Lawrence Staley's unusual double life caught up with him on Tuesday, on the second last day of a week-long exhibition of his superb engraved glassware, at the Castle Gallery in Barnard Castle.

He was due to be there as usual, demonstrating his skill at etching intricate scenes onto delicate vases, goblets, plates and other household pieces - but he answered a plea from a farmer in Lunedale to carry out urgent repairs to a dry stone wall.

His wife Joan took over in the gallery while he turned to his contrasting occupation of moving heavy chunks of stone and fitting them into walls in a way that will last for decades, preventing cattle and sheep from straying.

Mr Staley, who lives in Mickleton, has been getting glassware orders from all over the country lately thanks to his new website, and has just completed his first one with a French language inscription: a glass clock from a Paris woman wishing her sister a happy 50th birthday.

Known as one of the best wallers in the region, he started engraving as a hobby. It now takes up most of his time, but he still likes to spend some days in the open air working with stone, especially when one of his old customers needs him.

There are six pages about him on

A curious road mishap has been recalled following a recent Northern Echo report about the closure of a lead smelting mill at Eggleston 100 years ago.

When it was dismantled, a huge steam boiler weighing many tons was lifted onto a wagon to be taken to Blackhill.

It set off slowly, pulled up the Stanhope road by a traction engine. But the highway collapsed a few miles away near Middle End, with the wagon and boiler sinking into the peat moss.

They were stuck for days, with dale folk trudging long distances to look at them, before lifting gear arrived to pull them clear.

Wagon and boiler were then pulled back to Eggleston and set off on the Darlington road for Blackhill.

It was a tedious, snail's-pace journey, but must have been an intriguing sight for places it passed through in the traffic-scarce days of 1904.

The mill's buildings and 155-foot chimney were eventually demolished and the stone used to erect a number of houses in the area.

It was also used, says one local resident, to build an RAF base at Bowes during the Second World War.

It seems amazing how quickly dogs joining a new Teesdale flyball team can pick up the knack of pressing a pedal to release a ball, which they catch in their mouths before sprinting over a set of hurdles.

When I watched the squad in action at Ramshaw on Sunday, one four-legged enthusiast was performing well on only its third session, while more experienced pets were dashing at frantic speeds.

My non-pedigree chum Sarah, a gentle creature from a rescue centre, soon decided on her first visit that this pastime was a waste of effort and lost all interest. But club secretary Anne Spiby insisted that skill and eagerness can be instilled after a few more visits.

Other newcomers are welcome to have a go on Sundays at 2pm in the riding arena behind the Bridge Inn. The team has qualified for next year's Crufts, but I doubt if Sarah will be there.

Laughter drifting from Winston Village Hall the other night suggested that Trevor Wood's chuckle factory was in action again. It proved to be so.

The genial former bank manager and his merry team were rehearsing for the Winston Follies' old time music hall which starts its run on November 6.

It's an event which always packs the hall, and there is already a huge demand for tickets.

* I'll be glad to see anyone who calls with snippets of news at The Northern Echo office at 36 Horsemarket, Barnard Castle, on Mondays and Tuesdays, telephone (01833) 638628.