The Pig Yard

October entered dry and warm which suited us fine because our holiday in Dorset bridged the end of September and the beginning of October.

It was due to be a quiet month with very little happening but this page tells a different story.

Our activities this month covered our holiday, the final stages of the pond, our annual camp fire event, visits to the cinema and a weekend away in Stratford for an evening with Willy Shakespeare and our college friends John and Susie.


























We had very pleasant weather for the first week of the month and enjoyed our time in Dorset. The cottage was about 10 miles from the sea and one day after a walk to the local shop (across 3 fields) and a leisurely breakfast we set off to walk to the coast along the river Char. Dorset has numerous dairy farms and beef cattle so every field you cross contains curious bullocks or udder laden cows.

It's amazing that these farmers are so happy when their milk income is less than the production costs but every one of them was friendly enough, even when we strayed off the badly signposted footpath and travelled through farmyards.

We also managed to fit in two swimming sessions at Bridport leisure centre - an excellent pool.

Jane has this uncanny knack of attracting animals and this donkey knew an animal lover when he saw one. His coat was clean and soft, normally donkeys have very greasy, dirty coats.

He wouldn't leave Jane alone as she fed him grass from our side of the fence and whispered sweet nothings into those big, furry ears. He shared a field with a mule so it opened the usual debate as to whether the coupling is a male horse and female donkey or vice versa.

Forde Abbey gardens are very pleasant. There are different areas with ponds, rockeries, bog plants and an arboretum. We never thought the day would arrive when we would be happy to stroll around a landscaped garden enthusiastically photographing plants and flower borders.

We must be getting old... Try visiting for details.

The vaulted ceiling in the old refectory is very impressive and considering the relatively limited windows it is exceedingly light. We had a delicious pot of Earl Grey tea (our flavour of preference) and Steve had a scrummy cake as a special holiday treat.

Whilst Jane went looking for fossils, this part of the Dorset coast is now known as the Jurassic coast, Steve sat and read his book until along came this very cautious spaniel obviously trained as a gun dog.

He was great because he stalked Steve, pretending to be a stone. This is one of Steve's favourite photos, one living, black & white pebble amongst all the others.

On our return from holiday it was our main aim to complete the pond by the end of the month. All we needed to do was make sure there were no sharp stones sticking out, fit a protective layer and then put in the pond liner. It just so happened we decided to do this when a 15 knot wind was blowing so we had to contend with hanging onto metres of plastic liner before it blew away. We eventually completed the job and tested the pump to ensure it was powerful enough to give the right effect. It worked perfectly and now we need to let the pond settle over the winter before stocking with plants etc in the spring.

We took time out from our other hectic activities to go to see Calendar Girls. Nobody told us this was a "box of tissues" film... It was sad, poignant and funny but very enjoyable. A reminder that this is not a dress rehearsal - this is the live production and we need to make the most of it.

For a professional review go to

As always in October we celebrated Steve's birthday with one of our legendary camp fire evenings. The weather was perfect, cold and dry, although it was a little breezy so the smoke got into everybody's eyes. Steve dug the usual hole in the drive and Dave supplied some wood that he found in a builder's skip which was ideal.

The sausages, burgers, bacon, beans and baked potatoes went down well and everyone had enough to eat and drink with a good roasting from the fire.

We booked to see Taming of the Shrew at Stratford back in May and arranged to meet up with John and Susie for an extended weekend. Steve did the Shrew as a set text when he was in the lower sixth and so he knew the story quite well. Jane had never read or seen it before so it was all new.

The performance was outstanding. It was lively, well acted, funny and Shakespeare's words were poetic. For more RSC productions go to

John and Susie stayed in their touring caravan to the south of Stratford and we stayed in a very pleasant guest house ten minutes walk from the theatre, see for further information.

We had never explored the countryside around Stratford and we came across Chesterton windmill which was very unusual. High on a hill overlooking Stratford this stone structure dates back to 1632 and was last used in 1910. Jane is fascinated by windmills and it was great to be able to spend time walking around this one and photographing it from all angles.

This is a superb piece of architecture and appears to be well looked after by Warwickshire County Council, let's hope it long remains that way.

We had a really great weekend with Susie & John and became converts to the idea of having a touring caravan. These things have all home comforts - kitchen, toilet, shower, dining table and double bed. They fed us on the Friday night and we took a Chinese back to them after the Shrew performance. We did try to find a chippie in Stratford but they all close before 22:30. Our weekends spent with them are always full of conversation, intellectual debate and we learn so much about the arts.

In comparison we are philistines and always leave them humbled by our ignorance.

We rounded off our weekend with a visit to another college friend - Sue. Jane had emailed Sue a year ago but we hadn't managed to meet up. Sue and Dave live 10 miles south of Stratford in a small village so it was no trouble to call in. We went to Sue and Dave's wedding in Coventry with Susie and John but we had very little recollection of events.

It was great to meet up again and catch up on how our separate lives had evolved. It's always disturbing how people have changed so little after 30+ years of life, Sue was quite stunned at the fact that the girls were unchanged however little was said about the lads - grey hair, receding hairline and balding heads. It was a successful get together and it's unlikely we shall leave it another 30 years before meeting up again.