THE lockdowns over the past 15 or so months have affected everyone - young, old, working, retired, furloughed, creative and non-creative.

We have heard many tales of what people have done to pass the time or focus their thoughts on something positive and tangible and we would like to hear of them.

In the Herald’s Skipton office, a colleague decided to see if she could persuade an avocado seed to grow, having had several failed attempts going as far back as the 1970s when the fruit became ‘trendy’.

Calling it her ‘lockdown project’ she set it off in a glass with about half an inch of water in November last year and after a few weeks it started to sprout roots and a stem.

Other germination methods are available on the internet, but this one actually worked. The fact it was a very large avocado seed may have helped.

Following advice to pinch out the growing point after it reached six inches, the plant went into a sulk after Christmas, but when the milder weather arrived it redoubled its efforts, sent out a new strong shoot and this week the plant is looking healthy and happy (pictured).

Whether it will survive long enough in our northern climate to mature and produce fruit is another matter, so my colleague tells me. “It certainly won’t survive outside when it gets too big and I don’t have a conservatory, “ she says. “Apparently there are examples in the south where they were started off in similar circumstances but are now planted outdoors because they became too large. Apparently some of these thrived.”

We know people out there have come up with far more exciting projects during lockdown, from building something in the garden or starting a new hobby, to giving their home a make-over, writing a book or eventually finishing that irksome job that has been waiting in the wings to be completed for years.

Let us know what you have been up to and include a picture (landscape shape please so it will fit our templates) of your effort in all its creative glory. Include your name and where you are from and we will highlight the pictures in a gallery.

Send it to and put ‘lockdown project’ in the heading.

FORAGING for wild-grown food is a pastime that must only be undertaken if you know what and what is not edible and if your actions do not contravene any laws.

May be stating the obvious, but if you are unsure, then avoid and stick to the supermarket.

June is the perfect time of year for going in search of the pignut, my colleague tells me.

“It’s a fairly plain-looking plant seen in hedgerows and at the edges of fields and on bankings.

Looking like a smaller version of the roadside cow parsley with umbels of tiny white flowers and standing around 12 to 18 inches high (30 to 45 cms) you can dig down around four or five inches following the stem to reveal a tuber which can vary in size from a pea to a chestnut. Some say their flavour is similar to a chestnut but I think they are a little more peppery.

They are delicious and nutty and all is required is a quick rubbing off of the thin brown skin which covers them, a quick rub on a shirt sleeve and then munch on them in situ.

As the name implies they are a favourite among pigs and other foraging creatures such as badgers, but as young children on the farm, my sister and brothers and I used to go in search of them each year in our fields.

The flowers of the Conopodium majus plant are very short lived and once they fade there is little hope in finding the hidden delights underground.

I once read somewhere that someone had tried to grow them commercially for use in salads and the like in fancy restaurants, but was having little success in doing so. Perhaps a wild plant should remain just that.

As mentioned above. Only go in search of such things with someone who knows what they are looking for as some UK plants are poisonous. And remember - it is illegal to dig up any kind of root growing anywhere in the UK unless you have the landowner’s permission.

My pignut (pictured) was dug up from my own field. I may go and dig up another next year.”

IT’S not always easy to follow footpaths through fields, and when the fields are full of crops, walkers can feel awkward about ploughing through the middle, crushing whatever is growing there. This landowner in East Marton however has given a helping hand by marking the footpath very clearly indeed (pictured). Definitely no chance of going off the right of way.

50 YEARS ago, in June, 1971, the then Vicar of Hubberholme took a stand against a practice at the parish church which involved bridal couples being locked in the church and having to pay a ransom to get out after the ceremony.

In what some villagers said was a long standing tradition going back generations, the church gates were tied after a couple entered the church to get married. It was claimed that the best man would have to hand over money to get the gates untied and the cash was then used to buy drinks at the local inn.

A controversy was sparked off following what the Craven Herald described as a ‘report in a provisional newspaper’ and after which the Vicar, the Rev Harold Bacon, sent a letter to his parishioners in which he offered to leave the parish if in fact he had adopted the wrong attitude.

He denied that it was a practice that had been ongoing for generations and described the whole issue as a ‘whipped up controversy’ and told the Herald the practice would definitely not be used when his daughter was married in the ancient church during the following weekend.

Mr Bacon, who said he had been answered with ‘insolence’ when demanding that the gates be untied, thought it was not Christian tradition and advised people not to pay the ransom.

NOW that Craven Museum has reopened, amongst the many fascinating items to be seen is the museum’s taxidermy collection.

Back in 1971, the Craven Herald describes how the Tottie Collection of stuffed birds was handed over to the museum following the death of Richard Tottie. The collection, of 141 birds, including a puffin, a kittiwake and also a golden crested wren and an owl, shot in a rectory garden, was started in around 1839 by the Rev Henry Roundel, said the Herald.

Henry was just a teenager of 15 years old and son of the rector of Fringford in Oxfordshire when he started his hobby. As well as in Oxfordshire, he shot birds in Sussex and a few in Yorkshire. While on holiday in Flamborough Head in 1835, he killed a guillemot, a puffin and a kittiwake. In York in 1849, he purchased a crested wren, and in 1863, while staying with his cousins, the Totties, in Coniston Cold, he acquired a herring gull, the following year, again in Coniston Cold, he shot a waxwing opposite Newfield Hall while travelling in a gig. Bizarre as it sounds now, the waxwing was ‘nearly the last waxwing in England’.

When Roundel died in 1864, his widow gave the collection to his young cousin, J B Tottie, who had already started collecting, with the help of the estate gamekeeper, and which included a kingfisher, a curlew, a pochard a water ouzel and a coot.

Both Roundel and Tottie kept detailed nature notebooks. One incident recorded by Tottie in 1883 described how he had ‘got up at daybreak to shoot greenfinches that were eating peas out of the pod.’