Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Yet again, Lyme punches above its weight

LYME Regis has enjoyed a monumental summer. Glorious weather (at last) and nose-to-tail festivals that has seen the town attract record numbers.

After the the appalling weather last year, the summer of 2013 certainly made amends as Lyme yet again punched above its weight.

The Fossil Festival retained its reputation as a world-acclaimed event. Centering the Jazz and Blues Festival around the Marine Theatre seemed to work and the event covered its cost for the first time for several years. Hopefully, it will now survive and prosper again. 

And it did provide what I thought was the quote of the summer from the great Gino Washington who last appeared in Lyme in the late 1960s.  Looking disntinctly bleary eyed, he was heard to say: “Have I been here before”?  He put on a great show.

Lifeboat Week attracted its usual massive crowd and although the Red Arrows had to curtail their manoeuvres because of low cloud, it did not detract from the popularity of the week and the event was yet again another huge financial success for the RNLI.

The Regatta and Carnival is a favourite of mine and the committee came up yet again with their usual mix of family entertainment by the seaside and seems to get more popular every year.

New arrivals this year were the crab and mackerel festival, organised superbly by Jo Harris, from the Hix organisation.

Lyme Lympics with its crazy games on the Cobb Beach, organised by the irrepressible Hugh Dunford-Wood, prompted letters of praise to this newspaper from visitors and looks like becoming a summer favourite.

And as summer drew to a close thefirst ever Lyme Folk weekend painted the town orange, bringing some of the top names in folk music to Lyme for the first time.

The weekend was organised by Jerry Hayes and Geoff Hughes, who live in Uplyme, helped by a team of volunteers, and they get my vote as the Summer of 2013 “Men of The Moment”.

And then there was Guitars On The Beach. An ingenious idea that only Geoff Baker could have dreamed up and delivered with such flair, providing a late-season boost as thousands descended on Lyme to make up Britain’s Biggest Band. 

I have had a hand in one way or other in most of the big events (excluding Lifeboat Week) over the past 40 years. Coupled with the Food Rocks Festival, this was by far one of the most unusual, generating publicity that money just can’t buy.

For five months Lyme has hardly stopped to draw breath but following a comment made by the mayor at a recent tourism meeting, has the time come to concentrate a little more on quiet Lyme? 

It’s a debate that may well dominate the coffee shops in town in the weeks to come and one to which the View from Lyme will be paying attention during the winter months.

MEANWHILE, back on the set of  'Carry On Council' at the Guildhall... it’s been a difficult summer for our elected representatives, some might even say embarassing.

The August meeting turned out to be a total farce when it had to be abandoned for the first time in living memory over some administrative slip-up.  It was also the meeting when the toilet roll in the Guildhall loo was replaced with sheets of the View from Lyme Regis. 

As you can imagine, I was livid but soon calmed down to see the funny side to it. 

In a sarky comment would-be council leader Mark Gage described me on his twitter feed (@manwithashed) as a local freesheet vendor. Hmm. Such withering criticism from one with such a glittering career.

So who was the perpetrator? That’s what everyone keeps asking me. I found out the following day but I’m afraid the answer to that question will have to wait for the book that all old journalists finally get around to writing. 

The Mayor was magnanimous to apologise but it wasn’t necessary. No harm was done and all it did was highlight that the Guildhall is a place where respect counts for little.

Those who think they could save a few pennies by using the View from Lyme for similar purposes should be warned.  It’s not an effective cost-saving measure. We use a very poor quality paper. The council minutes are printed on much sterner stuff.

I’m really into Twitter these days and I was interested to read Mark Gage’s profile. It says: “Interested in all shed related news, passionate Spurs fan, and hater of all things racist, royalist and Tory”.

Well at least we have one thing in common. I used to be a vice-president at White Hart Lane. Any time you want a ticket, Mark, you’ve only got to ask.

Yes, we do need more councillors of Jill’s calibre

LYME may be going to the polls in November if more than one person puts themselves foward to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Jill Newton.

I’m sorry Jill decided to stand down, especially as I was influential is persuading her to stand and signed her nomination paper.

After taking her seat unopposed, Jill soon recognised the atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion that pervades the Guildhall these days.

But she certainly made her mark, especially when she described the meeting when councillors allocate grants to local organisations as a “disgrace to democracy”. 

She got herself into hot water for expressing her views in this paper rather than in the council chamber, and I was accused of helping her to write her letter, which was certainly not the case.

Jill now feels she can do more good for the town by working outside the restraints of the council chamber and there are many in town who share this view.

Having lost one or two crucial votes at recent meetings, the voting pendulum has swung back in favour of the “we’re not the gang of five or mafia” group on the council. 

It will be interesting to see whether they can boost their ranks with another like-minded member through the ballot box if there is an election. 

Or will we get another candidate like Jill prepared to make a stand. 

But as the mayor so appositely put it when Jill stood down, we need more people of her calibre on the council.

Anyone else confused by their bills?

JUST got my new electricity and gas contract and no wonder so many local people have complained to me about how much trouble they have understanding what they are signing up for.

The Government is trying to clamp down on energy companies to make their bills and documents easier for customers to understand but, if my contract is anything to go by, they have some way to go yet.

My envelope contained a single sheet of paper which strongly urged me to read my fixed price energy deal very carefully and to contact the company if I had any queries.

Strike a chord, does it? Well it should do because millions of these things are going out to customers nationwide every year.

For a start, this is not two or three pages of pertinent information, simply and intelligently written to enable the customer to make a simple, speedy and informed decision. The pamphlet sent to me ran to 26 beefy pages packed with figures, tariffs, comparisons, tables and charge options not to mention the dreaded “terms and conditions”.

Print has been part of my life for decades, so cynical old me recognised a good energy company ploy when I saw one, namely printing everything very small. To put that in perspective, what you are reading now is nearly twice the size of much of the printwork in the pamphlet and you don’t have to be a genius to work out that this will be difficult to follow for many elderly people or those with sight problems.

So be aware of what is happening with energy companies. They are not short of a groat or two and they definitely want to keep it that way.

A contract is legally binding, so don’t agree to charges fixed for two years or any set period unless you are sure they are right for you, your usage and your home and, if you are in any doubt, have a word with groups such as Citizens Advice. Better safe than sorry.

Growing old happens to the best of us

GROWING old is something that happens to all of us, but it’s amazing how people mark their birthdays in different ways.

For instance, take my neighbour who celebrated her recent 29th (ish) birthday by holding an open house for the day.

There were children, adults, animals, relatives, friends and I’m not so sure I didn’t see the Archbishop of Canterbury drop by to give her a quick blessing.

The younger you are the more intense the celebration seems to be, but the older you get the more the passing of the years don’t so much weigh on your mind as give it so much more to remember.

Those memories can often take a weird path and when I celebrated my 40th (ish) birthday this year I for some reason remembered a birthday from many years ago when, as a child, all my friends were invited round and my mother cooked a fabulous birthday cake. It was delicious and by the time everyone had gone there wasn’t a crumb left.

The focus was a little different then and is radically different now for the generation ahead of me because so many of their friends and relatives are no longer there to join in celebrations.

So if you’ve got a birthday coming up then follow my neighbour’s example if at all possible and do it full out surrounded by family and friends with that all important glass of wine. 

Those fond memories will be important to you in years to come.

The irony...

A SIGN warning people: “Beware! Dangerous Cliffs” has fallen victim... to a landslip!

The sign at Furzy Cliff near Bowleaze, Weymouth, must at one time have occupied a clear position where people could see it and heed the warning.

It now occupies a position canted over at a crazy angle almost touching the ground and 50 feet down the cliff where it is heavily obscured by weeds.

The demise of the sign parallels the demise of several sections of cliff in that area, destabilised by seemingly relentless rain which left the whole area saturated with water.

Hard to realise that at the moment as we’ve had nothing like the rain this summer that we had in recent years, but you only have to walk along the top of the cliff and see where great chunks have slid down to appreciate that when the rain does return for any length of time it will definitely be a dangerous place to avoid.

Baffling sculptures

THE little girl was absolutely fascinated by the new sand sculpture display on Weymouth Esplanade and, like all little girls, she was full of questions about it.

Mum and Dad were duly attentive and explained what the sculptures were and who she was looking at, adding that she could soon try for herself on the beach, but her final question left both parents openly laughing.

She asked: “But Mummy, what are the sculptures made of?”

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Lisa Eastwood

ORIGINALLY from Hertfordshire, Lisa Eastwood spent many years living in London before moving to Uplyme, near Lyme Regis. She said she had always loved this part of the world and, after spending her honeymoon in Lyme Regis with husband Mark in 2012, they decided to make the move. Lisa now lives with Mark, her daughter Ella, 10, and stepsons Tom, 10, and Hugo, 7. She has recently joined Travel Counsellors, running her own business from home offering travel advice and holiday bookings. 

TELL us a bit about Travel Counsellors and the services they offer...
Travel Counsellors is one of the world’s leading independent travel companies and there are now more than 1,200 personal Travel Counsellors who, like me, work from home and run their own businesses.  Putting the customer at the very centre of everything is one of the key principals the company was founded on. I am there to ensure my customer gets the holiday that meets their needs but exceeds their expectations. I save them time, stress and, more often than not, money. I truly believe you can’t get that from the internet or on the High Street. We also offer the best financial protection in the industry as standard for every customer. Any destination and any budget, cruises, honeymoons, golf trips, safari or even trips for special occasions - I can help.

WHY did you decide to become a Travel Counsellor?
Travel has always been a passion of mine and, having moved down to the South West, I was keen to work for myself. I knew of Travel Counsellors and had always been extremely impressed with the company ethos of going above and beyond for customers.  This struck a chord with me as giving personalised levels of service was something that I’ve believed in throughout my 20 year career in travel.  It is something that is core to the company, in fact Travel Counsellors’ slogan is “With us, it’s personal”. They have a fantastic reputation, so I was keen to be a part of such a prestigious company.

HAVE you had a good response so far?
I have had a great response and most of my customers have come from referrals which I see as a real compliment. My customer satisfaction rating is currently 100 per cent and I’ll continue to deliver the same level of service, so this is something that won’t change. Many people locally may not be aware of Travel Counsellors due to the very fact that we don’t advertise.  I rely solely on word of mouth and referrals so I am keen to grow awareness of the service I offer. Head office does all my admin for me, so I can spend my time visiting my customers in their own homes, meeting for coffee, chatting over Skype, on email or over the phone.  That way I can get to know what people want and understand their requirements so I can recommend the perfect holiday for them.  I’m available outside of normal office hours at a time to suit my customers.  While they are away I’m also on hand to help, and they all have my mobile number so can contact me easily.  You’ll never have to ring a call centre or deal with anyone else - my service really is personal. 

WHAT did you do before this?
I was head of travel sales for a car rental company and the role gave me plenty of opportunity to travel overseas. I was originally trained at Trailfinders and have worked for other specialist travel companies too.

WHERE is your favourite place you have travelled to?
It is really hard to choose as I have had so many amazing experiences - see my website -  but among my favourites are Brazil, New York, South Africa, Morocco and Sri Lanka - all for very different reasons.

WHERE is your dream holiday destination you have not yet visited?
Croatia was top of my list and I have just returned from two weeks exploring the islands and am currently writing a travel journal on the trip for my webpage. Next on my list is to see The Northern Lights and to visit India.

WHAT are your personal interests?
Travel, food and wine and spending time with family and friends. I try to combine as many of them as often as possible! My daughter and I are also keen to join the local gig club and get out onto the water.

WHAT do you like about the local area?
The people hands down! We moved here for the sea, countryside and a different way of life. We got all that but we have also made lots of new friends. Just walking the dog every day I speak to more people than I ever did in London – everyone is so friendly.

WHAT would you add to or change about the area if you could?
That’s a tricky question as we love living here and we have everything we could possibly need.  The only thing I could say would be that I do wish there was an M&S a little closer than Dorchester.  Having said that, I’m already getting used to shopping online and as it saves me time overall, you could actually see this as another bonus of living here! 

WHAT would you do if you won the Lottery?
Definitely buy a boat and extend the house but we wouldn’t move. I would continue running my business as I enjoy helping people by taking the stress out of finding their perfect holiday.  Winning the Lottery would afford me more time to spend supporting local charities and the community which would be fantastic.  And of course take lots of holidays to show the children all the amazing places both Mark and I have been lucky enough to see.

WHAT three items would you like on a deserted island?
A photo album of my family, a wind up radio and a book on the entire history of the world as I always regretted not taking it as a subject at school.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The internet baffles me

AS A giant in the world of computers and social networking, my ceaseless search for perfection – or how to switch my damn computer on – recently uncovered some truly startling statistics.

Most of my friends are on Facebook but some of the figures for 2012 almost defy belief they are so gigantic.

For a start, did you know that more than 250 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook... every day?!

And you’d better not have a female Facebook friend because it appears that 85 percent of women are annoyed by their friends on the site. 

What? No, I’m not picking on you. It’s just a fact. Well there’s no need to be like that! 

Sadly, greater use means greater potential for crime and I must have received at least six heartbreaking messages via Facebook, Twitter or email, all from local councillors or council staff, pleading with me to send them large sums of money abroad.

In every case they’d sadly just been mugged in the hotel car park who hadn’t hurt a hair on their heads but had somehow stolen all their wallets and cards and could I help them in their hours of need by sending £2,000 urgently. 

I mean, do I look like a network greenhorn? So I’m appealing to you all to give as generously as you can to help me pay off my £12,000 debt, not to my credit card but to the pay day loan company I borrowed much of the money from. 

Apparently, if I can’t repay the money by next Tuesday I’ll owe them £1,097,246,583 and if I default until next Wednesday it rises to more than all those council people earn in an entire month... but that’s another story.

It’s that time of year... harvest time!

ALL has been safely gathered in or as safely as I can manage at the moment.

Yes, harvest time is here again with a rich crop of cooking onions and cooking apples. The onions were a bit of a problem because, having dug them up, I then needed a few days of fine weather to dry them off before hanging them in the shed. Yeah, like sun is going to arrive to order.

Apples are a little easier but seem to have a mind of their own, often going rotten despite being carefully laid down in a dark drawer on beds of crumpled newspaper to avoid bruising the fruit.

So this year I took a more brutal approach and didn’t just pick the apples but peeled and cooked them as well, storing the cooked apple in sealed trays in the bottom of our freezer.

There is method in my madness because the reward comes when you can conjure up delicious bowls of homemade apple pie or crumble as part of Christmas festivities.

Gives a lovely hint of summer to come and I’d far rather write about that than the incredible fact I’ve just been offered a Christmas tree for sale.

A different meaning to council cutbacks

WEYMOUTH and Portland council’s latest series of cut-backs has actually left people smiling.

Former mayor Margaret Leicester had to have her robes of office fitted to suit her.

No problem there but current mayor, Ray Banham, is even shorter and he had to ask for the length of the official robes of office to be reduced so they didn’t drag on the ground when he wore them.

And, as he pointed out to me, deputy mayor Kate Wheller is even tinier than him, although she tells me that she is trying not to get the scissors out again when she takes office in May 2014.

I’m just waiting to hear that Councillor Dominic Lonsdale has been nominated for deputy mayor next year because he’s so tall that the robes which go with his chain of office will be no more than a waistcoat for him!

No PDAs please

PUBLIC displays of affection occur everywhere and Weymouth and Portland are doing their bit to contribute towards a staggering statistic that at any given moment 58 million people globally are kissing.

Smooching in public is nothing new but passers-by raised a grin in St Mary Street recently when one couple took it to new heights by kissing for so long they nearly needed a bucket of water thrown over them!

They just could not be parted and I had enough time to do a couple of nearby jobs and they were still at it when I finished.

Good luck to them because that sort of passionate kiss is not for everybody and affection in public is much more likely to be a peck on the cheek or a gentle hug. 

Whatever the physical display, all of us have a long way to go before we beat the current world record kiss held by a Thai couple who kissed for nearly 59 hours!

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Ben Hitchcock

BEN Hitchcock has, arguably, one of the most unusual jobs in Dorset as one of just a handful of master tea tasters, or to give him his correct title -  Tea Sourcing Manager. He is responsible for Dorset Tea, a ‘robust and smooth’ blend which is named after the county where it is selected, blended and packaged – the tea itself coming from Kenya, India and Ceylon. Ben, 50 this year, works for Spicers, now based in Wimborne who have been involved in the tea trade since 1934. It is a company which has its roots in Dorchester where 14-year-old Keith Spicer began his career in tea, joining the local business AG Tizard & Sons, tea specialists of South Street, Dorchester in 1923. Eleven years later he started his own business blending teas from the family home - spending the mornings making up the blends and then in the afternoon setting off on an old butchers bike to sell and deliver the tea within the local area. Later he bought his first motor vehicle with money left to him by his grandfather enabling him to reach customers all over Dorset and from there the business grew.

WHEN did you join the company?
I came to Dorset around 23 years ago having trained at Twinnings as an apprenctice.

WHAT made you decide on such an unusual career?
Well, probably because it was unusual. I saw the job advertised as a trainee tea taster and thought ‘why not?’. I suppose in the back of my mind there was something nostalgic about it with relatives in the past who had worked abroad in copper and rubber. It felt quite good to, in a way, be following in their footsteps.

AND what did you make of Dorset when you moved here ?
I had lived in Hampshire so Dorset was the place where the motorway ran out, but it’s much more beautiful and I was knocked out by the coastline.

HOW well do you know the county?
Pretty well now. I’m a keen cyclist and I get out about once a week with my wife, or friends. We usually do a 35-40 mile route. I also run and like to walk, especially on the coast.

TELL us about Dorset Tea – why did the company choose to name itself after Dorset?
Dorset has a well-established food and drink heritage, there’s a lot of well-known manufacturers here now. We felt that people would immediately recognise the name and the quality associated with it. The company is also very-much founded in Dorset and we’re proud of that heritage. It’s actually a blend of teas from three areas – predominantly Kenyan Highland which has some of the best quality teas, from the eastern Rift Valley; from Assam in Northern India and Sri Lanka.

SO DO you get to travel quite a bit?
Yes, it’s important to visit and establish a relationship with the producers and get involved with the care they take to get their tea to the market. Travelling is the best way to do that. Between myself and colleagues we probably get out about four times a year.

DO YOU have to protect your taste buds by avoiding certain things?
When I was learning the older tea tasters used to tell me to avoid all sorts of things. There was a lot of quite specific instructions about that and what you could and couldn’t eat... especially curry, but how they managed not to eat curry when travelling I don’t  know. I will obviously be careful about not having anything with a strong taste before embarking on a tasting. For instance you wouldn’t want an onion sandwich!

SO COULD anyone be a tea taster?
Everyone really has a palate, the taste buds and olfactory system, there’s very few people who don’t – and most people could be trained to do it. But it does take quite a time to learn about the system of tasting and be able to work out the subtle differences we might be looking for. I spent years just listening to people who really did know what they were talking about and trying to pick up on what they were telling me.

WITH a developed palate does that ability affect what foods and other drinks you might like? Do you have any particular favourites?
I have always loved beer and wine and good foods, but I would never buy the same wine twice. I like trying out different ones. I wouldn’t even ‘hang my hat’ on a particular grape, or even grain. It’s the same with food, I just like exploring different tastes. But we’re very fortunate in Dorset because of the sea and I love fish, especially those which are locally caught. Many people do stick to the same thing and I can understand that, but I would encourage people to try different things, especially with tea. It’s so cheap really that if you try something new and you don’t like it, there’s little to be lost, which is why we’ve been holding a ‘tea amnesty’ to persuade people to trade in their usual tea and try Dorset Tea.

IF YOU didn’t do what you now do – would there be anything else you might like to try?
I’ve been in tea for almost 30 years now and I still love it. I love the tastings and the evaluation and giving feedback, it’s really great; but if I was forced to look for something else it would be nice to be involved in sport in some way.

WHEN you relax, what interests you, other than sport?
I love restaurants and trying different foods and theatre is quite important to me. I like all types of theatre from the serious West End play to new plays which I can go to, and enjoy, with my children. I don’t really read enough, but when I do I tend to go for shorter novels, interesting biographies or occasionally even short stories. Often I’ll go back again to the classic novels of the past.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Ready to rock at Guitars on the Beach

PERHAPS the headline of this, my last column of the year, is a little misleading as I won’t actually be playing at Guitars on the Beach but I will be there to cheer on and photograph the expected huge crowds!

I’m not particularly musical - the closest I came to mastering a musical instrument was grade 3 piano in school (not very rock ‘n’ roll!), so I think my talents will be better saved for the sidelines.

In fact, music doesn’t run in the family but dad is planning to give the three chords of Buddy Holly’s 'Rave On' a go this Saturday afternoon, just to say he was part of Britain’s Biggest Band. 

I’m sure guitarists up and down the country, amateur and professional, are practising those same three chords this week in preparation for Saturday’s record-breaking event and surely the largest event Lyme Regis has ever seen.

The town is gearing up to welcome more than 2,700 guitarists and, if all goes to plan, we’ll be making it into the Guinness record books for the most people playing one song at one time (not forgetting the biggest guitar made out of sand!).

Musical or not, Guitars on the Beach is set to be an event we will all remember, one of those wacky ideas only Lyme Regis can pull off, thanks to the unfaltering dedication and enthusiasm of lead organiser and music PR Geoff Baker, and his partner Jill Newton, over the past few months.

Geoff’s hard work has secured sponsorship from guitar manufacturer Fender and West End star of 'Buddy!', Billy Geraghty, to lead the house band, plus a number of other attractions and imaginative ideas to keep the crowds happy in the run-up to the big moment. 

It will be big, it will be loud, it will be great! Don’t miss it!


7.30pm - Doors open for The Night with Robbie McIntosh, Marine Theatre. Tickets £12.50

10am - Registrations start in the Jubilee Pavilion on the seafront (all guitarists must register to count for the record attempt)
12noon - Accredited buskers start in shops and cafes around the town and music starts on the seafront stage
4pm - Registrations close. Please take your places on the Sand Stage!
4.30pm - Announcements, raffle draw for the two Fender guitars, warm up run throughs etc
5:30pm - House band plays some classic R&B numbers - join in if you like
7:30pm Doors open for the After Party, Marine Theatre. Tickets £10 to see six local bands.

What I’m doing... for the rest of the year

WELL, I like to think I haven’t got the remaining four months of the year (yes, that’s right, there’s only four left!) planned out to a tee, but here’s a few of the events I’ll be covering just to show you how much really does go on in Lyme Regis, not just in summer:

  • Lyme RegisArtsFest - September 21st to 29th
  • Official twinning with Barfleur - September 21st
  • Bonfire and firework night - November 2nd
  • Remembrance Day parade and church service - November 10th (note new time of 9.30am for parade start)
  • Armistice Day service - November 11th
  • B Sharp’s Christmas Party - November 23rd
  • Christmas Lantern Parade and Lights Switch-On - November 30th
  • The Great Lyme Regis Christmas Pudding Race in aid of Cancer Research UK - December 7th (another favourite of mine, don’t miss the fun!)
  • Charmouth Christmas Day Swim - December 25th
  • Lyme Lunge - January 1st 2014 

And although it’s over the border, don’t forget East Devon Carnival Circuit throughout September and October, always worth a visit. 

Of course, this is just a few - there’ll be plenty to keep you busy and dad will be keeping you up-to-date as his “Lyme Matters” column returns next week. Hope you’ve had a great summer!

And ready to get cooking!

LAST week I mentioned that the Food Rocks Festival was coming up and this week I’ve really got in the mood.

I’m ready to get in the kitchen and, having looked through the programme, I’ve already decided on all the demonstrations, talks, tastings and ‘how to’ workshops I’ll be attending. 

From local seafood to chocolate and cocktails, there’s something for everyone. 

It seems Lyme has been getting in the mood for food too, and is continuously building on its budding reputation as a 'foodie' destination. Our own Mighty Hop Brewery won best drink at the Taste of Dorset awards this week, with vegetarian restaurant Tierra Kitchen also reaching the finals and the Town Mill Brewery scooping no less than six prizes in the Taste of the West Awards - congratulations to all. 

The accolades will be added to a long list won by Lyme establishments in recent years, which I’m sure will be enjoyed by food fans heading our way this weekend.

Council decision will go down in history

INTERESTING how the wheel can turn full circle and transform one-time villains into snowy-white saviours.

Take the recent planning decision to grant a development of apartments for the elderly on the old fire station site at Boot Hill.

The council emerged with some credit for standing firm until it got a scheme it felt was good enough for the site.

It garnered even more credit for encouraging an historic-style design for the proposed buildings which, it said, would fit in perfectly with its hopes for a similar historic approach for the whole of North Quay above Town Bridge to mirror the existing historic harbour look below Town Bridge.

At the centre of remaining North Quay land earmarked for redevelopment are the council’s own offices, an architectural monstrosity straight out of the cardboard box school of design that no-one will miss.

So you might think it a pity that we’ve had to wait all this while for an historic look when they had their chance all those years ago when the council offices were first built.

Well, believe it or not, there was something historic there... the remains of ramshackle Tudor houses which the council knocked down to make way for its new headquarters. 

You can still see some of the old Tudor bits just yards away, covered with seaweed in the harbour where they were shovelled out of sight and mind.

Back then that the council ignored all pleas to try and save these historic gems while the irony now is that the council is championing a historic look it actually reduced to rubble just a few years ago.

How quickly they forget.

A lesson learnt... avoid the bridge on bank holiday!

HALF the boating world must have descended on Weymouth’s inner harbour for the recent Bank Holiday.

Up went Town Bridge at noon which annoyed me as I just failed to get there in time by about 50 yards.

I was still waiting to get across the harbour half an hour later, surrounded by muttering pedestrians whose initial photo snapping enthusiasm and “Look Mildred! The bridge is going up!” comments had slowly changed to fuming frustration at being stuck for so long.

At a conservative estimate there were 40 craft making the trip out of harbour, big and small, gleaming gin palaces to tiny yachts... and they all took their time with some gaps as much as 100 metres. After all, why rush eh? Enjoy the sunshine.

After half an hour some pedestrians were starting to mutter, but the bridge finally went up to unleash a scrum of people and traffic battling their way across the bridge in both directions.

In all fairness, that’s the worst delay on the bridge I have experienced in more than 30 years in Weymouth. Next August Bank Holiday I’ll avoid noon around Town Bridge like the plague.

Traffic hold up

I’VE had a go before at drivers who drive so slowly that they bottle up traffic behind them, but this recent incident took the biscuit.

I was on my way to a job on Portland when myself and dozens of other drivers found ourselves slowing right down in Wyke Regis.

For the next mile or so we crawled along like a snail with lumbago until the queue reached Portland beach road where I expected to see revealed some giant car transporter, stone lorry or boat carrier as the cause of the queue. Far from it.

The villain of the piece as more than 50 cars ground along at 22mph in a 60mph limit was a driver in a white saloon car.

They were nearly half a mile ahead of me so it was impossible to make out any registration number to take action, but hopefully the hoardes of motorists closer to this roving roadblock did get a number and reported it to the police.

Speeding motorists regularly get dealt with and I see no reason why those who drive at ridiculously low speeds shouldn’t also be penalised.

Their actions cause dangerous frustrations with several of the drivers in front of me clearly angry as they swung their cars out to see if they could overtake, but the length of queue was too great.

This is not the first time this sort of problem has cropped up on Portland beach road. 

Hopefully police will catch the next culprit.

Eat before you leave

YOU never know whether to believe what a review may say about a restaurant because diners often have different views about the same food.

But I have just been sent a copy of one comment about a local restaurant which I think definitely comes under the heading of damning with faint praise.

The observation was made by a woman but I will spare the restaurant’s blushes and not name them. She had nothing but praise for the restaurant in question and said she and her husband rated it as their favourite since nowhere else did they consume everything on their plates... because so little had been put on it in the first place!

As I like a nice plateful when I dine out, I’ll avoid it like the plague.

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Saul Kelleher

SAUL Kelleher grew up in Warwick, emigrating with his family to South Africa aged 14. After graduating in Durban and getting married he opened a live music venue which he ran for five years before switching careers and training to become a barrister. Shortly after being admitted to the South African Bar, Saul was held up at gunpoint, prompting him to take his young family to England where, over two years, he converted his South African qualifications to enable him to work as a solicitor in the UK. He worked for two large provincial firms before opening, and becoming director of the Bridport office of the Commercial Law Practice Ltd. The 41-year-old has four children and plays for North Dorset Rugby Club.

WHY is commercial law important to get right?
Law is about creating certainty and with commercial law where there is uncertainty there will almost inevitably be dispute. If you ensure that you understand the clients’ needs and reflect those needs in the work that you do, it will enable a client to proceed with certainty in its business dealings and avoid disputes with the inevitable costs consequences.

CAN people draw up agreements themselves?
I would strongly advise against individuals drawing up their own agreements.  If something is of sufficient importance to reduce it into writing then it is important enough to spend the money necessary to have that agreement drawn up by a solicitor. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat with a client who did not think that matters would turn out the way that they did.

WHY has the practice expanded into Bridport?
I have an existing client base and very much felt that there was a place in Bridport for a fresh approach to legal services. My assistant Sarah and I are very approachable and we are more than happy to see people when they walk through our door. We are very clear about our costs and what we will do and strive to deliver the results desired within the time set out and at the cost quoted. We will always take clients’ calls and, in short, we have stripped out the stuffiness associated with solicitors from the practice.

HAVE you had any strange requests in your profession?
I was called on site to a dispute involving the construction of a conservatory to find it surrounded by a pond of water. The defence that it had been constructed properly fell away quite quickly and the matter was resolved, but I still look at the pictures occasionally when I am feeling down.

HOW important is rugby to you?
I have always played rugby, playing for Natal University and as captain of North Dorset Rugby Club. I still play and I have been on a push to get fit enough to play to a reasonable level this year. I have always loved the bond created between people who play rugby together and the way that, however hard a game is, everything is left on the field.

WHAT is the most memorable game of rugby you’ve seen?
I watched the 1995 World Cup Final between South Africa and New Zealand in a hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel.  The room was divided with South Africans on one side and New Zealanders on the other. The atmosphere was strained, particularly when the power failed just before full time. When the power came back on it was extra time and probably the most exciting finish because of what it meant to South Africa to win.

YOUR family is important to you - do you get together often?
We spend a lot of time together and the house is always busy.  Everyone mucks in and there are always friends coming around and staying. We like to do outdoor activities, but try not to rely on anything too structured. An active day is best concluded with the family and friends having a drink in the garden.

WHAT is your earliest memory?
I remember just having moved into an old terraced house and my parents had spent all the money purchasing the house. Instead of borrowing a lawn mower they began cutting the lawn with kitchen scissors. My parents are extremely practical, running a smallholding in France, and I am sure they would claim that the grass was too long for a mower, but that is not how I remember it.

WHAT objects do you always carry with you?
I carry a coin with the back and front half of a rhino on its sides. It is useful to resolve disagreements and it is not weighted as some might claim.

WHAT is your favourite journey?
I love the drive down to Cornwall and that moment when the landscape changes and becomes almost mystical. There is a beach called Greenaway Beach just outside of Rock and that is my favourite place in the world. When I go to Cornwall I know I will spend time there and that makes the trip exciting.