It’s been flat-out here lately – on so many levels

11:05am Tuesday 22nd July 2014

NEVER mind the Tour de France or the World Cup, the best action took place at the six-year-old’s school sports day this week. After a summer of sporting failure, you will be pleased to hear that British participants excelled, winning almost every race.

Forget cyclists, we were racing the call of nature

4:32pm Friday 11th July 2014

DEAR ITV, that’s Bolton Castle, not Richmond Castle.

Are you authorised sheep? Or emergency sheep?

1:58pm Friday 4th July 2014

A TELEVISION audience of millions, beautiful scenery, fantastic drama — but enough about the new series of ITV detective show Lewis, it’s time for the Tour de France.

The Pied Piper to the checkouts, please

3:34pm Friday 27th June 2014

I OVERHEARD an elderly lady walking with her pre-school grandson in Leyburn town centre this week.

Much ado about favourite household appliances

4:23pm Friday 20th June 2014

IT’S all fairly quiet this week, other than the county council putting up signs saying you can’t park within 65 miles of the Tour de France route.

Should this farmer have turned the other cheek?

4:36pm Friday 13th June 2014

SO, hmm, what about the cyclist caught having a poo in a farmer’s field?

Good bus service but a greater chance of rickets

1:49pm Friday 6th June 2014

THE baby is teething and I’ve only had four hours of sleep.

The Friarage: all’s well that ends well, obviously

5:05pm Friday 30th May 2014

GREAT news. The Friarage consultant-led maternity and paediatric unit is to close.

Why can’t our schools hack life in the fast lane?

3:58pm Friday 23rd May 2014

SCHOOLS across Richmondshire are closing on the Friday before the Tour.

Let’s hear it for DJ Wilko, main man for parties

3:57pm Friday 16th May 2014

WOULD you believe it – DJ Wilko has only received 18 mentions in the D&S and most of these are in the Town and Village section.

Surprised by very little interest in our old house

3:58pm Friday 9th May 2014

OUR old house in Redmire has gone up for rent recently.

How’s this for an image to use on your calendars?

4:30pm Friday 2nd May 2014

WE counted 30 cyclists riding from Grinton towards Leyburn over the moor on Saturday morning.

Why is everyone making such a fuss over a cycle race?

3:35pm Friday 25th April 2014

THERE’S a risk of being summoned to Welcome to Yorkshire head office in York and forced to listen to the official Grand Depart song, The Road, on repeat until I can take no more for saying this, but I'm sick of hearing about Le Tour.

Time to let the history cat out of the bag – or out at night

4:16pm Wednesday 23rd April 2014

HERE’S another update on the history of the Dales. Hopefully this will be both interesting and informative – and most important, won’t upset or insult anyone.

Broadband on the buses – oh boy, that has to be in America

2:45pm Friday 11th April 2014

ONE of the boys has gone skiing to America. I went to East Barmby orienteering, he’s in New Hampshire on the piste.

Mystery surrounds who is causing this giant-sized problem

3:52pm Friday 4th April 2014

IT’S a mystery that is gripping the nation. Well, when I say nation, I actually mean Leyburn, and when I say Leyburn, I suppose I really mean Maythorne and when I say Maythorne ... OK, it's just me that's gripped – and if I'm being totally honst, I'm only quite interested.

Roll up for the best seat in the Dales to see the Grand Depart

3:15pm Friday 28th March 2014

THERE’S a bit of a rumble going on in Bainbridge about the annual visit of travellers who stop on the village green before and after Appleby Fair.

Acolumn that’s sure to put the wind up you – in 350 words

4:32pm Friday 21st March 2014

WHERE do we start this week? So much to say and only 350 words in which to say it.

Preparing for a rowdy date with the ladies that lunch

4:31pm Friday 14th March 2014

I’VE been asked to give a talk on being a reporter in the Dales to the Upper Wensleydale Ladies Luncheon Club next week.

Drama as holidaymakers take cottage contents home with them

11:34am Friday 7th March 2014

WE had a little bit of drama this week. My wife runs a cleaning company and looks after a few Dales holiday cottages.

So, what did the thousands of Friarage protesters want?

4:39pm Friday 21st February 2014

BY the time you’re reading this, a decision will have been announced on the future of the Friarage Hospital’s children and maternity departments.

Will Django have the last laugh over barn conversions?

3:57pm Friday 31st January 2014

THERE’S a fairly interesting debate taking place about plans by the Government to relax the rules on converting barns into homes.

Top parenting tip – don’t feed the kids vinegar and salt

4:29pm Friday 24th January 2014

ONE of the boys drank a cup of vinegar and salt during a game of dares last weekend.

Thrown a curve ball by the death of 24 miners

3:55pm Friday 17th January 2014

AFTER a couple of weeks of the column veering towards the melancholy, I thought I would lighten the mood with one of my favourite subjects – amusing Dales place names.

£17 to empty my rubbish bin – you have to be joking

4:43pm Friday 10th January 2014

THE district council is asking for £17 a year to empty the garden waste bin.

Early morning G&Ts rejected in favour of a brisk country walk

4:15pm Friday 3rd January 2014

LOOK away now if you want funny and uplifting. It’s gloomy, wet and grey outside and I’m back at work, a place where mid-morning gin and tonics – because it is Christmas – and eating the contents of the kids’ selection boxes wearing just your pants is frowned upon.

I’m praying to the Yorkshire Jesus for a very mild March

12:38pm Monday 6th January 2014

IF Jesus was born today, he would have been born in the Yorkshire Dales, reckons a survey by the Bible Society.

Exciting news – there’s a new addition to the Willis family

11:51am Friday 20th December 2013

AFTER a quick head count and check of the family budget, it was decided that we had a few pennies left each month to feed another mouth.

A brief history of how to clean up on the badminton court

1:12pm Friday 13th December 2013

PUPILS from The Wensleydale School cleaned up at the area badminton championships.

It’s about time our celebs got their motors running

3:14pm Friday 6th December 2013

I WAS shocked and disgusted to hear of Olympic diver Tom Daley’s recent announcement – what was ITV thinking commissioning a second series of the terrible reality show Splash?

Broken ‘video’ has potential to kill a harmonious Christmas

2:38pm Friday 29th November 2013

THE video player is playing up and it’s nearly Christmas.

The open and shut case of the draughty shop doors

3:48pm Friday 22nd November 2013

THE dislike of an open door seems to have struck a chord.

The ‘Big Switch On’ is postponed this year

12:17pm Friday 15th November 2013

THE battle to keep the house warm has begun.

Sacrifices, Druids and a double dose of stupidity

1:27pm Friday 8th November 2013

WE went for a family walk at the Druid’s Temple, near Masham, on Monday. Attendance was compulsory, even for sulky teenage boys.

Let’s not be pedantic, but cheating is definitely not on

12:16pm Friday 1st November 2013

A COUPLE of pedants have pointed out that Bradley Wiggins would not be riding into the Dales wearing a yellow leader’s jersey next year, as mentioned in last week’s column, as it’s the first stage of the race, meaning he couldn’t yet lead the race.

Somewhere in China a man is planning my Downfall

4:03pm Friday 25th October 2013

PARENTING is a bit like a game of Downfall. You keep twisting the knobs hoping for the little counters to pop out the bottom. Sometimes they get jammed and you have to turn the knobs back and forth a few times. You have several counters and you need to decide which knob to turn to get all the counters out. It’s quite fun but you’re aware there are more exciting things you could be doing with your time.

I may be have been a little discourteous last week

4:09pm Friday 18th October 2013

I’VE had a little bit of correspondence condemning me for my discourteous attitude towards Hannah Hauxwell.

Turn away now if you’re looking for an inspirational read

4:35pm Friday 11th October 2013

I’LL be honest, I’m lacking inspiration for this week’s column. Everything feels a bit flat. The nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to turn, the flies have gone, there’s still no sign of an abbey on Downton and last week’s show featured gratuitous violence not seen on Sunday evening television since the days of Bergerac and Tales of the Unexpected. The dancer at the start was called Karen Standley if you’re interested.

No flies on Finghall... but the signs aren’t good for next year

4:18pm Friday 4th October 2013

AT last I can report that I have had word from Finghall – and the news is good.

No hand signals called for when you’re having a nosy

3:11pm Friday 27th September 2013

A DRIVER signalled to me with a rather unpleasant hand gesture this week.

Teacher sent home 100 years ago after kicking up a stink

12:41pm Friday 20th September 2013

THE 100 years ago section of Askrigg Primary School’s newsletter has thrown up another gem.

Night noises mean one thing - the radio is back in fashion

3:14pm Friday 13th September 2013

I HEARD noises coming from a boy’s bedroom the other night. What could it be? Was he furtively talking on his mobile phone under the covers, shooting aliens on his games console or watching bizarre YouTube videos of cats riding goats on his iPod?

Sat nav blunder recalled on a tour of the back roads

2:54pm Friday 6th September 2013

WE drove over the tops from Low Row, in Swaledale, to Askrigg, in Wensleydale, this week. It’s a narrow road and in need of repair. Those who use it often must be sorry it’s not on Le Tour route.

The trials and tribulations of having growing children

3:30pm Friday 30th August 2013

ONE of the older boys went to meet a girl in town recently.

Happy memories of meals on wheels from mobile chippy

2:45pm Friday 23rd August 2013

“CHIPPY stop here,” says a homemade sign beside the road near a campsite in Swaledale.

Column becomes an unwitting victim of the latest cuts

3:18pm Friday 16th August 2013

AND anyone who has ever been to a Welcome to Yorkshire annual conference – think Oscars but with more regional produce cooking demonstrations – will know that organising a poxy bike race is well within their capabilities.

Chemical warfare ordered against fleas and Whitehall

2:40pm Friday 9th August 2013

THE cat has got fleas again.

No crash in Lycra sales as cyclists head for the racetrack

3:35pm Friday 2nd August 2013

LAST week’s news that cyclists coming to try out the Tour de France route were crashing at an unprecedented rate will come as no surprise to anyone who drives in the Dales – Lycra is the new Gortex for the time being until the temperatures drop and a combination of grit and ice makes the roads more lethal to cyclists than tyre-biting sheepdogs.

Summer holidays are here, it’s time to get kids on the pitch

3:42pm Friday 26th July 2013

THUNDERSTORMS on Tuesday morning and one of the boys says: “Oooh great, let’s check the school website.”

There’s only one thing for it – it’s time to get a bigger sign

4:36pm Friday 19th July 2013

WHAT do you know, after criticising the sign telling motorists to pull up to the line and wait for the lights to turn green at the Harmby traffic lights, we got stuck in a queue because someone didn’t read the sign.








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