Dairy. After a very steep climb up from the pond to the top of Jan’s Hill we had a fantastic view (40) . This was eastwards towards Eggardon with Broadoak and Moorboth Farms in the near ground and Bridport to the middle right. When I finally got to the crest I had a view of Crabbs Bluntshay Farm house (41) [Farmhouse with 2 chimneys just below the centre of the photo] with Lewesdon Hill in the background. I had decided to do the “medium walk” of 2½ miles so we then started descending through Rookery Wood and past Denhay Dairy back to Broadoak Hall for lunch. More intrepid walkers (doing the “hard walk”) travelled above North End Farm to the Hungry Down trig point on Coppit Hill and then walked back via The Rookery to Broadoak Hall travelling 4 ½ miles. It took me two days to recover from this strenuous walk!


This event was part of the Ropewalk Fair which celebrated Rope and Net in Bridport. It took place on the Millennium Green. The children involved with the dancing were from the Bridport County Primary School and the music was provided by an accordionist.(42, 43, 44).

The origin of May Pole dancing dates back to Pagan times and the May Pole was basically a symbol of reproductive power. Trees have always been the symbol of the great vitality and fertility of nature. May Pole dancing was connected with both the Druids, Wiccans and the Romans. May Pole dancing featured young girls performing circle dances around a tall pole, painted in stripes which was decorated with garlands of flowers and other emblems. The youngest girls danced in the inner circle whilst the older girls danced in the outer circle. Each girl held a ribbon which was attached to the May Pole and as they danced the ribbons became intertwined and plaited. The dancers would then unravel the ribbons by retracing their steps. The cutting of a great tree and bringing it to a village to use as a May Pole was a great event in Medieval village life. The bark was removed or smoothed and decorated and then erected in the centre of the Village Green. May Pole dancing was traditionally practised on 1st May each year.


Grease me ribs – fill my stomach

Lookoer – look of her

Dirty woo guckoo – a man that does not keep himself clean

Cobbled up – tangled up as in rope, string

Bit of a bunkum – a load of rubbish is being spoken

Little varmit – naughty child

Ee be cute – he is very astute

Pr’near – pretty near (close to the mark)

This song was sung at Court Leet meetings at the turn of the 20th century (early Parish Council meetings) by Mr George Barnes. When I was researching my book it was sung to me by my great aunt Mrs Frances Barrnes (aged 97 at the time) whose father had also attended the meetings as Marshwood Manor Estate Carpenter.

Yo coco, ya daft coco, cassen thee very well see
Three lofty milkmaids yu mother sent to me
Milking maids with spurs on like was never seen
When I goes out the coco you comes in.

[Coco could possibly mean cuckoo (a foolish person)]

Thank you to the people who helped me with research for this newsletter: George Streatfield, Anthea Bay, Georgina Burnham, Susanna Grant-Brooks, Katrina Dixon, Cara Jenkins, Mrs Crew, Mrs N Brown, Maris Hine, Catherine Wilson and Steve the aeroplane man.

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