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But first, this month’s Letter from the Editor…
Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? When does it stop being appropriate and become just awkwardly late?
Well, probably about now, but it’s our first issue of the year and I’ve not seen you yet – so Happy New Year!
We had a wonderfully packed house over Christmas and New Year. It’s astonishing how full it feels when you have four children and they all turn into adult-sized human beans when you’re not looking. Then one gets himself a wife, some of them bring a friend or two over and before you know it you’re making toasted sandwiches for 12 while vociferously defending your position that cheese has no place in a hot tuna sandwich (and yes, in the interests of science I tried it and will now acknowledge that my previous position may have been foolish. I have, in fact, wasted the 20 years since I discovered toasted tuna by not having melted cheese in it).
Thanks to a small … hiccup … in editorial organisation (ahem) there’s no Random 19 or Dorset Island Discs in this issue – apologies, I know they’re popular. Instead may I suggest that you spend some time on the solar farm debate with Rupert Hardy, and mosey through some of the columns you might usually flick past (I know, I do it too. But trust me – every single page has earned its place, and is worth a few minutes of your time. Jane’s wildlife column deserves to be read slowly. Charlotte (flowers) always makes me laugh, Andrew (farming) makes me think. Roger Guttridge always has a good story. Tracie and Courtenay manage to combine words and pictures perfectly every month in A Country Living. Readers photos are a joy.
I know that everywhere we look right now there seems worry, despair, gloom and uncertainty. And a bill that needs paying. Except here in the BV of course – we always try to leave you feeling a little lighter and perhaps knowing something new. And we’re free, obviously.
Meanwhile, we shared a small note on social media which has been popular and I think bears repeating: It’s January. Rest. Get some fresh air. Find a new favourite show (we’d personally recommend Yellowstone if you’ve not seen it yet). Eat some chocolate. Keep cosy. Cook your favourite foods. Get yourself a big bunch of flowers. Plan some adventures.
See you in three weeks!
Why do people in Blandford have to drive fast?
Taking a few things to my car on Christmas morning, a car was coming towards me at speed. When I said to the woman who was driving ‘slow down’ I got ‘f**k off!’ back.
Charming – and on Christmas morning.
There just is no need for either.
I thought It appropriate to contact your magazine in the hope that a warning note could be posted. I have just returned from walking along the North Dorset trailway towards Shillingstone station with my five-year-old Cocker Spaniel.
From a side footpath a youngish Boxer Dog appeared, stopping some 20 feet from us. A few moments later a pack of five or six dogs, including two aggressive older Boxers, chased out of the same path and went for me initially, barking and salivating, but then attacked my spaniel. The dogs were acting as a pack.
The two women who were with the dogs subsequently appeared and while trying to intervene had no impact on stopping the attack. Getting my dog out from under the two larger Boxers, we managed to walk away – we will live to fight another day, but the Spaniel is a bit shaken up.
I did tell the women concerned that the dogs were acting as a pack and should either be muzzled or at least on leads. This was met with a somewhat vacant look.
I am flagging this up not to cause trouble but to alert others. If this were a young child or a family out with their dog or puppy the outcome could be very unpleasant. I understand these women are local so a repeat of this matter is highly likely.
Name and address supplied
Do fellow North Dorset residents feel that they receive value for their Council Tax? It recently came to my attention that we have the third highest Council Tax rates in England – but do we get the third best services? I’m failing to see where all the money goes – I would welcome someone pointing me to the information?
Council tax is for our streets, lighting, rubbish, planning, policing etc.
But our streets are constantly being washed into pot holes (or, as in Sturminster Newtons case, falling into the river), there’s very little street lighting except in the towns, and there’s even less police (through no fault of their own).
But we know the government have no wish to lose votes by raising the taxes required to foot the rising social care bill, so they pass it down the line to local councils – and I presume as Dorset has an aging population our social care bill is higher than most?
At least the plentiful new housing developments springing up around the north of the county will be filling up the council tax coffers nicely – have spending budgets increased accordingly?
I very much enjoy Andrew Livingston’s articles, and the recent A Bugger’s Muddle (BV, Dec 22) was no exception. I had yet to see a lack of eggs in the shops, although I had seen much talk of empty shelves, and I felt perhaps it was another media frenzy over a non-existent issue (apologies BV!). Until I looked a little more closely and realised that the eggs in my trolley were from Italy, just as Andrew Livingston had predicted.
Further reading has lead me to understand that it’s not just chicken farmers who are unable to re-invest in the next cycle of egg laying hens, it is happening across a number of food industries where the producers are seeing profits squeezed not only by rising costs but also by increasing supermarket pressures.
At what point can and should the government intervene? I refuse to accept we need a ‘nanny state’ interfering – enterprise should naturally be self-regulating. But what is an industry to do when the playing field is very far from level? How can our producers – held, quite rightly, to the very highest of welfare, traceability and chemical standards – possibly compete with cheap imports from less regulated countries?
Surely if those are the standards we hold ourselves to, any product sold here should maintain the same standards? Not doing so rather makes a mockery of the system – and enforces the fact that only the wealthy can afford to eat well.
If everyone had the same standards, the prices would be the same for all?
(You may find George Hosford’s article in Farming this month even more illuminating Betty – Ed)
I was so surprised when I had a call just before Christmas telling me that I had won the Boxing Day racing prize. On Boxing Day we joined the queue of cars winding slowly through Wincanton to the racecourse. The going was good to soft – and that was just the car park! Thankfully there was a tractor on site to pull out anyone who got stuck.
We had a great day, chatting to other racegoers, cheering on the finishers – the noise in the stands when the horses are coming in to the finish is incredible. Thank you for organising the prize, it was a great day out and one we will repeat.
Above is a photo of a recent cheque presentation to the Milton Abbas Surgery. The £2,000 was raised primarily by monthly charity pub quizzes held at The Crown in Winterborne Stickland throughout 2022, the remainder being raised by a local resident who match-funded some quizzes, local donations, and the profits from local Artsreach shows.
The main aim of the fundraising was to allow the Milton Abbas Surgery to buy a second online heart monitor which transfers results directly to the patient’s records, reducing administration work by the practice staff.
This equipment is very rare in Dorset, so Milton Abbas are leading the field in detecting and recording heart issues. In the picture are (L to R) Ash Millar (landlady of the The Crown), Dr. Julian Rees (Senior Practice Partner), Sarah Noble (Practice Manager) and Graeme Gale (Quiz Organiser)