Sunday night normally sees Jo and I relaxing in front of the TV after our afternoon off, but last Sunday was slightly different… Tree Running at Night!
TreeRunners is the newest venture to arrive in Chilbolton and Wherwell and for those of you who have been to a Go Ape site and enjoyed leaping from tree to tree using a variety of wires, ropes and logs, you’ll know what a great day out this is.
TreeRunners have upped the excitement level and Ben, who was the inspiration behind TreeRunners should have known better when he asked Jo if she knew anyone who would volunteer to attempt the course at night!
Its very dark when you’re half way up a tree at night with TreeRunners
Well of course that was it and Sunday night saw Jo, David join fellow volunteers, or should that read nutters, at the White Lion. Kimberley, who many will know from the Priory where she is more used to riding than swinging through the trees, was a little surprised to find out that her quiet Sunday drink with friends was becoming a little more active… but she grabbed her trainers and off we went (she may forgive Emma given time and space 😉 ).
By now its dark and I’m talking seriously dark, so whilst Emma told us about the witches and various other forest dwellers, we arrived in the middle of Harewood Forest.
Trooping out of our cars we were all extremely confident or was it simply nervous bravado, Andy and Ben quickly set us up with harnesses and head torches. A quick instruction on the practice course, where Kimberley demonstrated her instructors methods. Left, no left hand, no that’s your right hand, the other left….! We were already to climb up onto the Green Course.
Fantastic, amazing, scream if you want to go faster cool – TreeRunning is awesome. Relatively simple hirewires (yes I said simple), turned into wobbling logs, a climbing wall (!!!!) and then the rope swing. Fun in the day, but an inspired leap into the unknown in the dark, before weaving in an out of hoops. You don’t realise how high you are, until you get to the next platform. Then you see a pin pick of light below and Ben yells ‘Wave to the camera…’.
Following Jo, as she climbs out into the darkeness, we end up at the Zip Line. All I can say is WOW(very loudly) as I streaked through the blackness. Then the landing area rapidly looms into the small pool of light from my head torch and you’ve arrived! The final landing stage is a leap of faith, as you clip onto the descender and jump into the dark…Some of us landing more gracefully than others, Ed ;-).
As we all gathered back at the lodge and enjoyed our well needed glass of wine, we were like a bunch of kids at a birthday party, chattering away about how cool it was and what a fantastic experience we just had and when could we go back. All oblivious to the fact that its almost midnight.
Last November was the 5 year anniversary of David and I walking through the doors of Chilbolton Stores as the new owners. Enthusiastic and maybe just a little naive, at 33 I don’t think I was what most people expected of a shopkeeper but as I said at the time… I may not have retail experience but I am really good at shopping!
In hindsight the first couple of years were fairly straight forward, although it didn’t seem like it at the time. We had to cope with road closures, broken fridges, replacement tills, making our home watertight (a new thatch doesn’t come cheap) but the economy was buoyant and people were keen to support us. Introducing new ranges was relatively easy and caught on quickly.
Move forward to 2009 and things were a little different, the credit crunch had started to take hold and even in Chilbolton people were starting to feel the pinch. We had to work just that little bit harder, cutting costs where we could and really trying to differentiate ourselves. Customers would no longer buy things from us just because it was convenient, we had to give them things they couldn’t get elsewhere and then most crucially “tell them about it”.
The website and Facebook page were really born from a need to keep people informed about the refurbishment program at the beginning of 2010. With a grant from Hampshire County Council and SEEDA we were planning the most extensive works to the shop for many decades. There would be disruption and we needed to keep our villagers informed.
At the end of the work, I think everyone agreed it was worth the small amount of pain. The new layout is fresh and bright and makes running the shop much easier and more efficient.
We continued with the social media as it was popular and growing all the time, a competition to photograph your Chilbolton Stores Bag to win a Kindle was a highlight and it is the perfect place to tell people of new products and our regular wine tasting events. The website too has been popular, bringing in orders from further a field and many extra customers for our local free-range turkeys at Christmas… not just from the village but from around Hampshire.
So the last six months have been some of the best, the business is growing and we are ”leaner and fitter” from a period of austerity. I for one look back over the last five years fondly, I have always believed that you get out of something what you put in and that nothing really worth having comes easily. We have had many, many good times and made lifelong friends in Chilbolton and I don’t regret a moment. Here’s to 5 years and counting…
Silas Cole Born 1820 in Chilbolton, Hampshire – Deported to Tasmania in 1842
One of the joys of looking after the Shop Gossip Blog and the Chilbolton Village Facebook Page is that I get contacted by some amazing people who have lived or have an attachment with the village.
Early this year I was contacted by Nadia Cole, whose relations lived in Georgian and Victorian Chilbolton. I passed on some information and contacts and her Uncle, Chris Cole, who lives in Tasmania, responded with the following story of Silas Cole who was born in Chilbolton in 1820 and was deported to Tasmania in 1842.
Chris Cole takes up the story of Silas Cole.
Silas was baptised on December 31 1820 (one of 14 children to John and Triphena Cole (nee Kent) in Chilbolton). His father died in 1835 when he was only about 15. He made the local Hampshire papers between 1838-1841 for petty crimes such as stealing a drake and ‘destroying fish’. His later record showed he was also guilty of stealing apples and poaching. He received small periods of a month or two in gaol for these misdemeanours.
On February 24 1842 he is up before the Southampton assizes on the more serious charges of housebreaking and stealing 28lbs of bacon. He is found guilty and sentenced to 10 years transportation. He spends time on the hulks at Gosport before leaving on the ship Moffatt in August for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) arriving November 28 1842. Most of this information is on his convict record which states his native place as Chilbolton and mother as Tryphena.
Oyster Bay – Coles Bay Tasmania named after Silas Cole
As a convict he absconds 2 or 3 times and at one point is given 75 lashes. By 1845 he is calmer and receives a probation pass and then a Ticket of Leave (free to work and get paid) in 1848. He works as a shepherd on the East Coast of Tasmania and to earn more money he builds a kiln and burns oyster shells, left by the aborigines, for lime to make cement in a beautiful, secluded bay.
He finally receives his free certificate in 1852 – fully serving his 10 years.
Three years later at age 34 he marries an Irish girl Jane Martin who is 19 years old. They have 10 children- 6 boys and 4 girls. Two of the boys die in their teens or 20’s, while 3 others head to the mainland of Australia due to a severe drought in 1888. Only one son remains in Tasmania, Anthony, who ironically becomes a policemen and from whom Nadia and I are descended. Anthony only had one son to produce heirs and this son only one son to produce heirs as well. So if any Cole in Tasmania asks are we related we are 99% sure they are not.
Silas died on June 3 1899 aged 78 in Hobart Tasmania.
Now for his legacy. Because of Silas the name Cole remains known to everyone in the state of Tasmania. The reason: – when he burnt shells in that secluded coastal area; that bay now carries his name – Coles Bay as well as the small seaside town nearby. Coles Bay has become part of Freycinet National Park – a hugely popular tourist attraction in Tasmania.
This is a wonderful story of a historic resident of Chilbolton and if anyone has links to this family Chris and Nadia would be delighted to hear them and add your comments hear.
Further to writing this various people have come forward with information, which started me digging and it seems that the Tilbury and Cole families were very intermarried. The following image was found on the Family History of Margaret Watson and shows how the families are linked. At this stage I think James Cole was John Cole’s brother and therefore Silas’ Uncle.
The Cole and Tilbury Family Tree during the 1800s in Chilbolton
Further information can be found on their website on the Tilbury family history here
Tuesday 14th September saw over 100 local residents from Chilbolton and Wherwell packed into the Chilbolton Village Hall. Since June the anticipation has been building over what is going to happen with Chilbolton Cow Common.
Those of you who don’t live in the village or must have been sleeping for the last year or so; Chilbolton Common has been a victim of its own outstanding natural beauty. Identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its rich bio-diveristy, ie the wonderful mix of natural flowers, grasses, animals and birds, it has also become a wonderful place to visit on a hot summer’s day. As one of the few places where the River Test is accessible and safe for children, you could sometimes be mistaken for thinking you were at Sandbanks or Bournemouth Beach.
Unfortunately the volume of visitors is having a detrimental affect on the common, specifically with regards to the parking, so Chilbolton Parish Council has spent the last 3 months looking at potential solutions.
Having seen the announcement in June’s magazine the Chilbolton & Wherwell bush telegraph went into overdrive, with comments ranging from the dramatic draconian, ban everyone and all parking to the more liberal let everyone come and enlarge the car parking.
On Tuesday the wait was over; John Rowles and Liz Blakemore and Parish Council Chairman Jeremy Baines presented their findings and the proposed solutions, after which the meeting was opened to the floor and Jeremy played his part as David Dimbleby perfectly.
The proposed solution is to remove the existing rass parking area and return this to its natural state, with a new gate to be introduced before the sleeper bridge. Car parking will be limited to the area inside the main common gate, which will comfortably allow 14 cars to park, although 18 have been seen parked at one point! For those concerned about the impact this will have, it was interesting to note from the research carried, out that it was very rare to see more than this parked at anyone time.
The Police also assured the floor that they would support these proposals and will provide ‘No Parking’ cones which will be held locally and deployed at busy times, to avoid any repeat of the problems seen in May, along Village Street, when the track was resurfaced and the gates closed.
This was always going to be a difficult decision and there was never going to a perfect solution, however the feedback we have heard over the past couple of days seems to reflect the fact that this is a sensible compromise and takes the villagers opinions into consideration. The final decision will be made in the next few weeks, based on feedback from the meeting, but so far it looks like the council have put together a positive solution.
Jo created a Facebook Page for Chilbolton Stores earlier this year, but in order to improve and connect with more people we have updated it to link directly with our Blog as well as creating a Group, which means you can keep in touch with all our updates in one place.
Check back regularly and see what we are doing, new offers, products and just what is going on in the village.
After days of rain the skies have cleared and the sun has come out in Chilbolton. Those of our customers who questioned our madness in putting out the charcoal this morning, are now seeing a beautifully sunny weekend ahead. Here’s looking forward to a wonderful weekend