Posts from the ‘Proper Village’ Category

Bedfordshire, La-La-La!!!

The problem with spending so much time on your own and with an over-active imagination is that your brain processes all sorts of shit for too long a period of time. As I was hiking the hinterlands of Fun-Gary (Hello to my mate the mechanic!) earlier today taking in all the scenic splendour of New Zealand’s Northland I got thinking along the lines of what if….

Well, what if I meet this stunning Kiwi lass while I’m out here, fall head over heels in love, we end up marrying and decide to move to Blighty. How the hell would I tear her away from all this?

Fun-Gary probably doesn’t get into the top twenty of NZ attractions, because like the Greatest British Song Ever Written there’s far too many contenders vying for a place among the elite. Heading out from the Town Basin, along the Hatea River through the gently picturesque Mair Park and the rainforest of Kauri Park up to the dramatic Fun-Gary Falls before heading back down to the historic harbour via the Abbey Caves, the views are effortlessly stunning pretty much everywhere you look.

As much as I’m proud dear old Bedfordshire, the miles of ever-changing powerful panoramas of this part of the world knock my beloved home county into a cocked hat. Then I got thinking, you know what?, home’s home. Bedfordshire may not have the stand-out sensational selling points of this particular underrated part Northland in this wonderful country, but delve a little deeper and Bedfordshire is a real treasure trove, a celebration of life. So without further ado, here are, in no particular order, The Seven Wonders of Bedfordshire (according to Dances With Chazzwazzers, anyway….):

1. The Forest of Marston Vale. Running south from the county town of Bedford towards the M1 motorway, this regenerated woodland area, through many years hard work, has triumphantly morphed from a brick making backwater to an outstanding area of natural beauty. Surf Brogborough Lake, take a trip on the Vale’s train (The Fenny Flyer) or walk or bike among segments of the 61 square miles of countryside to get for a tangible understanding of the thinking man’s dales.

2. The Devonshire Arms, Bedford. So hang on, there’s no TV blaring out some inconsequential rubbish, no pool table, dart board or fruities? No over-bearing moronic Muzak? No food? So no drizzles of this? No reductions of that? Nothing involving a pretentious use of an everyday kitchen item for the benefit of a small quantity of grub and a large portion of chef’s ego? Nope.
Just good ale and lots of it. And genial hospitality (Hello Martin & Naomi!). And conversation. An oasis in the desert of mediocrity that passes for Bedford’s pub scene.

3. Woody’s Tree. This venerable Baum proudly acts as the unofficial gateway to the picture-postcard villages of Ickwell, Northill and Old Warden as well as one of the county’s main tourist attractions, The Shuttleworth Collection. Get past Woody’s Tree and you’ve safely made it away from the suffocating new towns, the insufferable retail parks and into an idyllic world of village greens and South Eastern Bedfordshire woodland. This iconic tree was so-named after one of my chums (Hello Wood-man!) once acclaimed, unannounced, on the way back from football, “Wow, that’s a great tree. I’m naming it after me”, and so an arboreal legend was born.

4. Hulcote. I have been lucky enough to live here for thirty-odd years and as hamlets go its probably the best in the world. No pubs, shops, or Drive Thrus. No matter. Steeped in history, Elizabeth I is said to have favoured one of the local properties as a summer retreat, while during the last war Winston Churchill stayed in another of the houses when overseeing operations at nearby Bletchley Park. in addition to this, the church, St. Nicholas, is one of few that escaped Henry VIII’s little strop around about the reformation. In addition to local lore, there’s plenty more countryside to lose yourself in and pleasant farmland. The garden cricket is pretty good too.

5. The Burger Van Outside The Kenilworth Road End, Luton. “Naaaaaaaxxxxtt Puh-leeeeeaaaasssse!” An ear-splitting, banshee-like announcement beckons you forward. Come rain, shine, snow, fog, light drizzle and through thin and thinner these girls are there, furnishing thousands of Hatters fans with their pre-match tucker. Work makes you fry. And they don’t half work hard those girls in the van. Demonstrating the principles that made our country great; industry, humour, pride, enterprise and over-reliance on greasy foodstuffs, no one walks away from this eatery underfed or disappointed. That comes ninety minutes later.

6. Battlesden Hill. (Hello Hill Farm folk! X) Simply stunning, sweeping views of Bedfordshire. Time always seems to stand still when I’m here. Overlooking the South West of the county, it is a sight that takes in busy green hills full of sheep and cattle, far away rustic villages and of a time when things were surely simpler. Evocative scenes that bring all those emotions of love of county and country that we English, frankly, are for the most part dissuaded from experiencing.



Enough said….

Postscript. Oh yeah, that stunning Kiwi lass from my imagination earlier? Sadly she is just (as with a lot of other things in my head), how would Captain Mainwaring term it; in the realms of fantasy.

Guest Publication: Bury Avenue Bugle; Elstow CC Latest

2012? Pah! If 2013 carries on in this rich vein of form we’re going to have a cracking year. First Phil The Power Taylor bags his sixteenth world title, then the Mighty Hatters stun the world of football and now my beloved Elstow Cricket Club ( are up and running in what will be a very important year for the club. Kudos to Matt, Dave and Tom for some great performances and to Dan for some great writing. It’s right here folks.

Round Five of the Bedfordshire County Indoor Cricket League featured Elstow A’s encounter with top of the table Dunstable A. After the previous early start pre-Christmas, a more welcoming start time of 12 noon awaited us (albeit this time does play havoc with the Sunday roast). Tom Wisson won the toss and elected to bowl, opening up with Phil Johnson and Stu Robson against an experienced Dunstable opening pair.
The scored ticked over for the league leaders, however in between the threes and obligatory wides, some good dot balls were had. However, both opening batsmen retired in quick succession after reaching 40. Dunstable had reached the half way stage on an imposing 96 runs for loss of no wickets.
Two newcomers created the change in bowling of Dave Riddle and Wisson (Tom – for those in doubt!). The number four lasted a solitary ball, the yorker from Tom proving too good for him. However, runs were kept to a minimum (in indoor terms) despite the best efforts of R. Blake who clearly had a licence to play expansive shots, with two Dunstable batsmen in the hutch, ready to return. In between dogged back wall fielding some lusty 4s and 6s were had, before a smart stumping by Matt Stevens off the bowling of Jonty saw Blake depart for 16.
Batsmen 5 and 6 for Dunstable tried to quicken the pace in the remaining three overs but good bowling from Robson and Tom Wisson kept runs to a minimum and prevented the retired batsmen of Horton and Boocock from returning to the crease.
Dunstable finished their allotted 12 overs with 171 for 3.

Elstow’s reply started with the ever dependable Tom Wisson and Riddle. Tom played some expansive and exquisite off and on drives before retiring on 40. Only one minor scare was had whereby Tom managed to run two singles, to Riddle’s none but a wayward throw allowed Tom to scramble home. Dave soon retired as well once Stevens was well set. Dan Wisson joined the fray and the scored kept ticking before Dan was caught excellently on the back wall by A. Lewis.
Robson (aka the self titled finisher) was adjudged LBW for nought. However Stu was pleased that he had at least managed to use his new pads. Proclaiming he ‘didn’t feel a thing’ as the ball thudded rapidly into them- which was heartening to know. Johnson came and went fairly quickly. However, Elstow were always above the run rate and managed to knock the winning runs off with an over to spare for the loss of only 2 wickets.
Thank you once again for Ali for scoring and the support of a good dozen Elstow supporters.

MoM: A tricky one this week as Riddle, Tom and Stevens all retired on 40.
The four bowlers of Stu and the aforementioned three were steady and all
went for roughly the same amount of runs. Despite Riddle again being the
most economical bowler, this weeks MoM goes to the skipper for setting
the platform and intensity at the top of the innings – Tom Wisson.

DoD: Again a tricky one – a professional performance, leaves little
calamity to pick through. A misfield from Dan Wiss costing three and
Riddle’s non running nearly costing a run out were the only real two
But wait – two late entries of Stu and Jonty. Stu narrowly misses out on
this award (as he at least used his new equipment) whilst Jonty didn’t
use any of his. DoD goes to Jonty.

Guest Publication: The Bury Avenue Bugle’s Take On Elstow CC’s Latest Indoor Match

Last Ball Drama Downs Five Man Elstow

Tom Wisson’s Elstow arrived at the Bunyan Centre for a prompt and early start at 9am, against the Biggleswade Town. Frantic calls to ‘Hoggy’ were made. (Personally there is only one real Hoggy and as our Secretary is the 14th member of his fan club I am sure he will agree. There is only one Hoggy). The calls were too no avail, it was down to the Elstow V to win this game.
With the toss lost, Elstow opened with El Capitain and Dave Riddle, with Rob Tebbutt being the square leg umpire…. where was that unshaven man? The vital cog in the Elstow machine, without him, I am not sure where we would be, but certainly we would not be in a better state. This was his moment, he could have played and made us VI. (Seriously mate, thanks for all the unwarranted acclaim and everything, but you would have got on a lot better without me regardless… Ed.) But no, he is out there in some corner of a foreign cricket field, living the dream, whilst envious men read on through

The excellent opening partnership was only separated when faithful scorer and Club President Ali Milne called ‘retire please’. Elstow were 90 plus for nought with Phil ‘Jonty’ Johnson striding to the wicket. The scoreboard kept ticking and soon Tommy Wiss retired on 41 not out. Jonty made a dashing 8 before departing. Dan Wisson joined the fray, after a few balls being met by leaden feet, Dan Wiss was soon driving 4s and lofting 6s… Elstow managed 166 for 2 off the alotted 12 overs, with Dan Wiss 21no and the faultless Ridds 40no and Tom Wiss 41no.

Elstow opened up with Tebbs and Jonty. Both bowled good lines, but the missing fielder made 3s easy to achieve for the Waders, the opening pair soon started to erode into the target. The Waders were on target with only the loss of one wicket (thanks to Tebbs). However, now both Tebbs and Jonty had bowled out. It was down to Elstow’s premier spin bowler* and Tommy Wiss to stem the tide.
Jimmy Hart could only score runs off the occassional wides but the straight ones were bamboozling and he was put out of his misery when Riddle straightened one and bowled Jimmy through the gate. Kevin Wright came and went courteousy of Riddle, though not before a lofted six, but the second attempt saw Jonty take a neat catch on the back wall. Another Biggleswade bunny was had, bowled off his pads through the gate and Riddle had three for not many, the game had turned (figuratively speaking only).

Kelvin kept the scoreboard ticking, and soon it was squeaky bum time. Have no fear we had Tommy Wiss. A caught and bowled meant it was “Kelvin v Wisson” to see who won this game.

Wisson was on top. A tidy over and it was soon 6 required from the last ball. A play and a miss, and Kelvin disconsolately walked off, Elstow V were over the line….
But wait….
The umpire stretched his arms and to Elstow’s disbelief a wide was called. Kelvin returned to the wicket. Waders had 4 runs and an additional ball. The tables had turned.

It was now 3 from 1 ball required. A decent ball was squeezed out to the side wall and the Waders ran a single to win by one run.

Heartbreaking stuff.
However, the Elstow V should take great heart, a great show.

MOM: A cat in the field, an effortless knock and a spell of guile and flight. David Riddle
DOD: Only one person and I shall not disgrace Matthew James Hoggard by referencing him by his nickname here.

* When Jacko, JT, Danny Course, (for those who remember his bowling) Matty Stevens and Harps are not available.

Report courtesy of Dan Wisson, aka The Bury Avenue Bugle. Thanks fella, for stepping up to the plate and filing such a comprehensive and enjoyable account of Sunday’s match.
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