As the leaves start to fall from the trees, it makes you realise that another year on the Estate is soon going to come to an end. The weather plays such an important role when it comes to working on the land and this year has been quite challenging to say the least. We finally managed to get our winter wheat harvested. Three weeks before harvest we had strong winds and heavy rain that pushed the crop flat on the ground which caused big problems when the combine got to the field, but with a lot a patience the wheat was harvested and it yielded just over 3 tons to the acre, which was very pleasing. Our spring barley was harvested 10 days later but unfortunately this didn’t make the grade as malting barley due to poor germination when tested, again the unsettled weather leading up to harvesting played a major part in this. The barley yielded at 2 tons to the acre and has been sold as feed barley for cattle. These fields have now been sown back down to grass ready for next year to make haylage on.
Marcus has had a very busy 6 weeks lambing the Polled Dorset/Dorset Horns, 160 ewes in total producing just over 220 lambs. These were lambed outside in the fields close to North Buckham buildings and as always Marcus was on site 24/7 to oversee this. It never fails to amaze me how he can function on such little sleep but his dedication to do the best for the animals in his care is what makes him such a talented shepherd. No matter what problems he encounters during lambing they are always dealt with calmly and professionally and it is just lovely to see the new born lambs running around the fields as you drive down the farm drive.
Throughout the year the team have worked so hard to keep the Estate looking as it does, keeping on top of all the grass cutting is no mean feat, again working with the weather to do this has been quite a challenge but I believe the estate looks amazing and this is down to the hard work of Simon, Graham, Tony and everyone else that puts so much effort in to achieve this. Over the past couple of weeks, we have welcomed back Colin Penney with his tractor & hedge trimmer on to the estate, Colin has sculpted the hedges back into shape and they look amazing.
During August The Melplash Show ran its annual farm competitions, the estate came out of this with a haul of prizes. Finally we won the award for the best field of spring barley and Marcus did an amazing job in securing 2nd place in the large flocks. We also came 2nd in the best grass lay competition. This is something the team should be very proud of and it was lovely to see Geoffrey & Kate there on the show day to accept these awards, I believe this shows the Estate really is setting an example within local agriculture. Also at the show it was Harry’s first show in charge of the compost business allowing him a chance to meet new and old customers. The stand looked amazing.
At the end of this month, we are going to say a farewell to Graham who is moving on to pastures new, I would personally like to thank Graham for all his hard work in his time here on the estate and his skills that have come with it and I wish him every success in his new job. He will always be welcome back should he ever want to.
~ James Vickery
We have had a busy time through the summer with various projects eventually taking off. The stables at Chapel Marsh Farm have now finally been completed and awaiting their first residents. They will of course have to share it with the bats as we have had to build a very luxurious bat loft above to accommodate our little friends.
The farmhouse renovations have finally been given the green light now that we have our bat licence in place, which has taken well over nine months to acquire. You might remember that we had to stop all works because we had six lesser horseshoe bats in the loft who were breeding, these little creatures are deemed to be the queen of all bats and are the only breed of bats that are not allowed to be handled or disturbed whilst breeding. We had to carry out a survey over three evenings to make sure they had left the building, of which there was only one remaining.
The building team are currently desperately trying to replace the old roof before the winter properly sets in so we can start works on the inside, with the hope to have the house completed by the end of May.
The long-awaited tennis court project has finally been started; Hurray! I hear Kate say…. Andy and his team have been up against it with both the weather and the wet ground conditions and the dreaded green sand! But with it only being two weeks in they have made great inroads and have almost finished laying the pin curbs around the court. We should be in a position for the surface to be laid very soon.
Harry has been beavering away with Chedington compost, making huge savings on both the material costs and the amount of time it takes in the making of it. He has had loads of orders coming in as it is coming into the busy period for the compost. I am sure Harry, coupled with his enthusiasm, will drive the compost business onto the next level.
Ricky and his team of merry men have been very busy of late with the planting of the new car park at The Old Brewery café, growing most of the veg used at the pub, The Grange and at the Court. They have now started on next year’s cuttings for the estate whilst giving the beds a final weeding and cutting back.
~ Colin Maddock
Lower Chapel Marsh Farm, Beaminster
The Chedington Equestrian based riders have all had a very busy and exciting few months.
Team Price definitely win the busy and varied last few months award, they seemed to be here there and everywhere and have come out with some great results despite various breakdowns and Brexit paperwork challenges thrown into the mix. Tim kicked off September with another top 5 finish at Burghley 5* with Vitali. They showed the depth of their team with 6 horses in the highly regarded Blenheim 8/9yo class. Some of those hopes then went on to do their first 4*L at Boekelo in The Netherlands. Situated next to the Grolsch factory, this is one of the most social events on the calendar. They are now preparing for their last big show at Pau in the South of France. Good Luck!
Cosby competed at Blair Castle in the 4*L up in Scotland, had 2 top 10 finishes in the Intermediate at South of England, finished 8th place at Little Downham in the 4*S on Copper Beach, and placed 4th in the 4*L on Highly Suspicious at Lignieres in France, 10th place in the 3*L on Cooley Seeing Magic. Most recently she competed at the prestigious Boekelo nations cup in the 4*L on Jos UFO de Quidam finishing 25th/118, and was the highest ranked Boekelo Rookie in the competition.
Ellie has spent a few weeks over in Ireland training with Ger O’Neil of Castlefield Sportshorses. She also has two of her young horses over there and is enjoying learning lots.
Team Burton have also had a busy few months with the jumping horses. Chedington Azzurra had a win at the London Global Champions Tour event in August and backed it up with a number of top 5 placings at international shows here and in Europe. Chedington Hazy Toulana and Chris competed in their first 5* jumping show in Barcelona as part of the Australian Nations Cup team. The team picked up a second place and Chris is now one of very few riders to have competed at 5* level across two disciplines. Bek also had an international jumping win in Bolesworth with Wesko (former 5* winner of Tim’s). Ben, aboard Ellie’s old eventing horse Cluedo, picked up a top ten placing in the Novice at South of England. The team are about to head down to the South of Spain for a few weeks jumping to finish their season.
The yard has also been involved in a number of different photos shoots for various equine brands and we hosted a training camp where the riders had lessons with Chris, Tim and Jonelle and enjoyed gym sessions with Tamara and food prepared by Oscar. It was a great success and something we look to replicate in the future.
~ Bek Burton
Events at The Grange
As the busy summer season came to a close we said goodbye to the last of the sunshine and also to the last of the weddings this year. Wishing all the best to all the lovely couples and thank you to everyone who helped to make them a success! We also hosted a wonderful new event at the Grange, a mini-festival organised by Richie and Tamara. The Gathering was a truly ambitious undertaking and saw huge numbers of visitors descending for a weekend filled with fitness and wellbeing.
We are looking ahead to another fruitful autumn filled with bookings and new opportunities. Speaking of something new – we’re very excited to see work is well underway for the tennis court! Though it’s still in the early stages we can’t wait for this new facility to be part of the venue. We have a number of holiday bookings and retreats coming up over the next few months and have already hosted several very successful weekends. In particular, we welcomed a new retreat host Cat Meffan who we’re looking forward to welcoming back next year for several more weekend-long yoga retreats. As the autumn progresses we’re holding viewings and preparing for those couples booked next year. We’re also looking forward to attending our first wedding show of the year towards the end of this month, it should be a brilliant chance to showcase the venue and secure some new bookings and contacts.
~ Nadia Hassan
The Old Brewery Cafe & Kitchen, Gillingham
It has been a busy summer at The Old Brewery. Colin and his gang have planted the garden with some gorgeous colour and we now have two large troughs framing the main front doors filled with Chedington Compost and oozing with welcoming flowers. Our new car park is a great addition and will really show its worth over the winter when fewer people want to walk over for breakfast. We are taking plenty of evening reservations too, again definitely helped by having the extra parking, which customers tell us they love. With our Google rating now hitting 4.8, we must be doing something right.
Mid-August saw us hosting a reporter from ITV News doing a feature about motorcycle safety. She spent time interviewing a variety of bikers on film, from both our customer contingent as well as our staff. We felt honoured to be chosen as the hosting venue and were described as ‘the coolest bikers’ cafe ever’! We couldn’t agree more!
Our best news however, is the granting of planning permission together with a full premises licence so we can host as many evening functions as our customers want. We have quite a few Christmas parties in the diary and the Christmas lunches, as well as evening dinners, are selling like hot cakes, so to speak! From the start of November we will be opening our restaurant & bar on Thursday and Friday evenings guided by our new chef, Andrew, making this a big ‘first’ for our staff. Excitement levels are pretty high! We had promised our staff members that they could take plenty of holiday in January to recover but already we have pencilled in three evening functions…oops! May need to revise that plan; sorry folks.
~ Laurel Phillips and Steve Angell
Winyard’s Gap Inn, Chedington
After a glorious September, these past few weeks have definitely brought some cooler temperatures to West Dorset – it won’t be long before we light the fire in the bar! This month saw the launch of our new Winter menu as well as some revised opening hours – we’re now serving roasts from 12 to 6 every Sunday as well as extending our kitchen opening hours on Saturdays.
Customers and staff alike have been enjoying a taste of Kate Guy’s famous apple tarts, made with apples from the Estate. Kate even got a shout out on Google Reviews for her exceptional pastry!
“Five of us went for Sunday lunch on an unusually glorious day. Drinks outside enjoying the fabulous views in the sunshine. We all opted for the Sunday roasts, 3 lamb, 1 beef, 1 pork. Plates generously served with roasties, yorkies and 7 different veg including a delicious cauliflower cheese. Despite polishing that lot off we squeezed in sticky toffee puddings (3), bakewell tart with amaretto cream and an apple tart all with ice cream!! (Special mention for the apple tart pastry – exceptional) Fabulous meal with brilliant service. Our dog loved her welcoming visit too.”
This week we will be sadly saying goodbye to Graeme who has been at Winyard’s Gap for over 14 years. I am sure everyone will join me in thanking him for his dedication to the pub as part of the Estate over the past 18 months. We wish him the very best for his next adventure!
~ Lucy Ellis
Eira Ski Lodge, Baqueira-Beret
Now my busy summer season has finished and I’ve managed to get some rest, it’s now that time of year to start dreaming of Baqueira! We are hoping to improve on this last years record performance. We had the best sales every last year!
Preparations are currently underway ahead of this coming ski season. We are renovating the wooden flooring in the dining room alongside some other minor repairs. This week I have been interviewing for a new sous chef, front of house and reception positions and believe we have our finalists! Some news faces alongside some familiar ones this season.
I have also been working with Diego, our head chef, adjusting our wine list to pair well with new dish ideas.
The Eira Ski Lodge was the feature hotel in the Financial Times! Baqueira-Beret has been recognized as a “Wild Card” resort to visit in 2023/24 ski season, alongside Norway, Japan & Slovenia. Following this, we’re looking forward to a good season this year and hope each of you get the opportunity to join us!
~ Henry Nayler-Ternent – Hotel Manager
Salon on the Square
We are very proud to announce that Amber and Poppy have achieved the coveted status of Level 3 fully qualified stylists. Their dedication and hard work have truly paid off, and we’re confident that their skills will continue to delight Guests. Joining their ranks, Maddie has completed her Level 2 and has now embarked on her Level 3 journey. We’re immensely proud of their accomplishments and the passion they bring.
We also want to take a moment to celebrate Georgie, whose unwavering commitment and exceptional talent have propelled her to the esteemed position of Gold Stylist.
In addition, we’re excited to introduce Mollie, our new Apprentice. Mollie has recently joined us and has started her training at Weymouth College. We’re confident that with her enthusiasm and dedication, she’ll flourish in our creative environment.
September was a month of celebration for us as we successfully launched Clarins, our newest addition to Salon on the Square. We hosted a vibrant launch party, and it was wonderful to see many of our guests join us for this special occasion. Clarins represents a new chapter in our commitment to offering the best in beauty products and treatments.
I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt pride in the whole team. Each member works tirelessly, delivering exceptional service and embodying the spirit of Salon on the Square. Their dedication does not go unnoticed, and I am truly grateful for the passion and professionalism they bring to the salon every day.
A note from Kate & Geoffrey
These past few months have seen the installation of our wood shaving machine at the old timber yard in Chedington Wood. The first trial runs have produced shavings for the stables which have met with approval from the team. Carbon is therefore captured from the atmosphere by the trees and after about forty years they have been felled and instead of being transport across the country we are producing shavings on site for our yard. We use over 100 tons a year. As opposed to the commercially available product that comes in plastic wrappers we will have reusable “garden waste” bags to store and deploy the shavings
The second part of the carbon capture cycle is the Chedington Retort. In order to turn the soiled shavings into biochar for soil enrichment we have tested successfully the prototype rotating retort; a sort of tumble dryer running at up to 600 degrees centigrade. The full scale machine has been commissioned and should go into service in Chedington Wood in the new year. This way the carbon captured by the trees will end up buried in the ground for around 2,500 to 10,000 years. Well that’s the theory!
This will marry well with some of the new and creative thinking Harry has about building the compost business.
If one looks at our website we carry a strap line of “Enterprising Dorset” which is much in evidence on reading this newsletter. Our vision to revitalise village and upland rural business is not static but demands continual change and evolution. It is in this respect that Kate and I are delighted that our efforts to maintain the pub as a family run business for the local and wider community are now bearing fruit. Many are now aware that we are handing the baton over to Bron and her daughter Lucy. Bron and Nick moved to Chedington just before lock down and have been living in our Lodge ever since. Lucy gave up her job in London to come and run the pub and oversee group hospitality across the Estate. In the midst of all this she and John found time to get married at the Court in August.
The hand over should occur in January and I am sure all of you will wish the family the best of luck in the next phase of the Winyard’s three hundred year plus history. Kate just needs to negotiate her apple tart supply contract!
~ Kate and Geoffrey Guy