Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Yester House undergoing restoration

FINDING UNDISCOVERED SCOTLAND IN EAST LOTHIAN
 The man and his wife on their picture-book lawn looked up as we sauntered
past and were puzzled when I said we hadn't been able to see
Main street of Gifford with parish church

the big house. "Och, ye jest go along the pathway. Nay one will bother," said the man.  There's noo law of trespass in Scotland." I was in Gifford in East Lothian, with my pal and former work colleague Mike Arron, hoping to get a glimpse of Yester House, a baronial mansion set among 500 acres of estate and woodland. The way in we found is barred by enormous iron gates and private signs since it was bought by Gareth Wood, the son of Sir Ian Wood, the oil tycoon, and his wife,  Nicola, a former Miss Scotland.  We didn't know of this of course until we Googled the estate  to discover it is undergoing a major injection of funding  for restoration and modernisation on a massive scale following its sale for a reputed £8 million -  half its asking price of eight years ago.  Still, at the price the 14-bedroom mansion is labelled as the country's most expensive house and we were also intrigued to learn that it had even caught the eye of Lady Gaga. We could have taken a footpath through the estate for some five miles but in the event, short on time and eager to explore this delightful village and more of  an off-beat area of Scotland, we abandoned thoughts of viewing the historic pile, trespass or not, nor did we venture inside its two fine hostelries, the Tweeddale Arms and the Goblin Ha' supposedly named after an underground
Square at Gifford

Story of Gifford on the street 
chamber of the 13th century ruined Yester castle on the estate. Instead we
strode up the gentle slope of the broad village street to the brilliant white painted church whose origins begin with its consecration in 1241. The church and surrounding graveyard are immaculately maintained.   A bell  dated 1492 -  significantly the year Columbus reputedly discovered America  - and rung every Sunday is all that remains of the original church which was replaced in the 18th century. The list of ministers are recorded from 1572 but of  particular interest to Americans taking time off from attractions of Edinburgh to visit the Scottish coastal plain is John Witherspoon. He is commemorated in a large plaque on a wall near the church as the only clergyman to sign the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. He become president of Princeton College,New Jersey, in 1768 and was the first Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of America. A little peckish after our  cultural venture into Gifford's past, the Lanterne Rouge, from the outside an unpretentious cafe beloved of cyclists, was the ideal point to finish the visit with two bacon rolls and a large pot of tea. We heard it had been a bit of a "greasy spoon" in the past but now under the ownership of Cameron McVean  it sparkles, becoming a must eat place for visitors and locals alike. East Lothian  is largely off the radar of many visitors to Scotland. It is relatively undiscovered - except I am told by the Dutch - unlike more famous Highland destinations, but within a compact area south east of Edinburgh flanking the southern edge of the Firth of Forth, is some of the most spectacular coastline to be found in Britain. Meadows and fields where crops are sown and reaped virtually to the edge of the sea offer amazing vistas. Historic towns and attractions abound, even a racecourse at Musselborough, for aircraft enthusiasts the National Museum of Flight, a brace of castles, and even the ubiquitous distillery where tours end with a wee dram of a Glenkinchie single malt. And for good measure there is Preston Mill owned by the National Trust of Scotland with the last working water wheel in East Lothian. One of the furthest communities along the A1 from Edinburgh and with a direct rail link,Dunbar is in attractive commuter distance from the capital and, so far, unlike fashionable North Berwick to the north east has lower property prices for those intending to re-locate or retire to the coast, a point not lost on developers. Like its nearest inland neighbour Haddington, a royal Scottish burgh and county town of Haddingtonshire, it has a wide central market area, with local shops and a surprising amount of fine dinning for its size in the harbour area. Off the coast is the Bass Rock, a white-capped island spattered with millions of droppings of 150,000 nesting gannets in the breeding season, and described by Sir David Attenborough as one of the wildlife centres of the world.
Gated entrance to Yester House
 Yester Castle in 19th century
+How to get there: Fly to Edinburgh,  look for direct trains to towns like Dunbar, or simply head by car to East Lothian.
Old village pump
Travel tip: If like me you live within easy access to Manchester Airport rail station, start the journey from there to destinations in Scotland and the North.
More information : Search the internet for visiteastlothian.org
*Pictures copyright John Williams. Click twice to enlarge.
Sun setting over Dunbar copyright Mike Arron
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Harvesting near St Abbs, East Lothian

Fields down to the sea









Storm gathers over Dunbar harbour
Sheltered harbour at St Abbs




















Sunset at the "Bridge to Nowhere" Dunbar
Pic: Mike Arron



















Saturday, 17 September 2016






TERRY'S BERRY WON THE PLATE

  Smiles all round  when veteran gooseberry grower Terry Price was presented with a prized plate by  Alan Garner, the  author, at his home in  Blackden,Goostrey.  
Alan hands over the plate
 The blue and white plate painted with a  gooseberry was Terry's reward for winning Goostrey Gooseberry Society's show in July with his Just Betty premier berry of 24 pennyweights and 22 grains.
  And Terry, competing for more than 40 years, will put the plate alongside an identical one at his home inTwemlow Green, the first to be awarded by the trust following his success  as the top grower  in a previous show.  
 The plate is funded by the Blackden Trust  based at Alan and his wife Griselda's home, the  Medicine House and Toad Hall, and is named the Frank Carter Memorial Plate in recognition of the late grower's prowess as a competitor and grower over many years in raising new varieties of gooseberries, including Terry's Just Betty entry.
  Many of the named varieties shown in gooseberry shows at Goostrey and in the surrounding area are from stock originally cultivated by Frank, who lived at Blackden Firs, only a short distance across the fields from where the presentation took place today.
 The winner of the plate must have won the show with a berry originally cultivated by the champion grower.
 Terry, who is the show's president, gained the premier spot with the smallest premier berry he has grown after one of the worst seasons on record.
The prized plate
    "I didn't really didn't think it had a chance of winning the show," he says.
Griselda, who is also a grower and showing member at Goostrey, cares for an archive of gooseberry cultivars in her garden at the Blackden Trust.
Click images to enlarge
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Thursday, 15 September 2016





A DAY TO THE LAKES FOR LESS THAN A POUND


What an amazing find is this relic of charabanc travel before or just after the second World War. My pal Mike Arron, now living in Dunbar, found this promo board being used to cover part of his loft floor when he moved from Hale. It now sits in a corner of his daughter Clare's Scottish home. Similar outings are still organised by a village group in Goostrey but I bet they cost more than a few bob. For anyone born after decimalisation - and because my brain can't cope these days with translating real money into pence - the sum of 20/- (shillings) equals £1.00. So even in those days what a bargain was a day trip! 
The image should enlarge with a double click.
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016





HOLMES CHAPEL'S WHEELIE GOOD WELCOME

Tour of Britain arrives in the village

I think we ought to give three cheers to Holmes Chapel today for the great reception it gave to the Tour of Britain cycle race. The village had a kind of carnival atmosphere that did it proud - with the centre thick with crowds to welcome the tour on its third stage. Villagers from Goostrey also joined crowds on the A50 to watch the event. Here are some amazing pictures that tell the story better than a million words courtesy of Cheshire Portrait Photography. www.Cheshire Portrait Photography.com via Love Goostrey. Pictures on A50 courtesy of Jenny Mills
Follow the LINK BELOW for pictures on Love Goostrey
https://lovegoostrey.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/bike-race-photos/

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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Goostrey 1975




....THE VILLAGE RETURNS HOME


This is without a doubt my scoop of the week - an episode from the Granada series about Goostrey the Village in the mid-seventies. Most of the main characters are now a little older, or long since passed on to other pastures, but it contains scenes of schoolchildren at the time, many of whom will still live today in the village. It is a real treat see the village as it was in the midst of its expansion to its present size, and a valuable memory of Walter Carter, a character I knew well and of the like who do not exist today. I am posting courtesy of James Lockett, a former Goostrey lad who emigrated with his parents, Mike and Julie Lockett and brother John and sister Jo to America. Julie the first woman member and secretary of Goostrey Gooseberry Society features in the film. The series has been televised again in recent years but I guess is still unseen by many villagers. Anyone interested in Goostrey or country life will find it a fascinating piece of social history. Thanks James for bringing back old memories. If there are any other episodes out there it would be great to have them edited so they can go on the blog and facebook.
Click on video to play
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Saturday, 3 September 2016




NEW BUS IS TROLLY-DOLLY HEAVEN



Arriving to pick up at the Red Lion, Goostrey
It may have been a tad damp today but it was good for christening the launch of the new bus on the Goostrey-Twemlow Green-Holmes-Sandbach circular route. And the village's shopping trolly-dollies will be in ecstasy! The 29-seater has lots of room for those push-on shoppers, and driver Lee tells me it can be reconfigured to reduce the seating to cater for a variety of purposes. After 13 years of trundling through rural Cambridgeshire, the white Dennis service bus has been acquired by Tomlinson Travel for our village service. I am told that regular passenger Terry Price almost missed it - he failed to recognise the new vehicle as it arrived at Twemlow Green! Now it is hoped more villagers will be persuaded to join the growing number of passengers using the service, especially those eligible for free bus passes. Many have already discovered it is better by bus than the car for a quick trip to Holmes Chapel and Sandbach.  If you see the 319 bus and want a ride just put up your hand if you are not near one of the official stops in the village....It is as easy as that.
Timetable for the service
Picture shows the bus arriving at the Red Lion, Goostrey.
*Double click on images to enlarge

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Saturday, 27 August 2016






Ian Godfrey
A VICAR OF FAITH AND COURAGE

A man of faith, humility and great courage in the face of health issues in his final weeks was how the Rev Ian Godfrey was remembered in tributes at his funeral in Goostrey. 
  But even as he was desperately poorly in a Manchester hospital, Ian was already planning for his work in the parishes once he was discharged, said the Archdeacon of Macclesfield, the Venerable Ian Bishop.
Leaving Goostrey for Swettenham
 The Vicar of St Luke's, Goostrey, and St Peter's, Swettenham, Ian's death stunned villagers in the twin communities. St Luke's was packed with family, close friends, parishoners and clergy for the service relayed to an overspill congregation gathered in the churchyard. For the committal at St Peter's church, Swettenham, Ian was transferred to a  carriage drawn by two black-plumed cobs to spend two minutes outside the church before the service.
 The formality of the 80-minute  funeral service conducted by the archdeacon and presided over by Dr Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester, was also an occasion of celebration for the life of Ian.
 A knot of clergymen  led by Dr Forster processed to the church from Goostrey school in advance of the funeral service on a day blessed with sunshine.  And almost at the moment the service began a thrush, apparently hidden from view in the churchyard's 1,000-year-old yew tree, broke into song as if making its own tribute to a much loved vicar.
 Ian, who was 59, moved to Goostrey in March 2011, with his wife, Audrey and their daughter Louise from Mill Hill, London. Their two older children, Matthew and Christopher, continued to live in Mill Hill.
Ian is carried from St  Luke's
 Ian joined Barclay's Bank after leaving school and after a successful career spanning 35 years, he was a corporate director when he made the decision to become a full-time minister.  He was ordained priest in June 2002 at Hampstead Parish Church and was inducted as vicar in April 2011 at St Luke's, Goostrey, where his arrival was described as a "breath of fresh air..."
A section of the overspill congregation
The Rev Pat Jones,a friend and team vicar of Thatcham, spoke of Ian's life, his love of football, cricket, singing, the fact he was nicknamed "Goozie"  from primary school and sometime quirky aspects of his personality, such as being hooked on train spotting, and he was a devoted family man, with Audrey as his rock. "We all have fond memories of  Ian and can share in his humility, courage and faith". 
  Venerable Bishop said Ian served his communities beyond all expectations.
 "Time spent with him was time gained not lost," said the archdeacon.
Ian with Bishop Richard  Courtesy London.org
 "He was genuinely a faithful man and even when struggling with his health, he would not give in. He never bemoaned his health issues. A week before he died he was planning his return to work." Canon Martin Poll, chaplain of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, a close friend of Ian and his wife, and a former curate of John Keble Church, read the gospel during the service.
 Ian was at Goostrey Rose Festival where he chatted and joked with villagers and was at St Luke's for the parish communion service at the end of July. It was also in July that he travelled to John Keble Church for the patronal festival where he administered the chalice, and afterwards attended evensong officiated by the Bishop of London, the Rev and Rt Hon. Richard Chartres, who ordained Ian. 
*Double-click images to enlarge
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