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.

24 November 2011

Gearing up for a great Christmas on the Isle of Grain!

There’s quite a bit going on around the Hoo Peninsula this Christmas. I’ve already mentioned events happening in Hoo, so now it’s the turn of the Isle of Grain.

The fun begins this Saturday (26 November), when GOFFs (the Grain Over Forty Fives group) hold an Autumn/Christmas Fayre at the Village Hall (Chapel Road). This will take place from 11am until 2pm, when there’ll be plenty of stalls offering cards, gifts, a tombola, a raffle, refreshments and lots, lots, more.

Then on Saturday 3 December the Grain Fete Committee will be having their Christmas Quiz at the Village Hall, from 7.30pm.

Make sure you’re feeling suitably creative though, as you could win a prize for having the best decorated table! Live music will be provided by councillors Chris Buckwell (Parish Council Chairman) and Chris Irvine. The Fete Committee quiz nights are usually held every second Saturday, except in July, August and December. They help raise much needed cash for Fete expenses. Tickets are £5.50 per person and a hot meal is provided at half time. Sounds good to me! Click on the image below for more information.

As mentioned on this site last month, the Showin’ Grain Theatre Group are putting on this year’s pantomime on Friday 9 December and Saturday 10 December at the Village Hall.

Sunday 11 December, sees St. James Church (High Street - towards the beach) present ‘Christingle’ from 6pm, where there will be plenty of carols to be sung! If you’re able to pop along and enjoy the festive spirit - please take a donation of new toiletries for the Salvation Army to distribute to the homeless.

And finally, on Saturday 17 December the band of the Salvation Army will be performing at St. James Church for lots of Carols and festive tunes. The start time will be confirmed shortly (I’ll provide an update accordingly). Everyone is very welcome to attend.

My apologies if I haven’t mentioned your Christmas event - just let me know all the details by getting in touch using the contact page. But it looks like there is going to be so much festive cheer in Grain this year.  Any Scrooges should be packing their bags already!

I’ll be including Christmas events taking place in other parts of the peninsula shortly, so please get in touch if you’d like your event to appear on this site.

Click on the ‘label’ below marked ‘Christmas Event 2011’ to see all the Christmas events mentioned on this site so far.

23 November 2011

The Beacon, Parish Magazine of Hoo St. Werburgh (December edition) - Out Now!

The latest edition of The Beacon parish magazine is now available. Copies may be purchased from local shops in Hoo, including Choicemeats at 1 Fourwents Road and the Newsagent at 35 Knights Road.

For further information, contact the Editor (Mrs Muriel Bewsey) on 01634 252129.

21 November 2011

Lots of ‘Ho Ho Ho’ in Hoo this Christmas!

There’s lots of festive fun to be had in Hoo this Christmas, with at least four Christmas events taking place in the village. Well that’s four I’ve already been told about anyway!

The fun begins this coming Saturday (26 November) when Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church hold an Autumn/Christmas Fair - with lots of entertainment for the whole family. This is taking place from 10am until 1pm. Click the image below for more information.

Then there’s a Christmas Bazaar, which is being held at Hoo Village Hall (Pottery Road), on Wednesday 30 November. This is being organised by Hoo District Girlguiding - with cakes, competition prizes and crafts on offer. Click the image below to find out more.

On Saturday 3 December it’s the turn of the Red Cross Christmas Fayre, at the Red Cross Centre just along Stoke Road (from the Village Square). The fun will include a raffle, tombola, refreshments and much more besides, so please pop along and show your support. Take a look at the image below to find out more. I bought some very tasty cakes at last year’s event, which, needless to say, didn’t quite survive until Christmas.

And on Saturday 10 December Hoo Village Square will come alive with the Hoo Village Events Committee presenting their Christmas Fayre. There’ll be lots going on, so you’d better make time to pop along and enjoy the festive atmosphere. There’ll be live music and entertainment (including local singing sensation Matthew Crane), seasonal stalls, local produce and a great deal more! Last year’s event was a stonking success, and there’s sure to be something for everyone again this time. Click the below images to find out more.

My apologies if I haven’t mentioned your Christmas event - just let me know all the details by getting in touch using the contact page.

I’m hoping to include Christmas events taking place in other parts of the peninsula shortly, so please get in touch if you’d like your event to appear on this site.

I hope to see you soon . . .

Don’t miss out on Police Male Voice Choir concert tickets!

Tickets are going fast for the Kent Police Male Voice Choir concert at Hoo Parish Church in a couple of weeks. But there’s still plenty of time to book your place, although I wouldn’t leave it too late!

The popular Choir will perform at the Church on Sunday 4 December at 6.30pm.

Book your ticket(s) soon to avoid disappointment and to help raise much needed cash for the Church restoration fund.

For tickets (a donation of £7) contact Stuart on 01634 251705.

16 November 2011

New players wanted at the Isle of Grain Youth Soccer School . . .

Following on from an article that I wrote on this site in September, the Chairman of the Isle of Grain Youth Soccer School, Paul Peachey, has been in touch this week to appeal for more new players.

Paul is keen to encourage more youngsters to join the many league football teams set up by the Isle of Grain Youth Soccer School. Members of all ages are welcome, but Paul is especially keen to strengthen the following teams: U10s (year 5 at school), U12s (year 7 at school), U8s (year 2 at school). Paul also told me that he’d like to get kids involved in two new teams - for the U7s and U6s (year 1 and reception at school).

As well as the league teams, the Youth Soccer School is looking to attract new recruits - for all those aged between 3 and 16. They meet at Seaview Meadow (Lang’s Field) at the Isle of Grain every Saturday from 10.30am till 12.30pm.

If you’d like to get involved, or know someone that would, contact Paul Peachey on 07818 558036.

14 November 2011

High Halstow Photographic Competition - Winners Announced

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I’d been invited to join the judging panel for High Halstow’s annual photographic competition.

The winning entries were announced at a Parish Council meeting last week, attended by lots of local residents.

Congratulations to Ella Kitney, who was the overall winner with her photo of a wintry wooded walk, which also came top in the ‘Under 18s’ category. Ella's winning photo is on January’s page in the 2012 High Halstow calendar. Other entries and category winners are featured from February to December.

Parish Council Chairman George Crozer and Vice-Chairman Gary Thomas are pictured below holding copies of the calendar. To find out how to buy a copy click here.

I think the calendar makes for a really good Christmas gift. Especially so, given that all profits will be donated to the HUGH fund (fundraising for the Village Hall).

For the full list of category winners and to see their photos click here. And to see the winners collecting their prizes click here.

12 November 2011

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Yesterday I wrote about my visit to northern France to visit the graves of my ancestors William Watson and Harry Stratford. I first learnt about their involvement in the Great War, and their deaths, when I visited the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Upper Stoke last year, as part of a local history walk led by Alan Marshall.

Both their names were listed, along with sixteen others, on a plaque (pictured below) commemorating those from the Parish who had given their lives in the service of King and country.

Wondering how I might go about locating their graves, I thought how impossible that was likely to be given the hundreds of thousands who died in northern France and Belgium between 1914-1918. But after a bit of digging on various genealogy websites, I managed to track down war records for both William and Harry, detailing personal information and their service history, including the date of their deaths.

I was then able to use the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to track down the location of William’s grave and the place where Harry’s name is listed amongst tens of thousands who have no known grave.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter in 1917.  It pays tribute to the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars by maintaining graves and memorials across the world, the bulk of which are in northern France and Belgium.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website doesn’t just give the detail of servicemen’s graves, but also provides quite a lot of very specific information about the individual battles in which these young men died.

Take a look at the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission by clicking here. Be sure to navigate to the ‘debt of honour’ page where you can search for specific ancestors. You can also visit the very useful website of the War Graves Photographic Project by clicking here - another excellent resource!

11 November 2011

Remembrance, 11-11-11

I’ve mentioned my family history research a few times on this site, and this time last year I wrote about two recently identified relatives who both lived on the Hoo Peninsula and died in the Great War.

Over the last year I’ve been researching their lives and thinking about the sacrifice they made on behalf of their country, and how interesting it would be to visit their final resting places in France. So, earlier this week, I went off to Arras in northern France for a couple of days.

I headed for Queen’s Cemetery, just outside the small village of Bucquoy, south west of Arras. This is where William Watson, who was my great grandfather’s nephew, is buried. William was born in Lower Stoke and was just 21 when he was killed on 17 February 1917, serving with the Royal Marine Light Infantry. This was during the ‘Battle of Miraumont’, one of the many long forgotten battles fought over a few hundred yards of muddy farmland, in a war which led to the deaths of such unimaginable numbers of young men.

William’s grave is marked by one of the tens of thousands of smart headstones caringly maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His cousin Harry Stratford’s name doesn’t appear on its own headstone anywhere. He was 24 when he was killed, and his name is listed on the Arras Memorial, together with those of 35,941 other servicemen of the British Empire who have no known grave. The names are listed by regiment, in Harry’s case the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), rather than rank. In the sacrifice of death, all ranks are equal.

A plaque outside the Arras Memorial informs visitors rather coldly about 159,000 commonwealth soldiers dying there in just 39 days during the spring of 1917. But when seeing so many names, carved neatly in stone, it really makes you appreciate the huge loss of life that took place during the 1914-18 war. As do the 54,896 names listed on the Menin Gate in Ypres and the 73,367 listed on the huge memorial at Thiepval, a few miles south of Bucquoy.

Menin Gate Memorial

 Menin Gate Memorial

Thiepval Memorial

These memorials, and the hundreds of lovingly maintained graveyards dotted around northern France and Flanders, mean that the sacrifice of so many will never be forgotten.