Fringe Box



Effingham Eye: The Eye Casts Its Glance Further Afield

Published on: 2 May, 2020
Updated on: 4 May, 2020

Following recent events in Effingham (click here) Chris Dick goes slightly further afield to offer his personal opinion on alternative shopping solutions, video conferencing and what can be seen when an assignment fails.

A Failed Assignment
Many will have seen reports about the sad news of a cyclist who died on Sunday, April 19, on Newark Lane, Ripley. Surrey police were trying to establish the circumstances of his death. Indeed, if you have any information or dashcam footage that might help their investigation, please call 101 and quote reference PR/45200041063.

The day after the news broke my editor dispatched me to take photographs of the scene.

But there were no notice boards, marks in the road or anything to indicate where it had happened. It was a failure of a trip as well as a sad loss of yet another life in these difficult times.

Work Expands to Fill the Time Available
On the other hand, it was a warm sunny day and I was in the car and had a camera …

I had not been in a hurry to get to Ripley because being back in a car, away from home, was something of a novelty. So with a watchful eye, I made my way out of Effingham.

For any birds of prey to show themselves when I have a long-range camera with me is rare. But that day was different. First, a red kite flew low overhead as I was driving along Old Lane Ockham. But apparently there are penalties for driving and taking photographs, so chalk that one down as one that got away.

Kestrel spotted by Pound Farm Old Lane, Ockham

And then, perhaps as a reward for not crashing the car in some stupid attempt to take the first photograph, was a useful photo opportunity. Waiting for me was this beautiful kestrel.

Pressing on towards Ripley and still on Old Lane, Ockham, I drove past the barricades outside the closed Wisley & Ockham Common car parks. Little had changed. Hundreds of acres of socially isolated common waiting to be walked on were empty. But there are other limited access points …

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower

At the highest point on the heath, work was still progressing on the Chatley Heath semaphore tower.

The tower is being renovated and converted into a four-bed holiday home. But according to those working on site, the finish date which had been June or July was now delayed until late autumn.

View of Woking Towers from nearby Chatley Heath semaphore tower

From this elevated position on the heath, in pollution-free air, there is now a clear view five miles away to these inelegant monstrosities at Woking. Let’s hope the pollution, when it inevitably returns, obscures this view.

Back to my mission which at this point I did not know was going to fail, on leaving Ripley village, Newark Lane runs west then north as it passes through mostly open countryside. On the northern stretch, it crosses the River Wey and Wey Navigation. Normally a lovely place for walking, cycling and boating.

The picturesque view of Newark Priory tempts all who pass. But it is on private property and visitors are not welcome

The high point of Newark Lane is the view of Newark Priory which looked resplendent in the distance, sitting on farming land between the river and its navigation. Sadly, visitors are not welcome.

Newark Lane car park

Interestingly, the Newark Lane car park was open and in full use while the much larger Old Lane car parks at Wisley & Ockham Common, illogically remained closed.

I saw one couple parking and leaving their car and another vehicle was driving out of the car park which looked full, although nobody was in view. Not near by nor along the towpath.

Perhaps my failed assignment had not been such a wasted trip after all. Common sense was alive and well and still prevailed here.

Alternative Places to Buy Food
The devastating fire at the shopping parade in Effingham has left residents without two important shops. The butcher and post office/supermarket will be closed for an unspecified period.

So, until these shops reopen what alternative solutions are there?
Both Bookham and East Horsley have a good range of shops and/with post offices. But for those who like the queue-free and more rural experience here are some relatively close-by possibilities:

Effingham Mini Mart, Forest Road Effingham Junction

A friendly supermarket with a useful range of products including eggs, bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. I would award top marks to this outlet for presentation, price, convenience and friendliness. (Check online for opening times)

F Conisbee & Sons Ockham Road South, East Horsley is a traditional family butcher

F Conisbee & Sons sits between both parts of East Horsley on Ockham Road South. This is a first-class traditional family butcher who started in 1760 and is still using premises built in 1861. (Check online for opening times)

Dobbe’s Garden Centre

Dobbe’s Garden Centre and Nurseries is on Guildford Road, Bookham. This busy outlet has a fresh fruit and veg stall that also sells bread and eggs. It’s the nearest outlet from Effingham village for fruit and veg. Staff were friendly and the quality looked good. (Check online for opening times)

Effingham Parish Council (EPC) Public Meeting
Having cancelled its regular monthly public meeting in March, because of the social distancing restrictions, Effingham Parish Council (EPC) turned to Zoom video conferencing for its April meeting.

For those uninitiated newcomers to video conferencing, it was surreal.

The councillors and clerk were visible on screen, like a rogues’ gallery, and could talk freely. and the audience was invisible and silent. Silent that is, unless the clerk turned on the individual’s microphone.

Weirdly, the audience had decided to remain invisible unless they had something to say.

If they wished to speak they had to turn on their camera and wave to attract attention. Or simply wait to be invited to speak.

One member of the five-strong invisible audience later said: “It was great. I had a couple of tins of beer during the meeting. You couldn’t do that in a normal meeting.”

On the plus side, the meeting, well-chaired by Cllr Ian Symes, proceeded swiftly and effectively. Perhaps we should always use video conferencing technologies, long after the social distancing restrictions have been lifted.

One point of particular interest was the discussion about the fire at the supermarket and butcher on April 21. Councillors and members of the audience spoke about meeting the needs of those without transport, or at risk, who relied on the village shops.

The council agreed to form a small working group tasked to sift ideas and come up with a solution and recorded a vote of thanks to Steve Wishart for setting up an online donation platform (see: Village Supermarket and Butcher Count Costs of Mystery Midday Fire) for Bala Chandran who owns the supermarket.

Anyone wishing to join these public council meetings should go onto the EPC website and follow the instructions provided in the agenda.

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Responses to Effingham Eye: The Eye Casts Its Glance Further Afield

  1. John Perkins Reply

    May 3, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Is there any indication that GBC might lift its stupid and possibly illegal closing of public car parks?

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