Although I have long been a believer in serendipity, it rarely acts as full force as it did today. On the second day of the Bryanston Green Conference, Elaine and I were allowed to duck out and were lucky enough to be gifted a car for the day by Julia (Hailes) and her husband Jamie (Macdonald).
So we drove across to Kingcombe, in nearby Toller Porcorum, “the farm that time forgot.” This is an extraordinary conservation reserve I have known about as long ago as 1986, when I was still a director of the Earthlife Foundation, alongside the original (in every sense) co-founders, Nigel Tuersley and Phil Agland – which, incidentally, is where and when I first met Julia.
Elaine and I were simply expecting to wander around a bit, but were somewhat disappointed to find a private event flagged as we arrived. The site would close shortly. But we parked anyway, went in – and discovered we could have a coffee (and cheese-and-chive scone) before the large group of people attending the event arrived back from their circumnavigation of the reserve.
As we sat and talked, Brian Bleese, the CEO of the Dorset Wildlife Trust, came up to chat. Since neither of us had a clue who the other was, this was total serendipity. then, as we did so, I mentioned the Earthlife connection, where the foundation had toyed with bidding for the farm when it came onto the market back in the 1980s. Brian, pretty much in passing, noted that one of the people there for the impending event was Peter Scupholme, who I had worked with at BP back in the 1990s.
As one connection followed another, Brian invited us to stay for the lunch and event, designed to celebrate the site’s designation as a National Nature Reserve. We did, took a walk around the site, along the River Hooke, caught up with Peter, met a series of people who had run or guided the Dorset Wildlife Trust over time (including DWT Trustees Jim White (see his account of the Kingcombe story here), Tony Bates, Professor Mark Kibblewhite and Jo Davies, who now chairs the Trust), and signed up as members (we are already members of the London Wildlife Trust).