When I got home this evening I found a scribbled note through my door reading: “Subject: HONEY. Someone in the village told me you had bees. I had the name of PAYNE but I can’t locate him. If you can give me any news/advice please ‘phone me on 01258 ******” (my asterisks).
I know that 01258 is the phone area centred on Blandford which is over 20 miles from me as the bee flies, at least 30 by road. I googled and found that the number belonged to a terracotta potter in Child Okeford, a village near Blandford.
The name Payne has been in Maiden Newton for ages but I couldn’t think of one off hand who would have anything to do with bees. George Payne, now long gone, was one of the few survivors of a pre-D Day Commando raid on Normandy. I knew Reg Payne also. Again I googled and found that a lad named David Payne plays for the Maiden Newton and Cattistock Football Club and his photo was displayed, bearing a remarkable resemblence to a lad, who may be a cousin, by the name of Swain who serves behind the bar of the Chalk and Cheese where my honey is sold adjacent the bar.
Anyway, I phoned the 01258 number. There was no reply but I left a message and a few minutes later I was rung back. The caller had also been doing some detective work. He had a jar of honey that he had bought at a fete, local to him, fundraising for the Portman Hunt. Most of the label was missing but there was, intact, on the back a small label saying that 10p from the cost had been donated to Bees for Development. I guess enough of the front label was left for him to narrow his search down to Maiden Newton. He had made enquiries at the corner shop which was where he was given the name ‘Payne’ and steered in my direction.. Maybe he misheard or his interlocutor was confused as the names Slade and Payne are not too dissimiliar. As the shopkeeper kept showing him the honey he had in stock, produced by Robert Hogben who lives t’other side of Dorchester and keeps far more hives than I do, my caller felt obliged to buy some but was less than gruntled to find that the jar was only the metric equivalent of 3/4 of a pound whereas the corner of the label on the jar of mine showed it was a full pound!
Why was he so keen to travel all this way to track me down and buy some more of mine? Because it was the best honey he had ever tasted!
I told him that he was the second person to have told me that, but it must have been from a different batch as I have yet to harvest that which Honey Queen Vanessa sampled and adored.