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Waterstock Notes - June 2024

by Henry Manisty

After this year’s washout, Michael Tyces’s May magazine contribution began appropriately with Piglet’s rain lament. To my surprise, I am writing this in brilliant sunshine, so I asked Microsoft’s AI to compose a poem to celebrate the change. It may not be Shakespeare, but this is what a non-human created in three seconds:


The clouds part with a silent sigh,

And sunbeams pierce the sullen sky,

A golden flood, a warm embrace,

The sun returns to claim its place.


O welcome back, Dear Sun, so missed,

Your warmth, your light, your morning kiss,

For after weeks of endless rain,

You fill our hearts with joy again.


Some excellent wedding news from Helen Walker:

“Business as usual at Waterstock stables was interrupted on Friday 3 rd May to celebrate Sophie and Ruvern's wedding - a rare chance to get together in our finery, away from the chores of looking after horses. Sophie has been yard manager and instructor at the riding school for nearly ten years now, and she and Ruvern have become a key part of Waterstock Training Centre's long history. It was a memorable occasion. The barn looked wonderful; garlanded with flowers and lights and decked with swags of tulle. The courtyard rang to the warmth of laughter and voices, and delicious aromas confirmed that everyone was enjoying the evening - even the rain held off!

The ceremony was held at St Leonard's. Those villagers accustomed to seeing Sophie in her breeches may have been surprised to see her coiffed and elegant in her wedding dress. But in typical Sophie fashion (not to be denied by mere convention), all her beloved dogs and horses were included in the wedding photographs. Perhaps lessons and advice on riding while wearing a wedding gown could become a speciality at the riding school? We wish Sophie and Ruvern well and good fortune in their lives together.”

St. Leonards has seen thousands of wedding ceremonies in its time, and Sara and I were delighted when our daughter Alice chose to tie the knot there ten years ago. But St Leonards could be used in more ways than it currently is, and, with this in mind, the indefatigable Rob Arthur has kicked off a new and very welcome discussion on how to broaden its role. With church congregations declining, it is sadly not a given that St. Leonards will remain open for ever. If we want to ensure it will — and surveys have always recorded our widespread affection for it—we need to be creative. So, please let Rob have your suggestions on how we can make greater use of the Church.

The most depressing news of the month was the 11th hour appeal by Greystoke against SODC’s refusal of its planning application to develop the western section of the Waterstock Golf course. So, Waterstock will have to gird itself up once more to see off this threat. If the western section of the golf course is allowed to be developed, it is very likely that a second application will follow shortly to develop the eastern section too. This amount of development would transform Waterstock.

At the time of writing, Greystoke’s Appeal has not been “validated” by the Planning Inspectorate but, if it is, we can expect a full planning Inquiry to take place before the end of this year.

Fortunately, the 17 reasons that SODC gave for its refusal of the Application create a formidable mountain for the developer Greystoke to climb. Nevertheless, Waterstock will need to support SODC’s response to the Appeal, including potentially becoming a party in the Appeal Inquiry and instructing a barrister to represent us. This doesn’t come for nothing so, if it seems right to instruct a barrister, we hope Waterstockians will make contributions.

On 9th May, a Parish Meeting took place in St Leonards which, among other topics, discussed the dire state of verges and re-elected Rob Arthur as Chairman and the other members of the parish committee. We also approved the Governance Statement; Accounts expertly prepared by Keith Stubbs.

Some happy news from Home Barn Farm: Georgia can mostly be found at crack of dawn on the river in Oxford in an eight or a pair as Captain of women rowers for St Hugh's College. And after a year away at the University of Sydney, Laurie will be coming home in a few weeks’ time (how are his guitars going to fit into the economy cabin baggage for the 24 hour flight?). Caroline was able to travel to Australia to see him in January, but is looking forward to having them both home (briefly) in the summer before Georgia heads off to Germany for a year and Laurie heads north to continue his studies in Edinburgh.

And there were two very relieved parents at Waterstock Mill when son James returned safe and sound from a month of BBC wildlife filming in Socotra, an island in Yemen.

Also on wildlife, sharp-eared Gill Spencer was, as usual, the first to hear a cuckoo.