Fireworks round-up

Here’s our list of  firework displays in the area on Saturday. If you know of something more local, email the editor

Gillingham. Shaftesbury and Gillingham Round table have their annual Gillingham Fireworks Display at the North Dorset Rugby Club. A  huge firework  display and  large bonfire, with  guys made by  local primary school children.

Music, burgers, hot dogs and candy floss add to the entertainment.

The Round Table have been holding this event for more than 15 years now and have raised more than £40,000 for charities.

Gates open at 5.30pm, fire light is at 7pm with fireworks at 7.30pm

Sherborne Castle provides a spectacular backdrop for fireworks, There is entertainment, live music and refreshments from 5pm. The bonfire is lit at 7pm, with the fireworks due off at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for children, with under-fives free.

Yeovil Lions are teaming up Yeovil Round Table to put on what must be one of the biggest fireworks displays in the area and this year the giant bonfire returns again. Yeovil Show Ground – doors open 5.30. Adults £6.00, children £3.00, family ticket £15.00.

Yeovil – Westland Leisure complex has a fireworks extravaganza from 6.30 pm £5 adult, £3.50 child.

Wincanton Christmas fair in aid of Help the Heroes – 30 November

Wincanton Christmas FairWincanton Christmas Fair, in aid of Help for Heroes, now in its 8th successful year, is on Wednesday 30th November from 10- 4.

There is a huge choice of quality stalls selling unique products that are not usually found on the high street.

Gifts, fashions, leather goods, toys, designer fashion, delicacies, home ware, gardening, and more. With over 30 stalls, the event provides a veritable department store , with unbeatable, hassle-free shopping

The Fair is held in a huge heated marquee at Wincanton racecourse, with its ample parking.

Entrance to the Fair is £3. Coffee, tea and light lunches are available all day at the cafe

Wincanton Christmas Fair is a member of the Charity Fairs Association.
Click here for a list of exhibitors

Silas Silage welcomes new wine research

Daily Telegraph Wine research
From "The Daily Telegraph"

Silas Silage writes ” I have always been a keen advocate of the health properties of red wine, and it is heartening to see that this has now been recognised by scientists.

The welcome news that you need to drink only 13 bottles a day to enjoy the benefits means that some people I know will be able to simultaneousely improve their health AND cut down on their drinking.”

Can I have a job as the Blog’s health corespondent/wine correspondent?

No -Ed.

Bad news for solar energy

If you were thinking of leading a life of leisure paid for by profits from the solar panels on your roof – think again!

The Government has announced that it will cut the feed in tariff – the amount owners of “domestic” solar panels get from the electricity companies – from 43.3 p per kilowatt hour to just 21p. This will effectively double the time it takes for a solar system to pay back its investment costs from around 7 to 15 years, longer for more expensive systems.

If you have just ordered a system, start putting the pressure on your installer.
Anyone whose system has been commissioned by December 12- just 5 weeks away- will receive the old tariff, but installations registered after this date will receive the new lower tariff.

The background to this announcement is that prices of solar panels have dropped dramatically over the last few months. At the same time ordinary, non-solar electricity users are beginning to bite against the huge subsidies given for “alternative” power generation , which are  effectively paid from everyone’s electricity bills.

The Government seems more motivated by concerns about the amount of money made by the solar panel companies than by the stupidity of subsidising alternative power generation, which still requires conventional power generation for back up when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

Wind farms, solar panels, acres of biomass fuel, all require subsidies from….yes! You and me!

Revised feed-in tariff calculator

Show sheep killed by vicious dog (or dogs) on Horsington Marsh


Survived the winter, but not a visit from a dog

No-one likes to wake up and find a field littered with dead sheep, so this is another plea to dog owners to keep their animals indoors and under control.

Four yearling show sheep and a mature ewe were killed in a dog attack on the night of Wednesday 12 October in two fields to the rear of Bow Brook and Crossing Gate cottages in Marsh Lane.

It is not clear whether the attack was by a single or several dogs, as there were no witnesses, and nothing was heard.

The sheep belonged to Valerie Pratt, who regularly wins prizes on the show circuit with her pedigree Dartmoors. Some of the yearlings were valuable prizewinners and the ewe, Labella, was a retired showgirl, a totally tame and friendly animal, a pet really.

The Gaunts, who looked after her in their paddock, were very fond of her.

Many other people in the village host Valerie’s sheep on their spare land and we are sure they will join the Blog in sending her their sympathy.

The police have been informed.

Silas Silage’s October gardening notes

With Autumn setting in, our resident expert SILAS SILAGE offers advice on what to do with your surplus fruit.

Silas Silage
"There’s a loud bang and the roof of the shed has gone"

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is with us, and it’s the latter I’m going to deal with today. Thanks to the warm spring and the late summer showers, the apple trees are laden with fruit, the hedgerows are groaning with blackberries and sloes, while rose hips dance a scarlet fandango in the golden sunset. (Oh please! –Ed).

Most years, there’s so much stuff, it’s always a problem knowing what to do with it. This year, the problem is epic.

Although I’m a countryman , I’ve always been a bit of a scientist at heart. Looking at an old copy of “Whisky News” the other day I had an idea. A quick call to my mates at Porton Down and Aldermaston, and a surplus titanium pressure vessel and plenty of copper and stainless steel piping is on its way to me. A day later, with some help from my neighbour, who knows a bit about welding, we have constructed an “essential oil distillation unit”. Wink wink.

Productivity is vital if you’re going to shift any volume, so I’ve incorporated some ideas of my own. I got an old bath from the scrapyard in which to cut up  the fruit and let it ferment. This is fed directly into the pressure vessel, allowing continuous production.

There’s a super cooler adapted from an old watering can, and the Primus burner is fuelled directly with the unwanted poisonous alcohols which are produced as a by product. No one can accuse me of not being environmental!

Now it’s time to fire it up, and off we go. All that lovely fruit and veg, distilled down to a pure essence, easy and economic to store, nutritious, wholesome, non-perishable,  I could go on. (Spare us, please –Ed)

She fires up well, and has soon reached the operating temperature. Load the fermented fruit and off we go. As soon as steam comes out, we bring on the supercooler to condense the vapour. The first stuff to come out is the unwanted impure alcohol, and this goes straight back into the primus tank. Just turn the nozzle. It’s very flammable, and you have to be careful.

There’s a loud bang and the roof of the shed has gone. Never mind, I’ll fix it later. For behold, out of the nozzle, a few sacred drops are spouting. Collect in a glass, add ice, lemon and dry ginger, and you have the perfect antidote to the coming winter.

Owing to a design fault, (I think he forgot a collecting jar- Ed) the only way I can collect the distillate as it comsh out is in individ… indi… shingle glasses, and owing to lack of a storage vessel, the only way I can keep up with the flow ish to drink it,  and I musht shay it’s very good stuff, have another and, woops, I can see the open shky, coming out fashter now, woops, no way of turning it off, have another, quickly, woops! oh dear, oh dear me, dear me, woops! …..
(To be continued – Ed)

Battle re-commences at Silton Windpower site

Silton Wind Turbine
View from the B308 near West Bourton

The developers of the proposed  wind generation farm at Silton, which was thrown out by North Dorset Council in March, have appealed, and there will now be a public enquiry.

The proposal was resisted by every parish in the area, and by neighbouring South Somerset District Council.

The proposal was for  four 120-metre tall wind turbines at Silton, between Bourton and Gillingham.
The developers claim Dorset needs more renewable energy and the four turbines would produce enough energy to power 6,700 homes while saving 10,000 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere for the next 25 years.
Objectors say that the proposal will spoil the landscape,  will detract from the setting of adjacent historic properties, and will adversely affect the visual amenities and businesses (including tourism) near the proposed site.
Unfortunately the fact that these things only work at about 20 per cent of their capacity, but provide a taxpayer-funded payout to the developer and the landowner is not a planning issue.
The latest application received more than 1,700 letters of objection and was rejected by every parish council in the area and by neighbouring  South Somerset District Council before North Dorset’s refusal.
An action group Save Our Silton was formed to fight the plan .They are holding a  meeting for anyone interested in opposing the appeal at Bourton School at 7 pm on Friday 21st October
Representations must be made to the planning inspectorate* by 3rd November. If you have written previously, your original letter will form part of the evidence to be submitted to the inspector.
The date of the enquiry is yet to be announced. There are now 2 wind farm appeals in Dorset – the other is at Wareham.
* The Planning Inspectorate,
3/20 Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol, BS1 6PN