A Yank's View of England Part 6

Sunday May 7th - A Visit to Roland's Yard

Sunday morning came early as Jim and I left at Sparrow Fart to drive down south and west of London (or as Roland puts it in his sig... nr Exeter Devon. UK) to have a visit with Roland Craven and check out "Roland's Yard" first hand. For a look, go to
Roland's web page.

We were welcomed by Roland who led us into the kitchen to meet his charming wife Celia. At various points through the day we got to meet three of Roland's four lovely daughters. Talk about being the only rooster in the hen house!! Roland then took us on a tour of the "inside project", a 17 room house, parts of which date to 1705 and is undergoing restoration as Roland finds time. Really NEAT place!!

Before we went outside to "play engines" Celia informed us that lunch was ready. This was a beautiful salmon that Roland had caught, served with fresh asparagus and new potatoes. Fantastic!! This feast was followed by a local Devon delicacy, a "Cream Tea." This is fresh-baked scones, topped with home-made jam or honey in the comb and clotted sweet cream! I'm not normally a sweets eater, BUT THIS is to die for!!!! And before we left for home, we polished off the leftover scones! 8-))

While enjoying lunch, it was impossible to ignore one "characteristic" feature of the dining room. Two lovely Petters undergoing restoration grace the corner and a classic what-not shelf is loaded with mags of all sorts. THIS is an
"engine man's" dining room!! And Celia is a saint without parallel. Wot ever you're doing Roland to keep her happy, keep on doing it!! Yer an inspiration to us all!!!!

After lunch we strolled up to the garden and enjoyed a
view of the entire town!! We also saw a neat old Petter Oil Engine sign belonging to Roland's neighbor that's just going to rust. Despite his best efforts, it's still "not for sale." Sigh! Also found out that an English garden can be "blessed" with Giant Hogweed and "sticky weed." Gee, just like home! That's "home" as in Pittsburgh, not "home" as in Jim & Helen's well tended garden.

Jim and Celia searched among the rocks in the garden for
slow-worms. After a couple of near misses, Jim got lucky. What is a slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) you ask? Well it's not a worm, that's sure. It's a reptile. It looks like a snake, but it's really a lizard and is one of only six reptiles found in Britain. For more info take a look here.

From the garden we had a pretty good view of "
Roland's Yard" where his engine collection lives. I got to see and hear a wide variety of Petters and Listers. Roland also has a Norman two cylinder genset that looks an awful lot like a Maytag on steroids! Roland is in the process of setting up his lineshaft shop. A Lister 6/1 CS sits on a pad outside the shop to be belted up to the lineshaft. You can see the end of the lineshaft sticking out of the wall of the shop. He also has a REALLY neat bench top shaper. Never saw anything like it before. Also a couple of great lathes in that shop. Roland delighted the hell out of me with a gift of a Petter A1 air-cooled engine. Lovely little beast! Starts on petrol and runs on paraffin. He also gave me a pulley for my Lister 5/1 CS. What a wonderful day.

Jim and I said our good-byes to
Roland and Celia, loaded the Petter into the boot (trunk) of Helen's Volvo (apparently she never spotted the oil and grease stains on the carpeting unless Jim caught Hell for it).

On the way back we took a side trip to
Stratford-on-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace). As it was nearing dusk, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Once again I was struck by the beauty of the extensive English gardens. In particular, the Elizabethan-style knott garden. And Jim fell in love with a lovely Mark II Jag. I was a bit concerned that I didn't have enough to bail him out if he hot-wired it, but in the end he gave it a pass and we headed back to Kibworth Harcourt.

Next up, the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum, Bolinder engines, and heron hunting with Jim's dad Ron.

Arnie's UK Tour

Rushden Cavalcade Twycross Zoo Peter Forbes'
Country Towns Stoke Goldington Roland Craven
Stoke Bruerne Southern England Local Attractions
Canals & Wales Last Few Days  

This page was a joint production by Arnie and Dolly - words and photos by Arnie, webbing by Dolly


©FBI 2000