Covid-19 and the allotment
With permission from West Lothian Council, Oakwell allotment has been allowed to remain open for members to get their daily exercise. We have strict rules about social distancing but working on your own plot ensures that plot holders stay apart. We have taken other steps and given instructions to ensure that the risk of cross-infection is minimised. It is most likely that our Harvest Celebrations later this year will be cancelled.
Things to do on your vegetable plot in June and beyond.
Frosts are very unlikely this month. After the rush to get crops sown and planted in April and May, things slow down a little from now on although it is important to keep on top of the weeding through the summer months.
Burgh Beautiful – Up for the Challenge!
In a recent publication, Burgh Beautiful was commenting on the amount of rain we have had. Now it is the amount of sunshine. My mother who loves the sun wants some rain. She is concerned for the farmers whose grass will not be growing to allow them to adequately feed their cattle. You can take the girl out of the farm but not the farm out of the girl and I guess the same is true for gardeners. We did have some heavy rain a day or two ago but if you have been digging you will know that the ground is still dry. But given how seldom we have an extended sunny spell, I had better watch what I wish for.
TRAVELLING INTO THE PAST IN LOCKDOWN
In these strange times when we have been restricted in so many of our normal activities, walking has become part of the daily routine. It’s led me to explore more of the local area, and it was during a recent walk that I ended up taking a trip back in time and uncovering some fascinating history.
While walking along a path next to a newly ploughed field, I was intrigued as to why the soil was glistening. On closer inspection, I discovered pieces of porcelain scattered across the field, shimmering in the sunlight. The next week on the same path I decided to collect some of the porcelain, with a plan to create some lockdown artwork. Armed with a load of broken china I had plenty to work with, but the mystery remained – why was the field full of it? I knew Linlithgow had a rich industrial past, but I was fairly sure pottery wasn’t one of the trades. I decided the only person to consult was local historian Bruce Jamieson. One e-mail later I had my answer – the fragments of pottery I had found were possibly from chamber pots!
Prior to the development of plumbing, a very unpleasant trade of disposing of human excrement was developed. By the 18th century, people would put their faeces into chamber pots, empty them into a cesspit and cover it over with soil and ashes. When cesspits became full, they were dug out by Night Soilmen. They worked through the night (so as not to offend high society!) digging out cesspits and then transporting the waste out of the town and selling it onto farmers to fertilise their fields. This system of disposing of waste ran through until the early 20th century. Chamber pots would often end up in the cesspits and get transported with the human sewage.
My day job is in HR, so I’m used to dealing with a range of people and jobs. However, it would take a great deal of negotiating with trade unions to get agreement for men, armed only with a cart and a candle to clean out human waste and dispose of it in the night. There was no P.P.E. back then, but the Night Soilmen were heroes of their time doing an essential job.
By June Martin
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! A bolt from the blue. No Marches this year.
That’s how local journalist, Robert Fleming, writing in his Broadcastings by Radio column in the West Lothian Courier, broke the news that the 1926 Marches had been cancelled.
He echoed the feelings of many when he wrote:
“That there is keen disappointment at the cancellation, even temporarily, of the old-world pageant, goes without saying. But when authority decrees, populaces must bow to the inevitable”.
Robert Fleming was no stranger to the Marches. Hailing originally from Bathgate, where he trained as a printer, his later journalistic career took him to Aberdeenshire, where he married in 1880. He returned to West Lothian and in 1883, became the Linlithgow correspondent for the Falkirk Herald. When that newspaper’s owners decided to establish a separate Linlithgow publication – the Linlithgowshire Gazette – in 1891, he was ideally placed to become the paper’s guiding spirit and editor, a position he retained until 1913. In 1926, at the age of 70, he was back working in Linlithgow as the Courier’s local reporter.
West Lothian Council
All five Recycling Centres in West Lothian – Oakbank (Livingston), Whitburn, Linlithgow, Broxburn and Blackburn – will re-open on Monday.
All five centres will be open 7 days a week from 10am – 6pm.
They have been closed due to restrictions on non-essential travel which have been in place across the country throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents should make you sure to read the following points before visiting a Recycling Centre.
- Customers are being advised to expect changes at the centres to ensure they comply with social distancing guidelines and operate safely for both staff and customers.Queuing is likely at times and customers can expect to have to wait to gain access.
- If customers do not have an urgent need to dispose of items, we’d advise you to hold off visiting the sites initially to avoid long queues. Only cars will be allowed access to Recycling Centres, with no trailers or vans are allowed at this stage. This is in line with national guidance and is aimed at reducing congestion.
- There will also be changes to the site layouts and drop off process. A limited number of parking bays will be available at each Recycling Centre and staff will be on hand to direct customers when they enter. Customers will be asked to remain in their vehicle until they are directed to a parking bay and will not be able to leave their bay as the rest of the site is closed. Each bay provides access to a bagged waste skip and a bulky waste skip. Customers must ensure that they maintain a 2 metre distance from others.
- Staff will not be able to help unload vehicles so if you require assistance to dispose of waste in skips, you should bring someone from your own household with you to help.
- Licencing requirements prevent us from accepting electrical items (such as fridges, cookers and tumble driers), gas bottles, tyres, asbestos or liquids (such as paint and oil) at this time.
Residents are thanked for their patience throughout this time.