Posts by Maddie Grigg

Lush Places: a love letter to our local

OUR PUB re-opens next week and we’re getting very excited.

Oh how we’ve missed it. A couple of months ago, when it seemed all hope was lost, Lush Places penned its very own community poem, each person contributing one or two lines and egged on by that Wondermentalist, the performance poet Matt Harvey, as part of an Artsreach show.

If, like me, you’re a lover of brevity, this poem is no haiku or limerick. But it’s well worth a read to the end. We’ve passed this love letter to our local to Palmers Brewery who say they have never seen anything quite like it.

So here goes…

An ode to the White Lion

In the bar the lion sleeps tonight

They say the White Lion roams on Lewesdon Hill

Lush Places: who knows what tomorrow brings?

IN 2011, we lost our village shop. Our pub has been closed for the last three months. There are only rumours coming from the-brewery-with-no-apostrophe about what and when something might happen.

We’ve coped, because in Lush Places that’s how we rock. But it can’t go on forever.

With one in five properties here a holiday home, it does make you wonder what the future holds. Especially when several people were asked in the parish plan survey ‘what don’t you like about Lush Places?’ they replied: ‘noisy agricultural vehicles’.

So it cheered me to the bone when I was told another answer: ‘incomers who tell us what to do’.

There’s hope for Lush Places yet.


Lush Places: the community bar of earthly delights

IN THE village that time forgot, Lush Places becomes, for a few nights only, not a painting by Bruegel but more like a tryptich by Hieronymus Bosch.

We are a place that has lost its permanent post office, shop and pub but we are adapting. And doing pretty well at it too. We may be in Jack and the Beanstalk Land and surrounded by mist for nine months of the year and a world away from the sophisticated (and maddening) Bridport crowd, but far from being miserable, we get on and just sow those beans and make our own luck.

Tonight, in the village hall, the crowds gathered for the first Lush Places community bar of earthly delights. Branscombe ale at £1.50 a pint – grab it while you can, once it’s gone, it’s gone – shorts and wine for the same price and doubles at £2 a go.

There were people (or was it the gods?) playing skittles upstairs, the book club members attempting floppers at table skittles in the main hall, the singing teacher showing everyone how to play a very smuttily-named card game while the table tennis kings were bobbing up and down like this as Bob Marley yelled No Woman, No Cry until some children pulled the plug out of the iPod and portable speakers on the stage and then said rather too loudly it was nothing to do with them.

A couple of farmers complained about the price of milk and then the iPod suddenly sprung back into life with Booker T and the MGs’ Time is Tight. And still the doubles were flying from the optics.

A brindle coloured lurcher was rather better behaved than the very strident lady knocking back red wine like it was Ribena. The allotments group dug deep into their pockets and the short arse bowlers got on their knees before paying for a round. The air was ripe with the smell of pickled onions, cubes of Cheddar cheese and those pretzels that defy all logic with no-ever ever eating them.

Christ, we’ve got at least a month or more of this to go before the pub re-opens. With prices like these, I hope the new publicans don’t accuse us of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Lush Places: the parish plan

WELL, the Lush Places parish plan questionnaires are being collected.

An army of village elves is out and about, picking up our forms to find out what we want and when do we want it (now!).

Busy little souls are already plotting to open Lush Places’ very own community shop. And several nights of drunken mayhem will be taking place in the village hall in the lead-up to Christmas, now that the pub is closed. I can hardly contain myself.

But what’s really fired my imagination is a response to one of the questions on the parish plan questionnaire: ‘What do you think would be a good use of the Lush Places common?’

Answer: ‘An ice skating rink, polo and dogging.’

Which is all very well, but you would think the person who filled in the form would have had more courage than to leave it ready for collection outside their elderly neighbour’s front door.

I will never look at the church organist in the same light again. And I’ll certainly think twice before shining a torch in his car if he ever breaks down late at night.

Lush Places: up in the air and down

FOR a little while, the Lush Places village square has been deathly quiet.

The corner shop closed at the end of August and the pub called last orders on Thursday night. For the past fortnight, one of the roads through the village has been closed for resurfacing.

And for two weeks, a young man in a high-visibility jacket has been sitting at the side of the pavement, next to the ‘road closed’ sign. His sole job is to tell illiterate motorists that the road is closed.

For fourteen days he has been texting friends and playing games on his phone. Occasionally, someone will go out and give him a hot drink.

At the other end of  the closed road is another man doing the same job although he has the luxury of a warm van to sit in.

It is the most boring (and pointless) job in the whole West Dorset world.

Today, there is a new young man in the square. Not for him sitting on the kerb and reading his text messages. He walks around and round in a circle, weaving around the ‘diversion’ sign like a pony at a gymkhana. He shuffles up and down, occasionally shrugging to drivers who can’t read and want directions.

And then he gazes up at the village green and discovers…

…the swings.

Suddenly, it’s not the most boring job in the West Dorset world, it’s the pleasantest thing a young man can do.

Lush Places: lighting up the skies for the Queen’s jubilee

AUTUMN in Lush Places and our thoughts turn to sunnier times as we plan a two-day bank holiday extravaganza to mark the diamond jubilee of the Queen (God bless her) at the beginning of June.

Shall we have another street party or will we have to contend with gatecrashers from neighbouring villages eating all the food without bringing any to share?

Or the wealthy woman in the big house who made a salad for the communal table and then asked for £5 reimbursement?

Will we run the gauntlet of the  niggled businessman who insisted we hadn’t advertised a road closure order and then drove headlong into a row of trestle tables just to make a point?

And please God, don’t let Mr Grigg and the fella from down the road do The Full Monty routine when the DJ at the open air disco in the square plays You Can Leave Your Hat On. There are only so many times you need to see a plastic bowler with a Union Jack design strategically placed on an all-too-familiar torso.

But we’ll have to have a beacon. We’ve got to have a beacon. The last one was chopped down by mistake for firewood. And just as we think about making a new one out of a telegraph pole and a brazier, a letter comes through from the ‘pageantmaster’ for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons.

Apparently, 2,012 beacons are going to be lit throughout the UK, Channel Islands and the Commonwealth to mark the  jubilee.

He says there will be bonfire beacons and ‘church tower’ beacons, all lit between 10pm and 10.30pm on Monday 4 June.

“The Church Tower Beacon is ideal for Church Towers, Historic Houses and buildings with flat roofs,’”says Bruno Peek OBE MVO OPR. (The capital letters are his, by the way. I think it is meant to add a sense of  dignity and importance to the occasion).

He continues: “Locations to date for this type of Beacon are, HM Tower of London, Hillsborough Castle, Lambeth Palace, Palace of Holyrood House, Windsor Castle, Killyleagh Castle, St James’s Palace and Bishopthrope Palace.”

So no churches then. Just castles and palaces. Shame it’s not called the Palace Beacon.

Anyway, Mr Peak (OBE MVO OPR more guff) goes on: “This Beacon can be linked to a celebration event in a town or village hall so is ideal for the thousands of churches, town, parish and community councils throughout the nation, providing them with a simple, but cost effective event.”

Excited? Like to get your hands on one? Mr Peek (OBE MVO OPR etc, etc, VPL, ROFL, LMFAO) helpfully points you in the right direction: “To ensure delivery of this Beacon by the 25th May 2012, orders for purchase should be placed direct with Bullfinch Gas Equipment by not later than 12th March 2012.”

Except he doesn’t tell you how much they cost.

Hold fast, a quick internet search reveals the cost of a Church Beacon to be £299 plus VAT and £10 carriage. Bargain.

On the other hand, I think we’ll be sticking with the telegraph pole brazier and a few Union Jack bowlers to stoke the flames. Can’t wait.

Lush Places: the PFI street light pact, coming to a lamp post near you

I am so incensed after returning from a public meeting about street lighting in Dorset. No. I’m more than incensed. I’m bloody incandescent.
How can it be, in these days of so-called people power, that Dorset is under the threat of being changed for ever?

Lush Places: is that eat-in or take away?

THE PEOPLE of Lush Places wait with bated breath as the auction of the village shop fast approaches.

With our publican throwing in the beer towel and our shopkeeper longing to escape the daily Londis grind, the outlook is mixed. Are those storm clouds ahead or is it just the mist that falls frequently, like a conjurer’s white handkerchief, on our little village, while the rest of West Dorset is bathed in light?

Or will there be sunny spells, a heatwave of 1977 proportions as Lush Places enters into a renaissance none of us ever dreamed possible?

Whatever happens, we can’t say that Mr Grigg hasn’t tried. When there were emotional discussions about the village putting together its own bid for the shop, he has been at the centre of it, the voice of reason.

We all think we know what sells but the harsh reality is that, actually, we don’t. We all think it would be nice to have home-made jam and organic meat on the shelves but it is probably the cheap biscuits and fags and Pot Noodles and copies of The Sun that leave the shop fastest.

We are not professional retailers, we need people with experience who are prepared to be open all hours.

So, as serendipity would have it, while driving through Beaminster this week, Mr Grigg notices a group of Asians with an architect and a plan outside the old convenience store in Hogshill Street.

With a screech of brakes, he stops the Land Rover, a line-up of traffic behind, and ambles across the road.

‘Excuse me gentlemen,’ he says. ‘Are you looking to buy a shop?

They nod in unison, he calmly walks two doors up to Symonds and Sampson and comes back, brandishing details of the Lush Places village shop.

‘Now this is the place you want,’ he says.

‘Lots of passing trade, potential for post office and a village eager to keep its facilities. See you in ten minutes.’

And with a cheery wave, he leaves a group of dumbstruck men on the pavement and a queue of angry motorists in his wake.

But what he doesn’t know is that there is talk of an Indian restaurant opening in Beaminster.

So look out Lush Places: forget the corner shop, welcome to the Mumbai Moments takeaway in the village square.


Lush Places: royal jelly, a dish best served not at all

IF YOU’VE ever been to a Lush Places fete and had a go on our tombola, you might have won a selection of the Rural Lidl’s finest  – a tin of hot dog sausages that taste like a balloon modeller made them, or even a box of those molllusc-shaped chocolates

More often than not, you might be lucky and pull out a ticket entitling you to a pack of cut-price orange or strawberry jelly. Delicious, for you. And cheap, for us. Tombola prizes should never cost an organiser too much.

But this week of all weeks, as Wills and Kate tie the knot, as Lush Places prepares to hang out the flags, put on our glad rags and actually use some jelly to fill up 100 plastic cases from Lilliput,  Lidl decides to pull the plug on the European jelly lake.

It’s apparently the wrong time of year.

Not only are we devoid of cheap jelly for the royal nuptials, I’ve just discovered that one of the three commemorative mugs I picked up from a Bridport market stall has the wrong prince on it.

So congratulations Harry, the best man won.