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You know that horse and carriage you see regularly in Cookham village? Take just a little time to read this...

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We’ve all been there I suspect, “stuck” behind the pair of horses and a carriage that can be seen regularly in Cookham.  Might be quite annoying?  Slows your journey slightly?  Possibly calls for a difficult overtaking manoeuvre on the narrow roads – pass wide and slow and all that irritation?  So those horses come from The Forge in Cookham Dean and what you may not realise, is that they compete internationally, and at the highest level in this sport.
The Forge in Cookham Dean is thought to have been in existence for 400 years and David Matthews (Junior) is currently on the reins of both the farrier business and the aforementioned pair.  As a member of the British Advanced Horse Pairs Carriage Driving Team, David and a second driver recently set out for the 3,700 KM round trip to the Lipica Stud Farm in Slovenia, home to the world famous grey Lipizzana horses and host of the FEI World Driving Championships for Pairs between 20th – 24th September.  Team GB competed with 80 others, fro…

Catching Up

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So things have been quite busy at CM HQ recently and I have had little time for writing, and made it to few of the local events.  I couldn’t even attend the Gravity Grand Prix this year.  To have watched Donald Trump going down hill fast would have given me huge pleasure, and worse still, apparently I missed the opportunity for a selfie with Grant-Mitchell-I-Mean-Ross-Kemp *swoon*.  Frankly, I don’t know what I am more disappointed about.
So to catch you up…
Tree-gate has rumbled on.  For those not familiar with the story, click this link.  I pursued the council like a bad smell to understand what redress they would take with the contractors – if any.  Between  24th July and the 30th August I sent five emails.  Finally I received the following reply:
In an effort to try and reassure you that I really am not ignoring your request to be updated on what is happening about the contractor, I wanted to let you know that I have had a further discussion with my key officers today about gettin…

Cookham Dog Walkers August Training Walk

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I think it’s fair to say that thunder and lightning would not be the preferred conditions to host a dog training walk.  It’s August as you recall, you kind of hope that it might be like high summer?  Sort of hot and maybe even a bit sweaty?  If not hot, then warm?  And sunny?  As it was, Cookham Dog Walkers showed their mettle – they are a hardy lot it seems, they just pulled on their wellies, turned up the collars on their sowesters and grabbed their sodden dog treats to attend regardless.  Of course, the dogs were entirely oblivious to the wet, they were just thrilled to meet some new friends.  Jia, a Tibetan Terrier decided the best way to demonstrate her enthusiasm was by running everywhere, extremely fast and preferably whilst jumping.  Which was fine because Honey, who purely by coincidence is also Tibetan Terrier (X Poodle), was easily her match.  Milo the Bichon Frise was a little overwhelmed by the girls, so he very sensibly kept his head down and concentrated on being an ext…

Cookham Dean pubs and grub - what's your view?

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Due to an epic house-keeping failure on Saturday, we were forced to eat out.  Very fortunately, Cookham Matters HQ is within walking distance of every hostelry in the village – so we are spoilt for choice.
Of we set to Uncle Toms and unsurprisingly, it was heaving.  You could barely move out the front and the back had reserved on every table.  The girl went to ask if it was possible to squeeze a couple of little ones in, but unfortunately not.  Packed to the gunnels.  Rammed.  This left us with a dilemma, and is where this post might become a little contentious, because we all have our favourite pub don’t we?
By far our nearest pub is The Chequers.  We were Friday night regulars along with many in the area.  Carlos was quite simply the best front of house host I have ever come across and we were welcomed and very comfortable, even when just having a drink.  We ate there only for special occasions and it is true that I found myself wishing that in addition to the white table clothes and …

A little bit of Cookham Dean tree news, a little bit of history and a little bit of an idea...

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It’s about a month since the 100 year old Lime tree at the junction of Alleyns Lane and Dean Lane was felled because of damage to it’s 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.  The drainage contractors were required to apply for permission from the RBWM (as the landowners), to dig the trench and, in doing so, they should have been given a Root Protection Area (RPA) to map out a safe dig.  There are questions regarding what was requested, issued and followed in this process, and the RBWM planning enforcement team started an investigation.  We have a single point of contact in the RBWM and I have asked three times now for an update of their investigation - with no…

The Unfortunate Incident of the Dog in the Morning

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We recently had our Sunday morning dog walk cut short.  We had stopped to chat to the owners of a similar, but much larger, dog.  Everyone was off lead and no-one, canine or human, seemed anxious about that.  Our dogs have been very well socialised from puppies and whilst they are never going to win the obedience class at Crufts, they are largely responsive and reasonably well trained.  Moments in though, play turned nasty and it was clear that the other dog became aggressive towards one of ours.  It was very noisy with fur flying and none of us knew how to intervene.  Fortunately, rather than run in panic away from us, our dog ran TO us and cowered as close to my partner’s legs as possible, screaming.  He had a nasty bite to his ear, but more upsetting was his fear.  The people obviously apologised and went on their way so we could head home in the same direction, to try and sort the wound out.  It was at this point that a family who had witnessed the incident, approached us to say t…

Felled Lime Tree in Cookham Dean - further update

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For those that have been following Tree-Gate in Cookham Dean, the latest update....
Some residents had suggested that when the council come to re-plant in October/November we might try to crowd-fund a larger specimen tree than they would normally provide (approximately 3 meters).  Unfortunately, this seems unlikely for what is an obvious reason now it has been explained to me.  The bigger the tree, the bigger the hole they need to dig to plant it in and the trouble with trying to dig at all in that tiny area, is that it is criss-crossed with services pipes.
The plaque from the bottom of the tree truly seems to have disappeared (as has the stump which was removed on the 24 July) and we did wonder if any members of the families who originally planted the tree (the Hebbs and Jordans) were still local, and had rescued it.  Although I would not be surprised if it has been accidentally dug into the ground with all the earth works or cleared up when the tree was felled.  If anyone does know…

The Cookham Society

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We all lead busy lives, but where I have an opinion (and guess what, I often do!) I think it is important that I am prepared to actually DO something.  Hence there is a hideous photo of me in the Maidenhead Advertiser archives holding a "Save Poundfield" placard.  There are a lot of pressures on Cookham; roads, parking, flooding, housing density and location to name but a few.  And whilst development is a very current issue, with areas of the village under threat again, it is not a new concern.  In 1968 a planning application for Poundfield spawned the birth of The CookhamSociety with its aim to "protect, preserve, improve or create, features of general public amenity".  In other words, they are a group of people who ARE prepared to do something, and as such they get involved in much of village life.
Then, back in 2013 something quite unique happened.  The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM), alongside the Cookham Parish Council and The Cookham Society …

Cookham Toad Patrol

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If you were a Toad in Cookham, you would be very glad to see Barbara Brown.  She’s a bit like International Rescue for Toads.  You’d recognize her easily enough because she’d be carrying a bucket, two children’s fishing nets and several scoopy things, whilst marching up and down Lightlands Lane.  Her mission is to save Cookham's Toads from being squashed on the road, and she has a team of Toad Wranglers that help her.
First of all, a few toad basics for any rookie Toad Wranglers: Toads have lumpy skin and frogs have smooth skin.Toads tend to live away from water (until they mate) frogs need to live close to it.Toads prefer to crawl (although they can hop) and frogs prefer to hop.Toad Wranglers really need gloves, because they produce a toxin from glands behind their eyes (meant to deter predators from eating them) that can be irritating to the skin.Toad Spawn is laid in strings, Frog Spawn in dense clumps.You WANT Toads (and Frogs) in your garden because they will help eat the eleve…

Cookham Dean landmark tree felled - UPDATE 04/07

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UPDATE 04/07

The information contained in the piece below is now confirmed as accurate, with one important correction.  I am advised by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Tree Team that application WAS made by the drainage contractors for permission to dig the trench.  And so, as part of granting permission, there should have been a Root Protection Area (RPA) issued.  This would have provided the contractors with the information they needed to dig the trench without damaging the tree.  I am further advised that the matter is now with the RBWM Planning Enforcement Team and I have requested visibility on the process that follows.  There are a number of people engaged with the council, including The Cookham Society.

Some more background on the tree's condition.  Lime trees (apparently) throw many fine roots - rather than fewer big roots.  The initial trench, and the subsequent remedial work carried out by South East Electricity, damaged these roots across a signific…