The annual service at the Polish War Memorial, Darwell Hill, Netherfield, TN33 9Q: The annual service to remember the crew who died in 1941 when the Wellington bomber crashed into the tree at Doctor’s Cottage, will take place on Sunday 27 May at 3 pm as usual. It is very likely there will be a speaker from the Polish Embassy and I hope to have a flypast this year! Father Wilson will, as always, be officiating at the service and there will be a strong representation from the Royal British Legion with a bugler present. Tea will be served in Netherfield church after the service, everyone is welcome.

Breakaway Club: The Club met on April 19th and our speaker, David Chaplin, well known to many of us since his involvement with Vinehall School for 25 years and now the retired Headmaster, spoke on ‘Rwanda Aid’, a cause very dear to him as he had spent six months there in 2003. He explained how the two races, Hutus who worked in the fields, and Tootsies, influential cattle owners had grown apart under the Hutu government. The result being hungry people, a very inefficient government and how genocide had taken 3,000,000 out of 5,000,000 with 50% still living below the poverty line with a high proportion of ‘street children’ - 250 of whom have now been returned to their homes. David set up the charity - ‘Rwanda Aid’ to help the population of 13,000,000 which is rapidly rising in a country smaller than Scotland to encourage them to cultivate small areas of land and sell crops. A farm training programme was also put in place and care of livestock. The idea being to bring farmers together to provide education, better food, clothes, shoes and health insurance. The local government adopted the programme and groups are now taken out from Vinehall to train teachers. The average classes are 60 pupils in the morning and again in the afternoon - many start off in year 1 and drop out by year 6! A couple from Hawkhurst spent a year in Rwanda living in a mud house, no sanitation, water or electricity. Their efforts paid off and an Inspector from Rwanda Education Board was so impressed that their ideas are now being used throughout the country and an enterprise project was set up for young people after leaving school who have no jobs who could learn to make shoes, blend fruit juices, box vegetables, etc. In 2011 a costly street child project commenced and a centre was built so that they could go to school. Disabled children also now have help. David told us that Rwanda is a beautifully green and landscaped country with eight months of rain each year - almost daily in short bursts - which creates a very fertile land and an excellent resource would be more tourists and who will be surprised to find an excellent game park to visit. We admired David’s enthusiasm and dedication to ‘Rwanda Aid’ and a collection was taken. The raffle was drawn and refreshments enjoyed. Our May meeting will be a visit to the ever popular Scotney Castle where much restoration has taken place with the house now being open to visitors, a tearoom and shop as well as the grounds to explore. Juliette Vane.

Netherfield LOCAL STAR: I am sure some residents of Netherfield will have noticed how free of litter the verges are from Darvel Down to Ashes Wood. The story behind this is that a long time resident Dianne of Darvel Down, a few months ago, started a daily ‘constitutional’ along Netherfield Road. As her walks progressed she noticed just how much litter had been deposited in the verges and started collecting the occasional pieces.

It was not long before Dianne became incensed about the litter and now each day leaves home with a bag and stick and has extended the length of her walk as far as Ashes Wood . She is amazed at the amount of litter, in all shapes and forms, that she now collects. I thought this kind neighbourly act was certainly worthy of a mention. Well done and thank you Dianne and long may your walks continue!

Diana Watson.

St John the Baptist Church: A booklet has been produced by Paul Smith and his wife Maureen, which is a brief history and guide to St. John the Baptist Church in Netherfield. It is a fascinating article and interesting for all ages. Those who have visited the church already know that we are lucky to have such a lovely building. Newcomers are welcome to enter daily as the church is only locked at early evening.

This booklet is funded by and produced in memory of the late Betty Richardson, a long time supporter of the church. Your support will help to look after the church, and a suggested donation of £1 for this booklet would be most welcome. Gillian Slack.

Netherfield Village Green Royal Wedding Street Party: This is our fifth post for this item. On Saturday 19 May 2018 Netherfield Village is holding a Royal Wedding Street Party on the Village Green at Darvel Down to commemorate the marriage of Harry and Meghan. The party starts at 2.00pm and goes through until 6.00pm. All are welcome, especially the children, so come and celebrate with us. There is a buffet and afternoon tea, a raffle, Wiggles & Giggles Children’s Entertainment with face painting and balloon modeling. It has all been sponsored by various organisations locally, including Rother District Council, British Gypsum and Park Lane Estates. Please let us know if you’re coming as we can make sure we cater for you. It is free! Please email us at “” or call Marrissa on 01424838106. See you there.

Reflections on a garden: Whilst it might have been decidedly later than the norm, we have now planted this year’s crop of vegetables for the table. This includes potatoes, courgettes, French beans and chilies. An eclectic mix you might think? I guess so but my good lady likes to have some certainty in her choice in order to make the effort produce results.

The potatoes this year are a multi-purpose variety with a purple skin, which have been chiting merrily on a window-sill in the porch, sprouting their tubers. That has a nice ring about it given the end result. Whilst these operations should normally be undertaken from January onwards, it does not seem to affect the quality of the potato at the time of eating. The ones my good lady has planted are a great all-rounder and do produce wonderful “roasties” and chips, not, I hasten to add, that we have that many chips.

The chilies that are now planted and growing well are a very small, hot variety, perhaps not as fiery as a “Scotch Bonnet” but they do cause the occasional expletive to be uttered if taken injudiciously. Last year I used a large number in the production of some chili oil. Cleaned and placed in the bottle of general oil a couple of months beforehand, their fragrance and spiciness invades the surrounding liquid with a piquancy which is great in Asian dishes. It adds a note of hotness without the need for a host of peppers to be added to a dish.

I have also just about finished weeding the drive and paths of the majority of the detritus left by nature, to grow during the winter months. Yes, it is an on-going operation, but the majority of this invasion does build up during that period when the wind, snow and rain dissuade one from leaving the warm comfort of a roaring fire. Now all I have to do is give it a weekly dig, scrape and pull, to remove all things green and brown.

On Monday of this week the annual dropping of willow catkins began its annual shed. Our willows surround the pond and drop their furry fruits straight onto the water. After a very short space of time it makes the pond look like it has a miniaturised version of Henley Regatta. They luckily float for a while and so this is the time to go around with a net and scoop the little blighters off the water’s surface.

It is also coming to the end of the first phase of the rhododendron flowering season. Our large white one, we don’t know the name of it, only produced one bloom this year. That was a shame but it made it stand out. Somebody remarked to me how big it was. I agreed with them that it was a large specimen.

This is also the time of year when the weigela and their subtle colours of pinks and whites, begin to show their wares. Weigela is a genus of between six and 38 species of deciduous shrubs in the family Caprifoliaceae, growing to 1–5 m tall. All are natives of eastern Asia. The genus is named after the German scientist Christian Ehrenfried Weigel. You not only have fun reading this page but can also treat it as an encyclopaedia.

More next week......

Claverham Monday Badminton Club: Bish, bash, bosh. Are those the sounds of rackets hitting a shuttlecock on a badminton court or the usual shenanigans that occur at racecourses these days? Expending energy engaging in a sport does not seem to be conducive to the latter occupation witnessed recently.

The ten stalwarts who arrived at Claverham were ready and willing to engage in the age-old art of smashing your opponent into the dust. For some it worked, for others it was the regular walk of shame back to the benches, to try and recover mental momentum from the ignominy of defeat. I guess that is why my brain does not function these days as it has had to deal with a prolonged bout of coming second in a two horse race.

What is clear is that it is fun and full of laughs as these mock battles take place on a rectangle 20 feet by 44 feet. That may not seem like a large expanse of real estate, but, when shuttles are travelling towards you at speeds of up to 300 kph (for professionals it can be up to 400kph), then that space can seem like the size of a football pitch. You watch the shuttle move past the end of your racket, which, in your mind you have tried to create into an extension of your arm, reaches out unsuccessfully to return the aerodynamic group of feathers, has just passed you by on their way to the floor. Frustrating!

More next week....

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