Petersfield Heath Lake


Earlier this week I spent a joyous afternoon with my granddaughter, Bella. At six years of age, she really is a pleasure to spend time with. Although, I am surprised that my ears weren’t bleeding by the end of the day. She just talks and talks and talks.

Primarily, Bella just wants to go somewhere with a play park. Slides, swings and roundabouts. With all those things she is happy.

A favourite haunt is Petersfield Lake. There is a sizeable play park, a cafe and lovely walks around the lake. So, most items were checked on her must have list.

Arriving shortly after one o’clock I was surprised at how misty it was. I couldn’t see the bank at the far side of the lake. Although the sun was just starting to break through.

A Misty Petersfield Lake

When in the direct sunlight it was nice and warm but as soon as you moved into the shadows of the trees you could really feel the underlying chill.

Illuminated Boardwalk – Petersfield Lake
Petersfield Lake

After an hour, or so. And the obligatory ice-cream, and coffee for me, we set out to walk around the perimeter of the lake. By now the mist was gone, presenting us with a lovely sunny afternoon.

The lake plays host to many aquatic birds. Swans, geese, ducks, moorhens, coots and gulls. Lots and lots of gulls. Of course Grandad got his coots and moorhens mixed up. Thank god for smartphones and Google. I was able to sort things out. Don’t want to be misleading the kids.

Nesting Coot – Petersfield Lake

As we traversed the boardwalk we were able to see many of the birds making their homes around the lake.

Also we were able to view the results of the hard work being carried out to create submerged islands, planted with shrubby plants. Hopefully these will mature into safe habitats for the birds to nest in.

Brent Goose (Pale Bellied) – Petersfield Lake

I was surprised at how few of these there were. South of Petersfield, there are several playing fields, in and around Portsmouth, that are taken over every year by huge flocks of Brent Geese.

Egyptian Goose – Petersfield Lake

Not sure why an Egyptian Goose would be overwintering here in the UK. You’d think they would stay where it was warm.

Mallard Ducks – Petersfield Lake

Just a couple of snaps across the lake. What a fabulous view the owners of those houses have from their windows.

During our stroll we spotted many other birds, including robins and various tits and finches. They were making good use of the coconut shells, filled with suet and seeds, variously hung around the bushes and trees.

Another nice touch was this fairy garden, set in a tree stump. Bella really enjoyed investigating the various pieces here.

Fairy Garden – Petersfield Lake

And so the circumnavigation was completed. One more go on the slides, well several really, and it was time to head out for a bite to eat.

Basic error on my part was that I asked Bella what she would like to eat. In my mind I was certain we were headed for McDonalds. Surprise, surprise, Bella wasn’t interested in Macca’s, or KFC, or pizza. After perusing several menus outside of pubs and cafes we ended up in a Cafe Nero. Where Bella settled for a toasted cheese and ham roll, a Belgian chocolate chough pastry donut all washed down with a fruit smoothie.

A fitting end to a lovely day.

Westfield Police House | East Sussex | People | Places | West Sussex | Transport | Brighton | Police history | History | The Old Police Cells Museum


After a recent conversation with a friend, during which she said how she and her mum had been looking at her childhood home using the Google street view application, I thought I would have a nose around myself.

I thought I would share some of the memories stirred up by my nosing.

My dad was a policeman and back in the day it was the norm for officers to be moved around every couple of years.

My earliest memories are of us living in Lewes, Sussex. But then we upped sticks and moved to Westfield, where dad became the village bobby.

Obviously our history is relatively recent but during my street view rambling I came across this post http://oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/page_id__377_path__0p303p304p183p209p182p208p207p181p.aspx

This was a police house dating from at least 1922 and was also known as Westfield Police Station, the house where I lived during my pre-teens.

It’s a private house now and, externally at least, seems to have reverted back to its original form.

When I knew it, there was a flat roofed extension to the side, with it’s own entrance but was also linked inside. Dads slippers used to sit, on watch,by that adjoining door, waiting for him to come off duty when they would be replaced by a pair of black boots. That is unless Honey, our Corgi, hadn’t stolen away with one of the slippers to her bed in the kitchen. There she used to lick the insides until nice and slimy. Whoe betide anyone foolish enough to put their hand in to try and retrieve the hapless slipper. Corgi’s have sharp teeth.

This was the police station from which my dad worked. There was just room enough inside for a large desk and chair. I remember there being several shelves of files and log books and a cupboard in which dad used to put his police bike and also kept the hand-cranked siren.

Also on the shelves was a mysterious grey electrical box, like a loudspeaker. It had a single control which turned it on and controlled the volume. Every so often dad would turn it on and it would emit a slow steady tick. On occasions the ticking would be replaced by a warbling tone. I subsequently found out that this was part of the national air raid siren system which would be implemented during a nuclear attack. This was my dad’s role if the “four minute warning” was sounded. He would receive a signal through the mysterious box, drag the siren out of the cupboard and crank it up to warn the village of its imminent demise.

What the villagers would have done we can only surmise.

I am pretty sure there would have been a few saying “What the fuck’s that? ”

My years here were quite enlightening. The garden behind the house was over 100 feet long, long enough for me to practice beach casting. I had been given a fishing rod for my ninth birthday.

Slowly over time dad turned our back garden into a smallholding.

Starting with the fruit he planted blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. We had brambles growing down the side of the plot so always had a plentiful supply of blackberries. We also had a couple of apple trees. Mum turned all that lovely fruit into jams, pies and crumbles, my favourite.

On the veggie front, Dad planted runner and broad beans, potatoes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, curly kale, sweetcorn and artichokes.

Then there were the chickens. First we had a half dozen or so running around in a large pen. This was soon supplemented by a hen house to protect them from the foxes.

As the supply of eggs grew so did the number of chooks.  Dad even experimented for a while with  battery hens.

Needless to say we kids had plenty to eat and we were encouraged to join in with looking after the chooks, collecting eggs, harvesting fruit and veg and helping in the kitchen.

Our collection of birds increased when dad acquired six geese. Initially they were allowed to roam on the lawn, free effortless grass cutting.
With such close proximity to the house the birds were treated like pets and were given names. Charlie was the gander and the members of his harem were Ethel, Gerty, Snowy and two others whose names escape me.

However,  anyone who knows geese also knows that what goes in is matched by lots of goose poo. Well the geese were soon relegated to their own personal pound at the bottom of the garden. We would occasionally collect goose eggs and everyone took it in turns to have one of those treasures.

It was inevitable, but one Christmas it was decided that we would have goose. Well Ethel was volunteered, executed, plucked drawn and duly cooked. All was fine until Mum sat down to her plated meal, whereupon she wailed “I can’t eat Ethel”.

From that point on we had five pet geese. Sadly that number dropped to four when Snowy became broody and was sitting on her egg(s), wouldn’t eat and died.

Another goosy memory was having to put them to bed at night. This became my job whenever Dad was on nights. Have you ever tried herding geese? Also can you imagine a skinny 10 or 11 year old having to face down an angry gander. A gander that has reared up to his full height, wings spread to their full six foot span and with his neck fully extended, hissing like a nest of vipers. Then in the morning letting them out again. Charlie, the gander, used launch himself out as soon as the door opened wings spread, honking for all he was worth, quickly joined by the girls all joining in the chorus.

Fond memories now but not considered a high point by me at the time. But I learnt about gardening, keeping chickens and that getting food on the table isn’t always pleasant or easy. I don’t recall ever being bored, there was always something to do.

Now I am in my sixties I do hanker after those quieter more genteel times. But now I have arrived in the new century I sure would miss the technology. If only the pace of life would slow down. I guess that is what retirement is for.

If only the rest of the world would slow down too.

Egg mystery is a web cracker


When I was about seven, my dad was the village bobby in Westfield, East Sussex. The police station was a small flat-roofed extension on the side of the house in which we made our home. What made this house interesting was the garden which was well over 100 feet long. A huge space which my dad pretty much turned into a small holding. Along with the huge amount of fruit and veg my parents kept chickens and geese. I can remember seeing eggs of all colours, shapes and sizes. Only the goose eggs were as large as the egg which is the subject of the linked story. We never ever had an egg within an egg.

I can only say that, finding an egg within an egg which in total weighed nearly half a pound, this is EGGSTRAORDINARY.

Egg mystery is a web cracker – Odd Spot – Portsmouth News.

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