A Cock and Bull Story
April 14, 2017

Image result for cock hotel stony Related image

I want to share the contents of the local treasure chest that is Stony Stratford; the place with a river, rooms and revelry, which I first encountered when I moved there in 1998.

Stony Stratford has long attracted people with its sense of community spirit and friendly atmosphere. This could be largely due to the fact that it has always played host to people travelling through and so has its roots firmly set around hospitality and entertainment.

The Great Road

On the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire border, the old Roman road, called Watling Street, crosses the river Ouse at Old Stratford.

In Roman times, journeys through this particular area were made tricky in bad weather by (what was then) wide flood plains and marshland. So a causeway would have been formed, by laying a number of large, flat stones into the riverbed in order to raise the level for easier passage. This ford was of great importance for many travellers, as illustrated by the check-point which was established on the opposite side of the river (where Stony Stratford subsequently emerged as a town).

Watling Street was primarily a military road – one of the two great roads from London to the North. Legions passed along it on their way to and from campaigns or re-assignments to the various garrisons around the newly conquered country.

Anyone standing near the ford at Stony Stratford would have been used to the spectacle of disciplined marching cohorts of Roman infantry negotiating the river crossing, heading north or south.

Watling Street continued to be a major thoroughfare in the late medieval period. Like the Romans before them, medieval armies marched along it to and from London on campaigns in the English and Welsh regions.

The merchants and traders of Stony Stratford

Travellers may well have been delayed crossing the Ouse marshes as this was the first major river crossing since coming from London. The High Street in Stony Stratford widens on the spit of gravel extending towards the river, suggesting an early Norman street market, although it wasn’t until 1194, at the time of King Richard I, the Stony Stratford market first appeared in official records.

As demonstrated by the obvious success of the early street market, Watling Street and its important crossing over the River Ouse have, through the ages, created demand for service by travellers and pilgrims – and therefore opportunity for traders.

The earliest hospitality establishment was Grilkes Inn, which was most probably located near the south end of the bridge on the west side as far back as 700 years ago.

With the growth in the number of travellers, the number of inns began to multiply rapidly through the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The 18th Century saw the rise of the coaching trade and at its peak, Stony Stratford had over 30 stage-coaches per day passing through the town. All of these required servicing with food, livery for their horses and accommodation.

The inns thrived – this was their hayday! The sound of hooves on the cobbled street and the smell of hard-worked horses filled the air. As the coaches pulled into the town, the Ostler from the designated Inn would take care of the horses, providing hay, food, water, stabling and arranging any necessary blacksmith work. Coaches carrying mail would also stop off on their journey. The visitors would require overnight accommodation, food and ale, and any other services a traveller would need. Floods or bad weather meant that travellers were forced to stay longer in the town, which was good business for the merchants of Stony Stratford!

The Cock & Bull Hotels

The most notable of Inns amongst the town’s 50+ establishments were two hotels called The Cock and The Bull. During stops overnight, or for meals en-route, news and gossip would be passed on. Like all good stories, as they were passed on they were exaggerated and padded out as news travelled between the two Inns, and so the phrase ‘cock and bull story’ came to be applied to any such exaggerated story.

Stony Stratford became known as a stopover point for famous coaches such as the “Manchester Flyer”. An original timetable shows that the Flier left London at 8.30am, arriving in Manchester at 5.10am the next day with a 25 minute stop at the Cock for dinner.

Local legend has it that the Cock hotel is the ‘cock’ of the nursery rhyme ‘Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse’. The lady is thought to be Celia Fiennes, who travelled to every county in England recording her experiences in her diary as she went.

In 1742 a maid in the Bull Hotel accidentally scorched some sheets she was ironing. Having heard her boss approaching, she pushed the sheets up the nearby chimney, anxious to hide the evidence. The sheets caught light and flames raged. The fire spread quickly all the way down to the river and beyond, enveloping the whole town within billowing smoke. Following the great fire, the Cock Hotel was rebuilt with doubled capacity (40 men plus stabling for their horses).

Stony today

Although now relocated to the safety of higher ground, the Stony Stratford market still exists and the town is still home to an active and engaged business community made up of independent hotels, pubs, restaurants, retailers and service providers.

As vibrant as ever, Stony welcomes visitors with open arms and serves as a picturesque venue for many a special occasion. In 2005 the first StonyLive! festival took place and the 2017 StonyLive! is currently in the planning stages for June 2017. With events ranging from blues bands to barn dancing and barbeques and a riverside fair on the Saturday, there will be loads of entertainment all over the town:
https://www.facebook.com/StonyLive/

Warning: Robin Hood will steal your house
March 11, 2016

 

This is what I did – it was a poster from the Sheriff of Nottingham:

Do Not Enter This Forest

Robin Hood is a mean, disruptive figure who has no care for you and will have no care for killing you. He has not paid his taxes and will do anything to get his house back. He will even dress up as you and steal your house. So beware – keep away from this maniac person! 

I did a picture of Robin Hood with a couple of trees in the background; one with apples on, one with oranges on and one just plain. I let his arrows show and his face was like this [does sly look].

Time Traveling Thieves
October 6, 2014

The results of our latest online course!
Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling University of Houston System via Coursera.
Let us know what you think?

Day 30: Creating as well as consuming
January 30, 2014

VernieThePenguin_LoRes

30th Jan 2014: Dylan’s first (illustrated) book – Vernie the Penguin

Dylan was asked by his school teacher to improve on his two sentences about a polar bear who couldn’t find anything to eat and then saw some food (which apparently didn’t make sense), so he wrote his own book… Which was handy, as he then got to read it for this week’s Sponsored Read – he even got to write a (totally unbiased) review of it on his reading log!

This is Day 30 of a 30 day Post-a-Healthy-Picture challenge!

Story time on planet Earth
August 1, 2013

bestspeaker

STORY TIME ON PLANET EARTH

Boy: What’s that?

Mum: It’s a ‘Best Speaker’ ribbon – I won it in my Toastmasters Club, it’s like an award.

Boy: Can I borrow it for my bedroom, like I borrowed your old swimming trophies?

Mum: You can HAVE it if you like?

Boy: No. I have to WIN it, I can’t just have it.

Mum: OK.

Boy: We need to have a competition. I’ll say “put your hands on your head” or “put your hands in the air” or “put your fingers in your ears” and the first one to do it wins. The one with the most points wins the ribbon.

Mum: We could do that, but it’s an award for the sort of speaking where you tell a story.

Boy: But who can I tell a story to? Not just you, that wouldn’t work.

Mum: What about your teddies?

Boy: OK, I’ll tell a story to my teddies and you have to tell me if it’s good enough for the ribbon. Don’t just say it’s good though – you can say if it’s not good enough.

Mum: OK, how about I tell you the things I liked about it and also things you could do to improve it?

Boy: Yes! And if there are more things that you liked about it than things to improve, then I win the ribbon. But not if there’s more things to improve than you liked.

Mum: OK – Go on.

Boy: Once upon a time, there lived a boy and his name was Tom. He lived with his mum and he grew up to be really happy in his house. Then all of a sudden his mum died, and his dad had to look after Tom all by himself. One day, his dad took him out for a walk in the woods and it was very strange because it all looked like winter, but it was the middle of summer! The End.

Mum: That was great!
I loved the storyline – it was a bit sad wasn’t it, but very interesting and you had some really good ideas in there – like summer looking like winter.
I also like the structure, you had: a beginning – once upon a time and it was great how you gave the boy a name, Tom; a middle – where he was happy in his house and then the mum suddenly died; and an end – where things started to look different.
I also liked the expression you used in your voice when you were telling the story – you made the ending sound very mysterious.
I liked it so much that, the only thing I could suggest if you wanted to improve it would be to think about using some more describing words – adjectives.

Boy: I know what describing words are – it’s when you say a thing and then you describe it!

Mum: Yes, so you could have said something like “he grew up to be really happy in his BEAUTIFUL house” or “HEAVENLY house”.

Boy: Yes, I see… So was it good enough for the ribbon?

Mum: Yes! I liked three things about it, but could only suggest one thing to improve, couldn’t I?

Boy: Was it three? Yes – I liked the storyline, the structure and the expression you used in your voice.

Boy: Oh yes. I WISH I could stick it on my wall.

Mum: Here [passes some white tack].

Boy: [Sticks the ribbon in the centre of the world image on the OU Frozen Planet poster by his bed] I want to stick it here because I look at this poster every night. I read all the parts of it every night – it helps me when I’m not feeling sleepy.

A free story
July 28, 2013

freestory

A FREE STORY – Age 6

“Once there lived a boy called Dylan and his mum and it is a lovely mum.”

Mum: That’s lovely!

Boy: Oh yeah that – we did it at the Free Writing Table – do you know the Free Writing Table?

Mum: Yes – that’s the table outside the classroom isn’t it?

Boy: Yes, and you’re allowed to write about whatever you want.

Mum: Ahh – and you chose to write that?

Boy: Well, Jaimie was there as well and he wrote it. He said, “I’m going to write a story about you!” And then he wrote that.

Mum: Oh. OK. What did YOU write about then?

Boy: Nothing – I didn’t have time.

Storytelling Man
March 19, 2013

storytellingmanD: We had a new man come into our class today. He was the story man – he read us stories.

Me: Did he? Who was that then? Was it someone’s dad?

D: I can’t remember his name. I don’t know if it was someone’s dad.

Me: Was it good?

D: Yes!

Me: Did he just read stories to your class?

D: No, he read to the whole school.

Me: In the hall?

D: No, he went to all the classrooms.

Me: Wow, that must have taken him a long time. Did he read the same stories to all the classes?

D: I don’t know… Yes! He did, because he said in another class he asked what you should do with babies and a boy said, “Put them in the bin!” And he said, “That’s wrong isn’t it? You don’t put babies in the bin!”

Me: That’s true. What did you say?

D: I didn’t say anything, he didn’t choose me. It was really funny when he said “LOOK! There’s something wrong with my fingers: Open! [D closes fingers] Close! [D opens fingers] Open! [D closes fingers] Close! [D opens fingers] Open! [D closes fingers] Close! [D opens fingers] That’s funny isn’t it?

Me: Yes, they’re doing the opposite of what you’re saying.

Me: He talked to me at the end when we had snack time – I said “You’re funny!” and he said “Thank you. You’re funny too.” Then I said “Thank you. you’re funny!” Then he said “You’re funny!” And I said “You’re funny!” Then “You’re funny!” And “You’re funny!” And I left to go out for break time before he could say anything. Then he walked past me later in the playground and said “You’re funny!”

Me: Is he going to come in every week?

D: Not EVERY week, no. Just sometimes.

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