Notes from the cart track – January 2021

The first ten days of the new decade has given us a little frost, rain, fog and sunshine but no gales yet. At least leaving the European Union has not removed the variable British weather that we know and love! As one who did not want to leave, I must say that I am very relieved that even a poor deal has been struck and we must now all forget what has been in the past and make the best of what is to come. Some of the changes will be to our advantage, some will not. It seems that leisure travel will be messier which may result in more people staying in the UK. I hope that will not mean that our Suffolk roads will become much busier. A brief Sunday trip to North Norfolk, in our motor home last July, was so dire because of congestion on the narrow lanes, that Stonham Aspal seemed the best place around for leisure activities. It would appear that the quantity of folks walking, cycling, running and riding the footpaths on the farm since last March would indicate that others have the same idea.

Since the last notes, the only work done on the land has been to mark out the cover crops ready for spraying off before spring sowing and to drill our neighbours ex-sugar beet land with wheat. Conditions have been too wet to sow our two fields at Crowfield with oats. If the land remains saturated for the next month, that plan will have to be abandoned and beans put in instead. Spraying off the cover crops will be a challenge. They have grown very well through the wet warm autumn to the extent that, had the mixture been one we could harvest in some way, we would be highly delighted. We now have to spray them with a hefty dose of round-up which needs a dry leaf to stick to. Rather difficult to achieve with the very lush phacelia shielding the rye underneath. Dry days in February tend to be accompanied by strong wind. Not ideal spraying weather.
Many sugar beet growers this year had the worst crops they have grown for many seasons.

Partly due to unfavourable weather conditions but also to the ban on neonicotinoid seed dressings which were used to protect the crop from aphid attack. Aphids carry a virus which infects the plant with ‘sugar beet yellows’. Many crops this year were badly affected and the sugar content was anything up to 25% less. In some cases crops could have become unprofitable which in a high value crop like beet is very serious both to British Sugar ad the grower. So neonics are being allowed again for one year but with stringent rules. If a grower uses a neonic seed dressing on beet no flowering crop, such as beans, peas, linseed or a bird/pollinator mix can be grown for two year and no rape for 3 years on that field. The powers that be are obviously not going to allow us to protect our rape crops in this way. I have to say that I am very concerned about being pushed into using several doses of a kill all pyrethroid insecticide to try and protect the rape. This does not feel like sustainable farming.

Let’s hope that a better way can be found to grow a good safe oil producing crop for the UK
David Tydeman

Mickfield Evangelical Church January 2020

We’re all living in this same situation. We’re all trying to live our day-to-day lives. We’re all having to make difficult decisions. How does a Christian view what’s going on?

For what it’s worth here’s a few ways we approach the virus:

First up, we’re not surprised, but saddened. Sorry if that sounds glib. Or trite. It’s not meant to be. As Christian’s we believe that the world is fundamentally good. It’s God’s good creation. But it’s become a fallen and broken world. So, we know that we will experience illness, viruses, and sadness. And we are deeply moved and saddened by all that’s happening. It’s affected us personally in a variety of ways. Covid-19 is a particularly nasty virus. Perhaps you’ve felt that sense that this isn’t how life should be? That It’s just, not right? We’d agree. The world is not as it should be. It’s good, but broken. It’s beautiful, but disfigured. All at the same time.

Next, we’re not passive, but active. I hope. As Christian’s we can’t just say “oh well never mind”. The bible teaches us to take great care around human life. To love our neighbour. To take steps to protect other people. To care for the vulnerable and needy in our society. We applaud our emergency services, our NHS, carers, all sorts of key workers and frontline health care professionals and so on. They do a fantastic job. We have a number of NHS workers in our church. And other key workers. Jesus came into our world of sadness’s and illnesses and viruses and had compassion on people. He healed people. He spent time with people. As a church, we’re being cautious and careful regarding all the basics of social distancing, hygiene, ventilation and so on. Currently we’re open on a Sunday for a very short, 30min, small-scale outdoor service. All our other meetings are held on Zoom. This situation is evolving all the time. We may find ourselves closed again. And as individuals, like you, we’re doing what we can to help others.

Finally, perhaps most importantly, we’re not hopeless but hopeful. Personally, I have great confidence in the vaccine programme, and I hope that the lock-down and warmer weather will combine with this, alongside the valiant efforts of the NHS. And I hope the summer will bring better times. But I have a hope that isn’t built on my next holiday, or the NHS or the vaccine or even the total removal of Covid-19 from our lives. My hope is grounded in something much more secure. Something outside of all this. Something much more certain. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus. My solid foundation for life is this: that because he conquered death, I can have forever life. Ultimately that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. That’s what’s getting me through this crisis. That’s something that nothing and no-one can take away. 

Rich T

Stonham Aspal Village Survey

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From The Rectory – A Beautiful Day

It has been a wonderful day.  White frost glistened in the golden sunlight.  Trees, dripping melting ice, stood boldly against a clear wintry-blue sky.  Birds busied themselves, no doubt making the most of the sun’s warmth after a miserable few days.  Although the thermometer read zero, there was a feeling of warmth in the sunlit air.  As we took our regulation walk, the beauty of it all lifted our spirits, and the spirits of all who we met on our travels.

It is not only the sun which brings beauty and lifts the spirits.  In recent days a new neighbour has moved in.  Looking up from my desk one recent morning I saw on the drive, wings outstretched and with the sunlight catching on his rich brown coat, a kestrel; just a few yards from the study window.  Our seventh winter; and although we often see kestrels in the fields this is the first time that we have seen one in the Rectory garden.  He (or she we’re not sure which) has visited several times since then.  The kestrel is not the only new arrival.  Migrant blackbirds have arrived in force.  Every year in autumn, we gather windfall fruit around the base of our mighty pear tree.  There it gently ferments until the blackbirds arrive, then swiftly it vanishes.

Now all is quiet.  The mist has risen, the sky turns grey and the temperature is falling; night will soon be upon us.  The daily news remains gloomy, the depths of winter are probably still to come but everywhere we look; across the garden and in the fields around us, there are signs of new life.  One swallow may not a summer make (and the swallows are still many months away) but a day like today lifts the soul.   The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1).  Thank God that he shares its’ beauty with us.

Rev Philip

February 2021

Dr Dan Poulter MP January 2021

02 January 2021

At the time of my writing, the Prime Minister has addressed the nation once more and we find ourselves living under further restrictions, with the current advice being to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Whilst there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts were working, but we now face the added challenge of the new strain of the virus, which is between 50% and 70% more transmissible. This new strain has led to a rapid surge in infections, hospital admissions and increased case rates across the country, including here in Suffolk.

If we are to protect our NHS and in turn, ourselves and our loved ones, we must all play our part and follow the guidance so that our NHS can focus on the herculean task of delivering the critical vaccination programme. It is the vaccination that will finally free us from this virus and the restrictions it brings to all our daily lives

Vaccinations have already begun here in Suffolk and I have been lobbying Ministers and Public Health colleagues to ensure that we have adequate site provision here in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Our public health team and NHS colleagues here in Suffolk are working tirelessly to deliver the vaccines as quickly and efficiently as possible, to those most in need and I would echo their plea to ask residents not to block phone lines to GP surgeries or hospitals enquiring about when the vaccine might be available – residents will be contacted directly, in turn, and invited to attend their nearest site for vaccination.

Whilst I and indeed, our Prime Minister, understand just how frustrating this latest lockdown is, it is vital that we all continue to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable in our communities and to slow the spread of the virus.  Again, I would like to thank each and every one of you who are continuing to play your part and following the rules – we’re all in this together and the sooner we stick with it, the sooner we can start to return to normal.

It is vital that throughout lockdown, we continue to protect jobs and our local economy, and the Chancellor has unveiled further financial support for businesses and individuals.  Locally, the Suffolk Support and Advice Line can help with financial and employment advice – 0800 068 3131.  In addition, the Home But Not Alone free phoneline, supporting the most vulnerable in our communities is available via 0800 876 6926. Both lines are staffed from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

As your MP, I shall always work hard for the people of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and if there is anything I can help with, please get in touch via