Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Notes from the Sticks: Transports of delight


ONE of the many pleasures of living in the country is that there are occasional tractor runs, when vintage farm vehicles parade through the village before driving around for a few hours. That was in the old days, and they haven’t had one for a couple of years. So I was delighted to find that there is one being held today. They usually start and finish at the village hall but since that has been requisitioned by the NHS Covid empire, the location has switched to the next village, in the field where I saw a giant bonfire last week

On this occasion there is also a rally of vintage lorries which started to gather on Thursday afternoon. The first few were from a Clitheroe firm founded by Miles Fox, who died last year. His grandson James and some friends were busy polishing a 1948 AEC Mammoth and I took this picture of them. James is on the right. 

I went back yesterday afternoon and took some more pictures. By this time a beer tent was doing good business and many of the vehicles were unattended, so I don’t know the details of most of them, but readers might be able to fill the gaps.

This is the oldest one I saw, from 1925.

This one is from 1929.

Here are a few more. [Edit Sunday am: Commenter Shred says the second one down, which has ‘Thames Trader’ on the front, is a 1962 Ford – thanks.] 

And note the number plate on this one:

There were some vintage cars too. This is a Model T Ford. [Edit Sunday am – commenter Derek Reynolds tells me it’s not a Model T but a Model A – thanks.]

I am not sure what this is. [Edit Sunday am: Commenter Geoff Graham tellls me it is a Riley Nine – thanks.]

I will be taking pictures of the tractor run today for next week’s column but will leave you with Michael Fox, son of Miles and uncle of James, who will lead the run. He is pictured with a few of his own tractors.

It was lovely to see people enjoying each other’s company and sharing their interests. And not a mask in sight.


We have had hot, as opposed to warm, weather this week. I thought this was a lovely scene on the Ribble – children enjoying the outdoors instead of being glued to screens.

I was less pleased the following day to find a trail of plastic sweet wrappers, glass and plastic bottles and crisp packets along the bank. There must have been fully 100 items in less than a mile. I meant to take a bag with me on my next walk to collect them but needless to say I forgot, and anyway someone else had cleared them up. I thought this was the generation who are losing sleep over the future of the planet. 

However my faith has been partially restored: on Friday Alan and I came across a group of about 20 kids aged at a guess between ten and 14 who had been swimming in the river. They were surrounded by litter of the same sort – they must have got through ten items apiece. As we passed I said, ‘Excuse me, I’m going to sound very old and dreary, but you are going to take all that rubbish home with you, aren’t you?’ There was a short silence while they digested the fact that I had spoken, then there was a lot of affirmation that yes, they were indeed going to clear it up. Yesterday as we approached the spot I had every expectation that the litter would still be there, but there was not a scrap. 


A couple of weeks ago this was a reasonable pot of nasturtiums – too leggy, probably because the multi-purpose compost I used was too rich for them – but quite pretty. One day I discovered about eight tiny caterpillars on one of the leaves. I didn’t take a picture but this is what they looked like.

I haven’t seen caterpillars for ages and in any case I wouldn’t harm them so I just watched them. They ate so much and grew so quickly! Every day they seemed to have doubled in size. I looked them up and found they were cabbage whites (Pieris brassicae), just about the most common butterfly there is. Apparently their bodies contain noxious fluid so they don’t get picked off by predators even though they don’t trouble to conceal themselves. Two or three days ago, when they were this size,

they vanished, so they have gone somewhere to pupate while one of the most astonishing of nature’s many miracles takes place and they turn into butterflies. This takes about two weeks. I found this video which explains the extraordinary process. 

The adults that hatch will lay eggs and the resulting caterpillars will stay in chrysalis form until the spring. I worry that there are not nearly as many butterflies as there should be, and a pot of chewed flowers is a small price to pay for helping a few to a good start in life. I am thinking of cutting the plants right down to see if they will grow back. 

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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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