Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Bonfire Night and other memories

Work is still quiet and as a consequence I actually made it out for a walk around the Three Miler with T&M this afternoon. I also made it out to the garage and the Enfield gearbox is somewhat cleaner than yesterday's photograph.

As the evening progressed we ended up with with T&M cowering on the sofa as the Bonfire Night celebrations kicked off in the village. It is fair to say that Tyson is incredibly stressed by the explosions and just sits and pants until it eventually quietens. She normally dawdles in the garden when I let her out for her late night pee but this evening she was out, squatting and back in under two minutes. She really doesn't like fireworks and Marauder isn't much better. Whiffler didn't seem too alarmed but 30% reported that a couple of overhead detonations caused him to become agitated.

I remember as a child loving the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night. We still lived at Corbiere; the Bungalow at Lower Field Farm in Wickhamford. Although my Dad no longer farmed there we used to scavenge amongst the farm buildings* from September onwards and build the most enormous bonfires on a patch of ground to the side of the stables.

I recall particularly one year when the Bonfire was so large that there were safety concerns. Fortunately out neighbour was Fred Bates who had a garage at the top of Abbey Road in Evesham. This was during the height of the Northern Ireland conflict and Fred had a contract to build small fire appliances based on Land Rover chassis for use in Belfast. We actually had one of these in attendance … just in case. The fire didn't get out of control but I can remember unearthing glowing embers in the remnants of the fire a full seven days after Bonfire Night.

We also had a mountain of fireworks to let off although they were nothing like the amazing ones that can be bought nowadays. It was a more innocent time and the shop at the top of Pitchers Hill** was far more lax with restrictions on the sale of fireworks to minors. I recall wandering up a couple of times each week with a couple of shillings scrounged from my mum or dad and taking an age to choose the most spectacular fireworks from the display before hurrying home to store them in a tin for the Big Night.

Autumn was always a delightful time of year and Bonfire Night was part of the lead up to the excitement of Christmas. To this day I still delight in fireworks and bonfires it is just that having T&M means that this is a pleasure I must forego … and am more than happy to do so.
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* When BMS and his Father dissolved their partnership the farm was sold and taken on by an Irish Guy called Rowntree who ploughed up all of the pasture and converted the farm from diary to arable. No-one knew where he lived and the arable nature of the farm meant that there was never anyone there apart from during the key phases of the arable cycle; ploughing, sowing and harvesting.

For most of the year it was our personal realm. We had one hundred acres of land and deserted farm buildings to roam over. We drove old cars and motorbikes across the stubble in Autumn and built the most extravagant dens in the straw filled barns. We wandered the deserted building with air rifles, always hopeful of shooting a rat and on one wonderful occasion I encountered a stoat in ermine white in the old dairy. I will always remember it sitting bolt upright watching me whilst I stood immobile taking in this tiny little predator.

Out in the fields a brook ran along one of the farm boundaries. It was edged with Willows that had long ago been pollarded and one in particular had a magnificent bowl at the top of it's trunk that could hold half a dozen children and young teenagers. I remember being there with my sisters and other friends in a hot Summer; enjoying the shade from the trees and the cool waters of Badsey Brook on our toes.

On the other side of the farm was an almost impenetrable coppice called The Spinney. Again I remember adventures here including the time Chris Bates and I managed to work our way through the middle of this bramble filled thicket. I also recall another occasion when I came face to face with a Tawny Owl when tree climbing there.

** The Village Shop and Post Office; owned and operated by Margaret Winkett.*** There was another shop in the Village run by the Woodcocks but, for some reason my mother would never shop there. It was only in later years that I learnt that my Dad had an affair with Anne Woodcock hence her understandable refusal to cross the threshold. I have a rather vague recollection of an encounter between my mother and Mrs W when she interrupted an assignation … I must jot that down when my day is so tedious that I have nothing else to mention.

*** I also have a few memories of Margaret's plump, blonde daughter; Lynne but I'm not sure that they are suitable for inclusion in the Journal.

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