WITH the garden being as soaked as it was recently - literally sopping wet - I've been glad to see our mostly nocturnal visitor who appears quite regularly on our flagged patio, usually late at night. In my last encounter, he was illuminated in the night light, poised rigid as stone, as if petrified.

I watched fascinated hoping to stare him into movement. Five minutes later in the blink of an eye he leapt and as if instantaneously, gobbled down a large, soft fleshy brown slug. He remained still for a couple of seconds then jerked his body and swallowed as if the thing was stuck in his throat. Obviously not replete, he almost immediately sprang again and went through the same process. I only wish he was more hungry for despite his love of slugs, he hardly makes any difference to the numbers in our garden, especially in the wet.

I'm still not sure if he was a frog or a toad. By size he was an impressive beast. Perhaps someone can tell us how to tell the two apart - from a distance.

HOW times have changed. Around about this time, 50 years ago, Barnoldswick councillors were busy planning the town's annual bonfire night party on November 5. The date fell on a Saturday in 1966 and the urban council was going all out to make it extra special. What they had in mind was a torch race, with teams acting in relay carrying a lighted torch from Letcliffe Park to Victory Park, where the bonfire party was held. The victorious team would have the honour of lighting the bonfire. A couple of teams had been put forward by the town's youth group, as had the town's Young Liberals. The race, it was agreed, would give added 'sparkle' and even 'set the evening ablaze'.

ONE of the most popular tents at the recent Gargrave Show - which, sadly turned out a bit wet - was that run by the Wharfedale Beekeepers Association. There was a steady stream of people visiting the tent in order to chat with members about the benefits of keeping bees, which appears not to be as tricky as it might appear, and to take a look at some bees working away in a glass fronted observation hive, which next to one of those 'worm worlds' has to be one of the interesting things ever. Members Peter Longbottom and Jill Campbell enthused about bees and signed several potential new members up to a series of beginner courses and talks the association holds in both Skipton, at The Craven College, and in Burley-in-Wharfedale. A large garden is not needed for anyone considering keeping bees, just as long as the bees can fly off without interfering with any neighbours. There is an initial outlay of around £200, but after that, there is not a lot of cost involved, and anyone joining up with Wharfedale Beekeepers will be assigned a mentor to help them along the way. To find out more about this wonderful hobby, visit the website wharfedalebka.org.uk

TALKING about Gargrave Show, there was a fine display of decorated walking sticks on show for the first time at the event, as this picture by Barry Tweed-Rycroft demonstrates.

IT may have been pouring with rain, but Timothy West and Prunella Scales appeared to be having a grand time in Skipton in Channel 4's Great Canal Journeys. Boating along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on their narrowboat from Lancashire, they picked up poet Simon Armitage for a while, who told them about his walk along the entire length of the Pennine Way. Once in Skipton, they enjoyed a meal at the Boathouse Cafe in the canal basin, where Tim had a pie and a pint, while Prunella had a glass of red wine. And with the rain pouring down in the background, Prunella commented just how typical it was of Yorkshire. The couple then continued on their way to Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage, negotiated the Five Rise

Locks at Bingley, and on to Saltaire, before stopping short of going into Bradford.

SKIPTON'S Mayor, Cllr Martin Emmerson and a group of fellow dancers taking part in the up and coming BBC dance programme - due to be screened sometime, possibly before the end of the year - travelled to York to take part in some more filming. It was a grand affair, so says Cllr Emmerson, with the Skipton group being collected by coach the evening before and taken to York, where they were put up for the night in the student accommodation of York University. The next day, they were picked up again and whisked to York Minster, where after breakfast, some more filming took place. "There must have been about 300 people there, from all over, and people kept stopping and asking us what it was all about - I told them it was Gay Pride," says Cllr Emmerson. He met up with the Mayor of York, Cllr Dave Taylor, who was not apparently taking part in the filming, and at the end of the day, they were transported back to Skipton.

A COLLEAGUE on a recent day off, thought she would stop off at Gisburn Auction Mart, where she had heard fine things about the cafe. And it did not disappoint, the award winning cafe was packed with mostly farmers, all sitting down to a splendid full breakfast. Later, chatting to a farming friend at Gargrave Show, the subject of the mart cafe came up, to which the farming friend responded the cafe was in fact excellent, and put side by side with the Skipton Auction Mart cafe, it was difficult to decide which was best.

A GROUP of history students from Settle College were visited by a group of historians - led by Rob Freeman, from Settle Museum, The Folly - home of the Museum of North Craven Life, as part of 100 year commemorations of the First World War, and were given a real insight into the life of a conscientious objector, very close to home. Student, Matilda Holt, says the purpose of the project was to learn about Settle’s history during the course of the war. "We learned what it was like for the people of Settle, more specifically the Quaker residents, who became conscientious objectors during the Great War. Over the three sessions, we learned about our local history during the war and how it affected the lives of the residents at the time." The students discovered that during the war, many people in the town were Quakers and became conscientious objectors. "They were people who rejected violence and would not partake in conflict throughout the period of the war. There are many stories about the lives they led throughout the war, and we were lucky enough to find out more about their roles within the conflict and on the home Front, first hand. Not only this, but we were, thanks to the information and insight contributed by the Folly’s archive, able to learn about the lives of real people and what Settle was like in the early 20th Century," she says. The students were shown just what it was like for conscientious objectors all over the country. "It was very thought-provoking to find out about the public’s opinion of them and how they were treated for their beliefs. As a class, we found out both sides of the stories and how hard it was to be a conscientious objector at the time. This allowed us to empathise with them and helped us understand the sorts of issues they faced. With this information, we had a far deeper understanding with which to find out more." The students also went onto to ancestry websites and researched one Settle family of Quakers, the Horners, and in particular, Wilfred Horner, a conscientious objector who went on to perform great deeds within the Friends’ Ambulance Unit. "In pairs, using real articles from the time period, like excerpts from The Craven Herald and memoirs from those who knew him, we were able to build up a picture of Wilfred’s life as a conscientious objector and as a member of the FAU. As local residents, we were able to translate our information about the town to the life that people of the time led. We travelled through Wilfred's life, from boarding school, to him joining the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, to his great deed within the FAU, which earned his medal for bravery," she says. "We also saw how public opinion regarding the conscientious objectors over the course of the war changed from hostility to thankfulness, and how many were honoured for the parts they played. It was very interesting and greatly uplifting to see how the way conscientious objectors were regarded changed so much over the war, and how they shaped the modern world. The whole experience was informative and made us think more deeply about what happened locally during the war, and it gave us a great chance to experience history hands on."

SEVERAL Craven-based community groups have been shortlisted for Skipton Building Society's Grassroots Giving campaign which this year has £81,500 to donate - and now they are looking for votes to help them receive a pot of £500. Groups include gardening groups, anglers, neighbourhood groups and sports organisations. They have all been through an initial stage of vetting, and are now hoping to be one of the 163 to each receive £500. Voting started at the beginning of September, and can be done online at skiptongrg.co.uk. or at any Skipton Building Society branch.Each group has its own online profile on the building society's Grassroots Giving website, giving details of the work it carries out. In Craven, the groups hoping to succeed are: Giggleswick Gardening Group, Settle Folk Gathering, Skipton Angling Association, Embsay Good Neighbours, Skipton Juniors, Cowling FC, Skipton Musical Theatre Company, Sutton in Craven CC Juniors, Grassington Singers, Skipton Ladies Choir, Craven Mosaic and Crafts Group, Linton; Threshfield and Grassington Angling Club and Airedale and Wharfedale District Amateur Swimming Association. David Cutter, SBS Group Chief Executive said: “ From previous years’ activity we have already had many groups get in touch to tell us how much they valued our support - the money enabled them to evolve their groups, and in many ways has helped to secure the future of their group.These local groups are hugely resourceful and are providing valued contributions to their communities and neighbourhoods. We’ve shortlisted the groups who we feel will make the most of the support we can offer them to further build their impact in the coming years and we’re looking forward to the public getting behind this to choose the projects they’d like us to support.”Skipton Building Society launched its Grassroots Giving programme as part of its 160th anniversary celebrations in 2013.