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The musings of GERALD - November 2016

I must apologise for missing last months edition. My only excuse was my niece and her husband were visiting from New Zealand and I completely forgot the date.

Duncan has certainly put the name of the village on the map with his bus protest. He has appeared in newspapers, on television, even on Facebook. He is almost a national celebrity. I just hope the people who make the decisions were watching and do something about our rural transport. I am always willing to give people a lift as I am sure other villagers are if I see you waiting at the road side.

Once again the Church was beautifully decorated for the Harvest Festival. We especially admired the flower arrangements and the way they had been constructed, the clever use of flowers, foliage and berries was outstanding. One display we particularly admired was the arrangement of vegetables by the pulpit, very neatly put together and better than any exhibit that was entered for the Turner prize.

The next dance in the Village Hall is on 19 November when Dennis Westmorland will be back playing to raise funds for Lupton Church.

I travel to Cowan Bridge to play bowls most Tuesday afternoons. If anyone would like to join me you are more than welcome to come along. All you need is a pair of slippers or flat-soled shoes. Everything else is provided. Even if you have never played before, the company is good, and you will soon be an expert bowler. Go on give it a try.

Have we no village friendly farmer with a tractor with a front end loader who could lift the damaged Whittington sign out of the hedge on Kirkby Lonsdale road so that it can be taken away for repair? It is two years since I last mentioned it. Surely I am not the only person in the village who notices these problems.

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The musings of GERALD - October 2016

There are no "Musings" for October. Gerald is busy with visitors from the bottom of the world.

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The musings of GERALD - September 2016

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Allan Airey of Gressingham who at the time of writing is in hospital in Lancaster. Allan a keen bell ringer has been ringing church bells up and down the Lune Valley for almost forty years. Hurry up back, Allan - Sunday morning is not the same

Dennis Westmorland is back playing his very own Lakeland style of music for dancing in Whittington Village Hall on Saturday 3 September at 8pm in aid of Lupton Church. The entertainment is first class even if you don't dance.

The positioning of the road signs warning of the traffic lights at Sellet Mill leave a lot to be desired. Three of them are placed on the apex of a corner in the road and are causing more of a hazard than the actual road works. Do the people who position them not realise the danger they are causing motorists?

You hardly realise it is the school holidays - there are no children around. Have they lost the ability to play? When we were their age we were helping in the hay field, playing cricket, swimming in the river, going for walks and exploring the countryside.
It was a wonderful time - not much money, we never went away on holiday, but at least we were never bored and could always find ways of enjoying the summer break.

Sarah Pettifor enjoyed her summer holidays by appearing, with her mother Anne, on the popular BBC programme "Pointless". It is nice to be able to report that they did better in their ultimate appearance than they did in the penultimate one. Ed.

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The musings of GERALD - July/August 2016

My sister Joan and her husband Jim will be celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary on 14 July. They were married by Rev Norman Cairns in Arkholme Church in 1956. They emigrated to New Zealand the following year to work on a sheep farm on the South Island. They gradually moved north, finally buying their own farm about eight miles inland from the Bay of Islands. All went well until the UK joined the Common Market and they could no longer sell their milk. They sold their herd at a loss, some of their land, and moved into a smaller place near Whangarea, and started growing cut flowers for the export market. This carried on until they retired a few years ago. They have a family of two boys and two girls, and eight grandchildren. Their elder daughter Lynda (a nursing sister) and her husband Clyde are visiting the UK in August, and will be staying with me for a few days. She is very keen on genealogy, and has traced our family tree back to the seventeenth century, and is looking forward to reading the little book on the history of Gressingham Church.

It is over twelve months since I mentioned the condition of the Parish seats. Nothing changes - nothing is done about them. If they are not going to be repaired and the long grass around them trimmed, could we have one moved to the path on the river bank in a nice position, where weary walkers could sit for a short time and enjoy the tranquil scenery? The Whittington sign on Kirkby Lonsdale road is still lying at a drunken angle in the hedge - does no one else notice the sad state of this sign as they pass by?

[On 23 May, Whittington Parish Council voted to upgrade the three benches around the village, using 200 raised at the beacon lighting event for the Queen's 90th birthday - Wagtail Editor]

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The musings of GERALD - June 2016

That wonderful man John Haston was ninety-nine years old last month. Congratulations John - we hope to help you celebrate your century next year. The swallows arrived at Docker around the 19th of April. They were much later arriving in Whittington, and once again fewer birds have arrived there. Just seems to be a general decline in the whole bird population in our area.

The volunteers who have connected the village to the B4RN network have done a wonderful job, to say they were complete novices only a short time ago. The way they connected my house to the system was very professional, congratulations go to everyone involved, thank you.

I have been reminded of some omissions on my piece about Arkholme last month. I never mentioned that the Metcalfe's had a sweet shop at Reading Room Cottage. It always seemed to be open and we would regularly pop across there whilst waiting our turn to play a game of tennis. Another character was Ben Haythornthwaite who lived in the old Cottage on Brunt Hill. His claim to fame was that he took in boot and shoe repairs, but he did all the repairs sat up in his bed with the cobblers last resting on his lap. He was lucky there was no health and safety regulation in those days. Arthur Tallon reminded me that the Tallon family took over Arkholme smithy. When the Bibby's retired there was only enough work to work it two days per week as the working horses were getting fewer as tractors took over. The Millburn family took over The Bay Horse Hotel - Mr and Mrs and their three daughters. Mr Millburn came from the Lake District and claimed to have driven the last carriage and four horses from Ambleside up The Struggle and down Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater - we had no reason to disbelieve him.

The next dance at Whittington is on June 4th when the Tartan Sound are providing the music for dancing.

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The musings of GERALD - April 2016

(Continuing the series on memories ofArkholme)

Moving down Arkholme Main Street, the Williams family lived at Goss House. Mr Williams was a road man, and later worked on the railway.

Across the road was the tennis court that belonged to Mr Hopewell who lived at Cawood View. He sold the court as a building plot when he left the village.

The Metcalfe family lived at Reading Room Cottage. A room at this house had been used as a men's communal room where many of the young men in the village could meet to read the daily newspapers and weekly magazines that were supplied. This facility moved to the new Parish Hall when it was built in 1927, and continued till it closed in 1962.

Mr Woodhouse was the Parson. He lived with his sister at the Vicarage. There the Kings Messengers used to meet in the upstairs room where Miss Woodhouse gave us scripture lessons.

The Bainbridge family and then the Bainses farmed Carus farm. They had the first tractor that came to the village - an old Standard Fordson.

Jack Ireland lived at Cross House. He was the other basket maker. He made large hampers for the Lancashire cotton mills and the laundry industry.

The Reads lived at Ferry cottage. Mr Read was employed to make sure there was no one fishing illegaly. The family also ran the ferry boat for travellers wishing to cross the river to Melling.

On Station Road the Robinson family had the Nursery gardens where they grew tomatoes in summer and chrysanthemums later in tne year employing two or three young people to help with the work.

The station was a busy place with a station master, two porters, a signalman, and the plate layers who inspected and repaired the track on a daily basis, walking from the viaduct to Borwick and back each day.

My father was head gardener at Storrs Hall, and during the war he helped form and run the local Home Guard Platoon. He was also a founder member of the Parish Hall Committee and treasurer of The Trinity Sports for a number of years.

Please bear with me if I have got some of my facts wrong - they are all just memories and we all get confused at times. I am sure old friends will get in touch and put me right on the mistakes I have made.

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The musings of GERALD - March 2016

The rooks are busy building their nests, the hedges are just showing green shoots, and the daffodils have started flowering. Still some snow on Ingleborough - but what a lovely time of the year. Keep watching for the first swallows, they should be here before too long.

My old school friend John Mackereth passed on last month. John was the third generation of the Mackereth family to have farmed Gowan Hall farm. The large attendance at his funeral just showed how well thought of he was in the local community. He and his wife Florence were loyal supporters at many local events, and we always had a long chat whenever we met. We always had so many memories of our younger days to talk about. Our good wishes go to Florence and her family.

The annual Charity Dance held on 5 March 5 raised 1,290 which will be divided between Macmillan Nurses, Cancer Care, and Saint John's Hospice.

Well done the litter pickers - the roads look a lot tidier. What a pity people still throw litter out of their cars instead of taking it home.

If you want a good laugh go to the village web site (, click on history, then the Hodgson Archives. Read about the court case over a duck, the feud between two blacksmiths over who makes the best plough, and the life and times of the good ship Whittington, owned by Mr Greene of Whittington Hall, built at Glasson Dock, and lost without trace between America and Ireland; also the tragic death of a young blacksmith who died when a horse he was shoeing kicked him in his chest.

I will continue my memories of Arkholme next month.

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The musings of GERALD - February 2016

I celebrated my 80th birthday at Christmas, and have been thinking of the changes in my home village of Arkholme in that time.

Before the war the majority of the working men lived within walking distance of their employment. There were at least sixteen working farms within two miles of the crossroads, most of them employing one or two farm workers who lived with the farmer's family. They milked between ten and thirty cows by hand, morning and night, with the milk to be ready for collection on the milk-stand by 8am each morning. Each farm also had a flock of sheep, fifty or sixty hens, two pigs that were killed for eating in the home, a flock of geese with all but three of them killed at Christmas - the three left to produce the next years flock - and two or three heavy horses for the heavy farm work: ploughing, pulling the mowing machine, hay-making and all the other daily jobs around the farm.

Kit Bibby was the blacksmith. The Metcalfe's were landlords at the Bay Horse. The Swindells family had the garage, Albert Ireland the post office, and next door Tom Williamson had a cobblers shop. He lived at Ferrocrete with his brother Jack, who was the local joiner, and his two sisters Alice and Agnes. The Irelands lived at Willow Cottage Charlie, the last basket maker, was an absolute artist, and made all sorts of lovely designs from willow. Bob Robinson was a stone-mason, and lived at Poole House. He had a concrete block making press that produced stone faced blocks. Ferrocrete the house that was demolished when the Herb Garden was built) was erected using these blocks. The Holmes family used to live at Rose Cottage. They had been the village joiners and had a small steam engine in the garden behind the house to drive the woodworking machinery. They supplied a lot of the woodwork when the Church was restored. More next month!

There are two dances at Whittington this month: the annual charity dance on the fifth, and Lupton Church dance on the twelfth, when Bill Johnston will provide the music.

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The musings of GERALD - January 2016

Happy new year everyone.

I am sure the weather will improve eventually. I can never remember so much heavy rain and so many floods and so much damage that we have seen in the last month. I suppose we will just have to admit that our present lifestyle has caused a lot of the trouble - but which one of us is willing to give up the comfortable life we now live? I for one would be lost without my car and the central heating and other modern conveniences. I just do not know what the answer is.

We really enjoyed the Church carol service, singing all the old carols we remembered learning at school. Once again the Church was beautifully decorated the flower arrangements were again quite artistic and so lovely to look at, and the mulled wine and nibbles just completed the night. The service just got our Christmas off to a lovely start, thank you.

The snow has finally arrived. They had to cancel the annual charity dance on Saturday because the road conditions were too dangerous for people to travel, so it will have to be arranged later in the year. The next dance at Whittington is on Saturday 6 February, when Dennis Westmorland will be back playing for the Lupton Church dance.

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