My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

As I Recall - Pitchcott continued by John Flitney

Before I continue with my journey, I will go back a little way and include some photos relevant to the previous episode. You know when things turn up when you are searching for something totally different, well that is what happened with these pictures. The first three are at Ibstone and show Twigside Farm. So aptly named given all the woodland around. The centre one shows the house and farm buildings. The barn with the huge black doors is on the right. In fact, the whole barn is black, so I expect it was timber clad and had been preserved with a mixture of creosote and used engine oil. The other two are close-ups of the house, front and back. Both Richard (my elder brother) and I are standing outside the garden fence at the front but only Richard is on view at the back. I am probably lurking in another patch of nettles. My bedroom was located at the side of the house with the single chimney and overlooked the track to the barn and with views out toward the woods.

A second trio of photographs, taken at Lower Farm, Pitchcott, depict the front of the house taken from out in the big field with Mimi in the foreground. A similar scene was painted in oils by a very talented young art student. He later went on to achieve a senior position at the Royal Academy. Whisky and the piglet she ‘mothered’ feature in the other two. The story got into the local paper, and we did have a picture of her and the pig when she was smaller than the pig. I will leave you to make up your own caption as to what the cat is thinking.

I am grateful to Barbara for supplying the copy of the newspaper article below.

“Whiskey”, a black and white cross-bred spaniel terrier bitch, belonging to Mrs. E. M. Flitney, of Lower Farm, Pitchott, near Aylesbury, has never had any pups, so when, nine weeks ago, “Piglet” was introduced into the household, “Whiskey” Decided that her maternal instincts should be satisfied.
“Piglet”, so named after the famous character in “Winnie the Pooh”, was a baby pig who could not be nourished by her mother and became so weak that she was taken indoors. Once the dog had seen her she took her immediately to her box, suckled her and guarded her. Now “Piglet” is bigger and heavier than her foster-mother, and a firm friend also of Mrs. Flitney’s other two dogs, “Suki” and “Mini.”
“Whiskey” nursed the piglet for a month, after which her feeds were supplemented with warm milk and meal. “Piglet” has become a house-hold word with Mrs. Flitney’s two sons, Richard, aged 11, and John, aged 8, and a board has been placed across the back door of the house to prevent the pig from walking in and out, though she will enter by the front door when she sees an opportunity. Occasionally “Piglet” will visit her own mother on the farm, a brief conversation will ensue between mother and daughter, and “Piglet” will play with her brothers and sisters for a while but she always returns to the dog who fostered her and sleeps away from the other pigs in a shed at the back of the house. So close is her attachment to “Whiskey” that she will chase the other dogs away from her food, but allow her foster-mother to share it with her. “Piglet” will sometimes go rabbiting with “Whiskey.”

I was miles away then! Just got back from a little reverie (goes for dictionary) Ok! reverie it was. Had been out rabbiting at Pitchcott.......... Whisky was way out in front, all wiggles and excitement, sniffing everything that might relate to rabbit. She is closely followed by piglet at full trot, ears flapping loudly against cheeks, tail stiffly erect the hairs on the end streaming out like a little flag. Next come two boys in stealth mode, cap guns in hand (this was injun territory yesterday). They are quietly pursued by Mimi, disdainfully waiting for something to be ‘put up’ that would be worth her bothering to chase. All the afore mentioned are trailed by Suki who is struggling to keep up. Doing her usual circuits and bumps, she is going round in circles trying to keep the scent but keeps bumping into things.........................

Now back to the story....

So I have been consoled and checked over for injuries, by Mum, after my porcine induced panic. Been given all the advice on which way to face while riding a pig and congratulated on not ‘boaring’ the audience etc etc by the men “But, can we now stop larking about and get the pig sorted please?”

Dad had three nasty accidents that I can remember at Pitchcott that involved trips to hospital. I’m not sure whether the animal involved in one of these incidents was at the farm when we arrived, or if it came later. It was a big grey carthorse of dubious temperament, and on the day in question Dad had it hitched to a wagon with a load of hay on it. This was to be taken out in the field to feed the cattle. On this occasion brother and I were allowed along for the ride. At almost the farthest point from the house it happened. During a stop to throw off more hay the reigns tangled with the horse’s tail. When Dad pulled them to try and free them the horse brought both back legs up between the shafts and kicked backwards then took off at a gallop. I remember seeing Dad fall off to one side of the cart but as to Richard and me I have no recollection. Apparently, the horse galloped all the way back to the rick-yard and was brought to a halt by the cart wedging between a rick and the side of a barn. Richard had to run all the way to Blackgrove to get help. Dad lay in the field for over an hour before any proper medical help arrived, he had been hit on one leg and had a compound fracture as a result. Ouch! The horse I think must have been re-homed soon after. Another time he gave himself a nasty gash close to one eye while trying to straighten a spring tine from a field hay rake. The third incident involved burns to both his hands and arms. Fortunately, close to where it happened was a large puddle and he had the presence of mind to roll in that to douse the fire, caused by a petrol spillage, or it could have been much worse. It did make life for a farm worker a tad difficult though having both arms bandaged to the elbows.

Not to be outdone I managed to do myself a mischief at school. All the dividing fences were of iron railings, the tops of each post being pointed. The fence between the boy’s playground and the allotment patch, where we were taught gardening, was on top of a low wall. At one spot there was a small pond outside the fence. So, I am stood on top of the wall with my arms folded on top of the fence, my chin on my arms, as I search for life in the water. Now, as you know, grass likes to grow through fences and when grass is trodden on it can become slippery. Yep! I slipped off the wall. Fortunately, my impaled left arm didn't bleed very much and no serious damage was done, other than to my pride. So off to hospital for treatment and a telling off from the doctor when I suggested he was putting the (Tetanus?) injection in the wrong arm as I had hurt the other one. “Shut up! Who’s doing this, me or you?” [Not impressed with his bedside manner at all]. I quite amused mum when we went back to have the stitches out though. She said I was quite nervous about it and then when my name was called I blushed enough to turn the walls pink. Yet when I came out after I looked whiter than Persil washing.

Another silly thing I did, it seemed a good idea at the time, well considered, quite logical I thought, until Mum asked what I had been doing. When the thrashing was done the chaff would be taken away from the rick-yard and dumped in a big heap in a field. Later it would be burnt, initially it would blaze quite fiercely but then would die back and smoulder for days. It then became an attraction for boys as they could attack it with sticks to expose unburnt lower layers and create fresh blazes.
Now this was hot work so a bottle of drink was essential. Then, bright idea, wear wellie boots to get deeper into the ash without getting black feet. Yes! it worked well......until....I went too far and was standing in chaff that was still smouldering under the ash and my feet were getting exceeding hot. Out of the heap I tried taking the boots off but that put my feet in closer contact with the hot rubber. So I was dancing around like I was doing a “Strictly” audition, getting in a panic,when, *Flash* brilliant idea. I poured the contents of my drink bottle into my boots. All very well until I got home and mum demanded to know how I had got two wet feet and yet been nowhere near deep water and was smelling strongly of smoke and burnt rubber. I had cooled my feet but warmed mum’s temper. So no more ‘dragon tickling’ for a day or two........

A tad more to follow when things have cooled down again.

If you would like to read previous episodes, you can do so here and here


  1. I don't know if I prefer the stories or the pictures more, I think I need to opt for both :) I love old stories, it is funny how our childhood differ so much from those living theirs now. Mobile phones, video games yet in my era it was dirty knees, your mum screamed out the window when dinner was ready, you knew were friends were by their bike locations and yet people from older generations had different growing up stories than us. Fascinating!


    1. Hi Lainy, thanks so much for coming to visit us here, I know John will appreciate it.
      I think we were the lucky ones, out from morning till night, climbing trees, getting grubby and coming home tired and happy. Wet days were for curling up with a good book, playing board games or cutting up magazines and pasting them into scrap books. Barbara

  2. Hi John, I'm so enjoying reading about your childhood and funny to think I have no memories from this time. I was certainly around when you lived at Ibstone, but I was little more than a baby. The families obviously got together as we grew up but most of my memories are from my teenage years. Barbara

  3. Hi Barbara,
    Beautifly done again thank you, especially for finding the newspaper piece about Piglet.
    Doing this I have discovered how much time is taken up by daydreams. Still I don't think it is time wasted, more like fun.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi John, the fact that it is beautifully done is almost entirely up to you!
      It is fun and how pleasant it is to be able to dream once in a while.
      I hope your week is going well, Barbara

  4. Hi John and Barbara
    Another lovely installment but I feel the same as you Barbara, we lived so close to our Aunt, Uncle and Cousins and yet did not see them often. I think it was quite a short period of time that you were in Ibstone though John and, of course, I had my special friend Ronnie at the time!! Love to you both, Sue x

    1. Ronnie? I don’t remember reading about Ronnie – have you been missing bits out of your life story? Tut tut that will never do :-) xxx

    2. He was "the lad next door" at Sonningfield and unfortunately I cannot remember the surname, but I was friends with him and his sister. The day I sat on a bumble bee it was their Mum who came round with the "blue bag" to ease my pain!

    3. Oh yes, I remember now. I wish I could remember more from those times. I've just got a few very definite memories like the fire and the floods at Thame, trust me to remember the drama!


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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