Bilton News – 30th July 2020

Bilton news – July 30

You will know if you catch one: that is what the weatherman said in relation to the showers forecast for last Saturday. At the Pine Street Allotments table top sale they did catch one and they did know about it. All vegetables were guaranteed washed and plants well-watered. Fortunately the shower did not last long and a steady stream of visitors enjoyed the opportunity of a stroll down the main drive, which is looking at its floral best, as well as the chance to buy fresh produce and support the Harrogate Hospital Charity.

Fish and chips: it was good to hear from Harrogate Fisheries, 141 Skipton Road advising that a delivery service is still being offered to elderly residents of Bilton who are unable to get out and who have no access to online services. Deliveries take place between 5-6.30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Telephone Sophie on 07931 596398 to place an order and agree a safe place for non-contact delivery and payment.

There is help out there: for anyone still struggling or who has found that help they have been receiving is no longer available. This is being co-ordinated by H.E.L.P at Harrogate and District Community Action. Telephone the H.E.L.P team on 01423 813096. This is an answerphone that is regularly checked. Please leave a clear message about your needs and full contact details including your telephone number. There is also online information available at

Unofficial poll on facemasks: I have been asking people if they agree that facemasks should be worn in shops and other enclosed spaces. Most do and they feel slightly safer as a result. When asked if they will now be shopping more often most said no. They are finding the shopping experience so unpleasant they are still seeking ways to go shopping less. This is bad news for the high street. Any businesses pulling out of home deliveries because they think the public will be flocking back to the shops may need to keep this under review. Whilst on the subject of facemasks I have found out that they are only for medical use. For any other purpose we wear face coverings.

Time to put the risk in perspective: lots of people in the vulnerable categories admit to being more scared now than they were at the height of the pandemic. This has come about because of constant warnings to stay safe and stay at home plus all the measures that have to be taken before businesses can reopen. Is the fear now unreasonable? To help people decide it could be useful to compare other mortality statistics with the daily Covid death toll. How many people are dying on a daily basis from pre-existing conditions or from accidents? If it could be demonstrated that the risk of succumbing to a non-Covid related condition is greater than succumbing to Covid then people may regain confidence more quickly.

Library is back for books: or it will be on Monday August 3. It will be possible to browse the shelves and borrow books in the normal way. It is not quite business as usual. Social distancing rules only allow four members of the public in the building at the same time so there may be a queue. A family with young children will count as one unit. The library will look different because tables, soft furnishings, toys and craft items have had to be removed. People will be asked to sanitise before entering and libraries have been requested to collect information for test and trace. For the time being there will be no public computers or photocopying services available. Progress back to normality is going to be slow but most people want the books back and this is now going to happen. The select and collect service will still operate. The library is on Woodfield Road on the same site as the school and Children’s Centre. It is open Monday 2-4pm and Thursday and Fridays 10am-noon.

Bilton News – 23rd July 2020

Bilton News – July 23

Pine Street Allotments: at last, something positive to tell you. This Saturday, July 25, 10am-noon there will be a table top sale at the Pine Street entrance to the allotments and the public is invited to attend. The public being invited anywhere over the past few months has been a very rare thing so please do not get too excited as social distancing measures will be in place. However, there is plenty of space for a long queue. On sale will be fresh vegetables, plants, second hand tools and other bits and bobs. All proceeds are for the Harrogate Hospital Charity. This weekend would have been the popular open day which raises funds for local charities. It cannot happen this year but the stall is an opportunity to stock up on vegetables and enjoy queuing in a different location. The charity was chosen many months ago, long before anyone had heard of Covid 19; it has proved to be a very popular choice.

Bilton Community Centre: the Bilton Community Centre is seeking a caretaker for the Centre on Bilton Lane. Duties involve unlocking/locking the Centre, setting up tables and chairs for the various user groups and general caretaking of the building and grounds. No cleaning is required. A good wage is offered. For further details please contact Barry Jeffrey by telephone 01423 421727 or 07500 165111 or email

The first two weeks at the library: have gone remarkably well. Books are being returned at a steady pace and the select and collect system is increasing in popularity. The volunteers have adapted well and are able to turn round the book orders quite quickly. Anyone who is online can look at the North Yorkshire Library website to view the library catalogue and find out if a particular book is available. If it is an order can be placed by telephone or email. Those not online can continue to go to the library and pick up an order form. The library, on Woodfield Road, on the same site as the school and Children’s Centre, is open Mondays 2-4pm, Thursdays and Fridays 10am-noon. Telephone 01423 64630. Email

Planning for the next stage: is now underway, and it is the tricky one, allowing customers back in to the Library to browse the shelves and use the computers. It is tricky because of social distancing. There never was much space in the library so the question to be solved is how can the furniture be re-arranged to allow for 2 metre social distancing? It is likely some items will have to be removed but when there is no storage space available where can they be removed to? This is what is exercising the minds of the volunteers at the moment. As soon as a solution is found it will be possible to allow people inside. There is no date yet but the wait will soon be over. Keep up to date by following the library on Facebook or visiting the website.

Highlight of the week: well there were two actually. One was having my hair cut, now who would have thought that was a newsworthy item? The other was seeing a bright blue butterfly flitting through the garden. It did not stay long enough for a positive identification but I am guessing it would be a holly blue. Ivy is its food plant and I have ivy hiding an ugly fence; it was also home to a blackbird’s nest and possibly a dunnock’s. The birds have now gone away to moult so it is time to trim the ivy. It is quite hard work but, as they say, there is no gain without pain.


Bilton News – 16th July 2020

Bilton News – July 16

Guilty secret: I have been a responsible shopper, not bulk buying only purchasing what I needed. There has been one exception though. I have been stockpiling sugar. It is not as though I have a particularly sweet tooth but it is one of those commodities that is not always available when needed, so when I saw it in the shops I just kept buying it. Why? Way back in March I was hoping for a good crop of soft fruit at the allotment in July. I hate to see it going to waste so quite a lot goes into jam, and jam needs lots of sugar, which is why I had to stockpile. The bumper crop has happened. Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants are all ready and blackberries are on their way. The jam pan has been out. The shelf of sugar bags is now filled with jars of new jam. There is enough to keep me going until next years hoped for bumper crop. The jam will also provide much appreciated Christmas presents and, this year, a thank you to those neighbours who have been very kind.

First week at the library: it went very well. Good numbers of books were returned but not so many as to overwhelm the volunteers. The books were moved to a special quarantine area for 3 days and those returned on day one are now back on the shelves, together with some new stock delivered during the week. The select and collect idea has had a mixed reception. Some people think it is brilliant, most are happy to go along with it for now, some will not entertain it as all they want is to get back inside to browse the shelves. Of course that is what everyone wants and next week plans will be made to work out exactly how this can happen. Keep watching this space to find out. In the meantime this is just a reminder that the library is open for returns, to collect orders and pick up order forms on Mondays 2-4pm, Thursdays and Fridays 10am-noon. Order can be made by telephone 01423 564630. The Library is on Woodfield Road, the same site as the school and Children’s Centre.

Mayhem one morning: from the direction of the junction of Church Avenue with Bilton Lane could be heard the sound of blaring car horns and abusive sounding shouts. What was happening? The traffic lights controlling the flow at the road works were out of action so no-one was moving and traffic was building up in all directions. To put it mildly, some drivers were very annoyed. The reaction of the road workers was to laugh. I do not blame them, it was not their fault and far better to laugh than retaliate in a like manner. I must admit to having a little smirk myself as I walked past the stationary vehicles at a steady 3 miles per hour. All was calm an hour or so later when the traffic lights were working once more.

Big adventure of the week: I went to town. The first time in four months. It felt silly being apprehensive, but I was. I was also a bit sad. Shops on Kings Road, Mayfield Grove and in town itself that were trading four months ago are now closed and empty. I did not feel the buzz. I saw people going about what they had to do looking anxious, queuing and being met by signs saying welcome back, a welcome that was genuine, but another sign next to it saying do not come in until a member of staff says you can. I know why, and I agree with the measures that have to be taken but it is a mixed message. The meeters and greeters outside some shops looked more like bouncers in their high-viz jackets. That said all the staff I encountered were very friendly and helpful and I felt completely safe on their premises. But the town did not feel good. I know that is not what traders want to hear but now the enormous hurdle of reopening has actually been crossed it is time to let imaginations go wild. Make the town feel cheerful again. Where are the flowers? How about some imaginative window displays; we do need those tables and chairs in the street. Make Harrogate a destination of choice not a place to go if you have to then get out as quickly as possible. I did not really enjoy my visit to town but I am glad I went and hope it will not be another four months before I return.


Bilton News – 9th July 2020

Bilton news – July 9

Welcome phone call: it came from my hairdresser asking if I would like to make an appointment. Yes please. It will be different, lots of PPE and a list of things I must do and cannot take on to the premises. The experience may not be all I wish it to be, but needs must. The end result will be worth it. It is good to see businesses open again but we are all a little anxious, owners and customers alike. Let us hope that the science is right and now is the right time to move forward.

Library: a cautious start will now have been made. Next week I will be able to tell you how things are going. It is a new experience for everyone and a complete unknown. Nowadays libraries are mostly run by different organisations working in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council so different libraries have slightly different arrangements and not all are open yet. At Bilton the opening hours are Monday 2-4pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-noon. Customers will only be able to go as far as the door to deposit the books borrowed before the lockdown. These will then be quarantined. At the same time it will be possible to pick up an order form for books which customers can collect. There will be someone on the door explaining how it all works. Orders can be made by telephone 01423 564630 and order forms can be printed from the website where up to date information can also be found. Facebook is worth following too. Unlike some libraries which have asked customers to return books gradually over a period of weeks at BIlton we take the opposite view. The sooner the books are back the sooner they can be returned to the shelves and planning for the next phase allowing customers back into the library to browse and use the computers can start. There is no date for this yet. If your library is not yet open or the reduced hours at your branch do not suit, books can be returned to Bilton and Woodfield Community Library which is on Woodfield Road, on the same site as the school and Children’s Centre. There is a car park. Please only leave books during opening hours.

Lasting legacy: as we move away from lockdown and the whole pandemic becomes a memory that for many will not be a good one it is nice to think of the positives. One was the pleasant, socially distanced cups of tea enjoyed by neighbours in their gardens on balmy summer days. They started on VE Day and we all said we must do this again, and for a while we did. But now the weather has taken a turn for the worse and as lives once again become busier the afternoon teas are on hold maybe never to return. But there is a lasting legacy. Now, when neighbours catch a glimpse of each other going about their increasingly busy lives, when we ask “How are you?” we are not just being polite and hoping for a positive answer, we really want to know.

This weeks’ problem: is one I do not think you can help me with. I have not needed my diary for over three months and now that I have a hairdressing appointment to put in it (not much else yet) I cannot find it. Where can it be? I have not become a domestic goddess over the lockdown so the house is not meticulously tidy with a place for everything. So my task this week is to make it like that and find the diary.

Bilton News – 2nd July 2020

Bilton news – July 2

At last: lockdown measures are slowly being relaxed allowing more businesses to reopen. Most of those affected are now busy working behind the scenes so they can be ready to welcome customers back soon. But it is not all over. It will not be business as usual, this is just a start.

Books galore: the week before the lockdown thousands of books were issued by the Library Service. The shelves at Bilton and Woodfield Community Library are looking rather sparse so it is now time to return those books. The library will be open for three sessions a week to receive them. The sessions will be Monday 2-4pm, Thursday 10am-noon and Friday 10am-noon starting on Monday July 6. The normal lending service will not resume for at least two weeks because the returned books have to be quarantined for 72 hours before they can be returned to the shelves. This means they will be stacked in boxes occupying most of the free space in the library. Even without the added complications of social distancing this situation would make it unsafe to allow public access on health safety grounds. Please help the library volunteers provide a fuller service as soon as possible by returning your library books during this initial two week period.

New service: readers need not be without books as a new call and collect service is being introduced at Bilton and Woodfield Community Library. Tell the volunteers, via an order form, the type of books you like and a selection will be chosen for you to collect. A specific title can be selected and if it is in stock it can be supplied. Order forms can be printed from the website or collected from the library during the above opening hours. Orders can also be taken by telephone. The library is on Woodfield Road on the same site as the school and Children’s Centre, telephone 01423 564630, website At the time of writing final guidance and requirements from the government have not been received and the situation changes on a daily basis. Things will most likely have changed by the time you read this. The website will be updated regularly as will Facebook and when the library is open telephone enquiries will be welcome.

News from St John’s: although the church building has been closed there has been plenty going on online. There is good news for those who are not online and anyone who would rather not be and it is that the church is now open for private prayer on Wednesdays 10am-noon, Thursdays 6-7.30pm and Saturdays 10am-noon. During the lockdown the parish has said goodbye to curate, Ruth Donegan-Cross who has been appointed to a position in Birmingham. She goes with the good wishes of all who know her. A new curate, Laura Martin, is to start on July 4. Another new arrival is Emma James, the Young Peoples Worker. The grounds at St John’s are looking wonderful. The team of volunteers manage to keep them tidy at the same time as allowing wild flower areas to flourish. New planting has been taking place near the church entrance.

Another sign of normality: last week a notice appeared on Skipton road conveying the news that major gas works started on June 25 for 14 weeks. This week another sign has appeared on King Edward’s Drive stating that the top of the street, near its junction with Skipton Road, is to be closed for two weeks from July 12. At the time of writing traffic lights are still controlling the flow on BIlton Lane and Hill Top Avenue. If ever incentive was needed to carry on walking on cycling for short journeys this could be it.