Thursday, 30 August 2012

One final look at Lyme’s 
busiest summer

HERE we are again, the end of August. 

After another busy Bank Holiday weekend, visitors return home, children go back to school, traffic calms, the sand is raked over,  everything goes back to normal and I write my final column of the year.

Sigh of relief or disappointment? For me, I think it’s a little of both. 

The few months I look forward to each year always seem to fly by but, despite the mostly disappointing weather, this year’s busy programme of summertime events has really kept me on my toes.

Although I didn’t start writing this column until June, summer in Lyme really started at the beginning of May with the Fossil Festival. I’m not a fossil fanatic myself but this festival brings thousands into town from far and wide, and saw the Marine Parade shelters transformed into the town’s very own “airport” with flights to the ancient Pangea. What a way to kick the season off.

It was then May Day Bank Holiday and, soon enough, the Royal Navy were in town bringing all the pomp and ceremony that was beginning to sweep the country to Lyme. We excitedly welcomed our special guests ashore, along with the first cruise passengers ever to stop in town. 

The Jazz, Blues and Beer Festival was next, bringing colour and music to the town as the annual Umbrella Parade made its way through the streets.

Then it was upon us, the big one - Diamond Jubilee weekend. Many of us had been looking forward to the extended Bank Holiday weekend celebrating the Queen’s 60 years on the throne for months. With the Royal Navy’s recent visit still the talk of the town, how could we top it? But who knew Lyme would pull off its ambitious five-day programme of events with such success?

This weekend brought me my highlight of the summer - joining the Mayor and our visiting Chelsea Pensioners on their boat for the sail past and salute. Lyme’s seafaring community really went all out for this -  dressing up, decorating their boats and waving flags from over 70 vessels, the most Lyme has seen at once in living memory. 

I couldn’t quite believe how many people wanted to be a part of the jubilee celebrations and, as a non-sailor, it was fantastic to have the chance to be among them.

And then the five days came to a soggy close and we sighed with relief. A few quieter weeks and smaller events - a boat launch, Thanksgiving Day - and then I was off for a week to sunny Majorca.

July came and it was full steam ahead again. Summer events started to come around quickly - fetes, flower shows and even a flood! Then, on what can only be described as the wettest day of all time, a flickering flame arrived in the rain and drew cheers from thousands. 

Looking back on it, the Olympic Torch day seems like such a bizarre event. So many of us lined up, soaked through and still smiling and cheering - laughing even at how ridiculous it all was. I could have jumped in the sea and not been any wetter!

The Real Relay passed through with much more subtlety and then, suddenly, Lifeboat Week was upon us, bringing us the Red Bull Harbour Reach, RAF Falcons and Red Arrows, among other favourite events.

The first Lyme Lympics were held with success and Regatta & Carnival Week followed with another nine days of family fun, topping the major summer events off with the annual carnival procession.

It all came to a close this weekend with Candles on the Cobb. The wind dropped just in time for this emotional spectacular. Five thousand candles lit along the Cobb wall, fireworks, flares and... “summer’s over”, I thought. 

It was a poignant end to my favourite season and the busiest summer I have ever known in Lyme. 

Now all the things I associate with autumn are coming around. We have ArtsFest to look forward to this September, council meetings have returned to their regular calendar and the East Devon carnival circuit will keep me and the other View reporters busy over the coming weekends.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed your summer as much as me and (one final plug) to keep you going until next year, my Summertime in Lyme photo book is still on sale at the Tourist Information Centre and Serendip Bookshop for just £3.50.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Jay Carpenter

JAY Carpenter was born in Axminster, living in the South West all his life before settling in Bridport last year. The former chef qualified as a healer 12 years ago and now runs a business specialising in energy therapy. The 43-year-old also works for the NHS, specialising in addictions, eating disorders and adult mental health. He is married to a psychologist who also works for the NHS.

WHAT is energy therapy?
Energy therapy involves working within the human energy system, or Aura, which has several layers or bodies. It is within this system that I work using a variety of healing tools such as crystals, coloured silk scarves, light-box and torch, flower and gem essences. I work intuitively connecting to a person’s energy system, meaning that every session is different and I will most often not know how a session will go until I’m with the person. 

WHO can benefit?
People come for many reasons. Somewhere, within a person’s life there will be some disharmony and this can manifest itself as a physical, emotional, or mental symptom which can become a stressor within the body’s energy system. My role as a therapist is to offer a safe, supportive and non-judgmental space in which a person can share their issues. It’s about helping the person to find how they can best heal themselves. At the very least a session will leave a person more relaxed by having their energy centres re-balanced.
People are not the only ones that benefit - animals too are very receptive and I have worked on cats, dogs and a couple of horses in the past.

HOW do people react when you tell them you are an energy therapist?
I get a mixture of reactions from raised eyebrows and silence to people launching into 101 questions. Sometimes people sneer thinking that they know all about therapies or I get labelled as a hippy.

AND how do people react to the therapy?
Reactions after therapy vary. Some people are very quiet, saying nothing except thank you. Some feel very energised and beam with joy. Some go into floods of tears as they have experienced something very deeply or because they have experienced complete freedom from pain after many years, and while this will usually be a short-term effect, the fact that they have had this experience gives them hope that life can be better. 

THERE are so many therapies available to people. How can they choose which one is right for them?
It depends on what a person is seeking support with. For instance, if someone has stiff or achy muscles then it is unlikely they would seek out my services and more likely they would look for someone who offers some sort of massage. Searching the internet and looking at professional associations will help guide a person to what they require. Visiting a health/holistic show is a great way of sourcing treatments as you can see a therapist working in a public area which helps put people at ease and allay any fears of approaching a stranger. Also GPs now refer patients to therapists.

DO you ever see a regular GP?
I have seen my GP twice in 30 years. I take my health very seriously as we only get one body and it’s worth looking after.

IS there anyone in particular you would like to treat?
I would like to treat Stephen Fry because I admire him for being a great wordsmith and he has been quite open about his depression.

WHAT gets you up in the morning?
Knowing that I have dreams to chase and do not want to die without making an effort to attain them. Also I have many places that I would like to visit plus I’ve yet to sell a piece of my own artwork or win a big poetry competition.  

WHAT do you like about living in Bridport?
Living where I am is heaven because I live within walking distance from the town centre, the coast is less than three miles away and I’m surrounded by such beautiful countryside which I am free to explore whatever the season. 

IT was recently reported that middle-aged men in London and the West Midlands were the most unhappy people in the UK. What can they do?
Culturally males are going through quite a change. Years ago they were the breadwinner, there were jobs for life, and they knew where they were placed in life. Now there is pressure placed on them because they have to work longer and jobs are scarce while society tries to tell you that once you hit mid-life you have little to offer the working world. Emotionally, men need to start coming out of their caves and kick off old thought patterns such as the idea that men don’t cry. We need to evolve.

DO you have any guilty secrets when it comes to health?
My guilty secret is to enjoy a steaming mocha coffee and panettone, or when in France to have a fruit tart or chocolate ├ęclair. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Olympics 2012: The verdict is in

WELL, the Games are over and a nation of new sport addicts is unable to come to terms with the fact that their television screens suddenly seem empty.

For Weymouth and Portland the Olympics started with a dead heat between Games bosses and the council who pointed at legacy and valuable future tourism for the area and scores of grim faced local businesses who pointed at near empty tills as spectator numbers initially proved to be something less than a personal best for the resort.

A frantic appeal for people to visit saw numbers rise sharply for the second week, but it came too late to save the giant Bayside festival which went into liquidation before the Games had even reached half way.

Numerous beach businesses have told me they fear following Bayside unless Olympic trappings are swiftly cleared away so seaside customers can see where they are and give them a fighting chance to take enough money to make it through the winter.                                                                          


On the plus side, Weymouth and Portland really has made its mark with a global audience via a mountain of media coverage on everything from the town’s historic Georgian seafront to what socks Ben Ainslie wears.

Council staff coped with wave after wave of enthusiastic visitors to the beach sports arena where they could try cricket, rugby, football, table tennis and other activities on land with sailing, canoeing and windsurfing available on the waves.

The crush was so great that some days saw nearly 6,000 people - barely a thousand of them visiting politicians - pack out the venue prompting it to be extended.

The ICCI 360 dome and the Jurassic Airlines attractions excited everyone who tried them out, the Ambassadors did fantastic work helping visitors and the giant TV screens keep Live Site spectators up to date on how the Games were going.

Battle for the Winds was a genuine triumph of spectacular theatre and everywhere there was entertainment from buskers and fire jugglers to Punch and Judy, poetry, singing and a host of other acts and events across the borough which all helped to give Weymouth and Portland a unique atmosphere for the Olympic period.

The acid test will come next year when visitor numbers will be closely scrutinised to see if they match up to council predictions. 

If they don’t then certain leading lights will do well to be away on holiday when the figures come out. 

Despite official ostritch comments to the contrary there were some negative aspects and clearly those in authority got it wrong in the heavyweight manner they warned people of possible congestion and urged extreme care in planning their trip to Weymouth and Portland.

For once the public unfortunately took this at face value, believed them, and stayed away in droves until signs and transport were changed, charges altered and a herculean effort made to get the message across that everyone was having fun down here so come and join us.

Things did pick up but everywhere I went people told me the campaign to encourage more visitors to come to Weymouth and Portland shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place if things had been done properly.

In fairness, hindsight is a wonderful thing and the authorities had to plan for an influx to avoid a situation where the system just couldn’t cope.

By the same token, parts of Weymouth were reduced to ghost town status with shops reporting a 70 per cent drop in their takings compared with the same period last year.


Well nothing can be done to rectify mistakes now and only children stand a chance of seeing another Olympics in Weymouth and Portland.

That said, I personally think there will be a series of protracted and fiery inquests over the Games which I believe are unlikely to see either camp change its arguments very much because there is too much at stake. 

It will be a cold day in Hell before the Olympic authorities or the council holds their hand up and publicly admits they got any major part of the event wrong while opponents will never be convinced that large parts of the organisation here was anything other than a shambles.

But there is one thing both sides would do well to remember. Didn’t our athletes do well!

The tension and excitement of Ben Ainslie’s battle on the waters off Portland dominated local thoughts but, no matter where you went, there was always enthusiastic support for Team GB regardless of what sport was being watched or discussed.

That unity should set an example for months to come when Olympic event debates will inevitably be held since acrimony will achieve nothing.

Let’s all hope that Weymouth and Portland does benefit from the Games in the long run but we’ll all have to wait and see on that.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


ROS Kayes is a prominent Bridport town and district councillor and member of many groups and organisations within the town. You will see her running around the town during the next 13 days as she oversees the inaugural Spirit of Bridport Festival of Culture in her guise as the co-chairman of the group. Today she talks about why the festival is so important for the town and what changes she would like to see happening in Bridport.

HOW did you get involved in the Spirit of Bridport?
We started the Spirit of Bridport in 2007 to take advantage of the opportunity to promote Bridport's tourist industry and brilliant arts, culture and local food to a wider audience. We do arts and culture so well in this town and as the eyes of the world are so acutely on Dorset, it seemed foolish not to benefit the local community with a fantastic celebration of Bridport life. Our town's economy is worth boosting! We started off as Bridport 2012, only to be told by LOCOG we couldn't use the date in our name. Choosing the most famous painting in the town, Fra Newberry's 'Spirit of Bridport' represents all that's bold, feisty and original about the town.

HOW will the festival of culture make a difference to the people living in the town?
There are two main aims for the festival. First, the festival of culture was designed to help people celebrate all that's great about Bridport. There's such a strong community spirit, people love living here, so why not have fun celebrating this. Secondly, we want to bring more people into town to benefit local businesses - this is why we set up the successful Spirit of Bridport business forum. One of my key aims for this festival is to boost income in the town and benefit the community. 

WHAT'S been the biggest challenge organising the festival? 
Where do I start! Getting funding; organising the logistics with the help of Andy Hutchinson a brilliant and indispensable volunteer; trying to accommodate the requirements of the myriad of organisations involved. Putting a huge programme together and dealing with the design side of things. Managing a huge team of volunteers and keeping them all actively involved. There's so much to do putting together a festival of this sort. Thanks to the dedicated support of local people, the Spirit committee and wider community, we have a brilliant festival planned. 

WHAT would you like to see changed in Bridport to make it a better place?
Affordable housing. We've just started a Community Land Trust to try to find a way of doing this by ourselves in the community because it doesn't seem as if housing providers or councils care enough about meeting the need. So let's make it happen. I hate the high private rents as well. Improving the economy and opportunities for young people too, which we have been working on with skills training initiatives over the last few years. These have been very successful, but more remains to be done.  

DO YOU have any other hobbies?
Hobbies? I'm sure I used to have time for them, just things are always so very busy. I love walking in the countryside, travelling the globe (when there's time). Tibet and Cambodia have been incredible in the last few years. I also love song writing and performing, film, theatre and the arts. 

HAVE you enjoyed the Olympics?
I love the Olympics. I've always been a bit of an obsessive about them. So far I've been stunned by how well our women athletes have done and it was great to see women's football, which (don't laugh), I used to play in my youth, finally being taken seriously and drawing crowds when we beat Brazil. It's been a women's games for me - Jess Ennis, our women rowers - it's been fantastic.

IF YOU could ask anyone from history for a dinner party who would they be?
Machiavelli, George Eliot, Ian Hislop, Karl Marx. Can you tell, I like talking about politics and social reform!

WHAT three things would you buy first if you won the lottery?
If I won the lottery - a farm in the South of France or Northern Italy; I'd give members of my family enough to encourage and inspire them and ensure they'd never suffer poverty; I'd set up a charity or social enterprise to support young people and develop non-profit making housing. If I won the lottery I'd do the last one first.

IF YOU were stuck on a desert island what three things would you want with you? 
A man! A guitar or piano and could I have my iPad? If not, pen and paper. I love to write.

What will I do with all my time now?

WHERE do I start? What hasn’t happened in the past few weeks?

We’ve been so busy here at the View that we could have filled last week’s and this week’s papers three times over, which is why my column was missing last week - there just wasn’t enough room.

Apologies if you’ve been expecting to see something in the View that has yet to appear. If it hasn’t yet, it will soon - I’m slowly ticking things off the list!

After having a week off my column, it’s now more difficult to know what to write about, with so much having gone on both locally and nationally over the past fortnight.

I have to say I felt a little deflated on Sunday. Not only did Regatta and Carnival Week come to a close - the last of the annual summertime events - but, of course, the Olympics reached its spectacular finale too.

What will I do with all my time now?

I’m no sports fanatic so I wasn’t really expecting to get into the Olympics - perhaps I’d just watch the athletics, I thought. On the contrary, I was completely surprised by how much it engrossed me, my family and... well, everyone! In fact, I haven’t watched anything else on television for the past two weeks.

I was hooked from the Opening Ceremony (although I did watch the entire flag parade and then fell asleep before Team GB arrived!), spending whole afternoons glued to the screen, watching sports I  knew nothing about - judo, fencing, even handball, which I see has been taken up by children on the playing fields next to my house.

Most of the athletes have been around my age and dad asks: “Why can’t you do this?” Don’t think that’s going to happen - my legs practically stopped working after a week of chasing after the Wheeled Derby, torchlight procession and carnival!

The Games have taken over everything, with a distinct Olympic theme running through the whole of Regatta and Carnival. It’s boosted a nation blighted by recession, just as the past few weeks of summertime events here in Lyme has boosted the community after a difficult start to the season - I hope that good feeling will continue a little longer yet.

We even held our own version of the Games - the Lyme Lympics. I was unsure how this was going to be pulled off but it was, without a doubt, a resounding success - an afternoon of traditional seaside fun with all sections of the community joining in.

Congratulations to all the organisers and those involved. The Olympics may only come around every four years but I hope the Lympics will become an annual event.

Congratulations too to the Regatta and Carnival Committee who pulled off another week of family fun, culminating in Saturday’s Grand Carnival Procession and fireworks. 

An unusual twist to this year’s procession was the arrival of newlywed couple Sean and Kayligh Sinclair, from Guildford, who were married in Lyme’s Guildhall on Saturday and joined in the carnival in full wedding dress.

The annual summer events may be over but we still have the unique Candles on the Cobb weekend to look forward to - a spectacular event we are only treated to every few years.

Events will take place over the Bank Holiday weekend of August 24th to 26th, including live music, a torchlight procession and finishing with the lighting of 5,000 candles around the Cobb harbour. 

Now, there’s something to look forward to!

Pat waves a fond farewell!

LONG-SERVING secretary to the mayor and town clerk of Lyme Regis, Pat Stamp, was given a bit of a surprise at Saturday’s carnival - her very own float so the whole town could wave goodbye before her retirement this week.

Pat has served the town council for over 30 years, seeing many town clerks and mayors come and go, including my dad during the 1980s.

She’s now a close family friend - my dad was best man and my sister and I were bridesmaids at her Caribbean wedding to Mr Stamp 15 years ago. (I wasn’t very good at it, as I’d never been further than France and suffered horredous jet lag, meaning I’d collapsed by 6pm each night - including on Pat’s hen night - sorry for that!)

So we know that Pat would have been a little embarrassed having to ride down the town to “The Final Countdown” on Saturday, while her council colleagues sniggered behind! But, as usual, she took it all as good fun and, I’m sure, had a great time in the end.

Well down to the staff for organising such a great send off and congratulations Pat - you’ll be missed in the council offices!