Thursday 26 December 2013

Driving through floodwater

In view of the recent difficulties especially on the local back roads, here is some helpful guidance for you:

Using first or second gear (L or 1 in an automatic) drive slowly to avoid creating a large 'bow wave' (a small wave can be helpful but too much and the water can wash back into the engine). Slipping the clutch and revving the engine will also help to keep the exhaust clear and keep the engine running if water splashes onto the electrics. In an automatic keep your foot on the gas in the lowest held gear and use the brake to control your speed (and hope for the best!).

In some cases a stalled engine can result in water being sucked back through the exhaust into the cylinders - this can cause extensive and expensive damage. Do not change gear because this can also cause water to be sucked back through the exhaust (due to the change in engine speed and manifold depression).

Advice taken from

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Christmas in Kingsley

In the days of my childhood in Kingsley the bird most often served up for Christmas lunch was a chicken or to be more precise a capon. It will seem hard to imagine today but chicken in those days was eaten on high days and holidays. I suppose as a result of the war, rationing and a general lack of poultry food, the mass production of chickens was nothing like it is today. Of course, supermarkets had not been dreamed up and most meat was then bought from butchers. That meat was, to a large extent, sourced locally. Therefore, there were a number of factors which determined that chicken was not an every day, and readily available meat, as it is today. 

Apart from the chickens which were kept in the village on most of the farms, quite a lot of village people kept a few hens and an odd cockerel or two. These provided some eggs and the occasional bird for the table. My Grand Parents kept poultry and so did my father. These back garden birds were, for the most part, fed upon kitchen scraps, old bread and seasonal greenery. Thanks to our brilliant politicians this is a practice which is now against the law. As with many things these great thinkers do, they issued a blanket ban on feeding kitchen waste of any kind to most forms of domestic animals. This was a quite normal over reaction by politicians to the last foot and mouth outbreak. The fact that, in general terms, it is almost totally unenforceable and most small poultry keepers ignore it completely is neither here nor there. What, of course, this wonderful stroke of brilliance has ensured is the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of useable food is consigned to land fill and massive amounts of energy which otherwise could be saved, is expended on making commercial animal feed products. But, as I am sure you are all aware, the politicians always know best !! 

Anyway, lots of village people then kept their poultry which, no doubt, helped with their food budgets. The Christmas bird, was therefore, often a home reared capon. Carefully reared and fed in anticipation of the great day. Caponising was the process of chemically castrating the male bird. An implement rather like a syringe was loaded with a pellet which was about a quarter of an inch long and twice as thick as a normal pencil lead. To perform the operation correctly the needle of the syringe should be inserted into an area of loose skin, lifted from the birds neck, as high up towards its head as possible. The plunger pushed in and the pellet deposited into the birds neck between skin and neck. This had the effect of causing the bird to lose its male characteristics. Its comb did not grow and the normal loud crow of a cockerel was reduced to a coarse croak. The bird lost all interest in doing the things cockerels normally do, chasing hens around the chicken run, and ate rather more food. Thus the caponised birds grew to quite large sizes and produced much more meat than was otherwise possible. I still have my caponising syringe and the instruction leaflet that came with it. The instructions tell the user to place the pellet as high up the birds neck as possible. This was due to the fact that people used the necks of chicken, as a part of the gibblets, to make gravy or stock. The fact of the matter is the injected pellet was a huge dose of female hormone. It was this that ultimately caused the banning of the practice of caponising. It was found that the advice on the caponising leaflets was not being followed, pellets were being inserted lower down the neck and subsequently consumed with the gravy and stock. This, it was claimed, was having some strange side effects on human males and therefore had to be stopped ! I believe capons can still be purchased but the process is now achieved by more surgical means. 

This then was how the festive bird, for many Kingsley people of that era was produced. Just before the great day the bird to be eaten would be dispatched, plucked and dressed and hung until ready for cooking on Christmas morning. The stuffing for the bird, in our house, was home-made and would either be sage and onion or rosemary and thyme. Christmas lunch was usually served rather later in the afternoon as various festive activities took up a large part of the morning. 

The other popular bird for Christmas lunch was the goose and some of the local farms reared geese. Throughout most of the period that I lived in Kingsley there was, each year, a large Christmas livestock market which was held in Alton. At this event almost any bird or beast could be purchased. Game was plentiful as were all manner of joints of meat which were all auctioned. The Christmas market was a great social event and people travelled from all around to attend. Included in the market was the Christmas livestock show where prime farm animals were exhibited and judged before being sold to local butchers. All of this was recorded class by class in the local newspapers together with photographs of the winning animals. Great days, sadly long gone. 

By and large turkey had not become popular as the Christmas bird of choice and I had not tasted its meat until one Christmas when I was ten or eleven years of age. I happened to be friendly with the two Griffiths boys, Robin and Peter, who lived with their parents in Foundry House which was, (and I suppose still is ), almost opposite the turning down Sickles Lane. Its neighbour, was then, the Foundry which produced various metal work and contained a blacksmiths forge. The two boys were, for most of each year, away at boarding school somewhere so I only got to see then during their school holidays. I don’t recall which Christmas it was but on that particular year the three of us went fishing, a couple of days after Boxing Day, in the river to the right of the bridge, just before the turning for Oxney Farm, where the beagles were kennelled. In those days there was a large and sweeping bend in the river, a hundred yards or so west of the bridge, which was quite deep at its farthest point. On the northern, (Kingsley), side there was a large area of sand which was below the bank and provided quite nice shelter from the wind. We spent the day there and caught half a dozen nice trout. Robin and Peter had been sent with a rather splendid picnic for the three of us and this contain turkey sandwiches. My goodness did I enjoy them and I still like turkey sandwiches to this day. The other remarkable and memorable event which took place that day was the fact that whilst we were sitting on the sandbank fishing we were privileged to see a small group of fresh water lamprey’s scouring the sandy floor of the river for food. These strange, and rare, little creatures were about six inches long and a greenish colour. There were about eight of them. I had never seen any before and have not done so since. I doubt if very many, if any, people in Kingsley rear their own festive birds today but I would like to think the crow of the occasional cockerel can still be heard within the village. I hope you all have a very happy and festive Christmas and I wish you all the compliments of the season. Derek.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Kingsley Bridleway 1 - closure extended

The temporary closure of Kingsley Bridleway 1 (near Rookery Farm) has been extended by order from 12 December for a period of six months or until completion of works, whichever is sooner.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Shed Burglaries

There has been an increase in shed burglaries in the East Hampshire area and this letter contains some crime prevention advice regarding Shed Safety.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service also supports shed safety by reminding owners to be careful what they store in their sheds. 

The police often recover stolen property but frustratingly can not identify the owner.  By registering on this simple free website ( the police could reunite lots more property with their rightful owner AND convict more offenders.

Thank you in advance for working with us to help reduce crime in your area.

Many people take a great deal of trouble securing their home and property while at the same time leaving valuable garden tools and cycles in a shed that is either unlocked or not maintained.
Items such as tools, power tools and bikes are expensive items to replace. This can also be an open invitation for thieves to use garden implements to break into their house or car.
Place all tools and garden equipment in locked sheds and garages.
Secure more expensive items, e.g. mowers, bikes to an anchor point within the shed or garage.
Mark all items with postcode and record serial numbers. Register the details for free on
Take photographs of items such as statues and garden furniture if they are unusual, for easy identification at a later date.
Fit a shed alarm.
Keep the structure in good repair.
Consider covering windows with curtains to obscure the view of the contents.
Consider external lighting.
Ensure the garden fences are in good repair between neighbours to prevent unlawful access.
Ensure side gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property.
 For allotments:
Rewards for the thief are good. Property stored in allotment stores can in many cases total £100 if not £1000's.

Often sheds sited on isolated allotments are left insecure and garden tools are not secured within, especially after a busy session in the allotment.

Set up an Allotment Association if you don’t belong to one 
When considering new fencing, if possible avoid chain link which is inherently weak. Weld mesh is preferable.
Consider the positions of stores and sheds. Can a thief breaking in be seen from neighbouring properties or by passing cars and pedestrians?
Shed alarms or a wireless alarm can be a useful deterrent, however only if it is audible by neighbouring properties or passing pedestrians. 
Shed or stores made from metal are recommended as they may be more robust than wood. Reclaimed cargo containers are also a consideration.
Display signage warning criminals that property on the site is marked and traceable.
Undertake a "Property Marking Weekend" for your members. Mark all your property with a UV marker pen, indelible ink, and engraving.
Ensure your Property serial numbers are registered for free on    
If you see anyone acting suspiciously or have any information relating to people suspected of committing crimes, please call 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non emergency.    

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this crime prevention advice.

Shed Fire Safety

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting shed safety by reminding people to be careful what they store in their sheds and other outbuildings.

Many people keep substances such as paint, petrol and gas cylinders, including LPG and acetylene, in their sheds and outbuildings without realising the potential dangers. In the event of a fire, these substances can explode, posing a serious risk to life and property. Acetylene cylinders (commonly used in welding) are the most hazardous of all and the risk of acetylene exploding remains for up to 24 hours after the fire has been extinguished.

Reduce the risk of a fire in your shed or outbuilding by following these simple tips:

•    Make sure hazardous substances are stored securely in approved containers.
•    Only store what you need to use – dispose of any unwanted chemicals correctly and return empty cylinders to the manufacturer (details are on the shoulders of the cylinder).
•    Reduce the risk of deliberate fire and theft by keeping your shed or outbuilding in a good state of repair and secure. Consider directing a security light onto it as a deterrent.
•    Take care with electrical items such as TVs and radios – look out for signs of dangerous or loose wiring and never overload sockets. Unplug appliances when not in use.
•    Never put a barbecue into a shed while it is still hot as it can easily cause a fire.

Crimestoppers December

Here we are with Christmas snapping at our heels all over again. It doesn’t seem possible; we’ve only just put away the tree from last year and finished the Easter Eggs!

As our shopping centres start filling up to bursting point with shoppers, Police are out in force to dissuade those inclined to help themselves, from committing crimes. People caught helping themselves in stores WILL be arrested and prosecuted.

There is an assumption from some thieves that stealing from shops is a victimless crime. Clearly that is not the case, and we all finish up paying increased prices to cover the cost of those who help themselves. In the current economic climate, smaller traders particularly can ill afford to have their stock stolen.

Often, shoplifting gangs will travel from outside the area to target a town, fill their bags, and then move on. Police will be at bus and rail stations targeting those that thought it might be a good idea to travel to Hampshire to steal someone else’s Christmas.

Whilst being jostled in the throng, it is easy for a pickpocket to have your purse or wallet out of your bag, or pocket. Avoid using a back pocket for your wallet, and keep your handbag zipped up at all times. If you have a zipped pocket in your jacket, that will also slow down any would-be thief.

Keep an eye on your shopping bags too. There are many distractions at this time of year, and if you have your young children with you, they too will be excited (even more excited than you!) and take more of your attention. It only takes a moment for someone to pick up one of your shopping bags and walk away with it. You may not even notice until you get home, and then wonder if you’re going mad as you were sure you’d bought…..

When loading your car in supermarket car parks, keep an eye on your trolley. Again, it only takes a moment for someone to walk by and take something from the top of your trolley whilst you are putting your handbag in the front of the car, or strapping your children into their seats. A bottle of spirits or even a joint of meat can easily disappear without you even noticing, and can be quite expensive to replace.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without mentioning drinking and driving. Of course, you can’t drive whilst unfit through drink or drugs at any time of the year and few of us would be foolish enough to do so. However, please remember that it can take some while for alcohol to leave your system so if you are driving the following day after a good party, you may still be over the limit.

If you suspect a drink driver or have information about ANY crime, please do not hesitate to give Crimestoppers a call on 0800 555 111 or log on to where you can also give information and remain anonymous. For those tweeters amongst you, please follow me @HantsCrimestopp for regular Crimestoppers updates.

 I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.