Church matters: This Sunday, December 4, there will be a service of Morning Praise at St Andrew’s, at 10.30 am. To mark the beginning of the Year of the Bible, please take along a bible with you, if you have one. It will be blessed during the service. There will be no junior church at this service. The principal service this Sunday will be the Christingle Service, with the lighting of the Christmas tree, at St Andrew’s at 4 pm. You will be able to donate to The Children’s Society at this service, if you wish. Please make sure they know you’re going if you would like a Christingle orange, so they have some idea if how many to prepare! There will also be an Informal Communion service at St Peter’s, concurrently with the Christingle Service. In other words, it, too, starts at 4 pm.
MOPPs today and to come: Today, Friday, December 2, there’s a Christmas Table sale, and Jim Saphin – singing carols (he’s not part of the sale!), and nor is he the Star Prize for the raffle, though there is one. There’s gammon with cheesy mash and salad for lunch, with apple crumble and custard for afters.
Next Friday, December 9, the ever-popular Celia King will be along with her chair-based exercises. Also available next week is Nicola’s Age UK toenail cutting service. Luncheon will consist of fish pie and then fruit flan.
The Playgroup and Nursery New and Nearly New Sale: This friendly, long-established and well-run facility held a new and nearly new sale last Saturday morning, no doubt pretty much like many similar gatherings across the length and breadth of the country. Ours, however, was the only one that could boast of the attendance of a senior Minister of the Crown, namely the Rt. Hon Amber Rudd, MP and Home Secretary. Though there not as many present as one expects to see at their major Jumble Sale each spring, a generous and useful number led to a result in excess of £500
Christmas Fair: The village hall mounts two Fairs each year, with Trustees manning stalls and games to capture just a little of your hard earned, to put towards the upkeep and running of this invaluable village facility. The next is tomorrow, from 12 noon to 3 pm, with lunches and Santa Claus available for all. Go along and you’ll probably see all the people you know in Fairlight. There are many places where you could win a great prize or two!
On Saturday week: Two more events in the village hall for you delectation – firstly the RSPCA (Local, Cats and Dogs branch) Fayre, from 10 am to 1 pm, and later the Wine and Social Club’s Christmas Party, from 7 to 11 pm, will open with Bill Sapsford’s mulled wine followed by Sue Norris and the Committee delivering a full Christmas dinner. Fairlight favourite Mick Rose – now a resident of far distant Norwich – will provide the music as hitherto.
The Gardening Club: Regular speaker Colin Page will be rounding off the year of monthly meetings at the Fairlight Gardening Club on Monday, December 5 with his talk on ‘The Nature of the Brede Valley and Moods of the Marsh’. Colin is entertaining and informative as well as being a very talented photographer and his photographs always enhance his presentation. Festive refreshments will be served afterwards and non-members are welcome at the extremely reasonable price of £2.
Speakers Corner: Speakers Corner was pleased to welcome several guests to their talk on Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Graham Albon, an excellent speaker, ended his talk by listing no fewer than fifteen of Brunel’s major achievements, but his talk concerned mainly the London to Bristol railway. Brunel was keen to have a direct link from London to Bristol and his iron-clad ship the SS Great Britain, but he had to get round many difficulties such as hills, rivers – not to mention the Sonning cutting, which had to be dug manually at the insistence of the landowner. He also created the Box Hill tunnel, which is almost two miles long. Originally he favoured a much wider gauge for the tracks, but eventually this had to be changed to the regular 4 foot 8½ inches. The cost of this venture was £6.5million. According to legend on Brunel’s birthday, April 9, if you stand on the line and look through the Box tunnel, the sun shines straight through – Mr Albon hasn’t tried it though! Network Rail says that unfortunately this is not the case, although the sun does shine directly through the tunnel on several other days throughout April and again in September.
The Speakers’ last meeting of the year will be featuring local speaker and performer Geoff Hutchinson, whose subject will be Rudyard Kipling – ‘His Life and Verse’. The meeting, on Wednesday, December 14, starts at 2.30 pm and visitors will be very welcome for a mere £2.
Fairlight or Goodlight?: Or maybe top of the bill Excellentlight, we shall soon find out, for the Parish Council will be examining each and every one of the possibly quirky external Christmas light displays on view within the Parish bounds. You don’t have to do anything, pay anything or register anything to take part, but immediate past Chairman Andrew Mier, plus another, will be making a tour of inspection, and the one who best catches their eye will be the recipient of £50 – to go to their chosen charity. While we may be several candela short of matching the bright, throbbing glow emanating from Westfield, this initiative should prompt a better and more varied display than we have been used to hitherto.
The Preservation Trust: The Trust’s AGM was held in the village hall on Saturday last in the afternoon and, like the morning Playgroup Sale, was attended by the Rt. Hon Amber Rudd, MP and Home Secretary. Coming at the end of a most propitious year, the meeting content flowed gently, easily and clear, like a mountain stream, with Chairman David Shortman summarising the significant progress achieved, and he handed the baton to Dr Ruth Kosmin, whose report covered all three berms and their history. Plaudits for those who had helped attain the desired outcome were offered, and then the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, an excellent constituency MP, who had had discussions with the Environment Agency at crucial moments in the process, added her comments. Treasurer Nick Booker took the meeting quietly through the accounts. The four Officers and four Executive Committee members were, unsurprisingly, all re-elected. Then the mood in the hall darkened, the wind got up and those present, silent and open-mouthed, feared the Trust was about to be swept to pieces on its own berm. Sudden storms are short, ‘tis said, but this could have done with being even shorter. In the end, the constitution was amended and the mood was once again calm, so perhaps Shakespeare was right after all.
Parish Council meeting: A smooth and largely enjoyable meeting was held almost a fortnight ago, and it was somewhat more audible than previously – for which relief, despite my admonishment, much thanks.
Of particular note was the resignation of Cllr Mick Jones, in part due to changed family circumstances. The means the Clerk will be declaring a casual vacancy to Rother DC.
The state of Battery Hill led to raised points of view and of blood pressure when it was stated that the powers that be do no consider it warrants particular attention. To it was added the lengthy stretch of Waites Lane on the eat carriageway just south of St Peter’s. This museum piece of road demonstrates several different faults that a road can show – deep potholes, eroded surface, ridging and so on.
‘Phone boxes: There’s a BT list of local phone boxes under consultation for removal, and our two are on it. Several on this list have recorded no calls at all in the last year. Ours, however, have shown 11 calls from the one at the top of battery Hill, and 43 from the one nearly opposite Lower Waites Lane. These figures are remarkable. The box at the top of the hill is heavily decorated with ivy, but not the sort with bright green leaves and little sucker feet holding it to the glass – rather the kind that has a trunk the size of your wrist. The prime concern with this box is not that you may find it hard to get in, but that, once in, it will, triffid-like, prevent you from ever getting out. As for the bottom of the hill, Cllr Andrew Mier, who worked hard on the cleaning and reporting of faults in the phone boxes when he was Council Chairman, believes it is a miracle that this box has been up and running and serviceable long enough for 43 calls to be made from it. Given that mobile reception in the village is an unfunny joke, the loss of either or both boxes could be critical in an emergency. There is a planning application current for a height extension of a mobile mast on Battery Hill and, despite the fact that this is supporting a duopoly, it is hoped that local residents would go on line and register their support. Any improvement in the communications available here is to be welcomed.
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