Weather, Autumn and Comfort Food in Chilbolton

Whilst tramping round the common this evening with Blue, as the rain was thrashing down, the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes” came to mind. I turned up the collar on my re-waterpoofed jacket and Blue fluffed up his coat, trotting off ahead across the purleygig bridge, with his tail wafting, happily sniffing to see who’d been around.

There’s definitely been an autumnal feel to Chilbolton over the last week, with the leaves turning and the first frost. Unlike recent years, I don’t feel that we have been cheated out of summer, in fact today, I think, is the first really wet day we’ve had since July. I know I got very wet watching the dressage at the Olympics, where the forecast for light showers, was accurate…if you were in Dehli!! But since then its been pretty good, not too hot, not too cold, a traditional British summer.

Chilbolton Cow Common in early summer

Today though I could feel that winter wasn’t too far away and with the smell of wood smoke in my nostrils I stood and looked across the common. A scene I’ve seen every day, in all weather, for almost 6 years. Timeless, yet ever changing. The Egrets standing hunched at the river edge, some Gulls squabbling over some tit bit or fish and the cows standing eye-ing Blue and I suspiciously, with water gently dripping from their ears. They’re looking pretty good this year, with so much good grass to eat – I can see some lovely prime rib roasts and steaks to come…

It doesn’t matter what the weather is, as long as you’ve got the right clothes, its always good to be out. In fact on days like today, when no-one else is around, there’s nothing better than stomping round the common in my boots, a waterproof jacket with my hat pulled down low. Then when you get home  and Jo says, I thought I’d make fish pie, a good bit of warming comfort food; it just doesn’t get any better.

Roll on winter, with your hard frosts, early morning mist, crunchy leaves and snow. I’ll counter that with warm jackets, gloves, scarves, log fires, hot chocolate and steaming plates of warming comfort food. I’m ready for you.

Disposable Barbecues – Are they worth it?

This may seem an odd statement from someone like me who likes nothing more than lighting up the barbecue and cooking anything from sausages and chicken legs to legs of lamb and even paella (in a pan 🙂 ).

However the disposable barbecue has become a bit of a boom industry over the last 10 years, with millions being sold annually.

So what’s the problem?

Barbecue burning Chilbolton Common

Disposable Barbecue Burning Chilbolton Common

After walking round the common on Easter Monday evening, a few other people on the common were echoing the same question? “So what’s the problem, its only burning a small bit of grass?”

The problem with disposable barbecues is that they are cheap, some costing no more than a £1, but they are often placed directly on the grass, rather than on stones or a rack, if they come with one. This not only kills the grass, but in dry conditions could start a grass fire.

BBQ Burns Chilbolton Common

If you walk round Chilbolton Common at the moment the number of barbecue sites is growing, so to answer the question, ‘What’s the problem, its only a small piece of grass’; by the end of the summer, those small bits of grass will have grown to a patchwork of black spots around the river bank. Those barbecuing in the evening also forget that it takes time for the barbecue to cool, so unfortunately they are left for the morning walkers to find.

Thoughts from a sunny Easter in Chilbolton

I can only apologise for the length of time between writing my last article, but I’ve been blogged out with the day job I’m afraid.

I write this as I am sat outside Chilbolton Village Stores watching the world go by. Its Good Friday afternoon and the sun has moved round behind the shop making the table a cool and pleasant spot to watch the world go by.

The latest warm weather and change in the seasons since my last blog has been dramatic to say the least. On the days when I’ve been in London, driving back as the sun has been setting the view coming into the village is truly spectacular. It always reminds me of what a beautiful part of Hampshire we live in.

Today with the temperature climbing into the mid twenties, you may have been excused for thinking you were down in Studland Bay – Dorset, with people piling out of cars with buckets, fishing nets, towels and wind breaks.

Chilbolton Common or Bournemouth Beach?

Coming back from Chilbolton Common or Bournemouth Beach?

Everyone has been smiling and there has been a general holiday atmosphere. Hopefully there won’t be any instances of common rage with people who have managed to park on the common; I hope not, but it seems that some people feel that they have to park across the drives to the houses on the common. I’ve never quite understood why this happens as surely those that park across the drives wouldn’t expect to be blocked into their own houses.

Chilbolton Common - Cars Blocking Access

Please don’t block access to the houses on Chilbolton Common

I took a walk down to the common and most people had parked with consideration, but some interesting parking across one gate would have made it difficult to get a car through, let alone an emergency vehicle.

We live in a beautiful part of the Test Valley and its great that people want to share Chilbolton Common, but if you are driving down, you could drop the kids off and either park at West Down or in the village where there is more space; Chilbolton Village Shop do a great range of New Forest Icecream and there’s nothing better than a cold glass of your favourite tipple at the Abbots Mitre. They do fantastic Pizza as well. Just what the Doctor ordered after a day in the sun.

Enjoy the summer and enjoy Chilbolton Common.

First Frosts and Autumn Walks

Minus 4 degrees on the patio Thursday morning and boy did it feel cold. A beautiful morning, the common dressed in white and mist gently rising off the river Test. Wrapped up with Blue racing around chasing his ball the only other person out at dawn was Stuart and Trinity. Trinity and Blue exchanged wags of tails, but Blue was far to interested in his ball and Trinity her stick.

It may be cold, but its mornings like this that remind me why Autumn is my favourite season. The colours of leaves on the trees, the bright crisp air and the Test Valley truly is a beautiful place. Tonight the fire will be stoked and the house becomes a warm cosy retreat.

Chilbolton Cow Common – The great debate…


Tuesday 14th September saw over 100 local residents from Chilbolton and Wherwell packed into the Chilbolton Village Hall. Since June the anticipation has been building over what is going to happen with Chilbolton Cow Common.

Those of you who don’t live in the village or must have been sleeping for the last year or so; Chilbolton Common has been a victim of its own outstanding natural beauty. Identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its rich bio-diveristy, ie the wonderful mix of natural flowers, grasses, animals and birds, it has also become a wonderful place to visit on a hot summer’s day. As one of the few places where the River Test is accessible and safe for children, you could sometimes be mistaken for thinking you were at Sandbanks or Bournemouth Beach.

Unfortunately the volume of visitors is having a detrimental affect on the common, specifically with regards to the parking, so Chilbolton Parish Council has spent the last 3 months looking at potential solutions.

Having seen the announcement in June’s magazine the Chilbolton & Wherwell bush telegraph went into overdrive, with comments ranging from the dramatic draconian, ban everyone and all parking to the more liberal let everyone come and enlarge the car parking.

On Tuesday the wait was over; John Rowles and Liz Blakemore and Parish Council Chairman Jeremy Baines presented their findings and the proposed solutions, after which the meeting was opened to the floor and Jeremy played his part as David Dimbleby perfectly.

The proposed solution is to remove the existing rass parking area and return this to its natural state, with a new gate to be introduced before the sleeper bridge. Car parking will be limited to the area inside the main common gate, which will comfortably allow 14 cars to park, although 18 have been seen parked at one point! For those concerned about the impact this will have, it was interesting to note from the research carried, out that it was very rare to see more than this parked at anyone time.

The Police also assured the floor that they would support these proposals and will provide ‘No Parking’ cones which will be held locally and deployed at busy times, to avoid any repeat of the problems seen in May, along Village Street, when the track was resurfaced and the gates closed.

This was always going to be a difficult decision and there was never going to a perfect solution, however the feedback we have heard over the past couple of days seems to reflect the fact that this is a sensible compromise and takes the villagers opinions into consideration. The final decision will be made in the next few weeks, based on feedback from the meeting, but so far it looks like the council have put together a positive solution.

New Local Deli Meats & Fresh Soups

Today Chilbolton Stores took delivery of our new range of deli continental meats and fresh soups. Produced by local companies Atkins and Potts and Dorset Smokeries these are wonderful tasting and produced by local businesses which care about the quality of food. Not available in Supermarkets we hope every likes these new additions as much as we do..