Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Your letters...

The same corn field but harvested

The same corn field but harvested

Sir, — Following my friend Victoria Page’s pictures of the field above Upper Thames Rowing Club in different seasons (Standard, July 2) and Steven Allender’s lovely painting of it (Standard, August 2), I thought readers might like to see the latest photograph of the same field harvested under a wonderful sky. This was taken last week while I was on a walk with a group of friends, including Victoria. — Yours faithfully,

Helen Chilvers


Hungry hawks

Sir, — I photographed this sparrowhawk outside my window one morning two weeks ago. It was 10ft away with the remains of its prey (a pigeon).

The picture was taken through double glazing with a Panasonic Lumix on auto at about 6.30am.

The sparrowhawk had made the kill the previous day and returned to continue before flying away with what was left! — Yours faithfully,

David Wood


P.S. I had difficulty zooming in without focusing on the inside of the glass — I should have used manual focus!

Secretive land grabs

Sir, - South Oxfordshire District Council has decided that it is time to undertake a community governance review pursuant to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 for the whole area.

To you and me, this is reviewing boundaries between parishes.

No one asked the council to take this action but they thought it would be a good idea after all these years.

They have asked, among others, the parishes of Henley, Harpsden and Shiplake to recommend on any parish boundary changes they would wish.

After consultation, the council will decide, in their infinite wisdom, on the new boundaries by April.

Did no one tell the council that the parishes of Henley and Harpsden will be engaged in a joint neighbourhood plan when this decision on boundaries is made? Obviously not.

Instead of replying to the council that one of the outcomes of the neighbourhood plan could be an appreciation of any new boundaries by an army of enthusiastic volunteers, responsible councillors in the three parishes have rushed in and, behind closed doors, stitched together replies which are both mixes of conspiracy and misguided actions, viz:

1. Henley boundary: Amend the boundary of the parish to include land north of Gillotts Lane and land south of Greys Road, essentially Highlands Farm, Gillotts School and Treetops - land currently in Harpsden parish.

2. Harpsden parish: Amend the parish boundary to include land south of Rotherfield Road, essentially the south side of Rotherfield Road and Drawback Hill - land currently in Henley parish.

3. Shiplake: Amend the parish boundary to include land south of Bolney Lane and land north of Woodland Road, essentially Thames Farm - land currently in Harpsden parish.

Councillors have been seduced by a rush for opportunistic land grabs which favour their own communities. We are now in danger of the neighbourhood plan being over-complicated and being biased by outside influences which we, the residents, need to control.

Does any resident of Henley and Harpsden remember any detailed discussions of these land grabs? No.

Well, it has been put forward in your name without your knowledge and could affect your council tax and services received.

As to the Shiplake land grab, it is purely a political move in the name of district councillor Malcolm Leonard and a wily Shiplake Parish Council to obstruct any development of Thames Farm in the foreseeable future.

They have the capability to steer this through at the district council with the massed ranks of the Conservative Party in attendance on the planning committee.

As a result, Thames Farm will be buried and a site with real potential will fail to gain a fair appraisal for solving some of our joint planning problems.

Shiplake Parish Council?s Machiavellian tactics are short-sighted, selfish and self-centred and definitely not appreciative of the greater good of us all. - Yours


Barry Wood

Blandy Road, Henley

Vigilante dog poo brigade

Sir, - Walking down the lower end of Gravel Hill in Henley is becoming a hazardous experience - no longer the fear of tripping over loose paving stones but rather that of stepping into poo corner for dogs.

Recently these canines have shown their appreciation of the hill for spots outside a restaurant, a private house, the Baptist church and the garage of a neighbour.

Their owners on one end of a lead could hardly have failed to notice the large deposit that was occurring at the other end.

Sadly, this is just not confined to Gravel Hill, it is happening all over town and in Duke Street particularly. You are advised to have your wits and eyes about you.

However, the residents of Gravel Hill are no longer prepared to have their environment spoilt by a few thoughtless people walking their dogs, so beware, the Gravel Hill Vigilante Poo Brigade will be watching you and looking for their sign of approval - that little plastic bag.

Remember, there is no such thing as a bad dog, only a bad owner. - Yours faithfully,

Val Pickard

Gravel Hill, Henley

Annoying practice

Sir, - With reference to Mrs Mason?s letter headlined "Did she pick up after her dog?" (Standard, July 26), my response to "I would have picked mine up" would be to ask if she often defecated in public!

On a serious note, I own two dogs and do clear up after them.

What irritates me are those who do "pick up" but then leave the bag festooning a nearby bush or hanging on a branch. - Yours faithfully,

Anne Smith

Upper Warren Avenue, Caversham

The wrong priority

Sir, - Has anyone else noticed that the ubiquitous hanging baskets in Henley are beginning to smell... of red herrings?!

It seems to me that every time a retail outfit in the town closes we are urged to hang out more baskets.

There are now five empty shops in the Market Place alone but more hanging baskets than I can count.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, we are walking in the gutter (don?t get me going on our filthy but expensive pavements) but our heads are in the stars. - Yours faithfully,

Kaye McArthur

Ancastle Green, Henley

Village well cared for

Sir, - With reference to Jim Tull?s letter headlined "Stoke Row needs a clean" (Standard, July 26), these claims are not substantiated. Prior to publication of the letter, hedges had already been cut back at the Cherry Tree pub and the well orchard has had the sides cut back so not to reduce footpath width.

We try not cut to hedges until September as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an offence to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

We take the RSPB?s advice to avoid cutting between March and August so only do so when footpaths? widths are restricted. Therefore the tops will look raggedy at this time of year.

The village green is cut every two or three weeks, depending on the weather and growth, and our contractor takes great pride in looking after the green and verges that the parish council is responsible for.

Regarding the style of architecture, Stoke Row ranges from traditional to contemporary buildings which are built with the full permission of the local planning authority.

It is a matter of personal taste of the owners and, providing it has the necessary permission after full consultation in a democratic society, that choice is theirs to make. To suggest Stoke Row requires a clean is rather insulting to this beautiful village, which is praised by the tourists visiting Maharajah?s Well.

If Mr Tull has a problem, why does he not call me so that it can be addressed? - Yours faithfully,

Claire Dunk

Parish clerk, Stoke Row Parish Council

Be realistic, your ladyship

Sir, - I read with incredulity the thoughts of Judy McAlpine on the move of the Henley Festival to its new site and the direction that she feels the event organisers may wish to consider going forward. One questions which planet she is living on!

Gilbert and Sullivan? That should bring them flocking in by the thousands!

The rental that the festival has been forced to pay (£200,000 we were told), supporting the entire cost of the regatta grandstand and marquee infrastructure - this is nonsense!

But given the privileged world that Lady McAlpine resides in, it is easy to understand her lack of understanding of both the social and commercial realities of life.The decision to move the festival is a flawed one, both from an overall appeal and commercial point of view, and I fear for its long-term future. - Yours faithfully,

Leslie Burridge

King?s Road, Henley

Being funny takes practice

Sir, - I would like to thank everyone who once again supported the Henley Fringe in our sixth year.

As a small local charity offering a national theatrical experience, it gets increasingly difficult to maintain but we are really looking forward to working with some new sponsors in 2014.

I read the letter from Mike Rowbottom about comedians (Standard, August 2) and wasn?t quite sure if it was a joke or not.

The Edinburgh Preview Comedy is just that - an opportunity for comedians to practise their material before venturing up to Scotland?s capital.

These young and dynamic comedians are all about pushing boundaries and trying something new. I suppose they have done their job if a non-comedian feels compelled to tell them how to do their job.

The Henley Fringe is all about the opportunity to perform at a professional level and no doubt the comedians will appreciate Mike?s feedback but if they are like any of the other comedians who have performed at Henley I have no doubt we will be hearing about them at the Comedy Awards in the near future. - Yours faithfully,

Jo Southwell

Founder, Henley Fringe

We do work on Mondays

Sir, - We were saddened to read the letter from Sue Wilson (Standard, August 2) about us closing on a


We took the decision to keep the Crown at Nuffield closed on Mondays, as it had been for some years, from the beginning of our tenancy. A lot of other pubs in the area do the same.

It clearly states this on our website and on our hours-of-trading notice on the door.

There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that we are a "two-man team" - Sam in front of house and me out the back.

Monday is the only day we have to do the banking and weekly accounts and visit the cash and carry etc.

Also, as we are only on a temporary tenancy agreement, we have to go into Brakspear?s office to pay our weekly beer, wines and spirits bill, along with the rent, fixtures and fittings etc. Unfortunately, temporary tenancy agreements do not allow credit on orders, rent etc., so Monday certainly is not a day off.

We are sorry that Mrs Wilson?s party were not able to lunch with us on that Monday but ask her, as a former landlady, not to judge us on a day we have to close in order to do all the other things required to keep a busy country pub running.

We choose to advertise our fully enclosed pub garden by leaving the sign out by the road as so many people don?t realise we have one. We do, however, always bring it in each day and then put it out again the next. - Yours


R Grant and S Murray

Landlords, the Crown,


Unfortunate coincidence

Sir, - Rather an unfortunate coincidence finding the August edition of Henley Life delivered through our letterboxes the same week as the sad story on the front page of the Henley Standard about yet another drowning in the Thames.

The magazine cover shows a young boy joyfully jumping into the river, giving exactly the opposite message, namely that cooling off in the river is just fun, fun, fun, which it can be, without any thought of the inherent danger, which has already claimed so many lives this hot summer. - Yours faithfully,

Ruth Gibson

Vicarage Road, Henley

Helped by mystery man

Sir, - On Wednesday evening last week, a kind young man helped me change my car tyre after I clumsily drove too close to the kerb in Henley.

I forgot to ask for his details so I could thank him and also tell him that he left his adjustable spanner in my car.

I?d really like to contact him to give him a token of my gratitude and to return the spanner.

If he is reading this or someone knows who he is, could you please contact me through the Henley Standard. - Yours faithfully,

Karyn Putman


Thanks for helping me

Sir, - I want to say a very big thank you to all the kind people who helped me following a nasty fall at Sonning Lock on Thursday last week, particularly Sue who so efficiently took control and waited until the paramedics arrived - as did her friends.

After having my elbow patched up and with 19 stitches in my knee, I am now on the mend. - Yours


Miss Sheila Walker

Kennylands Road, Sonning Common

Wonderful playground

Sir, - Thanks so much to the Henley Standard for supporting us, over the last few years, with our fund-

raising for a new playground at Checkendon School.

We now have a modern, exciting playground that the children think is brilliant.

We would also like to thank all the local businesses, individuals, parents and teachers, villagers and anyone else who helped us with the many events we held to raise funds for the playground. Thank you! - Yours faithfully,

Checkendon School Association

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