The phone rang this morning. It was Tracey, the lass I wrote about on Monday’s blog. She and her friend Trevor had decided not to go cycling today in view of the weather forecast (wet and windy). Could I take them for a walk instead? I agreed and met them at 11 outside the Fox & Hounds at Cattistock.
I led them first up to the motte and bailey on Castle Hill next to the village, down the other side to reach tarmac which led us west for a couple of miles via Sandhills to Wraxall. I led them round the back of the Church to see and photograph the skulls and crossed bones on a tomb; thence along the unpaved road leading to Chilfrome. As I suspected, there was local produce such as jams and cake for sale in the Church as well as second hand books, but, before we entered, I showed them the bees flying from the roof, between the tiles. They’ve been there off and on for a decade or more.
It was after 2 by now and I was feeling peckish so I bought a couple of slices of cake and ate them on the spot. I also bought a book – the Henry Root letters.
We walked on, back to Cattistock via the Church where I showed them bees flying from the roof there also. A swarm went in a year ago. Then we went to the Fox & Hounds where Trevor kindly treated me to a pint of the Muckleford cider which is brewed about 5 miles away and is almost as good as mine. I suppose we had walked about 6 miles or so and so had worked up a thirst.
The conversation turned to bees and hives. Having had ‘beekeeper’s back’ explained to her and being doubtful of her ability to lift a full brood box weighing maybe half a hundredweight, Tracey expressed an interest in the top bar hive. She can’t carpent but Trevor’s an engineer and confident that, given plans, he could devise something.
So I took Tracey to Litton, armed with camera and tape measure. I dressed her in the space suit and, with her watching, I opened the hive for the second time in three days, again without smoke. This was the first time Tracey had seen a bee hive opened so I didn’t want to get involved in technical details like smokers. I was able to show her honey comb and brood in all stages but the queen didn’t show herself. We closed the hive and went to chat with Pat, whose land it is.
She was having a clear out of her shed, getting rid of all the old jars of jam, preserved fruit etc and thus was too busy to put the kettle on and get the cake out as usually happens when I visit; however I took away with me a jar of 2009 crab apple jelly with only a tiny bit of mould on top and a couple of Kilner jars with currants and with strawberries.
We had time to kill before Tracey had to get back to Cattistock for a concert so I drove her to Ashley Chase and we walked the mile to the ruins of St Luke’s Chapel deep in the quiet wood. Although all that remains is an end wall with an archway through it and a stone altar with a wooden crucifix on it, it does seem to be used as, every time I have visited, there have been signs of candles having been burned or fresh flowers placed there.
By the time we got back to the car I was starving! Luckily I had some flapjack left over from yesterday which stayed me until I got home.