August 2015



towton plateau



I'm disappointed but not surprised to pass on the news that Selby Council recently had to grant planning permission for the traveller development at the site in Towton village (and within the proposed extension of the battlefield boundary) known as The Gallops. This has come about as a direct result of the Council's long-term failure to provide suitable alternative pitches to accommodate the travelling community in the Selby district, and has worrying implications for all green belt and heritage land within this area.


Needless to say, this is not the decision hoped for by Towton Battlefield Society or the local residents' Towton Action Group - although the good news is that permission has only been granted for two caravans on the site, and will expire if the present incumbent moves on or dies. Meanwhile, instead of our usual Palm Sunday event in 2016, we are considering holding a march both to commemorate the battle dead and to raise awareness of the vulnerability of Towton battlefield and the pressing need for all local councils to provide proper pitches for travellers all over the country.


Towton plateau - will it remain tranquil?

On another gloomy if less serious note, yesterday's Yorkshire Day at The Crooked Billet turned into what is becoming (alas) the traditional washout. Thursday's promising weather forecast had changed by the weekend to unpredictable and often heavy showers... and unfortunately that's exactly what we got. So we didn't get huge crowds; many of the people who did come had to keep dashing for shelter back into the pub or into our tents; and to our great embarrassment, one potential new member got completely doused by a cascade of water pouring off the kitchen awning - not the best introduction to the Society! And I think the pictures below pretty well sum the day up: grey, threatening skies, a preponderence of raincoats among our visitors, and a very grim-looking Doggett packing gear away in the pouring rain. Ah well - we still had plenty of fun (especially at the end when the sun came out again and half a dozen of us rounded things off with a pint and a slap-up Billet dinner!

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Monday 24th August


Work has been continuing apace at Beckside this month, with Hubcap and landowner Richard laying waste to further tracts of Himalayan Balsam and mowing the stretch of ground adjacent to the orchard which will be kept clear as a picnic area. Looking at the image on the left you may be tempted to cry, 'he's missed a bit!' but that was deliberate - that clump of yellow flowers was crawling with caterpillars, and they didn't have the heart to mow them down, as we'd like Beckside to be a haven for all wildlife both great and small.


Meanwhile Mick is very excited about placing his first order with a wonderful company called Emorsgate Seeds, which specialises in wild flower seeds and traditional meadow mixtures to enhance diversity and provide food sources and habitat for a wide range of species. So we're now awaiting delivery of 100 g each of oxeye daisy, wild red clover, yellow rattle and birdsfoot trefoil, along with a bag of hedgerow/woodland grass mixture and another special grazing mix containing rye grass, plantain and meadow-grass, which we hope will one day be browsed upon by our geese and chickens! But until then, I dare say our resident pheasant (dubbed 'Hoppy', since an encounter with something aggressive left him with a limp) and his wife will enjoy them...


Elsewhere on the animal front, I'm pleased to say that our Henry Wowler turned four years old this month - there he is below right, celebrating in his own inimitable style - and come early November, will have lived with us for four years.  

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This makes him by far the most durable of my pets; sadly all my other cats met a sticky end, one way or another, in less than three years. Mind you, it was touch and go with Henry a couple of months ago: he was so seriously ill with a fever and some mysterious infection that I thought we would surely lose him too. Luckily this proved not to be the case; and since he recovered, has been eating his head off to compensate for the weight he lost in a week of sickness-induced fasting! So I really should be cracking on with my 'Tale of Henry Wowler', although that (along with all my other writing) has rather stalled at the moment - I'm in the process of recovering from the replacement of my arthritic hip on 13th August, my brain still feels too tired and addled to write much, and I'm as yet unable to sit for long at the computer. However, the operation has been wonderfully successful, and I have high hopes of being able to get out and about this autumn, going for long walks and visiting interesting places - which, I hope, will make for some more interesting and varied additions to this website!