Just spotted this on the BBC news site, while I was looking for the cricket. I’ve written previously about Margaret Barton (Mrs James) here and about Shillingstone here.
The performance seems an event not to miss!
shillingstonesignand view

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] huskyteer and I visited the Shillingstone Railway Project. No more will I go to Blandford Forum by rail, but drive up there and turn off for Sherborne, Bath and points west and you come to the small village of Shillingstone. Although no train has run here since 1966, some old buildings remain and are being lovingly restored, unlike the railway buildings and track in our town, long since overlaid by an industrial estate. If you enjoy visiting quirky, amateurish little museums run by enthusiasts, you’d like it here.

The project is very much a work in progress and there’s a relaxed attitude towards visitors. There’s no charge to walk round and you can do pretty much what you like: sit in the train carriage and imagine yourself travelling, walk on the track, admire the flower border, watch people painting or trundling machines around for mysterious purposes. As well as genuine railway memorabilia like cast iron signs and guards’ lamps, they’ve acquired a lot of old junk suitably vintage pieces, all scattered around in a higgledy-piggledy way. I was itching to re-style it, so as to make better use of items like the original platform vending machine, which dispensed bars of Cadbury’s chocolate at 6d a go. A makeover would destroy some of the charm, though.









A word about my header. I never say ‘train station’. To me, they are railway stations and always will be. Apologies for the photo-heavy post but I've had to remove the cut because with it LJ wouldn't show the rest of the pictures. Grrr!

Not many posts from me lately. One reason is having a visitor for a couple of days. On Thursday, we went to Kingston Lacy, our nearest National Trust property and a place I know inside out because I once worked there. It was very hot, just like June, and we were glad to escape from the sun into bosky walks.


That’s a celebration of Queen Victoria’s 1887 Jubilee peeking above the trees. Should you be in this area, the house is worth visiting but don’t bother if you only want to look at gardens (my long-held opinion). Here’s a stone marking the entrance walk to the so-called Japanese garden, which you’re not even allowed to walk in.


Hideous. The next day was ten degrees cooler, as predicted, and we were shivering on the platform at Poole station. I did go to the market this morning (cold!) but bought nothing to interest anyone else. Not a single book. Another reason for lack of posts is that I’ve been reading some books which are new for autumn and have come to the Kindle with a request not to review them before a certain date. Coming soon: The Vicar’s Wife by Katharine Swarz and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Query: why does it rain everywhere in the country except on my garden?
Headline in the free paid for by my council tax newsletter in my postbox today.

No Olympic page brightener here for copyright reasons

I read this while eating supper, looking occasionally through the window at the rain, which has been falling steadily since I got up before six this morning. Londoners and people at points north may not realise that Dorset is an Olympic venue; the sailing events are to be held at Weymouth. Already, our town has been almost cut off for months by road ‘improvements’ which, as one correspondent to the local free mag put it, ‘will cut seven minutes off the journey time of Lord Coe and his chums’ swanning down from that Lunnon. While the games are on, you may as well stay at home.

‘The A31, A35 and A354 will be travel hotspots.’
Great. I won’t be able to go anywhere.
‘Use public transport.’
Where I live, in a hamlet, there is no public transport.
‘Walk or cycle.’
You’re joking, right?
‘avoid the busiest times’
Travel between 12pm and 6pm. Handy for getting to work, eh?

There will of course be huge economic and cultural (cultural?) benefits for Dorset.
Especially for hotel and boarding house owners and those with expensive, rentable homes in Weymouth.
Welcome to Dorset!
And watch out for trading standards officials ready to pounce on any unofficial Games merchandise. No mercy will be shown.
Don’t give thieves the opportunity!
It’s well known that all furriners (i.e. people from outside Dorset) are thieves looking to break into your home or nick things from your car.
Business as usual for Police!
Unless they’re patrolling fifty square miles of water or on duty at the thieves’ gathering at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. You are advised not to require police assistance for the duration of the Games.
Health services to operate as normal.
If the ambulance can get through the traffic.
Have a good first aid kit and collect your repeat prescriptions in good time.
Look, just don't get ill, OK?

Such fun!
Apologies to everyone who’s looking forward to the Games.

I seem to be reading a lot lately about immigrants, exiles and Jewish people. I’ve already posted about The Education of Hyman Kaplan. While searching in vain for How to be an Alien by George Mikes, which I thought would fit well with my other current reading, I found The Return of Hyman Kaplan, which I’d forgotten I had. So I’m reading that and also Our Street by Gilda O’Neill, an account of East End life during the Second World War. I very much enjoyed her My East End but this one is less successful IMO and I’ll write about it when it’s finished.

Now for Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons. As so often, I’m at odds with the blurb writers. ‘Hilarious’; ‘very funny’, they say. Amusing and terribly sad, I say. Jack Rosenblum leaves Germany in 1937 with his wife Sadie and baby daughter Elizabeth. Not all the family is so lucky. While Sadie constantly looks back and cannot rid herself of the sadness of loss, Jack is incurably optimistic and sets about becoming an English gentleman. This isn’t easy when you’re five foot three, with a ‘Kraut’ name and a schnoz but Jack is a very determined man. He quickly makes a lot of money manufacturing carpets and sets about spending it on becoming as English as possible. Working his way through the List, he decides that playing golf will lead to true integration but as a Jew he can’t get into any clubs, all of which are mysteriously full up when he applies for membership. What can you do? He decides to build his own golf course.

Without a word to his long-suffering wife, he sells their London house right over her head and buys a ramshackle cottage in Dorset with sixty acres of land which could hardly be less suitable for a golf course. This dogged determination to achieve a goal against all the odds is bound to remind one of Paul Torday’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I have to say that Torday’s book is better but that doesn’t make this one any less enjoyable. The rest of the story is set in Dorset (an added charm for me, of course) in the early 1950s and tells of Jack’s struggle to build a course in time for the Coronation. After initial suspicions, the locals make ‘Mr Rose-in-Bloom’ one of them. He works like a slave, in spite of sadness over his wife’s refusal to cheer up and the Englishness of his daughter. It’s what he wanted, a beautiful English daughter, but even he is disappointed when she changes her name.

The trials of building the course are heart-breaking at times, as is an accident to Sadie which shows Jack how much he really loves her. Any more would be a spoiler. I did enjoy the book, particularly the lyrical descriptions of rural Dorset, which the author knows well. It’s really about two vanished pasts: what poor Sadie calls before and an English country way of life which has also pretty well disappeared. If I have a criticism it is that the mixture of sad fact (Jews driven out of Germany; Helpful Information and Guidance for Every Refugee and what that meant) and the story of one man and his crazed mission doesn't quite meld. I’d still put it down as a life-enhancing book.

So I went to the Enid Blyton talk on Tuesday, with a friend. To be honest, I wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't been for Enid Blyton's strong local connections. Viv is a real Blyton enthusiast who's been collecting her books since reading Mr Galliano's Circus as a child. Now, she knows all Blyton's Dorset locations, has opened the Ginger Pop shop in Corfe Castle village and has a new venture, Eileen Soper’s Illustrated Worlds down on Poole Quay.

There was no need for Viv to say a great deal about Blyton's life as it turned out everyone there had watched the BBC4 programme (and everyone had an opinion). Things I learned: the Mary Mouse strip books were written in the 1940s to make use of publishers' offcuts which would otherwise have been wasted at a time of paper shortages; Blyton's nature knowledge was so good that she became associated with the Warne 'Wayside and Woodland' series.

For a book collector, the slides of cover designs were slightly disappointing. I'm not a Blyton collector, probably only have about a dozen of her books to Viv's hundreds but I do have a full set of original Malory Towers hardbacks with the weird but so distinctive ilustrations by Stanley Lloyd. Only one of mine has a dustwrapper, alas, but I don't think I could enjoy the books in any other format. Unfortunately, these original books are now very expensive, in spite of the large number of reprints.

I'm certainly planning a trip to the Eileen Soper gallery next summer when it's open again. For people who can't wait, the web is simply heaving with Blyton information! I was hoping to post a picture I love, which shows Enid Blyton with Richmal Crompton and Malcolm Saville at a theatre. It's printed in Barbara Stoney's biography, which I no longer have. While searching in vain I found this fun Children’s Literature Quiz. Have a go!
Yesterday, I took my visitor to see my favourite garden, at Cranborne Manor.

Why I love this house and garden so much )

The other evening I was watching the television news when a London bus hove into view. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a nostalgic desire to be waiting somewhere in the cold and dark, then to hop into the warmth and light of a 97-horsepower omnibus. (No bendy buses for me, thanks and I hear they're bringing back Routemasters.) 'Fool!' I thought, 'Why don't you live in London?' Then this afternoon the weather was absolutely beautiful and forecast to be dire at the weekend. So I walked up to the post office wearing a metaphorical I-Spy badge and for once carrying my camera. What I saw. )
Last week I posted about Waitrose getting planning permission for a new supermarket on our cricket pitch. I don't expect Ken Pyne is aware of this but here's his cartoon from the current Private Eye.

Topical, eh?

I've spent the whole morning rushing around to no great purpose. One of the things I did was to go to my favourite, seldom-held car boot sale. I didn't buy anything but for once I remembered my camera. More pictures of Pamphill )
I’ve had one of my oldest friends staying with me for a few days. Determined to make the most of being away from London and in beautiful Dorset, she has been dragging me out on long coastal walks.

It would have made a good picture if either of us had taken a camera.
On Tuesday we drove to picturesque Worth Matravers

and followed the path down to St Aldhelm’s Head, where there is a very unusual 12th century chapel.

Then on past the coastguard station and amazingly, the whole coast was ours, with fabulous views in all directions and very few other walkers. The sea was turquoise, the sky blue, we were able to eat our lunch in a sheltered spot and feel happy.

By the time we got back to Worth my out-of-practice legs had seized up but my friend was relentless and the next morning announced that we were going to Swanage. So we did and while we were on the cliff the heavens opened. Arriving back in Swanage we found large hail stones lying about and sheltered in a caff for a cup of strong tea and a bacon butty. We were wet through. I said that if this were a Chalet School story we would both get pneumonia and J said yes, or like Jane Bennet in bed for a week after getting a little damp. We laughed merrily at the idea that a wet walk could make you ill. That evening J started sneezing and blowing her nose and fell asleep on the sofa. In spite of this, she insisted on a brisk constitutional before setting off back to London this morning.

It was all lovely but I could do with a nice lie down…
I had such a lovely day yesterday. I was down at the market at eight o’clock as usual and it was quite bustling. I know you like to know what I got. A pretty little pink Caithness glass vase for fifty pence and a bagful of Georgette Heyer paperbacks for a pound. Plus the week's fruit and veg. of course. A quick whiz round posting and buying odd things, then after a much needed cup of coffee it was off to Pamphill for a car boot sale. This is held a few times a year in aid of St Stephen’s Church. I always enjoy this even if I don’t get anything. It’s hardly ten minutes’ drive away and like another world (pop. 287). The sale is small and friendly and I am hailed on all sides by people I know. Yesterday was just lovely: the fresh green on the avenue of trees (see link just given), bluebells everywhere, absolute quiet apart from birdsong. For the rest of the day I was high on just the beauty of an English spring. As if that weren’t enough I bought some excellent condition Lone Pine paperbacks and a couple of Viragos, then saw a notice saying, ‘Second hand books in church'. Naturally I couldn’t get in fast enough and found another little haul.

Our last indoor NCCPG meeting of the year in the afternoon but even being stuck yet again in the community centre on a beautiful day didn’t dampen my spirits. My friend Diana Guy told us about winning the BBC Gardener’s World Gardener of the Year competition in 2004. It is very hard work indeed. I just looked on the BBC web site and found this:

"We're particularly keen to see more applicants from the Midlands and North," says series producer, Rosemary Edwards. "We always get a huge response from the South, particularly the Dorset and Devon areas, but we are convinced that gardeners in the Midlands and North are just as talented and it would be nice to see more of them."

Dorset wins, ha ha ha!
I was reading today about plans to pull down and rebuild Clavell Tower
Read more... )
Only I couldn't. This morning I'd done a few essential things, I was in the car and I thought, 'Hang spring cleaning' and decided to go to a secret location wot I wot of to see the sheets of bluebells under the trees. I tramped round the edges of several fields, soaking the hems of my trousers, then when I reached the magical spot I found it was all fenced off with barbed wire. So I had to gaze through it at the beautiful cool blue depths beyond and the tempting little path through the middle, just like Alice trapped behind the door into the garden. How I hate the National Trust! How glad I am that we resigned our membership a few years ago when we disagreed with some batty policy decision. The bluebell walk must now be filed away under 'past pleasures'.

My little jaunt was far from wasted, though. The sun shone warmly and I was completely alone. I didn't see a living creature apart from lots of bunnies and a few cows in the distance. The only sound was birdsong. The hedges were full of Cow Parsley, Red Campion (a misnomer, since it is pink, and I was sorry not to see a white one for Margery Allingham's sake), primroses, violets and Sweet Woodruff. The pasture was yellow with dandelions. Truly, time out.

Afterthought. I was scanning this picture for a quite different purpose and thought it was appropriate. If I had got into the wood, I don't expect I would have found a baby.



January 2017



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