New Forest Snake Catcher

New Forest Snake Catcher Published Countryman magazine June 2011  The old man had a huge forked beard and wore a large hat with an upturned brim.  In one hand was a tall pronged stick and dangling from the other were some kind of metal traps.  The shabby attire included a substantial long jacket and leg…

The Wrinkled English Woman  on Patmos

I was so mad I could have Riverdanced on the spot in sheer temper.  To make matters worse I was minding my own business at the time.  Before she delivered the blow I could honestly say that not only was I happy I was at peace with the world – but let me rewind to…

Billy Blacksmith of Barrowford

Billy Blacksmith of Barrowford Published in Countryman magazine August 2011 Whenever I think of William Henry Whitaker, aka Billy Blacksmith, one of my strongest memories of this burly jocular man is of him reading our newspaper, but we took his evening visits in our stride because, as a staunch Yorkshire man, he derived great pleasure…

The Sage of Chelsea

The Sage of Chelsea  A smoke and a talk with Thomas Carlyle by Maggie B Dickinson  Published in The London Magazine 2014  The only known surviving diaries of a Victorian regional newspaper editor were penned by my great great uncle Anthony Hewitson who owned the Preston Chronicle in Lancashire.  There are seventeen in number which span…

The Morris Eight

Maggie B Dickinson – Published in Best of British June 2014 In 1951 five of us squeezed into a tiny 1934 Morris Eight.  Its registration was AKA 738 and the suspension was wicked.  None of our neighbours owned a car and, considering few travelled more than the thirty-odd miles to Blackpool for their Wakes Week, they…

Paparazzo For a Day – My brush with fame

Down Your Way magazine – Published December 2013 In the summer of 1991 I took a flexi day off work, stuffed my passport and camera into the rucksack, and set off for Yorkshire.  The intention was to climb Simon’s Seat high above the River Wharfe near Bolton Abbey but as I approached the Priory’s Church I…

Coniston’s VC Hero

Reprinted by kind permission of Cumbria magazine – Issue November 2011 Apart from outdoor pursuits and an excellent range of tourist facilities visitors are drawn to Coniston for several reasons, not least through Donald Campbell’s tragic death in 1967 whilst attempting to break his own world water speed record. And what of the influential John…