Martin Kirby Column; Down On The Farm, Bargain Hunting and Lost In Translation
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE, WITH THE SOUND OF BUILDERS
Although it's not exactly 'hot off the press' news, the sale of Robinswood Farm didn't hit home for me until I saw the large 'for sale' board at the entrance to Robinswood Hill Country Park.
The site was operated in conjunction with The City Farm in Tredworth but in 2010, when the council started looking at where it could make savings, the farm looked likely to have its funding pulled and the land in Tredworth, as well as on the hill, would have been sold off.
I have to admit that when the idea of a city farm was first bandied about, around 14 years ago; I was dubious, feeling that it was an unnecessary way to spend taxpayers' money.
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But having seen the excellent work put in by Derek Wakefield-Brown over the years and how the farm has become such an important part of the local community, I was converted. So I'm glad that The Friendship Café stepped-in to save the city farm and employed Derek, along with Sarah Hawkins to continue their great work.
Sadly, that won't save the farm on the hill, which I find a bit worrying. While I realise the city council can't keep up maintenance of the site and nobody is going to buy it to run as a farm these days, selling it for residential development could be the thin end of the wedge.
To quote the sale brochure; 'For Sale by Informal Tender on the instructions of Gloucester City Council, Robinswood Farm. Planning consent has been granted for demolition of two existing barns and conversion of existing farmhouse into two apartments and erection of three detached dwellings'.
The city council has always opposed building on the fringes of the country park but now the council is desperate for cash, it's suddenly OK to build on the lower slopes. I'm concerned that it can only lead to further development and a creeping encroachment on an important green area.
I'm told by a chap who lived in it for many years, that the farmhouse so ripe for conversion dates back to the 1700s and has links to the Raikes family. Yes, that Raikes family - as in The Gloucester Journal and Sunday Schools! He also told me he'd experienced strange goings-on in the building that he put down to the presence of a Poltergeist.
Maybe the sale has Mr Raikes turning in his grave.
HE'S BEHIND YOU!
We're rapidly approaching the time for that most British of all institutions – the pantomime, where cross-dressing is essential, slapstick is expected and old jokes are positively welcomed. For most parents, as well as grandparents, taking the kids to a pantomime is just an excuse to enjoy it themselves. But I've often wondered what foreigners would make of our unique brand of mayhem.
Well, Geoff Rowe, Chief Executive of the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, recently got the chance to find out. He was invited to the ARRC (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps) HQ at Innsworth to give a talk on Pantomimes to an audience made up of ARRC members and their families. Given that the ARRC is a multi-national unit with troops from 16 nations involved, explaining a pantomime was always going to be hard work.
Things were made even more complicated by an equipment failure, so Geoff had none of the visual aids designed to help. Against all odds, the event was successful and there should be lots more happy – if bemused – faces when Dick Whittington starts its run at The Everyman on Fri 30 November. Oh yes there will.
It's strange that many of the people who were sorry to lose Woolworth's store are complaining that B & M is 'downmarket'. From what I've seen, B & M offers almost exactly what Woolworth used to – so it should be welcome.