Saturday, 16 June 2012

People and Families Born in this House.

Going back 150 years, if walls could talk. In twenty two years the family had eighteen children.
Its always a mystery how people lived years ago, particularly in the house that you live in. Our house in its present form was built around the first half of the 1800's.

But there is evidence of a previous house. It must have been taken down to door top height ( or did it burn down around then) as it has narrow two and half inch bricks on some of the outside walls, then when a larger foot print built it was with larger standard three inch bricks.

When the house was extended, the "new" back kitchen where the washing and laundry was done was built over the old well, a well that served both the house and the farm and livestock. In dry summers it ran dry and another well was dug in the 1930's deeper about five yards just outside of the house.

Our house is right next to the village school, the old farm buildings at the top of the picture are now redundant.
Two tractors are in the picture and a blue stock trailer by the house  

The back is the older section of the house

Under the floor boards of the older section we found they were supported on fir poles cut directly from the local spinney, cut to length and dropped in place with all the bark still on. The same up in the roof void, the joists and the perlins are ‘bark on' fir poles, then in one fairly long room where the joists wanted supporting half way along there is a pair of old bowed ships timbers part of which are exposed in the bedroom, these are of very old and very hard oak still with the evidence of sawn and chopped out joints with peg holes for fixing. These are likely to be part of the old timber frame from the previous house.

The family who I took over from had lived in the village for three generations, starting with William F-----e born in 1828, he did not marry until he was in his mid thirties, his wife being some fourteen years younger. Over the next twenty two years they had eighteen children. William, Edward, Ann & Mary twins, Cecilly, Earnest, The seventh child Charles (1872) was the one who took over the farm at the age of twenty three when his father died in 1895, then Ellen, John, Walter, William, Horace, Florence, Arthur, Eleanor, Dora, Arnold, and last one Frank.

One of the lads from this eighteen, eventually became a notable judge in the law courts of London, some went out farming to South Africa, and others spread out all over the world to make their fortune.

Over the years that we have lived here, we have had overseas visitors/relatives who are descendants of William (1828) wanting to look round the old house, and look where and how their grand parents lived and how they were brought up.

I know the family had a reunion a few years ago, with family members flying in from South Africa , Australia and all point of the globe, with, in the region of a hundred members turning up. On the family tree that I have to hand drawn up in 2009 by a descendant living in the north of England, a retired vet, there are over four hundred names of relatives stemming from William at this house and farm, it is thought that there are still some of whom have not traced.

As I said the seventh child Charles (1872) took over the farm on his fathers death and eventually married and they had five children. Marion who worked in the house and no one ever saw her, Ruth who worked in the farm dairy cleaning the dairy utensils, but if anyone came in the yard she would scurry round the back way and back into the house, Earnest who eventually took over the farm in the 1950's when his father died, and Frank who did go in the air force during the war, then worked on the farm. And Margaret who worked at the milking and rearing the calves, it was said the she did have an admirer at one stage in her younger days, but he was sent packing when her mother judged him to be "not good enough" for her.

None of these five ever married and so there were no grand children for Charles (1872).
Earnest was trained as a chemist in his younger days and then came back to the farm taking over from his father and stayed tenant until 1983 when he retired due to ill health, that is when I moved here and took the tenancy..

One interesting item we found in the garden was a huge pestle and mortar, we think it must have been the property of Earnest, it was in good condition and would hold I would think two gallons in capacity, the mortar was made of turned elm wood and starting to decay with age, but the stone/marble mortar or what ever its made of is as new and stand high on a shelf in our kitchen weighing a good quarter of a hundred weight (13.5 kg to them's who need to know).

Their mother Elizabeth, Charles's wife, was very dominating; the children went to school next door but were not allowed to play with the other village children. At play times every day, mornings and afternoons they had to return to their own front gate and wait for the bell to go, before returning to their studies. The children never got to handle money, and had not got any grasp of its value until their parents died.

That was when the brothers started to buy machinery, after a short while they bought a David Brown Cropmaster which had two seats so the brothers could work it together. Then they went on to have two Ferguson Massy 35's, one each, and the matching equipment. The biggest snag for them was that they had no idea of maintaining or repairing machines, all repairs and adjustments were made by the local machinery dealers, they being more stock men.

One of Earnest's early purchases was a bunch of very fine Hereford cross steers for fattening off on grass, he had not been used to bidding at market and his excitement of the day, which was quickly picked up by the auctioneer and the seller of the cattle, he paid well over the odds. When the same bunch were sold some twelve months later they fetched less than when he had bought them. This trend of not knowing the value of money dogged them all the years the brothers farmed.

The same went for the three sisters, it was said that they went into a milliners in town on what must have been their first ever shopping spree free from their mother's domination, and bought five splendid hats each. Not for any special occasion as they never ventured out very often, but just to feel the power of spending money.

The eldest daughter lived in her bedroom for the last twenty years of her life, no one in the village had seen her in all those years. The second daughter worked hard in the house and dairy and fell down the back stairs and broke bones, being old she had never been away from the house and was admitted to hospital, the shock of other people working round and on her killed her. The last sister and two brothers were not able to continue farming, as age was against them and they retired to a house in the next village.

Margaret died partly from the stress over the previous few years, and partly from not being able to cope with a small house, the furniture they took with them filled the house as if it were warehouse and they could not move around. The two brothers could not cope on their own and went into a rest home together. This did not last long as they kept falling out, and one of them moved to another home, they visited each other on a regular basis when they too died after some years in care.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.  

Monday, 11 June 2012

I had an encounter with an A10 Tank Buster - blog 22

I had an encounter with an A10 Tank Buster

As you will see, here I am mixing farming with the military US air force.

As  a pr-amble,
 I had never ever met a soldier currently serving the British Army, we live and farm out in the countryside and the only soldiers we ever see are the ones on parade  such as during the recent Jubilee celebrations on TV.
So, just recently I was privileged to meet a young man James P.  he had recently finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and now just returned to his base in Germany 10.06.12 after some weeks of leave back home. I was telling him about this encounter I had with these three A10 tank Busters and he was showing us a photo album of the work they were doing out in Afghanistan, showing all too graphical the dangers they faced every day out there on duty. His story and pictures, needed no words, and only now it has brought home to us how much we appreciate the difficult and dangerous work they do.
 It makes my blog pale into insignificance, however here goes. and thank you James and show this your mates, it may make them laugh out loud at my bit of a fright. ----

A few years ago, while ploughing in one of our furthest field, I had an encounter with a United States  A10 Tank Buster, or should I say three of them.

It was the time of the Gulf War, and some American war planes were on training exercise in the UK before being sent on duty giving air cover the troops out in the Gulf. Each day around mid morning three of these aircraft came over at high speed at around a thousand feet, banking and turning so as not to fly directly over outlying villages or towns.

They were like nothing I had ever seen before, being a very distinctive shape and outline, it had twin fins one at each end of the rear wing, and two engines saddle bag fashion half way along the fuselage. They followed each other perhaps a half mile apart, the sudden noise from the first one, particularly if I was driving or looking the other way, it was enough to frighten anyone, then I knew to expect the next, and the third one.

It was the third day when I was working in that same field when I noticed them coming in the distance over the horizon, approaching very rapidly, then when about a mile or so away I realized that they were flying directly at me. Not over me, not round or down on side or the other, but directly at the tractor.

In my mind they had locked their radar, or sights, and aiming at me in the tractor as if it were an enemy tank. I stopped the tractor and in effect froze; it was no use me weaving at four miles an hour to avoid the rockets which could have been deployed in those last seconds. Then when about quarter mile away the pilot must have pulled back on his stick and swooping up from lower than normal, passed directly over the tractor, the following two did exactly the same. It must have given them great satisfaction to have had a "sitting duck" part way through their manoeuvres on which they could practice.

It left me sitting in the cab shaking like a jelly, and could not believe what I had witnessed; what with the noise of the jets over head and what might have happened if one of them had actually produced a friendly fire incident. On the main news that night it reported that A10's were being deployed to the Gulf from their base in Britain.

The exercises continued for another week then all of those aircraft must have flown off on their mission abroad. I have not ever seen another one of those aircraft since other than on the news programs, so if I in my small way had helped those pilots, good luck to them, they will never know me and I will never know them, but I thank them for keeping their fingers off those triggers, and left me to go home for my dinner, shaken but safe.

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Village Policeman


This is a true likeness of how the village policeman worked, he rode around his "patch" ( which was three or four villages forming a parish) on his bike and would suddenly appear from nowhere, often catching an offender red handed. Then they supplied him with a motorised Vespa Scooter, the noise of which blew his cover from quarter mile back. He would get there quickly but the thief would have plenty of time to duck down and run.

The old police house up into the 1950's when a purpose built police house was built with its own lockup for anyone arrested. This was repeated in all the parishes and at that time the police supplied them with a Vespa Scooter to get about more quickly around their beat.

We had a village policeman

We had a village policeman, and he rode round on his bike,
Quietly ride round lanes and tracks, to catch a thief and strike,
Early morning late at night, never knew where he was,
The law he did uphold round here, and to find the cause.

He lived in the police house, and it was brand new,
With a lockup cell, for the criminals he pursue,
Patrolled the parish every day, on his trusty bike,
Pedalled miles kept him fit, his flock to him they liked.

Often stopped for a cup of tea, local news he glean,
Asking who was round about, and of who we seen,
Strangers snooping, stolen stock, thing he wants to know,
Its law and order he must keep, hunt them high and low.

Smugglers of contraband, of food that's all on ration,
Sold or moved outside the law, looked and he took action,
A quiet word with farmer friends, back hander think he got,
Turn a blind eye here and there, as long as it wasn't shot.

Local poachers, knew them all, could keep a watchful eye,
He knew the places where to look, sit and watch and spy,
Catch them red handed on the spot, take them to his lockup,
Question who and where and when, the others to round up.

To get around much quicker, he had a motor bike,
It was a Vesper Scooter, no longer he catlike,
Could hear him coming, along the road way back,
His cover blown fore he gets near, for this we gave him flack.

A panda car, that was next, to keep him dry and warm
Take on parishes more than one, for miles away he's drawn,
His cover stretched too far and wide, not seen about so much,
Of calling on the local folk, he was out of touch.

The local station that was closed, from town they had to come,
Call them on the telephone, so remote they had become,
Every time, a different one, we didn't know who he was,
They didn't know the area; they could have come from OZ.

So bring back the local bobby, give him back his beat,
Get to know the local folk, and walk and get sore feet,
Know the villages round about, woods and tracks and lanes,
Were all behind him, bring him back, the local folk campaign.

Owd Fred

The problem with any unwritten law is that you don't know where to go to erase it.
Glaser and Way