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Blast Off!

October 13, 2021 10:14am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 20 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

Sometimes, whimsy has been known to get the better of me. 

A fanciful notion took hold of me the other day: Wouldn’t it be nice to do something wildly different? Instead of getting up, donning my usual attire and starting up my old motor to go traipsing around the usual places, wouldn’t it be fun to go on a cosmic adventure!

Imagine getting trussed up in your space suit, saying cheerio to the dogs, bouncing outside to fire up your rocket and blasting off on a little junket to our solar system. 

Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Well, since we haven’t yet moved from Tesla’s to rockets you’re not going to find a rocket on your driveway. However, that doesn’t stop us from going on a trip. Oh no. 

Just for all you kids out there, I’ve made a rhyming story and video of a trip around the solar system. So, if you’re one of those people that have put your name down to live on Mars, you might want to watch this. Whilst it’s made for children a few of you adults might just learn a thing or two!

Please feel free to share my video with any parents who think their kids might enjoy my story – Blast Off!

NB: Before any bright spark asks me where Pluto is, know that Pluto got downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet (the Death Star)

Enjoy!

A Song To The Cowboy

October 6, 2021 10:07am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 12 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

“Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold
They’d rather give you a song than diamonds or gold
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levis
And each night begins a new day
If you don’t understand him, and he don’t die young
He’ll probably just ride away”

I sat at my computer concentrating on something intently. Outside it was lashing with rain, that sideways rain that beats viciously at the windows. Summer is dying and being blown away by the cool whips of autumn. I could feel it starting to seep into my bones. Time for a jumper. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, tossing and turning with a mind full of nonsense and fears about inevitabilities. This made me wake up tired, ready to sleep some more but unable to as my inner clock doesn’t allow it. Half a mug of tea sat on my desk amongst other things yet to be filed away creating chaos in my workspace. 

The heavy knock at the front door made me jump. The dogs reacted instantly, leaping at the entrance between the hall and kitchen. Terrorists on the territory. We will assist in their demise. I hushed them with sharp words and moved through the middle section, locking them behind. 

I hate how loudly people knock at my door. I need a doorbell. I have a button outside but it doesn’t work. Inside my porch I have an antique brass bell. People arriving also try this but it is there for decoration and doesn’t have a clanger. That’s when they knock fiercely, annoyed and frustrated. 

The man stood there with his clipboard and tool bag. I forgot he was coming. I told him this as a way of apology which wasn’t the right thing to say. He had come to service my vacuum cleaner. This must sound very strange and that’s because it is. I have a world class hoover that needs to be serviced annually like a prestige car. I had to trudge upstairs to get it because it is housed with the carpeted areas and not downstairs with the hard floors. The machine was heavy and cumbersome which made me irritated with the man.The cowboy. I tried to be nicer.

“Do you want a drink?” 

“No, I’m alright. Where can I work?” He stood in the hallway looking concerned at the two big shapes through the opaque panels in the door. 

I opened the lounge door beside him. “You can work in here, don’t worry, I won’t let the dogs out.”

He gets to his job and I went to shut the front door. I spied a package that the postman had left on the windowsill in my porch. The postman doesn’t knock – he knows I won’t hear it so he leaves prizes for me to find. My mood lifted as I noticed the American postal packet. I like that the American postal service has a packet shaped for anything. You don’t get that here. I remembered being taken to a place called the Container Store in America. Why are you taking me to a shop full of boxes? I had thought. I ended up getting lost in that shop, fascinated that there’s boxes for just about anything. Americans must be so orderly. How had I lived without some of these boxes in my life? Why did we not have this store in England? 

I picked up the packet and took it to my table. I didn’t know who it was from or what it was – I wasn’t expecting anything. I looked at it for a few seconds, relishing in the surprise. I tried to imagine what waited for me inside. 

My friends, Mr & Mrs B had sent me a lovely card and an old book of Cowboy Songs. In the past they have sent me many old cowboy books, found in old stores and posted out to me.

I fingered the old book and smiled. I lifted it up to my nose and smelt it with my eyes closed hoping to breathe in the memories of an old life. I opened the first page and there, sellotaped to the front sheet was somebody’s name and address. Barbara Martin from Chatanooga. How can anyone say Chatanooga and not feel like dancing? How proud she must have been of this book to do that! She is remembered now by a stranger in another land; her book sat on a table in medieval middle England. I wonder what she would have thought to that?

I flicked through the songs about the wild cowboy – instantly transported to the old frontier. 

The ultimate bad boy. Reckless and rollicking. Yearning to belong and yet belonging to nothing. God fearing and strong but with the devil constantly on his shoulder testing his faith. Searching for love and killing it the next day.

Dirt on his boots. Sweat on his brow. A full days work for little pay.

Scooping up the same ole serving from a dutch oven at noon. A food that still comforts to this day.

Travelling through the wilderness and beauty where he rides to find answers. Comfort found in the red giants that speak to him.

“And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky
Talk to God and listen to the casual reply”

 

I looked back out of my window through the grey sky. Left with melancholy and yearning; wishing to walk through the jimson weed and sand-burrs; stopping to fill my belly with prickly pear and cholla. 

Thank you Mr & Mrs B for making a dreary day turn into a dreamy ride through the old west, along with the cowboys for company, on a dusty old trail unspoilt by man.

Before I lament any further, I leave you with a sneaky little page found tucked inside Barbara’s book.

 

What A Gas!

September 29, 2021 12:05am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 22 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

With Breaking News From Bad JuJu

Just as one lockdown disappears another one starts under the guise of “NO FUEL”

Thanks to the media’s narrative of instilling fear into the public, hundreds of people ( AKA wankers) have rushed out to panic buy fuel leaving petrol stations empty. Due to a shortage of HGV drivers in Britain, there are not enough tankers to deliver fuel across the nation. Many haulage companies are going under, unable to deliver products as they have lost drivers from Europe. The government have recently issued 5000 temporary visas in an attempt to bring back European drivers to help with the crisis. They also have the army on standby. 

 

 

Dave Dillbury, a manager from a haulage company in the northwest said, “People are blaming Brexit as you’d expect and I saw that German tosser from the European Union on TV the other day saying, Wie told you so’ but this shortage has been going on for years.

Another large truck company reported a loss of drivers due to the pandemic. “Lots of people got furloughed in lockdown which has made them not want to come back to work,” Ian from Truckability said. “My mate Rob and his missus started their own eBay business with the dosh they’d saved and now he’s minting it in selling crocheted effigies. 

 

 

Queues of traffic lining up for fuel have caused severe delays on roads across Britain resulting in fistfights and road rage. One angry couple were seen hurling abuse at a pensioner sat in his car because he was blocking the entrance to KFC. “These doddery old gits don’t need to go out, but we’ve got a family of five to feed!” said the outraged pair. Another man said he had been waiting in the queue for two hours only to get turned away when he was four cars out because the pumps were empty. 

 

 

Many workers are taking to social media to report their frustration. Taxi drivers are losing money, health workers can’t get into hospitals and care homes, and an irate chiropodist blew his top on Facebook earlier stating,”I was supposed to visit a woman with bunions this morning but didn’t have enough fuel to get there. Now I’m out of pocket and that poor woman isn’t going to be able to walk the shops, is she? – It’s outrageous!”

Fuel-station managers have spoken up saying, “Prepare for it to get worse – We are already having to cap the amount of fuel that people buy if they’re lucky to get some, and soon we will have to prioritise medical staff and emergency services.” When asked why the prices have suddenly risen to £2.08 per litre when the problem isn’t actually a shortage of fuel, one manager from Kwik-Fill said, “Some say it’s profiteering but I see it as entrepreneurial. You gotta fill your boots when you can.” 

When speaking to forecourt attendants across the nation evidence of sheer lunacy seems to be in play. Neville Green, a cashier at Esso said, “I’ve only been doing this job for 5 weeks and I think I’ve seen it all. One bird started filling up plastic carrier bags and putting them in her boot. Another bloke brought 20 fuel cans, and someone else came with a great big container on the back of his truck and started filling that up. I normally finish at 10 P.M. but today I finished at 4 P.M  cos there was nowt else to do. I’m just thankful I ride a mountain bike.“

 

 

One unscrupulous woman got barred from Facebook for trying to sell ten litres of fuel for £50. She has now gone into hiding after severe online bullying and several death threats.

 

 

Who knows when this crisis will end? Fuel is just the start of it. Many of the supermarket giants are being left with empty shelves as drivers are a scarcity. “Even the drivers we had have left to do contract work,” Sonia from Sainsbury’s said. “They’re getting fifty grand a year with no late-night shifts or weekend work. They’re onto a pig’s back. I even thought about jacking in the deli-counter to get my HGV licence but my fella said it’s no job for a short-arse with alcohol dependency.” Asked if she thought the situation would get worse, she said, “Well, I’ve already stocked up on mince pies. I don’t know if I’ll get a turkey at this rate. This situation could totally ruin Christmas.

 

 

On a personal note, I’m biding my time with little choice since I only have 19 miles of fuel in my tank. I only have to turn a corner in my truck and that’ll be gone. My advice? Invest in a pair of walking boots and save money on your gym membership by putting your best foot forward.

  There’s miles to go before you sleep. 

 

Big Jugs And Pop-Up Meat

September 8, 2021 11:14am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 15 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

From the title of this blog, I would bet my top hat and tails that you thought something “ooh-err-misses” might follow.  

Something a little bit juicy perhaps?  Well, yes you are right.

Something a bit top rack? Yes, also correct.

But not in the way you think, dear reader, and quite frankly, I’m outraged. What sort of blog do you think this is?

The Brave New World

I got taken on a magical mystery tour to go and do “Something Exciting” last week. Generally, I’m a big fan of being taken into the wilderness and given a challenge but for some reason when I was told about this surprise I found myself being a bit of an arse.

“I don’t really like surprises, can you just tell me what it is?”

“No.”

“Well what am I supposed to wear?”

“Anything you like.”

“Fine. I shall come in a ball gown and disastrously high heels.”

“OK.”

It definitely wasn’t kayaking then. Or, maybe it was…

Barn Art The Food Of The Soul

Turns out it was pottery painting. In a large barn in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere. 

What happens is that you pick a pot of your choice and you paint it. 

I chose a large jug because I like to use them as vases. They’re more interesting than vases and they can double up and be used for lashings of gravy when the flowers die. 

Normally, you only get one hour to paint at these places but thankfully this one lets you stay until you’re finished. Good job, because my idea took four- long-hours. In my wisdom, I decided to paint a wildflower scene on my jug so that it went with the vase theme. Never doing that again. By the time I’d painted my last poppy and cornflower I had a deep hatred for anything floral. What I neglected to take into account was that you have to paint each thing three times over if you want the colour to pop. I maybe should have listened to that part of the pre-training before I decided to paint a forest garden. 

That said, I prevailed and shouted, “I’ve Finished! Hallelujah!”  just as the woman who ran the place had decided to bugger off and lock me in. 

Ewer Won’t Believe it

You have to leave your masterpiece behind so the lady can glaze it and make it all professionally shiny. I hate waiting for things. A few days later I went to collect my pitcher of painted perfection and I was not disappointed. 

Decanter your pre- conceptions and take a look at my growler!  [informal. a pitcher, pail, or other container brought by a customer for beer and not what you thought]

I thought about investing in a kiln but then remembered I already have 465 hobbies. 

Have You seen That Anchor?

And then there was more!

“There’s a pop-up smokehouse at the back of The Anchor in Plungar. Fancy a burger?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

The surprises just kept getting better!

Deep in the Vale of Belvoir, in the back garden of a country pub, came “Smiffy’s Smokehouse ‘Burger Fest.'”  Known throughout the land for bringing the deep south flavour of authentic BBQ to street food.

Meat lover, (and once actor), Aaron Smith, got to know some guys in America who did cook-offs and became southern inspired, buying his own smoker and dishing up hard-wood smoked brisket, burgers, and pork, along with pit beans, chilli and loaded fries. Over the last few years his food has gone down a storm in the restaurant area and now he also does pop-up smokin’ BBQ’s  at venues.

The weather was good. The beer was flowing. The punters were jolly. A medley of country rock blared from the speakers. Thank God my cowboy boots were mended because I felt proper authentic.

To be fair, this was one of the juiciest and tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten. 

With loaded fries, of course.

Rumours spread fast in village England. So good was the pop-up burger fest that even Jason Momoa came for a snack.

Followed by one of Tupac’s stage managers. 

You don’t have to go far to see the infamous here. 

Put that in your brioche bun and smoke it, Hollywood. 

 

What A Load Of Cobblers!

September 1, 2021 8:09am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 8 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

Cobbler [ kob -ler ]

  • A person who mends shoes
  • A man’s testicles – From rhyming slang cobbler’s awls ‘balls’
  • Nonsense – what a load of old cobblers
  • Some say it’s a pie – we call it a crumble

About 2 years ago my favourite cowboy boots broke. When I say favourite, you have to understand that I have several different pairs of cowboy boots and they are all my favourite in their own arena. But, these particular square-toed, everyday boots were my dossing around ones that looked pretty good with everything and ended up being my ‘go-to’ boot. When the leather tore away from the sides, and the soles got ‘oles, and the heels weren’t there any more, I took them to the High Street shoe repairers. Unfortunately, I went to a well-known franchise that didn’t really have the capacity or knowledge to deal with such a travesty. A simple re-sole, a fancy bone-shaped tag for your dog’s collar, or a key for your front door is about where their skill-set is at.

 “Can’t repair them, love,” he said.

 I stuck them back in the orange, plastic Sainsbury’s carrier bag and put them back in my truck behind the driver’s seat. 

Then we went into lockdown and everything shut.

Let’s Hit The Road, Jack

As disappointed as I was about life without freedom and cowboy boots, I decided to make up for it at Christmas by demanding two pairs of Panama Jacks.

These are quality leather boots that are made for the adventurer. They have a very out in the English countryside kind of vibe. They’re lovely and I like them a lot. But they’re not my cowboy boots. 

If You’re Gonna Be Crazy You Need To Start From The Feet Up – JS

A few weeks ago, I decided to clean out my truck and found my ‘ole bewwwts in the back. Right! Now that everything is open again I am going to go into the city and find that old cobbler who makes his own shoes. He’ll be able to sort them out!  This task had now become an even higher priority because all of a sudden cowboy boots have come into fashion and anyone on-trend is wearing them. I swear to God I paved the way for this. How utterly annoying that there are chicks out there in my land wearing cheap knock off cowboy boots when I have the real deal right here in the bag. 

I took a trip to the city, walked up the hill to the ole, ole shoe shop and when I got there the bloody thing was shut.

Empty.

Not a cobbler or boot in sight.

I was taken aback by this. How could he not be here? This cannot be true. I even rattled the door in case it was some kind of joke. Unable to accept my misfortune I went into the cafe next door and asked about his whereabouts.

“Oh, he’s shut shop. Buggered off to Spain to be a singer.”

There Is Great Power In The Right Pair Of Boots

I searched the internet and would you believe I found an even older cobbler that did all cobblyish things just 20 minutes down the road from me. The oldest in the city, it boasted. So, I took them there.

The place looked proper quaint, part of an old Victorian house with a big square bay window with all leathery loveliness on show. The shop looked like it belonged in a Disney film. There was a queue outside. Good sign. When I got in I was greeted by the cobbler’s wife. I said, “Can you mend my boots?”  As I pulled them out of the bag for the first time in 18 months, I realised that leaving damp boots in plastic for that long is not a good idea. They looked shocking. The leather was all split and cracked and if I didn’t know better I would have thought the meeces had been at ‘em. 

‘Ooh… I’m going to have to ask the boss,” she said. 

King Cobbler came over, took one look at them and said, “They’re knackered. Chuck ‘em away.”

“I will not!” I said. “I’ve come all the way across this land because you said you were the cobbliest cobbler of all! 

“The leather is knackered. You haven’t looked after them.”

These Boots Were Made For Walking

“These boots cannot die”, I said. They have walked the land of the free and brave: they’ve ranched in Virginia, line danced at Luckenbach, sifted through the sand at Santa Monica, nifty-footed through Nashville, Taken on Texas, Fast foo…..

“Fine. Let me look at ‘em.”

After a lecture about not oiling them, and having worn them to destruction, the ole, ole cobbler agreed to take on the challenge. 

I skipped out of that shop. Skipped, I did.

Three Long Weeks To Change The World

I waited. Like a patient little saint. As soon as Mrs Cobbler rang me to say they were ready, I Panama Jacked it to the shop. Signed and stitched with the Royal Crown Seal these must now be the only American/English hybrid Cowboy Boots on the market. Take that, fashion influencers!

“Now go and oil them,” said the master. 

I took them home and creamed them up for two days until they looked like vintage awesomeness.

Never give up on a good thing, reader.

THE BOOTS HAVE BEEN REBORN.

 

White Nancy

August 18, 2021 7:49am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 13 Comments

White Nancy of Bollington

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday

The other weekend I helped deliver an item to a family member who has just moved up to Cheshire.

The beautiful Northwest of England, situated within the stunning Peak District. When the sun is shining there is nowhere more picturesque and oh so typically English. And, the sun was shining making the trip through Snake Pass absolutely gorgeous. So long as you keep your eyes on the curves and don’t get distracted by the views and nearly run into sheep that meander into the middle of the road to try and kill you, Snake Pass is one of the best drives in the UK through a mountain pass but also one of the most dangerous. 

I arrived at the beautiful hamlet of Bollington – known as “Happy Valley” and considered the best place to live in the northwest and once part of the Earl of Chester’s manor back in the Middle Ages.

However, being a cynical English person, going anywhere south of Manchester named “Happy Valley” has you thinking that everyone is likely to be “off their tits” on something and that’s likely how it got its moniker. 

Talking of Tits

I arrived at the chocolate box stone cottage and stood at the front door looking out at the view and thinking, ‘What a fabulous place to live. To open your front door and see an unobstructed view of freedom meandering up a hill.’

Nice, right? Then I noticed a white building atop of the hill that looked like an elongated tit.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“That’s White Nancy”

Intrigue was set. “Oh?” My inner art philosopher demanded more. “And what exactly is White Nancy?”

“Dunno. Nobody really knows. It’s just a big rock painted white. Everyone around here is obsessed with it though. Even the local football team have it pictured on their shirts. Once a couple got caught shagging next to it and because of how the light fell you could see their shadows going at it all down the hillside. Pictures ended up on Facebook and it was the talk of the town for ages” 

“Lovely.”

“Every Christmas a brass band walks up to the top of the hill and the locals go with.”

I could already see a Channel 4 Drama being played in my mind. 

“But what is it?” I asked again.

“Don’t know….”

It’s Just White Nancy

This is typical of the English. We just accept that things are there and they’re called something weird and it’s just how it is in England. But not me. I nearly killed myself on the way in wanting to stop and take a photo of a street named “Hooleyhey Lane” because I found it satisfyingly quirky. 

I needed to know more about White Nancy and figured I’d just have to find out myself.

Research didn’t reveal much since there is very little history pertaining to Bollington before the 19th century, other than it is a structure on top of Kerridge Hill and is a designated grade II listed building. 

Oh, what a playground for the storyteller! I closed my eyes, pictured White Nancy atop of Kerridge Hill, and summoned my experience from the Billy Wynt of Wales. Sure enough, the ghost of Nancy revealed herself to me and the story unfolded.

The Story of White Nancy

By Jules Smith

Back in 1794 at the start of the Napoleonic wars, a fair faced girl was born to a farming couple in the northwest. She was their only child, after years of trying, and they named her Nancy.  She grew up on the farm and became a proficient milkmaid, sitting atop a cock of hay milking cows and then delivering milk, butter, cream, and cheese to alleyway markets and the Gaskell’s of Ingersley Hall. Milkmaids were known as the prettiest girls in the land and at the tender age of 21, Nancy was no exception. Her hair fell in ringlets the colour of scorched straw and her eyes were as grey as the mountain top clouds in November. 

Nancy would travel on her grey draft horse called Prance with her deliveries on a small handmade cart. Once a week she would take the Gritstone Trail all the way to Mow Cop with cheese in her saddle bags for the Old Man O’Mow. Nancy loved to ride the day away, sometimes making as much as 40 miles, and spent her time wondering about the rest of the world that lived far off past the horizon. 

John Gaskell of Ingersley Hall took a shining to Nancy. There seemed to be something other-worldly about the peasant girl. He wondered if she might even be a celestial being as her smile alone warmed him better than the great hall fire. She reminded him very much of his favourite aunt, also called Nancy, who had a way of endearing herself to people. John would watch Nancy bring cheer to his staff with her friendly manner when she delivered produce to the kitchen and found himself looking forward to her twice-weekly visits. So much so, he offered her some cleaning work polishing brass and silver in the hall so he could see her more often.

 Now, John Gaskell was a much older married man and one may have thought this type of behaviour quite unsavoury. The Lord of the Manor and the scullery maid might be a story to tickle our fancies today but back in 1815, this sort of behaviour would be frowned upon. However, be that as it may, John’s intentions were far from anything but the purest of love. He could not quite explain it to himself, how he felt so attached to Nancy and had a deep yearning to make her life better as she, unknowingly, did so for him. John decided that his only surviving son, Thomas of Ingersley would be a better man were he to be betrothed to Nancy rather than his current lady- friend, Mary Upton Slack.  

Nancy had a rudimentary literary education, being a farm girl, so John Gaskell would read her stories from his books and teach her of historic events whilst she cleaned the fender. He found her demeanour refreshingly guileless and unaffected by societal tiers. Nancy looked upon the world in awe and expected nothing from it. The simplicity of her life carried through to her way of looking at it and seemed to bring untold happiness and love to everything she did. Nancy appeared infused with tenderness. His son, Thomas would often be invited in to work on the land accounts with his father in the study whilst Nancy worked, in the vain attempt to form an unbreakable union. And it worked a treat, in some respects, for who could not become smitten with a girl like Nancy?

However, John’s wife, Elizabeth, and Thomas’ intended, Mary became incredibly jealous of the milkmaid and the attention being thrown upon her. Elizabeth often demanded that Nancy clean another room where she and Mary took afternoon tea. The pair would ridicule her and let her know in no uncertain terms that she was nothing better than a lowly bumpkin. 

Elizabeth ordered cows to be sent to Ingersley Hall, refusing to buy what came from Nancy’s parent’s farm. She insisted that Nancy could milk the cows of Ingersley in the stables and stay out of the comforts of the great house and far away from her husband and son. Nancy could not refuse because her parents needed the money and rumour had spread around the village that Nancy had caused a terrible rift within the family which affected further sales due to gossiping ne’er-do-wells. She owed it to her parents to bring home what had been lost to them from Ingersley Hall.

Still, Nancy continued to work tirelessly and with good spirit, singing as she milked in her pale blue dress. On one warm August morning, quite a commotion occurred. Nancy’s great Shire horse had got loose and run amok in Ingersley Hall gardens. Elizabeth Gaskell came and berated Nancy and banished her from the house.  A stoneworker and gardener who worked for the Gaskell’s had caught Prance and led him back to the stable. His name was Valentine. He found Nancy crying near a pail of upturned milk and tried to reassure her. Valentine had been working on some fencing on the land and had witnessed Lady Elizabeth and Mary untie the horse and spook it with garden hoes and rakes. Their intentions were obviously malicious and engineered whilst Master John Gaskell worked away in London. Valentine didn’t tell Nancy of what he’d seen, believing that such ill intent was better left residing in its vile inhabitants. Instead, he walked with Nancy up the Kerridge Hill where they sat sharing his bread and her cheese as the sun sank into the grass. 

A beautiful union was made that day and continued thereafter. Valentine lived a humble life, residing in a workers stone cottage on the Gaskell estate. His mother had died of cholera and his father a drunk. His brother had been shot as a deserter from the British army and all Valentine had was a pocket full of memories. Now he had Nancy and he felt like the luckiest man in all the world. He and Nancy would spend many evenings on top of Kerridge Hill supping small beer they had collected from the Shoulder Of Mutton Inn and talking about possibilities. 

However, upon learning of Nancy and Valentine’s union, Elizabeth Gaskell fired him from the staff, branding him a traitor and leaving him broke and homeless. 

John Gaskell returned from London and became outraged at what had occurred in his absence. His son, Thomas, had weakly sided with his mother and Mary and could not see past his entitled status the opportunity he had passed. John searched for Nancy and Valentine and found them on top of Kerridge Hill, breaking bread and staring into the horizon. He offered them both their jobs back promising his wife would have no further dealings with them. But Valentine was a man of principle and said he would be seeking his fortune someplace else. Perhaps beyond the horizon where Nancy left her dreams. Dreams that floated across the Cheshire plain and reached to the far western mountains of North Wales and north and east across the Pennines. 

The pain in Nancy’s eyes at Valentine’s announcement speared John’s heart with sorrow. When someone so kindly and innocent is caused hurt by the wrongdoings of others, a sickness envelops you. John could not bear the thought of Nancy being bereft and sad and knew she would not leave as she would feel a sense of duty to her parents. Beauty deserved company and the company she had found in Valentine was something made in Heaven.

Love fuels love and be damned that it dare be suffocated by another. 

John Gaskell asked the pair to meet him the following day on top of the hill. 

It is said that John Gaskell’s love for Nancy knew no bounds. Such as it is, with a purity of any emotion. He gave money and passage out of Bollington for the pair to make a good life somewhere past the horizon. He also saw to it that Nancy’s parents were well compensated and became the main supplier to Ingersley Hall kitchen. 

The only thing left and found grazing on top of Kerridge Hill a few days later was a great grey Shire horse with snowflake markings on his nose. Some say this is where Nancy kissed her horse goodbye. 

John Gaskell hired a man called Dod to build a folly on top of Kerridge Hill. A summerhouse, perchance for people to use when they needed respite. 

Dod is known to have celebrated this work finding joy and cheer from the energy that floated atop the hill, often reciting his own jingle after a tot of Brandy:

Here’s to the mountain of Nancy

That’s built upon Ingersley Hill

Here’s good health, wealth and fancy

And give Dod another gill!

The folly was built in 1817 with stone benches and a table inside. A place to break bread and watch the shadows fall down the hill as they ran to pastures new.

Some say John Gaskell built the folly called White Nancy to commemorate the British victory at the battle of Waterloo.

Some say it was named after a great horse with white snowflake markings on his face that transported the materials to the top of the hill where Nancy would stand.

But, dear reader, I think we all know better. White Nancy, as white as milk and similarly shaped like a teet on an udder is surely a nod to a beautiful milkmaid from the Happy Valley.

And from that day to this, White Nancy is a landmark that shows strength over adversity, light over darkness, and love over everything.

 

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