BACK when I was a child, the playing of conkers was quite the thing. Everyone went out searching for the best examples, before baking them in the oven to get them as hard as possible. Others would shockingly soak them in vinegar. Then there was the drilling of the hole, carefully with a hand-drill or a meat skewer, and the threading with a lucky shoe-lace, and all this before the actual conker playing took place, which I seem to recall often ended up with bruised knuckles.

None of that thankfully at the grand annual Craven Conker Championship, held in the Cruck Barn, Appletreewick . In spite of the bad weather, there was a large number of competitors of all ages, from the young, to the ancient.

To avoid the conker ‘tampering’ which has shamefully happened in the past, competitors were not allowed to bring their own conkers, but were allowed to choose from those supplied fresh from the trees by the organisers.

Competitors were charged for each entry to include a conker with the proceeds going to Burnsall School, so one of the organisers, David Aynesworth tells me.

The winner showing her ‘aggressive and determined ‘ style of play was seven year old Cecily Kinloch, pictured below, who had travelled all the way from Masongill near Ingleton to take part in the hotly contested championship.

In second place was Daniel Aynesworth, 13, followed by the ancient Grant Hinchcliffe , both from Appletreewick.

“It was an evening of good old fashioned fun and it raised £50 for the school,” says David.

THERE are plenty of donations from grateful visitors to the public toilets in Skipton’s Coach Street Car Park, but sadly, people have been putting their coins in the wrong place.

A meeting of Skipton Town Council heard that grateful people were confused as to where to put their donations after visiting the conveniences and had ended up stuffing them amongst information leaflet holders.

Efforts had been made to stop it happening and to direct visitors to the donation box, but still the council was going short, because, it seemed, people have continued to ignore the box, and worse - it was suspected some less honest people were whisking the money away.

PHEW - here’s a challenge worth doing, and not only will you do yourself a lot of good, you’ll also be raising money for Sue Ryder, which runs Manorlands Hospice. The charity, as we all know has suffered along with most other charitable organisations over the last almost two years of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sue Ryder is asking people to take part in its ‘daily dash challenge’ which will run throughout next month.

All you have to do is walk, jog or run 5k every day throughout the month - which will be no easy task what with the dark mornings and dark evenings - but think how good it will make you feel.

The challenge was founded in 2015 by Jackie and Mark Smith after Jackie’s dad received care from a Sue Ryder hospice at the end of his life.

Inspired by the expert and compassionate care he received, they decided to set themselves a challenge to raise money for the charity.

Since its inception, the festive fundraiser has continued to grow in popularity, with thousands of people in the UK and across the world lacing up their trainers or walking shoes in a bid to boost their physical and mental health during the festive period.

Richard Hargreaves, who lives in Cross Roads near Keighley, took part in the December Daily Dash last year.

He said: “‘Motivation to run daily can be challenging, especially when it’s dark, cold and wet. But the fact that it is for such a worthy cause, and funds have been pledged, makes it worth the effort.”

It is free to sign up, but any money raised through fundraising goes directly towards Sue Ryder’s vital end of life, bereavement and neurological support.

In 2020 about1,200 people took part, together raising more than £320,000.

Caroline Graham, director of fundraising at Sue Ryder said: “December can be an incredibly busy and difficult month for many and the December Daily Dash is a great way to take some time out to think and reflect whilst raising money for an incredible cause.

“Whether you do it alone, with friends, family or your furry companion, every step you take and pound you raise this winter helps Sue Ryder to support people when it matters most.”

To sign up to the December Daily Dash, visit:

NOW that Channel 5’s popular All Creatures Great and Small has concluded it’s second series, we have just the Christmas special left to enjoy - and the rest of the world so it seems.

The series, much of which is filmed in Craven, Grassington, Arncliffe, and of course, Broughton Hall, home of Mrs Pumphrey, left us somewhat hanging on a cliff edge.

James had asked Helen to marry him, Mrs Hall had started walking out with nice gentleman who fixes clocks, Tristan had sorted out a grumpy old woman with a new dog, and Siegfried seemed less anxious about his brother.

But what’s that we see on the television at Skeldale House? The rumblings of the Second World War? Is all the tranquility going to come to an end? We shall have to wait and see, however, if its a fix of All Creatures magic you are after, what about a ‘All Cheeses Great and Small’ bag being sold at Booths Supermarket in Settle - very clever indeed.

ON the subject of cheese, I dropped in at The Swinscoe’s The Courtyard Dairy near Settle - they’ve got old ski lift pods in the car park - fantastic!

SET in the White Scar Cave in Ingleton, writer Jill Petts takes readers on a fantasy adventure coming-of-age story.

White Scar is the story of 14-year-old twins, Ralph and Alba Milway who find themselves battling with dark forces to secure a wand and the safety of the world.

It is a coming-of-age novel as the twins forge their place in an uncertain world.

In 2050 Aster, a young woman, is accused of murdering four innocent beings. She is magically preserved in a cave, along with the judge who sentenced her, her loyal cat and one of three wands used to imprison her.

Moving on 100 years, Ralph and Alba unwittingly free Aster and their lives become much more complicated. Now they have an epic fight between good and evil, where not everything is as it seems.

Set in Yorkshire in 2150, following a Global War ended by a meteor smashing into Earth, the book takes the atmospheric White Scar caves in and puts them at the heart of a magical adventure story perfect for middle grade readers, say the publishers.

Jill, who lives in Kent, is a civil servant and a Church of England lay minister.

She was inspired to write the book following a visit to North Yorkshire.

“This book has been 20 years in the making. I was looking for an idea to inspire my son to read.

“On a family holiday to Yorkshire, we visited White Scar Cave in Ingleton. There were underground lakes and waterfalls and, in the grand cavern, on the wall, there she was; the effigy of a witch and her cat formed by mineral deposits.

“‘How did she really get there?’ I asked myself. My son is now nearly 30 and has promised to read White Scar when it is published, so I guess I have achieved my goal.”