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"A full and true relation of the death and slaughter..." in Cookham. Yes really!

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Many of us are familiar with tracking the local film sets of Midsommer Murders. The day I had to inch over half a tonne of very reluctant equine past Detective Inspector Barnaby, a funeral parlour and the crew camp (including catering unit) opposite The Jolly, is a day I shall not forget.However, all that murder and mayhem is very far from the Cookham we know and love right? Well actually, no...we have had our fair share of drama and so here I am to tell you about some of it.
To quote Julie, “Let’s start at the very beginning…” when the peoples of Cookham lived alongside the river, following its course as it changed.The Thames acted as a boundary between clans from "Bourne End" and "Cookham" and over time, Bronze Age settlers used Cockmarsh as a burial site.The small hills that you will pass if you are heading to The Bounty are tumuli or burial mounds, and they contain the bodies of a woman, a small child and a tiny horse!
When the Romans arrived in Cookham, history …

The Law of Unintended Consequences and Sheep

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The Law of Unintended Consequences – “in the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.” 
Now there is a certain amount of objectivity in this.  Could David Cameron have foreseen the exact outcome we are living through prior to calling the referendum?  We’ll leave that discussion for another day perhaps, so let’s take another example…sheep worrying is an ongoing problem for farmers in the UK.  Sheep do not always behave like those on One Man and His Dog and in fact, nor do dogs. As far as most sheep are concerned, your Cockerpoo is an apex predator of which instinct dictates, they should be scared, very scared.  As far as your dog is concerned, sheep can be at worst prey or at best (some would argue) “playmates”.  Either way, it’s bad news for the sheep and whilst I am sure no one sets out on a dog walk thinking “let’s go and worry some shee…

Chequing out the Wild West

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Back in the day, there was a whiff of the Wild West about Cookham.  Hard to believe I know!  The problem was basically The Dean.  Harder still to believe?  Even in the 1800s, Cookham Dean was already a very old, higgledy piggeldy group of settlements.  There was no centre at such, people had set up home where they landed - The Mount, Starlings Green, Cookham Dean Bottom and Winter Hill - and these settlements were barely connected by tortuous roads.  At this time, Cookham Dean was hugely agricultural, the hillsides were covered in fruit trees – lots of cherries as you may know, but apples, walnuts and even soft fruit like strawberries too.  With this, came great poverty and transient labourers.  Grubwood Lane marked the boundary between Cookham and the Bisham estate and so it was also a gypsy encampment.  With little respect for the law and a partiality for poaching, they knew that the jurisdiction of Cookham’s distant police constable could be outwitted simply by stepping from one si…

More wine Vicar?

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Some of you have been around long enough to know that just occasionally, I go To Church.  Indeed, I went To Church Saturday and I can honestly say it was a triumph! Cookham villagers Karen and Trevor Davison, and the team from their own Live Wire Productions, laid on a rare treat for us with the first of their innovative live music series christened (do you see what I did there?), Live@... and in this case, it was Live@the church - our very own Holy Trinity.  Karen is a Lighting Designer for The Royal Festival Hall and so by the time we arrived, the church was beautifully highlighted with lasers and specialist lighting.  There was a small stage where Father Nick The Vic is normally seen to pace with his hands in his pockets and, oh joy of joys, there was a bar behind the font.  Of course there was, who doesn’t have a bar behind the font?  So there I sat, on my slightly uncomfortable pew, enjoying a glass or two as we waited for the line up - Gitta de Ridder followed by Grizzly and the …

I think it's time to tell you about The Chicken.

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I think it's time to tell you about The Chicken.

Some time ago I was heading to the woods with the dog via the view point at Winter Hill.  Just as I got to the National Trust car park, I came across The Chicken.  A happy, pecking chicken would have been some what of a surprise but actually, this was an even greater surprise because it was an oven ready chicken (although no sign of the cooking instructions).  She was spread eagle on the grass, with all four little limbs akimbo.  Oddly, my first thought was "Lucky, lucky Foxy Dog" not "Why is there an un-cooked chook at Winter Hill".  The dog dragged me ever closer and that is when I noticed the used condom.  Now I am the product of a Newlands Girls School education in the era of Mrs. Leighton and her quite remarkable legs (water retention, as I now know). In that era, we were still referred to as "gals" in clipped Home Counties accents.  Communal showers convinced us without doubt, that each and every…

How wildlife friendly can you make your garden?

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Something BIG is stirring and I don’t just mean Spring!  Over the Winter, a hard-working group from WildMaidenhead and WildCookham have been germinating a plan!  It’s a plan that they hope will help get the village all fired up and even more enthusiastic about our local wildlife and in particular, what we can do in our own little way to help nurture it at home.  Over the coming weeks you will start to see the group introduce the “Wild About Gardens” scheme.  It will be open to ANYONE in the Cookhams with a private garden – no matter how large or small.  Now it’s not a traditional competition, there is no winner as such, but I am told there is a party planned where they will be awarding special certificates, and there will be a Priceless Plaque (think of something that is definitely, almost certainly like the FA Cup or even better), that they intend *cough* will be handed down through generations to come in the village.  So here’s the scoop, ahead of the press and directly from Cindy o…

I’m going to talk trees for a bit.

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Back in July the 100 year old Lime tree at the junction of Alleyns Lane and Dean Lane was felled because of damage to its tree roots.  You’ll remember that the drainage contractors dug a trench across the small green and through the Lime’s fine network of roots.  And then they cut straight through the electric mains.  South East Electricity had to come in to repair, and they caused more damage to the root system as they were trying to reconnect us to the network – hence we lost the tree.  There was a huge hoo-haa because it was an iconic tree in the village AND because the contractors had very likely breached all sorts of rules by doing what they did.  So to bring you up to date…
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) at least felt there was action (or inaction) by the contractors that required investigation.  However, here we are 7 months later and information on the progress of that investigation seems to be impossible to obtain.  The outcome (if there has been one) remai…

A Devine solution...

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Christmas 2016 and I wanted a wreath for the front door.  I am Yorkshire tight and every time I looked at them in a florist, I found myself thinking "They want HOW MUCH for a bit of holly and a desiccated slice of orange"?  Shortly followed by "How hard can it be? Surely I can produce something that looks charmingly home made as if by Kirstie Allsop herself?"  Poor naive woman-child.

So I purchased the perfect base to set my creative talents afloat - a rustic looking wood bound love heart from a charity shop for £2.99.  And I then set sail to the  the garden centre to buy appropriate glittery things.  Only sophisticated glittery things obviously, no multi coloured tinsel, no tired looking fake mistletoe.  Granted I was a little surprised to realise that I had spent £23 on classy glitter but hey ho, what price for talent?  As soon as I started affixing the glittery things, I knew I was in trouble.  To cut a painful memory short, by the bottom photo you will fully u…

If you go down to the woods...

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The BBC has more than its fair share of National Treasures, David Attenborough arguably the richest.  But did you know that Cookham has its very own Village Treasure?  Brian Clews sits firmly in the Village Treasure chest for his activities with several groups, but perhaps most visibly for his work supporting the our wildlife and habitats.  He sits on the committee for Cookham Wildlife Supporters, and can often be found sharing his encyclopedic knowledge and a bad joke or three in their events program.  Brian, lives in Broom Hill and has been resident in the village since before the Ice Age.  Well OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration but for FORTY EIGHT years.  We barely even had a railway station forty eight years ago (also an exaggeration).  He has spent forty years contributing to the local RSPB group, and has written books and papers too numerous to mention on this, his specialist subject.  But I've been watching Blue Planet and I know that it's still possible to teach…

Pay and Display Car Parking at The Moor

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You may have seen that The National Trust will soon be charging for parking down at The Moor.  This has received a mixed response from residents and visitors alike, but I think it is worth explaining a little more about it.  I have seen people comment that it is simply a revenue generating opportunity, and the facts of the matter are – that is correct, but perhaps not for the reasons that you would imagine.  Countryside NT properties such as Maidenhead and Cookham Commons (MCC) suffer from not being able to generate much of an income.  Some money can be generated through sales of wood products or specific area membership recruitment, but most rely on quite a meagre annual budget to maintain and conserve the land they own - which is not sustainable going forward. Pay and Display car parking is a way of generating an additional income for NT countryside properties such as the MCC.  The area here covers 834 acres and costs over £70K a year to run.  It has very little in the way of visito…