Welcome

Garden

My Fenland garden in the autumn

I don’t know how you discovered this site, but I’m glad you did. There’s all sorts of stuff here.  I’ve been an archaeologist for over forty years and have excavated several major sites, mostly in the Fens of eastern England. I’ve also tried to bring archaeology to a wider audience, with a number of books, radio and television programmes, of which Time Team is the best known. When not writing or digging, I’m also a sheep farmer and keen gardener. But like most people, I get bees in my bonnet – obsessions, call them what you like. Most of  my worries are about the general disregard for the achievements of people in the past and the failure of politicians, both local and national, to learn the lessons of  history. Hence the title of this blog: In The Long Run. So to sum up, this will be the place to see stuff about archaeology, gardening, farming and rural life, books, broadcasting, history and the occasional intemperate rant. It won’t be very formal, because I don’t ‘do’ formality. But I do hope it’ll be fun.

Posted in Welcome | Tagged

The Accidental Shopkeeper

IMG_0193It’s not often that you read a book and realise that you are holding history in your hands. And I don’t want that to sound pretentious: I can’t imagine for one moment that The Accidental Shopkeeper, by Patrick Limming, will ever appear on the Reading List of university students; indeed, if it did, its author would probably die laughing. No, what I meant, is that without intending to – which is crucially important as it rules out bias and prejudice – this book has given future historians an invaluable resource. I’m sure the late 20th and early 21st centuries will furnish scholars with vast quantities of material on the digital revolution, on political devolution, on the rise of religious fundamentalism and the collapse of established Christian churches, all of these are if you like predictable themes. The trick is somehow to side-step the predictable and produce something that throws new light on aspects of contemporary life that people in three or four generations’ time will realise were important. And one of these must surely be the decline, or the survival – it is still unclear which it will be – of smaller towns and their economic basis, the High Street. True, the media are full of Mary Portas, but hers is the very metropolitan High Street of large chains and superstores. What Patrick Limming is writing about is a very different beast. And it matters hugely to local people. In fact I’ll be visiting his shop later today to pick up some Coarse Mix for our three rams, who have been closely confined together since their four weeks of frolicking with the ewes, which came to an end a fortnight ago.

So the book is essentially a work-focussed autobiography and it tells the story of how one man and his father set-up and established a small business, based around horticultural supplies, pet-food and garden furniture, in a provincial market town, Holbeach, in the Lincolnshire Fens, just a short distance from the Wash. It’s very much a warts-and-all story and I for one was fascinated to learn what lay behind the firm’s expansion and the creation of new premises. This involved the demolition of some Georgian buildings and it was good to read for once the other side of the story. As an archaeologist and landscape historian I rarely get to see ‘the other story’ and Patrick makes it clear that they had no alternative. We tend to forget that many buildings of this age were very Gerry-built and I honestly don’t think he could have done anything else – if, that is, the business was to continue and in the process employ local people, as it does to this day. Ultimately even old building have to make way for human well-being. It’s only when ambition and greed lead to unnecessary demolition that I get really angry: there was no need, for example, to have pulled down the Euston Arch. It’s also worth reminding ourselves that some of the finest country houses, that visitors now flock to in their millions, were constructed on the remains of destroyed medieval villages.

This book is based around the experience of success and of many small failures and that’s why it’s so important. It’s the sort of book that ought to appear in all university Local History Departments and indeed, in university libraries. As I implied earlier, it’s an historical building-block. The author is very modest about his achievements, which are considerable and the book is written light-heartedly and is replete with terrible jokes – just like the author. It’s also far better written than nearly all the dreary reports and formulaic papers produced by professional archaeologists that I still have to wade through from time to time. He jokes about his spelling (which is impeccable) and his grammar which it’s fair to say is individualistic. But his words and the pattern of his writing are helping to preserve a record of how people in the northern Fens currently speak. And it makes such a refreshing change from the ubiquitous Estuary. But at the same time it’s very good reading: from the very first page, the words flow with the natural, unaffected ease of a born writer. Whatever else he chooses to do next, I do hope Patrick never goes on a Creative Writing course.

Towards the end of the book, we are given some fascinating statistics about the rise and decline of Holbeach as a mercantile town. These are accompanied by a series of ‘then and now’ views of the High Street, which, as a local resident, I found most absorbing. Patrick spells out clearly what makes being a shop-keeper difficult and quite predictably it’s almost always either bloody-minded bankers or brain-dead local bureaucratic jobsworths. I think you get my drift. But he drives his grievances home with many pointed case-studies that you wouldn’t believe if he hadn’t told you. And that’s another thing about this book: it’s 100% truthful. I honestly couldn’t detect any signs of hyperbole or exaggeration – even when he was describing high speed exploits in his much-loved Lotus cars.

So if you’re looking for an original, thought-provoking Christmas present, you’ve just found one: Patrick Limming’s The Accidental Shopkeeper. And at £9.99 it’s the same price as The Lifers’ Club – plus it’s got pictures!

IMG_0195

Posted in books | Tagged , , ,

I Love The Country

I started writing this around six in the morning when I had to get up to take a very powerful antibiotic. That’s because at 3.30 this afternoon I’m going to Kings Lynn hospital to have my sixth prostate biopsy. I vowed I’d never have another one after the fifth, which went septic and left me in a terrible state. I didn’t realise it then, but infections deep within the body cavity can be very nasty indeed and that one took weeks to shift. So I’m keeping fingers firmly crossed that today’s doesn’t follow the same path. The last biopsy was shortly before Christmas and poor Maisie had to go to the local A and E Department to fetch me emergency treatment around midnight on Christmas Eve. And a very memorable Festive Season that was.

                As readers of this blog will be aware, we normally like to do a big jig-saw puzzle over the Christmas holiday. I suppose it’s a way of making sure that we change gear and slow down. Of course booze can do the same thing, but puzzles are much cheaper and don’t make you so fat. Some puzzles can be harder than others: I well remember as a child spending an eternity piecing together a huge view of a bluebell wood, with lots of identical flowers, leaves and trees. And was it fun? No, not really. I suppose it was a way of satisfying the obsessive side of my character. No, the puzzles that work best for me are the ones where there’s a wealth of detail but hidden within the intricacy are little jokes – little moments of humour, like a distant view of the Titanic sinking in a rural lake. But the main design should be appealing too. In fact it wasn’t until I’d finished it that I realised the view of the bluebell wood was actually rather dull.

                But Mike Jupp’s designs are never boring. His puzzles are strangely personal and communicative. In some respects they’re rather like books. When I write, I imagine my reader (and I always write for one person, preferably alone) is sitting alongside me, but not in front of me. In other words, we’re chatting together. I’d hate anyone to think that I was teaching or lecturing to them. I like things to be more informal – hence this slightly chaotic blog, which I wouldn’t have any other way. And that’s how I imagine Mike Jupp works, too. I can picture him in his studio in Bognor chortling away as he imagines the moment when somebody discovers that the goose is wearing dark glasses and there’s a deep-sea diver in the village pond. To me these are shared jokes. As I said, chortles rather than belly-laughs. And what’s wrong with a good chortle? I ask.

                I might as well face it, but I’ll only be good for chortling over the next three or four days, so I’ve decided to move a bit of Christmas forward: I’m going to start one of the two Mike Jupp puzzles we’ve still to do, today. And it’s going to be a treat. It’s part of his hugely popular ‘I Love’ series: ‘I Love The County’. And I can’t wait to get started.

                Shortly before I took the antibiotic, which has left me feeling a bit woozy, I took a picture of the puzzle’s box lid with my iPad, but you can see much better reproductions on the Gibson’s website:

www.gibsonsgames.co.uk

It’s well worth a visit, if that is, you’re up for a damn-good chortle.

Mike Jupp’s jigsaw: I Love The Country (Gibsons, Surrey). Can you spot the Pentre Ifan dolmen? I’d say the church tower was probably Saxon, too (but with a 14th century window added later). Shame about the glider - and its two pilots.

Mike Jupp’s jigsaw: I Love The Country (Gibsons, Surrey). Can you spot the Pentre Ifan dolmen? I’d say the church tower was probably Saxon, too (but with a 14th century window added later). Shame about the glider – and its two pilots.

Posted in My life | Tagged ,

Missed Posts, 1: Puppytime

What a year! I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy as I was in 2014. Completely lunatic. Absolutely mad. You might have thought that after damn-near 70 years (in 6 weeks) on this planet, I would have learnt to plan my life a bit better. Most of my contemporaries have managed it. Some have retired completely and are proud of doing nothing. These are the real time-wasters:

‘Any chance we could pop over next week? Our cruise to Outer Mongolia isn’t for a fortnight, and it would be so nice if we could catch-up on old times. Haven’t seen you since that week in March last year …’

I remember it well: mid-lambing. Rushed off our bloody feet. They said they only wanted to be put-up en route to the in-laws in Yorkshire. But they stayed a God-awful week, and then insisted they took us out for a meal on their last night. There was only one ewe who hadn’t lambed, and of course that’s precisely what she did, as soon as we’d closed the gate behind us. And then she sat on it and suffocated the poor little thing. It wouldn’t have happened if we’d been there. Ugh, I was livid! And what was worse, our self-invited ‘guests’ didn’t seem to care:

‘Oh well, don’t worry: these things happen. See you next year!’

And off they swanned.

But I digress.

As I said, some retire and become time-wasters. Others manage to do a few consultancies and a bit of voluntary work. And they’re the happy ones: a nice pension and plenty of genuinely useful things to do to occupy their time. It’s what I’ve been trying to achieve for the past five years, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. I vowed, for instance that I’d write no more archaeology books, but I’m planning one already. And Alan Cadbury’s exploits have proved ludicrously absorbing. Did you know, I’d no idea young Alan had been up to so much behind the scenes. And can you believe it, but he’s already started telling me about a third exploit, and the second hasn’t yet been funded:

‘Oh for Christ’s sake Alan,’ I almost wept, ‘Please don’t start another one.’

‘Would you rather I told that nice Mr Rankin in the Oxford Bar? Edinburgh’s less than four hours by train and I’m sure there must be fens in Scotland where Rebus could happily uncover the dark truth. And I have to admit, it’s a cracking tale. Right up his street.  DCI Lane thought so too, at the time. Said it’ll probably earn him promotion. Or the sack.’

So I let him talk.

The next thing I knew I’d accumulated six pages in my iPad’s Notes app.

Anyhow, I’m absolutely determined not to let things slip so badly in 2015. I enjoy writing my blog and what is ‘retirement’ about, if not enjoyment? So I’ve decided that COME WHAT MAY I am going to write-up the blog posts I had prepared in 2014, but never got round to doing. I’ll try to do them in chronological order, except for this one. Which is very short. Or rather it was, before my earlier digression on the joys of retirement. It’s also quite simple to write, and as the sun has just poked through the leaden skies, I’m keen to get out into the vegetable garden and start digging. You never know, we might have a frost in this record hot year (and some brain-dead people still deny climate change – leaves me speechless!!). And that’s just what the veg garden needs: a good air frost on freshly turned soil. It should help clear-up the fungal diseases that are starting to become quite problematic. Oh dear, I feel a digression is starting to happen…

Back to the point of this blog, which is the first of five posts that I had intended to write in 2014, if life hadn’t been quite so frantic. Its purpose is simple: to introduce the world to a young puppy called Pen. Pen is the result of a working Border Collie who jumped onto an unsuspecting chocolate Labrador bitch, on my niece’s farm in the Yorkshire Moors. So her working pedigree is impeccable. She has turned out to have the brains of both breeds, but the energy and lithe body of a Collie. She also has the short, fine coat of a Labrador and it looks like she’ll turn out to be as big as one. She certainly seems to have a Labrador’s appetite. Most important of all, she has a very sweet nature. Right now she’s just over six months old and is starting to behave a bit like a naughty teenager, but that’s fine. It’s what happens.  The two photos I’ve posted here were taken on the 2nd of October, shortly after we returned from collecting her in Yorkshire. She’s a lot bigger now, but no less charming. If I get sufficient Tweets I’ll take another picture of her closer to Christmas.

And come to think of it, isn’t it about time that Alan Cadbury acquired a pet….?

Pen on her back Pen close-up

Posted in My life | Tagged , , , ,

London’s Olympic Park: A Sign of Hope

It doesn’t seem very long ago that I was researching for material to include in my book The Making of the British Landscape. I well remember walking through Birkenhead Park, the modern world’s first urban park (1847) intended for the use of townspeople. It was a bright sunny day , the park had recently been refurbished and was looking gorgeous. That particular walk in the park had a profound effect on me, because it set me thinking about the relationship of the past and the present. Those far-sighted individuals who established municipal parks like Birkenhead, and New York’s Central Park (which was heavily influenced by it) were not thinking about their own ‘legacy’, to use a horrible modern term, but were concerned about the future well-being of ordinary people. And of course they were spending public money, whether raised in local taxes or by subscription.

Until very recently it was usual to treat the land of Britain, both urban and modern, as something to be used, and then abandoned, without any thought for the future or for the general ‘look’ or appearance of the surrounding landscape. So gravel pits, to use a particularly glaring example, were quarried-out and then simply left to flood and rot, with rusting machines, followed by decades of fly-tipped rubbish. The same could be said for old factory sites, railway sidings, airfields and so forth. Nobody worried about the future.

But since the 1970s that has changed. Today, Planners make stringent demands on people like gravel quarry operators – and quite right too. Similarly, the expenditure of vast sums of public money on prestige projects, such as the 2012 London Olympics, cannot be justified in terms of the event alone: no, today we demand that there must be some benefit for the public at large. Of course, people are human and will always promise pie in the sky in order to attract hard cash. In the case of the 2012 Olympics we were assured that the Games would inspire the population to take more exercise and eat fewer calories. But of course that didn’t happen. Only politicians would have believed that sort of glib rubbish. So as a nation we still waddle proudly about showing the world our folds of fat through obscenely tight leggings or T-shirts. And will someone please tell me, why is it that overweight people in the UK always choose horizontal stripes? It’s so defiantly British. The other ‘legacy’ benefit we were promised was the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which opened last April, after over a year’s extensive restoration and refurbishment. More to the point from my landscape historian’s perspective, it was the first major municipal park to open in the capital city for over a century. So I had to see it.

Anyhow, Last Thursday I finished the first revision of Alan Cadbury’s second mystery and I felt absolutely knackered. I needed to do something to relax and turn my brain back to the here-and-now. So I arranged to go and visit my daughter in London and she suggested we visit the Olympic Park, which is quite near to where she lives. Saturday was a typical late November day: wet and overcast: not, you might suppose, the best day for strolling through a park.

We left the farm early and put the dogs to bed in their kennels, after a walk through the wood where we kicked-up the leaves all around us. Our new puppy, Pen, which I’ll introduce in a future blog post, ran around at white-hot speed, seeing-off Muntjac deer left and right. We caught the train at Kings Lynn and headed south. Eventually, and after a very pleasant, if crowded journey in the London Overground, where two young women very kindly gave me and Maisie their seats, we arrived at the Westfield Shopping Centre. There we ate noodles – and very cheap, too. The place was heaving with people, all intent on having a relaxing afternoon.

Then we walked in the park and I must confess, I was astounded. It was far, far more than just a converted set of sports facilities: it had been laid-out by people who appreciated views and vistas.  And it wasn’t just a conversion. Having thought about and visited many parks I could see that this one, too, had been structured from the outset to make the most of its setting. Indeed, several times I was put in mind of ‘Capability’ Brown or Humphrey Repton. I’m aware that sounds pretentious, but what the hell: it was how I felt at the time. And that strange red metal tower, the Orbit, that looks from one angle as if it’s collapsing, then from somewhere else, as if it’s about to spring into space. I must admit, when I read about it in newspapers at the time of the Olympics I wasn’t very impressed: essentially it looked a gimmicky mess. All the journalists sneered and scoffed. And like everyone else I dismissed it as the sort of art that is so characteristic of our times: something that’ll grab sound-bites and is commissioned by a committee. But that is grossly unfair to the real thing, which is wholly different. For a start the scale is truly mind-boggling: it’s VAST! To be honest I could have stayed and looked at it for hours. So I owe a big apology and belated thank-yous to the two imaginations behind it: Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond.

A close-up of The Orbit

A close-up of The Orbit

I thought the treatment of water and the various streams, lakes ponds and boggy areas in the Park was very imaginative and the use of trees wonderful, with lots of oaks. You don’t often see the American River Birch, with its wonderful pale brown papery bark, but here there were dozens of them. Another big first for the park was all the attention they have paid to children and young people. Normally ‘playgrounds’ (which are anything but the sort) are horrible little tarmac’d and sometimes fenced-off areas tacked onto the edges of Victorian municipal parks, but not here. If I’d been thirty years younger I’d have been skateboarding in the Velopark, with the best of them. I also like the strange, spongy red asphalt surfaces in the playgrounds, and made a mental note never to drink wine before walking on them. Could be most upsetting.

London Aquatics centre

London Aquatics Centre

Again, the setting of the London Aquatics Centre, a superb curvaceous, and vast, indoor swimming pool by Zaha Hadid made very imaginative use of different levels in the landscape: sometimes you were looking straight at it; other times it was down there. But it always appeared striking and unusual. And then of course there was the big Olympic Stadium. Not an easy monster to accommodate with any grace or elegance in a designed landscape. So they didn’t make any attempt to conceal it. It’s there, with a Mall-like processional approach. And the building itself was right in your face. Put me in mind of the huge red brick hotel at the front of St. Pancras Station. Both structures oozed confidence and exuded presence. And if you don’t like that – hard luck. But then I have always gone for the confident over the tasteful.

The Olympic Stadium and The Orbit

The Olympic Stadium and The Orbit

So congratulations to all concerned with Her Majesty’s Olympic Park. Even though the day was grey and damp, I could see that you have created a worthy successor to Hyde Park or Regent’s Park – and that’s saying something. I’ll certainly be back in the summer.

Posted in Landscape | Tagged , , , , , ,

AC2 – an Open Letter

Dear Everyone Kind Enough to Follow this Blog,

I think if I were a follower of In The Long Run, I’d probably be very relieved that my email account was not being bombarded with strange stuff about arcane garden plants or even weirder pieces about an improbable detective/archaeologist called Alan Cadbury. And of course there were those accounts of Time Team shoots: ‘Day 3 and John Gator has fallen into the jaws of his radar scanner’. Or then there are those tales from the farm or from my visits to ancient sites in Britain and elsewhere. All have been absent from your screens for several months now. And I suppose this is by way of an apology.

Of course it’s all my own stupid fault. Maisie told me not to do it, but I pressed ahead, despite her dire warnings. And as she predicted, progress on the new book was checked by the appearance of The Lifers’ Club proofs. Then around springtime it was lambing, closely followed by the proofs of HOME: A Time Traveller’s Tales from Britain’s Prehistory. And finally my skin cancer face cream thing happened.  But still I persisted with the second Alan Cadbury book (which I refer to as AC2). So something had to give, and I’m afraid it was this blog.

So I am absolutely determined: I will never repeat the same mistakes in the future. I’ll manage my time far more carefully. And I’ll continue to make impossible resolutions – which I’ll ignore, and then regret. So then I’ll make some more. Can you detect a pattern beginning to emerge?

But now for the good news, if that is, you’re a follower of Alan Cadbury’s exploits. I’m now about ¾ of the way through it, and with luck I’ll have the first draft of the manuscript ready for my Editor, the great Liz Garner, sometime in November (I’d originally promised late October, so that’s not too bad…). Meanwhile I’m about to start completing the necessary forms for Unbound so that they can (a) approve of the project and (b) get an idea of its size and scope. So far I’ve written about 100,000 words, so the final version will probably be about 130-140,000, which is roughly the same size as Lifers (or AC1, as I sometimes think of it). I think we’ll launch the AC2 fund-raising campaign before Christmas, if all goes well.

And I know I should be paying more attention to my Author’s Shed – a blog, in effect – on the Unbound website, but that, too has suffered, like my own blog. There are just too few hours in the day, I’m afraid. I do, however,  very occasionally find time to do stuff for other people. Alan Cadbury gave me this blog post for the DigVentures website. It’s a bit scurrilous, I’m afraid, but I hope I managed to edit out all the actionable passages. Anyhow, here’s the link

http://digventures.us4.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=22a0f4e4c7f72ba483492ac1b&id=c09a2b6558&e=ae1e5dee80

So watch this space and please, please inundate me with bottles of cheap Cava when I do eventually finish the AC2 manuscript, sometime next month. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. With luck.

Anyhow, this picture is what my desk looks like when I set down to work each morning.

My desk, writing AC2The manuscript is on the big screen. The smaller computer on the left is linked to the web and my notes and sketch maps of AC2’s main site in its setting, are to the right. I also have a mini-iPad which I use to check quick things such as the spelling of Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St. Edmunds (well worth a visit, if you like later Bronze Age metalwork, incidentally).

Now it’s back to the creative grind-stone, the quern, the mortar…. Pestle off, Pryor!

Toodlepip.

Francis

Posted in books, My life | Tagged , ,

Oh, the Pains of Love and Life(rs)

This was the title of an email I received the other day from a very old and dear friend who worked on my Fengate project back in the latter 1970s. And we’ve stayed in touch ever since. You’ll be glad to know that she gave me permission to reproduce it here. Anyhow, it made me laugh a lot. I haven’t dared show it to AC yet, though.

Dear Agony Doctor,

I am in love, and the object of my affections doesn’t even know I exist. He’s an archaeologist, of course, because I don’t ever meet anyone else. He has a chiselled jaw, steady grey eyes, floppy dark hair and a cute butt. He’s younger than me by about 65 years, but that’s never stopped me before. He’s so brave, but kind of sensitive too? He even cried when his Land Rover blew up? And he’s right-on PC; he even likes the Fuzz! And here’s the bit I really like: he’s a thinker. And he drinks whisky and keeps trying to stop smoking – what not to LURVE???

Trouble is, he’s in love with this draggy moralistic bitch called, oh I can’t remember, but he calls her HARRY, I ask you, what a give-away and it isn’t a REAL relationship, because he keeps getting out of bed to solve Big Problems. I tell you, he wouldn’t get out of bed with a real woman like ME, not for any old tank of maggots.

Do you think he’d notice me if I changed my third Ph.D. from ‘Kicking Arse with the Incas: narratives of power in the Late Horizon of Guatemala’ to ‘It’s all about Incest: new light on the Deverel-Rimbury’???

Please advise.

Love-lorn of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Posted in humour | Tagged ,

Bringing-in New Blood from Wales

Ever since our sheep caught foot-rot from a neighbouring young farmer, who had borrowed one of our rams to get his flock started, we’ve tried our best to run a so-called ‘closed flock’. The farmer in question didn’t have much money and had decided to start his new enterprise by buying a pen of cull ewes at market. Now cull ewes are just what they seem: ewes that are either too old, or have some other problem, usually to do with their udders, which make them unreliable as mothers to young lambs. Had I known that he’d done that, I wouldn’t have lent him one of our rams. Anyhow, one or more of the ewes that were in the same field as our tup carried a virulent strain of foot-rot. It was a damp autumn that year, and the infection soon spread to our ram. Sadly, we didn’t detect it until a few weeks later, by which time it had been transmitted to all our rams and then into the ewes. It spread like wildfire when we brought the in-lamb ewes into the barn for the worst weeks of winter. And I’ll never forget the horrible smell of rotting live flesh – it pervaded everything.

That outbreak was disastrous: ewes couldn’t stand to feed their lambs; then, a few weeks later, they couldn’t graze properly and were constantly short of milk. That summer we had to cull about half the flock. By then we’d started to inject with an expensive foot-rot vaccine, which took about three years to get completely on top of the problem. I reckon that foot-plague cost us about £5,000, not to mention the terrible suffering it inflicted on the poor sheep. Normally, we love lambing, but not for two years, when, frankly, it was sheer Hell.

So to avoid repeating this disaster we never buy-in replacement ewes, preferring to breed-on ourselves, which is why we have three blood-lines – and three rams. This ‘closed flock’ system works remarkably well until, that is, you get the first signs of in-breeding . Last spring, for example, we had a lamb born with a cleft-palate and another with a mal-formed jaw. I’m fairly certain these are problems to do with in-breeding – and anyhow, it was high time we bought-in new blood-lines. So that’s how we found ourselves driving due west towards the little town of Meifod, in Powys. A few weeks earlier the farmer there, Mr. Bennett, had phoned us ‘on spec’: were we interested in buying rams? It was as if he’d been reading our thoughts.

Anyhow, after a four-hour drive through the increasingly congested roads of the English northern Midlands, we reached Upper Hall Farm and were treated to a delicious lunch of Lasagne prepared by his daughter. Later we waddled out into the field as the rams were brought into the handling pen, by a wonderful, and completely silent, Border Collie, who had been superbly trained by our host. I don’t think I have ever seen a pen of better-looking rams. They were superb. If Lleyns have a fault as a breed, it’s a tendency to have rather short bodies; so breeders are always on the look-out for ‘length’. And I have never seen such body length, as on those rams; there wasn’t a short one among them.

Bennetts' tups

So if you’re a sheep farmer and you’re looking for a cracking good Lleyn ram for the autumn tupping season, may I strongly recommend Mr Bennett of Hall Farm (Twitter: @BENNETT____)? You’ll never regret it, I promise. Never. We bought two and will collect them shortly.  And they’re as good as the picture here shows. We tend to name our rams, as this makes it simpler to think about blood-lines. Previous rams have included the fathers, sons, grand-sons and great-grandsons of Monty, of Tex, of Carlton, of Brian, of Corby and of Glen . Anyone care to Tweet some suggestions for our two new boyos (@pryorfrancis)?

2 tups

Posted in Farming | Tagged , , , ,