24 May 2013

The Hoo Peninsula is open for business!

With half term approaching, I’d like to encourage you to visit the Hoo Peninsula - a fantastic landscape offering wilderness and heritage.

It stretches from Cliffe (or thereabouts) in the west to the Isle of Grain in the east. Our villages include Upnor, Cliffe and Cliffe Woods, Cooling, Hoo St. Werburgh, High Halstow, St. Mary Hoo, Stoke, Allhallows and the Isle of Grain.

We have a fabulous, and in my view unrivalled, network of dramatic walking routes, marshland, wildlife, heritage, farmland and vibrant communities. There are many local shops and businesses, including a super selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants and we are never short of fetes and community events.

We are very proud to be the home of RSPB Cliffe Pools Nature Reserve, Upnor Castle, RSPB Northwood Hill Nature Reserve, Grain Coastal Park, St. James’ Church at Cooling (made famous by Charles Dickens), Deangate Ridge Golf Club near Hoo, Medway Microlights at Stoke Airfield and Port Werburgh in Hoo (just some of our attractions).

If you’ve never been - please come and see us and enjoy the great outdoors right on your doorstep. You’ll have a great time!

Take a look at Medway Council’s website for more information about local activities, search the Hoo Peninsula on the internet or browse this site.

We are open for business and ready to welcome you!

22 May 2013

Take a trip to Grain Coastal Park

If you’d like to experience our dramatic local landscape, you’re definitely spoilt for choice on the Hoo Peninsula.

The much improved Grain Coastal Park is a great place to begin and it’s perfect for appreciating some of the history and character of the Hoo Peninsula.

Enthusiastic volunteers have undertaken huge amounts of improvement work over the last couple of years, firstly as part of a Kent Wildlife Trust project and then in the form of the Friends of Grain Coastal Park volunteer group - set up specifically to promote and improve the park. The site is owned by the St. James Isle of Grain Parish Council.

I had a great time at Grain on Sunday afternoon, walking from one end of the park to the other, exploring many new and existing walks, paths and seating / viewing areas. The place is looking stunning and volunteers have done a remarkable job.

Take a look at the Friends of Grain Coastal Park website by clicking here. You’ll find details of organised walks planned for May, June and July - led by volunteer and local Parish Councillor Michael Dale.


18 May 2013

Public Convenience

Janet Keates, from Cliffe, recently sent me a scan of an old 1950s newspaper, referring to a major dispute between villagers living on the Isle of Grain. The subject of the row was the siting of a toilet block in the centre of the village!

The story appeared in the Daily Express in April 1959. And if you want to know what happened - the toilets were granted permission and they served the community for many years, until being demolished in the 1990s.

In 2000, the Cat and Cracker pub and the Working Men's Club were also demolished, leaving the village with only one watering hole for the first time in a century (The Hogarth).

Another snippet of our local history.

16 May 2013

Proposal to move Hoo Post Office - have your say!

Residents are invited to take part in a consultation to move Hoo Post Office from its current location in the village centre, to 112 Main Road (near the junction with Pottery Road).

If you'd like to have your say, click here to give your feedback, and to see the proposals in full.

The consultation ends on 27 June 2013.

Battle of the songsters!

It was good to catch up with Rolf Williams from the RSPB earlier today in Hoo for a coffee at Taggs Coffee Shop, promoting the coming North Kent Walking Festival.

Click here to take a look at the walking festival guide I posted on Sunday.

Following the information I was given by the RSPB at the weekend (Going for a song - Nightingales in North Kent), I thought you might also like to hear two singing Nightingales competing with each other at RSPB Northward Hill. This was recorded by Rolf recently.

Enjoy listening to the Nightingales on the video below.

Thanks Rolf for sharing this!

Grain and the floods of 1953

The floods of 1953 will be the subject of a couple of very interesting events being held at Grain library in June. Take a look at the below poster to find out more.

In addition to the talk being given by Norma Crowe, there'll no doubt be many fascinating photographs and accounts from local people.

See you there!

15 May 2013

Get involved at Grain Coastal Park

I've had many happy times volunteering on the Isle of Grain with the very successful Friends of Grain Coastal Park group.

They're a great bunch and are completely devoted to making sure the parkland can be enjoyed by everyone.

The Friends group meet every month and the next volunteering session is this Sunday (19 May), from 10am. Take a look at the poster below to find out more.

If all this sounds a little too strenuous for you, please pop over to Grain for a leisurely stroll around Grain Coastal Park and enjoy one of the most dramatic foreshores in the area.

You won't be disappointed!

The website for the Friends of Grain Coastal Park can be viewed by clicking here.

News from Anim-Mates animal sanctuary

Anim-Mates animal sanctuary, based at St. Mary Hoo, is always looking for new homes for their animals. The poster below features four cats seeking new homes.

Anim-Mates is a registered charity.  Take a look at their website by clicking here.

13 May 2013

They’re coming from the Rhondda Valleys!

My mate Stuart Coombes from Hoo is very busy organising another concert at Hoo Parish Church. This one will be held on Saturday 25 May with entertainment provided by the Morlais Male Choir, who will travel all the way from Wales for their third performance in the village.

Tickets are available by making a donation of £8, as per the details listed on the poster below (click to enlarge).

There’s still plenty of time to get hold of tickets, although they are going fast. To find out more phone Stuart on 01634 251705.

It’ll be a good night!

Meeting for The Chimes and Pastures Residents’ Association

Residents from the new developments east of Bells Lane in Hoo will be meeting on Saturday 25 May at 12 noon, at The Village Community Sports and Social Club (top of Bells Lane).

A number of topics will be on the agenda for discussion, including concerns about service level agreements with OM Property Management. The meeting will also, hopefully, elect a new Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Association.

If you’d like further information, send an email here.

12 May 2013

Summer Fete at the Nags Head pub

Take note of this exciting event in Lower Stoke, as there will be plenty of fun things to do at the Nags Head pub Summer Fete on Saturday 25 May.

Click the image below to find out more.

With plenty of stalls to keep everyone occupied, live entertainment will also be provided in the form of The Newz - a popular a rock 'n' roll band.

The Nags Head recently underwent a refurbishment, so please try and pop along with your family to show support for this community pub, and to enjoy a great day out.

Our great outdoors is waiting for you!

I’m sure many of us don’t need an excuse to get out the house and enjoy our fantastic local landscape. I certainly don’t, as it’s long been one of my favourite pastimes.

But it’s really good to see that a North Kent Walking Festival has been organised, with walks and events taking place from Saturday 25 May to Sunday 2 June.

Even more exciting is the fact that seven of the events listed on the guide, shown below, are being held right here on the Hoo Peninsula - all of which look fabulous fun! They include Grain Coastal Park, RSPB Northward Hill, Allhallows-on-Sea, Great Chattenden Wood, St. James’ Church at Cooling, RSPB Cliffe Pools and Cliffe Marshes.

I hope to see you at some of the walks and events planned, let's just hope the weather stays nice.

Time to enjoy our great outdoors!

Big turnout for the Hoo Clean Up!

The April Hoo Clean Up (pictured below on the May event poster) was possibly the most well attended session to date.

20 local residents came along to help collect litter from the village square, the car parks behind Co-Op and Spar supermarkets, Church Street and parts of Main Road, Stoke Road, Vicarage Lane and Bells Lane.

Another fantastic effort from the volunteers, finished off with refreshments and some tasty nibbles back at Taggs Coffee Shop.

Having attended every Clean Up event since they were created in January 2012, it was especially nice on this occasion to welcome along a few new faces. The next opportunity to get involved will be on Saturday 25 May at 9.30am. The meeting point will again be Taggs (Church Street, Hoo).

The Hoo Clean Ups are supported by Village Voices (the community magazine for Hoo and Chattenden), MHS Homes and the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. No funding is received (or sought) from Medway Council or Hoo Parish Council.

If you’d like to find out more about the Hoo Clean Ups, get in touch with Michael Pearce (Clean Up Co-Ordinator) on 07919 693095 or send an email here.

Going for a song - Nightingales in North Kent

With half term fast approaching, I thought I’d share some information supplied by the RSPB about events taking place at Northward Hill:

Nightingales are back for the summer on the Hoo Peninsula, probably the most important site in the UK for this species, and now is the best time to hear their song. To celebrate their return the RSPB is hosting a series of guided walks at some of the best places to hear and perhaps see these shy birds.

Nightingale photo by John Whitting.

Alan Johnson, Kent’s RSPB reserves manager said, “Now is the time because once the male has found his mate he falls silent. I never tire from hearing the nightingale’s song and we’d like to give everyone else the opportunity. Despite the bird’s popular appeal many have never heard one singing and the birds are disappearing from our countryside fast!”

British Trust for Ornithology research has revealed that the UK‘s nightingale population halved between 1995 and 2008 and their distribution is retreating towards the southeast of England. The Hoo Peninsula is now, probably, the most important area for the species in the country. Well over 1% of the national population nests at Lodge Hill and there are healthy populations at RSPB Cliffe Pools and Northward Hill, Chattenden Woods and Blean Woods.

The nightingale, a charismatic avian lyricist, litters our literature as far back as the 8th century BC. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Shelley and Keats couldn’t resist writing about nightingales, and the alleged songster of Berkeley Square has itself been sung about by Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and even Twiggy and Rod Stewart! Many people confuse song thrushes, robins and blackbirds for nightingales since these birds will sing by the light of a street lamp but the real thing is unmistakable.

A choice of guided walks are available to the public over the next few weeks and full details can be found on the RSPB website here, or by clicking here. You can also phone the RSPB office on 01634 222480.

Sunday 19 May, from 10am to 12pm
RSPB Northward Hill “Wild About You” Bird Ringing 

Tuesday 28 May, from 7am to 9am
Great Chattenden Woods “North Kent Walking Festival” Walk* 

Wednesday 29 May, from 6am to 8pm
RSPB Northward Hill “Spring Strings” North Kent Walking Festival Walk and cello* 

Sunday 9 June, from 10am to 12 noon
RSPB Northward Hill “Wild About You” Bird Ringing

*A donation is appreciated, all other walks have a fee. 

RSPB Northward Hill is well worth a visit, so please try and pop along to one of these events!

7 May 2013

Village Voices (parishes of Stoke and St. Mary Hoo), May 2013 Edition

Here's the first edition of Village Voices, especially for the parishes of Stoke and St. Mary Hoo. Click the image below to see the full copy (this directs you to the Village Voices website).

This edition includes reports and updates from Stoke Parish Council and St. Mary Hoo Parish Council.  There's also information about the Nags Head Pub Summer Fete, to be held in the village on Saturday 25 May.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.

High Halstow Times - May 2013 Edition

Here’s the latest edition of the High Halstow Times. Once again the magazine is packed full of stories, reports and things to do in the village. Click on the image below to see the full copy.

This edition includes a feature about the High Halstow Golf Open (to be held on 17 July), a report from the High Halstow Hikers, an update on the annual village photographic competition, news from High Halstow Primary School and much much more.

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

1 May 2013

Village Voices (May 2013 Edition)

The May edition of Village Voices (the community magazine for Hoo St. Werburgh and Chattenden) is now available to read online. Just click the image below to see the full copy.

This edition includes an article from The Chimes and Pastures Residents Association, a Bird Names Wordsearch, a photo feature from the Strood Division of Girlguiding UK, a special report by Rolf Williams from the RSPB, local events and diary dates, a report from the Hoo Village Carnival Committee, advice for teenagers in the ‘adolescent angle’ feature and plenty of local insight in a double-whammy of ‘hobbies and pastimes’.

Take a look at the Village Voices website by clicking here.

Allhallows Life - May 2013 Edition

The latest edition of Allhallows Life is now available. Click the image below to read the full copy.

This edition includes an interesting review of the Parish Council’s work over the last two years (since elections were held in May 2011), information about village events, advice on becoming a volunteer Master Gardener and much more!

Another packed edition, with lots of local information and news.

Allhallows Life is the magazine for 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.