Issue 2 - Volume 16 - Mendip Times

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Mendip Times

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Celebrating life on the Mendips and surrounding areas

JULY 2020

IN THIS ISSUE: LIFE IN LOCKDOWN • MENDIP CAVE DIVERS • FOCUS ON ROOKERY FARM • GARDEN WILDLIFE • RIDING Local people, local history, local places, local events and local news

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THIS is our third issue into lockdown and again we are grateful for all of the support we are getting from readers, advertisers, contributors and the small army of people who help us to deliver the magazine Once again this issue is full of inspiring stories of how communities are tackling coronavirus. One village is preparing a wall hanging as a long-term legacy while a couple in Pensford are offering free respite courses for essential workers. Businesses are also responding – we have a special feature on Rookery Farm, as well as our usual busy business section. At the same time, food banks are coping with a staggering increase in demand. Brian Walker may not be a household name, but if you read comics like the Dandy and the Beano you will know his work. We have a tribute to him following his death at the age of 94 and to Dave Rice, former master stonemason at Wells Cathedral, who has died aged 88. Sue Gearing provides another dastardly picture quiz, while Rachel Thompson shows how the riding fraternity have been coping during the current coronavirus crisis. The Mendip Society tell us cyclists have been causing concern in Rowberrow. Thank you for your continuing encouragement. With all of our regular features and contributors, we will continue publishing. August 2020 deadline: Friday, 17th July 2020. Published: Tuesday, 28th July 2020.

Editorial: Steve Egginton Mark Adler Advertising: Ann Quinn Rachael Abbott What’s On listings: Annie Egginton Accounts Publisher: Mendip Times Limited Coombe Lodge, Blagdon, Somerset BS40 7RG Contacts: For all enquiries, telephone:

01761 463888

or: email: 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: Creating a lockdown legacy. Photo by Steve Egginton. See page 48.


Woodland refuge – a sanctuary for key workers


Mendip’s underworld – Phil Hendy on cave diving


Comic book genius – a tribute to Brian Walker


School’s out – let’s take to the hills! Plus all our regular features Health Dr Phil Hammond ...............5 Environment ...................................6 Farming Nick Green .....................10 Food & Drink ...............................14 Internet and Crossword ..............18 Arts & Antiques ...........................20 Business.........................................24 Mendip Society .............................30 Wildlife Chris Sperring MBE .......31

Walking Sue Gearing ....................32 Outdoors Les Davies MBE ..........34 Gardening Mary Payne MBE.......36 Mendip v Coronavirus.................44 Caving Phil Hendy ........................49 Community ...................................50 Charities........................................56 Riding Rachel Thompson MBE....60 Cycling Edmund Lodite ................62 MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020 • PAGE 3

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The appliance of science to Covid-19 – an update


“Following the science” has become the mantra of our pandemic plan, but what does it mean? we like to think science will give us simple truths and rules to follow, but it often contradicts. in the last week, the world Health organisation has told us people with no symptoms shedding coronavirus are “very rare” and “up to 40% of cases”. no wonder we’re all so

confused. Science is best viewed as a process for dealing with uncertainty, understanding the present and predicting the future. it can be used to enhance our lives or destroy them. At its best, it requires transparency, rigour and challenge, and the results of one study or experiment generally need to be reproduced elsewhere before a consensus view is agreed on. During that process, it’s not unusual to have studies that appear to say directly contradictory things. However, science is also a messy business, with lots of egos competing to be published, secure funding or win the government’s ear. Truth is sometimes trumped by academic pressure, ambition and the casting vote of the drug company paymasters. The most downloaded paper in the history of the Public library of Science, written by Stanford Professor of Medicine John ioannidis in 2005, is pithily titled “why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” Pick any paper in any journal at random and its results are more likely to be wrong than right. So it’s perhaps not surprising that scientific mistakes have been made in this pandemic, alongside the political errors of poor planning and lack of capacity. if we’d had a proper “test, trace and isolate” programme from the outset, we might have stopped the spread of the virus without needing lockdown, as some countries have managed. But as we weren’t able to do this, the timing of lockdown became crucial. get it right and you reduce the deaths dramatically; come out more quickly and minimise harm to the economy, livelihoods, education and those needing treatment for cancer. get it wrong, and the deaths mount up quickly and we delay coming out. Sadly, we got the science wrong. Back in March, the virus was spreading far more rapidly than the government was being advised. The first big press conference on coronavirus was on March 12th, when the number of deaths in italy had risen rapidly to over 1,000. Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, announced “we’re maybe four weeks or so behind italy based on the scale of the outbreak”. in fact, we reached 1,000 Covid-19 deaths 12 days after italy. The scientific advisers told Boris Johnson that infections in the UK were doubling every five to six days, based on early data from wuhan, but more recent data from the UK and italy suggested the doubling rate was every three days, and this data was available at the time. This really matters. if an infection doubles at every three

days rather than six, then after a month every single infection has spread to 1,024 people rather than 32. That’s a huge difference. if Johnson had been given the right data, he probably would have ordered lockdown a week earlier and at least 20,000 people would be alive today who aren’t, including many of the 200 health and social care workers who have died. Johnson may well have avoided his own near-death experience and we may have been out of lockdown now and back to school and work. i’m no great fan of politicians, but serious errors have been made by everyone in this pandemic. The important thing is to own up to them and learn from them. Most deaths have occurred in care homes, and residents should never have been discharged back there without being tested. The government ordered it, but the nHS should have resisted it. it was poor infection control management and we should have spoken up at the time. Viral Reminders l The first wave may be over, and a second wave may – or may not – happen from September. Viruses generally prefer low temperatures, which is why we evolved to fight them with a fever. l The risk to children is remarkably low. if you’re aged five-14 and you haven’t had it yet, your chance of death from Covid-19 is one in 3,579,551. You’re more likely to die walking to school. l For women aged 30–34, around one in 70,000 have died from Covid-19 over the nine peak weeks of the epidemic. over 80% of these had preexisting medical conditions. So a healthy woman in this age group had less than a one in 350,000 risk of dying from Covid-19, around a quarter of the normal risk of dying from an accident over this period. l 15,000 people have died in care homes. The older you are, the higher the risk. l You’re safer outdoors. wind, heat and UV light protect you. l The SARS CoV2 virus is fragile. it breaks up simply by using soap and water. Hand washing is a highly effective weapon. l Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. The evidence for masks is growing in any situation where you’re likely to be within two metres of someone for over five minutes. l The virus travels in droplets of fluid. A single cough produces 3,000 droplets releasing two hundred million virus particles at 50mph. Heavier droplets fall to the floor or surfaces. others travel up to two metres, so any decision to reduce to one metre is economic and requires consent not enforcement. l Know your risks. Healthy under 45s are at much less personal risk, even at one metre and school children are at tiny personal risk. The risks to them of not going to school are far greater. Are we prepared to accept slightly more risk ourselves as adults to reduce the widespread harm to children? i hope so. Mendip v Coronavirus, see page 44. MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020 • PAGE 5

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Photographer and filmmaker Josh Dury, from Compton Martin, has been fascinated by the night sky and developing his astrophotography skills since childhood. He writes about the impact of light pollution, not only from the ground but also from the increasing number of communication satellites orbiting the Earth.

MY journey to the stars inspired travels across the world to observe solar and lunar eclipses, the Northern Lights from Iceland and the darkest skies in the world from the Atacama Desert in Chile. English Heritage allowed me to work at Stonehenge to capture ancient astronomical alignments and I have previously been shortlisted for The Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year at Greenwich. I have become ever more concerned about the impacts of light pollution and mega-constellations on the natural world. I became aware of night sky conservation during studies to become a filmmaker at the University of the West of England during a time when the plastic crisis was being recognised by the BBC's Natural History Unit. This made me realise the effects of pollution on the surface and now the pollution in the sky. Light pollution is still a new area in conservation, which has an impact on astronomers’ ability to observe the cosmos and on wildlife Josh Dury – a lifetime of stargazing

(Photograph courtesy of NASA)

The sky at night . . . is too bright

Light pollution in Europe as seen from the International Space Station

Josh with light pollution campaigner Bob Mizon, from the Campaign for Dark Skies

conservation by affecting the migratory patterns of nocturnal wildlife. It can impact on human health by affecting the production of bodily hormones at night. Images from the International Space Station reveal the extent of light pollution and the effects of lights shining upwards to reveal the outlines of major continents at night. I work alongside organisations including Campaign For Dark Skies and the Campaign to Protect Rural England to raise public awareness and seek solutions to the lighting crisis and recognising the importance of dark sky sites, including The Mendip Hills AONB and Exmoor National Park. Within the past year, we have seen the introduction of “mega-constellations”; large-scale satellite projects being launched into low-earth orbit to provide global internet coverage even to remote parts of the world.

Satellite projects of this scale, being launched in their thousands, are of major concern to astronomers as the sheer quantity of these satellites are projected to outnumber the visible stars of the night-sky and they are already beginning to interfere with professional astronomical observations from across the world. I have been able to view the Starlink Constellation on a number of occasions from the Mendip Hills and observed the “string of pearls” effect when they begin to appear close to each other after they have launched. Even during my lifetime, I have been fortunate to view the night sky in its entirety and in recent years I have begun to see a change. I am now concerned about how future generations will be able to view the night sky and to recognise regulation in the conservation of the night sky.

Josh has produced a series of short films to raise awareness of light pollution: PAGE 6 • MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020

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How many stars can you see in Orion? A NEW survey of the night sky has shown growing evidence of light pollution. The countryside charity CPRE asked people how many stars they could count in the constellation of Orion. Its Avon and Bristol branch, which covers North Somerset and B&NES, found 63 percent of participants counted ten stars or fewer, meaning they were in an area of severe light pollution. Nationally, 61% of people counted ten stars or fewer, compared with 57% the previous year. CPRE Avonside launched a Starry

Skies campaign last November to give more people an experience of stargazing close to home and highlight the effect of light pollution on our view of the night sky, as well as its impact on the countryside and wildlife. Director, Sophie Spencer, said: “Few people are engaging with the night sky especially in urban areas, which is why our local Starry Skies campaign is so important. We hope to encourage more people to connect with the beauty of the night sky in their local area and spread the message about the damaging impact of light pollution.”


ENVIRONMENT There was some good news at the other end of the scale, with three percent of people counting more than 30 stars within Orion, meaning that they were in areas with truly dark skies. That’s a rise from two percent in 2019. Bob Mizon from the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS) said: “It’s wonderful to hear about families having fun doing the Star Count. Children should be able to see the Milky Way, their own galaxy, by looking up at the sky, not looking online!”

Wild flowers flourish at Cheddar Baptist Church ESTABLISHING a wild flower garden takes time and patience and in the case of the graveyard behind Cheddar Baptist Church a fair degree of hard work. Work started to convert what was essentially rough grassland back in 2015. Areas were cleared, seeds sown and a range of trees, plants and bulbs put in. As was expected, some things worked, others didn’t - grass doesn’t give up easily. Progress was slow, but steady. This year however perseverance has really begun to pay off and the graveyard garden is full of fragrance and scent. Pathways wind through delightful patches of colour and surprises await at every turn. Minister, Paul Spanring, said: “Keeping the grass under control between gravestones is never easy and mowing

and cutting were proving an uphill battle. The wild flowers are greatly reducing this problem and are, more importantly,

making the garden a peaceful and restful haven for bees, butterflies, birds, insects and humans.”

Palace swans make progress

THE female swan, Grace, followed by her six remaining cygnets, is pictured on the moat at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells. Originally seven cygnets hatched, but one was swept over the weir in heavy rain in early May and found downstream. He was quickly named Gulliver, the cygnet who went travelling, and was initially reunited with the family. He spent a night being kept warm under the female’s wings with the rest of his siblings. But then, sadly, he was rejected by the parents, so Gulliver is now being cared for by the RSPCA in West Hatch.


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A woodland retreat away from Covid-19 By Steve Egginton

IN quiet woodland near Pensford, Nick and Louise Goldsmith are preparing to welcome some of those who have been badly traumatised fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Key workers, care staff or shop workers as well as hospital staff, are eligible to apply to spend a day with them “refocussing” by learning bushcraft and survival skills in a camp under the trees. The first 50 free spaces on their key worker project were snapped up within hours. Within 24 hours they had to start a waiting list for places. This day for key workers is based on the successful “Woodland Warrior” programme, which Nick, a former Royal Marine commando, started to help military veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, as he does. Woodland Warrior has gained a national reputation, with support from Prince Harry’s Endeavour Foundation, the Armed Forces Covenant and most recently the Veterans Foundation. Some 72 veterans went through the course last year, some showing remarkable signs of recovery, even starting their own businesses. Next year they hope to accommodate 144. With the growth of their company, Hidden Valley Bushcraft, Louise left her job with Avon and Somerset Police last April after 11 years. She was a detective constable in child protection. Woodland Warrior is now registered as a not-forprofit community interest company. Normally these woods would be filled with children’s laughter, but the forest

The camp fire


Nick and Louise, with Fin, aged 13 months, and their dog Tilly

kindergarten they run to subsidise the warrior programme, is closed by lockdown. The kindergarten has been rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted. Similarly the corporate clients who make up most of their income have had to cancel. Nick said: “It’s remarkable that we bought this unloved patch of land and managed to turn it into a business.” It’s obviously far more than that, since the whole seven and a half acre site is a haven for wildlife and has been transformed since they bought it in 2012. They added a field running down to the River Chew last year and Nick has planted 400 trees there. He said: “The amount of support we get from local people, companies and schools is just astonishing.” The key worker project is being funded by the Chelwood Community Fund, through the income it gets from the village’s solar farm. It’s for key workers living locally, but the couple are busy applying for wider funding to enable them

to offer places to key workers living further afield. Nick said: “Some of these people will not have seen their families for weeks, quite apart from dealing with the horrors of the virus. Hopefully they can come back and bring their children with them in happier times.” Louise said: “With what we’ve been through in our careers, we can empathise with what they have seen. The grant is fantastic. We’ve been given this unique opportunity to help people.”

Fire lighter – bushcraft style

The outdoor dining table


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Telephone: 01761 452171 Fax: 01761 453342

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Mendip harvest 2020

WITH the fantastic spring weather we’ve had this year crops planted in the fields have developed really quickly. Maize is a great example. Farmers have a rhyme to gauge how well their maize is developing: “Knee high by the fourth of July”. This is easy to check and a measure of With NICK how well the crop is growing. Most maize GREEN crops will be above knee height by July 4th this year. Farmers are always checking their crops (and their neighbours’ crops) monitoring their development. Decisions are made throughout the crops’ life as to what inputs are required, always with an eye on the likely yield. For example, there’s no point in applying lots of farmyard manure if it’s going to damage the soil and the crop won’t use it all. The autumn and winter of 2019–2020 was really wet which meant many farmers weren’t able to plant the crops they intended in the autumn. Thousands of acres of barley and wheat fields were left unplanted through the winter. Many acres of oilseed rape which were planted failed as a result of the wet weather and being attacked by cabbage stem flea beetle. All this meant thousands of acres of crops being planted in the spring instead of last autumn. For those driving past the same fields on a regular basis it must have seemed no sooner had the seeds been planted, green shoots were emerging and plants were growing like there was no tomorrow. What oilseed rape remains will be harvested in early July with

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A crop of maize at Redhill well on the way to being knee high by July 4th

the small black seeds being crushed and used for rapeseed oil. The barley harvest will follow with the grain being used to feed farm animals and malting barley used to produce alcohol. Wheat follows with the grain being used for animal feed or bread and biscuit making. Other crops such as peas and beans slot into the harvest programme before the maize which is normally harvested any time after the middle of September. In 2020 farmers on and around Mendip are growing all these crops. It’s a great year to see which can be spotted. Nick Green is Farms Director for Alvis Bros Ltd based at Lye Cross Farm. He is responsible for the farming and estate business and is passionate about British food and farming. As well as the business, he is involved with a number of local and national farming charities.

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Top award for festival medics

FESTIVAL Medical Services, a charity founded in Somerset, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. The charity’s doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals, together with support staff, volunteer at music festivals, such as Glastonbury and Reading, and other high-profile outdoor events. They offer a full on-site emergency medical service for fans, plus other healthcare services such as dentistry, podiatry, physiotherapy and mental healthcare. Last year, they celebrated 40 years of service at Glastonbury and festival founder Michael Eavis toured their medical centre on-site to congratulate them on their achievements – they particularly pride themselves on how few patients nowadays ever have to be transferred to hospital for treatment. The group also raises money for medical charities – both in the UK and abroad – and each year donates up to

Festival Medical Services at Glastonbury Festival 2019

£100,000 to other good causes. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Representatives of Festival Medical Services will receive the award from Annie Maw, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from FMS will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s award. Dr Chris Howes, managing director and founder of Festival Medical

Young musician makes the top three

WELLS Cathedral School singer/songwriter, Hetta Falzon, aged 15, who lives with her family in Wells, has made it through to the top three shortlisted for the finals of the prestigious international Song Academy’s Young Songwriter of the Year, 13-18 year UK/Ireland category. This year’s competition attracted over 700 entries from aspiring young songwriters across the world, with a wide variety of genres, from folk to jazz, soul, rock, punk, reggae and pop. Hetta, who is currently in Year 11 at Wells, was due to perform her song, Obsession, as Mendip Times went to press in a live Instagram event on Saturday, June 20th, when the judges were due to announce the winner. She has also been invited to perform in a live showcase event in November at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London with the other finalists. The prestigious judging panel included successful British singer/songwriter, Tom Odell, Irish singer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist, Imelda May, record producer and TV presenter, Miranda Cooper, songwriter and producer, Eg White, lyricist, Emily Philips, British Ivor Novello Award two-time winner and Grammy nominated songwriter, producer and film scorer, Sacha Skarbek, musician, Dan Gillespie Sells, the song writing team, Sodajerker and Northern Irish songwriter, Janet Devlin. Hetta had three of her original songs shortlisted amongst the top 60 finalists in the competition, one of only two finalists to have more than one song selected. She is a member of the school’s Vocal department and the Commercial, Rock and Pop department. The Young Songwriter 2020 competition, in its ninth year, is the PAGE 12 • MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020

Services, from Croscombe, said: “The organisation we have grown into is scarcely recognisable as that which received its first patient in a kitchen at Worthy Farm in 1979. “Our volunteers now come from all over the country and provide a hugely comprehensive range of high-quality medical services. “They show relentless commitment and dedication and devote their skills, energy and experience to ensure the service we provide is second to none. If these top professionals were not willing to volunteer their time and expertise, then the service we provide would be unaffordable.”

leading international songwriting competition for eight-18-yearolds and provides a golden opportunity for aspiring young songwriters to get their songs heard by some of the best songwriters and the wider music industry.

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The scents of summer

I love the perfume of melons ripening in the kitchen, and the scent of slowly roasting lamb and garlic. Finish with a gooseberry ice cream - the With JUNE fleeting availability of the MACFARLANE fruit makes it a treasure in early summer and elderflower is a perfect match. GREEK LAMB WITH OREGANO

Marinate overnight and leave this cooking slowly all morning for a delicious Sunday lunch. It may sound like a lot of garlic, but the lengthy cooking time softens the flavour.


METHOD Make deep incisions all over the lamb and insert slivers of peeled garlic. Mix lemon juice with olive oil, oregano, thyme leaves and seasoning to make a marinade. Put lamb into a freezer bag and pour marinade over, massaging into the meat. Seal the bag, refrigerate, turning a few times and leave overnight. Preheat oven to 160C. Put lamb into a roasting dish that will hold it and the vegetables snugly. Reserve marinade. Halve the garlic horizontally. Slice the onions thickly in halfmoons. Mix the garlic, potatoes, onions, tomatoes with the reserved marinade and pile around the lamb. Pour over the wine and a little more olive oil. Season lightly. Cover tightly with double foil. Cook for about 4 hours; do not allow to dry out. Remove from oven and rest 20 mins while you raise oven temperature to 200C. Roast uncovered for 1015mins to brown meat. Remove from oven and rest 15mins. Serve with the vegetables.


(serves four) 1 small perfectly ripe melon 8 leaves fresh mint 200ml red wine 3 tbsp clear honey 3 tsp red wine vinegar 125g soft goats’ cheese Fruity extra virgin olive oil


Choose a soft creamy goats’ cheese. I like the colour of cantaloupe, but any ripe juicy melon is good. METHOD Heat the wine with the honey and vinegar until the honey melts. Pour over the mint in a jug, season and cool. Halve the melons, remove seeds, cut into slices and remove rind. Plate, pouring over a little dressing minus the mint leaves, scatter over nuggets of cheese and finish with the olive oil.

(serves four) 1.5 – 2kg shoulder of lamb Juice of 2 lemons 100ml olive oil 1 tbsp dried oregano 2 tsp thyme leaves Salt & pepper 2 heads garlic plus 3 peeled cloves 500g small waxy potatoes 2 medium onions 250g fresh plum tomatoes 225ml dry white wine


I like this ice cream to be chunky, but you could puree the fruit too. Gooseberries vary in tartness, so do check to see if you need more sugar! Ready made custard with vanilla seeds is just fine.


(serves four) 500g gooseberries, topped & tailed 3 – 4 tbsp sugar 4 tbsp elderflower cordial 250g prepared custard 1 tbsp ground pistachios (optional)

METHOD Simmer the fruit with the sugar and a splash of water in a non-reactive pan until the fruit starts to burst. Mash to break up then allow to cool completely. Stir in the cordial and custard then churn in an icecream maker. Serve with a scatter of ground pistachios.

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butchers * fishMongers * delicAtessen We are still open as normal and are also offering a next day delivery service for the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating. Please respect our signs to social distance whilst shopping with us. May we take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their support. And from all of us, we send you our best wishes. Please stay safe and stay well.

open: Monday – saturday 7am-6pm • sunday 10am-4pm

e cross, union street, cheddar, somerset bs27 3nA 01934 742521 • email

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Supporting the local community

We would like to thank our local suppliers, particularly Arthur David, Greenacres Farm Eggs, Cam Valley Foods, Lye Cross Farm, Hunts Foodservice, Cotteswold Dairy, Chew Moos and West Country Honey, Butcombe Brewery, Twisted Oak Brewery and Rapide Stationery Supplies

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Wells Food Festival’s new sponsor

PReMIuM food brand, Charlie Bigham’s, based at Dulcote, is to be the headline sponsor of Wells Food Festival, due to be held on October 11th. With more than 200 local producers and street food sellers due to take part, it’s a leading showcase for some of Somerset’s finest food and drink

producers. The event’s organisers are monitoring government announcements on large gatherings to decide the festival’s format. Charlie Bigham said: “As many food businesses find themselves in truly unprecedented circumstances, we want to help make Wells Food Festival 2020 one of the most memorable in the festival’s history. Wells Food Festival celebrates the very best of Somerset food and drink and we are delighted to be part of it.” Jon Abbott, chair of the festival organising committee, said: “Having Charlie Bigham’s as our headline sponsor is really exciting and offers us a great opportunity to develop our ideas far more than would have been possible previously. “Charlie’s and the Wells Food Festival’s ethos of promoting Organiser Jon Abbott (left) and Charlie Bigham local artisan producers and Details:

A previous festival

products are a great match. We are fortunate that we have until August before making a decision on whether we are able to run a physical festival in October. “In the meantime, we are developing alternative solutions to ensure Wells Food Festival goes ahead, so we can aid and support our outstanding producers in these strange, unsettling times.”

Coping with “new normal”


THe team at Lye Cross Farm Shop continue to work hard to ensure their loyal customers have everything they need from their great local producers and want to thank everyone for their support. Home-delivery to the over 70s and vulnerable is still available along with their “contactless collections” and they are extending their product ranges so that they have more choice available alongside your favourites. For example they now have a fabulous frozen range of fish including salmon, tempura prawns, cod and scallops. Their much-loved three for £10 is now back across a range of products. You’ll notice they’ve made some changes following government guidance to help protect both customers and staff, with social distancing and screens at the tills. They look forward to seeing you soon and to your continuing support under the “new normal” conditions.

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The seasons

SO far in my lockdown forager series we have looked at how to be a forager with a list of what’s needed to go foraging, do’s and a don’ts, a bit of health and safety, and any tools for the job etc. In Part 2, we considered where to look for wild food with a discussion on the best locations to visit. With ADRIAN Very edgy. BOOTS As it appears we may be coming out of lockdown, we will look at the “when” of foraging, the timing and seasonality of the hunt for wild food. In a rather over-simplified generalisation, you will find green plants and flowers in the spring and summer, soft fruit in the summer and nuts, berries and fungi in the autumn. When reading books on wild food and foraging they are often, sensibly, organised into seasons. More often than not only three seasons are included; winter is deliberately excluded because it is, err, wintery and not much is going on. The truth is there are many things that survive through the winter, I’m thinking jelly ear mushroom which grows on elder, hawthorn berries and rose hips. In a mild winter, if you look very closely there may even be greens growing. Generally, winter is lumped in with autumn and promptly forgotten about. So that leaves us with the spring which right now is considered by some to be over and done with on June 1st. Yet the seasons don’t abruptly end just because we say so. Nature does what it does and there are many spring leftovers I have picked such as Jack by the Hedge and wild garlic in cool shady woods in July! That leaves us with the summer, which we are rapidly heading into and by all accounts we might have already had most of it in the hottest May ever recorded in history. It was so hot that I was picking wild strawberries – unheard of! From experience it is usually the early summer that has the leftover spring plants and late summer (early September) that has berries and nuts. Ironically in between can be rather like winter with not much going on. Yet, look closely and you’ll find there is always something happening. On the day of writing this article I snagged myself a summer truffle (scrambled eggs here I come!) and I’m looking forward to the arrival of field mushrooms. Yes that’s right, the mushrooms start in the summer – don’t just wait until the autumn. If you are not out there looking at the cycles of Nature and her seasonal variations how can you expect to get a deeper understanding and a feel for what’s available and when? My point is there is always a good season to go foraging for wild food and you may be surprised what you find at any given time of the year. even if you don’t fill a basket with goodies, it’s fun sometimes just to practice your seasonal ID skills or to share the benefits of knowledge with others. In conclusion, don’t just wait for a particular season to go foraging. Nature will most certainly not wait for you. Adrian Boots is a Landscape Ecologist, Wild Food Forager and Adventure Activity provider. You can visit his website: to learn more about wild food foraging and activities you can do with him on the Mendip Hills.



Taste of Mexico

THIS year is the first time I've grown epazote, a Mexican herb. Pronounced eh-pah-ZOH-teh, its leaves and tender stems are commonly used in Mexican cooking – most commonly in bean dishes where it lends both flavour and supposed antiflatulent properties! With JAKE It is a member of the goosefoot WHITSON family and has more than a passing resemblance to our native fat hen – indeed it is also similar in that in Mexico epazote is more of an edible weed than a plant which is deliberately tended and cultivated. The seeds are tiny and I found they took a good two weeks or so to come up in the propagator, pressed into the surface of some good moist seedling compost. It has a strong, pungent flavour which is hard to describe – some point to aromas of oregano, aniseed, citrus and mint, while others mention tar, turpentine or creosote. I would say it has a flavour all of its own, one that I enjoy but may take some getting used to for others! Another name for the plant is wormseed and it is supposed to have anthelminthic as well as other medicinal properties – as with all unfamiliar foods, it is probably best used in moderation. As my plants are only small I haven't been able to cook with it so far, however I'm familiar with the flavour from a trip to Mexico some years back. It is great in bean dishes, either fresh or dried, but also in the various tortilla dishes they do stuffed with melted cheese – I quite like it in a cheese toasty! It also goes well with all kinds of summery sautéed vegetables like courgettes, peppers and aubergines. Its flavour does not stand up to heating for a long time, so it is best added towards the end of cooking, as you might with basil or coriander. Jacob Whitson is a chef, food writer and smallholder. He is currently working on setting up a small sustainable goose farm in Somerset with his partner Johanna.


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LAST month we looked at the specific NHS Virus tracker, this month we’ll take a look at the general NHS app. Owned and run by the NHS, the NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet. As ever, always go with a reliable source for information and don’t trust anything unless you are in a safe place. The NHS App is available now on iOS (Apple) and Android – always go through the App store for Apple or Google play for Windows/Android. Just search for NHS app. To use it you must be aged 13 and over and registered with a GP surgery in England. If you don’t have a suitable device, some of these features are available if you register with Patient Access page – What the NHS App does Use the NHS App to: • get advice about coronavirus – get information about coronavirus and find out what to do if you think you have it • order repeat prescriptions – see your available medicines, request a new repeat prescription and choose a pharmacy for your prescriptions to be sent to • book appointments – search for, book and cancel appointments at your GP surgery and see details of your upcoming and past appointments • check your symptoms – search trusted NHS information and advice on hundreds of conditions and treatments and get instant advice or medical help near you • view your medical record – securely access your GP medical record, to see information like your allergies and your current and past medicines • register your organ donation decision – choose to donate some or all of your organs and check your registered decision • find out how the NHS uses your data – choose if data from your health records is shared for research and planning. Other services in the NHS App If your GP surgery or hospital offers other services in the NHS App, you may be able to: • message your GP surgery, doctor or health professional online • consult a GP or health professional through an online form and get a reply • access health services on behalf of someone you care for • view your hospital and other healthcare appointments • view useful links your doctor or health professional has shared with you Keeping your data secure After you download the app, you will need to set up an NHS login and prove who you are. The app then securely connects to information from your GP surgery. If your device supports fingerprint detection or facial recognition, you can use it to log in to the NHS App each time, instead of using a password and security code. (N.B. Beware of an email looking like it comes from TV Licencing, telling you that your licence runs out tomorrow – it is probably a scam. If you are worried, go directly to Submitted by IT for the Terrified: Cheddar Village Hall, Church St, Cheddar BS27 3RF 01934 741751 (usually goes to answer phone) •



The Mendip Mindbender

ACROSS 1 End a quarrel (4,3,7) 10 Without restraint (9) 11 Browbeat or intimidate (5) 12 Opening in a garment giving entry to a pocket (7) 13 Got up around record slumber (6) 15 Small flute favoured by the Scottish military (4) 17 Mandarin or apparatchik (derogatory) (10) 19 Village north of Postlebury Wood (records of this go back to 1182) and south of Nunney (10) 21 A cygnet's mum (4) 23 Cherry and plum are varieties of this fruit (6) 24 Added or subtracted a shade more or less (7) 27 Fairy pasty containing soccer team say (5) 28 French Author who wrote "Three Cities Trilogy" (5,4) 29 Village where the Fosse Way (Roman road linking Lincoln to Exeter) crossed the River Brue via a ford. (7,2,5) DOWN 2 The darkest part of a shadow (5) 3 Hunting cry when urging on the hounds (6) 4 Not the full facts (4-6) 5 Conceal oneself under the skin (4) 6 Representation of a pageant! (7)

7 8 9

14 16 18 20 22 23 25 26

A hamlet of and to the south of High Littleton. It had a rail goods depot before it closed in 1959 (9) Give this herb an hour say (5) What causes chubbiness in children prior to puberty (5,3) Finding out about a verb or going downhill (10) Bamboozled or discombobulated (9) Inability to perceive differences in musical pitch (4-4) Moving the goon (2,3,2) Summer house, Belvedere (6) Actor who fiddled on the roof in the seventies (5) Wavering Down House once the home of TV comedian Frankie Howard is in this village (5) Licentious, lecherous or salacious (4)

Clues in italics are cryptic by greendandelion

This month’s solution can be found on page 62

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Strong online bidding returns to Mendip Auction Rooms KILLENS staged their first online sale after lockdown on May 26th and competitive bidding for the 500 lots of Victorian and Later Effects on offer was seen. This was followed by a sale of Antiques and Collectables on June 13th with almost 650 lots going under the hammer. With over 600 registered buyers, there was active bidding with keener interest being seen for collectables, furniture and pictures. Amongst the jewellery, an impressive diamond bracelet achieved £6,000 whilst, amongst the collectables, two Pelham puppets sold well above estimate for £960. A Parsley’s silk top hat sold for £480 and an unusual amber boulder realised £1,400. With auction houses now open to the public, Killens are now conducting valuations at the auction rooms and carrying out free home visits. It is also possible to view future auctions but, for the time being, auctions will still be conducted online only. Top hat Safety is being put sold for first. Those visiting the £480 auction rooms are asked

Puppets sold for £960

to use hand sanitisers, maintain social distancing and there will be limits on the number of visitors in the saleroom so you are encouraged to avoid peak times. All catalogues are illustrated and can be viewed online and bids can be made either online through the auction rooms website – – or The next sale of Antiques and Collectables at the Mendip Auction Rooms will be on Saturday, July 11th and will be preceded by a sale of Victorian and Later Effects on Tuesday, July 7th. A further sale of Victorian and Later Effects will be on Tuesday, July 28th.

Contact the auction rooms on 01749 840770 or email for further assistance.


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Clevedon Salerooms launch “drive-through” valuations CLEVEDON Salerooms’ first sale since lockdown was held in early June and resulted in the second highest sale total for their Antiques & Interior Sales in the firm’s history. If that was not amazing enough, the result was achieved with just one person in the saleroom, the auctioneer, alone on the rostrum but not in spirit with almost 1,000 online bidders tuned into to be part of the online sale. As we all adjust to new ways of operating, the saleroom held their first highly successful socially distanced “drive-through valuations” at the salerooms, in the open air. If you have items you might be thinking of selling why not email images for a free valuation to or attend the free valuation days.

For further information and reassurance, please do not hesitate to contact the salerooms on 01934 830111


Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers

FREE AnTIquE VALuATIOn DAYS 6th 7th & 20th 21st July

1833 Three Roubles Sold for £3,200

Serpent pendant Sold for £380

9.30am–1pm and 2pm–5pm Held at the salerooms – no appointment necessary


You can visit us safe in the knowledge that our strict social distancing measures will not place you at any risk

Tel: 01934 830111 The Auction Centre, Kenn Road, Kenn, Clevedon, Bristol BS21 6TT

19th Century Sofa Sold for £1,300

Wedgwood Vase Sold for £420

Antiques, Interiors, Collectables & Jewellery Sales Auction dates: 2nd, 16th & 30th July at 10.30am (Internet Auction behind closed doors – no public access) • Limited Viewing – Strictly by Prior Appointment (Do not arrive unannounced and expect to view the sale)


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Sculpture exhibition THE restrictions imposed by lockdown have certainly had an effect on businesses across the land including the visual arts. Galleries, like shops and other premises, were forced to close, and outdoor sculpture exhibitions, many of which open to the public in the spring, joined the list of festivals and events that had to

Antiques Interiors Clearances Auctions Ripley Antiques Vintage, The Square, Axbridge, Somerset BS26 2AY Tel: 01934 732641 or Mob: 07585 220591

be cancelled. Many people have found difficulty coping with the isolation that ensued, but this has not been an issue for everyone. Sculptor, Ian Marlow, is one of many who have found the experience a time to reflect, a time to slow down and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that these exceptional circumstances have created in our lives. He said: “It has been strange having the place closed for the last few months. Seeing and speaking to only a few people for several weeks has certainly slowed the pace of day to day life and that is probably a good thing for all of us. “It is probably easier for artists who can lose themselves in their work and quiet contemplation, but I know some people struggled with the restrictions.”

ARTS & ANTIQUES He welcomes the fact that work is beginning to return to normal. The exhibitions are starting to open again and the ones that have been waiting in the wings are more optimistic of being able to proceed. This includes Ian’s own exhibition at his sculpture garden in Buckland Dinham. For several years now, he has opened his sculpture garden and studio as part of the Frome Festival, a celebration of all arts held in Frome each year. The main festival had to be cancelled, but organisers of the Frome Open Studios, where artists in and around Frome open their studios or homes to visitors, decided to move to an online presence, apart from those who are able to open safely. Fortunately for Ian, the sculpture garden is an open area where people can wander

around and still maintain the required distancing. Ian’s sculpture garden will be open from July 4th to 12th, 11am5pm each day.

Wells Festival of Literature

WELLS Festival of Literature is determined to go ahead in some form from October 16th-24th, with some 35 outstanding speakers booked, including the poet laureate, Simon Armitage. Festival organisers are keen to reassure everyone that they have been preparing for many Max Porter months, and are determined to provide an exceptional festival, as usual. Exactly what shape and format this year’s festival will take currently remains unclear as they await future developments. In the meantime, like other festivals throughout the country, they are keeping plans flexible and afloat for the time being while actively exploring all options – the usual audience gathering in Cedars Hall, a fully virtual event or a hybrid of the two. Once the festival format is finalised, the speakers will be announced and full festival action will commence. One thing is certain – author Max Porter will host their book group event in Wells on Sunday, October 18th. His debut novel Grief Is The Thing With Feathers was a Sunday Times List bestseller and won the Dylan Thomas Prize. Details:


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MendiP TiMes

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supporting new business

Organisers of eat:Festivals, which take place across somerset, are offering support to new businesses to enable them to make their first steps into trading, with a bursary sponsored by Thatchers Cider. it aims to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit, allowing business start-ups to consider festival trading. The producers will benefit from a free pitch at the Weston-super-Mare festival due to be held in september and support from the organisers throughout the year. The Thatchers Bursary is for food and drink producers who have not engaged in retail trade before. Martin Thatcher said: “after such a difficult few months for everyone, it’s fantastic that eat:Festivals are planning their return to eat:Weston in september. it will be a much-welcomed return for traders who excel in such a diverse array of local food and drink.” details:

shepton announces business awards FOllOWing the cancellation of this year’s Mendip Business awards,

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Page 24 • MendiP TiMes • July 2020

shepton Mallet Town Council is launching its own awards scheme to recognise outstanding local businesses and entrepreneurs. it says the online shepton innovator Business awards will recognise the dedication and hard work shown by local businesses and entrepreneurs to serve and support their community during the coronavirus crisis and throughout the year. details:

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What can i do to secure the future of my business post Covid-19?


as the country progresses its exit from lockdown and restrictions ease, now is the time for companies to focus on their post Covid19 business plan. Here are some of the key areas companies should consider when preparing for the “new” business normal. Terms & Conditions if your business supplies goods and/or services, then recent months may have found standard terms and conditions have not met challenges presented by Covid-19. While we hope to avoid a second wave of the pandemic, preparing for one or any other future business interruption is necessary. if your company’s existing terms and conditions do not currently contain a detailed “force majeure” or material change clause then it would be wise to include one. it is also advisable to use this time to check insurance policies, particularly regarding business interruption cover. regarding refunds and cancellations, whilst a company’s standard refund and cancellation terms may provide the right to retain deposits and/or a customer’s right to cancel, it is worth considering other options such as postponement or amendment that will likely benefit both parties moving forward.

Restructuring restructuring and reorganisation of companies can be an efficient way to separate elements of a business and help achieve future goals. With careful planning and appropriate professional advice, reorganisations including demergers or use of holding companies can be used to split parts of a business to ensure no adverse tax implications and to streamline and reduce costs. Other benefits include ring-fencing assets from what may be riskier elements of a business or consolidating debts to free up cash where is it most needed. if you are considering making changes to your business and would benefit from some advice, please contact our Corporate Commercial team on 0800 533 5349 or email Tom Webb, Corporate Commercial Partner, Mogers drewett

MendiP TiMes • July 2020 • Page 25

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MendiP TiMes


ultrafast full fibre: the best bang for your broadband buck

a Mega “what” per second? Contention with who? Fibre to the where? From packages to providers, making sense of the bits and bytes of broadband can seem like an impossible task. Opting for the fastest speeds or lowest prices might seem the most obvious options, but they’re not always the smartest. Paying for a 500Mbps package isn’t a good move if you only get close to those speeds at 3am when no one else is online. and at the other end of the price spectrum, that £20 a month deal doesn’t seem such great value when your connection cuts out more often than it cuts the mustard. The past few months of Covid-19 lockdown have shown us how essential good broadband is to the smooth running of our daily and working lives. and revealed just how many of us are still splashing the cash on out-of-date broadband that’s slow, unreliable and often drops out altogether. so how do you make sure broadband can hold its own against a Playstation-playing teenager, a student studying virtually, a toddler tantrumming for Frozen on a neverending loop and grandma Whatsapping with her sister while parents are working their nine-tofives remotely? BandWidTh oR sPeed? everyone talks about broadband speeds. Of course, they’re an important measure for broadband. But at peak times, with everyone on their devices, speed alone won’t get you very far: bandwidth will. Think of bandwidth as the road or motorway: at rush hour, when there is a lot of traffic congestion, the number of lanes available will impact how fast the cars – in this case your broadband network users – can drive. Having enough bandwidth is like having the fast lane all to yourself – you can speed along happily without all those frustrating Page 26 • MendiP TiMes • July 2020

stop/starts. By contrast, if you have insufficient bandwidth to cope with all the other users on the digital highway, you will get shunted into the slow lane. so a broadband provider might claim to offer 500Mbps speeds, but if your network doesn’t have this bandwidth capacity available, then it simply won’t be able to reach those speeds. sharing is caring, but not when it comes to broadband networks. While ultrafast full fibre (also known as FTTP/FTTH i.e. fibre to the premise or home) is undeniably the only route to consider, be careful which flavour you choose. some full fibre providers (rather cheekily in our opinion) split their fibre between households on a street. Because you are sharing the same fibre you can easily get caught up in digital traffic jams at peak times. at Truespeed we don’t want you to have to share your fibre. Which is why with us you get your own dedicated digital “road” right to your door – and the bandwidth you need guaranteed 24/7. and if and when you find you need more in the future, our service is equipped to offer speeds up to 10gbps. ouR full fiBRe PRoMise so you’re set for life, whether

you’re work-from-home-videocalling, learning about shakespeare in a virtual classroom or box-set binging on netflix. That’s because our network is future-proofed and will last for generations. Once our infrastructure is built, that’s it: we can remotely increase speeds at any time. This means, unlike other providers, we won’t need to dig up roads in years to come to make sure your broadband still lets you accelerate hard and fast.

Value foR Money Today and ToMoRRoW While you can certainly find cheaper inferior broadband services elsewhere, more and more people during the pandemic are realising just how important guaranteed speeds and ultra-reliability are to their daily lives. and how our service is a great investment that offers value for money and stops you wasting valuable time on spinning wheels and dropouts. and when you put it like that, knowing your online needs are taken care of for years to come, is the best piece of mind and value for money you can possibly get. so what are you waiting for, take the wheel on your dedicated digital lane and visit to find out more.

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MendiP TiMes


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Friendly prompt service from Phil & Colleen at their farm in Charterhouse Quality seasoned beech and ash hardwood, chopped and split into a variety of load options (with free delivery).

Page 28 • MendiP TiMes • July 2020

TinCknell Heating has been awarded June 2020’s Which? Trusted Trader of the Month. The family-owned company has been praised by customers for a thoroughly professional service and willingness to be flexible in the current unique circumstances. The judges said they were pleased to see a rainbow-coloured nHs flag flying above the Tincknell Heating office in Wells and commented: “it’s really nice to see traders are doing their bit to help during the current climate.” Tincknell Heating provides quality services to customers across somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, the former county of avon and south gloucestershire, dealing with boiler servicing, installation and repair. it’s introduced strict measures to ensure the safety of its engineers and customers. it’s also showing its support for the nHs by offering 50% off for any visits to nHs staff, saying “we want to thank them for their fantastic work in these difficult times”. details: 01749 678828

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The effect of Covid-19 on divorce and financial settlements Here is a summary of the challenges being posed to the family law process as a result of the current pandemic. Divorcing couples could face delays, battles over maintenance payments and separation from their children as coronavirus has thrown traditional court processes out of the window. The pandemic has led to job losses, financial difficulties and childcare problems while schools are closed. These factors could force some families to reconsider settlements and even whether to get divorced at all. it is still possible to get a divorce, despite courts being closed. However couples may experience delays. Court staff have had to move to working from home and, although some hearings are being done remotely via video link, only urgent cases – for example involving domestic abuse or child protection – are being prioritised. remote hearings clearly have a part to play but on the downside it could be harder for judges to assess a person’s character via a video call and this could lead to some people feeling they have been treated unfairly. it should be mentioned that divorce cases only go to a court hearing if disputes over financial settlements or children cannot be resolved by the couple or their lawyers. Renegotiating a financial settlement if coronavirus has made it unfair The pandemic has also thrown stock markets and businesses into chaos. Circumstances are changing all the time, which could create a situation where a financial settlement suddenly becomes very unfavourable for one party.

if, for example, a couple has decided to split their assets equally, with one partner keeping the house and the other the shares and pension, a significant fall in stock markets could severely disadvantage one party. You can apply to have a decision reviewed if you believe a sudden and unforeseen event has made it unfair; however normally a market downturn would not qualify. Problems in selling the family home The housing market too is going through difficulties and sellers may be hardpushed to find a buyer at this time. That could throw settlements into jeopardy if couples are unable to sell their family home – potentially increasing their capital gains tax liabilities when they do finally reach a deal. Capital gains tax on divorce Husbands, wives and civil partners may have to pay capital gains tax when transferring assets from one person to the other after the relationship has legally ended. These include shares, property and certain personal possessions that have increased in value. everyone has an annual tax-free allowance of £12,000. any profits made on the sale of an asset that exceeds this allowance will be taxed at a rate up to 28% living with an abusive partner. What can be done? Those who have not yet separated from their partner will still be considered as part of the same household and have to isolate together for the foreseeable future. Those who are still living with a coercive partner at this time should try reaching out to charities such as Women's

aid and refuge. some are now communicating with victims via Whatsapp, as it may be hard to make calls discreetly while the partner is also at home. in serious cases of abuse recourse can always be had to the police. is there any way to get around delays? Couples could try to get around the court backlogs by reaching an agreement themselves. However this could leave one party with an unfair settlement. Two alternatives which would still allow you to avoid the courts would be to use a mediator or an arbitrator. a mediator is a third party that helps couples reach a fair agreement between them while an arbitrator is a private judge who can make a binding decision on what is a fair split. edward lyons

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Kingswood 0117 967 5252 MendiP TiMes • July 2020 • Page 29

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A light at the end of the tunnel?

A LOT has happened in the last few months and we could be forgiven for thinking that our current way of life is somewhat like living in a never-ending tunnel. But wait – is that a glimmer of light we can see at the end of it? By which we mean, of course, the relaxing of the current lockdown rules. We know we need to follow these in order to control this virus that is causing such misery in our own community and beyond and its affects will continue into the future as well, affecting the things, people and places we so often take for granted. We need to ensure they will still be there for us. But people are fighting back – human beings are resilient, inventive and more importantly, kind and generous. So when we noticed a support plea by a volunteer of the Wells and Mendip Museum we were glad to respond by delving into our Heritage Community Fund. The museum and the society have long been connected; many of our members volunteer long-term there, we hold our meetings and join in various events run by organisations like MendipRocks there; it is one of the

King Charles

The society's stand at Rocktober launch

cornerstones of our community. But thinking even wider, how would people know about everyone’s talks and events without this very publication you are now reading, also a cornerstone of the whole of Mendip? It is great to see the many companies and groups, in the face of limited commerce for months, supporting this publication with advertising (MT’s only income). We are grateful that we have our community fund so that we can also assist you, Mendip Times, in a small way, fulfilling that part of our society’s aims to Care for the Mendip Hills. In a project to promote the hills and our society to the wider public, we have started to make a range of YouTube videos highlighting the features, interests and events that are the backdrop to our Mendip lives, presented by our very own president, Les Davies MBE, whose enthusiasm and knowledge comes across in bucket-loads. There are currently three up, only sixseven minutes long, very watchable, serving as an introduction to others we intend to make as time goes on, expanding the range and scope of interests covered. Just go to and in the search box put ‘the mendip society’, click the “subscribe” button to keep informed when new ones appear. Having painted a picture of rural beauty, it upsets us to learn that we have a problem that is rearing its ugly head in Rowberrow, a lovely area with its trees and pathways acting as a good way to access Black Down and the whole plateau. But it is seemingly becoming the playground of a growing group of mountain bikers who are not keeping to the existing created paths and are just making up their own in an effort to make them more "exciting".


This is now becoming dangerous and local walkers and horse riders are having to take avoiding action to keep safe. We are not having a dig at all bikers as we think this is just the action of a "rogue few", but it could just get out of hand as it has done already in Smetworthy Forest, Cumbria, where Forestry England have had to ban them. This is a shame, as surely there is room here for everyone and so we appeal to any groups of them, both big and small, to consider their actions and impose some sort of self-discipline or control, so that everyone can continue to use and enjoy the area safely. Our society has taken a while to dip its toe into the new era technology, but as it seems vital to our way of communication now, so we will be holding our first ever digital talk. This was to have been in our programme for April, entitled “The Fugitive King in the South West”, the epic journey of King Charles to France in 1651 after his defeat at Worcester. John Price and friends have been walking the 625-mile Monarch’s Way footpath, in “daily bites” for several years and having gone through the Mendip section last year are nearing the end of the journey at the port of Shoreham, Sussex. The illustrated talk by John will be given via Zoom and members of the public are welcome to join the live broadcast as well on Thursday, August 6th at 2pm. There is no need to download any software or participate in any way if you don’t want to. Simply email for the link to click on at follow the simple directions and then watch and listen. Richard Frost and Judith Tranter

For details of all events visit and Facebook ‘The Mendip Society’


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Wildlife conservation – close to home

HOPEFULLY this will be the last month of lockdown and we can start getting back to some form of normality, or should I say a “new normal”. The garden once again will feature heavily in this article and with so much negativity surrounding wildlife conservation I wanted to focus on the By CHRIS successes we’ve observed during lockdown, SPERRING and that’s just in the garden. MBE Small tweaks here and there in our garden space can have huge repercussions for the potential wildlife that may live there. When I first moved into this house in 1993 there were not many species of birds actually breeding. When we first started feeding the birds the numbers and diversity very gradually increased, but feeding them on bird tables was not the answer to the low density. Oh, sure they would come, but they never stayed and that’s the point. The real answer came when I looked around just locally during the early to mid-1990s as to why the house sparrow (that bird some of us grew up being called a so called “pest species”) was now so scarce. Nationally the number got so low that it was afforded a red listing on the Birds of Conservation concern list, meaning there had been a 50 percent reduction in the overall population. So the more I looked locally as to why this was happening the more I began to understand what was going on. It certainly was not because people had stopped feeding birds, because just walking round locally I could see there were more and more people enjoying the birds by feeding them. Traditionally house sparrows nested in the roof space of houses and many roofs had been modernised to stop this from happening, so this was definitely a factor. But of course house sparrows can and do use nesting boxes and hedges so lack of suitable nest sites was an issue but did not solve what I observed as the main problem and that was young productivity. So although I was able to observe young birds out of the nest being fed by parents, their numbers were much lower than say in the 1980s or 70s. The problem for a not very long-lived species Young blue tit emerging from nest box


Sparrows feeding young

then is that if you're not producing enough young over a given period, then your overall numbers will decline, and fast. The missing element was foliage, meaning enough unsprayed green leaf foliage in the gardens where insects could thrive. Insects are vital for the early rearing process of young house sparrows. The adults will literally hoover up species such as green and black fly and many other species of garden insect. Gardens of course were becoming tidier, with people either doing away with the garden altogether or following instructions from various gardening programmes to manage the garden more intensively. The result of both meaning the drop of essential rearing food for house sparrows. Combining this with a few other issues means that a one-time very common bird goes on the slide of decline. So what did we do? We do have a formal garden, but it’s now completely mixed with a much more natural garden in which I planted a natural hedge using local stock, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, holly, elder etc. From a treeless garden in the early 1990s we now have good sized birch, goat willow, cherry, horse chestnut, plum and ash, again sourced locally. We’ve just counted the number of house sparrows visiting the garden on one day and the number now being boosted by this year’s fledgings is a record for us 37 individuals. So when you consider we had none at all during the mid to late 90s, this is an amazing success. But they aren’t the only bird species increasing in the garden. We now have two breeding pairs of blackbirds, one in the front garden the other in the back. Long tailed tits are now nesting for the second year, with goldfinch, wren, dunnock, great tit and blue tit. The conclusion from our urban garden is that it can be done small scale, we don’t have to give up gardening, indeed this year we are growing our own vegetables for the first time (very small scale). We also have an extensive area of lawn, not mown every other day and not sprayed in any way. Our garden wildlife recording has been an amazing experience during this emergency situation of lockdown and it's been very uplifting to see the things we did a few years ago now bearing fruit. Wildlife conservation is not all doom and gloom, we just have to take some action and sometimes the risk, and trust nature to do the rest. Stay safe everyone, and I hope next month I will be reporting on what’s going on from beyond the garden.

Chris Sperring MBE is conservation Officer for the Hawk and Owl Trust. For news of any public walks or talks coming up please visit via Facebook @ChrisSperringwildlife


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With Sue Gearing

THERE has been a good response to the Mendip quiz questions in May and June. So here is one more to test your knowledge of the area through my walks. All of these you will have passed on one or other of my circles over the last few years. I made a mistake in the last quiz. Question three showed a stained glass window with a nurse and airman. I wrongly said it was in Priddy Church. In fact it’s in St Mary’s at Christon. In the next issue, depending on the state of things during this pandemic, I hope it may be possible and sensible to give you a new walk.


Answers on page 62




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West Countryman’s diary

LOCKDOWN restrictions are beginning to ease with people managing to return to some kind of outdoor life, although not completely. I With LES understand the DAVIES MBE frustrations of many who will have been penned up in a house with little or no garden to escape to. It is however a great disappointment that the actions of the few are starting to affect the enjoyment of the many. After all with access comes responsibility Open fires in the forests are not a good idea, especially at this time of year, yet they have been happening. Letting a dog run freely amongst sheep is irresponsible to say the very least and a criminal offence as well, yet it has happened. Hanging dog mess in plastic bags on a post is not the way to dispose of it. Parking cars that block gateways does not endear those who need access to the visitor cause. I have to say that these are the actions of a minority and in no way should they reflect on the majority who come to the countryside for responsible leisure and exercise. Their actions do however leave a mark. I want to talk of positive things now and leave the negative behind. Let’s talk of care, mutual support and cooperation. It’s nothing to do with us humans, but I’m sure we could all learn from it. We need to go into the woodland and forests to find some examples. Trees began to colonise the landscape at the end of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago. They evolved from ferns and low growing bushes by the development of a vascular structure. In short this is a “pipeway” system that is able to move both water and nutrient up and down a strengthened stem. It has many advantages for a plant, as it allows it to gain height and light over and above any competition. We humans see competition as a natural way of life. Competition in the workplace, in sport and quite often in our lifestyle. We subscribe to the theory of evolution and the survival of the strongest! Trees are “slow burners”. Their life is nowhere near as fast as ours, this is why they live much longer. We are but damsel flies compared to the life span of a mighty

oak, or that yew tree growing in the churchyard, who may have seen a thousand years go by. Community is also important to a tree. We see the lone oak as a symbol of strength, standing proud and alone without any support. Perhaps this is a quality we would like to mirror in ourselves? “The tree that stands alone grows strong” is a theory I have always subscribed to, but my growing understanding of trees has led me to believe that this is not always the case. The tree that I would like to look at is the beech. The Latin name is Fagus Sylvatica. Fagus is derived from the Greek word Fagein, meaning to eat, whilst Sylvatica means forest. In short food of the forest, which refers to the nuts or “masts” the tree produces. The name beech is derived from Germanic and Anglo Saxon words, Bok, Boc or Buche all of which have developed into our word, “book”. It is the “book tree” on which some of the earliest writing is said to have been done. Hence the tree’s association with knowledge and wisdom. We are used to seeing the beech on Mendip in shelter belts and field corners, planted to give protection from the strong south westerly winds that sweep in across the Somerset moors. It likes to grow in a community and is also known as the “Mother of the Woods” for its nurturing and protective qualities. Unlike us at times, it is quite happy to get along with its neighbours and will even support them in times of need. Beneath the surface of the woodland floor lies the “Wood Wide Web”. This is a massive connection of the trees’ root systems and fungal growth. The fungi attaches itself to the tree’s root system when it is quite young and in return for lodging it will pay its rental by searching out and delivering nutrients that may be difficult for the tree to exploit. This is the classic symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit from the relationship! The root system is the wonderful part here. Roots of neighbouring trees will entwine, linking arms or holding hands if you like. Not only are they able to communicate with one another, they are able to support each other in times of need. Thus a tree can pass on the life-giving sugars created by photosynthesis in the leaves to a neighbour who may be feeling unwell.

With regard to communications, such as passing information concerning threats and danger, the root systems can do this as well. Any gaps within the connections are filled by the fungal roots systems, which act in a similar way to our optic fibre system. It’s not only below ground that cooperation exists, it’s high in the tree canopy as well. Trees grow to take advantage of maximum light, but the beech will never crowd its neighbour out. Survival depends on cooperation and gaps in the woodland canopy can lead to drying out of the ground below, that’s in no-one’s interest. A deep litter cover of dead leaves will also help conserve moisture and improve soil fertility. Certain plants have learnt to take advantage of this and establish themselves where little other competition exists. The bluebell is such a plant, growing, flowering and dying back before the beech canopy restricts the light reaching the woodland floor. Water harvesting is also well thought through. Rain falling on the leaves is directed towards the tree’s root system by its branches. If you look at nearly all deciduous trees, you will notice the branches reach up and outwards. Thus water is directed down the trunk and slowed by moss that gradually releases it towards the ground and down to the roots. It is not only the beech that lives like this. This is only the start of how trees can show us that they are not inanimate objects. So next time you’re out for a walk in the woods, view them in a different light. This month’s picture is of a tactful reminder seen posted in a fire site at Stockhill Forest near Priddy.

You can always contact me through my website:


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Summer bulbs to lighten the gloom

We tend to think of bulbs as flowering in the spring from an autumn planting, but there is a huge range of summer flowering bulbs, corms and With MARY tubers that are PAYNE MBE excellent value to add colour to the summer garden. Gladiolus have come back into fashion as a garden plant, but also make an excellent cut flower. For cut flower purposes the corms can be planted at intervals to achieve a succession. From planting to flowering takes approximately 12 weeks, so an early April planting should flower in early July and so on. I like to use them in mixed borders to add a vertical element, planting in groups of five or seven. The large flowered group usually grow to between 90 and 120cms in height and may need staking in a windy situation. The Butterfly or Compact varieties are a bit shorter at 60 – 80cms. With a huge range of colours to choose from, your borders will light up again just when so many things have finished. It is best to lift and store gladiolus corms in the autumn in case we have a hard winter. Closely related to the gladiolus is Acidanthera murieliae, sometimes called Abyssinian gladiolus, which will flower in August/September from a mid-April planting. The white flowers with a maroon throat are reputed to be sweetly scented but I have never noticed it. A summer flowerer that is gaining in popularity is the Calla lily, technically a Zantedeschia. It has been developed for the cut flower industry, but makes excellent summer flowering pot plants, producing a succession of arum lily-shaped blooms with many having attractive white spotted foliage. It is best to lift and store them in a frost-free place for the winter. During the growing season they like plenty of sun and water. This year I have had so much pleasure from a succession of traditional anemones used as cut flowers. The dry tubers rot off easily if the soil is too wet after planting, so I start them in a plastic bag of slightly moist compost. Once they have swelled up and are starting to sprout, I plant them out in pots or in the garden. The intensity of the colour of the blue PAGE 36 • MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020


flowered Mr Fokker or the strong red Hollandia is amazing and the tubers are one of the cheapest you can buy. Anemones can be autumn or spring planted. The pineapple lily (eucomis) has large bulbs that can be left in a sunny, welldrained position to bulk up year after year or can be pot grown for a spectacular late summer display. Most popular seems to be the purple foliaged varieties such as Sparkling Burgundy, with spikes of pinkish flowers, but white flowered types with green leaves are readily available. Many will have received an enormous Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) bulb as a Christmas gift but may not be aware that there are now some so called “hardy” amaryllis that can be left in the ground to repeat flower each year, given a protective mulch over winter and a sunny aspect. If in doubt, grow them as a pot plant and move to a sheltered spot for the winter. These need no special treatment to get them to flower each year, indeed even their offshoot bulbs flower after a couple of years. A really diminutive tuberous plant, ideal for a sunny rock garden is the South African Rhodohypoxis baurii (see picture above). Growing to only 5–7cms high with grass-like leaves. They flower their socks off from April through to August. I grow them in shallow pans in the absence of a rock garden! The summer hyacinth, Galtonia candicans, is perfectly hardy with 70 to 90cm spikes of white bells. Plant in groups of three or five for best effect but watch out as slugs and snails are partial to them too. Indian Shot (Canna) make a dramatic addition to a subtropical style border or can be used as a

centre piece in large containers. Like so many plants these days dwarf varieties have been developed, but for a real show try the yellow and green striped foliage of Pretoria, or the multi-coloured Durban. Both are topped with orange flowers on 90cm stems in late summer. Ideally lift, dry off and keep frost free over winter, starting them into growth again in February. No garden should be without the autumn flowering hardy Cyclamen hederifolium. Flowering from late July through to November they are ideal for growing under deciduous trees. They lie dormant from April to July and then produce masses of pink or white flowers from tubers that can grow to the size of dinner plates. After flowering they produce attractive patterned foliage which takes advantage of the winter light when the trees have lost their leaves. For late autumn, the spidery flowers of nerines are welcome. The red flowered Guernsey lily N. sarniensis is tender and needs winter protection but the pink N. bowdenii is hardy. Try to buy growing plants rather than “dry bulbs” and choose a sunny, well-drained spot. At the foot of a south facing wall is ideal. Plant leaving the neck and shoulders of the bulb above ground. The bulbs can be planted quite close together. They seem to relish being close to their neighbours and will build up over time into impressive clumps. They can also be grown in containers of well drained compost, which can be moved to brighten up autumn borders when in bloom. As gardens start to open up, keep an eye on the National Garden Scheme website for gardens near you and enjoy the rest of the summer.

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• Feed rose bushes. Spread fertiliser around the plants and lightly hoe it in. Remove dead flowers and the tip of each shoot to encourage a strong new shoot. • Vigorous climbers such as clematis, honeysuckle and perennial sweet peas will need tying up. Support them well and they will repay you well with more blooms. • If greenhouses are getting too hot, paint the outside to reflect the sun’s heat. This is easily wiped off in autumn. Wetting the floor regularly will also lower the temperature but don’t do it late in the day. • Plant winter cauliflower, purple sprouting and leeks in the space created by digging early potatoes. It is also time to sow winter flowering pansies, primrose and polyanthus. • Check your fruit trees for the weight of crop they have. If there is a heavy fruit set then it is wise to thin the fruit out now. • Trim herbs back. Remove flowers. Give them a good soaking with liquid feed to encourage new shoots. These are always the tastiest. • Loosen onions and shallots and lay them out in the sun to ripen. If you don’t do this they may not store so well. • Stop harvesting rhubarb and asparagus now. This will give it a chance to build up strength for next year. Check asparagus for weevils. • If you have the odd weed or two in the lawn (who hasn’t?), spot weeding with a selective lawn weed killer now can be very effective. Get some colour back into your lawn with a high nitrogen liquid fertilizer.



Serving breakfast, lunch & afternoon tea Delicious homemade meals. Sunday Roasts, Outside catering, buffet lunches delivered, themed cuisine events. Telephone 01749 841155 for further details.




Our garden and pond shop is now fully open to the public Plants now in stock – vegetables, bedding, patio and water plants, shrubs and climbing plants Customers must keep to our social distancing rules

Timberwork Buildings Bespoke buildings to suit you

We specialise in the manufacture of quality standard and bespoke garden buildings to suit your individual needs including:-

WORKSHOPS/GARAGES GARDEN SHEDS SHELTERS & STABLES PLAYHOUSES Let our dedicated team assist you in your choice whatever your budget . . . Full design, installation and delivery service available – customise your shed to suit your needs

We also do: Chicken Houses Dog Kennels • Bin & Log Stores YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT US AND SEE OUR SHOW MODELS – OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK



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Yeo Valley organic garden welcomes back visitors PeOPLe can once again visit the Yeo Valley organic garden in Blagdon on Wednesdays and Fridays with tickets booked in advance. The six and a half acres of organic garden will be open in two-hour slots to ensure that social distancing measures can be maintained. The cafe will be serving a limited offering of take-away

Garden quest

drinks and snacks and the toilets will be open with the necessary precautions in place. Some of the garden team will also be on hand to answer your socially distanced green-fingered questions. It costs £6 to enter the garden, £2 for two-16 years, and children under two years go free. All must be registered in advance.


PeASeDOWN St John’s community library volunteers have been back at work tending to the village’s dementiafriendly community garden, which was opened last autumn. Volunteer Chris Chandler is pictured.

Details: email



The show must go on!

THe 74th Uphill Village Show will go ahead – online – on the weekend of July 24th, with flowers, vegetables, cakes, cooking, crafts and more. People can enter or see entries via the village website and social media pages. Potential entrants are asked to submit photographs of the items they might otherwise have entered by sending them to Chair, Stewart Castle, said: "During the period of the lockdown we have no doubt that residents have all been working hard in their gardens and enjoying the fine weather and that children in particular will have discovered new found craft skills.” Details:

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Rookery Farm is open for business

RookeRy Farm offers a lovely diverse range of small independent businesses. I’ve often heard it’s one of Mendip’s best kept secrets. We are based rurally surrounded by countryside but easily accessed on the B3135 in the middle of many villages and a few minutes from Wells. The Covid-19 lockdown has been tough for many businesses around the country including those here at Rookery Farm. When it struck many people had to get creative and come up with new innovations to keep running throughout this pandemic. The public have been incredibly supportive to us here, it’s become a hub for local and people from all over the area to visit to get supplies from takeaways, shopping, pet food, treats and beer brewed right here on site. I even invited Bristol Meat Machine here to trade every Thursday 8am-2pm. It’s been very successful with their great deals on their meat packs and alongside the brand new farm shop Freckles & Boo it’s been a one-stop shop for most visitors. And of course social distancing throughout has been observed at all times. It’s been a scary time for the survival of this small business park and we can’t thank people enough for visiting us and supporting everyone here. Here are some examples of what we have to offer on-site plus much more like killens Mendip Auction Rooms, yonder Brewery, Paws to Claws Grooming and more. So come along and take a visit – you won’t be disappointed. you can search us on Facebook “At Rookery Farm”. ADELLE HOBBS

Antiques and furniture

ClIFFoRd Hall at Unit 4 Rookery Farm has ten years’ experience in buying and selling antiques and furniture, gold, silver, jewellery, paintings, watercolours and prints. He specialises in leather items including leather chesterfield sofas, leather wingback chairs, leather club chairs, leather captain’s chairs and leather top desks.

Details: 07739 679988


Greens – the country store

BeInG in the heart of beautiful Somerset means we at Greens of Mendip have country living in our blood. We’re a family-run, local business which specialises in supplying high-quality pet food, homewares, pet accessories and country gifts. We’re independent too, which means if you need something we don’t have in stock, we’ve got the flexibility to find it for you. Whether you want to visit us in-store – we are located at Rookery Farm, Binegar, Radstock just a short drive from Shepton Mallet, Glastonbury and Bath – or order through our website, you’ll find our friendly team on hand to help you get exactly what you need.

Body Balance Clinic

Body Balance Clinic offers personal training, sports and holistic therapy, fitness classes, pilates, yoga and Aerial yoga. We specialise in back problems by using Pilates to build core strength and massage therapy to release trapped or tight muscles. our classes are small so clients get maximum assistance, for beginners to advanced levels. our personal training sessions are developed to get the most out of each session and to experience real results. Coming soon to Body Balance are workshops for the 30+ woman and a full range of healthy smoothies, shakes and salads.

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Open for treatment

FooT Faerie Podiatry Practice has been open throughout the lockdown to see serious foot conditions such as ingrown toenails and foot infections and to take pressure off the nHS. From the beginning of June, we have opened our doors to all our patients. We realise, at the moment, that it may be a big decision for some of you to come out, even though you need podiatry treatment so, as well as our usual high standards of cleanliness, we have implemented a few changes to our clinic. Before you arrive you will have been sent a Coronavirus Self declaration Form to complete online and when you arrive we ask that you stay outside – we will invite you into clinic. If you have a face mask please bring it with you. If you forget your face mask we will provide you with one. When you walk into clinic you will find a blue disinfectant mat, so you don’t need to wear overshoes. We will take your temperature as you enter the clinic and you will be asked to wash your hands in our bathroom. you will then be invited into one of our two podiatry rooms; while one room is occupied the other room is being aired and thoroughly cleaned. your podiatrist, Sue Boothroyd, will wear the usual PPe (apron, gloves, face mask) plus a visor and a scrub hat. Please do not bring cash or cheques with you – we only accept credit/debit cards or BACS payments now. When you leave we will disinfect all the surfaces you have touched, including door handles, toilet and floors So, if you are in need of podiatry treatment, please book online or phone 01749 372404. We’d love to see you and your feet!

Now open to the public

ReCkleSS desserts is a young business launched a year ago by French pastry chef Azzedine Zarzi. located in the heart of Somerset, our ambition is to offer our customers the most indulgent desserts. Using the highest quality ingredients, our chef has created a range of beautiful desserts which showcase carefully chosen flavours, textures, and taste experiences. We produce all our desserts in small batches, which are available from our retail shop or online. So, when you’re next entertaining, or to jazz up a midweek meal, why not let us take care of the desserts for you. Reckless desserts, they’re anything but… Details:


New farm shop

FReCkleS & Boo is a new farm shop, bringing you the very best produce, fresh from the farms and fields of Somerset and beyond. To do our bit in these uncertain times we have opened the shop ahead of schedule, to offer the local community fresh meat, dairy, bread, fruit and veg and wine. you’ll find small and large fruit & veg boxes, meat and dairy packs available to pre-order online or you can visit the shop to stock up on your essentials. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers who have supported us so far. Please visit our website or give us a call 07506363929 for more details.

Hartley’s Café Bistro and takeaway

HARTley’S kitchen has been at the “heart” of Rookery Farm for over 12 years. our clients travel from Bristol and Wells, Bath and Westbury, Frome, Cheddar and beyond to enjoy Smoked chicken Caesar salad our great breakfasts and superb lunches – that is when we are open as a pretty, light and bright café bistro. Right now we are only allowed to open as a takeaway but still serving the same high standard of locally sourced food passionately created into an ever changing array of local, national and international dishes. There is space outside for small groups to sit and chat like we used to do – remember, and we are fully licensed, so Champagne on the decking darling? We are proud to be a part of the “food forecourt” at Rookery Farm and very much look forward to seeing you at Hartley’s. For the full story visit or give us a call on 01749 841718.


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Death of cathedral mason Dave Rice DAVE Rice, former Master Stonemason at Wells Cathedral and Station Officer in charge of Wells Fire Brigade, has died at the age of 88. When he retired from the cathedral, at the end of a career which saw the restoration of the West Front, a carving of his head was put up in his honour. He began his working career as an apprentice butler at The Bishop’s Palace, but swapped it for the Masons’ Yard after dropping a tray of glass salt sellers. His father, Arthur, became head verger of the cathedral. Dave began his apprenticeship as a banker mason – a job that he was to do for his whole working life. A banker mason works on a wooden bank, preparing stone for the carvers to finish. He could carve stone but didn’t particularly enjoy doing so, though there are some of his pieces on the cathedral – the cross at the east end of the choir roof is by him. He chose the sign of Zorro as his mason’s mark because he had enjoyed Saturday morning cinema shows of Zorro while growing up. He worked under the Master Mason Bert Wheeler, looking after the whole of the

Chapter estate not just the main building, with an intimate knowledge of all the houses in Vicars Close and most of the Liberty. His tours of the high places in the cathedral were legendary and he was never put off by the heights. He would warn his wife, Valerie, to take a different route into town if he was going over the top and down the West Front in a bosun’s chair to inspect the statues. The couple met in the bell tower at Wookey, when both were bellringers. Valerie died 35 years ago. Dave met the Queen in 1966 and Prince Charles so often during the restoration of the West Front in the 1980s that the prince once said to him “not you again” on one meeting. On his retirement he was quietly very touched and honoured to have his head carved (a grotesque not a gargoyle), complete with cap and glasses, and

installed on the cathedral. The fire service was another love of his life. He joined as a retained fireman in 1954 and only left when he was appointed Master Mason at the cathedral. He leaves his daughter, Clare, who is head of Chewton Mendip Church of England School.

At work on the cathedral

Meeting the queen

The image of Dave on the cathedral

Online runners support charity

Chew Valley School GCSE student Grace and her mum Clare, wearing the winning T-shirt design that shows Chew Valley lake within an earth symbol with 'All in this Together' theme PAGE 42 • MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020

THIS year’s Chew Valley 10k had to switch to a virtual event – a decision greeted with great enthusiasm by many of the event’s regular runners plus lots of newcomers who walked, ran and cycled their 10km and received a medal. Thanks to almost 200 virtual entries (including some from across the UK and even Germany) £800 was donated to local charities. Details:

Yvonne Thompson and daughter Charlotte, who ran the 10k as a family

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Staying upbeat despite Covid-19




MUSIC, fun and laughter have kept residents at Stanton Court Care Home in Stanton Drew upbeat and busy during the current situation. In line with current government guidelines all Country Court Care Homes are currently closed to visitors. Although residents miss seeing their family members, staff have been coming up with innovative ways to make sure everyone stays in touch. The Stanton Court Facebook page has been a great way to show families what their loved ones have been doing. Residents have been enthralled by watching ducklings hatch from eggs kept in an incubator provided by Incredible Eggs. The ducklings are now roaming the garden. The local community have helped to keep spirits high with a wonderful gift basket from Chew Stoke WI which included chocolate and gifts for residents at Easter. The home receives regular stocks of PPE from Country Court and Brislington WI and Beyond have donated handmade scrub bags for staff to take their uniforms home in. Home manager, Wendy Perkins, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and support from our local community. Family members have sent in many messages of support for our staff as well as chocolate gifts and treats to keep us going.”


Ground Floor & Courtyard Rooms Currently Available

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You can live your life to the full and choice is our favourite word. Rooms now available with full en-suite facilities and total personal care is offered. Rated by the CQC as good in all areas

The Manager – Chris Dando • 01934 742131 • Court House Retirement Home, Church Street, Cheddar, Somerset BS27 3RA MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020 • PAGE 43

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Amidst all the gloom and uncertainty, here at Mendip Times, we thought we would celebrate some of the positive stories still happening around the area we cover.

Marcus Trescothick supports new helpline Name – a poem

soMerset cricket legend Marcus trescothick has featured in a new video promoting Mindline somerset, a confidential listening service with a 24hour telephone service to give emotional support and counselling to anyone in need and help them find further support. the service is one of many local mental health projects funded by somerset Community Foundation’s (sCF) somerset Coronavirus Appeal. Marcus said: “I’ve made no secret of the struggles I’ve had with my mental health over the years and it’s important that people know there is someone to talk to when things get tough. We all have

difficult days, but the support is out there, just a phone call away. I'm really pleased to support this important initiative to help stop people suffering in silence.” the video also features staff, volunteers and service users from other local charities who are all working to provide mental health support in somerset, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. the other “talking heads” featured in the film are from Age UK somerset, the Balsam Centre, Community Council for somerset, Heads Up, Mind in somerset, the nHs, somerset County Council, spark somerset, sWeDA, We Hear You and Young somerset. Justin sargent, chief executive at sCF said: “We’re hugely grateful to Marcus for helping us raise awareness of Mindline somerset. We’re also very thankful to our supporters across somerset. “their donations have enabled us to provide funding to many local mental health projects – including Mindline – from our somerset Coronavirus Appeal. their generosity has been truly humbling.” the somerset Coronavirus Appeal currently stands at £700,000 and over £400,000 has been awarded in grants to 150 local charities and community groups in somerset since it was launched in midMarch. the video can be viewed on somerset Community Foundation's Vimeo channel: Mindline somerset is on 01823 276892.

Details: or call 01749 344949.

In memory of coronavirus victims

A number on a page, A line upon a graph, to represent a person, Who used to breathe who used to laugh It's not right to make someone A number on a page, even though they're dead, It still fills me up with rage.

they don't have their own number, they're all bundled up together, And read out in a fashion that could almost be the weather. every day there is a number – 452, 685.... they were all somebody's family And they used to be alive. not a proper send off, Just a funeral of four. If it wasn't for the lockdown, they would have had lots more. Family and friends Want to say goodbye, But now there is a lockdown You must sit at home and cry.

this shouldn't be the way, It should fill us up with shame. this person's not a number, this person has a name.

Tess Jacobs, aged 11

Shops reopen for donations

Weston Hospicecare has started to reopen some of its shops as donation stations, after closing them on March 24th because of the coronavirus pandemic. the shops will be opened by staff members, in tandem, on a three-week rolling rota. the hospice has shops in Weston-super-Mare, Worle, Clevedon, Burnham, Cheddar, Winscombe, Congresbury and Yatton. the hospice has been encouraging supporters to sort, save and pledge donations in anticipation for this scenario, but it’s not clear when shops will fully reopen. Details:


Tess with granny Sue Gearing

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Challenging times

A CHArItY fundraising challenge has become the latest event to be postponed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown and restrictions. local businesswoman Helen lacey had hoped to mark her current year as chairman of somerset Chamber of Commerce with a fundraising Chairman’s Challenge in aid of local charities which are currently members of the chamber. she has now postponed her planned charity fundraising assault course challenge until september 4th, 2021. she said: “It would have been wonderful to mark my five years as a chamber board member and final year as the chairman by raising money for the many fantastic charities that are members of the chamber, but it’s something we can now all look forward to in september next year.”

Running for NHS

CAMeleY Primary school pupil, Jake Hollow, aged ten, persuaded brother, Joey, aged 12, and dad, Jason, to run five miles from their home in temple Cloud to Farrington Gurney and back to raise money for nHs workers. they set a target of £100 – but raised more than £400.

Jake (centre) with dad Jason and brother Joey



NHS tribute

tHe Jeremy Vine show on Channel 5 was recently inundated when it asked viewers to send in rainbow pictures. ten-yearold Izzy Anstey from Pensford, was one of those lucky enough to have her rainbow picture shown on the show, with Jeremy saying that her picture was a lovely tribute to the nHs. Izzy said: “I was so excited when my picture came on and I jumped up and down. I also felt a sense of accomplishment and was so happy to see my picture on there, showing our appreciation for all the nHs are doing for us.”

Coronavirus fund raises over £1.35m

In just 11 weeks Quartet Community Foundation raised over £1.35m to help voluntary and charitable organisations in Bristol, B&nes, north somerset and south Glos reach those worst hit by the coronavirus crisis. It has already awarded £800k to help charitable organisations reach those most in need. the money raised through the Coronavirus 2020 response Fund is supporting hundreds of local projects including food banks, those helping isolated older people, those struggling with their mental health or finances. sue turner, Quartet’s Ceo said: “Many of our small charitable causes have been hit with a double whammy since lockdown began. they’ve experienced a surge in demand at the same time as their finances have taken a hit as fundraising events have been cancelled. “these small local groups rarely hit the headlines but these are the people who visit and care for the elderly and the vulnerable and help those struggling with their mental health. “But they need our help to keep going so I’m delighted that we’ve already supported 169 local projects. “this money is helping to pay for PPe to protect volunteers in nailsea that are delivering shopping, it’s feeding people in radstock left hungry during the crisis and providing counselling for isolated people in Yatton and Congresbury. “We really couldn’t reach so many people and the groups they rely on without the generosity of our supporters and are eternally grateful for all your efforts.” Details: to apply for a grant go to to donate


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How music can provide hope rACHel Branston, director of the Blagdon Benefice choir, the Valley Voices and Valley Band, has been using Zoom to continue with practices. she say she sees her choirs as something much more than about singing to perfection. she said: “singing in the community is always about the social side and particularly so during lockdown. “Zoom has been great for getting people together each evening, having a chat before and after they sing and just seeing happy, smiling faces. It makes people forget all the horrors that are going on in the world and experience an hour of friendship and focus.” rachel runs a mixture of community choir and church choir practices during weekdays, hymn singing on a sunday evening and sometimes an evening of games or “Desert Isolation Discs” on a saturday. she said: “everyone is hoping that the choir members will be much

WI keeps active

stronger singers when they are allowed to sing together once more and that standards will have improved enormously. there’s nothing more difficult than singing in isolation.” several birthdays have been celebrated since lockdown and Valley Voices has seen one member go

stAnton Drew WI members have kept themselves busy during lockdown, as well as doing shopping and keeping an eye on neighbours. rosemary Bradley, the branch president, walked sandy lane, where she lives, 26 times on the day the london marathon should have taken place, raising funds for crohn’s and colitis research. Another member, Ann Budd, has been sewing scrubs bags for the nHs.

through the virus and emerge the other side. rachel said: “there is an overwhelming feeling of love and support from everyone that is a real testament to all our wonderful members. Whilst there is still music in the world, there will always be hope.”

People first

Sarah and Michelle all set for another delivery

MeMBers of the Inner Wheel Club of Wrington Vale have been busy making scrubs for different organisations, including the charity north somerset People First, which works with adults with learning difficulties.

New community fund

WAles & West Utilities has launched a £50,000 community fund and is encouraging somerset charities and bodies affected by the coronavirus pandemic to apply for support. the safe and Warm Fund has been established in response to the crisis and will help communities affected by the outbreak with essential funding. the closing date for applications is July 6th. Details:


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Local foodbanks see a surge in demand


By Annie egginton

A reCent report by the trussell trust says that nationally the number of families with children relying on food parcels has more than doubled with a 122% increase since the start of lockdown compared to the same period last year. so we thought it would be useful to look into the need for support from foodbanks in the Mendip times circulation area – a mainly rural area that extends from north somerset down to somerton and from Uphill in the west to Frome. But the need is not easy to find out. Many of the established foodbanks in our area, Keynsham, Weston-super-Mare, Cheddar, somer Valley, Highbridge, Clevedon, come under the umbrella of the trussell trust. numerous other support schemes are run by local churches, salvation Army corps, lions and other community Saltford distribution centre organisations. some have opened solely to cater for the increased need to provide food for people during lockdown they haven’t seen a Covid-19 related increase. But with the and plan to close again when – if – that need no longer exists. caveat that, at the start of lockdown and recognising the We’ve been told of temporary ones in Yatton, nailsea and likelihood of an increased demand, the salvation Army started somerton; there are likely to be many others. a new foodbank. some schools, recognising that some of their pupils could louise Melia, on behalf of the salvation Army foodbank, in not afford to go without their school meals, have continued to street, says that they are providing around 30 food parcels organise food for them. each week and expect to be doing so for the “no-one should go to bed hungry” is the long term. strapline for Keynsham Foodbank, which Many foodbanks are so very busy that they Cheddar – 263 percent experienced a massive 551% increase in replied to our request with apologies for Keynsham – 551 percent demand for their support in April. last fiscal being unable to give detailed figures. shepton Mallet – 900 percent year they fed 1283 people, of whom just Cheddar Valley foodbank has a volunteer somer Valley – 33 percent under half were children. who very kindly sent their numbers from the Wells – 100 percent so far since early April they have start of lockdown, March 23rd to June 11th: Weston – 100 percent supported 818 – over half last year’s total in 138 food parcels given out to local people just two months. they say this is the largest with a breakdown of 59% adults, 41% increase in the south West, of those listed by the trussell children. on the same dates in 2019 they provided just 38 food trust. parcels to local people, of whom only 30% were children. Most other places report unprecedented increases. Corps In April 2019 Weston-super-Mare foodbank supported 372 sergeant Major and foodbank manager at the salvation Army people, 133 of them children. this April the number of people shepton Mallet, Helen stevens, reports a staggering 900% needing their help had risen to 738, including 330 children. increase in demand for their help. this starts from a very small the need for foodbank support from families with children is number of only six or seven people at the start of this year, but definitely increasing here, too. since March they’ve regularly been supporting over 60 people these increases are despite the introduction in March of a each week. national voucher scheme, worth £15 a week, to help poorer she said: “Demand is not decreasing, and whilst some families feed their children when their schools were closed households now receive benefits etc and no longer come to us, due to lockdown. the scheme was continued during the easter there are others who we see for the first time each week.” and half-term school holidays and has now been extended Wells Vineyard reports more than a doubling of the need for until september when the schools are due to reopen. food parcels in May 2020 compared to 2019. somer Valley All the foodbanks praise the dedication of their volunteers foodbank reports a 33% increase in April, compared to the and the support of their donors - but they all need more help. same period last year. Please think about what you can offer, in the form of food the only exception is the existing foodbank covering donations, money or your time, and ask what they most need: Glastonbury and street, “Bridging the Gap”, who told us that contact details below.

Increase in need

Foodbanks contact details: Castle Cary Food Bank: Tel: 01963 351615 • Cheddar Valley email: Tel: 07922 309369 or 07922 308154 • Clevedon District, email: Tel: 07722 769529 • Glastonbury Bridging the Gap, email: • Highbridge email: Tel: 07899 923451 and 07570 707 400 • Shepton Mallet Salvation Army: Tel. 01749 347130 • Somer Valley email: Tel: 07729523986 • Somerton: Mustard Seed Foodbank, 01458 273 403 • Street Salvation Army Tel: 07511 313339 • SWellsVineyard email: Tel: 07984 382157 or 07871 689598 • Weston-super-Mare: Tel: 01934 708 906. For other Trussell Trust foodbanks nearby: Keynsham, Bristol, Bath, Bridgwater, Taunton, Gillingham, see:


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Village creates a lockdown legacy

In years to come, Chewton Mendip will have a community wall hanging as a reminder of the coronavirus pandemic. Kelly Harris put out a call for villagers to decorate fabric squares showing their experience of the lockdown. she’s received more than a dozen, which she is now stitching together, ready to be shown at village events, when they return. she said: “this is such a massive global event that I thought I would like to create something by which it would be remembered in years to come. “the nicest thing is that through this project I’ve met so many people in the village. It’s created such positive vibes.” she said she picked up the sewing bug from her mum and took it up professionally when she gave up work as a midwife, to have her children rupert, now




aged ten, and Monty, aged 11. rupert goes to the village school, where Kelly helped the children make a wall hanging showing a Japanese form of

Free meals for vulnerable students

embroidery. Monty goes to the Blue school in Wells, where Kelly is due to start work as a teaching assistant.

eBBIe Burns, owner of Frome based event caterers ebbie’s Kitchen, contacted the Frome rotary clubs recently and offered to prepare hot meals at cost price for vulnerable students and children of key workers at Frome College. Despite the Covid-19 lockdown a small number of students have been attending the college, though the normal kitchens remain firmly shut. the three Frome rotary Clubs took up the offer and set about fundraising. local quarry operators, John Wainwright & Co, quickly came to the rescue and offered to meet all of ebbie’s costs. this allowed the initiative to go ahead immediately and the first 30 hot meals were delivered by rotary to the college on Monday, June 8th to grateful students and staff. this generous funding will allow the meal project to be repeated twice a week until the summer holidays. A college spokesman said: “A huge thank you to ebbie and her staff, and to John Wainwright & Co, for all their support to our young people during this difficult time – it is really appreciated by all concerned.”


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Per adua sub aqua

THE motto of the Cave Diving Group, roughly translated as “through difficulties under water” sums up the attitude of this elite body of cavers, who through constant innovation have contributed so much to our knowledge of caves, as well as being responsible for discovering an incredible With PHILIP amount of passages beyond sumps impassable HENDY to ordinary cavers. Beginning in 1934 and under the leadership of that great pioneer of diving, Graham Balcombe, the primitive and often home-made equipment of the day was pushed to the limits, with an amazing amount of success. The group was reorganised in 1955 and has continued to this day, diving and exploring in virtually every part of the world where there are caves and submerged passages. Cave divers are generally a self-effacing group and their exploits are mainly of interest to members of the caving community. The notable exception, of course, was the dramatic rescue by cave divers from several countries of the 12 young footballers and their coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave in Thailand in 2018. Even then, those involved sought to keep a low profile and were only brought into the limelight by governments and the public who wished to acknowledge and reward their bravery and commitment. Most cave dives in Britain are fairly squalid affairs. The flooded passages tend to be constricted, often with zero visibility. The water is always cold, but equipment has improved radically over the years, dry suits giving way to neoprene wet suits, until modern dry suits became available. Single air tanks are usually side-mounted, on a belt, where they can be detached and pushed ahead in the tighter sections. Twin back-mounted bottles are generally too cumbersome. Often, the diver has to dig his way through deposits of mud or gravel, always aware of the likely need to return in reverse. Whenever cave diggers find a sump, they call in a diver, but in the majority of cases, progress is found to be impossible after only a short distance. Even so, diving has led to great successes, such as the connection in Yorkshire between the extensive system of Gaping Gill and the Ingleborough show cave. On Mendip, our two show caves have been extended far beyond their tourist limits by divers. At Gough’s Cave, attempts to enter the subterranean River Axe were made at the main rising and just inside the entrance in the Skeleton Pit, as well as in nearby Saye’s Hole. Progress was impossible, although Duncan Price is currently digging out the rising. It was not until 1985 that Richard Stevenson wriggled down through boulders in a tight shaft in a passage off the main show cave, Dire Straits, to find a large flooded tunnel carrying a strong current. This was dived upstream to find a high chamber, Lloyd Hall (named after Dr Oliver Lloyd, past chairman of the Somerset branch of CDG) and the even larger Bishop’s Palace, which took its name from another diver, Martin Bishop. Later, a dry route was found to Lloyd Hall, which is now the diver’s preferred means of access. The cave currently ends in an underwater boulder choke.

Chamber 24

(Photograph courtesy of Christine Grosart)


Diving in Wookey Hole began in 1934 when Balcombe and Penelope (Mossy) Powell explored upstream as far as the 7th chamber. They were restricted by the cumbersome hard hat diving gear available at the time, but later Balcombe and Don Coase explored as far as the 9th Chamber, now part of the show cave. On his first dive, Balcombe was deeply impressed by the colour of the water and divers today enjoy diving through the impressively large passages, through the clear blue-green water. Wookey Hole, with its various routes, is a popular site for dive training, but serious work has been undertaken as well. Mendip limestone dips at around 30 degrees and caves tend to follow the bedding planes and joints. So diving in Wookey involves zig-zagging up and down. Some of the downward sections are very deep (some go below sea level). Normal compressed air cannot be used, so the gas mixes such as oxy-helium or tri-mix which are used by commercial deep-sea divers have to be employed. Deep diving involves decompression on the ascent, so these dives are prolonged and, with the use of technical gas mixes, risky. Even so, by using these techniques, divers have extended the known cave to a deep section beyond the 25th chamber, which is at the limit of current technology and expertise. The 20th chamber, found by divers, was opened to the public in 2015, and the even larger and more spectacular Chamber 24 might one day be opened to non-divers. Many of the large continental cave sumps are attracting British divers. The water is often warmer and the large passages allow the use of scooters, which save a lot of energy and gas. These are like electrically-powered torpedoes; the diver hangs on and is towed along the cave. My niece Christine Grosart (who provided the Wookey photographs) is exploring caves and diving sumps in Croatia with her partner, Richard Walker, using this technique. She says it makes a refreshing change from diving in Britain. Christine holds the British woman’s depth record for a cave dive, 64 metres in Wookey Hole in 2009. After the hype of the Thailand rescue, cave divers have sunk back to anonymity, exploring and generally enjoying themselves. Which it is what it is all about.

Phil has been caving for more than 50 years and is a member of the Wessex Cave Club. He has been involved in producing several caving publications and until his retirement was a caving instructor at Cheddar. His main interest is digging for new caves


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Couple Pretty as promoted a picture

Shepton Mallet 41 Club together with their sister club Shepton Mallet tangent have welcomed husband and wife Robin and elizabeth Weelen as their new joint president and chairman. Robin has been a keen and active member since the formation of the 41 Club in Shepton Mallet as has elizabeth Robin and Elizabeth Weelen with the Ladies tangent Club. Both are also active members of the Rotary and Inner Wheel Clubs in Shepton Mallet. When the current restrictions end any funds raised for charities will be distributed to prostate Cancer UK and Dementia UK.

Group predicts housing crisis

CaMpaIgnIng group Fair housing for Frome has strengthened its hand by bringing in four additional directors bringing its board up to nine in number. new to the board are former lettings agent polly Lamb, Frome town councillor and new town mayor, anita Collier, retired engineer, andy Jones, and social worker, Carol Foster. the group says the new members bring specific skillsets and energy to the group. During the current Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown it has been working online with private landlords and other agencies to understand the situation for tenants who may have either lost income or had their income reduced significantly. housing chair and Frome town councillor, ali Barclay, said: “We see the ongoing coronavirus crisis as being a potential crunch point for many vulnerable tenants. “Whilst the organisation knows of a number of landlords who are helping

Sidcot School supports hospice

teaCheRS and pupils from Sidcot School have raised more than £2,700 for Weston hospicecare during their Kindness in the Community Week. one activity saw staff and students walking, running or cycling 5km. Kindness in the Community Week was coordinated by Joanna Leite, the school’s deputy head (pastoral). She said: “the Quaker values of the school have truly One of the runners come to the forefront during this week of kindness. the whole school community has shown a desire to make a difference in people’s lives and we are delighted by what we have been able to achieve together.” the hospice’s director of fundraising, Mark Flower, said: “the hospice has endured a really tough time of late amid the coronavirus pandemic and it’s effort like this which mean the hospice is able to continue doing what it does best.”

Zoom board meeting from top (l to r) Andrew Hardy, Vicki Burke, Polly Lamb, Carol Foster, Bill Palmer, Ali Barclay, Roger Saunders, Andy Jones and Anita Collier

struggling tenants there are without doubt people out there who can’t pay the rent and are quickly building up debt or even facing homelessness in a few months’ time. “the pandemic together with potential unemployment, the lack of available

social housing and often high private rental fees could result in a perfect storm.” It’s currently looking at how empty airbnb’s in the town could be used by local people in housing need.

Details: for more information


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Taking steps to support school

International aid

the Langridge family from Wincanton have taken on a 70,000 steps challenge to raise funds for the Mendip School at Shepton Mallet, walking on average 10,000 steps a day over seven days. the money will go towards building a swimming pool for the school, which Freya, aged 14, attends. Both she and her brother have autism. over the next year the school will be trying to raise just over £1 million to build the pool. Freya’s father, grayham, said: “Well, we made it through seven days, nearly completely unscathed. the heat made it much more of a challenge, so most days we opted for Freya to walk in the afternoon.” the family walked more than 30 miles, mainly along river banks. natalie hannah, head teacher at Mendip School, said: “We are all struggling not being together at school at the moment and it is lovely to hear that families are getting out together, keeping healthy and supporting the school at the same time. We can’t wait to have a pool to offer all our students and the community.”

the Rotary Club of Mendip has been active supporting the local community during the coronavirus lockdown and remains ready to support needy communities worldwide. When Rotarians from Kerala, southern India, contacted the Mendip club in January seeking help, Mendip responded quickly and positively. the Indian club, in partnership with other local clubs, had identified a chronic shortage of dialysis machines and beds to treat the many suffering from renal failure, an all too common medical issue in India. government dialysis facilities are heavily oversubscribed and those in private hospitals are unaffordable by the poor in Indian society. taking action, Rotary clubs in India subscribed $64,000 USD towards the cost of 15 dialysis machines with associated equipment and training. the total project cost required however was $130,000 USD. Mendip Rotarians agreed to be the “International partner” for the project and added $1,250 USD to the funds. Significantly however, Mendip Rotary’s support, enabled an application to Rotary’s own charity the Rotary Foundation, seeking the balance. Mendip Club has received notification that the application had been successful in full and the whole project is now proceeding. the project will enable 2,500 of the poorest in Indian society to access free dialysis treatment as needed.

Virtual concert for charity

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Watson)


a ChaRIty concert by virtuoso violinist, poppy Mcghee, from Wookey, with blind and autistic pianist Derek paravicini, had to be postponed because of coronavirus. the concert, organised by the Rotary Club of Mendip, was in aid of the amber trust, which Derek set up in 1995 to help blind and partially sighted children play an instrument. Back in 2018, poppy, then 13, was the local winner of Rotary’s young musician competition and went on to be national runner-up. She saw Derek paravicini when she was seven and has supported the amber trust ever since. poppy decided not to let the virus defeat all her plans and she has put together a virtual concert on youtube, called “a Rainbow of hope”.

Details: › clubs › ClubID=1215

Chew Valley Arts Trail goes online

thIS year’s Chew Valley arts trail will still take place on the weekend of october 10th and 11th, but as an online exhibition because of uncertainty over how things will develop over the next few months. the ever popular event, now in its 18th year, usually sees hundreds of people flocking into homes, studios and halls to admire a wide range of art works. however, social distancing and other potential restrictions are likely to make this impossible. organiser, Sandy Bell, said she was disappointed but felt it was the right decision and it would at least still allow exhibitors to show off their skills. Details:


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Birthday queen

D-Day fundraiser

MaRy hasell from Chew Stoke celebrated her 100th birthday during lockdown with family and friends, all socially distancing of course, receiving lots of cards and flowers, a cake baked by one of her daughters Liz, and a cream tea. She was born at north Chew Farm, Chew Magna and has lived in the Chew Valley all her life. She and husband Maurice had Spring Farm, Bishop Sutton, which is now under Chew Valley Lake, then moved to nearby Woodbarn Farm, Denny Lane.

Summer blooms

SURVIVIng a cold and windy day, Will and pattie nicol held a book and gift stall outside their home in Midsomer norton, on Saturday, June 6th, to help celebrate the 76th anniversary of DDay. proceeds of the stall went to the Midsomer norton and Radstock branch of the Royal British Legion. Social distancing was observed by all visitors.

Community support

teMpLe Cloud in Bloom volunteers are continuing to tidy and improve areas of the village, despite the lockdown. they have also been given three new planters and plants by temple Cloud garage. one of the organisers, Beccy angell, said: “We are all looking forward to being able to work as a group again, and especially looking forward to the coffee and cake breaks!”

Volunteers wanted Diane Turner at work

paULton’S library has been transferred to paulton parish Council, the fifth and final library to be transferred to community groups by Bath & north east Somerset Council. once lockdown restrictions are eased and the hub is back up and running, it will be open from Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm and on Saturdays 9am-12noon. the parish council is keen to recruit more volunteers to help run it. Details: Paulton Parish Council 01761 4134644 or mail


WIth so many of our regular distribution points closed, we’ve been very heartened to see so many people willing to help distribute Mendip Times. Some shops have been putting them in with home deliveries. Many people have been taking them to neighbours in isolation. this new distribution point is in Church Road, Winscombe. Many thanks to you all for your support.

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Funding boost for community groups

a neWLy-launched charitable fund is offering grants of up to £20,000 to community groups supporting the health and wellbeing of people in north Somerset. the new north Somerset Community partnership (nSCp) Fund held with Quartet Community Foundation will also help in educating healthcare providers in the area. the money comes from reserves previously held by the nSCp. this year it has over £360,000 to award to local causes in north Somerset. Julie newman from Quartet Community Foundation said: “We’re so excited to be able to bring this grant funding to north Somerset. It’s an amazing place but too many problems continue to blight lives including children growing up in poverty, rising levels of domestic abuse, growing incidence of hate crime and health inequalities. “this funding will boost projects tackling health and wellbeing such as those getting older people together to support their mental and physical health, helping disabled people break isolation, tackling homelessness, supporting food banks, BaMe

North Somerset Intercultural Dance Association could be one of the groups to benefit

groups. this fund has a wide remit. “the Covid-19 crisis has really shone a light on the amazing community spirit, as we’ve seen new community responses spring up overnight. I’m delighted we can now support many of north Somerset’s local causes addressing health and wellbeing with grants of up to £20,000 each.” to be considered for the first round applications must be received by July 16th.


Village memories

CheW Stoke churchwardens alison hoddell and andrew troup are compiling a new book of villagers’ memories of Ve Day and the war. originally they had hoped the material would be shown in an exhibition in the church, but this was not possible because of Covid-19. they would still welcome more memories from villagers, including old photos, plans, books or documents about Chew Stoke.

Frome College concert

FRoMe College is planning a virtual music extravaganza on its Facebook page on tuesday, July 14th at 7.30pm. normally students and their guests would be getting ready to showcase their diverse musical talents across three stages at the Cheese & grain. Instead performers are recording videos, which will be linked into a continuous live stream. the concert will be held in aid of local charity We hear you.

New planters in Pensford

Details: Alison 01275 332421 or email

Fairies in Clutton

aFteR the success of their lockdown easter trail, Clutton Brownies set a fairy trail around the village, with the woods magically transformed by the Brownie leaders with crystals, fairy blossom and fairy doors decorated by the brownies. the photograph shows tabitha by one of them.

MoRe planters have been set up in pensford, after the success of the first two at the entrance to the village. three more have now been installed, two in front of pensford lock-up and the other on the village green at the bottom of the high Street. the picture shows Liz Jones tending one of them.


(Photo courtesy of Nick Spratling) (Photo courtesy of Ellie Shipman)


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BRIAN Walker from Hinton Blewett, an extremely talented artist, illustrator, cartoonist, and writer has died, aged 94. He was also a very able musician having been an original “Wurzel” with Adge Cutler and he played with Acker Bilk in the Chew Valley Jazz Band. Brian was proud to say he was Somerset through and through having been born and lived his whole life here. His mother died when he was 17 but she had recognised his artistic ability and arranged for him to study to gain an art education. Neighbour Sir Alfred Munnings, president of the Royal Academy of Art, also encouraged him. Brian lived with his father in Chew Magna, the village where his parents married and his mother is buried. After service in the RAF he finished his diploma and gained a Punch scholarship. He would cycle to London. He wrote in one article, that it was because he couldn’t afford the train fare. In a feature in Mendip Times in 2005 he said: “On those trips I would cycle home overnight and eat my breakfast around 4am on a bench in the middle of Marlborough High Street, surrounded by all those antique shops. All the clocks chimed the hour, it was marvellous.” His dogged determination and cycling experiences in France after the war gave him the material for illustrated articles, which were accepted by Cycling Magazine; and so, started his professional career. This included regular work for the Farmer’s Weekly which took him to Midford, near Bath and the Honey Family. He contributed

Coming into Hinton Blewett, Brian was a noted artist and illustrator


Brian Walker in his studio in 2005

(Photograph courtesy of Ros Anstey)

Brian Walker – comic book genius and much more

to the Countryman magazine both as a writer and an illustrator for over 50 years. In 1969 he started his “Letter from England” in the American Bicycling magazine and visitors started arriving to see the place he wrote so passionately about. That place was Hinton Blewett. He had found the village while cycling round the Chew Valley (before the lake) and decided he would like to live there, first renting a cottage, which he later bought. He went on to buy the derelict cottages in the rest of the row, which were slowly restored as and when money would allow. One of the books he illustrated in 1967 George Haines’ bestselling book “How to be a Motorist and Stay Happy” led to him being approached by the children’s comic publishers, DC Thomson. He became a regular contributor for almost the rest of his working life. These comics included Sparky, Dandy, Beano, Whizzer and Chips, Shiver and Shake and Buster. Brian also produced a comic strip for the Bristol Evening Post called “Ar Little Uns”. In an article in 1999 Brian described that earning a living as a professional artist had required a long and arduous training and a complete absence of common sense. He wrote that “if you are married to a patient, loving and sensible wife that is an advantage”. He wrote later that the best thing he ever did was moving to Hinton Blewett and marrying Rosemary in 1961 (in the church). Church Cottage was his place of work, a wonderful home and a place to welcome friends and family from around the world, including Iceland and America. There was always a roaring fire, a comfortable chair, cider, bread and cheese and a host of funny stories to enjoy. Brian leaves widow Rosemary, daughters Joanna and Sarah, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The funeral service has taken place, but there will be a thanksgiving service in the future. ROSIE SAGE

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Tip-top topsoil surprise success for Somerset business

IT’S been a difficult few months for everybody so it’s great to have a local good news story that shows us some silver lining. After the work halted abruptly for their aggregate recycling company Sam and Rosie Carver used some of their industrial equipment to screen earth and produce premium quality topsoil. At first this was a sideline for SRM Carver & Son, with just a few local customers, but with so much of the world staying at home, either baking or gardening, then this grew faster than expected and they could barely keep up. Every gardener knows that a great garden needs great topsoil and with a young family of a three-year-old and another at 18 months, life was already busy for the Carvers but demand continued to grow as word-ofmouth spread. Rosie Carver said: “We couldn’t believe it at first, we had new customers every day and our existing customers just couldn’t get enough. We were regularly working until 2am just to meet the demand of 200 tons of topsoil a day.”

Rosie goes on: “The demand still continues to grow but we’ve got much more efficient at it now and our lives are back into a normal rhythm.” Based just outside of Shepton Mallet, SRM Carver & Son now deliver to a full 30 mile radius that stretches from Bristol to Taunton and from Bath to Salisbury. Sam Carver showed me around the site where they screen and sift the local earth into varying grades. He was very proud of the product at the end of the process and I can understand why as the premium quality topsoil had an almost silky texture to it.

It’s a two-stage screening process with the largest rocks and stones taken out with the first screening machine before being fed into a 30-metre monster that does the final sorting down to 10mm. Having gained the British Standard Seal of Approval, the soil is analysed for chemical and physical composition to continue to meet the BSI standards and then from here the premium topsoil is cossetted away into a bund, where it is stored indoors free from risk of weather or contaminants and to keep the topsoil in tiptop condition before it is bagged up and


shipped to customers. With a new Hiab truck now added to the fleet, the daily deliveries range from a handy-grab 1-tonne bag to a full 20-tonne load. Even though we now see the easing of lockdown restrictions, I think the baking and gardening is set to continue for some time and I, for one, am really looking forward to the imminent burst of floral colours across the sunny South West all through the summer and then the delicious taste of all those home grown vegetables by the time we sit down to harvest supper. If you want to raise the game in your garden the natural way then you can contact SRM Carver & Son on 01373 480068 or send an email to

If you mention this article in Mendip Times, they will be very happy to give you a 10% introductory discount.


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Mia’s new look

Just a minute

FISH and chip shop worker Mia Buxton has raised more than £2,000 for a cancer charity by having her head shaved. Mia, who works at the West End Fish Bar in Street, originally set a target of raising £1,000 for Hope for Tomorrow, a charity which runs a fleet of mobile cancer care units.

Rachel’s national award

FUNDRAISER Rachel Clark has won the Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year award in the Institute of Fundraising's national awards, in recognition of her work raising more than £55,000 for cancer counselling charity We Hear You (WHY). Rachel, a police officer from Frome, said: “I'm overwhelmed, to be honest! I was up against such high calibre charities and fundraisers who all deserved to win – just being shortlisted was incredible, but I really didn't expect to be recognised like this. “Year after year the phenomenal support of the community is behind me – every time I think they'll run out of enthusiasm they prove me wrong. It goes without saying that I couldn't do any of it without that support and a huge team of people who help with planning and organising events, including my brothers Daniel and Matthew, the team at WHY, so many people. “It’s the anniversary of my mum’s death today, so it’s especially poignant to hear about the award now – she’s the inspiration for all of it and I have no intention of stopping – there’s so much more to do!” WHY's director, Melissa Hillier, said: “What an amazing achievement for a truly amazing person! Rachel has raised more than £55,000 since 2011, funding counselling sessions for children and adults affected by cancer and life-threatening conditions in Somerset, B&NES and Wiltshire. “Just as importantly, she’s a true ambassador for WHY, raising awareness of the support we offer and using her seemingly endless drive, energy and gift for communicating to raise our profile and inspire others to get involved.” Rachel invited some of the 5,000 people who joined her in her


WESTON Hospicecare has launched a new fundraising campaign, A Minute a Month, to help meet its costs. It costs £11,000 a day (£7.64 a minute) to provide local people with end of life care. The campaign aims to raise that with regular donations of £7.64 to provide 24 hours of care a month. Carla Bloomfield, from the hospice, said: “We are blessed with the loyal support of our community and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already signed up and given their minute. It’s great to know we can depend on you.” Campaign supporters will receive an exclusive pin badge, welcome pack and regular updates on how their minute is making a difference. It has also launched a big virtual cycle challenge. Details:

Rachel Clark

365 for WHY mile-a-day challenge in 2019 to run a “virtual reunion mile” on the anniversary of her mum Shirley’s death from leukaemia in 2011. She’s previously organised a world record-breaking rowathon, cycle challenges and more in her memory. or call 01373 455255

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Charity innovates to continue support

DESPITE having to close all ten clubs due to enforced social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, staff and volunteers from Keynsham Mencap have been working from home, maintaining contact with their members and coming up with innovative ideas and activities. The club leaders have been keeping in touch with members and families with regular calls and texts, sending out activity packs including colouring pages, activity sheets, word searches and dot to dot, recipes to try at home, craft ideas to cut out and make and packets of seeds to plant in the garden. The society has been active on its social media platforms with regular videos and updates from club leaders. They have included lots of resource materials, information and activity suggestions on its website. They have embraced the virtual communication world, with groups having Zoom meet-ups, a weekly get together to chat and catch up. The Music Man Project has a weekly music session, complete with

instruments made from items found in the home! Operations manager Laura Jefferies has been out and about in the minibus to visit some of the members, particularly those who can’t get online, for a socially distanced chat on the doorstep. She said: “We know that many of our more vulnerable members and their families will be experiencing increased levels of anxiety and isolation while we have closed our clubs. This creative way of keeping in touch will remind them that they are still very much part of our community. “This uncertain time will also put a great amount of strain on the families, parents

and carers of our members, we want to be able to help with those challenges that they will be facing every day.” With the closure of the clubs, loss of subs, cancellation of fundraising events and limited grant funding available the charity are experiencing a significant reduction in income. The charity has moved in to virtual fundraising and have created online events that have not only kept members, their family and friends entertained and having fun, but also raised much-needed funds. A page has been set up on the charity’s website with details of virtual events and suggestions of others ways to raise money to support the appeal.


Hair-raising effort

EIGHT-year-old Leo Cains from Pensford came up with a novel way of raising money for the NHS by having a haircut with a difference. His mum, Lisa, said: “We thought, let's do something positive by raising some money for our amazing NHS. So Leo did a sponsored Mohican Money Raiser!

“Leo's Auntie Sasha is a midwife at the Royal United Hospital, Bath and so he picked the Forever Friends Appeal. “He had never before allowed us to even put hair gel in his hair so this was a big challenge for him!” Leo has raised £405 for the Forever Friends Appeal.


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Band’s charity fundraiser

Pictured (l to r) Devon Rampere (piano), Theo Wakeling (guitar/vocals), Jude Austin (drums), Cameron Phillips (bass) and Lauren Gray (vocals)

LOCAL band Restless Youth have released a song to raise money for the charity Against Breast Cancer, after the mother of band member, Theo Wakeling, was diagnosed with it. Helen Wakeling is now recovering after treatment. Theo, from Glastonbury, said: “Although 40 percent of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in our lives, it’s easy to think it’s something that only affects other people, until it

happens to someone you love. “When my mum told me of her diagnosis, it was a harrowing thing to try and process. Unable to articulate my feelings verbally, but aware that things had gone unsaid for too long, I wrote a song as a way of expressing the huge debt I owe her.” The song, Purple, Orange and Blue, refers to the bedtime song she sang to him every night and is “a tribute to her

capacity for love and courage”. Restless Youth have been playing across the country for three years, after members met at Strode College. The song was recorded with the help of a wealth of local talent, while members were home from university. Theo said: “The current pandemic has made cancer treatment even more challenging, so this campaign is needed now more than ever.”

Details: To listen: • To donate:

Daisy’s challenge

DAISY Becker-Hughes, aged 14, from Theale, near Wedmore has cycled 834 miles around the Mendips and the Levels, the equivalent of cycling from home to Munich, raising money for Mental Health UK. A keen hockey player and athlete, she decided to take on the challenge when Covid-19 put an end to training and competing.

Details: ROInYCO11s-AqgYryOFMVTyYu1pRs


Appeal to support charities

SOMERSET Community Foundation has launched a £1.5 million appeal to support charities in the county, in the next phase of their Somerset Coronavirus Appeal. The appeal has raised more than £800,000 for Somerset, with grants worth £450,000 being awarded to over 160 charitable groups. Laura Blake, development director at SCF, said: “Since the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of charity staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to create new services, transforming the way they work and scaling up to meet a surge in demand, all with an extremely quick turnaround. “Their determination and hard work means that our most vulnerable and disadvantaged neighbours have been cared for and supported through these difficult times. “But charities are now in an incredibly difficult position. At the same time as the usual fundraising events like dinners, sky dives and fun runs have been cancelled, the demand for their services has grown substantially. We know there’s a risk many of them will not survive without additional funding. “Small, local charities are vital to Somerset’s social fabric and we need them more than ever to help tackle this disadvantage and keep our communities strong.” Details:

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A year of adventure for Mendip Hills’ young rangers

The Mendip hills AONB young rangers are coming towards the end of their first year of the programme, which started in September 2019. The young rangers meet every month and take part in a variety of activities, which takes them through a real life Mendip hills ranger experience. It's been a fantastic year of adventure with so many highlights, including a brand new uniform sponsored by the Mendip Society. They began the year with some exhilarating adventure activities; canoeing and bush-craft, followed by caving and climbing. This gave them the chance to really experience what Mendip has to offer and get to know one another better. The young rangers had a hands-on learning experience with an outdoor activity first aid course and learnt how to deal with emergency scenarios. This training equips them with skills that will enable them to explore safely and have the confidence to look after each other on the hills. They also began to learn the value of conservation in the AONB this year. They explored ancient woodland habitats, took part in drystone walling and visited local farms to compare and contrast both modern and traditional methods of agriculture.

Boost for reserve

Since March, due to Covid-19, the programme has had to be delivered remotely, with online sessions on navigation and wildflower identification skills. The young rangers have also been working towards completing their John Muir Award for conservation. They have to complete tasks which demonstrate they have discovered, explored, conserved places on the Mendip hills AONB and then share them with others. Lauren holt, ranger volunteer coordinator with the AONB said: "We aim to deliver sessions that incorporate all aspects of the Mendip hills AONB. These young people are our future ambassadors of the Mendip hills. “Investing in young people allows us to secure the future legacy of conserving and enhancing the Mendip hills AONB, offering something totally different to other youth groups. “Technology has allowed us to maintain the connection with our young rangers and we look forward to when we can all share an adventure together again in the future! Well done to the young rangers for a great first year with Mendip hills AONB. “An additional thank you to the volunteers who support the programme and to the Mendip Society for the money towards their new kit."

SOMeRSeT Wildlife Trust has been awarded a total of £43,890 by Viridor Credits environmental Company for work at their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on the Avalon Marshes. The funds will help improve access and visitor facilities at this awardwinning, internationally acclaimed wetland reserve, including upgrading its car park and creating a boardwalk area as you enter the reserve.

Covid snake


RONA the Covid Snake starts at the gates of Clutton Primary School and trails back through the village in a series of painted stones – 70 and counting! The photo shows Juno placing her stone at the end of the snake.

Rotary in action

A SMALL band of members of Wrington Vale Rotary Club has been involved in the sourcing, offering and delivery of cotton scrub caps, scrub bags, visors and latterly complete scrub sets to care homes in North Somerset and beyond. The club received a simple request for assistance from a group of volunteers making such items to seek any residential homes requiring PPe equipment, free of charge, and, if so, transport the items to the homes. Very quickly, the group contacted over 90 residential homes in Somerset, North Somerset and South Bristol to which many responded that they did indeed require items of PPe that the club had available. In total, 63 care homes, mostly in Weston, and one hospice have received over 3,600 items of equipment, much needed during this Coronavirus crisis.


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Riding the coronavirus storm

So how have riders been coping during the lockdown? I put out a note to find out and received lots of lovely photos and even a poem. Here is a selection of them. As you can see you can’t start With RACHEL THOMPSON youngsters riding too soon! The MBE picture on page three shows Harry Dadswell on Bertie with sister, Lily, on new pony Poppy.

Nicky Burston’s horse Foxy has been out of action and she was worried about her so her daughter secretly created the most amazing scrap book about her and wrote a poem too

Charley Hardcastle and Stroller enjoy the view on the Mendips

The Reynolds family enjoy their first ever family hack, on the Upper Vobster bridleway that they helped to create with many others


Motherly love – hacking out together Josephine West on Cara and her rising three-year-old Theo on Dusty

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RIDING William Paterson enjoying rides on Black Down with Bumble!

Pippa Galloway bravely taking both horses and six-year-old daughter on their first proper Mendip adventure – everyone was perfect

Young and old – fouryear-old Harry stole mum’s horse 18-yearold Milly as he doesn't have his own pony Sophie Vallis aged four and her grey pony Java with a friend, enjoying beautiful weather on Black Down due to furloughed time with mum

Annette Baker says "my daughter got her first horse of her own"

This is Violet Guerin, aged seven, and her pony Stourton Whirlabout II dressing up at home and entering an online photo competition to pass the time before they can get out and compete again


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Escape from lockdown

IT’S been a strange time to be a cyclist. There are no cycling events or sportives to participate in, and club runs are prohibited while restrictions on distancing remain in place. While that has temporarily curtailed the competitive and social aspects of cycling, it has meant a CYCLING resurgence in the simplest form of with EDMUND LODITE cycling, riding on your own – just you and the bike. One of the big attractions about cycling is that it can be an individual activity, you don’t need other people and can leave whenever you want and go wherever you like. Riding solo is an opportunity to enjoy the silence and solitude when so much is going on in the world right now. I’ve found a good way to cope with lockdown is by distancing from what I’ve done before. Instead of following the routes I know so well it’s been an opportunity to discover and explore new places. After all, the road less travelled is a route well worth exploring.

Awkward Hill


1. Smitham Chimney 2. Plaque on wall of historic Longbridge House, Shepton Mallet 3. Packhorse bridge, filled in, over old canal, at Edford 4. Flues at Charterhouse 5. Entrance to Strawberry Line at Yatton Station 6. Long Barrow in the hill above Wellow near Peasedown St John 7. Brean Down 8. Well at top of Jack and Jill Hill, Kilmersdon 9. Nunney Castle 10. Bridge over River Chew at Chew Stoke 11. Clevedon Pier from the Lookout at Sugar Loaf Point 12. Picnic area and large quarry stone above Merehead Quarry, near East Cranmore. 13. Mosaic on ground by Bishops Palace, Wells. PAGE 62 • MENDIP TIMES • JULY 2020

Blagdon Lake

One of the best places that I’ve enjoyed recently has been the lanes on the hills around Regil, Nempnett Thrubwell and Butcombe. Often referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle” of Somerset there is a myriad of lanes that go in all directions, and junctions with no signposts. It’s a good place to easily get lost without even trying. I’ve arrived at places and junctions and thought that’s not where I thought I would be. Fingerpost signs seem to be counter intuitive in the direction they point. But getting lost is not a bad thing, if you’re safe. It makes you think, work things out and try different options – that’s how we learn and have adventure in life. After all, if you came across a lane called Awkward Hill wouldn’t you just want to take a detour and find out why it’s called that? The “triangle” also has more chevron/arrow markings (indicating steep hills) per sq km on an Ordnance Survey map than any other part of the Mendips I’ve visited. These short and punchy hills are good for sudden bursts of energy and good practice if you’re thinking of bigger things ahead. On the quiet lanes the only things you are likely to encounter are horse riders and wildlife. You can easily imagine what it was like to cycle in the days when there were no cars. So the next time you’re out for a ride, take a left turn instead of right and see where it takes you – find something new. Escape doesn’t have to come from distance or place; it can be found in emptying your mind of clutter. Stay safe and be alert – it applies to cycling as well as the virus.


ACROSS: 1. Bury the hatchet 10. Unbridled 11. Bully 12. Placket 13. Repose 15. Fife 17. Bureaucrat 19. Trudoxhill 21. Swan 23. Tomato 24. Nuanced 27. Pixie 28. Emile Zola 29. Lydford on Fosse DOWN: 1. Umbra 3. Yoiks 4. Half truths 5. Hide 6. Tableau 7. Hallatrow 8. Thyme 9. Puppy fat 14. Declension 16. Flummoxed 18. Tone deaf 20. On the go 22. Gazebo 23. Topol 25. Cross 26. Lewd

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