Jill Jarrett, Henley Down Cottage

Time is running out to get your tickets from the Village Store for ‘The Hot Potato Syncopators’ TONIGHT in the Village Hall at 7.30pm. This will be a fun-filled, action-packed entertainment by three very talented and amusing performers. Tickets cost £9 and £7 for concessions, refreshments will be available so do come along for a lively start to the weekend!

Tomorrow a Craft Fayre is to be held in the Village Hall organised by the Beckett family to raise money for three very worthy charities, some of whose names maybe new to many of us – Dragonflies (a local child bereavement charity), Winston’s Wish (also for bereaved children) and The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team. Do go along for some early Christmas gifts and cards, jewellery, cakes and general ‘crafty’ things. Doors will be open from 9.30am – 12pm.

Next Friday 18th October at 7.30pm the church of St Laurence will ring to the sounds of music and singing for ‘An Evening of Song’ performed by the Rother Community Choir and the St Laurence Church Choir. Talented local girl Lucy Ashton will also be performing and her lovely voice is always a delight to hear. Tickets are available at the Village Store for £6 and include light refreshments.

You may remember that the other Saturday there was a Table Sale at the Village Hall, which was to do with an ‘Enterprise Project’ that the Leopards Class (Years 5/6) at Catsfield Primary School had been very busy preparing. Each pupil was given £1 to invest and make the largest profit they could. A ‘Market’ was held in the school hall on Friday afternoon (27th September) and the other school children + parents could buy or take part in the activities the Leopards Class had created. There were lots of exciting creations - strawberry, marshmallow and chocolate kebabs, variety of popcorn, scones, jam and butter, raffle, flavoured lemonade, drop 20p on a £1 coin in a bucket of water, handmade chocolate lollies, a book hedgehog kit, handmade team bookmarks, lucky dip, several guessing games, homemade jam, African stones, sweet tombola, adopt a teddy, chocolate, sweets and homemade cookies.

Together with the Table Sale held at Catsfield Village Hall the following day, which made £81.60, an amazing £640 has been raised so far! Proceeds will be divided between one of the schools chosen charities - St Wilfred’s Hospice, Spinal Injuries or Operation Smile + an exciting project for the Leopards class (to be revealed). Ellie would like to say a big thank you to Mrs Davey and Mrs Wilson from Catsfield WI for coming to the Table Sale to serve refreshments. The cakes were also deliciously received!

We obviously have some budding entrepreneurs at the school, well done to them all. Also you may like to know...

Catsfield Primary School held their Harvest celebrations on Wednesday 2nd October. As part of the school’s tradition, Harvest contributions were brought in by the children in beautifully decorated boxes. During the morning the children, accompanied by adults distributed boxes to each household in the village where older residents live. A few boxes were taken as a token to St Laurence Church in the afternoon for the church service, which was very well attended by parents, grandparents and friends. Several letters of thanks from villagers have been received with some very complimentary comments about the children’s behaviour.

The Catsfield WI meeting was held on Thursday 3rd October. After singing ‘Jerusalem’ and when the formal business matters were dealt with, we were given some more dates for our diaries. The ramble this month will take the form of a visit to Bexhill Museum on Tuesday 15th at 10.30am to see a special new exhibition of Sussex Folklore and Customs. This will be followed by coffee at the delightful seafront home of Ann and Terry Stacey, just around the corner. At our next meeting Sarah will announce the final result of the amount raised by the ten walkers on last month’s sponsored walk for our charity, Demelza Children’s Hospice. It was voted to continue supporting this worthy cause for another year. The Scrabble afternoon will be at Barbara’s house on 24th and orders were taken from the menu for the Christmas lunch at The White Hart, Netherfield on Thursday 12th December.

Our speaker Ian Everest, who also talked to us last year, then proceeded to tell us about farming in years gone by, in a talk entitled ‘From the Sussex Ox to the Fordson Major’ We learned a lot about oxen, the breeds and configuration of these noble and powerful animals which enabled them to do such powerful work. (I didn’t know that the definition of an ox is a castrated bull). They were gentle and clever creatures and usually drew the plough in three pairs controlled by a drover, each animal became so attached to his partner, that if any misfortune happened to one of the pair, the other couldn’t work with a replacement. When they retired, their reward (?) was to be sold on as beef.

We saw many excellent slides of some very old photographs of oxen working and an amazing picture of teams of eighty-six oxen in rows, towing a windmill uphill onto the Downs behind Brighton. Oxen walking on stony, or hard ground had to be shod and as they were cloven-hoofed, they wore two, rectangular shoes on each hoof. They were not as easy to shoe as a horse however and had to be wrestled to the ground using men and ropes in a procedure called ‘Throwing the Ox’.

As farming became more mechanised, the oxen were no longer fast enough to draw the early seed drills and reaper/binders so horses took over these tasks, although they were not as cheap as using oxen. Next came the traction engines and mechanisation changed farming completely, with these huge steaming monsters towing the plough from one side to the other of the fields. The slow, gentle pace of farming had gone forever. With the advent of WW2, it became necessary to cultivate two million extra acres of farmland and tractors began to replace the horses – hence the Fordson Major in the title of the talk. It was a delightful glimpse of farming much more than hundred years ago. However, I do have a photograph of the Crisford family at New Barn Farm, Henley’s Down bringing in the hay with a couple of oxen, taken sometime near the start of the last century.

The usual wonderful WI tea followed this most interesting talk and the drawing of the raffle. Our next meeting will be the Annual Meeting, on Thursday 7th November at the earlier winter time of 2pm, as the clocks will have gone back by then.

Last Friday the Catsfield Horticultural Society held it’s AGM in the Village Hall. A lesser number than usual of village stalwarts attended, with apologies for absence from one or two more, making a total of twenty-one including the committee. This was disappointing, because the future of the Village Fete was in the balance and it was hoped that some enthusiasm from all those who complained about its cancellation last year would encourage those same residents to attend the meeting.

However, following the usual format of such meetings (loosely speaking!) the agenda reached the election of officers. To everyone’s horror, Vanessa expressed a strong desire to stand down from the post of chairman as she was so disappointed by the lack of support by the village as a whole. Fortunately a strong voice from the floor proposed Vanessa as chairman, instantly every hand in the place was raised to second the motion and she was duly re-elected in seconds – phew! A similar, equally speedy re-election of Mike as treasurer occurred, after he too expressed the desire to step down after forty years in the post.

The matter of the fete was then discussed and was at first thought to be a complete non-starter, but Diane Wilson said that she would be prepared to take on the role of organising the event, but ONLY if she has the support of several other people to share the task. Many ideas were discussed about improvements that could be made and for some form of entertainment, rather than a dance to be held in the marquee that evening. The fate of the Fete is still very much in the balance, but a meeting will be held in Hermon Cottage on Monday 21st October at 7.30pm which Diane and a couple of other volunteers will attend. Now it’s up to the villagers to prove that they DO want a Fete and to come along to that meeting and help share the load, because if nobody else turns up to support Diane, it isn’t going to happen and once again we will not have our famous Fete!

Football news, the first team played at home losing 1 - 4 to Eastbourne Rangers with Jack Graham scoring a well worked header for our only goal. The seconds beat Hawkhurst seconds 2 - 1. This Saturday the firsts play Crowhurst at home while the seconds are due to play Sandhurst in the Hastings Lower Divisions Cup.

Work will commence on the cricket wicket at the end of the week with scarifying and loam laying, which the experts say is the proper way to put the wicket to bed.

Gerry Winter won the horse ploughing again at the Ploughing Match at Fulking, the farm managed by David Ellin - a very good day up in the Downs in lovely weather.

Last week I copied the report from the recent Parish Council meeting but when I told Carol, the Clerk to the Parish Council, that I hadn’t really understood what it was all about, she very kindly set it out again in simpler terms, so for people like me -

A ‘Core Strategy’ document is a key compulsory local development document within the Local Authorities Plan (Rother DC). Every other local development document is built on the principles it sets out, regarding the development and use of land in a local planning authority’s area - in our case Rother District Council. The principles should be in accordance with the community strategy - i.e. the needs of the people of Catsfield and our own Local Action Plan.

Rother DC has been required by the Planning Inspectorate to revise their Local Plan for the period 2011 - 2028 as it does not meet with an appropriate level of housing growth as set by Central Government. The required level of housing has increased from 4,800 to 6,180 since the plan was first written. However, The Planning Inspectorate is keen for this to be their final revision.

Where Catsfield fits in.........our original New Housing allocation was up to 30 homes and we already had planning permission for 7 new homes to be built around the Parish. This latest revision of the Rother Local Plan that Parish Council has just commented on has set our new housing allocation at 47 - not upto 47 and does not allow for the planning permissions that have been granted for 10 (3 extra) new properties in the Parish which are due to be built.

Also there is a proposal to add a new criterion to the Local Plan that any developments of 6 or less houses on a site, will not be counted as part of our new housing allocation - these will be in addition to. These are the 2 areas that Parish Council has criticised as it is felt they do not meet with the National Planning Policy Framework or Rother DC’s own planning policies which are supposed to protect the character of the local villages and allow an appropriate level of growth. There are around 133 houses in the Village Centre (which is classed as the development boundary) and Rother are asking for developments of 6+ homes to be built in this area - so it is quite a high growth level!

There are lots of other factors but we were only allowed to comment on the legal compliance and soundness of the revisions / modifications made to the Rother Local Plan.

Thanks for that Carol!