The National Trust Advisory Forum

Im mortified to realise that middle age has finally caught up with me.  I know this with all certainty - not because I actively enjoy listening to Radio 4 rather than just using it to nurse a hang-over.  Or indeed because I have started looking up the ideal habitat for my garden plants on the Royal Horticultural Society website.  No, its because I have now joined a COMMITTEE.  To this day I am not entirely sure how it happened.  Somebody said Do you love Cockmarsh and the Cookham Commons?  We need volunteers…” and it seems I put my hand up.  A while later and I was sat around a dining room table in Cookham Dean with Ranger Owen from the National Trust and the rest of the NT Advisory Forum. Turns out in 1932 most of the Cookham Commoners handed over their land to the NT for safe keeping, but the Advisory Forum was formed to represent the villagers interests.  Since I am remarkably common, I was a natural fit and thus, I am representing the community.  I will admit that I had assumed that joining the NT was a slippery slope to his and hers matching kagools and a thermos flask - until I went to Lanhydrock House in Cornwall, whereupon it became hugely obvious to me that membership is worth every penny.  One thing I did not know until the meeting though, is that when you join, you can nominate an area that you want to support.  In other words, you can join for the Cookham Commons and Ranger Owen will get a proportion of your subs something he REALLY needs because we have very little in terms of visitor generated income.  Anyway, thats is how I came to be discussing in very great detail, the parking issues in the village and litter.  I surprised myself with the latter because as it turns out, I had a LOT to say.  To the degree that I detected some uncomfortable seat shifting each time I drew a new breath.  I constantly pick up litter.  Even the dog picks up litter - and have you any idea how difficult it is to remove treasure from a dogs mouth, even if you think it is only a blackened banana skin or a Walkers crisp packet?  Winter Hill is the worst, and if we ever meet, I will tell you the story about the plucked chicken and the used condom, it's just too graphic for print. Back to the agenda and apparently, the jury is still out on whether the picnic benches at The Moor have exacerbated the litter situation or not.  And on parking - in time youll see sweet chestnut stakes being put in at The Causeway to stop cars parking on the grass when the car park is full.  However, the news we can all celebrate is that incidence of dogging”on Pinkneys Green is on the decrease.  A huge relief to us all.

If I am being completely honest, there were moments when I struggled to suppress a very inappropriate teenage giggle.  And its also true that even at my very great age, I was probably the youngest by about 37 years BUT my view is that if we have an opinion (and I usually do), then we must be prepared to stand up and actively participate. The fact that Ranger Owen is in regular contact with the lovely Steve Backshall, National Treasure in waiting, has absolutely NOTHING to do with my enthusiasm!


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