Wednesday, 10 December 2014





A TRIBUTE TO ANTHONY (TONY) WILLIAMS RIP

                               
                                    1935 - 2014

 Collated and edited by his cousin John Williams from contributions from his family, relatives and friends and given at his funeral by his cousin Geoffrey Spencer at St Pius X Church, Alderley Edge, on December 10

This is a collection of memories and anecdotes from just a few of Tony’s family, relatives and friends. But it reflects the thoughts of the many and surely captures the spirit of him on this very sad occasion.
Tony catching  the cod
I am sure Tony would not want us to grieve today but to celebrate his life in remembrance of him with a smile, a laugh and the belief that he has not really left us.
 He would like us to think he is off on one of those adventures he so dearly loved and enjoyed – even though in more recent years he was plagued by ill-health.
This he fought with fortitude to the end, and it never stopped  Tony from being the individual he was – his own man, loving, caring of family and for others, and without doubt one of life’s true gentlemen.
Tony was one of the “gang” of very close cousins who had an exciting and somewhat wild childhood during the war years.
And what he gained in life experience and excitement along with his companions more than made up for the lack of our formal education.
He overcame this by virtue of his innate intellect, inquisitive nature, good humour and a determination to succeed.
 On one particular adventure in the woods near our homes at Dane Bank, then an isolated pocket of just pre-war houses in Denton, he shot me in the thumb accidentally during practising with an air pistol.
“Oops! Silly place to put your thumb, Geoff.” was his comment, unfazed by the bloodied appendage.
His stint as a National Serviceman in the Royal Corps of Signals fitted him well to tackle his future career as a time-served electrician and in electronics later in life.
National Service
Along with his brothers Raymond and Bernard, he helped to build a thriving gaming and nightclub business in the heart of Manchester. One of their clubs, the Portland Lodge, was among the first in the city to be licensed for gambling and was the centre for the local glitterati.
Tony was no stranger to life’s ups and downs and the early death of his wife, Dorothy (Dot), was a tragic loss.
He took pride in the achievements of his children – Heather, Michael and Vicky – throughout his life as a great, loving dad.
He dearly loved his grandchildren Nadine, Matisse and Natasha, always interested in their exploits, who they were dating, what they were up to at work.
And he was so proud of little Amelie his great grandchild.
 Even when he was struck by failing health some 20 years ago, he battled on to make a recovery, and late in life he could well have become a pro-golfer such was his will to succeed. He became a member of Lymm Golf Club where his name was a regular feature on the match board, and he was justly proud of the trophies and the ties he was awarded for getting a hole in one, incredibly twice!
One personal little anecdote I must recall is during my own service in the military at NATO headquarters in Germany.To my astonishment, I found Tony with Bernard on the doorstep when I answered a ring at the door – asking the way to Crown Point which is, of course, is in Denton!We then spent many hours reminiscing and eating out on their Diners Club Card.
John, among the cousins, was probably closer to Tony in his final years than most, and he became a regular part of his family life.
No holiday or event was planned without including Tony and John’s friends became his friends, too.They often went together to Portugal where, naturally, Tony soon found golfing soul-mates, as well as yet another circle of friends to delight with his after dinner  wit and banter.
Without Tony, says John, no trip was complete, and at home if Emma or Adrian had a problem, such as an electrical failure or mechanical breakdown, it was Tony who repaired the fault with the box of tools always kept in his car boot.
He was the ultimate Mr Fixit!
He will be missed, too, by John’s grandchildren, Hugh and Joseph, with whom he enjoyed more of a grandfather figure than a favourite uncle.
His brother Bernard remembers that only a few months before his final illness how Tony, having suffered a stroke, travelled to his home in Kent when he heard he was unwell.
“He got me up and about and on the go, and soon I felt much better,” says Bernard.
“But it was just like him – all his life he helped to cheer me up as well as other people when he felt they were a little down. He was that kind of caring person”
Bernard also recalls one of Tony’s adventures when, on a whim, he decided to drive him to the south of France in his wife’s Triumph Spitfire.
They got turned over by the customs on their return looking for contraband – but it is not recorded what Dot said about his absence.
 Tony’s great love of children was that rare gift to relate to youngsters at their own level – he was something of a Peter Pan character even into his seventies and given any opportunity he would kick a ball around a field with the liveliest of them!
Maurice Weaver and his wife, Patsy, who met Tony as the result of their friendship with John, remember him as a gentleman in the true and literal sense of the word.
“We all grew older but nothing about Tony seemed to change,” says Maurice.
“We knew nothing about his personal circumstances and maybe there was a hint of sadness behind his smile, but he clearly loved being part of the family. Yes, we will miss Tony on our visits to the north.”
Exploring Australia
Family member Andrew Hewitt, has an abiding memory of Tony more than 25 years ago when he got talked into spending a holiday in the Algarve with his future wife and the golden oldies in the family, Tony among them.
Andrew says it might have been thought a strange decision for a couple in their twenties to join such a party.
But far from it they had the most delightful and amusing holiday anyone could imagine.
 “There at the very heart of it – usually clutching a glass of red wine and extolling the virtues of the food just enjoyed –was the most charming man you could ever wish to meet – Tony Williams
“I remember being captivated about how someone so quietly spoken and unassuming generated such a natural warmth and bonhomie in those around him.
“I realise now that was Tony’s great gift – to brighten the lives of everyone around him.”
Andrew’s dad, Richard, says Tony was typical of the older generation of the Williams family and reminded him of his uncle Edgar, a quiet confident man always there with advice or a helping hand, and lovely in every respect.
Peter Yates, a cousin who entertained Tony’s company aboard his fishing launch off the Essex coast, recalls how he once discussed the benefits of keeping chickens when Tony fancied himself as a bit of farmer at his home in Mobberley.
“I asked him how it felt to have home produced free range eggs and with typical wit he said ‘I don’t really know. I can never find them. I don’t know about free range – my buggers are long range’”.
Well, I suppose these few memories in tribute to Tony are a mere second in time of the 79 years in which he packed several lifetimes and touched the lives of many.
Champion golfer
But what was on the box was not only what you got with Tony. Inside was a great bonus and a genuine love, not only for his immediate family and their children but for all with whom he came into contact.
We have all been privileged to have known him.


God bless you, son, and Rest in Peace….


Monday, 10 November 2014





DAVE FOUND VILLAGE LIFE IN GOOSTREY (and an old pal) A DREAM



Dave (left) in character role with Terry Price
  Probably it was on a visit to The Crown for a tipple or two, I first met Dave Garratt and his wife, Kathy. They had  been in Goostrey only for  a short time but they were already full on into community life and making friends fast. That was only a decade or so ago but Dave had slipped so seamlessly into the village to spend a well earned retirement, it may have been thought he had been among us for many years. Dave, who villagers will know by now, has sadly died aged 66, moved with Kathy to Goostrey in February 2004 from Milnrow, a pennine village near Rochdale. Like our village, Milnrow has a thriving community  where newcomers are warmly welcomed. So it was not without a lot of soul searching  the couple decided to leave their home of 30 years for new pastures and Dave's early retirement from head of an international transport company. Their choice of Goostrey was a fortuitous move. Neither was aware of its existence, but Dave, trawling the internet found, the house of their dreams in the centre of the village. And for both viewing the property for the first time from their car parked in Mill Lane it was love at first sight. The move to downsize was prompted by a mutual desire to leave a one-in-ten hillside environment for a house on the level. Saying good-bye to their many long-time friends and neighbours, however,  was a great wrench, but Kathy was assured by Dave that if she ever wanted go back it would not be a problem.
Dave (centre) writing the results at this year's show
Kathy, who worked in an estate agency, says: "I said I hoped we were not making a mistake but as soon as I walked across the road to the house I thought this is for me. I was worried about him because he  had worked 70 hours a week. It had always been work with him, but he loved Goostrey and it was here he learnt to relax. I went with him once or twice to the Crown because we knew no-one to begin with but that soon changed. We got to know a lot of people in the village as a result  and Dave  used to meet friends there on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday almost until the week he passed away. He said from very early on here that there was no place like Goostrey and he did not want to move anywhere else". And the Gooseberry Show particularly appealed to him  as part of village life. So much so that as well as a novice grower with promise, he became secretary and was among the first to support its launch of a float as part of  Goostrey rose day. Dave's sense of fun always ensured it was a great success, and this year he was unabashed wearing a pink voluminous dress and curled wig as a character in its theme of the Wizard of Oz. When I started this blog,he was the first to sign up as a follower! A friend said: "You could not have met a nicer person than Dave. He would do a favour for anyone and his loss will be felt by many people in the village. When he became ill only weeks before he died, he made it clear he wanted no fuss and did not want to discuss it. He must have been suffering great discomfort at times but he continued almost to the end to meet his friends at the Crown. His bravery in the face of a terminal illness was incredible." Dave, who was born in Wythenshawe, was a lifelong Manchester City supporter and season ticket holder. He died soon after listening to City's defeat of United in their derby game."He did not have his eyes open but heard the game and he put his thumb up when they won," said Kathy. Since Dave's death, she says she has been swamped by kindness and the number of people offering support and calling at the door to offer condolences and with gifts of flowers and even food has been incredible. Kathy has also praised the care Dave received from the medical services and Holmes Chapel Health Centre since he was diagnosed with cancer. His funeral at Davenham Crematorium this Wednesday will be a celebration of his life. The coffin will be shouldered by former social friends from Milnrow known collectively as the Loonies.And so many friends and former colleagues have expressed a  wish  to speak about Dave and his life that twice the time has been allocated  to say farewell. Dave leaves his wife, Kathy, and their son, Lee, who lives in Derby, and daughter, Sara, from Brereton.
Graham Lenihan, a long-time friend of Dave and Goostrey Parish councillor, had known him since they were five-year-olds at school, but lost contact for some years. They were delighted to find they lived in the same village when they met up by chance at the Crown.
In an appreciation "My thoughts on my friend David Garratt" Graham recalls how they met at Rackhouse Junior School in Northern Moor, Wythenshawe, where Dave was noted for his football school skills and visits to headmaster Mr Leach to see the benefits of toeing the line! 
"During this time David became a scout and this was where we spent all our time, either in Wythenshawe Park playing wide games or camping. Here David excelled at British Bulldog! He moved on at 11 having passed the eleven plus and got a place at Wythenshawe Tech and then after O levels at 16 he became a shipping clerk in Manchester. It was then he met Kathy and was smitten with the girl  who was to become his lifelong love. David worked for different companies in Manchester until he got together with a couple of likely lads and started a business called Cardinal Maritime which has become one of the largest freight forwarding companies in the country. He was fanatical about Manchester City and loved Manchester, organising what became Old Gits days out. We visited the roughest parts of the town, and if we go together with the 'Rochdale Mafia and Choir' there were experiences that can only be described as surreal! After David and Kathy moved to Milnrow their circle of friends became even bigger. David was the sort of friend that we all look to have. He would do anyone a favour. Always buying his round at the bar. He was a gentleman. OK he wasn't perfect - he could not sing and his dancing was not up to the standard for Strictly. But David Garratt was heck of a true gentleman and one hell of a nice guy!









Tuesday, 19 August 2014







Jasper Carrot




RAISED UNDER A GOOSEBERRY BUSH!

All the big berries have long since gone but you never know what you might come across under a  Gooseberry bush in a Goostrey  garden. Emma Williams was clearing  weeds from around her trees  when she found this many legged carrot  lurking  among the tangled foliage. With the addition of a pair of eyes it looks like some extra terrestrial character that got lost on its way to Jodrell Bank.! But Emma, a member of Goostrey Gooseberry Show, thinks she must have dropped a packet of seeds among her prize-winning bushes and this diminutive carrot with the trace of a smile on its face is the result. He has been been called Jasper - and saved from the pot!
*Tap or click on image to enlarge
See also:
www.countynewsandpicturepost.blogspot.com
This site www.blogsfromthebongs.blogspot.com





Thursday, 7 August 2014

The summer holidays are upon us so I thought it would do no harm to run this Blog from 2014 if anyone fancies a great day out with the kids. Take your bikes and use the old rail track for an outstanding traffic-free ride! Have checked the details and Carole is still making her cakes!

CAROLE'S BAKING IS MANIFOLD IN THE VALLEY
Carole with one of the sponges she bakes 

A smell of baking always stirs nostalgia and memories from childhood of home made bread and cakes. These days it is also found in supermarkets where fans blast out the aroma from so called in-store bakeries, or more deliciously in artisan shops  like Mandeville's in Holmes Chapel. Until recently my son-in-law Adrian was a bit of a dab hand at baking cakes at BH. But since  a new cooker was introduced he has lost the plot. I am afraid like King Alfred  he has abandoned hope of becoming  Goostrey's rival to Mary Berry after a series of burnt offerings came forth from the oven. Now to my sheer enjoyment of  childhood memories a trip the other day to the Manifold Valley in the Staffordshire Peak District with brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Sylvia, was as memorable for home baking as the beauty of its landscape. I must admit despite some years of working in the Potteries,

Visitors enjoy the grounds and scenic views from Ilam Hall
 I was only vaguely aware of the Manifold Valley. It was only when my daughter, Emma, took a wrong turning several weeks ago on a trip to visit the John Smedley woollen mill in Derbyshire, we found ourselves in this corner of  hidden England  I vowed to return to explore its delights. We trio on a day out less than an hour's run from home base arrived at the visitor centre in Hulme End at the head of the valley just in time to find freshly-baked scones being drawn from the oven in the adjoining Tea Junction tea-room. A bustling Carole Davies was in charge of cooking - hence a smell of fresh baking to die for in what was the engine shed of the old Manifold light railway. Carole takes it in turns in the kitchen with the owner, Rebecca Simcock, to provide hungry visitors and walkers with a real taste of home. And it is all served like a "proper do," as we used to say when I was a lad, in real china teacups and plates and a pot of tea provided by Laura Grindey that would have done twice as many! My companions opted for Carole's still warm scones but I couldn't resist a hefty slice of lemon drizzle cake! Carole says apart from the regulars they have visitors from all over the world as well  as home-grown tourist, and everyone thinks it is - a wonderful oasis!
Butterton church
12th cent Ilam church
We left Carole and the temptations of her tea room to explore the valley, a compact  eight miles long and perhaps four miles at its widest. Within its boundaries is some of the finest scenic country to be found in these islands. A gaggle of  tiny villages, some no-more than a hamlet, with names like Waterfall, Ilam, Warslow and Butterton rise from narrow lanes which flow on popular days with booted walkers and cycling couples and children, many of them taking the now unused rail line in complete safety. At Ilam Hall, the National Trust maintain a caravan site in what must be one of the most picturesque places to pitch in the country, nestling between limestone hills and woodland. Spending a few minutes in the visitor centre at Hulme End provided us with all the information we needed for our day's exploration. And, yes, there was time for another cuppa before we left this iconic spot. In the ancient Warslow village church a notice invites visitors to brew their own and pop a donation in the box towards the repair of the tower!
*I wouldn't like anyone to be disappointed if they visit the valley - the tea room is open March to October, Tuesday - Sunday, 10am to 5pm and  closed December and January.Telephone 01298 687368.The visitor centre is closed Mondays except for Bank Holidays,
In Warslow church visitors invited to tea

Link the new sister site: www.countynewsandpicturepost.blogspot.com 









The summer holidays are upon us so I thought it would do no harm to run this Blog from 2014 if anyone fancies a great day out with the kids. Take your bikes and use the old rail track for an outstanding traffic-free ride! 

CAROLE'S BAKING IS MANIFOLD IN THE VALLEY
Carole with one of the sponges she bakes 

A smell of baking always stirs nostalgia and memories from childhood of home made bread and cakes. These days it is also found in supermarkets where fans blast out the aroma from so called in-store bakeries, or more deliciously in artisan shops  like Mandeville's in Holmes Chapel. Until recently my son-in-law Adrian was a bit of a dab hand at baking cakes at BH. But since  a new cooker was introduced he has lost the plot. I am afraid like King Alfred  he has abandoned hope of becoming  Goostrey's rival to Mary Berry after a series of burnt offerings came forth from the oven. Now to my sheer enjoyment of  childhood memories a trip the other day to the Manifold Valley in the Staffordshire Peak District with brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Sylvia, was as memorable for home baking as the beauty of its landscape. I must admit despite some years of working in the Potteries,

Visitors enjoy the grounds and scenic views from Ilam Hall
 I was only vaguely aware of the Manifold Valley. It was only when my daughter, Emma, took a wrong turning several weeks ago on a trip to visit the John Smedley woollen mill in Derbyshire, we found ourselves in this corner of  hidden England  I vowed to return to explore its delights. We trio on a day out less than an hour's run from home base arrived at the visitor centre in Hulme End at the head of the valley just in time to find freshly-baked scones being drawn from the oven in the adjoining Tea Junction tea-room. A bustling Carole Davies was in charge of cooking - hence a smell of fresh baking to die for in what was the engine shed of the old Manifold light railway. Carole takes it in turns in the kitchen with the owner, Rebecca Simcock, to provide hungry visitors and walkers with a real taste of home. And it is all served like a "proper do," as we used to say when I was a lad, in real china teacups and plates and a pot of tea provided by Laura Grindey that would have done twice as many! My companions opted for Carole's still warm scones but I couldn't resist a hefty slice of lemon drizzle cake! Carole says apart from the regulars they have visitors from all over the world as well  as home-grown tourist, and everyone thinks it is - a wonderful oasis!
Butterton church
12th cent Ilam church
We left Carole and the temptations of her tea room to explore the valley, a compact  eight miles long and perhaps four miles at its widest. Within its boundaries is some of the finest scenic country to be found in these islands. A gaggle of  tiny villages, some no-more than a hamlet, with names like Waterfall, Ilam, Warslow and Butterton rise from narrow lanes which flow on popular days with booted walkers and cycling couples and children, many of them taking the now unused rail line in complete safety. At Ilam Hall, the National Trust maintain a caravan site in what must be one of the most picturesque places to pitch in the country, nestling between limestone hills and woodland. Spending a few minutes in the visitor centre at Hulme End provided us with all the information we needed for our day's exploration. And, yes, there was time for another cuppa before we left this iconic spot. In the ancient Warslow village church a notice invites visitors to brew their own and pop a donation in the box towards the repair of the tower!
*I wouldn't like anyone to be disappointed if they visit the valley - the tea room is open March to October, Tuesday - Sunday, 10am to 5pm and  closed December and January.Telephone 01298 687368.The visitor centre is closed Mondays except for Bank Holidays,
In Warslow church visitors invited to tea

Link the new sister site: www.countynewsandpicturepost.blogspot.com 









Monday, 4 August 2014

Special News blog to mark 1914


LEST WE FORGET THE VILLAGE FALLEN

I think it would be amiss of me if I didn't mention today's historic day, the outbreak of the Great War 100 years ago on August 4 1914. Goostrey's cenotaph to the fallen in St Luke's churchyard has a wreath and crosses placed there to remember those from the village and near communities who died during the terrible conflict that lasted until 1918.
Goostrey cenotaph
 There are not many names inscribed on the sandstone memorial but with a population then many hundreds fewer than now, the impact of the losss on families and friends  in  the community must have been devastating.
 Even when I was born World War 1 was of recent history and there were still many who vividly recalled the horrors of the trenches and the sheer slaughter of battles like the Somme and Ypers. 
My grandfather, John Smith, on my mother's side served in the Boer War as well as the Great War but sadly I have little knowledge of his service. I do know that he was said to have suffered sun stroke in South Africa and then he was badly wounded in World War 1.
 Eventually with, what I can only think  of as shell shock, he was detained in a Manchester mental hospital for the rest of his days. It was a sad end to a proud man who served his country with distinction like thousands of others. My mother once took me to visit him.  I recall a military looking of elderly gentleman with bushy white hair and penetrating blue eyes.
 I watched in fascination as he used a penknife to strip the complete peel from an apple in one piece, but I remember nothing more of  the visit. To her dying day, my grandmother kept at home his medals, a pistol he was said to have carried in the war and a rifle I presume came from the Boer War. She would bring them out to let us handle as a treat. if we grandchildren were  especially good. Somewhere I have a photograph of him in uniform and  I would dearly like to find it but my cousin Peter Yates in Essex has dipped into an archive and produced one for the blog.
Waiting to go over the top on the Somme
Another hero of the war was one of my first editors as a young reporter in Wilmslow. He was called Fred Fletcher and suffered all his life from the effects of a gas attack at the front but  he was never heard to complain. He would breeze into the office on th dullest of winter days, walking stick in hand, and take in a deep breath as if to say it was still good to be alive! I believe he died in harness in his seventies.

+Click images to enlarge
John Smith

Special News Blog....

NICOLA MAKES A TRIO OF GOOSEBERRY CHAMPS
The winning gooseberry trio

Gooseberry grower Peter Goode, twice winner of Goostrey’s show with his Prince Charles berry, has almost been toppled from the throne as the family’s heavyweight champion….by his wife, Nicola.
 Peter, whose 33 pennyweight berry took  top spot a week ago at the Goostrey contest at the Crown Inn, won success after raising berries for 25 years.
And their son,Jamie, nine, a pupil at Holmes Chapel primary school, also became a family champ when he gained the junior trophy at the same show with a Belmarsh berry of 26 pennyweights and nine grains.
 Now Nicola, a novice grower of only six years, has come within a whisker of beating Peter’s heaviest berry by winning the Swettenham Club show  at the week-end with an Ann Archer berry of  32 pennyweights and fifteen grains – only a fraction below her husband’s heaviest berry.
Nicola, the first woman ever  to win the Swettenham show, thought she had little chance of success when she looked at her trees tangled in a mass of chickweed on the eve of the show.
 But as Peter cleared the bushes for the official picker, Chris Jones from Goostrey, to see what he could find for Nicola’s entry he felt a clutch of  whopping-sized fruit hidden among the foliage.
“I just thought ‘Oh, my God’ as soon as I felt what was there,” said Peter. “I asked Chris to take a look and he said the same. I just couldn’t believe it as I had only just said I didn’t think there was anything worth picking for the show.
“It was the last tree I looked at and there were actually four berries all over 30 pennyweights. She certainly sneaked in with that one but I am very pleased for her.”
Nicola, who also collected a clutch of other prizes at the show, pipped veteran grower, Tom McCartney, in the place for the premier gooseberry.
Her Ann Archer berry was cultivated by world champion grower, Kelvin Archer, at his cottage garden at Rode Hall, near Congleton, and named after his wife.
Said Nicola: “I still can’t quite believe my success, and what is nice I think we are probably the only husband and wife growers to win the premier award in the same year at two shows.”
She added: “I had no idea there was a tree in my pens with a berry of such a size but they were hidden in its heart"

Sunday, 27 July 2014


PETER'S PRINCE CHARLES WINS THE CROWN
Peter and Jamie


It was goodies for the Goode family at Gooseberry Goostrey Show - Peter Goode won the top place for the  heaviest berry for the second year in a row! 
Peter, always somewhat of a dark horse in 25 years of cultivating the fruit, beat all the odds of a season of discontent among growers to sweep the board and  collect most of the silver.
Few gooseberry men believed that size would matter this year as the result of a season two weeks ahead and juice-swollen fruit bursting on the bushes.
 But Peter the Plumber pulled a monster from his box to win the premier prize. He repeated his success of last year as the top grower with another Prince Charles berry, this time even heavier at 33 pennyweights than his previous best of 29 pennyweights and seven grains.
And  to cap it all his son Jamie. a mere stripling of nine, weighed in as a junior contestant with a big  Belmarsh berry of 26 pennyweights and eleven grains raised on his dad's allotment at Cranage. 
Jamie, a pupil at Holmes Chapel primary school,was as thrilled as his dad at the outcome. He has been growing berries for only  three years and this was his first show.
Alan Garner hands Peter a  trophy
But in a day of nail-biting competition at the Crown Inn, two absent members took second and third places for the heaviest berry. In second spot was Tom McCartney, top of the crop in 2012, who is still unwell, with a whopper of a Millennium in a season of bursting fruit of 30 pennyweights and nine grains. 
The late David Heath, another of Goostrey's top growers who died earlier this year, came third with an Edith Cavell berry of 28 pennyweights and seven grains presented at the show by his widow, Kath.
The prizewinners also included Griselda Garner, of the Blackden Trust at The Old Medicine House and Toad Hall, Blackden. Goostrey, where an archive of gooseberry varieties cultivated by the late Frank Carter, a legend among growers,  is maintained. Her husband, the novelist Alan Garner, presented the trophies.
*Click on the pictures to enlarge



A Prince Charles Berry!


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Blogs from the Bongs: NOT A BERRY HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR!Kelvin with his wor...

Blogs from the Bongs:
NOT A BERRY HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR!
Kelvin with his wor...
: NOT A BERRY HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR! Kelvin with his world record holder  If ever there should be a song "They are Bustin' Out all...

NOT A BERRY HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR!
Kelvin with his world record holder

 If ever there should be a song "They are Bustin' Out all Over..." it would be most apt for the Gooseberry men of Goostrey - and all growers  around these parts- poised to do battle in the annual ritual of finding the heaviest fruit of the year. But, what with a mild winter, wonderful spring and now a hottie summer to savour, many of the berries are reportedly past their best for the start of the showing season this Saturday. When the boxes filled with the luscious offerings are opened at the Crown in Goostrey there will be some nail-biting, I guess. Sadly some of the village's most ardent growers will be absent, such as David Heath, who has died since the last show, and Tom McCartney, a 91-year-old champion, still unwell. But their berries will be presented for weighing by proxy, that is if like many a grower the juice-filled fruits have not already burst. Here at BH where a single pen of bushes is shrouded to reflect the burning heat the chief grower dare hardly look under her covers to see how they are surviving! World champion grower Kelvin Archer with last year's Millenium berry of 41 pennyweights 11 grains grown at Rode Hall tells me he can't see any records being broken this time around.. He admits he has a lot of decent berries but  nothing of the order of last year. "I don't think there will be record weights this year because they were ripe two weeks ago and have now stopped growing. There was no winter to speak of, an early spring and then there has not been much rain." However, we will watch with interest to see what Kelvin pulls out of his box at Lower Withington's show on Saturday!The Goostrey show coincides with a week-end beer festival at the Crown, so there will be ample ale in which the growers can drown their sorrows. 
John Dutton
I must end on a sad note as yet another friend has gone to a higher place. John Dutton, of Dutton Contractors, who moved in the recent past from Barnshaw Hall Farm to Middlewich, died of cancer earlier this month. The packed service of a celebration for his life at St Luke's, Goostrey, on Wednesday was a reflection of the high esteem in which he was held and the many friends he made over the years, both as a farmer and for many years as a businessman,as well as serving as a member and chairman of Goostrey Parish Council. I can confirm all that was said about his great sense of humour, generosity and that he was just a hell of a nice guy. I will  miss his cheery greeting whenever he saw me of Hi, Johnny, boy! He was born on Valentine's Day, 1936.

Friday, 6 June 2014


D-DAY SHOULD BE REMEMBERED
A World War 11 poster from the Home Front

I woke this morning  with an unfamiliar news report on Today on Radio 4. It told of the allied landings on the Normandy beaches in a voice that I certainly didn't recognise. But then I realised it was D-Day. And the item that snatched me from my slumber was the voice of an actor reading in measured tones the script of the  news report of invasion across the channel 70 years ago. I am old enough to remember World War 11 and the bloody battles and bombing raids, and young enough not to have served in the conflict. My grandchildren, Hugh, six, and Joseph, five, looked a bit non-plussed  when I asked on their return from school if anything was mentioned about what is probably the greatest day in Britain's history since we defeated the Armada in 1588 and the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Now, at their tender years, I guess such a historic moment in time would have gone over their heads, and I can only assume in this less
D-Day plus 70 years is digging for treasure for  the boys
jingoistic age it was not thought a subject to merit the curriculum. Which is a tad sad when kids - not here I must add - will spend hours on screens playing violent games that make real war more like a Sunday school outing! Anyone whose early schooldays took in the years 1939 to 1945 will remember the conflict as a bit of an adventure worthy of Biggles. Youngsters felt none of the fear of their parents as nights were spent cowering in a shelter in the blitz as bombs rained down and shells burst overhead. I still have razor sharp shards of  metal that dropped from the sky from  exploding shells. It was collected as we walked  the three miles to school - much of it still  hot - from the night raid. And I recall my frustration of a daylight raid when my dad refused to allow me  from the shelter beneath living room window to let me watch as  fighter planes weaved in the sky above in mortal combat. Still. that was then and the world has changed, a peace that began when heroes stormed the Normandy beaches is to be preferred than the rattle of battle. So long as we remember the fallen and survivors of that longest day and, hopefully, somewhere in their school years youngsters will catch up with history that is still real to many.