Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, 8am Holy Communion, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, `10.30am parish Comm9union followed by coffee in the hall.

EASTER: I hope everyone had a joyful and peaceful Easter enjoying our lovely countryside now in all its glory with banks or primroses, hosts of daffodils everywhere you look, trees bursting forth with blossoms, lambs gambolling around the fields, birds starting to sing again and now preparing nests. After what seems a long wet winter, spring has suddenly arrived and as the saying goes ‘Oh to be in England now that April’s here’.

OART: The Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust are holding their annual general meeting on Wednesday April 13 in Plumpton Green Village Hall at 7pm. The meeting is open to OART members and invited guests. It promises to be an interesting evening as the chairman, Hew Predergast, writes: Working with those who manage our landscape, largely farmers and those who use the rivers is central to OART’s work. The guest lecture will be from Penny Green who will be speaking on the rewilding of the Knepp Castle Estate which is attracting a lot of interest nationally among conservationists and wildlife and is pretty attractive to wildfire too. During the evening the project officers, Pete King and Rachel Paget, will give their reports and there will be a presentation of the Tony Barnard Shield. My winter newsletter was full of interesting articles about the work of OART who had a very busy year which included hand pulling the invasive Himalayan Balsam which, although might look pretty, smothers other plants as well as access to the river bank and is listed under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (2010) which means it is an offence to plant or cause it to grow in the wild. Also Robin Pepper’s Pot Pourri article shows him knee deep in the river removing parrot’s feather, another invasive plant. Then there is Tim the field officer who almost daily keeps his eye on the water courses. I am sure that many people do not realise what a tremendous job the OART team and all the volunteers undertake. For those who would like to become a member and give support to this very worthwhile work, contact Neil Pringle the membership secretary at neil.pringle@oart.org.uk

REMINDER: There is a jumble sale at the village hall, Beechwood Lane on Saturday April 9 from 2pm. If you have items you need to be collected please contact Anita and Tom Walker on 01273 472595 or email anita@tommwalker.co.uk. All offers of help for leafleting, collecting and sorting jumble (sorting from 2pm on Friday April 8 or the morning of Saturday April 9 from 10am) as well as helping at the jumble sale, will be gratefully accepted. Volunteers are also needed for cake making and serving teas. April 9 is also a village litter pick day. Proceeds towards supporting community events at the hall through the year. Last year the sale raised over £700, made possible by a dedicated team of volunteers who help every year. Please contact Anita or Tom if you are able to help in any way.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN: At the recent Hamsey Parish Council meeting, Cllr Mike Dodd gave an update reporting that hopefully residents will be able to vote on the plan in May or June. The N Plan is not in favour of building opposite the village hall in Beechwood Lane and the parish council agree with this view, as expressed by residents responding to the plan. The parish clerk was asked to contact the South Downs National Park Authority to give the PC’s view. At the time of the meeting, on March 10, no planning application had yet been made. The meeting received a report from the PCSO to say there had been very little crime in the parish in the past two months, just two reported incidents: On January 11 there was a theft of items from a garden in the Resting Oak Hill area, there were no lines of enquiry regarding the incident which has been filed. On February 25 a report was received about a theft of fuel from the petrol station in Offham. This was being investigated by the police resolution centre.

RAVEN ATTACKS: No, I am not being attacked by the ravens; but unfortunately my windows are, which is quite scary as they seem to come in pairs and bash into the windows which makes a loud bang, sometimes leaving an imprint. It is probably because they are nesting and can see their reflections in the large windows. When we first moved over here it was about the same time of year and the first week we were woken very early in the morning by loud thumping and banging coming from somewhere downstairs. We thought it was someone breaking in, but discovered six crows attacking the drawing room windows where we had not yet hung curtains. The builders, who were still working here, advised us to hang netting up at the windows with strips of silver foil attached on the windows they were attacking. This we did, until one morning I opened the curtains and to my horror a crow had got entangled in the net and there was blood running down the window pane. The crow was still alive but had grazed its leg by struggling to get free. I had to wait for the builders to arrive to help me release it. We never put net up again and at the moment the only thing I can do is close the curtains at certain times of the day when the birds usually appear. One of the joys of the countryside.

RABBITS: Which munch everything except the kitchen sink and dig enormous holes around the garden where one has to be careful not to break an ankle or leg by stepping in a hole, also burrow deeply especially on the old rockery here and in the burrows some interesting items have come to light. Recently, when picking my way carefully on the rockery, I spotted something shining in the sunlight, laying just inside the burrow. I was so surprised to find an old Victorian glazed pot that must have been there for years. As I have collected old bottles over the years I looked in my bottle book and think that it may be an old ink container. Considering how long it must have been underground it is in superb condition apart from a very small chip on the bottom. After a clean-up I now have it standing in the middle of the worktop and visitors admire it and find it hard to believe that I found it on top of a rabbit burrow. When we first moved here I found an old Victorian pudding bowl, again in perfect condition, which I have used from time to time. I shall be looking for more treasures once the rabbits become active again.

BAD NEWS: For fruit production and arable farming as in a recent article I read that Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide used in fruit production and arable use, is to be banned from April 1. The ban will have an impact on the South East where much of England’s top and soft fruit production is concentrated. The insecticide is an organophosphate introduced in 1965 by Dow Chemical Company and is known by many trade names including Dursban and Lorsban. But following a European Union review, new human health based safety levels known as endpoints were agreed in 2015 for the insecticide, making the chemical a risk to operators. But one of the top fruit growers in Kent, who grows apples, pears, gooseberries and blackcurrants for supermarkets has said that banning the insecticide will be a disaster for top and soft fruit growers alike. He says the supermarkets have already jumped in and although they haven’t said they cannot use the chemical, they have taken a dim view of it. The result is that he now has to use three or four alternative chemicals which hare more specific and knock out insects which are predators of the fruit pests. After reading that I wonder if there will be a shortage of English fruit in the shops?

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