Thursday, August 30, 2007

Penelope and Pat

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The Venue for our blog meet.

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Brief Encounter


Two days ago I got an e-mail from a blogging friend to say she and her partner would be in the area and would I like to meet for coffee. My first reaction was slight panic – I had always been envious of bloggers who met up but – being off the beaten track, as we are, never imagined it would happen to me. I had grown fond of my friend and admired her work- she is a writer- so when it came to a decision between meeting her and preparing for visitors there was no contest.

MTL was encouraging, although couldn’t be persuaded to join us. Not knowing who I was meeting (I like to keep people guessing – you may have noticed) my eldest son said:

‘For God’s sake take MTL or at least make sure he knows where you are. Make sure it’s in a very public place.’

The French son said:

‘What! In the flesh!’

Visions of white slave traffic but when I tell you that my prospective visitor was Granny P – Penelope – and her partner, Beloved, you will no doubt see the funny side of it

I was early. I hadn’t had time to ‘suss the joint’ because the original venue, I discovered, was closed until September, The garden looked attractive, the weather was fair so I chose a table with an umbrella and ready access to the conservatory should it be preferred.

Although I had only seen a blog photo I recognised Penelope instantly but she didn’t see me and I followed her into the hotel.


She turned and looked at me.

‘Are you Pat?’

We embraced in the continental way and sat in the garden where we were joined by Beloved who had been parking the car. We talked and talked and talked. Beloved was the perfect third person – never looking impatient at our utter absorption, bringing us tea and coffee and taking a photograph of us. Occasionally he would join in the conversation and I thought I detected the faintest northern accent – only noticeable to another northerner- he was originally from Liverpool, and this did nothing to change my opinion of him as a lovely man.

I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything. Penelope and I talked for almost two hours without once feeling the awkward silence that can happen between strangers, because of course we weren’t strangers. We talked about our lives – past and present and found we had some shared experiences. It was quite personal and private so forgive me if I don’t elaborate. I also find it difficult to describe Penelope but if I tell you that I felt nostalgia for the old, close friends I used to have, you may understand. Penelope also was feeling nostalgic for the Somerset countryside where she used to live. Hugging her good-bye was like hugging a younger sister and I am so glad we were able to meet. Thank you for taking the trouble Penelope and Beloved.

To get Penelope's blog click on Granny P on side bar.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Silly Season


A week or so ago, John G, My cyber son (side-bar), challenged us to photograph our mantlepieces and it seemed a pity to waste them. I assumed he meant us not to tidy them - so I didn't.
The room with the white fireplace is meant to be the dining room but it has a double aspect, is light and sunny - next to the kitchen -so we use it as a family room. We had the gas fire put in when we came here, to make life easier.

The room below this is the drawing room with open fire, where young grand -children are not allowed. It's like the old-fashioned 'front room' used for high days and holidays, or if you want to be quiet. It also has a double aspect but a bank at the side makes it darker than the other room. I had this same Portland stone fireplace in my old home - so it seemed a good omen. As you can see - we don't do minimal here alas!

Corrections: yesterday's Bamk holiday was, of course a Bank holiday and the Japanese Azeleas were Japanese anenomes. but of coutse you knew that:)
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Bamk Holiday!


Thank goodness for Japanese azeleas in these 'dog days' of the garden. I love the way they glow in a west facing bed. They require no care whatsoever and come up smiling each year. This is a busy week, with French family visiting and my first blog meet on Wednesday (which I am both excited and nervous about) so posting will be spasmodic - for a change.
Hope to get round to visit everybody.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Upstaged by the partyboy!
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Upstaged by a young Whipper- snapper!

Story contd.

The second part of the TV shoot was to be me feeding #1 son the wonderful Heinz sieved carrots, which he quite liked. The camera and the director were up really close with the opened tin of carrots in full view, so I went into nurse mode and wrapped baby in his swaddling piece of cashmere, as was my wont when he was having anything to eat other than the breast – so that his attention would be totally focussed .

‘Oh Pat! Don’t do that.’

I looked at the director enquiringly.

‘Just let his arms be free – it looks more natural!’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, yes. OK! Action! Oh bloody ‘ell!’ Jesus!’

One swipe from baby and the director’s pristine white shirt was generously splattered with the wonderful Heinz sieved carrot.
Baby goo – goo-ed and smiled his gummy smile. Back to the swaddling!
This time all seemed to be going smoothly when I felt a silent ping and a tingle and knew the milk was coming in.


The director was actually blushing.

‘Er Pat er your buttons have come undone.’

I looked down and was relieved to see the milk hadn’t come through but my shirt was wide open revealing a nursing bra not unlike a straight jacket... By this time I was beyond embarrassment, handed baby to an assistant whilst I adjusted my dress and pinioned baby against my bosom. We carried on – this time without interruption and it was over. Everybody was pleased and when we watched it later on TV it was very smooth and professional looking although I did sound a bit posh. All those years of watching Margaret Lockwood and Phyllis Calvert – no doubt. They even kept the bit where the carrots were knocked over – but without showing the director’s shirt.

As we drove through Chelsea on the way home I remembered that Vanessa- my old nursing pal was theatre sister at a hospital nearby. I asked the driver to take us there and astonishingly, Vanessa was there and we had a cup of tea and a gossip and arranged that she and her husband (a doctor) would come and visit. What a day!

It was the ‘silly season’ when Parliament is closed and the papers are avid for copy so we got a lot of publicity and photographers and reporters were frequent visitors. It taught me that what you say in an interview may later cause you embarrassment. Baby was meant to be as a TV star ‘paying his way through college.’ My husband ‘did something secret in tanks‘. Cringe making!

This appeared in the Daily Mail:

The sponsors who sent Pat a box of canned baby food in the first flush of enthusiasm, may be interested to learn that she has used them all up and refuses to ask for more-‘ because it would sound like scrounging.’
I should hate to find her using another brand ….

After this I got a frantic phone call from the agency and from then on we were deluged with Heinz baby foods for years.

To make the most of the publicity a party was thrown for us in a Mayfair hotel. Other models and their babies were invited and a good time was had by all. Especially the star of the show who was offered a ginger biscuit on a silver salver when my attention was elsewhere and he thought he was in heaven. I had hoped to keep him off biscuits for ever. I decide that after the Heinz contract was over that would be it.
I didn’t want him to become a precocious brat waiting for his next close-up so his celebrity career was short but sweet.
The young Whipper- snapper

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Up date on the Bourne Ultimatum


kenju said...

It is being reported that some people who watch that movie have seizures from all the fast action. Mr. kenju saw it last Fri. and has had the symptoms of a stroke ever since, and is now in the hospital.

I was very shocked to get this from Judy this morning. If you are at all vulnerable it is better to give this film a miss. I'm sure everybody will join me in sending best wishes to Judy's husband for a complete and speedy recovery.



P Would you like a dog?

MTL I have one already.

P What?

MTL You're my little puppy.
Would you like one?

P Not really. It's the poo.

MTL Yes and we have enough of that in the garden from other animals'


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Bourne again Fan


The film critic of the Daily Telegraph said ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ was the best big budget film of the summer so as MTL is, unlike me, a James Bond fan I thought he would enjoy it. I am a Bourne virgin – the film is the third of a series but over the last week I have seen the third, the first and then the second – in that order, so suppose I am now a bit of a Bourne tart.

They are excellent examples of that genre and Matt Damon, in spite of being a programmed killing machine, with amnesia, makes you care about him. He invests the part with a sort of robotic intensity apparent in his walking and running- and there are a lot of both - and the beat of the music drives the action, the fights and the chases generating excitement that leaves you breathless.

MTL found it too noisy and there is a sequence in New York involving cars with such crash , bang, wallop sound effects I was ready to shout ‘Enough already!’ the action is quite difficult to follow but it gradually seeps in and the more you watch the more it makes sense. I wonder if anyone here has read the original novel by Robert Ludlum because I couldn’t understand how he could have let himself be programmed in the first place.

It is not my kind of film at all but in retrospect I appreciated it – all the more after seeing the prequels. We do like Matt – he looks like Daniel, our step- grandson and he alternates between thugishness and a haunting beauty. There are two strong women’s parts – one young and one well into middle age – excellently played.

In spite of the noise and the violence I was gripped by the excitement. I won’t give the ending away but someone called out ‘Yay!’ and I think it was me.
Matt Damon in 'The Bourne Ultimatum
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Day in Taunton


My DIL left a magazine wirh the picture above - two versions of a look. I prefer the cheaper version and thought it looked comfortable and practical for the life I lead, so as I already have a similar jacket, shirt and shoes I decided to try to get the 'cut offs'. We have a lot of birthdays in September so planned to go to Taunton 'if it wasn't pouring with rain.' I have suffered from these provisos since child hood and they make me growl. The sun was bright early on - that 'I won't be here long' kind of sunshine and by the time we were in the car it was windscreen wipers full on.

We Brits are eternal optomists and congratulated ourselves that the gales had stopped and we could keep out brollies up. We were lucky - I got the 'cut-offs' half price from Principles, all our birthday presents and cards and some perfume for me. Seems they have stopped doing Diorissimo so I got J'adore instead. Slightly damp we went to a smart cafe for coffee and sandwiches but the kitchens didn't open till 12 so we had to make do with panini. The coffee was OK and now we had time to go and see 'The Bourne Ultimatum' more of which tomorrow. I need to have breadfast, read some blogs and make up beds. BTW this is an experiment of trying to do a photo and copy, all in one post, so bear with me.
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lord Deedes 1913-2007 Photo by Eleanor Bentall

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Dear Bill


As one of his many thousand readers I would like to pay tribute to Bill Deedes (Lord Deedes) who died on Friday. By the reckoning of his late old pal Denis Thatcher (Margaret’s husband) he was ‘the greatest journalist in the whole of human history!
Whether he was writing about the tragedy of Darfur, his pigs, the countryside, his garden or his late wife’s soup I just had to read his column and if he thought someone was a good egg you’d better believe it.

He was one of that fast dying breed; the quintessential Englishman: wise, good, honest, self- deprecating, compassionate and funny. Auberon Waugh used him as the model for the character Boot in ‘Scoop’ and his fictional letters from Denis were a great success for the satirical magazine ‘Private Eye’.

He was gallant in battle – awarded the Military Cross in WW2, and a loving family man to his wife and four children. When he was replaced as editor of the Daily Telegraph he continued to work, with grace, as a journalist till the end of his long life. He travelled widely even in his nineties, raising awareness for the plight in Africa
and campaigning for the charity Care.

At the end of his last article written a fortnight ago - aged 94 - he wrote of Baden – Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement ‘Emphatically he was one of those men, who have left a footprint in the sands of time,’
Many of us feel the same way about you Bill.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Goodbye Gran!

Story contd.

As I said at the beginning (archives Jan 16th 2006) Gran was the greatest influence in my childhood and she died before ever seeing my new son. She would have thought it fitting. She always said the normal span of life was three score years and ten and she had reached that. Also she would have thought she must make room for the new member of the family. I’m relieved that ideas have changed somewhat; my father died in his mid- eighties and Mum was definitely taken before her time, aged 90 as a result of too much flying.

Always believing that breast is best, I wanted to nurse #1son through the baby’s most vulnerable time – the first year, and managed to quell the pangs of grief to keep the milk flowing. As he thrived and got bigger I started to shrink and at eleven months I got a period and Mum said that was a sign to stop nursing – so I did, content that he must have got most of my immunities. It seemed to work; the childhood diseases both boys got were ones I never had.

One of the best things I did was to teach William how to bath the baby and from then on he was a devoted, hands on father. What was missing in our relationship was compensated by our relationship with our children – total, unconditional love. Life was pleasant enough; I have always thrived on routine and so did baby and we had our new friends and their babies to go for walks and have tea parties whilst our boys sat, crawled or rolled about according to their different accomplishments.

I had no intention of doing any more modelling and then one of my favourite photographers - Neil Nimmo asked if he could come to photograph the baby. I said yes because he was a charming man and it would be lovely to have some first-rate photographs which would have cost us a bomb. Then we heard that Heinz wanted to use us as the Heinz mother and baby. I refused – politely telling them I was nursing him and I didn’t want to interrupt his routine. They assured me that everything would be done around him and nothing would be allowed to interfere with his schedule; they would send a chauffeur driven car, I would have privacy to feed him deed dah deed dah!

After much discussion William and I decided to give it a go with the proviso that if it was upsetting him we stopped. We were going to appear on TV using me to introduce the advertisement as a well known model. I was given a script and I proceeded to learn it – as I thought. It was so simple – just me introducing myself telling them about my baby and how he enjoyed Heinz baby food which happened to be true and I loved the chocolate mousse!

I think the car was a Silver Shadow – very posh, and quite a few neighbours happened to be around when we were picked up. I was tempted to give the Royal wave but thought it might affect future relations so restrained myself. At the studio they were as good as their word and baby’s well- being came first. I settled him in his carry –cot whilst I did my piece to camera. They asked if I would like it broken up into short bits but I said no – I would do it all in one – easy peasy!

By the time they had finished with adjusting the lights and light meters with me brilliantly lit and blinded so I couldn’t see all the people talking around me I was a little unnerved.

The director finally said they were going for a take and a hush descended.

Director; Action!

Pat: (beaming smile) Hello my name is … (my smile froze. What the hell was my name again?)

Director: Cut!

After a little chat we agreed that we would do it in small bites. I was mortified. This was nothing like talking on stage or being photographed in a studio – it was a whole new ball game. They couldn’t have been nicer and said it was better breaking it up as I could change position which made it more interesting to the viewer. The next bit was mother and son together. Now what?
The Heinz baby 1957
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jackie’s Birthday Bash.


The weather was torrential showers and the traffic report spoke of an accident in Nether Stowey with both roads closed. I began to think of plan B and tried to phone the pub to see if they had any up to date info. By the time I got through it was almost time to leave and, remembering the honeycomb ice-cream I decide to risk it.

En route we had coffee in an attractive lay-by (the showers stopped whilst I dispensed from the boot (trunk) and I asked a lorry driver about the state of the road. He pronounced it clear so we carried on. By the time we arrived at ‘The Friendly Spirit’ we were early; it was deluging down so we sat in the car and chatted whilst the windows got all steamy.

After putting the world to right we discussed Dawn French’s (comedienne) recent statement that she had known from the age of six that she would die young( 50 next birthday) that she was going to do one last tour and then retire to her mansion in Cornwall to write a book and await the end.

Lunch was very pleasant and everyone was cheerful. Margaret suggested a fashion show of period clothes in Porlock in November in aid of the museum and we decide to make a day of it then. There is also a new life-size wood carving of the mysterious stranger in Coleridge’s Kubla Khan which I would like to see. On the way home we drove carefully through small lakes. The girls said it was a lovely drive and congratulated me on my new found confidence and also approved the hair style.

The weather had been disappointing and we didn’t get to explore but as Joy said
‘It’s been a lovely day. Back to reality!’

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Antique Tiles – why not?


As I shall be taking the girls to Cannington tomorrow (remember I showed you the photos a week or so ago?) I thought you might like to see my antique tiles. The first two are quite crumbley (no cracks please.) and I bought them in Portugal. The next two I bought in Spain but in fact they look more Portugese to me. An old friend, Elizabeth Grey, used to travel with her husband – a travel writer, and they had lots of Portugese pictures around the house similar to these.

The last one – and my favourite – I bought in that fantastic Spanish town Ronda, one of the loveliest and most historic of Spanish towns. It has dramatic escarpments and views and the deep El Tajo Gorge and is the birthplace of modern bull fighting. I hope you like them - now I just have to remember to publish them in upside down order.
I found them very difficult to photograph and in the end did it in the garden
the crumblies from Portugal.
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The two I bought in Spain but look Portugese.
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Ronda and the tile I bought there - my favourite.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Missing you!


Streets full of people, all alone
Rows full of houses, never home
Church full of singing, out of tune
Everyone's gone to the moon

Eyes full of sorrow, never wet
Hands full of money, all in debt
Sun disappears in the middle of June
Everyone's gone to the moon

Jonathan King

Crazie Queen asked at the week-end
‘Do you ever think of blog friends?’
and the answer is yes – especially when they disappear. Just from my side bar – apart from the officially resting ones – jonnyb is in Cornwall – missed by all- 4d is in hospital and we should all send our heartfelt wishes to him and his family, Kenju is away, Randall is not well and heart felt wishes to him also.
Sam is busy. GG is off the radar, Doc Maroon is busy, banana is in foreign parts, aunty M in on hols as is the blonde.
I’m not the only one who feels a dearth – Kim pointed it out the other day and all I can say is please come back soon – all of you. It may only be a cyber family but you are all missed.xoxoxox

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Starry starry night


Since 9pm this evening I've been popping outside to the drive - the garden is too sheltered by trees. Tonight's the night I was told and everybody should look skywards between 9pm and 3am. It took me a while to adjust my eyes to the sky but when they focussed there were myriads of beautiful stars and then just as my neck was giving out I saw it right above my head: a shooting star - just the one, but it made me gasp out loud.
I want to put a mattress on the ground and lie there till 3am but there are bats and cats and crawlies - so I'll be content with my moment. Hope you're all watching! Nightie night!

Friday, August 10, 2007

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Getting back in shape

Story contd.

My new son soon got bored with staring at his new Mum and just wanted to nod off so I put him back in his cot. What now? I was too excited to sleep so I wrote to everybody I knew, to tell them the news. As the morning wore on I was taken with baby to join about eight other mothers and babies in the maternity ward. I quickly bonded with a tall lanky girl whose amazing feat had been to increase her weight by no more than the weight of the baby and could have concealed her pregnancy right up to the birth had she wished.

We noticed that all of us would have alternate days when we would be on top of the world one day and down in the depths the next. If one of the babies needed to be examined, the staff would remove all the babies from the ward, so that instead of one mother being upset and worried, we all were.

I became inundated with bouquets of flowers from friends and family and the nurses piled them round my bed like a flowery bower. This was embarrassing so I asked Sister to spread them round the ward. It was lovely getting the flowers but I now had dozens of thank you letters to write. I was very upset when I received a bunch of red and white flowers from the Aunts. What were they thinking of? In my nursing days, red and white flowers on a ward meant a death – I suppose associated with blood and bandages. I begged Sister to get rid of them and she said she wasn’t superstitious and she would be happy to have them for her room. Phew!
We had always, in my training, removed all flowers from the ward at night as they were supposed to suck the oxygen from the air; I still don’t know if there is any truth in this.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly and baby was putting on weight so after a few days I was told I could go home. I asked William to bring my black and white tweed suit - expecting to be able to get into it - but not a chance. The nurses told me it would be eighteen months before I got my shape back but they were wrong. One of the best ways to get back in shape is breast –feeding ; you can actually feel the pull on your uterus as the baby sucks (particularly when you have cat- gut stitches like I had.).

The other slimming factor was the benign, happy Pat had become a stressed, nervous wreck who fretted when baby cried and prodded him when he was asleep to make sure he was OK. I had a bad case of post natal depression - which wasn’t recognised in those days and made me feel even worse. I wondered if I was going mad.

The health visitor came one day and, realising I was in a nervous state, told me to put all the ornaments away and not worry about house-work. That wasn’t a problem – I had an excellent daily help and probably if I had had more to do I would have had less time to fret. Her kindness reduced me to tears; it was a relief to have someone who seemed to understand how I was feeling. She introduced me to two mothers with babies (boys) around the same age, who lived close by, and that saved my bacon. Every night, after the six pm feed (when breast milk is at its weakest) my son would yell his head off – sometimes till midnight and it was driving me demented. When he was four months old the girls finally persuaded me to have a night off: I left William in charge and we went to the pictures to see ‘High Society‘with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. For the first time since the birth I laughed and had fun. Back home William said our son had slept soundly all night and from then on things improved. Baby thrived and I got back in shape physically and mentally. God bless those girls; our trio of friendship survives to this day and I still have the LP of the film music.

William and I had decided we would not name our children after anyone we knew. Years later I realised I had given both boys Scottish names with the same initial as MTL. Make of that what you will.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nothing to fear but…


My body felt charged and my breathing was shallow. I stared as the climbing instructor made short work of the slab above us and then disappeared round the side of the mountain. He was out of sight and – it transpired –out of earshot. I waited for his call. Nothing. I wasn’t going to move until I heard the obligatory:

‘Climb when you’re ready!’ to which I would answer:

‘Ready to climb!’

Then I felt a sharp tug on my waist, the rope between us became taut and inexorably; I was dragged upwards. Funny how terror intensifies the senses: I could smell the softener in my sweater, the scent of grass in the meadow below and the damp rock above me. The rasp of my metal studs on the rock sounded like a death knell and my eyes dissected the rock so that every molecule stood proud.

That was a long time ago but the experience is still fresh in my memory bank and when Cliff Rhys Jones said, after a terrifying experience on his programme ‘Mountain’ last night

‘Is rock-climbing for me? I think I know the answer to that.’

I was with him all the way.

I came across the photos below of Harrrison’s Rocks where I used to practice. I’ve had them for years and am unable to credit the photographer but thought I would share them. Harrison Rocks are owned by climbers and as they are soft sandstone leading is forbidden and top ropes must be used.
Chimney and Traverse Harrison Rocks Groombridge, Sussex
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Moonlight arete Harrison Rocks Sussex
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Long Crack
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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Dummy Run Contd


On the way back from Cannington as we passed through Kilve I noticed a sign ’to the beach’ and realised it must be over twenty years since we had ventured there, so we decided to refresh our memory. Kilve is a small parish 12 miles N W of Bridgwater and is bounded on the N by the Bristol Channel and the turnpike road from Bridgwater to Minehead.

As we drove down the narrow lane we couldn’t remember if there was a car park at the end, (there is) so I left MTL and the car in a sensible place and went to explore. I came upon some interesting buildings, a friendly pony and at last, the beach. There were a lot of families around because it was the first decent day since the schools broke up. Fortunately lunch was still fresh in my mind so I wasn’t tempted by the inevitable ‘cream teas’ in the garden of one of the buildings. I made a mental note to bring the grand-children here; young and older there is lots to; interest them
Interesting looking buildings
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The ruined Chantry

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On the left is the Chantry which was founed in 1329 by Simon Furneaux for five priests to pray for his soul in Kilve Church. The living included a house and garden (now used for cream teas). Then it was used as a farmhouse until 1856 when it was gutted by fire.

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Oil Retort
In 1916 it was discovered that the shale beach was rich in oil and in 1924 Dr Forbes Leslie founded the Shaline company to exploit this but sadly it was found to be too expensive to convert the shale to oil so the idea wasn't viable

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Excuse me but is this the way to the beach?

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Kilve Beach with North Hill in the background
It is a geological site of special interest for rock formation and fossils. There are alternate layers of limestone and shale and they date back to 200 million years ago. The creatures would have been living near the sunlit surface of the sea during the mid Jurassic period. No wonder I feel at home here:)

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