Our speaker at the June meeting was Deborah Clarke, a local ceramicist. Debbie does workshops for all abilities and in all sorts of places - schools, care homes, shopping centres to name a few.  She talked to us about her background and work while at the same time demonstrating how to make first a small rabbit and then a crocodile.

Debbie did a BTEC in Material Design and then a degree. She talked in some detail about glazing, firing and different types of kilns and temperatures and mentioned wood fired kilns, which apparently are a lot of hard work but you can get very interesting effects. She has a mobile workshop and takes the clay items made at her groups back to fire in her kiln. Various clays have different characteristics and require different treatment. A variety of colours are produced depending on the type of clay used.

A word of warning - should you think of digging up clay yourself to make something, it needs to be washed and sieved or it might melt or explode in the kiln. Air bubbles in pieces being fired in a kiln can lead to explosions and Debbie has a large pin for pricking pieces that she takes home to fire after workshops….before returning them to the group.

The figures that Debbie made while talking to us were hollowed out of a lump of clay and as a result will dry much quicker than with other methods. She demonstrated how she starts off doing a piece and showed us how she uses things like netting or embossed wallpaper to give a variety of effects.

Our next meeting is on July 3rd and will be our “Summer Lunch”. Once again this will be at Newlands by kind invitation of Halina and Paul Simpson.

Anne Jones




 One of our members, Jane Keogh gave a fascinating and very instructive talk on Veterinary Homeopathy to our club on May 1st. Jane trained as a veterinary surgeon and originally dismissed the practice of veterinary homeopathy as “tosh” but gradually revised her views as she learned more about it. About 50 of the 22,000 vets who are licensed in the UK by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons practise homeopathy.

Jane gave us a historical perspective on the development of the fundamentals of homeopathy founded by a German Doctor Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) who questioned the medical practices of the day. The underlying philosophy is “let like be cured by like”, a concept not easy to grasp when the dilution of the remedy by a factor of 100 at each stage may result in only one part of the original substance being present in 1,000,000 parts of the solution.

Homeopathy is a holistic approach, unique to the individual and taking into account local symptoms, incidental symptoms, mental symptoms and other modalities. It can be practised alongside conventional medicine or as an alternative. We were introduced to some of Jane’s patients, where the principles of TEETH were used “Try everything else, try homeopathy” with great success.

Jane’s easy articulate presentational style made for an extremely interesting and informative evening.




Our next meeting is on 5th June at 7.30 in West Lulworth Village Hall when our speaker Debbie Clark will be telling us about “Working with Clay”.


Halina Simpson




 Did you know that the bat is a symbol of happiness and joy for Chinese people?

At our March meeting, we were introduced to “The Secret Life of Bats” by Sally Humphreys and Lisa Watkinson from the East Dorset Bat Rescue and Rehabilitation Team.

Bats have often had a bad press! Images of bats have infiltrated our culture and have led to many misconceptions about these highly successful flying mammals. Sally helped to explode some of the myths:

  • Bats are not flying mice, they are more closely related to chimpanzees.
  • Bats are not all blind, fruit bats can see in glorious technicolour, cave dwellers see in monochrome. However, their amazing ability to echolocate replaces the need for high acuity vision.
  • Bats will not fly into your hair unless you have some tasty bat-food flying around your head.
  • Bats do not attack humans except when they feel threatened.

Through Sally’s encyclopaedic knowledge of bats we learned that there are over 1300 species of bats. They are the only true mammal that can fly, their wings being giant “hands” The fingers form the framework of the wings, which are enormous in relation to the body, the thumb being a claw, which enables them to hang upside down.

They’re a sleepy lot, spending up to 17 hours roosting, when their temperature drops from 35 to 12 degrees Celsius. They do a shiver and shake warm-up when they wake.

When awake, they are speedy fliers, some species reaching up to 60mph (one bat recorded a speed of 100mph!) They can also be big-eaters, some species dining on up to 3,000 insects in a night.

Bats can live to over 30 years, the oldest known bat celebrated its 41st birthday!

The bat is considered to be one of the slowest reproducing animals in the world. Since they live in large colonies, it isn’t difficult to find a mate. The males woo the females with “love” songs. Many species in temperate climates mate in Autumn but ovulation followed by fertilisation only occurs in Spring, after hibernation and the babes are born in Summer. A female generally has only one pup (born with up to 22 teeth!)

We learned a great deal about the 18 UK bat species. Sally and Lisa arrived at our meeting bearing cages containing cute little furry bats that have been rescued and rehabilitated. They were very small and very engaging for most of our members. We were introduced to Jethro, a Noctule Bat; Dusky, a Serotine Bat; Molly, a Brown Longeared Bat; Cuddles, a Common Pipistrelle Bat and Lucky, a Soprano Pipistrelle. They were handled very carefully by Sally and Lisa, wearing thick gloves. Did you know they purr when stroked? Ahhhhhhh.

Our next meeting is at 7.30 at West Lulworth Village Hall on Wednesday 3rd April. This will be our Annual Meeting followed by Social Time.

We have a great programme planned for the coming year, starting with a talk on “Animal Homeopathy” on 1st May. More programme information next month.

Halina Simpson