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Friday, 22 October 2010

Would you like a Milford on Sea twin?

Thanks to the Village Voice, I recently discovered that Hordle is twinned with Yerville, not far from my old adopted homeland in Deauville, France. I already knew that Lymington has a Twinning Association. I guess it is because Lymington is so posh that they can have three twinned towns, VitrĂ© in France, Almansa in Spain, and Mosbach in Germany. I am not sure if these should be more accurately described as ‘tripleted towns’?

As you may expect, the fact that Milford on Sea hasn’t even got one ‘Twinned Town’ got me thinking. My first reaction was to see if we could nick one of Lymington’s friends, but that plan may not be easy to execute. I therefore wondered why we did not get a twin when the others did. I am unsure whether this is due to us never considering the concept, or whether we have approached towns around the world to only receive abject rejection.

Previous readers will of course know that a few years ago we emigrated to France, for 6 weeks, so almost being a Frenchman myself, I consider myself an expert of cultural exchanges.  I asked a few friends for their ideas of places for us to twin with, Alistair came up with Monte Carlo, Colin thought New York might be good, Jon suggested Blackpool (Don’t think he really got the gist of the twinning concept!), and Bill recommended that I just join the Lymington or Hordle groups & leave the other poor unsuspecting international towns alone.

Sometimes I really wonder why I ask for opinions from the half-witted friends I have. My wife, ever interested in my fanciful projects, helped by suggesting; ‘Baghdad’, adding that I should perhaps go on a research mission for a year or so.

If you have any ridiculous suggestions of Towns we should twin with just let us know by posting a comment below. Should you prefer to get involved in some ‘proper’ local Twinning Associations, take a look at the following links:

Hordle & District Twinning Association:
Lymington & District Town Twinning Association

Are we going to lose our Carnival?

The Milford on Sea Carnival is one of the highlights of our village summer. The event has raised money for good causes, and provided many days of fun for villagers & holidaymakers alike. At a recent open village meeting it was revealed that the carnival needs more floats joining the procession to keep it viable. The organising committee are also in dire need of some more ‘helping hands’. The current tough economic times are of course adding pressure to people participating, but the main success of any float is not really the cost, it is more to do with creativity & the simple willingness to be involved. Indeed, a number of ‘floats’ are now dressed vans, classic cars or ‘walking groups’, which enable more people to get involved, even if they do not have access to a lorry. Having watched the carnival for several years, it is a great day of ‘old fashioned village life’ which achieves a simple aim of bringing people together. The carnival crosses all age boundary’s, it is great to see the young one’s beaming faces & the adults dressed in costumes they would never normally consider! The smiles run from one end of the village to the other when everyone enters the spirit of the day.

Our Milford on Sea Carnival is organised by the Milford on Sea Village Community Committee, which was founded in 1977 to create the village celebrations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Since then they have annually run the Carnival, the May Fayre & the Christmas ‘Carols on the Green’. Like some many great activities & events in our village, the Milford on Sea Carnival is run by a small group of dedicated volunteers.

It would be sad to think the carnival is under real threat due to dwindling support, but the event is of course totally dependent on local people getting involved. If you are a member of a local club or association, or run any type of local business, why not give some thought as to how you could be involved with a float next year? Alternatively, if you can spare a few hours as an individual volunteer, this would also be gratefully received. There is a real chance we may have seen our last village carnival unless more people step forward to help run the event, or join the procession. Let’s not lose this ‘old time’ tradition from our seaside village.

To get involved or lend a hand please contact:
Ray Sales, Milford on Sea Village Community Committee Chairman on 01590 643149 | e-mail:

Milford on Sea Carnival website:

Wind Farm plans revealed

Plans of the proposed giant wind farm west of the Isle of Wight & 12 miles from the New Forest coastline (Sounds like that could be due south of Milford on Sea?), will be on display at St Thomas’s Church Hall on the 11th November. The Wind Farm would apparently be the size of Anglesey & if approved building would commence in 2016.

The Wind Farm would be built by a Dutch company, Eneco, & would comprise of 200 wind turbines rising 145 metres from the water. It has been reported in the Daily Echo that the £175m scheme will generate enough electricity to power about 500,000 homes and is expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs to the area. An Eneco representative was reported in the Daily Echo as saying: “They will only be seen far in the distance on a clear day.” Whilst it is likely that environmental groups will raise objections, it appears that support can be found in council offices & at Westminster. If you would like to see the plans, ask questions or air your views you can visit the exhibition below.

Wind Farm Exhibition: 11th November | 2.30pm to 8.30pm

Location: St Thomas Church Hall, St Thomas’s Street, Lymington

Flu Jabs

The next round of Flu Jabs are being held at Milford Medical Centre in Sea Road on: 

Thursday: 11th November 2010 - 2pm to 6pm

Monday: 29th November 2010 - 2pm to 5pm

To Book please call: 01590 643022 

Milford on Sea Guides Reunion

More than a hundred of Milford’s past and present 1st Milford on Sea Guides and Guiders, friends and supporters of the Company came from across the country as well as locally and gathered in Milford Church Hall recently (16th October 2010) to celebrate the Centenary of the founding of the Girl Guide movement.

One side of the hall was given over to a display of photographs and memorabilia showing Milford Guides and their activities across the nine decades from the 1920s to the present day. Some former Guides brought their Guide and Brownie uniforms from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, their badges and even their camp blanket. Much hilarity and reminiscing resulted as ladies recognised themselves and friends of their youth. Recollections of camping escapades, map reading mishaps and the like abounded, comments such as “look at those hats” and “do you remember …..” echoed round the hall. Many of the photographs had very generously been loaned for the evening by former Guides and supplemented those collected over the years by the Company, with some coming from Milford’s Historical Society.

Milford’s present day Brownies and Rainbows entertained the gathering with songs they had learned at their meetings and this was followed with everyone joining in a selection of favourite campfire songs. After which came the ceremonial cutting of a Centenary cake by Mrs. Janet Parker the Guide County Commissioner who was helped by the youngest of Milford’s Rainbows present. It was then time for the Brownies and Rainbows to go home to bed, each taking with them a slice of the celebratory cake.

Following supper and more reminiscing, catching up and story-telling, Guide Arnewood District President, Mrs. Marcia Baker sprang a surprise when she announced a further celebration was to be marked that evening as the previous day had been the 90th Birthday of probably Milford’s longest serving Guide, and Captain of the Milford Company for 45 years, Mrs. Freda Cheyney (formerly Miss Freda Lane). With a resounding rendition of “Happy Birthday” Freda was presented with a floral decoration and a photograph album recording her Guiding years, which had plenty of space left for photos taken during the evening. She was then called upon to blow out her candles and cut the second cake of the evening, her own Birthday Cake.  Both celebratory cakes were made by Carole Deacon, Guide Division Commissioner.

The evening closed with the singing of the Guides’ traditional Taps but the reminiscing continued out into the car park and beyond.

Freda Cheyney

Freda, Freda Lane as she was then, first enrolled in Milford Guides in 1933 and her membership continued thus -
1st Milford-on-Sea Guide Company: Guide 1933-1938
1st Milford-on-Sea Rangers: Lieutenant 1938-1940
1st Milford-on-Sea Guide Company: Lieutenant 1939-1941
1st Milford-on-Sea Guide Company: Captain 1941-1986
Arnewood District Commissioner: 1975-1986

Under the rules as set down by the Guide Association Freda retired from active guiding at age 65 in 1986. However that was by no means the end of her association with Guiding in Milford, Freda is a member of the Trefoil Guild and also serves on the Milford Guide Hut Committee and continues still to manage the Hut bookings. Indeed at the recent Book Sale to raise Hut Funds, she was at her table by the door, cash box to hand collecting the entry money.

In July 2009 Freda was presented with a certificate to mark her 50+ years service to Guiding by the Guide County Commissioner.

The History of 1st Milford-on-Sea Guide Company

Milford Girl Guides were started in 1918 by Miss Mollie Woodd. The 1st Milford-on-Sea Guide Company was duly registered at the Girl Guides Association Headquarters on 5th July 1919. Until the mid-1930s the Guides met in the W.I. Hall which was in Keyhaven Road where they had a cupboard for their belongings, or in a barn in Lawn Road behind Carringtons. About 1935 Mrs Woodd bought what was then Ede’s Building Yard off Sea Road and presented it to the Guides. There was a tumbledown hut on the site which they could then use for meetings. It was apparently very draughty but the Guides scrubbed it out and were pleased to have their own home.

Plans were then drawn up and work started in 1937 to build a new, permanent, purpose-built hut so the Guides arranged various entertainments and a Jumble Sale was held raising £7 10s. 0d. to help defray the cost of furnishing, fitting out etc. To assist the fund raising a splendid dance held at Elmers Court raised £55 (all the accounts for that event have been saved and are now preserved in an album and very interesting reading they make too!).

The new hut was finished in about 1938 and the Guides moved in, delighted with their new home even if it did have a cess pit and elsan toilets.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939 the Home Guard requisitioned the hut and the Guides returned to their previous accommodation in the barn behind Carrington’s until hostilities ceased. It was not all doom and despondency however, the Home Guard paid £40 a month in rent for the use of the hut and had main drainage installed together with “pull flush” toilets.

At the end of the war the hut was returned to Guides and there they, the Brownies and (since 1991) the Rainbows have continued to meet ever since.

Unfortunately Milford’s Guide Unit of some fourteen girls is currently without any Guiders as those who had run the Company all went up to Universities in other parts of the country in September and are, therefore, unable to continue. So if anyone is able to offer any help at all and is over 18 years of age please contact Mrs Carole Deacon (01590 678986) the local Division Commissioner. Milford Guides would be very grateful if someone would come forward and keep their unit running otherwise it may have to close.

Village Blood Donation ends

The National Blood Service have advised us that with regret, the blood donation sessions at All Saints Church Hall in Milford on Sea have come to end. Fortunately, there remains an opportunity to donate blood in nearby New Milton or Lymington. The programme is below for those interested.

New Milton Memorial Centre, Whitefield Road, New Milton, BH25 6DE

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 13:00 to 15:25 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 13:00 to 15:25 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00

Lymington Masonic Hall, High Street, Lymington, SO41 9AA

Friday, October 29, 2010 13:00 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Thursday, December 23, 2010 13:00 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Friday, May 6, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, June 1, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 13:30 to 15:30 and 16:30 to 19:00

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mole Men invade Village Green

They’re back! The infamous ‘Milford on Sea Mole Men’ have again returned to the village. This time they are excavating on the Village Green, using the cover story that they are gas men installing a new governor. The official looking plastic fencing doesn’t fool me. For those unaware of the real activities of the ‘Mole Men’ please read our previously published stories below.

January 2010: Lymington Road Slalom

It appears the invisible Mole Men from 'Southern Gas Networks' have appeared in the village. Their hobby is to dig holes that cut roads in half, & then to disappear. Having passed through several times, I have yet to see any Mole Men working. Some may assume that they have left the site, I however have another theory, - they live down the hole. Indeed, there is a whole town of Mole Men right under our feet. I suspect they only come out at night only to replace the batteries in the temporary traffic lights, or to pop down to The Smugglers. The regular traffic queues remind me of my birthplace in London, but without the muggers. If anyone see’s the Mole Men working in Lymington Road, please send in a picture, as I won’t believe you otherwise!

February 2010: Mole Men claim more territory

No sooner do I reveal the truth about the Mole Men living in their hole in Lymington Road that they test my patience by now appearing with a new hole in Cliff Road! Their efforts to conceal their real activity by installing temporary traffic lights and a spurious Southern Gas Networks sign, doesn’t fool me for one minute. I suppose that these could be independent burrowing structures by different tribes of Mole Men, but my theory is that our resident family has tunnelled from one side of the village to the other. Considering the length that the tunnel must be, it is not inconceivable that they are expanding their underground town, bringing their reinforcements in by the dark of night. Not that I am really that bothered, as even Mole Men need to live somewhere. Indeed I am sure if we were asked nicely I guess most of us would not object strongly. (Wouldn’t fancy their chances of getting permission from the Parish Council though). The likelihood is that they are under your house right now. Anyway, I hope I have not alarmed you with my revelation, as I am sure that they are quite friendly, although that may give a nasty nip if approached unexpectedly. (A bit like my wife really).

Footnote: Driving home tonight I spotted a sign saying that Sea Road is going to be closed for a few days from the 10th to 13th February. It seems the mole men are wasting no time in colonising the entire Milford on Sea subterrain. I wonder if we asked them nicely whether they would put in an underground railway? A station in Sea Road car park with a branch line to Hurst Castle could actually be very useful. Do you know anyone in the Milford on Sea Wildlife Group who speaks ‘mole’? Looks like we may need someone to negotiate on behalf of us surface dwellers.

On a related but separate note, I have to say that some readers of these news pages don’t always seem to take my stories seriously. After my story last week on the road mole works in Lymington Road, I then speculated that the holes are dug by Mole Men, who then disappear down the hole to live. My challenge to send in some photo’s showing any men actually working on the site was met with a response, but not quite as expected. Not being an expert on manual labour, I cannot be 100% sure, but I have to say, I do not think the photo’s sent in are genuine. On reflection, I am not sure it is a good idea to ask readers to send in pictures.

New Chef at Westover Hall

We have heard that Craig Watkins has joined the team of Chef's at Westover Hall. Craig was formally at Morton House in Wareham and Babbington House in Somerset, which is well known for its celebrity clientele. Craig's signature dishes include scallops with orange and chorizo, Milford potted lobster and paupiette of lemon sole filled with crab and spinach.  We were pleased to find out that Pastry chef Mike Rossi continues to create his exotic sweets from the kitchen, with my particular favourite being his ‘chocolate stove’.

It appears it could be a good time to test Craig & Mike’s skills and their new menu, as Westover Hall have a number of dining offers running at the moment. One Park Lane is now offering their winter menu with locally sourced game and fish, plus a free welcome glass of champagne for dinner bookings. They also have a new Sunday lunch menu, plus a new daily lunch with two courses & a glass of red or white wine for £15. Not to be left out, the Vista Bistro is offering ‘Buy a main course and receive a starter or sweet free’. Sounds like there is something to suit all taste buds.

Westover Hall Website:

See all the current village dining offers in the Milford on Sea Community Calendar:
- Go the opening page & then use the ‘drop down menu’ to select the ‘Dining Offers’ calendar.

Do you have a website in the village?

If you have a website in Milford on Sea for your business, club or organisation, we are after your help please! As you may know a Community Calendar has recently been launched detailing all of the events, club meetings, classes, courses & church services in the village, plus it even contains local dining offers. The idea of the calendar is for both villagers & visitors to easily find out what they can join in with, & of course, to boost local trade for everyone.

If there was a link/s on your site, people would keep returning to your site to see what is going on. Also, the calendar really helps holidaymakers plan when they would like to visit.

If you would add links on your own website, it would really help to promote all that is happening in the village, & genuinely be of benefit to everyone. We have heard that new people coming to the village are already joining in things through seeing the calendar, & of course local people are finding out about things they may not have known. If you would like some artwork & instructions on how to add the links to your site, please contact:

Inger-Lise’s changes hands

Inger-Lise’s Coffee Shop in Milford on Sea High Street has recently changed owners. The coffee shop’s new owners are Christine & Kevin Quinn. Both are new to the village & are looking forward to their new venture. Chris is originally from London, but has spent the last 26 years in Shropshire. She told me that it has always been her dream to run a coffee shop, having previously been involved in the front of house of an outside catering business, and also spending time running a deli and tea shop.

Christine is planning to maintain the coffee shop’s popular ‘Scandinavian feel’, but of course to also add her own style. The menu now also includes tartlets, fresh salads, homemade soup and a dish of the day. Some of you may have seen the new range of cup cakes that has be introduced, including a range called ‘Tiny Temptations’ which cost only 50p. Chris can make cup cakes to your own theme if you would like some. Inger-Lise’s Coffee Shop is very child friendly and they have an activity play area for all ages, together with baby changing facilities. Chris is also considering some new ideas, which include opening between 5pm to 7pm to provide healthy teas for children. This will lend busy mum’s a helping hand if they are rushing around getting the kids to evening clubs etc. The Coffee Shop is also available for private parties. A first for Milford on Sea shops will be the new Facebook page that Chris & Kevin are setting up, the plan is to use the online page to keep customers informed about all that is happening at the coffee shop. Of course, most in the village are unlikely to use Facebook, but not to worry, there will still be posters to advertise all that is going on.

Inger-Lise herself was always warm & welcoming, and the Norwegian twist she bought to her food was always fun. She is currently planning her next venture & we wish her well in whatever she chooses to do. Inger-Lise’s Coffee Shop is open from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday to Saturday, & is soon to be open on Sundays. If you are passing, why not pop into Inger-Lise’s to give Chris & Kevin a warm welcome.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Friday Tapas Night at The Marine

To mark the arrival of Sam Hughes, the new chef at The Marine, last night was the first ‘Tapas Night at The Marine’. The Tapas Night is now to become an occasional Friday night event starting from 6pm & running throughout the evening. (Next one is on Friday 15th October) Everyone is welcome to turn up to treat themselves to an informal Tapas dish and to enjoy a relaxed casual drink. As this is the first time that The Marine has opened in the evening, it was the first opportunity to see the spectacular interior lighting that has been installed in this amazing landmark building. The effect transforms the interior from the daytime cafe, into a colourful relaxed lounge. We certainly enjoyed the varied selection of Tapas food on offer & at £2.20 per dish it was excellent value.

The Tapas Night is the first of what is hoped will be many regular themed events at The Marine. Why not pop along next Friday night for a taste of Spain?

See all the current village dining offers in the Community Calendar:  - Go the opening page & then use the ‘drop down menu’ to select the ‘Dining Offers’ calendar.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Jazz Lunch at Belle Epoque

If you fancy a 'cool' Friday lunch it may be worth popping in to the Jazz Lunch at Belle Epoque.  During the event there will be music from the village's very own '4 Winds Saxophone Quartet' accompanied by a guest vocalist.

There will also be a free wine tasting and free nibbles all afternoon.  The lunchtime food menu is also available.  The event is this Friday (8th October) with free entry for all.

See more village events at: 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Changes at the Hardware Store

Milford Hardware Store in Keyhaven Road now has new owners & a new name. Nici & Lionel Illgner have renamed the store to ‘Hardware @ Milford’ and are in the process of creating a website to promote their increasing services. The hardware store always had an interesting mix of products, & this is currently being expanded. Do you remember those old DIY shops that had things you needed or had heard of, well it is a bit like that. The store contains DIY bits & bobs, key cutting, tools, kitchenware, plumbing, electrical, light bulbs, paint, gas, car accessories, pet food & toys, gardening equipment, crab fishing nets & beachgoods. A new key cutting service will also soon be available. So, before you run off to B&Q for some DIY bits, our own Milford on Sea village Hardware @ Milford is certainly worth a look.

On the same site Darren & Dave of ‘Milford Autos’ continue to offer MOT’s and car servicing. Mark from ‘Cars 4 You Lymington’ also has plenty of interesting used cars for sale on the forecourt. Whilst John Scardifield no longer has any connection with the businesses, he continues to own the premises. Nici & Lionel also own the Carrington Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast next door.

You can contact Nici or Lionel on:  

Hardware @ Milford can be found 20 Keyhaven Road, Milford on Sea, SO41 0QY (At site of old Petrol Station)  |  Open 8.30am to 5pm  |  Tel: 01590 644242

New Chef at The Marine

Sam Hughes has now joined The Marine team as Head Chef. Sam is fresh from his most recent position as Head Chef at the award-winning ‘The Sir Charles Napier’ in Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The Sir Charles Napier restaurant has won numerous awards including: ‘100 Best Restaurants in the UK’ in The Independent, and was ‘Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year’ in The Good Food Guide. He has many years of experience working with some of the country’s finest chefs including Mark Broadbent at Mortons of Mayfair, Raymond Blanc at Le Petit Blanc, and Pierre Chevillard at Pebble Beach, following a 3 year apprenticeship in the kitchens of Kensington Palace.

Sam, 30, is pleased to be returning to his roots, & the area where his family still live. As a passionate chef who excels in creating fine dishes, Sam is excited about the people of Milford on Sea enjoying his creative food & I am looking forward to eating it!

More in the Community Calendar

A number of visitors to the Milford on Sea Community Calendar have not realised that there are more calendars than you actually see on the opening page.  To see all of the various calendars available, please follow the instructions in the picture below.  If you have any queries please e-mail:

To see the Milford on Sea Community Calendar please visit:

Friday, 1 October 2010

Community Giggles

The evening started with a relaxed couple of pints in the Smugglers Inn, before we moved onto the Milford on Sea Community Centre for the first ‘Fifth Thursday Comedy Club’. We were accompanied by our friends Alistair & Natalie, of course you won’t know them, but she is really sweet & he is rather loud. In fact, when he becomes excitable his red bald head lights up like a belisha beacon. As we found our table we were pleased to join familiar friendly faces from the village, & it was pleasant to have a chat whilst we awaited the evenings curry made by our local restaurant, Zaika. The bar was also in full swing, with around 120 eager customers. Once the curry was served & consumed we were all ready for the star comedy turn. However before this, an ‘open mic session’ featured Mike Collison, who took to the stage to tell some amusing farming jokes in a dodgy Dorset accent, & John Bradley who told a story about a gorilla I can’t repeat here. It would be fair to say Mike & John set the tone for the evening & everyone loved it.

It was now ‘show time’ & Jo Caulfield was soon justifying her star billing. I suppose comedians are invited to appear on shows like ‘Have I got news for you’, 'Mock the Week’ & ‘Michael McIntyre's Roadshow’, for a good reason, & we were soon seeing why. Arriving on stage Jo immediately expressed her shock at Mike’s gorilla joke & then shared her experience of her earlier exploration of the village. As you may imagine, she wondered if she had arrived on the film set from the 'Cocoon’ movie. Within seconds she had us eating out her hands for a full hour. Stories of her friends, family & thoughts on our village had the audience in fits of laughter & I am sure a few people wet themselves. True to form, Alistair was an embarrassment, and his head was soon flashing bright red as predicted. I guess everyone was disappointed when the show came to an end, and there was no doubt that Jo had fully earned her rapturous applause. It was a great value night of the finest entertainment.

Feeling happy & content we all made our way home. Lulled into a state of happiness, I had forgotten the dramas of the recent week. However, on arriving home I was soon reminded of the plague of crane flies that had been infesting our home daily. I am not sure if everyone in the village has had the same problem, or whether everyone has just been sending them down to our place. Our flying friends were surrounding the doors & windows trying to get in like our village old folk at the Post Office on pension day.

As we opened the door we slipped in as quickly as possible, doing our best to avoid the invading army of ‘Daddy long legs’ joining us. Unfortunately, & for girth reasons, I have to open the door wider than my wife to actually get in. As you have probably guessed, I did not enter alone. My wife of course deals with our uninvited guests in a rational manner, by screaming like a banshee and running to another room. When I try and explain they can’t actually hurt anyone, she simply insists that they carry dreadful tropical diseases & have fatal bites that kill elephants in Africa. (She doesn’t watch many nature programmes) In order for me to avoid personal injury, I have ten seconds from the first paranoid warble, to stop whatever I am doing & then arrive at the scene of the imaginary attack to deal with the offender. She would make a really bad Buddhist. So, my great night was followed by the disposal of several innocent long legged insects for the hundredth occasion this week. I was glad that I still had Jo’s one liners in my head, plus of course the drink I had consumed helped numb the agony caused by my wife’s paranoia!

Jo Caulfield's website:

New Forest Local Food Summit

I have certainly never been accused of being an eco-warrior, in fact my cars have to be over 4 litres, & switching lights off I feel is a waste of my own energy. However, for some reason I was invited to the inaugural ‘New Forest Local Food Summit’ last Wednesday. I suspect this had something to do with my involvement in Milford on Sea Food Week, or more likely because of the copious amounts of food I consume? Intrigued, I decided to go along. The first challenge was for Colin, my fellow attendee & driver for the day, to find the Treehouse Study Centre hidden in the depths of the Beaulieu Estate. Thanks to Colin’s numerous irritating techy gadgets, the treehouse was found & we were soon clambering across the rope bridge to the Food Summit meeting.

The assembled group of around seventy people was an eclectic mix of local producers, local farmers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, food buyers, allotment holders, environmental groups, Julian Lewis MP, the New Forest District Council, the National Park Authority, and some suits & sandal wearers I didn’t identify - plus Colin & me. Indeed any and every group in the forest associated with local food appeared to be represented. The event was hosted by Richard Barnett the chairman of New Forest Transition. Having met Richard before, I had learnt not to pigeonhole vegans as weird green hippies. In fact, Richard is a ‘normal, warm and interesting bloke’, & his arguments are compelling, even to a global warming sceptic like me.

As I understand it, the New Forest Transition’s objective is to support local communities, and to develop local community sustainability & self sufficiency. I can totally understand why they see ‘local’ as being a long term solution which can contribute to solving the ‘ticking bomb’ we all face. To explain, I think most people accept that oil & fossil fuels are running out, and that there will be unpleasant consequences in the not too distant future. It also appears insane that we regularly eat beef from places like Argentina, chicken from China or runner beans from Outer Mongolia or somewhere else.

Transition simply want us all to grow & eat more local food for lots of good reasons, and who can really argue against this. It is likely that in the next ten or twenty years we will see a major change in food availability & food costs, so planning to address the resulting issues now sounds worth considering. Whilst I draw the line at riding a bike, growing vegetables (none of which appear in my ‘Top 1000 Favourite foods List), or turning lights off when I leave a room, I can certainly buy into the Transition concept.

The summit attendees were broken into groups to discuss the issues facing local food & the resulting presentations were quite fascinating. Just a few of the issues that were discussed in the groups included, the need for more farming land, more growing land, more local producers, more produce for sale, a local abattoir, consistent standards, better local distribution, more supply outlets, cheaper prices, clearer marketing and more. There were also some ingenious solutions, & whilst some may say it can’t be done, I could see that it could. No doubt it is a massive project, but I was taught that ‘The only way to eat an elephant, is in bite size chunks’. If the commitment of the assembled group turns into action, & just as importantly, the local authorities are supportive, rather than bureaucratically obstructive, we could see some exciting developments in the coming years.

The morning was concluded with a fine lunch containing a fantastic spread of local bread, local cold meats, local cheeses, local pickled onions & local chutney. If the argument for local food needed any more support, the lunch certainly achieved that!

On returning home, I attempted to explain the morning activities to my wife. But, when I started with; ‘you need to consider what you eat more’, she went off at a tangent, replying: ‘Why, am I putting on weight? - You are a fine one to talk fat boy.....etc!’. I soon gave up, & decided that I will just wait for her to start talking to me again after she has read what I actually meant.

To see the film, ‘The challenge for Local Food’ , please click link: (You may recognize a somewhat large contributor!)

To find out more about New Forest Transition please visit:

White House Memories

We recently received a fascinating memory from Geoff Merritt, about The White House, on the seafront in Milford on Sea.

“In December 1949 at the age of seven, I was sent to a Sanatorium in Chandlers Ford which catered for Women in one part of the building and children in another part. At the time I was suffering from TB, whilst there my Mother was also sent to the same Sanatorium and unfortunately died from the same illness in May 1950. In 1951 the Children’s wards were closed down and I was sent with the other children to The White House. I remember that everything in the White House was brand sparkling new, the beds in the dormitories, the tables and chairs in the dining area etc. and everything smelt of very fresh paint. I also recall that the kitchen was below the dining room as our food was delivered to the dining room by a dumb waiter (and yes I did have a ride up and down inside it!). If memory serves me right the beach was just outside the main building which was skirted by a tall wall, well to a nine year old it was tall. The White House itself was indeed painted white and several windows were circular like the portholes on a ship. I only stayed there for a few months but I do have very good memories of the building and the staff who looked after us. Fortunately, I recoverd from the TB and was fit enough to be a Fireman for 21 years. I hope this clears up any mystery from the period of the early fifties for you. Best wishes, Geoff Merritt.”

Thanks for your reminisces Geoff.