The GTX of its day, this farm cart, a one horse Somerset Tipping Putt, worked on a single farm, Horsey Farm, Bridgwater for some seventy-five years. It was sold in the Farm Sale in the early 1990s and has rested in an Exmoor barn for over two decades.
The day I bought it I was told by its farmer owner Percy Adams, then in his nineties, that as a seventeen year old he had walked his horse from his farm to the village of Thurloxton to take delivery of the Putt from its maker, the wheelwright Jim Porter. As his horse settled into the shafts St Giles Church bells rang out to celebrate the Armistice, Monday the eleventh of November in 1918.
This week the Putt has returned to Thurloxton, the place where it was built, to be held in Village Ownership and to be part of the village’s Armistice Centenary Exhibition in November.
The Putt shows some scars from its years of farm work, but the inherent strength of its design and its fitness for purpose, still in its original, now somewhat faded, paintwork, is witness to the skill of yesterday’s craftsmen – Jim Porter, the wheelwright and Walter Winslade, the blacksmith who made all the ironwork fittings.
We have seen all weathers since the Autumn Equinox last weekend, First the storm brought down a Rowan Tree, not the biggest, but one we planted some twenty-one years ago as a six-foot sapling. We hope to reset the root and a foot or so of its trunk so that we have a coppiced tree and there are already two four foot growths from the last two summers looking set to prosper. Slices of the trunk will make good wooden painting boards.
Last December we had to coppice a sweet chestnut tree growing in our woodland, too tall under the power lines. Ten months on its summer growth is spectacular. It will have to be a regular coppice!
The woodland, planted in 2009, is making good progress. Mowing the paths is ever more difficult, further trimming of side shoots will be on the agenda this winter.Then during the week we have had cold nights and hot cloudless days, a temperature range of some twenty degrees C, from 1C to 21C on still days. During the week the nights have lengthened by about half an hour as a full moon from a cloudless sky has ‘lit’ the scene.
The swallows have gone on their journey South and in the early morning we heard the first ‘roar’ of a rutting red deer stag down the valley. Every day we have been treated to large squadrons of geese overflying us. Their base is at Wimblball Lake, but where they go, back and forth, we don’t know, is it to graze local fields or do they go down to the coastal plain either the North Somerset shore or the South Welsh shore?
Good to see my play PLACE OF REFUGE on stage for New Forest Players 90th Anniversary Winners’ Week, one of six performed, a third evening performance during a very hot week which limited audience numbers.
A very strong performance was put in by two young actors earlier in the day in LA Green’s CLOTHES MAKETH THE MAN, a thought provoking two hander of two siblings, sisters, facing up to one’s gender transitioning.
“Once I had two sisters, now I have a sister and a brother.”
The New Forest Players are celebrating their ninety years of theatrical performance this week following their playwriting competition with six one act plays, three for a younger audiences, three for older audiences.
My play PLACE OF REFUGE is one of the competition winners. The play follows one of the four young refugees smuggled into the country in a lorry, escaping when the lorry delivers packaging material to a West Country milk factory. Discovered in a garden shed, the family of retired farm worker, Reuben, his daughter, Carol, who works at the milk factory and his student granddaughter, Julia, whose boyfriend is the local policeman, PC Thorne, reflect the opposing sympathies and opinions of a local community on what should happen to Ahmed.
Should he be surrendered for prompt deportation to whatever his fate in Afghanistan or given a chance to educate himself and maybe return to his country in the future to contribute from strength.
I will be at New Milton on Saturday 21st July to see all six plays on their third day of performance.
Fun to be had on 11th July. I will have to face the Chudleigh Writers’ Circle ‘Dragons’ with a competitive opportunity to pitch my current WIP novel, JOE’S BEECH (aka The Register of Joe’s Trees), the story of a teenage girl, Alice Hallett, whose 1943 affair with Joe Carew, a US airman stationed in Bramlesham, Suffolk, ends in tragedy when Joe’s plane does not return from a bombing mission.
Decades later Joe Carew’s grandson, Joe III, researching his grandfather’s wartime service, visits Suffolk. Alice and Joe III’s paths cross to weave an emotional tale linking Bramlesham, UK with Rapid City, South Dakota.
I’m a little ahead of myself; through the heat of June days, July is approaching. For me it will be an exciting month on the writing front. In the third week of July the New Forest Players are celebrating their ninetieth anniversary. Last year they ran a short play competition to mark the occasion. NFP will be staging six short plays, three for younger generations and three for an older audience.
My play, A PLACE OF REFUGE is one of those being performed. I wish the company well and look forward to seeing the plays on stage. My play follows the hours after four young Afghan refugee stowaways escape from a lorry delivering to an English factory. Three are taken into custody, one escapes to hide in a garden shed where he is discovered by the retired farmworker cottage owner. The play follows the exchanges, differing opinions and emotions between the members of the family living at the cottage, father, daughter and student granddaughter, whose boyfriend is a local policeman.
Another excitement arises for me with the Dorchester Literary Festival Writing Competition for books privately published by West Country authors in the last three years, fiction, non-fiction, poetry or short stories. The original entry was longlisted down to seven books. My novel REQUIEM FOR PRIVATE HUGHES was on that list and I was thrilled to find out earlier in June that it had made the shortlist of three now being finally judged. The winner will be announced at a gathering on 12th July after those shortlisted have been interviewed by Kate Adie, a Patron of the Dorchester Literary Festival, and have read a short extract of their work. Fingers crossed and all best to my fellow shortlisted writers.