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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Planning - a slow process on sensitive sites.

I see in the Suffolk Free Press that Robert Audley, the CEO and owner of Prolog, is blaming the loss of 60 jobs at the company on delays in granting planning permission on land in Chilton.

I am very sorry to read that jobs have been lost, particularly given the current economic climate.  However,  I think that if Mr Audley wanted to build his monster warehouses at speed and with ease he should have chosen a site further from valuable heritage assets and residential properties.

The decision to designate land for employment use in that particular place has been controversial for years. It has always been recognised as a sensitive plot.  In fact, under the first Local Plan in which it was included, a height restriction of 9 metres was placed on any buildings to be built there.  Sadly, whether by accident or design, this restriction was subsequently lost in translation from one plan to the next.

It is worth pointing out in this connection, that the planning process proved to be very speedy indeed for the Suffolk Primary Care Trust when it sought permission to build the proposed Health Centre on the site immediately next to the Prolog site.   The process only took a few months from start to finish. This might of course have been because the planned building is of a high quality of design and, following representations from local people, was reduced in height by one storey at the planning stage, while its footprint was enlarged.   The PCT was careful to undertake a constructive process of public exhibition and consultation prior to submission of the planning application.

There may be one or two lessons here for Prolog.

Bee orchids

Lots of stonecrop on the airfield.
I was struck this morning out on Chilton airfield how wonderful the wild flowers look at present.  The current weather conditions are not particularly great for barbecues and the like, but the sun and showers are clearly good for our flora.

Many thanks to Peter Clifford for these pictures of bee orchids and stonecrop. 

In common with other orchids, bee orchids have been in decline right across England in recent years. One reason is that people can’t resist their lovely flowers.  These have a brown centre which looks like the body of a female bee, smells good, and is irresistible to male bees!  The problem is that its single flower is the result of up to 8 years growth, and if it is picked the plant is unlikely to flower again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pay per view! Art from Oxford by Frances Reed.

I was very pleased to receive these pictures from Frances Reed, who is my god-daughter, and who has just completed her degree at The Ruskin School of Fine Art at Oxford.

As part of the college's graduation show Frances created these slot machines, which in more than one sense can be said to be the antithesis of the art for art sake aesthetic!

Frances writes:

I made three coin operated machines, which were designed so that the examiners would have to pay to mark my work whilst kneeling in undignified/compromising positions. Each machine showed a different film which was triggered using a different mechanism. For instance to work the 'mouth' machine, the viewer would insert 20 pence and turn the handle in either direction, triggering a film of a cows tongue to play inside the mouth, the faster the handle was turned the faster the footage would play. For the 'eye machine' the viewer placed they're hands on the palmistry design which triggered off heat sensors to play a film showing earth worms edited to dance to a sound track by Divine. The machine cases are made from plywood which I then glossed, I hollowed out all of the light bulb fittings in the machines and replaced them with LED's. The machines didn't go down too well with the examiners, perhaps unsurprisingly, but I had a lot of fun making them and learnt a great deal as well.

I am sure that Frances will go far!  How marvellous to be able to discomfort one's examiners in this way!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jubilee Celebrations in Great Waldingfield.

(From our own correspondent (on the spot throughout!)

(Photographs at the end.)
Great Waldingfield's Jubilee Celebration  was a unique opportunity for neighbour  to meet with neighbour and indulge in some friendly chat. There was plenty of it going on in an atmosphere of joy and happiness and plenty of laughs. And  phew! what a turn-out - the Jubilee Celebration was a huge success if you were to judge it on the number of visitors that attended. A conservative estimate put the figures at between 800 and 1000 attending the events during the day on Saturday with another 400 attending the evening entertainment held in the marquee.

It did look as though all the hours of planning and organising would count for nothing. With just 30 minutes to go before the commencement of the celebrations the electrical power failed in the pavilion! However, we had the solution close at hand; some skilled analysis of the problem by our resident electrician Mike followed by a quick visit to the local DIY store and we were up and running  in time for the festivities to commence at 11.00am Phew!!

The weather was very kind to us too, whilst it wasn't hot and sunny it didn't rain so that was a blessing. The hardy souls of Great Waldingfield and surrounding areas did us proud and supported the event to an extent that could only have dreamed  of a few weeks before.

All of the events that were programmed in for the display ring drew large numbers so much so that communication between the judges in the ring and the MC had to be done in a round-a-bout fashion with a go-between running through the ringside crowd to shout out the results to the MC. Next time, if there is a next time, perhaps we might invest in two way radios for the organisers and make life easier.

With plenty of ice cream for the kids and tea and cakes for the adults courtesy of the ladies of Great Waldingfield Church and the bar which dispensed drinks from 11.00am until 11.00pm, everyone was catered for and this helped sustain those contemplating a whole day of celebration.

Entertainment and fun in equal measure was all around. Paul Pleasants entertainer with his  Punch and Judy Show which was a great hit with the kids. There really is nothing to beat kids laughter to cheer you up and there was laughter in bucketfuls from this source.

Events kicked off Waldingfield Primary School Choir who sang there little socks of then ran through Janet Drake's Fun Dancers and a succession of dogs and their proud owners (not sure who was on display here owners or dogs) then to the hat parade's followed by the impressive display by the karate team.   

It was remarkable to see how much entertaining talent really exists in Great Waldingfield whether  singing or playing musical instruments. The GW got talent was a great hit, some ten acts gave it their all and entertained a goodly number of visitors  for well over an hour and consequently over-ran its allotted time.
The event that had everyone enthralled and laughing in equal measure were the Belchamp Morris Dancers. They managed to lift everyone's spirits and whilst Mike Williams their dancing spokesperson tried to explain the origins of the dances and the history of morris dancing it was the infectious nature of the dancers and their unique outfits that kept everyone's amused attention, not to mention the dancing . Some of the morris men stayed on and gave Janet Drake's Fun Dancers some ad-hoc support which some of the crowd saw as highly amusing as well as an opportunity to also join in. It seemed to do the trick in terms of recruitment  to Janet Drakes classes anyway with a goodly number of ladies committing themselves to attending regular fun dancing classes  at the Village Hall.

The evening's entertainment  was well attended with some good bands entertaining from 5.00pm until 11.00pm. A local band, The Story Boys kicked off proceeding and entertained for an hour - now this is a band to look out for - they are destined to go far. They are to appear at the O2 Arena later this year having recently won an area competition to qualify for this prestigious event. They are original, with a pleasing clean cut image that should take them far - they can sing too.

The Victory Jazz band followed the Story Boys with their brand of traditional jazz which clearly appealed to the older generation of jazz aficionado's.

The evening was nicely rounded off with the excellent rock band, Boontang Southern Rock. All were accomplished musicians with a string of rock numbers to equal many such bands of world repute.
What an end to a day that went just about as well as anyone could expect.

And then to Sunday  which started with a very pleasant church service in the marquee conducted by the Reverend Caroline Hallett. Despite the rain, there was a full house for what was a very different and absorbing service a bit different to that normally expected of a Christian service. Well done to the Rev Hallet for competing so well with the weather. And  Mrs Faith Marsden kept everyone singing in key with her very professional musical accompaniment.

The post service musical entertainment was curtailed due to the effects of the rain on the numbers of people, so the two day event was concluded  at around 2.30pm.

It's just a pity that we do not have an occasion like this every year to bring the hardy folks of Great Waldingfields together in such friendship.            

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Acton joins nationwide walking bus event

Siobhan Hemmett and County Councillor, Colin Spence
One of the thorniest issues that councillors have to deal with is the problem of traffic at local schools.

This is of concern to residents both in Great Waldingfield and in Acton, so any initiative that can be taken to try to reduce the number of cars dropping off and picking up children is very welcome.

Yesterday Acton, supported by PCSO Siobham Hemmett, literally took some steps towards what might be at least a partial solution of Acton's problems by participating in the Giant Walking Bus Event.

Organised by Brake, the road safety charity, 100,000 children joined in by creating a walking bus in their own communities.  Schools from as far away as the Hebrides participated. Messages were being sent to both motorists and children; the former were reminded to slow down near children, and the latter were being persuaded that 'it is cool to walk'.

The walking bus lines up in the playground at Acton School
Wearing a variety of stylish sunhats and high visibility clothing, the children, accompanied by our PCSO, parents and teachers, County Councillor Colin Spence and an officer from the County Council Highways Department,  perambulated around the village.

 It is hoped to start a walking bus for real when the new school year starts in September.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ukeleles at Chilton Church

Four members of the band.
The Bijou Toots concert at Chilton Church on Saturday evening attracted a large audience on what turned out to be quite a wild and windy night.

The band, which plays on ukuleles and other instruments such an accordion, kazoos and washboards,  entertained us with a wide variety of instrumental pieces and songs dating from the 1920s to the present day .  It might be thought that only rather folksy items lend themselves to this combination of instruments, but in fact a broad range of pieces of different types were played to good effect. Helped along by the acordion, items from Russia and France sounded particularly authentic.

The newly installed oil lamps (Chilton Church has no electricity), meant that the group was more or less visible throughout the evening and a good time was had by all.

The event was organised by the Friends of St Mary’s Church.  The next event at the Church is a walk, followed by Songs of Praise on Sunday 1st July.  Details are available on Chilton Parish Website.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clay Hall Place - Jubilee flotilla Acton style

Galleon, plus waves.

Ship with figurehead!

Various other craft.
Dr Peter Maybury enjoying the day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grass cutting - the unkindest cut?

Lovely beach ....empty ocean.
I don’t know if any of you watched the recent BBC series about the Indian Ocean presented by  Simon Reeve?  It was a tonic to see the lovely beaches and blue sea while the British summer rain lashed against the windows and we threw another log on the fire.   
 However, as well as showing some great scenery,  the series had a stark message for us all.  Pressure from population growth on the shores of the Ocean is leading to the destruction of habitat both at sea and on land, and no-one seems able to do much about it.  Fish stocks in many of the countries that Simon Reeve visited are now at very low levels and the livelihood of fisherman and coastal communities are threatened. A stark warning that lack of concern about other species does affect the human condition!

The same destruction of habitat is going on here, right under our noses, and the good thing is that we can actually do something about it!

Unfortunately initiatives aimed at protecting biodiversity are not always welcome, and in fact there was some excitement about Babergh's activity in this area last week.

Complaints were expressed in the Free Press that Babergh’s contractors have deliberately left some areas of grass uncut under trees in Long Melford.  Some residents find this untidy and uncivilized, but actually Babergh is doing the right thing and I am one hundred percent behind our horticulturalists’ initiative.

As our local conservation expert George Millins wrote to me recently:

‘The ecological devaluation of grassland by close mowing, reducing it to a pretty lifeless green desert, has a much wider impact on wildlife than just eradicating butterflies, moths and bees. The resulting lack of grassland fauna has a serious knock on effect for birds, amphibians, reptiles, hedgehogs - now a BAP species, badgers and foxes.’

Babergh’s officers take the same line as George, commenting:

'Ample scientific research has confirmed that long grass really does help a wide variety of insect species, which then feeds a multitude of birds, reptiles and small mammals. 
Some of these then go on to provide food for our top bird predators such as sparrow hawks, kestrels, red kites and buzzards as well as top predator mammals such as foxes (and cats).
No less than ten of the 30 butterfly species commonly found in Suffolk require long grass for feeding, breeding and overwintering:
It is important to re-set our minds on what is acceptable and appreciate the difference between a pest-free orderly garden and wildlife friendly grassland. 
Over enthusiastic mowing is bad for us!

We need to be aware of how much damage we human beings do to other species in the name of perceived good order.  If we groom and polish everything to excess, down the road we will find that the environment, on which we too depend for existence, is a less comfortable place to live.  Indeed by ignoring the chain of life on the planet we could be promoting our own ultimate extinction!
So come on everyone; tolerate a little untidiness for the sake of our own long term viability.

George Millins has offered to talk to Parish Councils who are interested in reducing the number of ‘cuts’ inflicted on our green areas, and also taking other measures to promote biodiversity.  I hope that this offer will be taken up!

The link here gives more information about initiatives across the whole of Suffolk. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A real image of today's Britain?

An image of a green and pleasant land!
I was astonished to see the proposed design for the Olympic opening ceremony that was previewed today.

What planet is the designer on, and whose spin has he been listening to?

Green fields and bucolic symbolism are all very well.  However, the image promoted by the scheme seems a far cry from the real situation in today's Britain.

In the real world the Government is encouraging us all to cover the countyside in concrete in the name of economic growth, and local councils are more concerned to build huge warehouses than to preserve irreplaceable heritage.

Would that the image of the green and pleasant land, shortly to be beamed round the world, reflected the true aspiration of our governing classes!

Later:  It occurred to me, having written the above that, of course, this lovely country scene, complete with bells and maypoles, is probably only the first of a series of tableaux showing 'Britain at its Best'.  What comes next I wonder?  I suppose I should suspend judgement for the time being....but I can't see later scenes being much of an improvement on the first.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Suffolk Show...no dogs, now no Show!

I am very sorry for those who were looking forward to a day out at the Suffolk Show today.

We had decided not to go this year however in protest at the ban on dogs that was introduced in 2011.

A county show when the county is a rural one is not really a county show if country people cannot bring their canine best friends along. That means no more Suffolk Show for us I am afraid, although we will be attending Suffolk Dog Day on 29th July at Helmingham Hall.

Dog owners are often quite unreasonably discriminated against in so many areas of life these days.  I accept that in an urban environment dogs (and often their owners) may not feel at home, but in the country man's best friend should be allowed to keep the space that he has enjoyed over the centuries.

I despair of country pubs that are now too posh to allow dogs across the threshhold.  The same applies to holiday cottages.  Landlords who do not tolerate dogs in their longer term rental properties are often putting the lives of dogs at risk, since some people needing a home have to get rid of their dog to find accommodation.  We have given our support to the Dogs' Trust campaign to encourage landlords to allow dogs and certainly encourage them when we rent out property.

Dogs are not unhygenic or troublesome.  Their owners sometimes are however.
Rendle the Lurcher, not excluded from Chilton Jubilee celebrations!

Gainsborough Landscapes at Compton Verney

Compton Verney from the bridge
Just before the Jubilee excitements Nick and I went over to Compton Verney in Warwickshire.  We were just in time to catch the final days of the current exhibition,  Gainsborough Landscapes, Themes and Variations. 

 The gallery and museum at Compton Verney, which is not far from Stratford upon Avon, was created some years ago by the Littlewoods heir, Peter Moores.  It is housed in an eighteenth century mansion which was saved from dereliction.  The grounds, good restaurant and interesting permanent collection make for a good day out in the lovely Warwickshire countryside.

Although the exhibition is quite small it includes some works of very high quality.  It was interesting to see some of the painter's key landscape paintings set in context with related drawings and other works.  I am pleased to say that Gainsborough's House in Sudbury had lent a drawing to the show.

Gainsborough always said that landscape was his first love, but unfortunately there was not the market for landscape pictures as there was for his portraits.

On view was one of my favorite Gainsborough 'fancy pictures', Girl with Pigs, shown below.  I always wonder what she is thinking about!  Perhaps the pig's lunch of milk is rather better than the one that she is anticipating.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jubilee Views

Jubilee celebrations started in Waldingfield Ward on Friday 1st June in Acton with the planting of a tree on Lime Tree Green and the burying of a time capsule created by the childen of the village.

On Friday afternoon an excellent cream tea was on offer in Chilton Church and a Jubilee Quiz, with some 30 questions about Her Majesty were answered by several highly competitive teams.  The Church, as always, looked great.

I am afraid that I didn't make the Great Waldingfield Celebrations owing to personal commitments on Sunday, but was able to take the picture below of Dr David , Chairman of Branchlines, the community woodland organisation, with the Jubilee Oak that was planted in Old School Wood on Monday afternoon.

Also on Monday, Little Waldingfield held games, competitions and a community lunch on the playing fields. A highlight of the event was the Jubilee Banner, pictured below, to which everyone was invited to contribute a self portrait, or similar!

A good time was had by all!

Thanks to Margaret Maybury and Karen Henderson for some of these photographs