The big news broke just as the Village Voice went to press last week and the team at the Observer managed to squeeze it in. The ESCC Planning Committee meeting which was scheduled for Wednesday, June 18th, at which the application for the sewage plant was to be considered, was cancelled. The reason for this extraordinary decision was to allow members — that is, the elected members who make up the Planning Committee — to make a number of site visits. We have not received confirmation that we are on the list of those site visits but we are very hopeful. If we are, this is very good news: a site visit is exactly what we need. There is a big difference between the professional plans and drawings of a formal planning application and seeing the goal posts and the houses. Fingers crossed. We’ll keep you posted.

The first of Peter’s two guided walks in aid of church funds on June 8th was a great success. The whole event was helped hugely by the wonderful weather: clear blue skies, the lightest of breezes, twenty degrees and hot walking, even in the woods. One of the walkers was Richard Tilden Smith who, in a much longer report which we hope to bring you another time, mentioned the following.

“If you are curious about what and who occupied our local countryside over the centuries, take a walk and choose a guide with knowledge and a depth of research — and, above all, with humour. We did and what a revelation it was! Deep within the ancient woodland, where trees show how they have been coppiced for fuel, roadways, quarries and minepits were revealed, together with many clear earthworks. This walk was about nature too, and the fascinating derivation of field and wood names. If you get a chance, take a walk. Ours was three hours. It was a fabulous and revealing experience. And All Saints, Mountfield gained some much needed money for its coffers.”

Which is a great plug… Pete will be leading the final walk on Sunday (June 22nd) and there are still a few places. After that, the extraordinary woodland in question will be cut off from public access again. To book, urgently call Pete direct or Jackie Spriggs on 880261. And, talking of the church…

Jackie writes: “We are very much hoping that Sunday, June 29th is a dry and sunny day as the all age service at 10.00am will take place in the churchyard as this has been designated as a Blessing of Pets, Great and Small, Service! All pets and their people are very welcome, and please bring garden chairs or blankets to sit on. If the weather is unfavourable for being outside, the service will take place inside the church, when only pets up to the size of dogs will be able to be accommodated. And, of course, petless people are also very welcome!”

At the time of writing, we’ve no report yet from Mandy on Sunday’s (June 15th) “Race for Life” — though we can vouch that she survived —but we can still remind you about her Blooming Marvellous Tea Party. If you’ve kids or grand children, or great grand children, put Saturday 28th June (2.00 – 4.00 pm, 2 Yew Tree Cottages) in your diary and organise the little monsters. Remember, guess Teddy’s name right and you get to take him home. There will also be guess the cake weight and raffles and, of course, delicious teas. Having children in tow is not compulsory: the raffles alone will be worth it. Amongst other things, Steve has pitched in a bottle of scotch and we have donated a Grand West Country Hamper worth forty quid that some holiday company gave us as part of a promotion. (It’s a fantastic hamper but not easily explained to Pete’s doctor…)

We always enjoy sharing the vagaries of the year: unseasonably flowerings such as wood anemones in October or blackberries in December, some trees or flowers breaking into leaf or flower earlier or later than usual, or the arrival dates of immigrant birds (early nightingales this year). There are always certain species for which the particular combinations of temperature, light and rainfall produce bumper crops — grass vetchling, with its garnet flowers, is a case in point this year. But we’ve come to that point in the year — midsummer — when it all comes out in the wash and, late or early, the whole countryside is signed up to summer.

We also enjoy running the computer’s spellchecker over the Village Voice before we file it. The options are either “Change” or “Ignore”. Every time we put Jackie into a column, the computer queries her name. It’s obviously too late for the first button and the other one doesn’t seem to work.

You know where we are: 880614 (evenings) or

Peter and Valerie Miles