“Books are my passion. I have been passionate about all things literary since I was a small boy and one of my teachers saw something and encouraged me all those years ago. Back in the early 1980’s I set up a large Hospital radio network in London and ran this for many years and through this it enabled me to interview stars from stage, TV, music and also writers. One day I hope to get back behind the microphone. But also I have a real passion for natural history and this is why I love our wonderful of Somerset so much.
Welcome to my first column for Word Gets Around. For those of you who are not familiar with my role, I’m Sue Mountstevens and I am your elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Avon and Somerset. My role includes being your voice in policing, being the bridge between local people and the police and ensuring the Chief Constable and his team are doing everything they can to keep you safe. My work also includes setting the police budget and helping improve the criminal justice system to support victims of crime.
A small business owner will go the extra mile to make you happy. Local businesses are owned by your neighbours and friends. They care about you and are invested in your community.
A national chain will sell hundreds or thousands of identikit products. Local stores sell unique merchandise in smaller numbers so you will buy something truly individual.
It supports the arts
Small local businesses support creativity! Look for art on display created by local artists. These are one-of-a-kind pieces you won’t find anywhere else.
It helps the local economy
The money you spend in a local business stays within your town and community, thus improving its future.
Instead of purchasing items from national chains, try to purchase things from a business local to your area.
Buy a gift or a gift card at a local business in your area and give to a friend, family member, or co-worker. This will introduce the company to someone new and allow for the “shop local” mantra to spread.
Promote their business! If you like a particular shop or independent restaurant share and like their social media accounts. Spread the word.
Give them a great review. Send them a thank you. Say why you love them and let them share your testimonial.
Yep, it’s that time of the year again! No sooner have we swept the supermarket shelves clear of Ferrero Rocher and prosecco gift sets than we’re filling them up again with tat for Valentine’s day.
Even when I’ve been in relationships I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. All those pink teddy bears clutching satin hearts to their chests and overpriced special restaurant menus. It’s not my jam. Besides, if it’s a decent relationship then do you really need to have just one day where you do nice things for each other? Isn’t that meant to be every day?
Describing where you are in Somerset can be tricky. Postcodes cover large areas, many houses have names rather than numbers and, if you need help on a footpath, towpath or country road, it can be hard to give your exact location.
UK technology company what3words has a solution. It has divided the world into 3m squares and given each square a unique 3 word identifier.
///winemaker.hillside.receive for example, is the what3words address for Dunkery Beacon – the highest point in Somerset.
Memories of Taunton with Nick Chipchase
I was talking to my postman last week who lives at Athelney. As a consequence, I thought I would talk about this image. It shows William Upham repairing the breach in the River Tone embankment in 1929 at Athelney ( Curload ).
During December 1929 much of the Taunton area was hit by heavy rain. Vivary Park and part of the town were flooded. Efforts to contain the River Tone finally failed and the river burst through in the early hours of the morning. Much of the area had to be evacuated and the local inhabitants made good use of the flat bottomed punts kept by for such emergencies. Sixty families were made homeless at Burrowbridge in the worst affected area. There were one hundred and twenty homeless families in the parish of Stoke St. Gregory.
A county relief fund was set up. Nobody died during the flooding but a railway worker fell into a ditch and drowned shortly after. The 1929 floods are remembered by an odd series of postcards whose images were taken from a punt travelling through the area. One shows Kathleen Boobyer in wellington boots standing by the breach with a torrent pouring through. This part was known locally as ‘The Sheilings’.
We also see Athelney crossing, The Railway Hotel (later The Pigeons), Withygrove House and Ivy House. I have never seen a posted postcard so it seems that they were kept as a reminder of the flood.
Taunton suffered severe flooding in 1960. In the last week of September heavy rain caused flooding in parts of Devon.
The rain later eased but returned in torrents during October. Two inches of rain fell on Exeter on October 26th.
The rivers Exe and Tone took a huge amount of water and Taunton’s worst fears came to pass at breakfast time on October 27th. The flooding arrived at fast pace stranding vehicles and breaking shop windows in Bridge Street and Station Road.
Much of the town below North Street including the market was underwater. Timber washed out of the yard upstream of the bridge and jammed under the supports. It was feared that the bridge would collapse. Luckily the Victorian engineering held fast.
Floods came again in July 1968. I had a very lucky escape. That is another story.