Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Dormouse

Since taking up voluntary work with The Woodland Trust and becoming their warden for two woods close to where I live it has seemed to me increasingly likely that both woods in question have a population of Dormice. Both woods are ancient and have the sort of trees favoured by the mice. Especially hazel. There is also an abundance of honeysuckle which Dormice use to construct their nests. However, believing the Dormouse is present is one thing confirming it is quite another. 

Growing up in Kingsley I was familiar with Dormice as they were present in many of the copses which existed in and around the village. Of course, in those days the copses were worked, woodmen coppiced them and used the hazel sticks to make hurdles. Pea sticks and bean poles were other products of their work. Working, as they did, the woodmen often came across the nests of dormice and, in those days, dormice were popular as pets. Not least because they don’t usually bite when picked up. Compared to most other mice which do bite, the Dormouse is very docile. This fact was well recognised by one George Cansdale who was an animal expert, television celebrity and author. I happened to have one of his books on pets, I think, for boys. In any event within its pages among many other animals, both domestic and wild, was a section on the Dormouse telling the reader of its suitability as a pet. Although, as previously mentioned not being bitten by a Dormouse , no doubt, contributed to Mr. Cansdales recommendation as a pet. There is no doubt at all that Dormice are the most beautiful little creatures. However, pet wise, the fact that they are nocturnal would seem to me to be a tiny bit of a problem. After all who wants a pet that only comes out at night ? 

Be that as it may, today the question of having a Dormouse as a pet is quite out of the question as they are heavily protected both under British and E.U law. Not only are the mice themselves protected everything to do with them is also. Their environment and their nest have far reaching protection in law. It is illegal to handle a Dormouse without a licence. Times have changed dramatically. 

So it was that I found myself, just outside Exeter, at Acorn Environment where I had gone on Monday to attend a Dormouse course as the first step towards getting my own licence. In order to proceed with any sort of project in the afore mentioned woods that I look after, a licence is needed. It is lawful to put up boxes and tubes in order to establish if Dormice are present in an area. However, at the first sign of their presence a licence is needed to proceed with further research. Handling a Dormouse is illegal without said licence. It takes about two years to get a licence and the applicant has to demonstrate that he or she has spent considerable time under the supervision of an existing licence holder and is fully competent. 

The course was part theory, habitat, law, protection etc. and part practical. This meant a trip to a local reserve in order to check long established nest boxes. The course instructor was a licence holder so we were legally able to handle and weigh any mice that we encountered. The day was hot and sunny, a perfect one to be in the woods on such a mission. Our search for the dormouse was, to start with fruitless, all the boxes checked in the first wood were empty. However, we got lucky in woods number two when in the fifth box we checked there were two Dormice in residence. 

Oh how delightful these little creatures are, so perfectly formed for their environment. Tiny feet with unusually large toe nails which enable them to cling to and climb up most surfaces.Our two specimens turned out to be male and female. We weighed them and quickly returned them to their box where, hopefully they will produce a litter of little Dormice. 

So, for the next few months nest box building is on the agenda and, although the mice tend to take quite a time before they use a box, I am hopeful that in due course I shall find these little beauties within my two woods. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Jeremy Brown

Having moved from London to Dorset and begun to settle down in our new house and village I began to get to know the neighbours and the local personalities. Jeremy Brown was, what could only be called,the local squire. Well, at least, his father had been in a former era. Father, Captain Brown had built up a large holding of land, been a keen local church supporter and master of the local foxhounds. When he passed on Jeremy took over the land and continued to be a church warden and play a central part of local life. As far as I am aware he was never a Master of Hounds. Living in the Dower House, in a dead end coombe, at the top of the village Jeremy farmed the land and tended large areas of his woodlands. He was an upright man of considerable bearing, dark haired and charming to a fault. As time went by the land held by Jeremy decreased as properties and bits of land were sold off. Jeremy's son took over the running of the farm and things went downhill fairly rapidly. The son seemed to prefer spending most of his time playing computer games and spent little time looking after the farm and its stock. All sorts of initiatives were embarked upon, including renovation of the old stables and installation of new horsey facilities in an attempt to create a livery business and, no doubt, make some money. Of course, these things need work and attention, they don’t happen by themselves or overnight. A lesson which son seemed not to have learned. To cut a long story short things went into terminal decline resulting in the sale of most of the property and Jeremy and his wife moving out into a bungalow in a local village and son and his wife departing for London, no doubt, in pursuit of fortune elsewhere. 

But during happier days I got to know Jeremy quite well as he was a keen shooting man and I took up an offer from his game keeper to join the beating team. The land which formed the shoot was very beautiful as it was composed of old woodlands and deep coombes. It provided very high and difficult birds. In the early days I referred to Jeremy as Mr. Brown but after a couple of weeks he decided I was ok and could, therefore, call him Jeremy. What it is to be one of the boys !!! In any event I enjoyed the shoot greatly, Harrold the keeper, part time, did a good job and the shoot was well run and friendly. Harold was also Jeremy’s neighbour having bought one of the farms cottages. 

Soon after I joined the beating team I got a new lurcher puppy, Toby, and a year later Toby joined me on beating days. It was Jeremy's custom to pay the beaters himself rather than the usual situation where the keeper does the job of handing out the pay. It was also the case that people with a dog got an extra pound. This again was paid in person by Jeremy and each dog handler was handed the pound coin, cash in hand, and not in the usual little brown envelope used for the rest of the beaters pay. On the first occasion I took Toby with me and when Jeremy came to pay me he looked at Toby and asked "Larcher isn’t it ?". People like Jeremy have their own form of the language you understand, for example, a bird is a bard and yes is ya, and that is why the locals in these parts refer to such people as ya ya’s. Anyway, having confirmed that Toby was indeed a Lurcher, Jeremy nodded looked deeply at him and then said, "not claiming a dog are you". What this meant, was of course, not claiming an extra pound. I was very tempted to tell Jeremy that clearly his need was greater than mine but decided upon discretion! So it was that this ritual continued for the best part of that particular season and each time I affirmed that I was not claiming a dog I was told by Jeremy that I was "a good chap"! This little charade at the end of the day appeared to annoy my neighbour and fellow beater much more than it did me. He would come out with the most ungentlemanly comments regarding this matter and in terms that I couldn’t possibly repeat here !! When, towards the end of the season, and Toby had completed a particularly good day, having flushed large numbers of pheasants my neighbour approached me and said "you tell the tight old sod that you are claiming a dog today". As usual Jeremy arrived to pay us and as usual I was addressed with, "not claiming a dog are you?" I replied that actually I was since Toby had worked every bit as well as any of the other dogs present. I received a wry smile and was handed my pound coin. Thereafter I was never asked again and the extra pound was always forthcoming without comment. Happy days. 

On another occasion at the end of the morning session I was approached by Jeremy and the conversation went something like this, "Ah, Derek, did you lose the Larcher on the second drive"? He smiled and looked at me for a response before continuing, "chased a deer you know, right through the line, grabbed it at the bottom fence." Fortunately it got over the fence. Oh God, there are sometimes when you wish the ground will swallow you up. I apologised claiming to have missed Toby’s departure and believed him to have been in pursuit of a rabbit. I was treated to another one of Jeremy's grins and the reply, "Oh well, one of those things, nasty business." The matter was never mentioned again and neither was it repeated. By the next season Toby would stop on command even if he was tempted to think about chasing a deer. 

When we moved from that village to our present home we did so in order to buy some land, soon after our relocation I heard that Jeremy was selling of parcels of land. Not long after that I heard of his departure from the village. Great days, good memories but, as they say, nothing stays the same for ever. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Kingsley Parish Council - Thursday 25th 8pm

Kingsley Parish Council meets on Thursday, 25th May 2017 in the Kingsley Centre at 8.00pm following the Annual Parish Meeting

AGENDA

1. Chairman’s Opening Remarks
2. Apologies for Absence
3. Declarations of Personal/Prejudicial Interest
4. Public Question Time
Public Questions
Consideration of agenda items which will be open to public participation

5. Approval of Minutes of the Meetings held on 23rd March 2017
6. Matters Arising
7. Planning Applications
Applications ongoing:
TAG Farnborough Airport Air Space Change Proposal
52947/003 Old Park Farm (Land to the East of Kingsley Sports Club, Sickles Lane), Kingsley, Bordon
Change of use of land for the siting of up to six tourism pods, car parking and general landscaping (Amended plan received 01/02/17)
54919/003 Land at Kingsley Golf Club, Forge Road, Bordon
Garage block containing 6 garages and associated access and landscape works on former golf course following demolition of existing sheds
New applications:
22246/006 Sickles House, Forge Road, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9NA
Detached dwelling with associated car parking and landscaping
55585/002 Fenris, Sickles Lane, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9PD
Oak (T1) Remove all major dead wood, selectively reduce lims
SDNP/17/01988/HOUS Dolphins, Oakhanger Road, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9JP
Ground floor entrance extension, first floor extension above existing studio, internal remodelling and new carpet
31224/007-008 2 Bakers Corner Cottage, Oakhanger Road, Kingsley, Bordon, GU35 9NJ
Listed building consent - Summerhouse

8. St Nicholas Cemetery & Cemetery Chapel
To receive an update from Cllr Rigden
To consider the updated new fees following the Church of England fees increase for St Nicholas

9. Transport, Highways and Road Safety
Speedwatch update
To receive an update from Cllr Lowe
Jalsa Salana
To receive an update from Cllr Lowe

10. Commons, Village Greens and Rights of Way
Upper Green
To receive an update from Cllr Gregory
To consider the quote of £25 (ex VAT) per cut of the newly reinstated area of upper green. This work will be added to existing contract for this year at a total likely extra cost of £175 for the year (i.e. 7 cuts)
Lower Green
To consider granting a wayleave for SSE to install an electrical cable under the Parish Council owned Footpath 6 to provide utility service the new build Dale House

11. Community Resilience
12. Environment and Biodiversity
To consider the response to the invitation from Grundon to join a Liaison Group for the future of the Frith End quarry.

13. Kingsley Village Forum
14. Housing, Business & Commerce
15. Review of Capital Projects
16. Communications
The correspondence received this month was listed & circulated to all Cllrs prior to the meeting.
Parish email database

17. Broadband
To receive an update from Cllr Coury & Cllr Clayton

18. District Councillor
19. Procedures, Finance and Payments
To discuss digitisation of Parish Council legal documents
To consider the renewal of KPC’ Insurance for 5 years at cost of £1088.72 per annum – Current agreement with Zurich is terminated end of May 2017

Payments to be made & Accounts to accept
April 2017 Payments authorised by Cllr Rigden & Cllr Lowe
Payment Date
Payee
Payment Mode
Description
Amount
21/04/2017
SSE
DD
St Nicholas Chapel electricity period 23/12/16 to 01/04/17
21.67
28/04/2017
Karine Nana Yonko
BACS
Clerk's April 2017 expenses invoice 0001-2017/18
88.36
28/04/2017
Karine Nana Yonko
BACS
Clerk's April 2017 salary
336.00
28/04/2017
HALC
BACS
Inv 1526 Affiliation fees 2017/18
244.00
28/04/2017
Cllr David Lowe
BACS
Reimbursement train fares to London for CAA meeting 17/02/17
51.00
28/04/2017
PCS
BACS
Inv 2915 Mole control at Upper Green
140.00
28/04/2017
P.J Grace
BACS
Inv for work done at Upper Green
1336.00
To consider the payment of invoices on the schedule included in the agenda of the meeting
May 2017 Payments to be authorised
Payment Date
Payee
Payment Mode
Description
Amount
30/05/2017
HMRC
BACS
PAYE period to 05/06/17
5.40
30/05/2017
Karine Nana Yonko
BACS
Clerk's May 2017 expenses invoice 0002-2017/18
108.05
30/05/2017
Karine Nana Yonko
BACS
Clerk's May 2017 salary
414.60
30/05/2017
Do the Numbers Ltd
BACS
Inv 12/545 Internal audit year ending 31/03/17
185.00
30/05/2017
Euroffice Ltd
BACS
Inv Stationnery
67.48
Date of Next Meeting of Kingsley Parish Council –
Thursday 22nd June 2017 – 7.30 pm at the Kingsley Centre