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MARCH 2020 | FREE

A MONTHLY CELEBR ATION OF PEOPLE, PLACE AND PURVEYOR

BENDING THE RULES at Hooke Park

bridporttimes.co.uk


WELCOME

A

hh, the realisation that it’s 5.30pm and still light. We’re so used to the dark that it comes as a surprise. Fanfares of yellow and birdsong at dusk — our eyes and ears remember. And so to March… Ali Ferris rock-pools for brittlestars, the Tamarisk hens go caravanning, Joanna Garner considers Bridport’s shipbuilding past while Gill Meller and the Alexandra’s Chris Chatfield rustle up lunch. Katharine and Jo visit the Architectural Association’s Hooke Park campus near Beaminster and discover a groundbreaking educational facility deep in the woods. Have a great month. Glen Cheyne, Editor glen@homegrown-media.co.uk @bridporttimes


CONTRIBUTORS Rosie Allsop

Editorial and creative direction Glen Cheyne Design Andy Gerrard @round_studio Sub editor Elaine Taylor Photography Katharine Davies @Katharine_KDP Feature writer Jo Denbury @jo_denbury Editorial assistant Paul Newman @paulnewmanart Print Pureprint Distribution Available throughout Bridport and surrounding villages. Please see bridporttimes.co.uk for stockists.

1 Bretts Yard Digby Road Sherborne Dorset DT9 3NL 01935 315556 @bridporttimes glen@homegrown-media.co.uk paul@homegrown-media.co.uk bridporttimes.co.uk

Bridport Times is printed on an FSCÂŽ and EU Ecolabel certified paper. It goes without saying that once thoroughly well read, this magazine is easily recycled and we actively encourage you to do so. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the data in this publication is accurate, neither Bridport Times nor its editorial contributors can accept, and hereby disclaim, any liability to any party to loss or damage caused by errors or omissions resulting from negligence, accident or any other cause. Bridport Times does not officially endorse any advertising material included within this publication. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form - electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise - without prior permission from Bridport Times.

4 | Bridport Times | March 2020

Simon Barber Evolver @SimonEvolver @evolvermagazine evolver.org.uk David Burnett The Dovecote Press dovecotepress.com Caroline Butler BSc (Hons) MNIMH herbalcaroline.co.uk Chris Chatfield The Alexandra Hotel @AlexandraHotel1 @alexandrahotel_lymeregis hotelalexandra.co.uk Kelvin Clayton @kelvinclaytongp greenthoughts.me philosophyinpubs.co.uk Alison Ferris Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre @CharmouthHCC charmouth.org/chcc Joanna Garner Bridport Museum @BridportMuseum bridportmuseum.co.uk Kit Glaisyer @kitglaisyer @kitglaisyer kitglaisyer.com Charlie Groves Groves Nurseries @GrovesNurseries @grovesnurseries grovesnurseries.co.uk Joe Hackett Bridport Tree Planting

Nicky Mathewson The Bookshop @bookshopbridprt @thebookshopbridport dorsetbooks.com Gill Meller @GillMeller @Gill.Meller gillmeller.com Anna Powell Sladers Yard @SladersYard @sladersyard sladersyard.wordpress.com John Puckey Marine Theatre Lyme Regis @johnpuckeypaint marinetheatre.com Ben Scrivens Tamarisk Farm @ tamarisk_farm tamariskfarm.co.uk Mick Smith Bridport Arts Centre @bridportarts @bridportarts bridport-arts.com Emma Tabor & Paul Newman @paulnewmanart @paulnewmanartist paulnewmanartist.com Chris Tripp Dorset Diggers Community Archaeology Group dorsetdiggers.btck.co.uk Colin Varndell Colin Varndell Natural History Photography colinvarndell.co.uk

Sara Hudston @islomane @sarahudston

Sally Welbourn Dorset Wildlife Trust @DorsetWildlife @dorsetwildlife dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

Little Toller Books @LittleToller @littletollerdorset littletoller.co.uk

Nadiya Wynn Yoga Space @yogaspacebridport yogaspacebridport.com

Will Livingstone @willgrow willgrow.co.uk


48

MARCH 2020

6 What’s On

44 Archaeology

72 Community

16 Arts & Culture

48 HOOKE PARK

76 Philosophy

28 History

58 Food & Drink

77 Literature

32 Wild Dorset

62 Body & Mind

82 Crossword

40 Outdoors

68 Gardening

bridporttimes.co.uk | 5


WHAT'S ON Listings

Bridport Folk Dance Club

____________________________

WI Hall, North St. Folk dancing with recorded music. 01308 458165

Weekly, various days German Language Classes

Playing Field. 07917 748087 Facebook: Lyme Morris

____________________________

____________________________

Tuesdays 7.30pm-9pm

LSi, 51 East St. £65 (5-week course)

Mondays 7.30pm-9pm

Bridport Sangha

lsibridport.co.uk

Bridport Campfire -

Meditation Evenings

____________________________

Women’s Coaching Group

Mondays 10am-12pm

67 South St

Quaker Meeting House, South St

Watercolour Painting for

____________________________

07950 959572

____________________________

Beginners

Mondays 7.30pm-9.30pm

Every 2nd Tuesday 7pm-9pm

LSi, 51 East St. £80 (5-week course). 07881

Bridport Choral Society

Co-operation Bridport

805510 marion@taylormade.demon.co.uk

____________________________

bridportchoral.wordpress.com/Facebook

____________________________

Free. 07974 888895

Mondays (term-time)

Tuesdays 10am-1pm

____________________________

6.30pm-8pm

Art Class

Every 2nd Tuesday 7.15pm

Bridport ASD & Social

Town Mill Arts, Lyme Regis DT7 3PU

Sugarcraft Club

____________________________

West Bay Rd, DT6 4AB

Anxiety Support Group

cooperationbridport.eventbrite.co.uk

07812 856823 trudiochiltree.co.uk

Ivy House, Grove Nurseries,

For teens, parents & carers

Tuesdays & Wednesdays

____________________________

____________________________

10am-1pm

Wednesday or Thursday

1st & 3rd Mondays 7.30pm-8.30pm

Adult Art Classes

9.30am-12.30pm (term-time)

Yoga @ Othona

Charmouth Community Hall, Lower

Painting & Drawing Art Classes

____________________________

07505 268797

Bridport Children’s Centre.

Othona Community, Coast Rd, Burton

Sea Lane, DT6 6LH. 07812 856823

Mangerton Mill Artist Studio

kate@othona-bb.org.uk

Tuesdays & Thursdays 10.30am

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Walking the Way

Wednesdays 11am-1pm

2nd & 4th Mondays 7.15pm

to Health in Bridport

IT Advice Drop-in

Biodanza @ Othona

Starts from CAB 45 South St. 01305

Free/donation. lsibridport.co.uk

____________________________

Wednesdays 2pm-4pm

897130 biodanza-bridport.co.uk

Tuesdays 7.15pm

(term-time)

____________________________

Lyme Morris Rehearsals

Maiden Newton Art Group

Mondays 7.30pm-9.30pm

Charmouth Scout Hut, Barr Lane

Maiden Newton Village Hall, DT2 0AE

Bradstock DT6 4RN. £8 01308 897130

Othona Community, Coast Rd, Burton Bradstock DT6 4RN. £8-£10 01308

252222 sarahdavies@dorset.gov.uk

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Thinking of letting your holiday home? We know that your holiday home is just that – a home. That’s why our local team is dedicated to managing your property with the same care and attention you would. With tailored services to suit your needs, you can be as involved as you like, so why not get in touch today?

01929 448 708 newowners@dorsethideaways.co.uk dorsethideaways.co.uk 6 | Bridport Times | March 2020


MARCH 2020 01300 321405

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Friday 6th 7.30pm

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Saturdays 10am-12pm

Ceilidh

Wednesdays 6pm-8pm

Chess Club

Contemporary Patchwork

LSi, 51 East St. Free/donation.

Symondsbury Tithe Barn, DT6 6HG

Evening Classes Studi0ne, Broadwindsor Craft Centre 07383 490026 getcrafty@studi0ne.com

All ages/abilities.

lsibridport.co.uk/chess-club-on-saturdays-2/

£10 including food. 07597 379290. Tickets from Clocktower & Bridport TIC

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Friday 6th 7.30pm-9pm

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Sundays 3pm

The Secret Life of Moths

Wednesdays 7pm-10pm

Sunday Music Sessions

(Paul Butler)

Bridport Scottish Dancers

Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis DT7 3QA

Bridport United Church Hall, East St

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Church House, South St. 01308 538141 bridportscottishdancers.org.uk

Free. 01297 442394 marinetheatre.com

DT6 3LI montycrook@rocketmail.com

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1st & 3rd Sundays 4pm-5pm

Friday 6th 7.30pm

Wednesdays & Thursdays 7pm-

Sunday Meditation

Quiz/Fish & Chip Supper

10pm & 1st & 2nd Friday 2pm-5pm

White Room, Chapel in the Garden

Bradpole Church, Village Rd, DT6 3EP

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Bridge Club St Swithun’s, Bridport

DT6 3JJ. 07884 191459

£10 team of 4. Bookings: 01308 458162

bridgewebs.com/bridport

Sunday 1st 3pm

Saturday 7th 9.30am-4.30pm

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Extreme Baroque

DIY for Beginners

2nd & 4th Wednesdays 7.30pm

Sladers Yard, West Bay DT6 4EL

Trill Farm, Musbury EX13 8TU

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trillfarm.co.uk

Sharing Stillness with Eckhart Tolle

01308 459511 sladersyard.wordpress.com

White Room, Chapel in the Garden

Sunday 1st 5.55pm

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£85 including lunch. 01297 631113 ____________________________

DT6 3JJ. 07884 191459

MET-Live: Agrippina

Saturday 7th 11am Family Storytime with The

Every 4th Wednesday 7.30pm

Bridport Arts Centre, 9 South St

DT6 3NR. £17.50/£14.50. 01308 424204

Flying Monkeys (age 3-8)

bridport-arts.com

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LSi, 51 East St. Free/donation.

Clayton’s monthly article on page 76

Thursday 5th 7pm

lsibridport.co.uk/chess-club-on-saturdays-2/ ____________________________

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Love Your Clothes

Saturday 7th 7.30pm

Every 1st Thursday

Soulshine Café, 76 South St DT6 3NN

Bridport Ceilidhs:

tinyurl.com/ry5plbk

Church House Hall, South St. £9

Free. 01308 420943

Thursday 5th 7.30pm

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Film: Yesterday

bridportceilidhs.wordpress.com

Thursdays until 26th 1pm-2pm

Litton Cheney Village Hall

Sunday 8th 9am-1pm

____________________________

Salway Ash Village Hall.

Philosophy in Pubs George Hotel, South St. Read Kelvin

10.45am-11.45am Community Coffee Morning St. Swithun’s Church Hall, Allington

Therapeutic Writing Course:

Free. Refreshments available.

The Old Chapel Band

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advance/£10 on door. 01308 423442 ____________________________

£5. Includes drink

The Big Breakfast

Bothenhampton Village Hall. £35 07747

Friday 6th 7.30pm,

£7/£3. Continental breakfast £4

New Beginnings 142088 george@georgegottscounselling.co.uk

Saturday 7th 2pm/7.30pm

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Orpheus & Euridyce:

Sunday 8th 10am-1pm

Every 3rd Friday 10.30am-3.30pm

The Power of Love

Space, Rest & Magic

Bridport Embroiderers

Electric Palace. Tickets: £10.50/£9.50

St Mary’s Church Hall, DT6 3NW.

____________________________

sueosulivan66@gamil.com

St Swithun’s Church Hall, Allington 01308 456168

Bridport TIC, electricpalace.org.uk

____________________________

Yoga & healing sounds. 07932 864852

bridporttimes.co.uk | 7


WHAT'S ON ____________________________

Tree Planting Festival

Energy Local Bridport

Monday 9th 2pm-3.30pm

United Church, East St. Free.

United Church, East St. Free. 07751

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Impressionism Chapel in the Garden, Bridport. £60

07751 211603 bit.ly/BridTreeFest

211603 bit.ly/EnergyLocalBrid

(6-week course, 2-week break for Easter).

Saturday 14th 7pm

Thursday 19th – Tuesday 28th

01300 321715 chris.pamsimpson@

Music & Readings:

April (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm,

btinternet.com

Bride Valley & Beyond

Sun 10am-4pm)

____________________________

Exhibition: Where the Mist Rises

Wednesday 11th 11.15am

West Bay Discovery Centre. Tickets: £8

Bridport TIC. westbaydiscoverycentre.org.uk ____________________________

The Rotunda Gallery, Lyme Regis

Furleigh Wine Estate, Salwayash

Saturday 14th 7.30pm

Museum, DT7 3QA. 01297 443370

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Nordic Walking in the Vineyard £10. Walking poles provided

The Neil Maya Quartet –

Thursday 19th 2.30pm

furleighestate.co.uk/events

The Brubeck Project

American Glamour:

____________________________

150 Years of Tiffany

Thursday 12th 2.30pm

Charmouth Village Hall. £10/£6 (U18) 07967 759135 artsreach.co.uk

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Bridport Town Hall. Non-members £7.50

Schoolboy Memories of the

Sunday 15th 9am-12pm

taswestdorset.org.uk

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1950s (Bernard Paull)

Local Food Group Best Breakfast

Friday 20th 9am-4pm

Bridport Town Hall. Non-members £5.

St Mary’s Church Hall, Bridport. £7/£3

Fashion Revolution: Upcycling

____________________________

____________________________

£90 marinetheatre.com

Loders Back-along,

Includes refreshments. 01308 425037

in advance from TIC; £8/£4 on door

Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis

Friday 13th 7.30pm

Tuesday 17th 2.30pm

____________________________

The Cajun Roosters Trio

Bath & Fashion in the 18th Century

Friday 20th 7pm

Broadwindsor Comrades Hall .£10/£6

Beaminster Museum. £3.

Fashion Revolution Talk

____________________________

____________________________

advance/£10 on door, marinetheatre.com

(U18) 01308 867252 artsreach.co.uk

info@beaminstermuseum.co.uk

Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis. £8

Saturday 14th 10am–4pm

Tuesday 17th 7pm

____________________________

Living Spirituality Event: One

Get Swishing

Friday 20th 7.30pm

River, Many Wells (Gary Pulman)

Youth Centre, Gundry Lane, DT6 3RL.

Artsreach 30th

exchange. transitiontownbridport.co.uk

Ashton Barn Martinstown. £18.

Wednesday 18th 7pm-8.30pm

____________________________

Quaker Meeting House, 97 South St iona.lake@aol.com

____________________________ Saturday 14th 1.30pm-3.30pm

Refresh your wardrobe with a clothes

Anniversary Ceilidh

____________________________

01305 269512 artsreach.co.uk

2020 Market Dates

29th March, 26th April, 31st May, 28th June, 26th July, 30th August (Bank Holiday w/e), 27th September & 25th October Art & Vintage Quarter St Michael’s Trading Estate DT6 3RR vintagemarketbridport@gmail.com 8 | Bridport Times | March 2020


March Programme Music

Battle of the Bands 28th March, 3 - 10.30pm £7.50 Adults, £5.00 Under 18’s

Between March and June we will host three heats of a ‘battle of the bands’ style competition with Jurassic Fields, showcasing the best young musical talent while contestants vie for a place at Jurassic Fields 2020.

Live Screening

Music

Music

Music

MET - LIVE Agrippina

Jazz Theatre

Nicholas McCarthy

Phil Beer

6th March, 8 - 10pm £10

6th March, 11.30am £12

13th March, 7.30pm £15

Pianist/singer Julian Phillips presents an evening of boogie woogie and acoustic blues. “Great sound, great feel, authentic, real. Reminded me of the early Sun Studio sessions. Terrific!” Gordon Haskell

The extraordinary Nicholas Mccarthy returns this season. Not only does he give performances all over the world but he has helped many by sharing his unique and inspiring story.

“I have been busily engaged in finishing a large number of recordings to make up a definitive box set of songs and music from the last 40 years.”

Encore Screening

Theatre

Music

Exhibition

MET Der Fliegende Hollander

The Man Who Left is Not the Man Who Came Home

Dispatches on the Red Dress

Treasure Planet, Artwey

31st March, 7.30pm £12

20th February - 21st March 10am - 4pm Tue - Sat

Rowan Rheingans is an awardwinning fiddle player, banjoist, songwriter and theatre-maker widely regarded as one of the foremost innovators in folk music today.

Work by Members of Artwey, South Dorset’s visual arts community collective, inspired by our Jurassic coastline, including 2D paintings prints and drawings, textile, mixed-media, ceramics, glass, jewellery, stone and wood.

1st March, 5.55pm £17.50/£14.50 Handel’s tale of intrigue in ancient Rome receives its first Met performances, Sir David McVicar’s production ingeniously reframes this black comedy about the abuse of power to “the present,”.

15th March, 4 - 6.30pm £17.50/£14.50 Valery Gergiev conducts a new production by François Girard. Girard’s new production turns the Met stage into a rich, layered tableau reminiscent of a vast oil painting.

Box Office 01308 424 204

20th March, 7.30pm £12/£10 Kevin Dyer’s new play is the product of over a hundred interviews with soldiers and their wives – vulnerable one-to-one conversations where their experiences have been shared for the first time.

bridport-arts.com


WHAT'S ON Saturday 21st 1pm-6pm The Climate Emergency

Bookings 07425 969079

____________________________

themonmouthtable.co.uk

Saturday 28th 12pm-3pm

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Spring Show

Whitchurch Canonicorum Village Hall.

Thursday 26th 7pm-9pm

United Church Hall, East St.

& the Char Valley Free. charvalley.org

Mending Our Ways:

____________________________

Upcycle Your Clothes

Saturday 21st 2pm-6pm

United Church, East St DT6 3LI.

Saturday 28th 9.30am-4.40pm

____________________________

Studi0ne Broadwindsor Craft Centre.

The Laboratory of Fun:

bridportgardeningclub.co.uk

____________________________

Free. 07751 211603 bit.ly/MendWays

Willow Workshop: Chicken

United Church, East St. Free.

Friday 27th 10am-12pm &

£65. jojo.sadler@hotmail.co.uk

12 Creative Experiments 07751 211603 bit.ly/LabOfFun

Monday 30th 7pm-9pm

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Therapeutic Storytelling

Sunday 29th 10.15am

Sunday 22nd 3pm-5pm

Workshop

Dorset Ramblers Circular

Cream Tea with Classical Harpist

Bothenhampton Village Hall. £15. 07747

Coastal Walk (9.5m)

____________________________

Rodden Row. Picnic en route.

Maiden Newton Village Hall. £5

____________________________

142088 george@georgegottscounselling.co.uk

Meet at Abbotsbury village CP,

____________________________

Friday 27th 6.30pm

Tuesday 24th 7.30pm

Bingo

jennynewman@zen.co.uk

Chris Garrick & John Etheridge

Litton Cheney Village Hall

Sunday 29th 11am

____________________________

Glow Space, 15 Foundry Lane

including cream tea. flowastley@gmail.com

____________________________

Cash prize. Refreshments

Action Design Workshop

and-chris-garrick-tickets-87117728471

Saturday 28th – 8th April

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10.30am-4.30pm

DT6 3RR. Creative activism targeting

Wednesday 25th 7.30pm

Exhibition: Norman at 90

Star Plants for Small Gardens

The Gallery, Symondsbury, DT6 6HG

Evershot Village Hall. £12 in advance/£15 on door. eventbrite.co.uk/e/john-etheridge-

(Matthew Wilson)

the fashion industry. Ages 13-18. transitiontownbridport.co.uk

____________________________

symondsburyestate.co.uk

Sunday 29th 2pm-9pm

____________________________

Mini Storytelling Festival

non-members. 01404 831942

Saturday 28th – 14th April

____________________________

Charity Shop Challenge

United Church, East St Free.

Thursday 26th 6.30pm

Create an outfit for Fashion Show 24th

Uplyme Village Hall. £5 members/£8

Pop-up Restaurant - The Monmouth Table (fish tapas) Soulshine Cafe, 76 South St

10 | Bridport Times | March 2020

07751 211603 bit.ly/BridStoryFest

____________________________

April. Max.spend £20. Keep receipts.

Sunday 29th 3pm

transitiontownbridport.co.uk

Orchestra Concert

Prizes for best entries

Bridport Chamber


WHAT'S ON St Swithun’s Church Bridport

____________________________

bridportrugby.co.uk 2.15pm start

£10. guinea@lewars.plus.com

2nd Saturday of the month,

____________________________

9am–1pm

Saturday 7th

Tuesday 31st 2.30pm

Farmers’ Market

Oakmedians 2nd (A)

The Poor & Poor Laws in

Bridport Arts Centre

Saturday 21st

____________________________

Salisbury 3rd (H)

Beaminster Museum. £3.

Every Saturday, 9am–12pm

Saturday 28th

info@beaminstermuseum.co.uk

Country Market

Swanage & Wareham (A)

____________________________

____________________________

Tuesday 31st 8pm

WI Hall, North St

____________________________

To include your event in our FREE

Green Quiz Night

Last Sunday of every month,

listings please email details (whole

Ropemakers, DT6 3QP. Free. Any size

10am-4pm

listing in 20 words max) by the

Bridport Vintage Market

1st of each preceding month to

____________________________

St Michael’s Trading Estate, DT6 3RR

listings@homegrown-media.co.uk

Georgian Beaminster

team. Raffle. transitiontownbridport.co.uk

Fairs and markets

____________________________

____________________________

Sport

Every Wednesday & Saturday

____________________________

Weekly Market

Bridport RFC

South, West & East St

Brewery Fields, Skilling Hill Rd, DT6 5LN

12 | Bridport Times | March 2020

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DICKENS M E TA L B E D

Selected sizes available in stock

Flexible finance

In-store sleep experts

Express delivery tailored for you

andsotobed.co.uk | 01308 426 972 And So To Bed Bridport Pymore Mills, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 5PJ Image shown: Dickens Bed in Polished Nickel

Eco-friendly disposal


PREVIEW In association with

DISPATCHES ON THE RED DRESS Dispatches on The Red Dress is a deeply connecting musical

the present-day political climate, as well as an uplifting and

storytelling by twice-BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner,

human empathy and hope.

essay, uniquely presented in song, poetry, fiddle music and Rowan Rheingans.

The show centres around Rowan’s German grandmother’s

stories from her youth in 1940s Germany, using one true story

poignant celebration of small acts of resistance, transformation,

evolver.org.uk

____________________________________________

to explore a rich tapestry of themes including memory, trauma-

Tuesday 31st March 7.30pm

and bird-song, family and war.

Bridport Arts Centre, 9 South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR

which questions our collective handling of ‘dark histories’ in

____________________________________________

recovery, waltzes, fascism, history, handicraft, identity, folk-song It is at once an urgent and very relevant anti-war piece,

14 | Bridport Times | March 2020

Rowan Rheingans: ‘Dispatches on The Red Dress’ £12 01308 424204 bridport-arts.com


The Climate Emergency   and the Char Valley 

The

BRIDPORT

Literary Festival 2020

The Friends of the Bridport Literary Festival A Very Special Event - Open to All. Saturday 4th April at 11.30 am at The Electric Palace

APOCALYPSE HOW

Technology and the threat of mass disaster

Saturday 21st March, 1pm‐6pm 

Oliver Letwin in conversation with Howard Davies Tickets: £15

What are the implications?  What projects are under way?  What more can we all do? 

Box Office: The Bridport Tourist Information Centre

01308 424 901 Opening hours: 9am - 5pm

Displays – Films – Information 

Call in or come for the afternoon – families welcome 

Panel Discussions with:  Kelvin Clayton, Kit Vaughan, Ruth Fuller,  Owen Day, The National Trust, NFU & others  Whitchurch Canonicorum Village Hall, DT6 6RF 

www.charvalley.org

Tickets available from Box Office: Bridport Tourist Centre, The Town Hall, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3LF Tel: 01308 424901 and online at www.bridlit.com Follow us on Facebook & Twitter for latest updates @BridLitFestival

BRIDPORT Literary Festival

Brid Lit Poster20.indd 1

17/01/2020 09:45

bridporttimes.co.uk | 15


Arts & Culture

WORDS AND MUSIC Mick Smith, Director, Bridport Arts Centre

A

s I settle into my role, I’m thoroughly enjoying programming a vibrant range of events and do hope you’ll take advantage of the treats ahead. Most people know we host exhibitions and live events so, for this month’s update, I thought I’d focus on other projects. One of the things I’ve been most impressed by is the 48-year track record of The Bridport Prize, our prestigious and respected international creative writing competition which has launched the careers of new novelists, poets and short story writers. Novelist Kate Atkinson was a past winner who achieved global success and she didn’t hesitate in giving us a resounding testimonial for our new Bridport Prize website. She was unequivocal in saying how the competition helped her to find, ‘that elusive thing – my voice.’ This year’s judges include Emma Healey, whose debut novel Elizabeth Is Missing became a Sunday Times bestseller, won the Costa First Novel Award and has recently been made into a BBC film starring Glenda Jackson. The Bridport Prize is also at the core development of the ‘From Page to Screen’ festival, celebrating its twelfth year. Dedicated to adaptations and life stories, the festival (15th-19th April) explores the relationship between words and film. It aims to inspire all ages to read more, watch more and make films. We know the 16 | Bridport Times | March 2020

Image: Robert Golden, from the exhibition 'Exile - a Mind in Winter', Friday 27th March- Sunday 2nd May

choice of films is the biggest draw for ticket sales, so each year a high-profile curator selects their favourites. This year’s curator is Edith Bowman who wants to bring music - and in particular soundtracks - into the mix. Edith has broadcast radio shows on BBC Radio 1, 2, 5, 6 and Scotland and is currently host of the Virgin Radio UK Breakfast Show. Her podcast, With Edith Bowman, has become the go-to music and film podcast where she talks to directors, producers, actors, writers and composers about their relationship with music. Speakers include Isobel Waller-Bridge who composed the music for Fleabag and the film Emma, as well as Irvine Welsh who wrote Trainspotting. There’s the chance to discover the tale behind the man who bought a keyboard once owned by Vangelis, composer of the soundtrack to Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire. The festival features events hosted by the Electric Palace and The Lyric Theatre, as well as a visual arts exhibition curated by The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter. Highlighting the links between music and film, drawing on soundtracks, sheet music and scores from their collection of over 80,000 artefacts connected with the moving image, the exhibition is hosted by the Literary and Scientific Institute and runs from Saturday 11th April.


As a parent with a professional background in music, I’m committed to ensuring the arts centre plays a positive role in not only inspiring young people but also helping on a practical level: to equip the upcoming generation with the skills and confidence they need to feed their ambition, hone their talent and realise their potential. It’s early days but here’s a flavour of the initiatives and partnerships I’m developing to achieve this aim, as part of our commitment to engaging with and supporting young people. Between March and June we will host three heats of a ‘battle of the bands’-style competition with Jurassic Fields, showcasing the best young musical talent while contestants vie for a place at Jurassic Fields 2020. The arts centre will also host B Sharp’s Music Futures programme (funded by Thomas Deane Trust), a series of monthly mentoring sessions aimed at young people who want to develop a career in music. There will be individual mentoring and coaching from professional musicians, opportunities for collaboration, learning about running a music-related business and how people use music in their careers. There will also be guidance on networking, marketing and curating a digital profile. On 30th May, Bridport Arts Centre is screening an afternoon of animated short films from around the world. Aimed at 15- to 25-year-olds, this is part of a new Dorset film festival initiative called FILM Dorset and launches during Dorset Art Weeks. A new collective of young artists, filmmakers and producers based in Bridport - Chasing Cow Productions - will also be screening their latest short film together with a presentation and informal discussion about the creative and production process. See their website for details. Finally, at our youth theatre, BacStage, Niki McCretton is stepping back into a mentoring role and Bryony Moores O’Sullivan is stepping up as the new Director. Bryony is a former alumnus of BacStage and a Theatre Practice graduate puppeteer and artist. She has some exciting plans and I’d like to welcome Bryony as well as thank Niki for the tireless expertise and energy she has brought over the past thirteen years. New members (from Year 7 upwards) are always welcome at this supportive and ambitious youth theatre group. bridport-arts.com bridportprize.org.uk bridport-arts.com/from-page-to-screen/ frompagetoscreen.info filmdorset.org.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 17


Arts & Culture

ANDY RATTENBURY John Puckey, Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis

Image: John Puckey

‘I

’m always pulled back to Lyme, I love going to Lyme, I love being there—it’s still fundamentally what it’s always been.’ It’s true that screenwriter Andrew Rattenbury may not live in Lyme Regis but, once you put that aside, it’s hard to find someone more ‘Lyme’ than he is. His family populates a world of rakish tales across the decades in the town. They almost seem made up. One ancestor, Robert Rattenbury, was the sole survivor of a shipwreck. 18 | Bridport Times | March 2020

Notorious smuggler Jack Rattenbury is his greatgreat-great-grandfather: ‘He was a rogue really... John Fowles has written about him. We’ve got his diary and he goes into lots of details like, “I had sausages and a cup of tea for my breakfast.” Then he’ll suddenly say, “Then I went off to the West Indies and had some adventures” and you think, hang on, what were the adventures?!’ In old programmes from the Marine Theatre in Lyme


Regis, the name Albert Lane is often there, written in block letters, a credit for acting in The Mikado or other musicals. He was Freeman of Lyme, and Andy’s greatgrandfather. With satisfying circularity, Andy is a patron of the Marine. His enjoyment of this role is palpable. Last year, the flotsam and jetsam of Lyme Regis appeared in Andy’s play, Are You Going To The Marine?, a 125th anniversary jaunt that followed 6 lovers meandering through the venue’s history. Over 100 cast and crew played to a full house across the three nights. ‘I loved it. I hope we get another one together this year. It may be something as broad as Lyme’s relationship with the sea. The links with the sea are very, very strong… it was a major port and shipping centre during the 1300s and the war with France. That’s easy to forget when you walk along the seafront and see the multi-coloured umbrellas—this has been a centre of war with a bloody history.’ After leaving Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis, Andy trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic alongside Amanda Richardson and Daniel Day Lewis. ‘The last time I saw Dan was when we were both in plays at the National. He was in Hamlet and I was in a play called The Secret Rapture. He was a runner and started me on distance running.’ Out of work periods are part of the acting profession, so Andy embraced one to start writing. ‘The first thing I wrote was a one-man show about Vladimir Mayakovsky—a Russian poet and revolutionary. That was taken to Edinburgh and then eventually to off-Broadway in New York.’ His second big success was Soundings, a tragedy set in Lyme, centred on a family whose father is a fisherman. ‘It’s about the ripples that go through the family, very much a domestic drama. That won the Bristol Old Vic New Playwrights’ award. It was a boost for my writing. I remember I won two thousand pounds and thought “Wow, this is great.” The play was shown at the Old Red Lion in Islington as part of a London New Playwrights’ Festival. It won more awards and led to an offer writing for television on the mainstay police drama The Bill. I thought, “Cor, do people actually write television?” So I said yes. Everybody started on The Bill—directors, actors and writers. It’s hard making that transition to writing for TV. What was great about The Bill is there was no seriality. Each episode was self-contained. You could spend as long or as short as you wanted on writing an episode.’

‘As a writer you can say to your partner, “I’m just going to go upstairs and do some writing.” You can’t say, “I’m going to go upstairs and do some acting.” That would be absurd.’ Andy’s career has stayed in popular television, penning for Holby City, Teachers and Doc Martin, amongst many other shows. On programmes like Doc Martin, there are fixed characters, a setting and a series arc to write an episode within. Six writers work on their own guest stories within their episodes. Being around actors, I wondered if he ever reflected on the differences between his two careers. ‘As a writer you can say to your partner, “I’m just going to go upstairs and do some writing.” You can’t say, “I’m going to go upstairs and do some acting.” That would be absurd. ‘You have to be invited to do some acting; that’s the frustrating thing about being an actor. You can always do some writing. I’ve got so many bits of writing I haven’t been paid for—community plays for one! Soul-Food—that’s how I describe doing the plays for the Marine.’ As a painter, I am interested in how other creative people actually work. ‘I’ve got a little office out at the end of the garden, which is not very far but good to go somewhere. It’s insulated with sound so I can put my music on. The most miserable type of music that I can find inspires me. I love Nick Cave’s new one, Ghosteen. It’s to do with the death of his son, who fell off a cliff in Brighton. It is very moving, and beautiful, beautiful music.’ There are the tough challenges of getting down to work when there are so many possibilities. ‘What the writer has—that the artist does too—is the black canvas. It’s getting started. Once I’m started it’s fine. But looking at a blank screen I do think, “Oh God.” You need to muster up the energy. Sometimes there is guilt when things aren’t productive, or you feel self-indulgent at being able to luxuriate in a ‘process’ when everyone else is at work. At other times you have to let it wash over you and accept it’s part of the life that marries creativity. There is always an extra pair of socks that needs ironing. It’s always easy to get distracted and think, actually, I can’t be arsed.’ marinetheatre.com bridporttimes.co.uk | 19


Arts & Culture

ALEX LOWERY

LAND USE Anna Powell, Director, Sladers Yard Gallery and CafĂŠ Sladers

A

ttitudes to land use are changing and artist Alex Lowery has his finger on the pulse. Just by inviting us to look at the familiar places around us, Lowery’s clear-sighted new paintings encourage reflection. Bathed in beautiful aquatic light, his pictures make no statements as such. He shows things as they are and lets us look. The new paintings explore estuaries around Topsham and Barnstaple with bridges, medieval to motorway. In Topsham, sluice gates give form and 20 | Bridport Times | March 2020

structure to the natural environment of reed beds and mud flats. One can almost hear the birdsong, although no birds are painted. Like holding a breath, Lowery finds the thrill of stillness in the constant flux of tidal waters. We cannot stop the tide but everywhere we alter and manipulate it. It is good to see this most intelligent and nuanced painter show his edge. The new work is driven, as in fact his painting has always been, by the traces man leaves as he intervenes in nature. In Barnstaple 2 the


West Bay 312, 2020, 40x90cm, oil on canvas

construction of the painting comes through in red, giving the work a filmic dazzle. The question is also raised of how constructed our environment is, as the river flows under the arches of the bridge in Barnstaple 3, past the built environment of the town and beyond to the farmed hillside of fields, hedges and neatly defined areas of woodland. Lowery has branched out from but certainly not abandoned his strongholds of West Bay and Portland. In both these places a confident shorthand has

emerged over many paintings. Here the artist plays in powerful riffs. In Portland 151 an angled lamppost leads the eye from the heavenly blue of the distant quarry via the fronds of a bush to the roughly painted, castellated street wall in the foreground. The pitted quarry top rhymes with the roofs and wall below. My mind goes to the quantities of Portland stone that have been quarried there, how much taller the rock must have been, and the great white city it was taken away to build. > bridporttimes.co.uk | 21


Arts & Culture

Topsham 3, 2020, 25.5x35.5cm, oil on linen

In another series of Portland paintings the rooftops of the Olympic village march in front of the Chesil beach. Precisely painted, soft-coloured buildings are set against lyrical lines in the path that leads across dark, earthy grassland to the beach. Here many of Lowery’s motifs gather together: contemporary housing and street furniture, abandoned works and Iron Age strip lynchets, the sea, the sky and the timeless phenomenon of the beach. The viewpoint in the large, one-off painting Wynford Eagle seems to soar above this small West Dorset village, tucked under vertiginous hillsides. An anomaly for Alex Lowery, this ambiguous pastoral painting addresses the wind-scoured empty hilltops so typical of this area. Cloud shadows move across the land where the feudal layout remains including the chapel, the manor house, the field patterns and the lane escaping top left. Wynford Eagle takes a long, articulate view of this countryside, how we love it and continue to use it. Back in West Bay, Lowery paints the cliffs and beach in their signature golden colours in soft twilight. There is a purity to Alex Lowery’s ongoing relationship with this place, not just in the clarity of his finely-observed colour combinations, his love of modernist architecture and drawing ability but a deeper probity which he digs deep 22 | Bridport Times | March 2020

to question and keep on track. The resulting sure-handed paintings ring strong and true. He’s been away and he comes back refreshed and reinvigorated. Alex Lowery lives in Charmouth with the artist Vanessa Gardiner. He studied at Bath Academy, Sir John Cass School of Art and the Central School of Art in London. He has painted and shown regularly in Dorset and London since 1994. He has exhibited for many years with Art First and has shown at the Estorick Collection and at Browse and Darby in London as well as internationally, particularly in Italy. His work is in many distinguished private collections as well as in hospital and corporate collections. He has shown regularly at Sladers Yard since our opening show in 2006 and his work has grown with us, selling all over the world and contributing as much as anyone to put West Bay on the map. Land Use: recent paintings by Alex Lowery, Richard Batterham pots from his private collection, Petter Southall furniture and garden rooms are at Sladers Yard from 7th March to 26th April. sladersyard.co.uk


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Arts & Culture

ROB PEPPER

INTERNATIONAL MAN OF ART Kit Glaisyer, Artist

Image: Lissy Tomlinson

A

s Director of Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios, I’m always keen to introduce our flourishing art scene to the wider world, however there are a number of artists based here who prefer to find their own audience and take their art out to distant cities and far-off countries, enjoying a mix of busy urban life with the more peaceful pleasures of the countryside. Rob Pepper is such an artist. Based in Netherbury with his wife and two young children, he is a practising artist as well as the Principal of The Art Academy in central London. He also regularly travels to China, where he has a rapidly growing reputation and an eager market for his art and design work. In fact, the British Prime Minister used one of his artworks as the state gift to President Xi Jinping in 2018. Rob grew up in Devon and, after finishing school, he funded his university studies by starting a business designing, making and selling products in Camden Market, London, which he ran with his wife, Aimie. He had his first solo gallery exhibition in Melbourne, Australia in 2002 and since then has exhibited in London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Dubai. He’s also been commissioned to make designs and paintings and has granted licences to publish 24 | Bridport Times | March 2020

his work to a wide variety of clients including the BBC, Lane Crawford, Xiaomi, Xintiandi, Parker and American Express. Recently, he’s created a gift set for American Express Black Card customers and he’s also established an enduring relationship with Parker, who approached Rob to help repackage a pen range for Millennials. He’s now designed four themed boxsets, including London, Beijing, and Paris, with the Shanghai edition becoming Parker’s fastest selling item online. In recent years, on his many travels to China, Rob has witnessed the rapid development of many of their cities and he’s fascinated by the blend of new and old architecture in places such as Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. These evolving skylines inspire Rob’s drawings, paintings and photographs, which he develops into his distinctive designs to create large-scale paintings. Alongside Chinese cityscapes, his motifs include stilllifes, domestic interiors and, most recently, dancers. Rob’s art style is a blend of contemporary pop art influenced by Asian landscape painting and printmaking. He usually starts with a pen and ink drawing as he likes the immediacy and confidence of mark-making it requires. He then utilises a wide >


The Tale of The Dragon Wall - Shanghai - 230cm x 130cm - Oil on Canvas

The Tale of Tokyo - 230cm x 130cm - Oil on Canvas bridporttimes.co.uk | 25


Arts & Culture

Image: Lissy Tomlinson

variety of materials and media, using oil and acrylic for creating large areas of flat colour, plus printmaking techniques including screen printing and lithography inspired by Matisse and David Hockney, as well as artists Li Kuchan and the master Qi Baishi. Rob says he likes to, ‘explore places and the memory they create and the impact that has on me. Then I can create a new memory of that space through making an image. I'm also interested in how we define ourselves through the places we’ve experienced. I ask a lot of questions, like to experience new things and I’m also eternally optimistic so like to try and make work that reflects that. I want to bring my skills as a fine artist into the world of design and use my curiosity to help solve problems. It’s important to me that you see the artist’s hand in the work as all my designs are created by hand and then transferred into products. Technology enables this to happen very easily.’ Working half the week in London as Principal of The Art Academy allows Rob to share his experience and to help other artists to fulfil their ambitions and sustain their own practice. The Art Academy was founded in 2000 to offer something different: the best of an oldschool atelier combined with the vibrancy and diversity of a young and innovative contemporary art school, something that still differentiates them today. Within a five-minute walk of Tate Modern, the Academy also offers courses that are designed and delivered by expert, 26 | Bridport Times | March 2020

practicing artists and, as an art education charity, they’re passionate about championing art for all. Recently validated as a Higher Education Institution, they offer courses for all levels of skill and need, including evening, weekend and short courses, and have now started running both Foundation Degree and BA Fine Art Degree courses. The school initially offered Rob a studio in exchange for teaching and it grew from there. He started as a tutor, moved to Vice Principal and then became Principal in 2017. Rob particularly loves working with artists, especially for their passion and creative ways of thinking, and he believes that art education needs to balance the development of both traditional and contemporary skills with critical thinking. He believes that if we can achieve this balance, we will have the skills and ability to realise any ideas we may have. Looking ahead to a busy 2020, Rob is currently working on a couple of projects in China that will be launched later this year. One is a ground-breaking online interior design platform and the other an international project focused on developing young artists. robpepper.co.uk artacademy.org.uk kitglaisyer.com bridportcontemporary.com


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History

LOST DORSET

MORECOMBLAKE

T

he still-small hamlet sits astride the main Dorchester/Exeter road, though there is little sign of the traffic that now roars through it in this photograph of c.1900. On the right is the Sun Inn, on the left Sam Moores’ bakery, with his bakery cart outside. The bakery started in 1880 and now, nearly 140 years later, remains the home of Moores Dorset Knob biscuits. Moores is the only surviving bakery of Dorset knobs, biscuits which are hand-rolled and baked three times and which owe their name to their resemblance to Dorset knob buttons. A favourite biscuit of Thomas Hardy, they have found a more recent role in the now biennial Dorset knob-throwing competition, held on the first Sunday in May. The Sun Inn opened in 1823, closed in 1969, and is now a private house. Lost Dorset: The Villages & Countryside 1880-1920, by David Burnett, is a large format paperback, price £12, and is widely available throughout Dorset or directly from the publishers. dovecotepress.com

28 | Bridport Times | March 2020


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History

SHIPBUILDING

Joanna Garner, Research Volunteer, Bridport Museum

T

he crops hemp and flax were grown in the Bridport area and used in the rope and netmaking industry. King John had required the Sheriff of Dorset, ‘to cause to be made in Bridport night and day as many ropes for ships both large and small and as many cables as you can.’ Bridport had the monopoly, which King Henry VIII confirmed when he ordered all ropes and cordage for the Navy to be made at Bridport. A painting by William Daniell from 1825 is in our collection. It clearly shows the shipyard on the right-hand side. The shipyard at Bridport Harbour operated between 1769 and 1879 and was then the most productive shipyard in England: 353 vessels were built here, 18 of which were built during the Napoleonic Wars for Lord Nelson’s Navy. Bridport Harbour had 6 slipways and at one point there were 300 people employed at the shipyard, building and maintaining ships and boats. The shipyard would have been a very noisy, frenetic, dangerous and hazardous place to work. The sound of hammering, wood-sawing and the smell of paints and tar would have filled the air. A variety of vessels were produced including cutters, brigantines, barques, brigs, clippers, frigates, ketches, luggers, schooners and smacks. Much of the wood used in constructing these vessels came from local woodlands. The first ship built and launched at Bridport Harbour was the North Star, built by Nicholas Bools in 1769. He also established the shipyard. The largest frigate built at Bridport was named the Laurel and carried 22 guns. Towards the end of the 18th century, Nicholas Bools lived in Jessops House, East Street in Bridport. He built a watch tower at the top of his house where, using a 30 | Bridport Times | March 2020

The ‘Lord Alcester’ in the harbour

telescope, he was able to keep an eye on his shipyard and watch what was happening out at sea. Bools became involved in the building of H.M. Customs Revenue Cutters. The cutters had to be swift and the skilled Bridport shipbuilders achieved this by developing their own construction methods. He then became involved in the smacks that sailed from Leith to London. He was also involved with the Admiralty shipbuilding during the early part of the 19th century. Bools went into partnership with his son-inlaw, William Good, who was a fine shipbuilder and eventually became the senior partner in the business. In 1830 John Colfox took over the shipyard. He was a Wesleyan preacher and a local man who played a major role in the building of the Methodist Chapel on the beach, now the West Bay Discovery Centre. In 1853 Colfox built Speedy, the largest ship built at Bridport, for Prowse and Company of Liverpool. A clipper ship, she was made of oak and teak and weighed 1002 tons. Slightly larger than the more famous Cutty Sark now at Greenwich, the Speedy carried passengers to and from Australia, its first voyage taking 92 days. The last ship built at Bridport Harbour was the Lillian, launched in 1879. It was built for Job Legg, the owner of the local brewery. The shipyard eventually closed in 1885. Wooden ships had been replaced by iron ships, which were being built elsewhere. bridportmuseum.co.uk @bridportmuseum facebook.com/BridportMuseum


BRIDPORT ANTIQUES Situated on West Street, in the heart of Bridport, the historic building that was Joseph Gundry and Co Ltd now houses one of the finest antiques showrooms in the south-west of England. With its diverse range of furniture, art, silver and collectables from the 1600’s through to the 1900’s there is something to cater for everyone’s tastes.

OPEN DAILY 10am to 5pm EARLY CLOSING Thursday at 2pm CLOSED SUNDAY APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE OUTSIDE OF THESE HOURS THE OLD COURT, 41 WEST STREET, BRIDPORT, DORSET DT6 3QU TELEPHONE: 01308 455646 WEBSITE: www.bridportantiques.co.uk

bridporttimes.co.uk | 31


Wild Dorset

A WIN FOR WILDLIFE

Sally Welbourn, Communications Officer, Dorset Wildlife Trust

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he marsh fritillary is one of the most interesting butterflies in Dorset and is the most attractive and colourful of the fritillaries. Often considered the ‘stained glass window’ of butterflies, they have small wings but are very recognisable, with a bright, intricate pattern of white, orange and black markings. Their main habitat, damp grassland, has been lost nationally due to agricultural-improvement and drainage in the landscape. However, due to careful habitat management over the last 10 years, they are now thriving on one of Dorset Wildlife Trust’s (DWT) nature reserves, Bracketts Coppice. DWT’s Living Landscapes Ecologist, Steve Masters, says, ‘The most reliable method to record the numbers of marsh fritillaries is to count the larva webs in autumn or in spring after the winter hibernation. Eggs are laid in large batches of up to 300 and the caterpillars aggregate in webs which can be counted relatively easily.’ Marsh fritillaries prefer to hibernate in tussocks of grass as caterpillars (which are jet black in colour) and emerge in warm weather – as early as February or March if the winter isn’t too cold. Basking in the sun as caterpillars, they will then pupate and emerge as adult butterflies on the wing in late May/early June. These 32 | Bridport Times | March 2020

Image: Errin Skingsley

remarkable butterflies have a few challenges ahead of them - not only the loss of habitat but also the parasitic wasp which can be deadly to them, laying its eggs inside the caterpillar and devouring it. Steve continues, ‘Their food plant is Devils bitscabious and we have plenty of that at Bracketts Coppice. Marsh fritillaries love damp grassland, purple moor grass and chalk, all of which we have in west Dorset. To help accommodate these butterflies we’ve adapted the management of Brackett’s Coppice slightly to ensure the amount of grazing creates the right habitat for them, providing the right structure for all stages of their life cycle. We even removed one field from the previous hay cutting regime and grazed it instead; we were delighted to see marsh fritillaries breeding in this field for the first time, as a result.’ These management techniques are being used on other suitable nature reserves. In 2019, the highest number of marsh fritillary larval webs counted since monitoring began (38) were found on Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve in west Dorset. Find out more about our nature reserves on our website. dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves


Keep Dorset Buzzing Do something this spring to help insects in your garden. Visit: www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/action-insects

DORSET WILDLIFE TRUST Photos © Hamish Murray, Tony Bates MBE, Ken Dolbear MBE, Katharine Davies.


Wild Dorset

BRITTLESTARS

Ali Ferris, Deputy Head Warden, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre

B

rittlestars can be found on the Jurassic Coast, both the modern-day species hiding in rockpools and as a fossil. Most people won’t even notice the brittlestars in rockpools as they can be very small. However, once you find them, they are worth a good look! Brittlestars are related to the more well-known starfish but in the rockpools around Lyme Regis you are more likely to see the brittlestar. You can see them all year round, usually hiding under rocks. Locally they are quite small, only growing to approximately 2cm, but globally some species can reach 1 metre. They can live up to 10 years. They have disc-shaped bodies with 34 | Bridport Times | March 2020

5 long, thin arms which, in deeper water, raise them up to filter feed. The arms can regenerate if broken and the basket star may even branch multiple times. Starfish eat brittlestars which is why you may find them hiding in cracks and crevices so they are not gobbled up by their relatives! Brittlestars are able to detect a chemical signal emitted by the starfish so that they can move away when danger is coming. They usually hide in the day and feed at night, either by raising their arms or filtering on the sea floor. As well as plankton they can catch larger prey. Brittlestars can live on the seabed in dense numbers, with an array of colours from brown, red, yellow, orange


DeeAnn-Cranston/iStock

and purple. Their legs can be patterned with coloured bands; some are even luminescent. In Lyme Regis we generally see the brown-coloured ones. They are found across the UK but are less common on the east coast. There are over 2000 species of brittlestars globally, most living in deeper waters, and they inhabit most marine and coastal environments. Some species can even tolerate brackish waters. Brittlestars are echinoderms and evolved in the Ordovician period approximately 500 million years ago. We find their fossils on the Jurassic Coast in Eype near Bridport dating to 180 million years ago.

Examples can be found in museums and centres across the coast. We have learnt much from these fossils; you can look them up on the Jurassic Coast Fossil Finder. One example of fossil brittlestars in the Bridport Museum tells us that there was a water current flowing over them as the legs are bent around in one direction. There is also a ghostly outline of where another star may have once been, leaving behind just an impression. We can also see how the stars were damaged after burial by other creatures. Further away from home, fossil brittlestars from Western Australia dating to 275 million years ago are detailing more about their evolution. A slab containing a cluster of stars has shown that they moved into colder and deeper environments where they didn’t have as many predators and could grow to larger sizes, while those that remained in environments with predators evolved differently. You can read more about the research on the Phys.org website. What can you do to find them? You might not be able to see the small creatures on the underside of rocks, but it doesn’t mean they are not there so, when rockpooling, always place rocks back down how you found them. Always move seaweed back to the position it was in and don’t try to pull it off the rock. When you find brittlestars don’t touch them or try to take them off the rocks. As the name suggests their arms are very brittle and can break off, especially when they can sense danger. If you would like to learn more about brittlestars, you can join a rockpool ramble. Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, The Wild Sea Centre in Kimmeridge, Seaton Jurassic, Beer Heritage Centre, and The Wildlife Trust all offer rockpool rambles and seashore safaris. The Wildlife Trusts also offer Shoresearch training. Brittlestars are not the most common fossil found but if you go fossil hunting remember to abide by the fossil collecting code that operates on this stretch of coast. You can collect any loose fossils but do not dig in the cliffs and do not remove in situ fossils. Remember to check your tide times before heading out fossil hunting. You should always go out on a falling and low tide; this also applies to rockpooling. You can read more about the fossil collecting code on our website. You can see starfish at Sea Life Weymouth and handle them at Lyme Regis Aquarium. charmouth.org/chcc/the-fossil-collecting-code/ visitsealife.com/weymouth/ lymeregismarineaquarium.co.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 35


Wild Dorset

THE SONG THRUSH

T

Colin Varndell, Photographer

he song thrush is a familiar and popular garden bird, known especially for its vibrant song. It is a medium-sized member of the thrush family, smaller than the blackbird, slightly larger than the redwing and 15% smaller than the mistle thrush. The bird has warm-brown upperparts with a pale cream and white breast, flecked with attractive brown spots. Song thrushes are most often seen alone or in pairs during the breeding season. The vigorous song is penetrating and fluty but less rich than that of the blackbird. The song is always delivered from an elevated and exposed perch. Its habit of repeating song phrases, often several times over, distinguishes it from other thrushes and blackbirds. Singing may begin spasmodically in early winter but starts in earnest at the beginning of the year. Research has shown that a female song thrush seeking a mate in late winter is likely to be more attracted to males with greater musical vocabularies, suggesting a link with longevity. Pairs establish breeding territories in late winter. Territory size is dictated by the amount of quality foraging areas and the availability of suitable nesting habitats. The nest is a cup made of grasses and lined with dung or mud. It is constructed by the female alone and the inside lining is smoothed by her breast. The average clutch size is four sky-blue eggs, marked with black spots. Incubation is 14 days and nestlings fledge at 14 days old. Both sexes tend the young but only the female incubates. The song thrush can have up to three broods per year, with the breeding season lasting from March to August. Only 20% of fledglings and 60% of adults live to breed the following spring. The average age of an adult bird is around 3 to 4 years. The song thrush is a ground feeder where it is mostly seen foraging. It adopts an alert and upright stance as it moves, typically by taking five or six quick steps before stopping motionless. As it searches for earthworms and invertebrates it adopts a more crouching stance. Its favourite food is snails, which it breaks into by bashing its victims against a stone with a flick of its head. A song thrush will repeatedly return to the same snail-bashing stone, leaving shell fragments, mostly from banded snails, strewn around. Such sites are referred to as song thrush anvils. A century ago, the song thrush was regarded as one of the commonest garden birds, even outnumbering blackbirds. However, the species has been in steady decline ever since. For some years now its numbers have declined markedly on farmland and in towns and cities. The song thrush population in England declined by more than 50% between the years 1970–1995. Reasons for the decline of the species are linked to degradation of nesting and feeding habitats caused by modern agriculture. These include loss of hedgerows and wet ditches and increased land drainage, and the decline of permanent (grazing) pasture and woodland, both important habitats for song thrushes. Recent research has identified seriously declining populations on intensive arable farmland, but with stable populations on mixed farmland. In rural villages, the song thrush is susceptible to predation by cats. The song thrush in the photo here was taken in Netherbury on 24th January this year. Unfortunately, on 27th January the bird was killed by a domestic cat. info@colinvarndell.co.uk

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Image: Colin Varndell bridporttimes.co.uk | 37


Wild Dorset

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CARAVAN CROSS THE ROAD?

V

Ben Scriven, Tamarisk Farm

isitors to West Bexington may have noticed a rather strange pair of caravans sitting in a field and wondered how they seem to mysteriously move around periodically. They represent my latest (bird brained?) idea: can we produce eggs without importing feed? Sadly, it’s a topical truth that almost all the poultry and eggs we produce in Britain are dependent on imported soy to speed growth and increase output. This is largely a consequence of the banning of feeding waste animal products and needing to make up the protein shortfall by importing soy beans, usually from increasingly deforested parts of the world. I had long wanted to add laying hens to the farm, if only because we produce an excess of grain cleanings and barley, used from time to time to help give our rams extra energy for their annual ‘services’, and sometimes to give ewes a bit of extra condition before lambing. The rest is sold to nearby farms as animal feed. Why not keep the barley ourselves and feed some pigs or chickens, we thought? Adam too had thoughts about good uses for this resource and, with his new de-husking machine, is now selling pot barley and barley flour for people to enjoy. Well, such naive musings often lead to many trials and tribulations, and we have certainly had a few. Overall, though, it was working well enough for me to be invited to share my thoughts about our system with other farmers at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in January as part of a seminar on feeding livestock sustainably. I thought it worth sharing the ideas here, especially as they are just as relevant to anyone with a few chickens of their own. Hens are, at heart, animals with an overwhelming desire to scratch about looking for good things to eat, especially bugs - it’s practically their raison d’être. It seemed fairly obvious that if hens could find enough of what they wanted simply by happily foraging in nature’s larder they would be able to balance their own diet, selecting from the herb-rich grassland salad bar and the 38 | Bridport Times | March 2020

all-you-can-eat-bug-buffet of the soil beneath. Sadly, truly free-range hens were never going to work in West Bexington – cars, foxes and dogs are not the friend of a wandering hen and a wandering hen is not the friend of a vegetable garden. So, we’ve managed to do the next best thing: we decided that hen houses on wheels, moved frequently with the hens safely corralled by solarpowered netting around them, would be the answer. Leila and I managed to find two derelict caravans which we’ve repurposed and fitted out. The first became Cluckingham Palace and this year we added Hensington Palace. Caravans make excellent chicken coops provided you keep them well ventilated and they’re light enough to trundle around fields with our electric quad bike. We decided fairly early on, though, that caravans are not the prettiest things for everyone to look at, so we camouflaged them with some green paint and damask stencils. Twee you say? Kitsch? Most definitely, but we like a bit of whimsy here. The effect on the hens of this frequent movement is amazing. You see them head down, fluffy bums in


the air, obviously enjoying themselves, and the amount of grain they eat also drops each time they’re moved as they go about the business of rounding out their diet with bugs, grasses, seeds and herbs. Not everyone has large acreages and quad bikes but you can achieve much the same thing in a garden chicken pen by letting them graze your lawn occasionally and by filling their pen with all the grass clippings, wood chips, leaves and rotting wood you can give them. A hen will turn compostable waste into incredible soil and eggs as well as loving every minute they spend scratching through it. Provided you keep it aerated by using enough wood chips, leaves and fluffy material to stop it getting sodden and compacted, it will stay sweet. The next part of upgrading our chickens’ diet was fermentation. It’s all the rage these days: kefir, kimchi, sourdough, kombucha. Well, ‘what’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander’ and we are now doing it for our hens as well. There are proven scientific benefits to fermenting your chicken feed. Fermenting foods helps to make them more digestible and more vitamin-rich,

as well as having a probiotic effect to ward off digestive upsets. Fermenting the small amount of grain we feed the hens is simply a matter of submerging it in cold water for a week or so. It develops a lovely souredcream smell and they relish it. Whatever grain or pellets you feed your hens, you can ferment it just the same: provided the feed is kept underwater it won’t mould or rot and should start to bubble away after a few days. You can add a bit of sourdough starter, or vinegar ‘mother’ to get the right sort of bacteria involved straightaway but once it’s going just inoculate each batch with a little of the last. You should notice your hens needing perhaps 20% less feed than before, which is an added bonus. Now I won’t lie: my hens lay slightly smaller, slightly fewer eggs than they would on commercial feed, and they use more grazing. However, no-one is clearing rainforests for them, there are zero food miles involved and the eggs have an incredible flavour and richcoloured yolks. I think the reward is worth it. tamariskfarm.co.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 39


Outdoors

On Foot

RIGHTS OF WAY Emma Tabor and Paul Newman

W

e’re taking a break from writing a walk this month as we plan for the rest of the year. It seems like a good time to reflect on the ground we’ve covered so far and some of the challenges we encounter as we write these walks. West Dorset has some fantastic and varied walking terrain and good routes along the South West Coast Path as well as other established trails such as the Monarch’s Way, Macmillan Way and Jubilee Trail. However, some less well-used paths can sometimes be difficult to make out so we thought it would be useful to share what you should do if faced with an unclear route or problem. For this, we’re referring to the Rights of Way leaflet produced by Dorset Council. Each month we devise a walk from scratch. As we plan what we hope will make an interesting route, we try and anticipate if any path or route might be problematic. Working to a monthly schedule leaves little or no time to reconfigure the walk if it doesn’t work out as planned. So far, we’ve been fairly lucky, but one of the things that sometimes causes an issue is establishing the right of way. This can be caused by stiles in a poor state of repair or stiles that are overgrown, missing signage, electric fences, obstructions and re-routed paths. >

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We use an up-to-date Ordnance Survey Explorer map but it is hard to gauge how difficult a path, or access, will be until we’re out on the route and writing the directions. There is a current Definitive Map for the County of Dorset with four categories of rights of way: Footpath, Bridleway, Byway and Restricted Byway. From the Rights of Way leaflet it’s worth noting that ‘the latest editions of Ordnance Survey maps…also show rights of way but such maps are not conclusive in law and may not show the latest amendments consequent upon revision of the Definitive Map.’ Here are the main problems we’ve encountered as listed in the Rights of Way guidance. It’s also important to mention that the leaflet guidance lists several other issues to consider such as obstructions, dog control and open access and addresses the responsibilities of the local authority, landowners and the public. Stiles, Gates and Bridges

Occasionally we’ll find a stile in a poor state of repair which can be difficult or unsafe to cross. The guidance states that ‘any stile, gate or similar structure across a footpath or bridleway must be maintained by the owner of the land in a safe condition, and to the standard of repair required to prevent the unreasonable interference with the rights of the person using the footpath or bridleway.’ It also 42 | Bridport Times | March 2020

says that ‘the owner, lessees or occupier of (land)… may apply to the Council for consent to erect stiles or gates on a footpath or bridleway to prevent livestock from straying.’ Any issues with bridges which carry a footpath or bridleway should be reported. In the majority of cases bridges are the responsibility of Dorset Council. Applications for new stiles are no longer accepted - existing ones can be repaired and the Council are proactively trying to replace stiles with gates to make the countryside more accessible to all users. Signage

Missing signage can also add to the confusion. On occasions when we’re heading across a field and looking for a sign to take us out of the field, clear signage is essential to prevent straying from the right of way, especially when the field has been ploughed and the pathway has temporarily disappeared. Signposts can decay, finger signs are snapped off or waymarker badges can fade. Where signage is missing, we try and ascertain the route by looking for other indications that the path is going where we think it should - sometimes it’s just a case of checking the reverse of a stile to confirm we’re on the right path. ‘The Council has the power to waymark paths where the route is not obvious and may delegate this


power to other responsible persons.’ Electric fences

These have caused some issues, sometimes funny and sometimes not so! The guide states that: ‘An electric fence across a right of way is an obstruction even if it is not ‘live’. Any electric fence must be far enough away from a right of way that users on that way and their animals cannot inadvertently come into contact with it. In addition, appropriate warning signs must be displayed on or close to the fence to advise users of its presence.’ Sometimes piping over a wire may be used, removing the need to cut the fence and ensuring the continuation of the fence, also removing the use of insulated handles and clips. Self-help with obstructions

The Guide states that: ‘If when using a right of way you find an obstruction, first check that you are on the correct route. It is permissible to make a slight deviation to avoid the obstruction and this is often the best thing to do.’ Rerouted or missing paths

Sometimes paths have to be re-routed for safety reasons - in West Dorset this is most evident on the ever-shifting coast. Paths may deviate slightly from the route shown on

the map. Some paths may have been re-routed or altered since the Definitive Map was produced which is why even the most up to date maps can sometimes mislead. What to do

The Dorset Council Rights of Way leaflet has some useful guidance as well as information on how and where to report any problems. There is a small team of regional rangers who oversee maintenance and the public are encouraged to report any problems, by phone or online via the mapping.dorsetforyou.com/rightsofway/reportproblem webpage. The public are also encouraged to volunteer and help with maintenance, with the opportunity to learn new skills as part of carrying out maintenance work. We aim to be as respectful as possible towards landowners and responsible to the public when writing our directions but sometimes it’s difficult to know what the line is, so we hope the above has provided some useful advice. We’ll be back in April with another walk. With thanks to West Dorset and Coast Senior Ranger Russell Goff dorsetcouncil.gov.uk rightsofway@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 43


Archaeology ANCIENT DORSET TREASURES SERIES

No.3: THE CUTTING EDGE: SWORDS & STATUS Chris Tripp, BA (Hons), MA, Community and Field Archaeologist

Nik Keevil/Shutterstock

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W

areham, 1927, and the construction of a new bridge unearths an object not seen by human eyes for over a thousand years. It is a sword that had once been gripped by an Anglo-Saxon hand and looked upon by covetous Anglo-Saxon eyes as the ‘RollsRoyce’ of status-giving symbols. The sword is a weapon designed to maim or kill. A knife or club, spear or axe can be used for hunting or domestic jobs but a sword is for killing people. This makes it a symbol of both martial power and violent potential and helps explain why British Iron Age swords and their scabbards are some of the most complex and artistic of prehistoric objects. Made of iron and with a horn grip, the Wareham sword had a pommel delicately decorated and inscribed ‘Aethel... owns me’. Anyone with a name starting with ‘Aethel’ could only be of royal or noble birth and this sword is the only one known in existence with that name on it. Did the owner win this sword in battle or was it a gift? Its decoration is of the Viking style; an enemy and invader. The sword was broken and thrown into the river, perhaps as a ritual offering after the death of its owner. In an earlier time, a Durotrigian warrior was laid in his grave with his sword at Whitcombe, just before the arrival of the Romans. This weapon was work-hardened rather than quenchhardened, the latter technique making the material less likely to bend as quenching makes the iron brittle and then tempering removes it, thus providing spring in the metal. By adding carbon, in the form of charcoal, they produced steel for the cutting edge. The sword was often placed on the right side of the body or laid over the corpse. In many Iron Age graves the sword and the scabbard were bent at 180 degrees, known as ‘killing’ the sword. Thus, they might be considered as a most potent and powerful object to sacrifice. At this time a warrior could have a long sword with a hilt made of wood, bone or horn, or a short sword with a hilt made of copper alloy. Scabbards were generally made from two plates of iron and suspended from a belt made of iron links. Some scabbards had front plates of bronze rather than iron. Beowulf is one of the earliest works in the English language and describes a battle with the monstrous mother of Grendal, where Beowulf ’s magical sword is the only weapon that can penetrate her body. On the blade is an engraving dating back to a race of ‘giants’ that had been destroyed by a great flood. Flood myths are found around the world, in which older civilisations filled with heroes and their deeds were destroyed; a mythical world lost in time. However, archaeology is uncovering evidence of dramatic changes (climate change?) in the Bronze Age, where early societies collapsed and where Classical Greece looked back on its ‘Age of Heroes’, when Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships. However, the sword’s ability to survive being buried for millennia is not a myth. They are found in burials because they were made by skilled blacksmiths to a high degree, more so than spears, knives and axes; they were built to last. They were expensive to produce and thus owned by high-status individuals who needed to train all their lives to use them. Whether as signs of status, a mythical object, an instrument of death or a gift from the gods, the sword endures as one of humanity’s most stark symbols of power. dorsetdiggers.blogspot.com

bridporttimes.co.uk | 45


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HOOKE PARK Words Jo Denbury Photography Katharine Davies

I

am stood in a wood, not far from Beaminster. The rain is horizontal, the puddles are deep and bar the occasional buffeted bird, there is no one to be seen. Around me sit contorted timber buildings, each one pitched at improbable angles. Rain pounds their roofs and wind tugs at their frames but these unworldly structures remain resolute, rooted and capable in the face of the elements. I am at the Architectural Association School of Architecture’s (AA) Hooke Park campus and have arranged to meet its Warden, Zachary Mollica. I am unsure which of the buildings he might be in, so I wander into the largest, an impressive arrangement of engineered triangles. >

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This striking structure, known as the Big Shed, is a multi-faceted workshop built predominantly using larch sourced from the woodland in which it stands. Designed in 2011 by students of the school’s Design + Make programme with the support of then tutor Piers Taylor and programme head, Martin Self, the Big Shed is a joyous, cathedral-like space that perfectly accommodates the Park’s assembly and prototyping activities. Today, I find Martin and a fellow teacher, Jack Draper, poised around a dome of interlaced wood. I watch as they clamp sections together and with each gentle tightening of a screw, the wood slowly bending to their will. I have clearly arrived at a critical moment in this particular project’s proceedings and despite my mere presence threatening its success I am nodded in the direction of Zachary. Zachary Mollica, is a Canadian architect and maker and now Warden of the AA’s Hooke Park campus. He first arrived as a student in 2014 and never left. People come to study and teach at Hooke Park from all over the world. Most of them have left traditional architecture practices, and the associated drudgery of CAD drawings and lengthy timescales, to embrace the possibilities of working and experimenting with wood to develop new ways of building. ‘The purpose of this place is to enable design through the means of making so as not to separate the two activities,’ explains Zachary. ‘It allows the students to become stronger designers because they have a real conversation with the material that is a productive and physical experience.’ A haven for adventures in architecture, you might say. Architectural Association director Eva Franch i Gilabert, describes Hooke Park as ‘a unique place in the world of architecture education; it provides state of the art facilities for experimentation in timber construction and 350 acres of forest to teach and learn about nature, the world, and ourselves. It complements the AA’s London campus.’ Hooke Park was acquired by the Forestry Commission in 1949. At a time of faltering manufacturing output, UK furniture production remained buoyant and saw the Commission plant large numbers of Norwegian spruce, beech and oak. The eventual allure of imported mass production wooden furniture took hold and by 1982 the Forestry Commission were looking to selling the land. The visionary furniture maker John Makepeace, who, 6 years prior, had set up The School for Craftsmen in Wood at

nearby Parnham House, purchased Hooke Park under the banner of The Parnham Trust. It was around this time that current Head Forester, Chris Sadd, joined as an apprentice, learning and watching as Hooke Park evolved from woodland to campus. As custodian of the woods, it is Chris’ job to ensure that the trees of Hooke Park continue to thrive as a living educational resource. Forest management is a fine balance of give and take, planting and felling in necessary measure. Felled timber must be treated before being passed over to the architects. Then there is clearing to be done, coppicing and planting. ‘Forestry is long-term,’ explains Chris. ‘A tree can take a lifetime to mature and markets and preferences for certain timbers can change in that time. For example, a lot of beech trees were planted as they were popular for furniture but in fact they are not so useful for architecture.’ ‘The other challenge here is a wet wood,’ explains Chris. ‘So we have a problem with stability. We try to identify the areas of instability and make an effort to plant stronger broadleaf trees in their place.’ Bio-diversity is also something close to his heart. ‘By planning the clearing of trees in parts of the park we can maintain, for example, the bird species. We make it possible for a species to move nearby and therefore not disrupt their habitat too much by forcing them to travel long distances to a new home.’ A number of members of staff — Zachary among them— live on site and there is also a boarding house for visiting students. Some will come to join the 12/16-month postgraduate Design + Make programme, while others attend shorter courses as modules within their London-based AA studies. ‘When it comes to designing, making and using your hands, timber is an exceptional material because it is so approachable and non-toxic,’ explains Zachary. ‘More importantly, in the face of the ‘Architects Declare’ and ‘Construction Declare’ climate change movements, timber needs to become the future of architecture. Not to mean that to build sustainably we need to get rid of every other material. But in a country such as this, with a long tradition of timber which it has moved away from, we need it more.’ He continues. ‘This school is a microcosm, where we can explore wood from forestry to finished product. It is also a place to discover how supplies of wood will need to change to suit the demands of architecture. It needs to change at the forest end. Here, working with Chris, we can understand the supply chain because the architecture we build here completes the circle, from forest to built form.’ > bridporttimes.co.uk | 51


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Carolina de Menezes is a Brazilian student attending Hooke Park on the 12-month MSc course. ‘I was interested in forestry and wanted to explore something that wasn’t just industrial design. I visited last year and felt this was the place where I should be, although it was mid-winter at the time,’ she laughs as we look at today’s weather. ‘There is a big component to the course which is about being among the trees and having a chance to be outdoors. The stuff that you learn from Chris about the seasons, how it affects the trees and ultimately the timber, makes it very real. It makes you understand the material, where it comes from and how special it is. ‘My previous work experience involved computer programming,’ she continues, ‘and so was very computer focused. I worked on design for developments and finding solutions to local problems. But now that I have come here I don’t think I am ready to work in the city. Here we have huge workshops, and space, it affects how you design.’ Then she nods towards something lurking behind a wooden screen. ‘We also have a robot.’ The robotic arm arrived in 2014 and Zachary describes it as being a ‘neutral tool’. At the end of its single, long arm you can attach any tool you might need. He enthuses: ‘so this means there is no longer the need to work with square corners and flat surfaces which is what’s usual when working with wood. Instead this robot performs like a surgeon which completely changes how you can work with wood — such as using the ‘forks’ in a tree as part of your structure.’ Much of this exciting work was initiated by Martin Self, founder of the Design + Make programme launched

in 2010 and then director of Hooke Park. Now free of the framework dome I found him attached to on my arrival, Martin is able to join us, ‘Globally it is a unique course working intimately with wood,’ he explains, ‘The aim is to understand its character, quality and implications. To understand the energy that goes into using wood. Here, we think very carefully about architecture that respects the place and materials and about continuing the legacy John Makepeace began. An architecture school with this mix of resources teaches a lot of lessons.’ As I walk around I can’t help but think, is this the future? Building and construction play a major role in our climate breakdown, accounting for nearly 40% of our energy-related CO2 emissions alone. Martin, Zachary, Chris and the highly skilled team here at Hooke Park are working hard to inspire and educate a bold new generation of the world’s architects. Seeing the students at work, joining the dots between digital design and physical form, and all the while striving to steward the very ground that provides their material, is something to behold. For many of us, working with nature is straightforward common sense. It is a wonderful thing to imagine a global industry waking up to the possibilities, and the ideas generating from this fascinating Dorset woodland taking root. The next open day at Hooke Park will be May 2 2020, for more details please visit the Hooke Park website hookepark.aaschool.ac.uk @hookepark bridporttimes.co.uk | 55


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Food & Drink

NETTLES, BUTTER & SHEEP’S CHEESE GNOCCHI Gill Meller, River Cottage

T

his lovely, wintry supper is as much about the little baked potato and sheep’s cheese gnocchi as it is about the stinging nettles and the rich, salty butter. They are equals, or partners in a delicious crime. Gnocchi take a little time to prepare, but they are worth the effort. In fact, every time I make them, I’m shocked I don’t make them more. But if time is in question, you could serve the buttery tender nettles with pasta instead; a good pappardelle would be just right.

3

Ingredients Serves 4

500g (1lb 2oz) large Désirée potatoes, all roughly the same size, scrubbed 150g (51/2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting 1 teaspoon fine salt 35g (11/4oz) hard sheep’s cheese (such as pecorino), or Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra for serving 2 egg yolks 25g (1oz) butter 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 250g (9oz) nettle tops, tough lower stalks removed salt and freshly ground black pepper Method

1 Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 6½. Bake the potatoes on the middle shelf of the oven for about 1 hour, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and, while the potatoes are still hot, halve them and spoon out the flesh into a sieve. Discard the skins. 2 To make the gnocchi, place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the salt and grated cheese and

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4

5

6 7

lightly combine. Press the warm potato through the sieve into the bowl. Then, add the egg yolks and combine everything together with a light touch. If the dough seems too wet, add a shake more flour. Tip out the gnocchi dough onto a floured surface. Shape it into a flattish rectangle, about 3cm (11/4in) thick, then use a knife to cut 3cm-wide (11/4in) lengths. Roll the lengths into sausages, each of about 1cm (1/2in) in diameter. Lay the sausages side by side, and cut them into 1.5cm-wide (5⁄8in) segments. Dust these with flour,and roll each over the tines of a fork, pressing your thumb into the back, so you have an indentation on one side and grooves on the other. Put the finished gnocchi on a flour-dusted baking tray. When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for about 2 minutes, or until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon into a large, clean pan set over a low heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Drop the nettles into the gnocchi boiling water and simmer for 2–3 minutes, until tender. Drain well – you might need to squeeze the nettles a little with the back of a spoon. Add the nettles to the pan of buttery gnocchi, season well, then toss everything together. Serve on warm plates with plenty more grated cheese and seasoning.

From Time: a year and a day in the kitchen by Gill Meller (Quadrille, £25) Photography: Andrew Montgomery gillmeller.com


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Food & Drink

LYME BAY MACKEREL

WITH HERITAGE TOMATOES, BLACK OLIVE TAPENADE & VULSCOMBE GOATS’ CHEESE Chris Chatfield, Alexandra, Lyme Regis

Image: J-Ph Baudey

60 | Bridport Times | March 2020


I

have chosen this light, springtime dish for March as I feel that we all need a good mackerel dish in our back pocket for the months to come. Those of us who love the flavours of a great tomato and a fresh fish pulled from the sea can’t go wrong with this one! Serves 4 | Prep Time 1hr | Total Time 1hr 15mins Ingredients

For the mackerel 4 fillets of mackerel 100ml water 70g salt 30g sugar Zest of 1 lemon Zest of 1 lime Zest of 1 orange For the olive tapenade 70g black olives, pitted 1 tbsp capers, drained 4 anchovies, chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 3 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped For the goats’ cheese 100g Vulscombe goats’ cheese 10g extra virgin olive oil For the heritage tomatoes 4 large heritage tomatoes 500ml water 100ml fresh fish stock or bouillon mix 50g butter 1 tsp chopped chives For the basil oil 1 bunch of fresh basil 100ml rapeseed oil

Method

For the mackerel 1 Cut each fillet of mackerel into 3 evenly-sliced pieces. Bring the water, sugar and salt to the boil to dissolve the salt and sugar and take off the heat. Add the zest of all the citrus fruits and cool in the fridge (adding 100g ice will speed this up!). When the brine is cooled, add the mackerel and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before washing off. Once the brine is washed off, dry the mackerel with kitchen towel to take away the moisture so the skin crisps up. Pre-heat the grill. Place the mackerel on a greased baking tray and lightly oil the mackerel. Grill for around 3 minutes or until the skin crisps and the flesh is opaque. For the tapenade 2 Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and pulse until you get a paste consistency. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, pulsing as you do it. Check seasoning to taste. For the heritage tomatoes 3 Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cross the tops of the tomatoes and place in the water for 30 seconds then plunge straight into ice-cold water. Peel and cut the tomatoes into desired shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, gently heat up the fish stock and butter until they are emulsified. Take off the heat and add the tomatoes. Stir for around 20 seconds then drain and add chopped chives. For the basil oil 4 Blanch one bunch of basil stems and remove after 30 seconds. Refresh into ice cold water. Heat the rapeseed oil to 65 degrees, then blend the oil and basil together in a food processor. Pass through a sieve. For the goats’ cheese 5 Crumble the goats’ cheese into desired sized pieces, add the olive oil and mix well. 6 Lay the mackerel, tomatoes and crumbled goats cheese over the tapenade. Drizzle with the basil oil, add fresh basil leaves to finish and serve immediately. hotelalexandra.co.uk

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Body & Mind

REVIVE YOUR MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT FOR THE SPRING

Nadiya Wynn, Restorative Being - Yoga and Mindfulness

‘There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits, there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer.’ (Calvin Coolidge)

S

pring is in the air, with those earthy smells after the rain, freshly cut grass and fragrant blossom. It’s got to be one of the best times of the year. Mother Nature is awakening after the long, dark winter months and so are we human beings. As the natural world awakens around us, it is a good time to shake off our winter coat and blues. The plants and trees gracefully adapt to the new season by springing into life; growing, changing colour and thriving. There is so much abundance and natural beauty during this time of year which can be easily missed if we don’t pause to see it. The uplifting, longer days and spring sunshine are an opportunity for physical and emotional spring cleaning in order to revive your mind, body and spirit. Our yoga practices can help us feel joyful and lighter as we ground, strengthen, balance and twist. Encouraging our breath to deepen and expand, we can gently begin to loosen 62 | Bridport Times | March 2020

up and let go within our practice. It’s a chance to blow out the cobwebs and cleanse the mind and body of unwanted baggage, creating space and releasing winter tension and tiredness. Yoga and mindfulness practices can help us to unravel from the colder, darker months and periods of our lives and stir to this new energy, encouraging us to be fully present and awake in each moment and permitting growth and renewal. Yoga encourages us to relax into life: to release and open through movement, meditation, breath and mantra as we peel away layers of unwanted stress, shedding tension, resistance and habits. It’s an invitation for self-discovery and acceptance. Mindfulness supports us in generating a positive attitude and mindset so we can release limiting beliefs and soothe anxiety as we emerge from one season to the next. We begin to pay attention to


Yolya Ilyasova/Shutterstock

the smaller things in life as well as noticing what no longer serves us; whether it’s a recurring thought, a knot of tension, emotions or circumstance, we loosen our grip and reduce our suffering. We learn to trust and embrace ourselves just as we are. ‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’ (Anais Nin) Nature reminds us that change is inevitable and that we’re all connected. Our natural rhythm changes with the seasons and we can honour our body and energy in ways that help us to lighten up physically, mentally and emotionally, so we can show up for life. With a sense of radiance and renewal, we can be more open to our existence and the newness of each day, month or season. Mindfully turning our attention to our breath

and allowing ourselves to breathe deeply and fully will change how we feel at any moment. Our body relaxes and releases tension as our energy begins to flow. Our parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated and our rest and digest system helps to calm and rebalance us. Our heart rate lowers, our oxygen levels increase, our mind becomes more focused and conscious deep breaths lower the production of stress hormones, so our immune system isn’t suppressed. If you’re feeling lethargic, restless or anxious and as though you’re still emerging from winter, a little bit of spring cleansing can do wonders to clear out stuck and stale energy to reawaken you. Try this exercise to release pent-up emotions from your mind and body (summary of the Simple Breath Release Exercise by J. Hall): • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. When you feel comfortable, close your eyes and settle. Become aware of your body and your breath, simply noticing them without changing or shifting anything. • How does your body feel? Do any areas feel weak or tense? • How does your breathing feel? Does it feel tight or relaxed? 1 On your next inhale, breathe in slowly and fully through your nose, filling your lungs from the bottom to the top. When you sense you are full, pause and retain the breath for a moment or two. 2 Slowly and completely exhale through your mouth, sighing your breath away and letting the weight of your body soften. 3 Repeat the slow and full inhale, this time exhaling through the mouth with a long steady ‘haaaa’ sigh. 4 On your next exhale, softly purse your lips and blow out through your mouth as if you’re blowing dust from the surface of your mind. 5 This time on your next exhale, ‘hissss’ out through your mouth like an angry snake, consciously breathing out any irritation, frustration or anger that you may be feeling. • Repeat any part of the practice to release any further tension. • Once you feel a sense of release through your body, heart and mind, let your breathing relax back to its natural flow. For more details about classes, 1-2-1’s and workshops with Nadiya, please visit her website. restorativebeing.co.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 63


Body & Mind

64 | Bridport Times | March 2020


SUPPORT IN REFUGEE CAMPS HERBAL MEDICINE IN CALAIS AND DUNKIRK Caroline Butler, BSc (Hons) MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

I

n December and February I joined Herbalists Without Borders UK on their monthly trip to northern France, taking a mobile clinic to makeshift refugee camps around Calais and Dunkirk. Hundreds of displaced people are living in patches of woodland and industrial estates, sleeping rough in the cold and damp, without access to basic sanitation. In these conditions, coughs, colds and ‘flu are the norm, and small scratches can become infected and develop into major problems. Over a few days we saw hundreds of people. On my first day we pulled up in our van to a car park on the edge of a woodland where refugees were camped, a place where volunteer agencies distribute meals, blankets and clothes. Within seconds a crowd had gathered as we set up a tea urn full of hot lemon and ginger, got out boxes of cough syrup and chest rubs and organised the First Aid station. It quickly became obvious that most people had either a respiratory infection or some kind of wound. I would run through a brief case history and examine them, using a mixture of sign language and English. Often one of the refugees would stay with us for hours, translating for everyone. Then I would give them herbal remedies or refer them to the free clinic for further examination and treatment. For respiratory infections we gave out herbal cough syrup, a blend of antimicrobial and expectorant herbs such as fennel, cinnamon and elecampane, infused in vegetable glycerine and then mixed with a soothing decoction of marshmallow root. This gloopy mixture coats sore throats, protecting inflamed tissue, while helping to fight off infection and clear mucous from the lungs. We usually paired it with a chest rub of herbs which had been infused in oil and then thickened with beeswax to make an ointment for rubbing onto the chest and back to ease congestion. Thyme, bay leaves, mullein and mustard seed all work together to improve circulation, break down mucous and expel it from the lungs. Essential oils of eucalyptus, camphor, thyme and frankincense help the herbs to penetrate further. We also

used an anti-microbial vinegar made of 10-20 different herbs infused in apple cider vinegar. The wounds we saw were mostly a mixture of bruises and sprains from falling from lorries or being beaten by the French CRS, or infections from being unable to keep cuts clean. We gave out bruise ointment made with comfrey, St John’s wort, arnica and wintergreen, and cleaned and dressed countless wounds using a mixture of myrrh and calendula tinctures, diluted in water. This is strongly antiseptic and the resins in the myrrh create a protective seal over damaged tissue. Herbal medicine is used in many different countries and cultures. The boxes of lemon, garlic and ginger that we provided were familiar to most people, who knew their value as food and medicine. There are obvious limitations though. I talked to one man who wanted help with his cough. I ran through the usual questions and asked when it started. ‘Two months ago,’ he said. ‘Two months?’ I replied. ‘Have you been to the clinic?’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘they gave me pills but that didn’t help’ and then he explained. Two months previously he had been in a boat, trying to get to the UK. It sank and he was soaked. It was two days before he could get dry and he had been sleeping outside ever since. He told me this at about 4pm in December when it was so cold my fingers weren’t working properly. All the usual advice I would give patients was useless – stay warm and dry, rest a lot, eat warm and easy to digest food, drink lots of hot drinks. No amount of medicine, pharmaceutical or herbal, is a substitute for a roof over your head. HWB UK is a voluntary organisation providing first aid, preventative medicine, self-care support and help with accessing healthcare services. For more information or to donate please visit the website. Caroline will be holding herbal medicine-making workshops for HWB UK in March/April. Phone 07956 780849 or email herbal.caroline@gmail.com herbalistswithoutborders.co.uk

bridporttimes.co.uk | 65


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bridporttimes.co.uk | 67


Gardening

PEAS AND BROAD BEANS Will Livingstone, WillGrow

Pisum sativum

Vicia faba

Peas are the ultimate garden snack. Wandering through the garden, plucking pods and popping peas is the best way to enjoy them at their absolute sweetest. They come in many forms, from deliciously sweet sugar snaps to big, meaty drying peas. They can be grown successfully as an early or late crop in the greenhouse as well as outside in the warming months of spring. The beginning of the screen of green starts with pea tops - I usually have a bag full of leftover peas from the previous season; if you have saved your own seed you’ll have plenty too. Draw a wide drill into a prepared seedbed in February, undercover, about 15cm wide and 2-3cm deep. Simply scatter the surplus peas into the drill, roughly 3cm apart and rake over or cover with compost. In a couple of weeks you’ll see the powerful little seedlings pushing through and in another week you’ll be able to pick delicious pea tops to jazz up your salads. This method works well as a catch crop between rows, making it a good use of empty space. I begin the main sowing of spring peas in early March. You can sow all the way until June but, as peas prefer cooler weather, the earlier plants tend to do better. I sow into root trainers (long, slim pots that can be opened like a book). This gives the legumes a chance to stretch their legs and, when it comes to planting out, it avoids disturbing the roots. Direct sowing of peas can be risky, as all manner of pests find them as delicious as we do. I usually wait for the peas to have reached approximately 10cm in height before planting out into a fertile, free-draining bed. This will ensure your plants get off to a good start. It is advisable to have your support structure in place before you plant your peas. I like to use the twiggy tops of coppiced hazel, as this provides the support needed for their searching tendrils. Chicken wire or netting staked in a vertical row can work well too. As the peas grow up, they may need a little help to grab on initially but soon they’ll be reaching for the skies. Harvest the peas regularly as this will encourage more flowering and will increase production.

As a child, I was lucky enough to have homegrown, organic vegetables every day, although I’m not sure I appreciated it at the time! My parents grew all manner of delicious produce from our home garden and their village allotment. Freshly dug new potatoes in the spring, tomatoes and courgettes in the summer and fronds of fennel in the autumn. There was one vegetable I didn’t look forward to however… large, mealy, dullish grey and always left on the plant too long. Broad beans were never my favourite, nor anybody’s favourite for that matter. Years later at River Cottage, one of the chefs made a warm salad of broad beans picked young, simply dressed with goats’ cheese crumbled on top. I never looked back, and they are now one of my all-time favourite vegetables to grow and eat, with space for them in any garden I tend. You can grow broad beans in two different ways, overwintered or spring sown. In a large garden I would suggest both. Sow broad bean seed direct (20cm apart) into a well-prepared seedbed in October. I usually plant a double row 30cm apart and 50cm between the double rows. This will give you room to walk down and pick. The seeds will germinate and grow on using the last of the autumn heat and will put on approximately 10cm of growth before it gets really cold. They’ll overwinter happily and start to grow again when the weather warms up in the spring. As the beans grow, the plants will need some support. Having overwintered the beans in this way means you can get an early crop, filling the hungry gap. By avoiding growing them into the summer, you will avoid the blackfly season completely. Sowing some beans in February will give you a successional crop in the summer and a long picking period. As blackfly proliferate in the early summer, pinching out the top 10cm of the plant once it starts to flower will remove the habitat for the aphid to live and breed. Companion planting with nasturtiums can help lure the insects away from the beans. Spring-sown beans are at risk of being eaten by mice, so raising new-sown seed on a potting bench will help prevent them having a munch. For direct-sown seed, fleecing the seed in colder areas will help with germination and can stop the rodents too. willgrow.co.uk

68 | Bridport Times | March 2020


bridporttimes.co.uk | 69


Gardening

Image: Katharine Davies

70 | Bridport Times | March 2020


OLD HABITS, NEW THINKING

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Charlie Groves, Groves Nurseries

ew year’s resolutions, Dry January, Veganuary… the start of the year seems to be a time for trying new things and giving them up. This year I have been without a car since January. I would like to say that it was for some noble environmental cause but actually it went in for an MOT and needed a new clutch and gearbox! I thought I couldn’t possibly live without it so I started looking for a new car straightaway, however I couldn’t find something that I could afford at such short notice so, my wife and I came up with a plan to get us through the first week. This rolled into the second week and before we knew it, we realised that it wasn’t so bad after all. I ride my bike to work, we still have Emily’s car for the school runs, and the children go to breakfast club so that she can still get to work on time. Admittedly I now get chauffeured around like ‘Lord Muck’ when necessary but it’s balanced out by riding my bike to work in all weathers. This has shown me that it’s easy to think we really need a thing when actually it’s just habit and, with a little bit of thought, it is easy to get on without any hardship. We have been thinking a lot lately about how to make Groves more environmentally friendly and also how to make it easier for our customers to take the lead in their gardens. You would think that gardening would be naturally environmentally friendly and the best thing you can do to improve the environment and, on the whole, it is. However, when you are up close and personal to nature in the way that you are in the garden, you have to be a bit careful about what you are doing. When it comes to controlling pests and weeds in the garden, it’s all too easy to reach for a spray to try and kill whatever is causing the problem. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, it will have been hard not to have noticed that there has been much controversy over certain weedkillers and pesticides. Whilst there can always be cases argued for and against these, I believe that there is quite a bit we can do before having to resort to using pesticides in the garden. Prevention is better than cure. Choosing the right plant for the right spot and using an appropriate feed (and water) will cut down a plant’s stress dramatically. Like us humans, less stress means they are less prone to pests and diseases. Experts at your local garden centre or nursery will be able to help you choose the best plants for your garden. When it comes to weeding, I love a bit of hoeing! I always find actually getting out in the garden quite hard for some reason but once I am out there I don’t want to go back in. The great thing about weeding is that it’s a good gateway activity to getting out in the garden; a good simple job that always seems to need doing and is really satisfying. Once I have started weeding, I always find other jobs to do while I’m out but hoeing is the one that always gets me going. Personally, I think there are times when it is OK to use chemicals; sometimes there are stubborn weeds amongst other plants and a good systemic weedkiller is the most effective way to control the situation. I also think they have a place in farming when producing food in the most economical way possible but, for the hobby gardener, there are many alternatives to chemical controls. Embrace the task of weeding and give the hoe a go! Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s blowing a hoolie outside and hammering down with rain, so I’d better don the waterproofs before I ride my bike home! grovesnurseries.co.uk

bridporttimes.co.uk | 71


Community

TRANSITION TOWN BRIDPORT

FASHION REBELLION

S

Rosie Allsop

tartling but true, the fashion industry produces more greenhouse gases than aviation and shipping combined, and this is set to rise. Since 2000, the amount of clothing bought in the UK has doubled and 60% of it ends up in landfill within 12 months. A rubbish truck of clothes is burned or land-filled every single second. The most commonly used fibre in our clothing is polyester; it requires serious quantities of oil to produce and sheds fibre every time it is washed. It takes 200+ years to decompose. Cotton isn’t perfect either. Annually, two billion pairs of jeans are produced, each pair requiring 7000 litres of water, not to mention the chemicals and fertilisers which have been used, all of which damage the natural world. Over the next few weeks Transition Town will be inviting people to join the global Fashion Revolution, which was started after the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed 1138 garment workers. Fashion Revolution focusses on the high human and environmental cost of the clothing industry, with its exploitation and subsistence wages. Handling chemical fabric dyes endangers employees’ health and that of their unborn children, all to provide the West with increasingly cheaper clothes which we discard so easily! With these dreadful statistics ringing in our ears it will feel good to do something about it. Consumers have the power to make the change and eliminate fast fashion. We must protect our planet’s resources by asking the right questions: how our clothes are made and where. We must buy fewer but better, ethical, sustainable and responsibly made clothes, and then pass the word on. It’s time to fall in love with our 72 | Bridport Times | March 2020

clothes, have fun with our personal style with a new approach and enjoy having a wardrobe with a cause! Transition Town (Bridport's Fashion Revolution Campaign) events will explain the environmental and social issues, and suggest solutions. Come to Soulshine Cafe in South Street on 5th March for ‘Love your Clothes’ to share a story about a garment you treasure. ‘Get Swishing’ at a clothes swap on 17th March at the Youth Centre. Bring something you no longer want and go home with something you do! Come with something you might like to keep but need to mend or change to ‘Mending Our Ways’ on 26th March at the United Church, where experienced, local, upcycling experts can show you what to do to change or repair something you already have. You could sign up for sewing lessons or find out where to get your old sewing machine repaired. For those who like a challenge, spend no more than £20 in a local charity shop and create a new outfit. You might find yourself on the catwalk at our Finale on 24th April in the Arts Centre and could win a prize! For 13-18 year olds and activists of the future there's a workshop on how to find their voice on 29th March at Glow, 15 Foundry Lane, and for those who love a good quiz or raffle you need to be at the Ropemakers on the evening of 31st March. Fashion lives to express, delight, protest, comfort and share but this can‘t happen at the expense of the wider world. We will always love our clothes but we need to find a way to help our planet, and still enjoy them. So let‘s rebel! transitiontownbridport.co.uk


MORE TREES PLEASE DIARY OF A TREE PLANTER

Joe Hackett, Co-ordinator, Bridport Tree Planting

S

uddenly trees are headline news. Millions are promised to capture carbon and benefit diversity in a time of climate emergency. So how is the local campaign shaping up? Monday

A landowner from Whitchurch Canonicorum contacted me saying that he wanted to plant an acre of trees and asking what density he should aim for. I warned him that the rabbit guards we provide are not enough protection against deer. Friday

I take 100 saplings - sessile oak, dogwood, blackthorn, hawthorn, horse chestnut - to a site near Melplash where the owners are already growing 5000 trees and planting more. A whole hillside is covered in little trees: alders and silver birch seem to have grown best. Four young people are planting at two-metre intervals. It is misty and the weather is cold but they stick at the task cheerfully. Sunday

Deep in the woods above Powerstock, five students from Colfox Academy are fighting brambles to plant baby oaks and hornbeams in gaps under taller trees. It’s raining heavily, a winter Sunday afternoon. One of them is being sponsored and is soon off to Costa Rica on an eco-mission.

We are asked many questions; here are some from this week. Is it worth dipping roots in mycorrhizal powder before planting? Is it ever going to be dry enough to plant the new hedge in Asker Meadows? Have we any more crab apples - a popular tree to plant in back gardens to give away? Bird cherry - how big will it grow? Meanwhile, our small steering committee, under the umbrella of West Dorset Friends of the Earth, prepares for our tree day starting at 1.30pm on Saturday 14th March at the United Church in East Street. It will be an afternoon of tree celebration: an identification quiz, short films by Dan Snow about the benefits of trees, expert advice from Groves Nurseries who have given us fruit trees to be raffled off, free cake, the chance to take away a free tree for your garden, an art event in which you can draw your own tree for public display and, at the end, a musical procession of children to plant more trees in Asker Meadows. We helped to plant more than 200 there in December. The Tree Planting Festival is the first event in the fortnight long Blueprint Festival curated by the Bridport local community, see porteast.eventbrite.co.uk for details. For the future, the Bridport Tree Plan is emerging. Take a look on the Bridport Town Council website. bridport-tc.gov.uk/bridport-area-tree-plan/ joe@thehacketts.uk bridporttimes.co.uk | 73


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Philosophy

TRUTH

T

Kelvin Clayton, Philosophy in Pubs

ruth be told, I’m not sure that I know, definitively, what truth is, or what the concept means. I phrase it like this because, on the one hand, I, along with the vast majority of people, have what I take to be an intuitive grasp of the truth, or what I take to be the truth, of any situation. Or at the very least I can use the word in a meaningful way. On the other hand, if I’m forced to closely examine what I mean by any utterance, contradictions or uncertainties are quickly exposed. Imagine being the witness to a crime and under cross-examination in a court of law by a good barrister. Does your statement refer to an event or state of affairs that actually existed? If so, to what degree does your statement correspond to that state of affairs? And how can you be sure? Or does your statement say more about your own world view, about how you interpret the world or how you interpreted the event you observed? Perhaps I should also confess to not having given much consideration to the concept until it came under examination at the January meeting of the Bridport Philosophy in Pubs Group. We adopted a standard philosophical approach to such a discussion and reviewed the main theories of truth. Of these, the best known is the correspondence theory – an approach that broadly aligns to the first of the above interpretations of our cross-examination. To my thinking at least, the main problem with this approach is the belief that there exists an actual objective state of affairs that directly corresponds to a statement, a fact or collection of facts that can only be understood one way, and that it is possible to know what this correct, unambiguous understanding is. Another theory of truth (the coherence theory) claims that a statement is true to the degree that is coheres with the world view of the person making the statement, and broadly aligns with the second interpretation of the cross-examination. I found myself supporting this approach more than the others (and several other theories were mentioned) but accept that it probably lacks the objective rigour we demand of truth. However, following a very interesting and intense discussion and a period of reflection, I think that I want to adopt an existential position. Such an approach accepts that we humans have a deep need for meaning, purpose and certainty, that our evolutionary success has resulted from a belief in an objective reality that allows us to plan and predict how the world will behave, and that our concept of truth is a consequence of this existential need. However, the paradox of our existence is that such meaning, purpose and certainty does not actually exist; that ultimately it is a piece of human fiction – albeit an absolutely vital piece of fiction. The value of such an approach (apart from being true!) is that it both acknowledges the centrality of the concept to human affairs but prevents us becoming too dogmatic regarding our own attitude to any particular truth. The Bridport Philosophy in Pubs group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month in The George Hotel, South Street at 7.30pm. Anyone can attend and propose a topic for discussion. Attending the discussion is free and there is no need for any background knowledge of philosophy. All that’s required is an open mind and a desire to examine issues more closely than usual. For further details, email Kelvin Clayton at kelvin. clayton@icloud.com

76 | Bridport Times | March 2020


Literature

LITERARY REVIEW Nicky Mathewson, The Bookshop

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Pan Macmillan, 2020) RRP: £14.99 Bridport Times reader price of £12.99 available from The Bookshop, South Street

T

his story was inspired by real events that took place on Christmas Eve 1617. On a remote Norwegian island called Vardo, unprecedented loss and the need to survive drives a community of women to fend for themselves in a time when a woman’s place is firmly in the homestead. A malevolent visitor proves to be the undoing of their ingenuity and resilience, taking ruthless steps to bring them to heel. The story opens with a dream about a whale beached on the rocks. In her dream, Maren climbs down to it and rests her eye against its eye, taking it in her arms. All the while, the menfolk are hacking and sawing at it before it has even stopped moving. Could this be a portent, a foreshadowing of dark things to come? Superstition dwells at the heart of this small community; when an almighty storm claims the lives of all the male villagers, the grieving women struggle to find answers for such a catastrophe. A whale was seen swimming upside down the day the men went to sea and surely must have been sent by the devil himself to lure them to their watery graves. The women have no choice but to become selfsufficient, having relied on their husbands, sons and fathers to provide for them. If they don’t, they’ll starve but the idea is so unholy to some that they remain pious and pray that help will be sent. Help is sent by the Lensman of Vardohus county,

who follows orders from King Christian IV. It arrives in the shape of a cold, ambitious man; Absalom Cornet, and his new, young wife Ursa. The story follows Ursa’s journey from her sheltered home in Norway to this barren island full of independent women and that of Maren who dwells there and has lost her father, brother and betrothed. More than that though, she has lost the connection with her mother and sister-in-law and couldn’t feel more alone in her grief. Life for the residents of Vardo is about to change in ways no one could have predicted, and King Christian’s desire to prove himself to the world in merciless ways will shock them to the core. Having read all of Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s books for children and young adults, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I had high expectations for The Mercies, her first novel for adults. I am thrilled to report that this is her best work yet and simply blew me away! I was immediately transported to the cold, remote island and could feel the overwhelming sense of loss. I could smell the drying herbs, feel the ice-cold wind and the desperation that fills the air. I found it raw and emotional, however there is incredible beauty at the heart of this novel. I think Kiran has surpassed herself. dorsetbooks.com bridporttimes.co.uk | 77


Literature

Curlew Kerrie Ann Gardner

RED SIXTY SEVEN

F

Sara Hudston, Writer

orty years ago, there were 40 million more wild birds in the UK. What a loss! In the Marshwood Vale, where I live, there were once nightingales in the coppices and skylarks in the meadows. They are long gone, eliminated by changes in farming practices. Both species are now on the UK Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern. More than a quarter of British bird species are facing extinction or steep decline. Habitat loss, pesticide use and the increasingly chaotic climate are the chief causes. RSPB research shows that by 1990 we had lost half the population of our farmland birds. By 2010 it had halved again. Are you one of the few people still reading this? It’s understandable if you want to give up and turn away in despair. The temptation to ignore the environmental crisis often sends me scurrying to the Pursuit of Hoppiness to hunker down with my friends. You see, I’ve got solastalgia, and yes, it’s painful. Solastalgia is the distress caused by environmental change in places you know well. Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the word to describe, ‘the homesickness you have when still at home.’ In my writing, I pay close attention to the landscape and living world around Bridport, so I notice what’s happening. It’s not a separate world from us – we are part of a community that includes all the beings in the area, the human and the more than human. That means not only the

78 | Bridport Times | March 2020


big, obvious creatures such as foxes, oak trees or ravens but also the tiny, squishy things; the fungi, lichens and insects. I’m particularly fond of toads – have you ever looked into the burning bronze of a toad’s eye? There are so many people around here who see nature in a similar way, and lots of them are incredibly knowledgeable. I think Bridport is in the vanguard of a profound cultural and psychological shift. Significantly, Bridport was one of the first places in the country to form an Extinction Rebellion (XR) group. XR Bridport started in late autumn 2018 and held a Rebellion Day in the town in March last year, before the big protests started in London. I’m part of XR and in the last year I’ve been out demonstrating. While XR and the Fridays for Future youth strikes have done an amazing job in pushing environmental issues onto the political agenda, nothing has changed. And with that thought, despair kicks in again. There is so much to do and so little we can influence. It may be too late. Perhaps our task is to live with that knowledge, to save what we can and memorise what we are losing, so at least we can take the stories and images with us. That’s one reason I was so keen to contribute to the Red Sixty-Seven book. This wonderful project was created by birder Kit Jewitt from Northumberland. He asked 67 writers and 67 artists to each choose one of the 67 red-listed bird species and produce new pieces of work. Contributors gave their work for free and all of the profits are being donated to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the RSPB to further their work with UK Red-listed birds. I chose to write about the cirl bunting, a rare South West species that’s only found on the Torbay coast and a few Cornish sites. The cirl bunting offers hope as well as despair. Conservation projects by the RSPB and local landowners mean there are now more than 1,000 breeding pairs, up from only 118 in 1989. That’s wonderful. On the other hand, this used to be one of the commonest birds in the country, seen everywhere from Cornwall to Cumbria, even in towns. Numbers started declining from the 1930s, plunging in the 1970s. Modern farming methods caused this devastation by eradicating weedy winter stubbles and grasshopper-rich summer meadows. Cirls were especially vulnerable to the changes because they weren’t able to expand their foraging range. Pairs spend their lives in one small zone, moving no more than a mile between breeding and wintering areas. They are dependent on the features of a specific place: this hedge, that meadow. Reduce the land’s diversity and you lose not only the cirl bunting but also other birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, plants and insects, all connected in a web of belonging. Some of these creatures may be able to adapt or go elsewhere. Many cannot. Seen this way, cirl bunting are more than an avian species. They are fugitive spirits of place, emblems of a lost genius loci that we have un-homed from its haunts. Perhaps the lesson of the cirl bunting is to do all we can for everyone in our communities, human and more than human, and try to live together without mirages of hope, or despair. Sara writes about the living world and spirit of place in the South West of England. She is a Guardian Country Diarist and contributes to the TLS and Dark Mountain. Red Sixty-Seven (RRP £19.99) can be ordered directly from the BTO by visiting the Red Sixty-Seven shop on their website. bto.org sarahudston.co.uk

bridporttimes.co.uk | 79


Literature

EXTRACT

GHOST TOWN Jeff Young, (Little Toller Books), £16

I

n Ghost Town, Jeff Young takes us on a journey through haunted places of memory and loss, summoning the ghosts of loved ones and long-departed heroes who somehow still occupy the disappearing nooks and ruins of the city. Walking through the last remnants of the places he remembers from his childhood, walking through grief, we are accompanied by a Liverpool of revenants, where Malcolm Lowry drinks in derelict saloons, Thomas De Quincey still roams the Everton hills, Bob Dylan sits in a doorway on Dublin Street, and where visionary architects, poets, punks and dreamers act out a bittersweet shadowplay of longing and loss. Ghost Town is a deeply personal book of remembering and forgetting, yet when we cross its threshold we also discover the labyrinth of a master storyteller, whose unforgettable characters gather in our thoughts like moths around lamplight. Chapter One - Gutted Arcades

My mother liked to trespass – she didn’t call it trespassing, she called it having a nose. We’d have a look round the Corn Exchange or go up the back stairs of an insurance building, slip into the Oriel Chambers and sort of just… breathe. We were breathing in Victorian dust and the pipe smoke of Dickensian ledger clerks; drinking in shadows and gloom and beams of light. We’d stand on fire escapes and gaze across the rooftops. I was short-trousered and eight years old and I was madly in love – with a city. We used to watch the Watchers, the old men standing at demolition sites. Flat caps, raincoats, smokers coughing and spitting. They were mute witnesses to death, and their grief at the end-days of vanished places that meant so much was palpable. I’d watch them with my mother, who was teaching me the city: it was a living thing that needed our protection and love and the way to do this was to walk its sandstone pavements and just drink it all in. Memorise it. The city was a collage of thrilling dissonance – Victorian splendour, a Lancashire Chicago, May Blitz bomb sites next to collapsing slums and Viennese-style tenements, bang next to the 1960s science-fiction eyesore of the shopping precinct, the banal Futuropolis of some deranged city planner. We’d walk for hours through a Liverpool seemingly ripped, torn and riveted together again, a bricolaged city of back-alley labyrinths, cigarette kiosks, strange arcades and collapsing fruit

80 | Bridport Times | March 2020


warehouses; of dusty bookshops, oyster bars and sooty railway stations. But most of all, I remember the cinema queues in the rain on Lime Street, just like the black-umbrella queue in Distant Voices, Still Lives – it was a city always more beautiful in the rain. This city is my muse; its unruliness and awkwardness, its rebellious spirit, its ugliness and beauty filter into the stories I write and make the work wayward and disruptive. I have written characters inspired by the particular atmospheres of certain back alleys and ruined buildings. I have tried to imbue a story with the melancholy beauty of Liverpool’s psychedelic sunsets. I had the feeling – still have the feeling – that the city was a living novel and we were walking through its pages. When I was a child it was a pop-up book. When I was older it was Dickensian, or a sprawling Scouse Ulysses, full of mystery and gassing and mad characters and adventure. My mother and I were characters in a book being written by some unseen author. Each walk was a chapter, each building was a paragraph, and the spaces in between the words were alleyways and streets. The margins were the river and sky and the pages were alive with the thronging crowd. My hand in my mother’s hand, we slipped through the great adventure. When I read this city-book now, its pages come alive with images that shimmer and loom… there’s the old man wrestling with a conger eel on the ferrylanding stage and there’s me seesawing on a gangplank, with my Billy Fury quiff. When I was seventeen I picked up a copy of Malcolm Lowry’s Ultramarine in a bookshop in Exchange Station – a station used by Lowry, en route to Norway in 1931 – and I discovered that Lowry had been a haunter of Liverpool’s streets and cinemas, too. He knew the places my mother knew, he rode the Mersey ferry in the rain as we did, went to the same theatres and picture houses. He describes his hero, his alter-ego, Dana Hilliot: “His whole being was drowning in memories, the smells of Birkenhead and of Liverpool were again heavily about him, there was a coarse glitter in the cinema fronts, children stared at him strangely from the porches of public houses. Janet would be waiting for him at the Crosville bus stop… while silver straws of rain gently pattered on the green roof… ‘Where shall we go? The Hippodrome or the Argyle?... I’ve heard there’s a good show on at the Scala.’” When I read this in 1975, I got that short-circuit feeling I get when a book makes a direct connection with my own life. Malcolm Lowry went to the Scala, where I went to Saturday matinees! Malcolm Lowry rode Crosville buses! The same ones we took home from Skelhorne Street. He even mentioned Great Homer Street, where my dad had a stall selling junk at the indoor rag market. He later writes: “At half-past seven, by the clock on the Liver Buildings, he returns on the ferry from Liverpool… he smokes his pipe in silence… Outside it has started to rain again, a colourless dusty rain… Liverpool sweeps away from him in a great arc. Through the rain-scarred windows he watches Liverpool become rain…” If I’d always felt the city was a novel, here was proof. Malcolm Lowry rides the Mersey Ferry, the same Royal Daffodil we’d take across the river to Seacombe! I remember the excitement of sailing on that very boat, watching as we surged home towards Liverpool and waiting for my favourite moment, when the boat buffered up against the enormous tractor tyres hanging off the landing stage. And the trips on the old New Brighton ferry, often with my grandfather, and the walks along the promenade watching the teddy boys flirt with girls clustered around the gallopers and waltzers. Jeff Young is a writer for theatre, radio and screen whose TV credits include Eastenders, Holby City, CBBC and Casualty. He broadcasts essays for Radio 3, collaborates with artists and musicians on sound art installations and has worked on many arts projects in Liverpool and elsewhere, including a residency in Bill Drummond’s Curfew Tower. He is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the Screen School of Liverpool John Moores University. littletoller.co.uk

bridporttimes.co.uk | 81


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Bridport Times March 2020  

Featuring Hooke Park + What's On, Arts & Culture, History, Wild Dorset, Outdoors, Archaeology, Food & Drink, Body & Mind, Home, Garden, Lite...

Bridport Times March 2020  

Featuring Hooke Park + What's On, Arts & Culture, History, Wild Dorset, Outdoors, Archaeology, Food & Drink, Body & Mind, Home, Garden, Lite...