I found a new way to disfigure myself this week, whilst doing nothing more dangerous than emptying plant pots of last year’s weeds, roots and compost.

The relaxation of lockdown rules meant that we were able to visit our favourite garden centre to stock up on begonias, those colourful kings of any garden display.

We filled the car with the glittering prizes but when we got home we realised we didn’t have enough vacancies to accommodate the new arrivals.

So it was decided I would clear out any pots containing plants of unknown origin - and there were lots of them.

We are never very certain what are legitimate flowers, and what are weeds, as the grounds of Hextol Towers are bursting with vibrant growth, some of which is the product of generous gifts of cuttings from friends and family, while others are donations left behind by the many birds which deposit ever more heaps of seed filled guano in every patch of untended soil.

I was convinced one had gifted us a lethal assassin in the form of a prime example of deadly nightshade, a plant so toxic that just two berries can kill a child and as few as 10 can result in a full grown adult being despatched to sing with the Choir Invisible.

I was only partially reassured when a Courant reader assured me that Belladonna was eradicated in Northumberland many years ago, but it does look very like the picture on the internet...

We have a mini-forest of rowan trees from are own tree plus a copse of sycamores and an abundance of bright yellow flowers which may be Welsh poppies but could equally be weeds. I like them, so I let them thrive. But the pots contain many other growths of many hues, which I ruthlessly consigned to the brown waste bin, having shaken off the soil.

It was a productive afternoon by the end of which I had a small mountain of soil, more than enough to provide homes for all the new begonias, and with enough left over to fill three large bags.

I decided to store these in the coal bunker, which has been surplus to requirements since we switched to oil more than a dozen years ago.

I got the first two in all right, but as I was lifting the third one, a capricious gust of wind caught the bunker lid, and brought it smashing down onto my head,

Blood flowed, and even when I had mopped it up, I was left looking like a Hindu bride with a large red bindi in the centre of my forehead,

I also had a thumping headache, and my thoughts flashed back to my old days in Macclesfield, when a sovereign cure for a bad head was placing a slab of wet tripe on the throbbing cranium.

Macclesfield was very much at the heart of the tripe world, thanks largely to the efforts of colourful cove rejoicing in the name of Tripe Joe.

Real name Joseph Hobson, he ran two tripe-boiling premises in the town between the wars, and was renowned for his talon like fingernails, grown exceptionally long so he could lift the cooked cow bellies out of the wooden vats of scalding water without burning his fingers.

He would then scrape the cooked offal with the sharpened end of a metal candlestick until it was perfectly clean, and ready to be snapped up by customers at the local chip shops, where tripe and chips was a popular alternative to the more usual cod or haddock.

Tripe Joe could regularly be seen sucking on a tasty piece of honeycomb as he toiled away in his filthy work clothes, but it clearly did him no harm as he lived until well into his nineties.

Although it is known as Treacle Town, Macclesfield could equally as well have been called tripe town, for it was home to one of the North West’s most missed palaces of offal indulgence – a UCP restaurant.

Standing for United Cattle Products, the UCP sold nothing but the parts of cows which are usually turned into glue these days, with whole families queueing round the block for delicacies such as oxtail and cow heel as well as four different types of tripe which would be served with chips, in salad, with onions, or in a pie.

Known in some circles as the ‘Lancashire calamari’, tripe was known for being nutritious, with rumour even suggesting it could boost the libido.