Wednesday, 27 March 2013

60 SECONDS INTERVIEW: Macarena Galvez

MACARENA Galvez was born in the city of Arica, northern Chile. On graduating, she taught history and geography in secondary schools before coming to the UK in 2008 to study English. Here she met – and eventually married – Englishman Tim Styles, although Spanish custom means she still uses her own family name. Since moving to the South West, the 33-year-old has organised after-school Spanish clubs as well as hosting lessons for adults. She now hopes to expand her Spanish lessons in the Bridport area, where she now lives.

WHY is Spanish a good language to learn?
Any language is good to learn. To learn a language gives the ability to understand another culture and step inside another vision of life. Spanish has become very popular to learn as a second language because it is the third most spoken language in the world after Mandarin and English. The Spanish language is very easy to learn and comes from Latin roots as well as English. Because of this, many words are the same. I always encourage people to give it a go and learn useful phrases for their holidays in Spain or Latin America.

WHAT do people get out of your lessons and classes?
My students learn practical and useful phrases to perform in different situations. I emphasise learning similar words so it is easier to remember. More experienced learners have the opportunity to interact with a native Spanish speaker. Another important thing is that I share my knowledge of native Latin culture and experience with my students.

HOW helpful is it to learn a second language?
I have a degree in pedagogy (the study of teaching). I know that learning a second language helps to develop intellect and creativity, keeps the mind active, and contributes to your sense of self-worth, for example by enabling you to order a meal at a tapas bar. Another benefit is the enhancement of multicultural understanding and tolerance in society. Any age is good for learning a language.

HOW important is language in understanding history and geography?
In terms of history and geography, language is very important for one reason: language is culture. It is built up through our history by different people, cultures and nations. The interaction between local tongues and immigration brings a new way of communication and expressions which became an identity of a group, country, nation or culture. 

HOW has it been adjusting to British culture?
Easier than a thought. People have been so welcoming, helpful, respectful and polite and I will be always thankful for that.

WHAT do you miss about Chile?
Most of all my family, the sunny weather and food sometimes. There is a typical dish called sweetcorn pie, which I love, and “guatia” an ancient cooking method which includes lamb, sweetcorn, local potatoes, sweet potatoes and broad beans all cooked in a very hot oven with volcanic rocks under the soil. 

WHAT do you like most about living in South West England?
The coastline. The amazing views over the fields and the coast. Also I enjoy the long walks with my husband and our dog around the coastal path. Our favorite place is Seatown.

TELL us about Arica...
Arica, the city of the forever spring, is a small city of 120,000 people in the north of Chile. It is very close to the border of Peru which makes it very multicultural and cosmopolitan. It is in the Atacama dessert and has the oldest mummies in the world: 6,000 BC – even earlier than the Egyptians –  thanks to the arid and salty geography. It is very popular for holiday makers who are looking for a nice trip to the Andes, sunshine all year around or a nice wave to surf in the Pacific ocean.

TELL us one thing a visitor to Arica should see...
El Morro de Arica, which is a cliff and a natural fort in the center of the city. From the top you can see a panoramic view of the city, the Andes mountains, the Pacific ocean and the two amazing fertile valleys which makes Arica a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert.

YOU moved from one coast to another - how do you feel about the sea?
The sea is very important for me. I feel disorientated if it is not close. It is inspirational. 

HOW did you meet your husband?
We met in Brighton five years ago. I was an international student looking for a bedroom to let and I found him on Gumtree! It took quite a while for us to get together. 

TEACH us a Chilean saying or expression...
Huevón (whevon, the stress is in the final syllable) - it has so many different meanings and contexts. Everything depends in your tone of voice. Huevón is your dearest friend, it could be an idiot or someone stupid, or your super rival. I think is the most common word in Chile, it is part of our identity.

WHAT is your earliest memory?
When my brother was born. I was three years old and I remember being in the clinic with my dad in the sitting area. It seems so clear even now. I think I was so excited for having a little brother that I was blessed with remembering it.

Spanish Lessons in Bridport with Macarena start on May 15th at the Beach and Barnicott (morning and evening lessons). Also one-to-one private tuition, groups and GCSE exam preparation is available. Contact Macarena on 07810 622500 or email

Who will be the mayor?

WHO’S got the most difficult job in Lyme Regis? No doubt about it - it’s got to be the town clerk.

The incumbent for the past 14 years, the second longest serving to Harry Williams, since the end of the last war, Mike Lewis, retires this week and on Saturday evening at Civic Night bowed out in his usual humble manner.

After hearing a tribute from the Mayor, Councillor Sally Holman, Mike was presented with a Richard Austin print of the town he has served so loyally over the years and replied with a speech full of humour and, understandably towards the end, a little emotion.

His successor, John Wright promoted from Deputy Town Clerk, takes over tomorrow (Thursday) and with the council split asunder by controversy his will be a short honeymoon that’s for sure. But he looks like the sort of chap who can cope.

Much of the bar talk at Civic Night was about who will be chosen at tonight’s council meeting as mayor-elect.

It is not cut and dried and I am reliably informed that there could be a contest. Sally Holman is completing her second two-year term, having just presided over one of the busiest years in Lyme’s recent history with the visit from HMS Edinburgh, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration and the Olympic Torch passing through Lyme Regis.

With so many issues dividing the council at the moment, many believe that a steady and experienced hand on the tiller is required.  Deputy mayor Anita Williams has already declared that she is not intending to stand due to her work commitments as a solicitor for Weymouth Borough Council.

So will Sally be persuaded to serve for another year - it’s happened before - or will there be a new face - possibly Chris Clipson, one of the new councillors who came in two years ago whose name has been mentioned in recent weeks?

The next few months will be very challenging for the council with the problems of Monmouth Beach causing much concern and  the declining relationship between the council and the Woodmead Halls Management Committee over the running of the public toilets.

Those who attended Saturday’s Civic Night were greeted with a notice on the front doors of the halls saying that due to a dispute with the council the toilets would be closed to car park users as from April 1st.

I also understand that if a solution is not found before Easter, the halls management committee will also turn off the electricity that serves the car parking machines, which means the council could lose hundreds of pounds in  revenue over the Bank Holiday.
Interesting times.

Civic night was an enjoyable occasion, as always. I was given the honour of paying a tribute to a familiar face missing from this year’s event - Barbara Austin MBE, six times mayor of our town who died after Christmas.

With some councillors determined to downgrade the position of mayor to a ceremonial one, with the appointment of a leader to chair the council, it is unlikely that anyone will ever serve as First Citizen for six years again.

However, that decision might not just rest with members of the council. If there is sufficient feeling in the town, the people of Lyme could well have a major say in how the town is governed in future.

We had so much fun with umpire Jim

LAST week in this column I wrote about the sadness of Lyme’s sporting community following the death of Chris Neale, brilliant golfer and bar steward at Lyme Regis Football Club for many years.

This week I would like to pay tribute another much respected character in sporting circles who died recently. I refer to Jim McMurtry, former RAF sergeant who made his home in Lyme Regis after meeting and marrying a local girl and who was a stalwart of Uplyme and Lyme Regis Cricket Club during my playing days.

Jim graduated from player to committee man and umpire, eventually being honoured with the presidency and being made a life member. Greatly deserved.

We enjoyed so many memorable occasions with Jim out in the middle on glorious hot days (and many rainy ones) as an umpire.

The father of Uplyme opening bat Ian McMurtry, we teased Jim mercilessly if he failed to give Ian out but he always took it in good spirits.

Jim was also a qualified snooker umpire through his connection with the Conservative Club (now defunct) in Lyme.

One unforgettable occasion was when we were organising a two-week sporting festival to raise money for a new pavilion at Uplyme. 

One of the main events was a professional snooker exhibition featuring a former world champion Terry Griffiths. The event was held at the Regent Cinema in front of  a 400-strong audience. We had to put up a light over the snooker table which was built especially for the match, and we did so using a Heath Robinson-type scaffold. 

As the game progressed the light started to sink nearer to the table, resulting in Terry Griffths having to scamper around the table to complete his shots. The sight of Jim trying to keep up with the pros in replacing the balls was hilarious. Happy times.


AFTER covering five pantomimes in February I was in desperate need of a little stage culture. And it came last week with a visit to the Marine Theatre to review Lyme Regis Dramatic Society’s production of “Local Affairs”. 

I’m not sure “culture” is the right word but it was certainly an extremely entertaining evening as the Lyme society enhanced their already considerable reputation with their portrayal of this clever comedy.

I popped down earlier in the week to take a photo at the dress rehearsal and was able to chat to Sylvia Lee who has been connected with the dramatic society since 1962. I was much is awe of Sylvia when I was a young reporter and it’s incredible to think she is still connected wit the society after all these years.

Another long serving member of the society, Anne King, played one of the principal roles in “Local Affairs”. She gave a marvellous performance as the mother-in-law from hell.

Last year the society won an award for “Tons of Money”. Their latest show will surely be just as successful. 

Cold enough to freeze a horse!

OSMINGTON White Horse now has a stunning new viewpoint but the opening ceremony was more noted for pinched white faces and shaking white hands than for a white Ancient Monument.

Guests invited to the opening looked like they all had bit parts in some obscure western film where the cowboys had circled their wagons ready to fight off an Indian attack.

Conditions were appalling with a 25mph bitter east wind slicing across an exposed hill to send temperatures plunging to minus 8 Celcius with windchill.

So it was perhaps no wonder that vans and cars had been hastily arranged to try and form some sort of barrier so guests could huddle in the lee and try and get a bit of protection from the freezing conditions.

It needed little urging for common sense to take over with the welcome kept to a few brief words before Dorset Lord Lieutenant Mrs Valerie Pitt-Rivers bravely stepped up to the viewpoint’s exposed new information boards to cut the official opening ribbon.

Seconds later everyone gratefully clambered back into their vehicles and adjourned to a warm place indoors where all the delayed speeches were made where they wouldn’t be drowned out by the noise of chattering teeth.

The viewpoint itself is a great achievement and will improve safety in the area no end because drivers previously could often be seen pulling up in the road and causing all sort of dangers.

Now they can turn into the viewpoint parking area, get out and stretch their legs while enjoying the sight of the giant chalk figure of King George III on a horse... provided it is a bit warmer than the launch!

Council slurps 20 milk pints at meetings

SEMI-skimmed and full cream are oiling the wheels of political debate in Weymouth and Portland.

One recent evening saw Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors arrive at the council offices on North Quay to take part in several meetings.

This political chit chat is thirsty work and members made time for cups of tea or coffee to whet their whistles and ensure that throats made dry by doing their party duty received a bit of lubrication.

Everyone survived and duly went home that night, but the really interesting figures from those debates didn’t emerge until the next morning.

It was then that council staff had to replenish refreshment supplies, discovering that the thirsty meetings from the previous night had slurped their way through nearly 20 pints of milk!

The dairy drain was so great that the usual daily order had to be doubled to 40 pints!

You can keep your transport legacy

HE was all decked out in a bright yellow warning jacket and was squatting down near the new Westham traffic lights in Weymouth.

He seemed to be using a clipboard to take notes but he certainly wasn’t recording motorists’ appreciation.

Just hours before at 7.10am I was attempting to drop someone off to catch a train at the station when I arrived at the bottom of Abbotsbury Road.

There wasn’t a single car in sight for as far as the eye could see in any direction yet the lights promptly changed to red as I reached the junction.

They stayed red for ages, all three other junctions remaining totally deserted, and I was just about to cast doubt on the parentage of those who designed this transport abomination when the lights grudgingly changed to green.

This sort of delay happens all the time and can be worse down at Boot Hill where one driver told me his attempts to get through one set of lights there often lasted several minutes.

We know many drivers are avoiding these new junctions like the plague because the county council’s own figures show traffic flows are down as drivers seek another route. 

When is authority going to listen to drivers instead of forcing something on them that they don’t want?

Not soon, I bet, because that would involve admitting that a mistake has been made, forcing drivers to lose hours of precious time every month being held up by Weymouth’s Olympic transport legacy. 

If that’s a sought after legacy you can keep it.

Spring is in the air!

SPRING must be in the air because no sooner did I start trying to clean weeds out from round my raspberry canes than I attracted a colourful little helper.

The robin was bold as brass and sang from an apple tree barely six feet away from me before flying down to see what food I’d uncovered for it with my digging.

At one point the robin was foraging almost within arm’s length and it stayed with me for quite a while until it had pecked up all the available food.

Less welcome were the antics of a flock of gulls which screamed and squabbled, swooped and fought low in the skies above me. It won’t be too long before they become everyone’s early morning squawking alarm clock at 5am. Won’t that be fun!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Simon Bennett

LYME fishmonger Simon Bennett - or Si The Fish, as he's locally known - has become a popular fixture of the town since he opened The Old Watch House fresh fish place at The Cobb. His many customers include top chefs Mark Hix, Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his shop has featured on BBC, ITV and Channel 4 programmes.

HOW long have you been in the fishmongering business? 
I started at the age of 18, working in my Dad's shop in Christchurch, Dorset. So I've been a fishmonger for 21 years - blimey!

HOW did you and your family come to live in Lyme?
I was working on another of my father's stalls in Dorchester High Street and a good customer - Sarah Wilkinson, the daughter Victor Homyer, Lyme's fishmonger since 1934 - came up and asked us if we'd take over the shop in Lyme as her father wanted to retire. So we took on The Old Watch House and after a week in the town I met Jo, now my wife. Our first romantic chat was during a walk around The Cobb - very French Lieutenant's Woman!

IS FISH difficult to cook and what is your favourite easy fish dish?
The golden rule with nearly every fish, so long as it's been cleaned, is you can wrap it in tin foil with lemon, butter and a drop of white wine and bake it for 20 minutes on 180 degrees gas mark 4. That is a general rule but it really works well with any flat fish. Lemon sole or brill would be particularly fine this way - you could ruin the taste of the fish by dabbling with other stronger flavourings. It's difficult to say which recipe would be my favourite as we cook this way seasonally with all sorts of fish, depending on what's in season. But I never get bored of trying something new that a customer may have recommended. Raw wriggling scallops straight from the shell give me a lift. There's more zinc in them than oysters.

WE'VE recently read that some say mackerel is unsustainable - what's the true story on this?
That confusing media sound bite a month ago was put out by the Marine Conservation Society. It was confusing because they clearly state on their own website that south west line-caught mackerel is the most sustainable way of buying this fish which is famed for its omega content. The sound bite was regarding North Sea/Icelandic stocks and wasn't even related to an actual diminishing of fish, just the amount of quota set between Icelandic and Scottish fleets. On the whole a very confusing load of almost-foreign nonsense has been said recently but the golden rule is: if it's been caught on a hand-line then it's sustainable. Which is good news for Lyme as the fantastic omega-packed beauties are traditionally available locally.

WHERE can I get the best advice on what fish to eat and how to prepare it?
All my staff (with the probable exception of Geoff, our zany apprentice) can offer excellent advice of what fish to choose and how to cook it in all three of our outlets (Lyme, Ottery and Exeter High Street). We don't just wear white coats for our Saturday shifts.

WILL you be taking part in the Mackerel and Crab festivals planned for Lyme this summer? And what's this we hear that you've invented a new sport of mackerel tossing? 
The Great Dorset Mackerel Toss could become something quite big but I don't want to be specific here yet. Let's just say it's very original and a TV programme have already said they'd be interested in filming it. It'll be a great festival season for fish in Lyme this year. There are actually three different seafood-related festivals planned, and my team and I are working with Mark Hix on all of them, especially the Food Rocks event for the first weekend in September.

WHAT advice would you give local shoppers who want to eat more fish because they hear it's good for them?
It's really all about where the fish is from. Processed fish has been fiddled with in a factory. If you buy local you have the reassurance that it's fresh, unprocessed and natural. And because of the variety of Omega oils in fish, it’s good for your heart, your mind, memory and blood circulation. Fish will keep you chipper.

WHAT'S your favourite time of the year in Lyme and why's that?
Autumn - after the madness of the season.

WHAT are your leisure pursuits?
I'm a lifelong golfer and at nights I get my telescope out to indulge my study of astronomy.  But my best thing to do on a day-off is to be with my children, Sam and Rosie.

WHAT would you change about Lyme if you could?
Car parking. I'd build either an overground and doubtless controversial multi-storey by Monmouth beach or an underground one in the same place!

IF YOU were planning a dinner party for six people, who would be your perfect guests and what dish would you cook? 
The new Pope and five of his cardinals. I'd cook Monkfish and we could talk all evening about the meaning of Cod.

Thank God it’s only once a year!

MOTHER’S Day has come and gone but the wounds have yet to heal.

My wife made it plain from the start that this was her day, so that comfortably left me to deal with the washing up.

This involves an operation marginally less strenuous than the cleaning of the Augean Stables although it smells a lot better.

Inevitably a few unexpected splashes reduced my shirt to a clammy sponge, but I stuck to my task and finished it all. Madame was still in bed.

Then it was son’s turn to do his bit and cook Sunday lunch, transforming the kitchen from the clean clear area I left it as into a steam-filled hell laced with naughty language, something about how difficult could it be to peel a potato. Madame was still in bed.

Worse followed as the ceremonial wake-up “Happy Mother’s Day” cup of tea was prepared with the same pomp reserved for coronations at Westminster Abbey although my wife’s role as monarch was slightly spoilt by what sounded suspiciously like snoring.

At least it served to wake her and later allow a regal descent into the sitting room where cards from son and daughter were duly opened and admired before son hastily excused himself and returned to the kitchen, muttering something about thanking God it was only one day a year.

Dinner proved a triumph for son with fulsome praise from his mother, but a much needed slump into an armchair was rudely interrupted by wife brightly alerting everyone that we had to put coats on because it was time for afternoon tea.

Fortunately it was only just below zero outside garnished with a nice steady rain, practically perfect weather to go out in... which we had to. After all, it was Mother’s Day.

Eventually we returned to open presents, wife saying what she got was just what she wanted. What I wanted was a shot at Father’s Day so I could get my own back. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

Council still in need of a carrier pigeon

OTHER things are inevitable apart from death and taxes and one of them is that the council always seems to court embarrassment.

This column has only just highlighted the fact that Mayor Councillor Margaret Leicester’s council computer was so badly maintained that she couldn’t communicate with anyone or do the simplest of research.

Now it has emerged that, spurred on by her desperation and my sarcasm, the council’s computer maintenance people have tackled repairs with all the success of an ant trying to assassinate an elephant.

The result of their efforts initially delighted Mrs Leicester who was overjoyed to once more be able to send and receive emails and to check up on key issues affecting her political life.

Sadly – and you could almost see this coming over the hill – her joy lasted precisely ten minutes before her computer shut her out again.

So I repeat an earlier appeal and ask, is there anyone who could lend Mrs Leicester a carrier pigeon... and also perhaps a manual on computer repairs. It looks as if she is going to need it.

Who would want to be a piano tuner?

VERY few events have to cope with a surfeit of powdered egg white but the recent Weymouth Music Festival was one of them.

Nearly 300 people took part and among them were a number of pianists keen to show off their skills on a gleaming Yamaha piano.

Therein hangs a tale because the piano was only gleaming thanks to a huge effort by piano tuner Dave Chitson who found himself having to clean a residue of egg white custard pies off from the main surfaces where they’d settled during an enthusiastic performances of the musical Bugsy Malone which had been held a few days earlier.

But if you thought this had stretched his talents then you’d be wrong because that honour goes to an event some time ago when celebrated singer, pianist and personality Myleene Klass appeared in concert at Weymouth Football Club.

Dave said: “The piano she was to use arrived the day before and it was stored overnight... upside down in a van! Try tuning that!

“It was filthy, it took me four hours to clean and tune it and things were cut so fine that the orchestra was actually rehearsing around me while I was still working!”

It will warm up soon, won’t it?

WEYMOUTH had one of its rare snow moments recently and it took a bit of getting used to when the curtains were drawn back to reveal snowflakes tumbling out of the sky.

What made this brief fall unusual were strong winds which whipped lying snow off roofs to blast it about in sheets like some sort of moveable white wall.

We didn’t get much – Weymouth never does – but everything slowed down with traffic on main roads taking it much more carefully than usual and cars on side roads where more snow was lying taking it very gingerly. 

Still, soon be summer won’t it?

The bravest man I knew

GREAT sadness in our office this week following the death of Chris Neale on Sunday morning.

Chris was a popular and much respected member of our staff going back to the launch of the View From series of newspapers in 2005. A talented graphic artist, he also worked for me for a few years prior to that on a part-time basis and our friendship went back a long way.

In his younger days Chris was a dashing young man with a mop of blonde hair and a brilliant golfer to boot. Some say he could have turned professional.

We often knocked around together and there is one occasion which particularly stands out in my memory. In the 1970s I did quite a bit of compering work all over the country, the most high profile being the National Carnival Queen contest at the Lyceum Ballroom in London which was recorded by Thames TV.

We were both working for the Bridport and Lyme Regis News at the time, me as chief reporter and Chris as an advertisement rep.

Having sussed out that we would be rubbing shoulders with a bevvy of beautiful young girls, Chris accompanied me to the Lyceum as my “agent” and was allowed access to the Green Room where all the contestants and judges gathered before the contest. Music was supplied by Showaddywaddy, one of the top bands at the time, and the chairman of judges was TV personality Shaw Taylor.

Chris looked quite dashing in a dark green velvet dinner jacket and attracted far more attention from the young girls than I did, especially when we went onto Stringfellows nightclub afterwards to dance the night away. I should add that this was before either of us were married.

We drove back to Bridport early the next morning feeling a bit delicate to say the least. Chris went back to his advertising desk and I had to cover a West Dorset planning meeting at Dorchester in the afternoon. What a contrast!

In the years that passed we often spoke - over a glass or two - about our one night in the fast lane.

We went our separate ways in the intervening years but our friendship was renewed when I became chairman of Lyme Regis Football Club in 1995 and Chris and his wife Patsy were running the bar operation at the Davey Fort clubhouse. 

By this time Chris was in remission from that most invasive of diseases, leukaemia, which he bore with huge fortitude and stoicism.

He finally kicked it when he received a bonemarrow implant from his sister Rosemary but his immune system was shot by all the treatment and he was plagued by many other complaints over the years which required frequent visits to hospital. 

These were our halcyon days at the football club and Chris was an ever-present face at the many memorable social events we organised, including an unforgettable all-night stint behind the bar to celebrate the millennium.

Chris was also one of those men who could turn his hand to anything. Whenever there was a problem at work with the heating or some such, we would call for Chris. He could always fix it.

He was very handy around the home as well, although a bit accident probe, often falling off a ladder, but he always shrugged off his cuts and bruises.

Chris became the View from’s first graphic artist and was hugely loyal and industrious. Despite being in pain for much of the time, he invariably made it into work.  If he didn’t, we knew it was bad and he would probably be in hospital.

Chris’ health had been very poor in recent times but he was given a new lease of life by seeing the growing up of his beloved children, Jo, Shelley and Adam, of whom he was inordinately and rightly proud,  and the arrival of three beautiful grandchildren on whom he doted. I am sure their presence extended his life by a few years.

He died suddenly but peacefully at home on Sunday morning, finally released from years of pain and anguish. 

Simply, Chris was one of the nicest men I have ever met - and certainly the bravest man I knew.

Only one name in the frame

ONLY one nomination so there will be no by-election to fill the vacancy on Lyme Regis Town Council, caused by the death of Barabra Austin MBE.

So Jill Newton, former Woodroffe School pupil, marketing expert and partner of rock PR man Geoff Baker, will be co-opted without having to fight an election. At least it will save the council a bob or two.

Many in town were surprised that Jill was the only candidate, thinking that the group of new councillors would have persuaded someone to join their voting cartel.  I know a number were approached.

I have to declare an interest here because Jill does some part-time work for the View and I proposed her nomination.

I think she will make an excellent councillor and as it states on her blog she approaches the job without allegiance to any group - old or new. She will make up her mind which way to vote after listening to reasoned debate - that’s how it should be.

Jill’s marketing experience will also be very valuable to a council whose PR has left much to be desired on occasions.

The current council has another two years before there is another election, when it is rumoured that at least a couple of members will not seek re-election,  so Jill will have plenty of time to cut her teeth and get used to the intricacies and frustrations of local government.

Before then, of course, we have the county council elections this coming May with two declared candidates so far - town and district councillor Daryl Turner, a Tory,  and former district councillor and retired trader Pat Hicks, a Liberal Democrat.

I AM tone deaf and devoid of all musical talent - but that won’t stop me being part of the biggest band ever to appear in this country when Guitars On the Beach is staged in Lyme Regis in September. 

Organiser Geoff Baker just won’t take no for an answer so I’m in the market for an accoustic guitar, or at least a ukelelee, so that I can learn the three chords of the great Buddy Holly number “Rave On” and be part of the most unique event to be held in the town for many a year.

As you will see on another page in this issue, he has even recruited chef Mark Hix to strum along.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Will a few logos protect our own identity?

PERCEPTION is everything we are told, so there were a few wry smiles when Weymouth and Portland councillors recently approved putting authority stickers on visiting West Dorset vehicles.

People might think this a little strange but the move is all to do with the so-called partnership between Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset which is seeing the two authorities pool resources to save money.

That has also seen workforces trimmed, but there have been strong rumblings among Weymouth and Portland staff about how West Dorset has come out on top with the new overall chief executive coming from West Dorset and the lion’s share of senior positions also going to West Dorset personnel.

Many Weymouth and Portland staff feel it has effectively been a takeover by West Dorset and it appears that residents are starting to think the same way.

West Dorset has 33 vehicles in its fleet and Weymouth and Portland only 11, so merging the two workforces has inevitably meant that a large number of West Dorset badged vehicles are being seen in the borough.

A recent full council meeting in Weymouth was told: “Regrettably, despite assurances to the contrary, this has added fuel to the mistaken impression among residents that Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has been taken over by West Dorset.”

To combat this and protect Weymouth and Portland’s identity it was suggested that WPBC logo decals be produced for all vehicles used in the borough at a rough cost of £30 per vehicle for an overall cost of £990 to cover vehicles from West Dorset visiting Weymouth and Portland.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think it will take more than a few Weymouth and Portland signs stuck on West Dorset vehicles to stop residents thinking that a wary eye needs to be kept on West Dorset’s growing influence in the borough.

Who gets given more rights, victim or criminal?

A COUPLE of centuries ago a little boy and girl stole some bread and were hanged for their heinous offence.

Authority’s response to crime has come a long way since then but so has crime’s response to authority. Potential punishment is only an effective deterrent if criminals are frightened of it and threatening to lock someone away for a while with colour television and three square meals a day doesn’t carry the same threat as a flogging or forced labour in a quarry.

Woe betide any modern court which gives a criminal any sentence which remotely infringes their sensibilities or, perish the thought, their human rights.

Victims have almost become the criminals and, in many cases, are frequently far worse cared for. So the recent police crackdown on crime in Littlemoor has quite rightly been well received by long suffering residents whose lives have been made a misery by the antics of a few who feel themselves above the law.

Sadly, as is often the case with such actions, it can spark a few single figure IQ pillars of society into going out and setting fire to a few more things in a bluster display of bravado.

But surely even the most hardened of thugs might be left shaking their heads at one of the latest arson targets - a children’s playground.

It was welcome news that three arrests were quickly made in connection with the arson.

They include - two boys and a girl, all aged between 14 and 16 years.

Crying into my beer - or maybe not!

HORROR of horrors! Weymouth’s October Beer Festival is under threat because of uncertainty over its venue at Weymouth Pavilion Ocean Room.

Maybe a community group will step in to run the Pavilion complex - which is due to close on May 31st - and maybe it won’t which leaves beer lovers in a ticklish situation.

The Ocean Room is booked for October 4th-5th but that won’t be worth a glass of water if the building is boarded up and deserted with smashed windows and a few tasteful graffiti messages.

Leaving aside the obvious economic benefits to the town of 1,500 people attending the event, can we really afford to miss out on the joys of Balding Bert’s Best Bitter, Jockstrap Old Peculiar, Vomit Express and Dr Holmes’ Finest Porter Enema? I think not!

Experiencing that first tasty sip and that gentle swirl over the tastebuds followed by that frantic dash for the Gents is what has made beer festivals so popular.

There has to be a permanent place in our affections for Simple Cedric’s Cyanide Cider, Double Vision, Day’s End Dark Destroyer and Muttering Michael’s Majestic Mild.

So let’s all throw our weight behind the campaign to keep the Pavilion going and ensure these brain bashing brews can once more be cautiously enjoyed this autumn.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Emma Parkinson

MASSAGE therapist Emma Parkinson grew up in North London before leaving to travel and complete an art degree. She moved to Dorset in 2007 but maintained links with London while she developed her interest in emotional healing and metaphysics. The 29-year-old now lives permanently in a cottage in Symondsbury – also one of three Bridport venues where she offers massage therapy sessions.

WHAT types of massages and therapies do you offer?
Aromatherapy massage allows me to select individual choices of essential oils and create a blend based on my client’s needs. Swedish massage involves long strokes, and deeper work around the thighs and upper back to relieve stress and tension. Reiki is a transmission of universal energy that I am able to draw upon, using intention and focus. The client will often feel heat or tingling throughout the body when receiving this treatment, and feel balanced and focused afterwards. 

WHAT can people expect from a session with you?
I have a very calm, peaceful aura, and people always comment upon my ability to listen and understand their needs. My massage practice is slow and very sensitive, and having practiced Tibetan Buddhism for the past nine years, I feel I can transmit a sense of grace and tenderness to my therapies. I am open minded and very spiritual. I have also practiced yoga privately for the past eight years, and would really love to provide private lessons for people in yoga or meditation if there is any interest. 

WHAT is Bowen Therapy?
The Bowen Therapy is a modality that I am studying and working with case studies at present. It is a process that resets the integral system of the body, the connections between nerves, connective tissue and muscles, and integrates them to their original state. It is brilliant for anyone with physical injures, trauma, long-standing problems, and even babies with colic or sleeping problems. 

HOW did you get into this field?
As I arrived back from America in 2011, having done personal emotional therapy work, I realised that I had changed so much within a year. I had released stuff I carried from my childhood and even past lives, habits that I had formed without realising why. This therapy is called The Journey, by Brandon Bays. I decided that I wanted to help people in the same way, especially those who are vulnerable and don’t know a way out of their emotional situation. I started with a Reiki course with Dorset Adult Learning and went on to study massage, aromatherapy and the Bowen. I still have a lot of dreams. These therapies are a starting point for me.

IS it important to get away from the stresses of every day life?
Yes. We push ourselves to the limit in terms of physical action, always doing, and every cell in our bodies react to this holding of tension. They cramp up and limit the communication within the body that allows us to eat, breathe and to process emotion healthily and fully. Any time when you can sit in silence and be comfortable, aware and grateful is time well spent. 

IS London life more stressful than Dorset life?
I would say so. It depends what stimulates you, but for me at present, London is a whirlwind of people and money-driven ideas. It is an amazing place, acceptance prevails, but the lifestyle is fast-paced. 

YOU recently initiated a scheme that saw Askers Meadow planted with trees. Why?
I was inspired by the parks of North London. We have three parks – Highgate, Cherry Tree and Coldfall woods. When I was younger I used to go wandering through them, and would always be inspired by something - the colours of the changing leaves, and the people I met. It is like a communal resting place. I found that the Woodland Trust were offering packs of trees, and felt that Bridport, although surrounded by beauty, had not much woodland or park space to really get lost in, to truly play, mess around with falling autumn leaves, and I wanted local children to have a slice of what I grew up with.

HOW important is it to you to keep in touch with nature?
It’s really important for me. I try to go for a walk every couple of days, even short walks, just to be grateful and to respond to something naturally created by the universe. 

WHAT is your earliest memory?
Probably watching my younger brother wrapping himself up in Christmas wrapping paper, then doing a headstand on the sofa and making a silly face. He always taught me to not take myself too seriously. To laugh at yourself is the height of joy I think. 

WHAT objects do you always carry with you? 
I have a necklace with a spiral silver container. Every few days I place a new crystal inside, choosing them intuitively, based on how I am feeling. Usually for spiritual protection, mental clarity and emotional balancing.

WHAT is the last book you read?
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche. A book I always open up at random and read sections of for spiritual guidance and meditation practice. 

Emma practices throughout the week in Bridport and can also do home visits. She offers her therapies at a current rate of £30 for 75 mins, until April 30th. Thereafter it is £35. Any enquiries about meditation or yoga, or group bookings can be done at a discounted price.  Contact or 07581139416. Please check out her website at

Local homes for local people

ALTHOUGH there were only around 20 people present, the public meeting at the Woodmead Halls on Monday evening was one of the most interesting I have attended for some time.

It was called to set up a Community Land Trust with a brief to provide more affordable homes for Lyme Regis.

With a young daughter who works in the town, and lives in expensive rented accommodation, this is a subject that naturally intrigues me.

The cost of housing in Lyme Regis is also a big factor in attracting the right calibre of candidate for jobs at the View, with most having to live outside the town.

I am also conscious that the number of second holiday homes, whilst benefiting the local economy, forces up the cost of houses to a level where Lyme is one of the most expensive property resorts in the country.

Couple this with Dorset being a low-income area and there is very little opportunity for young people to get on the property ladder.

So what can be done? If we force all our young people out of Lyme, the town will become a glorified retirement colony with even less opportunities for those who want to work and live in their home town.

Having listened intently to the speakers at Monday’s meeting I think that a Community Land Trust is probably the only solution.

But as the group leader Denis Yell and his fellow members emphasised, it will not be easy and it will not be rapid. But the first stone has been laid and it can only go from strength to strength with the support of the whole town.

And that means that more people need to get involved and it would be encouraging to see a few Lyme-born people taking an interest - for we are the group which could benefit most - and also some younger faces.

I don’t want to be critical of my fellow Lyme Regians (as you know, if you kick one of us, we all limp), but it baffles me that there is such apathy among Lyme’s indigenous population to get involved.

Yet again I was just one of two Lyme born people attending the meeting (the other being Councillor Michaela Ellis).

I often get stopped in the town and told by my peers that I should put this or that in my “rag”. I tell them to write a letter. Few ever do.

But perhaps we should be asking why locals are so reticent to play a more prominent role in local affairs and not just moan about why they don’t.

But back to the CLT meeting. 

Denis Yell and his team have clearly done a good job in getting the project this far. They have the experience and determination to drive the project forward and in future editions of this newspaper I am sure we will be reporting on Lyme’s first Community Land Trust project with local people, and not some disfunctional family from out of town, moving into local homes.

The number of affordable homes built in Lyme in recent years is indeed grim but hopefully more are in the offing.

Of all the benefits that have come to Lyme via the Development Trust and LymeForward, I believe the setting up of a CLT could be one of their most successful.

It could make a real difference to the future of Lyme and I wish them well in all their efforts.

Avoid this parking permit faux pas

AS A former member of the Woodmead Halls management committee, I am fully aware of just how much voluntary work goes into making the halls into one of Dorset’s best community centres.

Every week you will find a team of volunteers, most of which are past the age of retirement, climbing ladders, crawling under floors and wielding a paint brush. The result? The halls are in pristine condition, a credit to Lyme.

The halls also manage and maintain the toilets which are patronised by those using the town council owned car park on which the halls sit. For the privilege, the council  pay an annual fee of around £24,000 I believe.

Negotiations for a new agreement have been going on for around six months between the town council and the halls management committee. They have not always been cordial and on one occasion a leading councillor walked out before the end of the meeting.

The council has a duty to examine all the cost centres to see if they can secure more cost effective services.  That is their responsibility.

In Stan Williams, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the management committee, they face a determined character dedicated to the smooth running and development of the halls. 

During his chairmanship the halls have raised more than £200,000 which have been ploughed back into the fabric of the building. During that time the council has given around £30,000 in grants.

It would now seem it has come down to the possibility that the council will withdraw parking permits for the volunteers who use the hall, although the council, apparently,  is comfortable with continuing to provide free parking for its staff.

We are talking about very small amounts of money here - and it would be an unbelievably crass act to take those permits away.

A PR faux pas they need to avoid, I think.

EVENT OF THE WEEK... for me!

I KNEW something was up when David Manners invited me to a Royal British Legion committee meeting last week. Whilst being a Legion member, I do not serve on the committee.

“Oh, hello Pip,” they said sheepishly as I arrived at the meeting.

“I’ve got a very pleasant task to perform before we start the meeting,” said chairman Ken Whetlor. I knew then I hade been stitched up. David, who is the vice-chairman, then announced that the branch were presenting me with a certificate recognising “meritous service” to the Legion.

I must admit, I felt a bit of a fraud, especially as sitting around the table were ex-service personnel who had not only served their country with great bravery but were now doing their bit for the Royal British Legion.

The branch had decided to present the certificate to me for compering the Legion Festival of Remembrance for the past 17 years during which time I had come to admire the work of this brilliant organisation. 

Last November’s event was my last as all good things must come to an end and its time the festival took a new direction. I can only say it was a privilege to be part of it.