Cross in Hand, Horam, Blackboys & Five Ashes

May I wish: all the readers to this column a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

As well as writing this column, my year has been pretty full on. What I try to achieve is to give my readers a balanced view according to the thoughts of the community, and also to express my own opinion. I’m pleased to note from feedback that many people read this column, confirmed by the number who stop me in the street and pass on their views about life in Cross in Hand and Heathfield (thank you all.) Yes - I am sometimes vociferous about a number of issues so I repeat myself and say if anyone or any organisation feels I am being negative or they spot an inaccuracy, please contact me. I am delighted to print your reply.

I daresay some of you are making New Year’s Resolutions - whether it is weight loss, reducing alcohol input or trying to be more active. 2019 will be a very interesting year indeed. The first hurdle we have to leap is Brexit. Whatever happens, we, the taxpayers, will have to bear the cost of what the government has spent attempting to reach an acceptable outcome.

What are vitally important are issues often overlooked in the arguments hurled this way and that – Juncker said this, Rees Mogg said that. We must seek to keep our towns and countryside safe, our elderly cared for, our children educated and, most of all, let’s do our best to foster a strong community spirit. I am 78 and the Christmas edition of Call the Midwife brought this home. I was born not too many miles from Poplar in the East End of London. (I had my tonsils taken out in Poplar Hospital and the doctors saved my left leg after I fell down a coal chute in the basement of a bombed out building).

The programme brought back fond memories of how united families were, no matter what creed or colour. The elderly were well cared for, local shops thrived because we supported them. For those who remember, we had Co-ops (I still remember my mum’s dividend number) and Sainsbury’s in the 40’s.

So my resolution for 2019 through this column is to try and help Heathfield and villages stay safe, give oldsters like me a voice and encourage neighbours and friends to give them the support they have worked for all their lives and thoroughly deserve.

I will certainly bang on with the support for local traders and I hope they will let me know what they are up to so we can give them a little publicity.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: Message from John Wright MBE, Chair, Sussex Neighbourhood Watch

On behalf of the Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the support that you give to Neighbourhood Watch and to Sussex Police to help keep Sussex safe throughout the year. As I have said before: Just because volunteers are unpaid it doesn’t make them worthless, it makes them priceless.

Season’s greetings, and all the very best for the New Year.

HEATHFIELD ABOUT TOWN: Talking of a New Year, we were pleased to see the High Street once again thronged with shoppers earlier in December. At Cuculo, where owners had gone to town with wickedly tasty Italian and French Christmas treats, there were queues out to the street. Likewise the High Street butcher and our wonderful greengrocer where Sharon even laid out all her topical stock come rain or shine. Trading4U had clearly been packed out and it was nice to see the Christmas lights section full of smart little moving decorations, complete with mini trains on tracks - very continental.

No 37 was a great stopping off point for local ladies desperate for something new for the holiday (including Mrs PP.) Chatting to one of the owners she found out they buy carefully to suit their customer profile and it is almost impossible not to find something to fit, in the right colour and suitable for a posh lunch or romp with the grandchildren. They announced a: Stop Press Launch of End of Season Sale with 40% off a range of lines throughout the store. If you are on the members’ mailing list there is an additional 10% off making it a super 50% as a thank you for supporting No 37 throughout the year. Reminder - don’t be long before it’s all gone. No 37 looks forward to seeing you.

Our fab curio/antiques shops provided endless innovative gift ideas and we also found plenty of useful gifts at Wanted on Voyage. Heathfield Hardware always comes up trumps, whether you need a light bulb or set of smart table mats. There’s the great new children’s shop in Station Road, plus of course No 37’s sister, All Wrapped Up, source of tons of last minute present ideas including jewel coloured bags and scarves. Considering how close to the edge the November High Street closure pushed so many of our traders, it was heartening to see so many clearly doing well. After endless debates we’re opting to venture into the High Street first - before searching on Amazon or other on-line sales sites. It will be interesting to see just how much we can find locally. As we’ve said before, all it will take to keep our High Street prosperous is a commitment by each Heathfield resident to pledge a purchase amounting to a fiver or so each week.

The Conchord Big Band performs: music by Glenn Miller and Friends on Saturday, March 9 from 7.30pm at the State Hall, Station Road. Tickets cost £10 or £12 on the door. You can buy them at Gemini Greetings, Heathfield High Street or Old Orchard Nursery, Burwash Common. Email: info@conchordbigband.

For those of you who love the beautiful game: but find your hamstrings are perhaps not what they once were, why not enjoy a bit of good-humoured competitive footie at Walking Football, held at the Heathfield Leisure Centre. This is a great way for over 50s to get fit. It takes place on a Tuesday evening from 7.30-8.30pm. I would say I’d join you but I can no longer fit into my Arsenal replica shirt (what about you, Cllr Patrick Coffey - perhaps your Chelsea strip would like an airing?)

There’s going to be a nine-week course of boxing workshops: held at the State Hall, Station Road, Heathfield from January 10. It costs just £5 a term to take part.

If you care for someone: or will do soon, then think about joining a carers’ group from 2-4pm on the first Tuesday of each month at the Parish Room, St George’s Church, Burwash Road (corner of Halley Road.) These take place on February and March 5 and April 2. Ring: 01323 738390 for information.

South Coast Badminton: runs classes for five-12 year olds and adults capable of playing at all levels from complete beginners upwards. The coach is Olympic athlete Heather Olver. Details can be obtained from Freedom Leisure, Heathfield.

Correction: and thank you letter from Fabrika Heathfield

‘Hi Mel, Thanks for the mention of my wife’s business in the newspaper recently. She works very hard and is always glad to see this kind of thing. However, I must point out that her name is Mel (short for Melek), and not Nell. Have a great Christmas and thanks for the support.’

Nick and Melek

Many thanks Nick for pointing out my mistake. Having a similar name I really should have been more observant. Mel. Have a successful 2019.

CROSS in HAND:It’s hard to live in Cross in Hand and keep your weight down!

We have three excellent bakery operations in the village now - there’s the famous Albion House Bakery which attracts customers from far and wide - we often see business people parking outside early in the morning to buy their lunchtime sandwiches and snacks - delicious.

Then there’s the beautifully decorated wedding cake shop, Bonney’s at the corner of Back Lane and the High Street - it’s been a joy driving past over Christmas and seeing her net of twinkling lights. Let’s hope all our local brides pop in to see what she can offer. Our son has just got married in Scotland (sorry cakemakers, but we had to purchase our cake a few hundred miles away) so we know a little more about what makes a good cake than we would have done earlier!

And finally - almost the most exciting of all - we have Carey’s Cakes. Mum of two, Charlie Carey from Fir Grove Road, has specialised this Christmas in seasonal cakes. For those of us who prefer something a little lighter than the traditional fruit cake, Charlie composes light, ‘naked cake’ style confections. Ours was a fantastic, ‘Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer’ cake complete with antlers, a red nose and very light glittery dusting. The cake was as light as a feather while tasting wickedly chocolatey. I convinced myself it was doing me good as I finished my third slice. Well done Charlie and all our other bakers. If quality generates sales, then you can all be sure of a prosperous New Year.

BLACKBOYS: Blackboys Inn: January 25. Burns Night Celebration.

Bookings are filling up fast so please hurry. If previous years are anything to go by, this is an event not to be missed. There’s plenty of Scottish fare (including the haggis; Burns’ Ode to the Haggis’ is read out as the beast is ritually stabbed!) Then take some time to listen to a word perfect recitation of Tam o’Shanter – our new daughter in law is Scottish and also knows the words! (She knows the place too.) We shall be there. Price per person: £35 for bookings call: 01825 890283

HORAM: Chiropodist

Good news for anyone who needs a chiropodist from time to time - Sue, who used to treat patients at the Horam Natural Therapy Centre retired to her home in Bulgaria and her place has been taken by the brilliant Mara Ragaiolo. Mara is also happy to do home visits. She came to see us just before Christmas where she treated Mrs PP, me and our son Charlie who’s sad feet and missing toenails needed a great deal of care. Charlie goes in for ultra marathons (the 50km plus races overseas) and these are feet that bear witness to the rough going, stony paths, climbing and fast downhill sprints. Mara has a lengthy list of qualifications; she’s NHS registered with a background in hospital podiatry, so she knows what she is doing. She offers treatments for all aspects of chiropody including corns, calluses, athlete’s foot, verruca and even cracked heels. She’s also qualified to deal with ingrowing toenails and diabetic foot care. She’s a half-marathon competitor herself so is used to the foot problems suffered by athletes. A great find.

Davies and Son, Butchers: It is good to report the new start up butchers Davies and Son had a good first Christmas trading. One downside was a number of customers did not pick up their Christmas orders. But not to despair. The owner, being very proactive, discounted the no-show customers’ orders. Hence a shop empty of products on Saturday. Next time (tip from a businessman, me, who has suffered similarly with ‘no shows’ to a restaurant New Year supper) make sure you take the level of deposit that makes people think twice about switching their allegiance.

Tpodz Tea Room old Wessons Cafe: Tpodz Tea Room opened on Tuesday, January 1. Opening times are 9am until 3pm.

The Horam Emporium: is taking shape and they aim to open by mid January.

J&R Sheffield poultry farmers, Vines Cross: Having being recommended to the above company by a foodie friend, we purchased our Christmas Bronze turkey for this year’s Xmas day lunch. I must say we were not disappointed. The meat was succulent and tasted fantastic. I did like the little pop-up gadget to tell me the meat was cooked and at the correct temperature. Another winning local trader.