“I saw this otter – I would imagine I was about twelve. My mother died and I went to live with my grandmother who brought me up. In Verwood we followed this otter home. Previous to that I had seen an otter just below the bridge at Pottern, just peeping out of its hole on the side. I didn’t see it come out. I think I was by myself when I saw it. It was very cute. I didn’t know what it was! I thought it was a rat but it was obviously bigger than that! Somebody must have been there that told me it was on otter. That was quite common then – seeing them. We weren’t really allowed to go down. There used to be a wooden bridge over the river. Now, of course, it’s all concrete.
The hunt was men with dogs. We went with them – I don’t know how many miles we walked along the river. I knew what I was looking for because I’d already seen one – just peeping out of the hole in the river. They had a great following of men with sticks and dogs.
I caught an eel when I was a child.”
“We used to live by a stream. You used to have to walk down the stream to get to our house. Every now and then you’d hear a splash and one of them would jump into the water or come out from the bank and we used to see it. Like a big rat! Quite big though! I think there was quite a few there – there was nearly always something jumping about in the stream! We often used to have to paddle to get to the road. The stream ran to a mill.”
“I saw them on the River Stour up at Julian’s (Bridge?). I was only a child. I always remember I picked up a ten shilling note – that sticks in my memory more than any otter! It was soaking wet. In those days you didn’t take it to the police. It was on the same day that I saw the otter. There were loads of dogs – it was a hunt. They were basset hounds. We saw the hunt regularly because we lived in Old Road. There were plenty of people there, walking.
My cousin used to go eel bobbing.”*
“They look like a big cat more than anything. I remember it up on its hind legs and begging. It knew I was there. I could look right in its eyes. I saw it more than once because we lived right by the river. I saw it with babies – the last one I saw she had four. It was a very peaceful part of the river. We saw lots of wildlife by the river – it was lovely there. It used to come and eat right out of my hands – I used to give it mostly worms! A group of us used to go down there – I was one of ten. They went away downstream. We used to stand there and watch the hunt. I didn’t think it was cruel to hunt them. I loved watching. As children you don’t think about it. We used to have a pet pig there as well!”