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Below Bill Ayling shares with you some of the things that come to mind as he walks his dog Fudge around Purley on Thames

August/September 2018

Heat Wave

The latest heatwave appears to be ebbing slowly away into cooler nights, but still very warm, if not hot, days. The grass on my lawn is beginning to show a faint green in places and grow, fortunately it is not growing too quickly. In many places it looks like dead straw, which I hope will soon burst into life and change colour, otherwise there are going to be a lot of bare patches on my front lawn.

I am going to try to start my lawn mower when I’ve finished “Bill’s Views” and hope that it will fire into life. Otherwise I will send for Joe.

Joe used to be the groundsman at the Council’s playing fields at the Goosecroft until he retired last year. At the commencement of each spring I ask him to start my lawn mower. The first thing he does is to wheel it out of the greenhouse, where I keep it, and give me a pained look for the condition in which I put it away in the autumn. He’ll then take out an oily rag and clean the surface, sharpen the blades and check the oil. He gives quick spray all over with WD 40, tugs on the cord and lo and behold! There is a crack and the mower starts. He really does a good job.

Because the lawn mower has lain unused for the past month I’m hoping it will start, if not – it’s send for Joe!


The volunteers have been doing an excellent job in collecting the rubbish in the lock-side fields and Bucknell’s Meadow. There is a distinct improvement in the amount of litter I have seen lying about. There is little to be picked up apart from an occasional bottle that we may see on our walks.

The rubbish collected is usually left in back plastic sacks adjacent to the litter bins, but I noticed recently that there is now a small wheeled container in position at the top of Blouts Meadow where it joins Mapledurham Drive.

Whoever arranged this container deserves a vote of thanks.  There is a small notice requesting people to deposit their rubbish in it. The container is well situated in an easily accessible position where it neither hinders traffic using the Drive nor allows depredations of wild animals.


The Rollator is a great success. I’m now able to walk further and faster than I have been able to do for a considerable period. I have been able to reach the pylon in the second field past the lock, something I didn’t think would ever be possible again. There is a comfortable seat in the middle of the rollator which makes it handy to stop and sit if   my legs start to get too tired before I reach the lock, and the handles make a fine resting placed for my arms.

It has taken a bit of trial and error to fix the handles in the correct position and height. To avoid stooping I have to have the handles extended to the furthest extremity.

Regretfully I still have trouble with my breathlessness, and I hope that a visit to the sleep clinic with cure this. It has an odd name it is called Sleep Apnoea and should make it possible for me to control my breathing, particularly at night, when I have a shortage of oxygen in my lungs. Apparently this causes muscle weakness and fatigue. It sounds serious, but I still had put down to old age!

The Farmer’s Market

Helen the manager of the Farmer’s Market, held on the second Saturday of the month in the Barn, very kindly arranges a small table for and me at each Market day. On this I put council literature and local photographs. Graham very kindly provided the pictures as the original ones have been posted mistakenly in an empty house and have consequently disappeared. Sitting at the small table each market day does show a “Council Face” in order that parishioners can make enquiries or ask questions about local issues.

I fins it is also an excellent way of seeing old friends and having a cup of drinking chocolate provided by the Women’ Institute. It is remarkable how many people use the market and will come up and greet me while they shop from one of the excellent stalls and probably get a breakfast roll from the Boy Scouts booth.

The latter is very popular and a breakfast roll consists of a sausage, a slice of bacon and a fried egg in a white or brown roll, for the very reasonable price of £3.00. The money raised from this stall goes towards sending the scouts to Uganda, where they do an excellent job in aiding the local inhabitants in various projects such as installing a supply of drinking water, and providing safer housing.

There are some people who come to the market simply for the roll. They usually stand quite close to me so that I cannot resist the attraction and the lure of frying bacon!

Throwing a ball for a dis-obedient dog

Recently I saw the past leader of the local scouts, Susanne Stout, walking her dog on the river bank. I told Susanne how popular the breakfast bar at the market was. She gave me a lot of information as to what the scouts do when they visit Africa, and it does seem to be really worthwhile.

Susanne had one of those curved plastic sticks with a cup on the end – the name of which I don’t know – but is excellent for throwing a ball for dogs to chase. We do have one for Fudge. She will watch the ball and dash madly after it, but then forgets to return it. The thrower is left with the task of retrieving the ball – if they can find it in the long grass of the meadow.

This running is an excellent way of drying Fudge after her immersion in the river followed by  a brisk rub down with her towel when we reach home.

Susanne was very skilful at throwing the ball with her curved stick, and yes her dog retrieved it and laid the ball at her feet to be thrown again. I reminded Susanne that it was ten years ago when she was voted “Villager of the Year”, she agreed and said it had been a great honour. The award is made to the person whom the parishioners feel has done most for the village in the past year.

The award is a small silver trophy, which they retain, and a larger plaque which they hold for one year. The award is made annually at the Chairman’s reception. In addition to the plaque their name is also inscribed in gold letters on the Honours board in the Barn.

It looks impressive and does show the village’s appreciation of the hard work that these ladies and gentlemen put in on their behalf during the past year.

Grapes and Apples

The grapes on my vine on the awning outside my back door are swelling, and there is the occasional purple grape appearing on the bunch. There are so many bunches, it is almost impossible to count them. I did try but after I reaches twenty I realised that I was beginning to count the same ones again, for they grow so close together. At a conservative guess I would estimate about eighty to hundred clusters hang from the vine which twists over the awning. It will be a month or more before they are ready for picking, but I don’t know if I will try to make some wine from them.

The apples appear to be in super abundance this year, although they are dropping from the trees by the score, and generally they are a lot smaller than they have been in previous years. They still taste rather pulpy, and the pips themselves are still white, but I hope there may be some which are edible later on.

The only fruit which is not apparent this year are the pears. Last year was a tremendous year for the William pears, but they were too high up the tree for me to pick and consequently the wasps had a grand time with them. This year there are plenty of wasps, but few pears!

Bill Ayling