I set the alarm and got up very early and then received a message from Vanessa to say her flight had been delayed because of the wet and windy weather and wouldn’t arrive until 11. Thus I was able to relax a little and time my departure so as to give a good margin for hold ups. That was the theory. I couldn’t find my car keys! I hunted high and low, retracing all the steps and actions I could recall from about the last time I must have had them. No joy. Eventually I had to use a pendulum and dowse for them! That worked and I found them in a couple of minutes on a coat hook where I have absolutely no recollection of placing them.
Then I was held up on a narrow section of the A.35 by wide loads meeting. It isn’t often you can stop your car and get out for a stroll on a trunk road. Eventually they sorted themselves out and I got to the airport exactly at 11. Passengers weren’t appearing yet, although the plane had landed, so I found a few tourist leaflets with maps of the area. My phone rang. It was Vanessa looking for me. She must have walked past as I was getting the maps. Then she appeared at the exit and we met and greeted.
Vanessa is a tall dizzy blonde and if I was on my other computer I would be able to post a picture of her. I did remark later that she didn’t seem as blonde as when last I saw her. We went to the car and I presented her with a jar with some kefir that she had requested, also a bag of seeds from my Echinops spherocephalos that the bees like so much and some bulblets from my tree onions.
Then we headed for her digs in Colyford, aided by the maps and my gps. We found it without difficulty in the steep and multi-cornered town and were made welcome and given coffee and biscuits. Then we needed to locate Basterville where the beekeeping course was to be held. That wasn’t so easy but eventually we got there. Nobody at home. So we left there and headed for Dorset.
We had a lunchtime shop at Morrisons in Bridport for picnic snacks, then headed along the scenic coastal route to West Bexington where Vanessa wanted to buy some Dorset Naga Chillies, having been in e-correspondence with the lady who had bred them. After a bit of wandering we found the right place and had a pleasant chat. She bought her chillies and also was given samples of others to test and report on.
Down to the beach for our picnic in the car then, as there was a large low threatening bank of cloud heading our way, we went to Ourganics at Litton Cheney where I have my top bar hive. Ourganics is a permacultural site and Vanessa, a professional garden designer, was enchanted! She was highly impressed by the experimental biogas plant, less so by the long drop loo. She started sketching on the back of her Morrisons receipt to crib ideas.
After a wander round the garden we got to the hives. Gently I eased out from my top bar hive a bar of honeycomb and took it across to her to show her the design and offer her a taste. She reckons it is the best honey she has ever tasted! She detected orangey tones, which is odd as honey from my hive at the wild flower meadow at the Weymouth Bay Holiday Camp also tastes a little orangey. We took the bar to the car to find something to put a sample of the honey in to enable her to put it under the microscope and identify the pollens. We found a sweet tin and discarded the sweets. In Pat (the owner’s) outdoor kitchen I used my trusty Swiss Army hive tool to cut out a chunk of comb to fit.
Then I went to replace the bar. In the 10 minutes or so that we had been away, the empty space where the bar had been had become filled with bees. They were, understandably, in a bad mood and I had no protection at all. They started stinging as I eased the bar in and I beat a hasty retreat, pursued by bees. I got one sting on the end of the nose and it is still a bit sore.
Then we went back to the coast road going through picturesque Abbotsbury, through not so pretty Chickerell and Weymouth and onto Portland where I showed Vanessa the sights and imparted some of the local lore. She didn’t believe me when I told her that the real Portlanders have tails! We got as far as Pulpit Rock where I was able to recite my poem about it.
The sun was getting low so we headed back to Colyford, getting there at 7pm. Vanessa was yawning – she had been up since half past five!. I had to dash as there was a BKA meeting I wanted to get to at Stratton, starting at 7.30. I was late. It was almost 8 when I got there and Liz Duffin was well into her demonstration of wax flower making, but it went on for another hour or so and I was able to pour some wax to make a flexible sheet. I have no idea what to do with it though. Maybe I could roll it round a wick and make a candle!