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Mendip Times

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Celebrating life on the Mendips and surrounding areas



Local people, local history, local places, local events and local news

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Telephone: 01761 417654 Facsimile: 01761 417207 email:

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Units 1–6 Fourth Avenue Westfield Industrial Estate Midsomer Norton Radstock BA3 4XE

Offering the complete service for 30 years



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MENDIP is one of the few places where you can enjoy spectacular scenery both above and below ground – this month we celebrate both. We’ve news of a new long-distance footpath created by Mendip Ramblers, which takes you 117 miles around the boundary of the district, while Phil Hendy has news of an updated version of Mendip Underground, a 485-page guide to the area’s caves, mines and quarries. This month we join the celebrations for the 125th anniversary of the Somerset Rugby Referees Society, the oldest in the world, and we’ve been out wassailing, which is of course crucial to the success of this year’s apple crop. As we continue to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, we meet the man who has discovered his grandfather’s secret wartime diaries, now published in a book. Can you help us identify some of the men from Mendip who went off to war? We preview the new Point to Point season and give you the chance to win tickets to the Westcountry Game Fair next month. And Dr Phil Hammond reveals some of the secrets of comedy. With all of our regular contributors and features, let us lead you towards the arrival of spring. March 2014 deadline: Friday, 14th February 2014. Published: Tuesday, 25th February 2014. Editorial: Steve Egginton Mark Adler Advertising: Ann Quinn Marjorie Page Publisher: Mendip Times Limited Coombe Lodge, Blagdon, Somerset BS40 7RG Contacts: For all enquiries, telephone:

01761 463888 or: email or: Design and origination by: Steve Henderson Printed by: Precision Colour Printing, Haldane, Halesfield 1, Telford, Shropshire TF7 4QQ Copyright of editorial content held by Mendip Times Ltd. and its contributors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the express permission of the Publisher. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or its associates.

Front cover: Cam Valley Morris at Kilmersdon Wassail. Photograph by Mark Adler (see page 27).


Mendip gateway – ramblers ring the changes


Apple of their eye – Erin is Wassail queen


Mice to see you – dancers are the cat’s whiskers


Catch us if you can – rugby club’s stadium plans

Plus all our regular features Environment...................................6 Farming Mary James MBE..........10 Arts & Antiques ...........................12 Food & Drink...............................18 Internet and Crossword..............26 Business ........................................28 Charities .......................................36 Wildlife Chris Sperring MBE .......40 Walking Sue Gearing....................42 Outdoors Les Davies MBE ..........44

Gardening Mary Payne MBE ......46 Caving Phil Hendy........................49 Family Mendip Mum....................52 Health Dr Phil Hammond.............52 Community Simon Selby .............54 Homes and Interiors....................62 Music.............................................69 Riding Celia Gadd ........................70 Sport..............................................74 What’s On ....................................77 MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 3

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Accommodation available now with full en-suite Court House is a very special place to live, the very fact that it is made up of different areas of accommodation adds to its attraction. e Main House with gracious large rooms with full en-suite looking out onto different aspects and personalized with Resident’s own furniture and pictures etc. A spacious Drawing Room with doors to a covered veranda and patio area leading onto lawns and flower beds. e Courtyard which has lovely vaulted accommodation with full en-suite and cleverly concealed kitchenettes where Residents can make a cup of tea or a snack for themselves or their guests and small raised gardens so that the people living there may, if they so wish plant and tend their own flowers. e lovely cottage accommodation full of character with a large Victorian style conservatory looking towards St. Andrews Church and doors opening out from a lovely sitting room to a tranquil garden. Putting all of this together with the very special care given by dedicated staff that respect and give privacy and dignity to all who live here, you can see why people who come to live at Court House are so happy to have found this very special place.

Respite Care also available

“One of the most beautiful and well kept retirement homes I’ve ever seen”. – e Photographer

Please contact Chris Dando 01934 742131 Website:

Our Services Include: Commercial and Residential Property Wills and Probate Litigation and Personal Injury Criminal and Family Law Agricultural, Business and Commercial Employment Shepton Mallet: 57 High Street, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 5AQ. Tel: 01749 343091

Glastonbury: 11 Chilkwell Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8DL. Tel: 01458 832510

We, like so many businesses, send out client satisfaction surveys at the end of a transaction. We too receive such surveys and are often tempted to ignore the request as completing the survey is time consuming and it will probably be ignored anyway. However that is not true. Today our Managing Partner Dervla Nash had the task of reviewing the results of our surveys and was extremely pleased that the overall service clients felt they had received was excellent with most confirming they would recommend us to family and friends and would use us again themselves. She was particularly touched by the kind and thoughtful comments made about individual members of staff who had been involved in helping clients and had given them great care and attention at what can be very stressful and difficult times. We do not always realise how we are affecting others in our dealings with them but we do try to ensure our clients feel they have been listened to, their concerns taken on board and that they have been given a thorough and professional service but with a personal touch. e results also highlighted some areas that could be improved and we are taking those suggestions on board and putting many of them into place. We do not ignore the results of the surveys we receive and are very grateful to those clients who take the time to complete them. We are always striving to ensure we give our clients the best service we can and your input is a vital part of ensuring we know how we are doing and improving those areas that need to be improved. Without our clients we would not have a firm so we want to say a very big thank you to all of our clients for their continued support and faith in us and the service we give. We also want to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year. We have chosen a picture of our partner Gareth and his elf Louise at this year’s Christmas Meal for you all to enjoy.

Castle Cary: Old Bank House, High Street, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7AW. Tel: 01963 350888

Cheddar: Roley House, Church Street, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3RA. Tel: 01934 745400


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Flower fund

FARMBOROUGH Floral Art Group raised £1,200 last year for the RUH New Oncology Unit Forever Friends Appeal by selling greeting cards made by committee member Doreen Cole, with a coffee morning at the home of chairman, Ann Bevan, and with its very successful flower festival in Farmborough Church in September. The group’s president, Jenny Barnett, is pictured with Ann Bevan, presenting a cheque to Laura Pearce, representative of the R.U.H. Charity Appeal. For details of club events: call 01761 414045.

Campaign launches community trust

A SUCCESSFUL campaign to fight plans for a travellers’ camp at Stanton Wick has lead to the formation of the Pensford, Publow and Stanton Community Trust, which now raises funds for good causes locally. The Stanton Wick Action Group was started to fund a legal fight against the camp at the old colliery in the village. The trust has been formed from that and has launched a 100 Club, which has just held its first annual draw. Chris Dando of Stanton Drew and Gerald Tidcombe of Pensford shared the prize pot of £ 2,430. Sue Osborne, who is administrator of the club, said: “This community has shown how much it cares and has for many years shown how capable we are in helping each other. The Community Trust will be the focal point for what is a remarkable community spirit from some remarkable people.” Winners Gerald and Glenda Tidcombe are pictured with (l to r) Liz Richardson, Vic Pritchard, Ken Payne, treasurer, and chairman, Andrew Hillman.


Tea for two? Make that 100!

Time for tea: members of the Inner Wheel club at the start of the party

ALMOST 100 elderly guests gathered for a traditional tea party in Midsomer Norton to celebrate Inner Wheel Day – an annual event to celebrate the work of the voluntary organisation. Organised by Club president Brenda Whitchurch is pictured the Inner Wheel with 104-year-old Margaret Duffy, thought to Club of be the oldest living resident of Midsomer Midsomer Norton Norton and Radstock, the event at the Somer centre included games of bingo, a raffle and live entertainment. This year celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Inner Wheel movement. The Midsomer Norton club is in its 51st year and boasts around 30 members. More are always welcome.

Food bank on the move

THE Cheddar Valley Plus food bank has a new storage facility at Unit 10, Wessex Business Centre, Wedmore Road, Cheddar BS27 3EB, behind Vado. The new unit has more storage space and will be open to accept donations of food on Saturdays between 9am and 12noon initially. The Food Bank has now permanent collection points for donations of food at Budgens in Cheddar the Co-op in Axbridge. Donations can also be dropped off to all parish churches in the Cheddar Valley and the churches of Winscombe, Sandford and Wrington and Axbridge Farmers Market. Anyone needing help should be directed first to the Citizens Advice Bureau at Cheddar Baptist Church on Mondays. They will issue vouchers from 9.30am-12.30am. Details: or phone 07922 309369 or 07922 308154


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THE team behind the Quarry Faces living history project is appealing for more help to discover what working life was like at Sandford Quarry. The community heritage project is working to record and celebrate the history of quarrying on Mendip and is currently researching a number of quarries to the West. It is working with Sandford Heritage Centre to try to find out more. Ruth Worsley, the projects education coordinator, said: “We have had an

The plant in Sandford quarry in 1925 with the company’s locomotive (Finetta) in the foreground Vobster Quarry in 1933

Hilliers Quarry at Nunney

excellent response for information about the quarries at Batscombe, Callow, and Chelmscombe. However there appears to be little information available about Sandford which was working into the 1970s.“We are appealing for any photographs, artefacts or even memories from former quarry workers to help piece together the story of Sandford.” In March, Quarry Faces will be putting on its largest exhibition to date, which will be on display in Frome Museum from Tuesday, March 11th until the end of May.

(Photograph courtesy of Paul Rossiter)

Sandford Quarry – historians appeal for help

A “Talking Tea Shop” event will also be held in Frome on Saturday, March 1st, from 2.30pm at St Catherine’s Hall in Park Road. The event will include an illustrated talk about the fascinating past of several of the former quarries in the Frome area. Quarry Faces is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Mendip Quarry Producers (Aggregate Industries, Hanson Heidelberg, Morris & Perry, Tarmac Lafarge, and Wainwright), the Mendip Hills AONB, and Somerset Community Foundation.

The project is keen for people to contact them with any more photos, information and to share memories. For details of events, or to find out more about Quarry Faces, visit or ring 01761 232898. PAGE 6 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

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Plastic fantastic

AN engineering company from Frome has helped to boost the recycling credentials of a national supermarket chain. Protomax has developed and patented its own range of machinery to take waste plastics and other materials and turn them into new products. ASDA has begun taking delivery of unique battery recycling bins made from old coat hangers and other thrownaway plastics from their own stores. So far, 20 ASDA stores are using the bins – shaped like a battery – with a plan to roll them out in other store locations across the UK. The project is the latest association between Protomax and ASDA after the company made table tops and payment reception desks from recycled waste for the supermarket giant. Protomax's general manager Mark Lloyd said: "We are proud to be the only company to have developed and patented its own range of machinery and processes to upcycle mixed plastic waste and we're pleased to cement our relationship with ASDA who continue to endorse and have faith in our products. "Our products are tough, weather proof and flexible but most importantly they offer closed loop upcycling for our customers and their waste." Protomax uses waste products ranging from carpets, sweet wrappings, coffee machine foil cartons and leftover products from discarded airbags in cars in its products. They include items such as furniture, table tops and shower cubicles. The company also provides materials for military and protective use, including letter bomb disposal containers and

Mark Lloyd, general manager at Protomax, presents one of the battery bins to services manager Emma Perrett at ASDA's Frome store.

bulletproof cladding for armoured vehicles as well as blood transportation boxes.

Wurzels’ boss – stop the turbine coming to Laverton VILLAGERS living on the site of one of the last battles to take place on English soil are gearing up for another fight. Norton St Philip, near Frome, was the scene of a battle in 1685 which turned the tide against the forces of the Monmouth Rebellion. Now opponents of a 66 metre-high wind turbine proposed for the outskirts of the village, in Laverton, are on the warpath. Sil Willcox, the manager of the Wurzels, is leading the campaign. He said: “We are worried about the impact on the value of all property in its vicinity, the massive visual impact on the beautiful countryside it will inhabit, the true health and noise impact on all residents from 400m to two kilometres from the turbine and the huge detrimental effect on wildlife and equestrian pursuits surrounding the site." Norton St Philip was the scene of conflict in 1685 when the march of rebels was stopped in its tracks, nine

Sil and Fi Willcox who oppose the wind turbine at Laverton

days before the Battle of Sedgemoor; Judge Jefferies returned to the village later during his Bloody Assizes to execute 12 locals who took part. G Opponents of a proposed solar panel farm near Doulting have won their campaign against the development.

Mendip District Council voted against the plan. A planning inspector ruled that the site of the solar farm near Ingsdon Hill – 22,000 panels were proposed – was unsuitable. Another scheme at Kilmersdon has also been rejected. MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 7

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Lords – and Ladies – of the ring By Mark Adler

MENDIP ramblers have completed one of the most ambitious projects in their history – to identify a circular walk around the Mendip district council boundary. The long-distance Mendip Ring – 117 miles in total – uses mostly existing footpaths and rights of way and follows the boundary as closely as possible. Unlike other long-distance paths such as the West Mendip Way, the Mendip Ring has no official designation but the ramblers hope people will still be attracted to it for walking holidays and short breaks. The idea of creating the circular walk was first discussed seven years ago but it has only been in the last six months that work to research the route and to waymark it was carried out in detail. The ring has been divided into nine separate sections and, as well as waymarking the correct route, the ramblers have also put up stickers warning walkers if they are heading on the wrong path. The ramblers are not content to stop at creating the ring – they hope that one day it will resemble a series of interlocking chains offering a series of circular routes connected to each other. They also hope the walk will inspire people in individual communities to “adopt” a section of the route and help to maintain it. Bob Barry, from the Mendip group, said: “The route offers walkers a chance to see Mendip in all its various guises, from the Look out for The Mendip Ring logo Levels to the Mendip Hills.”

The Mendip Ring has its own website and features a timeline of the area’s history, compiled by historian and keen archaeologist Margaret Nuth, from Frome. Margaret said: “Part of the appeal is that you are always walking over or past so much history.”

All in a day’s work

The ramblers prepare for a morning’s work in Butleigh

MUCH of the work to identify and waymark the Mendip Ring was carried out by members of the group’s regular work party. These photos were taken at Butleigh where they were replacing stiles with gates. The work has been welcomed by Butleigh Parish Council. Its chairman, Alan Carr, is keen to see more use of the footpaths around the village and organised a series of walks for people to explore the area.




For more information, visit:

The American jet stream

PEOPLE do say that whatever happens in the United States, we’ll get next – whether that’s rock and roll or the weather! with DAVID That may go MAINE some way to explaining the plight of people affected by the floods on the Somerset Levels and Moors. The five-day forecasts for North American cities have been making quite interesting reading recently. New York, for example, might have had a forecast of 11º degrees Celsius one day with rain, then -2˚C the next day with heavy snow and much the same went for Boston. Chicago, being inland, was even more dramatic: +1˚C one day and then -19˚C the next. Even in the far south I


think I saw -21˚C for Dallas one day then +8˚C the next with a sharp frost at -6˚C overnight! It must be a fascinating place to live if you’re interested in meteorology, but not for the fainthearted! The reason for these big temperature fluctuations from one day to the next was that there was a very large temperature contrast (we call it a temperature gradient) between the warm south and the more northern states and Canada (you will have read in the press about the unusually intense polar vortex affecting much of the North American continent). This is where we come in, because it was this big temperature contrast that caused a very powerful jet stream to develop (with winds aloft in excess of 200mph) and move out into the Atlantic. This spawned a succession of very deep lows to develop and move

The River Brue below Glastonbury Tor shortly before it broke its banks

across the Atlantic to the UK and give us the very stormy period from before Christmas into the New year and on into January – no crumb of comfort for those people living on the Somerset Levels having to cope with all the floods. As I said at the start, people often say that what they get in America comes over here three weeks later but, with more than 2,000 miles of Atlantic between us, any affect we might have from them is usually in the form of rain.

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redland oak bedroom oak bedside


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Memories in the rain

THE torrential rain in January has left the land absolutely saturated. We are fortunate that the Mendip area is high and drains well. Spare a thought for farmers and homeowners on the Somerset Levels who have had more than their share of flooding, all due to the fact there has been a lack of dredging the ditches With MARY (rhynes) for the last 20 years. JAMES MBE What have the Environment Agency been doing? Absolutely nothing. There is a huge argument raging whilst the land is being ruined and houses wrecked.

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In January the old custom of Plough Sunday was held in several local churches. We had the pleasure of attending one at Butcombe, a small village only two miles from Bristol Airport, but difficult to find. Nevertheless the church was full for this lovely service organised by North Somerset Agricultural Show Society. A highlight of the service was ex-land girl Ruth Weaver (formerly of Ellick Farm, Blagdon) who told us of her experiences as a land girl and recited one of her poems. It is hard to believe that Ruth is over 90. At the end of the service we were delighted to find another ex-land girl was present, namely Dolly Vowles, also over 90. The ladies had a great time reminiscing and their experiences are worth telling. Ruth lived in the Midlands and as war broke out she received call-up papers and had to decide what she wanted to do. She did not mind any job on a farm except milking cows. She was sent for training at Steanbow Farm, Pilton for a month – and the training was how to milk a cow! She was sent to Butcombe Farm and found that hand milking cows was absolute agony. Her back and arms were so painful and her hands so sore. It took a long time to get used to. Meanwhile Dolly Vowles, who lived in Bristol, wanted to join the Navy at first but ended up in the Land Army, training at Cranmore in Somerset to milk cows! Both Ruth and Dolly did other jobs around the farm. Dolly did relief milking moving from farm to farm. Ruth stayed at Butcombe. It was inevitable that both girls married farmers’ sons – Ruth to Keith Weaver of Blagdon (dairy farmer) and Dolly to Mervyn Vowles of Barrow Gurney (mixed farm). There is another lady in Winford who was in the Land Army, Doreen Cryer, who was born in Barrow Gurney. She was sent directly to Bourne Farm, Blagdon and was trained there, to milk cows! Here was another land girl who married a farmer’s son, Joe Cryer, of Blagdon. What a wonderful job those land girls did.


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Creatures great and small

Lionel (seated right) with former colleagues Roger Eddy (seated left), Rupert Hibberd, Cathy Snook, Tony Williamson, John Brereton, Peter Clark and Steve Tofts at the party at Charlton House Hotel

ONE of the best-known veterinary surgeons on Mendip has celebrated his 90th birthday with a lunch party for family, colleagues and friends. Lionel Stafford, who retired in 1979, was well respected by farmers across Mid-Somerset and many became lifelong friends. Lionel arrived in Shepton Mallet in 1952 and joined Tom Paterson’s practice which was then located in Compton Road. When Tom retired, Lionel bought a redundant builders yard in Charlton Road where he re-established the practice. In 1975, the practice built a new surgery to make way for a housing development in Allyn Saxon Drive. The surgery is now known as the Shepton Veterinary Group and has 14 surgeons. Since retirement, Lionel has lived in Pilton with his wife Betty. He is still an active member of the Rotary Club of Shepton Mallet. In 2011, the club awarded Lionel a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his valuable contribution to the Rotary organisation and to the local community.

Henry’s century


HENRY Collins, a retired farmer from Congresbury, celebrated his 100th birthday in style with a celebratory outing on the village’s community bus, Bluey. He took his friends up the road to the village’s Star Inn for a birthday meal. Henry, pictured on top of the steps, has been taking regular trips on the bus for many years with the Crusaders, a group of elderly folk who are taken out on visits, shopping trips and for meals. Henry attributes his long life to: not flying, never smoking, no butter or salt and porridge every morning for breakfast!

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Lionel (seated right) with former colleagues, family and friends at the party at Charlton House Hotel

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Craft shop in good hands

SOMER Craft Addix at Rookery Farm, Binegar, had become “like a second home” to enthusiast Sarah Robertson. So much so that when owner Sue Wise decided the time had come to retire, Sarah jumped at the chance to take on the business. Regular visitors to Somer Craft Addix will therefore find that life there remains much the same; Sue will even be taking some of the classes. And new customers will be made just as welcome as when Sarah, from Pilton, first met Sue when the business was based next to Norton Green Farm Nursery at Chilcompton. Sarah, whose passion is for card making and beadwork, said:

SOMER CRAFT ADDIX For all your crafting needs! Open: Tues 6-9pm • Wed-Fri 10-4pm • Sat 10-3pm

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Here’s to the future: Sarah (left) and Sue with Sarah’s sons Craig and Louis, Sue’s husband Tim and Sarah’s husband Leigh (far right)

“Crafting was something I thought I would never have the patience for, but after meeting Sue I really began to enjoy it. “I’d wanted to take up a hobby and Somer Craft Addix became like a second home to me.” The opening hours will remain as before for the foreseeable future; Sarah will still work part-time for her current employer but she added: “I have got so much to learn about the business as well. My plan is to offer much more online but Rookery Farm is such an ideal place for us.” Sue, a nurse by profession, opened Somer Craft Addix eight years ago. She said: “I was passionate about crafting and thought I could make it into a business. I am delighted that Sarah is taking over because it will be in such good hands.” Sue plans to spend more time with her husband Tim at their home in Midsomer Norton as well as seeing more of her family; they have a daughter in Australia and grandchildren in London.

Mendip Times Distribution Points

Mendip Times is available from over 800 outlets across the Mendips from superstores to village stores and post offices, farm shops, supermarkets, garden centres, pubs, inns, hotels and restaurants, doctors’ surgeries, libraries and tourist information centres. ALHAMPTON AXBRIDGE BALTONSBOROUGH BACKWELL BANWELL BARROW GURNEY BARTON ST. DAVID BECKINGTON BISHOP SUTTON BLACKFORD BLAGDON BLEADON BRENT KNOLL BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BROCKLEY BRUTON BUCKLAND DINHAM BURCOTT BURRINGTON BUTLEIGH CAMERTON CASTLE CARY CHARTERHOUSE CHEDDAR CHELYNCH CHEW MAGNA CHEW STOKE CHEWTON MENDIP







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Quality time at Clevedon Salesrooms

CLEVEDON Salerooms’ forthcoming quarterly specialist sale to be held on Thursday March 13th will include this fine early 19th century French ormolu and marble mantle clock by Deniere & Matelin of Paris. Estimated at £2,000£3,000 the clock, complete with glass dome and stand, was given a thorough overhaul by the current owner in 2012. If you have antiques, works of art, jewellery and silver that you are thinking of selling why not attend one of Clevedon Salerooms’ free valuation days at the salerooms on February 10th, 11th or 12th 9.30am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm. To speak to a valuer contact the Salerooms on 01934 830111.

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Free Valuation Day Held at the Salerooms – ample free parking

Tuesday 4th February – 9.30am – 5pm Next Specialist Sale: Thursday 13th March MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 13

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Toys but not playthings

TAMLYNS first collectors’ sale of 2014 will be on February 18th and it will include the second and final part of a large consignment of toys from a local deceased estate. The collection will include a range of Meccano sets, lead soldiers, diecast vehicles with many military examples and a wide range of toys and games.

The sale will also include some interesting postcard collections, cigarette cards, postage stamps, coins, militaria, medals, diecast vehicles by Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox, trains and many other interesting items.

Entries have now closed and the catalogue will be on their website soon at Live bidding will be available so if you cannot make the sale, just sign up and bid live online!

For further information on all Tamlyns sales contact the auction rooms on 01278 445251.


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Charity benefits from Rolling Stones poster

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THERE was a good attendance at the monthly sale of antiques, fine art and collectables held by Killens at the Mendip Auction Rooms on January 11th. A charming pair of chairs from Castle Howard met strong demand selling for £1,000 with interest over the internet, phone and in the room. Strong interest was also shown for a fold-over card table in excellent condition that sold well above estimate at £560. Last summer, when they attended the Glastonbury Festival, the Rolling Stones signed a poster that was sold in aid of the Devon & Somerset Air Ambulance. This met with keen bidding in the room eventually selling for £550. A further collection of Rolling Stones posters achieved £160. The next sale of antiques, fine art and collectables will be on February 8th with online live bidding and all lots presented with excellent photography. Free valuation days are also being held in Chew Magna and Wells on February 15th and 22nd respectively and further details can be found on the website:


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Orchid students help top uni

CAMBRIDGE University says it is delighted with the results after it commissioned students from Writhlington School to design a new orchid exhibit for its Botanic Gardens. Members of the Writhlington Orchid Club based their design on findings from their intense research in the Himalayas. The collaboration began in March last year when Cambridge asked advice from Writhlington’s most seasoned orchid growers about ideas for a new scientific orchid display at the university. A team of six students took on the challenge of researching and designing a unique environment which could exhibit orchids grown in some of the world’s most diverse forests in as natural a way as possible. The first step was to travel 5,000 miles to the Himalayan Indian state of Sikkim, where students explored remote forests to record the micro-habitats where key orchid species grow in the wild. ‘A’ Level biology student Heather Limond said: “Books about plants will tell you where a plant grows in the wild but with very little detail. Our aim was to identify the altitude, the type of forest, the part of the canopy, even the amount of moss present around the roots. We then collated this data and combined it with what we know from growing the same species at Writhlington to plan and design the Cambridge exhibit.” Cambridge Glasshouse Supervisor Alex Summers said he was delighted with the plans: “This will be a unique exhibit. As well as being really educational for our visitors, putting the plants in exactly the right conditions will ensure that they thrive and

Help with heating costs

Steve Mewes

THE Isle of Wedmore Green Group has launched its Warmer Wedmore project to give help and advice to anyone in the area struggling with their fuel bills. It will advise people on how to reduce their energy usage and their bills meaning everyone benefits – including the environment. Group founder Steve Mewes reduced his fuel costs by 20 per cent with extra roof insulation, a wood boiler and solar thermal tubes. The group will be working with the Centre for Sustainable Energy, CSE charity who have people based in Somerset who can do home visits. They can be contacted on their helpline, 0800 0822234. Details: Steve Mewes or 07841 336720.


Matthew Bell, Heather Limond, Zoe Barnes, Devin Read (hiding in the leaves), Ike Shackleton and Alex Summers in the glasshouses at Cambridge University

provide a long term attraction to the gardens.” The students’ work has won the team a place at the finals of the UK Science and Engineering competition. ‘A’ Level physics student Devin Read said: “We are thrilled that our project has made it into the finals of this year's National Science and Engineering Competition and we can’t wait to get to The Big Bang Fair in Birmingham this March. “It has been rewarding to carry out research in the Himalayas and then be able to apply what we have learnt to design the new exhibit at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens.”

Royal seal of approval

THE Royal Bath and West of England Society has teamed up with the Duchy of Cornwall for a third year to organise the prestigious Prince of Wales community award. Open to community organisations, schools, colleges and groups across Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, the Prince of Wales award celebrates projects whicha re improving the lives of the rural River Bourne Community population. Farm chairman Benjamin The prize ceremony has become Parker with the Prince of one of the most eagerly-awaited Wales Award announcements at the Royal Bath and West Show. Finalists will be invited to the Royal Bath & West Show on the day of the award presentation at the end of May and the overall winner will receive £1,000 in prize money to further their project and a memento from HRH The Prince of Wales. Last year’s winner was the River Bourne Community Farm at Laverstock, near Salisbury. Its success followed in the footsteps of Mells Village Shop, post office and café, which claimed the honour in 2012, the year the award was launched. Farm chairman Benjamin Parker will be part of the judging panel for this year’s award. Entries for the Prince of Wales Award 2014 must be received by Friday, April 11th. Entry forms are available from:<

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Page 39

Glastonbury Wassail


Rapscallion had the crowd dancing in the barn

A SELL-out crowd danced the night away at the last wassail to be held at the Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury before the attraction is redeveloped. The traditional event in the tithe barn and orchard was hosted by Mendip Times contributor Les Davies; by coincidence his daughter Lizzie was crowned wassail queen after choosing a piece of apple cake containing a bean. Bob Clapp scares away the evil spirits by firing a shotgun into an apple tree

George, from Somerton, took part in the lantern parade. He’s been a regular visitor with his family to the museum

Lizzie is crowned wassail queen by proud dad Les

Chris Hecks, from Hecks Cider, who sponsored the event, with Les Davies MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 17

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Page 18


The rise and rise of soufflés

THERE is nothing to making a soufflé. They’re easy. You just make a sauce enriched with egg yolks, add stiffly beaten egg whites and cook in the oven. That’s it. It will rise and you will be very pleased with yourself! Well, it will also fall dramatically, so the important thing is that the diners wait for the With JUNE dish, not the other way round. MACFARLANE If you are cooking for your Significant Other on Valentine’s Day the chocolate soufflé is to die for and will make for a memorable evening, especially if you both spend ten minutes together watching it rise through the glass door of the oven. Better than Eastenders!


This is the classic soufflé recipe and excellent for getting your courage up. The ingredients cost little and the results are great. Use good eggs that are a few days old as they will foam better than new laid. A copper bowl is the best thing to whisk egg whites in, but failing that you can add a pinch of salt, or a pinch of cream of tartar, to help them peak.


Butter a 20cm soufflé dish and scatter in 1tbsp grated Parmesan, turning the dish to cover the bottom and sides. Set the oven to 200˚ and put a baking sheet in on the lower level. Scald the milk with the bay leaf and onion then set aside off the heat. Melt the butter in a medium, heavy-based saucepan, add the flour and stir for a couple of minutes to cook the flour. Stir in the milk, minus the onion and bay leaf and whisk to make a thick sauce. Simmer for a few minutes. The sauce will be very thick. Remove from the heat, cool briefly, then add the egg

Cheese soufflé


yolks one at a time, knob of butter beating quickly to 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese incorporate. Stir in the 300ml milk chopped cheese. 1 bay leaf In a large bowl and 1 small onion using a large balloon 55g butter whisk, beat the egg 50g flour whites until they form 4 large eggs, separated stiff peaks. Stir a large 100g mature Cheddar, grated spoonful into the sauce, or cut into small pieces then fold in the rest. Put the mixture into the buttered dish. Run your thumb round the rim of the dish to push away the mixture and help the soufflé to rise and scatter the remaining Parmesan over the top. Put in the oven on the baking sheet and immediately turn the oven down to 180˚. Bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen and golden. Serve immediately.


This is the one for chocolate lovers. It is flourless and light and very chocolatey. I like to serve it with a few fresh raspberries, or crème fraiche, or both.


Preheat oven to 200˚ and put a baking tray on the lower shelf. Melt the butter and use a little to coat 2 deep individual ramekins. Brush the butter upwards. Refrigerate and repeat after a few minutes. Sprinkle with some of the sugar and put back in the fridge until needed. Melt the chocolate with the rest of the butter over simmering water. Set aside. Whisk the egg yolks and add to the chocolate mixture, beating as the mixture cools INGREDIENTS and becomes glossy. 20g unsalted butter Whisk the egg 40g caster sugar whites until they 100g good dark chocolate (about form stiff peaks, 70%), broken into pieces then add the sugar 2 eggs, separated gradually until the peaks are stiff and PAGE 18 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

glossy. Beat a big spoonful into the chocolate and then fold the rest in carefully. Fill the ramekins, flatten the tops with a spatula and run your thumb round the rim to help them to rise. You can cook these immediately or you can refrigerate them for an hour or so until you are ready to bake, which makes it easy. Cook on baking tray, turning oven down to 180˚, for about 10 mins and serve immediately.

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Page 19

Grant to garden group

Students help out at last year’s Apple day event in Castle Cary


A GROUP formed in Castle Cary to encourage horticultural skills and promote healthy eating has been awarded a grant of more than £4,000 towards a campaign to create a

community garden. Members of South Somerset District Council’s Area East Committee agreed to contribute £4,482 from the authority’s Community and Leisure Capital Budget to Eat Cary. Eat Cary has been working with students at the town’s Ansford Academy as part of the campaign. They have created an allotment on part of the school grounds as part of their BTEC studies in Horticulture. Last year, students also took part in a highly-successful Apple Day event in the town centre, organised by the town’s Use-Less group, supported by Eat Cary. South Somerset council also awarded a £7,370 grant towards improving children’s play equipment situated on the village field in Kingsdon, near Somerton.

A tradi#onal family run country pub and bed & breakEveryone welcome! All local produce and homemade, pizza menu to eat in or takeaway

Local beer and cider – come and see what makes us so popular! Children & dog friendly! Sky Sports – we are showing the Six Na#ons, with free bacon sandwiches at half #me for the England matches.


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MENDIP TIMES Country shopping at its best

North Widcombe, West Harptree, Bristol BS40 6HW



Inn hosts boot sale

THE Queen’s Arms Inn at Wraxall, near Shepton Mallet, is staging an indoor “car boot” sale in February, with plenty of bargains on offer. The family-run inn and restaurant on the A37 is aiming to establish itself at the heart of the community and hopes the sale will attract both villagers and people from further afield. It is taking place on Sunday, February 9th from 9am until midday. G Sellers interested in running a table must call either Emma or Pat on 01749 860201 in advance to book their pitch; no-one to turn up on the day without booking.

A family-run country inn and restaurant

G NOW SERVING HOMEMADE PUB CLASSICS G Tuesday – Saturday lunchtimes & evenings G Traditional Sunday Roasts 12.30pm-5pm G Mezé & Tapas menu h BOOKINGS NOW BEING TAKEN FOR VALENTINE’S h Authentic Greek Kleftiko Set Menu – £27.50 per couple (Available Friday February 14th and Saturday February 15th – bookings essential) Open: Tues-Fri: 11am-3pm & 6pm-11pm. Sat: 11am-11pm. Sun: 12pm-6pm (closed Mons)

e Queen’s Arms, Wraxall, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6RQ. Tel: 01749 860201 • e-mail:

Sarah Raven Seeds and Spring Plants

Enjoy a good Sunday roast

Emma Bridgwater China & other gifts Geoff’s fresh fish every Friday and Saturday

Centred around a traditional farm courtyard near Chew Valley Lake – the very best in local produce and gift ideas

TEA ROOMS Hot & cold meals Delicious cream teas Full English breakfasts Come and enjoy our lovely Sunday roast lunches


Opening times: Farm shop: Monday to Friday 9am - 5.30pm Saturday 8.30am - 5.30pm • Sunday 10am - 5pm Tea Room: Monday to Sunday 9.30am - 4.30pm

Wheelchair access, children welcome, free parking, coaches by appointment

Farm Shop: 01761 220067 Tea Rooms: 01761 220172



Wells: every Wednesday 9am-2.30pm at the Market Place All other markets 9am-1pm unless otherwise marked*

Saturday 1st Saturday 8th Saturday 15th Saturday 22nd Friday 28th

Axbridge & Midsomer Norton Frome & Keynsham Crewkerne Glastonbury & Yeovil (9am-2pm)* Burnham-on-Sea

The Frome Super Market will reopen in March 2014 follow us @SFMMarkets For more information phone 01373 814646 or visit

Powering Farming’s Future Tel: 01225 667151 Web:

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Page 21


Artichokes and cardoons

LAST spring I planted a variety of artichoke (Green globe and Violetto d’Provence) and cardoon (White ivory) seeds, and they’ve all proved extremely vigorous so far. Unfortunately the plants are closely related and look very similar and at some With JAKE point I mixed them up, so I’ll have to WHITSON wait until the summer when the flowering heads betray their true identities again! I think outside might be a touch ambitious in my garden (they are fully cold hardy but dislike winter wet), so I’ve planted most of mine in my greenhouse and poly-tunnel. Artichokes and cardoons are thistle relatives (both being types of the species Cynara cardunculus) with the main difference being that artichokes are grown principally for their flowering heads and cardoons are grown principally for their stems (which need to be blanched by wrapping in cardboard or earthing up) though the flowering heads of cardoons are edible in the same way as artichokes, they’re just much smaller. Both artichokes and cardoons are perennials and once established will produce every summer for years or even decades to come. I have yet to try the blanched stems of cardoons, though I hope they’ll have something of the same rich, almost meaty flavour as artichoke heads. As for artichokes, I seldom bother to remove and prepare the hearts before cooking, as it is a lot of trouble and a lot of flesh is wasted. Instead I prefer to steam the heads whole until very soft (about an hour), allowing at least one head per person if eating as a main meal. Then I place them on a communal plate, with bowls for the spent ‘petals’, and a bowl of melted butter, or good olive oil, or (a family favourite) home-made mayonnaise with a little curry powder added. Then you simply pluck off the petals one by one, dip them into your dips, and scrape off the piece of tender flesh at the base of each petal with your teeth. Eventually you will strip it bare and reveal the heart and the purple choke. The choke should be discarded and the heart will be fought over – a substantial chunk of the most delicious vegetable flesh imaginable. Jacob Whitson is a chef and food writer who has worked in many of the West Country’s most prestigious restaurants. He is currently working on his first book, a travelogue detailing the regional foods of Japan.



Chase away the winter blues

SOMETIMES, you just need to get away from the constant battering of wind and rain, the dark skies and stormy clouds (I’m still waiting for the snow though). Just to feel the sun on your face, the warmth seeping into your bones, and to be outside in a t-shirt again. With ADRIAN Well it had to be done – we needed to BOOTS chase away those winter blues so we took a short trip to the sub-tropical island paradise that is Madeira. Now I have always been fascinated by islands as the ecology develops in different ways to the mainland. Being such a small exposed area there are numerous habitats resulting from the interplay of topography, geology, temperature, rainfall, salt, human intervention etc all jostling for a place on a tiny 35-mile by 15-mile lump of volcanic rock sticking out of the Atlantic. With a very scary runway! I can’t go anywhere (just ask my wife), without looking for wild food in the local culture and this trip was no different. There are Madeiran equivalents to the sorts of things we’re used to seeing in the UK. They have their own version of wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca), Madeira elder (Sambucus lancelolata )with attendant jelly ear fungus. The flowers are used in a traditional preparation as a throat gargle and the berries steeped in rum (also made on the island) and treated as a medicine, although I suspect it’s just an excuse to drink fruity rum! Anyway, what’s interesting about Madeira is that whilst it does rain, most of its water comes from foggy cloud vapour condensing out of the atmosphere onto the mountains and the native Laurel (Laurassilva in Portuguese) forests. These Laurel forests are afforded UNESCO World Conservation status and have been in existence since before the ice age. Most visitors go for the flowers but for me, it’s the native forests edged with arterial water courses, small canals known as ‘Levadas’ bringing fresh water to the population, that captivate. A real sense of the primordial forest, the ‘Wild Wood’ that once covered much a Europe. So for me the island and its forests are central to the local wild food cuisine, particularly the native Canary laurel (Laurus novocanariensis) the closest relative of the Bay Laurel. They use the leaves in the same way to flavour dishes but you need four times the amount as they are not as piquant as Bay. But the unique thing in my experience was the use of the small branches for cooking meat – a two in one benefit. The bark is stripped off and the wood (green, so it doesn’t burn) is then used as skewers called ‘espetada’, nothing unusual there. What was unexpected was that the wood imparts a wonderful bay spiciness to the meats such as beef or pork when cooked over a BBQ. Delightful! What a fantastically economic and environmental use of a renewable material for cooking and flavouring at the same time. One that I guarantee will be used for my summer BBQs. Adrian Boots is a Landscape Ecologist, Wild Food Forager and Adventure Activity provider. You can visit his web site to learn more about wild food foraging and activities you can do with him on the Mendip Hills.


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What to do if you are on your own for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Menu

(Vegetarian Menu on application) Amuse Bouche –0– Ballontine Con4it Chicken, Pickled Baby Vegetables, Plum Compote or Goats Cheese Terrine, Textures of Beetroot –0– Champagne Sorbet –0– Roast Rump of Lamb, Pomme Fondant, Celeriac, Tomato, Basil or Stone Bass, Con4it Potato, Fennel, Vanilla –0– Lemon Tart, Raspberry Tuille, Green Apple or Assiette du Chocolat –0– Coffees and Homemade Petit Fours


This Valentine’s Day we’d like to propose a viewing of Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard. A place rich in natural beauty, Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard is the perfect wedding venue, set in the tranquil surroundings of the largest vineyard in Somerset. So why not pop the question with a bottle of our Sparkling Blush?

The Kings Arms Litton, UK BA3 4PW 01761 241301

• Go out on the town with some friends. You’re sure to meet other singles. • Splurge on something you want, or do something to pamper yourself. • Host a fun party for other singles. Encourage them to bring single friends. • Avoid acknowledging the holiday at all and enjoy a quiet evening at home. • Plan a special night out with another single friend instead of a sweetheart. • Spend the evening with someone else you love, like a single grandparent. • Buy yourself flowers or chocolates instead of relying on someone else to do it. • If you have a furry companion, treat them to a special outing. • Celebrate the day by doing something good for someone or volunteering. • Offer to babysit for a special couple so they can enjoy their night. • Send an anonymous gift or flowers to another single who is having it rough. • Offer to work for a coupled co-worker so he or she can leave early. • Get a pint of ice cream and some soppy movies and wallow in your pity. • Hang out with other single friends and bash your former loves. • Spend the evening stalking your exes on social media. Or you could always call Caroline Crowther Introduction Agency for a chat and see if they help you find that special someone.

Wedding viewings available by appointment. Still and Sparkling wine for sale online or from the Cellar door Cellar Door sales Mon, Tues, Thurs 10.00am–4.00pm

Call now for more information on 01934 864404 Email • PAGE 22 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

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Page 23


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01761 221429


BEAH my Valentine! Friday February 14th

a very special dinner for the love of your life 3 course menu £25 per person For more information, visit To reserve your table, call

01749 678111 or email:


English & Mediterranean Restaurant 2, Union Street, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PU

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TO START Goats cheese mousse with asparagus and beetroot, orange chutney topped with Parmesan crisp and micro pea shoots Smoked salmon mousse wrapped in gravlax glazed with aspic rose petals Creamy risotto with smoked chicken, wild mushroom and tarragon cream cheese Camembert for two with garlic and farmhouse breads, homemade chutney, caramelized onions and grapes Parma ham, sun blushed tomato and ricotta tart with a mustard mayo

MAIN COURSE For rib of beef for two people to share Chunky chip Onions, tomato and mushrooms Hot spicy bread crumbed chicken with sweet corn fritters and sweet potato Venison, mozzarella and spinach meatballs on a bed of spaghetti with tomato basil sauce Baked salmon fillet topped with sole and scallop mousse with a champagne and dill sauce Griddled loin of pork topped with deep fried brie with apple compote and honey mustard sauce.

Church Lane, East Harptree BS40 6BD •


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A n i nn f o r a l l s ea s o n s THE Holcombe Inn will celebrate its third anniversary under its current ownership in February and it continues to go from strength to strength. The business has developed considerably, gaining a consistently excellent reputation – as a visit to the Trip Advisor website will testify – along with a string of awards for its accommodation and food. The Holcombe Inn boasts a wonderfully-stocked bar including a collection of “Top Shelf” whiskies as well as an extensive variety of brandies, rums, gins and vodkas. It is also proud of its hand-picked wine list, offering really delicious wines at great value. Jules Berry and her team continue to invest in the historic inn on an annual basis; in 2014 they are planning to refurbish the old sports pavilion to create two cabins for guests, complementing the existing eight luxury rooms. The new cabins – complete with log burners and offering stunning country views – will be dog-friendly and the aim is to encourage visitors to make use of

Thinking of summer – but The Holcombe Inn is a delightful place to visit at any time of the year

the glorious walking country which surrounds the inn. The pavilion was formerly used as a changing room for the football team based at The Holcombe Inn. Manchester United and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton opened the restaurant at The Holcombe Inn in 1980, the owners then being football and sports enthusiasts. Jules added: “There are future plans for a Victorian garden through the wall

from our existing, beautiful garden with panoramic views to Downside Abbey and beyond. “The Victorian garden is going to be a delightful place to sit amongst herbs, fruit and vegetables which, of course, are intended for the kitchen!” Whatever the weather, summer gardens, magnificent sunsets or winter log fires, The Holcombe Inn has lots to offer – at any time of the year!

The Holcombe Inn

Stratton Road, Holcombe, Bath BA3 5EB. Tel: 01761 232478

Valentine’s Dinner at the Holcombe Inn or . . .

Our 17th Century inn is perfect for a romantic evening with log fires, squashy sofas and a beautiful candelit restaurant.

Award-winning food; we’re now also in the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs guide 2014. Wide choice of restaurant dishes and bar snacks, delicious desserts. Children’s menu available.

Why not book one of our beautiful rooms for the night?

We have eight AA 5* individually-designed rooms – all very different in style – with luxury bathrooms, most with feature baths with room for two! Close to the historical city of Wells, Bath, Wookey, Cheddar Gorge, Longleat, Stourhead and more.

Website: • E-mail: PAGE 24 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

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Tel: 0800 097 8611 | e-mail:




High quality dry screened or plain

CRUSHED CONCRETE All sizes graded and single size

ROAD PLANINGS LIAS STONE Hand dressed for house building

Large or small quantities supplied Delivered or collected

01761 241387

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Screen shots of error messages


The Mendip Mindbender

IF you get an error message on the screen, it can contain information which would be useful to help a technician diagnose the problem. The message is usually in form of a long code – like the example. You can write it down, of course, but there is a quicker way; by taking a screen shot.

When the message appears on the screen, simply press the Print Screen button on your keyboard – may say PrntScr or PrtScr or similar, but should be in the top right corner of the keyboard. Nothing will appear to have happened, but the computer will have placed whatever was on the screen at the time on “the clipboard” and will save it until the computer is closed down. So all you need to do is open up a word processing programme (Word, OpenOffice, LibraOffice etc (or if you use a “cloud” programme, you can use that as well) and simply Paste in the screen shot. To do this, you can either go with a Paste icon (looks like a clipboard, not a brush). Or hold down Ctrl and press V at the same time. Or rightclick and click Paste (if you get more than one option for Paste; go with the left-hand one). If for some reason this doesn’t work, some systems need Ctrl to be held down at the same time as the PrtScr is pressed. You will now have a page full of a picture of whatever was on your screen when you pressed the Print Screen button. You may find that the error message is quite small, so you can Crop it down to print just the bit you want to print – double-click the picture and click on the Crop option. Click and hold on one of the corners and drag towards the edge of the picture and then repeat with the opposite corner. Or if you have OpenOffice, you need to use the dialogue box and click on the down arrows to crop – you will see a preview of how the end result will be, then click OK. Or you could simply Save it to your computer to show a techi at another time. Submitted by IT for the Terrified: The Old Cowshed, Station Road, Cheddar BS27 3AG 01934 741751 • See our web site or contact us for further details. This article is for guidance only, and the opinion of the writer. For more in depth information, please contact us. We offer individual training, at a pace to suit you; a session lasts 2 hours and costs £10. We can cover a range of subjects – including absolute basics; photo management; shopping online; emailing; Word processing, spreadsheets; basic web design; etc. on a range of devices, including Windows XP/Vista/W7/W8: Macs: Tablets: iPads: smartphones


ACROSS 1 Expect burning to harm local walk (10,3) 9 High spots lead to the downs (3) 10 Cup fit for Glastonbury visitors (7,4) 11/23 Watch shy hero outdo provider of care in Bath (7,5) 12 Craving for strong drink could last five years (7) 13 Request for princess’s joint near Badgworth (9) 15 Sleep-over for fibbers? (32) 16 Miss out ride in the dark – show gratitude for a change (5) 18 Difficult to fathom room implied by the farthest reaches (4,5) 20 Can he clone such parts ... or is it just another line? (7) 22 Pay for your own ... ticket to Amsterdam? (2,5) 24 Range within which home is most valued (4,3,4) 25 Unsound, but has minimum French asset (3) 26 Country home recipe for smile – takes the biscuit! (7,6)

DOWN 1 Obliged to leap forward (5) 2 Colourful city allegedly

3 4 5 6 7 8

13 14 15 17 19 21 22


“half as old as time” (4-3) Measurably stupid – as a plank? (4-5) Train for bankers? Tasty! (5) From meal I can produce something inspirational (9) Cads stick them in obstinately (5) Scaremonger drops rags to become edgy tennis champ (7) Dance Bach might have enjoyed? Saucy! (9) Beer to finish? Totally unacceptable (6,3) Aida and he made a thoughtful move, in fact, they ... (3,2,4) Where to attempt the final stand? (4-5) Demonstrate graph as iconic of incapacity with language (7) His heart is technically on the stage (7) File as the kind of statement soonest mended (5) Single bed contains ecclesiastical valuable (5) See 11 Across

Answers on Page 81

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Page 41


Kilmersdon Wassail

ERIN Kirby was crowned the 2014 Kilmersdon Wassail Queen but - say it quietly – she would not drink the traditional cider toast! The 11-year-old Writhlington School pupil clearly enjoyed the afternoon of celebrations but made it quite clear that she drew the line at sampling the local scrumpy. That didn’t stop the 100-plus crowd from raising their own glasses during the festivities, firstly in the village hall over a ploughman’s lunch, followed by a procession to the community orchard where the wassail ceremony itself took place. Heavy rain didn’t deter them as the crowd returned to the garden of organisers Martin and Frances Horler’s home where their own apples trees were blessed before tea and cakes were served.

Erin is surrounded by member of the Village Band, Cam Valley Morris and wassail organiser Martin Horler

Erin with the wassail mug

Morris minor: Theo Drew, aged two and a half, with dad Ben

The procession makes it way to the orchard

Martin fires his shogun to ward off the evil spirits MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 27*

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Duvets & Bedspreads washed & dried Sheets and Duvet covers washed and pressed Professional efficient service Collection & delivery service in the Chew Valley

Tel 01761 451787



Page 28

Avoid the tax pitfalls

By now, those of us who have to do Self Assessment tax returns will have completed them, or will have to pay a late filing penalty of £100 – whether or not we owe any income tax. If you still haven’t filed your return after three months you could even be liable to daily penalties of £10 per day! We also need to bear in mind that our tax needs to be paid by the end of January to avoid further penalties. If it isn’t all paid within 30 days of the filing deadline, you will be charged a one-off surcharge of 5% on your total tax bill. For example, on a bill of £1,000 a further £50 will be added. This is on top of an interest charge of 3% per annum on the outstanding balance. That isn’t a happy thought by anyone’s standards. However, if you haven’t paid your bill by the end of July, you will find that a further surcharge of 5% will become payable. So, our original bill has now grown quite a bit. One of my former colleagues, now retired, was very clear about the fact that whatever percentage of your income is due in tax should not be counted as your money EVER.


With that mindset, he encouraged clients to be certain that they had enough cash put by to pay the Revenue. “Set up a separate savings account for tax and pay it out of that,” he would say. It might be old fashioned, but it works. Ultimately, you will be better off and you won’t be paying the Revenue a penny more than they are due. If you are currently in difficulties over your tax bill though, don’t bury your head – talk to your tax adviser, your accountant, or, if you don’t have one, contact the Revenue directly. Using an accountant (especially if you have a fixed fee arrangement so it won’t cost you any extra fees!) can provide you with an experienced mediator who can help you through the process of arranging a manageable payment plan. Like all these things, ignoring it makes the problem grow, not go away. Believe me; it is not pleasant to have a debt collector appointed by the Revenue knocking on your door. So, act now for peace of mind. All the best! Jane Bowe ProBusiness

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Broadband pioneers


Photo by Ignyte Limited, Radstock.

WANSDYKE Telecom community interest company has started laying its fibre optic broadband network, bringing superfast broadband to rural communities in north east Somerset. Clarke and Sue Osborne, two of Wansdyke’s pathfinder investors from Stanton Wick, said: “A good broadband connection is so crucial in the modern (l to r) David Bland, Matt McCabe, Simon world, and Whittle, Debbie Bland, Paul Oaten, Yvonne with so many Orengo and Harry King. of us struggling with less than two megabits per second that, for me, this project is a no brainer!” Wansdyke Telecom CIC was formed from two community groups demanding better broadband in the Chew Valley and Englishcombe/Newton St Loe. Despairing of the poor offering from Connecting Devon and Somerset, members of these two groups decided to do something about it themselves.


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Great exhibition at Thatchers

THE Rotary Club of Wrington Vale organised The North Somerset Business and Youth Showcase, featuring around 60 local businesses and 30 local youth organisations. It was a chance to see the quality and range of products and services available from local companies and to support local youth organisations, showcasing their club’s sporting, leisure or cultural activities. The huge family day out was held in Thatchers massive new Jubilee Building before it’s kitted out as the company’s new production facility for kegging and canning. At the end of the event the club presented £1,000 each to 1st Banwell Scouts, Young ACT – Axbridge, Crossroads Young Carers and St. John’s Ambulance; £500 each to Axbridge Sea Cadets, Butcombe and Blagdon Youth Work Trust, Weston Youth Orchestra and Cheddar Youth Trust. The other 21 youth groups which submitted a project will each receive a donation of £80.

Some of the business stalls

Lucy Hole (left) and Michelle McQuarrie from Kingfisher

Weston MP John Penrose (centre) opened the show. He's pictured with John Thatcher, president of the Rotary Club of Wrington Vale, and one of the show's organisers, Merlyn Saunders. 1st Shipham scouts

1st Shipham Guides PAGE 30 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

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Wells College is tops

WESTON College is celebrating after being awarded an overall ‘Outstanding’ grade by OFSTED, placing it among the highest-performing colleges in the country. The grade one result in all four key areas of inspection means the college is the first general FE college in the region to achieve such results under the new Common Framework Inspection (CIF). And a further five ‘Outstandings’ in curriculum areas inspected have put the


NO MOLE NO FEE Telephone 01275 332966


Weston College Principal Dr Paul Phillips celebrates with staff and students

college among the top five highest-achieving colleges in the UK. Inspectors praised the college’s teaching and learning, saying that students “benefit greatly from the culture of respect, hard work and enjoyment that permeates the college”. Dr Paul Phillips, Principal and Chief Executive, said: “An Outstanding college is not created overnight. It is a major journey that involves a significant team of people, not only restricted to managers and governors but including the whole college, partnerships and communities. “In my view we cannot have an Outstanding college without a leadership theory based on putting the learner first, and zero tolerance of underperformance.” John Penrose, Weston’s MP, said: “As a long-term governor and associate governor of the college, I’m totally thrilled by this amazing result. They just keep going from strength to strength.”

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Helping hand to find work

NORTON Radstock College is leading a multi-agency project to help people with disabilities find work by forging links with local employers. The programme combines work experience and classroom sessions over several months with the employee receiving a programme of support through a tutor and job coach. The employee will benefit by learning skills such as independent living, the practical application of basic skills, maintaining a healthy working lifestyle, customer service and communication skills. The aim is for the student to have the skills to gain permanent employment or an apprenticeship by the end of the scheme. The initiative, which brings together a range of partners including Sirona, Curo and Bath and North East Somerset Council, is called Equal Access to Work Opportunities for Adults with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities in a Semi-rural Area. The College is leading one of 41 projects across the country to successfully bid for funds from the Skills Funding Agency’s Equality and Diversity Innovation Fund. The fund is managed by NIACE – the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education – and is focused on supporting projects that help those who are under-represented or disadvantaged in learning to reach their life potential.

Collection Service available

Employers wanting to find out more can contact Jane Winstanley at the college on 01761 433161 or email:

Campaign to support new business

AN innovative new campaign to encourage people to think about starting their own business in Mendip is under way. Enterprise Mendip is a business start-up initiative, developed by Mendip District Council in partnership with local chambers of commerce from across the district. Chambers in Frome, Shepton Mallet, Wells and Street and Strode College on behalf of Glastonbury, will be running their own individual programmes of activities. These range from helping people to explore and research their business idea to accessing voluntary business mentors and attending events to network and learn about the different aspects of starting up a company. Cllr Tom Killen, deputy leader of Mendip District Council, said: “Many people dream about starting a business, but it’s not always easy to find help and advice on your doorstep to turn that into reality. By working with the chambers of commerce, we can help people to access that vital support locally.” Mendip District Council has provided each of the district’s chambers of commerce with £5,000 in funding to help them provide a programmes of activities., contact your local chamber of commerce or email


• High Peaked Roofs • Clear Roofs and Window Walls so ‘Conservatory Ends or Entrances’ can be created. Also Flame Towers.


• Furniture • Starlight Lining • Dance floors • Lighting • Fridge trailer hire

Call the Marquee Specialists

Tel: 01761 221366

Email enquiries: Website: MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 33

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Stewley Wassail Holly leading the wassail ceremony

A 300-strong crowd celebrated the seventh annual wassail at Shepton Mallet Cider Mill’s Stewley Orchard. Stewley, near Ilminster, is an award-winning orchard and is heralded as a model of sustainable orcharding. Andrew Cross, from the cider mill, said: “Wassailing is a wonderful part of our heritage and there is a growing interest in taking part. This is linked to the resurgence of cider and the wish to know more about where our food and drink is from. “Apple growers and cider workers are not only upholding a countryside tradition but also adding interest to the modern success story of cider. It is also a great way to liven up January, which is otherwise a quiet, dull month.”

Blagdon Wassail


Somerset Morris, from Marksbury, in action at Blagdon's wassail.

Wassail queen Holly Chadwick

Blagdon Wassail Queen Sue Oldfield with organiser Olga Shotton

“Waes hael” – the old English expression meaning good health PAGE 34 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

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Dear Mendip Times, The government has announced that they plan to change the law so that drilling companies will not have to notify people about gas drilling in their areas. Companies will simply be required to publish an announcement in a local newspaper and put up site displays in local parishes, as well as conducting a wider consultation. The concept of an informed debate involving local communities whose lives may be blighted is apparently too burdensome. This blinkered, industry-biased approach shows a callous contempt for local residents, their interests and the places that they value. While much of Somerset is offered up for shale gas exploration the areas that could be at risk from exploratory drilling for coalbed methane range from the heart of the Chew Valley to the edges of the old Somerset Coalfied and all places in between. The last time that such drilling took place in 1999 the recommendation was for future test drills to be at: 1 km east of Chew Magna (this would be near Stanton Drew – the third largest collection of prehistoric standing stones in England) and 1.5 km east of Hinton Blewitt – near Cameley and Temple Cloud. Cameley and Temple Cloud are on the projected line of drainage to Bath Hot Springs from Chilcompton/Green Ore/Oakhill etc, as suggested in the latest paper on the subject. So the Bath Hot Springs and their importance to tourism and the local economy appear to be of little consequence to our politicians, nor the wellbeing of residents in a heavily fractured and faulted, mineriddled, geological jigsaw such as that to the north of the Mendip Hills. And what of pollutants from produced water being brought back up the gas wells to surface? There are presently no plans for comprehensive independent monitoring of air quality – indeed the Government is considering closing 600 local authority air quality monitoring stations – the same applies to testing for radon gas (of concern to geologists in many areas where drilling for methane has occurred) in local people’s homes. Water monitoring is sporadic at best and any pollutants entering Dear Mendip Times, I was pleased to read Sue Gearing’s account of this lovely walk (Failand circle January). I am a volunteer on the Long Ashton footpath maintenance group and we did some work over the summer to open an all-weather route on the south approach to the bridge mentioned in section 4. Mill House of the walk. Previously a 30m section has been virtually impassable during wet conditions most winters. It’s good to see this route being well used but what we hadn’t foreseen was that the bridge itself could be overtopped by flood waters as has been the case for the past fortnight.


the river Cam may pass into the Avon to make their way through Bath and Bristol where water for drinking is extracted and then on into the Bristol Channel to enter our food chain. And our politicians have the gall to reassure us that this process is safe because of the ‘rigorous’ measures that they will be taking. Mark Lumley Dear Mendip Times, Support Mendip YMCA by volunteering in 2014. If you have some time to spare and want to help support young people in your own area, then get in touch with Mendip YMCA. Mendip YMCA works with young people and others, across the whole of the Mendips, with a particular focus on homelessness and housing. We are launching a campaign to increase our use of volunteers from the community because we recognise how much value volunteers can add to the work we do. There are so many different ways to help: in supported housing – building relationships, helping with activities, befriending or mentoring a resident; in the youth clubs – getting involved in activities and building relationships to help young people grow and develop; in administrative and support roles – to release support workers to spend more time with young people; in transitional housing – helping young people with basic maintenance tasks. And more! If you have some time to spare, would like to get involved, have some understanding of a young person’s world and have tolerance, empathy and patience then please get in touch. People from all different backgrounds, of any age and any faith are welcomed and volunteering can give you a new challenge, contact with people you may not normally meet and an opportunity to gain experience and skills. Please contact me, Glenda Collier, on 01749 679553 or email: Glenda Collier Mendip YMCA Volunteer Coordinator

At times it has been a spectacular foot or so over the top and too dangerous to cross. Local people say this hasn’t happened to their knowledge for over 50 years! This is the bridge from which the photo in Sue’s article was taken! The area is called Seven Streams locally because of the large number of streams which flow into the Yeo here. Ian Webb Long Ashton PS You may like to know your walk is being followed! I went to seven streams to check the level today (still several inches over the bridge). As I was there three walkers came along following your route. I was able to show them a diversion to avoid the bridge and re-join the route at Cambridge Batch. MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 35

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Club helps Corey in search for glory

Business appeal

Corey receives his cheque from Rob Porter, president of the Rotary Club of Midsomer Norton and Radstock

HIGH-flying trampolinist Corey Walkes has inspired Midsomer Norton and Radstock Rotarians to award him £300 towards his quest to become an Olympic champion. The12-year-old Writhlington school pupil gained his most recent accolade in November at the 22nd World Age Group Trampolining Championships held in Bulgaria. Corey, who is dependent upon the support of family and friends for funding, said: “Taking part in the prestigious competition at the highest international level for my age was like a dream.”

Walkers wanted

JOHN Churchill, president of The Rotary Club of Nailsea and Backwell, is pictured presenting a cheque for £463 to Jill Gilbert, chair of Parkinson’s UK North Somerset branch, in addition to the £1,500 raised by the club’s annual Nailsea Charity Walks. The walks, held in June, raised about £15,000 for local causes. This year’s event will be held on Sunday June 22nd with three run or walk options on offer – a 5K wheelchair and pushchair, friendly family stroll, the 10K Walk or the 20K Challenge. Details:


THE Winscombe and District Fundraising Branch of the RNLI is looking for more businesses to take the charity’s iconic collection boxes. The branch covers an area which includes Cheddar, Axbridge, Winscombe and Shipham together with Shepton Mallet and Wells. Branch chairman, Tina Joyce, said the branch are currently raising funds towards the RNLI’s Bristol Channel fundraising appeal for new lifeboat stations at Portishead and Weston-superMare. Details: 01934 842304

High tech quiz

Organisers Andrew Midgley and Holly Cole

A “QUIZ with a difference”, held at Wedmore village hall, raised £1,776 for the Weston-super-Mare Samaritans. It was played in teams of 10 using interactive handsets, with professional quiz master Simon Blair, who hosts “Child Genius” on Channel Four. One of the organisers said: “Thanks are due to all who helped to raise this fantastic sum. These kinds of fundraising events are so important to keep the Samaritan centre in Weston-super-Mare running and open to take calls from those in distress and despair.” Details: For more information, to volunteer or donate see

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Dancers help hospital Take a bow: dancers before the charity event

CENTRE School of Dance in Shepton Mallet took centre stage at the town’s Whitstone School to raise money for Shepton Mallet Community Hospital. Whitstone Community Band also played.

New patron for spinal injury charity Jonathan Webb

SURGEON and former England rugby player Jonathan Webb is to become a patron of the region’s Southern Spinal Injuries Trust. A consultant orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in knee surgery and sports medicine, Mr Webb combined his medical training with a first class rugby career as a full back. His medical and sporting background means that he has a good understanding of the potential risks and implications of spinal injuries. Last year, the SSIT provided more than £49,000 in grants to people living with spinal cord injury in the South and South West. The charity also funded more than £30,000 worth of equipment to the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury. Mr Webb said: “I am delighted to become a patron of the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust. My rugby career means that I am all too aware of the risks of injury and the devastating impact it can have on an individual, their family and friends. I have seen first hand the good work that SSIT does supporting the regional spinal injuries centre in Salisbury and individuals with spinal cord injury in the region. I am looking forward to helping raise awareness of the charity and in so doing increase funds.” During his rugby career, Mr Webb played for both Bristol and Bath. He played 33 tests for England, winning two Five Nations Grand Slams and reaching the Rugby World Cup Final in 1991. MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 37

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Thank you Santa!

ORGANISERS of the annual Christmas Santa Tour around Frome and the surrounding villages have announced that they raised just under £10,000 for charity. Members of Frome Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Frome traditionally join forces for the festivities. Frank Collins, President of Frome Lions Club and Dot Cretney, President of the Rotary Club of Frome, have said thank you to people for their generous support: “The clubs wish to extend their grateful thanks to all those who helped make the whole thing possible and perhaps in particular Santa’s drivers and all the marshals provided by Frome Carnival Club. Thanks to all the collectors from the Lions and Rotary clubs, also to Asda and Sainsbury’s for their support in allowing us to collect outside their stores. “Lastly, Father Christmas would like to wish all the children and families the very best and that he’s looking forward to seeing them next Christmas!”

Help is at hand

OPEN Minds is the new name for the Chew Valley Well-Being Group, which supports those who are isolated or have mental illness. They recently held a six- week course in beginners’ digital photography, which was fully booked and a huge success. Neil Light and Patrick Graham, experienced photographers, ran the course, covering technical areas alongside composition and form. The cost of the course was a very modest £12 for six sessions and the group are looking forward to a second course in the spring. Open Minds is supported by Sirona Care and Health and has also received funding from St Mungo’s. They envisage meeting the specific needs of those in rural locations within the Chew Valley, where there are greater levels of isolation, compounded for those with no transport. The group meets each Wednesday at The Millennium Hall, South Parade, Chew Magna, between 1pm-2.30pm. They arrange different activities each week, suitable for all. Sessions so far have included art, life coaching, card making, and the photography course and include an opportunity to have a cup of tea and share experiences. Could this group be for you? Or are you able to tell someone else about it? Do you know someone who has a mental illness or is isolated? Perhaps they are a carer, a new mother, have been made redundant, gone through a divorce, a bereavement or are older? Details: Helena on 07798 818772 for more information or to arrange transport.

Charity appeal

THE Rotary Club of Nailsea and Backwell is looking to collect any good quality paperback books, DVDs, puzzles and children’s books, ready for their next charity book stall on March 22nd, outside Waitrose in Nailsea. All proceeds go to either local causes or international disasters. Details: Chris Broughton on 01275 856061


Administrator needed

FOR the past decade Nailsea Disability Initiative (NDI) has been providing disabled people throughout the North Somerset area with advice and information about state benefits and independent living. Filling in complicated forms can be very time consuming and stressful and clients appreciate the confidential individual help given by the charity’s advisors. Staffed entirely by volunteers, NDI strives to meet the challenge posed by the biggest changes to the benefit system in a generation, helping clients with initial claims, assisting with challenges to decisions and supporting them through the appeal process where necessary. Home visits are available for clients who cannot manage to get in to the charity’s town centre drop-in-centre. NDI’s running costs are met entirely by donations and grants and imaginative effort is required to find sources of funding in a difficult economic environment. Ongoing specialist training comes at a cost. As an inclusive organisation NDI welcomes both able-bodied and disabled volunteers, and their contribution is valued whatever skills or time commitment they can offer. There is currently a vacancy for an office administrator to oversee day-to-day operations. Ideally a volunteer for this role would have good organisational skills and the ability to interact well with both clients and volunteers. Details: NDI chairman Chris Baker 01275 812183. NDI is based at 10, Crown Glass Place, Nailsea and is open between 10am and 3pm Monday to Thursday.

New advice service available in Paulton

AGE UK B&NES will be providing a new information and advice service from Paulton Library Hub from February 19th. The charity will be able to advise on issues of concern to older people, their families and carers. This could be help in checking they are getting the benefits they are entitled to or providing advice on local care services or housing. The charity will be offering drop-in advice sessions on the third Wednesday of every month, from 2pm – 4pm. Age UK B&NES is a local charity that supports around 12,000 older people, their families and carers every year, with essential services. Details:

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Pru’s challenge


Lectures boost campaign

THE proceeds from the 2013 Wanstrow Christmas lectures have been donated to a new charity in Frome set up to support people within the community living in poverty. Fair Frome has start-up funding from the town council and a private donor to help make a difference to the lives of people living in social, financial, educational and health poverty. The lectures were organised by Wanstrow resident Geoff Andrews and held in the village hall. Speakers included Paul Stephens, landlord of The Pub at Wanstrow, former Surrey county cricketer Anthony Allom and Ross Harvey. The event raised more than £200. Geoff said: “This was the second year of Christmas lectures and it was hugely successful. When it was announced that the proceeds were to go to Fair Frome to help poverty in our area, it was greeted with warm applause. There will be more lectures next Christmas.” To find out more about Fair Frome, please contact Nikki Cox, either by e-mail – – or 07714 587129. Fair Frome is now based at the town council office in Palmer Street.

Special dinner for Richard

PRU Witter, from Sandford, a member of Wrington Vale Inner Wheel, is planning to cycle from her home to Telford in Shropshire for Inner Wheel’s national conference, raising money for WizzyBug wheelchairs for disabled children. She’s pictured with district chairman Rita Jolliffe.

Concert for CLIC

(l:r): Dot Cretney, president of the Rotary Club of Frome, auctioneer and fellow Rotarian Dennis Barnard and David Ball, from CLIC Sargent

A CAROL service and auction the Standerwick Conference Centre near Frome raised £1,250 for the CLIC Sargent children’s charity. Organised by the Rotary Club of Frome, this was the 21st service and the first time that the club had taken the lead.

A SPECIAL dinner is being held to raise funds for Wells man, Richard Keen, who is training hard to make the Great Britain team for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The dinner takes place on Saturday February 8th at the Best Western Swan Hotel, in Wells with every penny of the £50 ticket price going to Richard to help fund his training, accommodation and travel. The hotel’s owner, Kevin Newton, said: “It’s incredibly important to play an active part in the local community and hosting this event is our way of making a small contribution to Richard’s dream. Richard has adopted such a positive attitude since his tragic accident that I’m sure he will achieve his goal.” Details: 01749 836300

Support for hospice

SOMERSET Freemasons have presented the Children’s Hospice South West at Wraxall with a grant of £1,738 from their national charity, the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, which has donated over £10.5 million to hospice services since 1984. Pictured (l to r) are Richard Ellis, the Somerset Masonic Secretary, Kylie Gallagher, Community Fundraiser for the Children’s Hospice, David Maddern, the Somerset Masonic Charity Steward, and David Mason, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Somerset. Details: or


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Sounds like a herd of elephants

I DOUBT whoever came up with that phrase spent much time around forest elephants. They probably hadn’t been walking in the forest, By OLLY only to realise with a GRIFFIN rush of surprise and adrenaline that they had almost walked into the second largest land mammal in existence without noticing. The biggest is the savannah elephant, slightly larger in body size, with larger ears to dissipate heat, and with more upright heads and forward-pointing tusks that wouldn’t be much good in dense forest. It’s quite an experience to stop and wait without breathing until the grey shape, too tall to fit under the entrance rail of a car park and weighing the same as six dairy cows, took a few slow steps and disappeared without a sound. There are stories throughout Central Africa of pygmy people turning into elephants in the dead of night to exact revenge for some wrong-doing, but watching an elephant melt silently into the forest you can’t help but wonder if the opposite is true – perhaps the

elephant turns into a pygmy and creeps away on tip-toe. In fact, the only time they don’t seem to be quiet is when they decide the tastiest bit of plant-matter in the whole forest is the bit just outside your tent and that the best possible time to eat such a juicy bit of tree is 3am. One particular male, nicknamed Djoumalle, has twigged that the stony clearing we have our camp in is

Olly keeping a healthy distance from Djoumalle, at Langoué camp

surrounded by succulent plants and young trees, and isn’t bothered by our presence – as long as we give him the healthy respect and distance that any animal which weighs more than a transit van and has modified incisor teeth over a metre long deserves. Those evenings when he chooses to stand in the stream that I normally use for a shower, I choose to wash in a bucket instead.

Djoumalle visiting Langoué camp pic

Former Sidcot pupil, Olly Griffin, who grew up on a dairy farm at Kingston Seymour, near Clevedon is currently working on a conservation project in a remote area of Gabon, on the west coast of Africa.




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Meet the tree mouse!

THIS month’s article comes with a challenge. Before the whole woodland erupts into the spring frenzy of bird song there is a chance to By CHRIS test your peripheral SPERRING eyesight and your MBE ability to pick up soft high-pitched sounds. With the trees still leafless I challenge you on your next woodland walk to take some time to stop, look around and listen for a specific sound. You will need to do this when other birds are not at their loudest, as the bird I am challenging you to find has a particularly faint contact call, comprising of three to five highpitched notes grouped together, ending slower than they started. Keep your eyes peeled too, but not so much at the branches as the trunks of the trees. As you listen you will perhaps hear many different species making sounds, but your target takes time to tune into and identification is much easier if you also get to see the bird that’s making that sound. You are looking for a sudden, jerky movement moving up the trunk of a tree. At first you may well think it was just a trick of the light, but focusing on the moving object may just reveal one of our smallest and most inconspicuous birds. Your first impression may be that it’s

actually a mouse, but closer inspection will show this neat little bird in all its superbly camouflaged glory. You will hopefully be watching the amazing treecreeper. Measuring just 12cm long and weighing as little as 12 grams this is the only member of the treecreeper family we have in the U.K. Its general plumage is light speckled brown on the upper parts giving way to a creamy-white underside from neck to tail. If you’re close enough, or have good binoculars, you will be able to observe the distinctive down-curved beak, which it uses to probe insects and spiders from beneath tree bark. They don’t sit still for long, but watching them is quite captivating. They flutter erratically, almost butterfly-like, from one tree to the next, always landing near the base and making their way in short dashes up the trunk, listening and probing the bark as they go. As they make their way up the tree they encounter branches, which they may also inspect, often shuffling along the underside, completely upside-down. Like woodpeckers, they have a stiffened tail which they use as a prop behind them as they walk up the vertical tree trunks, and wide splayed toes to grip the bark. Though this is an easily overlooked little bird, it is one of the great characters of the woodland, and is probably more numerous than most people realise. Treecreepers are solitary; however, during cold snaps they often come together in

Photography by Chris Sperring

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large groups at night for warmth. I have heard tales of more than 20 huddled together in a blue tit box on a particularly cold night – a sight I have never seen myself. In South West England breeding takes place between March and June and in our region they can rear two broods in a season. Natural nest sites include cracks or holes in trees and crevices created by flaking bark. The special nesting box designed for them mimics flaking bark and consists of a narrow, downward pointing triangular box. Treecreepers are mostly found in deciduous woods, but also like coniferous forests, and one introduced species of tree has become a particular favourite for nesting in; the Giant Sequoia (redwood tree) because of the nature of its bark and the crevices it creates. They are prone to nest predation, however, and those in small pockets of woodland, or near the woodland edge are most at risk from being discovered by their two main predators, woodpeckers and squirrels. Even if they do survive to fledge they are quite short-lived, averaging about two years, although the oldest was recorded at seven years. Do take up my challenge and let me know how you get on. If you have not encountered this bird before it’s quite a test, but February is a great time to find them before they disappear into the background of spring growth and bird song.

Chris Sperring is Conservation Officer for the Hawk and Owl Trust. Contact him on 01275 849287 / 07799 413 918 or via and keep up-to-date by following Chris on Twitter or Facebook. He will also be presenting two programmes in the new series of BBC Radio 4’s The Living World. To find out transmission dates and times visit:


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In miners’ footsteps

A SPECIALLY designed walk in East Mendip to keep you largely out of the mud and wet – important given this exceptional wet winter. It’s an interesting circle through the heart of the old North Somerset coalfield from Radstock along the Colliers Way, through pretty Shoscombe Vale, and Shoscombe and then through the post industrial landscape around Clandown. It ends by following part of the Fosse Way and then picks up more of the line of the old railway. In Shoscombe there is a charming country pub, which if you don’t stop there enroute, you could drive to after the walk. There is a gentle climb up to Shoscombe and one or two more hills later, but nothing of any real difficulty. Much of it is along the flat railway route and largely on tarmac and dry tracks and lanes, and footpaths which have remained in reasonable condition. It’s a stile-free walk, with only kissing gates. There is about 910 minutes along lanes, which have little traffic. PARK: In Waterloo Road car park (free) opposite the Radstock Museum, well worth a visit where the long and fascinating history of mining and life in the North Somerset Coalfields can be discovered. Turn down passing the museum entrance on your left and the eyecatching colliery wheel on your right. Car park is on the right. START: Continue on, along the pavement following the cycle way sign to Shoscombe Vale. Just before the hill, turn

With Sue Gearing PAGE 42 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

right and then left onto the route of the Colliers Way (Radstock to Frome line of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway). This is now linked into the Sustrans cycle network.

1. COLLIERS WAY For a while, pass by an industrial area and one or two old spoil heaps left from the coal mining, but before too long head out into the countryside in the Vale, after doing a short easy climb. Pass one or two planted apple trees of different varieties – an idea which harks back to the days when passengers threw apple cores out of the windows of the train and trees sprouted. After about a mile and a half, reach a lane. 2. FOOTPATH Turn left and immediately go right

through a metal kissing gate, climbing up the field. At a fence corner, continue on towards houses in Shoscombe. Head for the right side of the cottages.

3. SHOSCOMBE Go through a metal kissing gate by the first cottage and go ahead. Keep on, climbing up into the village. It boasted a small railway station, Shoscombe & Single Hill Halt, on the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway serving the small villages between Wellow and Radstock. The station was the last to open on the main line in1929 and closed with the rest of the line in March 1966 under the Beeching Axe. At a T-junction, turn left, and soon reach the very welcoming 250 year old Apple Tree Inn (closed Mon and Tues) with a good reputation for fine food. Continue up through the village.

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4. BEND At a left hand bend are two footpaths. Take the footpath just round the bend, through another kissing gate and follow the old Tarmac path uphill. 5. LANE At the top, reach a lane where you cross onto the stony farm track (public footpath) opposite. You are high up here looking over the countryside, with Peasedown St John on the right. Go on past the farm buildings and drop down towards a fishermen’s car park. Soon see one of the fishing lakes down on the right.

6. FIELD Cross the water coming from a waterfall and feeding another lake, and immediately go right through a kissing gate and up the field, with a dam on the right. Go through a gate at the top on the right and then left through a kissing gate and climb up the right side of the next field. Reach the top corner and stay in the field, turning left along the top. In the corner, go out onto a lane, and cross onto the footpath opposite through another kissing gate and across the field to the main road.

7. MAIN ROAD Cross with care onto the lane opposite, for a two or three minute walk. There may be some traffic. Take the first lane left towards Clandown. 8. CLANDOWN After about seven minutes, reach Duchy Road. Go left, with the playing fields on your right. At the end, follow the footpath on. This area has a much more urban feel then the pretty, green rurality of

6 miles, about 3 hours walking OS Explorer 142, Shepton Mallet & Mendip Hills East, grid ref: 689 549

Shoscombe. Go down heading towards a former slag heap ahead. Follow the path left round the corner, dropping downhill into the heart of the village. Clandown was formerly a mining village in the Somerset Coalfield, but the last pits in the area closed in the late 1960s. The colliery at Clandown, however, opened in 1811 and closed in 1929 and had a maximum shaft depth of 1,437 feet (438 m). The village dates back to Celtic times, where it was given the name ‘Clandown’ which means meeting place. The village changed hands many times from Celts to Romans to Saxons. Artefacts from a Roman site have been found close to the village At the road, immediately turn right on the Fosse Way. 9. FOSSE WAY This Roman road linked Exeter to Lincoln

via Ilchester, Bath, Cirencester, and Leicester. For the first few decades after the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, it marked the western frontier of Roman rule in Iron Age Britain. It may have begun as a defensive ditch that was later filled in and converted into a road, or possibly a defensive ditch ran alongside the road for at least some of its length. It is remarkable for its extremely direct route: from Lincoln to Ilchester in Somerset, a distance of 182 miles, it is never more than 6 miles from a straight line. Continue on down, crossing Chapel Lane, and on, passing the old Lamb Inn, sadly, only recently closed – the last of the village’s pubs. At the start of Springfield Place, turn left and after a few yards go right, still following the Fosse Way. Sadly, there was fly-tipping along here when I came. Soon follow the Way quite steeply up and level out along the top getting some views again. Continue on all the way to a field. Then follow the right edge downhill to an area known as Welton Hollow Go out onto the Collier’s Way again and turn left. Very soon, by a bench, go right on a path and up steps onto the route of the old railway, going left and crossing the viaduct. 10. VIADUCT Follow the route, parallel with the Collier’s Way below, all the way until you reach the Collier’s Way again by one of the old pit trucks, now planted, and labelled with one of the names of the former mines. Pass a recreation ground and continue to the main road in Radstock. Cross to the museum (open from February) and back to the car park. The Apple Tree Inn, Shoscombe 01761 432263.


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West Countryman’s Diary I AM writing for the February edition and the first month of the year is half gone. The weather is nothing to get excited about, especially if you are With LES living – or earning DAVIES MBE your living – on low ground. I don’t think that I have seen quite so much water as when I paid a visit to a good friend of mine, Phil Dolding, at Parsonage Farm in West Lyng. Phil has land that stretches down from the ridge that carries the road from Glastonbury to Taunton, out onto the moor. The whole area was more like a lake, which may be good for wildfowl but does little good for anything else. The Royal Bath and West of England Society has launched an appeal to raise sufficient funding for the dredging of the main arterial rivers to be resumed. The aim of the society is to raise £3million to get the ball rolling. Lobbying the Government has all been to no avail at the present time and it is hoped that this money may encourage them to provide much-needed funding, when others are putting their money where their mouth is. If you would like to know more about what’s going on with this project, visit the website: My last year of a three-year orchard restoration project in Devon has now come to a close, but there are plenty more trees in Somerset for me to work on. I’ve noticed a few fieldfares in the orchards, but not as many as I would have expected to see at this time of year. The truth is it’s wet, but not cold enough for them to seek the shelter, or the food stores of fruit still lying on the ground. Apples are always a great source of interest for pheasants who like to come and pick them over. I remember the gamekeeper at Abbots Leigh asking if he could round his birds up from the orchard of the late Redvers Coate – so many of them had taken an interest in the fallen fruit and no doubt some chance of sanctuary in the orchard as well. This year has been the first outing for my AGT Alpine tractor in the orchards. You may remember my tales of woe, when the gearbox failed (in spectacular style and on a slope) on the old Bucher tractor. This has since been repaired, but waits for the

time to be made available to have it refitted alongside the engine. Meanwhile the little yellow AGT 350 tractor from Slovakia, is starting to prove its worth. It has been traversing the slopes around the orchard in Devon like a fly on a window pane. It climbs well and will run all day, powering the compressor for the air saws, on a few litres of fuel. The look is functional and uncomplicated and it has the added attraction of possessing that quintessential agricultural quality of being able to be ‘fixed’ with a big hammer! I am quite warming to this eastern European immigrant of mine, as my backside really starts to settle into the tractor seat. For those of you who are a little concerned about taking a pruning saw to your own apple trees, I’m running a course at the Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury on February 8th and another at the Chew Valley Community Farm on March 8th. You will be able to get more details from those organisations concerned by contacting them direct. Pruning isn’t ‘rocket science’ but it needs a certain amount of self confidence and skill in handling sharp-edged tools. If you remember to remove about 25% of living wood from your tree, you won’t go far wrong. My food consumption has considerably increased now the orchard work is well underway. The difference is that I am burning a lot of calories through the physical hard work being undertaken. Sandwiches (yes, plenty please) but they can become a little boring, so I will put in extras like a tin of fish, which is full of protein.

Whilst carbohydrates are important to give me the energy, I try to stay away from too much cake and biscuits, as I will feel quite sluggish. Pasta is great, especially in the food flask which can also be used for soup, and my latest indulgence, the all-day breakfast in a tin! Lots of tea and water as well, to keep up the fluids, complete the day-time rations. It is important however to match input against output, and my calorie intake will reduce when I no longer need them. I shudder to think of what my grandfather’s daily intake was, but he worked physically hard ALL the time. Whilst on the subject of food, a reminder for those of you who are members of the Mendip Society, or may like to become members, that this year we are going to have a dinner after the AGM on Friday March 28th. The venue is yet to be decided, but will be as central as possible. More details will follow, but please put this date into your diary and start sorting out your guest list for the evening. There’s no need to rush out to Moss Bros and hire a dinner jacket – black tie won’t be compulsory! Finally, the photo this time is me in seasonal weather engaged in restoration pruning with the little AGT 350 tractor. One day the sun will shine again, but it wasn’t having any of that on the day this photo was taken. More soon, and take extra care in this bad weather. I’m always happy to hear from you. Just tap into your search engine, and send me an email through the website.

You can always contact me through my website:


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YEO VALLEY ‘Over the next few months Yeo Valley will be bringing you a wide selection of guest writers from different areas of the family farm. Ranging from news from the garden, the farm team, the Mead family plus many more, we’ll be sharing a little about what’s going on behind the scenes here in the valley. Happy reading!’



AFTER responding to an advertisement almost 10 years ago to become a Grounds Care Team Member for Holt Farms Ltd, the farm at the heart of Yeo Valley, little did I know what the job would actually involve. Between April and September, I spend most of my time travelling the South West countryside, visiting the different Yeo Valley sites to ensure all the green spaces and hedges are kept trimmed, tidy and looking beautiful. However, it’s between October and March that the really interesting times start. This is when our focus turns to conservation work; habitat management is something we at Holt Farms take very seriously. In the woodlands for example, we make all our own bird boxes, providing homes for the biggest of owls to the smallest of wrens. Coppicing is another important job. This involves cutting trees such as Hazel down to ground level, which in itself creates several new habitats. The skylights we make in the canopy encourage different types of plants to flourish in the extra sunshine on the woodland floor, whilst a diverse range of invertebrates, mammals and reptiles love to hide away and make their homes in the brush hedges and log piles we build. As a British family company dedicated to making great tasting organic dairy products, we want to be here forever, and so are very committed to caring for our surrounding countryside for future generations. As part of this, we are currently awaiting the arrival of 2,000 trees and shrubs. These will be planted as part of a two year plan, with potentially another 4,000 trees to be planted the following year. Over recent months, I’ve also become more involved in our school visits and Farming & Food Days. This is one of the most rewarding parts of the job- by sharing the history of the Mendips, showing children the countryside, and explaining why it is so important to look after, we help protect these habitats and the wildlife that lives in them for generations to come.

If you’re interested in attending one of our Farming & Food Days, or any of our other events, you can find out more at


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Pruning in a nutshell

PRUNING shrubs appears to be a “black art” to many folk, as invariably their bush does not resemble the one pictured in the handbook. However, if a few basic principles can be grasped the mysteries can be solved. Why do we prune? Our aim is to encourage a healthy plant to enable it to perform well, be With MARY it from flowers, leaves or coloured twigs. We PAYNE MBE also need to keep the bush an acceptable size and shape. Sadly, all too often, we see shrubs massacred by hedge trimmers in supermarket car parks, municipal plantings, and also in domestic gardens. Let’s start with the basics before tackling more complex manoeuvres. First, cut out all dead wood and that which is diseased or damaged. Branches that are crossing each other may well be rubbing together and causing damage, so are best removed. Look for any branches that are not true to type, such as suckers or shoots that have reverted to green when they should be variegated. Then ask yourself the question. Why am I growing this shrub? What do I want it to do? Do I want lots of flowers, or larger leaves, or colourful winter twigs? Then establish on what age wood it performs. It is usually either on wood made the previous season, or wood made in the current season. Deciduous plants grown for flower e.g. Forsythia, flowering currant, Weigela, Deutzia and Philadelphus or foliage e.g. coloured leaved Berberis and variegated dogwood. All these and many more shrubs perform on wood they made the year before. Simply cut out approximately one third of the bush, selecting the oldest wood, and removing it as near ground level as possible. Ideally this is done immediately after flowering, but late winter/early spring is also suitable, although you will sacrifice a bit of flower. Shrubs that flower in winter, spring and early summer all fall into this group. Vigorous, late summer flowering deciduous shrubs e.g. butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) and Lavatera flower on growth they have made during the current season. Pruning of these should be delayed until spring, and the wood that has flowered can be cut hard back to 5cm (2”) from where it started to grow. This also applies to less vigorous late flowering shrubs such as Caryopteris and Ceratostigma. Shrubs grown for their attractive coloured winter stems such as dogwoods and willows can also be pruned hard in late spring. This encourages strong growth during the summer to colour for next winter. Slower growing deciduous shrubs such as magnolia, witchhazel, Corylopsis, Parrotia can simple be tidied up after removing all dead, damaged, diseased and crossing branches, and anything that is pointing in the wrong direction. Evergreen shrubs generally need much less pruning, but if it is required it should be done in late spring so that any new growth is not damaged by late spring frosts. To renovate an overgrown shrub (be it deciduous or evergreen) try removing one third from the base and see what happens. If it responds with new shoots remove a further third the next year and so on. Lavender should be tidied up after flowering by trimming off the spent flower heads and then pruned again in the spring, reducing the previous season’s growth by half. This encourages a bushy plant rather than a leggy one. Winter flowering heathers will benefit from a trim over with PAGE 46 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

Rhododendron – regeneration

shears or a hedge trimmer, as soon as they have finished flowering. This helps prevent the plants becoming lanky. Clematis – For the early, large flowered hybrids, cut back to a fat pair of buds which are this year’s flowers. This can be done in late February once the fat buds are clearly visible. The vigorous C. montana group can be left alone, or if they are about to make a take-over bid for your house they can be cut reasonably hard back immediately after flowering, and will make new growth that should flower the following year. The easiest group of clematis to prune are the late flowering ones including all the C. viticella hybrids. These flower on current season’s growth and can be hard pruned back to 30 to 45cms from the ground in late February. Roses – First remove dead, damaged and diseased wood. Hybrid tea should be cut back hard to within 10 to 25cm of ground level to encourage high quality blooms. Floribundas are grown for flower quantity rather than quality, so are cut back less hard, say to 30 to 45cms from ground level. Climbing roses can be treated in much the same way as Hybrid Tea (HT) and Floribunda varieties once a framework has been trained to cover the allocated space. Prune back the old flowering shoots harder on HT types e.g. Compassion and less hard on floribunda types e.g. Climbing Iceberg. Rambling roses make long growths which do not flower until the following season. Prune out the stems that have flowered immediately after they have finished, and train in the new growth. Wisteria always cause problems, but can be tamed by pruning twice a year. In late July/August cut back any long shoots, that are not required to extend the area to be covered, to about 40cm from where they started to grow that year. These same reduced shoots are further shortened in late January to about four or five buds. This treatment encourages the development of spurs on which the flowers develop. Warning – never prune a vine, birch or walnut in late winter or early spring. Once the sap has started to rise these plants can “bleed” alarmingy. Prune while they are completely dormant in late autumn or early winter, or wait until they have come fully into leaf in mid-summer.

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G Sow early lettuce seed under protection. Plant out later for really early crops. Vaila-Winter Gem or Tom Thumb are good tasty varieties to grow now. G Don’t forget to buy seed potatoes and set them up to shoot (‘chitting’). Early varieties like ‘Rocket’ will benefit but later varieties will yield better too if encouraged into growth before planting out. If you have room for only one variety, grow ‘Charlotte’. G Continue to plant shallots. They prefer soil that hasn’t been used to grow onions, leeks or shallots for several years before and a well-manured plot. Plant onion sets if warm. G Lots of vegetable plants can be sown now e.g. turnips, lettuce, stump rooted carrots, early cabbage, cauliflower and spinach in trays on the windowsill. These could be planted out later this month. G Finish pruning and plant more fruit trees and bushes. G Raspberry canes and rhubarb can still be planted now. G Could your garden look better? This is the month when it is stripped to the basic skeleton by winter and when you can assess whether an evergreen shrub, conifer or tree, or perhaps an archway, pergola or statue would improve things. G Construct a cold frame to get early crops going. G Go through your shed and remove any out of date and discontinued chemicals. The local authority recycling centre should be able to help you dispose of them safely. Courtesy Cleeve Nursery

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MENDIP TIMES Tree Stump removal and Stump Grinding Services throughout the South West

See our website at or e-mail us at Prefer to talk to us? Tel: 01934 710135 • Mob: 07799 014639

Professional Tree Surgeons and Consultants 01761 241871


Be creative in the garden

JANUARY is over. You can stop washing your flowerpots and cleaning your tools, it’s time for something more creative. What about redesigning your own garden to eliminate some of the tedious work and increase your enjoyment of the good bits? Garden designer and tutor Christine Pritchard is running a short course on three Saturdays over six weeks in March. Based at Stoke Lodge, Stoke Bishop you will learn how to make an accurate plan of your garden and how to manipulate the spaces within it. Christine will take you through a range of garden features you might incorporate and she will help you choose the right plants for your plot. You don’t need to be an artist or a great gardener to enjoy this very informal course; you just need a garden looking for a facelift. Details: March 1st, 15th and 29th, 10am-3pm £90/£45. Christine Pritchard 01761 221166

Help stop gardens flooding A RECENT article in a national newspaper highlighted the beneficial effects that trees have with regard to storing flood water that runs off the land. Researchers discovered the astonishing fact that water sinks into the soil under trees at 67 times the rate at which it sinks into the soil under grass. The roots of the trees provide channels down which the water

Lowarth Garden and Landscape Design Chelsea Flower Show Silver Gilt medal winner

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flows, deep into the ground. The soil there becomes a reservoir, which releases the water slowly. While the impact of this is greatest on farmland where trees and shelter belts have been removed, it also has relevance domestically where gardens have been paved over or have few trees or little vegetation. Lowarth Garden Design says considering your garden from an environmental point of view may well mean that you create a space that is not just beautiful for you, but beneficial for your neighbourhood. They have been designing and building gardens since 2001. Contact them for more information or to arrange a free consultation.



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Mendip Underground update

THE Mendip Hills are riddled with caves and mines and for many years adventurous people have been exploring them. But where are they? Some are of course obvious, such as the showcaves at Cheddar and Wookey Hole, or the wide open entrance to Aveline’s Hole in Burrington Combe. With PHILIP Most are hidden away in fields, woods and HENDY quarries, often in obscure depressions or shrouded with undergrowth. At first the only way to find them was to talk to experienced cavers or find a description in one of the caving journals. In 1957 Nick Barrington, a Mendip caver and photographer, had the idea of producing a guidebook, The Caves of Mendip. It gave map references to more than 170 caves and mines, with brief descriptions. Sketch maps were also included covering the areas with the greatest concentration of sites and the book became an instant success. It ran to three editions; then in 1970 Nick collaborated with Willie Stanton to write The Complete Caves of Mendip. Willie probably knew more about Mendip caves at the time than any other person and, as a geologist and hydrologist, he included several springs and minor stream sinks. For the first time photographs were included, as well as advertisements. Running to 155 pages, the book covered nearly 500 caves and mines, and many minor sites. The book was rewritten in 1977, when more than 600 sites were included. Willie also explained some of the background to caving in a series of essays entitled A View of the Hills. These described the Mendip geology and hydrology, and the impact of quarrying, a very real concern at that time. The completeness of the book rapidly led to it being known as the caver’s bible. In the same year, Dave Irwin and Tony Knibbs, both of whom knew Mendip caves intimately, decided that a more compact guidebook was required, aimed purely at the sporting caver, who wanted information on exploring the longer and more interesting caves and mines. Mendip Underground, as their book was called, concentrated on 66 caves, though some smaller associated sites were mentioned. Six years later Tony had retired to France and relinquished authorship. The book was by now quite out of date, so Tony Jarratt took his place. Tony was probably Mendip’s most prolific cave digger and knew the area’s caves and mines like no other. New caves and extensions were added, though the basic format remained the same. The fourth edition of Mendip Underground was published in 1999, listing more than 70 caves and mines, including some of the Bath stone quarries. In the next 14 years many changes took place on Mendip. New caves such as Hunter’s Lodge Inn Sink were found and major extensions were discovered in Charterhouse Cave, Upper Flood Swallet and Pierre’s Pot. Cave divers set a new depth record of 90 metres in Wookey Hole and pushed on a further 230


The authors at the launch: Rich Witcombe, Alan Gray and Rob Taviner

metres. Loxton Cavern was rediscovered, as was Axbridge Hill Cave, with the legendary chamber ‘as big as Axbridge Square’. Mendip Underground became very outdated. Sadly, in the intervening years, both Dave Irwin and Tony Jarratt had passed on, though before he died, Tony bequeathed rights in Mendip Underground to the Mendip Cave Registry and Archive. This voluntary body of cavers records all that is known about cave and mine sites in Somerset and, for anybody interested, their website, is well worth a visit. After several years hard work and input by many local cavers, the fifth edition of Mendip Underground was launched at the Hunters’ Lodge Inn (where else?) in December. Co-authored by Alan Gray, Rob Taviner and Richard Witcombe, the book is no longer pocket-sized, but is a full colour glossy volume of 485 pages. Anyone familiar with recent caving books on Swildon’s Hole, Wookey Hole and ochre mining will instantly recognise the superb design and artwork of Mark ‘Gonzo’ Lumley. The book includes sections on the history of Mendip caving, geology, hydrology and archaeology amongst other subjects, plus information on cave rescue and first aid. The main section is of most interest, of course, as it describes more than 300 Mendip caves, some of them in great detail. Rigging guides have been included for the growing number of caves where SRT, or the descent of pitches by abseiling and then prusiking back up, is the preferred method. Some 44 stone quarries around Bath have deliberately only been given brief descriptions, because a more detailed volume dedicated to these complex sites is being planned. There is a large number of high quality and informative photographs and the surveys, though simple, are much more understandable. References are given for anyone wishing to consult source material. Although it has been aimed at cavers, the book will be of interest to many others who wish to learn more about the world under their feet. It is bound to become the reference on Mendip caves for several years, until further discoveries render it obsolete, when a sixth edition will be required. The new Mendip Underground has been eagerly awaited for some years now and cavers agree it has been well worth the wait. For availability, readers should refer to the website:

Phil has been caving for more than 47 years and is a member of the Wessex Cave Club. He has been involved in producing several caving publications and is a caving instructor in Cheddar. His main interest is digging for new caves.


Photography by Phil Hendy

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Lying for laughs

Do comedians have ‘high levels of psychotic personality traits’? A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry claims we do, but I think it belittles serious mental illness. Some 523 comedians filled out a questionnaire, and their results were compared with the results of actors and a group of people in non-creative By Dr PHIL industries. The researchers found that comedians HAMMOND have a greater tendency to believe in paranormal events, a reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure, and a tendency to be impulsive, as well as being easily distracted. But that doesn’t make us psychotic, just a bit peculiar. As the 524th most famous comedian in the United Kingdom, I just missed being asked to fill in the questionnaire. But I’m also a doctor (trust me), so I’ve been giving my personality some thought. The most striking thing about being a comedian is that you’re openly rewarded for lying. There are clearly plenty of other professions where you can advance yourself through lying, such as politics, banking, journalism and house-selling, but comedy (and magic) are almost unique in that the lying is very open and understood by the audience. Comedians tell lies for laughs. All that matters is the laughter, not the lying. Of course the cleverest comedians make sure their absurdly fictitious stories have the ring of truth. And indeed, many stories start as a true event. But just as a pearl starts as a grain of sand, a comedian will continually prod and polish an anecdote into something precious and far removed from the original fact. It may end up being hysterically funny, it may even sound true. But it almost certainly isn’t. The illusion of truth is further fortified by interspersing fictitious stories with observations on true, often current, events. These the audience know are true, so they assume the stories in between are true as well. It’s a clever trick that many comedians use and even when they go all surreal on us (‘I was riding down to the supermarket on the back of a giant prawn’) we picture this in our mind and want to believe it as true (even without the hallucinogenic mushrooms). It would be interesting to know how many comedians as children simply couldn’t help themselves lying. And children are often praised for ‘using their imagination’. But earning such a good living from lying as an adult also makes it hard for some comedians to survive offstage. Every drama, life-event or vaguely amusing observation becomes material to be polished into a brand new lie. Which makes it hard to fulfil those other roles as a parent, partner, friend or taxpayer. So are comedians successful because they have odd personalities, or does lying for laughs make you that way? If you lie for a living, then believing in the paranormal isn’t quite so ridiculous. If you can’t immediately see how to make something funny, it ceases to interest you. If you spot the golden nugget of great material, you’re as impulsive as it gets in seeking it. I’m often asked why I never gave up medicine to pursue comedy full time. One answer is that there are 523 comedians better than me, and I’m not sure I would succeed. Another is that I like the contrast of being a doctor, when I can absolutely never lie to anyone (Ha!) And the third is because I need the material. Which answer is true? And does it matter if it makes you smile? Dr Phil’s all-true comedy tour, ‘Games to Play With Your Doctor’ comes to Frome Memorial Theatre on May 30th. Book now to avoid dysentery.


Home alone

WHEN the children were younger I used to read them the story of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. What struck me about this book – aside from the cat destroying the house – is the fact that two small children were left alone all day while their mother was out. This was probably a common occurrence in the 1950s when the book was written and was ever thus since the beginning of time. Nowadays parents regularly agonise over the question: “Can I leave my child alone?” and the thought of a crazed cat wreaking havoc isn’t uppermost in their thoughts (it might be in mine though – our cats are another story). Parents’ reluctance to leave their children alone presents us with two issues. Firstly, our inability to foster a sense of independence in our children and secondly the paranoia and hypocrisy in our approach to childhood – the wrap them up in cotton wool while exposing them to inappropriate toys, games, technology and clothes, type-ofattitude. Most working parents find that once our children start secondary school we are faced with no choice and at the end of the day they are going to have to come home without parental supervision. I remember when eldest daughter began to do this Granny remonstrated with me, advising me to seek legal advice. I gently reminded her of her own working days and my journeys to school via public transport and my arrival home, alone. Nowadays the 15-year-old is regularly left in charge (although New Year’s Eve involved a hefty fee) and long gone are the days when this worried us. However, recently Mendip Dad and I went for a Sunday walk alone (no-one else was in the mood) and arrived back regretting our absence. After a Sunday lunch of roast chicken we left the remains bubbling away happily to make stock. As we approached the house we saw eldest child fling open the front door. She was followed by middle child and held a steaming saucepan in her hand. Needless to say the house reeked of burnt chicken bones for the rest of the week. MENDIP MUM

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Change for the better


LISA Williams is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and NLP practitioner with a therapy practice situated in the tranquil rural setting of Barley Wood Stables, Wrington, North Somerset. Lisa is qualified to help you stop smoking and with anxiety, stress, panic attacks, depression, lack of confidence, weight management, pain management, phobias, fears, dependencies and many other unwanted behaviours that may be having a negative effect in your life. Using a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and NLP, Lisa’s straightforward and practical style clarifies the therapeutic process and enables a deeper understanding of negative behaviour patterns. With this understanding, and with the use of trance, the process can help guide you towards achieving your goals and help you recognise your own strengths and resources to make more constructive choices and positive changes in your life.


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Torrwood Care Centre

G Brand new build 17-place residential dementia wing all rooms ensuite with their own showers G Recently landscaped garden is safe for all to enjoy G Pastoral and Spiritual support from a dedicated Chaplain G Shared lounges are places to relax or meet friends during the day G Respect for each resident as an individual helping them to enjoy the best out of every day

For more information contact Lesley Cole, General Manager, Torrwood, Gilbert Scott Road, South Horrington Village Wells, Somerset BA5 3FB • Tel: 01749 675544


Tools of the fitness trade

LYNNE Joyner, a fitness and Pilates instructor for 14 years, is just about to qualify as a level 4 REPS low back pain care Instructor. Lynne has trained to be a specialist biomechanics coach and sports massage therapist. These two skills, her new tools of trade, combine together so that the unique screening system identifies any muscle tightnesses in the body and sports massage therapy helps restore the body so that it functions better. Easy exercises are tailor-made to suit each client to stretch and strengthen the body and restore them so that they can move more freely. Biomechanics doesn’t chase the pain – it identifies the likely cause of the pain. Lynne has brought key elements of biomechanics into her Pilates classes and many participants have gone on to benefit from the results. Alongside these new skills, Lynne is excited to reintroduce aerobics into her programme of classes. Zumba has taken the world by storm but aerobics still has a place in people’s hearts. They want a good old-fashioned sweaty workout but have fun at the same time with some good toning at the end. See Lynne Joyner’s advert for details and show a copy of it for a free class. Tel 07748 963297 email: to book your place.

A growing reputation

DURING her 20 years as a consultant anaesthetist and pain specialist in the NHS, Dr Georgina Jefferies began practising acupuncture in the pain clinic. Now, as an independent practitioner, she treats patients with migraine, back, neck and knee pain, and a variety of other conditions including women’s problems. She offers electro-acupuncture where appropriate, working from Chew Medical Practice. Georgina “is focussed on evidence-based research findings to achieve a real outcome, with great flair” according to a recent appreciative patient. Courses of treatment begin with a 45 minute consultation, which includes checking a full medical history and the first treatment, followed by four 20 minute treatments at a time convenient to the patient.


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Your finger can be on the trigger

A PILOT scheme to support individuals, community groups or businesses who believe nobody is acting to tackle the anti-social behaviour they have By SIMON reported has been SELBY launched in the Mendip district council area. Community Trigger is a review process to try to ensure that complaints have not “fallen through the net” of police, local authority or housing provider. It covers problems which have been reported by three or more people in six months or by one person three times in six months. Mendip joins Richmond-upon-Thames, Bolton, Brighton & Hove and Manchester in trialling the scheme. It will run for six months before being assessed. The trigger brings all agencies with a responsibility to tackle anti-social behaviour problems together to review the case to try to find a solution. Once the trigger has been activated, as long as the case meets the criteria it will be reviewed within 10 working days and a letter outlining the outcome of the review will be issued within three weeks. Following this review, action could include the involvement of another agency, further investigations or the provision of emotional and practical support. The community trigger is being run jointly by Mendip District Council, Avon and Somerset Police, Somerset County

A multi-agency scheme – representatives at the launch of Operation Trigger

Council, Safer Somerset Partnership, Aster Communities and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group. It was launched at Aster’s Somerset head offices in Wells by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who said it was aimed at putting victims of ASB first. She added: “Anti-social behaviour is the biggest single reason why people contact the police. Community Trigger is about providing victims with the best service. Anti-social behaviour affects and hurts daily lives and people have a right to live without fear of harassment, abuse and threatening behaviour. “I hope that the community trigger will help all the organisations involved focus on victims and give victims the power to make sure that the police or local authorities are taking action if they report something.” Mendip District Councillor Nigel Taylor, chair of the Safer Somerset Partnership, said: “Anti-social behaviour can ruin lives and tackling the causes of anti-social behaviour is one of the key priorities for the Safer Somerset Partnership.

Here to help – (l:r): Stuart Brown, chief executive of Mendip District Council, Councillor Nigel Taylor, police commissioner Sue Mounstevens, Chief Supt. Nikki Watson and Darren Brazil, from Aster

“The community trigger provides a new way for people to ensure they have had their concerns heard and that the agencies involved have done all they can to solve the problem.” Chief Superintendent Nikki Watson, the Somerset Area Commander, said: “I’m very happy to be piloting this initiative in the Mendip area. We want to be sure that we are giving people who are driven to contact us about anti-social behaviour the best service possible. “The community trigger will help us check that we have done everything we can as a police service and, crucially, that we have involved other agencies who may be able to help where we cannot.” Darren Brazil, Aster Communities’ head of service – ASB, said: “We’re delighted to be lending our support to the community trigger pilot. We already work closely with Mendip District Council and Avon and Somerset Police to tackle all forms of antisocial behaviour and this new initiative reinforces our partnership approach.” Avon and Somerset Police has launched an online survey to ask people about their experiences and views on anti-social behaviour. Chief Supt. Watson said: “We especially want to hear from people who are unsure about reporting incidents of ASB, or how to report, or who are unsure whether the police, the council or other agency is the right one for them to speak to about the problem. The survey is open until Sunday, February 9th at: www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police. uk/police/anti-social-behaviour  The trigger can be activated by using online forms on the websites of Avon and Somerset Police and Mendip District Council, by contacting the police on the non-emergency 101 number, or by writing to the Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinator at Bridgwater police station.

Simon Selby is director of the national Crimebeat charity.


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Shipham pre-school seeks pupils

SHIPHAM Pre-School, a charity, is recruiting more children, with an open morning planned for Friday February 7th, 10am-12noon. It’s also offering a stay and play day on Wednesday February 19th. The school says there are not enough children in the village to fill places.

Cyberbullying – research update AS regular readers of Mendip Times will know, I have spent the past couple of years researching the issue of cyberbullying and its impact on the lives of young people. The project began when I was still an serving officer with Avon and Somerset Police and it attracted a lot of interest nationally. I’ve been working with the City of Bath College where, so far, my three teams of IT students, 51 in all and many from this area, have extracted more than one million pieces of data from our 5,000 questionnaires in what is one of the biggest studies nationally ever! The emerging patterns will be presented later this year and will make a huge difference nationally. My thanks go to Lyall Clarey, their teacher. I was delighted to be the guest speaker at a recent dinner held by the Rotary Club of Midsomer Norton and Radstock when I updated them about the project and one of Somerset’s future High Sheriffs has stated her intention to make it the key focus of her year – the Crimebeat charity which helps young people is supported by the holder of the office each year – and I know other organisations are now also pledging their support. I am very grateful and will continue to bring you updates via this column, or by visiting and talking to any community group (please contact me through Mendip Times). After all, as one reader reminded me, this key piece of research concerns everyone who has a child, or grandchild as one in four young people potentially experience this damaging behaviour.

Details: 01934 844511.;

Some of the students analysing the findings of the questionnaire

Village idiot ruins residents’ display

PRIDE in Paulton Partnership (PiPP) was enjoying a good winter until recently when some idiot stole plants from a new display in Elm Road. Other planters have remained untouched. The volunteers hope the thief will show a touch of remorse and put the plants back. The PiPP team has been working hard to improve the appearance of the village and was praised by South West in Bloom judges. If you have plants to spare, contact Mendip Times and we will put you in touch with them.


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For servicing, repairs and sales of all makes of caravans and motorhomes

Bailey approved body shop and workshop

G Caravan Servicing G Annual Habitation Checks G Alu-Tech Bailey Approved Repairers G Warranty Maintained G Damp Repairs G Accident Repairs G Insurance Repairs G Accessory Fitting

Our shop stocks a full range of accessories and equipment

Open Monday - Friday 9am–5pm; Saturday 9am–1pm

Marchants Hill, Gurney Slade BA3 4TY Call: 01749 841051 Mob: 07778 465520 Email: PAGE 56 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

Mendip Times reduces travel costs

100,000 potential customers within a short distance of your business

UBLEY MOTOR SERVICES MG Rover Land Rover Specialists





QUALITY USED CARS Your peace of mind is our priority

CLEEVE HILL, UBLEY. TEL: 01761 462275 (24hrs)

TG Auto Centre is a family run garage in Midsomer Norton, committed to providing the highest levels of service and quality workmanship at affordable prices. If you are looking for a trustworthy garage to assist with repairs, MOTs and servicing, then look no further.

MOTs by appointment Gearbox & clutch replacement/repair Vehicle servicing and repairs Auto electrical Cambelts replaced Tyres supplied and fitted Motorsport preparation Body repair by arrangement

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Tarnock Garage – for Ford and far more TARNOCK Garage has been established since the 50s and has been selling and servicing Ford vehicles in Somerset for five years. They believe in the traditional values of good customer service and an honest approach to business. It is a family business, run by two brothers, Simon and Chris Brace. The business started from small beginnings, but has kept on growing, taking on four new members of staff in the last year. The team now stands at nine, with their latest edition, Dave, joining in sales and bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience to further help Tarnock Garage’s customers. The garage is authorised to supply both new and approved used Ford vehicles, promising not to be beaten on the price of a new vehicle if you live within their sales area. There is always a wide and varied choice of used cars to be found too, all prepared to the highest possible standard. The vehicles are subjected to a rigorous multi-point check and all come with a Ford scheduled service, quarter tank of fuel, 12 months MOT, if required, and a minimum of six months warranty. The workshop is authorised to carry out all servicing and repairs on all Ford vehicles, at prices that beat even the independent garages. Even if you don’t have a Ford, competitive prices are offered on servicing and MOTs, all carried out to the same exacting standards. All of their technicians are fully Ford trained, so you can be sure your vehicle is in excellent hands. All customers having their vehicle serviced get a complimentary ‘Wash & Vac’ for their vehicle and if you live within eight miles


of the garage, a collection and delivery service is offered, making it even easier for customers to have their vehicle looked after. The team are all passionate about their cars and this is reflected by the reputation the garage has as being the place to buy, modify or maintain your performance Ford car. The garage is the Mountune PRO dealer for the South West, an accolade they are proud of. Whether it is an ST or an RS, there is a massive amount of knowledge and experience about these vehicles, on both sales and service side of the business. All of this is run through the sister company of TGST. The showroom recently had an upgrade in line with Ford’s current look, bringing it very much into the 21st century! The ‘Discovery Bar’ was one of the main features, providing a place for customers to learn more about all aspects of Ford’s cars. The 2 iPads attached to the bar are the main feature of this, providing videos and virtual walk rounds of the cars. There is also a premium coffee machine, WiFi, TV & magazines, all free of charge to waiting customers.

For more details call 01934 750320 or view the current selection of cars at


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Boost for Iris-May’s charity

Wassail queen


AROUND 300 revellers took part in the annual Wassail ceremony at Thatchers. Wassail Queen Eleanor Thatcher led the procession through the Thatchers orchards, together with The Green Man, Horse, and The Mendip Morris Men.

Access improved EIGHT-year-old Iris-May Farler Knight, from Langford, has raised £5,000 towards her own charity, Skeletal Cancer Action Trust (SCAT). She suffers from a rare form of bone cancer, Ollier’s disease. Recently, she and her mother, Sarah Smith, were invited to Nailsea Masonic Centre to receive a cheque for £500 from Nailsea Mark Lodge. Her grandfather, Ben, who is a member of the lodge, wanted Iris-May’s condition to be more widely recognised. He said: “She deals with a lot of pain and never complains; she just carries on and makes adjustments to life where she needs to. She is a true inspiration.” Iris-May and her mother are pictured with Worshipful Master, Jon Mansell, and charity steward, Cliff Hannabuss.

Mendip AONB faces budget cuts

MENDIP AONB is objecting to proposed budget cuts by Somerset County Council, which plans to cut £40,000 from the £45,000 it gives to AONBs in Mendip, Blackdown Hills, Cranborne Chase and Quantocks. The county council currently gives a contribution of six per cent or less to the AONB partnerships, which conserve and protect these nationally designated landscapes. Mendip Hils AONB manager, Sarah Jackson, said: “Having already suffered local authority cuts of up to 40% we are all at a stage now where any further cuts will result in loss of services or no service at all. That will impact on Somerset’s landscape, rural economy and communities.” The AONB works with landowners and the local community to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area. Details:


Simon Woollen (left) and Dickon Moore standing next to the fence posts which are all that is left of the boundary between the two areas at Rodden Meadow

PUBLIC access to one of Frome’s largest and most central open spaces has been improved after a land purchase by Frome Town Council. Two areas of Rodden Meadow have now been joined up, creating access to the new section which runs closest to the River Frome. The council has been negotiating with landowners for several years. Dickon Moore, the mayor of Frome, said: “Development in the town is squeezing our green spaces, so it’s fantastic to see one of the most important ones we have expanded and safe from future development.” “Rodden Meadow is a beautiful green space close to the town centre that is well used by many.” Simon Woollen, Frome Town Council’s grounds and properties manager, added: “It has been a long-term ambition of ours to reunite the two parts of the meadow and I am happy to say that this ‘green lung’ has now been saved. I hope that this will enable more people in the town to enjoy this outdoor space.”

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Sales hit six-year high

THE number of homes sold per chartered surveyor in the South West reached its highest point since June 2007 last month, as the recovery in the region’s property sector continued full steam ahead, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Over the festive period, the average number of transactions per surveyor in the region reached 22, more than double the lowest point of the downturn back in February 2009, when respondents were selling a mere nine. With more sales now going through, growth in demand for rented accommodation has begun to slow significantly as a growing number of renters opt to test the sales market. Respondents noted that increased confidence is a key driver behind growing activity. Meanwhile, with the amount of homes coming onto the market still nowhere near enough to meet the higher level of demand, prices continue to rise across the region. During December, a net balance of 56 per cent more chartered surveyors reported growing prices in the South West. Significantly, every area of the UK saw prices increase with London and the South East experiencing the biggest jumps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the more positive tone to the market, expectations for 2014 are decidedly upbeat. Respondents predict that both sales and price numbers will continue to increase across the UK through the course of this year. This is largely being driven by easing in credit conditions, resulting in higher loan to value mortgages, and the ongoing imbalance between supply and demand.




A handsome detached ‘Georgian’ house set down a drive on the edge of the village with formal gardens and 6 acres of paddock. Stone & tile outbuildings. Double garage. Typical well proportioned high ceilinged rooms: Three reception rooms, kitchen with Aga, Scullery and dairy, five double bedrooms, two bath and shower rooms. Ref: 24648 PRICE GUIDE £895,000




Detached family home set in just under an acre with smallholding & equestrian facilities, enjoying a semi-rural location with extensive views. The accommodation comprises four bedrooms, two reception rooms, conservatory and kitchen breakfast room. Detached double garage/workshop and additional outbuildings/stables. Epc: C. Ref: 24636 PRICE GUIDE £589,950 W



Stylish detached barn conversion located in rural lane between Queen Charlton and Keynsham. Sweeping drive entrance to triple stone and tile garage with loft over (potential annexe/studio subject to pp). Large landscaped gardens and accommodation combining comfort and style. Sitting room with woodburner, dining room, study, kitchen with Aga. Four double bedrooms, en suite and bathroom. EPC: C. Ref:24652 PRICE GUIDE £725,000

Wrington Tel: 01934 864300


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Mike’s charity mission

FOR the last three years Mike Burns has undertaken a marathon bike ride every year in aid of charity. After the whirlwind he’s had in the last few weeks, this year’s ride – even though it’s 840 miles long – might give him a bit of a rest! Steve Egginton reports. MIKE Burns, from Norton Malreward, has been under the local and national media spotlight since the publication of Mud & Bodies, the war diaries of his grandfather, Captain N.A.C. Weir, described by historian Saul David as “one of the most fascinating and personal accounts ever published of the First World War”. Mike’s also working hard on a new charity, which gives mums the chance to visit their sick or premature babies in hospital. He and his family knew nothing about his grandfather’s war service. He had gone on to work in the War Office and the Colonial Service after serving in the war but had never talked about surviving and being decorated for his part in some of its bloodiest battles. Neil Weir died in 1967 and it was not until two years ago that Mike opened one

of the metal trunks he had left behind to find his diaries and letters. A chance remark at a dinner party put him in touch with Saul David, from Peasedown St. John, who has edited the book. Mike said: “You can’t imagine how he survived, at 19, leading his men over the top holding his pistol aloft and blowing a whistle. The survival rate of captains like him in the first two years was terrible.” With the book published he’s now getting ready for his next big bike ride in May. The first, three years ago from Land’s End to John O’Groats, bought Bloodbikes, a group of volunteers who transport emergency blood supplies to hospitals, their first ever brand new motorcycle. Since then his fundraising has bought another five motorbikes and four new cars. From that a new service has grown, NICU Support, which transports mums or

their milk to Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Bristol and Bath. Mike, who has his own online graphics business, said: “To begin with we were collecting donor breast milk and taking it to the hospitals. Now we have four cars and can take the mums themselves. They wouldn’t be able to get to the hospitals otherwise and you can’t imagine the emotion of taking them in to see their baby.” The latest addition to the charity’s fleet is a bit special – a BMW i3 electric car, which has the speed of a sports car and costs about £3 a night to charge for up to a 100-mile range – and no road tax! BMW GB, amongs others, will be supporting Mike’s next ride. Mike and his wife Claire have three daughters Amelia, aged 16, Arabella, aged 13, and Ava, aged eight.

Highlanders from Captain Neil Weir's regiment at Longueval, Battle of the Somme

Details: Mud & Bodies Bike ride • Bloodbikes PAGE 60 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

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Memories of war

Mendip remembers

T H E G R E A T WA R 1 9 1 4 - 1 8

A SMALL group of researchers from Rickford are planning a book to commemorate the centenary of the start of WWI. They have already amassed lots of information about those who served from the parish (Rickford, part of Langford and Burrington) but would appreciate some more help from readers. In particular they have these photographs but no names to put to the faces. One is of soldiers from the parish, probably taken 1914-1916, and the other is of the village school in 1908. Many of these boys would have gone away on active service some six years later.

Pre-war Burrington School 1908. Mr Phillips (known as ‘Daddy’ Phillips) is the headmaster.

They know that Stanley Wilson is the fourth boy from the right in the Headmaster’s row and that Basil Wookey is at the left end of the middle row of soldiers. If anyone recognises any individuals or spots family likenesses they would be

delighted to hear from you. In addition they would also be very pleased to hear from any readers who have old photographs of people or village scenes from 1910 to 1920, or any snippets of information which would illustrate life at the time.

1914-16 Basil Wookey mid left

Details: Jacky Kerly 01761 462491 or MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 61

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Jacksons Fencing – news, topical treats and more . . .

Why has my fence blown down?

REGULAR readers of my monthly pages will no doubt have realised that I often mention the weather, so I’m sorry to be harking on about it again, but it has been exceptional. Even before the Christmas break there were disruptions caused by floods and gales, and throughout January the country has continued to be battered and soaked. My heart goes out to those of you who suffered flooding and damage to your properties, especially those who after mopping up and trying to get back to some semblance of normality were hit by another onslaught of evil weather, causing even more damage. Some of you may well have woken up to find that your fencing had blown down, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider some of the gales were estimated as being upwards of 80 mph. It was a scene of garden devastation in the area of Kent where I live. We helped a few neighbours out by moving panels that had not stood up to the battering of the wind, and in some instances fencing that ended up as just fragments of brittle wood. Well if this has happened to you, you may well ask why has my fence blown down and someone else’s in the next garden remains intact? Here are a few points to bear in mind when thinking of a replacement fence: Rotten posts – A common reason for a fence falling is due to rotten posts. Untreated timber will rot very quickly when it is in contact with the ground and will therefore no longer be able to stabilise the line of fencing. All Jacksons fencing posts undergo the unique Jakcure timber treatment process, which offers a 25year guarantee against rotting and wood boring pests. Jakcure pressure treatment drives preservative deep into the carefully selected timber (not all species of tree represent a timber conducive to effective treatment), which results in solid and strong posts that last for many years. Proper foundations – No matter how good your posts are, they won’t stay up unless you have them dug in to the correct depth, and with plenty of concrete to secure them in the holes.

Not much of this fence is left standing after the gales

Jacksons Venetian panels are semi-solid, so offer less wind resistance and have an attractive modern look





Enter the free prize draw and be in with a chance to win one of our garden gate sets. We have 15 different styles and various sizes – the gate sets come complete with posts and everything you need to hang the gate. They make having a new gate beautifully simple and straightforward, and they are all guaranteed for 25 years too! Simply log on to your local page, address below and follow the easy instructions on how to enter. The draw closes 28.2.14. To enter go to:

Always ensure that the post holes have straight sides. For a 1.8m fence (6ft) fence each post requires 60kg of concrete to provide a secure base. Posts should be set in the ground at a minimum of 600 mm (2ft) – and deeper for higher fences. Fit for purpose design – Look for solidity in the fence panel, does it look strong and feel heavy? If it feels flimsy and lightweight, then that’s what it is! In areas that suffer excessive winds, like coastal situations, it may be best to consider a semisolid panel that offers less wind resistance, allowing air to pass through it, rather than hit it full on. Fixings that last – These are as important as all the other points mentioned here. There is no point in buying a well-built panel and following the rules on post strength and correct installation if you skimp on cheap fixings, go for non-rusting, heavily galvanized fixings to hold everything firmly in place. Avoid the cowboys! – A final point to remember, a fence is only as good as its installation. Please check your installer is reputable and if they are, they will be able to supply references of good work they’ve carried out previously, or ask friends to recommend decent installers. These points are all covered in more detail if you go to your local page, as is our special offer to help out people who need to replace their fence, Jacksons are offering free delivery on all garden fencing and gates throughout February – full details at:


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Telephone: 01761 452171 Fax: 01761 453342 PAGE 64 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

Plantation shutters

PLANTATION shutters, or window shutters as they are more commonly known, are becoming an increasingly popular window covering in Somerset and can transform your home by offering a stylish yet highly practical interior window covering to compliment any room, home or work space perfectly. Shuttercraft Somerset’s comprehensive range of S:CRAFT Window Shutters not only look impressive, they offer the following unique benefits: G Outstanding light and privacy control options through operable louvres and panels G Excellent ability to reduce outside noise – ideal for homes next to busy roads G Scientifically proven to help reduce heat loss – allowing you to save on your energy bills G Ideal for small and large awkward shapes including port holes and gable ends G Virtually maintenance free and beneficial to dust allergy sufferers G Suitable for modern bi-fold windows and doors to classic bay and sash windows G Child friendly with no cords or strings Shuttercraft Somerset are a local supplier who offer a madeto-measure service. Find out more by contacting Simon Moody on 01749 649171 or visit

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Kay and Tony find an oasis in Cheddar ONLY a stone’s throw from the increasingly busy and noisy A371 in the centre of Cheddar, you’ll find an oasis of peace and calm. Or rather, you may find it, as Kay and Tony Richardson’s home is discreetly hidden from view. If you are lucky enough to find Applebee or be invited, Kay and Tony will tell you just how they created this tranquil retreat. It all started back in the late 1970s when they purchased Walnut House, a large fourbedroomed property in The Hayes. But it was what lay outside Walnut House, namely dilapidated outbuildings and

untended gardens that were once an apple orchard, that were really the key to the way things turned out. With enviable vision, the Richardson’s assessed the potential of their four tumbledown garages and ramshackle carriage barn; they reckoned they could turn them into something very special – which in 1988 they set out to do. They sold Walnut House and moved into an on-site five-berth caravan, with their children, Mark and Sarah, during a particularly bleak autumn. Kay said: “We all froze that winter but knew that putting up with a little discomfort was a small price to pay for our dream home.” And, despite the weather, that dream home began to take shape. The additional stone they needed was locally sourced and


they were given huge amounts of help and advice on new materials by Mike Frost of builders’ merchants Graham Reeves in Weston. By the late spring of 1989 the work was complete. The barn formed the main ‘home’, whilst the garages became children’s play and escape areas. It was a mini paradise for the children then and the grandchildren now. Built in local stone by local builders and craftsmen, Applebee has a timeless quality about it. Recently Kay and Tony decided to replace windows in the converted garages part of their property and spoke to a friend in Axbridge who had recently used the local family firm of Kingfisher. Tony said: “Recommendation is always the most credible form of advertising and the people we spoke to had nothing but praise

Weston Garden Machinery

for Kingfisher. Having now used them ourselves, we know why.” A good deal of time went into choosing the colour of the frames so they would complement the stone. Visitors and friends, a number of whom want to use the same colour for their windows, confirm it was time well spent.

Garden Machinery Specialist

• Sales & Spares • Service & Repairs of all makes of Garden Machinery • Woodburning, Multifuel & Gas Stoves


Hutton Garden Centre, Banwell Road, Hutton, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset BS24 9UB

Tel: 01934 813261 MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 65

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Why your bathroom will look lovelier for longer . . .

It’s an important room and we know this It’s got to be warm and inviting, clean yet low maintenance Comfortable and functional – whether yours is high or low tech

You only get these benefits with a Standen’s bathroom:

G Limescale control, promoting easier glass cleaning G Microban© included, keeping it beautiful and hygienic for longer

G Trained and licensed plumbers install, stops smells and gurgling G Power showers that deliver on performance and quality

G Optional 6-year warranty on plumbing workmanship for peace of mind G Price guarantee keeps the installation on budget.

Detailed quotations for you in 48 hours


With 14 manufacturers, our own directly employed teams of HETAS installers and being builders too, we truly can offer the One point of call solution for stoves and woodburners.

With our online sales portal at Wantastove we offer the best Prices in the UK for stoves right on your doorstep. Oil, Gas and Solid Fuel Heating Specialists including Thermal Stores

Call us today: 01934 832250 PAGE 66 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

Braysdown Works Braysdown, Peasedown St John Bath BA2 8LL

Give us a call on 01761


Opening Hours 8am – 5.30 pm Monday to Friday • Evenings by appointment

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Tony Hucker TV Service – Sales – Rental

• • • • • •

Satellite Installations Aerial Systems TV wall mounting Custom Installations Networking Signal Solutions

01275 332888 Unit 4, Fairseat Workshops, Chew Stoke BS40 8XF Open: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm and Sat 9am-12 noon


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01761 439300 •

Free no obligation quotes Free measuring Free delivery The Staircase Manufacturing Company Limited, Wellsway Works, Wells Road, Radstock, Bath BA3 3RZ email:



Quality staircases

STAIRCASE Manufacturing is a long established business specialising in the production of quality staircases and staircase furniture. With over 80 years of experience within the manufacture of bespoke staircases, Staircase Manufacturing combines the best traditions of craftsmanship with up-to-date production techniques to produce the highest finish possible. They can also provide their own joinery services, creating stairs in hard or softwood, standard or bespoke designs and using matching timbers to your doors, architraves and skirting which gives a truly bespoke and quality appearance to your whole house. They craft the stair that matches your style of home perfectly, maximising the use of space available. The staircase is manufactured and ‘dry’ assembled in their workshop, ensuring that the staircase fits before it is delivered to your home minimising any disruption. To obtain a free, no obligation quote contact them on 01761 439300

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Stairway to heaven?

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

ROBERT Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters will perform in the spectacular grounds of Glastonbury Abbey in August. The annual Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza takes place on Saturday, August 9th and will end with the traditional firework display. Tickets for the event are now on sale. Plant has been hailed as one of the greatest live rock and roll performers of all-time and hits new heights with a band mixing African trance, psychedelia and 21st century warped dance beats into a web of re-envisioned Led Zeppelin classics. Organiser Michael Eavis, founder of the Glastonbury Festival, said: “This night is a chance for those locally who can’t always get to the festival in Pilton to enjoy something extra special in this wonderful town. “I am sure he will appeal to all generations, as he is one of our all-time great Rock and Roll performers and fans of all ages will remember the Led Zeppelin classics.” Janet Bell, abbey director, said: “We’re delighted that, thanks to Michael, the Extravaganza is returning to the abbey in 2014. It is always a fantastic event and we are very excited that Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters will be performing here this summer.”

Make a date

WEDMORE’S Clash of the Choirs, which was hugely popular last year, will be staged again on March 8th in the village’s St. Mary’s Church. Featuring eight choirs and singing groups, numbering 210 singers in all, together with around 350 frenzied fans, it promises to be an evening to remember. A one-armed bandit voting machine, susceptible to rigging, a bar and elegant comperes, will enhance the event. Tickets (£2 for children 14 and under and £7 for adults) are now on sale from The Village Store and The Cottage Gallery. The photograph shows one of last year’s singers, Amelia Ford. Details: David Hopkins 01934 710149 or

Charity concert


WINSCOMBE Community Choir raised nearly £1,500 for the children’s charity, The Jessie May Trust, with its last concert of the year and is now busy preparing its programme for 2014. The choir is pictured with Winscombe School Choir.

Choir prepares for next event

OAKFIELD Choir in Frome is gearing up for its next concert in May, following its very successful Christmas concert, directed by Martin Emslie at Christchurch, in Frome. The choir was supported by fine local soloists, Alicia Little, soprano, Deryn Edwards, mezzo, Graham Shaw, tenor and Mark Williams, bass. The main works were Charpentier’s Messe de Minuite and Pergolesi’s Magnificat. The string quartet, all members of Frome Symphony Orchestra, was lead by Mark Gateshill, with additional accompaniment from Ann Burgess. No sooner had the applause died down than the scores for the choir’s next concert on Saturday May 3rd were being ordered. This concert will consist of works by Handel, Vivaldi and a Bach Cantata, with accompanying orchestra and soloists. The choir are always looking for new members, so if this music appeals, go along to their rehearsals at 7.30 pm in the Oakfield Academy school hall. There are no auditions, but previous experience and an ability to read music is helpful. Details: 01373 836269 Email


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Stars and stripes at Hill Livery TERRI Hill who runs the Hill Livery stables at Dundry is best known for her career as a show jumper and also sits on the British Show Jumping Sports Committee. Terri, aged 39, and her mum, Mary, have been long-standing supporters of show jumping in the area and Terri runs a busy With CELIA competition livery yard which houses around GADD 30 horses now. However, she also has a few slightly more unusual inmates, and is fast becoming an expert in a more unusual species that is not usually seen in our Mendip Hills. Terri told me that it all started when she originally was just looking for a book which explained the difference both anatomically and behaviourally between a zebra and a horse. The last book she could find was written between 1974 and 1976 and so she started to do her own research and was soon introduced to, and helped by, Dr Bryan Carroll who is the director of Bristol Zoo. His wife Christine kept her horse in livery with Terri at the time and so Terri was soon introduced to, and became a member of the BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums). She said: “I visited lots of zoos that held plains zebras as of the three types of zebras the plains are the most common (the best in my opinion) and the ones with no representation at European level, and also the ones I was most interested in!” Terri explained how she was shown behind the scenes and into the lives of these amazing animals and started to formulate her plan to keep zebras at home in the garden! It was hard work in the beginning to convince the professionals that Terri was serious and had the knowledge and experience to care for these creatures adequately as zoos are often approached by random people thinking it would be a good idea to keep a wild animal. Terri soon convinced them that she was genuinely passionate about zebras and all other equids, both wild and domesticated. As her knowledge increased and her relationship with the zoo became more established, especially with Longleat Safari Park, Bryan introduced Terri to the amazing Keith Harris and Andy Hayton. These two taught Terri an awful lot about zebras and she started to put together her enclosure at home with the hope that her new equids would arrive soon.


The enclosure was built, the DWA (dangerous wild animal licence) gained from North Somerset Council, her firearms licence granted, protocols in place, research on feed, bedding, aggregate and so much more done and things started to fall into place. The transport trailer had to be reinforced as zebras are very strong and dangerous and it was with great excitement that Terri received a call from Dublin Zoo to say that they had two zebras that were available for re-homing. Terri was delighted and asked why they were being moved on and the answer was that they kept on attacking the rhinos! This was a mare and her gelded brother and Terri was then offered two entire young males, one from Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, and one from Africa Alive! in Suffolk. So then came the tricky job of organising how to collect all four zebras over four days and get them back to Somerset. Now these zebras were completely wild and had to be sedated with a dart gun to travel and Terri was shocked to see that her companion, Andy, also had a rifle with him in case the zebras became unmanageable during the journey. Luckily all went well and all four arrived back at Hill Livery safely, although over the first 24 hours one ripped the water drinker off the wall and flooded his stable, one tried to jump out of the window and one tried to jump out of the back wall and onto the roof. Terri had lots of help and support on the telephone and eventually they all settled down into their enclosure although it did take a little while for the horses to get used to them. One of them is now quite friendly but the others are still very wild despite being with Terri now for four years and they are definitely very different to horses to deal with. Terri now also has a two Somali wild ass, which is one of the rarest equids in the world and are on an EEP (European endangered species programme). She has also been working with Chester Zoo on a breeding programme involving their Onager and Asiatic wild ass that are also an endangered species and her zebras have appeared in various films and animations including a visit from David Attenborough! Terri is fast becoming an expert on equids and feels extremely honoured to be able to keep and research these fabulous creatures. So far though it doesn’t look like they are going to appear on the show jumping scene!

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Ones to watch

The Wessex Area Point-toPoint season kicked off at the beginning of January with the Larkhill Racing Club fixture on Salisbury Plain. A total of 22 meetings are scheduled in Wessex, culminating in Weston and Banwell’s evening fixture at Cothelstone, near Taunton, on Wednesday, May 14th. The Mendip Farmers meeting at Ston Easton will be held on Sunday, March 23rd. First race is at 12.30pm and pony racing will follow. Here, Brian Armstrong, photographer and press officer with wife Gill for the Wessex meetings, highlights some of the local horses and trainers to watch.

CHLOE Roddick has a strong team at Wellow, near Bath, including Wadebridge winner Romassor, Cheltenham hunter chase winner Rebel Du Maquis (a possible mount for National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls’ daughter Megan later in the season) and Chepstow Novice Chase winner Valentine Vic. Young Jim, Wadebridge winners Combehay and Hugo Where Igo also return. Newcomers include Stephen and Louise Kemble’s Tara Flow, an unraced full-sister to the stable’s impressive 2013 winner Tara Point, The Copper Jug, who is related to Hennessy Gold Cup winner Strong Flow, and Action Ball, a full brother to top French chaser Rubi Ball. Gare Hill, near Frome, permit trainer Charles Whittaker has retained Larkhill winner Starburst Diamond, dual 2012 winner Pertinent, Now Listen to Me – absent since finishing third in his single 2012 hunter chase outing – and dual 2013 winner Ruapehu, who may be campaigned in points later in the season. Sarah Hawker, who trains at Rode, also near Frome, will

HORSE RACING Come to the Mendip Farmers

POINT TO POINT RACES SUNDAY 23rd MARCH Ston Easton, BA3 4DH “A great family day out”

• Children’s entertainment • Bar • Food • Trade stands • Pony Racing

Supporting Local charities: Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Wells R.D.A., Shepton Rotary

First Race 12.30pm

Tel: 01761 241339

Action from one of the races at last year’s meeting at Ston Easton

campaign three horses this season, including interesting newcomer Tricky Trickster, winner of the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival. Jayo, who may be suited to sub three-mile hunter chases, is joined by homebred bumper runner-up Beaujolais Bob, a son of the Hawkers’ winning pointer Charliebob. Sarah Gould has eight pointers at the family farm at Cranmore, near Shepton Mallet. Sarah retains Cothelstone runner-up Third Chance, No Excuses and Special Occasion, the winner of three races last season. Interesting newcomers include Molland Gayle, the winner of four races for the Robert Chanin stable and former high class Rules performer Silverburn, a full-brother to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman and winner of a Grade 1 Sandown Novice Chase. Bruton trainer Rose Loxton will campaign Gwanako, the winner of 12 races under Rules, and runner-up at Wadebridge under Megan Nicholls. Andrew Croskery and Lucinda Gould will race Poquelin from stables at Alhampton, near Ditcheat. Formerly trained by Paul Nicholls, Poquelin has won 10 races under Rules, including five at Cheltenham where he finished runner-up in the Ryanair Chase at the 2010 Festival meeting. Trainers David Prichard and Becky Furber have rejoined Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat stables, but have retained Martys Mission, the winner of a 2m4f Ludlow hunter chase in February. For a free colour leaflet detailing all the meetings in the Wessex area, send an SAE to Gill Armstrong, Pantiles, Penselwood, Wincanton, Somerset BA9 8NF. During the season keep up with the latest Wessex news on, Point to Point Racing in Wessex on Facebook and @pointingwessex1 on Twitter. Official photographs from the meetings are available from Brian on: 01747 841059.


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Wincanton signposts to Cheltenham glory? THE Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton Racecourse will once again provide some clues as to whose name could be added to the list of Cheltenham Festival winners. The race, on Saturday, February 15th, is on the agenda for a number of elite hurdlers as their trainers accelerate their festival campaign plans. Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has already highlighted the classic contest as an option for the progressive seven-yearold My Tent Or Yours. Owned by JP McManus, My Tent Or Yours has won both seasonal outings with a final race required to fine tune fitness levels. In 2012, McManus and jockey AP (Tony) McCoy landed the Kingwell Hurdle with the recentlyretired Binocular, beating Celestial Halo by six lengths. The infamous green and gold colours will be a great attraction for loyal racegoers and those that take advantage of advance booking will not only receive a £2 discount, but also a £10 voucher towards an admission ticket to the Stan James Champion Hurdle raceday on Tuesday, March 11th. Meanwhile, Wincanton’s traditional Cheltenham Festival Preview will take place on Thursday, March 6th and will be held in the Kingwell Restaurant. Channel 4 racing presenter Alice

Equine firm setting the pace

SOMERSET-based equestrian firm Pro-motion Equine is beginning to make inroads on race tracks around the world. They have just returned from another hectic tour of Irish race yards. Lorraine Curtin-Blair, from Pro-motion Equine said: “We have been very privileged to visit and work with Ireland’s top National Hunt and flat trainers.” They saw the Willie Mullins trained Rockaboya, owned by Patrick Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, winning the Paddy Power Chase in Leopardstown. The team regularly travels to Ireland to work with Rockaboya, who is trained in their full tree race relief. Patrick Mullins said: “Rockaboya’s performance has improved significantly since training in the race relief.”

February 2014 show dates Saturday 1st BSJA Seniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre, Davis Lane, Clevedon Sunday 2nd BSJA Seniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre, Davis Lane, Clevedon Wednesday 5th Lower evening show jumping at Badgworth Arena, Axbridge Thursday 6th Clear Round jumping at The Hand Equestrian Centre, Davis Lane, Clevedon Saturday 8th BSJA Juniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre Sunday 9th BSJA Juniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre


Trainer Paul Nicholls (second right) is a regular visitor to the winner’s enclosure at Wincanton and will again provide expert preCheltenham analysis

Plunkett hosts with Paul Nicholls, Joe Tizzard and Richard Hoiles on the panel. Unlike previous years, the preview will take place before an afternoon’s racing. It will start at midday followed by a Bathwick Tyres seven race card and an afternoon where Alice Plunkett and Luke Harvey will be tasked with garnering lastminute updates from the UK’s leading trainers and jockeys, ahead of the festival, which takes place from Tuesday, March 11th until Friday, March 14th. Prices for tickets to the preview have still to be confirmed. G Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle Raceday gets under way at 11:30am with the first race at 1:55pm. Advance tickets start from £14 and are available online at or by calling 0844 5793014. A courtesy bus will meet trains coming into Templecombe at 12.25pm and Exeter St David’s at 12.43pm, leaving the racecourse at 5.35pm. Children aged 17 and under race free.

Wednesday 12th BSJA Seniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre Higher evening show jumping at Badgworth Arena Friday 14th Unaffiliated dressage at The Hand Equestrian Centre Tuesday 18th British Dressage at The Hand Equestrian Centre Wednesday 19th Lower evening show jumping at Badgworth Arena Saturday 22nd Gloucester dog show at The Hand Equestrian Centre

Luckington Equestrian Cricklands showjumping qualifier. Hill House Farm, Buckland Dinham, near Frome. First class at 9:30am. Classes from 1’9” to 3’3” all in indoor arena. For schedule visit: or call 07977 909445. Sunday 23rd BSJA Seniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre Wednesday 26th BSJA Seniors at The Hand Equestrian Centre Higher evening show jumping at Badgworth Arena

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Star shines bright at stallion grading FULL thoroughbred stallion Wessex Starring Role – known as “Star” at his Mendip home to his owners John Ford and Alan Lyons – recently attended Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain Stallion Grading and returned triumphant with “Life Graded” status. Of the 14 stallions brought forward from all over the country, only four passed the assessment and the accompanying vetting to become graded. SHB (GB) is the governing body for all hunter and sport horse classes and stallions graded with them benefit from being recognised by mare owners as being of a high standard and they gain recognition with The World Breeding Federation of Sports Horses. Alan said: “We are truly delighted with Star’s performance at the grading as each horse is judged on many different criteria including conformation, flatwork under saddle, jumping under saddle, carriage and elasticity when loose, correctness of movement, performance and loose jumping.” John added: “This is particularly significant as Star is a full thoroughbred and it is the thoroughbred horse that is now playing an ever-important part in modern eventing offering unrivalled speed and stamina.” Seven-year-old Star is by the late Future Role and out of Cawkwell Win, herself a Champion Hunter Broodmare and

Where horse and rider come first

Are you a lapsed Rider? TAKE BACK THE REINS! New group meeting Wednesday mornings Make new friends, hack out for fun. Coffee and a social 10am start: £25 Divoky Riding School, Manor Farm, Downhead, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 4LG. Tel: 01749 880233 Email:


Wessex Starring Role shone at the stallion grading assessment

sister to prolific Point to Point winners Cawkwell Tom and Cawkwell Dean. Star’s grand sire, Rolfe has sired more than 100 winners on the flat and over fences. Wessex Starring Role will be returning to Etheridge Farm Stud in Dorset in the spring with mares already booked in.

Relax . . . the pressure's off Contact us at: Tel: 01823 669745


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Take to the whistle By Mark Adler

THE oldest organisation in the world for rugby referees has started celebrating its 125th anniversary by honouring some of the men and women with the whistle whose efforts often go unrecognised. The Somerset Rugby Referees Society was formed in Bridgwater in September 1889 at the Royal Clarence Hotel. Bridgwater will host a celebration dinner on the actual anniversary of September 18th – the guest of honour will be the

Somerset referee Jason Wallis in charge during Wells RFC’s 39-0 home win over local rivals Frome

Taking charge: Somerset referee Jason Wallis (left) makes a point to Frome RFC First XV manager Trevor Osborne during his side’s 39-0 defeat at Wells

Ed presents Harry Garmston with the award for most improved referee. The award was in honour of referee David Smith, who was killed tragically in a car accident on his way to officiate at a match

president of the Rugby Football Union. The society meets at Tor RFC in Glastonbury and its oldest member – Ed Meddings, 90, from Hinton Charterhouse – was presented with the first of the commemorative 2014 anniversary ties at its new award evening. Ed, a life member of the society, wore the society’s centenary tie for the occasion. Ed was a World War Two pilot who flew Wellington bombers and was involved in the Berlin Airlift. He also represented Great Britain in a winter Olympics in the bobsleigh team. A retired commercial pilot, Ed’s other love is cricket; he’s groundsman for his home club Hinton Charterhouse. Ed, a front row forward, said: “I started

playing rugby in 1934 and played most of my rugby when I was in Rhodesia and Kenya.” Ed was joined at the awards evening by one of Somerset’s youngest referees, Max Weston, 17, who took up the whistle aged 14 after suffering a serious injury. Max, who is studying for his ‘A’ Levels at Richard Huish School in Taunton, said: “I wanted to stay involved with the game and refereeing was a good opportunity.” His first game in charge was a match between Chard IIs and Cheddar. Max said: “Everyone was very encouraging.” The society is planning an exchange visit in the coming year with its counterparts in Munich.

Brian Perry was named Referee of the Year. He is pictured receiving his award from Ed

Max shows off his certificate of achievement whilst Ed Meddings was presented with the first of the 2014 anniversary ties

To find out more about the Somerset Rugby Referees Society, visit:


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“Timing right” for sports clubs move, says minister


By Mark Adler

THE Government’s Sports Secretary Maria Miller has paid tribute to the “vision” of a number of clubs in Wells who are backing the creation of a sporting “hub” for the city. A feasibility study is underway into proposals for sports clubs currently based in the centre of Wells to move next door to a proposed new rugby ground for Wells RFC at Haybridge. Mrs Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, met officials from several of the clubs at Wells RFC’s current home at Charter Way. Wells has already bought 16 acres of land at Haybridge and has the backing of a developer for a housing project on its current ground. Mendip District Council, which owns Charter Way, has now suggested that the city’s football club, archery club and other users of the Wells Sports Club site should move onto a further 14 acres alongside the rugby club ground off the A371. Mendip is about to appoint consultants to consider the feasibility of the proposals in more detail and to liaise with those affected by the proposals, including all the clubs across the area that may be interested in joining in with this scheme, the aim of which will be to provide state-of-the-art facilities, including a new clubhouse, courts and grass and synthetic pitches. Wells RFC director Richard Hibberd told Mrs Miller: “Wells now has 16 sides, from minis, juniors and colts to senior sides and a ladies team and we needed somewhere to expand so we decided to do something about it. “Forward funding is in place from a developer and I have to congratulate Mendip for supporting the move.” Mrs Miller said: “What I have been impressed about is the vision that has been shown by local sports clubs to improve grass roots facilities. It is what we have been trying to promote to get more people participating in sport.”

Sports Secretary Maria Miller addresses the meeting at Wells RFC

Asked about the legacy of the 2012 London Olympics, this year’s Commonwealth Games and next year’s Rugby World Cup, Mrs Miller added: “There has never been a better time than now to look at ways to bring a number of clubs together to improve facilities for everyone.” G The shape of things to come? Wells RFC’s 1st XV beat Drybrook 8-0 in a rearranged RFU Intermediate Cup match on the Haybridge site in a bid to return to the scene of their Twickenham cup triumph two years ago. They were due to face Devon side Ivybridge on Saturday, February 1st in the South West Counties final. Victory would see them face the winner of the parallel Southern Counties competition on Saturday, February 22nd.

Alex Knight takes off on a 30-metre run to score the winning try for Wells

Happy to play ball: Maria Miller outside the Wells clubhouse

Haybridge legacy? Youngsters enjoy an impromptu game on the touchlines MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 75



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Celebration time

FOLLOWING their formation in 1889 as Wrington AFC, Wrington Redhill FC are celebrating their 125th anniversary this year, a remarkable achievement for a village club. They will hold an anniversary dinner on March 1st at Cadbury House, Congresbury. The current first team is riding high in the first division of the Somerset County League and this season is seeking back to back promotions under the successful management team of Alan Smith and Lee Probert.

The current squad

Wrington AFC first eleven 1966 (including a current first team player!) Standing: John Fear, David Brean, Ralph Mellett, Tim Bush, Mike Ball, Colin Cleeves, Front row: Martin Weeks, Dave Woodhouse, Leslie Hillman, Michael Clements, Ted Moss, Roy Clements

Rebels getting ready for new season


Jason Doyle (left) and Josh Grajczonek on their way to winning last season’s Pairs final

THE Somerset “Cases” Rebels speedway side will face west country rivals Plymouth in the opening fixture of the 2014 season in March. The Rebels will be at home at the Oaktree Arena, near Highbridge, for the Challenge meeting on Friday, March 28th and will face Plymouth away in the return leg the following day. The Rebels enjoyed their most successful season in 2013, winning several titles including the league championship. Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Oaktree Arena will stage the Premier League Pairs Championship, one of the six major Speedway GB Events to be staged in 2014, on Friday, July 11th, the day before the British Round of speedway’s Grand Prix Series takes place at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. The Rebels won the championship last year for the first time with riders Jason Doyle and Josh Grajczonek. Promoter Debbie Hancock said: “It will be the eighth time that the Oaktree Arena will have held the event and it probably says something about the fairness of the track and the high standard of riders taking part that last season was the first time a Somerset duo actually won the title!”

Springboard to success

Wrington FC – Champions Cheddar Valley League 1927-28. Standing: H.J Nipper, W.H. Cook, R. Brooks, V. Vowles, A. Brooks, W.J. Gait, C. Lane (Goalie), W. Lane, G. Marshall (Vice Captain), T. Tincknell, F.H. Perry. Seated: A.W. Harvey, W.H. Sims, W. Hollier, R.A. Hewitt (Chairman), A.J. Marshall, A.H. Bond, E. Norton. In front: T. Clements, T.H. Ferris (Captain), C.H. Vowles.

To join in the celebrations contact club chairman Nick Finch on 07762491572 or via the club website


APPLICATIONS are open for a scheme which provides funding and free use of facilities for performance athletes in Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset, as well as Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Springboard awards offer a cash grant of £300-£600 and free facility access to help with training and equipment costs. Athletes must have an England or Great Britain top 10 ranking in their age group (12-18) or be a member of an England or Great Britain squad. Disability athletes may apply to age 35. The Springboard Award project is a partnership between the four unitary authorities, University of Bath, Burges Salmon Solicitors and Wesport. The deadline for applications is Monday, February 10th. For more information and an application form visit

(Photo courtesy of Colin Burnett)

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Saint Dunstan as he’s never been seen before A SKETCH of St. Dunstan, the 10th Century Abbot of Glastonbury and later Archbishop of Canterbury, has been recreated for the first time in embroidery. The work, by designer Helen M. Stevens, will go on

St. Dunstan’s sketch

show at Glastonbury Abbey in February. Helen believes that Dunstan may have created the sketch as an embroidery pattern and she has recreated the work, which is held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. She said: “Academics, for many years, have been familiar with the line drawing ‘Dunstan at the feet of Christ’, attributed to Dunstan himself. To the embroiderer’s eye this sketch is the very essence of an embroidery pattern. “We know from contemporary and later accounts that Dunstan created embroidery designs for his friends and I believe this is how they would have looked.” St. Dunstan, who was born


in Baltonsborough, became a great statesman and wrote the words, still used today, for the coronation of England’s kings and queens. The embroidery featuring the saint will be the centrepiece of the exhibition titled ‘Dunstan’s Needle’, opening at the abbey on Saturday, February 15th. Mary Gryspeerdt, assistant curator at Glastonbury Abbey, said: “Richly embroidered textiles would have been greatly valued at the abbey in its heyday, but surviving medieval fabrics are extremely rare. “This exhibition will provide a fascinating insight into Anglo-Saxon embroidery techniques and subject matter. Helen has worked

previously with the British Museum to recreate medieval embroideries and now she has been inspired by Glastonbury Abbey’s history, legends and collections. The abbey is delighted to provide a venue for such a distinguished textile artist.”

Helen’s embroidery

Complementing the exhibition, which runs until Sunday, June 1st, will be a series of talks and workshops. For full details visit:


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Festival of light THE Bruton Spiral of Light Festival will be making a return on Saturday, February 1st when hundreds of flares will be lit around Dovecote Hill. The ancient landmark will be lit up in all its glory, as the hill on which it stands is covered with 200 flares to mark Candlemas. Now in its 18th year, the event will help

Singles Social Group (Not a dating agency – est. 1979) Age range 40 – 60 approx.

Weekly Bar Night Events include: walks, dances, parties, meals out, theatre, cinema etc. For further details call 01749 330455 01278 788077 01458 840958 01934 743139

raise funds for the Unicef Syria Appeal. The flares can be sponsored and dedicated to loved ones, in what has become an important part of the festival. This year the Spiral of Light is being promoted by Bruton Festival of Arts. Candlemas marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. The festival starts at 4pm at St. Mary’s Church, Bruton with a short Candlemas Service. At 4.30pm there will be a candlelit procession from the church to Jubilee Park. A transformation of the popular National Trust beauty spot will take place, with a bonfire, drummers and other entertainments at the foot of the hill. A firework display will finish off the evening in spectacular style.


Drive a tractor

TWITTER, tractor test drives and tillage equipment will be among the many attractions at this month’s Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Show (AMES) at the Royal Bath and West showground. For the first time ever, visitors will be able to test drive their choice of tractors, with two major manufacturers supplying stateof-the-art equipment, including Uphill & Son Ltd, who will be offering their T4i fuel-efficient 500 series loadall. Show organiser, Alan Lyons, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this facility for farmers and contractors who are keen to try out their chosen tractor. Why not come along to the dedicated test drive circuit to experience for yourself how different models handle and which best suit your farming system.” Another highlight of the show will be South West Contractor of the Year award, sponsored by accountant Old Mill. Admission to the AMES Show, on Wednesday, February 12th is FREE to the general public and opening times are 9am-4pm.

Historic photos

WELLS and Mendip Museum is now open with free admission Monday-Saturday, 11am-4pm, until Easter with an exhibition, Bristol & Somerset: Vanishing Lives, photographs by Reece Winstone taken from the 1930s1960s. The collection is one that will never be repeated and captures a time, which, although not too far in the past, has disappeared forever. It is a nationally important archive that is now available to see.

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Memories are made of these

POSTCARDS, produced in their millions, have the power to bring history and personal memories to life – and there will be thousands of them on display at the Festival of Cards at the Royal Bath and West showground. Postcard collecting had begun in 1894 but reached a peak in World War 1 as soldiers tried to stay in touch with their loved ones. They cover so many topics – clothing, transport, historic sites, film stars and much more. The show will give visitors the chance to see a vast range of them and to talk about cards that they might have at home. There will be free admission on February 22nd for two people, showing this advertisement – the show is free for under-12s.

Quilt Show

AN EXHIBITION of patchwork and quilting samples from across the world will open the 2014 season at Radstock Museum. The four month-long show features more than 200 examples of work created by customers of the Midsomer Quilting centre at Chilcompton. The show runs until the end of May. Chris Howell and De Pickford, who are putting the exhibition say this should be the most spectacular exhibition so far. Chris said: “We want to show off what quilting is, and what fantastic results are being produced at the This quilt was made by a long-distance moment. lorry driver; both he and his wife are “Most people, if you keen quilters mention quilting to them, think you’re talking about a bed cover, but that’s a minor thing.” De agreed: “People think of it as an out-of-date activity. Squares and hexagons. But it’s becoming a lot more about textiles.” It will be the fourth time that the museum has hosted an exhibition of this kind. The quilts vary in size from 10 square inches to 81 square feet. The museum opens on Saturday, February 1st.

Princes Road, Wells, BA5 1TD


Friday 7th February

Friday 14th February Friday 21st February

Festivalofcards 2014 at Shepton Mallet Showground (As viewed on BBC4 TV)

Friday February 21st (10am-6pm, admission £4) Saturday February 22nd (9.30am-4pm, admission £2) 140 Dealers from all over the world selling:Postcards, Cigarette Cards, Autographs, Ephemera, Stamps, Postal History and all related accessories. Large Car Parks/Professional Catering

Details: 01278 445497 • (M) 07966 011027 Free entry for 2 people on production of this ad, children under 12 go free.


Friday 28th February

Mr Peabody & Sherman 2D & 3D (cert TBC) The Lego Movie 2D & 3D (U) Monument Men (12A) Tinkerbell & The Pirate Fairy 2D & 3D (cert TBC) The Invisible Woman (12A) Dallas Buyers Club (15)

 Book in person  Online 24/7  Over the ’phone: 01749 673195


Join me on a fantastic wild food foray enjoying the best wild edibles the autumn season has to offer! Sunday 23rd March 2014 2.00pm to 5.00pm £35 per person Please call 01761 463356 to book your place or for more info visit: MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014 • PAGE 79

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T h e


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M e n d i p

Thursdays: January 16th-Thursday April 3rd Art History Talks – Artists from The First World War. A series of ten weekly classes at Shipham Village Hall, 1.30–3.30pm. Details: Jan at or tel. 07815 861452. Friday January 31st Film@Kilmersdon presents All You Need is Love, Kilmersdon Village Hall, café-style cinema. Backed by the Reel People Film Society. Information and tickets: 01761 436318. Saturday February 1st – Sunday February 2nd Somerset Vintage & Classic Tractor Show, Royal Bath and West Showground, 9am-4pm. Indoor static show with about 200 tractors, spares, trade stands, books, toys. Auction, Sat 1st by HJ Pugh & Co., Ledbury. Entrance £7 (£4) All proceeds to charity. Details: 01749 860514 or Saturday February 1st The 3rd Winterfest at Clevedon – Princes Hall, midday–midnight. Showcasing 18 local musicians – from soul to reggae, folk to hip hop, ska to prog punk to rock, acoustic to pop and many more! Full details: Advance tickets £4 from Community Centre office, BS21 7SZ or 01275 873405. All funds raised go towards Clevedon’s free outdoor festival in September. Jazz in the Church. The Rotary Club of Avalon presents Wells Cathedral School Big Band. Street parish church (opposite Strode Theatre). Tickets £8 from Burns the Bread shops in Wells, Glastonbury, Street and Castle Cary or at the door. Proceeds to Somerset Young Carers and Rotary Charities. Kingston Seymour Market, in the Village Hall 10am-noon. Wide variety of stalls including jams & chutneys, vegetables, cakes, meat, handicrafts and books etc. Mendip Society Walk – Cheddar – meet at 1.30pm in the Cliff Street car park (BS27 3PX). 5 to 6 mile walk with a steep climb to the top of the Gorge returning via Middle Down Drove. Moderate – Hard. Contact: Barbara 01761 463673. Tuesday February 4th “Mary Magdalene: a woman much maligned?” – a talk by the Rt. Revd. Christopher Herbert for Mendip DFAS, 10.30 for 11am in the Westex Suite at the Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, please contact in advance if you wish to attend: 01749 670652. Congresbury over-60s Club meets from 2.30pm-4pm every other Tuesday in the War Memorial Hall. Entertainment today will be Mike and his music. Details: 01934 832004. Thursday February 6th “Around the World in 80 Days” in words and music, Tim Lewis and Sheila Furneaux for the Cheddar Valley U3A meeting at 2.15pm, Church House Cheddar. Visitors welcome. Details 01934 710242 or Wells Evening Society Masterpieces of the 20th century with Anthony Slinn, Wells Town Hall, 7.30pm. Friday February 7th Redhill Village Club Open Mic Night from 8pm, hosted by Jerry Blythe. All welcome, artists PAGE 80 • MENDIP TIMES • FEBRUARY 2014

T i m e s

and spectators alike. Free entry. Church Road, Redhill, BS40 5SG.Tel:01934 862619. Saturday February 8th–Sunday February 9th The 34th Carole Nash Bristol Classic MotorCycle Show, Bath & West Showground, BA4 6QN. 10am-5pm. Advance tickets: Adult £10, (U-12’s £3). Details: 01507 529430 or email: Saturday February 8th Brent Knoll Bazaar, Farmers’ Market and Café is held 2nd Saturday every month, 10am-12noon in Brent Knoll Parish Hall. FREE Admission. Details 01278 760308. “Recent excavations in Gulley Cave, Ebbor Gorge”, a talk by Professor Danielle Schreve for Wells Natural History & Archaeology Society at 2pm at Wells Museum. Details: Mendip Society Walk – Burrington Coombe – meet at 1.30pm at the Rock of Ages car park (BS40 7AT). Moderate 4 to 5 mile hilly walk with fine views. Contact: Mary 01934 843789. Congresbury Book Sale, 9am-1pm at the War Memorial Hall. A wide selection of books, DVDs jigsaws and talking books. Frome Society for Local Study, Nigel Costley TUC, West Country Rebels, Assembly Rooms, Frome, 2.3opm. Tuesday February 11th “Quarry faces” by Robin Thornes, 2.30pm at Wells & Mendip Museum, Wells. £3.50 non members with free admission. ‘Recent Archaeological Work on Exmoor’ a talk by Shirley Blaylock, Conservation Officer, for WANHS meeting at Victoria Methodist Church Hall, Station Road, W-s-M , BS23 1XU. 7.30pm. Visitors welcome £2.50. Wednesday February 12th “Growing vegetables for the kitchen” a talk by Ivor Mace for Nailsea & District Horticultural Society, 7.30pm at the United Reformed Church Hall, Stockway North, Nailsea. £3 (members £2). All welcome. Wells Civic Society meeting: “Farming and the need for diversification” David Cotton, a prominent voice in the Somerset farming community, will talk about widening the scope of agriculture, 7.30pm, Wells Museum, Cathedral Green. Launch of new U3A group in Winscombe. Are you retired/semi-retired? Interested in meeting new friends and finding out about new things? Find out how the University of the Third Age can be of interest to you – St James’ Church Hall, 2.30pm. Thursday February 13th “The Last Train” – The closure of the Strawberry Line in Winscombe & Sandford and the parish in archive photos. Annual Report of W & S Millennium Green Trust. Winscombe Community Centre, BS25 1JA, at 7.30pm. Small charge, all welcome. Wells Cathedral, 1.05pm-1.40pm. Free organ recital, David Goodenough, Director of Music, Fettes College, Edinburgh. Retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral Music. “The Real King John’s Hunting Lodge” by John Page – the story of this famous 15th

W h a t ’ s

century building for the Mendip Society meeting at 2.30pm, St. James’ Church Hall, Woodborough Rd, Winscombe BS25 1BA. Contact: 01934 641461. Friday February 14th Hornblotton Village Hall presents Miranda Sykes (from Show of Hands) with mandolin/bouzouki player Rex Preston. Doors open 7pm, food available, bring your own booze. Tickets £10 from 01963 240282. Details: Saturday February 15th Mendip Society Walk – West of Chew Valley Lake. Meet at 1.30pm at the Heron’s Green layby on the west side of Chew Valley Lake (BS40 8XD). A moderate walk of 4.5 miles. Contact: Peter 01761 221995. Bleadon Village Market, 9am–12.30. BS24 0PG. Busy market with over 30 stalls. Crafts, local produce, bric-a-brac, plants and much more. Refreshments. Enq: 01934 812370, Sunday February 16th –Monday February 17th NGS Snowdrop Days at Sherborne Garden, Litton, BA3 4PP. 11am-4pm. Admission £4, teas available. Open for visitors throughout February, weather permitting, by prior arrangement – please call Pamela Southwell 01761 241220. Tuesday February 18th Midsomer Norton Library, Poetry Liaisons 78pm. FREE – no need to book. A chance to share a favourite poem or some of your own work in a friendly and supportive environment. 119 High Street, Midsomer Norton, BA3 2DA. “Mystery & Meaning. The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck” – an illustrated talk for the Mid-Somerset DFAS, Caryford Hall, Castle Cary BA7 7JJ. 11am, £6. All welcome. Details: 01963 350527. “The history of Cheddar Cheese” – a talk by John Page for the Mendip Society meeting at 2.30pm at the Catholic Church Hall, Tweentown, Cheddar, BS27 3HU. Contact: 01934 641461. Congresbury over-60s Club meeting from 2.304pm at the War Memorial Hall. George and Ann Martin will talk about their cycling holiday. Details: 01934 832004. Wednesday February 19th Midsomer Norton Library sessions: “Joined Up Writers”, 1-3pm – Develop your writing skills in a safe and stimulating environment. FREE. Details: Exploring Science Workshop for children over 7 – find out about electricity and what magnets have got to do with it! 2.30-3.30pm FREE but limited places. Book at the library. Calligraphy sessions at Wells Cathedral 11am3pm, all ages,£2. Thursday February 20th The Great Western Air Ambulance – a talk by their CEO John Christensen for the N Somerset Rural Business Forum meeting at Winford Manor Hotel, Old Hill, BS40 8DW, 7.30pm9pm. £7.50 includes hot supper. Enquiries, or to confirm attendance: Frome Library – One hour Exploring Science Workshop for children over 7 – find out about electricity and what magnets have got to do with


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it! 11am and 1.30am – FREE but limited places. Book at the library. Cheddar Valley U3A meet and greet Coffee Morning at Church House, Cheddar, 10.30am12 noon. Display by the Digital Photography Group. Visitors welcome. Details 01934 710242 or Friday February 21st Saltford Library – Exploring Science Workshop for children over 7 – find out about electricity and what magnets have got to do with it! 10.30am – FREE but limited places. Book at the library. Saturday February 22nd Exploring Science Workshops for children over 7 – find out about electricity and what magnets have got to do with it! 2.30-3.30pm. FREE but limited places: Shepton Library at 10.30am and Wells at 1.30pm – book with the library Street Sing ladies choir in concert with Curry Rivel Music Network in aid of the charity “Heads Up” at Street United Reformed Church at 7pm. Refreshments and raffle. Tickets £5 from 01458 447020 or on the door. Backwell Village Market, 10.30am-1pm at Backwell WI Hall, BS48 3QW. Stalls include seasonal fruit/vegetables, organic and fair-trade produce and local arts & crafts. Refreshments. Details: 07870 598770 or Wells Cathedral Tower Tour 12noon-1pm. Numbers limited so please book: Cavalier Jazzmen – Trad jazz in a New Orleans café-style atmosphere at Nunney Village Hall, 7.30pm in support of fund-raising for Nunney Church Roof. Ticket £10 (£5) from Nunney Spar shop and café or on the door. Details: or 07979 935067. Mendip Society Walk – Uphill and parts of the West Mendip Way. Meet at 1.30pm at the entrance to the Boatyard, parking in Uphill Way (BS23 4XP). A moderate 6 mile walk – expect some mud. Contact: Richard 01275 852786. Congresbury Book Sale, 9am-1pm at the War Memorial Hall. Frome Society for Local Study, Patrick Moss, History and Construction of the Somersetshire Coal Canal, Assembly Rooms, Frome, 2.30pm. Sunday February 23rd ‘What can we believe today?’ A monthly series of talks given by the Dean of Wells Cathedral, followed by discussion, at 4.30pm in the Education Room at the cathedral. This is a chance both for those who wish to think about faith and theology afresh, and for those who are in the process of exploring their approach to God. Come and listen, think and talk together: Saxophony (saxophone quartet). Second concert in Midsomer Concert Hall free chamber series at Midsomer Norton Town Hall. 5pm. Entrance by donation. Soup and bread supper available. Ffi 07595 671116. Country Pursuits Day. Hosted by Mid-Somerset Agricultural Society. Hedge laying competition and clay pigeon shoot. Bangle Farm, Whatley, near Frome. Admission free to spectators. Ffi: show secretary Christine Barham: 01749 347607.

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Tuesday February 25th “Badgers: their lives your questions”, Somerset Wildlife Trust meeting at Wells Museum, 7.30pm. Details: 01749 673563 or Wednesday February 26th Baroque violinist Colin Scobie, plays Bach for unaccompanied solo violin in the beautiful candlelit Quire of Wells Cathedral. Tickets £12 from the cathedral shop, 01749 672773, and at the door. Details: ‘Wind in the Willows’ a musical presentation by Tim Lewis and Sheila Furneaux for a meeting of the Friends of Weston-s-Mare museum, at 2.30pm, Burlington St, Weston, BS23 1P. Meeting starts at 2pm with an EGM to adopt a Charity Constitution. Thursday February 27th Chew Valley Wildlife Group: An Atlantic Odyssey from Ushaia to the Cape Verde islands. Chew Magna Millennium Hall, 7.45pm. Visitors £2.50 Friday February 28th Cheddar Vale Lions host Lions Brass 4 Youth & Churchill Gospel Choir in Concert at Churchill Academy, 7pm. Tickets £8 (U-18’s £4) on-line from Positickets. Wells Cathedral Tour – ‘How Wells Cathedral Survived the Reformation’ – 2.15pm-3.45pm, £10. Booking essential as places limited – only three dates are currently available in 2014 for this fascinating new tour. Details: or ring 01749 674483 ext 211. Annual Charity Showcase with Writhlington School at 7.30pm in the Downside School Theatre in aid of two charities including HART. Booking essential. Tickets: or 01761 235151. A great evening of singing and music. £5 retiring collection. Saturday March 1st Book sale & Freecycle Event in aid of Winscombe Community Association, 9am-1pm. Refreshments available. Please leave donations of books & DVDs on the book trolley in the Community Centre at the Thursday markets, 911am or call: 01934 823609 or 842250. Mendip Society Walk – Westhay Moor Nature Reserve. Meet at 1.30pm at the reserve car park, BA5 1PT. An easy 4 mile nature walk with the Somerset Wildlife Trust Warden. Binoculars recommended. Contact: Brian 01749 672457. Tuesday March 4th “Vermeer the musical paintings” MidSomerset DFAS Study Day, 10am-3.30pm at Batcombe Jubilee Hall, BA4 6HE. Lectures, live period music and singing. £40, including all refreshments & buffet lunch. Details: 01934 743153.


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Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races at the Community Centre, Sandford Road, Winscombe. Starts 3.30pm, free admission. Teas in St. James’ Church Hall. Enquiries: 01934 842084. Thursday March 6th “Hedges in Somerset” by Peter Grainger, ecologist, talking to the Mendip Society meeting at 2.30pm, St. James’ Church Hall, Woodborough Rd, Winscombe BS25 1BA. Contact: 01934 641461. Friday March 7th Redhill Village Club Open Mic Night from 8pm, hosted by Jerry Blythe. All welcome, artist and spectators alike. Free entry. Church Road, Redhill, BS40 5SG.Tel:01934 862619. “Policing in Victorian Wells” – a talk by Bob Love for Wells Natural History & Archaeology Society, 7pm at Wells Museum. Details: Saturday March 8th Wedmore’s “Clash of the Choirs” 8 choirs and singing groups, numbering 210 singers in all, at St. Mary’s from 5:30pm for a 6:30pm start. Tickets £7 (U-14’s £2) from The Village Store and The Cottage Gallery, Wedmore. Mendip Society Walk – Star – Meet at 1.30pm at ‘Apple Acre’ which is down the lane by the side of the Star Inn (BS25 1QF). A moderate walk of about 4 miles with some hills.Tea and homemade cakes to follow! Contact: Mary 01934 843789. Wednesday March 12th “Pruning” – a talk by Jon Mason for Nailsea & District Horticultural Society, 7.30pm at the United Reformed Church Hall, Stockway North, Nailsea. £3 (members £2). All welcome. Wells Civic Society talk: “The History & Conservation of Stained Glass” by Steven Clare, who worked on the Jesse Window in Wells Cathedral. 7.30pm, Wells Museum. Saturday March 15th Churchill Music! – Carducci String Quartet, 7.30pm at St John the Baptist Church, Churchill, BS25 5QW. Details: Tickets £14.50 (Champions £10.50, U-25’s free) from 01934 852919 or Angel Heart Theatre presents “Oshima and the Big Sea” for Ubley School PTA at Ubley Parish Hall 2pm. Tickets £5 (U-3’s free) from 01761 463373 or 01761 463863. Bleadon Village Market, 9 am–12.30. BS24 0PG. Busy market with over 30 stalls. Crafts, local produce, bric-a-brac, plants and much more. Refreshments. Enq: 01934 812370,


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ACROSS: 1 Burrington Ham, 9 Ups, 10 Chalice Well, 11/23 Dorothy House, 12 Lustrum, 13 Biddisham, 15 Lie-in, 16 Thank, 18 Deep space, 20 Echelon, 22 Go Dutch, 24 East and west, 25 Sou, 26 Cottage cheese. DOWN: 1 Bound, 2 Rose-red, 3 Inch-thick, 4 Gravy, 5 Oriflamme, 6 Heels, 7 McEnroe, 8 Allemande, 13 Bitter end, 14 Had an idea, 15 Last-ditch, 17 Aphasic, 19 Artiste, 21 Least, 22 Glebe.

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Game Fair has something for everyone

THE Westcountry Game Fair at the Royal Bath and West Showground in March will be celebrating its 18th anniversary with its high-quality mix of have-a-go activities, demonstrations and trade stands. This important countryside event – on Saturday, March 22nd and Sunday, March 23rd – is supported by the British Association for Shooting & Conservation and is the first event of its kind on the 2014 calendar. As well as entertaining visitors it also generates a platform for countryside traditions and

Falconry demonstrations are a popular part of the Westcountry Game Fair

Lurchers wait eagerly for their chance in the judging ring

issues to be promoted and supported. Activities on offer include archery, air rifles, terrier and lurcher shows, family dog show and clay pigeon shooting. There will be indoor and outdoor demonstrations featuring top names in the areas of falconry, wildfowling, ferreting, gun dog training, fly casting and more. There will be a variety of companies selling a range of products from country clothing, guns, fishing, deer stalking equipment to gundog equipment, local food and drink and crafts.

The Somerset Smallholders Association will also host a selection of activities, demonstrations, advice and stalls. Elsewhere, the cookery theatre will host a variety of chefs all with simple, easy to follow delicious game recipes. BASC plays a prominent role at the event, providing shooting coaching, gundog scurries and sharing their knowledge and expertise on their trade stand in the shopping village, with features including a wildfowlers row, artists’ row, game tasting, shooting clinic and much more.  Mendip Times has teamed up with the organisers of the Westcountry Game Fair to offer three pairs of adult tickets to the event. For a chance to win a pair, please answer the following question: what do the initials BASC stand for? Please send your answers on a postcard to Westcountry Game Fair competition, Mendip Times, Coombe Lodge, Blagdon, BS40 7RG. Entries must reach us by Friday, February 14th. The first three correct entries to be chosen will each win a pair of tickets. The editor’s decision is final. To find out more about the show visit: or join its Facebook group or follow on Twitter. For exhibitor enquiries, please call 01392 421500.


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Mendiptimes - Volume 9 Issue 9  

Celebrating life on the Mendips and surrounding areas