Letters to the BV Editor May 2021


Editor’s Letter:

Allow me to share with you a delightful tale of classic Laura-ing. This month we were invited to a press event. An outside event, no less – a day in glorious sunshine. 

Marvellous, yes? 


On our way there the exhaust dropped off my car. RAC to the rescue, and we arrived at the vineyard over an hour late to find a large proportion of the rest of the group is intimidatingly-knowing London Hipster cool types in big beards, cool hats, dungarees and no socks. You know the sort.
FAR above chatting to a middle aged mum 

(I suspect they were actually lovely).

Anyhoo, we ended up for lunch, just the two of us, on a table with a very serious winemaker (not serious-serious. Important-serious. He wasn’t actually serious, he was lovely and kind and funny). A truly delicious lunch was served, and a certain female of your acquaintance, chatting away happily, cut through the bruschetta underneath her amazing lobster salad… and didn’t cut but instead flipped the whole thing, at force, firing her lobster directly across the table at her husband. 

THEN (oh gods. Mortifying.) said female who shall not be named, proceeded to scoop the utterly delicious well-I’m-not-going-to-waste-that lobster smartly off the (outdoors) table and back onto her plate and ate it.

(*pauses to note with disappointment that neither of her male companions kindly acknowledged it was a ‘slippery little sucker’. I’ve waited my whole life for a Pretty Woman moment, and they missed it*)

Weirdly, it was only at midnight that night, as I was drifting off to sleep, that my brain kindly replayed this entire scene on repeat – and also showed me Serious Winemaker’s face as he watched me casually scoop my lunch up off the (outdoors, remember?) table, plopped it back onto my plate and then carried on eating it. I had clearly seen his face, but my scatty head simply hadn’t registered at the time.

Face BURNING. Again.


My wife and I have taken to picking up countryside litter on our daily exercise walks. Now is a good time to do this; the council has cut the verges back, last summer’s foliage has died away, and new spring growth isn’t yet too high, so it’s much easier to spot our prey. Picking it up gives the countryside a fresh start. Not for long perhaps but, curiously, litter left lying seems to be a magnet for more litter.

What do you need to pick up litter? Well, first some gloves are essential. Personally, we don’t use a litter-picking tool because we find the stooping and straightening good exercise, but many volunteer pickers do. You need a bag – I’ve dedicated a couple of supermarket bags-for-life to the task. And last, for your own safety, a light coat or even a ‘high-viz’ vest makes sense. If you live in Somerset, contact the countryside charity CPRE Somerset, and they can kit you out with a picker, gloves and hi-viz vest if you commit to a regular litterpick in your area. Details at www.cpresomerset.org.uk

How much do you pick? That’s up to you of course, but I work by the bag-full: one bag per walk, two if I’m feeling particularly virtuous (or cross with the tossers). On some stretches of road it’s surprising how quickly a bag fills up.

It’s extraordinary what motorists carelessly toss into our green and pleasant countryside. Sweet papers, snack packets, face masks and plastic bottles of course. More sobering are the large number of cider and beer cans, and the occasional pre-mixed gin and tonics. This week

I also picked up two vodka, two whisky and a brandy bottle. I imagine the drinkers were disposing of the evidence before getting home. Or to work. On a less sad note, I also found a baby’s dummy, a pair of reading spectacles, a half-full dispenser of anti-wrinkle lotion and a large black bra.

What’s to be done? How can the tossers be stopped?

First we should make clear that littering in the countryside is a serious offence. The fixed-penalty charge for littering should be raised from its present ‘up to £150’ to ‘up to £1,000’, and well publicised. I’d also like to see tossing litter out of a car made a motoring offence, so that magistrates have the power to add penalty points to the driver’s licence and also sentence tossers to unpaid community work.


Schools and colleges can help. A series of information films highlighting the damage that littering does to the environment should be part of the curriculum. They need to be interesting, well produced and regularly refreshed. Not old hat. If the message gets through to children, they’ll pass it on to the parents.

Finally, like the speed-awareness courses that speeding motorists can be asked to do, there should be similar litter-awareness courses for motorists caught littering. Or a spell in the stocks being pelted with litter. That would learn them, wouldn’t it?

Martin Roundell Greene

Why is it, that some people in the area treat the wonderful environment around them with such disdain? Here, in a pristine Coombe, only 15 minutes walk from the outer part of Shaftesbury town is a picture of litter horror.
Climate change and protecting the environment has become the most vital issue today and has to be the very future of our planet and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Pippa Mukherjee Environmentalist

The ongoing disgrace of the works on Dinah’s Hollow is a perpetual shambles – we’re all being distracted by this huge spend on fixing the ‘unsafe banks’ (let’s not discuss how this was caused by poor land management, followed by the council stripping all vegetation from the bank – hardly a surprise a slip followed, is it?).

Anyone can see the real and ongoing issue is the volume of traffic and the sheer scale of the
vehicles using what is effectively a small lane – the solution is not to piledrive large metal staples into the bank, it is to move the traffic onto an appropriately-sized ‘A’ road.

John F, Shaftesbury.

Many thanks to the BV (and Fanny Charles) for continuine to raise awareness of the futile actions surrounding Dinah’s Hollow and the C13. So they’ll shore up the banks to prevent slippage – will that stop lorries getting stuck? Stop damage to the village of Melbury Abbas? Prevent major incidents caused by huge HGV’s navigating the tight turns and Spreadeagle Hill? What will it take for action to be taken on the root cause of the issues on the C13 – the sheer volume and weight of traffic which has no place on such a small and winding C road?

Anna Phaelen, Shaftesbury

Andy Palmer’s article about the day Prince Charles was out with the hunt at Mappowder prompted a memory. My father also met Prince Charles – probably the same day. Mid afternoon, cows already in the yard at Shortwood Farm ready for milking and the Master of Foxhounds and various others intent on coming up through the field towards the yard.

Aged Parent stomped off in his wellies towards them to say
“you can’t come through here, go through that gate there”. Master of Foxhounds interrupted to say “Mr. Batstone this is the Prince of Wales…”.
Reply – “Oh ah, well he still can’t go through the yard”.
After which they had a pleasant conversation about the Prince’s very nice horse. When Father got back to the farm Mother was ready to start milking and wanted to know who he had been talking to. When he said “Prince Charles” she thought he had finally flipped…

Cllr Pauline Batstone

May I thank you for sharing the school choir video in the April Issue? How wonderful it was to watch, it brought such a smile and I’ve been humming the tune for days. It’s been marvellous to see how many groups have found such clever ways to bring everyone together through a very difficult and isolating period.
(may I also say how much I enjoy being able to play the videos in the magazine? I didn’t understand at first, but now rather enjoy my own ‘cleverness’ at watching them!)
Helen Wiles, Blandford.

Many thanks for the latest issue – I live in Kent now, but an old friend sadly sent me a link to the Ray Humphries obit a few months ago, and now I look forward to my slice of ‘home’ every month. I always enjoy Roger Guttridge’s peek into the past (I remember equally enjoying his column in the original BVM), but Stur High School took me by surprise. I didn’t expect my own school days to be featured in a ‘Then & Now’ column – I’m used to marvelling at the featured ‘times past’, not finding myself counted among them!

Jenny Paine, Maidstone.

Not trying to be picky, but Honeysuckle actually won The Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, not The Gold Cup!!
Rachael also won The Gold Cup of course.
Ian Boyce, London

I couldn’t help but notice the error in your April edition, which I just opened.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup 2021 was actually won by Minella Indo ridden by Jack Kennedy.
Honeysuckle, ridden by the brilliant Rachael Blackmore, won the Champion Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Meeting.

Fiona Ball

(Apologies to Glanvilles Stud, Rachael Blackmore and of course Honeysuckle herself. I KNEW it was the Champion Hurdle, honest. The article was correct, it was just that header… sigh Ed)

Thank God for Andy Palmer and his column. What a find – a local publication that’s actually fun to read as well as interesting.

Mike Jones, Sherborne.

Great magazine but do you pay your columnist Andy Palmer by the pun? Some of them are even funny, I will admit. Why don’t you only pay him for the good ones, and fine him, say, £10, for every bad one? He did some funny ones based around cheese in the first issue.

Sally H, Shaftesbury

Sally, two things to bear in mind with Andy (our online stats show he is very popular with readers, and yes, it’s a mystery to me, too). Firstly, if there is a pun to be scraped out of the air, he never shies away from grabbing it. Second, if I was to fine him for the bad ones, he’d be owing us. But he’s fun to work with (if we ignore the perennial big head).
And finally, you’re in luck – he’s got some new cheese ones in this issue (see page 41). My fave is The Beatles one. I actually laughed. Ed.


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