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This Spinning World (43 stories from far and wide), Jim Potts; ISBN 978-1-912788-02-6

I am pleased to say that my book has now been published and is available from Colenso Books (write to colensobooks@gmail.com ) and...

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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Γιάννης Ιωαννίδης: «Μπορεί σε 50 χρόνια να μην υπάρχει η Ελλάδα ως χώρα». John Ioannidis - Mediocracy versus Meritocracy.

John Ioannidis - Mediocracy vs. Meritocracy, Megaron, Athens, 26 September, 2015, TEDx Academy.

More from TEDx

Article from Imerisia.gr

"Εγώ θεωρώ ότι έμεινα στην Ελλάδα δέκα χρόνια (δίδαξε στην Ιατρική Σχολή Ιωαννίνων) για ποιητικούς λόγους και όχι για ρεαλιστικούς. Έβλεπα το χάος γύρω μου και εμπνεόμουν από αυτό να συνεχίσω, αλλά αυτό είναι μια ψυχοπαθολογική κατάσταση. Δεν μπορείς να περιμένεις από το μέσο άνθρωπο να εμπνέεται από τις δυσκολίες και από το χάος. Κάποιος που αποφασίζει να γυρίσει στα ελληνικά πανεπιστήμια, τις περισσότερες φορές αποφασίζει να διασχίσει την έρημο Γκόμπι. Αν εμπνέεται από αυτό (υπάρχουν πολλοί που εμπνέονται κι εγώ εμπνεόμουν από αυτό) διασχίζουν την έρημο Γκόμπι, βιώνουν μια εξαιρετικά πλούσια εμπειρία και την εκμεταλλεύονται με διάφορους τρόπους είτε επιστημονικά είτε γράφοντας ποίηση. Αλλά δε μπορώ να πω στο μέσο άνθρωπο πήγαινε να διασχίσεις την έρημο Γκόμπι. Πρέπει να είμαι ρεαλιστής μαζί του."

"Μπορεί σε 50 χρόνια να μην υπάρχει η Ελλάδα ως χώρα, είναι μια πιθανή εξέλιξη και θα έλεγα ότι είναι μια αρκετά πιθανή εξέλιξη. Μπορεί όμως και να σωθεί από κάποιον που δεν έχει γεννηθεί ακόμη ή από κάποιον που αυτή τη στιγμή σκέφτεται κάτι καινοτόμο. Άρα λοιπόν υπάρχει αυτό το στοιχείο της αβεβαιότητας. Νομίζω ότι η ελληνική κοινωνία θα δώσει την ευκαιρία στον εαυτό της να πάρει το ρίσκο. Εδώ έδωσε την ευκαιρία σε τόσους αδαείς, σε τόσους μέτριους και άχρηστους που την εξουσιάζουν τόσα χρόνια, γιατί να μη δώσει την ευκαιρία σε πέντε, δέκα, εκατό ανθρώπους να πάρουν το ρίσκο και ίσως τελικά να είναι εκείνοι που θα καταφέρουν να την τραβήξουν προς τα πάνω, ως σύνολο και όχι ως μονάδες."

On Professor John Ioannides

Stanford Profile

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Stones, as Found: Natural "Tamata"

Dorset Country House Library: December Auction In Dorchester

From Wessex FM

"A Dorset country house library, which has sat largely undisturbed for the past century, will be auctioned at Duke's in Dorchester on Wednesday 30th December".

Rather sad if such a collection is split up and sold off in small lots. Couldn't the entire library go to the Dorset History Centre?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Hinkley Point, Somerset; Nuclear Power Station

Is it worth it? Christopher Booker, Opinion Piece, The Telegraph -

"Hinkley: a truly major national scandal - The new nuclear power station will be the costliest engineering project Britain has ever embarked on, and a total waste of money".

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Corfu, Greece - κύκλωμα μαστροπείας - A New Kind of Network or An Old-Fashioned Vice Ring?

From Corfu Press

"Στα ίχνη κυκλώματος μαστροπείας βρίσκεται η Ασφάλεια Κέρκυρας. Μέχρι αυτή την ώρα έχουν γίνει 30 προσαγωγές, ανάμεσά τους δημοτικοί υπάλληλοι, καταστηματάρχες και αλλοδαποί…"

To Vima - Κέρκυρα: Συνεχίζονται οι έρευνες για το κύκλωμα μαστροπείας


This is all about an alleged network or ring of individuals, both Greek and foreign, suspected of links to pimping, procurement and prostitution on Corfu. Many arrests have been made.

Belmont House, Lyme Regis: Open Day; John Fowles; Eleanor Coade; Coade Stone; Landmark Trust

Landmark Trust (with the help of generous and anonymous donors) has done a splendid job of restoration. Initially sceptical, I have been converted!

I finally made it to Belmont House....

I watched the Channel 4 programme broadcast on 14 October, 2015, the first in the series "Restoring Britain's Landmarks", which featured the restoration of Belmont House. Not a single mention of John Fowles!

Update, from The Times, October 24, 2015, from article by Andrew Riley:

"Little obvious trace of Fowles's ownership survives...In some ways it seems a missed opportunity not to have left even one room as Fowles had it".

I have to agree.

Belmont House as it was before 1952, British History Online

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Corfu: Then and Now


Lyme Regis, Dorset: John Fowles' House; Landmark Trust; Open Days

Seaside villa where John Fowles lived to open doors after £1,8m restoration (BBC News)

"Belmont was Fowles's home for almost four decades from 1968, and it was where he completed his classic novel The French Lieutenant's Woman.... Like the trust's other 195 buildings, Belmont will be let out for short breaks"

About Belmont House, Landmark Trust

May 2013 posting

Telegraph, 2012

Bridport News, 2012

We'll be able to judge for ourselves on the Belmont Open Days, 26 and 27 September 2015

Listed Building

From Landmark Trust:

Writing study breaks

"Our free, twice yearly creative writing study weeks are currently an exclusive arrangement with the Creative Writing Department at the University of East Anglia, with which John Fowles had close links".

John Fowles’s hopes for Belmont
"John Fowles, the author of seminal works such as The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman, lived at Belmont from 1968-2005. Towards the end of his life, he approached Landmark to help realise his wish that after his death, Belmont could be enjoyed by other writers and as many people as possible, through use as a Landmark. Above all, he wanted to prevent Belmont being turned insensitively into a hotel or boarding house. His writing room on the first floor overlooking the Cobb will play a pivotal role within the restored house and will become the main drawing room for visitors. It will include a writing desk and a large number of John Fowles books in the library, alongside other works illuminating the history of this fine house. In the attached stable block a permanent exhibition will be created, celebrating the lives of Belmont’s previous residents".

See also, Andrew Riley, The Times, 24 October 2015

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Dismaland? No way! People Feel Worthwhile in West Somerset; Personal Well-Being and Life Satisfaction

Well-being survey (BBC)

Feeling 'worthwhile' in West Somerset!

"West Somerset gave the highest score for feeling worthwhile, on 8.58"
 (10 being the maximum point on the scale).

and we're not 'very anxious' in the West Country.

Sir Antony Gormley's Sculpture; Dorset; Kimmeridge Bay; The Forces of Nature

BBC News:

Sir Antony Gormley 'thrilled' by sculpture's fall into bay

Proof of its "dynamic relationship with the forces of nature".

"The core of this project was to expose the works to the elements - that's exactly what happened," he said.

See Bournemouth Daily Echo, for photos of original installation

EU Member States, EU Asylum Law and Rules Compliance

EU says Greece, Germany not upholding EU asylum law (EU Observer)

"The European Commission has launched 40 inquiries against 19 countries, including Germany, Greece, Italy, and Hungary for failing to follow asylum rules".

BBC News - Migrant crisis: EU splits exposed as summit begins

The Guardian - EU refugee summit in disarray as Donald Tusk warns greatest tide 'yet to come'

On Ageing and Cycling

Thomas Hardy: "I Look Into My Glass", read by Andrew Motion

John Lee Hooker: "I looked into my mirror"

"Older travellers are now more intrepid than the young" (Devla Murphy, The Telegraph)

Devla Murphy : Nowadays, some interviewers ask: “For travellers, is ageing an advantage or a disadvantage?” 

"Ever since the bicycle was invented, cyclists have kept pedalling into their old age".

Regina Derieva (1949-2013), a Russian Poet in Sweden; Sigtuna Literary Festival; Регина Дериева

Video, a colloquium and tribute to Regina Derieva - from the Sigtuna Literary Festival. Mostly in English - Approx 38 minutes. A great international poet in the Russian tradition.

"Regina Derieva var född 1949 i Odessa men kom 1999 till Sverige och Sigtuna där hon bosatte sig med sin make. I december 2013 avled hon och det har tyvärr varit en välbevarad hemlighet att en av Rysslands mest aktade poeter länge befunnit sig i Sverige. Derieva har publicerat ett tjugotal verk, främst diktsamlingar men även prosa, essäer och översättningar. Poesin har, förutom i bokform, publicerats i ett stort antal tidskrifter i bland annat Ryssland, USA och Sverige.

Samtalet är en inspelning från Sigtuna Litteraturfestival. Medverkar gör Fiona Sampson, amerikansk poet och författare, Tomas Venclova, litauisk poet och essäist samt Bengt Jangfeldht, författare och översättare".

Rediscovering Regina Derieva, TLS

De Profundis, A Cantata - texts by Regina Derieva

DE PROFUNDIS, Cantata on 12 poems by Regina Derieva.

Via Crucis, A Cantata - texts by Regina Derieva

"The Last War" read by Regina Derieva in Russian

"I don't feel at home where I am" - read by Ruth Fainlight

Per Wästberg reads his poem dedicated to Regina Derieva

Lunch with Alexander Deriev

Dorchester, Dorset: Durnovaria Wine Bar Closed for Business

Hard to believe the news that Durnovaria has closed. A great venue, supporting good live music, local talent, food, art - and the best coffee in town.

A great loss to Dorchester. I hope Jim will try again.

Update from Dorset Echo - "Owner thanks Dorchester community after calling time on wine bar"

Markos Vamvakaris: The Autobiography in English; Greek Rebetika Songs; Bouzouki

I've had the book in Greek since around 1980: available in English - a wonderful translation by Noonie Minogue!

"Markos Vamvakaris, born in 1905 in Syros was a pioneer of rebetiko, the urban folk music of Greece...

This is the first ever translation into English of the Autobiography compiled by Angeliki Vellou Keil and published in 1978. It opens a window onto a time of extraordinary creativity in the history of Greek music, an explosion of song writing in the interwar period. Its composers wrote about themselves and each other, the rituals of hashish smoking and the landmarks of a now vanished city.

Markos the repentant sinner and living legend, looks back at childhood idylls in Syros, the arrival of the Asia Minor refugees, the terrible years of the German Occupation, the ceaseless love affairs and disappointments, and the triumphs of the bouzouki. He offers a rare insight into the lives of toiling workers and the lowlife of one of the world’s most ancient ports, where East meets West. Out of this melting pot he produced the classic songs that Greeks of all ages still love and know by heart".
On Amazon.co.uk

Extracts from the autobiography

Frangosyriani (original, 1935)

Documentary, YouTube

Taksimi Rebetiko

Singing Frangosyriani (in old age - Ο Μαρκος μιλαει για την ζωη του και παιζει την Φραγκοσυριανη σε μεγαλη ηλικια)

The Charlie Patton or Howlin' Wolf of rebetiko?

Was this the first translation into English? Ed Emery translated his Chapter 7 as study material for the conference to celebrate the life and times of Vamvakaris, in June 2005. Ed Emery was planning to publish his own full translation of the Autobiography.

The Rise And Fall Of Rebetiko: "The Greek Blues", Greeker than the Greeks, blog

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The European Union and the Politicization of Europe; Prague Conference, Call for Papers

Details of the conference in Prague, 27-28 November, 2015

An interesting range of topics, a lot of very pertinent questions:

Conference Description:

The European Union was described by Jacques Delors as an unidentified political object and by Jose Manuel Barroso as the first non-Imperial empire. The descriptors assigned to the European Union are creative and diverse yet the agreement on what is the actual shape that the EU is taking is by no means an easy one to be achieved. Historical choices shaped and reshaped the size and functioning of the EU while the goal of an emerging ‘ever closer union’ is still in search for the paths of real and not ideal accomplishment. The agreement seems to come when it’s about the growing impact of the decisions taken in Brussels on the daily lives of the European citizens and the increasingly redistributive outcomes of the policy choices inside the EU. These dynamics created the framework for the politicization of Europe and opened a vivid debate about the direction and proportions of such a process.

The politicization of Europe takes various shapes and addresses significant puzzles. While it is clear that the EU doesn’t resemble a state it is less clear if the decisions that shape its policies are configured by Pareto efficient outcomes or by dynamics that are intrinsic to political systems and defined by emerging party politics within the European Parliament. The democratic problem or the democratic deficit issue was and continues to be one of the main challenges facing the European Union in any terms or from any position is understood or described. The problem of accountability for the decision making inside the EU was there from the beginning and it emerged gradually as more emphatic on the agenda of vivid debates as the powers of the EU have grown after the Maastricht Treaty. This was concomitant with a growing disenchantment of citizens from member states with politics in general, with debates over the democratic deficits inside member states, with enlargement and with a visible and worrying decrease in voters’ turnouts in both national and especially European elections. The optimist supporters of EU believe in its power to constantly reinvent and reshape while the pessimists see either a persistence of existing problems or a darker scenario that could lead in front of current problems even to the end of the EU as we know it.

The International Conference ‘The European Union and the Politicization of Europe’ aims to survey some of these current debates and addresses once more the challenges of the EU polity in a context of multiple crises that confronted Europe in recent years. It supports a transformative view that involves balanced weights of optimism and pessimism in a belief that the unfold of current events and the way EU deals with delicate problems will put an increased pressure in the future on matters of accountability and will require some institutional adjustments that address democratic requirements for decision making. However in its present shape and context the EU does not look able to deliver soon appropriate answers to democratic demands. In a neo-functionalist slang we can say as an irony that the actual crisis in the EU legitimacy is a ‘spillover’ effect of institutional choices made some time before. To address the EU’s democratic deficit however is not to be a skeptic and ignore the benefits that came with it but to acknowledge the increasing popular dissatisfaction with ‘occult’ office politics and with the way EU tackles daily problems of public concern while the public is more and more affected by decisions taken at European level.

Is the EU becoming an increasingly politicized entity? Is the on-going politicization of Europe a structured or a messy one? Do political parties within the European Parliament act in a manner that strengthens the view of the EU as an articulate political system? Are there efficient ways for addressing the democratic deficit issue? Can we find usable indicators for detecting an emerging European demos and a European civil society? Does Europeanization of the masses take place or the EU remains a genuinely elitist project? Did the Lisbon Treaty introduce significant changes regarding the challenges facing the EU? Can we see any robust improvements in the accountability of the EU decision making processes? Are there alternative ways of looking at the politicization processes and redistributive policies inside the EU? Is the on-going crisis changing the European politics dramatically? These are only few of the large number of questions that unfold when researchers or practitioners look at the EU.

It is the aim of the Fourth International Conference ‘The European Union and the Politicization of Europe’ to address in a constructive manner such questions and to offer o platform for dissemination of research results or puzzles that can contribute to a better understanding of the on-going process of politicization within the European Union.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Corfu Airport, Greece: Future Management - Dispute; Fraport Plans

Fate of Corfu airport puts Greek bailout deal to test, Jack Ewing, New York Times

"The airport on this resort island, like many others in tourist-dependent Greece, does not befit a eurozone country...Inside the terminal, the luggage conveyors frequently break down. The rusting restroom fixtures rarely work, and some toilets lack seats. On summer weekends, when charter flights carry thousands of vacationers to and from cities like Birmingham, England, or Brussels, the overflow can force passengers to wait outside under the broiling Mediterranean sun".

Update, Fraport Development Plans:

"The airport on Corfu will also see an increase in terminal space by 2,700m2 initially as well as other works for its modernization", GTP, 25 January 2016.

Jailhouse Food, The Verne, Portland, Dorset; IRC Food

Not so long ago, I read about the Jailhouse Cafe and its delicious food.

Since the Verne Prison became an Immigration Removal Centre, there have been complaints about the food:

S20 Detainees could eat communally. The food was adequate but not sufficiently culturally diverse. Detainees were not routinely involved in the preparation of food and did not have access to a cultural kitchen. The shop was not large enough for the population and access to it for detainees was unacceptably poor. It was badly designed and causing widespread tension and frustration.

Rod Liddle satirised the subject in the Sunday Times, on 20 September 2015, reporting that an inspection had found the food on offer to be "insufficiently culturally diverse" ("this being, er, England. Shepherd's pie, fish and chips and so on"). Mr. Liddle asks if authentic British food - indigenous cuisine-  is the UK's "secret weapon in the battle to stop more people trying to come here".

He writes:

"Let immigrants eat British...Here’s some more worry for you. A detention centre where we hold foreign asylum seekers whom we are about to deport is serving food to its clients that is insufficiently culturally diverse."

Funny - except that mockery isn't funny, even when combined with an element of self-mockery. As I am not a subscriber, I haven't been able to access the 115 online comments about his article. They must make interesting reading.

Deportee, YouTube  - Arlo Guthrie and Hoyt Axton

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Greece: Tsipras Election Victory (and Corfu Results)

From Kathimerini - Κυβέρνηση Τσίπρα-Καμμένου μετά την καθαρή νίκη ΣΥΡΙΖΑ

eKathimerini in English - Tsipras returns to power with clear election win

The Guardian - Jubilant supporters took to the streets after conservative rival New Democracy conceded defeat to leftwing party led by Alexis Tsipras, who took 35.5% of the vote

The Guardian - Greece: the election is over, the economic crisis is not

The Telegraph - Greek elections: Alexis Tsipras emerges as clear winner in shock result

newsit.gr report on Ministers remaining and leaving - Νέα κυβέρνηση: Όλα τα ονόματα των υπουργών που έχουν πέσει στο τραπέζι - Ποιοί μένουν

The Guardian -"The lenders are the real winners in Greece – Alexis Tsipras has been set up to fail" - Yanis Varoufakis

Mignatiou...Varoufakis pops up again

Corfu Election Results MPs: 2 SYRIZA, 1 Golden Dawn

From newsit.gr:

Με την ενσωμάτωση στο 99,12% τα αποτελέσματα έχουν ως εξής:
ΣΥΡΙΖΑ 40,64% 2
Νέα Δημοκρατία 22,12%
Χρυσή Αυγή 7,59% 1
Το Ποτάμι 2,98%
ΚΚΕ 7,07%
ΠΑΣΟΚ - Δημοκρατική Συμπαράταξη 5,64%
Λαϊκή Ενότητα 5,06%
ΑΝΕΛ 3,18%
Ένωση Κεντρώων 2,75%

and, as a footnote, how people voted in my favourite village in Central Zagori, Epirus:

Αποτελεσματα εκλογων στο χωριο: 


Washington Guided Greece in Bailout Talks, eKathimerini

Thomas Hardy on Maiden Castle, Dorset; Ancient Earthworks at Casterbridge; Mai-Dun; William Barnes

Thomas Hardy, "Ancient Earthworks at Casterbridge", English Illustrated Magazine, December 1893; four photographs by William Pouncy of Dorchester.

From William Barnes' series of four articles, "Dorset Folk and Dorset" (Leisure Hour, 32, p. 52, 1883):

(See the footnote on Maiden Castle, bottom right, above)

William Barnes (from J. Savage, 1832)

William Camden

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Charles Tomlinson on John Constable; Poet on Painter

A Meditation On John Constable

Charles Tomlinson (1927-2015)

                   "The artist lies
For the improvement of truth. Believe him."


Extracts from "The Door", another poem by Charles Tomlinson:

Too little
has been said
of the door, its one
face turned to the night's
downpour and its other
to the shift and glisten of firelight...

For doors
are both frame and monument
to our spent time,
and too little
has been said
of our coming through and leaving by them.


Related? "Life has two doors", Sotiria Bellou - Δυο πορτες εχει η ζωη

Friday, 18 September 2015

A Somerset Dialect Story and a Scottish Linguistics Expert; John Read, Somerset Folk Press

Searching the web for some of the Somerset (or "Old-World Wessex") stories by John Read published by the Somerset Folk Press ("Cluster-o'-Vive", 1923), I found one of John Read's stories, "The Story of Vall-Teacher", quite by chance, embedded in this Sandy Fleming linguistics posting on Language Varieties (scroll down to find the story, and Sandy Fleming's notes and glossary).

I wish Mr. Fleming had included a note in his glossary on the delightful dialect expression (penultimate paragraph of the story) "Bezuggers".

There is a biographical note about John Read which is printed before two of his dialect poems in "Selected Poems in Somerset Dialect", The Somerset Folk Series, Number 1 (Somerset Folk Press, 1921). It may come as a surprise:

"Professor John Read, M.A., Ph.D., B.Sc,. is a descendant of an old South Somerset family, and was educated for some years at Sexey's School, Bruton. He chose a scientific career, and, following a series of brilliant successes in education and research, accepted, in 1915, the Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of Sydney, N.S.W. Dr. Read has made the study of his native dialect one of his intellectual delights, and he is probably the foremost authority upon its origins and usages. He has constructed several remarkably skilful plays, primarily designed to portray and preserve the rustic idioms and ideas; and these have been produced by local companies with excellent results."

In his preface to "Cluster-o'-Vive" ("a familiar cry along the hedgerows of Wessex druing the nutting season"), the author says that "although the West Countryman will detect in the cluster certain 'chestnuts' which have been handed down in the land from generation to generation, yet for the most part the stories and incidents have been collected at first hand from actual participants or their acquaintances." His book contains a useful glossary.

In a review of his collection of dialect plays and sketches "Wold Ways A-Gwain" (The Western Gazette, 1914), the Dorset County Chronicle wrote:

"Dr. Read's book is quite as interesting to Dorset readers as to Somerset, for there is a close kinship between the dialects of the two counties....If  'wold ways be a-gwain', Dr. Read is helping to put the brake on, and to retard their departure... - of real philological value."

The Greek Elections; Exit Polls Update

From The Economist -

The Economist explains-
Why Greeks are going to the polls again

eKathimerini article - Resigned to years of austerity, Greeks head to the polls

BBC on the polls

Richard Pine (Corfu) on Greece and Ireland, The Irish Times

"As Greeks prepare to go to the polls again next weekend, an ‘Irish Times’ columnist argues that their country is more like Ireland, culturally and socially, than most people think"

Update - Exit Polls, the Guardian

Kathimerini on exit polls

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Dorchester, Dorset: Plans for Former Prison Site - 200 Homes?

From BBC News: Plan for 200 homes on site of former Dorchester prison unveiled

"Dorchester's former prison could be transformed into 200 homes under new plans unveiled to the public...Building a hotel was one suggested option, but it was decided there was not enough demand in the area."

Update - Developer City and Country submits 190-home plans for Dorchester prison site - Dorset Echo

Update, July 2016

Dorchester Prison development 'will not include affordable homes', BBC

Devon, Dorset and Somerset: A Colour to Every County

From "Farmer Wangle's Field Talk" (John Read, Cluster-o'-Vive, Somerset Folk Press, 1923; also published in "Wold Ways A-Gwain, Scenes from a Western Countryside", John Read, The Western Gazette, 1914):

(Farmer Wangle) 'was leaning over a gate with his eyes fixed upon a herd of Devon cattle in the field beyond. Warm splashes of Devon red on a landscape of green, with a background of misty blue: truly, a satisfying picture. And yet Farmer Wangle shook his head half regretfully.

"You midden believe it now, but I tell 'ee you'll never zee Devon beast look their best out o' Devon. You can never get the bloom on their coats elsewhere. Bring a herd o'm up here out o' Devon, and in a month or two the bloom's a-lost."

He turned to me suddenly. "D'ee know the cause o't? Why, the iron in the soil and water. Have 'ee ever noticed now how fresh and red-faced the Devon folk be? Like we do read about David. 'Tis the iron. Look now, Devon is red all droo, from one end to t'other. They wur right to take red for the county colour. Now you come therefrom into Dorset, and you'll find mostly chalk - a white county, so to speak; but as soon as ever you put your foot in Somerset you've a-left the chalk behind. A colour to every county - leastways, here in the West. Where else do 'ee find such a deep and pure green as in Somerset, except midbe along by the Stour in the Vale of Blackmore? So I should call the Somerset colour green.'

Chaldon Herring, Dorset: Literary Links