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Magazine

Marshwood +

Š Russell Randall Photograph by Robin Mills

The best from West Dorset, South Somerset and East Devon

No. 255 June 2020


Marshwood+ WELCOME TO

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COVER STORY

Robin Mills met Russell Randall in Litton Cheney, Dorset

© Russell Randall Photograph by Robin Mills

’M

y father’s family had a business at Beckington, near Frome, where they were carpenters/joiners and wheelwrights. After he’d left Frome Grammar School, Father came to Salwayash to stay with his uncle who ran Lower Kershay Farm, which is where he met Mother. At that time Father’s passion for sheep was inspired by neighbouring farmer Percy Warren who kept Dorset Horns. The business at Beckington has been going for generations; Father’s mother was a cheesemaker and farmed in her own right, as were his aunts. There are two trades in our family: carpenters/wheelwrights/undertakers, which often went hand in hand, and farming. Father’s uncle, who he worked with, was actually born here in our house in Litton Cheney, where his father rented land locally for dairying. And I’ve got an older brother, who followed in Father’s footsteps and

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Russell Randall

went shepherding. As soon as I was able to carry half a bale of hay I had to go and help Father feed sheep. All his life, the topic of conversation with him was either sheep, heavy horses or farming, in that order. At 13 I was driving tractors, haymaking and harvesting, and helping with sheep work. Father’s work took him all round Dorset, and beyond. He worked for Charlie Borough’s at Halse in Somerset, then for Bill Hooper at Winfrith Newburgh, with Pedigree Dorset Downs. He went to Sussex looking after Kent Romney ewes, then to Rex Loveless’s at Piddlehinton with Dorset Downs again, then to Kingston Maurward to work with the college Dorset Horn flock, until they were sold. That was an old flock, a good one, and when Father was showing them he was giving Fooks’s at Powerstock, famous Dorset Horn breeders, a run for their money and occasionally beating them. He was a familiar sight at agricultural shows and markets, probably known to most Dorset farmers at the time in his flat cap, collar and tie, britches and highly polished brown leather gaiters. He had met members of the Royal Family, including HRH the Queen, the Chairman of Youngs Brewery and the Colonel of the Dorset Yeomanry, all of whom he advised about sheep, and would generally listen carefully to what you had to say about a farming matter before politely telling you how you were wrong. In 1982 after being made redundant from Kingston Maurward, he had the chance to rent a bit of ground in Litton Cheney, so we moved back here and he started his own small flock of Dorset Downs.

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I went in the other family trade direction and have been a carpenter joiner all my life, and we do some wheelwrighting. From a young age I wanted to be a carpenter. With a piece of wood, a hammer and some nails, I was happy. After I left school I got a job in Dorchester with an old building firm called CE Slade’s, based down in Millers Close. That was in the days when there were some decent building firms in Dorchester, like Cake’s, © Russell Randall Photograph by Robin Mills Ricardo’s, Angell’s, all very good builders with their own joinery shops. I started in 1970 with Slade’s and soon got into the joinery side of it. I did my apprenticeship there, stayed on a few years, and left in 1978. I’d got married in ’77, like Father to a young lady from Salwayash, Carol, and then went to work for CG Fry’s down the road here in Litton Cheney. I was foreman joiner for them for about 8 years, then left and started on my own in 1986. Father could always remember his father making wheels, and his brother who was older was involved, but basically the war killed the trade. That was because there were so many rubber-tyred wheels left over from the military which could be reused, tractors were becoming much more common, and when the wooden wheels on the old wagons got shaky they didn’t get replaced. I got interested in making wheels probably 40-odd years ago, and today we both repair old wheels and make new ones. There are still enough old farm wagons in preservation, horse-drawn traps, hand carts, trolleys, etc to provide us with an interesting sideline. To make a new wheel, you start by turning out the hub on the lathe, and that’s always English elm. Then you set out the


spokes, always an even number, and fit the iron stock hoops to the hub and drive them on tight. Having morticed the hub for the spokes, you then make them out of English oak, shape them, and fit them by driving them really tight into the hub mortices. There’s never any glue involved. Next job is to cut the felloes (pronounced fellies) out, always English ash. These are the curved sections of the wheel rim, each one joined to the next one with a dowel. The different timber species are used for good reason; the elm is tough and stringy, resistant to splitting even though much of the hub has been removed to take the spokes. Oak is strong, to resist the impact of the weight on the wheel riding over bumps, all of which is on one spoke as it reaches the lowest point of the rotation; and ash is springy, to absorb the weight as the wheel turns. Each of the spokes is cut to length with a “tang” or round tenon on the end, and fitted to holes drilled into the felloes, two to a felloe. There has to be a small gap between the felloes, and in the length of the spokes, so that when the hot bond, or iron tyre, is fitted, the gaps will squeeze up tight as it cools and contracts with enormous force. We do all that ourselves, building a fire round the bond to heat it up before fitting. On the joinery side, we’ve done some interesting projects. We built a complete horse-drawn hearse once, for Mac Kingman in Weymouth, which he used regularly for many years. There’ve been a few canopies for steam engines, too, and repairs to thrashing machines, including a total rebuild of one, and wooden parts for old farm machines like binders, and years ago a lot of con-rods for the old finger-bar mowers, for Lott and Walne in Dorchester. If it wasn’t for fools like us, and the fools who still have these old machines, it’d all be gone for ever,

and it’s part of our heritage; most of the modern machines have simply evolved from these old designs. We’ve also made big Georgian staircases with endless strings, or handrails, which curve in different directions, the last one in Winterborne Keynstone, and spiral staircases too. A helical staircase in a round building was an interesting project once. Our business is very traditional, and that’s because I’m a bit old fashioned about the way building is done today. Everything has to be done in such a tearing hurry, using products which enable things to be built quickly, as a result of which it often doesn’t last very long. I was taught by some very skilled tradesmen, the sort of people who are hard to find any more, when things were made in tried and tested ways, which for many years had stood the test of time. I still work on those lines, which sometimes leads to arguments with clients and architects, and occasionally I will refuse to price a job if they insist on building something in a way I know won’t last. Traditional ways of building and joinery are done for good reasons, and Chris and I take great pride in what we do. That extends to the tools we use, still sharpening our own saws rather than buying another one with a plastic handle as most carpenters do. Carol and I have 3 boys, and Christopher decided just before he left school he wanted to follow me in my work, the 6th generation in our family to take up the trade. It was difficult to find a good apprenticeship place for him, so at the time slightly against my better judgement he came to work with me, and has been here ever since. He’s the same as me, in that the work’s got to be right. Nothing leaves the workshop until we’re happy with it, even if we have to spend another day on it.


UP FRONT ‘Slowly easing out of lockdown’ are not words that many of us would have expected to use this year. Especially as we emerged from the Christmas break to what we then called ‘normality’. Every year lots of us experience something that we endearingly call the ‘madness’ of Christmas: where we lock ourselves in with close family, only escaping for the occasional walk or short visit with other close family. We buy presents, eat and drink too much, play games and then breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over and we can get back to normal. But in recent months vocabulary has changed. I wouldn’t like to be embarking on a course learning to be a TEFL teacher right now. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is hard enough without having to explain ‘self-isolation’, ‘socialdistancing’ or ‘Test & Trace’ though these will be familiar to most. But how can we ever describe the word ‘normal’? Will we say it’s a word we used to use before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it no longer exists? It’s now called ‘New Normal’. That sounds too much like ‘Alternative Facts’. Reading through the comments in ‘Life after Lockdown’ on page 10 and listening to points raised by many of those I’ve spoken to in the last couple of weeks, the term ‘New Normal’ already feels like a slightly shallow way of describing something that might well have real power. Despite feeling trapped by isolation, there are many who have felt that the lockdown may have released them from a world gone mad. Some described it as like stepping off a treadmill; the endless race for more advances, more productivity and more growth—economic and spiritual. I’ve listened to many people who don’t want to go back to how things were. They want to stay close to family and friends and massively reduce their consumption of progress. There has been a lot of looking back in the last eight to ten weeks and in many ways, it’s been inspiring. Who could blame people for wanting to leave the treadmill to those that enjoy it? Fergus Byrne

Published Monthly and distributed by Marshwood Vale Ltd Lower Atrim, Bridport Dorset DT6 5PX For all Enquiries Tel: 01308 423031 info@marshwoodvale. com

Editorial Director Fergus Byrne

Deputy Editor Victoria Byrne

Design

Fergus Byrne

Advertising

Fergus Byrne info@marshwoodvale.com

THIS MONTH Jojn us in a better normal

We always knew there was room for change. Now we know it can be done. We’d love to hear from you about what is happening in your community and the positive changes that can come from adversity. We’d also like to know what you’d like to see in your community magazine and hear your ideas. Email us at: info@marshwoodvale.com 5 10 16 22 26 34 38 40 42

Cover Story By Robin Mills Life after Lockdown By Margery Hookings Lifelines By Owen Day & John Blanchard Notices from Local Groups Dance on the Wyld Side By Sue Kirkpatrick Beer Quarry Caves By Kevin Cahill Abbotsbury By Cecil Amor News & Views Laterally Speaking by Humphrey Walwyn

44 44 46 48

House & Garden Vegetables in June By Ashley Wheeler June in the Garden By Russell Jordan Property Round Up By Helen Fisher

50 52 54 56 58 59

Food & Dining Black Bream By Nick Fisher Potato and Rocket Tart By Lesley Waters Buttermilk Pudding with Black Cow Vodka and Rhubarb By Mark Hix Srircha Roasted Broccoli By Linda Ly No-Brainer Baked Rice By Jessica Fisher

60 60 64 66 68

Arts & Entertainment Into the Wildlight By Fergus Byrne Movies in Lockdown By Nic Jeune Book Review By Bruce Harris Galleries

70 72

Health & Beauty Services & Classified

76

From the Archives

“The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.” Like us on Facebook

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Contributors Cecil Amor John Blanchard Kevin Cahill Owen Day Helen Fisher Jessica Fisher Nick Fisher Richard Gahagan Bruce Harris Margery Hookings

Mark Hix Nic Jeune Russell Jordan Sue Kirkpatrick Linda Ly Robin Mills Humphrey Walwyn Lesley Waters Ashley Wheeler

Twitter @marshwoodvale

The views expressed in The Marshwood Vale Magazine and People Magazines are not necessarily those of the editorial team. Unless otherwise stated, Copyright of the entire magazine contents is strictly reserved on behalf of the Marshwood Vale Magazine and the authors. Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of dates, event information and advertisements, events may be cancelled or event dates may be subject to alteration. Neither Marshwood Vale Ltd nor People Magazines Ltd can accept any responsibility for the accuracy of any information or claims made by advertisers included within this publication. NOTICE TO ADVERTISERS Trades descriptions act 1968. It is a criminal offence for anyone in the course of a trade or business to falsely describe goods they are offering. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. The legislation requires that items offered for sale by private vendors must be ‘as described’. Failure to observe this requirement may allow the purchaser to sue for damages. Road Traffic Act. It is a criminal offence for anyone to sell a motor vehicle for use on the highway which is unroadworthy.


Life

AFTER LOCKDOWN

No one can deny that lessons have been learned in the last couple of months. Margery Hookings hears some of the positive stories through COVID-19.

I

t’s been a funny old thing, this lockdown in the time of coronavirus. We’ve all had to learn to live life differently, some of us more than others. And at the end of it all, will this time have changed us? I’m hoping, for the environment’s sake, that we’ve learned lessons to take us into a brighter future. The joy of nature on our doorstep, blue skies without aeroplane trails and the pleasure of walking and cycling as regular exercise. I’ve been playing music requests from my window overlooking Broadwindsor Square every day at one o’clock for 72 days. What started out as a leftfield idea two days into lockdown soon turned into something else, which all the village latched on to and supported with gusto, especially when professional musician Simon Emmerson lent me his speakers and mixing desk. The final Sound of Music Through The Square Window was on Sunday 7 June. It has attracted media interest worldwide, including an interview with Lauren Laverne for Your Desert Island Discs, a special Radio 4 programme about how people have turned to music during lockdown. The daily playlist will be the soundtrack for our coming out of lockdown party, if we ever feel safe enough to have one. I have a Sam Cannon picture on the notice board above my desk. The illustration is of an upright and alert hare, supported by this quote: ‘The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.’ The message I’m taking from this crisis is never underestimate the power of unusual ideas to bring a community together. Don’t run things past a committee, maybe ask one or two trusted friends but then just do it. For this piece, family and friends at home and abroad have shared some positive lockdown stories to take us forward into a post-COVID-19 age.

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Dorothy Rowe, parish councillor. ‘LAST year, wildflower planting on the verges initiated by Broadwindsor Group Parish Council resulted in a beautiful display and rich habitat for wildlife. A larger area was planned for 2020, with sowing in mid-April. But the impending lockdown in March prompted emergency measures. We had to arrange for the immediate delivery of seeds, compost and a trailer for displaced turf in place and a call for volunteers. Local parents and children worked in shifts to prepare, sow, and rope off three 6ft x10ft seedbeds, with another family undertaking daily watering. From telephone conversations with elderly residents I didn’t know previously, I’ve discovered they paint, write poetry and have a deep wisdom in their approach to life. I would never have known that if lockdown hadn’t happened. I’m hoping the many acts of kindness and selflessness during this unprecedented era will bring about a better world.’

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‘I am reluctant to return to the old way of life of too much busyness’ Marion Tayor, artist. ‘AS an artist, having long periods of solitude is a way of life so in that respect little has changed. I have noticed a shift in my work, though. It has become more experimental and I have been exploring more fully the different mediums of clay and collage beside painting. Both of these are totally absorbing, allowing the imagination to roam free. The main difference is now I am working for myself and not in preparation for forthcoming exhibitions, which have in the past imposed restraints and implied pressure. Now there is time for experimentation and play. However, without exhibitions, a valuable income source has been lost so it has become necessary to explore online platforms such as Instagram for selling work. Overall, I am reluctant to return to the old way of life of too much busyness. For me I feel the balance has been restored, with long walks and reconnecting with nature reinstated.’

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Sam Smith, The Beautiful Boat Company, Lyme Regis. ‘LOCKDOWN led to our projects being put on hold. It gave us a chance to reflect on how far we have come since we started in 2018 and consider where to go next. The slowed pace of life, coupled with a growing recognition across society that we need to make greater efforts to look after our planet, led us to look more closely at how to marry the romantic image of wooden boat-building with sustainable approaches. We have always been eco-conscious, ensuring materials are responsibly sourced and using reclaimed timber where possible. Recent events have brought more people on board with this growing ethos, with a surge in enquiries for projects involving our stock of reclaimed teak. Most of our boat builds to date have been sail or human power, but for motorboat customers, how best to work with electric propulsion has been on our mind for some time. The global lockdown brought this into sharp focus as reduced movement of people and commodities has seen unprecedented reductions in pollution. So we have been busy researching the latest electric technology to integrate into our boats. And coming back to our primary passion, we are looking at a unique new build that combines these eco-aims in a boat for more serene cruising.’


Simon Emmerson, musician with Afro Celt Sound System the Imagined Village. ‘I’VE just taken part in my first online Zoom festival. As a band with a 25-year history of headlining world music stages we have built a reputation as a top live act. Understandably we were initially very sceptical about how this was all going to work. It was an amazing experience. We had Afro Celt founder N’Faly Kouyate locked down in his village in Guinea playing his grandfather’s ancestral balafon and singing live, directly illuminated by his car headlights as his village has no street lighting. Robbie Harris, our percussionist, was in his studio in County Mayo on the West Coast of Ireland. The rest of us were dotted around the UK. Not everyone could make it. Lottie Cullen our piper, was doing her bit to fight COVID-19 as a radiologist in Dublin Hospital. Rioghnach Connelly, our singer and flutist, was in an online discussion on the future of live music in a post COVID-19 world. The festival was warm and welcoming. We had great craic as we showed everyone how we build up an Afro Celt tune from a fiddle reel to a full-blown track. We then played a video of the mixed tune we had written for the event called The Lockdown Gorroch Reel. There were technical glitches—at times it was glorious chaos, at others there were moments

of real intimacy as musicians performed to an enthralled audience from their own very private and personal spaces, including me from deepest West Dorset. It was great interacting with the crowd in their little Zoom boxes from their rooms, made over with personalised festival lights and hanging. People could post messages direct to us musicians during our performances and whooped and cheered at the end of every numbers The whole thing had the intimacy and interactive quality totally lacking in a bigger corporate festival. If this is part of the future of live entertainment in a post COVID-19 world then count us in. It was inspiring, magical and generated a very moving sense of togetherness and solidarity so needed in these dark and fractured times.’

The Lockdown Gorroch Reel CLICK TO VIEW

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‘...life’s greatest pleasures, seeing, being and wondering at the beauty of the world around us.’ Jayne Ray, south west France. ‘I worked for 23 years in the NHS. Firstly as a nurse, then as a midwife before moving into public health for the then North Dorset Primary Care Trust. Since relocating here with my husband, who works in Toulouse, I became involved in a national charity in supporting English speaking people affected by cancer. I am now a trainer for the volunteers, and President of Gascony, Cancer Support France (CSF). I work with many wonderful volunteers locally and nationally. At the beginning of the lockdown, I was fully occupied working with national CSF on developing our extended service provision, supporting all isolated, elderly or vulnerable English speakers in France, which has proved helpful in supporting a wider scope of people. As restrictions ease, we do not need to take out a signed form with us. We can go out together and take our dogs to the woods. During the eight weeks of lockdown, I only left the house three times. Working in my pottery studio—I’m PotteRayFR on Facebook—kept me sane, as did bread and cake baking and twice weekly yoga sessions on Zoom.’

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Caroline Essame arts therapist and educator, Singapore ‘IN a city of tower blocks, I’m lucky to live on a university campus on the ground floor surrounded by gardens. Nature has always fed my soul and now more than ever, growing plants and gazing at greenery filled with birds is one benefit of lockdown. The greatest blessing of all is having time to paint again. My paints have been in the cupboard for the past 12 years because I’ve been busy travelling, working and socialising. Now I’m painting again and I’ve discovered once more the joy of making art. I’ve just painted the view from my balcony, looking with fresh eyes at what I see every day. Lockdown has reignited my creative fire and given me time for one of life’s greatest pleasures, seeing, being and wondering at the beauty of the world around us.’


‘We have been able to enjoy spring through the flowers, blossom and wildlife’ Andy Hull, teacher.

Betty Roussinou, Corfu, Greece.

‘AS a secondary school teacher in the London Borough of Hillingdon on my journey to work teaching the children of key workers, there are a number of positives. Not only do I have an empty M25 to travel on, I have an empty car park to use too. My other team members make the most of the weather and cycle in. We work on a rota to look after the small number of students attending, so when preparation and marking of work for my other classes is complete, I have turned to baking—a skill passed down by my late father. I live on the outskirts of London, just inside the M25. Daily walks have become really important. My partner and I have found footpaths just ten minutes from our house into the open fields and woods of Hertfordshire that we never knew existed. We have been able to enjoy spring through the flowers, blossom and wildlife. I have also tried to grow seedlings. As the days have turned to weeks, I finally picked up my guitar again after a long time.’

‘PEOPLE who live in Greece stayed at home and could go out only with permission. I had to send a message to a certain number to get a message back saying that I was allowed to go out. You had to dial one number out of six depending on where you wanted to go. Police were everywhere, even in our little village. I lost my job in tourism and my husband has less work. First, when restaurants and bars were supposed to be closed, some people didn’t take it seriously. But they had to pay a heavy fine, starting with 3,000 euros and later 5,000. People who didn’t send messages before they went out of their houses got a fine of 150 euros. We were so afraid not to catch coronavirus, but also not to pay the fine. Especially now that many lost their jobs. The government helped by supporting those who lost their jobs or businesses. We got to a stage where we could open restaurants and cafes with strict rules, and also schools on certain days and with reduced numbers of pupils. Those children whose parents decided to send them back to school are separated. I wish people in the UK behaved like us. After a couple of days people understood that if they didn’t listen they would pay for it. It worked. Police were everywhere. We behaved. That’s why we loosened the restrictions. Finally, after two-and-a-half months I see tables and chairs outside the kafenion and tavernas in our village square. We all have lost a lot this year in the village, the island, the country and in other countries. I just hope all this happened for a good reason.’

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Lifelines A community initiative for wildlife corridors in the Char Valley By Owen Day and John Blanchard

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AS we emerge gradually from the lockdown, many of us are wondering what kind of future awaits us. It seems clear that our economy is headed for a very bumpy ride, and with no effective vaccine or treatment yet, we may still be in for some nasty surprises. But there is also a growing sense of hope that the recovery from this crisis might provide a much-needed opportunity to solve other problems too, and maybe start to heal our fractured relationship with nature and our planet. A Green Recovery is on many people’s minds and increasingly spoken about by politicians of all persuasions. With the world hurtling towards climate breakdown and a collapse in biodiversity, surely a Post-Covid Green New Deal is a “no brainer”? Massive investments in clean technologies, renewable energy, regenerative farming and reforestation programmes, would create millions of jobs, kick-start our economy and help solve the climate and ecological crisis. Bring it on! But while we wait to see what governments will do, many communities are taking action. One group of local people from around the Marshwood Vale have just launched a community initiative called Lifelines, designed to strengthen the health and resilience of our local wildlife and soils. The Lifelines Project for the Char Valley starts with the insects—seeking to stop the decline in numbers locally and trying to encourage regenerative ways of managing that land so that insect populations—and the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that feed on them—can revive and flourish once again. The project will start by mapping areas of land where pesticides— insecticides, herbicides and fungicides—are not being used*. It will then see how new areas of land can be added by finding anyone with land— from a small garden to a large farm or estate— willing to commit to managing their plot in ways that help insects. Farmers can join the scheme by including just part of their land, such as field

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margins and hedges to create corridors (see text box). A local farmer has demonstrated that hedges can be harvested profitably when coppiced for wood fuel on a 15-year cycle (1,2) thus helping wildlife and his business. To get the most benefit, these areas of pesticide-free land should link up to form wildlife corridors that can encourage wildlife and biodiversity. Natural England has already identified some of these “Priority Habitats”(3) and the Forestry Commission has also mapped the woodland inventory of England. Both of these are shown as layers on the Lifelines map. At the heart of the project is an interactive online map that can be explored at www. thelifeline.site. Residents who manage their land without pesticides can join, and their fields or gardens will turn bright green on the map. As other residents learn about the scheme and decide to stop using pesticides, so these lifelines will spread across the map, like a colourful green mosaic, as the Char Valley starts to be restored to vibrant health, with more biodiversity and more resilient ecosystems. The map allows everyone to see how the project is going and get more involved in the management of their local environment. So why focus on insects? In a nutshell, because they are very important and are in serious trouble. Healthy insect populations are essential to our ecology—skylarks, cuckoos, swallows, bats, frogs, hedgehogs and many other animals depend on them for food. They are also vital for our food supply, as orchards and many crops depend on them for pollination. A review of 73 studies (4) found that insects are in dramatic decline globally and that 40% of the world’s insect species could become extinct over the next few decades. The study’s authors conclude that “a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. “ The 2019 State of Nature Report (5) found that insects in England are declining rapidly, both in abundance and distribution. Numbers of butterflies and moths, for instance, have dropped by 16% and 25% since the 1970s, with habitat-


specialist butterflies declining by two-thirds over that period. The report lists the causes of the decline as linked to climate change, loss of habitat and intensification of farming, with the latter “having the biggest single impact upon nature in the UK over recent decades, with the great majority of that impact being to drive species’ populations downwards”. The proliferation of pesticides in the UK, with over 400 varieties now permitted, was highlighted in recent report by the Soil Association (6). Farmers are often advised to use combinations of these and multiple applications. Consumers and wildlife are increasingly exposed to the “pesticide cocktails”, whose toxicity to humans has not been assessed. The herbicide glyphosate for example, a known carcinogen to mammals (7), is used on a huge scale and routinely found in food samples. Two thirds of our rivers contain over 10 pesticides, and 67% of soil samples contain multiple pesticides. About half of all bumblebees have two or more pesticides on their surface.

The Lifelines project hopes to be a small part of this movement to encourage more insects and wildlife back into our gardens, fields, and landscapes. It also hopes to foster discussions about how we can support our farmers in producing healthy food in an uncertain world, while ensuring a more resilient, greener and brighter future. If you are interested in finding out more about the Lifelines please visit www.thelifeline.site or contact Owen at owenday@me.com Photographs by Owen Day

Note *. Except for occasional spot-spraying using an approved herbicide for the removal of harmful invasive and non-native plants as recommended by DEFRA https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-the-spread-ofharmful-invasive-and-non-native-plants

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T

Lifelines and Farming

he participation of both organic and conventional farmers in the Lifelines project will be critically important to its success. It is hoped non-organic farmers will support the project and recognise the benefits to their business of having more biodiversity in the environment. It is well-known that high numbers of insects and bird in the margins of fields, reduces the impact of insect pests on crops and hence the need for expensive insecticides. Biodiversity can help farmers reduce damage from pests and can also help them in other battles too, like the urgent need to have more climate-resilient soils - less prone to flooding, erosion and drought. Farmers are on the frontline in the battle against climate change, having to cope with extreme weather events, such as record-breaking rainfall followed by record breaking droughts. As these extreme weather events are projected to become more frequent and more intense in the coming decades, farming is also going to become much harder and will need to adapt. Flooding and soil erosion are already getting much worse, and poor farming practices are often blamed for aggravating matters. Looking at changes to the Char Valley in the last few decades, it’s clear that criticism should not be levelled at farmers, but rather aimed at the misguided Common Agricultural Policy that has resulted in the current impoverished state of our environment, wildlife and soils. Fortunately, the CAP has now been replaced by the new Agriculture Bill 2020 that is currently under discussion, putting in place the framework that will hopefully align the interests of farmers with those of nature – allowing production that is truly environmentally sustainable, through what is called agroecology. From now on, public payments received by farmers will no longer be calculated based on their acreage and production but will be based instead on the “ecosystem services” they provide - public money for public goods. These services include maintaining soils, preventing flooding, increasing biodiversity and sequestering carbon in the soil. All of these critical ecosystem services depend on a healthy biodiversity – particularly insects.

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The importance of biodiversity is at the heart of organic farming and regenerative agriculture, which are all demonstrating the possibilities of farming profitably, while providing healthier food (pesticide-free and nutrient dense) regenerating soils, preventing floods and absorbing carbon. Gabe Brown, one of the pioneers of regenerative agriculture and author of “Soil to Dirt” (8), says that by working with nature and by focusing on profit not yield, he managed to transform a lossmaking conventional farm into a highly profitable and sustainable business. He and many other agroecological farmers are demonstrating how fertile soils can be built-up by using techniques such as no-till, multi-species cover crops and mob-grazing. Artificial fertilizers and pesticides are not needed, in fact they are positively excluded as they destroy the life-giving symbiosis that exist between plants, fungi and bacteria in healthy soils. The amount of rainfall that healthy soils can absorb before they become saturated is truly amazing. A conventionally farmed soil often becomes saturated with half an inch of rain in an hour, but healthy soils can absorb water much more efficiently, sometimes an inch of rain in 10 seconds, and two inches in under 30 seconds (8). Healthy soils allow water to infiltrate so fast because they are full of channels and cavities made by fungi, worms and soil invertebrates. Scientists are only just beginning to understand the importance and complexity of soil ecology and its importance in flood prevention, sustainable food production and even in the fight against climate change. By dramatically increasing the amount of organic matter in their soils, regenerative farmers are pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it back into the ground. Society should recognise the huge challenges that farmers face with the vagaries of weather, markets and now government policy. Communities need to support their local farmers as they are asked to transition from a mindset dominated primarily on production, to one where food must be produced with greater consideration for wildlife and the climate emergency.


References

1. “A Coppiced Hedge: Converting a flailed hedge into an economic crop of firewood” by Ross Dickinson, Racedown Farm, Dorset https://www.dropbox.com/s/4ny53s9xwseqqtf/A%20Coppiced%20Hedge%20with%20photos%2C%2019%20June%202018%2C%20 Ross%20Dickinson%2007.58.54%5B1%5D.docx?dl=0 2. “A New Look at Hedge Coppicing” by Owen Day www.marshwoodvale.com/agriculture/2019/03/a-new-look-at-hedge-coppicing/ 3. Priority Habitat Inventory (England), Natural England https://data.gov.uk/dataset/4b6ddab7-6c0f-4407-946e-d6499f19fcde/priority-habitat-inventory-england 4. Sánchez-Bayo, F. & Wyckhuys, K., (April, 2019) Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biological Conservation, Volume 232, 8-2 www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718313636 5. State of Nature 2019. https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf 6. The Pesticide Cocktail Effect. www.soilassociation.org/the-pesticide-cocktail-effect/ 7. Some Organophosphate Insecticides and Herbicides. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Volume 112. 2017; 452 pages. https://publications.iarc.fr/549 8. Gabe Brown. “Dirt to Soil”. www.waterstones.com/book/dirt-to-soil/gabe-brown/9781603587631 9. Agriculture Bill 2020. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8702/

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LOCAL EVENTS

Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society Virtual Summer Show - 11 July 2020. This year our virtual summer show will consist of galleries of photographs to be displayed on the Summer Show 2020 page of our website www.ulrhs.wordpress.com. There will be one gallery for each of the classes below. Entries will be for fun and there will be no judging. A maximum of two entries are allowed per class. 1. Mixed flowers, 7 stems at least two kinds 2. Any size plate of mixed soft fruit 3. A display of three different types of vegetables, any number of each 4. Five tomatoes of any one variety 5. Longest and shortest runner bean – photograph your entry with a ruler/tape measure alongside 6. Potato in a Bucket – photograph your potatoes together with an A4 sheet displaying the weight in kg/g, and ideally include yourself in the photo 7. Jam jar of flowers 8. Floral art – ‘From the Garden’, an arrangement of flowers and foliage in a vase 9. Chocolate cake – any size from cup cake upwards, decorated/filled as you choose 10. An animal made from packaging e.g. egg boxes, loo roll inners, cardboard (16 years and under) 11. Hand-made card or drawing on theme of ‘Thank you NHS/Key workers’ 12. Photography of ‘Life under Lockdown’ – funny or serious How to enter • Photograph your entry in landscape (‘horizontal’) format. • Email it to tricia@thegardenersblacksmith.co.uk together with your name, a note of which class you are entering and, if you wish, a title for your entry. • Submissions should be made between Monday 6

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July and Wednesday 8 July. • The galleries will be live on the Society website at 1pm on Saturday 11 July. • You are invited to post your entries on to other social media channels but please tag the ULRHS.

Honiton Walking Club Due to Covid-19 Honiton Walking Club has temporarily suspended its walk programme until the end of June. In the meantime, why not enjoy some of the worlderful local green spaces nearer to home. Check out Honiton Walking Club website or Facebook page for more information where you will find a wealth of walks for you and your family to enjoy! https://sites.google.com/site/honitonwalkingclub/ Ashill Scottish Dance Ashill Scottish dancers will resume as soon as it is safe to do so. We normally meet at Ashill village hall , Nr Ilminster just off the A358 on a Monday evening from 7.30 to 9.30, £3.00 per evening , including tea break. If this is something that you fancy doing then watch this space and come along and join our group. If you wish you can contact me ( Anita ) for more information on 01460 929383 or email me on anitaandjim22@gmail. com. We look forward to seeing you all soon. Axe Vale & District Conservation Society Axe Vale & District Conservation Society won’t be holding any events in June but we are hoping to be able to reschedule our Wildlife Day (held jointly with Wild East Devon) for August.


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Centre for Pure Sound Our Centre for Pure Sound Divine Union Soundbaths are now happening online via Zoom 2PM every Sunday: please email to participate ahiahel@live.com www.centreforpuresound.org . New Elizabethan Singers The New Elizabethan Singers have planned two concerts for 2021, in January and April. These will include the pieces by local composers Matthew Coleridge and Chris Reynolds, originally scheduled for performance this year. Rehearsals and concerts will be subject to whatever government restrictions are in place at the time, of course.

Lockdown Ramblers by Eve Maunder While gazing out through window panes we reminisce of leafy lanes. And of the shimmering azure shore we dream that we will walk once more.

East Devon Ramblers East Devon Ramblers have been following Government guidelines and have not been walking as a group since the lockdown. The committee however have been in communication via Zoom and those responsible for walks planning have been busy working on a tentative programme for when the restrictions are eased. ‘Many of our members were walking alone at the start of lockdown and now we can walk with one other person some Ramblers have been walking as a couple, keeping social distance which now seems to be second nature’ says Eve Maunder. At the start of lockdown Eve tried to write a little rhyme to capture her feelings about Rambling. Lockdown Ramblers is the result.

Our favourite routes so well rehearsed the muddy fields that we once cursed. Those cows that watched with suspicious eyes the birds that soared in sun filled skies.

West Dorset Arts Society New season planned and ready to go as soon it is safe. See our website and local press for updates and hope everyone stays well. taswestdorset.org.uk

The wheeling gulls screech overhead the speckled trout on the riverbed. The Mallard with the cutest chicks the field of sheep with biting ticks.

The Arts Society Neroche South Somerset With the safety of members, visitors and lecturers in mind, the committee is at work planning for next season and will give more details as soon as possible.

We marvelled at the Salmon ladder and stepped around the baby Adder We looked for Beavers in full daylight alas we should have looked at night!

Cine Chard We hope our loyal audience is keeping safe and healthy. We’re not sure when, but, as soon as is safely possible, CineChard will be back at the Guildhall and showing all your favourite films. Keep checking our Facebook page, your email and the local press for information, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome you back.

The sights, the sounds the smells we sense. The paths, the stiles, and the rickety fence. The laughing, and the endless chatter. Our legs may ache but that’s no matter.

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The hills and cliffs that were so steep precarious pebbles under feet. We’d puff and pant and feel so hot but reap rewards when we reached the top. We’d sit beneath the verdant trees and cool ourselves with welcome breeze. Then on we’d walk a few more hours through meadows dotted with wildflowers.

Now here we are locked-down inside. an hour’s walk or a quick bike ride. No more hours of fun filled ambles. Oh how I miss East Devon Ramblers!


24-hour tram trip to raise money for Heritage Tramway SEATON Tramway has announced a Tramathon Fundraising Appeal, which will see a week of live videos streamed online to help raise money and secure the future of the Tramway and its industrial heritage. From Monday 8th to Friday 12th of June, Seaton Tramway will be going live on Facebook daily, going behind the scenes of the operation and its famous fleet of trams. On Thursday 11th June they will start a 24-hour tram trip continuously between the Seaton and Colyton Stations. This will all be streamed live online for the full 24 hours as they raise money for their charity. The fundraising appeal will continue until they are able to reopen and they will be giving away prizes and experiences as fundraising milestones are hit. Prizes include Driver’s Eye Experiences, Half Day and Whole Day Tram Driving Lessons, Free Tickets and Lifetime Free Travel. All anyone has to do to be in with the chance of winning is donate a minimum of £5 before June 12th to be entered. Prizes will be drawn live on Facebook during the 24hour Tramathon. Full terms and conditions can be found on our website. In line with this fundraising appeal, they have also launched their new ‘Hero Ticket’ which can be purchased and redeemed as an All-Day Explorer ticket when they reopen. These tickets are available now and will go towards the Tramathon Fundraiser. The ‘Hero Ticket’ will then extend to December 2021 and be free for all NHS Staff and care home staff with a valid ID for tram travel. Seaton Tramway has operated from Seaton for 50 years and has seen everything from Snow blizzards to storm washouts. They very much look forward to the day they can reopen to welcome back passengers once again. You can find out more about the giveaways and milestones and how to donate at www. tram.co.uk/tramathon

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Dance on the WYLD SIDE

Sue Kirkpatrick, a musician with Wyld Morris, explains a tradition that sees dancers greet the dawn

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n Wednesday evenings, in the darkest wettest depths of the English winter, a heavy rhythmic thumping echoes through the dense and otherwise silent gloom shrouding a small Dorset village. The Morris side is practising. It is the sound that has now accompanied ten years of Wyld Morris, so called because this team was founded by a member of the community of Monkton Wyld Court. In this old and beautiful setting, the pagan nature of this traditional dance is slightly contradictory, given that the Court was once a vicarage. The term ‘Morris’ is possibly a corruption of ‘Moorish’ dancing, credible as its first mention of this style is in documentation from the Guild of Goldsmiths in 1448, along with ‘guising, sword dancing, and mumming.’ There is also a theory that the ‘sticking’ and thumping could have been a part of a young knight or squire’s training, even preparation for fighting the ‘Moors’ in the Crusades. Many of the weapons used in the medieval crusades were based on poles, for instance the pole-axe, and hand to hand combat was too often necessary, so agility, alertness and the ability to work together as a force were vital, and skills still relevant to present day Morris sides especially during energetic stick dances. Knuckles sometimes get a bruising, although mistakes for the dancers nowadays are not normally fatal. Strictly

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traditional Morris teams are still for men only, but Wyld Morris was founded as a mixed side so that women in West Dorset were not excluded, the only physical qualities necessary to join a side being energy and stamina, which of course are not simply male attributes. Another widely held belief is that Morris dancing has pagan origins. This is probably because the high points of the Morris calendar are dependent on the seasons. Having practised almost every week throughout the winter, sides are ready to burst out of the darkness into the spring to dance, taking advantage of the light summer evenings and the opportunity to explore many local pubs and entertain the sometimes startled clientele. For sides all over England, and for Wyld Morris, the season begins as dawn breaks—at 4.30 am on the first of May. Even for those who at best have seen the dawn only after a very long night, the sun rising over the sea towards Portland Bill is a spectacle, worth a wake-up call in the pitch dark, to travel to the top of Stonebarrow Hill, the beautiful cliff top downland which overlooks Charmouth. Sometimes, of course, there has been a pall of cloud and fine drizzle or even fog, dense enough for the dancers to identify each other only with difficulty. Most surprising is that several otherwise sane members of the public also

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turn out to see the Morris team greet the dawn. After breakfast, the side travels closer to Bridport to dance with a hundred or so children, hopping up and down in a school playground before their normal day begins. Then by midmorning the hankies will be waving in a residential home in Bridport as a small danceside does its best to avoid bringing down the lampshades. For many of the elderly residents, the Morris music and dancing sparks reminiscences as they bear witness to living history. The percussion section is expanded to allow for the residents to respond to the strong Morris rhythms as the band has a variety of bells and beaters for enthusiastic participation. Lastly on May Day there is always a performance scheduled in the heart of Bridport, which Wyld Morris identifies as its home. The team has a strong sense of its contribution to the community, and the annual seasonal events which follow May Day take place in the town. The Community Orchard behind St Mary’s Church is a local treasure, lovingly maintained by volunteers who tend a variety of apple trees whose names are rich in history, for example Slap Ma Girdle, Golden Dawn, Ribster Pippin, and Worcester Pearmain, which is even older than the known origins of English Morris. Wyld Morris dance here for Dorset Apple Day in summer, helping to celebrate the crop by sampling locally produced cider and


apple juice. Families come with picnics and listen to storytelling and maybe the Bridport Mummers who, by their own disarming admission, “never knowingly perform in sobriety”, and are always the source of great hilarity. At Christmas Wyld Morris band will be singing carols and playing at several places in Bridport as part of the town’s Winter Fair, and then in early January they will be back in the Orchard for an undoubtedly pagan Wassail ceremony, when the apple trees will be blessed and offerings of bread left in the branches, and libations of cider poured onto the roots. Wyld Band will be helping to make as much noise as possible to drive evil spirits out of the trees so that they bear good harvests. The Wassailing tradition stems from the poorly-waged agricultural labourers, who were given a kind of licence to prevail upon their employers for a few groats and something from the wealthier cellar. The present-day colourful ‘tatter jackets’ worn by many sides is a reminder that originally the working men’s clothes were turned inside out for dancing so that the ragged linings were exposed. Sometimes the Morris men would black their faces to hide their identity for fear of repercussions. These days this practice is less popular as the tradition has been misinterpreted. Wyld Morris usually has a busy summer weekend calendar, being invited to festivals and fairs most

weekends throughout the summer season, ranging from the bustling Melplash Show to Stoke Abbott Street Fair, and also to local folk festivals such as Sidmouth, Lyme, Swanage and Weymouth. These are great opportunities to see other Morris teams dance, and to shake the bells of course. Sadly, of course, this year Wyld has become a virtual band but the spirit lives on via the small screen and practice continues once a week in maybe a dozen Dorset kitchens. Although personnel has changed several times since Wyld Morris began ten years ago, such is the commitment of both dancers and musicians that many of the earliest members are still part of the team. Anyone who wishes to join the side is always welcomed, as dancers or musicians, and sometimes former members will turn up to cheer the side on. Besides being a wonderful way to exercise, it is a very sociable activity which has made its members into valued friends. There is much good humoured mockery for those who are literally wrongfooted when learning a new dance, but there is a general wish to present careful timing and precise stepping for the best overall performance from the side. The dances come from different traditions. Wyld dances both Cotswold and Border, styles, but the programme also includes the East Acton Stick Dance which was apparently invented by the Goons, and, to the great pride of everyone who

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has mastered intricate stepping without being tied in knots, Bridport’s very own Rope Dance. This was created by a much loved member of the side in honour of one of the town’s oldest industries, and will make its debut this next season. The present enforced social distancing will give the team plenty of time to polish baldricks, trim the beribboned straw hats, and embellish tatters jackets, all in the Dorset colours of white, gold and red. The connection with the rural landscape gives Wyld Morris ‘kit’ its extra colourful splash of green, and beige. The season will be very different this year, of course, as lockdown has prevented the usual May Day celebrations. Like everyone in the country

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whose activities have been put on hold, the side will look forward to an end to our present troubles, so that planning can resume for a deferred 10th anniversary celebration next summer when Wyld Morris expects to host several other ‘sides’ who will travel from all over the country, as they have done also for the Bridport Folk Festival, another strong local tradition successfully revived three years ago, in which Wyld Morris are proud to represent the town. Photographs by Dorset Bays For more information contact: wyldmorris@gmail.com or visit: www.facebook.com/WyldMorris


Car Park entertainment at Powderham Castle

SOCIAL distancing comedy, karaoke and cinema is coming to Powderham Castle in July in the form of car park parties. Just like the old American Drive-In movies, Powderham intends to offer drive-in entertainment where visitors enjoy the entertainment from inside their cars (which will have to be 2 metres apart). For more information on one of the wackiest ideas yet, visit https://www. powderham.co.uk/events/view/car-park-party

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Fund launched to help Dorset artists

Dorset Moon at Nothe Fort, in 2019; Ivor Toms Photography. A GROUP of Dorset arts organisations, brought together by Portland’s b-side festival, has set up an emergency fund to help freelance artists who are facing the complete collapse of their income as a direct result of the pandemic and the lockdown. Dorset’s theatres, galleries, cinemas and music venues are all closed, because of the Covid-19 lockdown, and the b-side organisers felt action was necessary to help performers and artists facing extreme financial difficulty. The fund organisers say the arts are essential for our morale, mental health and wellbeing and are needed now more than ever. Some emergency funding has been made available through government-backed schemes, but many artists who lost their livelihoods overnight are falling through the cracks. Molly Scarborough, b-side’s youth programme coordinator, says: “Many freelance artists are not covered by existing financial aid packages because they are not supported by public funding, are too commercial, don’t have premises, or haven’t been trading long enough to make a claim, yet they still have to pay for essential living costs. This fund is to help balance cash flow when money is tight and tide people over until they can get further support.”

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The fund is for all Dorset-based artists, including (but not limited to) visual artists, musicians, comedians, performers, directors, actors, writers, filmmakers, theatre makers, producers, curators, clowns. As well as b-side, the Dorset Artists’ Emergency Fund is supported by Activate Performing Arts, Arts Development Company, Artsreach, Bournemouth Arts by the Sea, Diverse City, Dorset Music Hub, Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre, Opera Circus, Pavilion Dance South West, SEAFAIR, SoundStorm and Wave Arts Education. To apply, artists must be aged 18 or over, have a bank account and be unable to pay for essential living costs because of the loss of freelance income. Grants of between £100 and £500 are available. The fund is open and the deadline for all applications is midnight on Friday 19th June. If you’re in financial hardship you can apply here: https://bit.ly/dorset-artist-emergency-fund The Hardship Fund has been set up with contributions from arts organisations, but the organisers are appealing for arts-lovers and anyone who has enjoyed arts and creative events to support the campaign and donate to the fund: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/dorset-artistsemergency-fund


Free Benefits Surgeries now by Telephone AGE UK North, South & West Dorset holds regular surgeries where over 50’s can come and ask an expert questions about benefits they may be entitled to receive. Working in partnership with Dorset Council, these Benefit Advice Sessions are one-to-one surgeries, free and by appointment only. Due to the current situation, these surgeries will go ahead on the planned dates but will be by telephone only. Sessions will operate on the following dates: Bridport area: Wednesday 3rd June & Wednesday 1st July Weymouth area: Thursday 11th June & Thursday 9th July Dorchester area: Thursday 25th June & Thursday 23rd July

Lisa Holmes from Age UK North, South & West Dorset said, “We are working in partnership with Dorset Council and can assist older people to access the benefits they are entitled to such as Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit. If anyone is not sure about the benefits they may be able to claim, I would encourage them to make an appointment at one of our surgeries. We are also still offering help to complete benefit forms such as Attendance Allowance forms over the telephone through our welfare benefits team.” To book a telephone appointment for Dorchester, Weymouth or Bridport, please ring Age UK North, South & West Dorset on 01305 269444 or email Lisa: lholmes@ageuknswd.org.uk For further details of other ways in which Age UK North, South & West Dorset can help you at this time, please telephone 01305 269444 or look at the website: ageuk.org.uk/ northsouthwestdorset/

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Beer Quarry Caves

Temporarily shut by Coronavirus pandemic - join us when we open

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f curses could kill the coronavirus would be long dead. I’ve contacted an ancient Irish poet friend and asked him to get out his great book of Ulster Curses, aim a good one at coronavirus and let fly. But so far, like President Trump’s chloroquine and Dettol, no luck. In the meantime our doors are temporarily shut but not our curiosity. Beer Quarry Caves are many things. They are the longest worked limestone quarry-mine in Great Britain. The quarry was first opened by the Roman’s, probably using local slave labour, sometime soon after the 2nd Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD, perhaps as early as 50 AD. Almost 2000 years later the caves helped see us through World War 11 as an ammo store and mushroom source for hungry Londoners. In between those two events the entire story of modern English and British History unfolded around the caves. In 1348 the caves were open when the Black Death came to England, starting at Weymouth in next door Dorset, in June that year. The plague took two forms, bubonic up to the Autumn of 1348, and then, a bit like coronavirus now, a pneumonic form . The plague killed between 40% and 60% of the population of England and kept returning for years, in the form of new outbreaks, something the current government might take note of. With a dearth of labour as workers died from the plague, wages rose partly leading to the Peasants revolt in 1381, against taxes to pay for the plague effects, and serfdom, another consequence our present government might note carefully. Going back a bit further, Beer Quarry Caves were open when about 60 different recorded pandemics struck England between 664 AD and 1348 AD. These pandemics varied but a regular cause was war or invasion. Corpses were left to rot where they fell and disease soon followed. War as the World at War series for WW2 recently showed, still killed vast numbers of people less than 75 years ago, many from typhoid and indeed bubonic plague, again. As part of our new researches we will be trying to find out how those running Beer Quarry caves dealt with those events during those long years between 664 AD and 1348 AD. But the caves have a much older and more significant record in their walls and underfoot. The limestone in the caves was laid down between 200 million and 300 million years ago. About 250 million years ago the great Permian extinction occurred, killing 96% of all life on the planet, and 70% of all life in our young earth’s oceans. There have been 5 great extinctions since the first appearance of life on earth, between 600 million and 900 million years ago, of which the Permian was the most devastating. Scientists do not agree on the cause of the Permian extinction but a meteor collision is one suggestion. The

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geologist Professor Ian West has pointed out that the presence of chromite and serpentine in the limestone in the caves “is quite peculiar”. He writes that “Another possibility, much less likely, is that the chromite and serpentine grains are of meteorite origin” but he then points out that, “ Material believed to be ejecta from a meteorite impact event has been found at a coastal site in Portugal Monteiro et al.(1988), Thus it is almost exactly the same age as the Beer Stone”. At least 2 others of the 5 extinctions may have left their mark on the caves too and we are now in search of that record and ways to display it. Flint has always been an important issue at the caves. John Scott FRSA, FRGS, who saved the caves from demolition in the 1980’s and created our tour company, believed that flint from the quarry site may have been found at both Stonehenge and at Carn Brae in Cornwall. We are currently investigating the site and the area for evidence of a prehistoric flint ‘factory’. Its easy to forget that for 90% of the life span of homo sapiens the only tool humans had, for hunting and for lighting fires, was flint. About 6 miles from the caves, at Broom on the river Axe north of Axminster is probably the most important historic ancient tool find in the South West. Workmen digging a cutting in the 1870’s discovered a huge trove of (chert) flint axe heads and tools, 2,300 of which survive in museum collections. Carbon dating puts the age of the tools at about 350000 BC, long before homo sapiens turned up in Britain. The huge Ancient History of Britain (AHOB) project missed Broom, possibly because no human bones had been found there. But AHOB also missed the last formal evidence of Neanderthal mankind in the west of England. We are currently investigating the links to the flint at Beer. But perhaps our most interesting find is what we are calling ‘the aquifer next door’. Water supplies in most places come from reservoirs, lakes and rivers. In West Dorset and East Devon it comes from an ancient aquifer, dated to between the Triassic and Permian period by the British Geological Survey. That coincides with the formation of the Beer Quarry site and takes us back to between 200 million and 300 million years ago, again. Beer has already sent algae from the beach cliff face into space. We are now hunting another space traveller, the Tardigrade, that may live around the caves. Tardigrades outdid all 5 extinctions and is one of the greatest survivors on earth; 560 million years and continuing. Finally we are updating John Scott’s references to Beer village itself, starting with the 1st Domesday note of 1086 AD, when there were 26/28 dwellings in the village, and 2 slaves. Kevin Cahill, Director - Stephen Rodgers, Curator and manager


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Balloons and Confetti Despite media focus on fears for the elderly and those in Care Homes, there is another side to the story. Susan Blacklock has seen bunting, fairy lights, positive acceptance and ‘stern stuff ’.

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oronovirus has created a level of fear amongst all sections of the community. Maybe more so in those classified ‘At risk’—particularly in the over 70 age group with underlying health issues. The Government focus was initially on supporting the NHS and very much later, focus is now on Care Homes. The news stories are worrying in that one third of Care Homes have been affected by the virus. However, the other side of this is that two thirds of homes have been successful in keeping the virus at bay. The majority of homes have been resourceful and proactive in dealing with this new threat. This should be celebrated. I would hope that this provides some reassurance to those people who may need the help a care home can give them. Care Home staff have to be inventive in the care we provide. In addition to many other essential caring attributes, to have a positive disposition is important and no more so than during this crisis. We contend with winter infections and viruses and generally manage to contain them. Covid-19 has amplified our need to be ever vigilant.

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I think Bymead staff hear our mantra of ‘Wash your hands. Do not touch your face’ in their sleep! Bymead closed its doors early in this growing pandemic to all but medical staff and manager, Amy Blacklock, is steadfast that anyone moving into Bymead then and now is Covid-19 negative. The hospital staff struggled with this concept in the first weeks and to some extent they still do but we realised it was and remains the only way, during this time of unknown unknowns, to manage the situation. To this day we have had a few rocky moments as the Covid symptom list grows ever longer and obtaining tests for residents is a challenge but we remain clear of the virus. Amy and our staff have been determined to keep everyone safe, putting every effort into ensuring this remains the case. We talked to the residents about how they would feel not seeing their relatives for the foreseeable future. They unanimously agreed that their biggest fear was the virus coming into the home. They wanted to remain safe and certainly wanted their relatives to remain safe. We explained the infection control measures we needed to take at that time


and indeed the ongoing changes in these measures. Since those early days, it seems so long ago, we have had many chats. During one recent afternoon chat the discussion turned to gradually opening the home again to visitors. The residents’ general comment was that they felt safe and rather we didn’t open the home just yet. That gave us a little boost to think that we had been able to fill the gap their relatives had left, even for a short time. The people in Bymead’s community amaze me with their philosophical acceptance. I think this would be true of most people living in care home communities at this time. Certainly this generation, who lived through VE day all those years ago are made of stern stuff! We felt it was important to keep safe but ignore the frequent news bulletins and enjoy this time. Bymead staff have been inventive with the activities, events and pastimes enjoyed. We have celebrated a virtual 100th birthday party with lots of balloons and confetti. The relatives joined in through the magic of a skype call but we did not skimp on the champagne and cake. From Easter Ducklings, a Spring Ball through to VE day we have enjoyed every moment. Our Spring Ball was a last minute thought but turned into an extravaganza of more balloons, bunting with fairy lights to make it that extra bit special followed by a delicious, elegant high tea. We celebrated VE Day with music, singing and mojitos provided by The Dark Bear from Bridport. We have recorded all the good times and made a compilation video for family and friends. During our ‘lockdown’ we have seen many positives. Particularly, new friendships have formed within the home. Residents have had the time to develop their ties with each other. It is true that it is never too late to find a new friend. Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 37


Abbotsbury By Cecil Amor

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bbotsbury is an historic village. It is an interesting village, worth visiting again when the “shut down” is over, with attractions for all

ages. The oldest history of Abbotsbury is passed as you proceed to it from the west on the B3157. As you start to descend, Abbotsbury Castle Hillfort is on your left, but you have to leave the road and climb up to it. The fort is an Iron Age earthwork, triangular in shape, surrounded by two banks separated by a ditch on two sides, the third to the south east having four banks and ditches. There is evidence of hut circles and it is thought to have later been used as a Roman signal station. The South Dorset Ridgeway runs close to the hillfort and on over Black Down and Bronkham Hill and is embroidered with Bronze Age burials (tumuli). Passing on down Abbotsbury Hill the entrance to the Gardens is on the right. Ahead is the village with a raised pavement on each side. The road divides with a narrow road on the left leading up to Bishop’s Road including Bishop’s Limekiln, now a picnic site. The main road is at the right of the division passing the “Ilchester Arms” hotel which carries the arms of the Strangways and a solitary street lamp. The road then takes a right angle to lead on towards Portesham and Weymouth. The road is narrow and traffic difficult when heavy. A Benedictine Abbey was founded in about 1030 by Orc and his wife Tola during the reign of King Canute (Cnut). Orc was a Scandinavian henchman and steward to Canute and Tola was Norman, as was Emma, wife of Canute, which is how they were granted the land which became Abbotsbury. The original name of the village was “Abbodesbyrig”, a Saxon word. Orc and Tola were granted other lands so the monastery became wealthy. The monastery had a large Tithe Barn which is still impressive although only half remains. A mill, fishponds and a dovecot were also included. Later Orc became steward to Edward the Confessor and accrued more land. The swannery was probably an early addition to augment the food of the monks. Two churches were built for the monastery, St Peter’s for the monks, which no longer exists and St Nicholas for the village. When King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries Abbotsbury did not escape and the abbey and monastic lands were sold to Sir Giles Strangways in 1542. Sir 38 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031

Giles, from a family who came to Dorset from Yorkshire in 1500 had been appointed one of the Commissioners for the surrender of the monasteries. By this time the abbey apparently held 22 manors. The last abbot managed to become vicar of Abbotsbury but the nine monks lost their living. About half of the huge Tithe Barn was destroyed. Sir Giles demolished the abbey and built himself a manor house close by. The Strangways family have been associated with Abbotsbury ever since and increased their wealth and land by marriage. Stone from the abbey has been found around the village in various buildings. Further change came to the village with the 1640 Civil War. The then senior Strangways, Sir John, was a fervent Royalist so his house was entered and searched by Parliamentary soldiers in 1643. The next year a large group of Cromwell’s army under Sir Anthony AshleyCooper came from Dorchester to annihilate the Royalists in Abbotsbury. The church of St Nicholas came under fire and the pulpit still bears holes made by musket balls from the siege. The Manor House was completely destroyed by a fire reaching a gunpowder store and Sir John and his son Giles were captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London for several years and fined a huge sum of money. Another son managed to escape to France. With the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 the Strangways were restored to their previous position. Surprisingly Ashley-Cooper had turned against Cromwell and assisted in the Restoration of the Monarchy and was rewarded with a peerage. The next change in the ownership of Abbotsbury came when a Strangways daughter, Elizabeth married the man who became the first Earl of Ilchester. Elizabeth Countess of Ilchester built a castle-like house overlooking the sea and commenced the gardens in the 18th century which have since become a favourite visiting place as the sub-tropical gardens. Unfortunately the castle was burnt down in 1913 and although rebuilt it was apparently unsatisfactory and it was demolished in 1934. The Ilchester Estate largely owns most of Abbotsbury. Many of the house doors in the village were painted blue or white. The blue were rented and the white were leased. Any other colour probably indicated freehold.


Abbotsbury Tithe Barn by Pat Garth

Opposite the Ilchester Arms is the old school house, now the village hall and beside it in Back Street is the “Schoolmaster’s House”, probably both funded by the Ilchester family. On Chapel Hill is St Catherine’s Chapel which can be seen from most points. Overlooking the sea it was a navigation aid from medieval times. It is a sturdy, austere building which has survived from at least the 14th century and legend says that spinsters went to pray to the patron saint for a husband. It overlooks the Fleet, a narrow area of salt and fresh water south of the swannery with an underwater walkway across it, thought to aid fishermen bringing their catch back to the village. Fish were prolific in the past. The Fleet was briefly famous during the second war when it was an early site of trials of the “bouncing bomb”. The famous Abbotsbury Swannery is at the west end of the Fleet and was probably a source of meat, eggs and quills for the monks from at least the 14th century. Since the dissolution of the monastery the swans belong to the Strangways and are very popular. The Ordnance Survey map shows a dismantled railway line from Upwey and Weymouth to Abbotsbury. It opened in 1885 to transport local iron ore, which proved to be insufficient and the line closed in 1952. The map also shows several withy beds and reeds, the latter used for thatching. The present roof of the Tithe Barn originally of stone is now thatched. The barn is now a children’s attraction. After the loss of the abbey many poor people had a

hard time and some turned to other ways of making money. In common with most of the south coast smuggling was rife in Abbotsbury in the 18th century. In 1720 Abbotsbury fishermen caught 23 casks of brandy and 2 barrels of wine anchored to stones with ropes which they intended to take to the Excise Officer, but the Strangways Bailiff, William Bradford took the contraband and would not hand it over, with local people aiding. Troops called from Dorchester enabled Customs Officers to restrain the goods, but Thomas Strangways claimed they were salvage from a wreck, not contraband and raised the matter in Parliament. In 1832 Moses Cousins, an Abbotsbury basket maker was taken by the Abbotsbury Excise Officer with four gallons of brandy and gaoled for a year for non-payment of a £100 fine. The Vicar, Mr Foster, tried unsuccessfully to have the sentence reduced, then wrote to Lord Ilchester who achieved his release after only 60 days in Dorchester Gaol. Eventually the Government reduced the duty payable on such goods, reducing the profit for the smuggler and the trade ceased. A few years ago Paul Atterbury, well known on TV from the Antiques Roadshow, produced an excellent picture book “Greetings from Abbotsbury” using many old picture postcards. It has helped me to recall some of the places and is a good alternative to visiting during the shut down. Cecil Amor, Hon President of Bridport History Society.


News&Views

LYME REGIS Appeal for wanted man

Officers are appealing for information from the public to help locate a man wanted in connection with a burglary in Lyme Regis. Anthony Brett Bown, aged 56 and of Christchurch, is wanted in connection with a burglary at a home in Charmouth Road in March. He was believed to be in the Lyme Regis area on Wednesday 20 May 2020. If you see Anthony Bown you should dial 999 immediately. Anyone with other information should call 101.

BUDLEIGH SALTERTON Swimmer rescued

A swimmer, rescued after multiple reports to the RNLI, was pronounced ‘not in a proper state to swim’ by lifeguards after two boats went to his rescue. Exmouth RNLI Helm, Henry Mock described the incident as ‘very serious’ and said: ‘I would urge anyone thinking of swimming in the sea to make sure you are equipped, fit and able to do so, that it’s safe to swim and you are aware of the tides, current and the wave conditions.’ The man did not sustain any injuries.

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BRIDPORT MP calls for focus on support Commenting on the public outcry about Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham, West Dorset MP Chris Loder has said that the area’s future and safe recovery should be our ‘absolute priority’. Speaking to the Bridport News the MP said that ‘inaccuracies’ had ‘played a part in fuelling a very angry public response’ however he stood by the government’s belief that Dominic Cummings had ‘not broken any law’ though shared constituents’ frustration over the issue.

DORCHESTER Radio station to rebrand

Bauer Media, owner of Dorshester based radio station, Wessex FM, has announced plans to create the largest commercial radio network in the UK. Part of that plan may mean a name change for the local station to ‘Greatest Hits Radio’. Greatest Hits Radio plays classic hits from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and offers regional drive time and networked breakfast shows. It has not been confirmed whether the station will remain based in Dorchester.

WAREHAM Forest fire still a threat

Although an extensive fire that Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have been tackling in Wareham Forest is no longer spreading, crews may be on site monitoring and damping down hotspots for days to come. The fire, which started on May 18, was said to be due to social activity. The service has appealed to the public to not travel to the area for walking, cycling or other leisure activity and to avoid barbecues, campfires or bonfires over the coming days.


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Unlocked Fun and Games Laterally Speaking by Humphrey Walwyn

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s we slowly pull ourselves out of the viral hole that mankind has fallen into, we are going to have to make a start at a return to normality. I’m not sure that anyone knows what ‘normal’ is supposed to be now. Shopping, eating out, getting on a bus, meeting more than one person at a time (at 2 metres) let alone meeting lots of them at pubs and parties is going to take quite a bit of time to rediscover. But the Game must still be played (as they sort of say) and since we’re all being encouraged to take exercise, stay fit (and of course alert) and maybe indulge in a modicum of sporting activity, we shall have to see what activities may be permitted in an ex-isolation world. I therefore offer you my lateral guide to ‘un-locked down Sport’. Obviously solo endeavours are easiest since we can’t infect others very much while jogging, fishing by one’s self, playing golf alone or doing solo yoga exercises in the garden etc. But if the activity involves other people then we need to make sure that everyone’s OK. Most sport is competitive because we have to try to win or lose at something to make it fun. Playing tennis by one’s self against a wall is OK, but after fifteen minutes it gets a bit boring because the wall always wins. Of course, if you’re isolated from others in a sort of titanium and plexiglass cocoon, then it’s quite safe. This means that Grand Prix and motor car/cycle racing should be OK, although care will have to be taken when shaking up the champagne and squirting it over everyone at the end. Perhaps anti-bubbly face masks and latex gloves could be given to everyone on the winning podium. The hygiene limitations of horse racing are unknown at present. Apart from jostling in the paddock, do horses themselves carry the virus? Will equine flu re-appear? Is it really feasible

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to race round a track keeping a minimum of 2 metres from your fellow competitors? Perhaps all jockeys should wear sanitary surgical gowns and bubble helmets? These and other fourlegged questions may eventually find answers… The majority of two person competitions should be OK provided we take extra precautions. Wimbledon has already been cancelled for this year, but 2021 might see new regulations introduced. New balls might have to be introduced every game (instead of every seven games) and no shouting, grunting or screaming when you serve as it spreads splutter and spittle over the court. Players may not shake hands but they will bow to each other in oriental style between sets. Two-person contact sports are probably a no-no—particularly judo and wrestling which would undoubtedly spread viral sweat from one competitor to another. Boxing however may just be possible provided both boxers wear face masks and protective robes. The two-metre rule would have to be temporarily forgotten otherwise no boxer could reach out and hit the other (which if I recall is mostly the point of boxing), while the gloves themselves will act as anti-viral insulators, provided they are thoroughly disinfected with suitable wipes between each round. However, the majority of team sports may prove too difficult to overcome. As I write, football is still hovering between the absurd and the frankly impossible. Currently I understand that non-contact training is allowed but tackles, blocks and bumps are out. How are you supposed to get the ball off your opponent if you can’t touch him? Perhaps you have to ask nicely… “Excuse me, but if you have a moment could you possibly lend me the ball?”. If you ask politely enough, perhaps the referee will insist the ball is passed to the other team? I can’t see many goals being scored, but then


it wouldn’t matter that much because there’s nobody in the stands to watch the match anyway. Sterile and Safe? Yes. Boring? Very much yes. And no more hugging or wild pitch-side celebrations, if by some miracle a goal is be scored! And no kissing… absolutely NO celebratory kissing on penalty of 14 days quarantine in an empty and windblown football stadium. Cricket should be OK but the distance between batsman and wicket-keeper would have to be marked out on the pitch. A delivery counts as a ‘no ball’ if the keeper stands too close. However, I’m afraid that rugby is almost definitely a big NO. Tackling would be out and any players involved in a ruck or a maul would be cautioned by police for overclose contact. Don’t even mention the word ‘scrum’, unless you can find a way of putting all players in sterilised body armour and fibre-glass helmets! All of which sounds rather too much like American Football… But think of the benefits of new un-locked sport! For a start, it will provide massive extra employment for all sorts of new Health and Safety personnel legally required to be present whenever a sport takes place. We will have jobs for Private Gel Sprayers, Mask Cleaners, Spittle Analysers, Forehead Temperature Gunners, BrowMoppers and Personal Hand Washers (lots of those). In addition to Ball Boys, tennis will have to have Ball Wipers, Ball Sterilisers and Racket Purifiers. Snooker, ping-pong, basket-ball—all ball games—will be legally compelled to employ hordes of Ball Cleaners and Alcohol Gel Ball Appliers. This might even be a solution to our forthcoming inevitable recession and bring full employment back to Britain! Stay Alert and Look After Your Balls (if you’ll forgive my expression). Stay Safe!

It may be best to wear protective and sterilised clothing even when playing ping-pong.

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House&Garden

Vegetables in June By Ashley Wheeler

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love June in the garden! A technique you use you can then lot of the stress of being sow directly into the tilth and be a vegetable grower often sure that the first flush of weeds subsides by June (as long as the have already germinated so your weather has been fairly kind crop will be much more weed throughout Spring), and most free. An add on technique to of the first lot of planting is in this is to flame weed the carrots so the garden is full and looking about 5 days after sowing (just great. We have had a great spring, before they start to emerge). and as long as you have access to This kills off any extra weed water it has been good growing seedlings that germinate in this weather (especially the latter part time. of May). We started to replace We also use this technique early crops with second plantings, to kill off green manures that for example coriander went in we have sown before planting where radish were previously, a crop. We sowed a mix of Picture of solarization — this was after an kohl rabi was direct sown in black oats, sunflowers, phacelia, afternoon of the plastic being over the weedy bed and another radish bed that had been weeds were dying off already. The bed to the right is buckwheat, crimson and sweet all harvested, and various salad sown with the green manure mix clovers at the end of April leaves have been replaced with to cover the soil on beds that later successions of leaves. we were not going to plant up until July. These It is good to continue to be prepared to replace are now growing really well and will add organic old crops as soon as you can with new crops, and matter to the soil as well as protect it from any sowing into trays first allows a little extra time to erosion caused by wind and rain. They will be prepare the beds before planting. Our favourite mowed off and covered with plastic to break method of clearing old crops is by mowing them down before planting a crop. This use of quick, down and then laying down plastic on top (using thickly sown green manures is another good sandbags to hold it down)—it works especially technique of weed control as the green manure well with clear plastic during hot weather as crowds out weed seedlings so they cannot grow it heats up to kill off any weeds and helps to and seed causing a problem for future crops. breakdown the mowed crop quickly. This method, We like to keep all of the beds pretty weed free called solarization, is a great technique to create around this time of year especially, using a variety stale seed beds too. If you are sowing direct crops of different techniques and tools. The main tools such as carrots it is good to have a clean, weed that we use are hoes—usually wheel hoes for the free bed to sow into, and allowing the first flush of paths and collinear or push-pull hoes for along weeds to germinate and killing them off is a good the rows. We have also just started using a great way of doing this. spring tine rake which can be dragged right over The process for creating a stale seed bed is to the crop and does a wonderful job of knocking rake a bed to a good tilth, water it and allow the back the very young weed seedlings. The most weeds to germinate, then cover with clear plastic important part of weed control is to start hoeing during hot weather and these weeds will be burnt before you can see the weeds! We try to hoe about off rapidly—sometimes in a matter of a few hours a week after planting a new crop, even if there are if especially hot. In cooler weather conditions hardly any weeds in the bed. Often there are weed black plastic can be used and left for a couple of seeds germinating just beneath the soil surface weeks before the weeds are killed off. Whichever and by hoeing them lightly on a sunny, breezy day

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these will be disturbed and soon die off. We then aim to repeat the hoeing about a week to 10 days later. Most crops then grow big enough to shade out any further weeds from germinating or growing to any size that will effect the growth of the crop. We are running a Market Gardening Course as well as Salad Growing and Seed Saving courses at Trill Farm later this year where you can learn more about the techniques that we use to run the market garden at Trill Farm. Check out www. trillfarmgarden.co.uk/courses.html for more details on the courses and to book. WHAT TO SOW THIS MONTH: purple sprouting broccoli & January King type winter cabbage (early this month), french beans, chard, beetroot, carrots, basil, late cucumbers, kale, fennel, salad leaves — summer purslane, buckshorn plantain, salad burnet, lettuce, chicory (Treviso and Palla Rossa varieties early in the month, other varieties later), endive, mustards and rocket (mesh to keep flea beetle off), goosefoot, anise hyssop, amaranth, orache, nasturtiums. WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH: OUTSIDE: Dwarf french beans, beetroot, squash and corn (if not already done), lettuce and salads, squash, runner beans, kale, chard, autumn cabbage INSIDE: climbing french beans, cucumbers, basil, salads — goosefoot, summer purslane OTHER IMPORTANT TASKS THIS MONTH: Undersow squash with a mix of red and white clovers, yellow trefoil, and other cornfield wildflowers — this will help to fix nitrogen, but more importantly cover the soil and provide organic matter and living roots for soil organisms to benefit from.

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June in the Garden

By Russell Jordan

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he easing of lockdown has certainly made gardening a little easier. The ability to visit garden centres has relieved some of the frustration of having the time and opportunity to tackle the garden but without the normal means to stock up on plants and horticultural consumables. Online ordering is all very well but when you run out of potting compost, in the midst of potting on, waiting to have it delivered is like torture. June is the month when the freshness of spring gives way to the blousiness of summer. I guess roses are the plant of the month, in English gardens at least. Roses, like any garden plant, come with a set of rules to be followed if they are to perform at their best; proper planting in the right place, correct pruning at the correct time, good soil preparation and regular feeding,

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constant vigilance to guard against pests and diseases—you get the idea. Generous flowering is the reward you get for having followed the rules diligently. I tend to fail to adhere to every single rule, they are comparatively high maintenance, so my roses are not always performing at the top of their game. I don’t mind, there are so many other flowers to hide my embarrassment at this time of year. In established gardens, once you’ve learned how to spot what is a weed and what is not, there is plenty of ‘self-seeding’ going on. I love how Alliums (ornamental onions) tend to pop up all over the place in parts of the garden where I’d never have thought of planting them myself. They often bulk up to flowering size, without ever being spotted, due to their strap-like foliage.


It’s only now, when a drumstick bloom suddenly appears, that I realise what prodigious self-seeders they are. Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican fleabane) is a spreading ‘daisy’ that certainly seeds itself around. It likes a good baking, in well-drained soil, so it tends to colonise any crack, crevice and potted plant that it can seed into. This isn’t a problem. As with any plant, if you don’t like where it’s put itself then weed it out! As I’ve said many times before : gardening is simply ‘nature manipulated’. If you do nothing your garden will be a wilderness. Any degree of intervention, commonly known as ‘gardening’, will modify this wilderness towards the sort of ‘garden’ that suits you. Complete control freaks will have manicured lawns, perfectly edged borders and not a single unwanted interloper (‘weed’). There is every level of ‘nature perfected’ between the two extremes. Your own garden will probably ebb and flow between states of ‘perfection’ and ‘wilderness’ depending on what else is going on in your life and your own time of life. I’m guessing that, in the current weird situation that we’re in, many gardens may have reached peaks of perfection that they’ve not seen for a long time—this can only be a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Of course, weeding is one of the tasks that tips the balance away from wilderness and more towards perfection. Hand weeding is a time consuming task so, if you’ve got time on your hands at the moment, it’s possible that you can get more on top of the task than you normally would in June. The same goes for manual removal of pests and diseases. I’m in a constant state of picking off lily beetles, the little buggers, which is really worthwhile if you are planning to keep growing lilies in your garden. I know numerous gardeners who have totally given up having lilies in the garden because of this introduced pest. In contrast to the bright red (for ‘dangerous pest’!) lily beetle, I am overjoyed to spot the emergence of the iridescent, green, beauty that is the Mint Beetle (Chrysolina herbacea). This is a UK native beetle and looks like animated, though often stationary, emerald jewels. There is a non-native near relative, the ‘Blue Mint Beetle’ (Chrysolina coerulans), which has recently become established here but it’s not as arrestingly beautiful as our

green native so I hope that it doesn’t out compete ours. Neither are likely to cause disastrous damage, to established mint plants, so, unlike the lily beetle, it is fine to just leave them alone. There’s plenty of tasks that need doing at this fast growing time of year. Keeping the lawn cut, if you have one, and the beds edged, if you have borders in grass, is paramount. Remember that, however dry it gets, you really shouldn’t waste water on irrigating lawns. They may turn brown, in extreme drought conditions, but they always bounce back once the rains return. Watering a lawn, to keep it green, just keeps it dependent on high water availability which make it less able to cope if we then have a heatwave or a hosepipe ban. Prioritise your watering; containers dry out almost instantaneously on sunny days and rain is seldom enough to sustain. With plants in the ground, water them if they are newly planted. Give them a occasional thorough soaking rather than frequent sprinklings. When making new borders, especially if you know that watering by hand is likely to be a problem, weave ‘soaker’ hoses through them (but mark where they are so that you don’t put a spade through them at a later date!). I’ve got a soaker (aka ‘leaky’) hose installed in a bed 20 years ago which still works. I water, at low pressure, during the night when water loss by evaporation is minimised and the bed can be slowly saturated from below soil level: perfect. As lockdown, fingers crossed, eases it should soon be possible to visit gardens once again. Garden visiting is a really good way to find inspiration for your own plot and, in the case of those opening for charity, it benefits you and others. Make a note of plants and plant combinations that you like, camera phones are a real boon here, then research them online, the RHS Plant Finder is invaluable here, to see if any local nursery sells the plants you need. I know you don’t want to be looking towards autumn, right at the start of summer, but autumn plant buying and planting is something that you can start planning for now. Summer is not the best time to be planting new perennial plants and borders. Restrict your impulse buying to all those wonderful semi-tender beauties—Salvias, in their infinite variety, are chief amongst these. Happy gardening !!!

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PROPERTY ROUND-UP

Country Hideaways By Helen Fisher

LYDMARSH £795,000

A detached 17th Century family home in an idyllic, private location. Presented to a very high standard with an open-plan family kitchen/dining area opening out to the garden. With oak flooring, wood-burning stove and large cellar. Gardens and grounds featuring a meadow, specimen trees, veg bed and fruit cage. Double garage and outbuildings. All set in approx 4 acres. Jackson-Stops Tel: 01308 423133

MEMBURY £475,000

A fascinating Grade II listed house with numerous outbuildings and a self-contained annexe. Dating back to 1540 with many characterful features: large Inglenook fireplace with original bread oven, flagstone floors and decorative tiled flooring. Generous, mature gardens with veg plot. Ample parking. Gordon and Rumsby Tel: 01297 553768

PILSDON £850,000

A marvellous rural home, surrounded by countryside and far reaching views. Dating back to 1870 with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Offering a spacious indoor/outdoor lifestyle with all the modern family conveniences. All set in just under an acre with 2 outbuildings. Ample parking and large garage. Stags Tel: 01308 428000 48 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031

BROADOAK £300,000

A charming 2 bedroom detached house in a peaceful rural setting, yet only 3 miles from Bridport. Many character features inc: exposed beams, muntin windows and wooden floors and open fireplace. Excellent decorative order throughout. Generous, private gardens with far reaching views towards Colmers Hill. Ample off-road parking. Symonds and Sampson Tel: 01308 480092

TOLLER WHELME £900,000

Built in 1974 to a traditional farmhouse design. Bright and spacious throughout. Kitchen/dining room with Aga and bespoke hand-made kitchen. Generous, triple aspect sitting room with fireplace and wood burning stove. Numerous purpose built farm buildings, formal gardens and large, picturesque lake. All set in approx 55 acres. Jackson-Stops Tel: 01308 423133

LONG BREDY £675,000

An immaculately presented 4 bedroom family home with spacious, well-proportioned living areas throughout. Set in a rural location yet within easy reach of all the village amenities. Good sized, fully enclosed garden. Double garage with power and workshop space. Goadsby Tel: 01308 420000


WESTCOUNTRY HOMES

Broadoak, Bridport

CLICK TO VIEW

BROADOAK ÂŁ300,000

A charming 2 bedroom detached house in a peaceful rural setting, yet only 3 miles from Bridport. Generous, private gardens with far reaching views towards Colmers Hill. Ample off-road parking. Symonds and Sampson Tel: 01308 480092

Kilmington, Axminster

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KILMINGTON Offers in excess of ÂŁ400,000

Set in the heart of the village and charming community, this character, accessible home benefits from a high degree of privacy within part walled grounds. No onward chain. 3 Bedrooms. Large sitting room. Kitchen/ breakfast room. Dining Room & Study/utility. South facing garden. Garage/ workshop & Parking Stags Tel: 01404 45885 Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 49


Food&Dining

Put Bridport in the Oven BECAUSE Bridport is missing its popular Food Festival this year, Bridport Museum and the Food Festival team want to encourage the local community to bake a cake inspired by their love of the town’s history. There are only two simple rules: 1. Bake and decorate a cake or biscuit inspired by a) a Bridport building or landmark b) your favourite Bridport Museum object. 2. Take a photograph or a short video to share your creation and post it on the Museum’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds including the hashtag #BakeBridport to be included in the competition. It’s also a great opportunity to support local

business by buying local at places like Washingpool Farm, Leakers Bakery and Waste Not Want Not. There’s a full list below with more information at www.bridportmuseum.co.uk. Cake entries can be posted any time until 30 June. A panel of independent judges will each pick their favourite entry based on the creativity and originality of entries, with winners announced in early July. Museum Director Emily Hicks said, ‘History and cake—what a winning combination! We can’t wait to see what you all create- perhaps a lemon drizzle Town Hall, a chocolate ropewalk or a coffee cake ammonite….. there are no limits to this challengeand when you’ve made your cake you might like to share with your family or neighbours!’

LOCAL PLACES TO BUY YOUR SUPPLIES - CLICK DIRECT WHERE AVAILABLE Do check individual websites or contact individuals for opening hours and deliveries. Bradpole Village Store: groceries and essentials. Broadwindsor Community Store: groceries and essentials. Home delivery service provided by volunteers to local homes. @BroadwindsorCS Bridget’s Market, East Street: greengrocers, also stocking eggs, cheese, organic milk, baking goods and spices. Collection and delivery 01308 427096 or message via Facebook. Burton Bradstock Post Office and Farm Shop: delivery in the village, West Bexington, Swyre and Puncknowle. Call 01308 897243 or email maydownfarmshop@aol.com Chideock Village Shop: groceries and essentials. Call 01297 489584 Felicity’s Farm Shop, Morcombelake, all sorts! Phone orders 01297 480930, @Felicitys_FS or via Facebook. Fruits of Earth, Victoria Grove. Orders for collection and home deliveries. Call 01308 425827 or via Facebook. Hangers Dairy North Mills Trading Estate: our Bridport Milkman. Can also supply eggs, bread, cheese, and butter. See their Facebook page for complete product list. Collection and delivery

01308 423308 or message via Facebook. Leakers Bakery, East Street: Artisan bakers. Selling flour, butter, eggs, milk and some one-off colouring and decorative bits. by 01308 423296 between 7am and 12noon for next day delivery. Lime Tree Deli, West Street: Free home delivery service. Everyday essentials such as butter, eggs and milk can also be provided. Message via Facebook or 07799 267653 @ TheLimeTreeDeli Modbury Farm Shop, Burton Bradstock: fresh milk from own jersey cows and local produce and vegetables. Open daily with delivery to the elderly or those in self isolation within the Bride valley, at no extra cost. Phone 01308 897193 and leave a message with name and phone number. Naturalife, South Street, groceries and essential supplies, shop open 9-5am home delivery service phone or visit their Facebook page for details. 01308 459690 Nina’s Greengrocers, South Street: Lots of stock! Eggs as well. Phone for more information 01308 422794. Collection only

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Pineapple Estate Community Shop, Salway Ash: supplying essential groceries, such as dried and tinned goods, eggs, etc. To register for the service contact info@pineappleestate. co.uk 01308 488280 option 1. Skilling Stores, Bridport: convenience store selling groceries and essentials 01308 424434 Sophia’s Choice, Beaminster: organic and natural brands including dairy free milk, dried fruit, nuts, wholemeal, etc as well as essentials. Contact 07525 662888 info@sophiaschoice.co.uk for orders and deliveries. @SophiasChoiceUK Stephie’s Eggs, South Street: free range eggs sold on Bridport Market (outside of Smith & Smiths West Street) Wednesdays and Saturday also delivery and collection service. 07831 615542 Waste Not Want Not, South Street: organic, unpacked, plant-based wholefoods. Order online at or by phone 07775380797 for collection and home delivery. Washingpool Farm Shop, Bridport: order and collection service available, email order to info@washingpool.co.uk with your requests with your phone number. @washingpoolfarm


New South West Food Hub to be Launched THE South West Food Hub Community Interest Company (CIC) is being launched this month to lead a collaborative food community to support the region’s food network to buy local and establish sustainable, shorter supply chains across the South West’s food sector, focusing primarily on public procurement. The initiative is supported by local organisations including the Heart of the South West LEP, the

University of Exeter, Exeter City Futures, POM Support and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). Alex Stevens, Regional Policy Manager at the NFU says; “This initiative seeks to link the region’s food producers and farmers with outlets for their fantastic produce. NFU South West is excited to work alongside these fantastic local companies and support the South West Food Hub.” Visit www.thesouthwestfoodhub.co.uk

Tasty video recipes from Sharpham SMALL, artisan cheese producer, Sharpham Cheese, released three simple cheese-based recipe videos to celebrate last month’s British Cheese Weekender. Using Sharpham Rustic Chive & Garlic, Sharpham Cheese MD, Greg Parsons makes a simple pasta bake, garlic bread and ‘brusticetta’, and a pizza influenced wrap. As winners of the UK Supreme Cheese at the Global Cheese Awards, Sharpham Cheese have a renowned selection that are the epitome of excellent British artisan cheese, combining tradition with innovation. Situated on the banks of the River Dart near Totnes in South Devon, the Sharpham Estate has been producing wines and cheeses for over 35 years to local, national and international acclaim. Starting in 1981 the 18th century coachyard of Sharpham House was home to their creamery where their range of hand made cheeses were produced. Using the rich milk from their own Jersey cattle and vegetarian rennet, Sharpham’s unpasteurised cheeses have been so well received that demand now far exceeds supply. In April 2003 the company moved into their new purpose-built creamery sited next to the winery. Despite the new modern facilities the team still employ the same traditional techniques and the cheeses remain fully hand-produced and free of GM ingredients. Visitors are able to view the process through windows as part of your visit. To enjoy Sharpham MD Greg Parsons’ simple video recipes just click on the video link on the right. For more information about Sharpham Wine and Cheese visit www.sharpham.com.

CLICK TO VIEW

Garlic Bread and Brusticetta

Rustic Wrapizza

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Black Bream By Nick Fisher

S

quealing like an excited schoolgirl, isn’t really the sort of behaviour you’d expect from a hairy-arsed fisherman. But, I couldn’t help myself. When I saw my first black bream break the surface of the sea a few yards behind my boat, I started jumping up and down and yelping with delight. I’ve always had a soft spot for black bream. They fight hard and they taste better than practically any other fish from local waters. In fact, I’d swap you a bass for a black bream any day. Much as I love bass, I think it’s a bit of an overrated fish. Everyone bleats on about the edible qualities of bass. And as a result, the market price of wild fish is shockingly expensive. Whereas black bream is generally a very underrated fish. Black bream rarely finds its way onto posh menus or popular fish recipes. One London restaurateur told me that black bream gets short shrift just on account of its name. ‘Black bream....’ he said to me, wrinkling his face up in disgust. ‘Doesn’t sound very good, does it? Sounds like it’ll be all black and dirty. I mean, who wants to eat a black fish? No one. Or a black anything come to that’. One of the ironies of fish nomenclature is that black bream aren’t black at all. They’re steely blue on the outside when alive and milky white on the inside when cooked. Black bream fishing on the south coast is a late summer and autumn affair. They’re a migratory fish that comes to our shores in the warmer months from warmer seas, possibly on the edges of the Mediterranean or the southernmost reaches of the Channel and even the eastern Atlantic. Mostly they’re caught from boats. A few get caught from beach marks, but not many. Maybe because they tend towards deeper water locations, but also because they’re tricky to catch. They have small mouths and rows of sharp slanting teeth. And, they’re the world’s worst nibblers. Snack freaks. They never just grab a bait and gobble it down, they tend to worry a bait, pecking away at a pencil-thin strip of squid like a demented bantam cock.

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Sometimes after a series of half-hearted pecking bites, you can reel in your bait and actually see teeth marks all along the length of the squid, where they’ve nibbled and gnashed, but never really fully committed to necking the offering. I’ve never managed to catch a black bream off my boat before. Which is one of the main reasons for my schoolgirl squeals and general over-excitement when I reeled the first one to the surface last week. And the whole reason I went after black bream last week was because of a chance encounter with one of the other guys who keeps a boat in the same harbour. He was looking very smug and happy, as he told me his tales of much bream-action on the back end of the spring tides. ‘Abbotsbury ledges is where you want to go’ he said helpfully. ‘Really worth a visit’. I knew that on our GPS navigator that we inherited with the boat, there’s a way point marked for Abbotsbury Ledges, which is precisely 10.8 miles due east of West Bay harbour. So, the next day, Paul Qualiana and I pointed the sharp-end towards Abbotsbury while a box of frozen squid thawed out in the bait barrel. But when we got there, to the location marked on the GPS, there was no sign of any ledges. Just a sea bottom as flat and as featureless as a billiard table. Nothing. Not a bump or a rock. Just level sandy sea bed. So we drifted around, dropping baits to the bottom and dragging them for half an hour at a time, without any results. I caught one gurnard big enough to eat, but nothing else. So we decided to shift back west and fish a couple of marks on the way. These marks either simply didn’t exist, we couldn’t find any rocky feature to fish over, or if we did find a bump, our drift was so fast we’d lose it within seconds and then continue to fish the sandy wastelands with very little confidence. In a state of afternoon exasperation, we eventually found a tiny bump of rock on a mark known as Swyre Ledge. It looked interesting-ish. But only because in every direction around the ledge was nothing but miles of sandy rock-less bottom. And we anchored. As there was so much


sea bed with so little to recommend it, I felt we should make the most of the tiny bump we’d found and try to hold the boat on it with the anchor. The thing about fishing at anchor in a moderate flowing tide, is that it’s worth doing a little bit of ground baiting. By chucking some finely chopped squid and mushed-up mackerel guts into the sea off the back of the boat, to encourage any resident fish to switch on to feeding mode. It didn’t take long. Within twenty minutes of dropping the anchor I’d reeled the first black bream on board. We caught seven in the end. The bream fed most voraciously when the tide was ripping through. As soon as the pace of tide slackened off, we started to catch loads of pouting and fewer bream. The pouting seemed to be put off by the fast tide whereas the black bream seemed to favour it. Our biggest fish was probably only in the region of a couple of pounds in weight. Which is not

a massive bream by anybody’s standards. But to have gone out and targeted them and succeeded in finding them was in itself such a thrill. It’s not until you start fishing or diving from your own boat that you start to get a sense of how bareassed empty so much of the sea really is. There are massive expanses of sea bed without any sign of life at all. Back at home I slashed three black bream with a very sharp filleting knife, after I’d descaled them and taken their gills out. I rubbed the skins with olive oil and rock salt, and then whacked them into the hottest portion of my Aga. Once they were within a couple of minutes of being fully cooked, I drizzled over a mixture of freshly chopped garlic, mixed with olive oil and pesto, to make a slightly crispy garlicky coating to the skin. Served with baby new potatoes and carrots from the garden, these bream were succulent enough to make a grown man cry.

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POTATO AND ROCKET TART I really am in praise of the humble potato. I think we sometimes forget about them as a vegetable and treat them like something we have to have on the side! There are so many exciting ways to cook them all they need is a little bit of TLC.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

• 450g Dorset organic shortcrust pastry • 1 small egg and a pinch of salt, beaten together to glaze

1. 1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark6/200C/400F. 2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a rough round approx. the size of a very large dinner plate. Transfer to a nonstick baking tray and relax in the fridge for 10 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a pan. Add the onions and gently fry for 20/25 minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add the mustard to the onions, season with black pepper and allow to cool. 4. Pile the cooled onions onto the pastry round leaving a clear border of approx. 5cm around the edge. Top with the sliced potatoes and scatter over the cheese. Carefully fold up the pastry border to create a rustic style edge. Brush the edge with the egg glaze. 5. Bake the pie in the oven for 2025 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. 6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the soured cream and garlic. Season with black pepper. 7. To serve grill or griddle the bacon until crisp. Top the pie with the crisp bacon and rocket leaves and spoon over the sour cream. Serve at once.

For the filling LESLEY WATERS

• • • • • • • • • • •

3 tablespoons olive oil 15g (1/2 oz) butter 2 large onions, finely sliced 3 tablespoons grainy mustard 300g (10 1/2oz) charlotte new potatoes, cooked and sliced 85g (3oz) cheddar, grated 150mls (1/4 pint) soured cream 1 clove of garlic, crushed 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon or air cured ham 55g (2oz) wild rocket freshly ground black pepper

Serves 6

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BUTTERMILK PUDDING WITH BLACK COW VODKA AND RHUBARB I’m not really into desserts that are too sweet and this is a bit of a non dessert person’s pudding. The Black Cow is subtle and the just cooked rhubarb has a great texture and I often surprise people who have bad childhood memories of stewed rhubarb. It’s dead simple to make too and you can serve different fruit sauces in season.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

• 12g leaf gelatine (4 sheets) • 350ml buttermilk • 50g caster sugar • 250ml double cream • 250ml Black Cow vodka

1. Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes until soft, then squeeze out the excess water. 2. Bring 100ml of the cream to the boil with the sugar then remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine until dissolved then whisk into the rest of the cream,buttermilk and vodka. 3. Pour into shallow moulds or coffee cups and leave to set in the fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight. 4. Meanwhile make the sauce: bring the orange juice and sugar to the boil then stir in enough of the cornflour to make a thick sauce and simmer for a minute or so. Add the pieces of rhubarb, bring back to the boil, stirring as it’s coming up to the boil, remove from the heat and cover with a lid or cling film and leave to cool. The rhubarb should be just cooked, if the sauce is too thick just dilute with a little water. 5. To serve, dip the mould’s briefly into a bowl of boiling water for 10 seconds or so and carefully turn out onto cold serving plates and spoon the sauce around.

For the rhubarb sauce

MARK HIX

• A couple sticks of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into rough 1cm cubes • 300ml orange juice • 30g caster sugar • 2 tsp cornflour diluted in a little cold water Serves 4

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Local & Organic: now with next day delivery

COOMBE Farm Organic, based near Crewkerne, offers a wide variety of top-quality organic meats, straight from their fields to your plate. If you are local and can take advantage of their Click and Collect system visit their website and get your order in. Or have the best organic meat delivered - all over the UK, including the Highlands. Coombe Farm are also offering organic vegetables and spices as well as pies and pasties. Visit www.coombefarmorganic.co.uk and follow their simple ordering system or phone 01460 279509.

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Guest Recipe

LINDA LY After more than a decade of growing and preserving her own food, raising chickens in urban backyards, and trying to craft a more sustainable and simple life for her husband and their two daughters, Linda Ly has a wealth of experience to offer. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook takes a unique top-to-tail approach by teaching you how to use up every edible part of the plants you grow or buy.

The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook; Recipes and Techniques for Whole Plant Cooking Linda Ly Harvard Common Press

SRIRACHA-ROASTED BROCCOLI Broccoli in the raw is a bit tree-like, both in looks and in taste, and it takes a little seasoning to give it some character. I like to roast it under high heat, which brings out its inherent sweetness—a sweetness that balances the umami from this sriracha-spiced sauce. Don’t toss the thick stem—if it seems too fibrous for your liking, peel the skin before you roast it

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

• 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) sriracha • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce • 2 teaspoons sesame oil • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic • 1 pound (455 g) broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces • ½ lemon, cut into wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7). 2. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. Add the broccoli and toss to thoroughly coat. 3. Spread the broccoli across a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes. Stir and shake up the broccoli a bit and roast for 10 minutes more until the stems are tender and the tips of the florets are slightly blackened. 4. Serve with a couple of squeezes of lemon on top, and if you really want to go to spice town, serve some more sriracha on the side for dipping.

Serves 4 - 6


Guest Recipe

JESSICA FISHER

NO-BRAINER BAKED RICE What a revelation to bake rice! I had no idea how easy it was until I started exploring different ways to cook rice quickly. My kids like this better than the stovetop or rice cooker varieties. I love it that I can cook rice while I already have the oven heated for something else. Double duty equals double win. If you use chicken broth, omit the salt.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

• 2 cups long-grain white rice • ½ teaspoon salt • 4 cups boiling water or chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. 2. Spread the rice in the pan in an even layer. Sprinkle the salt over the top. 3. Pour in the boiling water and cover the pan immediately with heavyduty aluminum foil, sealing the edges. 4. Bake the rice for 20 minutes, or until done to your liking. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Serves 4

Jessica Fisher’s blogs, Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats, have established her as the go-to authority on cooking for a family cheaply, creatively, and nutritiously. Jessica walks the talk: She is the mom to, and primary cook for, four sons and two daughters. She is the author of Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, Good Cheap Eats, and Best 100 Juices for Kids.

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Arts&Entertainment

Into the Wildlight

WITH THE GRAVITY DRIVE Dorset musicians, Ava and Elijah Wolf, are taking The Gravity Drive to another level. They talk to Fergus Byrne about their new album.

FOR any artist, be they poet, painter, sculptor or songwriter, the moment of unveiling new work can be stressful, to say the least. The emotional turmoil when one’s ‘baby’ is launched upon the world; when work that has lived inside your head for days, months or even years is about to be judged by others, can be daunting. So, for musicians Elijah and Ava Wolf from local band, The Gravity Drive, it’s handy to have gone through a process of heavily critiquing their own work before it even gets to the recording stage. Their new album, The Wildlight, is scheduled for release in August and a limited edition prerelease CD with a special lyric book inside is quickly finding homes in a fan base that reaches far and wide, even as far as Moscow. The Wildlight contains ten incredibly polished tracks that have been pulled together over more than three years and inevitably not every song has retained the exact form it started with. The rigorous process of creative input after principle songwriter Elijah presents new songs to his wife and band partner Ava, means some songs can

take quite a beating before reaching the studio. The opening song on the album, Hits like a Fix, is a classic example. Now a soporific, piano-based love song it was originally written for guitar and started life as a rock track. Ava never really liked it, describing it as ‘frenetic and attacking’. ‘I just felt it was trying too hard’ she says. ‘I just really felt we should pull it right back and make it on piano and make it more seductive—more like a trip. So we had a bit of a wrangle. That was the big wrangle of the album.’ Elijah laughs, ‘I resisted it for so long and then one evening I thought, right sod it, I’m going to do exactly what she says. And literally that opening riff just fell out of the sky.’ Living in gentle Dorset countryside, Elijah’s song-writing process may be the envy of many musicians. When an idea begins to develop, whether it is a riff, a chord sequence or a lyric, he often goes for a run through the idyllic Dorset lanes where he lives and lets the idea germinate. ‘As I’m out running, the melody and lyrics will just kind of appear’ he says.


But it’s just another day in a working family’s life. Ava will often hear him ‘tinkering’ around the house. ‘Sometimes he gets a vague look in his eye’ she says. ‘Where he appears to be in the room but he’s clearly not—he’s off on some writing thing inside his head. So I know there’s a new song coming. He’ll play it to me and then if I love it I’ll say so—but I can be quite a harsh critic if I don’t.’ ‘As a songwriter it isn’t the easiest thing’ explains Elijah, ‘bringing a new song to anyone, whether it be to the band or to your wife. These are your little babies and you love them all in different ways for different reasons. And you know that some are better than others. But the great thing about Ava is that, instantaneously, if it’s good she’ll be completely honest and on your side and if it’s not working she’ll tell you as well.’ Elijah sees the process as giving The Gravity Drive a useful standard and an early quality filter. The results prove there is little doubt that the internal ‘wrangle’ has a beneficial impact on the duo’s creative process. ‘That’s why I think it’s worth being super critical instead of saying, yes it’s a good song and just stumble forward’ says Ava. ‘Just take time and think, how can this be better? It takes a lot of energy and it’s quite an emotional journey. The album’s been quite emotional. We’ve been trying to make it the best that we can make it.’ Although he admits much of the album was done quite quickly, Elijah echoes the statement that there has been real effort to lift their music up a level. ‘We would work together as a band and be 90% there with a song,’ he says ‘and I’d look at Ava and know she wasn’t convinced yet. One track took us about a year to get right. It might have been finished a lot earlier but for Ava’s pursuit of excellence.’ That pursuit of excellence is born out of years of experience. Elijah started performing with his brother and school friends and played his first gig in front of over four hundred pupils in his first year in secondary school. ‘Just before I started’ he

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recalls, ‘it dawned on me that I was in front of an awful lot of older kids and if this goes badly, well … but it went OK.’ The band eventually signed for a small label and then broke up to go separate ways, but Elijah was hooked. Ava’s journey was via acting school and growing up in a family that ran a well-known nightclub in Birmingham. Her brothers managed Duran Duran and whilst on tour with them she learned an awful lot about just how hard you have to work to produce great music and great performances. However she never dreamed that one day she would be singing in a band herself. ‘It surprised me’ she says. ‘But it didn’t really surprise anyone that knows me, because apparently I’m always singing. I’m one of those people that walks around just singing and bursting into song in the supermarket.’ It’s easy to describe The Gravity Drive’s sound as harmony-driven pop but that’s like describing Coldplay as a pop band. There is so much more going on. ‘We’ve always relied on the boy-girl harmony-driven aspect of it as being a focus point’ says Elijah. ‘Whether that’s me bringing in a big song or a simple acoustic track, the harmonies are the main thing.’ However, it’s the diverse taste that the band shares that creates the ‘magic’. ‘In a lot of albums there is a bandwidth in which the band operate’ says Ava ‘and you absolutely know it’s not really going beyond that bandwidth—that’s what they’re going to deliver. But I think our album is full of surprises. We journey from quite heartfelt ballads to something that’s quite rocky. But that’s our interest in music. We have an eclectic taste in what we listen to and

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that’s definitely reflected in the way we write. So we’re sort of a little bit multi-genre.’ The Wildlight has been in the melting pot for a while. As a completely independent band with no record company support, Elijah and Ava started a Crowdfunder campaign with the hope of releasing the album in 2017. It took time to get it right and there was no music industry throwing money their way—which is potentially a raw subject. Talk about the way the music industry works unleashes a tension in Elijah that isn’t easy to mask. ‘With the music industry, the way to get to the top is to spend money’ he says ‘and to pay all the right people and pay the pluggers and play the game. And that’s all well and good, and it doesn’t guarantee success but it guarantees you might get heard.’ But that isn’t a game that Elijah likes to play. ‘I think we’ve got more of a Robin Hood approach—we’re going to do what we’re going to do and because we believe in it, it will go where it’s going to go.’ The band is unlikely to change to suit industry needs and there is a strong sense of a determination to remain authentic. Elijah continues: ‘We believe that people who are creative should believe in who they are and that the industry and the game should bend to the original artists—not the artists bend to the game. We might be naïve in that belief, but it’s got us to a certain point and we’ve managed to stay authentic and not sold our souls.’ Outside of ‘the industry’, the internet and social media have helped many unsigned bands to break out of their home patch and develop


a wider audience. Elijah explains how ‘bubbles’ of interest appear through Spotify and other streaming services. ‘For some reason and we don’t know why, in Moscow they’re playing lots of our music. We’ve not been to Moscow and we don’t know quite why that is. There’s no way that we could go to Russia and gig there, but what’s interesting is that in the future we might, because there is a presence there. So you can see there are little bubbles. I’m not sure why but they do appear. That’s the greatest thing; you can get global without having to physically be global. It might not be a huge impact but you can see how you can grow those bubbles if you stay authentic to who you are.’ Now, four years on from that Crowdfunder initiative, it seems The Wildlight has benefited from the extra time in development. After their first album, Testament, a period of touring meant the band and especially Elijah and Ava’s vocals had the opportunity to gel and gain confidence. ‘In terms of songwriting, performance, artistry and record-making’ says Elijah, ‘this is us at the peak of our powers—so far’. The Wildlight has some absolute gems. Hits like a Fix, Shooting Star, The Wildlight—all memorable. Play Kaleidoscope loud—close your eyes and imagine yourself in the middle of a field with thousands of people singing along—it has that anthemic quality. And the new single Forever—where Elijah and Ava’s vocal harmonies, lifted by drummer Ryan Halsey and bass player Rob Male, soar over an inspired production mixed by engineer Chris Potter. There is a slickness yet authentic quality to these songs that makes The Wildlight one to treasure. Polished and sparkling, this is The Gravity Drive’s new baby, an album that also hints at even better things to come. The new single, Forever, is scheduled for release on June 5th. The album is officially released in August but there are a limited number of the special pre-release CDs available from www.thegravitydrive.com.

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Movies IN LOCKDOWN

Bridport-based film producer Nic Jeune suggests a few ‘Summer Screen Gems’ to entertain and intrigue during the COVID-19 crisis.

THE sun is out ‘Stay Home’ has now morphed into ‘Stay Alert’, but if confused ‘Stick To The Sofa’ and watch some more great movies! It must be the smell of cover up and denial that is wafting down the M3 from Westminster, but I was drawn to two fascinating films on BBC. The Program (2015) which is about the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong, a pathological liar who said: “The best place to hide is right out in front, in plain sight”. Secondly Spotlight (2015) the compelling story of a cover up of epic proportions by the establishment of Boston, USA.

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Click on the image to view the trailer Film of the Month Lady Bird (2017) on Amazon Prime

Other Recommendations:

The Program (2015) The rise and fall of Lance Armstrong. On BBC iPlayer

Film of the month is Lady Bird (2017) on Amazon Prime. It is written and directed by Greta Gerwig. If you enjoyed her adaptation of Little Women, then there is much to enjoy in this, her first outing as writer director. Lady Bird is a coming of age story with plenty of edge, given a 15 rating and it does not pull its punches. The ensemble acting is great fun to watch. Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts are perfect as the parents. They are both the kind of character actors who are incapable of putting in a bad performance. Greta Gerwing cast three of the rising stars of modern cinema. Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) as Lady Bird, Lucas Hedges (Manchester by The Sea) and TimothĂŠe Chalamet (Call me By Your Name).

Spotlight (1990) Compelling story of a cover up of epic proportions by the establishment of Boston, USA. On BBC iPlayer

The Addams Family (2019) The animation version of this wonderfully strange but loveable family. On Amazon.

One to set the Alarm for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Not as good as Mamma Mia, but if you like Abba and it may be the nearest you get to a Greek island holiday this year. On Amazon. Eurovision Song Contest: The Fire Saga (2020) Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as Lars and Sigrit. No reviews yet but I am sure unmissable for those who love those weird bands that enter Eurovision each year. On Netflix late June

Mousehunt (1997) I remember enjoying this one with the kids when we had the VHS (Video Home System Tapes for those who have never seen one!) On Netflix. Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 65


The Mirror & The Light Bruce Harris on Part Three of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor Trilogy

E

ven a writer’s most avid fan might find 900+ pages a daunting prospect, but for those of us who have already immersed ourselves in the first two books of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy centred on the life of Thomas Cromwell, ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up The Bodies’, the experience once again registered more sustenance than endurance. Both of the first two books won the Booker Prize, and for the third to also win it would be unprecedented, but I think few people would bet against it. Historical fiction has become a ubiquitous genre in recent years, and like all forms of writing, its quality varies. Most of it is set earlier than living memory, and faced with the inescapable fact of not having been there, the author must find some way to enter the past – perhaps research, imagination or some predetermined social or political agenda. Writers can guess, construct or manipulate the past, but only a writer with Mantel’s extraordinary combination of investigation, empathy and logic can actually inhabit it. There are no thees and thous in Mantel’s Tudor England, no big heroic speeches, no gallant knights and forlorn damsels. We find ourselves with the brutal – quite frequently, literally – realities of everyone in England, whatever their wealth or station, having to deal with not just an authoritarian regime, but an authoritarian regime centred on a single man holding absolute, God-like power. An episode of the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf contrived a scenario where an entire planet had been constructed from the mind of the least pleasant character, Rimmer, giving physical manifestations to all his phobias, insecurities and

66 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031

prejudices. So England at the time of Thomas Cromwell had to arrange itself around the mind of Henry VIII. Both Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII have been demonised for various reasons, Cromwell for doing Henry’s dirty work with merciless efficiency and Henry for throttling and suppressing the Catholic traditions of England. Both images are, of course, gross over-simplifications; like Brexit, like finding our way out of a pandemic, like rescuing the planet, nothing is that simple, however much we would like it to be. Cromwell, having been the principle bagman of Cardinal Wolsey until Henry harasses the Cardinal into dying on the way to his execution, has to deal with the strange, precarious world of Tudor power politics. He has to somehow both appease and control Henry, and far from being simply Henry’s chief of terror, he does sometimes save people or do the best he can to save them, including, in previous books, Sir Thomas More and Thomas Wyatt, the former unsuccessfully, the latter successfully, and in this one, successfully, Henry’s own daughter Mary, forced by oath to declare her own mother’s marriage null and void and therefore disinherit herself. Cromwell is the son of a Putney blacksmith, a man of extraordinary strength and ferocity, and he grows up in the kind of world where his own mother can drag him off to witness the burning of a ‘heretic’ woman when he is still a toddler. He is a survivor, fluent in several languages and self-trained in political tradecraft across the courts of Europe. Unlike most of Henry’s senior courtiers, he cannot call on small armies of men bound to him by oath and property,


or appeal to the great traditions of his family name, or retreat to one of his castles to sulk and recuperate. I have personal experience of putting historical fiction together; my novel ‘Howell Grange’, set in the mid-nineteenth century and following the fortunes of a northern mine-owning family, was published last year. I know how exhaustive the research needs to be, and how it isn’t enough to see characters as stereotypical cut-outs, or ignore the circumstances and attitudes of their time. Yes, Henry is a tyrant, but he is also genuinely concerned about the succession and the possibilities of plunging the country into chaos, and rightly so, as it turned out; yes, he lusts after Anne Boleyn, but unlike some of his predecessors, he concentrates on consent rather than force. Yes, he disestablishes the monasteries and moves the country significantly away from Rome, but many of them at the time were corrupt to the core and milking the populations around them with what can only be described as protection rackets. On a ‘spoiler alert’ basis for those whose knowledge of Tudor history is not exhaustive enough to know what ultimately becomes of Thomas Cromwell, I will leave the ending alone, but no-one has to be a historian to relish all the qualities of this book, the sharp and frequently very funny dialogue, the living detail of Tudor

food, buildings and pastimes, the unflinching portrayal of the hot, in-your-face undercurrent of everyday violence and death in what some would still term ‘the good old days’ and the understanding it provides of how so much of the world we now inhabit was starting to develop. One of the 17th century descendants of Thomas Cromwell went by the name of Oliver, the only man in our history to replace rather than serve a monarch, and it is tempting to imagine what kind of trilogy would emerge from the Mantel searchlight remaining with the Cromwells. In the meantime, I can only say that it will take something truly phenomenal to deny this volume a third Booker prize for its author. Whatever the gongs awarded, her now very numerous band of devotees certainly won’t be disappointed.

The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel 4th Estate

Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 67


GALLERIES

Solo in Beer

Adrian Sykes - Solo Show: Imagination Unrestrained at The Marine House at Beer will be accessible online from mid-June. The show will be available to view in the gallery daily from 10am – 5.30pm. As guidance is constantly changing please contact the gallery on 01297 625257 for advice on general viewing arrangements and private viewing opportunities. Marine House at Beer, Fore Street, Beer Nr Seaton, Devon, EX 12 3EF. 01297 625257, info@marinehouseatbeer.co.uk, www.marinehouseatbeer.co.uk

68 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031


Virtual Gallery Goes Live THE first installment of The Marshwood Vale Magazine’s Virtual Art Gallery has been launched with the production of an eBook and a website www. marshwoodgallery.com. Produced as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual gallery is an initiative launched within days of lockdown to give artists, makers and galleries the opportunity to show their work to visitors who, for the moment, can’t come to visit them in their studios and galleries. The eBook showcases artists work with links to video and websites to allow people to browse and learn more about the work that they may like to buy. The accompanying website offers an additional route to participating artists and can be accessed by tablet or mobile phone as well as laptop or desktop computer. The initiative is free for artists, makers and galleries to join and visitors are encouraged to make contact direct with participants to learn more about them in order to purchase work or arrange special viewings. For more information about the Marshwood Virtual Gallery email info@marshwoodvale.com.

www.marshwoodgallery.com CLICK TO CONNECT By Desktop, Tablet or Phone

Somerset Open Studios to go Digital THIS year’s Somerset Open Studios (September 19th- October 4th) will be a digital extravaganza. Through an interactive brochure, visitors will be able to curate their own tours of artists’ works, see into studios and hear how they develop their work through films. Audiences will be invited to get hands on and interact with artists through a programme of talks, workshops, demonstrations and artists films hosted on Somerset Art Work’s website. Somerset Art Works are working hard behind the scenes to transform Open Studios 2020 into a digital event, developing skills and resources as well as supporting artist members to showcase their work. Much of what is developed for this year’s event will inform how future Open Studios events are produced. The decision to go digital has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Somerset Art Works continue to put the safety of participating artists, audiences and staff at the centre of their decision-making. For this reason, the difficult decision was taken to not invite people to visit artists’ studios in person this year, but instead develop the event digitally. As a board and team, Somerset Art Works are determined not to leave a gap in the county’s cultural calendar in 2020, maintaining its annual offer to showcase the creative breadth and talent of Somerset’s artists. For more details, please see: somersetartworks.org.uk/what-we-do/art-weeks/ or contact Somerset Art Works via email: paul.newman@somersetartworks.org.uk Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 69


Health&Beauty Virtual visiting in Dorset ALL inpatients at Dorset’s community hospitals and mental health units can now video call loved ones and unite with family and friends, following the launch of a virtual visiting service. The innovative idea was developed by Dorset HealthCare to bring comfort to patients, who are unable to have faceto-face visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients and their loved ones can now request to speak to one another on a hand-held tablet, and a dedicated staff member will make arrangements for a video call. Family members or friends just need to log in to the platform via the Trust’s website at the agreed time. The staff member will be on hand to start the virtual visit for the patient, as well as support them throughout the call where necessary. Members of the Trust’s Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) team are running the project day-to-day in a number of our inpatient wards, after being redeployed to various sites across Dorset. Leading the initiative is Karole Smith, Project Team Manager at Dorset HealthCare. She said: ‘We are very pleased to be able to provide a little bit of joy to both the patients and their loved ones. Seeing a family member or friend face-to-face via a video call will make a big difference at a time they are unable to see each other in the normal way.’ A strict infection, prevention and control process is being followed when using the tablets so patients and staff are protected against spreading the COVID-19 virus. If your family member is a patient at one of the Trust’s community hospitals or mental health inpatient units, you can contact the site directly and request a virtual visiting video call. For contact details, visit www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk 70 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031

One number to help Somerset shielding SOMERSET’S caring communities are urged to keep up the good work and ‘be good neighbours’ for residents continuing to shield as some coronavirus restrictions start to ease. Since the start of the UK lockdown, volunteers and good neighbours have banded together with the NHS, local authorities and voluntary and charity Annie Maw, Lord- organisations to support the most Lieutenant of Somerset vulnerable in the county—and their help is still needed. People who are shielding, because of their age or an underlying health condition, have received further Government advice they need to continue to stay at home and avoid all non-essential face-to-face contact until at least 30 June as they are the most vulnerable to Coronavirus. They should continue to seek help in getting shopping, prescriptions, dog-walking and other essentials and make sure they keep in contact with those who have provided the support so far. Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset is in one of the groups asked to continue shielding. She said: “The thing which unites us is that we have been advised to be especially careful to avoid being exposed to the virus because it might make us extremely unwell. For some of us, to contract Covid-19 might put our life in danger. “I am learning to re-work my life and to find fulfilment in different ways and, surprisingly, this has been a great opportunity to ‘find’ people who I have not known about until now and to support and thank them in a way which would not have formerly been possible. I have also found that there is, at the end of the telephone or email, a great deal of kindness and compassion. None of us are on our own. We have all that we need here in our marvellous county and we will survive this if we stick together.” If you—or anyone in your community needs help—a single phone number is available for Coronavirus related support provided by all five local authorities. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis. Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm. For more information about local authorities’ response to Coronavirus, please check out your District Council web pages or Somerset County Council on www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus For information on how to stay Healthy Happy and Safe during this time, there is lots of information and resources available at: www.healthysomerset.co.uk/covid-19


Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 71


Services&Classified TO LET Room to let. Own bathroom, non smoker quiet location, nr. Seaton. Tel; 0790 959 5245

POSITION WANTED Experienced Mature lady with small dog seeks work with accommodation caring/ housework. Qualified HCA excellent refs Sara 07592396941

PROOFREADING Proofreading, editing, transcription, secretarial for writers and businesses. Excellent references. Penny Dunscombe Apr 20 07825339289.

RESTORATION Furniture restoration. Antiques large and small carefully restored. City and Guilds qualified, ten years experience in local family firm. Phil Meadley 01297 560335

May 20

Experienced, passionate cook available Axminster area. Part-time week days, one off batch cooking or drop off. Excellent references. Please give me (Juliet) a call 07553055787

CURTAINS Little Curtains. Handmade Curtains, Blinds and Cushions. Contact 07443 516141 or 01308 485325 Apr 21

Monthly Quiz –

FOR SALE of the uprights which can be seen in the photo. Pulls along and steers easily. Great garden feature, prop or shop display. 41” long 20 wide.Photos available Hardwood plant £270 01460 55105 display stand, possibly mahogany, custom made A very large industrial storage bin, very well and unique. A heavy made and strong with and sturdy piece of wooden top rails and furniture for inside or out. It is solid hardwood riveted corners. Many uses as clean inside and which will last many years unlike other cheap has grab handles for easy moving. A piece softwood versions. of industrial chic. 20” Overall height 66.5”, wide 41 long and 34 depth of bottom shelf high. Enquire about local 17” and widest point delivery Photo available 19.5”. Enquire about £50 0146055105 local delivery. £90 Photos available 01460 Sheet metal Guillotine Bench mounted, Hand 55105 lever 4half inch blade Vintage French dog East lambrook. £25 cart. A really pretty french made wooden dog 01460 242071 Mob. 07834 550899 cart in good condition, Massey Ferguson just a small piece of Hydraulic Lift (3 point wood broken from one Sofabed. Single. Grey leather. DFS, as new, 145 x 100 folded. £350 Photos available 07837452637

Linkage) Original Trailer Hitch used with Tee Bar East lambrook. £160 01460 242071 Mob. 07834 550899 Finger cutter Bar Blades & Rivots 22 New (McConnel 7 BT/BS) 8 Used good cond. East lambrook. £15 01560 242071 Mob. 07834 550899 Jersey stamp booklets and prestige stamp books (1969-2010). All in mints condition, in album. Real price approximately £380 - £285 Ono. Jersey definitive stamps (1969-2007) all in mint condition. Also jersey postage dues all in mint condition in album (1969-1982) to include all bulletins with inserts. Real price approximately £360 - £265 Ono 01305 820878

Win a book from Little Toller Books

Send in your answer on a postcard, along with your name and address to: Hargreaves Quiz, Marshwood Vale Magazine, Lower Atrim, Bridport, Dorset DT6 5PX. Study the clues contained in the rhyme and look carefully at the signposts to work out which town or village in South Somerset, West Dorset or East Devon is indicated. The first correct answer drawn out of a hat will win a book from local publisher Little Toller Books. There is no cash equivalent and no correspondence will be entered into.

Last month’s answer was Tatworth. The winner was Mr Walcott from Brigewater

72 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031


ELECTRICAL

WANTED Beehive national brood supers wanted. Tel. 07715 557556 Vinyl Records Wanted All types and styles considered. Excellent prices paid. Please Phone Roy 07429 102645 Clocktowermusic.co.uk Bridport

May 20

Wanted: AERO seed fiddle please contact richard.toft@btinternet. com, 01308 424103 or 07740 985906

Postage stamps. Private collector requires 19th and early 20th century British. Payment to you or donation to your nominated charity. 01460 240630. Old sewing machines, typewriters, gramophones, phonographs, records, music boxes, radios. 0777 410 3139. www. thetalkingmachine.co.uk

May 20

Dave buys all types of tools 01935 428975 Jul 20

To advertise on these pages telephone 01308 423031

Wanted to buy - field, or part field and part woodland, any size, to about 5 acres. Not top grade grass. Private, local resident wants to ‘do their bit’ for the environment. Anything considered. Please help. 07508 106910 May 20 Vintage & antique textiles, linens, costume buttons etc. always sought by Caroline Bushell. Tel. 01404 45901.

Jun 20

CHIMNEY SWEEP

Secondhand tools wanted. All trades. Users & Antiques. G & E C Dawson. 01297 23826. www.secondhandtools. co.uk. Oct 20

FREE ADS for items under £1,000 Classified advertising in The Marshwood Vale Magazine is normally 95 pence+VAT per word in a box. This FREE ADS FORM is for articles for sale, where the sale price is under £1000 (Private advertisers only — no trade, motor, animals, firearms etc). Just fill in the form and send it to the Marshwood Vale Magazine, Lower Atrim, Bridport, Dorset DT6 5PX. or email to info@marshwoodvale.com. (Please do not send in all capital letters). Unfortunately due to space constraints there is no guarantee of insertion of free advertising. We reserve the right to withhold advertisements. FOR GUARANTEED CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING PLEASE USE ‘CLASSIFIED ADS’ FORM

Name.....................................................Telephone number ................................. Address................................................................................................................. Town.................................. County.................... Postcode ..................................

Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 73


the Marshwood Vale magazine

MARSHWOOD VALE For West Dorset, South Somerset and East Devon

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THE

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From the Archives of

MAGAZINE June 2005-Issue 75

Sue Macpherson, West Dorset, photograph by Anna Milner

Arts & Entertainment Food & Dining

Gardening Interiors Health & Environment

A Look Back at JUNE

2005 & 2010

in the Marshwood Vale Magazine To advertise in this magazine call 01308 423031 or Email: sales@marshwoodvale.com 74 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031


From the Archives of

Cover story

the Marshwood Vale magazine

Outposts in the community Where to get your Marshwood Vale Magazine

OUTPOSTS is a regular feature where we highlight some of the many outlets that carry your community magazine. Copies are available along the coast from Sidmouth in East Devon to Portland in West Dorset and in towns and villages from Ottery St. Mary to Yeovil. To stock the Magazine telephone 01308 423031.

Sue Macpherson, West Dorset, photograph by Anna Milner

SUE Macpherson was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and lived in a number of different parts of Africa. Sue said, “When I was nine years old and living in Sierra Leone, I was attending a school which had a dilapidated hall with no roof and a swimming pool which frequently contained snakes and frogs. My parents decided at that point that some continuity and stability in my education was going to be necessary and I was sent to boarding school in Taunton, Somerset. On my fourteenth birthday I was given my first camera which quickly led to a desire to learn more about photography. It was thanks to an interested member of staff at Taunton School that I was introduced to the mysteries of dark room work. This inspired a lifelong love of black and white photography.” Sue studied at Harrow College of Art and then, after marriage, at Gloucester College, qualifying for a British Institute of Professional Photography Diploma. “In the years when my three children were small I worked as a freelance photographer and at the

same time qualified as a Design Technology teacher. My teaching commitments, though, grew to the point where for a number of years I had to give up photography. Three years ago I moved to Dorset and I now teach photography part-time at Bryanston School.” The majority of Sue’s work has been black and white portraiture. Over the years she has photographed children and families and has had commissions from magazines such as Oxford Today and The New Scientist. Sue has exhibited her portraits on two occasions. Once privately at Beechwood Park in Hertfordshire which led to an invitation to exhibit her work alongside celebrated photographers such as Patrick Lichfield and Koo Stark, at the inaugural exhibition of the Collyer Bristow Gallery in London. Sue added, “Now that my children have grown up and with my move to Dorset, I have time to work towards the Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society, which has been a lifelong ambition.”

Cerne Abbas Stores, photograph by Robin Mills

Cerne Abbas Stores epitomises a thriving village shop serving a thriving community. Situated in the heart of this historic and picturesque village, it is run by Andrew Farrow, assisted by Jackie Baxter, Barbara Hallett, and Liz Peck. Providing the community with nearly all their shopping needs, the Stores stocks a huge range of groceries, a selection of quality wines, spirits and beers, as well as newspapers and magazines. Photocopy and fax facilities are available also. A visit to the Stores always results in a warm welcome, and a chance to bump into friends and neighbours and catch up on local news and views. Cerne Abbas Stores is open seven days a week, 8.00am to 6.00pm. Tel: 01300 341395.

Gill, Alan and Alec, photograph by Ron Frampton

The history of the Old Inn at Hawkchurch in Devon is well recorded. It was rebuilt in 1547 after being deliberately burnt down along with the parish poor house. In 1806 it was again rebuilt and has continued to be an inn ever since. Originally a church house; nearly every parish had one, it provided for festivities and the brewing and dispensing of ale, also accommodation. Currently, the Old Inn is run by the Pym family who have traded here for 14 years offering a warm welcome, good food, and en-suite guest accommodation. The Inn sits at the northern edge of the Marshwood Vale, in a beautiful rural community. Information: www.hawkchurch.com Tel: 01297 678309. Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 75


From the Archives of

the Marshwood Vale magazine

Images of everyday life Compiled by Ron Frampton

Pam Lewis, photograph by Sue Macpherson

FOR this issue of Images of everyday life, Sue Macpherson met Pam Lewis at her home, Sticky Wicket in Buckland Newton, Dorset. This is Pam’s story: “I grew up in the Hampshire countryside with a passion for animals and wildflowers. I might have pursued my early academic interest in Botany and Art if I had not been a rebellious teenager, irresistibly drawn to a working life outdoors. With the benefit of some formal training in equestrian skills, agriculture, horticulture and garden design, I have spent all my life working on the land and I continue to closely observe, record and enjoy the natural world around me. My husband, Peter, and I met in 1980 when we both worked on a thousand acre country estate near Winchester. As Peter was a reserved man who hated fuss, we decided in 1985 to marry at Gretna Green. This enabled us to mark the occasion with significant drama and romance, without all the long drawn out complications of a family wedding. We set off very early one winter morning after stock feeding. The country lay under deep snow and traveling was strongly advised against. I remember picking up a shovel as we left and then thought, as we were going by rail, this would only be of use if I was prepared to dig the train out. Against all odds we successfully reached Gretna Green, were married and had a memorable celebration of cake and champagne on a beach with snow drifting around us. We were back at the farm by three the next morning in time for milking. 76 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031

We gradually became refugees from the farming world after twice being made redundant due to farm sales and moved to Sticky Wicket in Buckland Newton in 1986. Our ambition was to use our newly acquired five acres of land productively – in every sense. Early plans and attempts to make a herb and goat farm, were abandoned when we recognised our lack of talent in marketing skills. Keeping a few goats and growing herbs for domestic purposes was a token reminder of our much missed farming life. We started to pursue our plans to make a garden which would embrace our combined interests in the conservation of native plants and wildlife and at the same time be aesthetically pleasing and stimulating. The combination of aspirations worked together rewardingly and surprisingly rapidly; the garden was first opened to the public in 1989 and immediately caught the attention of the media who were particularly attracted to our harmonious use of colour. Sticky Wicket has been featured in books and magazines every year since and on television several times. Since the 1980s we have been creating and managing many gardens and wildflower meadows, increasingly focusing on projects where a naturalistic approach and the conservation of wildlife and wildflowers are of the essence. My interest in meadows began during the twenty years I was actively involved with the management of grassland. This gave me the experience needed for several projects of a more domestic nature including the two

acres of our own restored and newly created meadows. One of the hardest aspects of my conservation work has been the necessity to inform the local community of its great importance. There is only two percent of species-rich grassland left in this country, yet I have been constantly challenged by how to convey the desperate need to save our local flora and associated fauna. I have even had to mount moonlit salvage operations to save a patch of meadow turf. About six years ago I started writing a book about Sticky Wicket. When I came to the chapter on wildflower meadows I found that it just grew, and it became obvious that it needed to be a separate book. I therefore wrote, Making Wildflower Meadows, which was published in 2003 whilst my first book was put on the back boiler. Sadly, Peter was diagnosed with cancer in March 2004 and died three months later. He wanted me to finish my book as a record of our achievements with wildlife conservation and in the hope that the beauty he had helped create would inspire others. I have at last managed to do that and the book, Sticky Wicket: Gardening in Tune with Nature, is published this June. I feel it is a fitting tribute to Peter and closes a chapter on a significant part of our life together. Now another beginning can be made. My honorary daughter has just given birth to my honorary grandchild; but there lies a whole new story.”


From the Archives of

the Marshwood Vale magazine

Historic impressions Combe Florey Church

Combe Florey Church, Somerset, photograph by Margaret Wall

SOMERSET is blessed with many colourful and evocative place names, but Combe Florey must be one of the most attractive, summoning up a vision of a remote rural idyll. Although the village lies just six and a half miles north west of Taunton, not far from the busy Minehead road, it has managed to retain an air of quiet seclusion that more than fulfils the promise of its name. This view of the church of St Peter and St Paul illustrates how well the beautiful buildings that make up the village are hidden and protected by the surrounding wooded hills. The close connection with the land is emphasized by the material from which the church was constructed, a locally quarried red sandstone of a rich, deep colour that has given such a distinctive character to the buildings of this area. Over many centuries there has been an equally close relationship between the principal families of the manor, the village and the church. The first mention of the village was in 1110 when Baldwin de Cume, or Combe, lived here, his name probably deriving from the Celtic word cwim or combe, meaning valley. He took his name from the locality, but it was his Norman successors in the time of King Stephen (113454), Hugh de Flori or Flory and his son Randolf, who gave the village its name. A church at Combe Florey was first mentioned in 1292, and the earliest monument is a heart shrine from the second half of the 13th century that contains the heart of a nun from Cannington Priory, Maud de Merriette. Sir Simon de Meriet of Hestercombe and Merriott

and his wife Lucy came to live in the Manor House at about that time, but the family link between the two is open to conjecture. The small heart shrine lies in a wall just above the three stone effigies of Sir John de Meriet, the eldest son of Sir Simon, who died in 1327, and his two wives Mary and Elizabeth. These effigies, which were once painted, were most probably brought from Bristol to Taunton by water, and thence transported to Combe Florey by wagon. Much rebuilding work, including the construction of the tower, took place in 1480 in the perpendicular style, during the time of the Fraunceis family. They succeeded the de Meriets in 1400 and lived at Combe Florey for almost 400 years, with generations of family members commemorated in tombs and brasses. These are amongst the many memorials to be found in the church that give witness to the important families and personalities who influenced this community. The east window above the altar is dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Sidney Smith, who was rector of Combe Florey from 1829 until his death in 1845. This celebrated wit, scholar, society preacher, author and co-founder of the Edinburgh Review seems an unlikely incumbent of a rural rectory, particularly as he once famously described the country as "a kind of healthy grave", but he took his duties as a parish priest most seriously, ministering to the physical as well as to the spiritual wants of his flock, and was much loved by them. He must have provided great entertainment for the village with

the many eminent and fashionable members of society who came to stay at the rectory, and was well known for his practical jokes, once attaching antlers to his donkeys when one of his guests lamented the absence of deer in the rectory grounds. He did have his serious side and was a great campaigner for Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform. The track that leaves the churchyard by the kissing gate and climbs the hill is the private path that leads to the present Combe Florey Manor House. The original building was in a lower position near the gatehouse that dates from 1593, once a more extensive, fourstoreyed structure. The present Manor House was first constructed in its elevated position in 1679, with a new front added in 1730. In 1956 it brought another great man of letters to the village, Evelyn Waugh, who was seeking a quiet retreat away from the public eye. He had a collection of Victorian narrative paintings (very unfashionable at that time) and took much pleasure in decorating and furnishing the large rooms in a flamboyant Victorian manner, even commissioning Wilton to make a replica of one of the more striking carpets from the Great Exhibition. He spent the last 10 years of his life there and now lies buried, with his wife Laura beside him, in the small walled plot visible in the photograph. Story by Margaret Wall Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; Oxford Book of Quotations; Literary Strolls in Wiltshire and Somerset, Gordon Ottewell; South and West Somerset, Nicolas Pevsner; Visitors Guide to the Church of St Peter and St Paul Combe Florey. Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 77


From the Archives of

the Marshwood Vale magazine

Marshwood The

Vale Magazine

June 2010 Issue 135

FREE

Eva Harvey, photograph by Robin Mills

For West Dorset, South Somerset and East Devon thebestfrominandaroundthevalethebestfrominandaroundthevale 78 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 Tel. 01308 423031


From the Archives of Robin Mills went to Corscombe, West Dorset to meet Eva Harvey. This is her story. “My memories of wartime Weymouth are quite vivid, where I lived as a child. We were on Wyke Road, and I can remember bombed houses, and American soldiers giving my sister and me chewing gum. My mother worked on the buses, she was a clippie, and I didn’t really know my father, who was in the army. By the time I was 4, I’d had all the diseases around at the time; scarlet fever, pneumonia, diphtheria. I can remember being in hospital, in a cot, looking through the bars waiting for the bedtime sweetie to come round. My mother later married a bus driver, my stepfather, who was a really nice man. They had three boys together, so I’ve got three half-brothers. Mum’s family came from Wareham, where they had a greengrocer and florist’s shop next to the Black Bear, and one of the joys of my young life was going to stay there. I’d help with wiring the flowers to make the wreaths, and go into the woods to collect moss. We were treated like grown-ups, never being told when to go to bed, always having fun; they’d take us cycling to Arne or Corfe Castle. My parents moved around a lot, always trying to better their lot, which meant I went to seven different junior schools. Then I passed a scholarship and got into Bishop Fox’s school in Taunton as a boarder. I was always a bit short of things I needed, like socks, my parents being rather hard up, but I did enjoy my two years there, and I think it did me quite a lot of good. Then my parents moved to Yeovil, and I went to Yeovil High School where I did my GCE’s. I would have loved to do A levels and go to University, but we were a big family and money was short; we all had to work. Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of my life, but at the time I was quite disappointed. The head teacher at my school actually offered to pay my Mum £1 a week to allow me to stay on, but it wasn’t to be. Then someone at my Youth Club mentioned a job going in the Borough Surveyor’s drawing office. So I just went along, and was offered the job, simple as that. I was tracing plans, and doing lots of lettering, which was all done by hand of course in those days. Women had to wear skirts and nylons to work then, even when we were out on site; when the fashion for thick tights came in, I leapt into those – no more chilblains in winter. I’m constantly aware of how wonderful a time it was to be growing up. The music, which was so central to our lives, seemed to happen so suddenly, with Elvis, and rock and roll, and I’m still a huge fan; I’ve got all Bob Dylan’s music, even recordings of all his Theme Time radio shows. Fashion designers like Mary Quant, and Foale and Tuffin, were so important to our culture, the culture of young people. You could only buy white tee-shirts then, and I was so excited to

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and that gave us lots of scope to turn it into something nice. Then we managed to buy the adjoining four acre field with an old stone farm building, and that really made the place; we eventually converted the building into a house for our son Saul and his family. I worked in the Borough Surveyors for 5 years, and then a job came up in the planning department. It was amazing the responsibility they gave me in those days. They sent me to Wincanton to plan a bypass route: I walked across fields making notes and sketches, on my own, and there it now is, the Wincanton bypass. It was me who decided where it went! I worked there for 5 years, until Saul was born in 1966. I enjoyed it all, and the fact that I left school early wasn’t bad for me at all because I was determined to keep learning all the time, and went to evening classes, doing geology, archaeology, French, Tai Chi, pottery. I’m still like that, I listen to Radio 4 Eva and Ray on the beach at West Bay and read a lot, and every day I hope to learn something new. get my first tee-shirt with a design on it, the Originally we got into the stone business first Rolling Stones one, but that wasn’t until through a friend who was extracting ham 1966. When Ray and I started going out, he stone from Ham Hill, but needed somewhere was an apprentice at Westlands. We’d all to saw it up. We got permission to install the meet up at the Cadena Café in Yeovil, but equipment here, and over 20 years or so the one of our friends had a flat in West Bay, on business grew; we got our own quarry on Pier Terrace. He had the most wonderful colHam Hill in 1982, which had been unused lection of jazz records, and soon it became for 100 years. It’s such a beautiful place, the the obsession for all of us – to get to West biggest Iron Age hill fort in Britain. We were Bay for the weekend. If I couldn’t get a lift quarrying, sawing and selling ham stone, and there, I’d catch the train down. My mother then got into building houses. I didn’t start the was disapproving, I think she thought I was lettering until about 1984, although I still feel going out with all these chaps, but it was just like a beginner. It was a natural progression a lovely crowd of people. West Bay was a from the work in drawing offices, but I still working port then, there were cargo boats, use my guide for the proportions of the letfrom Germany, and Norway, and we’d go to ters from my school art classes in Yeovil. Ray parties on board. We had a skiffle group, and and I were so busy we sometimes even took we played at the George, the Bridport Arms, separate holidays, but were still very involved and the New Inn at Eype. I didn’t play, but with music. The house was always full of always went along for the ride, and we’d get musicians at weekends; Stu and his friends, invited to play at parties. We would spend all like Alexis Korner and Charlie Watts, would day on the beach; thunderstorms were great, play at Eype and other places, and in the early everybody wanted to swim in a thunderstorm. ‘80s it took off, with bands like Diz and the I remember one weekend when there were Doormen, Juice on the Loose, the Balham about 30 people sleeping in that tiny flat; Alligators, Rocket 88, and Blues’n Trouble, on the stairs, under the table, it was crazy. at venues like Evershot Village Hall, West One of those people was Stu, Ian Stewart Mead at Bridport, and the Bell Inn at Ash. We the pianist, who became a great friend; he were putting the musicians up here and feedwas known as the 6th Rolling Stone. Word ing them, so being surrounded by musicians, was beginning to spread, through people like music, and instruments obviously had a big him, of the West Dorset music scene, so we influence on daughter Polly. She was writing got to know more and more musicians. songs right from her early teens, and it fills Ray and I got married on Boxing Day me with pride to think what she and Saul have 1959, at Corscombe Church – and we’ve achieved in their lives. just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. It was always our ambition to have our Mother was living in Corscombe at that time, own place on Pier Terrace in West Bay, and and she knew of a rather dilapidated cottage 15 years ago we managed to buy a flat there. with four rooms. Being next to the Fox Inn, of So we still have our weekends away, and one course Ray saw the potential. It had been quite day we’ll manage to spend 2 nights there a big house but there’d been a fire, and then instead of just one, when we’re not so busy. someone had turned it into a bungalow, so it But then I’ve always been busy at what I really wasn’t very inviting. Anyway, it came love; rock, and stone, that’s me.” with an acre and a little stream ran through it,

Robin Mills met Eva Harvey in Corscombe

Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 79


From the Archives of

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From the Archives of

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tom toomey TOM Toomey isn’t the first and no doubt won’t be the last person to cite Jimi Hendrix as the reason he plays guitar and like so many of his generation he is also a self-taught musician. “There weren’t any music teachers in those days” he says. “The only person that ever showed me a guitar lick was Adrian Fisher, who I used to go to school with, he went on to form the band Sparks. But all we had was Bert Weedon’s Play in a Day and I’ve always said, if it’s good enough for Eric Clapton it’s good enough for me!” Although he claims he ‘fumbled around’ playing guitar in his youth, Tom managed to gain more than a degree of proficiency and participated in and survived the heady London music scene, eventually becoming a guitar teacher himself. Since he didn’t receive much encouragement - ‘get a proper job Tom’ was the standard mantra in his memory - he has concentrated much of his teaching to help kids. “I don’t teach so much now” he says. “but I’ve really encouraged kids, especially those with real talent, to just get out there and do it and there’s a lot of my ex-pupils now out there making a living”. 2005 is a big year for Tom. Apart from playing and co-organising ‘The Party at the Castle’ in Sherborne in June, putting on his annual charity concert ‘Music for Africa’ at Montacute House in July and the first Folk, Blues & Jazz Festival also at Montacute House in August, he is making his first solo album. His first CD, ‘Iron on Stone’, a collaboration with Simon Swarbrick, Roger Frost and John Burton, although eight years old, showcases the versatility and talent that has led him to work as a session musician with people like Sir Cliff Richard, Colin Blunstone, Chas Chandler, Leo Sayer, Jon Anderson, Midge Ure, Slade and Smokie, to name a few. Although he has played guitar on so many sessions, Tom has only ‘thrust’ his voice onto the public in the last three years. His new album features a selection of original songs and should be ready by August. It’s hard to imagine where he will get the time to fit in recording an album between the constant gigging and the three major events he is organising this Summer - but Tom Toomey is not short of energy, confidence or enthusiasm. ‘The Party at the Castle’, in Sherborne in June, is part of the Sherborne 2005 festival and features his old friend Colin Blunstone as well as Ben Waters and Chris Jagger, ex-Producers Bill Sheffield and Dave Saunders, and Zoe Schwarz and Rob Koral. Cut Collective, Sirius B and the Fat Marrow Blues Band will also join line-ups that play over two nights. For further information visit www. mumboduck.co.uk or telephone the 24 hour box office on 01935 815341.

The 7th annual ‘Music for Africa’ event, which moved to Montacute House from it’s original site at Hazlebury Mill, has now grown into a much respected musical event in the area. As Tom admits, the background to how ‘Music for Africa’ started could keep him talking for hours. It all began when he went to South Africa to see an ex-girlfriend who was with the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). Seeing the living conditions and difficulties faced by people living there he sponsored a child to go to school for a year. The cost was £1.50. “It blew me away” says Tom. “Then I went to see the school and found there was no music and no possibility of music education”. He went back to England, raised some money and took some guitars and clothes etc and gave them to the community. “I found someone who played guitar and taught someone else”, he remembers, “but the only way it was really going to work was if I could teach the teachers. So one year I went over and five or six schools sent hand-picked teachers to me and I ran a workshop for them. Now, to cut a long story short, we have built three classrooms and have more than seventy children learning music. We’re doing so much more than teaching kids to play guitar. We’re also developing their pride and self esteem; we’re nurturing their determination and ambition as well as giving them a possible means of earning a living. Thirty seven per cent of the population are under 15 years old, so the more we can do for this age group now, the better, because we’re helping the future generation of a nation that’s struggling to rebuild itself.” The importance of the ‘Music for Africa’ event continues to grow. This years line-up includes The Fake Beatles on Friday July 15th and the Rollin Clones on Saturday 16th. Tom’s other band Jingo Santana will be headlining on the Saturday night. “I don’t normally headline at this event but they twisted my arm this time” quips Tom. On the August bank holiday weekend, Tom and his business partner in Mumbo Duck will stage the first Folk, Blues & Jazz Festival at Montacute House in Somerset. The line up over the weekend has something for everyone even including local and national favourites ‘Show of Hands’. A Sunday afternoon concert includes the soulful jazz sounds of Zoe Schwarz and Rob Koral as well as the fantastic piano of Paddy Milner. With a real ale tent, traditional, ethnic and vegetarian food available the whole weekend is hotting up to be a memorable musical event. For more information on this and the other events visit www.mumboduck.co.uk and to find further information and a gig list for Tom visit www.tomtoomey.me.uk.

Tom Toomey, photograph by Dianne Dowling Tel. 01308 423031 The Marshwood Vale Magazine June 2020 81


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Arts

Entertainment

Sir Neville Marriner It is said that the job of an orchestra conductor is to create perfect harmony without saying a word. Fergus Byrne went to meet Sir Neville Marriner, and found a conductor who is still in perfect harmony with his art.

ŠSir Neville Marriner, photograph by Ron Frampton

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SIR Neville Marriner is one of those rare men who seem to utterly defy the aging process. When I met him in April he was about to celebrate his eighty-sixth birthday and his attitude to life was like that of a man half his age. As we strolled around his Somerset home he enthused about his family, his career as a conductor and his collection of contemporary art, with an obviously genuine modesty and an engaging charm. He cites his home, and Devon, the county he has chosen to live in, as a major re energising factor that allows him to travel the world, working at a pace that most of us would find impossible. We’re only in Spring and he rattles off a list of locations where he has conducted this year already – Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles – “and of course we spent some time in Australia also” he says as an afterthought. According to his wife Molly, they have been on five continents in five months. He is amused by a booking in the diary for a month in Tokyo in 2012 “I think there’s some fascination about geriatric conductors,” he laughs. “To imagine that at this great age I might still be able to stand up and do a month’s work in some foreign parts is hard to believe”. Yet for all his high profile conducting work and travel to exotic locations, he still manages to make time for local engagements. He is proud of his local activities saying, “I’ve conducted the local orchestra in Axminster and one in Seaton and I’m conducting the chorus in Axminster this Summer.” He points out that “being here you don’t get any of the professional pressures, don’t even get a decent signal on the mobile phone, so it’s quite peaceful. It means I can do most of my preparations for concerts and things down here.” An annual cricket match between Chardstock Cricket Club, of which he is President, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra, is also a highlight of his year. He is also patron and a great supporter of the Beaminster Festival. This year he will discuss his long career in music and the story behind the legendary Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra with Christian Tyler, the journalist and author, whose book Making Music – Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, has recently been published. It should be a discussion that anyone who has read the book, or is familiar with Sir Neville’s charm and infectious sense of humour will relish. Born in Lincoln, the son of a builder who had a passion for music, he remembers live music as a constant in his youth. “Before I ever picked up an instrument at all I don’t think I went to bed without music going on around the house.” He remembers his father as a strong Methodist who played piano and violin, “rather badly” and conducted the church choirs. His father bought him his first violin and taught him until he was about 11, by which time Sir Neville was winning medals at local music competitions. At sixteen he got a scholarship to the Royal College of Music as a violin player. After a short spell in the army he went to the Conservatoire in Paris, where he admits he may have learned more about life than he did about playing the violin. Although he never intended to be anything other than a

violin player, his conducting career was to change his life completely. He recalls meeting a lady who used to sign his cheques when he did work for the BBC, earlier in his career. She remembered how she wrote them out for four guineas, five guineas, eight, twelve, fifteen and twenty and then said ‘I don’t know if you ever got beyond twenty!’ Contrast this with what Sir Neville describes as his ‘fantasy life’ when he was first flown over to California to become musical director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. “I remember thinking how very extravagant it was to be sent on an aeroplane” he says. “When we got there we were met by a limousine about as long as a bus and driven into this palatial establishment in Beverley Hills. I remember it was evening time and there were blue lights over the swimming pool and recorded music coming out of the trees. And the house was completely made of glass. It was where one of the Marx Brothers had lived I think. There were all sorts of strange film people in the houses around us.” He recalls how his next door neighbour’s monkey got loose one day and was chased through the garden by assorted gardeners, a little girl and a butler, fully clothed in butlers uniform. Last year Sir Neville and his fellow musicians in the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra celebrated 50 years together. Their story, and that of Sir Neville’s extraordinary life, are well documented and celebrated in various publications, as well as in an excellent book by his daughter Susie Harries and her husband Merion, and now in a new book by Christian Tyler. However the story carries on. His son Andrew is principal clarinet in the London Symphony Orchestra and as Sir Neville puts it, “He has a crazier life than me! Today he is in Dubai for two concerts and then the day after tomorrow he is in Bombay – its quite extraordinary to be able to do that.” Sir Neville was recently commissioned by the 76 year old billionaire American composer Gordon Getty to conduct a piece of music he had written. “He flew over in his private plane with his guests for the recording and afterwards gave a grand dinner party in a hotel for everyone involved. We got past the first course and suddenly he called ‘silence, silence, silence...’ and he stood up and started singing an aria from one of the better known Italian operas. So he sat down and we all clapped. That was all fine until then he stood up and did it again before the pudding!” One suspects that Sir Neville Marriner’s ability to see and enjoy humour throughout his life has armed him with endless anecdotes from what one might call the classical equivalent of a rock and roll lifestyle. Gentler perhaps, compared to more modern excesses, but like the music it presented it has more depth, texture and substance than much of what we hear today. Making Music – Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, by Christian Tyler is published by Unicorn Press ISDN 9 781906 509040. Sir Neville Marriner – in conversation with Christian Tyler is at St Mary’s Beaminster at 6.30pm on Thursday 1 July.

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Marshwood+ June 2020  

More of the best from in and around the Vale

Marshwood+ June 2020  

More of the best from in and around the Vale

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