Wednesday 28 December 2011

Compare & contrast

A planning application received the following comments (summarised) recently, one from EHDC Landscape Officer and the other from Kingsley Parish Council:

No Objection. ... unfortunately these structures will be 4m in height and so could potentially represent a visual intrusion. ... Despite the height of the panels, the visual impact is not likely to be so detrimental as to justify objecting

Objection.  ... The panels themselves can be ajusted to change the angle of the elevation between winter and summer and in winter can be 4.7m high. Being 13.2m wide the effect on the landscape would be the equivalent to 3 large chalet bungalows

1 Gold Hill, Main Road, Kingsley

This application 39854/003 valid since 16/12/11 seeking permission for


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 17th January.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

I Do Love a Brass Band!

As a little diversion from my childhood ramblings, I wondered if you might enjoy my little foray into the world of Brass Bands. This took place whilst I was living in Manchester where my occupation had taken my wife and I, time wise was in the early 1970’s. The following is a little something I wrote much later on and is mostly true!

In the beginning
A transmission on television of the evergreen 'Songs of Praise', which covered the Northern heritage of ‘Whit Walks', and associated Brass Band contests, caused memories of a wonderful period in my life to come flooding back.

The first very loose involvement I had with the 'brass band' fraternity came as a result of looking out of my lounge window one late spring evening sometime back in the early 'seventies'.

As I gazed at nothing in particular, I remember seeing my next door neighbour dragging a very large, tarnished looking piece of complex tubing from the boot of his car, and carrying it indoors. I was curious from that moment! A couple of evenings later and my curiosity could be contained no longer. I took the initiative and leaning over the back garden fence, asked Bill, my neighbour, in a sociable sort of way, if he had taken up some form of sculpture.

To this, he replied in his quiet, matter of fact, Mancunian accent that he had "joined a brass band", and the strange looking object that I had seen previously was in fact a B flat Bass Tuba.
Bill went on to explain that a fairly recently formed Brass Band in the locality was on the lookout for bandsmen and he had gone along to an open evening, the result of which was him being invited to take up a vacant seat on the back row with the 'heavies', the B flat and E flat Basses.

I said that I hadn't realised that he was musically inclined, and he admitted that he wasn't other than having the occasional sing-song after a good night at the local hostelry! Bill asked me if I was interested in music and would I like to go along with him to a practice night? Rather taken aback, I replied that I would have to give the matter some thought and would let him know later.

A week went by before I saw Bill again. Having chatted the situation over with my wife, I told him that I would indeed like to go along to a band practice when it was convenient. We agreed on the following Saturday evening.

Meet the Chairman
The practice room for the rather grandly (at least, I thought) titled "Urmston & Davyhulme Silver Band", was a Scout Hut some two miles from home. Not possessing a car of my own at that time, Bill picked me up in his rather elderly Ford on the agreed Saturday evening, and we set off on an adventure which was to have a great influence on my life and that of my family for the next decade.

I knew we had arrived at our destination when I heard the strains of a rousing Sousa March fairly exploding from the rather rickety looking hut at the end of a rough unmade track. Practice had already started!

Entering the hut, I observed about fifteen musicians seated in a rough semi-circle around a slim man in his fifties. He was beginning to work up a sweat and was gesticulating fairly wildly with a baton to the assembled players he was facing.

Bill prepared to take his seat on the back row of bandsmen, and I found a spare chair away in a corner and settled in to observe the proceedings.

The 'practice' of a number of pieces of music continued for an hour or so before a 'tea break' was announced. Some ladies, who it later transpired were in effect the band 'groupies' had boiled up an electric urn, and now proceeded to hand out steaming mugs of tea accompanied by biscuits, to the players.

At this point a rather portly middle aged man approached me with a mug of tea held out in my direction. Giving me the mug, he introduced himself.

"I'm Des, the Chairman of the band", he said. I told him briefly how I came to be in their presence. "What do you play?" he asked. To which I truthfully answered, "Nothing other than the harmonica". "How do you fancy trying a Bass?" he said, as if he hadn't heard my last words at all.

Somewhat flabbergasted by the proposal, I replied that I "Hadn't really considered playing an instrument, could not read music, and had only come along out of curiosity as a friend of my neighbour Bill".

Des, not to be put off the possibility of recruiting another body to the band, whether or not he could play an instrument, pressed on with his mission as Chairman.

"We've a vacancy on the back row", he said, "we are still short of Bass players, would you like to try one?" he persisted.

Beginning to feel a little nervous and somewhat trapped by this man so obviously set upon recruiting me, I rather lamely gave in and said that I would "Give it a try", but without committing myself to anything definite.

Little did I know then that I would become hooked on the 'Brass Band' movement from that moment onwards!

Without further ado, Des disappeared into a back room, to reappear in a few moments with a piece of curled up tubing resembling a large funnel not dissimilar to that which I had seen 'Bill' carrying into his house. "There you are" said Des "take that home and give it a try".

Without allowing me time to protest further, he moved off to join the Band who, refreshed by their tea break, now embarked upon another piece of music under the thrashing baton of the conductor.

As you may well imagine, I was the subject of considerable mirth when Bill dropped both my instrument and me home later that evening. My two young sons both thought it was some sort of a climbing frame as they embarked upon exploring the instrument from all angles.

Over the next few days, after my tea, and before the children went to bed, I would tuck myself away in the spare room, attempting to produce musical notes on my newly acquired instrument of torture. All I could in fact achieve were rather rude noises, and the prospect of me actually contributing to the making of music as a part of the band seemed very remote!

For the next several weeks I would sit behind the Bass section and attempt to follow the manuscript as the Band practised. It all looked very complicated and I doubted that I would ever make enough sense of it to be counted as a playing member of the band.

I had by this time discovered that the 'Urmston & Davyhulme Silver Band' who's motto was 'Musica Supera Omnia Nobis', was quite a family affair. Our Conductor and Musical Director was called Joe, and he was Chairman Des's brother. Joe had played solo Cornet in a number of bands since his youth, and had formed this band following a falling out with his last band's Conductor.

Four of Joe's children held 'front row' positions as Flugelhorn, Tenor Horn, Soprano Cornet and Trombone players respectively. In addition there were cousins and nieces and other assorted family relations, the entire family making up nearly two-thirds of the players. I quickly realised that the 'Von-Trapp's' had nothing on this family!

Amazingly enough, and to the surprise of all my family, I gradually picked up the idea of how to make musical sounds by spitting a raspberry, into a mouthpiece somewhat resembling a large eggcup. The family began to relax as my frustration gradually subsided!

Progress of a kind
As with many brass instruments, musical notes on a B flat Bass are achieved through the depression of a combination of the three (sometimes, four) valves, coupled with the shape of the mouth and position of the tongue (called the ombuture). Although I still could not 'read' music properly, I had by now become fairly adept at pencilling the finger positions for the three valves onto whatever piece of music that was being attempted by this 'young' band.

The Bass parts of the music we were playing did not require the skills of a virtuoso, so it was a fairly simple process for me to read this 'fingering' code as we went along.

I had by now been invited to, and rather humbly, taken a seat on the back row proper, and was actually beginning to enjoy the practice sessions.

One evening as we drank our mid-practice mugs of tea, Joe asked me if I felt like sitting in with the Band at a local Gala due to take place at the weekend.

I protested that I could not as yet even play my instrument, but he countered that they would be short on numbers due to holidays and I only needed to look as if I was actually playing. I lamely agreed to go along although feeling rather foolish about the whole idea. On the day I actually quite enjoyed the event and any 'bum notes' could quite fairly be attributed to me!

My first real challenge was when the Band started to practice a Competition piece in readiness for a rather lowly Contest due to take place in the Floral Pavilion at New Brighton on the Wirral Peninsula some months hence. We were to play a composition entitled, 'Fantasia on the Dargazon' by Gustav Holst. Towards the end of the final movement the Bass part suddenly developed into a mass of rather nasty looking 'black notes'. It was OUR solo and a place to shine.

Having applied my trusted 'code' to the manuscript, I kept the neighbourhood awake for several weeks, as I practised the Bass solo at home in the evenings.

What to a 'middling' brass player, would have been nothing much of a challenge, it was some time before I could run through it without looking at the music.

Progress was being made indeed!

The Contest
The day of the Contest arrived and we all set off for New Brighton in a motor coach. Several miles short of our destination, we stopped at a large public house where we had reserved a backroom for a final practice. My own thinking on the matter was that any further practice would not improve things greatly.

Our Conductor however had different ideas and proceeded to put us all 'through the mill' for nearly two hours. Fortified by sandwiches and the occasional pint of beer the whole thing gradually became a bit of a blur.

Naturally, we arrived late, and for my part more than a little tipsy, at the venue for the Contest, only to find to our dismay that we had been drawn first band to play. This meant that we practically stepped off the coach and straight onto the stage of the rather grandly named 'Floral Pavilion'.

Our performance of the 'test piece' was finished so quickly that it was not until we were walking off stage that I noticed the little curtained-off 'hide' at the back of the auditorium in which the luckless adjudicator sat. He was probably at that moment praying that the bands that were to follow our opening rendition would make a better job of it and make his day worthwhile!

Our task completed, we gathered outside for a post-mortem and a tongue lashing from our Conductor, who for some reason did not appear too pleased with our performance. Eventually he gave up and we listened to the other bands interpretation of the test piece, which generally sounded as if they were playing from a completely different musical score.

With quite a large entry, this seemed to last interminably, and it was not until late in the afternoon that we were to learn our fate.

All the competing bands and their followers gathered together in the auditorium and listened intently as some local town dignitary read out the results, to the ecstatic applause of the winning bands. Naturally, we had not won anything!

We did receive the hand written notes from the adjudicator, appraising our performance which had taken place so many hours previously that I couldn't remember much about it. These notes would be read, re-read and dissected by our Conductor and used in evidence against us all for the next several weeks!

The Season of Goodwill
Christmas was by now nearly upon us, and a very hectic time of the year for the Urmston & Davyhulme Silver Band was starting.

Being a poor Band, we had to take every opportunity to raise money for the 'Uniform and Building Fund'. At this point we were making public appearances in our civvies, as we had not yet aspired to a fancy uniform.

From the beginning of December, every night of the week, enough players to form a 'band' would assemble to play Christmas Carols around every street in the district. It was neither practical nor possible to get the entire band together every evening, so an 'ensemble' of key players was formed on a rota system.

From 7pm until about 9.30pm, Monday through to Thursday, the 'ensemble' of the night would descend upon the streets accompanied by door to door collectors who were usually 'press ganged' from the player's families. At the weekend, it was the turn of the Pub's and Clubs to benefit from our efforts as we piled our instruments and ourselves into cars, to cover as many venues as possible in an evening.

I often gained the impression that we were an unwanted and certainly generally an uninvited intrusion upon the customer's revelries. The physical effort of trying to fit upwards of twenty musicians into an already crowded Public bar required considerable ingenuity and on more than one occasion, tempers became frayed causing us to make an early exit as some of our players were still of school age!

In addition to the already described activities, the Band would put on a Christmas Concert and also play on Saturday afternoons for a couple of hours in the local shopping centres. Throughout this period, I was usually only seen at home briefly for a meal in the week before disappearing for the rest of the evening.

Brass Band 'widows' are renowned for their tolerance in these matters, and my wife quickly realised that she too had no alternative other than to go along with the crowd. She quickly became embroiled in the various fund raising efforts organised by the Band and indeed it became a way of life for the ten or more very enjoyable years that I was to continue with the Band.

Day of Reckoning
Several years passed and the quality of the band improved greatly to see us entering bigger and more prestigious Contests. I even played in the Kings Hall at Belle Vue, Manchester (sadly, long since demolished) which was the Mecca for Brass Banding in the North of England.

My musical skills rather reached a plateau and there were very accomplished youngsters coming from schools where just about everyone learned a brass instrument.

I believed that the writing was on the wall and that at some time soon I would have to justify my position on 'the back row', so reluctantly I handed in my mouth piece, thus ending a wonderful ten years as part of a great tradition. To this day I still "do Love a Brass Band!"

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas in Kingsley

What follows does not represent any particular Christmas in Kingsley but rather a sort of general flavour of Christmas in the village over the period I was living there. I suspect, as with many country villages old habits die hard and many of the things I am about to write will be recognised today. In the Dorset village in which I now live much still goes on as it did years ago, indeed tonight 21/12/11, I am taking my grand children around the village on a tractor and trailer with the local church carol singers to be followed by singing around the Christmas tree at the pub.

The early Christmases that I recall were very different from those of today. The Christmas stocking contained much more in the way of fruit and nuts and far less of toys. Games were more popular not, of course, the electronic wizardry of today, but board games and jigsaws. Life was much simpler and the whole family spent the big day together often playing games between meals.

Mince pies were made together with sausage rolls and Christmas puddings and a Christmas cake. All were home made. It seems incredible to think that even in the countryside chickens for the table were not that common. Turkeys were almost unheard of for the average family. I suppose the after effects of the war, rationing and food scarcity all played a part in the lack of goodies in the early days. Animal food was also on ration and no doubt this to some extent restricted the number of large poultry farms. Mass production of chicken and turkeys was then a long way off. Although people kept a few chicken they were mostly for the eggs and not the pot. They came to the pot as boilers after their laying life was over. Nothing like the roasting birds we take so much for granted today.

The Christmas tree, in our case, was obtained from the local area. As I grew up I usually went and got a tree from somewhere.  This was something I really enjoyed doing and was probably the only time that I ever got away with bringing anything home without being closely questioned as to where it had come from. It was usual for me to select a tree at the end of the summer and watch it carefully throughout the time running up to Christmas. I was not the only villager that collected a tree from round about. Many of the trees collected originated on the common at Kingsley or from Broxhead Common where they were of the large needled, blue grey, fir tree type. They were also self seeders which grew wild. Later Alice Holt Forest became the place to collect from, this was in the area near to the Forest Field of a previous article. The trees there were of a finer needled type and much greener. I never saw anyone whilst engaged in tree collection but each year the Farnham Herald announced to its readers that the Forestry Commision were putting on patrols to catch people taking trees. I collected ours usually about ten days before Christmas and selected an evening that was dark, wet, foggy or a combination of all three. I think the patrols must have operated nearer to Farnham and Frensham where there were formal  plantations. My trees were not from what I would describe as a laid out plantation and appeared at random. Hey ho times were hard and money was scarce.

Having got the tree home it was decorated with real candles held to the branches with gold or silver clips similar to clothes pegs. The candles were usually lit in the evenings and had to be watched as they had real flames and Christmas trees burn fiercely. In addition to the candles various baubles were added and large amounts of plain silver coloured tinsel was draped all over the tree. A star or fairy was placed on top of the tree.

School played a large part in the run up to Christmas, as I guess it still does today. Decorations were made in class, these were made from strips of coloured paper with sticky ends which were fashioned into  inter linking rings, hence paper chains. Bells were also a popular decoration and these in various forms were also produced in school. But the big preparation was the Nativity play. This was produced at school and put on in the church just before school broke up for Christmas. Then there was the Christmas Bazaar which was a glorified jumble sale but included quite a lot of items made by local people. Jams, pickles and chutneys and cakes various were usually on sale. Lead soldiers were produced by a serving soldier who lived in Ockham Hall and these little treasures were often sold. Ken Chadwick, the son of the postmistress Mrs. Chadwick  produced military figures from wood. The Post Office in those days was a recruiting ground for the military and always displayed posters of men from the three services. Many were chart like posters featuring images of individuals in regimental dress. These Ken cut out and having produced a wooden profile of the cut out by means of a fret saw he would glue the paper image to the wood, varnish it and add a small block behind and at the base in order that the soldier would stand. He produced dozens of these and they were much sought after. I don’t recall where the proceeds from this event went but it was probably to the church. The bazaar was always well attended. As always the pub played a part in the Christmas preparations. The local thrift club was run by the pub and was paid out just before Christmas. The earliest landlord I recall was Mr. Tizzard,  Jack,he stayed at the Cricketers for many years until, I believe,his death. Mr. and Mrs. Ratley followed.

Christmas eve was memorable for the midnight service, in those days, always held at St Nicolas church, or as it was known The Old Church. People would walk from the village to attend and the church was usually full to capacity. Standing room at the back where people would be crammed in was normal then. The upstairs balcony at the rear of the building was also used and this too would be full. The singing was, how can I put this, variable. The quality of song would vary greatly. The normal good and great would sing with their usual delicacy and precision. The rare attendees  would do quite well and the choir,of course, would give good account of  itself. The variable element was provided by the good people of the village who had spent the earlier part of the evening in the Cricketers. Depending upon the length of their visit and or the amount of good cheer they had consumed, their song ranged from loud, boisterous, over ambitious through to in audible and unrecognisable. The performance of those worthies was often the talking point in the village long after the event.

As far as our family was concerned, after the service we would return home, have mince pies or sausage rolls and a hot drink and off to bed. It seemed to take an age to get off to sleep the excitement was so great.  The big day was almost always spent at home and indoors. Presents, lunch, games and tea. Sherry and Port were the main drinks served over the Christmas period with the men having an occasional  beer. The range of beverages was much less and people in general drank far less, not least because they couldn’t  afford to.

Christmas morning the church service was held in the church in the village, All Saints ? It was usually well attended although I don’t recall that we went very often.  Boxing day saw more people out and about  and children met to compare toys etc.  Overall travel was not like it is now and people stayed in the village for Christmas. It should also be remembered that for the most part whole families lived where they were born and did not depart to far horizons as they do now. Visiting family then was usually little more than a short walk away.

Well there you have it, I do hope that you all have the happiest of Christmases and that at least some of the old traditions are still going, not least the midnight service! Till January I wish you all well, the compliments of the season and all that you wish yourselves. 

Sunday 18 December 2011

Christmas fair/party @ the pub

The first KBF Christmas fair and party was held in the Cricketers on Saturday starting with Father Christmas for the little ones and shopping/eating/gaming opportunities for big people.

Phase II started at 8pm sharp with mass carol singing led by the Kings Pond Shantymen. The organisers, Carol and John Verrier, had even provided comprehensive song sheets for everyone in the pub so the roof was, almost, raised.

When we were all carol'ed out we moved on to a lively karaoke session which definitely did raise the roof.

Support from within the village was thin - let's face it, it was freezing last night - but £150 was raised for KBF funds and we look forward to restaging the event in 2012 with lessons learned.

Friday 16 December 2011

Old Park Farm, Main Road, Kingsley

This application 27396/037 valid since 13/12/11 seeking permission for


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 13th January.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Childhood Ramblings

I have recently been introduced to the ‘Kings Blog’ and in particular I have been reading with considerable interest the articles by Derek Yeomans entitled ‘The Straits’. I really must congratulate him on the clarity of his recollections of his childhood. As I am also an ex Kingsley boy, born a little earlier than Derek, there are many similarities in our childhood memories and I have taken the liberty of jotting down some of my own recollections which may prove of some interest. Although only a couple of years older than Derek, I am afraid that my memories are not quite as pin sharp as his. I would point out that these memories are not necessarily in any particular order date wise.

I was born Stephen John Barnes, in March of 1943 in a large house situated at the eastern end of Alresford. Called Langton House, it was a nursing home during WWII and my mother was taken there to give birth, along with many other mums to be from other ‘at risk ‘areas. This in mother’s case I understand was because of the vicinity of the military garrison in Bordon and in particular, Martinique Barracks which was situated adjacent to Oxney Farm, not much more than a mile from our house in Sandy Lane, Kingsley.

I am not aware of how long my mother stayed at Langton House but I do know that she was transported in both directions by a Mr Wilkins who had a taxi business in Bordon. My older brother Alan had been sent over to Aldershot to stay with an Aunt during the latter stages of mother’s pregnancy, as my father was working long hours in Martinique Barracks as a boot and shoe maker which was a reserved occupation. He helped to keep the army on their feet! He then went out with the Home Guard on several nights in the week and mended the villagers' shoes in a small lock-up in the grounds of the Vicarage when he had nothing else to do!

Moving from Oakhanger where they lived after their marriage in 1929, my parents rented Rowan Cottage which was situated on a dirt track to the rear of Ockham Hall. Half of a small semi-detached cottage with only two rooms up and down (I believe) Rowan Cottage benefitted from a large garden which provided most of our vegetable produce and a considerable amount of meat in the form of chickens and rabbits. There were also plenty of eggs so we must have eaten a lot better than some in those parlous times.

Earliest memories I have include skidding around on the brick floor whilst sitting on my enamel pot and having one of our many cats raking its claws down my leg as they dangled beneath my high chair! Toys were few in those times but I do remember a large rather crude wooden lorry and a knitted squirrel which clutched a carrot which for some unknown reason I called 'Coorah’! Although only I suppose about two and a half years old, I also remember sleeping in a large drawer from a chest of drawers when my parents had a post war holiday in Weymouth where they celebrated VJ Day.

The previously referred to dirt track in front of the cottage was either bone dry and dusty in the summer or extremely muddy in winter. Along it, several times a day, a large herd of bullocks were driven either too or from Dene Farm to the field on Oxney and on more than one occasion they trashed our garden on route if the gate had been left open. Somehow my mother coped with all this along with having two ‘land army’ girls billeted with us for the duration.

Sometime in early 1947, we moved onto the main road in Kingsley, to live in Church Cottage which was situated on one end of a row of houses with the Police House at the other end. Earliest memories at that time were of the dreadfully cold winter of ‘47/48. Although we had a fireplace in two out of three of the bedrooms, we did not have sufficient fuel for them so we only had the kitchen range in the ‘living room’ to heat the house, which it didn’t. How often I awoke in the winter to find ice crystals across the top of my eiderdown where my breath had frozen and ice encrusted on the inside of the window pane. We did however now enjoy the luxury of fresh water on tap from the mains, although the kitchen sink vented out to a large bucket beneath the sink. Progress of a sort when a pipe was put through the wall and the bucket placed outside!

The toilet was of the chemical variety which entailed a walk outside to the rear of the house where the toilet was situated. I remember my father ticking me off on more than one occasion for setting fire to the toilet paper (squares of newspaper) using the candle which was the light source. Once a week father had to dig a pit at the bottom of the garden to bury the contents of the bucket!
My father would regularly pester our landlord to build us a proper toilet and bathroom (we still were using a tin bath as well) and the landlord would equally often say that if only the house was on the drains he would love to oblige. In the early 1950’s, work started on building ‘Woodfield’ a small council housing estate to the side and rear of our house. After crossing the site foreman’s palm with silver, miraculously an inspection pit connected to the estates sewerage system appeared at the bottom of the garden which father showed the landlord on his next visit. We got our bathroom!

At about the time we moved to Church Cottage, mother got a position working in the newly built school canteen. This normally would have posed a problem as to what should be done with me whilst she worked, but the Headmistress at that time, a Mrs Garfirth I believe, agreed that although under school age I could come to school and sit in with the infants. This meant that I learnt my letters and times tables quite early on.
The school toilets were terribly scary to one so young. Wooden seats with a hole and a bucket beneath if memory serves me right, they were smelly and freezing cold in the winter. On more than one occasion I sat in class and wet my pants because I was too scared to go outside.

Amongst early school memories I remember sitting up in the old desks with a lift up work top watching the frozen milk bottles thaw out in front of the single coke burning stove. The little bottles came in from the milk lorry with their silver foil caps sitting up on a plug of frozen milk which protruded from the bottles. When the time came to drink it, there would still be a large lump of frozen milk in the bottle!
Another early memory was of Miss Lushington who lived in Ockham Hall, arriving occasionally in her chauffeur driven car around mid-morning. She would sweep into the big classroom and totally disrupt the lessons whilst she gave all the children a talk. Memory fails me on what exactly she used to say but I do remember that when she finished she would wave her arms in a grand manner as she commanded that school should finish for the rest of the day. The Headmistress did not seem to have much control of this action!

Mrs Garfirth retired and a young woman was appointed as Head Mistress. Her name was Mrs Morris and she came to the school fresh and full of new ideas. I remember she had a passion for handwriting and we would spend many hours filling our exercise books with rows of A’s, B’s C’s etc,. Another of her passions was Scottish dancing and when the weather was good we would have the misery of learning Highland reels in the playground. Again if the weather was hot and sunny, we would all be taken out onto Kingsley Common for ‘nature walks’. The three R’s seemed to come further down the list of priorities!

Derek Yeomans noted in his writings, that he moved into new houses at Woodfield in 1953. Living right next door to the building site I had the great excitement of watching the houses being built from the creation of the roads and drainage (including our own inspection pit), to the tiling of the roofs. Having a young boy’s passion for all things mechanical I revelled in watching the Chaseside digger and a large diesel powered road roller. There was also a magnificent cement mixer, a giant of a machine which was in constant use loaded by sweaty workmen.

As Derek remarked, Health & Safety had not been invented and we children could roam the site almost at will as it was never fenced off. I do not remember any of us suffering accidents serious or otherwise.

One of my childhood passions was tractors and the finest local collection was in the tractor shed at Lode Farm. My favourite of all was a giant yellow beast which I think was called a Minneapolis Moline. My poor mother and father would occasionally walk me the mile or so from our house to see this beauty on a sunny Sunday evening. This would have been when I was aged six or seven.

Another Sunday evening walk was in the opposite direction to the New Inn at Sleaford. Here my father would enjoy the odd half pint of shandy with mother and I being treated to a glass of lemonade. At that time there was a large pull- in or what we now call a lay-by, opposite the pub onto which a considerable number of coaches would pull on their way back from the coast. It was the practice in those days for numbers to be chalked onto the rear wheel tyre with a single chalk mark on the mudguard. As soon as the coach stopped, men would gather by the back wheel to see whose number came closest to the marker. The winner would win whatever was up to be won, I think usually cash.

I think at the time Derek’s family moved into Woodfield, his father Arthur was working at Old Park Farm, a show piece farm owned at that time I believe by a Mr Nicholson. Amongst his duties, Arthur used to drive a David Browne tractor with a mechanical attachment at the rear to which implements could be fitted including a plough. One day when I was on school holidays he came to plough the field behind Woodfield. I stood in the corner of the field for what seemed an age until as he approached me he asked me if I wanted a ride. Did I want a ride, you bet I did. Arthur placed a folded up sack on top of the lifting gear behind him and I climbed up to sit on it. Off we went for the rest of the afternoon with me precariously perched above the plough shears, going up and down as they were lifted to allow the tractor to turn around. Health & Safety would have had a fit!

The coming of several new families to live at Woodfield brought a number of new children to the village and we quickly made friends or enemies as the case may be. The summer evenings would see the greater number of us congregating in the grassy area by the pond to play energetic ball and tag games. In the winter when the frost had had a good go at the pond water turning it into thick ice, we spent many hours playing on it both before and after school. A few of the older lads in the village had motor cycles and they would venture onto the ice pulling sledges behind them as they slithered around. No one paid much heed to the deaths many years previously of the two unfortunate children who went through a hole in the ice and drowned.

Kingsley Common played a major role in our growing up. In holiday time many of us children would disappear after breakfast only to return home when our bellies cried out for food. Wonderful games were played in the bracken and heather. The River Slea meandering through the flood meadows at the back of Gold Hill was another source of endless entertainment until Farmer Waters came along waving a big stick and telling us to get off of his land.

Derek also recalls the gypsy families living near to Kingsley Halt. I have particular reason to remember Clara Hughes for two reasons. The first involves a large round of cheese which having been delivered to the village stores was sitting on the floor of the shop when Clara came in to purchase some things. Seeing the cheese, she promptly sat upon it and proceeded to make a skinny ‘roll-up’ cigarette which flared up when she lit it. A priceless memory!

My other reason to remember Clara is more personal and involved falling off my new bicycle at the age of ten on the corner where the Straits Road met Sickles Lane. I had been Bluebelling with a young lady and as we free-wheeled down the hill clutching armfuls of flowers, I developed a speed wobble ending up in the ditch and banging my chin rather badly on a tree. Hearing the commotion, members of the Hughes family came out and Clara took me into her caravan or vardo to administer first aid. The young lady peddled furiously back into the village and eventually my father appeared on the scene. The result of all this was that I was taken by taxi to the Doctors surgery in Headley where Dr Mackilwane applied several stitches to my split chin and remarking on the actions taken by Clara to staunch the bleeding. I believe she had applied a compress containing some ‘special’ herbs.

I fear that I have rambled on for long enough to bore you all silly, but if you are entertained by it I expect I could write more including my passage to Secondary school and my early employment recollections.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Carols in Kingsley 2011

Christmastide is here again and Kingsley will be enjoying not one, not two but THREE sets of carol singing this year:

6pm Tuesday 13th @ Wendy Renton's

11:30am Wednesday 14th @ the Kingsley Centre - "Sing for Joy"

6pm Saturday 17th @ the Cricketers Inn - "Kings Pond Shantymen"

Thursday 1 December 2011

North Bakers Barn, Main Road, Kingsley

This application 53965 valid since 30/11/11 seeking permission for


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 30th December.

Leaving the Straits

Nothing stays the same and our time at Rose Cottage in the Straits came to an end in the early part of 1953 when we moved to 6, Woodfield in the village. Our links with the Straits remained as mothers parents continued to live in their cottage at the end of the row houses farthest from Rose Cottage. We visited regularly and this meant a walk to grannies house. Both granny and granddad had been in service at, I think, Frensham or Dockenfield. Granddad with coaches and horses and granny had worked as a maid.

Their house in the Straits contained evidence of their past lives in the form of two large sofas and a number of pictures which hung upon their sitting room walls. The sofas were of the Chaise Longue type and had known grander times. I imagine the sofas and pictures had been gifts which had no longer been required by their former wealthy owners. The pictures were typical of forgone age. They were quite large and produced in sepia. Two or three of them featured young girls standing in gardens full of flowers holding either puppies or kittens. The girls with the kittens had puppies at their feet looking up adoringly. All of the girls were dressed in long ankle length dresses with lots of ribbons and bows and their hair was long and curled. The whole set of these looked to me as being contrived and totally false but, I imagine, typical of their era.

However,the other picture which graced the walls was of a very different kind.  This was a representation of The Charge of The Light Brigade. Over the years I have seen a number of copies of this picture so I suppose it was widely produced and popular in its day. It featured  a scene of charging horses backed by lancers and swordsmen. The charge was arranged in a kind of triangular formation with the leading horse at the sharp end of the triangle widening backwards to fill the frame of the picture. The most notable feature for me was the wide eyes of the horses bulging with terror. Charging through the carnage of the battle field which lay before and around them their every muscle appeared to be straining and tense. A quite horrible portrait which I disliked immensely but could not help looking at as there always seemed to be something within it to discover however gruesome.

Also featured in the room was a large dolls house which took pride of place upon a sideboard. This was a wooden construction with several floors and contained an impressive array of wooden furniture representing the normal range of household rooms. It was, I suppose, the play thing of my mother and her three sisters. In a room next to the sitting room was what I imagine was supposed to be a dining room as it had a dining table and chairs within but I never knew it used as such. In one corner of the room was a large walk in larder which to a curious young boy was something of a treasure house. Granny had large glass containers filled with herbs and spices. These particularly fascinated me. I was often given whole cloves to chew and although a bit woody I love the flavour. Also in this room was granddad's gun cabinet which also contained his decoys. These were of pigeon and duck and were quite beautiful works of art. They were wooden, hand carved and painted. Although age and, no doubt, use  had dimmed the colours they  were none the less very attractive items. Goodness knows what became of them.

I do, however, still have one of granddad's guns which he gave to me many years ago. It is a double barreled side by side twelve bore. A hammer gun which has seen much use and repair. Typical of the country man's make do and mend approach to things, slackness with wear and tear had been rectified with washers and some quite inappropriate screws. The barrels are wafer thin and could not possibly be used with a modern cartridge. In its day the gun would have fired black powder cartridges as the pits in the barrels bear witness to. In spite of its many defects it remains a treasured possession of mine. It gives great pleasure to think of granddad using the old gun in and around the fields and woods of the Kingsley end of Alice Holt Forest where he went after pigeons and rabbits. He passed on those interests to me as I am now doing to my grandson Tom who comes ferreting and beating with me and is learning the old country skills for another generation. Granny was still at the Straits when she died and Granddad remained there in their cottage until a short while before he passed away.

 I am not sure exactly of the date we left Rose Cottage but it was early in 1953 as we were in residence at Woodfield by the time of the Queen’s coronation which was in June of that year. There were eighteen houses being built at Woodfield and when we moved into number six only about half of them had been completed. It was great fun to hang around the builders who all treated us with good humoured tolerance. Although a building site, there were no prison like wire barriers that typify today’s building sites. Health and Safety and the Act that brought it into being did not exist then. One wonders how we all ever survived, yes there were accidents, of course there were, but no more than we experience today. Builders actually existed without strange helmets and day glow jackets etc. etc. How things have changed.

 However our first few months in the new house were great fun and the builders were central to that. The move had brought great changes for us. Running water, flushing toilets, an airing cupboard, more bedrooms, electricity. An electric cooker, an electric copper, built in cupboards in the kitchen, a built on shed, coal bunker and an outside flush toilet as well as the interior one. Electric light which was bright enough to be able to read by without straining the eyes. An electric radio which would operate without an accumulator. Accumulators were glass tanks which contained lead bars which in turn were submersed in an acid bath. The reaction that occurred produced electricity and powered the radio. The tanks had tar or pitch sealed tops with two terminals, (red and black), to which the radio wires were attached. The accumulators had to be recharged regularly and this involved taking them to Kings, the tobacconists, at Bordon every week or so. I don’t actually remember how long each charge lasted. When the accumulator was spent we would prise off the top, remove the contents and make use of the tank to keep fish in. The major trouble with this was that the tanks were all produced from glass which was distorted like the windows of a public toilet. This,of course, ensured that the fish within took on the most grotesque forms and looked most unnatural. Oh well it was all we had at the time.

 Father was very happy with number six as it had a large garden which he had hoped for. Indeed I believe he made representations in order to achieve this. In any event number six was blessed with one of the larger gardens and this met with all round approval. The ground was also a culture shock, having struggled with heavy clay at Rose Cottage for so long, the light sandy loam of Woodfield proved an instant hit. Although I often remember dad saying over the years how it swallowed up manure. Woodfield in general gave me a far greater range of friends and a wider range to wander over, new areas to be explored and all manner of new birds and beasts to be sought out. It was truly wonderful to grow up then and there. Stay with me for future revelations of the wonderful lifestyle Kingsley provided in those halcyon days. Next month, December , Christmas in Kingsley.           

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Grooms Farm 12 year application

The current planning application for Grooms Farm, open for HCC consultation until 8th December is seeking retrospective permission covering the last 12 years of unauthorised activity.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Kingsley Parish Council - Thursday 24th, 7:30pm

Kingsley Parish Council will be meeting in the Kingsley Centre tomorrow, Thursday 24th at 7:30pm and the public is invited to attend.

As they haven't published an agenda you'll have to take pot luck.

Monday 21 November 2011

Old Park Farm - bulk waste

This application is up before the beak on Wednesday.  You can read the full details here (PDF) but the summary is:-

County Councillor: objects
EHDC: objects
Env. Health: no objection
SDNP: no objection
Env. Agency: no objection
Highway Auth: no objection
Kingsley Parish Council: objects

Recommendation (official not mine) : Permission

Sunday 20 November 2011

Christmas Bazaar 3rd December

10AM - 12 NOON


proceeds to All Saints Kingsley

Thursday 17 November 2011

Frith End Sand Quarry, Grooms Farm Lane, Frith End

This application 30633/019 valid since 11/11/11 seeking permission for


is currently marked as open for consultation until 30th November.

The full application and documents are available from HCC whose consultation is open until 08/12/11

Monday 14 November 2011

The Straits (part 4)

My time at the Straits was, as previously mentioned, generally a happy one. Although the War had only recently ended I had little awareness of it or its effects other than rationing was still in place. Rationing continued until 1954, a period overall of fourteen years. Meat being the last commodity to be freely available. People were allowed 4ozs of butter, 2eggs, and 12ozs of sugar each per week. Clothing was also rationed. I well remember the ration books with their tokens. Country folk added to their rations by growing whatever they could, foraging for edible plants and, of course shooting pigeons and rabbits. All of these things occurred in Kingsley and rabbit and pigeon were well known to our family as a food source during those days. The diet was also supplemented by blackberries, chestnuts, hazel nuts and mushrooms in season.

During the whole of the time I lived at the Straits there were only two occasions that I remember as unpleasant. Well actually, if you count the smack around the head from the gipsy, it is three. Strangely the most frightening of the three also involved gypsies. I had been sent,from the Straits, down to the village shop with a ration book to collect some items. I don’t recall what they were. However, I was on my way back home and had reached the last house on the left hand side of the road on the hill leading away from the junction with the B3004 when the incident occurred. In those days the three bungalows that are now on the left were not there, there were just two houses. The ground opposite the houses and rising up towards the drive to Old Park Farm house was then an area of scrub with a makeshift path through it. At the bottom of the hill there was a pond on the right and a small area of scrub on the left beside which a ditch ran between the scrub and the first field. This took the overflow from the pond and its surrounding boggy area. The first field on the left extended almost, if not, as far as the sports hut. Having reached the area just below the two houses I became aware of two young men following behind me at a distance, I suppose, of some thirty to forty yards. I looked back at them and increased my pace.

After passing the last house themselves they began hurrying and were getting closer to me, I became afraid. Just to make matters worse they began shouting "get him". I began running, I recall the blind fear and panic that shot through me. I ran as hard as I could and upon reaching the first field on the left I ran into it. It was full of quite high standing corn. Needless to say my little legs would not carry me through this mass of crops. I made only a few yards before I fell and the two lads, they were teenagers, caught up with me. I was on my back and begging not to be hurt and crying uncontrollably.

I think at last it dawned upon the two of them that they had gone too far. They became very apologetic and began to assure me that they were not going to hurt me. They helped me up and helped with gathering up the shopping I had dropped in my efforts to get away. I got back on to the road and made my way home trembling. It was months before I could go there without fear. When I got home the butcher, (mentioned in a previous edition), was delivering. Seeing the state I was in he took me in doors to mother and I told them the story. The butcher got into his van and went off in search of the two. They were not found and the resident gipsies appeared to have no knowledge of them. Clearly it was late summer or autumn as the corn was high and golden and almost ready for harvesting, it was therefore, common in those days for gypsies to move into the area for hop picking and other farming work. It was quite possible that they had belonged to some transient group. I think the village Policeman was made aware of the event. Although no actual harm occurred to me I have never forgotten the terror of those few minutes.

The second event that I remember with a degree of discomfort was quite different and involved taking a flask of tea and sandwiches to my father who was working in the fields. Dad and Sid Northcott were hedging in Forest Field. This is the long narrow field that runs for a long way beside the forest away from the raised area and pond that I dealt with in last month’s edition. As will be seen, the field in question is long and narrow, and can be clearly identified on the O.S Map. Hedging was then done by hand and was a winter occupation. The land, generally, being too wet for work and the hedgerows devoid of leaves makes winter and ideal time to cut hedges. Hedging was them done by hand, there were no hydraulic arms with spinning metal flails which smash the hedgerows as there are today. The job of hedging took months to complete. All trimmings were burned in small bonfires every few yards as the job progressed. The job took place in wind, rain, and as you will learn, in fog. The day I was tasked with the food and drink delivery was foggy……very foggy! What I think could reasonably be described as a pea souper.

Well wrapped up against the chill I set off with the large bag of goodies on my back. I left the road at the Halt and made my way towards the forest. Travelling east, I left the railway line to my left and followed the railway fencing having climbed across it and into the adjoining field. I knew the area well. Dense fog, such as this was,has a deadening effect on sound and plays tricks with your sense of direction. There are no familiar land marks by which to navigate. The visibility on that day was just a few feet. I followed the fence until it ended at a junction with the next field and crossed over the next fence. I was now getting near to the pond discussed last month. It was here that I lost my bearings and got quite lost. I tried shouting but got no response. There was nobody to hear. It took some time but I eventually found the raised walkway at the eastern end of the pond which I crossed and then walked to the left until I was besides the trees of the forest. It was just a case then of walking along the woods until I came to where the men were working. Evidence of their fires told me I was on the right track. I eventually found them two thirds of the way down the field. The food delivered I began my return journey, which by following the woods for the whole of the way brought me to the railway line and that took me back to the Halt and the Straits.

Was I glad to be back. Mother prepared scrambled eggs on toast and a hot drink and I still remember the comfort of sitting beside the range and eating it. A journey of about a mile round trip but due to the weather it took ages and proved to be quite scary at the time. Of course events such as these probably would not happen today and it has to be remembered that life was so much different then. The violence and murders which we take for granted today were very rare them. Children, especially boys, were expected to be boys. Stiff upper lip and all that. Quite simply it was another age in which children spent most of their time out of doors and adventure was much more a part of growing up, even from quite a young age.

Thursday 10 November 2011

KBF Party at the pub - 17th December

The date has now been set for the Kingsley Benefit Fund Christmas party/karaoke at The Cricketers Inn.

Proceedings will commence around 6pm, Saturday 17th December.

As with the mini-festival held in August we hope to have a selection of stalls and if you'd like to run one please get in touch soon.

We're hoping to have Father Christmas, mince pies, cakes, carol singing around 8pm followed by karaoke till late. Those who attended the summer mini-festival will have high expectations, those who missed it now have a second chance.

Monday 7 November 2011

Belgium, what's the point?

It's quiet in Kingsley at the moment. No-one's resigning from Kingsley Parish Council, no-one's creating a fuss about rights of way, it's Monday and The Cricketers Inn is closed - it's alright, it's always closed on Mondays, it hasn't gone bust!

I recently had to cross Belgium, twice, on my way to and from Germany and I couldn't help noticing, not for the first time either, that Belgium is just "in the way". Why is it there?  Has anyone in Kingsley travelled recently to Belgium (passing through doesn't count) and, if so, why?

Monday 31 October 2011

St Nicholas Graveyard

Advisory Committee for the Care and Maintenance of St Nicholas Graveyard

At the Kingsley Parish Council meeting held on 22nd September it was decided to set up an Advisory committee for the care and maintenance of the St Nicholas Graveyard.

As a first step it has been decided to call a public meeting to hear the views of all those with an interest in the graveyard and to receive nominations of people willing to serve on the committee.

The date and time of the public meeting is Sat 5th November at 14.00 hours which coincides with the opening of the Church on that Saturday. 

Everyone with an interest is welcome to come.

Friday 28 October 2011

Planning apps back online

I have updated the linkage from here into the planning apps portal - normal service resumes. Their new website isn't as fast as the old one but it does offer better facilities.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Save Cradle Lane - urgent

Hampshire County Council are proposing to impose a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on Cradle Lane (Kingsley BOAT 29) as follows:-

To prohibit any motor vehicle with two wheels from proceeding in Kingsley BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic) 29 from a point where it meets Binsted BOAT 75 at SU 8142 3955 to a point where it meets Headley BOAT 36 at SU 8170 3895, and in Headley BOAT 36 from a point where it meets Kingsley BOAT 29 at SU 8170 3895 to its junction with Picketts Hill at SU 8152 3853, between 1 September and 31 May in any year.

To prohibit any motor vehicle with three or more wheels from proceeding in Kingsley BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic) 29 from a point where it meets Binsted BOAT 75 at SU 8142 3955 to a point where it meets Headley BOAT 36 at SU 8170 3895, and in Headley BOAT 36 from a point where it meets Kingsley BOAT 29 at SU 8170 3895 to its junction with Picketts Hill at SU 8152 3853, at any time.

All objections and other representations in respect of this proposal must be sent in writing to the Head of Countryside, Hampshire County Council, Room 200, Mottisfont Court, Winchester SO23 8ZF or via email to no later than 28 October 2011.

You may wish to consider that these proposals are irrational in that the winter restrictions on motorcycles (to avoid surface damage in winter) don't apply to either horses or pedal cycles both of which have been shown to be more harmful and that the permanent restriction of 3+ wheeled MVs is merely an over-reaction to a famous instance of vandalism.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Planning apps down

EHDC have altered yet again the visibility of planning applications via their website. As and when they devise a working solution, normal service will be resumed but for the moment you'll just have to visit Penns Place and annoy a planning officer if you want to know what's what.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Burninghams, South Hay Lane, Kingsley

These (apparently duplicate) applications 22495/006 and 22495/007 valid since 10/10/11 seeking permission for SIXTEEN SOLAR PANELS TO SOUTH FACING ROOF FOLLOWING REMOVAL OF FOUR EXISTING SOLAR PANELS are currently marked as open for consultation until 8th November.

Monday 10 October 2011

ROW costs

Further to the "no new bridleway" report last month the Planning Inspector also decided to award partial costs of the appeal against the applicant Maureen Comber in light of her "unreasonable behaviour" in submitting (and insisting on her reliance on) a large quantity of material utterly irrelevant to the inquiry.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Harvest supper, Saturday 8th, 7:30

Tickets still available, £8 from Wendy Renton 47202, for Kingsley's annual dinner dance extravaganza, Harvest Supper.

Come on don't be shy, join us in the Kingsley Centre 7:30 for 8, bring your own drinks and enjoy a very full supper prepared by ladies and gentlemen of the parish, socialising with other Kingsley'ites, professional musical entertainment, dancing for the energetic (or romantic), even those over 16!

Proceeds to All Saints church

Friday 30 September 2011

Local expert wanted

To help promote the use of the local footpaths and bridleways we're looking for a knowledgeable local to write a series of articles describing them in rather more depth and less formal language than the summary on the blog's Footpaths and Byways page.

These articles should describe individual routes and should not be used to promote claims or apply pressure for new rights of way. The target audience is people who might be encouraged to use the existing routes.

Obviously maps, photographs, videos, etc can all be accommodated and you won't need to be a web posting expert as the technicalities can all be handled for you.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Kingsley Centre, Main Road, Kingsley

This application, 28397/014 valid since 23/9/11, seeking permission for:-


 is currently marked as open for consultation until 25th October.

Saturday 24 September 2011

No new bridleway

You may recall that a Public Inquiry took place at The Kingsley Centre in July in connection with Maureen Comber's application for two new bridleways joining Cradle Lane with Headley Bridleway 54. The decision has now been published (you can read the full text here) and the order is not confirmed - in other words, the application has been refused and no new bridleways will be dedicated.

The application needed to show, on the balance of probabilities, that such a public right subsists or is reasonably alleged to subsist over the land in question. In other words, if the application succeeds it merely acknowledges and confirms an existing right. No "new" right is created.

Evidence for the claim largely consists of two threads: a 1787 survey map appearing to include the claimed route as part of an historic public road and witness statements asserting regular use "as of right" by the public over the required (Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980) period of 20 years upto that "right" being challenged in 1997.

The 1787 map evidence must be balanced against the fact that no subsequent maps or surveys support such a claim.

The witness evidence has several flaws: oral evidence failed to agree with the written evidence submitted with the claim but more importantly included evidence that the 20 years was interrupted both regularly by a scout camp and permanently by storm damage in 1990.

In short, the application failed to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that rights of way exist.

Friday 23 September 2011

The Straits (part 3)

As previously stated life was happy and free for the few children that were around The Straits at that time. Bernard Taylor, who was a bit younger than me and Robbie Woodward who was a bit older were the two boys I spent most of my time with over the years I was living there. We wandered around the fields and woods doing all the sorts of things country boys did in those days. Many of which were determined by the seasons and time of year.

More of those matters in later editions when I will deal with them in greater detail. But the woods known as Stephenfield Copse on the O.S map and the hanger listed as Jude Copse was where we spent more of our time than other places. Stephenfield Copse, although I had no idea that was its name, was particularly valued as it had a large yew tree in the centre of it and towards the highest point of the hill. Given that playing Robin Hood was most popular with us, this tree represented The Greenwood Tree. We hid under it when it rained and we climbed it to get views of all around. I hope it is still there. I expect most Kingsley readers will be familiar with the term hanger as it is a local term as in Oakhanger. It is the name given to a wooded bank and I believe unique to Hampshire where there are many of them around the county. Anyway Jude Copse was and I imagine, still is a hanger. There we roamed between Wheatley Hill and around to South Hay lane.

The place I loved the most has, sadly long gone, and most readers will not now know of its existence. For me it was a magical and mysterious place, far enough away from home to represent a bit of an adventure and hard by Alice Holt Forest.

On the O.S map if the route of the old railway line is followed from Sickles Road, where the old Halt was, toward Alice Holt Forest and turn right off the line where the footpath and stream cross. Follow the footpath and stream down the edge of the forest and between it and the little copse. Just beyond the little copse, along the route of the footpath there used to be, and probably still is, a raised pathway. There is actually what looks like a small pond in blue at this point on my map. At the time I am writing of this raised pathway was wide enough to permit a vehicle, (tractor), to cross. The sides of this raised area were then supported by brick or stone work along its faces. To the east was the long narrow field known then as Forest Field which ran for a considerable distance along the edge of the wood. Upon the raised area itself were a row of huge and beautiful Elm trees, these were to the east side. To the west was a large pond. I imagine the raised and walled path was there as a retaining wall for the pond and its water. The pond was probably around half the size of the present Kingsley pond in the village. It will, therefore, be understood that it was not small or insignificant. Much bigger than the small blue area on my present map. It did not seem to have defined banks but just merged into the surrounding field with large areas of marshy ground. The pond contained fish. I don’t know what they were as I was still too young to fish. I know there were fish in the pond as a result of seeing herons catch them and the small silver creatures wriggling in the bill of the birds.

I spent long hours hiding in the small copse which allowed me to observe the comings and goings of the wildlife that visited the pond. For the most part the place was quiet and undisturbed save for the seasonal agricultural activities. It was a wonderful place for a little boy to be. Foxes, Hares and occasional Deer were all visitors. Herons were common and frequent visitors so were large numbers of small waders. Mostly Snipe but also others that I couldn’t then identify. There were also large flocks of Lapwings. These nested in the surrounding fields. Dragon Flies were numerous and the marshy area attracted large numbers butterflies. It was just so lovely. When not in the copse I would sit on the wall above the water and just soak up the beauty of the place. It was here on the wall that I first learned how to squeak a fox. This can be done by pursing the lips and making a squeaking noise which sounds like a trapped rabbit. Any nearby foxes will come to investigate in hope of an easy meal. The secret is to be well concealed and not to move as the slightest movement will send the fox running away.

One day I went to visit my secret place and the tractors were there, not this time cultivating the fields but dumping large amounts of rubbish in the water. As long ago as it was I can still feel the lump in my throat and the feeling of nausea in my stomach.When the dumping was complete the tractors began pushing surrounding soil into the pond and filling it in. Eventually after several days the pond was no more, the place was changed forever. I cried. It was a long time before I returned to the spot. For a long while afterwards the area remained boggy, (perhaps it still is), and the snipe continued to visit. I was eight when we moved from the Straits in 1953 so the above would have occurred sometime before then. I would guess that I was probably six or seven, therefore, the pond was probably filled in during 1951 or 1952. I hope the little blue spot on my map does indicate a pond, however small, is still there and has managed to thwart the efforts of the tractors so long ago. I shall visit the spot when I next return to Kingsley.

The Straits (tradespeople)

During the time we lived at The Straits we were served by a number of tradespeople.

Bentley Store had a converted bus which came around twice a week and carried almost as much produce within as a small store would do. We had a butcher who delivered and was always dressed in a white overall with a traditional blue striped butcher’s apron. Where the butcher came from I don’t remember but it was probably Bordon. The delivery man was just as a butcher should be, he was of medium height, quite stocky, red faced and had large chunky hands. Shady’s, (I’m not sure of the spelling), were the bakers and they delivered from their bakery in Oakhanger on the edge of Shortheath Common.

My father had worked for Shady’s prior to the war and going into the navy. I remember a large range of cakes and pastries being available in the back of the bakers van together with the loaves. I have often read that the memory stores smell within its data base. Incredibly, whilst writing these notes I can recall the smells associated with the various tradesmen. Especially so the Bentley Stores bus which had a complex blend of wonderful aromas. In addition to the above there was, of course, the milkman who came daily and supplied milk to all whom did not work on a farm.

It was in those days a perk or part of the wages, depending how you looked at it, of working on the farm, a can of milk was provided daily. This was probably a two pint vessel. I found the milkman's van fascinating as he carried a large range of produce other than milk but most of all because the milk bottles all had different coloured foil tops. Red, blue, green, gold and silver. There was even a striped top. I remember the gold top indicated full cream Channel Island milk. This had been produced by be either Guernsey or Jersey cattle. What the other colours signified I no long recall. Whatever it was they were eagerly collected by small boys for various purposes.

By far my favourite tradesman was Mr Bunch, he came from Binsted and drove his produce around by pony and trap. The Bunch family had a shop and some ground at the top of the lane on the right opposite the church in the area where the South Hay lane arrives at the church. There they grew fruit and veg which was sold from the trap. Mr Bunch himself was a slightly built man, always well turned out wearing a collar and tie. Often he wore a waist coat and always a Trilby hat. The trap was covered by a sort of tarpaulin which was lifted up to display the goods when Mr. Bunch arrived. The pony was quiet and well behaved and I loved it. Once again, how Kingsley influenced me, is apparent in that I have a pony of my own now and it is my great wish to get him between the shafts of a trap. It has been something that has been with me over the years and I am sure had its foundations with Mr Bunch and his pony all those years ago.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Stroll round Kingsley

As you know, the Kings World Gardening Club arrange walks around Kingsley and surrounding villages and this Saturday 24th is no exception.

Brian Lazenby will be leading this walk, for about an hour, starting at the Kingsley Centre at 10:30am

All are welcome, even non-gardeners!

Friday 16 September 2011

Results of the Headley by-election are as follows:-

County Councillor: Conservative 73.5%, LibDem 13.4%, Labour 11.9%, Green 8.2%, Justice 6.7% this resulting from a "couldn't give a toss" factor of 81.47% who didn't bother to vote.  Encouragingly for Maureen Comber, 32 more voted for her than for the Labour candidate!

The two District seats also went to the Conservatives with 27% and 29% followed by LibDems, Labour and Greens.

Monday 12 September 2011

Autumn bulb planting - that means you

KBF is planting bulbs in the village again this autumn and we need your help.

We have identified the best places to plant and we have sought expert advice from within the village about what to plant and when but this is your village and we want you to participate directly by contributing bulbs and we want you also to help with the actual planting.

The plan is to plant bulbs in four locations: near the speed limit signs at either end of the village, outside the Kingsley Centre opposite the church and on Lower Green below the pub and in front of the cottages there.

We have arranged for a supply of each of four bulbs to start us off.  The bulbs we have chosen are: Crocus Tommasinianus, Tenby Daffodil, Pheasant eye daffodill and Frittilaria.

What we’d like you to do is to purchase the remainder of the bulbs yourself.  You can choose more of the bulbs above or you can choose something different, entirely your choice as long as what you buy is suitable for autumn planting.  Springfields Nursery at Oakhanger and Country Market at Sleaford  both have a wide range of bulbs priced between £1.80 and £5.

Collection boxes are available in the Kingsley Centre and the Cricketers Inn, just drop your bulbs in and we’ll take care of them.

We would also like you to help plant the bulbs.  We plan to plant them on Sunday 25th and Monday 26th September from 10am onwards.  We’d like you to commit now to helping on one of those days, just an hour will be fine or all day if you’re keen.  There is a sheet next to the collection boxes, please add your name to the list of planters or in the comments below.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Pets in church

This Sunday, 11th September, All Saints, Kingsley will be hosting a special service with children in mind - bring your pets to church - 11am

Saturday 3 September 2011

Old Park Farm - waste bulking station

Although the blog has a link to planning applications it does not let you know of those for waste and minerals, which are controlled by Hampshire County Council.

Locals may be interested to know that there is a planning application for "Proposed bulking station for skip waste" in Old Park Farm. Skips would be delivered via the entrance to Ganders Business Park next to Bliinx opticians. Details can be found on HCC's website - Application HCC/2011/0161.

This application is open for consultation until 22 September 2011 and you can comment either by email to or using this form.

Good neighbours

Once again the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK have set the standard in good neighbourliness by distributing gifts throughout the village to mark the end of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr.

They didn't have to do that, they didn't have to do anything.

Islam often gets a bad press in this country, these people more than help correct the impression that Islam itself is at fault.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Mary Herbert resigns

You may know that I resigned from Kingsley Parish Council on Friday 23rd August, 2011.  I have really enjoyed meeting many lovely people during the five years I've been a Councillor and getting to know them better.  I have much appreciated the friendship shown me by local residents and landowners on my 'walks and talks' around the village and the help and advice given by Clerks and Councillors in neighbouring parishes, by Officers and Councillors at both District and County Councils, by the Hampshire Association of Local Councils and by all those people involved in the community organisations we are so fortunate to have in our area.

Together we have achieved so much to enhance the small village of Kingsley and improve the services offered to our community:
  • village mapboards to highlight our hidden gems;
  • 'Exploring Kingsley' walks leaflets;
  • improving access on our Rights of Way through the installation of kissing gates and a new boardwalk and a better relationship with our landowners;
  • improving safety for our childen's play area and installing a picnic table with wheelchair access on Upper Green; 
  • clearing the flytipping and enhancing Lower Green as an opportunity for biodiversity, education and community involvement;
  • installing new benches for visitors to the 'Cricket Pitch', the Village Green in the centre of Kingsley Common;
  • the introduction of the 30mph speed limit through the village and the extension of the 40mph limit to include part of Oakhanger Road;
  • Speed Limit Reminder signs shared with the parishes of Headley and Grayshott;
  • a new footway beside our busy main road towards the bus stop near the Cricketers Inn;
  • extending the existing footway to the west of the village centre to enable those visiting the cemetery to do so safely;
  • major remedial work in both St Nicholas Burial Chapel and in the cemetery;
  • the creation of the super new allotments on the edge of the village.
This could not have been done without the support of two excellent Parish Clerks and fellow Parish Councillors.

I am very pleased to have played a small part in the development of all of these projects and have every confidence that Kingsley will continue to flourish with the initiative and enthusiasm now being shown in our community.

I confess I am, however, now looking forward to being able to walk in the area and socialise without my 'parish councillor' hat on, to spending more time with my friends and family, and to exploring the glorious countryside both in our own area and further afield.

My very best wishes for the future. Mary

Saturday 27 August 2011

The Straits (part 2)

Travelling down Sickles Road towards the Straits, the piece of land where the gypsy encampment was, is to the right hand side as you cross the path of the old railway track. It is shown on the O.S Map as a triangular plot and has now a building upon it. At the time I am writing of there were three vardos located in this plot and they were situated on the inside of the roadside hedge. Access to the area was through an opening and path about thirty yards up from the railway crossing. Having entered the site the vardos were to the left extending in line towards the corner of the plot which was opposite the Staits junction. The biggest vardo was of the Reading type and stood between the other two vardos which were of a smaller rounded roof type.

The people were all Hughes. The senior couple were Claira and Henry. Henry worked for the Council on the roads and went off each day on an old bicycle and returned at evening around five thirty. Claira and Henry lived in the Reading vardo. The other couple were Liza and Jimmy and they occupied the vardo nearest the corner and the third was occupied by two males, Joey and Ernie. Ernie, as far as I can remember was the son of Liza and Jimmy.

Claira and Henry had no children. Joey was, I think Liza’s brother. Jimmy had mental health problems and spent periods of time in Park Prewett mental hospital. He was reputed to have strange "turns" at the time of the full moon. These things were not talked about very much in front of me. I spent lots of time with the gypsies and was fascinated by their activities. They made clothes pegs from hazel sticks and strips of metal cut from used tin cans. These were sold in the area in strips of a dozen. They also produced carnations flowers from coloured crepe paper and roses from wax. The flower heads of the roses were fashioned from the wax and these were then stuck on to various twigs to resemble stems. Large numbers of these flowers were produced and sold at Christmas time.

Apart from these activities Claira spent a great deal of time painting her wagon. Its base colour was a deep wine colour and on to this there were painted all manner of intricate scroll work, patterns and flowers and leaves. The colours used varied from bright yellow, red, blue and green and included lots of gold and silver paint as well. Claira spent hours on this work, working with extraordinary precision and skill. She seldom made a mistake, and throughout she was responding to my never ending chatter. The paint came in small tins and as she reached the the end of the tin Claira would give me the dregs to paint hazel sticks. This was great fun and I produced lots of highly treasured and colourful sticks, not to mention re-colouring many of my clothes in the process. I liked Claira, she was quite my favourite, she was always kind and had the time for this little boy. She wore the traditional long gypsy skirts and petticoats that reached to the ground. Her fingers were clad in numerous rings and her wrists bore lots of bracelets and bangles.

The inside of her wagon was spotless with lots of highly polished brass and colourful glass wear. Lace also featured heavily in her d├ęcore. Her morning ritual began after Henry had left for work. Well,actually,it began before he left as Claira was always up first and made tea and breakfast and packed a lunch bag for her husband. When he had gone Claira had her wash. This was achieved with the use of an open bowl filled with warm water from the fire which seemed never to go out. The ablutions were conducted outside of the wagon on fine days with the bowl placed on the top step of the wagon. They had a large metal bath but I never witnessed its use. That isn’t to say they were dirty, they most certainly were not. But I imagine that bathing was achieved in the privacy of the wagon, possibly at weekends. It should be remembered that having a bath in the countryside in those days was, for the most part, a weekend activity. Water had to be heated and the bath filled using numerous buckets of water and this was shared by the whole family. It was a very labour intensive activity. Modern bath rooms and showers etc. were not common in rural communities in that period and Kingsley was no exception to this.

However, once washed, Claira would then turn her attention to her hair. This was very long and extended right down her back to her waist. With the aid of her large comb she would divide her hair at the back of her head into two halves. Each half would be vigorously combed and brushed and then formed into a long plait. When both sides had been plaited each would be coiled and positioned on its respective side of her head, above the ears, and pinned into position. This would then all be covered over by a large and colourful scarf which was knotted at the back.

When all of this was complete the work of the day would begin. Pots and pans were scrubbed, washing was done and all the general tasks of the camp. The fire, in the open on the ground, remain alight at all times. This was used for cooking and boiling water for their tea. Wood was the fuel and this was gathered from all around the area by the men. The horses which pulled the wagons were tethered in the area of the camp and moved on to fresh ground daily. Several dogs resided on the camp and were of both terrier and lurcher types. I spent days on end at the camp, mostly with Claira, as other than occasional shopping trips she stayed on site most of the time.

The others seemed to do the selling of the goods they produced. Joey was a man of about forty and was most notable for a large growth on the side of his left jaw. This was round and the size of a tennis ball and seemed to protrude below his left jaw and beneath his left ear in a way that forced the ear lobe to jut upwards. In,what I imagine, was an attempt to minimize its appearance this ball like appendage was not shaved. Mind you Joey didn’t seem to shave often, he always seemed to have quite a few whiskers upon his face. As long as I knew them the growth remained static and neither grew nor shrank. Joey’s other noticeable feature were his rather claw like finger nails. Long and curving inwards they housed the most disgusting amount of dirt. I don’t ever recall them being otherwise and I avoided, at all costs, having anything to do with his hands.

Ernie was a sullen moody person who said very little and appeared to carry the troubles of the world upon his shoulders. I didn’t like Ernie, not least because one day when I was sitting round the fire with the two males when he suddenly lashed out and belted me round the head. I remember squealing like a stuck pig and running home to mum. That evening father went down to the camp and had words. I was told that Claira had dealt with the matter and it would never happen again. To this day I have no idea why he reacted in the way he did. Nothing like it ever happened again. Perhaps Ernie had some of the strange behavior that periodically resulted in his father, Jimmy, going off to the mental hospital. I returned the next day and as far as I am aware the matter was never discussed again. Most days when not out selling their produce the men would sit around the fire preparing the various bits needed to make the items they sold. In the case of the clothes pegs this meant shaving off the bark of the hazel sticks that would form the pegs. The bark came off in large coiled strips and the resultant piles were burned on the fire. The men sat on large logs whilst working and worked for long periods at a time. In the evenings Claira and Liza both cooked the meal on the open fire. There was always a large cast iron pot hanging over the fire and it appeared to me that this was always full of some sort of stew. The frying pan was the other well used item for cooking and the large heavy kettle was always suspended over the fire.

It was the custom,during the dark evenings, for Claira to watch for Henry’s bicycle light coming down the hill from the village. When this was spotted she poured the water from the kettle into the equally large tea pot. The brew was ready for Henry upon his arrival. It was the norm for Claira to come up to our house in the afternoons occasionally for a cup of tea with mum. They would sit beside the range and natter whilst having their tea and a sandwich or piece of cake. The other vivid memory I have of Claira was on one of these occasions. I was playing in the garden and was stung by a wasp. I ran into the house bawling. Claira asked mum for a box of matches. She put a couple of matches into her mouth to moisten them and then began to rub the softened ends over my sting. I suppose it must have been something to do with the sulphur in the match. I don’t recall if this afforded me any relief but what I do recall,with horror to this day, is the fact that Claira had been eating a cheese sandwich with her tea and together with the chemical material from the match, she was liberally spreading bits of partly consumed cheese and saliva over my arm. This, I clearly remember, upset me far more than the sting. It took days before I stop washing the spot!!!

The train which travelled between Bentley and Bordon was known in Kingsley as The Bordon Bullet. It was a small steam train and went between the two towns several times a day. There was a raised station platform with a Kingsley name board and a light. There were also a row of poplar trees behind the platform. In addition to the regular passenger service goods trains often used the line to take and fetch items from the Bordon army camp. As previously mentioned Charley Taylor was the station master. He was not there on a permanent basis but he had responsibility for it. He wore a railway uniform and would get on the train to travel to Bentley where I think he was based. He periodically walked the line checking on various things and meeting the railway gangs that in those days cleared the embankments and kept the lines in good order. My other granddad from Oakhanger worked on the lines and I would often encounter him when he was in the Kingsley area. There were huts made of sleepers spaced along the route and it was in these that the workmen had their meals and took shelter in bad weather and where small boys went to visit. Mr. Pethybridge was one of the engine drivers, he was also Doris’s husband. He was Archy. It was when he pulled up at Kingsley Holt, as it was known that I and other boys were allowed on to the engine for a few minutes. Wonderful. More from the Staits next month.