Saturday, 8 July 2017

Footpath 29a/Footpath 30

The above named Order, made on 4 July 2017 under Section 326(5) of the Highways Act 1980, if confirmed, will vary The Hampshire (East Hampshire District No. 8)(Parish of Alton – Part of Footpaths 29a and 29b) Public Path Extinguishment and Definitive Map and Statement Modification Order 2016 ("the 2016 Order") by replacing the map in the 2016 Order and amending the schedule so that it correctly describes the extinguishment as shown on the replacement maps. The effect of the variation will be to amend the details of the 2016 Order as follows:

The map attached to the 2016 Order shall be deleted and the maps to the 2017 Order entitled "The Hampshire "(East Hampshire District No. 8)(Parish of Alton – Part of Footpaths 29a and 29b) Public Path Extinguishment and Definitive Map and Statement Modification Order 2016" Variation Order 2017" shall be substituted.
In Part I of the Schedule to the 2016 Order the following shall be deleted:
"From SU 7277 4054 to SU 7281 4060
That part of Footpath 29a in the Parish of Alton in the District of East Hampshire that commences at a junction with Footpath 30 (Point A on the order plan), and proceeds in a north-easterly direction to a point on Eggar's School play courts at Point B.
A total length of 73 metres."
And the following shall be substituted:
"From SU 7280 4058 to SU 7281 4060
That part of Footpath 29a in the Parish of Alton in the District of East Hampshire that commences at the boundary of Eggar's School play courts (Point H on the order plan), and proceeds in a north-easterly direction to Point B.
A total length of 29 metres"
In Part II of the Schedule to the 2016 Order the following shall be deleted:
" Alton Footpath 29a
Add: "That part of the path which ran between SU 7277 4054 and SU 7281 4060 has been extinguished" "
And the following shall be substituted:
" Alton Footpath 29a
Add: "That part of the path which ran between SU 7280 4058 and SU 7281 4060 has been extinguished" "
A copy of the Order and the Order maps have been placed and may be seen free of charge at the offices of Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester, SO23 8UJ and at the offices of East Hampshire District Council, Penns Place, Petersfield, GU31 4EX; or online at Copies of the Order and the maps may be bought from me at a price of £4.40.
Any representations about or objections to the Order may be sent in writing to the Head of Countryside Access, Hampshire County Council, Castle Avenue, Winchester, SO23 8UL, or via e-mail to quoting reference:- "Variation Order" no later than 4 August 2017. Please state the grounds on which they are made.
If no such representations or objections are duly made, or if any so made are withdrawn, Hampshire County Council may confirm the Order as an unopposed order. If the Order is sent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for confirmation any representations and objections which have not been withdrawn will be sent with the Order.
Persons wishing to make representations or objections are advised that in the Order making process, representations or objections may become publicly available and therefore the names and address of those persons making representations or objections would also be made publicly available.

DATED this 7th day of July 2017

KAREN MURRAY, Director of Culture, Communities and Business Services, The Castle, Winchester, SO23 8UJ

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.