Category: Bridport

Weymouth and West Dorset, oh so quiet Olympics?

I took friends and family to Weymouth on Saturday 28 July to see the Battle of the Winds final extravagganza of aerialists, the 2012 torches wade into the sea, the pyrotechnics and generally start enjoying Olympic atmosphere. I mmm’ed and rrrr’ed it would be a bit too crowded, but hey it’s a once in a lifetime, so off we went. 

There was plenty there, but not quite what I expected. An empty Monkey Jump Park & Ride welcomed us mid afternoon. A brand new double decker took all seven of us into town on the shiny new bypass that we are being warned not to use. Many more empty buses were waiting to Ride elusive Parked punters back to their cars.  We strolled along the spacious promenade to the Bayside Festival where our Somerset friends learned about the Jurassic Coast wonders. My kids loved being taught a few tricks by the ExtremeSports team, great guys under the tatooes and dreadlocks.  At 6.30 pm Bayside eating area had all of ten tourists having tea listening to the Acoustic Stage. At 7pm the long expected queue to get into the enclosed “Weymouth and Portland Live Site” was painfully tiny…

Great news as a visitor, plenty of space, unexpected free entry to Bayside; not such great news when talking to the locals who have invested money and worked hard for months. Why the big signs in surroundings counties of how busy it may get? Put them up when it does get busy, not before. These are the days of mobile phones, twitter, facebook, information is fast. Does St Tropez warn tourists in Lyon? NON. They let them all come, get stuck, take their money and let them queue. Tourists do come back, every year and it’s still a nightmare to get to St Trop.

Squibbers lit the Weymouth beach on 28 July 2012
Squibbers lit the Weymouth beach on 28 July 2012

I got cross with dorsetforyou. Stop caring people off I said on twitter.

“@natamagat Just informing people about changes and road closures. We want to encourage people to come down, but plan their journey 1st” they replied.

Well, West Dorset looks awfully quiet. The dreadful recent events due to floods and landslides are still fresh on people’s mind but it does not mean the whole area should be avoided. Local businesses that rely on Summer visitors need help, not scaremongering tactics.

Tell everybody how easy it is to get here (I’m told there’s even a High-Speed train from Weymouth to Bristol but it’s not advertised, go figure), that there’s lots to do in Weymouth, that Bridport has a fantastic Festival of Culture in August, that Beaminster has lots of great shops and brilliant restaurants all year round with perfect presents to take back home despite the Tunnel being closed.

Hello world, this is the year to visit West Dorset, it’s quiet and if you fancy art, culture, food (of course) oh and the small matter of Olympic sailing along our beautiful Jurassic Coast, well there are plenty of events that locals have been organising for weeks. It’s not too late to book a few days in West Dorset…

Photography on this post from Saturday 28 July in Weymouth.

 

Eolus God of the Wind under a moonlit sky in Weymouth
Eolus God of the Wind under a moonlit sky in Weymouth
Doldrum ready to intercept the winds from the Sailing Olympics
Doldrum ready to intercept the winds from the Sailing Olympics
The Battle for the Wind in Weymouth
The Battle for the Wind in Weymouth
Performing on Weymouth and Portland Live Site, 28 July 2012
Performing on Weymouth and Portland Live Site, 28 July 2012
Devon Wind machine was a cracker
Devon Wind machine was a cracker
One more full Wind Bag for Dorset
One more full Wind Bag for Dorset
robot likes the look of Event Security at Weymouth Bayside Festival
robot likes the look of Event Security at Weymouth Bayside Festiva
2012 torches into the sea for Weymouth Battle of the Winds Olympic celebrations
2012 torches into the sea for Weymouth Battle of the Winds Olympic celebrations

Waste not want not on St Michael’s Trading Estate

This post was first published on the Bull Hotel Blog in January 2012
Bridport TLC, not a load of rubbish‘.

One of the first things that The Bull Marketing Manager Billy asked me to do for the Bull Blog was to talk to Leon. Thing is, it’s easy for a boutique hotel to talk about great food. But what about ‘behind the scenes’? Boring stuff like recycling… Come and meet Leon and his team of Bridport volunteers. They are anything but boring.

Busy bees at Bridport TLC, recycling centre
Busy bees at Bridport TLC, recycling centre

Tucked away on the St Michael’s trading estate, between the artists and the antique dealers is Bridport TLC. Oh yes, Tender Loving Care. Very apt for a Community Project that does so much more than collect recycling from the Bull Hotel and many Bridport businesses. The reality of recycling is that we all want to do it but for a business it can be difficult to get all the staff to understand the importance of sorting things. That’s where Leon came in and explained to us all in his enthusiastic manner what Bridport TLC do. It’s so much easier to be responsible when it’s made easy for us.

Bridport TLC, packing cardboard with artwork on the ceiling !
Bridport TLC, packing cardboard with artwork on the ceiling !

Leon from Bridport TLC brings in some cardboard for recycling
Leon from Bridport TLC brings in some cardboard for recycling

Bridport TLC started as a Community Biodiesel project set up by Leon Edwards and Tess Dickson. They collected local waste cooking oil and turned it into clean fuel, then went on to set up a Bicycle repair and recycling workshop and now collect waste from local businesses to help them meet the Government’s ‘Business Waste Directive”; among other things.

The recycling hub is a hive of busy bees. I wouldn’t call Leon the Queen bee, he’ll never talk to me again, but he and Tess are very much the drivers that keep the project going; as with all similar ventures in times of financial cuts, it’s not an easy task. I’m told the boss is in fact General, the ginger cat that makes sure rodents keep away from the vast amount of potential food.

Bridport TLC's van and premises on St Michae's Trading Estate
Bridport TLC’s van and premises on St Michae’s Trading Estate

The ground floor is filled with cardboard and plastic (among other things) waiting to be taken to a larger local recycling centre in one go. Volunteers collect, sort, bale and have a laugh. More importantly, they do a very worthwhile job. An important part of Bridport TLC is to help people with learning difficulties or who may have chosen the wrong path at some point in their life to integrate into society by volunteering to do a job the Community needs. What would we all do if nobody took that thankless task on board?

Waste not want not comes to mind when you have a look around Bridport TLC’s Scrapstore. What to do with all this stuff they collect? Tess is an Arts Project Worker whose work can be seen during Carnival. Weekly meetings ensure that people with learning difficulties can come and create some wonderful recycled bags, decoupage boxes or covered picture frames.

Tessa and her team at the TLC Scrapstore in Bridport
Tessa and her team at the TLC Scrapstore in Bridport

The Scrapstore is open to the public (you have to become a member) and is an Alladin’s cave for crafts people who want to pick up some weird and wonderful bits of material, plastic tubes or cones, ribbons and of course rope and nets… What you’ll find very much depends on what has been collected. Sure gets the imagination going.

TLC Scrapstore outlet in Bridport, St Michael's Trading Estate, pick up a bargain ?
TLC Scrapstore outlet in Bridport, St Michael’s Trading Estate, pick up a bargain ?

Bridport TLC recently opened the Scrapstore Outlet where items made by the volunteers are sold to help fund the project. Fancy a funky bags made from milk cartons for £5? A craft pack for 99p? A colourful lego bag that doubles up as a play mat for £10? What will be there when you next visit will very much depend on what has turned up on the van or has been donated. No doubt Tess and her team will think of something fun and worthwhile and sell it at a very reasonable price.

I really enjoyed meeting Leon, Tess and their teams. I came out with a feeling of hope. In our days where people who are different struggle to integrate and funds to help such projects are dwindling, I saw smiles and hugs, heard laughter and banter and witnessed something that seems far too scarce. Nurturing and empowering for the benefit of us all. I’m very glad Billy asked me to meet them all.

Hugs and happy faces at TLC
Hugs and happy faces at TLC

For more information on the Scrapstore opening times and Bridport TLC