A SMASHING place to see snowdrops when they first start to appear, as they are doing now, is at Parcevall Hall Gardens, Skyholme, near Appletreewick. Parcevall's snowdrop weekends were held for the first time in 2016 and were originally just a two day event. Because they proved so popular, they were extended to four weekends and will be held throughout February. As well as taking the opportunity to see the fresh blanket of spring flowers, people will be able to enjoy the gardens and extensive views of the Yorkshire Dales at a time when the hall gardens are normally closed. Admission is £4 for adults, and free for children under 12 years old. People are asked to pay by an honesty box at the gardens office door. The gardens will not open for the new season until April 1, so the tea room will not be open for the snowdrop weekends. People are also advised the gardens are on a steep hill, so stout walking boots are a sensible choice, and also warm clothing - to make sure visits are as enjoyable as possible.

THERE was very much a direct approach to advertising amongst some Craven businesses of the 1960s - and this one taken out by a driving school (pictured) made me laugh. Skipton Driving School, of High Street, urged people to 'stop' and consider just how they were learning how to drive. Learners may be in a car 'not properly insured' and with an instructor 'not properly trained' to give 'expert tuition'.

MEANWHILE, in the same copy of the Herald, of 1969, The Plaza Cinema, which of course is still going strong, and is also home to Skipton Film Club, was showing The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The third in the 'Dollar' series, said the advert, and staring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The Sergio Leone film had been released some three years earlier, in 1996, so it had taken a while to reach Skipton. Interestingly, the cinema was also showing Far From the Madding Crowd, staring Julie Christie, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch, and that had gone on general release in 1967. It must have been quite a weekend for fans of the 'silver screen'.

A CURIOUS shaped stone (pictured) that was recently the subject of our 'Craven Curiosities' feature, sparked the interest of Paul Redshaw, from Silsden. Paul tells us he had a similar stone, and was as flummoxed by it as our colleague was by hers.

Paul tells us he came across his stone while re-designing his then garden near Carlisle. "During distribution of the topsoil I noticed on the surface a partially spherical stone like object of which I’d never seen before," he says. "I immediately thought it was a rather large musket shot." Paul's stone was 1.5 ins across, smooth on the outside, but with a break in it that revealed a stone like interior. "Months later my curiosity with the object hadn’t waned and it was only later whilst reading about a book on Agates of the British Isles that it became apparent that It was a Agate geode and these could be found in the vicinity of where I knew the topsoil had come from." Paul, who it seems had carried out almost identical searches to my colleague, had also come across Roman stone 'ballista balls' - carved stone ball shapes which were flung from a ballista weapon. Paul says he ruled out his stone as one of those, because of its small size. So, there we have it - my colleague could very well have an agate, but will she after a few decades now break it open to find out if that is indeed what it is - it could indeed, be hiding a very beautiful secret.

MEANWHILE, another piece of rock (pictured) in the possession of another colleague, which featured on this page some weeks ago, has prompted a letter from John Ashworthy, of Bolton-by-Bowland. Mr Ashworthy tells us the rock has three distinct layers - Bowland Shale, which he says is very common in the Bowland and Pendle areas; then a layer of limestone, and at the bottom, a very shiny layer of Chert, of which he has a similar piece. He tells us: "Chert occurs mainly in limestone, where water rich in silica steeps into joints and spaces in the rock. There, it crystallises to form the chert, which is so fine it looks like a dark brown, to black glass. It breaks a bit like flint to form sharp flakes, but not as good." Flint, adds Mr Ashworthy, occurs as nodules in chalk in East Yorkshire and down to the South Coast of England, and also over into France. "These are like whitish pebbles, probably formed on the sea bed, but when broken are like toffee coloured glass." Stone age people, says Mr Ashworthy, discovered it could be broken and carefully shaped into valuable tools for cutting, and to make into arrowheads.

A REGULAR contributor to our popular 'reader's pictures' feature, Brian Stott, of Skipton, has kindly sent in this shot of 'Shed Street' in Skipton - the residential street is no longer known by that name, but the old sign still remains. Does anyone know where it is? and what it is called now?

FOLLOWING the success of Breast Cancer Haven’s Big Tea Cosy, which took place last year, the national breast cancer charity (pictured) is encouraging everyone to once again ‘get their knits out’ for 2019. The charity is inviting everyone to embrace the cold weather, cosy up with friends and loved ones, and ‘make a brew for breast cancer’ at anytime in March. People can also turn their Big Tea Cosy into an opportunity to get crafty, by hosting a ‘Crafternoon’ as an opportunity to try their hand at knitting or crocheting in order to help support the charity’s visitors going through breast cancer treatment. LoveKnitting is also continuing to support the Big Tea Cosy by selling exclusive knitting and crochet patterns, with proceeds going towards the charity’s supportive service. A wide range of celebrity chefs and bakers are also supporting the campaign, with Great British Bake Off 2013 winner Francis Quinn, Master Chef 2016 winner Jane Devonshire, Hemsley & Hemsley, Lucy Watson and many more all providing tasty treat recipes for people to make and enjoy at their tea parties or ‘Crafternoons’ to help raise money for the charity. To sign up to The Big Tea Cosy, and receive a fundraising pack filled with everything to make any tea party or ‘Crafternoon’ a roaring success visit: breastcancerhaven.org.uk/thebigteacosy

FOR any war gamers out there, a trip to the Royal Armouries in Leeds this half term holiday will be an absolute must. From February 13 to February 24, visitors will be able to experience a packed programme full of exciting games to play, performances, talks and have-a-go activities, with something to entertain all ages. From world-famous video games to classic board games, the event will immerse visitors in the world of gaming and how the museum’s collections have influenced this.

Throughout the event the museum’s team of interpreters will bring to life some best loved games, with an opportunity for visitors try out a role playing quest, as well as exploring how objects in our collections have been used in video gaming.

The museum is free to visit and open from 10 am to 5 pm daily.

To find out more about the War Games event at the Royal Armouries, visit: royalarmouries.org/event/war-games/