Monday, 1 January 2018

Snowdrops and othe growing things.

Helping my dad in the Bothy gardens went through a number of phases.

At first we wanted to clear a path from the house to the gate in the wall at what looked like the bottom of the garden. Clearing and having bonfires is my idea of having had fun.

The next task was to restore the health of the very many fruit trees in the garden. Dad had a book all about pruning fruit trees, so it was a job to be taken seriously. And slowly over a couple of years fruit began to appear. Apples, pears, plums, peaches of all varieties one could imagin. Coxes orange pipin apples are the best I can remember.

In the old house there were fruit storage shelves so we could keep some varieties of apples and pears for many months.

But the the best crop from the garden, down by the stream were the Snowdrops. Each Year we were living in the Bothy we (my sisters and me) picked snowdrops, put them into neat bunches of about 50 flowers each and backed with two Ivy leaves and tied neatly with rafia. Dad (or  Mum) packed them into boxes ready for transport to London market by train from Dorchester. When I closed my eyes at night after a day of Snowdropping, there they were...

Dad got a good price for the snowdrops too and paid me 1p per finished bunch. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Life at The Bothy, Dewlish village.

So we were to move from the modern council house in Charminster to a cottage on the estate of Dewlish House, in of course the village of Dewlish.

The cottage was attached to the kitchen garden for Dewlish house and in the corner of a large field. The gardens were for the most part walled and enclosed about 2.5 acres with a stream running through the part outside the wall.

The cottage had not been lived in for about 11 years, and had been occupied by troops during the war. So when my father lit the fire in the front room, it filled with smoke because of the remains of birds nests in the chimney. The electrics were in a poor state too. However the kitchen had a great Aga range for cooking and heating the water which came from a well in the back yard.

The garden was a magical place and a bit like a jungle when we arrived. It was of course totally neglected but had a great variety of fruit trees including peaches, plumbs of all sorts and every type of apple that you could think of.

It was fun helping my dad slowly clear the garden, prune the fruit trees and bring the place back to life.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Other Hardy's school experiences that stick in my menory.

Other Hardy's school experiences that stick in my memory.

One was of the art teacher who did Lion head sculptures to head the Gate at the entrance of the School. It was quite interesting to follow his progress as he worked on them. I wonder what happened to his work when the school was demolished.

The school was also where I started to lean to sell. I took apples from the garden of the house where we lived after leaving Charminster. I sold them to some fellow students for a few pence each.

One thing that did not appeal to me at all was the school dinners. My mother gave me the school dinner money (one shilling and six pence, if my memory serves me right) each Monday, and I used this to buy "fish and chips" at a local shop in Dorchester. I could do this for three days then went hungry for the last two.

The school divinity teacher was a tall quiet man who had once represented England in high jump at the Olympic games in the 1920's. Nice chap as I recall. But the school rugby coach, a red haired welsh man made me do rugby tackles on all the other players one be one. As I was by far the smallest boy playing, this was a bit rough but probably did me good.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

After Kingston Russel - Charminster

Not quite sure when we left Kingston Russel, but I do remember being taken to Hardys Grammar School in Dorchester by my dad to meet the headmaster for an interview. It seems that although I had been accepted into Bridport Grammar it did not mean that I was automatically entitled to transfer to Hardys. However, I was allowed in and another chapter in my school life began.

As Hardys was a boys school and most of the teachers were former Army officers who had seen action in the second world war. The headmaster was a Major, the French teacher and most of the others were Captains as far a I can remember. The French teacher for my classes was nick named Calais (of course) and I did not learn much from him (but mostly my fault). As I have lived in French speaking Switzerland and France for many years now, I have paid a high price for my lack of interest as a student of the language. But I get by.

One of my happier school memories was of the CCF Combined cadet force. I was a radio operator and clearly recollect our camp on Bodmin moor one summer. We had a night exercise, with blank cartridges for our 303 guns and there were lots of Thunderflash  explosions all over the place. As the radio operator I was to relay Calais's orders to other groups. But it was such a still night and he shouted his instructions, I felt a bit redundant. But all good fun nevertheless. The most exciting activity was live firing the 303 gun on the 300yard range. The kick of it was quite something for a 13 year old lad.

The subject I enjoyed most was "agricultural science". I though I might like becoming a farm manager as a career. However, after one year of the course, the teacher running it left the school, so that was the end of that.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

School in the country.

School in the country.

Moving from St. John's primary school in Weymouth to Long Bredy school was a big change.  From one large class of about 30 children all in the same grade, to one class of about 20 kids from the age of 6 to 11. What a difference.

We even did country dancing and ringing hand bells as part of our weekly routine. Different, but certainly fun.

The school lunch was cooked at the school, and us larger boys took turns to go and collect water for the cook from a spring at the bottom of the lane where it met the village road. What a surprise.

I was only there for the end of the school year as I had taken the 11+ exam before leaving Weymouth. As I passed, next year saw me on the bus each day to Bridport Grammar. Another adventure on the road to adulthood.

If you have a photo of the school, please post it here.


Monday, 7 March 2011

Visiting my Grandfather in Weymouth.

Visiting my Grandfather in Weymouth was quite a trip. I traveled down on the bus from Kingston Russel which took about an hour and was usually a double decker so . could sit on top at the front. The route took us via country lanes through Martinstown and down through Upwey, finishing up at the old Bus Station behind King Street near the railway station.

As my Grandfather still lived in Derby Street it only took 2 minutes to get to his home where we used to chat. Some days I went fishing on the New Pier at Weymouth harbor. Even caught a fish sometimes too, a small bream or whiting. As I was walking back to catch the bus I passed the Pavilion theater and noticed a workman high up on the building with water in a bucket (which he was spilling) and a whisp of smoke coming out of the wall nearby. I walked on down to the bus station and was amazed when the bus home drove up to the esplanade to see the Pavilion burning like an enormous bonfire. As the building was wooden no real surprise I suppose. This happened when I was 12 years old in 1954.
Picture courtesy of BBC. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

More of Life at Kingston Russel

More of Life at Kingston Russel Farm.
I have been back in recent years with my parents (now sadly departed) and it brought back a flood of memories.
Learning to drive a tractor, going into the dairy and seeing the cows being milked, collecting our daily quart of milk straight from the cooler, fresh and creamy. All things that helped me grow up and understand how to get on with country folk. All things that would not be permitted these days I am sure, due to all sorts of rules and regulation.

Collecting birds eggs was also part of a normal boys life too.

The man who lived in the house next to us was a professional rabbit catcher! This was in the year before the dreaded mixamatosis hit the rabbit population. I went out with him some times as he set 120 traps each day, those rather cruel things. He also had some ferrets and I was allowed to borrow one some Sunday mornings and go out on my own adventure. It seemed very exciting to take his dog, a ferret and some nets and find a rabbit warren to hunt in. Once in a while I caught one, cleaned it, took it home to my mother and skinned for her. Mum would then stuff the rabbit and bake it for lunch. It was a great treat.

The two Baker brothers ran the farm and some evenings when it was dark they would take a tractor out into a field and zoom about with a powerful hand held light. This would allow them to dazzle rabbits so one of them could club the poor animal and that was that. Such was country life.