Saturday, 23 March 2013

Do you remember last year?

Last March was so warm that we had a barbecue. Optimistically we thought it would be one of many. But as we know the rest of the year didn't quite match our expectations and hopes.

This March is a bit different. The chart below shows the difference compared to last year - see the temperature figures on the right!


Friday, 22 March 2013

Best laid plans . . . .

Today should have seen the first school visit of the season. A party from a local primary school should have come this morning to learn more about dairy farming and where their milk comes from. There would be some activities outdoors and round the farm buildings, and some indoors in our new classroom. Michelle has set it all up and there's a celebratory look as it's the first time it will have been used.

But, the wind is howling, the temperature is dropping and snow blowing around. I was nearly blown over going across the yard to take this photo, so regretfully the visit has been postponed. We never expected this in March. Here's hoping next week's visits can go ahead.

It's cold!

It's cold and windy - and if you look at our weather page  and scroll down a couple of pages to "Trends" (in green) you can see the difference from last year.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The TARDIS is ready

The builders, plumbers and electricians have all left now. Though the builders will return to do the pointing when the weather settles down. James and Michelle have been busy every night and all recent weekends cleaning, painting and fitting out inside. Today Henry and James are moving leftover stone down the fields (for our next project - watch this space!). They are clearing the car park ready for Friday. For that's when the new building truly becomes a classroom. The view from our kitchen window has changed dramatically - we can't see as much field, but it's much improved.

From this - taken 23rd October 2012

and inside taken 23rd October 2012
to this - taken today 19th March 2013
and inside nearly ready for this Friday

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Weather etc

It's been a month of strange weather; we can hardly call it "unseasonable" as sometimes there's nothing much to distinguish one season from another. Henry and James have been doing a lot of fencing, taking advantage of dry weather and dryish fields to hammer posts in. Last week when they were on The Lots (up on Sedbergh Road) they had to continue through a blizzard, as the fence had to be finished (re neighbours sheep in the next field). This week started with extreme cold, with having to leave heaters on overnight in the milking parlour, and frozen water troughs (the first time this winter). Then gradually warmer. But today we've woken up to snow again. There's only about an inch and it's rapidly thawing, and the sun is trying to shine. So if you see rain totals for today, it's not necessarily rain, but frozen snow.

You may have noticed I've posted a few links to old photographs. I've now put about 500 on Sky Drive. If anyone would like access to the link for them, please let me know.

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Way back in the day before all this technology was even a gleam in an entrepreneur's eye, people still had "friends". They could connect "in the flesh", or by taking photos and keeping albums of snaps and studio portraits. I'm still going through boxes and boxes of old photos (about one third still to go), and I've found an album called "My Friends". We assume it belonged to Henry's grandmother Frances - who was a prolific album and scrapbook keeper. She seems to have periodically moved photos from one album to another, gluing them firmly in place. Some we can identify, some may have notes on the inaccessible backs.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

All go at Strickley

It's all go here today.

Builders are fixing fascia boards and spoutings.
Wallers are stone facing.
Plumbers are plumbing.
James is "scratching" - fields not himself.
David is aerating.
Contractors are digging on The Lots and
Henry is draining on The Lots.

And me? I'm scanning old photos and thinking about baking biscuits.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Looking back a wall

Last week on the Westmorland Gazette's Nostalgia page there was an article about Newton Rigg, with a photograph of walling. We have a print and tried to identify the people on it.

On the left at the front is Henry's Uncle Wilson, so Arthur asked him about his recollections of the day. He was able to name everyone and then had his photo taken by the wall (still standing) as it is now.

He has also written to The Gazette with his memories, so in case they don't print it, or as a sneak preview, here's a copy of the letter.

I looked with great interest at the picture of a walling class on the Nostalgia page of the 21st February edition of the WG because the person second from the left happens to be myself now aged 96. Sadly all the other people in the photograph have passed on.
The class was actually one of a series organised by Hutton YFC and took place around spring 1936. I think the Cumberland and Westmorland Farm School (Newton Rigg) funded them. I remember that one of the main items of conversation on the day was my girlfriend Phyllis whom I married in 1938. We moved from my home at Strickley, New Hutton, to farm at Over Bleaze in 1939 and then to High Bracken Hall, Gatebeck, in 1945. My son Stephen now farms there.
On the far left of the photo is Wilson Park who lived at Town House, Old Hutton, and then moved to farm at Drybeck, Killington. He was the chairman of Hutton YFC.
Third from the left is Edward Capstick whose family farmed the land where the class was held. He took over the farm from his father and died just before Christmas 2012 at the age of 96. His son Stephen now farms Bridge House in Old Hutton.
Fourth from the left is Jim Thompson, a first class competition waller, from Far Audlands, Preston Patrick, and was the instructor for the classes.
James Waller is next. He was a young lad then and his family farmed Middleshaw Hall, Old Hutton. They later moved to Beck Mills at Skelsmergh.
Bending down in front of the wall is my cousin Len Robinson from Canny Brow Foot, Gatebeck, which he later farmed until his death. He became very interested in walling and went on to win many walling competitions so he was often called a ‘medal waller’.
On the far right is my brother Willie Robinson who farmed Strickley, New Hutton. His son Henry and grandson James still farm there.
Finally, I thought you might like to see what the wall is like after 77 years so I have attached a photo of it with me standing in roughly the same position as I was in 1936. It looks a bit wrinkled but I think it has stood the test of time fairly well.
Yours sincerely
Wilson Robinson

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