Peter and Valerie Miles,

This column went to press too early to report on the meeting at Mountfield and Whatlington School last Tuesday so check the news pages for the latest information.

The Mountfield Ride took place on Saturday and Pete acted as a course marshall: “I retired from the beating line at Mountfield Court two seasons ago — I didn’t change, it was just that some of the hills got steeper — so it was nice to see the heart of the estate again though a big shock to see the once mighty Big Beech fallen and broken. For those who didn’t know The Big Beech, it was a noble old giant, covered in probably a century and a half of Mountfield names, dates, hearts and letters — a sort of unofficial parish register in initials. It is extraordinary to think that it had been a landmark on the estate during the lifetimes of everyone alive in Mountfield. For those who did know the old tree, it is a very sad sight.

“The weather was just about perfect for riders, walkers, BBQers, marshals, dogs and horses. There was a decent turnout with an entry of 30 mounted. If I had one slight disappointment it was that there were fewer kids than last time. But it raised £650 for church funds and, from a personal perspective, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday than sitting in a folding chair, with not a building in sight, occasional riders or walkers to greet, and the perpetual sound of buzzards mewing overhead. Plus a free hot dog to round it all off.”

The Mountfield Club’s snooker team got the new season off to a flying start with a 4-1 win over Hawkhurst’s A team despite captain Steve Smith losing the first frame. Kevin Gray soon drew the teams level at 1-1. Jack Hayler then won his first league match and Richard Hayler then made the score 3-1 maintaining his own 100% winning record. Sean Spillett won the final frame to give Mountfield a victory to start the season. A reminder that the Family Quiz Night has been moved from Saturday September 28 to Saturday October 19.

Robertsbridge was buzzing last weekend as Rother Valley railway provided passenger services on its steam train from Robertsbridge Junction Station to Northbridge Street. Not the longest of journeys but one which caught the imagination of train buffs (and some of the rest of us) for miles around. We hear that on Saturday morning no fewer than 200 people were at Tenterden Station waiting for the Kent and East Sussex service to Northiam which, courtesy of the vintage buses between Northiam and Robertsbridge, would allow them to be on the very first train out of Robertsbridge Junction to Northbridge Street. Also, Jim Ray told us that his ticket for two o’ clockish on Sunday was numbered 1255. That’s astonishing. We went along ourselves to see the fun on Sunday. Everybody was having a great time and particularly popular was the miniature train for kids which puffed and hooted and trundled up and down beside a short stretch of the main line.

There were several stalls, most selling railmobilia but Sarah Geldard from Poppinghole Farm Shop was doing good business (Victoria plums!) as was Sally Pitman with her jewellery stand. She’s a regular at Robertsbridge market but if you don’t know her work, try

The owners of Baldwins Farm have submitted revisions to the very large planning application made just before Christmas. This is certainly the largest non-industrial planning application that Mountfield has seen and was the subject of both a special public meeting in January and no fewer than 149 objections first time round.

In brief outline, the application still includes renovation of the old farmhouse. It still proposes moving the public footpath, but for different reasons. The proposed new manor house has been reduced in size in a number of ways. And the previously proposed “eco lodges” have been removed from the application.

Details of the revisions to the application are available on the Rother District Council website, Follow links to Planning and then Planning Applications, reference RR/2012/2343/P. The new documents are all dated 11/09/13. If you don’t have internet access, have problems finding or understanding the documents, or would like to see hard copies of the revised application, you should contact one of Mountfield’s Parish Councillors. There is still an impartial guide to the application, as originally submitted, produced by Mountfield Parish Council, on the parish website, (Go down to Sections, and then Planning.) For details of opposition to the application, go to

So, to recap, you can read the arguments for on the Rother website, arguments against on the SaveDarwell website, and impartial guidance on the Mountfield website. And for help, contact one of your parish councillors.

We met Sandra Taylor (née Ireland) for the first time in Robertsbridge the other day and it turned out that she’d enjoyed Robin Harris’s recent report on his rare moth find. It’s interesting the things that that help make the world smaller. So here is another contribution from Robin:

“Are there white-haired ladies on your lawn? At this time of year a beautiful little orchid named Autumn Lady’s-tresses sometimes makes an appearance among the short grass of lawns — they have been found in Battle and Fairlight among other places locally. Does anyone in Mountfield have them? Often rather inconspicuous — they are frequently less than six inches (15 cms) tall — the small, white flowers grow in a spiral around the stem, which explains their Latin name of Spiranthes spiralis. If you do find them, get on your hands and knees to appreciate them and to take a sniff — they are said to be coconut-scented. And please try to avoid them when you are mowing!”

Finally, as we write we can hear the sound of ploughing in the Gold Field — something of a contrast with last September. As ever, you know where we are: or 880614 (evenings).