Cooksbridge, Offham and Hamsey

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

HAMSEY: A reminder that Sunday, September 6, will be the last of the summer services at Hamsey Church. Holy Communion 8am and Evensong 6pm. It seems only yesterday that I was writing about the first Hamsey Evensong of the summer season. How quickly the year has passed as in just over a couple of months it will be the much loved Carol Service at Hamsey Church.

INSECTS: The Royal Society of Biology has launched a poll to find the nation’s favourite; the stage beetle, the buff tailed bumblebee and the small tortoise butterfly are shot-listed. The past few weeks have seen a host of weird and wonderful insects and bugs around the garden. I have had a bee swarm, masses of wasps flying around and to add to the joys of the countryside, I then had a swarm of flying ants come into the kitchen. In the garden I did have a little round bed which I had planted with tiny daffodils which came up every spring, but sadly I think they will not appear in the new year as first a large bumblebee nest stopped me going to weed and tidy up and then overnight a fox or a badger has dug the most gigantic hole next to the bee nest which is so deep the whole bed will have to have new topsoil and compost to build it up again. At least we know that the bumblebees are still in existence.

PEPPER’S POT POURRI: My last OART newsletter has a lot of interesting items which I am still reading. Robin Pepper’s piece on great crested newts is very welcome as I do have them here and have now learnt more about them. He writes that newts are widespread in Sussex but are still on the protected list and it is necessary to hold a licence before you can investigate any pond known to hold them. They are not yet an endangered species but it is their habitat that is being lost at an alarming rate. Although they spend most of the year on dry land they need standing water in which to breed. Furthermore they will not succeed in any pond that also contains fish, which eat their larvae. The heron has taken all the fish which I did have in the patio pond which is probably whey I have seen more newts this year. I always thought that they lived in the pond and certainly was not aware that a pond should be free of fish to ensure breeding. Unfortunately the pond is covered in duckweed, which we get every year when the mallard ducks arrive to nest and makes it more difficult to spot the newts. A few weeks ago I nearly trod on one which was very small and moving slowly across the patio. I scooped it up in a jar and placed it near the water. I did not know that you need a licence before you can investigate any pond where the newts are and robin’s article has been most helpful, especially for those who think that I have fish with legs in my pond.

BEWARE: It is the time of year for school holidays and most people out in their gardens catching up with the next batch of weeds. It also seems to be the time for cold callers who turn up at your door offering their wares. Don’t’ get caught out, ask for their business card and try and get the description of the vehicle and index umber and a description of the caller or callers. If in the garden, make sure you have locked your doors and closed the windows. I am quite sure that there are many genuine callers who trade legitimately, but on the other hand it always pays to be careful as amongst all the good ones there is usually one bad penny.

FIRST-AID KITS FOR FORESTS: The Woodland trust is subsidising 1000 Disease Recovery packs, containing 45 British grown trees, for landowners in Northumberland, East Sussex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk, the counties hardest hit by ash dieback disease. It’s an attempt to mitigate the impact of this deadly disease on 12 million British ash trees and forms part of a £4.5 million investment in native tree stock. Each pack contains a mix of five native broadleaf species and costs £60. The charity’s director of conservation says: We swant to ensure hedgerows remain connected and individual trees outside woods remain in the landscape, which is why we need to work in collaboration with landowners. The Woodland Trust is one of 26 bodies in the forestry sector that have banded together in an initiative to make woodlands more robust in the face of climate change. There are a lot of ash trees around here on the farm which we have kept an eye on and keep our fingers crossed that they will not be amongst the dieback disease.

CHURCH SPIRES: Having mentioned Hamsey and Offham churches, this week I was surprised to read that many church spires are under siege from weathering, lightning and woodpecker attacks. The national Churches Trust has launched Save Our Spires, an appeal to fund repairs to 40 of the most vulnerable. It hopes to raise another £250,000 to add to the £370,000 it has already invested in mending 17 spires. Repairing spires is expensive due to scaffolding and specialist work required by stonemasons and structural engineers, plus their inaccessibility means that it is difficult to monitor and maintain them until it is too late. The charity is running a competition in which people are invited to contribute their favourite image of a church spire. A £250 cash prize will be shared between the winner and their photographed church. For information visit www.nationalchurchestrust.org/spires. I know that there are a lot of budding photographers around the parish so here is your chance to win and share your prize with St Peter’s Church which has a very prominent spire which can be seen clearly as you drive back from Lewes. It was one of the landmarks that I always looked forward to seeing on my way back from Lewes following a very long council meeting, especially coming along the Offham bends with a vehicle close up behind pushing me to go faster. Seeing the spire I knew I was nearly home safely.

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