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Swifts and sex on the wing - how does that work?

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It’s one of my favourite moments.  When The Little Birds start to arrive.  And in our house The Little Birds is a collective term for SwallowsMartins and Swifts.  The Sand Martins normally come first, closely followed by the House Martins, the Swallows and then lastly, the Swifts.  To me their arrival is proof categoric that summer is coming and the weather and the days, are nodding their head towards summer.  Even if you are not interested in birds, you will probably have noticed them – I don’t think any of our over-wintering birds fly like The Little Birds so the movement draws your eye.  They are fast and often low, chasing the small insects that are their staple food.  This year, the Sand Martins  clocked in first, down at Cockmarsh by The Bounty.  Then the Swallows at Smallholder Simon’s and then, at last today, I heard, but did not see because they are just too, well er…..swift, the Swifts.  They are by far my favourite.  They remind me of unruly teenagers.  They race around …

Cookham Dog Walkers Litter Picking

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You would be surprised at the amount of health and safety instructions that are apparently required to execute a litter pick.  Two pages worth to be precise – how to bend, what not to pick up, safe and effective use of a pair of latex gloves.  Now don’t get me wrong – the Cookham Dog Walkers were very grateful for the RBWM Adopt a Street scheme’s support, but we decided to gloss over fully briefing everything in, just in the interests of starting before a week next Tuesday.  The litter picking kit itself was nothing short of a triumph: four pairs of gloves, four florescent tabards, three and a half thousand black plastic sacks as thin as the increasingly thin, Thin Blue Line that polices Winter Hill.  The piece-de-resistance though was the sticky picky litter picking up stick things (over which there was a bit of a bun fight because we did not have quite enough to go around).  Splitting into two teams allowed us to tackle the footpath down to Cockmarsh, the National Trust car park an…

Soul Food at the Soul Service, Holy Trinity

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I've been to church this afternoon. No really! I have! And I'll let you in to a little secret too, it's not the first time I've been and probably wont be the last either.  The Soul Service at Holy Trinity is an event entirely designed for people like me. Those with little or no faith (or indeed, those with an entirely different faith).  The idea is, you can go to the service in order to find a little space for reflection, perhaps a wee small voice of calm.  
I admit, I was a little sceptical the first time. On that initial occasion, Father Nick The Vic welcomed people, as he still does, and shared that part of the idea is to give people "permission" to be there.  Or more specifically, to be there in the church building. It was at that exact moment that I was so glad to have gone.  Of course I have been in the church before, but always with a guilty conscience.  And always worrying that I might actually meet someone in there, and God forbid that someone be …

Rocking the Moor with Guest Editor, Doody Blake (and the lovely Carol Kirkwood)

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You may recall that we needed someone to cover Rock The Moor - it is after all the biggest thing to happen in Cookham every year and I am too tight and too miserable to go.Fortunate then that I found a volunteer in the very glamourous shape of Doody Blake – the only woman I know who can manage to rock a blue wig, an orange kagool, and a pair of wellies and still look fabulous. So please give a warm welcome to Cookham Matters very first “Guest Editor” and her experience of this year’s Rock The Moor.Let us know how it compares to your own!
Being born in the 60’s I feel very fortunate having an 80’s 'Rock the Moor' concert on my doorstep. Great memorable 80’sbands playing locally on stage, bringing back sentimental memories of my youth. This was the ninth ‘Rock the Moor’ in Cookham and attending each year has become a family affair with my brother, my sister, the kids and friends from around the area and sometimes from afar. The tradition of dressing up is still ongoing and this y…

The National Trust Advisory Forum

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I’m 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, it’s 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 …

Rock the Moor - YOUR LOCAL BLOG NEEDS YOU!

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I think it would be remiss of Cookham Matters NOT to do a retrospective on Rock The Moor which is on the 20th May.However, I confess – I am not going.I think I think about it too much.  Firstly, I am deeply sceptical about the weather and just assume that I will prepare my picnic and trek down there with my cool box, only for it to pour with rain and leave me in a misery of mud and puddled porta loos.And as I understand it, you can’t take your own booze.So imagine if they ran out of Prosecco?Or worse than that even, imagine they still HAVE Prosecco, but it is quite undrinkable.  And then there is the dog poo.  I walk on that Moor a lot, and believe me I have seen vast quantities of dog poo.  How do they make sure they have hovered it all up so you don't pop your travel rug down on an enormous turd? That all got me to thinking….I know that many, many local people with a much more positive outlook than I, do go and by all accounts have a jolly fabulous time!So would any of you attend…

The Cookham Festival's most sought after tickets

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The Cookham Festival is described as an "arts" festival.  It happens every two years and is hugely supported within the village and further afield.  Now it is true that there are lots of arts events in the program.  For example, there is both a poetry and a painting competition on the schedule.  However, it probably won't surprise you to know that I would struggle with the performance of The Hollow Crown (which apparently "relives the lives, loves and losses of the crowned heads of Great Britain") unless it was a bit like an in-the-flesh OK magazine of Royals - and I don't think it is.  So the things that appeal to me are less arts and more, what shall we say?  Populist?  So just in case you have not been through the schedule yet, I am going to share a few of my favourites.
The highlight of the program, which I booked tickets for the very MOMENT they were released, is obviously "An Evening with Grant Mitchell".  Sorry I mean "An Evening with R…

The Bluebells of Cookham

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The Bluebells are such a pleasure at this time of year and a stroll round Cliveden, or Pinkney's Green is always a joy.However, the Cookham Wildlife Supporters were handed an even rarer treat on Saturday when over 30 members enjoyed a stroll around the Wildlife Heritage Site, Pigeonhouse Woods.The land is owned by David and Margaret Harrold who live at Little Harwood in Choke Lane, and they are passionate about conservation and managing their land in the best way for the environment.Bluebells are the sign of an ancient woodland because of their slow rate of growth, and considering the carpet that greeted us, it must indeed be a very old wood.The weather was kind and the sun out, which provided some lovely photo opportunities as beams of light filtered between the canopy of mixed trees - including Oak, Lime and Sweet Hazel - to spotlight the flowers.Woodlands require management to maintain the optimum conditions and maximize diversity and Margaret explained how she had originally i…

Village Hardware Cookham - for your flange related requirements and more...

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As VIP men go, Tony from Village Hardware is right up there with Father Christmas as far as I am concerned. This is mainly thanks to my complete ineptitude with anything that comes under the general heading of “handy”. Changing a light bulb is probably possible yes, but finding the correct light bulb in the first instance is another matter entirely.  I mean, who on earth decided to call it a “bayonet fitting”?  That’s like starting an argument even before you have tried putting it in the screw fitting.
Anyway, back to Tony.  The point is, whatever your household requirement, all you have to do is go in there clutching your Exhibit A.  Very often you don’t even need to say anything.  You hand it to him with a bemused look on your face and he will say “Do you need another one"?  And even I can reply to that.  The shop is a tardis and off Tony will beetle to find a replacement of Exhibit A.  I actually don’t think there is anything I have ever needed that Tony has not got, or been ab…

myHRdept - simplifying staff employment

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If you are a small or medium sized business, you probably have two major headaches.  One being cash flow and the other being staffing.  MyHRdept was started by Bill Larke and his wife Catherine who live in Cookham Dean, over 14 years ago to help businesses with the second of these issues - managing the ongoing process of employing staff.  Whilst HR is a complex, litigated world, the administration of it need not be, if you are compliant and correctly informed.  MyHRdept have a range of services that in effect outsource HR, but this can be as simple or as comprehensive as you want it to be.  It could be providing or reviewing a staff contract to ensure you are up to date and conform with the most recent employment law.  Or, it could be the management of a complex recruitment or disciplinary issue.Either way, you are free to concentrate on growing your business.  Don’t assume that the cost is prohibitive either.  They have a range of payment options including fixed rate services and ind…