Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

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

BRADNESS GALLERY: May courses are as follows: Thursday May 19, one day course, bees in the garden with Jen Moore. May 24 to 26, three day course with Michael Cruickshank, painting outdoors, any medium. May 28 and 29, two day course, painting abstracts with Emma Burnett. May 31 and June 1, two day course with Sarah Campbell, hand painting on fabric. To book a course contact Michael Cruickshank or Emma Burnett on 01273 400606. The gallery is open every Friday to Sunday and bank holiday Monday from 11am to 5.30pm throughout the year, except January. There is free parking outside the gallery and visitors can enjoy fresh coffee, tea and homemade cakes. The gallery is 1.5 miles from Barcombe on the Spithurst Road heading towards Newick.

BIRD COUNT RESULTS: Nearly 1000 farmers took part in this year’s annual bird count, recording 130 species across 900,000 acres. This is what they saw. February saw a flock of farmers, gamekeepers and landowners join forces to count Britain’s farmland birds. With 970 farmers getting involved this year, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count has been an incredible success. Farmers from up and down the country took part and together they spotted 130 species which is the highest number of individual species since the count began in 2013. The NFU vice president likes to pick a different spot every year to see if he gets different species in different locations. Last year it was the middle of the marsh, so it was dominated by species such as lapwing, golden plover and Brent geese. This year he stood in a field adjacent to his house with an elm hedge on one side and hawthorn on the other. This year his count yielded 21 species including three species of tit (great, blue and long tailed0 in the hedges and also there was a ring ouzel frolicking with the thrushes and blackbirds. The GWCT is already planning a Big Farmland Bird count for 2017 as they believe that there are three things that can be implemented on farms to help birds. They are nesting habitat, summer food and winter food which will encourage birds.

TRAFFIC QUEUE: How I laughed when I received a call last week to ask me if I had a big party going on here, as they had got stuck in all the traffic when there was a backlog right back to Watershoot in the evening on the B2116 road. I had noticed all the traffic, which must have lasted for at least a couple of hours, in a steady stream as it passed by Courthouse. I think it may have been to do with an accident on the Ashcombe Roundabout which affected the roads coming into Lewes. I pointed out that my partying days are over and assured them I was not guilty for the hold up.

OLD WELL: When I was passing by the old well in front of the kitchen window recently, I noticed a movement in the well bucked that I put there and where a flowering currant has self-seeded. Taking a closer look I found a sweet little jenny wren nesting there. A few years ago I tried to find out more about the well as it still has the plaque Harper and Steadman on it. We then knew the branch in Ringmer as Harper and Ede and I got in touch with the manager who I think was Gordon Fowley. He very kindly sent me a list of wells around the county which included the Courthouse Farm well which is one of at least three around the property. Being inquisitive I asked the old cook who worked for Derek’s parents about it and she told me that a man who worked here fell down it one day and had to be winched up by the fire brigade. A gardener that worked here pulled the heavy stone slab up so that I could see down it and it is amazing, lined on all sides with flint with a ladder going down. I threw a stone down which seemed to go a long way but it went with a plop which meant it still had water in it. On the list that Gordon sent me it says the following: 318/435 Courthouse Farm, Offham, Lewes (disused); (a) surface plus 204, shaft depth unknown, bucket and winch, date unknown. RWL plus 126 and half, December 1957. (b) Surface plus 200, shaft, depth unknown, bucket and winch, date unknown. RWL plus 114 quarter, December 1957. (b) Lck…85 three quarters plus 85 three quarters plus. Somebody who understands old wells would know what the above means. Derek decided to cover it up when we moved here but before he planted flowering currant to hide it, I uncovered the plaque as I felt it was part of the history of Courthouse. There is another well down the drive which still has the old hand pump which I tried to prime and get working, but so far have not managed to do it. In the meantime the bucket is home to one of my favourite little birds. Above the flowering currant a blackbird has built its nest too.

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