This year’s Star Count is being held next month. From Saturday, February 6, to Sunday, February 14, CPRE, the countryside charity, is asking citizen scientists – that’s all of us! – to choose a clear night, look to the skies and see how many stars we can spot within Orion. If you don’t know where Orion is, we will be offering a guiding hand between now and Star Count. We’ll keep you posted! It’s a fantastic, easy piece of stargazing for children and adults alike – no telescopes are required – and can be done safely from your garden, balcony or bedroom window. We are holding this event as star-filled skies provide one of the most magical sights our natural world has to offer. We want to reconnect people across the country with the wonder of a truly dark sky. CPRE research shows light pollution is leaving fewer stars than ever visible to the naked eye – and we need your help to track how light levels are changing. We will keep you informed throughout, but the first thing we’d like you to do is register your interest in Star Count 2021. You can do that here We’ll catch up soon. Until then, keep safe. To read about last year’s Star Count, click here
We are indebted to Liz Garnett for today’s rather special contribution to Kent, Our Kent. Liz takes up the story: “I am a photographer based in Brabourne, near Ashford, and before lockdown I was part of a group of artists walking the Augustine Camino pilgrimage route from Rochester to Ramsgate. “We have paused our journey and in the meantime my personal journey is one of exploring the natural landscape in my garden and in the hedgerows of my little corner of rural Kent.” Hopefully, Liz and friends will be donning their walking boots before too long and resuming their wanderings.
To learn more of A Creative Pilgrimage, click here
Sophie Shotter provides the latest image for Kent, Our Kent, the feature that during lockdown has been celebrating the best of our county. “This is the beautiful view at Teston I pass on my way to work every day,” said Sophie. Thanks for sharing, Sophie!
Something a little different in today’s Kent, Our Kent… two delightful poems from Peter Bailey. The Pilgrims’ Way celebrates one of the nation’s walking trails, while Ode to Lenham nods to the dark threat of a new town threatening to envelop the village.
We’re gratetful to Mike Cockett for sending in a couple of lovely shots from his garden to embellish our Kent, Our Kent feature. “Too late to catch the clematis armandii,” says Mike. No matter, these shots are just the job.
The bluebells in our woodlands are now starting to fade, or ‘go over’, so we’d better move quickly to include this selection of images from Vicky Ellis in Kent, Our Kent. “Some of them are at a bit of an odd angle, but I like being creative,” said Vicky.
We are indebted to Alex Hills for today’s Kent, Our Kent contribution. Alex is CPRE Kent’s Gravesham district chairman and also a keen cyclist…
Today’s ride was to test my legs after a week off the bike and to test it out after the wheel was repaired. From home it was a short run down the A227 and out along the cycle path to Thong. Then it was a drop down to Lower Higham Road, which is a bleak but beautiful area on the Gravesend-Higham border. This area is always winding, being next to the River Thames, but the light means the colours are always changing. Then there were some big breaths before a lung-busting climb back up to the Cobham war memorial, which is one of my key local markers. The views from Cobhambury Road always recharge my soul and, with less air pollution, the views are better than ever. I never tire of the beauty of the views despite my tendency to hit high speeds on this downhill section, which has no sharp bends or potholes so is very much cycling heaven.
Next is a short run along the valley floor, stopping off to check on a local badger sett. Checking on setts while on rides is something I try to do as often as I can as it means someone else does not have to make a special trip out and gives me a focus to the ride. When I get to the now-quiet Golden Lion pub, it is down through the gears for the long climb up Henley Street, going past the very good beer pub The Cock Inn. At the top of the hill a few lanes take me to Whitepost Lane, which leads into Nurstead Church Lane. This wonderful road covered over in trees looks different each time I go down it. Even though this is a few minutes from my house and I cycle down it at least twice a week, I always look forward to cycling along this road. Near the top is the old Nurstead Church – I am pagan so have never been in it but the outside has a medieval feel about it. After the church it was a dash across the A227 before a test of nerve down the steep, twisting Park Pale Road and then down through the gears for the climb back up the other side.
Heart pounding, lungs heaving at Stony Corner, I was rewarded with a great view. From there is a short drop down the very dangerous Walnut Hill Road before another short run and a final climb home. Living on top of a hill means tired legs always have one more climb before a welcome brew and rest. People say you take for granted the beauty on your doorstep, but I never have, which is probably why I fight so hard to protect it. Since the lockdown the speed of cars has increased – please, please keep your speed down. Driving in the countryside, you must never go faster than you can stop and around every bend you must assume there will be a horse, cyclist or walker.
Today’s contribution for Kent, Our Kent comes from Jackie Moxey. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Jackie is daughter of Tricia Moxey, once of this county and now vice-chairman of CPRE Essex. The pictures were taken on a walk in the Hadlow and Plaxtol area. Thanks, Jackie!
Eileen Randall, one of Pegwell’s greatest environmental champions, has died at the age of 90. Eileen was one of the founder members of the Pegwell & District Association, set up in 1987 in response to plans for a railway line running through the bay and West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour. That scheme was defeated, as was a proposal for a road that would effectively have destroyed the bay’s fragile environment. If it had not been for Eileen and her friends in the association, Pegwell would be a very different place to what it is today and we have so much for which to thank her. Her cliff-top home, Driftwood, which she shared with husband Derek until he passed away in 2015, served as both centre of operations for the association – a CPRE member – and venue for parties and summer fairs as its flourishing social scene developed. Eileen’s health prevented her being involved with the association in later years, but her love of Pegwell never waned. She passed on Monday, April 27, and leaves behind sons Christopher and Julian.
For a deeper appreciation of Eileen and her efforts to protect Pegwell, see here
We are indebted to Kirsty Field for today’s images for Kent, Our Kent. They were taken at Ranscombe Plantlife Nature Reserve, near Cuxton. If you like to contribute to Kent, Our Kent, please send your photos and a brief description firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s contribution to Kent, Our Kent – in which we asked for photographs showing what we love about our county – comes from Henny Shotter, who takes up the story… “I try to visit every old church I pass and Kent has many jewels. These holy places can speak to you even if you are not religious in the traditional sense. “They also preserve more than anything else local history – in the building, in the monuments and the gravestones in the churchyard. “The photos are of St Thomas à Becket in Fairfield on Romney Marsh. The church sits in this field and is surrounded by grazing sheep. “The inside of the brick building is a huge surprise…”
A shade over a week ago, we asked for photographs of Kent that showed our county in its glory. The brief for Kent, Our Kent was wide-ranging (see here) and included anything from images of places we’re looking forward to seeing again to shots taken on our daily exercise walks. We have had an encouraging response, so thanks to all of you who have got back to us with pictures. We share the first of them here and there are many more to follow. Hopefully, you will be encouraged to send in your own contributions. Today’s shots come from our Tunbridge Wells chair, Liz Akenhead. She describes the first: “The Benenden Blue rosemary on my terrace has been flowering for weeks and it’s constantly buzzing with various sorts of bee and hoverfly. “It’s a wonderful decorative plant named after a beautiful Kent village, and it’s good to cook with, too.”
The second captures (in the nicest possible way) a striking-looking mammal. “It’s one of the three white squirrels we sometimes see in our garden,” said Liz.
Thanks to Liz. Everyone else, get snapping! In the meantime, take care and stay safe…
She did it! We speak, of course, of Vicky Ellis, who yesterday (Sunday) ran round her paddock 26(.2!) times to raise money for CPRE Kent. Her effort was part of the 2.6 Challenge, set up to help charities through this lockdown period. Vicky completed her 26.2 laps (some five or six miles) in 47.34 minutes, despite almost breaking her ankle on the final lap. No one is better placed to tell the story than Vicky herself, so over to our star athlete herself, who set the scene yesterday morning: “So it’s the day of my challenge. I’m surprisingly nervous. I’ve put markers at each corner of the paddock to make sure I don’t cut corners. I’m going to have very wet feet from the dewy grass. “So why support CPRE Kent? No other charity fights for the wider countryside, home to our flora and fauna, quite as well. They support communities, successfully hold developers to account and are full of genuine people who care deeply about our diminishing countryside. That’s why. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you for your support. Xx” And, having got back her breath, a modest Vicky broke the news that she had made it! “To all supporters and countryside advocates, just a huge thank-you. My challenge wasn’t much of a challenge as I often run five or six miles – however, the fact I had so many of you support me has made me feel so grateful to you all. “Each and every one who has donated has demonstrated how important our countryside is to us. Anyone who knows me will know how important wildlife is to me and how much it figures in my life. It’s our countryside, but it’s their home and it’s the only one they have. When it’s gone, they have nowhere to go. SO THANK YOU! XX” And thank you, Vicky!
Vicky set herself a target of £500 but at the time of writing had secured an incredible total of more than £1,200 for CPRE Kent. There is still time to add to that total, so if you would like to reward Vicky’s efforts and help our charity please click here