Cooksbridge, Offham and Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday, St Peter’s Church, 8am Holy Communion, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Parish Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

LEWES ARTWAVE: I reported last week that the Bradness Gallery is open as part of the Lewes Artwave Arts Festival from August 21 to September 6 and should have put that it will be every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

ADVANCE NOTICE: Sussex Historic Churches Trust ride and Stride. This annual event all over Sussex in which participants visit as many churches as possible, either by bike or on foot, takes place on Saturday September 12 from 9am to 5pm. Those who wish to take part either as walkers or cyclists should contact the Rector for a sponsorship form and further details. Stewards are also needed from 9am to 5pm on the day welcoming participants as they visit the church and signing their forms. Half of the sponsorship money goes to the Sussex Historic Churches Trust and half to St Peter’s Church. A rota will appear in the church porch at the end of August. Please sign up. On the day the church Pop-Up Café will be running. Do come for and delicious Cream Tea (proceeds to Offham Church Repair Fund).

BIG CAT: Not long after we moved over to Courthouse and I was out with my Labrador one lovely summer’s evening, I had a fright as I walked up the bridleway towards the Downs when Jilly took off barking and growling. As we reached the entrance to our second field, which has a water trough just inside the gate, I saw this huge black cat leap away from the trough and take off at speed through the long grass, which was due to be cut for hay. Jilly started to go after it with me frantically calling her back. I was so relieved when she came back to me as what I had seen looked like a large black panther or puma. John Eccles was the head reported for the Sussex Express at the time and came out to see me. In his usual charming way asked me if I had had one too many, which became a standing joke, until another resident who lived further up the road spotted it on his way home through East Chiltington one dark night when it ran out in front of his car. I saw it once again as I went to check the sheep one very hot day and could not believe my eyes when there it was sunning itself at the entrance to the bridleway. I decided the sheep would have to wait and quickly retreated back to the safety of the house. I never saw it again but there were lots of reports from people across the district who had seen a creature as I had described it. So, after all these years, I was taken aback to receive a call from an EC resident last week to tell me they had seen my huge black cat up close in their garden by one of the shrubs where it looked like it was waiting to catch its prey. The husband rushed to get his camera but was too late as it had run off down to some outbuildings on the property. I assured them it could not have been the same one as it would have been over 30 years old by now.

NEVER DULL: I recently wrote that life was never dull here under the Downs and last week was no exception. Around 9.30am my front door bell rang and as I am always carful before I open up, I looked out but could not see anyone. I went to the porch and called out to ask who was there and a nervous female voice answered, ‘it’s Lucy can you help?’ I opened up and was asked if I had a crowbar which made me wonder what on earth it was needed for. Poor woman told me that she had her little two year old daughter who wanted to do what comes naturally, but when she put her back in the car the tiny little girl had put the buttons down on the doors and was locked in with the keys. It was a very hot morning and with all the windows shut on the vehicle I told her to stay with her daughter while I rang the police. I stayed with her, waiting for quite some time and then it all happened. Instead of a police car arriving a fire engine appeared with flashing blue lights, pulled up into my entrance gates and out jumped at least six men who quickly got to work. The tiny tot did not even flinch when she saw all the activity and sat there watching as the firemen tried the roof and other ways before they got it unlocked. Not only was I impressed with the way they worked, but also the way they gave the little girl’s mother a small bottle of water for the tiny one to drink as by then it had become extremely hot in the car. Well done guys, you saved the day and well done to the tiny one who did not even shed a tear. Lucy, I hope that all is well that ended well. Please drop in if you are passing.

NUTS: I have had a spate of squirrels over the past few months and feel fed up with them eating all the bird food which I put out and then getting onto the bird feeders and performing antics like Houdini to get at the nuts. I was thrilled to bits when I saw, for the first time here, a charming sight, a pair of nuthatches on the nut feeder who have been coming daily to feed. Not only have the squirrels been taking all the food they have also dug out most of the bulbs I have planted in tubs and eaten the flowers on one of by bonsais. Although I do like seeing them, it is amazing how much damage they do.

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