The Queen bobs in* for a brew**


THEY didn’t waste much imagination when they named our local hostelries. Our neighbouring village of Waddington had The Buck and the Buck In The Vine a few hundred yards apart, now universally known as the Lower Buck and the Higher Buck. In our market town of Clitheroe there is The Buck, while the village to our other side, Grindleton, also had The Buck, sadly now closed and for sale. And the Buck doesn’t stop here. In Paythorne, a few miles away, is The Buck.    

The Lower Buck in Waddington is owned by the church, which reinforces my belief that alcohol is a gift of God. When I first knew it, more than 30 years ago, it was run by an elderly brother and sister in exactly the same way as it had been for centuries. There was no bar as such, just a serving hatch where you queued for an eternity, then took your drinks to one of several small rooms each with a coal fire. It’s been tarted up a lot now, but the fires are still there and it has a unique atmosphere.

At some point after the elderly pair, but still quite a few years ago, it was run by a man who had been a gun-dog handler on one of the royal estates. He and his wife lived in the adjoining cottage (now a holiday let). One morning he was getting ready to open the pub for business when there was a knock at the door.

A gent immaculately dressed in suit and tie (attire rarely seen in the countryside) walked in and closed the door behind him. He did not show any ID and the landlord immediately feared he was from the VAT or the Inland Revenue. The stranger requested the landlord to confirm his identity, and asked: ‘Is there anyone else here?’ – ‘Just the wife next door.’

The gent opened the pub door and signalled to a highly polished large black motor waiting a short way down the lane, engine purring. It had no number plates. The car glided to the door, the stranger jumped to open the rear door, and out stepped the Queen.
The landlord invited her into the cottage kitchen, where she made herself at home and enjoyed a cup of tea while he and his wife updated her on their life after royal service.

After a half-hour chat she was on her way. The landlord was ‘advised’ by HM’s aide not to broadcast news of her visit but he could not resist telling a close friend of ours, now sadly deceased, while swearing him to secrecy. I think enough time has elapsed for the story to be told.

Her Majesty has never concealed her love for our area. She told one biographer that if she ever retired, she would love to live in the beautiful Forest of Bowland, which she owns. The estate (which despite the name is not a forest but an area of rolling hills, valleys and lovely stone-built villages) includes the historic Inn at Whitewell, where HM and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated her 80th birthday. It’s a lovely place on the banks of the Hodder and we have visited many times, though sadly never finding Queenie propping up the bar.

*In this part of the world people do not pop in, drop in or call round, they invariably ‘bob in’.

**They never refer to tea or a cuppa, always ‘a brew’.


As forecast, we had some fantastic weather this week. On Wednesday, when it was close to 80F (26C), we set out for a walk along the Ribble bank. A herd of cows which live on the opposite side evidently found it a bit warm and were making their way across the river. I took a couple of short videos.

There must have been 40 including calves, and they were not about to give way to an old couple and a dog, so we turned round and took a different path.


Still on a bovine theme, I passed a field with Jersey calves the other day.

One in particular was curious about me.


Finally, a few weeks ago I was puzzled by a strange growth on a wild rose.

I looked it up and found that it is a gall called variously rose bedeguar gall, Robin’s pincushion, mossy rose gall, or simply moss gall. It is caused by a gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae) which lays up to 60 eggs in a leaf bud. This provokes the plant into producing a gall composed of nutritious tissues surrounded by a dense mass of sticky branched filaments up to 4ins in width. The larvae eat the plant material and overwinter in the structure as pupae, emerging in May.

After the first one I came across a couple more galls.

It struck me that the filaments are similar to those covering the buds of the garden moss rose. I couldn’t find any literature to back this up, but David Austin Roses kindly allowed me to use this picture of an Old Pink Moss rose.

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