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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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HomeNotes from the SticksNotes from the Sticks: An inconvenience truth

Notes from the Sticks: An inconvenience truth

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THIS is a rather smart house in our neighbouring village. Built in 2015, it has three bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs and an open plan living area upstairs with lovely views over the Ribble Valley landscape. Zoopla’s estimated current value is between £440,000 and £542,000.

The name has significance:

This site was once the village public toilets, one of eight such conveniences closed by Ribble Valley Borough Council in 2012. That was one third of the complement.

I shouldn’t think there is one reader of this column who has never needed a public toilet, yet they are being closed at an alarming rate. The number of local-authority-provided public toilets fell from 3,154 to 2,556 between 2015 and 2021, and the British Toilet Association believe 50 per cent have been lost across the country. Many closed during the ‘pandemic’ and local councils seized the opportunity not to re-open them. Unfortunately, while under the Public Health Act 1936 they have a power to provide public toilets, they have no duty to do so – a handy get-out.

As far as our neighbouring village is concerned, two pubs have agreed to allow their facilities to be used by non-customers – but only during opening hours, so bad luck if you are caught short in the morning. And as far as I know there is no signage to tell passers-by of the opportunity (which is understandable).

The are several results of the lack of public toilets. Many people, not just the elderly and disabled, but basically those with bladders, do not want to go on a long trip without the certainty of somewhere to relieve themselves. Others without much of a social conscience will perform wherever they are, and this seems to be an increasing trend.

The British Toilet Association is campaigning to save public toilets and establish new ones. They are asking people to let them know when closures are planned at saveourtoilets@btaloos.co.uk

We had an article in TCW on Friday about poorly maintained roads being constantly flooded, and round here the road surfaces are in a shocking state. What are we paying our (high) council tax for if not for basic amenities such as public toilets and usable roads?

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I WROTE a while ago about the plan by Girlguiding (the trendily rebranded Girl Guides’ Association) to sell their five rural activity centres while retaining their opulent London headquarters a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace. One of these centres is a mile or so from us and it is now on the market. Here is the Savills advertisement for it.

It’s a Grade II listed mansion with 29 bedrooms, additional accommodation for at least 82 people, nine fully equipped campsites, 178 beautiful acres and frontage to the River Ribble. All this for £3.25million. Yes, it’s a large sum but surely that is a bargain.

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Pig of the Week

THESE are Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. I must confess I had never heard of these wonderful animals, but the breed is one of the oldest in Britain, dating back 200 or 300 years. It is also known as also known as the ‘plum pudding pig’ or the ‘forest pig’ (and obviously as the OSB).

It was developed in Oxfordshire and has come close to extinction a couple of times. However dedicated breeders have brought it back from the brink and it has enjoyed a resurgence with the interest in heritage livestock, although numbers have dropped again slightly recently. According to the British Pig Association, in 2022 there were 395 registered sows and 114 boars.

They are said to be ideal for beginners as they are docile and friendly.  

The Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Society website says: ‘The breed is noted for its many qualities, particularly its excellent temperament and mothering abilities. Generally prolific, the Oxford will function well under most management systems, and produces meat of very high quality and flavour (the markings do not go through to the meat). It finishes quicker than many traditional breeds, and is also less inclined to run to fat. There can be no more visually attractive breed than the Oxford, with its good nature and ease of management making it a great favourite with all who have ever kept these pigs.’

Here is a sow and her many piglets (I gave up trying to count them).

Here are some adults enjoying a bit of fuss.

I love this one – four lively youngsters have just arrived, to the fascination of the sheep in the next field.

You can find out more about OSBs at the Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Society website.  

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Wheels of the Week

UNUSUALLY for me, I got ahead a bit this week and wrote this segment a few days ago. Unfortunately my computer subsequently had a pink fit and right on deadline I have found that the file is blank. However as luck would have it, I encountered this terrific biker in Clitheroe yesterday afternoon and asked to take pictures of his gorgeous machine, a 2007 Triumph Bonneville 865cc.

Note the custom-made leather adornments. I asked what the top speed is: ‘I don’t go for speed any more – I wouldn’t have got to 75 if I did.’

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Margaret Ashworth
Margaret Ashworth
Margaret Ashworth is a retired national newspaper journalist. She runs the Subbing Clinic in a hopeless attempt to keep up standards, and co-runs A & M Records where she indulges her passion for 60s pop.

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