April Issue of the digital Blackmore Vale magazine.

The Blackmore Vale magazine is the monthly digital publication offering a warm and friendly slice of rural Dorset life to readers from all over the country.

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In this month:

  • Bestselling Dorset-born author Sarah J. Naughton braves the random 20, discussing her love of Cut Mill in Sturminster Newton, along with her unreasonable crush on Iwan Rheon and the last thing she Googled.
  • Then there’s the glorious Cheltenham winner Honeysuckle – not just ridden by a Blackmore, she was bred right here in the Blackmore Vale by Glanvilles Stud. “…it was a thumping great loss!” exclaimed her breeder Doug Procter on finally selling her as a three year old.
  • Popular columnist Andy Palmer tells a true tale of Prince Charles in Stalbridge waiting for ‘they silly buggers’, and in Roger Guttridge’s local history column, the ‘Ghost in Room Nine’ discusses the haunting of the King’s Arms Hotel.  Allegedly the ghost is Amelia, a local girl who died in the great fire of Blandford which destroyed the town in 1731. Lost public buildings included the parish church, the town hall, the schoolhouse, the fire engine house and market house, and the old church almshouses. All but a dozen of Blandford’s houses and businesses were also engulfed, along with parts of nearby Bryanston and Blandford St Mary. The rebuild, of course, is what made Blandford the uniquely Georgian model town it is today.
  • Shaftesbury’s radio podcast ‘Alfred Daily’ has just celebrated its first year – the forty five minute daily radio show has become a firm staple in the life of those who live in Shaftesbury and its outlying villages. But we learn how it also provides a special connection to life in the town for many who have not been able to visit for many months now.
    It’s also making waves nationally; the groundbreaking FM licence was awarded by Ofcom in December 2019;
    “Ours was the first ever licence granted for a talk-only community radio, staffed entirely by volunteers and with no fixed studio. No one had ever done that before – pre-covid, the idea of recording content without a studio was radical!”.

  • On the Ward Goodman charity pages this month, we have the story of Swanage Railway’s difficult year, and how, despite being closed since December, the staff and volunteers have had an incredibly busy winter as they have prepared for a safe re-opening this month.
  • Archbishop Wake, Blandford’s primary school, created a ‘Zoom choir’ production during lockdown in which the whole school took part. With input and editing from a local professional musician, the resulting video is an uplifting smile-inducer, which has been shared widely by the Department for Education.
  • As an area named by Thomas Hardy as the ‘Vale of Little Dairies’, it’s fitting that many local dairy farms have begun investing in milk vending machines, bringing their produce direct to the consumer often right at the farm gate. We spoke to Woodbridge Farm, home of the famous Dorset blue Vinny cheese, on the first anniversary of their milk & produce vending machines, and how it has changed life on the farm for them all.
  • In the wildlife section the Hedgehog sanctuary at Hazelbury Bryan is reflecting on the release of 47 hedgehogs this Spring, along with tips on keeping your garden activities hedgehog friendly. In much the same vein, Brigit Strawbridge is talking about the beautiful Slow-worm. Alongside the wildlife, there is a fascinating article by the local Rabbit Rescue – they are not the pets we thought they were!
  • Our monthly hike is one of our personal favourites – Win Green Circular – 8.5 miles.
    Win Green Down, the highest point of the Cranborne Chase, is just outside Shaftesbury and always worth a visit; on a clear day you can see The Needles.  There are many walks from the top; or simply stick to the Ox Drove itself for constantly spectacular views, it is one of the longest and most ancient routes in the country. But our favourite is to drop off the Drove to create a circular route through the Rushmore Park to come in the back of Tollard Royal and then a stiff climb up from beautifully peaceful Ashcombe Bottom on the Wessex Ridgeway.
  • In Food & Drink, Rachael Rowe has been celebrating north Dorset’s chocolate industry, Simon Vernon discusses the effect of the seasons on artisan cheeses, and Sadie from Vineyards of Sherborne continues her wine lessons, this month on ‘terroir’. There’s also a letter from Portland Shellfish on the Love Local, Trust Local movement, and celebrating our local shellfish “…there’s Dorset Blue Lobster, Fresh Hand Picked White and Brown Crab Meat, Cockles, Oysters and Clams from Poole Harbour to name but a few!”

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