The quite heavy bureaucracy of Community Programme meant we used the equivalent of a fair few of the trees we planted to complete the paperwork: it was before digital communications. However the very mixed bag of CP ‘volunteers’ who came to us – I think they often were pressured to come – had good and bad sides. Yes, some of those folk were difficult to work with and to motivate (they probably thought the same of me) but some, when they grasped what the task was for and developed skill in undertaking it, began to take pride in what they had achieved and, whilst they might have previously not given a monkeys about saplings at the edge of a field or a restored bit of drystone wall, the fact that they had put in some good work and left things looking better meant woe betide a person they found someone about to vandalise such work. poachers into gamekeepers? Another factor was that CP personnel weren’t so much working for BTCV (though that might have been technically the case, the funds were from outside government) as working with us. I recall being fully hands on with many tasks involving you, other colleagues and the CP crew of the day. We probably all retain the scars to prove it! I’d like to think that some of those trees, walls, etc are still standing.
The second recollection I mentioned in my previous note is when, at an unknown date and for reasons I don’t recall, I became aware of a series of watercolours, the Rivers of England, done in about the 1820s by the famous painter J M W Turner. One showed a landscape of the River Aire at Kirkstall, close to Hollybush Farm, and I thought that a copy (not the original as a touch beyond our means) would be fitting for Hollybush as it showed that the area’s landscape and human endeavor had been valued for a very long time. [Kirkstall Lock, on the River Aire 1824–5, the picture can be found on the Tate website]. So I contacted the Tate Gallery in London, who had the original, asking if copies were available. After they’d checked, they called me back to say there were no copies of that set of paintings. “But it seems like a good idea to get some photos from which copies could be generated and we have a very well respected photographer coming in soon to get shots of some other pictures, so we’ll see what might be done”. I wondered at what cost.
“If you acknowledge the sources, Tate and Snowden, then we’ll send you a negative gratis”. Yes, Lord Snowden, the celebrated(and competent) photographer husband at the time of Princess Margaret, sister of the Queen. Thinking that Leeds City Council might also like a copy, I got them to pay for the printing and framing of both copies. Is it still in Hollybush somewhere or has it been recycled?
Third recollection is a bit silly; I had fun in announcing that, obviously using BTCV funds or maybe even CP cash, I had bought my first Ferrari. Not, I had to admit, a sleek red low-throated roadster which would attract admiring looks, but a two-wheeled (lime green) rotavator that wouldn’t. To get through compacted ground with stones and unwanted roots, etc. and until the research for a suitable machine had been done, I never realised that Ferrari made such things. It might have been a different Ferrari company of course (a not uncommon name in Italy) but then many/most of the major racing cars stemmed from tractor/agricultural machinery manufacturers, eg Lamborghini and Aston Martin (David Brown tractors)