Wednesday, 21 July 2010

It pays to talk!

TO really infuriate the public almost with impunity you need to be a big multi-national company.

One such giant is BT who came up with this gem barely 20 yards from my front door. Now I’ve worn glasses for most of my life but even I wasn’t going to miss going out in the morning and coming back in the afternoon to find someone had put up a brand new 30ft telegraph pole near my home.

What was attached to it was a message which was pure BT.

It read that no one could object to the pole because it merely replaced existing equipment, but that if anyone wanted to object to it on the grounds that it somehow lessened their quality of life then they had a certain period in which to do so. If the dispute could not be resolved it would go to the courts.

So why risk having to go to all the trouble of digging the pole up again at hefty cost when a simple visit to potentially affected properties for a chat could have smoothed things over before trouble even started?

The answer is that by putting a pole in and warning people they only have a certain time to object it puts the ball in their court, perhaps literally in court because they would have to feel pretty strongly about it to pursue it all the way to a legal conclusion and BT knows that. For them, their way is easier and it has nothing to do with consultation.

A bit of consideration for others please

NO more World Cup for another four years, but loutish behaviour is unfortunately not something we must wait until 2014 to experience again.

One town centre pub showing the final had the misfortune to attract a group of foul mouthed alleged football supporters who already seemed to be half drunk before the match had even started.

This was bad news for the pub’s general clientele which included family and pensioner groups not just perhaps there for the game but for food and drink as well.

They found themselves torn between leaving to get away from these morons or staying to complete their eating, drinking or viewing but at the cost of raucous company they clearly didn’t appreciate.

No one minds enthusiastic support for a match, but the air was blue from start to finish, there was mindless behaviour and antics to keep it company and it finally did prove too much for several groups who walked out.

If they act on half of what they said then it will be a long time before that pub gets another visit from them… and the delights of a new football season are still to come!

The party’s over!

AND so it’s over, all the swish dresses put away, all the glitter washed off, all the smiling adrenalin used up.

For those who took part in the school prom they will never forget it, but for mothers and fathers?

Well, their pawnbroker seems like a nice chap and 159 per cent interest per week is a small price to pay for a child’s happiness.

Teenagers can get misty eyed at their memories, so what can us parents look forward to?

It’s fair to say the honeymoon period lasted 24 hours. After that it was bigger photo albums to house a collection Interpol would be proud of.

It was a bigger wardrobe to house the ceremonial prom dress. Not more space so existing clothing didn’t crease the star addition — just a new wardrobe solely for the prom dress. Yes, Dad, I know we don’t have the space but you could make more by getting rid of something.

How about your wardrobe?

But, when all is said and done, I’m bound to say that my life is now missing something – tension, poverty, hysterics, exhaustion and a slight nervous tic in my left eye to name but a few.

Oh yeah. Daughter did have a very good time so it was all worth it.

Even our feathered friends grow old

AGE catches up with us all eventually and this seemed to be visibly true with a crow I saw in a Weymouth cemetery.
t could still fly and hop albeit a little stiffly but that was not what caught my eye as it foraged among the gravestones.

What stood out was its plumage.

No, this was not a white albino crow but one which was mostly black yet with perhaps a dozen white feathers in its wings and on its back.

It was clearly a venerable bird doing its dignified best to make ends meet by finding what food it could under clumps of cut grass, around ornamental flower holders or down the side of grave surrounds.

It was completely fearless and I was able to get within a dozen yards of it before it clumsily took to the air and just about managed to land on top of a grave a safe distance away from me where it waited until I moved on to resume feeding. An unusual sight indeed.

All set for Lifeboat Week

THE weather took a turn for the worst last week with strong winds and heavy rain hitting the seafront on St Swithin’s Day.

An old wives tale says that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day it will rain for 40 more days and nights. Thankfully the sun is shining as I write this column, so hopefully it’s no more than superstition.

I struggled home in the wind and rain on Thursday night after watching the Pantomime Society’s Summer Show (how ironic) at the Marine Theatre, and even managed to brake my brolly.

As I left the theatre I got a glimpse of the huge waves crashing over the Marine Parade – I haven’t seen them that big since the new-look seafront and shingle beach was finished in 2007.

The waves even managed to make national news alongside a picture by award-winning local photographer Richard Austin.

If you missed the Telegraph’s article, it can still be read at

Talking of weather, let’s keep our fingers crossed for Lifeboat Week, which kicks off this Saturday.

I can’t wait for the annual week of fun and games to begin. Along with Regatta and Carnival Week, it’s the highlight of every summer.

Unfortunately, one of my favourite Lyme events, a display from the Red Arrows, doesn’t feature in this year’s programme. But it’s still set to be another bumper Wednesday with the impressive RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team dropping into the main beach at 2.30pm, followed by the Royal Navy Black Cats Helicopter Display Team.

I’ve never seen the Black Cats but am sure they won’t disappoint. Please note that they’ll now be flying in at 4pm, not the advertised time of 4.30pm.

Other entertainment during the first half of Lifeboat Week will include belly dancing, a lifeboat display, town crier’s competition, Lyme Regis Majorettes display, sand sports, sand castle competition, a teddy bear’s picnic and tug of war.

Lifeboat Week’s first ever barn dance will be held on Tuesday night from 7.30pm at Uplyme Village Hall. The Long Odds and Short Straws band starred at Uplyme in January to a packed out audience and the lifeboat crew are hoping for a repeat of the successful night. The dance will include a ploughman’s supper provided by Town Mill Cheesemonger Justin Tunstall and bar run by the Talbot Arms.

Tickets are available from the RNLI gift shop on the Cobb, Uplyme Post Office and the Lottery Hut on the Marine Parade.

Read Summertime in Lyme next Wednesday for a mid-Lifeboat Week update and don’t forget to buy your programme, available for £1.50 all around the town.


CONGRATULATIONS to all those who took part in the Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society’s Summer Show on Saturday afternoon.

Although numbers were down on last year, I still think 600 entries is an impressive amount.

A special mention should go to the 69 children who took part in a wide range if classes from flower arranging and cookery to handwriting, painting and photography.

5 things to do this weekend

1 Meet your new vicar – Lyme’s first lady Vicar, the Reverend Jane Skinner, will be licensed and welcomed to St Michael’s Parish Church in a ceremony on Friday evening from 7.30pm.

2 Sail a bathtub – The popular bathtub race is a Lifeboat Week favourite. Get working on your own boat and sail it from Cobb Gate to the harbour mouth under the watchful eye (and friendly splashes) of the lifeboat crew at 6.30pm on Sunday. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it!

3 Enjoy some top-notch comedy – The Edinburgh Preview Comedy Nights at the Marine Theatre will feature four comedians preparing to star at the Edinburgh Festival on Saturday and Sunday evenings – Ellis James, John Robins, James Sherwood and Mark Allen. For more details visit

4 Listen to piano and poetry – John and Sandra Lello will give a piano and poetry recital in aid of the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum at St Michael’s Parish Church on Sunday afternoon from 3.30pm. There is a suggested entry donation of £5 each.

5 Dress up and party – John and Linda McClements invite everyone to their fancy dress disco at the Cobb Arms in aid of Lifeboat Week. Enjoy a good night out and one of the town’s most popular hostelries. The sunshine came out just in time to enjoy this traditional village event, with cream teas, morris dancing and plenty to do for all the family.


AFTER a year of volunteering Emily Weeks, 23, has just landed the position of Fundraising Officer for Bridport Museum. Having completed a degree in Film and American Literature, at the University of East Anglia, Emily took up volunteer roles at the Museum of South Somerset in Yeovil and Bridport Museum. Initially just a hobby to fill her time as she job hunted, Emily decided she liked the job so much that she applied for an official post. Having successfully landed the role, made available to 18 to 24-year-olds by the Dorset County Council Future Jobs Fund, Emily is now preparing for a busy fundraising period with exciting new museum developments on the horizon.

WHAT does your job involve?
Fundraising, applying for various bits of grant money, running events and thinking of ways we can conjure up some money for the museum. We have a tea party and book sale on September, 19th as part of the hat festival weekend and we are organising a treasure hunt for August.

WHAT are your views on the potential move to the former Literary and Scientific Institute building?
I think it would be really good. I haven’t actually been inside the building yet but I am hoping to go this week. It sounds amazing; we could have everything in one building and expand on what we currently have. We could have a bigger shop and maybe a café and space to rent out as well. It’s not too far from the Local History Centre to the museum but sometimes we do have to ferry people across.

WHAT are the most interesting parts of Bridport’s past?
I think all the hanging history and the Bridport Dagger gets a good reception from the public, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not so good. I think all the little personal items you get in smaller community museums are quite nice as well, the letters and things like that.

DO YOU think the museum attracts people from outside the area?
I think so, we have had good numbers this year and it’s a place people come on holiday quite a lot and they will often have a poke about in the town and come to the museum.

WHERE do you see yourself in five years time?
I could possibly still be doing something in museums. I want to do something that interests me and that I can give something to. I would like to use my degree a bit more, I love literature so perhaps going more into the marketing side or publishing, but I’m not sure.

WHICH three dream guests would you invite to a dinner party?
My great granddad because he made really cool cricket balls and I have never met him. I don’t know if he was famous for it but we do have a cricket ball with our name on. I might invite Shakespeare, it would be cool to hang out with him for a bit and I think he would get on with my great granddad. I’d have someone alive to liven things up a bit as well, probably David Tennant.

WHAT was the last book you read, CD you listened to and film you watched?
The last book I read was The Eyre Affair, the last CD was Buckcherry and the last film I watched was Brotherhood of the Wolf, which is sort of a supernatural French film.

WHICH three books would you take to a desert island?
I’d take Wuthering Heights because it’s brilliant, I love it. I’d take His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and I’d take something really long so I don’t get bored like Paradise Lost.

WHICH era in history would you like to go back to?
I’d like to go back to 1920’s America as long as I was really rich and then I would come back just before the big crash. I think it was a glamorous and decadent period but then it all went downhill.

WHICH three items would you put into Room 101?
Dogs, I don’t like dogs. Bad film adaptations from books to film and baked beans, they’re horrible, I’ve never been able to eat them ever.

VIEW PROFILE: Tony Mason & Jan Thorpe

AT THE White Elephant Studio in Manor Farm, Burton Bradstock, the latest phenomena in interior design is drawing interest from across the country. What started as a sideline furniture restoration business has now snowballed to be at the forefront of the current ‘Upcycling’ trend. This week View from reporter TOM GLOVER spoke to TONY MASON and JAN THORPE about their booming business.

IN a small workshop in Burton Bradstock, a new furniture company is helping homeowners revamp their properties with the latest trend in interior design.

Upcycling is a new phenomenon to hit British shores and has received national media coverage in recent weeks thanks to an episode of the BBC series Mary Queen of Shops.

The theory behind ‘upcycling’ is to take an out of use or waste product and re-vamp it to give it a whole new lease of life.

When Tony Mason and Jan Thorpe’s White Elephant Studio opened on a chilly November evening last year they had no idea about the practice, but it is now the key to their success.

Jan said: “The BBC2 documentary has really put it into the foreground now, the idea that you can transform your home with painted furniture is just very much in vogue at the moment.

“We didn’t even realise it was upcycling to begin with though, it was just something Tony had always wanted to do”

The studio is now packed from wall to wall with Tony’s latest designs but the furniture business has only developed to its current level due to the high public demand.

The studio originally began life with its primary function being a lecture room for Jan’s public speaking seminars with her own business ‘Speechtrain.’

The furniture business almost began as a sideline but as more and more people saw their old family heirlooms transformed into something modern and contemporary, the greater demand became.

“With a lot of these items they have sentimental value to people,” Jan explained.

“We had a guy come in the other day who owned a Welsh dresser and he was quite shocked to see we had one the same and how it looked.

“He only had the bottom of the Welsh dresser left and was using it in his shed for storing wellington boots and he had thrown the rest away.

“He looked quite sad about it because he didn’t realise it could look like this.”

Tony added: “Quite a few people remember the stuff as well. It’s been in their house since they were children, whether it’s a sideboard or a dresser, and they say now you’ve painted it its completely different”

Having spent 35 years as a decorator Tony had always wanted to spread his wings and release his more creative side.

Inspired by the quirky details of 19th century French furniture Tony made the leap into restoration.

“It s 100 per cent better than my decorating days; that was just a trade - it’s an industry but this is a bit arty.

“It’s a talking point and we have people come in and talk for hours about it,” said Tony.

“It seems to be extremely popular around this area and also with a lot of people from London and the south east who are down here on holiday.

“We had one lady come down who said that if we took it back to her village in Sussex we would sell out in a week. I am a amazed at the response and when people say things like that to you, you know it’s going the right way.”

The business has an obvious eco-friendly appeal and the recent publicity surrounding this has definitely been a factor in the White Elephant’s growing success but Tony admits this wasn’t the original idea behind the business.

“The eco side of it is a bonus in a way really, it’s only in the last few months we have started to think that way.

“You see a lot of this stuff being burnt, a lot of the pubs burn it when they re-decorate and it’s a wicked waste,” he said.

The White Elephant is only a small business with Tony the skilled designer and Jan the driving force behind the business administration and presentation in the studio, which also features the work of local artists and unusual items to help finish off your home in style.

Despite just being a two-person team though, the pair do not fear the might of the multi national furniture giants that dominate the industry.

Jan said: “We offer furniture which is a lot better quality, if you go to a lot of the big names nowadays you are not even going to get wood, its pressed cardboard.

“This is proper wood and a better quality of stuff; the fact that it looked dreadful when it arrived doesn’t matter, you turn it into something new and fresh and different.

“It’s certainly value for money; there isn’t a comparison. You could re-furnish your whole house for a fraction of the price, there is a big difference between our prices and buying something new”

Tony added: “You could turn your whole house round; it may be old furniture but it can look stylish and contemporary in modern building or you could put it in an old cottage and mix it with antiques because it has history.

“If you look on eBay nowadays, Welsh dressers are going for up to £200 and that’s without being touched, and some of them are in a terrible state.

“Our idea is to buy things as cheap as possible and pass it on. We are pleased for people to come down and take a look even if they don’t intend to buy. It just gives people ideas and they can go away with a new outlook on things.”

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Bolder gulls get up close and personal

ALL he did was look away briefly from his meal and when he turned back a big chunk of it was missing.

The thief, a huge seagull, was still perched right in front of him on the small seafront table having severed part of the man’s fish and chip lunch with all the skill of a surgeon.

His outraged response swiftly put the seagull to flight but it only dropped to the pavement where it wolfed down the chunk of battered fish it had filched.

The poor man clearly felt he might have said or done something during the incident to upset fellow diners because he apologised profusely, but it didn’t look as if the seagull planned to apologise any time soon.

In fact it lurked nearby for a good while, keenly interested in seconds from such a promising source.

I’ve mentioned the depravations of seagulls before in this column including one incident where people were feeding them right next to signs asking them not to do so.

But this raid was indicative of what is a growing problem where birds are prepared to get up close and personal for the chance of a meal.

In the past fortnight I’ve seen a toddler nearly lose an ice cream to a swooping gull and people trying to eat chips on the Esplanade practically having to defend their meal from a circle of gulls just beyond their reach.

I don’t know what the solution to the problem is except that the bolder the gulls get then the more likely it is that someone is going to get badly hurt.

All of life on sale... all the time

ONLY 139 shopping days until Christmas, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I’ve already seen adverts for Christmas clubs and outings.

This whole relentless crusade to part us from our money has taken some of the gloss off the festive season for me, but it pales into insignificance with the utter destruction in meaning for the word “sale”.

Time was you used to see a sale poster up and it really caught the eye. Now what catches the eye – regardless of the time of year - is a street which doesn’t have a sale sign up.

There are early, mid and end of season sales not to mention spring, summer, autumn and winter sales as if the two definitions are somehow unrelated!

There are “last day” sales which go on for weeks, “closing down” sales for shops which don’t and “special” sales which aren’t.

The only thing I haven’t seen yet is a “sail sale” at a chandlery… and I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.

Beware this man collecting for his own personal charity

THERE really is some serious human scum about on the streets of Weymouth and among the lowest of the low has to be this man.

He took advantage of people’s kind hearts to skim their generosity to line his own pockets.

Two women on the Esplanade were among his victims as he came collecting for a charity which really did turn out to begin at home…. his home.

By the time staff at the café where the women were drinking coffee could get out and warn them it was too late and the man had gone.

Café staff had seen him operate before and noticed that the t-shirt he was wearing to support his chosen “charity” was out of date and apparently had “08” on the back. He ran off as soon as he saw they were suspicious.

Beach patrol staff are keeping an eye out for him, not least because the charity he was using as a front was the hugely deserving Help For Heroes. You’ve been warned.

Not so much fun with the horns

VUVUZELA horns at the World Cup may have been annoying but they are traditional at South African football matches where they were born out of a desire to have harmless fun.

The same cannot be said for the four young men who left a trail of shocked people in the wake of their speeding car in Weymouth from which they triggered an air horn next to unsuspecting pedestrians, cyclists and even fellow drivers.

They did it four times that I saw and were having a hilarious time as they carved their way through the King Street area.

One woman staggered sideways, the cyclist jumped while the driver victim turned his head sharply to his left in an instinctive reaction to see what the blaring noise was.

Any one of these incidents could have had serious consequences, but some people seemed to be trying to get their number.

Hopefully police will soon be getting them to sing a different tune, either through tracing the number or CCTV footage.

Lifeguards back in town

THE sunshine may have disappeared for the time being, but summer is certainly here.

We know that because the RNLI lifeguards have arrived on Lyme Regis beach for the fourth year running and will ensure the safety of hundreds of holiday makers over the next couple of months.

With last week’s soaring temperatures, the lifeguards got off to a busy start.

All are trained in beach and sea rescue, first aid and can deal with minor to serious injuries, as well as helping lost children and giving out beach and safety information.

The guards will be on duty and happy to help in the lifeguard hut on Lyme’s main beach, everyday from 10 am to 6 pm until September.

I know some people think it’s a waste of money having lifeguards in Lyme because our beach is so safe.

But their presence must be reassuring for the visitors and they also provide quite a valuable information service as well as dealing with minor accidents on the beach.

They are now firmly established as part of Lyme’s summer scene.

Music by the sea

BATHED in glorious sunshine, Marine Parade was the perfect setting for the first of Lyme Regis Town Band’s summer 'Music by the Sea' concerts last Tuesday evening.

The evening concerts will continue every Tuesday throughout July and August, with extra entertainment on some Sunday afternoons from 2.30pm.

Full details of times and dates can be found on the band’s website,

One of the highlights of the band’s summer season will be a visit from the Wantage Silver Band, who will join them in a joint concert on August 24th.

Not to be missed!

Race For Life

FOR those who are wondering, I managed to complete the 5km Race For Life in 40 minutes on Sunday morning alongside my friend Phoebe Jones, from Seaton.

It was boiling hot in Exeter, so not the best conditions for a run, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little stiff this week, but I’m still proud I took part with thousands of other women.

I raised a total £127 for Cancer Research UK. Thanks to everyone who sponsored and supported me!

Events of the week

TWO great events over the weekend - the successful Talbot Arms Beer Festival and the Football Club dinner.

After running Race For Life on Sunday morning, my friend and I decided to treat ourselves to a hog roast and jug of Pimm’s in the Talbot’s beer garden, and ended up staying all evening dancing to local band Papa Le Gal.

The festival was packed-out with a great atmosphere and brilliant entertainment.

A real traditional West Country event and one I’ll be looking forward to next year.

Papa La Gal are in big demand this summer and they also appeared at the football club’s annual dinner and presentation night at the Golf Club on Friday evening.

It was a great night with all the players in celebratory mood after one of their best seasons ever.

Highlight of the proceedings was the arrival of former England, West Ham and Everton striker Tony Cottee, the club’s patron, who travelled down from London to present all the trophies.

He also did an impromptu question and answer session in which he had some very strong opinions about England’s World Cup flop.

Five things to do this weekend...

1 Show off your green fingers – There are plenty of prizes up for grabs for top flower displays, vegetables and other produce at Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society’s annual summer Show at the King George V Playing Field on Saturday. If you don’t want to enter, there’s also a dog show, children’s races and plenty of other activities.

2 Watch a one-man show – Bill Giles, who led the BBC weather team for 17 years, will give his humorous outlook on his career and current issues, such as global warming, at the Marine Theatre on Saturday evening. For more information visit

3 Rock out to a classic – Veteran rock ‘n’ roller John Otway, famed for his 1977 hit 'Cor Baby That’s Really Free,' will star at the Woodmead Halls on Saturday night as part of the Legends Return to Lyme series organised by Lyme Regis TV. Tickets available from the Tourist Information Centre, Focus, Broad Street, or on the door.

4 Take an early morning walk - Lyme is at its best in early morning and a brisk walk along the Marine Parade and around the Cobb before the town comes to life shows how lucky we are to be able to spend our summer in such a beautiful setting.

5 Visit Lyme’s award winning museum - Popular with visitors, it’s surprising how many local people have never been inside the town museum. Lyme has a rich and colourful history - and it’s all to see in the unique building next to the Guildhall.

60 SECONDS INTERVIEW: John Davenport

Originating from Birmingham, John Davenport moved to Weymouth when he was just two-years-old with his family who owned the Bowleaze Beach café.

Now under his guidance, the 42 year-old is keen to promote the resort as a stunning holiday location for everyone from young couples to retired sunseekers.

Here the adrenalin junky talks about his love of the Swiss Alps, designs on improving Bowleaze Cove and why he won’t be buying Prince Charles a pint in a hurry.

WHAT part of owning a seaside resort do you enjoy?
Seeing the many, many returning faces. I enjoy the variety of it all, I wouldn’t like being stuck in an office looking at the square walls, there’s so many different things going on around here.

WHAT do you enjoy about Weymouth?
I think it’s just a great place to be - by the seaside. Everybody enjoys themselves; other people might disagree but I like the lack of trouble down here. My wife is from Walthamstow and I don’t think I would want to live there and put up with that.

WHICH hobbies do you enjoy?
I spend most of my time snow skiing. I like the outdoors, cycling and clay shooting. I go to the Swiss alps, I love the adrenalin of skiing there and my brother lives there and so it’s a cheap way of skiing. I’ve been there in the past five or six years and my sons enjoy it as well.

WHAT would you change about Weymouth?
I think what Weymouth could do with a place for surfing. In Weymouth there’s nothing and I think they should build a surfing community down here.

WHAT changes have you seen in tourism over the last few years?
I think it’s sporadic down here. Over the years parents haven’t given a monkeys about taking the kids out of school but now the government says they’re not allowed to. It gets pretty empty down here during the school term. I’m not sure if more people are coming down here or less. Sometimes our turnover suggests there are more people; I don’t think the people here have the money, they seem really conscious of whether to spend.

WHAT type of holidaymaker do you find comes to Weymouth?
There’s a broad spectrum of people who come down here, from families returning each year to young couples to retired people; you just have to take a look about, its totally amazing.

WHAT do you think draws the holidaymakers here each year?
I think a lot of people know what Weymouth can be like; it’s a peaceful town. There’s a massive range of things for people to do if down for the week. The reasons people come down here are two fold: it’s a place for people to come with good water access and no problems with parking and I think that helps enormously, without parking we are done for. A lot of people come here because their parents came here and their parents before them and its important having the camping around here, they like the variety of things the place has to offer.

WHICH three guests would you invite to the pub?
well, I’ll tell you who I wouldn’t invite: Gordon Brown, because I think he would bore me to death in five minutes while trying to explain to me what a mess he’s got this country in. Prince Charles, because he is just a pointless person in society, we’ve all got our own views but he’s an interfering person. I’m quite fond of the monarchy in general but not of him. And celebrity cooks because they’re a far too opinionated bunch of know it alls and they just take it all a little to far, but I admire the Reux brothers. I think what they did to the UK, broadening everyone’s culinary minds, is amazing.

WHAT three things would you take to a desert island?
I would take my wife, children and some beer. I’m not sure if it would be in that order, but I’d take those three things!