Spring cleaning

Will and Tom have made a start with a great job trimming the hedge back to open up the path by the field, and some neat strimming, thank you to both of them. And there’s a chance for you to help too, please, on Saturday, 6 April at the Spring work morning down at the pond from 10.00 am to lunchtime.

Any help you can give us would be very much appreciated. Please wear stout footwear, and bring your gardening gloves and any tools you think will be useful for trimming and tidying the pond site after the Winter.

And apart from healthy gentle exercise in the fresh air, the other good news is there will be hot drinks and biscuits!

And today, a duck made the most of the sunshine relaxing on the jetty before Storm Gareth arrives.








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Autumn work morning

On a happily sunny morning after a wet night, nine merry volunteers, including some new faces, gathered at the pond on Saturday, 10 November for the Autumn work morning.

Some good work had already been done the day before. Chris and a friend had fired the bonfire and the pile of branches, etc, was gone by Saturday; and the farmer had kindly included the pond hedge amongst the hedges he was trimming, opening up views to the fields and church beyond.

The volunteers on Saturday improved that view further, cutting back branches in the triangle and brambles and branches overhanging the path from Gold Lane, thus giving a view of the pond and beyond much earlier than before as you walk down the path.

The reeds previously cut were removed from the pond, which has a little more water in it now, and other trimming and pruning was completed to leave the site looking much tidier as Winter approaches. Now we just need more water!

A big thank you to all the volunteers, to the kind lady who has brought cakes before for the excellent brownies, and to the Manor Hospital for the most welcome drinks and biscuits.

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Planning decision

At its meeting on 29 October the Borough Planning Committee refused Lioncourt’s application to build houses on the land off Gold Lane.

This is a good first step for the village but quite probably not the end of the Lioncourt story. And Policy 19 is still lurking in the latest draft Local Plan, so we must all keep watch and be alert.

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Planning update

Remember both the planning application to build houses on the land west of Gold Lane and also Policy 19 in the draft Local Plan 2035, both of which could adversely affect the village pond?

They haven’t gone away.

The planning application will be considered by the Borough’s Planning Committee on 29 October and the officers are recommending permission be refused. Even if that is agreed it may well though not be the last we see of Lioncourt and its proposal for housing development off Gold Lane.

And the Local Plan? Well that is back albeit five years shorter, as the Local Plan 2030, out for consultation and still including Policy 19 suggesting up to 160 houses could be built on the land off Gold Lane.

If you have already submitted objections to both the application and the Local Plan 2035 you do not need to object again. Your objections will still be taken into account.

But do keep a watchful eye on developments, a skirmish may be won but the battle continues.

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Water, water, well a bit …

At last, after recent rainfall, there is some water back in the pond. It’s a good start but there’s still a way to go to see it full again. More rain, please ….

And thank you to Chris for a good job reducing the scrub and brambles in the triangle with the village tough mower.

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Retirements and a plea for new members

With sadness, the Pond Management Committee reports the retirement of two long-standing members of the team, Peter Applewhite and David Wilkinson, but we would like to take this opportunity to thank them both for their commitment and hard work and to celebrate their achievement in both preserving and conserving an area of natural beauty in our village. The good news is that they will both continue to work for the Friends and the pond as volunteers.

Peter Applewhite had indicated his intention to retire at the June AGM, but due to changing circumstances has stood down earlier than anticipated. Peter has been involved with the Friends for many years, and has been Chairman for twelve, since when he has been the outward face and the driving force behind our activities. His many responsibilities on behalf of the Friends are too numerous to mention here, but he was very keen to promote and keep the profile of the Friends as high as possible. In 2003 he introduced and has since written our newsletter, Splash, and he has provided regular articles for the Biddenham Bulletin, now The Loop, giving updates on the activities at the pond and helping to galvanise action against planning proposals with potentially adverse impacts on the pond and its rural setting. He would also give presentations to local organisations and was a regular contributor at Parish Council meetings. In 2013 he embraced social media, by setting up the Friends website and Facebook page and thereafter kept them up to date with news, events, and activities.

David, a committee member for seven years but a volunteer before that, has also decided that the time has come to retire. David was the practical man on the committee, the person who was happy to get his hands dirty and knew how to fix things. He would probably not consider himself a natural committee man, but he had clear insight as to what needed to be done. He was in his element on work mornings, where he was never happier than when he was in the pond removing reeds! He would also be the first to volunteer for ad hoc work sessions when more technical tasks were undertaken such as the re-laying and re-pointing of walls or renewing the jetties, saving the committee a lot of money by not using outside contractors.

Peter and David’s retirement now means that the committee only consists of three people. We ideally need six people to share out tasks and the organisational activities behind the scenes, and we are therefore making one more urgent request for new committee members to come forward. If you value the village pond and what we do to preserve and conserve it, and have some time to spare – we meet in the evening 4 times a year – then please do get in touch. In the meantime our next meeting is on 23rd October, when we will be reviewing the activities currently undertaken to identify those that are core and to decide whether we have sufficient resource to continue.

If you feel that you can help us, please contact Jane Knight 01234 330173, Paul Godden 01234 344081 or Chris Jones 01234 211759. Alternatively, if you would like to find out more, we will be in the Three Tuns on 31st October between 6.00 and 7.00pm, where you can meet us for an informal chat.

Thank you,
Jane Knight


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Water, water, not everywhere

The pond dried up completely in 2011, the first time in living memory.

After the unusually long and dry spell of summer weather this year, the pond is perilously close to drying out completely again.

Mother Nature restored the balance last time so let’s hope she’ll do the same again this time, with lots of lovely rain!

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The pond in July

One of our objectives is to provide an area available to educational and other organisations and to individuals for encouraging the study and preservation of the environment, particularly amongst the younger members of the community. We were very pleased therefore that in the early days of July we welcomed on visits to the pond two groups of young people: the 10th Bedford (Christ Church) Brownies, and Years 3 and 4 from our own village school, St James.

Our wildlife expert, Chris Jones, led the visits, shared his extensive knowledge of the pond and its wildlife, and answered many questions from the young people. Both groups had enjoyable and informative visits and we look forward to welcoming them back in the future. The pond can be a source of inspiration for projects across the curriculum.

The unusually long hot dry spell continued through July but as the month draws toward a close, remarkably there is still some water in the pond. The moorhens have continued to breed and another brood of tiny little chicks is now exploring the pond. However if the hot and dry weather continues unabated without a sustained interval of rainfall, the pond will struggle to retain any water at all.

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Summer Splash Out and AGM 2018

A sunny day on Sunday, 10 June greeted both our Summer Splash Out and Friends AGM and also the Red Cross Open Garden Day in Biddenham.  Friends were able to attend and enjoy both events and we appreciate the support of the many Friends who came along to the Splash Out in the Church Barn. Our cream tea bakers and makers once again provided a most delicious spread, and were warmly thanked by those present.

We reviewed another busy year for the village pond, including two major issues affecting the village and the pond during the year, the planning application to build 250 houses on land off Gold Lane and the proposed Policy 19 in the Borough Council’s Local Plan 2035 affecting the same piece of land, both of which were still unresolved. You can see the full review of activities tabled at the Splash Out by clicking here – AGM 2018.

There was a slideshow of activities during the year and pictures of old Biddenham, including the pond and dovecote, and Chris Jones again showed us wildlife from the pond under the microscope.

The chairman, Peter Applewhite, paid tribute to Gillian Quince who had retired from the management committee during the year, but who, with her husband Peter, was still volunteering at events, not least masterminding the catering that very afternoon.

In introducing the formal business of re-electing the committee, the chairman noted that he had been a member of the committee for 16 years, and had been privileged to be chairman for 12 of those years. He said his personal pond ‘best by’ date had already expired and his ‘use by’ date was imminent! As that was the case, if re-elected he would serve for just that year and would retire as chairman and as a committee member at the AGM in 2019.

The officers and the pond management committee were thereafter re-elected for a further year, and Andrew Ewing was re-appointed as independent examiner of the accounts.

In concluding his remarks, Peter looked to the future and stressed the need for new people to come forward to serve as committee members if the pond was to survive for everyone to enjoy in the years to come. He urged those present to canvas friends, neighbours, acquaintances on behalf of the pond to find and encourage volunteers to come forward to strengthen the committee and make it fit and robust for the years to come. He finished by asking all those present to think, pond!


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The eastern jetty

The pond looking lovely on a lovely Spring morning – thank you Mother Nature – our intrepid volunteers carried out some initial work on the original, the eastern, jetty.

David replaced worn out bolts and tightened the remainder, strengthening the structure. Whilst David was busy on the jetty, Trevor and Will discussed and resolved the requirements for building a permanent firm base for the planks on the bank, in the meantime putting in place a temporary fix to reduce stress on the planks.

Thank you to our volunteers for their contribution today.

And behind the scenes two bluebells enjoyed their moment in the sun.


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