Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Carnival Week goes out with a bang!

LYME Regis celebrated the end of another successful Regatta & Carnival Week on Saturday with the annual procession and fireworks display.

I think this is one of the most fun and easiest jobs to cover of the entire year - music pumps out at the procession’s starting line, silly costume is encouraged and everyone is excited, all smiles and waves,  and happy to have their photo taken!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay and watch the procession after taking photos this year, as my family and I were celebrating dad’s 65th birthday out of town. I must say, after seeing all the excellent entries I was a bit disappointed as I left Holmbush Car Park just before the start (although I did have an excellent meal instead at The Harbour in Axmouth!).

Dad’s birthday and carnival week always clashes and, in August 2015, another family event will be competing with the carnival procession - my big sister’s wedding! 

“Don’t worry,” said dad, “We’ve got two years to find someone to cover the carnival!”
As maid of honour I don’t think I’ll be making it to both!

It was great to see some new entries in this year’s procession, including Lyme Regis Mummers in full costume complete with grotesque masks, promoting their winter play which will take place on January 4th 2014, and coming first place in the adult groups category.

Another new entry this year was the pink-clad Volly Dollies - girls from the Volunteer Inn driven in vintage car by Elliott Dale - who have fully taken on the carnival spirit this year and were seen earlier in the week competing in the Wheeled Derby. The girls also came first in their category - trade entries.

I’m told the fireworks were also the best Lyme has seen for some years, played to the music of Pink Floyd, the choice of local fisherman Harry May who generously sponsored the display to celebrate 40 years of taking visitors out on his boat - happy anniversary!

Congratulations to all involved in organising the carnival - a small and hard working committee.

The event comes around quicker every year so here’s to 2014!

Don’t miss the Lyme Lympics

THE popular Lyme Lympics returns next Wednesday (August 21st) and is one summertime event not to be missed.

The wacky games, organised by local artist Hugh Dunford-Wood, were first held last summer as Lyme’s own version of the Olympics and were so popular they were promised to return this summer.

Games included the six-legged race, mermaid racing and stinging nettle eating with more fun set to return to the beach next Wednesday.

What I’m doing this week...

THIS week I can breath a sigh of relief as the busiest few weeks of the summer have passed. 

That’s not to say there isn’t still lots more to come this year, but this weekend I don’t have a single job in my diary! Instead, I am planning a trip to Bristol Zoo on Sunday, which I have never visited before. 

While the zoo is not on the programme, Lyme families looking for a day-out to similar attractions should take a look at the remainder of the programme for this year’s Lyme Regis Community Trips, organised by LymeForward.

Trips have already been held this month to Paultons Family Theme Park in the New Forest and Longlest Safari Park and, from what I have heard, those attending had a great time.

This is a great idea for local families looking for a day out that won’t break the bank, as the transport is funded by Lyme Regis Town Council. Trips coming up include the Black Country Living Museum and Woodlands - phone 07766 666 384 for details.

Events this week also include the annual fete at the Catholic Church of St Michael and St George in Lyme Regis, starting at 2pm on Thursday. This is always a popular event with plenty of stalls, entertainment and refreshments, plus the church is unusually lucky with the weather each year so don’t forget your sunnies!

Also on Thursday, students across the country including at Lyme’s Woodroffe School will be anxiously opening their A-level results. Good luck to all! 

Get your BOGOFS while you can

SHOPPERS seem mystified over why Weymouth is approaching a scenario where a short stretch of Dorchester Road will soon have three supermarkets off it.

Morrisons and Lidl already hold sway there but it won’t be too long before Sainsbury’s becomes the meat in their sandwich.

All have different things to recommend them, but I’m bound to point out that there is still only one customer cake.

You can slice it any way you like but the overall pool of customer money remains roughly the same. It’s merely a question of how large a wedge each supermarket will get.

The wider picture should also not be forgotten with the new Tesco doing very nicely thank-you on Portland, Asda’s in-town store carving out its share as well and Which? Best Supermarket 2013 winner Aldi commanding its share of customers on the Jubilee retail park. There is also the big Co-op store out at Littlemoor.

Clearly the New Look Gateway development would not have brought in Sainsbury’s without careful thought, but it will be the seventh major supermarket in the area and that doesn’t take into account a forrest of Tesco Metro and Express, Co-op, M&S and Iceland outlets plus numerous small grocery outlets scattered across the borough.

Some might argue that all this is good news for shoppers since increased competition is bound to see a war of offers to attract customers, but wars have losers.

How long before one of the big supermarkets decides enough is enough and its margins just aren’t enough to be worth continuing? And how long after that closure before the first major housing scheme drops with a thud through planners’ letterboxes? Not too long I venture to suggest. Get your BOGOFs while you can.

Keep an eye on the road to avoid further gull casualties

LOCALS are struggling to cope with a shocking toll of 15 deaths on a small area of Weymouth roads in less than a week.

Fortunately the bodies belong to gulls not human beings but, even so, the figures are pretty startling and these are just the dead birds that I have counted.

Abbotsbury Road, Wyke Road, Portland Beach Road, Weymouth Way, Swannery Bridge, Town Bridge and the Esplanade all have their flattened clumps of feathers, so how many more are there out there that I haven’t spotted?

Each year gulls fall victim to the summer holiday traffic, but always before I’d registered that, what dead birds I’d seen were juveniles, untutored in the ways of dodging cars. Not this year. Nearly three-quarters of all the bodies I have seen have been in full adult plumage, so I’ve no idea what’s happening with that.

Maybe they’re too confident, too hungry or too desperate this year. Whatever the reason, motorists should keep just a bit sharper eye out for gulls in the road to avoid adding to the carnage.

The powerful force of nature

ANYONE in doubt about the power of nature should have been out and about in Weymouth during a recent storm.

So much rain teemed down that the sheer force of water blasted out a chunky solid metal manhole cover, ripped off path coverings to create drifts of pebbles, flattened flower beds and left many streets and part of the Esplanade flooded.

Of course no one should really be too surprised at the deluge. It is, after all, the height of an English summer, but I don’t have much time to dwell on general misfortune as I have some more specific problems of my own.

At the height of the storm a communal drainpipe became blocked and hundreds of gallons of water cascaded down the front of our home and our neighbour’s. Just off out to try and unblock it before the next storm. Oh the joys of a relaxing evening after work.

Keep your cool

EXPERTS say that climate change could be responsible for an increase in violence, their comments appearing to be backed up by the crush of people in Weymouth town centre.

Grandparents had to intervene and part one couple who were rowing face to face, and spats between parents and their children were commonplace.

Life’s too short for this pettiness because in the same period there were other people visible in wheelchairs, more on crutches because they’d lost a limb and several tapping their way along because they were blind.

It’s all too easy to blame a flare-up on the weather but the bottom line is that people have a choice whether they lose their temper or not.

I’m no saint, but I’d like to think that I can behave better in public than some of these people did without claiming warm weather as an excuse.

At least if people start swapping punches in the winter it will do less damage because they’ll be wearing gloves!

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Sam Mackenzie-Green

Sam Mackenzie-Green, 36, has been the Dorset County Show Secretary since 2002, moving from Berkshire. She came to Dorset with her husband, giving up a job managing an equestrian business, to become the show’s youngest secretary. Despite this being her busiest weeks of the year she found time to talk to us about her life and the show, which this year takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th.

HAVE you always had an interest in horse riding?
Certainly since I was nine when I started riding. Although I’d had an academic education I went off to do an Equine Studies Degree which in those days was quite new. I just thought that I’d had enough of subjects like Latin and wanted to follow something I loved. I’ve continued competing in eventing and dressage until quite recently when, with two small children, we decided to build our own house and realised there simply wasn’t the time – but I’m not giving up completely.

WITH the county show now just weeks away, do you ever think you would rather do something else?
I love the variety and the pressure – the way it all builds up and then you have a natural lull in the winter. I enjoy the pressure but I wouldn’t want to do it all the year round. I’m an organiser and I like to have things planned and then watch it all fall into place, so the job really suits me.

AND if the show came to an end and you had to find something else what do you think you might do?
My mother always said I should go into law, but I think if I had to I might run a business or start my own. Running the show teaches you lots of transferable skills.

HOW did you get the job?
We had already moved here when I saw it advertised. I thought ‘this is right up my street’, I couldn’t believe it. They had quite a lot of applicants and whittled it down to six, quite a mix of people who had the experience and I was the youngest.  I remember being interviewed at 2pm and the then chairman, Tom Bartlett, phones me at 5pm and told me I’d got the job. I just put the phone down and screamed. When I started it was the first show after foot and mouth so it was quite a turbulent time. I inherited a show which was traditional in every sense. I remember when I started the accounts were done by hand, we had a big ledger in which everything was entered.

LOOKING back what’s the best change, or changes, you have made?
The introduction of ‘children go free’ was a major turning point. This should be an educational event, it’s part of our aims, and to have children coming along for free (with an adult) shows we are a family-friendly event and committed to educating people about agriculture. But I think we have also managed to balance the more traditional aspects of the show with the commercial aspects, making it attractive to more people.

Do YOU worry about the show?
Yes. I can have sleepless nights and I often wake up early with half a dozen things on my mind, so I try to get to bed early. My biggest worry is not the organisation, but the weather. If we get a series of good days in the run up to the show I start thinking that we are somehow using them up!

WHO has been influential in your life?
I grew up in the era of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and I’d been through a feminist grammar school, so whatever you think of her politics it was very encouraging to see a woman in that position and to get the message that women could achieve anything. Mrs Thatcher and Hilary Clinton are both very inspirational.

HOW do you relax?
With the family, although for these four weeks I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. This last weekend was probably the last one I will get off until the show is over. I like to potter in the garden and to read. I like classics like Dickens or I will pick up a thriller if I want a quick read.

WHEN the show is over do you just flop and go on holiday?
No. It takes a few days to come down from the show. It’s all going round in my head for days – what was good, what we could improve on and there’s still a lot of work to be done, thank-you letters to write, payments and results to sort out. I don’t really relax until the October half-term holiday.