Quote of the week

Life isn't about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself'

George Bernard Shaw
If you cannot mould yourself entirely as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/wish.html

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No camera, so no pictures yet of Acton Exhibition

I hope tomorrow to go down to Acton Church to review the annual art exhibition that is currently taking place.

However, I am unable to take photos for the blog at present because I have lent my camera to Gladys Nott from Wickham St Paul. On Friday Gladys is planning to jump out of an aeroplane to mark the 70th anniversary of the Citizens Advice Service, and also to raise money for the Sudbury Bureau.

I hope to be able to post some shots of the jump, taken by Gladys' husband Cedric, after the event, but in the meantime if anyone feels moved to support Gladys, who is a long standing adviser at the Sudbury Bureau, please get in touch with me and I will tell you how to go about it.

In the meantime however pictures, and a review, of the Acton Art Show will have to wait for a few days.

The Art Exhibition continues in Acton Church every day between 11 am and 4 pm. It is always worth a visit.

Planning application from Prolog

A revised application has now been received by Babergh for two warehouses, with office accommodation, to be built for the local company, Prolog, on a site off Churchfield Road in Chilton. The last application for this site was dropped when it was challenged by a judicial review so everyone is being careful to make sure that all necessary procedures are strictly adhered to. The current application differs in a number of respects from the previous plans and those who took an interest in the matter last time seem to be of the opinion that what is proposed is an improvement on the previous project. A number of question marks remain however.

I am not in a position to say a great deal about the merits or demerits of the application at present, although it is fair to say that the proposals are fairly extensive and the development will have a marked impact on the surrounding area. I have looked at the plans with Peter Clifford, the Chairman of Chilton Parish Council, and we will be meeting Nick Ward, the Head of Development Control at Babergh to discuss various aspects of the scheme in September.

Among other things we will be looking to see what, if any, community gain there can be from the development, which will be almost adjacent to the new Chilton Woods area. We hope that we can encourage some joined up thinking when it comes to pedestrian and cycle routes connecting the two sites and also that some thought can be given to conserving biodiversity in the area.

The planning application is to be discussed by Chilton Parish Council on Tuesday night. They will give their views which will be communicated to Babergh’s Development Committee who will decide the case. If you want to know more why not come along to the meeting at the Christopher Centre in Sudbury at 7.30 pm. I suspect that Babergh will consider the application at its meeting in November.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dahlias and Great Dixter

I managed to lose all my dahlias this year by foolishly putting the tubers up in the loft rather than in the, generally recommended, boxes of compost in the garage. It was far too dry up there, and when I came to plant them out in May I found that instead of tubers all I had left was a shrivelled heap of dust. This was a great setback. I am very fond of dahlias since I think that they look great at this time of the year when everything else is beginning to fade. I have always liked them, even during the period when they were considered vulgar by all the people trying to emulate Sissinghurst white borders and muted borders full of shades of lilac and pink.
Undaunted by this catastrophe, and too mean to buy growing plants at the garden centre, I sent off for a collection of tubers from a grower, although I was aware that it was a little late. All went well until recently when a few finally started to flower and I discovered that instead of the claret and purples that I had ordered a fair few have turned out to be an unloveable shade of tomato scarlet. I have resisted the temptation to pull them out however, but am only slightly cheered when people exclaim that they are so bright that they can see them from the road which is about fifty yards away.
It was therefore cheering last week to visit Great Dixter, the late Christopher Lloyd’s fantastic garden in Sussex. There is no worry about bright colours here! Although quite a long way it really is worth the trip, and at this time of year a real treat for dahlia lovers.
Some of the vistas are illustrated above and below.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun and games at Great Waldingfield

When I was a child, and particularly when I had my own two children, the summer holidays could seem rather long. Babergh, through the ‘Big Babergh Initiative’, is helping out by taking a mobile skateboarding park, plus other play equipment along with a specialist playworker, around the District. This morning the ‘Initiative’ came to Great Waldingfield and, although it was early when I went along, a number of children had already arrived to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. Babergh Community Development officers, plus Kate Hazelwood, Babergh’s lottery funded playworker, are pictured above with an early-bird participant.

While at the school I was able to see for myself the progress that has been made on the new building for the First Steps Playgroup. As you can see from the shot below its growth has been amazingly rapid. I understand that the project has not been entirely problem free, but happily all is still on course for the opening in early September.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Behind the scenes at Great Waldingfield Parish Council

A Parish Council meeting is like an Amazonian river, calm on the surface but seething with energy underneath.

Yesterday evening I was the solitary member of the public at Great Waldingfield Parish Council meeting and I was struck by how, despite the business-like atmosphere and apparent calm, frenetic activity has been going on behind the scenes. With a bit of luck this activity will deliver a positive contribution to village life in the medium term.

Firstly there was discussion as to whether or not the replacement of play equipment on the playing field with state of the art kit, which will transform playtime for the village’s children, needs planning permission. This is quite vital because applications for funding are now reaching a crucial stage, and a huge amount of work that has been done by parish councillors, looking at different options and filling in endless forms, might have been pointless if Babergh could not confirm to the providers of funds that all was in order in the planning department.

Secondly, councillors were concerned that residents are becoming dissatisfied about the fact that the village hall has been operating for some time with a temporary floor which, it seems, has proved problematical for some. It is true that the hall has been in this unsatisfactory state for a little while, but behind the scenes a lot of work has been going on to find an environmentally friendly solution to the defunct heating system and to make other vital improvements. Finding the money has not been easy. To satisfy one provider of funds, the Chairman has had to write a 5000 word summary about the project. Not an easy task!

It is a pity that everything takes so long to sort out these days. Searching for appropriate grants and then fulfilling the necessary requirements to actually secure the money is a frustrating and long winded business. This is a side of the work of a parish council that by and large continues unseen, and for which the people involved receive little recognition.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Alien species at large!

Japanese Knotweed has been spotted on the industrial estate on Chilton by sharp eyed Sarah Barron from Suffolk County Council. The Community Wardens and owners of the site have been informed.
This is nasty stuff! Listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the World’s 100 most invasive species, and the most invasive plant in Britain, it is hard to control once it takes hold. Left to its own devices it will happily block drains, crack up concrete and even grow through floorboards into your living room.
Introduced as a garden plant to the UK in the 19th century, the plant will flourish almost anywhere. Because it has a very widespread root system the only way to get rid of it is by the use of herbicides, and those containing glysophate have been found to be effective if used with sufficient determination. Experiments using sea water spray have apparently also had some results! The weed is not a new problem. Initially recognised as a problem in the 1950’s by the Weeds Act, it was made illegal to propagate it, or to allow it to spread by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. Additionally the 1990 Environmental Protection Act designated the weed as controlled waste which means that it must be disposed of in special licensed landfill sites so if you find it don’t just stick it in your brown bin!
Interestingly the plant is not without some positive features. Apparently its flowers make a good honey, and parts of it are edible, tasting a little like rhubarb. However if you find some growing in your garden immediate eradication is not just recommended, it is almost certainly mandatory! There is a good deal of information on the Countryside Commission Website, and there are also commercial firms that claim to eradicate the plant if it proves to be beyond the power of weedkillers available to the general public.
Babergh’s Environmental Protection Department does not directly handle issues related to invasive plants but has links on its website to Defra and Natural England. Defra’s Weedline, which should be able to give initial advice can be contacted on 0117 959 8622.
You have been warned!

Thanks to Peter Clifford, Chairman of Chilton Parish Council for alerting me to this.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rhapsody on a windy night

We went to an unusual, but very enjoyable, concert at Chilton Church yesterday evening.

Although the weather was not very good the church was almost full to listen to Rubenstein Trunk. The lively atmosphere was enhanced by the need to light candles in the church to dispel the encroaching gloom.

Rubenstein Trunk can loosely be described as a folk group although really they do not fall neatly into any musical category, playing British tunes and also their own songs plus airs from different parts of the globe including Thailand and Spain. I would really call it ‘fusion’ music of a very original type!

The group plays principally on instruments created by themselves which are made out of recycled boxes etc, but nonetheless most are clearly related to ‘real instruments’. ‘Violins’ are formed out of cigar boxes for example. The double bass consists in part of a trunk, which once belonged to a Mr. Rubenstein, and it is from this that the ensemble derives its name.

Less immediately recognisable as a musical instrument is the ‘4 against 3 machine’, a percussive machine, operated by a handle, which beats in duple and triple time simultaneously. This is pictured below. In addition to the ‘recycled’ kit, the overall sound was supplemented by the wonderfully mournful tones of a baroque oboe and a skilfully played trumpet. The sound world created was quite unique.

The improvised nature of the instruments should not fool people into believing that the music was in some way amateurish or unplanned. All the players demonstrated a high level of musical competence, and they could sing in tune too.

It was well worth turning out in the rain