Friday, 30 September 2011

Millwey move becomes a reality

I’VE written before in this column of how I scored the best goal in my footballing days from the half-way line, kicking up hill on the notorious Millwey Rise slope. I won’t bore you with the details again; nobody believed me anyway!

These and other exaggerated footballing stories are bound to be exchanged over the coming weekend when Millwey Rise Football Club moves to its new headquarters at the Cloakham Lawn sport centre.

There will be plenty of quips about Millwey having a flat field to play on after spending 50 years and more running up the Perry Street League’s most challenging slope. One thing is for sure. It will be a very special day for those Millwey members who have worked so hard over the past few months to bring about their move across the Chard Road.

I went over to Cloakham on Saturday morning to meet Ian Hall, one of the prime movers behind the move, and Cloakham officials Peter Baulch and Andrew Moulding. It was great to hear all three talking so enthusiastically about how the Millwey move to Cloakham came about).

At one time it was thought that Axminster Town would be moving to Cloakham, but this was not to be and the Tigers are now persuing their own dreams of a new ground adjacent to Cloakham.

Millwey’s elevation from basic facilities to some of the best in local football with the luxury of a flat playing surface has been a real team effort fostering mutual respect between the footballers and the those who run Cloakham. At the same time Millwey have been extending their footballing opportunities with the formation of a youth section, with three junior teams already in place and more to come. Over 50 kids have been attending weekly training sessions, led by Nick Tregale and daughter Jade.

Tomorrow (Saturday) will see the cutting of the tape to officially mark the opening of the two football pitches for the two senior and junior teams, to be known most appropriately as “Harry’s Field” in memory of Axminster Carpets’ founder Harry Dutfield. Without the Dutfield family, the development of sport at Cloakham would never have happened.

One of the driving forces behind the project has been Millwey’s Ian Hall, who has acted as the club spokesman and has worked closely with the Cloakham officials. Ian has been quick to pay tribute to all those who have made the Millwey move possible and will not like being singled out for particular praise. But Andrew Moulding and Pete Baulch wanted to make sure that Ian gets the credit that he deserves in helping them to see the project through.

I’m happy to oblige.

Days when carnival started with a bang...

THE carnival season is now in full swing and last Saturday it was Sidmouth’s turn to host tableaux from around the area as well as numberous local entries. The general consensus of opinion was that Saturday’s procession was among the best ever in Sidmouth.

I was one of those who helped to relaunch Sidmouth Carnival during the early 1980s when I was editor of the Sidmouth Herald. Led by local businessman Bruce Langton, a group of us got together to revive the carnival. The committee included Phil Baker, who was the manager of the Alliance Building Society, Micky Howitt, a local builder and my brother-in-law, and Brian “Banger” Collins, one of Sidmouth’s great characters who now lives in France.

We had a great deal of fun and I well remember turning up to help build the carnival queen’s float with Bruce Langton, a debonair kind of fellow, dressed in an expensive leather jacket and trendy Gucci loafers. Hardly suitable attire for painting a carnival float!

We also decided that the floats would line up in Sid Road, one of the narrowest entrances into Sidmouth and it was absolute chaos.

Another memory is of being deafended for several hours when Micky, my brother-in-law, hired a confetti gun and set it off by mistake several hours before the procession was due to move off.

It’s great to see the carnival is still going strong.

IT is good to see that pressure is at long last being put on the owners of Webster's Garage, which has blighted Axminster town centre for three decades or more, and the agricultural engineering buildings that were once occupied by Rodney Rendell in Chard Road.

They are being asked by East Devon District Council to tidy up these key sites - and I suppose in the current economic climate that is all that we can expect.

I hope that Axminster Town Council keeps pestering the district council at every opportunity until some action is taken.

Appalling waste of public money

I’M all for a bit of adventure and, whilst I’m not much of an outdoor type, I have always had a sneaky admiration for those who pit their wits against the elements in the cause of exploration.

And whilst I’m sure Devon artist-explorer Alex Hartley is one of those rare individuals who relishes such challenges, I’m afraid I cannot appreciate his efforts in bringing a little bit of the Arctic Circle back to these shores in the name of art.

Alex won a competition for £500,000 of funding to represent the South West region as part of the Cultural Olympiad to run alongside next year’s Olympics. With 18 volunteers, Alex excavated about six tonnes of material from an island exposed by a glacier on the Svalbard peninsular in Norway.

The material, which has been loaded onto a schooner sailing vessel, will be sculpted into a piece of art called “Nowhere Island” and will be floated along the South West coast next year, starting in Weymouth in July and passing Exmouth in August. With a strong pair of binoculars, you might just get a glimpse of it as it floats through Lyme Bay. I bet you can’t wait!

The story has caused a huge furore in our region following coverage on BBC Spotlight this week and prompted letters of astonishment to our MP.

Good luck to Alex for coming up with the idea but to spend half a million pounds on what amounts to no more than a pile of rocks on a raft in these difficult financial days is barmy touching on the ridiculous.

I’m a self-confessed philistine when it comes to art, but there are better and more effective ways of spending such a huge amount of money. Take our own Marine Theatre which is being kept afloat by a £30,000 grant by the town council to stay in business, a decision which is not wholly popular in the town and which will inevitably be reduced in time. They can’t get a penny from the Arts Council whose government funding, in turn, has been greatly reduced. All the more reason why they should spend their money wisely.

There are numerous other worthy art projects and artists in the South West far more deserving of support.

What is even more galling is the pathetic efforts of the head of the Arts Council in the South West when he tried to defend the project on BBC Spotlight.

He said that over 250,000 people would “engage” with the project. Where did that figure come from and excuse me for being slightly sceptical about engaging with such a blatant and apalling waste of public funds.

And then he made the ludicrous statement that it cost £2 per person, much cheaper than a price of a theatre ticket. Those of us who live in the real world would much prefer to go to the theatre than watch a load of rocks float by. It was a stupid and naive analogy that fooled no one.
Because of the publicity “Nowhere Island” has generated, I have no doubt people will turn out to see it if only out of curiosity.

But I won’t be one of them.

Work behind closed doors

IN my assessment a couple of columns ago of our enthusiastic new council I came to the opinion that the new members had made a steady but unspectacular start.

Some thought this was a little ungenerous and I have been hauled over the coals for not giving credit to the amount of work the newly-elected members are doing outside the council chamber, and I’m not referring to the cosy after-meeting drinks at the Nags Head.

I am aware that much valuable and important work goes on behind the scenes, not in the public arena, and I am happy to acknowledge that.

I know that some very tricky negotiations are underway with the district council over the future operation of the Monmouth Beach car park, led by new policy chairman Mark Gage, and that Rickey Austin is working very diligently on affordable housing particularly in relation to the number of unoccupied premises in the town.

Anita Williams and Lorna Jenkin have also done some fine work on the fight to save our library.

This is not a new phenomenon, of course, even going back to my day. I can well remember going down to the Monmouth Beach car park very early one Good Friday morning only to find Stan Williams on his hands and knees painting in the white lines because the council had no staff available.

It’s not just all hot air, you know.


THE inspiring B Sharp music project in Lyme Regis, run with such infectious enthusiasm by Fran Williams, encourages youngsters to express themselves through music of all genres.

And they don’t come more young at heart than veteran pianist Jack Marshall, of Uplyme, who at 97 years old showed the youngsters a note or two during the ‘Busking Beside The Sea’ day, part of ArtsFest over the weekend.

To the delight of the large crowd at the Marine Parade performance area on Saturday, Jack bashed out all the old favourites, much to the admiration of all who were listening. It was a brilliant idea and next year Fran is going to make sure everyone has a song sheet so they can join in.

Hopefully, there will be more of this al-fresco entertainment in the new shelters, and not just during ArtsFest.

The busking day was a huge success, attracting professional jazz pianist Philip Clouts and concert pianist Ken Redford as well as B Sharp performers at various locations around town and involving dozens of passers-by.

They all deserve an encore!

My holiday: flat tyres, downpours and noisy neighbours!

DIE hard supporters of British tourism heap words like “traitor” on to holidaymakers who spurn home resorts to jet off to foreign sun.

But after 16 days spent touring this country from Cornwall and Dartmoor to the Midlands and London with only two dry days to show for it, I’ll be joining the plane exodus for 2012.

Things couldn’t have started better. A picturesque trip across the heart of Dartmoor and a pint in the lonely Warren House Inn, lonely that is until a million to one incident which brought a group of walkers into the pub including an old friend I hadn’t seen for years!

Follow that up with a superb evening meal, some unusual local cider and a peaceful night’s sleep and you couldn’t ask for more... unless it was not having my daughter rush up to me in the morning and say our car’s front nearside tyre was flat!

This was a major problem. All well and good on a normal day because it would just have meant a brief annoyance solved by the local tyre centre, but everything was shut on a Sunday.

We hummed and harred, drove tentatively to Okehampton to try and find help but eventually had to bite the bullet and abandon our weekend to try and edge home with frequent stops to check tyre pressures.

We couldn’t even use the RAC. They would have happily come out and changed our tyre, but there was no point since modern spare tyres are much smaller than standard and often aren’t up to long distances.

The galling part about it all was that my tyre centre in Weymouth told me our flat tyre had almost certainly been caused by parking at an angle by the side of our farmhouse bed and breakfast.

There was no nail, thorn or piece of glass they could find but the tyre rim was slightly uneven and they believed this and the angle of parking had caused the tyre to deflate. I felt pretty deflated too as if we’d known that we could just have pumped it up and enjoyed the rest of our weekend.

A few local trips in the rain followed and then it was off to our friends in the Midlands... only to find an unexpected diversion about 30 miles from journey’s end which plunged us off our familiar route and into the depths of the countryside with barely two signposts to rub together.

We hadn’t a clue where we were because hamlets were so small they didn’t appear on our map, so I resorted to sticking like glue to the driver in front... until he turned into a village hall and parked! So much for that brainwave!

Luckily the road was clearly way busier than usual, so we took a chance and went with the flow of traffic and eventually stumbled back on to familiar territory more by luck than good judgement.

The following day was three women going shopping in Birmingham by car and train and myself and the only other male taking refuge in more sensible retail therapy, namely the search for the perfect pint. We’re still searching.

Then came the highlight of our break, joining our friends for a weekend in London. They all popped off to see the musical Billy Elliott. We had a fantastic time, they told me later... and why are you soaking wet? That would be the cloudburst you missed, I replied morosely, reflecting that a drink in the Stage Door pub to dry out hadn’t exactly been what I’d planned.

Still we had a wonderful evening walk down from Leicester Square to the embankment and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the stroll by the Thames past the London Eye and over Westminster Bridge with its stunning views of a floodlit Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

By then I’d walked just under ten miles and was well ready for bed, so it was just as well that the Comfort Inn at Vauxhall was the last word in, well, comfort.

Its pristine bed linen, towels and a bathroom which was so clean you could have eaten your dinner off it were a credit to the chain, not bad for £111 for three of us. There was only one drawback... which we found out when we went to bed.

Double glazing didn’t work and we could hear every plane that went overhead and every door slam and boozy chat from the car park while the swing door in the corridor was so close to our room that it was crash-bang-wallop every time it was used which was constantly right up to and beyond midnight. Rounding off the cacophony was a waste pipe boxed into the room divide which seemed to be the main route down for all the bathrooms above us. Sleep was minimal.

Luckily in the morning we knew there was a wonderful park with a nice breakfast café nearby... which was shut when we got to it.

Fortune finally smiled on me when the men again left the women to go shopping and we made off to the British Museum for a fabulous few hours.

A brief return to the Midlands and all too soon we were driving back down to Weymouth and, ironically, the two best days of weather we were to get, so I split it between gardening and a lovely walk towards Ringstead.

Now I’m facing Christmas in just 13 weeks time but I plan to use that time to book a holiday abroad for 2012. I can’t risk another holiday in England because I’m starting to rust.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Penelope Frigon

BROUGHT up in Leamington Spa until she was 16, and having travelled to the farthest reaches of the planet, Penelope Frigon now calls Bridport home. After studying European Business Studies with French and Spanish in Essex she lived in London working for a photographers off Oxford Street for a while before leaving to travel. Penelope visited Malaysia, Cayman Islands, Mexico and Central America to name a few, teaching English in Japan along the way. Having returned to the UK she completed a BA in French and Spanish at the University of Wales, became a part time private language tutor and then in 2006 started running French and Spanish groups for adults in the Beach and Barnicot and the Olive Tree Restaurant. Penelope has now combined learning with food and drink, by setting up Love Learning in Dorset. Love learning offers a variety of courses for adults and children at the Olive Tree in Bridport and the Phoenix Bakery in Weymouth. For more information visit or call 07817 302984.

WHAT was your favourite place you visited on your travels?
I loved them all in different ways as they all had a new perspective on life to offer. Perhaps I would choose Mexico for the relaxed and happy people that they are, the bright colours everywhere, and the fact that Mexicans speak a lot slower and clearer than the Spanish. One of my favourite memories is sitting on the pacific coast-watching whales swim on by.

HOW do Japanese students differ from English ones?
The Japanese people are a lot shyer. They can read and write English perfectly but find it hard to have the confidence to string a sentence together. Having said that, their English counterparts can be hesitant sometimes too. It’s important to feel relaxed and comfortable in order to let yourself open up, the glass of Rioja served in my evening Spanish classes certainly helps!

WHAT brought you to Bridport and what do you like about the town?
My parents retired down here and travelling along the coast road to visit them at the end of a balmy summer evening, sold me. How could I resist. Having travelled for many years, I can say that Dorset’s landscape is up there with the best.

YOUR husband runs the Olive Tree, what would be your favourite dish for him to prepare for you and why?
Ha! I know people may expect me to say this, but those that know my husband’s food will agree that pretty much everything he cooks, is great and I love it. He cooks with passion and integrity. He once told me that every plate he serves up to his customers he makes as if it were for himself, and that’s what makes him a great chef.

WHAT benefits can someone gain from learning a new language?
Aside from the obvious benefits, learning a language has been proven to have many benefits that are great for all ages but particularly for those of a certain age, and that is keeping memory loss at bay, Alzheimer’s etc.

WHO would be your three dream guests at a dinner party?
David Attenborough, a gentle and wise teacher; Frida Khalo, the Mexican artist who had a difficult life, yet, her determination to overcome her challenges is inspiring, and to round off maybe a few tunes with Nina Simone.

WHAT inspired you to start Love Learning in Dorset?
I come from a family of teachers, my mum is a piano teacher and my dad is a Doctor of Engineering and was the head of a college in the Midlands. Languages are about getting your point across, being understood, communicating, in my opinion less important is having every accent in place. It’s no problem to make a mistake, just have a go and do your best. Expanding and developing Love Learning in Dorset to incorporate other tutors is really the entrepreneurial side of me coming out. Bridport and the surrounding area is blessed with a lot of creative people who quite simply wish to share their passion. I have found this with the tutors that I have running courses for me.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Carnival spirit as strong as ever...

WITH the rain teeming down and water seeping into my camera, I muttered under my breath “this is the last bloody carnival I’m covering”. “Cheer up and give us a smile”, said a passing collector. I won’t tell you what my reply was.

But through driving rain, the carnival spirit won through in Axminster on Saturday evening. Despite the conditions, a large crowd turned out and full marks must go to the procession entries, especially the five troupes of majorettes, who stoically carried on.

Photographically, it was a nightmare so let me apologise here and now for the quality of our pictorial coverage.

As always, it was a splendid carnival procession and collections, although down on previous years, were still well over £1,000.

A word of praise also for all the carnival officials and marshalls for putting on such a show in such terrible conditions, especially procession organiser Geoff Enticott who was still at it on Monday morning, finishing off the paper work, when I called in the Guildhall to get the procession results.

With increasing red tape and health and safety issues, the future of carnivals are under threat. But Saturday night in Axminster proved that the carnival spirit is as strong as ever.

IT’S difficult to say no to the people of Colyton, especially when their dander is up. I thought county councillor Roger Croad, responsible for the library service in Devon, did well enough when he entered the lion’s den at last week’s public meeting in Colyton to discuss the future of the town’s library.

But he will have left with one overriding impression - the people of Colyton will fight to the bitter end for the best possible library service for their town in these difficult financial days.

The Tory controlled county council should listen to their ultimate leader David Cameron’s Big Society ethos: when people volunteer, it’s best to embrace the concept rather than saying perhaps.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Last barbecue of the summer

WELL, believe it or not, summer is over and we’re officially into autumn, a period of occasional sunshine, scudding clouds and brisk temperatures... just like summer was.

Being something of a diehard in these matters, the sight of barbecues being desperately fired up all over Portland and Weymouth encouraged us to join the closet arsonists for a last blaze in what has largely been an eminently forgettable holiday season.

We had guests over to huddle round the shimmering charcoal with seats carefully rotated so no one got hypothermia from our daring outdoors adventure.

Typically I overestimated how much charcoal we needed and, when an unseasonal sun decided to come out from behind clouds and beat down on us, we found ourselves caught between two hot spots.

This forced us to do that most un-British of things… remove our coats, pretend all was well and try and put out a fire in our flower border.

Neighbours on their last day of a three-week holiday in the teeth of a terrible August looked on enviously as we cracked open the wine, muttering about having to go back to work the next day and asking if our sweetcorn and chilli chicken was as nice as it looked.

I couldn’t answer because I was in my traditional position in the middle of a cloud of smoke fighting to save the remains of the food, but it was nice of them to ask.

It spoke volumes for that last grimly determined effort at summer that one major supermarket was sold out of charcoal and another only had a few bags left which I bought.

Who knows when the next barbecue will be fired up but we all still have something to look forward to. Christmas Eve is 15 weeks the day after tomorrow!

A CHARITY dog show attracted hundreds of people to enjoy a sunny day out, watching dogs and various displays and browsing the stalls.

There was a bewildering array of dog equipment, dog clothing and dog food including one stall where all the cooking stops had been pulled out to produce the last word in doggie dinners.

There were miniature turkey, chicken and beef pies all beautifully arrayed in little baskets so owners could choose a selection for their pet.

One man with a Heinz varieties dog spent some time making his mind up before buying two pies.

He’d barely taken three steps away from the stall when he was scolded by his wife.

She said: “David, don’t eat that! They’re for dogs!”

It seemed that hunger had blunted the man’s perceptions, he’d seen the pies and just assumed it was one of several stalls where food was being sold for human consumption!

Fast food driving

EVERYONE knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but there is such a variety of snacks to choose from.

The other morning when I was out and about it appeared that the people’s choice was a sandwich, closely followed by pies or cereal bars of some description all washed down with cups of coffee or tea.

What about the traditional English fry-up, I hear you ask? Surely that should feature high on the list?

Well I’m sure it does... but not while driving a vehicle because all the meals and drinks I have listed were being consumed one handed by drivers travelling from Weymouth to Dorchester!

It was incredible. The first person I saw was a man with his face stuffed into a pie in a paper bag and within minutes I saw literally a dozen drivers, all chomping or slurping away at breakfast.

One man did manage to keep both hands on the wheel but his right clutched a half-eaten sandwich while his left actually balanced a carton of tea or coffee on top of the wheel.

It brought a whole new meaning to the expression “fast food society,” but personally I like drivers with all their mind focused on their driving and the road ahead.

Boot Hill junction dangerous drivers

THAT lovely road junction at Boot Hill is still freaking drivers out in Weymouth.

The latest motorist to lose the plot was a woman coming up Boot Hill who was seen to be wildly flapping her hands about and pointing back the way they had come to her passenger.

They had clearly missed the right turn off the junction towards Asda and were being forced away in rush hour traffic from the direction they wanted to go.

So what did she do? Well there was clearly only one course of action open to her... so she smartly executed a U-turn in the middle of Boot Hill full in the face of oncoming traffic, giving a cheery wave to the white-faced driver nearest to her before casually joining traffic heading for Asda!

Real asset to the town

I’M writing this column sat inside the central pavilion of the regenerated Marine Parade shelters on Sunday morning.

It’s a glorious early autumn Lyme day and as I look out over the bay, the sun glistening on the water, there are a few sailing boats bobbing on the near horizon, one of the gigs is gliding gently by and a couple of trawlers and yachts are moored just outside the harbour.

The strains of a familiar march can be heard from the new performance area where Chard Concert Brass will be entertaining all day.

The season’s over but there are still a few visitors strolling along the prom, making the most of what’s left of the sun.

Suddenly, life seems very agreeable. Surely, this is Lyme’s most pleasant time of the year? I’m joined on the boat-shaped front desk by daughter Francesca, who is also a shelter volunteer and has been looking after this page with her ever-popular 'Summertime in Lyme' column.

Despite the fact that most of the visitors have gone home, yesterday was a record day in the central pavilion, with over 300 visitors. The role of the central pavilion is to act as an information and interpretation area with the intent of saying to visitors “this is what’s happening in Lyme, now go out and enjoy it”.

But despite all the flatscreen, touchscreen and projection high-tech gadgets, the most frequent question is “where’s the toilets?”

The main job of the volunteers (and looking at the rota behind the desk there’s about 20 of us in all) is to act as unofficial ambassadors for Lyme, pointing people in the right direction, answering their queries where possible, and then giving an assessment of people’s reaction to the new shelters and future possible uses.

All this feedback will go to a meeting of the SURF users’ group at the end of this month for the town council to shape a strategy for the future.

There is no doubt that the shelters are a huge hit with the holidaymakers, especially regular visitors to the town who had become used to seeing the former structure deteriorate over the years. “Unloved” as someone put it to me this morning.

It always amazes me how few locals you see on the seafront but I suppose we all take it for granted. Very few locals pop into the central pavilion and one or two of the more grumpy ones are a bit negative about the shelters, especially the £1.3m cost. Perhaps an afternoon’s volunteering might give them a different perspective about the potential of the shelters as a long term tourist attraction.

One regular visitor to Lyme has just walked into the pavilion, praising the design and saying he thinks it will be “award-winning architecture”. Many others have been complimentary as well.

As with all developments of this size, there are a few niggling matters that need addressing by the council but the overwhelming view of those who visit the pavilion is that the shelters are a great asset to our town.

It’s back to the old routine after a lovely summer

A SURE sign of advancing years is the alacrity of the passing months and years.

This summer has certainly flown by and it only seems yesterday that I handed over this page for Francesca’s 'Summertime in Lyme' column, which has proved as popular as ever.

For the Evans family it’s been one of the best summers ever, mainly because our eldest daughter Zoe, who is planning to move permanently to Australia, has been home for the summer months to renew her visa.

It’s encouraged us to make the most of every opportunity to have a good time as a family and started with an unexpected invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party for all of us, an unforgettable experience.

We’ve also joined in as many of the summer events as possible – jazz festival, lifeboat week and the regatta and carnival. We entered our vans and Smart cars in the carnival procession and gave away 1,000 balloons to the kids around the route, an exertion which nearly killed me!
Sadly, another memorable summer is over and Zoe will soon be returning to Oz. So it’s back to the old routine of writing the 'Lyme Matters' column and getting to grips with some of the more prickly problems.

I’m going to kick off next week with an assessment of the first six months of our new-look council following the May polls in which six new members were elected and one other major issue which is having a major impact on the quality of life in Lyme.


THIS had to be Phil Street’s leaving party at the Woodmead Halls on Friday evening.

The town is still reeling from the news that our town crier and number one ambassador is leaving Lyme shortly to take up a new job in the aviation industry in Southern France.

Lyme Regis without Phil Street? Surely not?

One tweeter said this week: “Phil Street is the glue that holds Lyme together.”

The affection in which Phil, wife Dawn and his family are held was amply demonstrated at Friday’s farewell bash attended by well over 200 people representing all walks of life in Lyme.

Phil was so much more than just a town crier. He has been one of Lyme’s most recognisable and popular characters over the years, an ever-present face at every major function held in Lyme over nearly two decades.

As well as his commitment to the ancient art of town crying, winning numerous awards along the way, Phil has also been a champion fundraiser with his great pal Mike Higgs for numerous good causes, the most high profile of which has been the spectacular Candles On The Cobb events.

Leaving Lyme is going to be a big wrench for Phil who must have found the last couple of weeks, since his announcement, extremely emotional. Friday’s party was no exception.
Whilst regretting his decision to leave Lyme, everyone in the town appreciates that he is making the right decision for his own career and his family’s future.

And as Phil told those who attended his farewell party - he’ll be back.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Tony Revill-Johnson

CEO of Clipper Teas, and motorcycle enthusiast, Tony Revill-Johnson speaks to the View from this week about why he thinks we are a nation of tea lovers and why he would like to have dinner with Martin Luther King. A Geordie by birth, Tony moved around the country as a child and lived in the south east of England before moving to Cornwall five years ago. Tony now lives in Launceston with his wife and their two dogs and travels to Beaminster most days, often staying overnight at the Bridge House Hotel. With a background in the food industry Tony became a part of Clipper when the company was bought from its original owners Mike and Lorraine Brehme in 2007. This week Clipper were celebrating winning ten Taste of the West Awards for their range of teas.

WHAT first attracted you to the South West?
It’s a fabulous place to live and it’s a great place to work. We used to live in the South East and I remember when we moved down here I got a letter from my health insurance company saying our premiums had gone down by 40 per cent, which I think is a tribute to the lifestyle.

TEA or coffee?
Both, I have to say that when I wake up in the morning I can’t do without a good cup of strong coffee, but it’s quickly onto a good cup of tea. It depends on the time of day as well. I try to drink hot chocolate a little bit less because I have a bit of a sweet tooth, but it’s great in the evening absolutely.

WHAT is your favourite brew?
My favourite brew would have to be our Fairtrade everyday tea, it's just such a lovely bright strong cup of tea. It comes from some of our best Fairtrade estates in Africa and India so for me it’s the everyday tea served with milk, no sugar, and a biscuit please.

WHY do you think we are a nation of tea lovers?
It is part of the national psyche and it’s our best-loved drink I think. It’s comforting and refreshing, those are the qualities that people look for in tea and what makes Clipper special is its really good quality and value for money and we do the right thing by operating a Fairtrade company. People trust us to be natural, fair and delicious.

WHAT are the benefits of drinking tea?
Rehydration, principally, but with things like green tea, which is becoming more and more popular, you are getting those additional health benefits from the antioxidants. There is such a wide range of tea now from herbal infusions through to standard teas, speciality teas and earl greys. It offers refreshment, taste and something for everybody, it's not just about a standard black cup of tea anymore.

WHY do you love being a part of Clipper?
Living and working in Beaminster you have a really genuine group of people who are thrilled to bits to work for Clipper, not just because it’s a successful company but because we do the right think ethically with all our suppliers. We’ve got a great area, with great people and we’re very engaged with the local community and it just makes it a lot of fun. It's much less like a job and more of a lifestyle choice almost, it’s just a fun thing to do.

WHAT do you love about motorcycling?
It’s the freedom, that’s the adventurer in me. It’s just good to get out and to travel around Europe, North Africa, Russia, all over the place. I like to explore new things and new situations.

WHAT have been your favourite places to visit on your bike and where would you still like to go?
The Austrian Alps and the Pyrenees were fantastic. If I was fit enough, brave enough and had enough time and money then I would like to do the Long Way Round journey that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did, but I’m none of those things so I’ll stick to the Pyrenees.

WHAT was the last book you read, film you watch and CD you listened to?
I’ve just finished a book called 'Lustrum,' which was about the Roman Empire. The last film I watch was Goldfinger; I like James Bond and it’s a bit of escapism. The last album I listened to really depends: if it was yesterday, then Paloma Faith, but at the weekend it would have been Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon - so quite a mixed bag.

WHO would be your three dream guests at a dinner party?
I’d look for somebody inspirational. I’d love to hear the thoughts of Martin Luther King on what it meant to struggle and do the right thing for the people, which kind of chimes a little bit with Clipper in trying to do the right thing. For some easy on the eye female company I’d have to say Marilyn Monroe and thirdly Hannibal. I’m an eternal optimist and believe that doing the right thing should be enjoyable but should be tough as well.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Just another work day!

I CAN’T really complain about my job in the summer months, especially on days like last Wednesday.

While my colleagues were stressed out in the office putting together our East Devon papers, I was following the Mayor, Councillor Sally Holman, and her special guests about town for Civic Day (see pages 6 and 7). I even got to join them for a sumptuous buffet at the Cobb Centre and enjoyed a boat trip around the bay - just another work day!

I had never been in the Cobb Centre, situated on the end of the historic harbour wall, before - what a well kept secret. Formerly the West Dorset District Council offices, the building is now used as a training and education centre by Steve Postles, but made a great place for the Mayor’s lunch and in such an apt venue for keen sailor Sally.

I then joined Councillor Holman, the mayoress Jane Whittington, Councillor Mark Gage, deputy harbourmaster Mike Higgs and town crier Phil Street - on his last official occasion as town crier - for a trip around the bay in Mr Postles’ “Jozilee” fishing boat.

The wind had been picking up all afternoon and it was a little choppy, to say the least, but we had great fun as Steve bobbed us up and down on the waves,

It was a brilliant way to finish off the summer season, which, looking at the weather as a I write this, seems to definitely be coming to an end.

The town is finally calming down after one of the busiest and most successful seasons it has seen in recent years. The last few weeks have been pretty hectic but have gone by as quick as a flash. Lyme can now breath a sigh of relief as we look ahead to the coming months,

Although a successful and enjoyable peak season, one thing has definitely become clear - something must be done about town centre traffic. The constant gridlock in Church Street and Broad Street was frustrating and almost unberable at times. I know this is an issue that has been discussed many times before, with no feasible solution being found, but I hope the problem will not just be ignored for years to come.

As September is now arriving, this will be my last Summertime in Lyme column for this year. Next week my dad, Philip Evans, will return with his Lyme Matters column... councillors beware!

Thanks for reading over the past two months. I’ve really enjoyed sharing my summer stories with you and I hope you’ve had a great Summertime in Lyme!


1 THE BIG FISH WEEKEND - This charity fishing competition takes place this weekend, with prize money totalling £1,150. Organised by The Tackle Box on Marine Parade, participants can fish for as long as they like over the weekend, with prizes for the best catches. Contact The Tackle Box for details on 01297 443373 or visit

2 ARTSFEST 2011 - This year’s ArtsFest will take place between September 17th and 25th, with a parade from the Marine Parade shelters to the Town Mill at 12 noon on the opening day. Open studios, workshops, live music, local walks and more will be held all week. Visit for details.

3 MARY ANNING DAY - This annual celebration of Lyme’s most famous daughter will be held on Saturday, September 24th, made extra special this year as the ichthyosaur discovered by Mary is currently on show at Lyme Regis Museum. Visit for the day’s programme of events.

4 BONFIRE NIGHT - This year falls on Saturday, November 5th. The usual beach bonfire and spectacular fireworks will be held, organised by Lyme Regis Regatta and Carnival Committee.

6 REMEMBRANCE DAY - The annual Rememberance Day parade, church services and wreath dedications will take place in November (dates to be confirmed). Wear you poppy with pride.

7 THE BIG SWITCH ON - The town’s Christmas lights and tree will be switched on at the end of November (date to be confirmed) following the annual lantern parade from the Baptist Church, down Broad Street.

8 CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES - There’s always plenty to do in Lyme Regis around Christmas time and a great community spirit around the town. Don’t miss the Carols Around the Tree service, organised by the Rotary Club, Christmas Tree Festival at the Baptist Church, and the Lyme’s Got Talent finalists’ Christmas show (dates to be confirmed). There will also be several church services, concerts, Christmas markets and charity events.