When the Queen bobbed in* for a brew**


In memory of Her Majesty the Queen, we are repeating this article which was first published on September 12, 2021.

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 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 the Queen 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’.


Sheep of the week

This is a Clun Forest ram and below are some ewes and lambs.

The breed takes its name from the town of Clun and the surrounding forests in Shropshire. Early mentions of the breed in the first half of the nineteenth century described them as having white faces, but crossing with other local breeds such as the Longmynd (which I don’t think still exists) Radnor (you can see pictures here) and Shropshire (which I wrote about here) resulted in the darker colouring of the face.

After the Second World War, the Clun became the third most numerous purebred sheep in Britain, extending to the east of England, Scotland and Ireland. Since the 1970s interest here has declined, while numbers have increased in North America, the Netherlands, France and the Czech Republic.

Clun Forest ewes produce more butterfat in their milk than most breeds so they are often crossed with dairy sheep to give extra richness in sheep milk, and to provide dairy flocks with larger market lambs.

Here’s a video.

You can read more about the breed at the The Clun Forest Sheep Breeders Society website. 


Wheels of the week

This is a 1972 Triumph GT6 Mk3, which I think is a lovely-looking car.

The GT6 was introduced in 1966 as a sports coupé version of the Standard-Triumph Spitfire 4 and was nicknamed ‘the poor man’s E-type’. The Mark 3 came into production in 1970 with a top speed of 112 mph and a 0-60 time of 10.1 seconds. It did 28 miles to the gallon and cost £1,287 (which would be £12,310 now).

It was outsold by the MGB GT and production ended in 1973.

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