Wednesday 28 December 2011

Compare & contrast

A planning application received the following comments (summarised) recently, one from EHDC Landscape Officer and the other from Kingsley Parish Council:

No Objection. ... unfortunately these structures will be 4m in height and so could potentially represent a visual intrusion. ... Despite the height of the panels, the visual impact is not likely to be so detrimental as to justify objecting

Objection.  ... The panels themselves can be ajusted to change the angle of the elevation between winter and summer and in winter can be 4.7m high. Being 13.2m wide the effect on the landscape would be the equivalent to 3 large chalet bungalows

1 Gold Hill, Main Road, Kingsley

This application 39854/003 valid since 16/12/11 seeking permission for


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 17th January.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

I Do Love a Brass Band!

As a little diversion from my childhood ramblings, I wondered if you might enjoy my little foray into the world of Brass Bands. This took place whilst I was living in Manchester where my occupation had taken my wife and I, time wise was in the early 1970’s. The following is a little something I wrote much later on and is mostly true!

In the beginning
A transmission on television of the evergreen 'Songs of Praise', which covered the Northern heritage of ‘Whit Walks', and associated Brass Band contests, caused memories of a wonderful period in my life to come flooding back.

The first very loose involvement I had with the 'brass band' fraternity came as a result of looking out of my lounge window one late spring evening sometime back in the early 'seventies'.

As I gazed at nothing in particular, I remember seeing my next door neighbour dragging a very large, tarnished looking piece of complex tubing from the boot of his car, and carrying it indoors. I was curious from that moment! A couple of evenings later and my curiosity could be contained no longer. I took the initiative and leaning over the back garden fence, asked Bill, my neighbour, in a sociable sort of way, if he had taken up some form of sculpture.

To this, he replied in his quiet, matter of fact, Mancunian accent that he had "joined a brass band", and the strange looking object that I had seen previously was in fact a B flat Bass Tuba.
Bill went on to explain that a fairly recently formed Brass Band in the locality was on the lookout for bandsmen and he had gone along to an open evening, the result of which was him being invited to take up a vacant seat on the back row with the 'heavies', the B flat and E flat Basses.

I said that I hadn't realised that he was musically inclined, and he admitted that he wasn't other than having the occasional sing-song after a good night at the local hostelry! Bill asked me if I was interested in music and would I like to go along with him to a practice night? Rather taken aback, I replied that I would have to give the matter some thought and would let him know later.

A week went by before I saw Bill again. Having chatted the situation over with my wife, I told him that I would indeed like to go along to a band practice when it was convenient. We agreed on the following Saturday evening.

Meet the Chairman
The practice room for the rather grandly (at least, I thought) titled "Urmston & Davyhulme Silver Band", was a Scout Hut some two miles from home. Not possessing a car of my own at that time, Bill picked me up in his rather elderly Ford on the agreed Saturday evening, and we set off on an adventure which was to have a great influence on my life and that of my family for the next decade.

I knew we had arrived at our destination when I heard the strains of a rousing Sousa March fairly exploding from the rather rickety looking hut at the end of a rough unmade track. Practice had already started!

Entering the hut, I observed about fifteen musicians seated in a rough semi-circle around a slim man in his fifties. He was beginning to work up a sweat and was gesticulating fairly wildly with a baton to the assembled players he was facing.

Bill prepared to take his seat on the back row of bandsmen, and I found a spare chair away in a corner and settled in to observe the proceedings.

The 'practice' of a number of pieces of music continued for an hour or so before a 'tea break' was announced. Some ladies, who it later transpired were in effect the band 'groupies' had boiled up an electric urn, and now proceeded to hand out steaming mugs of tea accompanied by biscuits, to the players.

At this point a rather portly middle aged man approached me with a mug of tea held out in my direction. Giving me the mug, he introduced himself.

"I'm Des, the Chairman of the band", he said. I told him briefly how I came to be in their presence. "What do you play?" he asked. To which I truthfully answered, "Nothing other than the harmonica". "How do you fancy trying a Bass?" he said, as if he hadn't heard my last words at all.

Somewhat flabbergasted by the proposal, I replied that I "Hadn't really considered playing an instrument, could not read music, and had only come along out of curiosity as a friend of my neighbour Bill".

Des, not to be put off the possibility of recruiting another body to the band, whether or not he could play an instrument, pressed on with his mission as Chairman.

"We've a vacancy on the back row", he said, "we are still short of Bass players, would you like to try one?" he persisted.

Beginning to feel a little nervous and somewhat trapped by this man so obviously set upon recruiting me, I rather lamely gave in and said that I would "Give it a try", but without committing myself to anything definite.

Little did I know then that I would become hooked on the 'Brass Band' movement from that moment onwards!

Without further ado, Des disappeared into a back room, to reappear in a few moments with a piece of curled up tubing resembling a large funnel not dissimilar to that which I had seen 'Bill' carrying into his house. "There you are" said Des "take that home and give it a try".

Without allowing me time to protest further, he moved off to join the Band who, refreshed by their tea break, now embarked upon another piece of music under the thrashing baton of the conductor.

As you may well imagine, I was the subject of considerable mirth when Bill dropped both my instrument and me home later that evening. My two young sons both thought it was some sort of a climbing frame as they embarked upon exploring the instrument from all angles.

Over the next few days, after my tea, and before the children went to bed, I would tuck myself away in the spare room, attempting to produce musical notes on my newly acquired instrument of torture. All I could in fact achieve were rather rude noises, and the prospect of me actually contributing to the making of music as a part of the band seemed very remote!

For the next several weeks I would sit behind the Bass section and attempt to follow the manuscript as the Band practised. It all looked very complicated and I doubted that I would ever make enough sense of it to be counted as a playing member of the band.

I had by this time discovered that the 'Urmston & Davyhulme Silver Band' who's motto was 'Musica Supera Omnia Nobis', was quite a family affair. Our Conductor and Musical Director was called Joe, and he was Chairman Des's brother. Joe had played solo Cornet in a number of bands since his youth, and had formed this band following a falling out with his last band's Conductor.

Four of Joe's children held 'front row' positions as Flugelhorn, Tenor Horn, Soprano Cornet and Trombone players respectively. In addition there were cousins and nieces and other assorted family relations, the entire family making up nearly two-thirds of the players. I quickly realised that the 'Von-Trapp's' had nothing on this family!

Amazingly enough, and to the surprise of all my family, I gradually picked up the idea of how to make musical sounds by spitting a raspberry, into a mouthpiece somewhat resembling a large eggcup. The family began to relax as my frustration gradually subsided!

Progress of a kind
As with many brass instruments, musical notes on a B flat Bass are achieved through the depression of a combination of the three (sometimes, four) valves, coupled with the shape of the mouth and position of the tongue (called the ombuture). Although I still could not 'read' music properly, I had by now become fairly adept at pencilling the finger positions for the three valves onto whatever piece of music that was being attempted by this 'young' band.

The Bass parts of the music we were playing did not require the skills of a virtuoso, so it was a fairly simple process for me to read this 'fingering' code as we went along.

I had by now been invited to, and rather humbly, taken a seat on the back row proper, and was actually beginning to enjoy the practice sessions.

One evening as we drank our mid-practice mugs of tea, Joe asked me if I felt like sitting in with the Band at a local Gala due to take place at the weekend.

I protested that I could not as yet even play my instrument, but he countered that they would be short on numbers due to holidays and I only needed to look as if I was actually playing. I lamely agreed to go along although feeling rather foolish about the whole idea. On the day I actually quite enjoyed the event and any 'bum notes' could quite fairly be attributed to me!

My first real challenge was when the Band started to practice a Competition piece in readiness for a rather lowly Contest due to take place in the Floral Pavilion at New Brighton on the Wirral Peninsula some months hence. We were to play a composition entitled, 'Fantasia on the Dargazon' by Gustav Holst. Towards the end of the final movement the Bass part suddenly developed into a mass of rather nasty looking 'black notes'. It was OUR solo and a place to shine.

Having applied my trusted 'code' to the manuscript, I kept the neighbourhood awake for several weeks, as I practised the Bass solo at home in the evenings.

What to a 'middling' brass player, would have been nothing much of a challenge, it was some time before I could run through it without looking at the music.

Progress was being made indeed!

The Contest
The day of the Contest arrived and we all set off for New Brighton in a motor coach. Several miles short of our destination, we stopped at a large public house where we had reserved a backroom for a final practice. My own thinking on the matter was that any further practice would not improve things greatly.

Our Conductor however had different ideas and proceeded to put us all 'through the mill' for nearly two hours. Fortified by sandwiches and the occasional pint of beer the whole thing gradually became a bit of a blur.

Naturally, we arrived late, and for my part more than a little tipsy, at the venue for the Contest, only to find to our dismay that we had been drawn first band to play. This meant that we practically stepped off the coach and straight onto the stage of the rather grandly named 'Floral Pavilion'.

Our performance of the 'test piece' was finished so quickly that it was not until we were walking off stage that I noticed the little curtained-off 'hide' at the back of the auditorium in which the luckless adjudicator sat. He was probably at that moment praying that the bands that were to follow our opening rendition would make a better job of it and make his day worthwhile!

Our task completed, we gathered outside for a post-mortem and a tongue lashing from our Conductor, who for some reason did not appear too pleased with our performance. Eventually he gave up and we listened to the other bands interpretation of the test piece, which generally sounded as if they were playing from a completely different musical score.

With quite a large entry, this seemed to last interminably, and it was not until late in the afternoon that we were to learn our fate.

All the competing bands and their followers gathered together in the auditorium and listened intently as some local town dignitary read out the results, to the ecstatic applause of the winning bands. Naturally, we had not won anything!

We did receive the hand written notes from the adjudicator, appraising our performance which had taken place so many hours previously that I couldn't remember much about it. These notes would be read, re-read and dissected by our Conductor and used in evidence against us all for the next several weeks!

The Season of Goodwill
Christmas was by now nearly upon us, and a very hectic time of the year for the Urmston & Davyhulme Silver Band was starting.

Being a poor Band, we had to take every opportunity to raise money for the 'Uniform and Building Fund'. At this point we were making public appearances in our civvies, as we had not yet aspired to a fancy uniform.

From the beginning of December, every night of the week, enough players to form a 'band' would assemble to play Christmas Carols around every street in the district. It was neither practical nor possible to get the entire band together every evening, so an 'ensemble' of key players was formed on a rota system.

From 7pm until about 9.30pm, Monday through to Thursday, the 'ensemble' of the night would descend upon the streets accompanied by door to door collectors who were usually 'press ganged' from the player's families. At the weekend, it was the turn of the Pub's and Clubs to benefit from our efforts as we piled our instruments and ourselves into cars, to cover as many venues as possible in an evening.

I often gained the impression that we were an unwanted and certainly generally an uninvited intrusion upon the customer's revelries. The physical effort of trying to fit upwards of twenty musicians into an already crowded Public bar required considerable ingenuity and on more than one occasion, tempers became frayed causing us to make an early exit as some of our players were still of school age!

In addition to the already described activities, the Band would put on a Christmas Concert and also play on Saturday afternoons for a couple of hours in the local shopping centres. Throughout this period, I was usually only seen at home briefly for a meal in the week before disappearing for the rest of the evening.

Brass Band 'widows' are renowned for their tolerance in these matters, and my wife quickly realised that she too had no alternative other than to go along with the crowd. She quickly became embroiled in the various fund raising efforts organised by the Band and indeed it became a way of life for the ten or more very enjoyable years that I was to continue with the Band.

Day of Reckoning
Several years passed and the quality of the band improved greatly to see us entering bigger and more prestigious Contests. I even played in the Kings Hall at Belle Vue, Manchester (sadly, long since demolished) which was the Mecca for Brass Banding in the North of England.

My musical skills rather reached a plateau and there were very accomplished youngsters coming from schools where just about everyone learned a brass instrument.

I believed that the writing was on the wall and that at some time soon I would have to justify my position on 'the back row', so reluctantly I handed in my mouth piece, thus ending a wonderful ten years as part of a great tradition. To this day I still "do Love a Brass Band!"

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas in Kingsley

What follows does not represent any particular Christmas in Kingsley but rather a sort of general flavour of Christmas in the village over the period I was living there. I suspect, as with many country villages old habits die hard and many of the things I am about to write will be recognised today. In the Dorset village in which I now live much still goes on as it did years ago, indeed tonight 21/12/11, I am taking my grand children around the village on a tractor and trailer with the local church carol singers to be followed by singing around the Christmas tree at the pub.

The early Christmases that I recall were very different from those of today. The Christmas stocking contained much more in the way of fruit and nuts and far less of toys. Games were more popular not, of course, the electronic wizardry of today, but board games and jigsaws. Life was much simpler and the whole family spent the big day together often playing games between meals.

Mince pies were made together with sausage rolls and Christmas puddings and a Christmas cake. All were home made. It seems incredible to think that even in the countryside chickens for the table were not that common. Turkeys were almost unheard of for the average family. I suppose the after effects of the war, rationing and food scarcity all played a part in the lack of goodies in the early days. Animal food was also on ration and no doubt this to some extent restricted the number of large poultry farms. Mass production of chicken and turkeys was then a long way off. Although people kept a few chicken they were mostly for the eggs and not the pot. They came to the pot as boilers after their laying life was over. Nothing like the roasting birds we take so much for granted today.

The Christmas tree, in our case, was obtained from the local area. As I grew up I usually went and got a tree from somewhere.  This was something I really enjoyed doing and was probably the only time that I ever got away with bringing anything home without being closely questioned as to where it had come from. It was usual for me to select a tree at the end of the summer and watch it carefully throughout the time running up to Christmas. I was not the only villager that collected a tree from round about. Many of the trees collected originated on the common at Kingsley or from Broxhead Common where they were of the large needled, blue grey, fir tree type. They were also self seeders which grew wild. Later Alice Holt Forest became the place to collect from, this was in the area near to the Forest Field of a previous article. The trees there were of a finer needled type and much greener. I never saw anyone whilst engaged in tree collection but each year the Farnham Herald announced to its readers that the Forestry Commision were putting on patrols to catch people taking trees. I collected ours usually about ten days before Christmas and selected an evening that was dark, wet, foggy or a combination of all three. I think the patrols must have operated nearer to Farnham and Frensham where there were formal  plantations. My trees were not from what I would describe as a laid out plantation and appeared at random. Hey ho times were hard and money was scarce.

Having got the tree home it was decorated with real candles held to the branches with gold or silver clips similar to clothes pegs. The candles were usually lit in the evenings and had to be watched as they had real flames and Christmas trees burn fiercely. In addition to the candles various baubles were added and large amounts of plain silver coloured tinsel was draped all over the tree. A star or fairy was placed on top of the tree.

School played a large part in the run up to Christmas, as I guess it still does today. Decorations were made in class, these were made from strips of coloured paper with sticky ends which were fashioned into  inter linking rings, hence paper chains. Bells were also a popular decoration and these in various forms were also produced in school. But the big preparation was the Nativity play. This was produced at school and put on in the church just before school broke up for Christmas. Then there was the Christmas Bazaar which was a glorified jumble sale but included quite a lot of items made by local people. Jams, pickles and chutneys and cakes various were usually on sale. Lead soldiers were produced by a serving soldier who lived in Ockham Hall and these little treasures were often sold. Ken Chadwick, the son of the postmistress Mrs. Chadwick  produced military figures from wood. The Post Office in those days was a recruiting ground for the military and always displayed posters of men from the three services. Many were chart like posters featuring images of individuals in regimental dress. These Ken cut out and having produced a wooden profile of the cut out by means of a fret saw he would glue the paper image to the wood, varnish it and add a small block behind and at the base in order that the soldier would stand. He produced dozens of these and they were much sought after. I don’t recall where the proceeds from this event went but it was probably to the church. The bazaar was always well attended. As always the pub played a part in the Christmas preparations. The local thrift club was run by the pub and was paid out just before Christmas. The earliest landlord I recall was Mr. Tizzard,  Jack,he stayed at the Cricketers for many years until, I believe,his death. Mr. and Mrs. Ratley followed.

Christmas eve was memorable for the midnight service, in those days, always held at St Nicolas church, or as it was known The Old Church. People would walk from the village to attend and the church was usually full to capacity. Standing room at the back where people would be crammed in was normal then. The upstairs balcony at the rear of the building was also used and this too would be full. The singing was, how can I put this, variable. The quality of song would vary greatly. The normal good and great would sing with their usual delicacy and precision. The rare attendees  would do quite well and the choir,of course, would give good account of  itself. The variable element was provided by the good people of the village who had spent the earlier part of the evening in the Cricketers. Depending upon the length of their visit and or the amount of good cheer they had consumed, their song ranged from loud, boisterous, over ambitious through to in audible and unrecognisable. The performance of those worthies was often the talking point in the village long after the event.

As far as our family was concerned, after the service we would return home, have mince pies or sausage rolls and a hot drink and off to bed. It seemed to take an age to get off to sleep the excitement was so great.  The big day was almost always spent at home and indoors. Presents, lunch, games and tea. Sherry and Port were the main drinks served over the Christmas period with the men having an occasional  beer. The range of beverages was much less and people in general drank far less, not least because they couldn’t  afford to.

Christmas morning the church service was held in the church in the village, All Saints ? It was usually well attended although I don’t recall that we went very often.  Boxing day saw more people out and about  and children met to compare toys etc.  Overall travel was not like it is now and people stayed in the village for Christmas. It should also be remembered that for the most part whole families lived where they were born and did not depart to far horizons as they do now. Visiting family then was usually little more than a short walk away.

Well there you have it, I do hope that you all have the happiest of Christmases and that at least some of the old traditions are still going, not least the midnight service! Till January I wish you all well, the compliments of the season and all that you wish yourselves. 

Sunday 18 December 2011

Christmas fair/party @ the pub

The first KBF Christmas fair and party was held in the Cricketers on Saturday starting with Father Christmas for the little ones and shopping/eating/gaming opportunities for big people.

Phase II started at 8pm sharp with mass carol singing led by the Kings Pond Shantymen. The organisers, Carol and John Verrier, had even provided comprehensive song sheets for everyone in the pub so the roof was, almost, raised.

When we were all carol'ed out we moved on to a lively karaoke session which definitely did raise the roof.

Support from within the village was thin - let's face it, it was freezing last night - but £150 was raised for KBF funds and we look forward to restaging the event in 2012 with lessons learned.

Friday 16 December 2011

Old Park Farm, Main Road, Kingsley

This application 27396/037 valid since 13/12/11 seeking permission for


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 13th January.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Childhood Ramblings

I have recently been introduced to the ‘Kings Blog’ and in particular I have been reading with considerable interest the articles by Derek Yeomans entitled ‘The Straits’. I really must congratulate him on the clarity of his recollections of his childhood. As I am also an ex Kingsley boy, born a little earlier than Derek, there are many similarities in our childhood memories and I have taken the liberty of jotting down some of my own recollections which may prove of some interest. Although only a couple of years older than Derek, I am afraid that my memories are not quite as pin sharp as his. I would point out that these memories are not necessarily in any particular order date wise.

I was born Stephen John Barnes, in March of 1943 in a large house situated at the eastern end of Alresford. Called Langton House, it was a nursing home during WWII and my mother was taken there to give birth, along with many other mums to be from other ‘at risk ‘areas. This in mother’s case I understand was because of the vicinity of the military garrison in Bordon and in particular, Martinique Barracks which was situated adjacent to Oxney Farm, not much more than a mile from our house in Sandy Lane, Kingsley.

I am not aware of how long my mother stayed at Langton House but I do know that she was transported in both directions by a Mr Wilkins who had a taxi business in Bordon. My older brother Alan had been sent over to Aldershot to stay with an Aunt during the latter stages of mother’s pregnancy, as my father was working long hours in Martinique Barracks as a boot and shoe maker which was a reserved occupation. He helped to keep the army on their feet! He then went out with the Home Guard on several nights in the week and mended the villagers' shoes in a small lock-up in the grounds of the Vicarage when he had nothing else to do!

Moving from Oakhanger where they lived after their marriage in 1929, my parents rented Rowan Cottage which was situated on a dirt track to the rear of Ockham Hall. Half of a small semi-detached cottage with only two rooms up and down (I believe) Rowan Cottage benefitted from a large garden which provided most of our vegetable produce and a considerable amount of meat in the form of chickens and rabbits. There were also plenty of eggs so we must have eaten a lot better than some in those parlous times.

Earliest memories I have include skidding around on the brick floor whilst sitting on my enamel pot and having one of our many cats raking its claws down my leg as they dangled beneath my high chair! Toys were few in those times but I do remember a large rather crude wooden lorry and a knitted squirrel which clutched a carrot which for some unknown reason I called 'Coorah’! Although only I suppose about two and a half years old, I also remember sleeping in a large drawer from a chest of drawers when my parents had a post war holiday in Weymouth where they celebrated VJ Day.

The previously referred to dirt track in front of the cottage was either bone dry and dusty in the summer or extremely muddy in winter. Along it, several times a day, a large herd of bullocks were driven either too or from Dene Farm to the field on Oxney and on more than one occasion they trashed our garden on route if the gate had been left open. Somehow my mother coped with all this along with having two ‘land army’ girls billeted with us for the duration.

Sometime in early 1947, we moved onto the main road in Kingsley, to live in Church Cottage which was situated on one end of a row of houses with the Police House at the other end. Earliest memories at that time were of the dreadfully cold winter of ‘47/48. Although we had a fireplace in two out of three of the bedrooms, we did not have sufficient fuel for them so we only had the kitchen range in the ‘living room’ to heat the house, which it didn’t. How often I awoke in the winter to find ice crystals across the top of my eiderdown where my breath had frozen and ice encrusted on the inside of the window pane. We did however now enjoy the luxury of fresh water on tap from the mains, although the kitchen sink vented out to a large bucket beneath the sink. Progress of a sort when a pipe was put through the wall and the bucket placed outside!

The toilet was of the chemical variety which entailed a walk outside to the rear of the house where the toilet was situated. I remember my father ticking me off on more than one occasion for setting fire to the toilet paper (squares of newspaper) using the candle which was the light source. Once a week father had to dig a pit at the bottom of the garden to bury the contents of the bucket!
My father would regularly pester our landlord to build us a proper toilet and bathroom (we still were using a tin bath as well) and the landlord would equally often say that if only the house was on the drains he would love to oblige. In the early 1950’s, work started on building ‘Woodfield’ a small council housing estate to the side and rear of our house. After crossing the site foreman’s palm with silver, miraculously an inspection pit connected to the estates sewerage system appeared at the bottom of the garden which father showed the landlord on his next visit. We got our bathroom!

At about the time we moved to Church Cottage, mother got a position working in the newly built school canteen. This normally would have posed a problem as to what should be done with me whilst she worked, but the Headmistress at that time, a Mrs Garfirth I believe, agreed that although under school age I could come to school and sit in with the infants. This meant that I learnt my letters and times tables quite early on.
The school toilets were terribly scary to one so young. Wooden seats with a hole and a bucket beneath if memory serves me right, they were smelly and freezing cold in the winter. On more than one occasion I sat in class and wet my pants because I was too scared to go outside.

Amongst early school memories I remember sitting up in the old desks with a lift up work top watching the frozen milk bottles thaw out in front of the single coke burning stove. The little bottles came in from the milk lorry with their silver foil caps sitting up on a plug of frozen milk which protruded from the bottles. When the time came to drink it, there would still be a large lump of frozen milk in the bottle!
Another early memory was of Miss Lushington who lived in Ockham Hall, arriving occasionally in her chauffeur driven car around mid-morning. She would sweep into the big classroom and totally disrupt the lessons whilst she gave all the children a talk. Memory fails me on what exactly she used to say but I do remember that when she finished she would wave her arms in a grand manner as she commanded that school should finish for the rest of the day. The Headmistress did not seem to have much control of this action!

Mrs Garfirth retired and a young woman was appointed as Head Mistress. Her name was Mrs Morris and she came to the school fresh and full of new ideas. I remember she had a passion for handwriting and we would spend many hours filling our exercise books with rows of A’s, B’s C’s etc,. Another of her passions was Scottish dancing and when the weather was good we would have the misery of learning Highland reels in the playground. Again if the weather was hot and sunny, we would all be taken out onto Kingsley Common for ‘nature walks’. The three R’s seemed to come further down the list of priorities!

Derek Yeomans noted in his writings, that he moved into new houses at Woodfield in 1953. Living right next door to the building site I had the great excitement of watching the houses being built from the creation of the roads and drainage (including our own inspection pit), to the tiling of the roofs. Having a young boy’s passion for all things mechanical I revelled in watching the Chaseside digger and a large diesel powered road roller. There was also a magnificent cement mixer, a giant of a machine which was in constant use loaded by sweaty workmen.

As Derek remarked, Health & Safety had not been invented and we children could roam the site almost at will as it was never fenced off. I do not remember any of us suffering accidents serious or otherwise.

One of my childhood passions was tractors and the finest local collection was in the tractor shed at Lode Farm. My favourite of all was a giant yellow beast which I think was called a Minneapolis Moline. My poor mother and father would occasionally walk me the mile or so from our house to see this beauty on a sunny Sunday evening. This would have been when I was aged six or seven.

Another Sunday evening walk was in the opposite direction to the New Inn at Sleaford. Here my father would enjoy the odd half pint of shandy with mother and I being treated to a glass of lemonade. At that time there was a large pull- in or what we now call a lay-by, opposite the pub onto which a considerable number of coaches would pull on their way back from the coast. It was the practice in those days for numbers to be chalked onto the rear wheel tyre with a single chalk mark on the mudguard. As soon as the coach stopped, men would gather by the back wheel to see whose number came closest to the marker. The winner would win whatever was up to be won, I think usually cash.

I think at the time Derek’s family moved into Woodfield, his father Arthur was working at Old Park Farm, a show piece farm owned at that time I believe by a Mr Nicholson. Amongst his duties, Arthur used to drive a David Browne tractor with a mechanical attachment at the rear to which implements could be fitted including a plough. One day when I was on school holidays he came to plough the field behind Woodfield. I stood in the corner of the field for what seemed an age until as he approached me he asked me if I wanted a ride. Did I want a ride, you bet I did. Arthur placed a folded up sack on top of the lifting gear behind him and I climbed up to sit on it. Off we went for the rest of the afternoon with me precariously perched above the plough shears, going up and down as they were lifted to allow the tractor to turn around. Health & Safety would have had a fit!

The coming of several new families to live at Woodfield brought a number of new children to the village and we quickly made friends or enemies as the case may be. The summer evenings would see the greater number of us congregating in the grassy area by the pond to play energetic ball and tag games. In the winter when the frost had had a good go at the pond water turning it into thick ice, we spent many hours playing on it both before and after school. A few of the older lads in the village had motor cycles and they would venture onto the ice pulling sledges behind them as they slithered around. No one paid much heed to the deaths many years previously of the two unfortunate children who went through a hole in the ice and drowned.

Kingsley Common played a major role in our growing up. In holiday time many of us children would disappear after breakfast only to return home when our bellies cried out for food. Wonderful games were played in the bracken and heather. The River Slea meandering through the flood meadows at the back of Gold Hill was another source of endless entertainment until Farmer Waters came along waving a big stick and telling us to get off of his land.

Derek also recalls the gypsy families living near to Kingsley Halt. I have particular reason to remember Clara Hughes for two reasons. The first involves a large round of cheese which having been delivered to the village stores was sitting on the floor of the shop when Clara came in to purchase some things. Seeing the cheese, she promptly sat upon it and proceeded to make a skinny ‘roll-up’ cigarette which flared up when she lit it. A priceless memory!

My other reason to remember Clara is more personal and involved falling off my new bicycle at the age of ten on the corner where the Straits Road met Sickles Lane. I had been Bluebelling with a young lady and as we free-wheeled down the hill clutching armfuls of flowers, I developed a speed wobble ending up in the ditch and banging my chin rather badly on a tree. Hearing the commotion, members of the Hughes family came out and Clara took me into her caravan or vardo to administer first aid. The young lady peddled furiously back into the village and eventually my father appeared on the scene. The result of all this was that I was taken by taxi to the Doctors surgery in Headley where Dr Mackilwane applied several stitches to my split chin and remarking on the actions taken by Clara to staunch the bleeding. I believe she had applied a compress containing some ‘special’ herbs.

I fear that I have rambled on for long enough to bore you all silly, but if you are entertained by it I expect I could write more including my passage to Secondary school and my early employment recollections.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Carols in Kingsley 2011

Christmastide is here again and Kingsley will be enjoying not one, not two but THREE sets of carol singing this year:

6pm Tuesday 13th @ Wendy Renton's

11:30am Wednesday 14th @ the Kingsley Centre - "Sing for Joy"

6pm Saturday 17th @ the Cricketers Inn - "Kings Pond Shantymen"

Thursday 1 December 2011

North Bakers Barn, Main Road, Kingsley

This application 53965 valid since 30/11/11 seeking permission for


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 30th December.

Leaving the Straits

Nothing stays the same and our time at Rose Cottage in the Straits came to an end in the early part of 1953 when we moved to 6, Woodfield in the village. Our links with the Straits remained as mothers parents continued to live in their cottage at the end of the row houses farthest from Rose Cottage. We visited regularly and this meant a walk to grannies house. Both granny and granddad had been in service at, I think, Frensham or Dockenfield. Granddad with coaches and horses and granny had worked as a maid.

Their house in the Straits contained evidence of their past lives in the form of two large sofas and a number of pictures which hung upon their sitting room walls. The sofas were of the Chaise Longue type and had known grander times. I imagine the sofas and pictures had been gifts which had no longer been required by their former wealthy owners. The pictures were typical of forgone age. They were quite large and produced in sepia. Two or three of them featured young girls standing in gardens full of flowers holding either puppies or kittens. The girls with the kittens had puppies at their feet looking up adoringly. All of the girls were dressed in long ankle length dresses with lots of ribbons and bows and their hair was long and curled. The whole set of these looked to me as being contrived and totally false but, I imagine, typical of their era.

However,the other picture which graced the walls was of a very different kind.  This was a representation of The Charge of The Light Brigade. Over the years I have seen a number of copies of this picture so I suppose it was widely produced and popular in its day. It featured  a scene of charging horses backed by lancers and swordsmen. The charge was arranged in a kind of triangular formation with the leading horse at the sharp end of the triangle widening backwards to fill the frame of the picture. The most notable feature for me was the wide eyes of the horses bulging with terror. Charging through the carnage of the battle field which lay before and around them their every muscle appeared to be straining and tense. A quite horrible portrait which I disliked immensely but could not help looking at as there always seemed to be something within it to discover however gruesome.

Also featured in the room was a large dolls house which took pride of place upon a sideboard. This was a wooden construction with several floors and contained an impressive array of wooden furniture representing the normal range of household rooms. It was, I suppose, the play thing of my mother and her three sisters. In a room next to the sitting room was what I imagine was supposed to be a dining room as it had a dining table and chairs within but I never knew it used as such. In one corner of the room was a large walk in larder which to a curious young boy was something of a treasure house. Granny had large glass containers filled with herbs and spices. These particularly fascinated me. I was often given whole cloves to chew and although a bit woody I love the flavour. Also in this room was granddad's gun cabinet which also contained his decoys. These were of pigeon and duck and were quite beautiful works of art. They were wooden, hand carved and painted. Although age and, no doubt, use  had dimmed the colours they  were none the less very attractive items. Goodness knows what became of them.

I do, however, still have one of granddad's guns which he gave to me many years ago. It is a double barreled side by side twelve bore. A hammer gun which has seen much use and repair. Typical of the country man's make do and mend approach to things, slackness with wear and tear had been rectified with washers and some quite inappropriate screws. The barrels are wafer thin and could not possibly be used with a modern cartridge. In its day the gun would have fired black powder cartridges as the pits in the barrels bear witness to. In spite of its many defects it remains a treasured possession of mine. It gives great pleasure to think of granddad using the old gun in and around the fields and woods of the Kingsley end of Alice Holt Forest where he went after pigeons and rabbits. He passed on those interests to me as I am now doing to my grandson Tom who comes ferreting and beating with me and is learning the old country skills for another generation. Granny was still at the Straits when she died and Granddad remained there in their cottage until a short while before he passed away.

 I am not sure exactly of the date we left Rose Cottage but it was early in 1953 as we were in residence at Woodfield by the time of the Queen’s coronation which was in June of that year. There were eighteen houses being built at Woodfield and when we moved into number six only about half of them had been completed. It was great fun to hang around the builders who all treated us with good humoured tolerance. Although a building site, there were no prison like wire barriers that typify today’s building sites. Health and Safety and the Act that brought it into being did not exist then. One wonders how we all ever survived, yes there were accidents, of course there were, but no more than we experience today. Builders actually existed without strange helmets and day glow jackets etc. etc. How things have changed.

 However our first few months in the new house were great fun and the builders were central to that. The move had brought great changes for us. Running water, flushing toilets, an airing cupboard, more bedrooms, electricity. An electric cooker, an electric copper, built in cupboards in the kitchen, a built on shed, coal bunker and an outside flush toilet as well as the interior one. Electric light which was bright enough to be able to read by without straining the eyes. An electric radio which would operate without an accumulator. Accumulators were glass tanks which contained lead bars which in turn were submersed in an acid bath. The reaction that occurred produced electricity and powered the radio. The tanks had tar or pitch sealed tops with two terminals, (red and black), to which the radio wires were attached. The accumulators had to be recharged regularly and this involved taking them to Kings, the tobacconists, at Bordon every week or so. I don’t actually remember how long each charge lasted. When the accumulator was spent we would prise off the top, remove the contents and make use of the tank to keep fish in. The major trouble with this was that the tanks were all produced from glass which was distorted like the windows of a public toilet. This,of course, ensured that the fish within took on the most grotesque forms and looked most unnatural. Oh well it was all we had at the time.

 Father was very happy with number six as it had a large garden which he had hoped for. Indeed I believe he made representations in order to achieve this. In any event number six was blessed with one of the larger gardens and this met with all round approval. The ground was also a culture shock, having struggled with heavy clay at Rose Cottage for so long, the light sandy loam of Woodfield proved an instant hit. Although I often remember dad saying over the years how it swallowed up manure. Woodfield in general gave me a far greater range of friends and a wider range to wander over, new areas to be explored and all manner of new birds and beasts to be sought out. It was truly wonderful to grow up then and there. Stay with me for future revelations of the wonderful lifestyle Kingsley provided in those halcyon days. Next month, December , Christmas in Kingsley.