A Whitley Gate toll ticket from 1867

(L to R) Matthew Farrall and David Cliffe (holding the ticket)

Whitley Pump contributor Matthew Farrall was idly looking at a wall in his mum’s house recently and noticed a framed local newspaper article featuring a ticket dated 17 July 1867 for Whitley toll gate.

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Redbrick blackbird

When you hear a very loud, varied, flutey birdsong from your roof or TV aerial at sunset or sunrise in these early months of the year, then you will be most likely listening to a male blackbird. The juvenile first-year males sing in January and February and the older ones follow from around March. Quite why these sentinels of the natural world have such a boring name in English is hard to understand; there are plenty of other black-plumed avians. They are lovingly called merle in French and merl in the old Scottish dialect.

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Katesgrove talent shines on a rainy night in Basingstoke

Katesgrove based carry-on country band the Rumpo Kidz and the bard of Elgar Road Nigel Pounds crossed borders into Hampshire last Saturday to perform at the White Hart, a lovely big old boozer at the old end of Basingstoke town. After negotiating the consumer-Narnia of a shopping mall at the heart of the new Basingstoke, our redbrick troubadours traipsed through the heavy rain with all their gear on their backs.

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