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THESTOURTONCAUNDLER ISSUE NO. 118 MARCH 2014 *********************************************************************
THE STOURTON CAUNDLER team Eric Dummett Jane Colville Derek Corlett Chris Holdstock
Chairman Distribution Arts Secretary
Gerry Holdstock Richard Miles Tim Villiers Marjo Walker
Webmaster Photography Editor Advertising
Please present all contributions for the next issue to the Editor by 12 noon on 19 March 2014 by e-mail if possible. E-mail address : [email protected] Please use only “Word” document format (.doc or .docx) when sending contributions.
More Weather and Some Birds The recent rains and high winds have inevitably affected our lives over the past few weeks. But, while some buildings have been damaged and trees lost, we have been less seriously affected as a community than many others; the flooded Somerset Levels and the ground water oozing out of the saturated chalk in Hampshire are examples of what others are having to cope with. But we have all had enough and look forward to better times. However and not surprisingly, a number of the articles in this issue refer to the recent weather! Richard Miles meticulous scientific observations on page 14 show why there is a problem, while Margaret Waddingham admits to remaining largely indoors to avoid the worst of the storms. Others, such as Neil Gillard, have been out and about and his ‘twitching’ article on page 9 shows just what is around, if only we keep our eyes open and have the knowledge to know what we are seeing. As usual, we hope that you enjoy the eclectic mix which follows. The Grand Draw, December 2013 – an Apology When commenting last month that 2013 ended with a flourish, I failed to ensure that the highly successful Grand Draw was properly reported in the magazine; I apologise. The aim of the draw was to raise funds for the church, by offering a relatively limited number of attractive seasonal prizes so that everyone would want to buy tickets – and buy tickets was what everyone certainly did – 1,750 of them in fact, with purchasers coming from both within and outside the village. Margaret and Colin McKay were persuaded to undertake the organisation, which they did with their customary enthusiasm, skill and style. A wonderful array of prizes was assembled, all being donated by many generous village residents who are too numerous to name, and a number of local commercial donors who are listed below. We are extremely grateful to them all for their generosity. When it comes to selling tickets the McKays are in a class of their own and they sold more than half the tickets themselves by calling on village residents at home, being in The Trooper at appropriate times and distance selling many by post. Others, too, polished their persuasive skills and found buyers who were attracted by the range of attractive prizes. The draw itself was held towards the end of the Quiz Night on 7 December, while the judges were computing and checking the quiz scores. While many draw prize-winners were in the room, others were not and so for the record a complete list of winners is shown on page 6. Prize donors: ASDA; Blue Vinny Cheeses; Brunsell Farm (turkeys); Castle Gardens Sherborne; The Cooperative, Sturminster Newton; Else, Butchers; Fudges of Stalbridge; Hall & Woodhouse; Harts of Stur; The Kings Arms, East Stour; Marshes, Sturminster Newton; Morrisons; Oceania Stalbridge; Seafoods of Stalbridge; Williams Florists. Tim Villiers
Village Hall ‘100’ Club Monthly Draw The draw took place on 13 February 2014 at The Trooper. The winners were: First Prize: £21.00 No.53 Euphan Scott Second Prize: £18.00 No.78 Zena Clough Third Prize: £15.00 No.137 Ray Foot The next monthly draw will be on Wednesday, 12 March at about 9pm at The Trooper. Anna Oliver
It’s Broadband... but Not as We Know It Superfast Broadband is being rolled out in Dorset. This is being implemented under a contract between Dorset County Council and BT and should deliver connection speeds of at least 24 Mbps to over 95% of Dorset premises by the end of 2016. Stourton Caundle is included in this plan, although there may be outlying areas of the parish that are not. N.B. We are not in the first tranche of installations, but our area is shown as being upgraded by summer 2016. This does not mean we will all have fibre-optic connections, but the plan is for fibre-optics to connect from the exchange to the green BT cabinets in local areas, and from there it will be delivered to individuals via copper. The contract was signed in July 2013 and the first phase of implementation takes place during this spring and will cover areas of South Dorset including Bridport and Weymouth. Then six-month phases will be undertaken with roll-out between 2014 and 2016. Details on: http://www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast Gerry Holdstock
50/50 Sale If you couldn’t attend this event on Saturday, 1 February then you missed some amazing items for sale. If you were there, then I hope you went home with a well-deserved bargain and enjoyed a cup of tea and sausage/bacon roll or a slice of home-made cake. The day was blessed with blue skies and bright sunshine. The organisers worked hard on Friday night setting up the stalls and preparing the kitchen. On Saturday, the queue started to build an hour and a half before the doors opened….the advertising had paid off and news had filtered beyond our compact village limits. The items available were eclectic, diverse and all generously donated, ranging from some covetable pieces of furniture and antiques, pictures, jewellery, child’s tractor, trampoline, bicycles (including a pristine road bike), lawn mowers and garden furniture, electrical items (a record player AND records – who remembers Rod Stewart’s 1978 music??), miscellaneous ‘treasures’ AND, of course, the ‘awesome’ (sorry, too many years in Texas results in words that grate on British ears!! – again, sorry!) bacon or sausage rolls, cups of tea and the cakes and cookies. A big thank-you to all the hard-working organisers, donors and, above all to all those who supported the effort by generously buying the items and contributing to the church funds – THANK YOU, ALL!! At an early count we have contributed over £450 to the church fund…High-5 to all !! Chris Stobie
New Arrivals We welcome to the village: Jane Westbrook at Berry Cottage; Joan and Neville Chard at The Beeches, Rowden Mill Lane.
Naturally Thinking This is rather a bird-filled article this month. It has rained so much that I have preferred to stay indoors and watch them rather than walk around and look for anything else. I was feeling quite smug when I read a lot of letters, both in the daily paper and the BVM, about the lack of birds in people’s gardens. My smugness vanished about a month ago when all the birds vanished from our garden too. When I say ’all’, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but certainly a good number. The tits remained but of the others there were only a handful of goldfinches and a few sparrows. We had one or two fleeting visits from long -tailed tits and one little coal tit but otherwise the garden remained unnaturally still and quiet. Even the sparrows seemed to vanish from the lonicera hedge. They used to sit in its shelter with their heads poking out – we’ve counted over 20 at a time – but I think they either decided that the hedge was over-populated or else found another one. During the day we have a couple of dunnocks, chaffinches, robins, sometimes a couple of lovelorn pigeons, a blackbird or two, and the occasional drop-in by the thrush, who still sings in all but the worst of the storms. The weather, if that was the problem, didn’t deter the rooks. I counted 30 + in nearby trees early one morning and quite a few of them feeding on the ground in the neighbouring garden. They seem to have been gathering in larger and larger numbers all around us for several months now – in fact, I’m half expecting a rookery to appear nearby any moment. Could this be the reason for the sudden departure of so many of the smaller birds? Perhaps they’re intimidated by these great black flocks circling in the skies above them. One point in a letter from someone in a neighbouring village commented on the lack of any wild life of any sort, even when she took the dog for a walk. Perhaps this was her problem. Unless she and the dog were really quiet, it wouldn’t be unusual for everything on four legs (or two with wings) either to make a run for it or just hide, very, very quietly. I had a really interesting call from Janie one afternoon this week. Aware that there were unusual movements opposite, she reached for her binoculars and watched in amazement as a kestrel did its best to pull a collared dove up the bank. A couple of cars went past without it being put off, and it was only when another went by much faster that the bird slithered down onto the road with its claws embedded in the dove. She had the bird book in front of her so had a positive identification. Next day all that was left was a pile of feathers, so it had probably come back to finish its meal. This is most unusual behaviour for a kestrel which usually hovers over grass and dive bombs down on little things like voles, mice, earthworms or frogs, or, in towns, the occasional sparrow. It’s most unusual for it to hover around in a spot like this, by the bend near Janie’s house, and without a grass verge, and then plunge down on something that is almost its own size. Perhaps one explanation is that the collared dove had already been knocked slightly senseless by a car – we have often come across birds dicing with death near here. Perhaps the kestrel, which was just passing by, spotted it and thinking it was a good free lunch tried to haul it up the bank to the privacy of the hedge. Janie also reported on a skylark singing on the track off Holt Lane. Considering the weather we’ve been having, this is a bit of magic. Last year I first reported on them in April, though doubtless they had been singing away when I wasn’t there to hear them. When we were in Devon, I used to hear them singing with the buzzards from the top of the moor near us on mild days in February. I’ve never heard them this early here. Has anyone had any problem with fat balls recently? We gave up buying them for a while because the manufacturers suddenly seemed to have stuffed them with sawdust which no self-respecting bird would touch. After several conversations with the shop where we got them from, they restocked with fresh ones and although they don’t seem to contain the same amount of rubbish, the birds still aren’t too interested in them. Birds aren’t daft, are they? A pretty little golden leaved tree has finally gone to meet its maker after 15 years happily growing in a pot. Since we’ve been here, we had it just outside the French windows and hung it with delicacies but its sudden removal threw at least one of the remaining sparrows into a bit of a tizz. We watched as it flew out of the hedge the following day, hovered for a moment or two over the tree that was no more, then flew back into the hedge looking decidedly put out. We’ll be replacing the tree as soon as the weather improves and I expect the birds will soon remember where the feeders are. PS: The little may tree, under planted with cyclamen and snowdrops almost opposite the turning to the village hall, looks a picture. Thank you Nikki and Marjo who have worked so hard to make it look so beautiful. Margaret Waddingham
Birding in Stourton Caundle - a January Jaunt In December my son told me about something called ‘Footit’ which he had learned about via Twitter – I understand that this is a social media site, rather than a noise made by a sparrow! The idea involved walking in one’s local area, no more than one mile from home, and recording every species of bird seen during January. So, I decided to have a go at the challenge around Stourton Caundle – although I was too late to register on the website. My mile radius included the main village and some outlying areas, mostly farmland, but with some patches of woodland (most notably New Leaze Wood and Holtham Plantation), a small stretch of the Caundle Brook and its tributaries, and views of the lakes at Manor Farm from the surrounding footpaths. Given this variety of habitat, and that I could, of course, count all the birds in my garden, I decided to set a target of 45 species. Throughout January I kept a careful eye (and ear) out while about the village, as well as planning walks to cover as much of the area as possible via rights of way. The latter was a good exercise, causing me to walk footpaths previously forsaken. Some highlights from the walks included flushing snipe in the wet fields, finding great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, goldcrest and jay in the woodland, and yellowhammer, linnet, lesser black-backed gull, redwing, fieldfare, meadow pipit and skylark over the farmland. In the garden, the undoubted high was an overwintering blackcap, but we also get regular visits from four tit species, and three different finches, though sadly our first siskin of winter did not appear until February, and I missed at least two visits from the local sparrowhawk. All in all I was pleased with a final total of 43 species listed below, especially as the windy, wet and relatively warm weather seems to have kept some of our cold weather visitors, such as lapwing and golden plover, away. Bird Brain
Welcome Club There were 36 members present for the February meeting. The guest speaker was Catherine Pratley, who gave an absorbing talk and demonstration of basket weaving. From something that started as a hobby, Catherine has now progressed to making all kinds of baskets and will even take orders for willow coffins. Catherine also holds workshops in village halls if enough people are interested. Details of the forthcoming trips were handed out to those present: 16 May Morwellham Quay – Historic port, farm, railway & copper mine 20 June Buckfastleigh to Totnes – South Devon Railway 12 September Cruise around Bristol Docks, including a cream tea Anyone interested in joining us on our trips should contact Paul or Delia Lane on 362707. The next meeting of the Welcome Club will be 19 March with a talk from Kay Townsend from The Fairground talking about ‘the history of dodgems’. Anyone interested in coming to a meeting will always be welcome. Margaret McKay
The Allotments – an Opportunity! This year, arrangements at the allotments are altering somewhat. A number of people have decided not to continue, and so we’ve had to review the strategy for 2014. As a result, smaller teams of two or three will be tackling individual allotments, and it looks as if there will be one area available to anyone who’d like the opportunity to grow their own crops, either individually or with one or more other people. There will still be the opportunity for us all to club together for things like rotavator hire, seed purchase and so on, but hopefully the return to a focus on smaller individual areas will prove less daunting when it comes to weeding! If you’re interested, get in touch with me soon on 362890 for more details. It’ll soon be time to get started (if the rain ever stops), so don’t delay! John Waltham
Garden Club Report After two months of almost relentless rain and wind, some 30 members of the Garden Club were relieved (and delighted) to get together on Wednesday, 12 February to talk about plants and gardening, with the tantalising prospect of getting outside in the not-too-distant future. Marcus Dancer, of Marcus Dancer Plants, a nursery specialising in clematis and other climbing plants, talked knowledgably and entertainingly on ‘Climbing Plants for Light and Shade’ and offered a large selection of plants for sale. His conviction is that a climbing plant is available for every aspect and soil type; from deep shade to full sun and light sands to thick clay, and that in almost every case he could supply that plant. However, he did confess that his personal favourite is so difficult to propagate that he has given up trying (‘if you ever find it in a nursery then buy it!’). (As the Latin name of the plant was apparently not provided, and it does not have a common name, it is unlikely we shall ever see it in Stourton Caundle! Editor) The next meeting of the Club will be in the Village Hall on Wednesday, 12 March at 7.30 pm when Alan Power, the Garden and Estate manager of Stourhead will be talking about his role at this famous National Trust property. Members, and potential new members, are invited to come along to the Hall at 7.15 pm to meet friends and neighbours, when tea and coffee will be served. Broken Nails
Garden Tip Check any seedlings in your greenhouse or window ledges for signs of damping off. Also be careful not to over-water.
Grand Draw Prize Winners Prizes
Food Hamper incl fish voucher & Stourton Caundle Cider
Stuart Holdstock Mark Burton Gay Liversidge Anne Rowland Vernon Robjohn Fiona Turner Terry Taylor
The Village Shops The furore in 2013 about the possibility of Tesco building yet another supermarket in the local area, when there are already more than enough supermarkets to meet local demand, set me thinking about how previous generations of Stourton Caundle residents obtained their provisions before the advent of the supermarket. Until the late 1930s there were two shops and a bakery in the village, all located at the top of Golden Hill. The main shop (incorporating the Post Office) had a number of rooms, with the grocery business located in a room to the right of the entrance doorway. There were some tinned foods and jars on the shelves, but most of the provisions were delivered to the shop in bulk, and weighed up to the customer’s requirements including bacon, cheese, butter, lard, margarine, dried fruit, biscuits and sugar. Foodstuffs, such as sugar, rice and lentils, were delivered in hessian sacks and other products including margarine, lard and dried fruit were delivered in wooden boxes of varying sizes; tea came in three-ply chests. A small room to the rear of the grocery section served as a store, for such items as a barrel of malt vinegar, with customers providing their own bottle. Corned beef, which came in seven-pound tins, was sliced with a sharp carving knife to the customer's requirements. Cheese was cut by means of a wire with wooden handles attached to each end. Metal scoops were used to weigh-up other items such as rice, which were then placed in a brown paper bag. Sometimes dried fish could be purchased. The fish arrived at the shop in a wooden barrel, and had the appearance of a piece of leather; however after an overnight soak in a bowl of water it provided a nutritious meal when cooked. The Post Office was located in a small room just inside the entrance door. Boots, clothes and stationery were also stored here. Jars of sweets were displayed in a prominent position in the window, so as to attract the attention of the children. The normal price of toffees and boiled sweets was a penny an ounce, and better quality sweets were sixpence per quarter. The proprietors of the adjoining shop, where Hilltop now stands, were Mr and Mrs Chaldicott. Groceries were delivered to remote dwellings and outlying farms by pony and trap, with the pony kept in a stable at the rear of the premises. The property fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance to the thatched roof and was demolished in the late 1930s. The lower part of the front elevation is still visible, as it forms the retaining wall for the front garden of Hilltop. The bakery was located in the property now known as Daisy Cottage and the proprietor was Mr Walter Hays. Large cakes were made by Mrs Chaldicott’s shop at Golden Hill Hays, including seed, dough, powder and lardy, which were sold at a price of nine pence each. When a dozen buns were purchased, thirteen buns were handed over; this was known as ‘a Baker’s Dozen’. At the weekends local residents could take their joints of meat to the bake house to roast for a cost of one penny, and kneaded dough could be purchased for pastry making. Mr Hays also delivered by horse and cart. The cart was fitted with a fixed semi-cylindrical canvas tilt, on the sides of which were displayed in bold lettering, his name and his trade. Two Stalbridge bakers, Dikes and Bryants, provided stiff completion for Baker Hayes. In addition to the bakery, Dikes also had a grocery shop and supplied pork from either their own pigs or from pigs reared on local farms. Fresh eggs were readily available, as most residents kept a few hens in the back garden, fed mainly on the few scraps of household waste such as boiled potato peelings. Milk was collected by a jug or can from one of the local farms. Fresh greens were grown in the garden and only available in season. Early potato crops were grown in the cottage gardens and most farmworkers were allowed to grow
The Village Shops continued In the 1920s two Stalbridge butchers, Fred Bugg and Sydney Eavis, delivered meat to the village by horse cart. Both had their own slaughterhouses and retail premises in Stalbridge. Sydney Parsons at Stalbridge Weston was mainly a rabbit and egg dealer but also retailed meat. I bred and sold tame rabbits to his son George in the mid-to-late 1950s after myxomatosis had decimated the wild population. Bob Green, the landlord at The Trooper Inn, also caught rabbits either by ferreting or the use of wire snares. Rabbits were also hunted at night with the aid of a portable light powered by a car battery, and using specially trained dogs, known as lurchers, to catch them. Rabbits could be purchased at the back door of The Trooper for a tanner apiece. To obtain goods other than those available in the two village shops or delivered house to house, a journey to Stalbridge was required, either on foot, by bicycle, or pony and trap. All basic goods and services were readily available in Stalbridge. Charles Bollen was the proprietor of a tailor and outfitting business. F.C. Cox and Son had three retail premises, including a draper’s shop in Manchester House. On the opposite side of the High Street were soft furnishings and linoleum, boots and shoes, and gent’s tailoring and outfitting. Suits, made to measure, were supplied by Henry and Leslie Hobbs. The cobbler, Herbert Taylor, was the main boot and shoe repairer, with his premises in the corner shop at the top end of Station Road, opposite the Post Office. Next door was Charles Meaders, a jeweller’s and ironmonger’s shop, also selling a variety of other items including furniture, toys and stationery. Graces draper’s shop, with separate ladies and gentlemen outfitting departments, was located on the right hand side of the junction at the bottom of Barrow Hill. On the other side of the High Street was Herby Parsons fishmongers. Herby, who was a real character, set up the business on his return from the First World War and also had a mobile fish round, delivering weekly to outlying villages including Stourton Caundle. Phil Knott
Yet More Weather The Rain Rains on the Just and on the Unjust! Or so the extract from The Bible (Matthew 5:45) goes, which should overrule the claim that the recent UK storms and floods are divine retribution for gay marriage laws, as a certain UKIP councillor would have us believe. I’ve just totted up the rainfall statistics for the past 68 days (since 13 December): we have had a full 330% of the average rainfall for this period based on 1994-2011 statistics. That’s a total of 659 mm (26 in). In 2010 we had just 542 mm all year, followed in 2011 by a mere 523 mm. And there’s no end to this unusual weather in sight at the moment. I remember that even 30 years ago, the global warming trend at our temperate latitudes was predicted to be for warmer, wetter and windier winters – the four ‘W’s. Well, this winter sure fits that trend. Here’s another remarkable local statistic: since December last year, the lowest maximum daily temperature has been 5.9 C, which happened on Christmas Day. So we have had no days when the weather has stayed very cold or even fairly cold throughout the day. That’s most unusual. Compare that with another extreme month, December 2010 when we had eight days when the maximum stayed below zero degrees all day long – brrrrrgh! I think it’s fair to say that we do have to be ready for more extreme weather events, I’m afraid. So it’s no good praying to the ‘rain gods’ to end the deluge, we’ll just have to get used to it. Statistics for January Rainfall
2014 2013 246 mm / 9.69 in --Temperature (°C) Maximum High Low
12.0 (5 & 6 ) th
11.7 (8 )
19-year average 91.5 mm / 3.60 in Minimum High th
6.5 (19 & 20 ) th
0.9 (20 )
-1.3 (12 & 21 )
8.0 (1 ) 9.1 (3 )
-2.6 (22 )
6.3 4.3 Richard Miles
Culinary Corner Lemon Chiffon Pie Pastry case 175g/6ozs 125g/4ozs
plain flour butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar 1 egg yolk mixed with 2/3 tablespoon of very cold water
Combine the above to make dough which should then rest in ’fridge for minimum of half an hour. Roll out to fit either a 10-inch pie plate which must be at least 1 inch deep in the centre with a flat rim, or a 10inch loose bottomed flan/quiche tin which must also be 1 inch deep. Rest dough again in the ’fridge for minimum of half an hour. Prick base of pastry. Bake blind (centre filled with greaseproof paper and baking beans) on a preheated baking sheet at 180° C/Gas mark 4 until edges starting to colour, remove paper and beans and cook another 5 or so minutes until centre of pastry is dry. Cool. Filling Rind of 3 and juice of 2 medium lemons 2 large eggs separated Bird’s Custard made with: 1 pint/600ml of milk – must be Jersey or full cream, not semi or skimmed 4 tablespoons of sugar 2 heaped tablespoons of Bird’s Custard powder Make custard as normal having first added the lemon rind to the milk before heating slowly. Allow to cool a little before adding the lemon juice and stir in. Let cool until tepid, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming. Beat in egg yolks. In a very clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff ‘snow’ that will hold a peak. Fold very gently into the lemon custard with a balloon whisk or a large metal spoon. Pour mixture into the pastry case and bake in the oven at 170°C (Gas Mark 3) for 15 minutes until set but with a slight wobble in the middle. Allow to cool completely. Reheat to serve warm. This recipe is simple but good. It was my grandmother’s and dates back to the 1920s or 1930s. My mother made it on special occasions when we had visitors in the 1950s. It was a great favourite with my sister and me when we were children and food was pretty dull in those days just after the end of rationing. Gay Liversidge