Tag Archives: life

Family Outings…….Old Style :)

22 Jun

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Those of you who read my last blog post about the Hardy Monument will remember that I reminisced a little in that post about my days as a child in Dorset. Well today I thought we would continue in that vein and that I would share a picture or two with you 🙂 ! This is the childhood of The Dorset Rambler…….well a little bit of it 🙂 !

If you didn’t read my previous post, there is a link to it here.

Scan 18-4

Nine of us picnic at the roadside – how did we all fit in that van!

As I said in my earlier blog entry, we had no car when I was a child and we couldn’t afford to bus everywhere……can you hear the violins 🙂 ! So walking was something that was just part of everyday life, and we walked miles to the beach or to the Purbeck Hills or wherever, sometimes with aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents; in fact the whole wider family.

But for two weeks of the year, during my father’s annual holiday (he only got two weeks off each year), my uncle would offer us the use of his old Morris 10 and we would drive for miles at what today seems like a walking pace as it was like most cars of the day, painfully slow! But then, there were quite a lot of us packed into it! On the odd year when for some reason my uncle couldn’t lend us his car, another uncle would lend us his even older, and even slower, van.

It is this van that you see in the picture above, and my, was that an interesting holiday! To start with, there were even more of us packed in there…….nine of us to be exact, which included my parents, grandparents and brothers. Us two younger boys sat in the luggage compartment at the back because of course it was only a 4/5 seater van. Oh, and the van couldn’t climb hills so for anything greater than a 10% incline, some of us would have to get out and walk up, climbing on board again when we, and the van, reached the top 🙂 !

Smaller hills were less of a problem but even then it wasn’t straight forward! I well remember the back of the van flying open as we struggled up one hill and although my brother and I managed to avoid falling out, the same can’t be said of our picnic which went rolling down the hill. Naturally, we managed to round it all up again 🙂 !

Scan 17 copy 4-1

Sausages! Picnicking beside the old Morris 10.

Of course, the picnic was not just any picnic! No, this was a full blown meal of sausages, eggs, bacon etc etc cooked on a primus stove beside the road. For seats, there was either the grass verge or the car seats that could be removed. We had no water carrier so in order to have a cup of tea, we would simply knock on the door of a house and ask if they would mind filling the kettle for us. Everyone was very willing to help in those days.

We had a funny experience one day……well most days really…..but on this particular evening, we needed petrol urgently but didn’t know where the nearest garage was. So we flagged down a passing bubble car to ask the driver for directions and he promised to lead us to a petrol station that would be open. The problem was that the old Morris 10 couldn’t keep up with him and he got further and further ahead of us until we could barely make out his rear lights as he disappeared into the distance. Fortunately it turned out ok, but the event reminded me of the Bubble Car Song (Beep Beep)……and if you are not old enough to remember that, you must Google it 🙂 !

Unlike today, there was no form of entertainment in the car or van so we made our own entertainment by singing at the top of our voices as we drove. I have very happy memories of our sing songs, especially late at night as we were on our way back. Usually there would be a quick stop at a pub for a drink, hopefully one with a playground for us youngsters, and then very often the day would finish with a midnight drive along the Bournemouth sea front to look at the illuminations, and maybe even a paddle in the sea by moonlight! Of course part of the fun for the young Dorset Rambler was staying up late as we would often not be home till the early hours!

Ah, happy days!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

 

Theme for the Week – Dorset Mills Part 2

28 Mar

– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –

Continuing our theme of Dorset Mills, we are once again on the River Stour but this time further north at Sturminster Newton at a beautiful mill. And one of the few that continue to be worked albeit not on a commercial scale.

Sturminster Newton Mill

The Old Mill

Sturminster Newton Mill Across the River Stour

There has been a mill on this site since 1016 or possibly even earlier, and it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The current mill dates from the 17th and 18th centuries and as you can see, it is L shaped. In fact it was originally two separate mills, the left half in the picture above being a flour mill and the right half a fulling mill. These were driven by a pair of undershot water wheels which stood side by side. In the 18th century, the fulling mill was demolished and rebuilt on the original foundations as an extension to the flour mill. Then in the early 20th century, the two water wheels were replaced by a single water turbine.

The Miller's Workshop

The Miller’s Workshop

The unusual thing with this mill is that it was worked commercially until the late 20th century when modern health and safety requirement forced it to cease its commercial activities. However, even today it is still a working mill and milling days are held regularly although more as a tourist attraction.

Sturminster Newton Mill

The Mill and its Weir

The mill takes its name from the nearby town of Sturminster Newton. It comes from Stur a derivative of Stour, minster meaning church and Newton meaning new estate or town. So the name literally means mill by a new town with a church on the Stour.

This is another delightful place to visit, surrounded by lovely countryside with the gently flowing river and bird song aplenty. But step inside the mill when it is working and you are immediately captivated by the noise, the constant rumble and throbbing of the machinery as cogs, belts and wheels go about their milling business.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

 

Theme for the Week – Quirky Dorset Part 5

25 Mar

– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –

Another of those quirky things in Dorset relates to its bridges! The bridges themselves are normal but many of the older ones have signs on them such as the one below threatening transportation if anyone was found damaging them. This seems very harsh today but believe it or not, it was aimed at leniency in those days.

Lower Bockhampton

Penal Transportation was the banishment of criminals, political prisoners and prisoners of war to lands overseas. It started in the early 1600’s with boat loads being shipped to the Americas and continued until the American Revolution when the practice was suspended. It resumed again in 1787 when the first fleet departed from England bound for Australia. It is though a practice that had its foundations much earlier, dating back to Roman times when people were sent into exile.

It might seem harsh to transport someone for life for damaging a bridge but prior to its introduction, the penalty might have been death. Indeed, many who were transported for comparatively minor offences were originally sentenced to death but pardoned, their sentence being reduced to transportation. It was actually introduced as a punishment for crimes where the death penalty seemed too severe!

However, it had other benefits as well. It also had the effect of increasing the labour force in the newly set up penal colonies, so helping develop English colonies overseas. And it wasn’t limited to men either, as women and children could be transported as well. One of the problems though was that there were less destinations prepared to take women, children, or those who were infirm. Most wanted only fit young men who could work hard.

In the case of the sign below, the punishment was transportation for life, but sometimes it was just for a set number of years. The problem was that at the end of their term they had to pay for their own passage back and many could not afford this, choosing rather to stay on as free men in the country to which they had been transported. Thus, the colonies grew.

Beware!

Its amazing to think how the transportation system worked – no phones, no internet, no way of contacting the colonies, so the captains (for whom this became a commercial transaction) would have had to set sail not knowing whether their human cargo would be accepted. They would have had to choose from a selection of prisoners purely on their knowledge of who would bring in the most profit for them.

I guess the lesson is, if you fancy carving your initials on a Dorset bridge, think again as you might wind up in the ‘back of beyond’ somewhere serving in a penal colony 😉 !

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Theme for the Week – Quirky Dorset Part 4

24 Mar

– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –

Our theme for the week is ‘Quirky Dorset’, which is all about unusual things that you might find as you are ‘exploring the countryside and lanes of Dorset’, and I could not possibly let this week go with out including these – the Dorset Holloways.

The Dorset Holloways

The Magical, Mystery of Dorset's Holloways

In a Dorset Holloway

I have written a number of blogs on these somewhat unusual occurrences which although not exclusive to Dorset, are found there aplenty. Holloways are ancient byways that have become sunken tracks after centuries of use has eroded the ground. They started life as normal footpaths but millions of feet, cart wheels, animal hooves, and water running off the land have gradually worn away the soft bedrock so that the paths have sunk deeper and deeper below the level of the surrounding land. By their very nature, they occur only where the bedrock is soft such as in the sandstone of West Dorset.

For me, these are just the most amazing places to walk and you can almost sense the different generations of people who used them over hundreds of years. The trees that once lined the path and marked its route now hang over the edge with their roots exposed. You almost feel that you are walking underground in a giant rabbit burrow as the trees arch overhead creating a tunnel effect. The depth varies but some go down as much as 30 feet with sheer sides making them more like gorges. Some, such as Hell Lane, have names that seem to suit them perfectly 🙂 !

 

Holloway

Hell Lane

Such is the effect of these paths on me, that I was inspired to write a poem about them, and I have repeated it below:

A world of mystery down below,
A place of doom where all fear to go,
Dark by night, eerie by day,
This is the Dorset Holloway.

A path that once was above the ground,
Foot, hoof and wheel has worn it down,
For centuries man has come this way,
Creating the Dorset Holloway.

The walls each side show heritage clear,
Etched in their faces, year on year,
Through diff’rent ages the path worn away
The ancient Dorset Holloway.

With roots either side and branch overhead,
Trees arch above their arms outspread,
Creating a darkness, to keep out the day,
The shadowy Dorset Holloway.

Stuff of fiction as well as fact,
At times overgrown, with brambles packed,
A haven for nature’s pleasant bouquet,
The nature filled Dorset Holloway.

An underground warren of time worn ways,
A lab’rinth where birds, bugs, bats play,
With damp plants aplenty growing from clay,
The musty Dorset Holloway.

A secret world of hobgoblins rare,
Tricks of mind and raising of hair,
Such the effect, you fear to stray
In the spectral Dorset Holloway.

But explore these paths with open mind,
Follow the route wherever they wind,
Be amazed at the things that there lay,
The evocative Dorset Holloway.

(Copyright The Dorset Rambler)

I just love walking these quirky paths, there is always something new to find and photograph. It is the whole air of mystery and intrigue that makes them special and as I walk them, I often wonder who used them centuries ago and what their lives were like, as well as what the purpose of their journey was. These are special places indeed!

If you would like to read more about these ancient paths, just type ‘Holloways’ into the search bar and my other blog entries will come up.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Theme for the Week – Walking the Streets Part 3

16 Mar

– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –

So this week, we are on the theme of ‘Walking the Streets’ which apart from walking is also about the genre of photography known as ‘Street Photography’.

Youth

The moral dilemma is of course, is it an invasion of privacy to take candid pictures of people just going about their business in a public place? Well, I have to say that although this is a genre of photography I enjoy, partly because it totally contrasts with my usual landscapes and therefore provides a new set of challenges, I am not completely comfortable about taking pictures of people without their knowledge.

Now, of course, one way around this moral dilemma is to actually ask if they mind you taking their picture but street photography is all about capturing the critical moment, and this moment might be lost if you stop to ask first. Having said that, I do often ask first, although that in itself is not easy because it involves approaching a complete stranger and that takes a certain amount of courage in itself. How paparazzi photographers do what they do, I am not sure, but it seems to me to be street photography in the extreme! Apart of course from the fact that their subjects are celebrities who in many ways benefit from the publicity.

There are though, occasions when things work the other way round. In the case of the picture above, these three youngsters passed me in the street, and seeing my camera, they asked me to take their picture and then proceeded to pose for me. Naturally, I obliged and they then went on their way. I have no idea who they were and they never saw the picture. But to me, this sums up ‘capturing the moment’ as it was completely spontaneous and done in fun, and that is what street photography is about.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

I think that I shall never see…..

27 Feb

Bark and Park!

…..But sometimes its because we just don’t look!

I think we’ve probably all experienced that phenomenon whilst we are driving, when we think, ‘That’s funny, I don’t remember driving round that roundabout, or going through those traffic lights, or seeing that building etc; those occasions when we are on autopilot so just don’t remember looking. Of course, we did look, we just didn’t ‘LOOK’! There’s a difference.

It’s true of all areas of our lives – in these modern days, there is just so much going on in our lives that our minds are always elsewhere as we worry about things, plan things, solve the world’s problems, keep in touch with friends, and a million other things that we think need our urgent attention. We almost absent-mindedly travel through life and are always somewhere else in our heads rather than living in the moment maximising where we are now.

Mobile phones don’t help! Back in the ‘old days’, there was just you and your immediate surroundings but now we carry with us the web, phone calls, texts, social media – we are not fully in touch with our surroundings partly because there is a whole raft of other worlds demanding our attention. Our minds are in so many different places at the same time. Like so many things, mobile phones can be a blessing and a curse and it takes a conscious effort to just focus on where we are at this minute and really notice what is around us.

So let’s complete the phrase that started this train of thought – ‘I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree’ (Joyce Kilmer – from the poem Trees) and my picture above that was taken, of all places, in a supermarket car park. I just love the bark with its beautiful range of subtle tones and textures and I thought I would do something a bit arty and include part of its surroundings. It wasn’t the most likely place to find something beautiful, beautiful to me at least, you may not find it so. But the point is, there are gems all around us if we can develop an awareness, and really LOOK!

So let’s change the phrase to, ‘I think that I WILL see’!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Looking for the Decoy

2 Dec

Recently I have spent some time exploring Wareham Forest. Its not an area I have walked extensively because I thought it was mainly coniferous woodlands which are not as interesting as mixed woodlands. However, I was surprised at how much open heathland there was, and one particular heath that grabbed my attention was Decoy Heath.

Now anyone from Dorset will probably know that in wartime, fires were lit on remote Dorset heaths to lure enemy aircraft away from the towns and munition works, acting as a decoy for their bombs. However, that is not where Decoy Heath gets its name. In fact, it gets its name from ducks.

Back in the day, ducks were trapped for food and feathers and in order to do this, new ponds were created or existing ponds altered in order to attract ducks and draw them into the traps. These ponds were known as decoy ponds and there were in fact two on Decoy Heath, hence its name.

Decoy Heath

Decoy Heath with the Old Decoy Pond

I visited one day this week on a beautifully sunny day and walked around the larger, and more obvious, pond. This is known as Old Decoy Pond but is not technically a ‘decoy pond’ in the accepted sense as its shape is irregular and there is no evidence of its being used to actually trap ducks. It is in fact thought to have been used to attract ducks to the general area and its size would have facilitated this.

The second and smaller pond where the actual trapping took place is known as Decoy Pond and is much less obvious, being smaller and somewhat hidden amongst trees and marshy land to the south of the larger pond. I returned on another very misty day to search that one out. This smaller pond, together with its associated but now derelict decoy man’s overnight shelter, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as there are few remaining in this country in any recognisable state.

Decoy Pond

The way through marshy land

Just reaching the old overnight shelter was like something out of the Hound of the Baskervilles, with mist and marshy land all around making it difficult to reach the old shelter. The simple single roomed building with one door, one small window and a corner fire place was once probably thatched but the roof has long since disappeared. Only the remnant of the walls remain standing. The stream that feeds the decoy pond circles round three sides of the cottage, almost like the moat of a castle and it is hard to know where it is safe to tread.

Decoy Pond

The decoy man’s overnight shelter

It was fascinating finding this old relic especially on a day which seemed ideally suited to emphasise the mystery of the place. It was built in 1724 by the Drax family of Charborough Park, together with the pond and nearby Decoy House (now demolished) which was where the decoy man lived. It was used for over 100 years until 1856 when shooting rights were granted over the surrounding land, creating too much disturbance to make duck trapping viable.

So what about the pond itself? Well unfortunately the whole area was so marshy that it was impossible to walk farther in than the old shelter. The pond’s shape is still visible on the overhead satellite view but this appears to indicate that it has become considerably overgrown with reeds etc so that clear water is not now visible. However, it is still waterlogged and in better condition than most – it is in fact one of only two remaining in Dorset.

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-00-19

Satellite view showing the pentagonal pond in the trees

I was interested to read how decoy ponds were used. The practice dates back to medieval times in more simple forms but the more complex design seen here was introduced from Holland in the 17th century. Most were star shaped, a main pond with tapering ditches known as pipes running in a curved shape outwards, with netting over the top. In the picture above, the remnants of some of these ‘pipes’ can be seen stretching out from the pentagonal shaped pond.

It was down these ‘pipes’ that ducks would be lured by either using strategically placed food or by using dogs. The latter method relied on the ducks’ natural inclination to follow predators such as foxes to keep them in sight – thus the dog mimicking a predator led the ducks up the pipe. Carefully placed screens would be used to hide the dog but allow sufficient glimpses to maintain the ducks’ interest. When they reached the point of the pipe, they would be captured by the decoy men and have their necks wrung.

The images below give an idea of how the decoy ponds were used. They are by Sir Ralph Frankland-Payne-Gallwey, 3rd Baronet (1848-1916) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from his book ‘The book of duck decoys, their construction, management, and history (1886)’.

decoy_5_pipe

decoy_in_action

It has been fascinating exploring this little corner of Dorset and the old custom of duck decoying. I am sure there is much more to learn but I hope you have enjoyed this little taster.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.