New blog


It’s been ages since I last wrote a post for this blog, yet still I see people are viewing it each day. Thank you!

I feel I have moved on, although this is very much part of my life, I have settled a little and am learning to adapt to Dorset life.

To mark this change I began a new blog. I am not really sure of its format yet: a mix of my explorations around Dorset, learning about its villages and attractions and recording the beauty of nature through photos.

If you would like to join me on this new blog, here is the link

Currently called “A Londoner in Dorset”, I would be very interested to hear how best to ‘spice up’ a blog on country life and living quietly in retirement. Those of you who have read this blog regularly, followed me for a while or know me will know that “living quietly” has never been something I have been good at.

I hope you find time to drop by this new blog and leave a comment. I intend to keep this blog live but will not add posts for the foreseeable future. If you would like to continue to follow me, please use the new blog.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks to everyone who has followed this one.

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Beautiful New World


I am feeling my way into a new world. Gently nudging the edges so they grow, unfolding like petals. First, my house begins to feel like home. I find myself settling down for the evening,like my cats, rather than roaming round restlessly. I begin to potter in the garden, someone else’s garden true, but huge and in desparate need of care and attention. I pull out brambles, prune back unruly bushes, we cut the beech hedge in the front of the house and in doing so begin to feel a pride.
My tendrils reach to new experiences: popping to new neighbours for a cuppa, bearing a slice of cake. I am proud of the cake too; my first from the Aga!
Life has the texture of a holiday.
Visiting new villages, new towns most days. Walks, markets, new shops, even supermarkets tempt me to difference, to change habits of a lifetime.
How many times have you walked the isles of your local supermarket, cursing that they have changed the shelving layout? It takes longer to shop, but you see more. We are trying lots of new shops, market stalls for fresh vegetables, the Sherborne Pannier Market for fresh fish and bread, supermarkets in several different towns.

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Today, as I was driving back from a perfectly normal supermarket experience, I looked… Really looked! Rolling hills, a soaring buzzard, wide skies, a patchwork of creams, browns blending together over the farmland, describing the stages of harvest in their hues.
Pull in, stop and wonder a while!
Really! This is special! It’s beautiful and I live here!

Dorset County Show


Moving house must be traumatic! For the past few weeks, I have concentrated on my feelings, the progress we are making, the packing and unpacking.

With the advent of the end of summer, the countryside explodes with shows and events. In early September, Dorset sets up for its greatest show…The Dorset County Show!

We had seen the tents, the toilets, the parking spaces being pegged out, put up and pulled in on the exhibition ground just outside of Dorchester. Clearly it would be big, but we had no idea how big!

My daughters came down for the weekend with Keoni. This seemed a great way for us all to experience this new way of life. So we piled into our cars and set off. There is a one way diversion around the show ground, but parking is very easy and free. As we drive onto the parking lot, I gasp at the size!

Fields and fields of neatly arranged cars span the horizon. It is well organised with plenty of efficient marshals and we are soon parked up and ready to roll.

As Keoni has fallen asleep in the car, we are able to push him round the first sections and gain an impression quickly. It brings back several experiences to me.
– a small show in Lincolnshire which my aunt took me to: I remember the men washing, combing and smoothing their cattle just prior to the show
– the village fete we attended the other day in Piddletrenthide, where people took their time to admire and discuss
– the ‘Grand Designs’ exhibition in Excel Centre, London (or indeed the Education Show in Birmingham) where you see more exhibitors of things related to the theme of the show than you could ever have imagined existed!
Country crafts, fine artisan cheese, life sized model horses demonstrating bridles, honey bees, log choppers, ploughs, combine harvesters, tractors, hens, sheep, country clothing, more food stalls than anyone could manage…the list just goes on and on.

We did not get round a quarter of it!

Keoni woke and loved it. He adores any large machinery, tractors in particular, and here he could climb on them, touch them and see them in every direction. He must have walked miles. Having taken in the first impression of tractors, he was drawn to the central ring where stunt drivers completed their show, followed by lovingly restored vintage tractors, a tractor dressed up as a police car (including siren) and finally the prize winning sheep, goats and cows paraded.

Cows! Some of the bulls were enormous! Beautiful sleek animals, whose coats gleamed in the sun and whose muscles rippled with pride as they walked their lap of honour.
Sheep! Their wool was such a variety of colour, so clean and their feet so trim.
Goats! They gained a dignity which the word does not usually imply!

There were pitches for local independent schools, for faster broadband connectivity, for artificial grass and straw logs.

As a way of learning about our new domaine, I would say it was excellent.
As a day out for the family: exhausting but great value.

The Village Fete


When you live in London, it is hard to take the concept of ‘Lord of the Manor’ seriously! When we heard the local fete was to be held at Manor House, we thought no more than, “Great, we get to see a big house!”

Dorset has a special style to it. There is an air of private school, of landed gentry, of breeding. This may be the beautiful cows and sheep that abound in the fields, but breeding nevertheless.

School have fetes and fairs at least twice a year. Summer and Christmas, the stalls, the sideshows entertain and raise money for much needed equipment. These build a sense of community, past pupils come back to see their old school, neighbours pop in to support: it is a great event.

Villages do the same thing. Each parish organises a fete and it seemed a good idea to attend ours.
The Manor House is indeed grand. Beautiful grounds and a proud confident building. Amid the usual book stalls and bricabrac we see our new friends who run a plant nursery and a retired couple enjoying tea in the marquis.

Suddenly I feel at home. These are friends we have made over the last few days and they greet us warmly. We pay our due to lift the paper cups covering dozens of green bottles. Will they be unopened bottles of wine or filled with water? We cannot resist the books, or the home made marmalade. There is a very leisurely feel about the place, I am in no hurry to leave.

We drink tea, enjoy a burger from the barbecue and sit on the grass enjoying the views, quietly people watching. The dog show is a highlight for me. Mutts and hounds, scruff bags and pedigrees walk round the small ring. Some classes only had one dog enter, to nobody’s surprise they win first prize. Most animals seem to win something but it’s judged with care, informed by years of performing this role.

The competition is compared by the Lord of the Manor, and a grand job he does too. A sense of family pervades the arena, dogs and their owners are cajoled to enter. I love the fusion of serious and jovial.

It is our first taste of village life beyond the local pub: a mix of gentility and function.
I like it.

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