Pip’s Patch – an Update

The 75th anniversary of VE Day was celebrated in style in Aysgarth and, even with social distancing, it provided a great opportunity for the villagers to chat and share stories – not just of the past but also about the impact  of the pandemic on their lives. Thanks to the sunny weather it also meant that Irene Pickard (left) and Jean Cockburn could meet on the village green as they have done often during the pandemic. Their friendship started over 60 years ago.

Maypole dancing was all part of the fun at Aysgarth Vicarage after the annual Flower Service at St Andrew’s in the 1930s. It’s hard now to imagine 300 children attending a service there! But that was the figure given by the vicar in 1893.  And the flowers they donated  brought a tremendous amount of joy to the girls at St Chad’s Home for Waifs and Strays at Headingley, Leeds – as can be seen from the letter reproduced in Bouquets for Waifs and Strays.

The Waifs and Strays Society sent many orphaned children to Canada in the 1890s and 1900s. They joined many young emigrants from the Yorkshire Dales   So it was fascinating to find, in the May 1892 edition of The Church Monthly, a first-hand account of what it was like on an emigration ship at that time.

A duet with a nightingale and the cancellation of trains through Wensleydale due to a ‘miners’ strike’ were two more of the intriguing items published in The Church Monthly in 1892.

One of my projects while I am “locked down” is to share on this website stories and illustrations from The Church Monthly dating back to 1892 owned by St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, and those from the Heritage Event held at that church in 2009.

From the Heritage Event there is  A Mothering Sunday story about a man who I believe remembered his mother in a most unusual way at Aysgarth church; and the Doctor’s Window.

From The Church Monthly is  Children’s Playtime in early 1890s and the first two of the Rev Wood’s articles covering his natural history rambles in January and March 1892  plus  some local information about Aysgarth parish at that time. The Rev Wood’s nature rambles are included in Nightingale Duet.

And there is the story about the Telegraph Messenger boys of the 1890s. In that article it was stated: ‘If on any given day the electric telegraph suddenly came to an end, business would speedily become disorganised.’ And the delivery of those messages depended upon boys aged 13 to 16 working nine hour days!

Our churches were closed this Easter due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For more about how to share in worship even if in “self isolation” go to the Service page on the Penhill Benefice website.

When my son asked me to go into “self isolation” due to my age I was, I have to admit, quite angry at the thought of being labelled “old and vulnerable”. I have now moved into strict self-distancing and am very grateful to be surrounded by such a wonderful, supportive community. May we all learn how to care for each other and not to make a profit out of the need of others.

It was sad to hear that the Festival of Food and Drink in Leyburn will no longer be held. It did help the Dales recover from the Foot and Mouth epidemic and we do owe a lot to those who founded it and the partnership which kept it running for so long. What will bring us out of the present crisis especially as so many other events, including the Swaledale Festival, have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

There have been some special moments recently – such as meeting with my friend, Carolyn Murray, and hearing all about her work with Immanuel Kindergarten in Yei (pronounced Yay).

Then there was the invitation from the Kennel Field Trust to myself and Penny Noake to take the places of our late husbands on its board of trustees. That was followed by an offer to plant trees in the memory of our husbands and also Mike Thomson in a corner of the Kennel Field. That field is already special to me as there is a bench there with my husband’s artwork engraved on it. So to me it’s “David’s bench”.

With each passing month I seem to miss David’s support more and more. Every day I am very aware that social distancing/self isolation is not good when one is grieving. It makes me very aware of the pain so many must be suffering at this time when they can’t be with loved ones who are dying – or be hugged and consoled by friends.

There is an obituary about David  with links to other posts including that about his volunteer work in The Gambia.

Our wedding at Countersett Meeting House on Saturday July 21 2018  made history as it was the first wedding at that Meeting House since 1841. Then we chartered The Albion for our wedding blessing – and were told later that it was probably the first time the wherry  had been involved in such an event. Do see my posts about our Quaker wedding (Parts One and Two) and the wedding blessing.

A very big thank you to all our family and friends who helped to make these two occasions so special for us. And now my thanks to those who are so supportive as I grieve the loss of a very special man. I am so grateful we did have 14 years together.


For  over 20 years the Association of Rural Communities has been emphasising the  important role that farmers play in managing the beautiful countryside of the Dales. So it was delighted to hear members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority also emphasising that at the Full Authority meeting on September 24.

This was emphasised even more at the Authority’s planning meeting on November 12 when members warned that the future of farming in the Dales was at stake. My report is a long one because I feel the debate was so important. Today we are in danger of forgetting that the beautiful Dales landscape which attracts so many visitors has been created and maintained by generations of local farmers.