19 December 2011

Christmas Carols in Hoo

On my way to a family Christmas party on Saturday morning, I stopped off in Hoo Village Square to enjoy Carols being sung by many familiar faces from the village.

The event lasted a couple of hours or so and was organised by members of Hoo Parish Church. Anyone passing was welcome to grab a song sheet and join in. Fortunately for people who were out and about, I wasn't able to stop long enough to share the sound of my dulcets!

13 December 2011

It was showtime on the Isle of Grain . . . Oh yes it was!

I joined a packed audience last Saturday evening, to watch the second of two performances of this year’s Isle of Grain pantomime, Hamelin.

The show was put on by the Showin’ Grain Theatre Group, with the panto written and directed by Moira Pearn.

I can’t tell you what a hilarious evening it was. I don’t think anyone in the audience can have had so much fun or laughed as much in ages!

The cast kept everyone gripped - right through to the ‘triple’ finale, which included great performances of Take That’s ‘Never Forget’, Merry Christmas (lots of audience participation required of course!) and a hilarious song about ‘Butter and Margarine’. It was so funny, it has stayed with me for the last three days and I haven’t been able to stop smiling!

Some of the panto cast, including director Moira Pearn (wearing a wild black wig, on the left!), who also appeared as the lovable ‘Lou Natic’.

Moira (pictured again below) told me that she couldn’t put into words how proud she was of everyone involved in the production. “They all work so hard and I am so strict with them - ‘Speak up!’, ‘Don’t mumble your words!’, ‘I can’t hear you!’ - they will all recognise these uttered words.”

Moira would especially like to thank Edward Cordier, who is the group’s ‘technician magician’ - without whom many of her spectacular ideas wouldn’t have come to fruition.

I for one had a great night. The whole production was put together brilliantly. Excellent music and a great cast (all named below), who were all clearly enjoying themselves. And plenty of audience participation - no matter how hard I tried to hide!

Who needs the West End?!

The Showin' Grain Theatre Group will also be appearing at The Village Sports & Social Club in Hoo this Friday (16 December) - best of luck! Don’t miss it!

12 December 2011

Lodge Hill, Outline Planning Application - consultation deadline extended

Application No: MC/11/2516
Applicant: Defence Infrastructure Organisation
Agent: Land Securities

Medway Council, in recognition of the scale of the application and with the pressures of Christmas and new year, is pleased to provide an extension of time for the submission of comments on the above application to the 13 January 2012. Please make comments in writing either by email by clicking here, or by letter to Development Management, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4TR and marked for the attention of Carly Stoddart.

For more information, visit Medway Council’s website by clicking here.

11 December 2011

Hoo’s up for a great Christmas!

Yesterday was the Hoo Christmas Fayre - a fantastic afternoon of festive celebrations, once again organised by the Hoo Village Events Committee.

Local singing sensation Matthew Crane - the UK’s youngest classical baritone - captivated the crowds with an hour long performance of classic tunes, before switching on the Christmas tree lights. Matthew, who was the champion of the 2006 BBC talent show ‘Let Me Entertain You’, is pictured below with event organisers Maureen Tong-Ralphs, Linda Perfect and Nancy Waller.

And Matthew wasn’t the only entertainment on offer!

Not only was everyone treated to belly dancing (Yes, belly dancing in December!), there was live music from duo ‘True Blue’ - featuring Grain’s soprano sax playing Parish Council Chairman, and singing local Councillor Chris Irvine (both pictured below).

Chris Irvine with Hoo Parish Councillor Ron Sands

I was in good company for much of the time, wondering around the square with Hoo Parish Councillor Ron Sands (pictured above). Ron is a former wrestler and once had the ‘pleasure’ of going head to head (or should that be belly to belly?!) with the legendary Big Daddy.

Despite the nip in the air, the sun shone brightly across the Village Square and the event was a tremendous success. There were lots of stalls offering local produce, mulled wine, mince pies, cakes and much more besides! I’m a bit of a big kid when it comes to Christmas, and it’s at times like this that I really do wish it were Christmas every day!

I wrestled past a queue of eager children to get a photo of Santa and his helper in Santa’s Grotto. Sorry kids for pushing through to the front - but it was important to get evidence that he is real to prove any doubters wrong!

Santa gave me his assurances that, despite not being at the North Pole to supervise the toy making, all is in hand for the Christmas Eve deliveries.

But Santa wasn’t the only special guest. We were joined by royalty too!

It was good to be able to chat with John and Peggy Scott who, although from Hoo, are the Pearly King and Queen of Highgate. John and Peggy have spent 40 years fundraising for good causes and charities and were delighted to be on hand to support the Anim-Mates Animal Sanctuary (based in St. Mary Hoo), as well as the whole Christmas Fayre.

Despite getting bitterly cold towards late afternoon, everyone had a great time catching up with friends and enjoying some good old fashioned festive spirit!

9 December 2011

New for 2012 - get your hands dirty at Grain Coastal Park!

The volunteering activities to improve and tidy up Grain Coastal Park that were led by the Kent Wildlife Trust earlier this year were a great success.

New signs, re-laid paths, extra benches and sack loads of cleared rubbish were testament to the hard work carried out by dozens of local residents.

The Kent Wildlife Trust, in partnership with St. James Isle of Grain Parish Council and Medway Council, previously organised monthly volunteering sessions - involving litter picks, landscape maintenance, painting, gardening and much more besides.

Many people from across the Hoo Peninsula (and beyond) were involved and everyone had lots of fun!

That project ceased earlier this year, as the funding arrangement was only for a set period. But there is still more to do to ensure this lovely part of the peninsula is maintained for the enjoyment of all.

So there is a new project launching in January 2012!

A good number of the original volunteers from this year's project have organised a brand new volunteering initiative - to continue the improvements and to create a ‘Friends of Grain Coastal Park’ group.

Click the image below to find out more about the volunteer activity days that are being launched in January 2012.

Please come along and ‘get your hands dirty’ - it’s a really worthwhile project and a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning once a month.

There’s a promise of fresh air, ‘light’ exercise and free refreshments - not to mention some tasty cake!

The new volunteering activities are again supported by St. James Isle of Grain Parish Council.

Here’s a small selection of photos from the previous volunteering project:

If you’d like more information about the 2012 Grain Coastal Park volunteering sessions, or to confirm your attendance, please get in touch using the contact page.

I hope to see you at the first session on January 15!

8 December 2011

New DVD about Hoo Parish Church . . .

I heard some news at the weekend which will be quite exciting to those with an interest in the life of the Hoo community. It was about a film being produced locally about Hoo Parish Church.

It will be a ‘year in the life’ of the Church and will feature many of the events that have taken place.

The DVD is being produced by Ralph Smythe (pictured below working on the DVD). Ralph is Secretary of the Hoo Peninsula Model Railway Club and Treasurer of Hoo-ARA - to name but two of the local groups he’s involved with!

I popped along to see Ralph the other day and had a sneak preview of the film.

Things seem to be shaping up nicely and I was impressed with all the technology involved in producing what I’m sure will be an impressive local film.

It will also make for a really memorable keepsake.

The DVD will be available in the New Year, but orders can be placed now by getting in touch with Stuart Coombes on 01634 251705.

A minimum donation will be requested for copies of the DVD, but all money raised will go to Hoo Parish Church.

1 December 2011

Christmas Events

Many local Christmas events have been added to this site in the last couple of weeks. To see information about those events - simply click the button to the right of the screen, or click on the below label marked ‘Christmas Event 2011’.

Have a good time and please support as many local events as you can!

If you have an event that you would like mentioned on this site, get in touch using the contact page.

Carols at Cooling

There will be a Carol Service at St. James’ Church in Cooling on Saturday 17 December, from 6pm. This will be followed by a serving of mince pies at the Village Hall.

The Church isn’t heated, so please do wrap up warmly if you are able to attend. I’m quite sure though that plenty of singing will quickly get everyone warmed up!

The Friends of St. James’ Church, who are organising the event, are always very busy organising events to raise money for the upkeep of the Church and to keep this lovely old building open to the public.

For more information, take a look at their website by clicking here.

30 November 2011

Support Stoke Community School’s Christmas Fair!

Stoke Community School (Allhallows Road) will be holding their Christmas Fair on Friday 9 December, from 2.30pm.

Help the school raise much needed extra cash and support all the local children (from Year’s 5 and 6), who have worked so hard to make the event a great success! There’s a rumour that Santa might even be popping along!

There’ll be lots going on, including a raffle and a tombola. And there’s a promise of some tasty homemade cakes and plenty of other festive stalls as well.

If you’d like to donate a raffle prize - contact the school by phoning 01634 270268.

A new WI for Stoke this Christmas!

Stoke Village Hall will host the formation meeting of a brand new branch of the Women’s Institute. The meeting will take place on Wednesday 14 December. Click the image below to find out more details.

If you’d like to get involved in the new WI group, contact Maggie Vidgen on 01634 842026.

If you do manage to get along - have a great time!

29 November 2011

Happy Christmas in High Halstow!

The December edition of the High Halstow Times is now available. Just click on the image below to see the full copy.

This month’s special Christmas edition includes information about the Memorial Hall Mini Christmas Fayre (on Sunday 4 December), High Halstow Primary School’s Christmas Fair (on Thursday 8 December - more details below), Carol Singing (on 14 December), a special Christmas Eve visit to the village by Santa, Fairy George and the Parish Elves, details of Christmas services at St. Margaret’s Church, events at The Red Dog and information about Dramarama’s colourful production of Aladdin (showing in January). And there’s a lot more!

On a different theme entirely, the magazine also includes an urgent update on the Lodge Hill development proposals.

The High Halstow Times is the magazine of High Halstow Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here.

Click the ‘Christmas Event 2011’ label below to see all the Christmas events taking place locally (those that I have been told about anyway).

Allhallows - life and soul of the Christmas party!

The December edition of Allhallows Life (also featuring St. Mary Hoo) is now available. Just click on the image below to see the full copy.

This month’s festive edition includes details of a special fundraising event at the Village Hall (on Saturday 3 December), details of the monthly Village Project Morning (on Saturday 10 December) an Indoor Market at The British Pilot (on Saturday 10 December), days and times of Christmas services at All Saints Church, a special visit to the village by Santa (on Sunday 18 December) and news about the ‘Cleaner Village Campaign’ Poster Competition. And there’s much more!

Allhallows Life is the magazine of Allhallows Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here. The magazine also features items from St. Mary Hoo Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here.

And you think that’s a lot of Christmas events for one village? There’s at least one more!

Allhallows Primary School (Avery Way) will be having a Christmas Bazaar on Friday 2 December, from 2.30pm.

Click the ‘Christmas Event 2011’ label below to see all the events taking place locally (those that I have been told about anyway).

27 November 2011

My first weekend of Christmas events . . .

Like many others in Hoo, I headed down to Hoo Parish Church yesterday morning for their Christmas Fair - the first of many Christmas events taking place locally. And despite getting there just after opening time, the place was already buzzing!

Hoo resident Alan Page.

It was good seeing Stuart Coombes and Mick Hollands (pictured below) handing out flyers for the Church’s special morning of carols, taking place on Saturday 17 December at 10.30am. Carol singing for an hour in the Village Sqaure followed by mince pies and coffee in the Church.

With festive tunes echoing around the Church, Ron and Muriel Bewsey (pictured below) were being kept busy cooking a hog roast which was clearly a very popular choice for many, especially with it being so cold outside.

There were lots of stalls and raffles (I won a bottle of Sherry) and plenty of handmade crafts and local produce. I picked up some very nice looking Christmas cards of Hoo Parish Church.

Despite my enthusiasm for ‘cake tasting’ I managed to resist the temptation this time - even though there were more cakes than I had seen in one place in a long long time!

With that, and having caught up with local news and gossip, I headed over to the Isle of Grain to catch the Christmas Fair organised by GOFFS (the Grain Over Forty Fives group) at Grain Village Hall. There were lots of stalls, so I thought it best to catch my breath first and have a quick cuppa and bacon roll!

I had a good look round, but my nose seemed to be taking me in the direction of a cake stall at the far end of the hall. My earlier resilience was waning.

And they were fantastic looking cakes too! I had a good chat with the stallholders (pictured below) before finally giving in and buying four cakes which were neatly boxed up and kept aside for my collection later.

I had a chat with Veronica Cordier and Moira Pearn, who were on the stall for the Showin’ Grain Theatre Group. Moira (pictured below) is directing the panto, which will be performed on Friday 9 December and Saturday 10 December. I’m looking forward to hearing Veronica singing - I’ve been told she’s very good!

There were some really fantastic looking raffle prizes dotted around the hall, including amazing Christmas hampers - like the one pictured below on a stall belonging to Jenny and Pat (pictured below with Nigel).

The two Christmas events in Hoo and Grain yesterday were really enjoyable and I’m looking forward to attending some more soon.

Don’t forget - click the ‘Christmas Event 2011’ label below to see all the Christmas events taking place locally (those that I have been told about anyway).

Sorry, but before I forget . . . no I didn’t leave my boxed up cakes behind!

Destination Cooling, a weekend walk . . .

With what seems like more Christmas events in the offing than there are days in the month, and the associated risk of enjoying far too many mince pies, I made an important decision last Sunday - to get out and do a lot more exercise! (Well a bit more anyway.)

So setting off from Hoo as the fog cleared last Sunday morning, I headed towards Cooling starting out at Dux Court Road, and joining RS45 onto Wybournes Lane. This leads to Wybournes Way bridleway, which runs along the northern side of Lodge Hill Wood and down towards New Barn Farm. It’s here where I then joined the lane to Cooling, walking under the railway line and by Cooling Court Farm.

Arriving at Cooling Castle I realised I had left my wallet at home, so without the possibility of a pit stop in the Horseshoe and Castle pub, I headed back up towards Mount Pleasant - watched intently by a flock of sheep, clearly a little annoyed that I had interrupted their lunch. When I got back to the bridleway, I then started retracing my earlier steps back towards Wybourne Farm and Dux Court Road.

I’ve marked on the map below the route I took.

I did this walk just a few days before Christmas last year when we were all up to our knees in snow. So with the sun shining brightly and sky clear blue (once last Sunday morning’s fog had cleared) the scenery looked a little different this time round.

The walk took about two hours, but it could have been done much more quickly had I not stopped so many times to take in some great views of our local unspoilt landscape. But what's the rush on a Sunday?

I'm not sure exactly how many calories I used up, but surely enough to compensate for festive treats enjoyed this week!

There are quite a few other good walks around High Halstow and Cooling. Click here to visit High Halstow Parish Council’s website, where there's a dedicated section about local walks, including an easy-to-use map with details of the many marked walks in this very special and peaceful corner of the peninsula.