Thursday, 24 July 2014


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.

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