Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Living the good life finally pays off

TAKE a walk along the seafront or in almost any public garden and you see rows of nice manicured flowers, carefully arranged doing exactly what the seed packet said they would do.

So I’m a little frustrated to reveal that my best attempts at growing several types of vegetable last year ended in disastrous failure.

Despite lavishing love, care, attention, water and food on the little pots I was not rewarded with so much as a leaf.

Disgusted but not wanting to create even more waste, I carefully emptied the various pots involved and threw their unrewarding contents into my compost bin to recycle them and at least get some return on my efforts.

That compost was duly dug into the ground this year.....and now I have cabbages and other vegetables coming up all over the place.

But Nature, having had one big laugh at my expense, was not about to leave it at that and I swiftly realised that all the best spots for this sudden an unexpected largess were almost all on tiny paths I had trodden between various vegetable beds.

This was really taking the mickey because I now had to tease them into slightly less inconvenient spots or risk trampling them underfoot when the main beds begin to really fill out.

Oh yes. Did I mention that while doing this the English summer gave me a nice drenching? I didn’t know whether to be furious at my wet clothing or grateful that I didn’t have to water the rehoused plants in again. 

Next year the garden can go hang. I’m for a deckchair and a nice book.

Is that what ‘L’ plate really stands for?

THEY tore down the road like three Horsemen of the Apocalypse, their motorcycles sounding like lawnmowers on steroids.

Their “L” plates were prominently displayed and were clearly needed as a warning for as many people as possible to avoid them like the plague.

For a start, they were riding three abreast, each vying with the other to get as close as possible without crashing or to swap places in daring swoop manoeuvres, preferably while chopping up their friends. What fun!

Other fun ranged from dramatic bursts of speed and sudden braking to overlong periods spent ignoring what was in front of them in favour of looking behind to make sure the other two riders appreciated the skill of their last trick.

The most lunatic example of their antics came as they were again all riding three abreast when one rider tried to hook his toes under the foot of the rider next to him in an attempt to unseat him or upset his balance.

Either aim was unbelievably dangerous because they had cars following them not to mention cars to avoid colliding with in front.

Eventually they steamed past all the traffic in front of them, still larking about. 
That must be what the “L” plates stand for. And people wonder why so many young riders end up being killed.

Calls for guerrilla advertising in town

ANTI-terror officers seem unaware that Weymouth has a guerrilla group operating in the town.

Perhaps that’s because its strident message calling for the streets to be taken over actually relates not to violence and mayhem – at least I hope not – but to advertising.

Slogans calling for guerrilla advertising to be spread across Weymouth were inscribed on the back wall of the old main Post Office just off Lower St Alban Street.

It’s pretty tame and hardly “man the barricades” stuff but, if advertising is putting out a call to arms, why not other topics?

How about Guerrilla Geraniums, Bring Flower Power to Weymouth or perhaps we can look forward to Guerrilla Gum, In the Bin not on the Pavement. 

No, perhaps that would be a bit too much to hope for because that would require effort.

Seagull’s revenge for removing cat biscuits

MUCH has been written about the messy and destructive habits of seagulls but they do occasionally raise a smile.

This yarn related to me by one View From reader involves a resident seagull and the family’s cat.

Sadly the cat died, not something the seagull shed many tears about, but the hungry bird was distraught when the family stopped putting out cat biscuits which the seagull had been snaffling as a handy food source.

It clearly didn’t understand that the end of the cat meant the end of cat biscuits as well and it began to squawk and peck at the family’s door, presumably in an attempt to get the biscuits reinstated.

The seagull also gave notice that it was in no mood to move away.... by stealing a clothes peg from the family washing line and using it to help hold its nest together!

Renewing links with our Regiment

LYME Regis was the first town in Dorset to confer the Freedom of the Borough on our county regiment.

The ceremony was held on the Marine Parade before the end of the Second World War.

The Freedom was upgraded during the 1980s mayoralty of the late Henry Broom following the amalgamation of the Devon and Dorset when the regiment exercised their right to march through the town with bayonets fixed.

Sadly, the Devon and Dorsets no longer exist, having become part of The Rifles - but they are still our official county regiment and the association, I am pleased to say, will be reinforced over the coming weeks.

As part of Armed Forces Day on Friday, June 28th when two officers from the regiment will be visiting the town to take part in a ceremony that will re-establish the relationship with Lyme. Members of the Royal British Legion and the Combined Cadet Force at the Woodroffe School will parade from Gunn Cliff to the Jubilee Pavilion with a civic party led by the Mayor, Councillor Sally Holman. 

Lyme Regis Town Band will be present as will The Rifles’ Salamanca Band. The Mayor will present an inscribed scroll to the Regiment who, in turn, will present a silver bugle to the town.

It is also hoped that The Rifles will exercise their right to march through Lyme with fixed bayonets some time next year.

Although the parade on June 29th will be quite low key, every effort is being made to make Broad Street look as patriotic as possible for Armed Forces Day.

Matt Puddy, a former columnist in this newspaper and keen observer of local affairs, has organised an appeal to provide a Union Flag for every Christmas tree bracket in town. The View from Lyme Regis and Palmers Brewery, owners of the former Three Cups Hotel, are contributing towards the cost of providing the flags.

Whilst on the subject of The Three Cups, Palmers are staging an exhibition in the Pilot Boat tomorrow (Thursday) to unveil their new plans for developing the site in Broad Street which has caused such a furore in the town. I hope as many local people as possible take advantage of seeing what is planned.

The argument over The Three Cups still rages, especially on the social networking sites where Councillor Rikey Austin has claimed that this newspaper misquoted her when we reported her as saying “I am the voice of the people” when the matter was last discussed in the council chamber.

I was sat in the public gallery for that meeting and had the comment on Twitter within 30 seconds of her saying it.

I also checked Francesca’s notes after the meeting and sought the views of others in the chamber, including councillors.

We stand by the accuracy of our story and the comments attributed to Councillor Austin.


I CAN’T believe it is 33 years ago that I was one of 12 young men who ferried across the English Channel to play a game of football against a team of French players in the Normandy village of Creully.

And so was born a unique sporting association between two grassroot football clubs in neighbouring countries that has stood the test of time and, if the past weekend is anything to go by, will continue for many years to come.

Actually, I did not play in that first game as I had my leg in plaster, having broken my ankle in the Axminster Hospital Cup a couple of weeks before. 

Organised by our team manager David Cozens and captain Richard Austin, the first visit in 1980 was a very laid back affair. After the match we enjoyed a barbecue at which most of the players asked for their steak to be given a little longer over the flame and our first taste of Calvados which caused many headaches in subsequent years.

These days our annual get-togethers are much grander affairs, especially in Creully where Normandy hospitality is second to none, although still very informal.

We also do our best and this past weekend’s 33rd anniversary included a splendid dinner at the Davey Fort clubhouse, hosted by chairman Howard Larcombe,  at which Creully presented the club with an apple tree.

Next year’s 34th anniversary when we will be visiting Creully, one of the first villages to be liberated on D-Day, will coincide with the 70th anniversary of Operation Overload. The Creully President, Geoffroy Simier, father of one of our players, Julien Simier, extended an invitation to the club to join those commemorations, just as we did when Prince Charles visited Creully as part of the 60th anniversary at which the Lyme club was officially represented and placed a wreath at the village War Memorial.

Creully was liberated by the Royal Dragoon Guards and, at their request because of their advancing years, we always place a wreath on the memorial when we are in Creully. We always will.

And the football? That’s how it all started and the games continue to this day, Saturday’s finishing appropriately in a 1-1 draw following a wonder goal from one of the Creully players who won the man-of-the-match award for his 25 yard screamer.
Another memorable weekend.

We reported last week that personnel changes are afoot at LymeNet, the community learning centre based in St Michael’s Business Centre and run by the Lyme Regis Community Trust.

Manager Lucy Campbell has relinquished the post of manager after managing the centre for five years. Lucy is a trained and talented silversmith and plans to concentrate on her shop, Ad Luceum, in Silver Street.

Lucy is also a prominent town councillor and being an employee of the Development Trust has not made her job any easier in the council chamber.

Similar organisations to LymeNet in Dorset have fallen by the wayside due to the economic climate but Lucy’s sheer determination has steered the organisation through some very difficult times.

LymeNet has made a big difference to hundreds of people struggling to cope and find work and Lucy’s stewardship should not go unrecognised.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Margaret Leicester

Margaret Leicester was born in London and has one sister, two sons and four grandchildren. She moved to Dorset in 1966 after marrying her  husband, Ken ,and they bought a detached three-bedroom centrally heated bungalow at Sweethill, Portland, for £4,500.  After 47 years they still live on Portland. Margaret became active on the School PTA, then onto the town council in 1980. She was a member of the governing body of St George's Infant School for 28 years and an independent member of the Verne Prison Review Board  for 10 years. Margaret became Mayor of Portland Town Council in 1985 the same year she joined Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. After  a second term as Portland  Mayor Margaret retired from the town council after 28 years. She has served on most borough council committees, chairing Planning and Scrutiny.  In 2012 Margaret was made the Mayor of the Borough, a very exiting period attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace, lunch at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor of the City of London followed by a front row seat at the Olympians Parade.  Margatet said: “I attended various Olympic events and met so many really nice people both here and at our twin town of Louviers  last summer. I have also been wined and dined the length and breadth of Dorset by other mayors, collectively known as the Chain Gang.”

WHY do you live on Portland?
We have stayed on Portland because we have grown to love the place, its history and its wildlife. I think we can now say we have been accepted as some locals forget when talking to me that I was not born here and start asking if I remember something from their school days.

WHERE do you go for your holidays?
When we go on holiday we do go looking for sunshine in the autumn and winter but stay on Portland during the summer enjoying our garden.  We have been going to Menorca and Gran Canaria for a last few years.

WHAT is your favourite time of the year?
My favourite time of year is the summer as I hate being cold.

WHAT is your favourite film?
I am not sure I have a favourite film. Since moving to Dorset we rarely go to the pictures. Ones that stand out in my mind are the war film Odette and Doris Day and Barbra Streisand musicals.

WHAT is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
When you get to my age there are a few. Two car crashes, a wall falling on my son when he was only eight years old and having a thrombosis 20 years ago where they threatened to amputate my leg. Fortunately for me the operation went well, saving my leg thank goodness.

IF YOU could live your life again what would you be?
I always used to say I would return as a man because they only ever did one thing. Multi-tasking is not in their DNA. I am not sure I would change my life. I would hate being dictated to by my husband or anyone else. My generation has seen great progress in society’s development such as inside toilets, bathrooms, electricity in all homes, TV, things taken for granted today. The list is endless. In the past we played in the streets, never felt threatened, really enjoyed the small things in life and did not miss what we’d never had. No TV showing how much there was to purchase if you had the money, so we were satisfied with our lot. Communities stuck together helping each other. When people have little they appear to take more pride in what they do actually have. Mend and make do, never throw away what can be repaired. This generation may well have to adopt this attitude.

WHICH three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
The Queen because she has witnessed even more than me, being older. I’d also invite Nelson Mandela and Paul Newman.

WHAT would you do if you won the lottery?
Depending on how much, obviously I would pay off the family’s mortgages, extend my house and support some of the charities that I have supported over the years to boost their funds. I’d also enjoy even more holidays and ensure my grandchildren received a good education and were financially secure.

WHAT do you hope the future holds?
I hope to have a relatively healthy life for a few more years yet so that I can continue to enjoy my life to the full.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Time to put animosity to one side

THERE were a few raised eyebrows when the civic party paraded from the Guildhall to St Michael’s Parish Church on Sunday for the mayor’s annual civic service. 

Apart from the mayor, just four councillors were in attendance and with nine councillors not on parade it was the poorest turnout I, or anyone else who cares about such matters, can recall.

As we peered over the crumbling church railings (another disgrace), a prominent member of the congregation tapped me on the shoulder and asked: “Whatever is the problem with the council?” 

“I don’t know,” I lied so that I did not get into a heated discussion at an event which should command respect for the office of mayor.

The poor attendance at the civic parade follows a number of absentees at the Civic Night and only half the number of councillors attending the mayor-making. 

It prompts the question, “are the civic traditions of Lyme dying?” or is it just that our councillors are so immature that they cannot put their differences behind them for the wider good of the town as has mostly happened in the past?

I certainly can’t remeber a time when there was so much obvious apathy among town councillors. I am sure there were those who had a genuine reason why they were not able to attend the civic service but a worrying pattern is starting to emerge and it seems to me that some councillors have no intention of supporting any of the traditions that have been part of Lyme’s civic life for hundreds of years.

I wondered whether the Vicar, the Reverend Jane Skinner, had also noticed the trend when, in her sermon on Sunday morning, she urged the town council to work as a team.

In the past councillors have usually been able to put their differences to one side and come together for the colourful civic occasions which have peppered our history. The current council seems incapable of doing this.

The obvious split was much in evidence at a recent meeting when the council chairmanships and vice-chairmanships were voted upon. 

One disappointed councillor even went as far to referring to fellow members as “two-faced backstabbers” on Facebook, although the posting was sensibly removed pretty smartish, perhaps for fear of contravening the councillors’ code of conduct which states that they treat each other with respect at all times.

This council has two years to run after which the electorate can decide whether supporting civic events is an important part of being an elected representative.

In the meantime, is it too much to ask the councillors to put to one aside their obvious dislike for one another and work together for the reason we elected them to office - to serve the town?

NEWS that broke after the View from Lyme went to press last week - that £500,000 was to be spent on improving the quaity of bathing water on Back Beach - has been welcomed by town councillors and local environmentalists.

The money comes from £20million allocated by South West Water to improve the quality of water before new European standards are introduced and the sum set aside for Lyme will carry out essential works further up the valley to reduce the amount of effluent that flows into the River Lim which eventually makes its way, via The Buddle, into the sea.

Not so long ago the town council was being advised to de-desiginate the Church Cliff beach for swimmers but they refused to do so, saying they would rather work with the authorities to get the problem solved. That is no longer an option. 

The council are to be congratulated for sticking to their guns, especially Strategy and Policy chairman Mark Gage, who has negotiated hard in making sure Lyme was not left out on a limb when the funding was dished out. 


THE annual jazz festival has been part of Lyme’s summer scene now for more than 20 years but in recent times has struggled financially to survive.

Following the demise of the festival committee who had worked so hard over the years to establish the event, local businessmen Tony Colston and Jerry Ramsdale took over the organisation and added a blues and beer element in a bid to make it more popular. 

Last year’s event made a significant loss, met by Mr Colston and Mr Ramsdale out of their own pockets, and it was clear that if the jazz festival was to continue more dramatic changes would have to be made.

This year it was decided to do away with the multiple venue format, with jazz sessions in a number of locations around the town, and to concentrate on just one venue - the Marine Theatre.

The theatre directors, Tim Bell and Harry Long, who are always brimming with ideas, were drafted in and managed to secure two headline acts that attracted sell-out audiences this past weekend - Geno Washington and Ginger Baker.

The popular umbrella parade went ahead as usual with good support and a large crowd watching, there was open-air jazz on the seafront and a real ale festival was also staged at the Marine on Saturday and Sunday.

The consequence of these changes, some of which were not popular among the jazz aficionados who support the event every year, resulted in the festival covering its costs which should enable it to continue in future years.

I popped along to the theatre on Saturday evening to see Geno Washington who last appeared at the Marine Theatre in 1967 with his Ram Jam band, although he had no recollection of it. 

The Ginger Baker gig was just as popular and the jazz events held in the theatre throughout the weekend were all well supported.

So the jazz festival lives on thanks to the efforts of a small band of individuals who did not want to see it die. Well done to them. And a special mention for the staff and volunteers at the Marine who worked so hard to stage the events.

Food, drink, entertainment - what’s not to love?

A SEVEN-night cruise to the snow-capped mountains of Norway on board P&O’s majestic 116,000-tonne Ventura represented the biggest leap of faith of my entire holiday life.

We’d never been cruising before and I’d been seriously worried that a week confined to a ship, albeit a luxury one, with only occasional trips ashore might not really be for me.

So there were a few misgivings in the back of my mind as we sailed out of chilly Southampton and past the Isle of Wight before heading towards Viking country.

Fog shrouded much of our voyage which enabled us to focus on the ship, our beautifully compact and comfortable cabin and the sort of high quality food and service that proved to be the best I’ve enjoyed on any holiday.

Alcohol prices were only slightly above English pub prices while a lively welcome show in the Arena theatre set the entertainment scene although four women sat at a table amused me even more with their whispered discussion of mutual gall bladder operations!

There were more than 3,000 passengers on board but more than 1,300 staff to look after us as we chose between 12 places to eat and 16 places to drink while the first full day on board alone had 86 separate attractions, shows, displays, events or activities.

Our second full day saw us dock at the 13th-century Hanseatic city of Bergen built on the site of an original Viking settlement nestling among magnificent mountain scenery.

This World Heritage site scorched its way into our holiday good books with temperatures of 28C (82F), a far cry from England’s teeth-chattering summer season, so we walked across the city centre to board a funicular for a spectacular ride up to a mountain viewpoint above Bergen.

There we had the city laid out below us, its waters like a sheet of deep blue glass beneath a lovely blue sky. Wonderful, exhilarating, impressive and we couldn’t get enough of it, even trekking back into the forests further up the mountain where we dutifully obeyed signs saying: “Don’t feed the Trolls!”

Back on board for a quick lunch and then out into Bergen again to explore the fish market and ancient wooden buildings on streets surfaced with planks. We even went to a Christmas shop and a museum showing the origins of the city which also contained a section on shoes for which the city was famous.

Evening delighted with a local speciality dish of fish and prawns before we stumbled in to friends from Weymouth after which recollection became blurred by chat and gin and tonics.

The next morning we were up early to see Ventura glide in to Olden at the southern end of the beautiful Nordfjord where we hopped on a local excursion bus to see a stunning scenery mix of lakes and mountains, rivers and bridges culminating in views of a glacier above lake waters so still they were like a mirror.

We later walked by carpets of spring flowers and visited a church before returning famished to the ship where we wolfed down another local speciality, a dish based on smoked pork.

Next day it rained non-stop from the moment we got up until we went to bed, a miserable day spent at Molde. We took our excursion guide’s word that it was surrounded by 216 snow-capped peaks because mist and cloud was so bad we couldn’t see one of them.

Add to that a soggy walk down from a mountain viewpoint through dripping forests to an open air museum of ancient wooden buildings which turned out to only be half open because the Norwegian tourist season was still three weeks away and you’ll appreciate our day didn’t live long in the memory. Even Molde’s cathedral couldn’t inspire and we gladly gave up the struggle in favour of dry clothes and a hot meal back on board.

Our final port of call was Stavanger, regarded as the Cradle of the Vikings, with its striking array of 200-year-old white wooden houses, 12th century cathedral, markets and craft stalls.

We opted for a coach trip through the countryside which provided a breathtaking panorama of lakes and sun-drenched mountains and moraines – debris ground out by glaciers – as well as picturesque village communities and even an area of giant boulders.

There was time to explore Byrkjedalstunet, a site which includes a candle factory, local art and crafts and old wooden buildings, before a final drive through the mountains and on through rich farmland back to the ship.

During that we heard about how moose were quite a problem in Norway including one tale of a bull becoming disorientated in Stavanger. It apparently saw its reflection in a large glass door, charged what it thought was a rival and ended up in an old people’s home!

Back in Stavanger we managed an hour exploring the harbourside area, stalls and a central lake walk before returning to Ventura for the voyage home.

Our holiday booked through Thomas Cook in St Mary Street cost just £399 and we were so impressed with our first cruise that we are already looking at another in 2015.


Dave Derham was born in Parkstone, Poole in Dorset. His early career saw him studying at Bournemouth and Poole College and becoming an apprentice at Alan Hawkins garage, a small independent garage in Parkstone. Dave moved to Dorchester around 10 years ago and has since moved to Milborne. Married for 27 years, the 45-year-old has four grown up children and is soon to be a granddad. He owns Double D Computers in Bridport and Dorchester.

HOW did you come to run Double D Computers?
I took on Double D Computers after the previous owner packed up the business. I got together with Paul, Simon and Tom and explained the situation and they agreed to come and work for Double D computers in Bridport. On our opening day we had people in the shop and right out on the pavement, we were serving food from Bella’s and even Battens the jewellers took out an ad wishing us all the best. Bridport is a great place. After so much support from the local Bridport people we decided to open a branch in Dorchester and that is really now starting to take off.

WHAT do most people come to your shop for?
What we do here is try to offer an all-round service, we repair all kinds of computers and we sell a large range of ink cartridges, printers and leads, as well as laptops, PCs and tablets. 

THE variety of technical accessories for PCs can appear daunting - what kind of help can people expect from you? 
We can help with most situations, if we don’t know the answer we can soon find it out. We even supplied all the hardware to a company in Antigua to allow photos to be streamed to huge TVs and be manipulated via touch.

THE pace of technological change is extraordinary. What can people do to ‘future-proof’ their purchases?
That’s a difficult one, but with the right questions we can normally find what people need. We will ask what you want to do with the device, for instance people will say I only want internet and email, then a general laptop would be fine. If they wanted to edit a lot on Photoshop, then we would point them to a faster machine. The better the computer is initially will help to future proof customers.

WHAT do you think will be the next great leap in computing?
I’m always blogging on tech sites and the word seems to be entertainment integration, music, TV, gaming, etc.

WHAT’S the most bizarre request you’ve ever heard in your shop?
Do you sell cheese?

WHAT got you interested in boxing? What makes it such an enduring sport?
It was at my local club and just gave it a try. I was about 10 when I first went and he put me in with a lad to spar with and see what I could do (the other lad was told not to hit back), I went hell for leather and was trying so hard to catch the guy, didn’t land a single punch and could hardly stand after two minutes. I remember being sick in the toilets afterwards. 

IS BOXING a sport or is it two blokes having a scrap?
As I said, I couldn’t touch the guy I was sparring with and I was no mug on the street. Boxing is all about movement, balance and placing yourself in the right place, creating angles and being very fit. You’re taught to parry a punch and put yourself in a position to return a punch without being hit.

IF YOU could design a piece of technology to do one thing, what would it be?
There is some great technology about today. My father-in-law is suffering pretty bad right now, and has a Windows 8 tablet he hooks up to and it takes readings and sends them directly to the hospital, it’s incredible. So I’d say something along those lines.

WHAT was the first computer you owned and what was it like?
I had a Commodore VIC-20 that I wrote a racing pigeon program on, but my first real PC was a Compaq DX2/66. Slow, ugly and great fun. 

FAVOURITE computer / robot in film or TV?
Huey, Dewey and Louie from the film Silent Running.

PAC Man or Space Invaders?
Definitely Space Invaders.

Double D Computers can be found on South Street in Bridport 
(01308 424240) and on Trinity Street in Dorchester (01305 757039)