2:51pm Friday 26th September 2014
OUR region is particularly rich, with legends ranging from tales of giants to accounts of fairy activity in quiet places. Barguests and wild boars were said to roam the countryside during the hours of darkness, and we also have widespread tales of ghosts and other fearful apparitions.
3:08pm Friday 19th September 2014
2:33pm Friday 12th September 2014
THE coming Sunday was formerly known as Holy Rood Day or Rood Mass Day, the word rood meaning cross. The festival’s official title was Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and it began when the Emperor Constantine of Rome saw the figure of a blazing cross in the noon sky.
3:43pm Friday 29th August 2014
4:33pm Friday 22nd August 2014
This Sunday is the Feast Day of St Bartholomew, whom Christ called to be one of the apostles. He is believed to have also used the name Nathaniel and was known as an Israelite, but also as “a man with no guile”.
4:32pm Friday 22nd August 2014
SPAUNTON is a small village near the southern edge of the North York Moors, resting quietly on a hilltop between Hutton-le-Hole and Lastingham to the south-west of Blakey Ridge. Many of my reference books that deal with that part of the North York Moors omit references to Spaunton and yet it boasts some interesting tales.
3:44pm Friday 15th August 2014
During the past few weeks, our house has been invaded by small tortoiseshell butterflies. They seemed determined to enter the house through open doors and windows, and then find refuge behind curtains or blinds where they appear to be quite happy to remain. Needless to say, I caught them and gently returned them to the big wide world of this year’s lovely English summer.
3:44pm Friday 15th August 2014
3:43pm Friday 15th August 2014
NORTH Yorkshire seems to have more than its fair share of place names that either begin with or end with Carr or Car. The former West Ridings and East Ridings do not appear to have such a gathering of cars and carrs and they seem positively rare in County Durham.
4:54pm Friday 8th August 2014
ONE of the features of August is the silence of our song birds. While some may still be heard in our gardens and countryside, many whose voices woke us from sleep during bright spring mornings might now be silent.
3:23pm Friday 1st August 2014
AUGUST is rich with days that encompass celebrations of various kinds and today is no exception. Yorkshire readers will not need reminding that it is Yorkshire Day when we wear white roses, eat Yorkshire puddings and greet one another by saying, “Noo then. ‘oos’t tha gahin on?” Or we might utter that famous phrase “Ee By Gum”, or use the simplest of Yorkshire greetings, which is “Now then”.
4:53pm Friday 25th July 2014
4:52pm Friday 25th July 2014
THERE is no doubt Le Tour de France left a lasting mark in this region. One of its lesserknown achievements was to revive my own memories of some cycle tours I had undertaken in my youth, and I thought I would add a final note to conclude my reminiscing.
11:07am Tuesday 22nd July 2014
A RECENT recent outing took us to West Tanfield, between Masham and Ripon, said by Arthur Mee in his The King’s England series of books (The North Riding of Yorkshire) to have almost everything one could wish for in an English village.
4:32pm Friday 11th July 2014
A FLEETING visit to Somerset enabled us to make quick visits to places like Wells and Glastonbury, the latter catching our attention before the crowds arrived for the noted festival of arts and music.
1:57pm Friday 4th July 2014
I’VE had an enthusiastic response to earlier notes about my exploits on a racing cycle. As this is the weekend of the much trumpeted Grand Départ of le Tour de France, I thought I would share my own memories of a “Tour” in which I took part.
2:12pm Friday 27th June 2014
WHEN I was a teenage cyclist, I spent a good deal of time competing in time trials and massed-start road races. Most were around Teesside although some were further north on Wearside or in west Durham, such as The Tour of the Durham Hills.
4:22pm Friday 20th June 2014
THE imminent arrival the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in our region reminds me of my own Tour of England. Some 62 years ago, I was a keen cyclist and belonged to the British League of Racing Cyclists, the Cyclists’ Touring Club, Hambleton Road Club, which was based on Teesside, and also the Youth Hostels Association.
4:35pm Friday 13th June 2014
1:48pm Friday 6th June 2014
5:04pm Friday 30th May 2014
Continuing the theme of boundaries and boundary stones, one curious custom that fell into disuse with the passage of time was known as Beating the Bounds, although it continues in some places on Rogation Days, Rogation Sunday, Gang Days or in some parts of Yorkshire, on Rammalation Days.
5:04pm Friday 30th May 2014
ONE of the regular queries that come my way is the reason for the many stone crosses on the North York Moors. It is not possible to provide one simple answer because they have different meanings or purposes.
3:58pm Friday 23rd May 2014
THE first weeks of this month proved exceptionally busy so far as the bird life around us was concerned. That period of the new spring is always a frantic time for wild birds with our native species busy courting, nesting and defending their territories while immigrants are helping to swell numbers and increase the activity which at times can be rather frantic.
3:56pm Friday 16th May 2014
EASINGWOLD has a splendid and fascinating old church with many sections dating to pre-Reformation times. It is dedicated to All Saints and St John and is worth a visit in an effort to date and identify most of its parts.
3:57pm Friday 9th May 2014
A FEW days before settling down to write these notes, I read an article that had been written by a tourist expert, and it praised the North York Moors for having the scenery that produced epic novels such as those written by the Bronte sisters as well as Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula masterpiece. Clearly, the writer had no idea of the geography or history of this huge county.
4:29pm Friday 2nd May 2014
ONE of the least visited areas within the North York Moors is probably Fryup. This small community is spread around two dales – Great Fryup Dale and Little Fryup Dale, in the Esk Valley between Danby and Lealholm.
3:35pm Friday 25th April 2014
THERE are times when the traditional “chicken-and-egg” question is raised about yew trees and churches. I am frequently asked whether the yew tree was first to appear at the edge of a graveyard, or whether the church came first.
4:13pm Wednesday 23rd April 2014
WHITBY Abbey, with its famous abbess, Hild, now known as St Hilda, was one of England’s leading centres of the Christian faith and a major event occurred during Hilda’s stewardship. It was the Synod of Whitby in AD 664 when the town was known as Streoneshalh.
2:45pm Friday 11th April 2014
3:53pm Friday 4th April 2014
FOLLOWING my recent notes about the North Riding dialect names, especially for the hedgehog, a reader asks about dialect names for some of our wild birds He adds that his bird feeders are regularly visited by stoggies. I’m sure the same reader would have told us that spuggies were also regular callers, then with a bit of luck he might have noticed a French linney or a cuddy.
3:14pm Friday 28th March 2014
4:31pm Friday 21st March 2014
4:30pm Friday 14th March 2014
A VISIT to Osmotherley and the nearby Cod Beck Reservoir can always produce something of interest. And so it was the day before compiling these notes just over a fortnight ago. My wife and I decided to visit the reservoir in an attempt to research the species of birds it attracted, and to learn a little more about the history of the village.
11:33am Friday 7th March 2014
A RECENT news item in a national paper recorded that builders had won an appeal which allowed them to build large numbers of houses on two village greens. This was despite opposition from the respective local councils and the villagers themselves.
4:08pm Friday 28th February 2014
OUR bird feeders are well patronised, especially by blue tits, but in the last few days, a pair of yellowhammers have visited us. This is by no means common, although we have welcomed yellowhammers in the past. I found this quite unusual because I have always associated yellowhammers with open moorland or wide areas of quiet countryside.
4:38pm Friday 21st February 2014
LOOKING back over my youthful birdwatching years, I have no recollection of seeing tree sparrows either in our garden or around the surrounding countryside, although we were visited by dozens of house sparrows. In simple terms, those two species are so very much alike that it is far from easy to make a positive identification so in those youthful years I might not have noticed the difference!
3:53pm Friday 14th February 2014
LEYBURN is the undisputed capital of Wensleydale which is the broadest and arguably the most beautiful of the Yorkshire Dales, and yet it is the only one of the major dales that is named after a village rather than a river. In spite of Leyburn’s dominance, the dale gets its name from nearby village of Wensley and one of my regular queries is why this should be so.
2:23pm Friday 7th February 2014
2:23pm Friday 7th February 2014
3:56pm Friday 31st January 2014
THE remarkably mild weeks of December and early January have apparently created some disorientation among our wildlife. I’ve received reports of daffodils blooming weeks earlier than usual while in several places snowdrops have appeared both in the wild and in our gardens.
4:29pm Friday 24th January 2014
COUNTRY folk have long been revered as highly capable forecasters of our weather. I can recall some villagers from the North York Moors hanging seaweed under the eaves of their garden shed where it was used to forecast rain – if the seaweed was damp and slimy, it heralded rain, but if it was hard and dry, then fine weather could be expected.
3:54pm Friday 17th January 2014
4:43pm Friday 10th January 2014
4:15pm Friday 3rd January 2014
ONE of the curious features of January is that so many birds join flocks mainly comprising their own species, but sometimes mingling with others. It may be that they recognise that there is safety in numbers, and another theory is that, when feeding, most of the flock members can satisfy their hunger whilst one or two of them keep guard.
12:37pm Monday 6th January 2014
11:50am Friday 20th December 2013
IN the December days preceding Christmas there have always been celebrations of a very mixed kind. They range from the customs practised on Old Christmas Day (Dec 6), by way of the Halcyon Days that bring a patch of milder weather to the celebrations of St Lucy’s Day (Dec 13), the feast of St Thomas which is today (Dec 20), and then tomorrow we remember that it is the shortest day of the year which is also known as Candle Auction Day, Gooding Day and more formally as the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle, who is often known as Doubting Thomas.
1:11pm Friday 13th December 2013
THIS weeks’ Diary comes from Dorset, where I undertook a short visit to spend time with my family as I researched the locality for future novels and articles, as well as being a guest author at the Venus Business Women’s Awards in the New Forest.
3:13pm Friday 6th December 2013
2:40pm Friday 29th November 2013
AT this time of the year, many of us will be thinking about the Christmas decorations that will shortly festoon our homes and offices. During this ancient Christian festival, I would imagine that natural green plants will feature prominently, either in the form of a Christmas tree or in the shape of other leafy decorations.
3:47pm Friday 22nd November 2013
AT THIS time of year we can be misled into believing that all aspects of the countryside go to sleep. Certainly some do – flowers and trees take a rest and either cast their leaves or cease to flower; some of our wild creatures will seek places to hibernate or alternatively set off to travel immense distances to be certain of finding food and shelter in warmer places. This can lead us into thinking that our countryside is temporarily deserted.