Review of ‘Around The White Peak’, by Sheila Hine

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Sheila Hine
Published by Churnet Valley Books
ISBN 978-1-904546-64-1 (2008)

Known for her natural empathy with rural life, Sheila Hine has again been trusted with tales of country ways that are fast falling outside living memory. She has tracked down wonderful contributors and borrowed rare photographs to compile reminiscences which move from sad or surprising to extremely funny - all told in their own words - dialect, cussing and all. The story about a knacker, a hare and the hunt is one of the gems from Charlie, now in his 90s. Charlie was brought up in a family of 11 and never had penny to call own until he was 19.

An all too brief list of subjects might include a virile horse who was buried in harness; two passing elephants which left a massively useful deposit; a white Rolls Royce sprayed by a muck cart at a wedding; or the delights of Aunty Sarah's shop, with its second-hand clothes and drawers full of pre-used spectacles and false teeth.

White Peak characters range from an exotic resident in a yashmak to the poultry farmer put out of business by a certain lady politician and too many foxes. We even begin to understand why a visit from the vet cost a guinea (21 shillings) when the doctor charged 10 shillings. We hear of the lad who used to carry two buckets of gruel on a yoke to refresh exhausted quarrymen, and hear of old John who "used to get 'blue uns' and get the gun out" - his wife would run away and not go back until he sobered up and those blues wore off.

More than 200 photographs accompany these memories gathered from villages including Green Fairfield, Wormhill, Chelmorton, Blackwell, Ashford, Sheldon and Flagg.

Around the White Peak is compiled by Sheila Hine with additions by Claude Fearns, who sadly died before the book went to print.

Review by Julie Bunting

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