Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spoilt for choice in foodie Lyme  

FOOD is the new rock’n roll - and Lyme Regis is gaining an ever increasing reputation as a resort for foodies.

Mark Hix’s Oyster and Fish House in Lister Gardens leads the pack, attracting hundreds of visitors to the town, but there are many other establishments which are growing in popularity.

Down at the Town Mill the excellent Tea and Dining Rooms, fronted by Anthony McNamara, whose impressive CV includes cooking for prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, receives rave reviews. 

How lucky are we also to have The Millside, Rumours in Monmouth Street, Antonio’s Trattoria in Church Street,  the Lyme Bay Kitchen and Bar in Coombe Street, By The Bay, the Bay Hotel, Largigi, Harry Tates, the three pubs down at the Cobb (Harbour, Cobb Arms, Royal Standard), the Bell Cliff, Lal Qilla (Indian), Pizza & Steak House and Buena Vida and Pilot Boat in Broad Street, The Jurassic Seafood Wine Bar in Silver Street, not forgetting excellent restaurants at the town’s three main hotels (The Alexandra, The Royal Lion and The Mariners) and numerous cafes, pasty shops, ice-cream parlours, fish and chip shops, delis and coffee houses. 

For such a small town, we are certainly spolitfor choice.

And then there’s Clive Cobb’s unique Town Bakery and The Cheesemonger down at the Town Mill, whose following extends far beyond the boundaries of this parish and includes pop stars and politicians among their clientele.

And now we can add the Volunteer Inn in Broad Street where new head chef James Whetlor (ex-River Cottage) is receiving a staggering response to his new menu.

All these outlets provide regular work for dozens of local people and add greatly to the economy and reputation of the town.

It was definitely all white at night!

PARTS of Lyme Regis are getting used to basking in white light at night.

The town’s street lighting is in the process of being upgraded with every lamppost being replaced, the work having started several weeks ago. 

The warm glow of orange lighting we have grown accustomed to over the year is being replaced by a brasher white light which, apparently, offers less light polution and is also less costly.

We have a new lamp standard opposite our house in Anning Road and I woke in the middle of the night last week thinking I had overslept. This was before the clocks changed to summer time and I looked at my alarm clock but it was still only 4am.

I couldn’t believe how bright the new lighting was when I staggered out of bed and looked out the window. When the rest of the new lights in Anning Road are switched on, it will be akin to 24 hours of daylight.

I am sure we will get used to it (I was never too keen on the orange glow) but I won’t be going to the lengths that one Weymouth resident has by climbing the lamppost and putting a shade, a rather natty drawing room number, over the offending light, featured in the Daily Mail yesterday morning.

I understand that all the old lamp standards will be removed within the next four weeks and all the new lights will then be switched on.

The passing of three old friends

IT has been a sad week for Lyme Regis this week with the passing of three well-known local characters - Beryl Derrick, Freddie Smith and Frank Sansom, all of whom loomed large in my younger days.

Beryl was the mother of two of my best friends, Terry and Roger Lewis, who lived opposite me in Anning Road when we were growing up.

Beryl was very much involved in the running of the Boys’ Club in King’s Way in the days when the leader was former journalist David Cozens MBE.

In those days we used to run our own canteen and Beryl kept a close eye on making sure we ran the facility well and profitable. She also kept a watchful eye on the meals we used to cook for the management committee.

Beryl was a brilliant ballroom dancer and I distinctly remember her teaching us the rudiments of the waltz and quickstep. She was extremely kind and like a second mum to us all.

Freddie Smith was an old-style, no-nonsense full-back when I first started playing football for Lyme Reserves as a 14-year-old. He was Mr Reliability who set a wonderful example to the younger players coming through.

Frank Sansom was a well respected local plumber who worked for a number of local building firms. He worked with my dad Jack Evans for many years and had a great zest for life. Although he had not lived in Lyme for some time, he always had a kind word about my dad and a story to tell when we met up over the years.

I CAN’T let this week’s column pass without saying well done to Lyme Regis Football Club.

On Saturday the first team won the Perry Street Premier Division for the sixth time in the club’s 126 years of history, having gone through the season - with three games to go - without defeat, which has rarely been achieved before. Also, to win the league so early is unheard of.

It will be the second Premier championship for manager Robin Townsend, the first Lyme manager to ever do so.

The first team have already won the Coronation Cup and feature in two more cup finals before the end of the season, including the Dorset Intermediate Cup. Victories in both of these would mean the most successful season ever for the Seasiders.

Lyme has been one of the top performing clubs in Dorset for many years now. They are a credit to the town - and just think where they might be now had the Strawberry Field project materialised.

Now there’s a hold-up on every journey

FRUSTRATED motorists have heaped scorn on Weymouth’s roadworks and remain to be convinced that the new intelligent traffic light system is as good as it’s cracked up to be.

Several drivers have contacted me to complain about the synchronisation of different sets of lights which they feel leave drivers grinding from one holdup to the next.

Now traffic lights are not my favourite creatures and I far preferred the old roundabout system but, in the spirit of balanced journalism, I kept a note of what happened to me during a few weeks of jobs or visits where I had to drive into and out of the town centre.

The findings startled even cynical me and only served to confirm my belief that drivers may well have been flipped from the frying pan and into the fire.

What I discovered was that on a standard loop driving into town via Abbotsbury Road and returning home via Boot Hill and Chickerell I had to negotiate about ten traffic lights.

Assuming I was lucky enough to have half in my favour – and I wasn’t – then the half against me would delay my progress by anything up to five minutes per trip.

At the rate of about a dozen trips per week – some days none, other days up to four – that equates to just over an hour a week allowing for other work and pleasure journeys over the weekend.

This means that over a year I lose more than two entire days doing nothing but wait for a set of traffic lights to turn from red to green! Life’s too short to even bear thinking too deeply about such waste.

I, like many others, feel that the delays of summer were compensated for by the fact that roundabouts were much easier and far quicker to negotiate at quieter times of the year. 

With traffic lights you get delayed on every single journey you make all year round... and we’re told we’re lucky to have them as an Olympic legacy?!

. . . and it’s not just traffic lights causing delays!

WE seem to be getting early evidence of the start of the silly season.

When people develop a walking problem or become elderly and need a little help with their balance they often use a walking frame.

But such devices are inevitably wider than the person using them and they can cause problems on a pavement for other pedestrians.

One kind pensioner seemed to realise this and, not wishing to annoy other shoppers, followed what perhaps at the time seemed like an ideal course to solve the problem. He took to the road!

This allowed shoppers to go unobstructed on their merry way but created havoc behind him as he slowly went up Westwey Road in Weymouth.

By the time he decided to turn down Great George Street there was gridlock on the road behind him, but motorists were very tolerant, didn’t blow their horns and one or two even raised a disbelieving smile at what had happened.

I’m sure that, on the brink of an Olympic tourist season, there will be more many more unusual incidents placed before us.

It’s the thought that counts!

IT was a touching Mothering Sunday gesture, a bunch of flowers worthy of any son’s love for his mother.

The trouble was Mum didn’t seem too pleased to get them and even hastily put the small bouquet into her shopping bag with much furtive looking around.

Now you might think that they were in a supermarket and the little boy had just taken the bunch from the flowers section, but not a bit of it.

He had carefully picked each one himself because they weren’t matched and some had long stalks and some had short stalks.

The reason for his mother’s dismay was that the family happened to be in a garden centre and they were surrounded by tens of thousands of blooms which had caught the boy’s eye and triggered a response to a day he clearly knew was a special one for his mother.

Bet she doesn’t forget it in a hurry!

YOU can tell that spring is blooming because a veritable bouquet of shovel-carrying people are out in force.

This has nothing to do with keen gardeners giving their plot a turn over ahead of planting and everything to do with great steaming piles of manure.

Now we are getting some decent weather it has brought out the horse riders, and where you get horses you get horse manure which is traditionally associated with feeding roses.

Sadly, despite the furtive efforts of rose lovers to scrape up equine offerings, there are still great dollops of the stuff lying around for drivers to negotiate.

One pile in Southill had received a direct hit from a passing car and lovingly transferred itself to vehicles parked nearby, hardly the rose-smelling air freshener owners might have been thinking of.

Let’s hope a few more gardeners snap up such discards because poop scoops for horses must still be at the drawing board stage.


MANY hours sat in front of the TV may have given Ian Robins square eyes as a child, but it also led him in to a career as a cameraman and photographer.

With more than 20 years experience in the world of visual media he has seen all the advancements in technology and is a champion of the digital revolution. 

Now 47-years-old, Ian runs a successful production company. He still enjoys experimenting with new techniques and ideas and has just entered the Flash Film competition which forms part of the upcoming Page to Screen Festival to take place at Bridport Arts Centre in April.

Ian lives in West Compton near Dorchester with his partner Sarah, and his three motorbikes.

WHAT drew you into world of film making and photography?
As a kid I spent a lot of time sat in front of the TV. We only had three channels back then of course but it was enough to grab my attention.  At school I was only interested in art so I went to art college to do a pre-degree foundation thinking I’d earn a living as a graphic designer. As it turned out, I hated graphic design but attached to the photography course was film making, which I loved and that’s the degree subject I chose. 

WHAT was your first job?
I started off as a runner at a production house in Soho, London. The bottom of the ladder. They weren’t interested in my degree, they wanted people experience, so I gained lots of that by hanging around on shoots and meeting people in the industry. Whilst at NBC news we interviewed Richard Branson. His advice to anyone trying to get a job was never take no for an answer. I’d applied for an ITV job via an agency but got turned down so re-applied myself and got the job. I worked for ITV in news and current affairs and Dorset was part of my patch, which is why I ended up in this area. Now I have my own production company, Albion Video Productions, so I do everything – shooting, editing and producing.

HOW many films have you made?
Hundreds. My first film was about politics. If I wasn’t in film I’d perhaps be involved in poiltics. I’m interested in making a difference, but I thought I’d probably make more of an impact through film and TV – My first film was about the true story of a man who was arrested and tortured by the Nazis and wrote a secret diary.  That led me to work with Amnesty International. As a member of a film co-operative in London I shot the first programme for Channel Four’s Cutting Edge series about the Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square. I got beaten up twice that day, once by the protestors and once by the police.

AND the latest film you’ve worked on?
Most recently I’ve entered the Flash Film competition as part of the Bridport Prize. You have to choose a short story of 250 words written by a shortlisted writer from the Flash Fiction category, and turn it into a 60 sec film. I’ve spent my life making short films – news items are only ever a couple minutes long, so this competition is right up my street. I’ve chosen a short story called “Filament” and if it’s nominated it will be screened at BAC on 15th April.

WHAT has been you most memorable filming experience?
I once spent three days with Dutch submariners playing war games in Portland, being hunted by Royal Navy destroyers and hiding beside ship wrecks. One of my favourite TV series was “Das Boot” and it felt like I was filming that. It was a crazy experience… living in the submarine and going to bed with a nuclear missile lying next to you.

WHAT other interests have you got?
Motorbikes, I’m obsessed with them. I have three at the moment – my latest is a Honda V-Twin. And I’m off to the Le Mans Moto GP and  the Isle of Man TT races in June. 

WHAT are you three all-time favourite films?
First is Sweet Smell of Success, a 1950s film noir with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Then, Withnail and I, and finally I’d choose Oh Brother Where Art Thou? –  I have so many favourites but these are the ones I’ll happily watch over and over again.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A day not to be forgotten

JUST 114 days to the once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Lyme Regis and district.

I refer, of course, to the Olympic Torch relay passing through our town on Thursday, July 12th.

There are still a few people in Lyme who can remember being taken to Honiton to see the Olympic torch pass through in 1948 when the world’s greatest sporting event was last held in England.

There has been a great deal of secrecy surrounding the exact details of the relay since the route was announced in November.

But all was revealed this week. The torch will pass through Lyme, approaching the town from Charmouth Road, at approximatelyt 3.35 pm. It will be carried into the Square and then taken up Broad Street and Pound Street and down to the Cobb where, presumambly, there will be an appropriate photo opportunity.

Unfortunately, the torch will not be carried by a local person; that honour has been given to Paddy Coker, from Blandford Forum, and Clive Allison from Poole.

No details have yet been released about why Messrs Coker and Allison were chosen, but one must assume they are worthy recipients of the honour and we should feel privileged that the torch and its entourage will be travelling through our town.

Mayor Sally Holman and a small group of people have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that Lyme’s “Olympic Day” will be one not to be fogotten.

All local schools are being encouraged to witness the event by lining the route, flags at the ready, and it is hoped to lay on a programme of events which will feature Lyme’s sporting fraternity.

The Corinthian Atlantic rowers - Elliot Dale, Brian Fletcher, Chris Walters and Tony Short - will certainly feature prominently in the celebreations for they are Lyme’s recognised “Olympians” after their magnificent record-breaking feat of completing the Atlantic Challenge.

Now that the actual logistics of the torch relay are public knowledge, Sally’s committee will be completing their plans and making them public in the next few weeks.

Those of you who keep an eye on the public purse (and I know there are many of you out there), the Lyme “Olympic Day” celebrations will not be a financial burden on the town council as a small grant has been secured from West Dorset District Council to cover expenses.

Coming hard on the heels of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, this will provide another occasion for Lyme to demonstrate its community spirit.

Interest and excitement in the Olympic Games, which starts on July 27th, is growing by the day and is likely to reach fever point before the torch is carried proudly through our streets.

The day will surely provide lasting memories for all who witness this historic sporting event.

Excellent early publicity for Lyme

“ONE of the prettiest places in the UK.” That’s how television presenter John Sargeant described Lyme Regis in his new series on Victorian photograher Francis Frith.

Frith set himself a mission in the late 1800s to take a photograph of every city, town and village in the United Kingdom and took several of Lyme, including the iconic shot of the Old Fossil Depot at the bottom of Broad Street.

In his new series, Sargeant, who visited Lyme with his oneman show shortly before he made a big impact on  Strictly Come Dancing for having no rhythm and two left feet, is touring the country trying to capture modern views of the Frith collection.

Of course, he was unable to picture the Old Fosssil Depot for it was demolished in the early 1900s to make way for The Vaults pub, now the Rock Point.

But he did find the whale bone pictured outside the shop which now has pride of place inside the museum with a little help from historian Ken Gollop.

Sargeant also featured the Town Mill miller Steve White, historian Martin Roundell Green and local fossil expert Chris Andrew.

The programme, filmed in September when the town was basking in autumn sunshine,  provided some excellent early spring publicity for Lyme.

Will Sally be the last of the old style mayors?

A COUPLE of weeks ago in this column I expressed the hope that Sally Holman would get a second year as mayor of our town so that she could reap the reward for all her hard work in setting up the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the coming to Lyme of the Olympic torch relay.

Sally was duly chosen Mayor Elect last week and will preside over what promises to be a spectacular summer, not that my mutterings on the subject had any influence on that decision.

The new deputy mayor will be Councillor Anita Williams, who was elected to the town council last May and is following in the footsteps of her father, former councillor and mayor Stan Williams.

I chose to go into print in support of Sally because the rumour mill was working overtime over whether the new council would stick with the position of mayor in its present format or downgrade the role to a ceremonial one only with the appointment of a council chairman or leader.

I don’t think that Sally’s election as First Citizen for another year necessarily means that such a move is now on the backburner and it may well surface again after she has completed her second term of office.

But the council has done the right and honorable thing in allowing her to preside over the next year which will surely be one of the most memorable in our history.

Sally could even turn out to be the last of the old-style mayors, although I hope that will not be the case.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

CONDOR has left Weymouth for a berth in Poole which is not in imminent danger of collapsing into the harbour.

They leave behind them much papering over of cracks and I’m not talking about the vastly increased bill for repairs which has risen from £50,000 to more than £2 million.

Some years ago decisions were taken to siphon cash off from the profitable harbour account and use it for projects elsewhere instead of squirreling a few £noughts away to meet big harbour repair bills in the future.

Yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but now we have to live with that decision, something the Harbour Board – which doesn’t control harbour cash — has been warning about for quite a while.

Now the profit has hit the fan amid stern comments that all councillors bear equal responsibility for earlier decisions.

Fortunately the council, faced with being left ferryless under the eyes of the Olympic world, has come up with a novel solution.

Alexandra Shackleton, the replica lifeboat produced at Portland to mark Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic rescue voyage nearly a century ago, is to be pressed into emergency service to fill the gap left by Condor.

Of course, and in the best traditions of harbour profiteering, the council will not be paying the oarsmen but asking them for a fee per hundred strokes for upholding the honour of Weymouth as a transport port.

And the public response from potential oarsmen to the council over the whole sorry saga?.....Rowlocks!

How very in keeping with the spirit of the Games!

I HAVE finally decided that there is no hope left for this country.

My despair has been caused by the news that the single biggest threat to British athletes winning a medal in the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events at Weymouth and Portland is... shaking hands with someone!

Medical experts apparently feel that pressing hands could lead to our super fit Olympic team members running the risk of catching rudder rash or some other bug which might threaten their chances of a medal.

All doctors voicing such advice need to be given a serious lecture on two points.

Firstly, the Olympics takes for its symbol five intertwined rings to represent the unity of the five inhabited continents... and there isn’t much unity in snubbing a handshake.

Secondly, when the Olympic movement got its act together and first properly regulated the sport it was for the 1908 Olympics where Great Britain won four sailing gold medals and finished top in a year when typhoid, cholera, tetanus and other diseases and illnesses were much more serious and much more common than they are now.

Surely any attempt to abandon handshakes for the clinical pursuit of glory does nothing for the true traditions of the Olympic ideal never mind making us a laughing stock with everyone else taking part. I for one hope all our athletes ignore such inappropriate advice.

All stickered up

IT HAS been said that you never see the accident coming which has got your name on it.

Nothing could be truer for a number of town centre motorists who, never mind accidents, couldn’t see anything at all coming up behind them for the sheer number of stickers plastered all over their rear windscreens.

Half a dozen stickers were quite common and I could have driven a 30-ton tank up behind one motorist without being seen because he actually had 11 stickers which totally obscured more than half his rear windscreen.

What is it with these people who feel it necessary to pointlessly advertise the fact that they’ve seen everything from Lands End to the Lions of Longleat?

I can’t see it cutting much ice with the police who, on finally getting a car to stop and asking the driver why he ignored their blue flashing lights, are unlikely to be too impressed by a response that: “Sorry officer. You were obscured by my No Excuse! sticker.”

Far more likely is that officers will kindly help such motorists to add to their collection, not with a sticker but with a ticket.

The joy of a giant sandcastle

SHRIEKS of delight poured from one group of children when they dashed across Weymouth Sands to take advantage of the biggest sandcastles they had ever seen.

So big were the constructions that they stretched for hundreds of yards and were over eight feet high in places.

The children did everything from jump and roll to slide on the mountains of sand which had been delved from the shoreline in an annual operation to reclaim sand sucked off the beach by winter storms.

The unusual sandy sight has now gone, evenly distributed on to the main beach to restore its depth.


MARY Bull owns what can best be described as a haven for dogs and cats at Woodlands Farm Kennels and Cattery on the A35 near Askerswell. As well as looking after well-loved pets while their owners are away, Mary also takes in not so fortunate strays and nurses them back to health before re-homing them with more suitable owners. She also offers a grooming service for all your doggie-needs. This week she tells us about the kennels, shares some advice on grooming and exercising dogs and gives us the story behind the Woodlands Farm Strays Charity. For further information visit:

HOW did you come to be running a kennels in Dorset?
I’ve always been mad about animals in general. Many years ago I did an apprenticeship in dog grooming and after that set up my own grooming business in Kent, where I originally come from. When my husband and I decided we wanted to run a kennels of our own this was the furthest we could get from Kent while still being able to travel to and fro easily. We had been to Dorset many times on holiday and thought how nice it would be to spend all our time on the beach - which of course never happens once you live here because you find yourself with so much else to do.

WHAT services do you offer here at Woodlands Farm?
Primarily we are a Boarding Kennel and Cattery so we care for peoples pets when they are on holiday, in hospital or just out for the day and can’t take the dog. We also do dog grooming and we take in local area strays and re-home the ones that aren’t reclaimed.

WHAT'S been the most unusual request you’ve had about grooming?
The most unusual “Dog-Do” was when I once was asked to do the front half of a poodle in the traditional lion-trim, and the back half a Dutch-trim, which is very different.  I knew it was going to look ridiculous so I had to refuse. I like the dogs I do to look like the breed they’re supposed to be but often I have to compromise that with what’s practical for the owner. I don’t like to do hair too short. Dogs’ hair is important for giving insulation from the cold in the winter and protection from the sun in the summer. Dogs can get sunburn.

ARE there any myths surrounding dog grooming?
It is a bit of a myth to say you should never bath a dog. Yes, it does take the grease out of the coat, but if you’re grooming the coat thoroughly as well then you’ll encourage the oil from the skin to travel down the length of the coat anyway and keep it healthy. Don’t over do it, but if your dogs rolled in something nasty then it’s nicer to wash it out but do use a proper dog shampoo. 

TELL us more about what you do for the strays?
We’ve set up The Woodlands Farm Strays Charity to look after the strays and see to their medical costs. One stray we have at the moment is a Border Collie called Molly and she has knee problems. She’s having x-rays this week to find out the extent of the problem but we don’t yet know what ongoing treatment she’s going to need. It could be surgery, which will be a long and expensive process. Then we’ll be looking to re-home her and we’ll need someone who is prepared to take it very gently with her exercise. Collies are innately very active dogs but we wouldn’t want to risk any more damage to her knees.

WHAT'S the most heart-warming story regarding a stray?
Some people might remember the story of Ginger, who was observed on CCTV at some offices in Weymouth being dumped by his owner on a grass verge. The car is seen zooming off and the poor dog tries to follow. Some bystanders took the dog to a vet because she was limping and then she came to us. The CCTV footage hit the headlines in some of the national papers and she now has a home in Southampton. The gentleman owner says she’s the best thing that ever happened to him.

WHAT is your favourite dog walk?
I like to balance road exercise with soft surface exercise. Dogs who board here have about seven acres of grounds to excercise on and run free and it uses a certain set of muscles in the dog. Total lead exercise on the road uses a completely different set off muscles and it’s also good for keeping the toenails trim.  So, when I walk then it’s on the country lanes around Askerswell and Loders.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stereotypes seen in a different light

ISN’T it strange how something you’ve taken as read all your life can be given a new twist. I’ve always seen noisy football supporters, both locally and nationally, as the apex of enthusiastic support for a sport with their passion and volume despite their occasional less savoury commitment.

All that changed the other night when I was out at a local hostelry watching a football cup game.

Numerous football supporters were there and the air was full of cheers, groans and robust comment.... until it all fell much quieter.

Intrigued, I looked round but couldn’t see anything until it dawned on me that all the new arrivals at the bar were all wearing the same type of sweatshirt. It was a skittles team!

All the bold boys of football knew when they’d met their match and kept a low profile as the skittlers tore into their support act with raucous chants, bellowed cheers, foot stamping and clapping as the building literally shook to their match.

Even more amusing, some of the football supporters rolled their eyes in mock despair as if the skittlers were somehow some sort of wayward child to be gently tolerated.

Just goes to show that stereotypes can sometimes be seen in a different light.

An eggs-traordinary story

WHEN you are a little boy who has to go shopping with Mum then a visit to the supermarket is enough to tire anyone out.

So it was perhaps inevitable that this little boy drew widespread grins and laughter when he came up with his own solution to having tired feet.

There aren’t too many seats dotted round the shopping aisles of any supermarket, but the boy was lucky enough to find somewhere to sit which was perfectly suited to his height.

The arms were a little narrow but the base was broad enough to accommodate him and the sitting area gave easily to mould itself to his body, so his wriggles of pleasure and big smiles only increased the amusement being shown by passers by.

The reason for their delight and merriment became clear when the boy stood up and ran off to rejoin his mother, revealing a sign above his seat which read: “Free range eggs here”!

I’m sure the boy was delighted that such a big place was so thoughtful towards its smaller visitors although whether the store manager liked the big dent in his eggs display remains to be seen!

MEDICAL mandarins are forcing dentists to take pictures down from their surgery walls because of fears they might be a breeding ground for bacteria.

One Weymouth dentist gestured to an empty picture hook on the wall of his surgery and told me the art had been replaced elsewhere by a different sort of decoration.... a picture-sized sign the same mandarins had required him to put up denoting what medical function was performed by a particular part of his surgery.

In disbelief I asked him what possible difference there could be in bacteria breeding ground terms between a nice A4-sized landscape and a boring A4-sized medical sign and he could only say it was beyond him.

It was beyond me too but let’s face it. When you are dealing with mindless officialdom like this then everyone is left grinding their teeth in helpless frustration.

That’ll do nicely

A PROUD new Weymouth father left no stone unturned in his efforts to help his wife and new baby in hospital.

So when the mother asked if he’d mind going to hospital staff and asking for another bottle of baby milk he set off immediately on his errand.

Arriving at the staff point he duly made his request only for staff to start smiling. The bottle of baby milk was eventually produced and staff then gave the father a bit of useful advice... that the name of the milk was SMA and not what he’d asked for which was SMASH, a famous brand of instant potato!

CANCER is a very serious subject but it does have its lighter moments.

One of the indicators of a greater likelihood of prostate cancer is an increase of a certain chemical in the blood.

So when a Weymouth man went to get the results of his tests for this chemical he was understandably concerned when medical staff looked totally confused.

It took a while for the penny to drop but they eventually realised what had happened and with a smile they gently took the man to one side.

There they explained that the results of his PSA tests were fine... and he should remember the correct initials so that the next time he didn’t ask for the results of his PFI which is a private finance initiative!

Best council debate so far

THE debate on the granting of a new lease on the lucrative Monmoth Beach car park was one of the best I have heard in the Lyme Regis council chamber since the election of a new town council last May.

Although a one-sided debate, there was plenty of reasoned, well thought-through arguments with few if any snide remarks.

Why is this such an important matter? Because the revenue from the Monmouth Beach car park exceeds £250,000 a year, that’s more than twice the amount the town council gets from our council tax payments.

I have a vested interest in this park as I was mayor when the original lease was granted to West Dorset District Council in the mid-1980s. The two authorities had been arguing for ten years over the ownership of various properties and I was of the opinion it was time the disagreements stopped so that we could get on with running the town.

It was not a universally popular decision and I well remember Stan Williams accusing me of “signing away my birth right” when I put my name to the document.

A subsequent ten-year lease on the car park expires at the end of this month and the town council had given WDDC notice that they intended to take back the car park.

Several months of discussion took place before a recommendation to last week’s Strategy and Policy Commitee to offer a new three-year lease with WDDC being told that the town council would definitely be taking back the park in 2015.

One influencing factor was that the town council would have to pay a penalty of £93,000 to the district council under the Landlord and Tenant Act, a sum which would be hard to find in the current financial climate.

The district also intimated that they might have to close the TIC and the public toilets at The Cobb if they lost valuable revenue from the car park.

Strategy and Policy Committee chairman Mark Gage, who led the delicate negotiations with the district council, with some skill I am told, started the debate with a clear and concise resume of the points in question. 

He concluded that the granting of a three-year lease would give the town council time to work with WDDC on how best the services under threat could be protected in the future.
The only real dissenting voice came from former mayor Michael Ellis.

I thought she put up a sound argument for taking back the car park now and paying the penalty, maintaining that the council would still come out of it with a profit and would get the full benefit of the £250,000 in takings in the two succesive years.

Michaela’s argument was so strong that I wondered whether I had jumped the gun in last week’s column by coming down firmly in favour of the new three year deal.

Whilst she was pretty well a lone voice in this view, it was compelling stuff but I ended up with the majority view that the district now know they will be giving up the park in 2015 and both authorities have three years to solve the problem of protecting the TIC and other services.

Plenty of ‘pomp and ceremony’ for visit by the Navy

CONFIRMATION this week that a front line Royal Navy ship will be visiting Lyme Regis over the weekend of May 18th to May 20th.

For security reasons, it is not possible to release the name of the ship or the exact timing of the visit but the Mayor, Councillor Sally Holman, has received confirmation that the ship will definitely be paying an official visit to Lyme.

With advice from Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset, Minnie Churchill, and her partner Simon Bird, Sally has worked hard in getting a prestigious Royal Navy vessel to visit the town to kick-start Lyme’s celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

When I was a young reporter such visits were a regularly occurence with the mayor and other civic dignatories always invited on board for a lavish reception.

If my memory serves me right, sea conditions for one such visit were so rough that they even considered off-loading the civic party by breeches buoy but I think they decided to cross the bay to Weymouth where a bus was provided to get the civic guests back to Lyme.

I think this was during the term of office of the late Victor Homyer, a fisherman who served in the Royal Navy.

The Royal Navy ship will be visiting Lyme during the same weekend as the Silversea cruise ship which will see 100 or more Americans coming ashore for a 12-hour visit to Lyme.

The Mayor is describing the weekend as “a really special” occasion for Lyme and promises that there will be plenty of “pomp and ceremony” around the town.

Prompt response to Royal Mail complaints

MY comments last week about the declining standard in our postal service struck a cord with many of our readers. We received a number of letters carrying complaints, mainly about late delivery.

I also sent a letter to the manager of the Royal Mail sorting in office in Bridport as it appeared to me that the service has not been so efficient since the sorting office at the Lyme Regis Post Office was closed last year and the staff transferred to Bridport.

I received a prompt, courteous and efficient reply from the Bridport Delivery office seeking further information and promising to look into my complaints.

I also understand that one of two of the local potsman have got the hump over my comments. I would like to make it clear that our own local potsman are polite and efficient; my main grouse is not the occasional wrongly delivered letter to our office but the fact that an increasing number of letters sent from this office never seem to arrive, even though they are addressed correctly.