Monthly Archives: June 2020

Now we know why they wanted all that toilet paper!


The Lake District National Park Authority held a Visitor Poll on the 30th and 31st of May. They asked interesting questions.


Before your visit which of the following things did you do?
Use the LDNPA website to check how busy areas were.  35.5%

Plan your destination AND end up at that destination.  38.7%

Plan your destination AND change your plan enroute. 55.1%

Use social media to research your visit.    43.4%

Bring a picnic and refreshments.    42.2%

Bring a BBQ.    25.8%

Bring alcohol.    70.3%


Then they asked them; before your visit, which of the following things were you aware of.


Not all car parks are open.      58.2%

Not all toilets are open.     70.3%

Most shops are closed.  74.6%

Most food businesses are closed.  39.5%

Local people are worried about visitors not respecting social distancing.  86.7%

You should take your litter home.  34.4%

You should follow the Country Code.  12.5%

You should check how busy areas are before you arrive.  59.4%


Then they asked them, in normal times would you have been in the

Lake District Today?  80% answered no they would have been somewhere else.


Finally they asked them, what was your main reason for visiting the Lake District today?
We love the Lake District.   13.5%

We wanted to cool off in the water.  12.2%

We wanted to take exercise.  9.8%

We wanted to meet family and friends in a safe environment. 18.8%

The lockdown has been lifted.  8.2%

The thing we’d normally be doing is closed. 15.3%

Family gathering to celebrate Eid al Fitr.  3.3%

Other outdoor destinations were too busy. 9.8%

Passive aggressive responses such as ‘why not’ or mentioning Dominic Cummings 4.2%

Motorbike was gathering dust. 4.9%


Now there has been a move to get more tourists into the Park, but also to reach out to people who don’t normally visit. It looks like this weekend they’d inadvertently succeeded.


The Park also produced a weekend summary which highlighted problems.


  • Visitor numbers increased by an estimated 40% on the peak of the bank holiday weekend.
  • Anywhere with access to water was rammed.
  • It’s worth noting that it was busy in some areas. It was not however an old fashioned busy day in the Lakes. The towns are mostly very quiet.


However there were ‘issues’ which the summary highlighted.


The Park staff normally collect 10 bin bags of litter per week. (Obviously this does not include the litter people have very correctly deposited in bins.)

On this weekend they collected 138 bags of litter picked up off the ground.


The Park staff normally dispose of around 3 pieces of human waste from their car parks in the average month. In this one weekend they disposed over 100 pieces of human waste. Many of these in car parks where there was a toilet that was open.


There were large numbers of BBQ’s, camp fires and similar found throughout the weekend in spite of people being asked not to light them and there being a fire risk.


The Park Rangers and other organisations found over 200 overnight campers in the park during the weekend. On Islands, shores, mountains and car parks. That’s just the ones they found.


Car parks in the Rydal area were at capacity by 9am on both days. Terrible parking problems in the surrounding areas. The Park staff did put out cones and signs but it was a losing battle. The whole Coniston area was bad. East of the Lake was the worst anybody had seen. The road was virtually impassable for much of the day. The standard of parking was frankly appalling.


Windermere and the shores around it were intensely busy with inconsiderate parking closing resident access. People couldn’t get in or out of their homes.


With regard to Buttermere, Derwentwater, Borrowdale, Wasdale & Ennerdale, Bassenthwaite, and the shores of Ullswater.

These areas were simply the old problems of terrible fly parking, but with increased numbers of people. The people there had less respect for the natural environment than pre-COVID19 visitors. Roads became impassable for much of the day.



So, having read the survey and the summary what have we learned? Well up until now, the Lake District appears to have attracted a selection of visitors who have been largely educated in how to behave. Perhaps we never realised how well behaved they were. Also it shows how a large part of our urban population doesn’t really understand the rural environment and frankly doesn’t particularly care whether they inconvenience people or not, provided they get a decent place on the lake shore. Indeed it is entirely possible that the old saying, “I wouldn’t trust them to sit the right way on a lavatory” might well be literally true in some cases.”

What can we do about it? Well traffic and ridiculous parking is something that we could tackle. The roads are so crowded you literally couldn’t get in to tow people away. If you clamped them it might actually make things worse. Swamp the area with wardens handing out fixed penalty parking tickets? Serious fixed penalties, given these people are blocking not merely the access of other visitors but also the access of emergency vehicles.
Alternatively they could perhaps stop traffic on a road and authorise a tractor with a silage trailer to go through to clear the passage with the emergency vehicle following behind.

I think there is going to have to be a tourist tax. Cumbria has a population of fewer than half a million. Yet Cumbrians are providing the police, car parking and toilets (even if not all the tourists know how to use them) for about 20 million visitors.
Or we could just cut tourist numbers. You want to come to Cumbria, book ahead, without a booking you get turned back as you try to leave the M6?

Or perhaps we could just ban their cars? When you pay your council tax in Cumbria you get a disc you can put on your car and that allows you into the county. Everybody else comes in by public transport or parks in a ‘park and ride’ car park near the motorway junction?
Some or all these ideas are probably impracticable, but we cannot go on like this.


Somebody I know who was out on the fells recently commented, “I despair at the large groups of lads shouting at each other, playing music on their phones and tripping each other up and causing rock slides. One group said I was ‘organised’ because I was able to tell them where they were and which direction they needed to go as I had a map. People are wandering around between Styhead tarn, Great End, the bottom of Piers Gill and Broad Crag with no idea of where they were and no idea of how to figure out where they were. ‘How long till Sca Fell Pike…and is this the way’ I was asked by three separate groups.

Smart phones have a lot to answer for. There is no familiarisation with maps at all now for many people. Drop a pin in on Google maps and magically the car finds itself there. Phones have GPS, but an OS or BMC map won’t go flat. The phone is mainly there to instagram and facebook as people show where they are and what they are doing.

I also can’t remember finding cans of lager in the hills either. Around camp sites and roads and near pubs etc, but not at 3,000 feet.”


It’s not just Cumbria that is going to suffer, the other National Parks will doubtless get more visitors. And don’t try going by road, apparently there’s been a boom in caravan sales.

From car dealer magazine.
“One campervan dealer told us he had sold a month’s worth of stock in the first week back after the lockdown while Auto Trader has reported caravan advert views up 18 per cent and motorhome adverts up 17 per cent.

Meanwhile, auctions are selling to the trade and well above predicted prices with bidding ‘frenzied’ among dealers scrabbling to replenish stock.”


I don’t know where you were hoping to get to, but frankly it could be quicker walking.



What do I know?
Speak to the expert

A collection of anecdotes, it’s the distillation of a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England. I’d like to say ‘All human life is here,’ but frankly there’s more about Border Collies, Cattle and Sheep.

As a reviewer commented, “A delightful, chatty collection of jottings, which capture the mindset of sheep and their shepherd on a day to day basis. Thank you for this refreshing ramble in the Cumbrian countryside, Jim!”

Kettle wedges and zoom


Back in April we had a tree blow down. I suppose it’s arguable whether it was our tree that blew down or our next door neighbours, but either way it made sense for me to be the one who cut it up. This is the tree that blew down and we ‘stood up again.’


But now, at last, it’s all home and reduced to ‘kit form’. The branches I just reduced to nine inch lengths as I went along, so that they were ready to dry out and burn. By the time we got to last winter, I’d taken most of the branches and some of the trunk. But then the weather got silly. So nothing much happened.
Anyway this month I decided to tackle the rest of it. The trunk was actually two trunks which had ‘almost’ grown together. They came apart under their own weight, and the top one I cut into slices about nine inches to a foot thick. What surprised me was whilst the end slice had ‘dried out’, the other slices were still moist and pretty heavy. The tree had been cut off from its roots for over a year and the slices were still too wet to be split with an axe.

Anyway the slices can stand in an old barn and dry out nicely. I’ll not really need them this winter anyway.

The bottom trunk I had dragged out of the nettles and rubbish which accumulates around them when you’re working on them. I then sliced this. It was at this point that the weather got ridiculously warm and humid. Wearing chainsaw protective trousers etc I was overdressed anyway, and then there were cleggs/horseflies trying to eat me alive. It’s difficult to slap a horsefly that’s landed on your left arm when you’re using the right hand to control the chainsaw.

The problem with cutting slices from a trunk this thick was that it was thicker than the bar of my chainsaw was long. So I would go down one side of the trunk. Walk round to the other side and cut down that side. Now when you’re cutting thinner branches, no more than nine inches or so thick, it seems you can keep the cut reasonably straight. But when you get to the sort of thing I was cutting you discover that, actually (in my case) I must ‘pull’ the chainsaw to the right. Perhaps it’s because I’m left handed?

This means that when I go round the other side of the trunk to do the second cut, if both cuts pull to the right, they actually diverge and you’re left with uncut wood between them which you’ve got to slide the saw in and cut through.
But anyway, on the last morning I was faced with the lump that was left. I decided there was no way I could slice that, so instead I sort of ‘whittled it away’ with the chainsaw. Because the middle was hollow I would cut down along the line of the hollow. Almost like cutting a slice from a circular cake with the hollow being the centre of the cake. Once I’d done as much of that as I could, I cut the bits I was left with in half or thirds so they were light enough to pick up and carry to the quad trailer. This heap of overly large kettle wedges is now stacked in an artistically interesting and culturally significant heap in the yard where they can dry out. Then in a year or so I’ll have another go at getting them small enough to fit in the fire place.

Other than that, life proceeds. I’m now an ‘old hand’ at zoom meetings. The fact that I attend them on a desktop computer without a camera is essentially an advantage. (After all who bothers to put a camera on a desktop computer with rural broadband and a download speed of 3.5Mbps and an upload speed of a quarter of that?)

But one phenomena I’m coming across is ‘zoom meeting fatigue.’
A friend of mine has a job in the third sector in Cumbria. The normal pattern of her day would be that she might have a meeting, drive thirty, forty, ninety miles, have another one. The driving time was useful, it gave her time to mentally process one meeting and prepare for the next.
Now with zoom, there can be days with a meeting every hour on the hour. These meetings can be very intense. But she’s noticed that most of the people she deals with are government or local government people and at 5pm they switch off. She then has to spend her evening actually doing that part of her job which doesn’t involve meetings, and on Saturday, because the third (voluntary) sector is all about volunteers, she ‘meets’ with volunteers who were of course working during the week.

There is also a growing suspicion that a proportion of the meetings are being called by people who feel they have to ‘look busy’ if they are going stave off redundancy, or at least to come out of the lockdown with an enhanced CV and improved prospects of promotion within their department.

There is a growing suspicion among some of the people I know that zoom is ‘too easy to use.’ My experience has been that it was worked well enough because the meetings I’ve attended have been with people I’ve known and worked with for years. In point of fact, projecting a blank rectangle rather than a video of me has worked to my advantage. Rather than have to look ‘engaged’ or worry about my appearance, I can concentrate on the body language of other attendees. But because I know them, because we’ve ‘broken bread together’ then I can read them reasonably well.

I suspect that whilst zoom meetings will continue, ‘real meetings’ will also restart. Because it is in the real meeting that you get to know people, chat to them over a coffee, and work out how they tick.


There again, do you really want to know how some people tick?


In his own well chosen words, Tallis Steelyard reveals to us the life of Maljie, a lady of his acquaintance. In no particular order we hear about her bathing with clog dancers, her time as a usurer, pirate, and the difficulties encountered when one tries to sell on a kidnapped orchestra. We enter a world of fish, pet pigs, steam launches, theological disputation, and the use of water under pressure to dispose of foul smelling birds. Oh yes, and we learn how the donkey ended up on the roof.


As a reviewer commented, “Maljie is a pretty amazing woman, especially when you consider she has to deal with living in Port Naain, which is a medieval fantasy city. However, she is not one to let such things as expected gender roles hold her back – indeed no, those are merely there to be exploited!

We see Maljie and learn of her adventures through the eyes of Tallis Steelyard, a jobbing poet and himself an acute and wickedly perceptive inhabitant of Port Naain.

These stories are not so much a collection of anecdotes as a tour de force of hilarious and unlikely situations brought together in a single volume and showing the unstoppable rise and rise of the irrepressible Marjie.

If you want some feel-good reading to brighten your day, Jim Webster is your man and Maljie is, most certainly the right woman for the job!”

Dry grass and cats running in flip flops.


People struggle to understand why I can get so interested in grass. After all it’s green and normally wet. But really, my life has been spent creating optimum conditions for grass. That way I had enough to feed to cattle or sheep, and somehow we made a living.

In a perfect world, when making silage, you’d move the grass at exactly the right stage at exactly the right time. (So ideally you mow the grass in the evening. This is because the grass produces sugars during the day, but during the night moves them down to the roots. So if you mow the same field in the morning, the leaves, the bit you harvest, will contain less sugar than if you mow it twelve hours later (or earlier.) As an aside that probably means to keep your lawn strong and healthy you should mow it first thing in the morning as soon as the dew is off it.

But back to silage. You must remember that the ‘D’ value of grass is also important. D value is the percentage of digestible organic matter in the dry matter. Obviously you measure it in the dry matter, because that which isn’t dry matter is water, and whilst necessary, there’s damn all feed value in it and it can fluctuate wildly anyway.

Older grass will be below 60%, young leafy grasses can be over 70%. So picking a time to silage is a case of balancing quality and quantity. Go too early and you’ll have excellent silage but not enough. Go too late you’ll have plenty of belly filler but they’ll not milk off it.

At the moment things have got even more complicated in that we had a long dry spell. Normally, the advantage of second cut silage is that as the grass was all mown on the same day in May, it starts again and is a very even crop for second cut. But because of the dry spell, in the same field you have patches where the soil contains more sand. The grass there suffered from the drought and some even went to seed (which from the D value point of view means it is low.) But with the rain those areas are greening up and putting out new shoots. Similarly other parts of the field with soils that held more water were hit less. So an appropriate date for mowing one part of the field is too late for some of the field and too early for other bits. But in agriculture, we’re used to trying to find the least worst option.


On an entirely different front, Sal and Billy are still working on their relationship. We had a cow calve and Sal discovered the afterbirth. Border Collies have simple tastes. Afterbirth is a welcome breakfast snack. So she was quietly helping herself to it. Billy appeared on the scene. He remains fascinated by Sal, and will regularly jog across to see what she’s up to. He watched her eat with interest but showed no sign of wanting to join it. Anyway he then walked under her, rubbing his back on her tummy. I get the feeling that this wasn’t something Sal had been expecting with her breakfast and she leapt to one side, but kept a good hold of breakfast.

It’s interesting watching the two animals run. If I shout Sal, when she runs it is the run of an animal that is determined to cover the ground. She’s got a fair turn of speed and when going flat out, she’s this sleek streamlined missile, hurtling along. If Billy runs after her the effect is entirely different. Somehow he runs as if he’s wearing flip flops and is trying not to lose them.

And talking about waiting for the right moment, it looks as if there might be a change in the guidelines over social distancing.

My suspicion is that we will be advised to go to the World Health Organisation recommendation of one meter rather than our current one of two meters. When you think about it, people will actually work happily at one meter, it’s about what we think of as our personal space.

Now towards the start of the outbreak, YouGov started a ‘chat’ which they email to people every couple of days. I suppose it’s a way of getting a feel for how people are feeling.


Yesterday two of the questions were:-


Do you think levels of frustration and anger in the population are higher or lower than usual?

Results so far…

Much higher – 50%

A little higher – 44%

None of these – 4%

A little lower – 2%

Much lower – 1%


Do you think over the next month feelings of frustration will…?

Latest results…

Increase – 70%

Decrease – 18%

Neither – 13%


I must admit I wouldn’t disagree with those findings. A lot of people are going quietly out of their minds, stuck at home with only the BBC and Social Media.

But then there were these questions as well.



For the time being, do you think we continue to need rules on social distancing?

Latest results…

Yes – 81%

No – 13%

Not sure – 7%


And should those rules require us to stay 1m apart or 2m?

Latest results…


2m apart – 63%

1m apart – 29%

No need at all – 6%

More – 2%


I’m now the one who does the shopping, and I’ve noticed that in our local Tesco people vary a lot. You’ll get those who will not go within six feet of somebody else under pretty much any circumstances. Some of them are even wearing masks (but still less than 5%).

Then you get those wave you past if they’re looking for something in particular and aren’t going to move. I fall firmly into that category.

But it’s the staff that I’ve watched most. Like me, they’ve been working throughout the entire pandemic. To be fair to Tesco, they’ve got the arrows on the floor, screens up for the check-out staff and everything is done properly. But when I go in about 8am, there are a lot of staff out restacking shelves and moving stuff about. Their behaviour has reverted to normal, they don’t get in each other’s ‘personal space’ but otherwise if you talk to them, they’ll stand about three or four feet away, just like normal people always did.

My suspicion is that we’re very much in two worlds. Those who’re out there and who have been working through it have long adapted and are no longer worried about things. There are bigger risks. Then we have those who’re stuck at home. I still know people who haven’t been past the garden gate and don’t particularly want to. But then if you’re somebody on a guaranteed income (government paid salary and you’re at home shielding a vulnerable relative) why on earth would you push for change?

As it is, looking at the epidemic, is interesting and does hang together nicely.


He comments that the Ferguson/Imperial College model may be correct, it’s just he didn’t allow for a large proportion of the population being naturally resistant to the virus.
Indeed the current outbreak in China fits in with his model. It isn’t a ‘second peak’, it’s just that China is so large that the lockdown managed to prevent spread to distant areas. But eventually the virus gets there and you have another peak in what is effectively a new naïve population.


There again, what do I know?

More tales from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England, with sheep, Border Collies, cattle, and many other interesting individuals. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is just one of those things.


As a reviewer commented, “Like the other two books in this series, Jim Webster gives us a perspective of farm life we may not have appreciated. Some of the facts given will come as a shock to non-farming readers, but they do need to be read. Having said that, there are plenty of humorous anecdotes to make the book an enjoyable read.”

Killer on the loose.


It has to be said that whilst Billy our cat is a charming character, he is a killer. He’s a cat so it goes with the territory. When he arrived, a rescue kitten, feral and vaccinated to the eyeballs he didn’t particularly like people. To be fair, you can understand his point of view. But we fed him for a couple of days whilst he was in the cage, then opened the door and kept putting a bit of food down so he knew where to find us.

Since then we have ‘supplemented’ his diet as opposed to feeding him. If he started looking hungry or a bit bedraggled we’d know he needed more, but it’s obvious that he’s feeding himself nicely. He is happy disposing of rats with the occasional crow for a change.
But interestingly he has ‘adopted’ the three of us he sees regularly. I have never fed him but he makes a point of coming up to me and shouting at me to attract my attention. That way he gets his ears rubbed or his tummy tickled. Indeed when the weather got hot and the kitchen door stood open, he several times wandered in to see what was going on. My lady wife he watched with vague interest, got his ears rubbed by me and wandered out again.

If there’s a stranger in the yard he doesn’t generally approve. I was talking to one person and Billy appeared. He walked across to me and then realised there was company. He shouted at me and then stalked away looking most affronted. Indeed when one chap came and sat with his air rifle, watching for vermin, Billy sat near him. Not near enough to be touched, but near enough to keep an eye on the situation. He did this for the full two hours.
So at heart, our Billy is a feral cat who happens to like a small group of people. If there’s a sudden noise, a strange dog, or something surprising, he just disappears at speed.

He gets on with Sal. She seems to fascinate him. This may merely be that she’s the one nearest to him in size. Sal regards Billy as ‘just one of those things.’ She doesn’t ignore him, she’ll happily pinch his supper if he isn’t there to guard it, and it’s quite fun watching them both lapping up spilled milk. Sal with the much larger tongue does seem to have a distinct advantage.

Milk cows are, I suspect, just too big to be considered as anything but terrain. A calf had got out of her pen and was dancing around the yard. Billy sat on his haunches watching it with interest but made no effort to get any closer. With regard to adult cattle he’ll walk along the path next to the collecting yard and doesn’t seem to bother about the cows watching him as they wait to be milked. Even if they lower their heads to get a closer look. There again the cow who snorted and put out a tongue longer than Billy to lick his tail got a very old-fashioned look.

Still, as feral cats go, Billy is remarkably easy to worm. Apparently if you wrap the tablet in a little bit of meat, he eats it with enthusiasm. Unfortunately the issue of baths arose. Billy appeared, caked with mud and worse. He’d obviously fallen into something, and whilst he might have made an attempt to get rid of it, it was now caked on. So somebody (not me) picked him up by the scruff of the neck and washed him down with a hosepipe. Finally she just about got him clean but eventually had to give up. It wasn’t this feral cat’s needle sharp teeth or razor sharp claws. It was the way he cried pathetically. That being said, it wasn’t long before he was his usual sunny self, shouting at me to bend down and rub his ears.


Nice to know you’ve got friends isn’t it

Another collection of anecdotes drawn from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England. As usual Border Collies, Cattle and Sheep get fair coverage, but it’s mixed with family history and the joys of living along a single track road.

Move along, nothing to see here

move along

The feeling that the world is splitting into two different societies is becoming overwhelming. I recently saw a photograph on social media of a few people on a beach and somebody commented, “They should stay at home, nobody else is going out, even to work.” It’s comments like that which remind you how far some people have drifted from the reality of the situation.

Yet in the world I live in, everybody has been going to work for quite some time now, even if they did have a week or so off at the start. This isn’t just farming, but all sorts of industries locally. The ones that are still shut are largely those shut by regulation.


Now the other afternoon I was talking to the milk tanker driver. The first thing that struck me was ‘social distancing.’ The World Health Organisation (whom we are told are the people government should always listen to) insist that


Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.


Avoid going to crowded places. Why? Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet).


Yet just watching people chatting, it’s rare people go nearer than that anyway. (Perhaps we’re naturally programmed?) When I see farmers and contractors talking, they’d both be leaning on something and were always four or five feet apart long before social distancing became popular. Being within three feet of somebody makes people feel uncomfortable and crowded.


But anyway, talking to the tanker driver, his comment was that the ‘good times’ have passed. Obviously he worked normally though the whole lockdown. He remembers the happy day when he glanced round and realised he was the only vehicle on the M6. He even had a brief moment of panic, “Have they shut it and I’ve not noticed the no entry sign?” But now the roads are back to close to normal round here.
We saw the same in our lanes. In the first few weeks we were quite busy with walkers. I was working on a gateway and in the hour I spent on the job, about seven walkers passed, most said ‘hi’ and I chatted to some of them. I lost track of the number of cyclists.

Now when it comes to walkers and cyclists we’re back down to pre-outbreak levels, people going for a walk are obviously getting in their car and going further, or more probably, they’re at work.

I think that people are being sensible. I was talking to one lady. She had got herself properly worked up. Her parents are elderly and neither enjoys good health. Indeed for the last three years they didn’t expect her father to see Christmas. (You buy his present in December and it’s something he’ll have finished by the end of January.)
She’d been talking to her parents through the window and her father had just commented, “I’m not sure it’s worth the effort of going on. What’s the point?”

Distressed by this, she’d discussed it with her husband and her brother, and had got both parents into her car and had taken them out round the lakes. They didn’t get out of the car but they stopped for a ‘picnic’ which was a drink of tea from their flask, and went home feeling vastly better.

People can do their research, they can see what is happening elsewhere in the world. They’ve noticed that other European countries are going back to normal and there isn’t a ‘second spike’. Indeed somebody told me that South Korea had a ‘spike’ and we ought to lock down more tightly. The South Korean spike means that today they have “39 additional cases of the coronavirus, all but three of them reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.” Somebody else commented to me that ‘if that is a spike, bring it on.’

So the British Public are doing wild and dangerous things, if they visit friends and need the loo, they’re using it rather than popping behind a bush in the garden.

They are also noticing that, in reality, the lockdown is starting to do more damage that good. We’re starting to see major mental health issues, we have people who are literally terrified of leaving home. How on earth are they going to integrate back into society and live normal lives?

On a wider front millions of children are going unvaccinated. Vaccine programmes have collapsed because either governments have abandoned them, or where governments haven’t the collapse in air traffic means that there are no flights to fly the vaccines to the country.


Cancer specialists are pointing out that there is a huge backlog of cancer work that needs to be caught up on, people who normally would have contacted their doctor are still sitting at home unseen.


The lockdown is going to kill people, so we better make sure it kills fewer than it saves.


But we have problems. Too many people are scared. Yet some people aren’t, in parts of this country as many as 70% of children who could go back to school did go. They may have been encouraged by the Norwegian PM, Erna Solberg who is now saying she panicked when she shut schools and thinks that they should have been left open. The comment has been made in this country, that if the retail sector had insisted on the level of precautions the schools are insisting on for reopening, we would all have starved.


I’m beginning to think that the drift to opening up is inexorable. Government is slowly following the population at large. Dragging their heels firmly at the back is a lot of naysayers and critics who are in full lockdown mode. They’re still accusing the government of being wild and reckless. Personally I suspect some of them will never forgive the government if there isn’t a second spike. Still it’s been a brilliant few weeks for those who liked telling other people what to do and making sure they didn’t enjoy themselves.
When people start checking shopping bags to make sure you’ve only been making essential purchases you know that the control freaks have reached a whole new peak of ecstasy


There again, what do I know?

More tales from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England, with sheep, Border Collies, cattle, and many other interesting individuals. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is just one of those things.


As a reviewer commented, “I always enjoy Jim’s farming stories, as he has a way of telling a tale that is entertaining but informative at the same time. I’ve learned a lot about sheep while reading this book, and always wondered how on earth a sheepdog learns to do what it does – but I know now that a new dog will learn from an old one. There were a few chuckles too, particularly at how Jim dealt with unwanted salespeople. There were a couple of shocks regarding how the price of cattle has decreased over the years, and also sadly how the number of UK dairy farms has dropped from 196,000 in 1950 to about 10,000 now.
Jim has spent his whole life farming and has acquired a wealth of knowledge, some of which he shares in this delightful book.”