Mud On the Road

we're about to go shopping in Salisbury...

Stockbridge Primary School

Telephone:    01264 810550
Headteacher: Mrs Emma Jefferies

Old London Road,

Stockbridge, SO20 6EJ

Sean Cooper Sofas

Old London Road,
Stockbridge, SO20 6EJ

Telephone: 01264 811008


Stockbridge Cemetery

   Pictured far right, the memorial cross in Stockbridge Cemetery, Winton Hill,  commemorating the life of Violet Charlotte Johnson MBE.The cross, erected in 1923,  was commissioned by her husband Herbert Johnson and designed by the architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens. Lutyens designed their manor home, Marsh Court, and the Stockbridge War Memorial. 

The inscription engraved around the base of the cross, reads:

Sacred to the memory of Violet Charlotte Johnson MBE, a gracious lady of England, beloved of all who knew her for her rare qualities of heart and mind, endowed with every capacity for the enjoyment of life. She gave herself to the service of others and her solicitude during the Great War for the wounded soldiers in her hospitals at Marsh Court and Stockbridge contributed to her untimely end.

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

Old St. Peter's Church

The chapel dates back to the 12th century. The medieval oak door was damaged by thieves in 2012 but the chapel remains open to visitors during the day. 
For more information please see

The Revd Jonathan Watkins

The White Hart

High Street,
Stockbridge, SO20 6HF

Mon - Sat: 11 am - 11 pm
Sunday:    11 am - 10.30 pm

Telephone: 01264 810663

Violet Chicken

Posted by Deborah Courtnell
We bought our bantams from Miles Boarder of Pure Poultry in Chard, Somerset, aka the chicken man. Two years on we still call him when there’s a problem we can’t solve ourselves.

   We explained that Nigella is being hen pecked. He advised us to buy (violet) Septi-clense and spray it on the injured area on the back of her neck. This will keep the area disinfected and also deter the chickens from pecking at the reddened skin because they cannot read the ‘violet’ colour.

   So Nigella is now fashioning a violet ruff and very regal she looks too.



I Love the M3
I Love the M3
Bradley Wiggins claiming Team GB's 7th Gold medal, 1st August 2012
High Vizzers
Beam Me Up
Egg and Spam

Pruning and Pillaging

The gate at the edge
The view West from Stockbridge Down
Sunshine yellow gorse
Gorse in flower up at Stockbridge Down

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     There are Men At Work up at Stockbridge Down today. No doubt they are working on behalf of the National Trust which manages the 'chalk downland'. It just looks like they doing what men so love to do in the great outdoors: setting fires, chopping stuff down and generally laying waste. Pruning is the vestige of the Englishman's urge to pillage and plunder.

   I'm sure their big red digger and various bonfires and unearthing of warrens and flattening of hillocks and razing to the ground of thickets and briars, what the National Trust refers to as 'scrub', is all jolly good for the landscape and will make us all better people able to rejoice in the fact that the chalk downland now looks, well, like nothing more interesting or particular than a regular chalk downland.

   But I happen to like the rabbity paths and I will miss the hidden ways when they are gone and all that's left is a big exposed tract of bald featureless green, dull and bland as any suburban common.



Because the Woods Are Scary
Surrey Hills
But, I Am Not A Mote
Situation vacant
Fantasy Pub Landlady


Posted by Deborah Courtnell

  Nigella our big breasted, glossy black bantam is being hen-pecked by A.N. Other member of our flock.

   Nigella is a Scots Dumpy and as the biggest and most extrovert of our little gang of four, she's always been the natural leader. But I think Floyd, a white Silkie, has designs on Nigella's empire.

   We call Floyd 'he' though he's really a 'she'. Floyd is the most diminutive of our birds but, what with his top-knot pom-pom, black flesh and jewel-blue wattles he's a bit special and he knows it.

   He has plenty  enough punk rock attitude for a take-over bid and the fact that he's broody to boot right now is making him ultra bolshy.



Poppies, Cowdrove Hill
Time Please! 
Green Mud
Dear Councillor Gibson 
Myrtle in the Man-shed
Dog Fox, Lady Boxer 
Marathon memories
Blowing My Trumpet 

Good-bye to All That

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   Not having been to Salisbury shopping for a while, it was sad to be there this afternoon and note how many shops are boarded up or in the throes of closing down.
Even the long established women's clothes shop, 'Jabot' next to Fisherton Mill, in the Maltings, which has been there for 27 years, has finally closed its doors.

   Local radio station Spire FM reported that Irma Gruenenfelder, the independent owner of the boutique blamed the high parking costs in the cathedral city.



But She Can't Dance Like Pudsey

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   We had my sister's dog, a German short haired pointer for the day today.

   She – the dog not my sister - has numerous skills and is entirely self-taught. She cannot dance like Pudsey or use ATM machines but her other skills include the vertical climbing of furniture, catching rabbits, escaping Houdini-style from closed dog-cages, opening drop handle doors and speed-eating.

   Speed eating is a little bit like speed-dating except that here the female forces the potential object of her desire into submission not by talking at him loudly, without interruption and at speed, but by consuming him in a single mouthful.
   Happily the dog does not fancy people. She prefers entire chocolate gateaux, whole cheeses and a  Sunday roast for six complete with all the trimmings.
   Well, we forgot about the door opening business and the dog let herself out into the garden.
   Fortunately for them, us and familial relations in general, the chickens made sufficiently shrill and clamorous MAYDAY! noises while the dog was chasing them around the garden that Shedley was alerted to their plight and saved them all.


Coco in Portmeirion
My Sister's Dog

The coconut
She has numerous skills - all self-taught

Hmm. Valentines

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   Suffering slow  death by D.V.T. - Dirgy Voice Tendency thanks to poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy who has single-handedly turned Radio 4 into Radio Bore this week, droning on about love poetry in a voice that makes my vacuum cleaner sound melodic and engaging.
Come to think of it, I would rather listen to my vacuum cleaner on Radio 4 for 15 minutes a day. I'm a fan of Love and Romance. I like many of Duffy's poems. But Duffy and microphones should be kept apart.

   P.S. Got heart-shaped chocolates which Shedley then ate.


Still Pondering

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

    While sorting out my study this afternoon I found, at the bottom of my in-tray, a letter which I’d received in January and put aside to think about later: an invitation to a school reunion in May of this year. Hmm. Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Still At the Races

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   The Greyhound on Stockbridge High Street is under new management and currently getting the statutory facelift and makeover such events require. It always seems to be changing hands despite which it has a managed to remain a respected restaurant - we've eaten delicious food there in the venue’s various incarnations - and the handful of rooms are popular for short breaks.

    But it would be great if it became the sort of place you could just go for an atmospheric drink and maybe a snack without having to take out a small mortgage to eat as well.

   The new manager is applying for a license to sell alcohol on a retail basis as well so that smacks of something a bit frisky and different blowing our way.



The Day After The Day Before

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Shedley’s actual Birthday is today which also happens to be the Day After The Day Before – so a slow day of final clearing up, ritualised eating and polishing-off of left-overs and generalised collapsing onto sofas.


Without An Inkling

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Finally today it arrived: the day of a surprise birthday party I have been covertly organising for Shedley Mode since early December. Managed to invite, plan, shop, cook for, feed and water 60 people without Shedley having even the slightest inkling until he walked through the door of Thruxton's lovely village hall and found himself surrounded on all sides by friends and family gathered for the sole purpose of wishing him Happy Birthday.

   The late nights and subterfuge, the occasional nag of worry, they were all worth it for the blissful look of utter astonishment on the Shedley visage followed by a single huge smile which I don't think will ever quite go away.

P.S. And there was no snow. Thank you weather god.



But The Show Must Go On

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Am instantly conscious on waking that I have 60 people to feed tomorrow: canapés, sit-down starter, main course, pudding, coffee, cake.

   To my horror the slightest smidgeon of slushy sleet sees an almost instant email from one couple announcing that they will not be coming to the Surprise Party tomorrow due to a forecast of 3 inches of snow.

   I feel the icy fingers of panic clutch at my throat.
   All that planning. All that  investment of time and energy. What if everyone begins to bail-out and cry off...

   What happened to stiff upper lip and spirit of the blitz?
   But I can’t think like that. I drive to Waitrose to collect the wine and champagne glasses which Waitrose so kindly loans free of charge.

   At Waitrose the very nice deputy manager tells me he is terribly sorry but his colleague has failed to process my order for puddings.

   I feel like a rabbit trapped in the head lamps unable momentarily to think or act.
   I want to weep and wail and tear at my clothes but I don’t have time.

   Instead, like some demented contestant in a supermarket sweep competition and railing loudly all the while about  'Incompetence', I run at speed to the pudding section and begin wildly to scoop chocolate puddings from the shelves.

   I’ve no trolley or basket so I must scoop them into my arms while simultaneously counting and throwing furious looks at other customers who might dare snaffle them ahead of me.

   Waitrose gives me the puddings.


   3 a.m. Haven’t gone to bed yet.  Too much to do.
   No other wimps have wimped out out.
   I get down on my knees and pray to the Weather God for No Snow.



Thieves At Work

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   The lead thieves are back. This time they've stolen £2,500 worth of the grey stuff from the roof of the lovely St. Andrews Church in the nearby village of Nether Wallop – causing untold damage on top of the lead itself leading to  damp and flooding.



Men At Work

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Men of the infamous green and red branded Clancy Docwra have arrived on the large roundabout outside our house and erected traffic lights on all exits off the roundabouts.

   Infamous because I more or less lived with them and spent a great deal of time on the phone to them, for an entire year in London, 2005, when they were encamped outside my garden flat for months at a time, digging and drilling and pile driving and banging and routinely accidentally cutting off the electricity and the water then pock-marking the road with little pouches of Tarmac only to return a month later and start a diggin' and a drillin' all over again.

   Nowadays they have important signs which beg the public's leave to bear with them while they repair the water main.

   Actually the traffic lights, while inducing cars to speed up the road at even fast rates, do have the side effects of making the traffic quieter and helping us to cross the road a little bit more safely.



Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     While sorting out my study this afternoon I found a letter which I had received and put aside to think about later: an invitation to a school reunion in May of this year. Still thinking...



Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   Sad news today of the death of Andover's one and only star and pop legend Reg Presley, front man of The Troggs. I had interviewed him about his keen interest in crop circles in the 1980's while I was a cub reporter on The Andover Advertiser more latterly for a piece I wrote for The Financial Times on film scores.
On the second occasion, which was about ten years ago we talked over a glass or two of wine in his garden and he enlarged on his more quixotic interests outside of music, the aforementioned crop circles and the like.
Reg Presley's boat had really rocked in all over again when the band Wet, Wet, Wet covered his song 'Love Is All Around' and their version was then used for the soundtrack of Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
On both occasions I found him to be a delightful man, entertaining, unaffected and completely at ease with himself. RIP Reg.