I’m going to avoid the ‘state of the world’ commentary this month. I’m bored with trying to find a positive spin on a basket full of nightmares.
The two alternatives I have half-drafted are rapidly getting equally shouty. And if there’s one thing literally no one needs right now is one more person shouting about Wrong Things from their corner.
So instead, I’m going to talk about some Happy Things. Most people know that Courtenay is a photographer, and many assume that he takes the cover photo each month. He certainly travels the county photographing talented people creating beautiful things.
But the cover shot? No. He’s not allowed – and hasn’t been since Issue 2.
Because that, dear reader, is all yours.
Every month we welcome submissions via our Facebook group and by email. And every month we are inundated with a pop up seasonal art gallery of astonishing photography*.
It’s absolutely joyous.
By deadline day (the Monday before we publish) we will, in an average month, have received more than 700 submissions. These are whittled down to a shortlist of 30 or so, which we then request as high resolution versions. And then comes my personal highlight of publication week; settling down with C and a mug of coffee to go through them all, comfortably bickering for a while over the merits of each picture as we slowly select the 12 which will make the reader’s photography section (unless we make an exception – there’s 13 this month!) – plus the coveted cover shot.
The sheer talent of our local photographers never fails to astonish us. And I know they bring the same joy to every BV reader. But what’s even nicer is the support and appreciation in the group – everyone’s just there to enjoy them, and every submission is welcomed, no matter the subject, the style or the experience of the photographer. From phone shots to macro insects, astrophotography to drone stills – everything’s welcome. We’ve never set a theme, but by accident seem to have fallen into the embarrassment of riches that is Dorset wildlife and landscapes. And honestly? That’s fine by us!
And if you sometimes miss out the photography section .. maybe don’t? You also might just want to flip back and take a closer look at that glorious front starry cover from William Evans, too.
(*I mean, I do tell C he’s welcome to submit like anyone else … but I also warn him it’s seriously stiff competition out there.)
Is the world uninsurable?
I’m concerned about the impact of climate change on our community, especially seeing the effects of the most recent set of storms with the damaging flooding to many local properties and businesses. Insurance companies already warn that due to climate-related risks, premiums will rise. In 2022, we had £473 million in storm payouts, and high temperatures led to £219 million in subsidence claims last summer. Insured losses from extreme weather have risen by 54% in a decade.
Home insurance prices are at an all-time high, making it unaffordable for some. However, the situation is even more dire for those who cannot afford or access home insurance due to past flooding or a lack of willing insurers.
This leaves homeowners and businesses vulnerable to shouldering the full costs of damage – and it also affects property values in high-risk areas, as potential buyers struggle to secure mortgages on uninsured properties.
As Axa Insurance CEO, Henri De Castries, aptly said, “A 2°C warmer world might be insurable, a 4°C warmer world certainly would not be.” It is crucial that we acknowledge the role of climate change in these challenges and take proactive measures to protect our homes and environment.
L Simmons, Sherborne
Gribbles and Ymps
(In reference to Jane Adam’s Just chuck it out the window! in The BV Oct 23.)
Many moons ago I worked on a tree nursery, one of our major contracts was supplying trees to new road projects, some of which were a species of apple that originated from an apple core in South Somerset – they were planted all over the country.
The origins of Slack Ma Girdle are still unconfirmed; chances are it was from Devon, but we will never know.
Crab apples are direct descendants of the wild apples found in Kazakhstan. Size does not matter but mostly they’re very small, and they are all Malus sylvestris, as opposed to Malus domesticus, domesticated apples (this did make me laugh) which are the descendants of sylvestris but then grafted onto known rootstock, ranging from Dwarf to Standards.
Apple trees grown from seed are Gribbles, as opposed to those grown from grafts which in olde English were known as Ymps.
Every seed from an apple is genetically different from its parent tree, that is the beauty of the apple and why I have 18 new cultivars about to be grown on by Adam’s Apples.
Tim Beer, via Facebook
On Bad Boy Wilf
(Andrew Livingston’s brutally honest tale of dog ownership in the Oct issue of the BV)
I have literally never enjoyed reading anything so much that I know to be 100% true in all my life. I laughed the whole way through!
Linda O’Neill, Facebook
On the kindness of villagers
I was deeply touched by the heartwarming article about Gemma Hampton and her husband Andy’s experience in Hinton St Mary (The BV, Oct 23). In times of adversity, it is often the support and kindness of a close-knit community that shine the brightest. Gemma’s account of the village’s response to her husband’s diagnosis of a brain tumour is a testament to the strength of community spirit. The villagers coming together to create a rota for the family’s help is truly heartening. It is in stories like these that we find the true essence of community – something so often declared as lost.
But it is a place where people rally around one another in times of need, offering their assistance and their support. What a reminder of the goodness that does exist, right outside our doors.
I wish Gemma, Andy, and their children continued strength and resilience as they navigate this challenging journey ahead.
Anna Simmons, Verwood
On Steeptonbill Farm Shop
I enjoyed the recent feature on Steeptonbill Farm Shop and its owner, Steve Gould. It’s great to read about another local business dedicated to fresh, sustainable produce. Steve’s commitment to supporting local growers and providing seasonal items is impressive. It’s essential to support local growers like Steve, who contribute to our community and offer authentic, quality food. It’s businesses like Steeptonbill Farm Shop that make our local community special.
On a side note, I want to compliment your “Meet Your Local” column, which has introduced me to several new local businesses and also had me exploring some previously-unknown villages. Keep up the good work!
F Winter, Shaftesbury
I found this amazing little gold mine of a shop in the summer and went back on Wednesday for fresh veg for a slow cooker stew – it was gorgeous!
Sally Bastian, Facebook
Take a hike
I just wanted to drop a quick note to say thanks for featuring the hike “In the space between Dorchester and Beaminster” in your recent issue. It was a lovely walk in an area I hadn’t explored before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
What I appreciated most was the practicality of the article. Using a proper map, along with the option to download the route, is right up my alley. I like to have a physical map in hand while planning my walks. And even though I don’t walk with an app, having the choice to download and transcribe the route was a bonus for a map enthusiast like me. I’ve bookmarked a few more walks you’ve featured, and I’m looking forward to trying them out when the weather improves. Thanks again for making local walks accessible and enjoyable.
Your magazine has become my go-to for discovering new paths in our area!
Peter Brown, Blandford
What about the youth resources?
I am writing to express my concern about the lack of opportunities and outlets available to young people in our rural area. Living in a rural setting undoubtedly has its charms, but it also presents challenges, especially for our younger residents. After school, there seems to be a significant void in terms of activities and places for them to gather, socialise, and engage in constructive pursuits.
It’s disheartening to hear about the prevalence of drug issues in some of our towns, and it’s clear that many young people are lacking positive alternatives to keep them occupied and motivated.
While uniformed groups are fantastic for those who are interested, they may not appeal to everyone.
I am curious to know if there are any initiatives or plans in place to address this issue. Are there community-driven efforts to create safe and engaging spaces for young people to come together, learn, and have fun? Is there a possibility of securing funding or support from local organisations or authorities to facilitate such programmes?
Heather Baines, Gillingham