Wensum, by Jim Harding, January 5, 2016

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FIRST SIGNS OF SPRING: Snowdrops won’t be far away

For starters there wasn’t even a half-decent frost let alone iced-up windscreens or even a snow shower worthy of the name. The grass on our lawn is so thick and lush that I really should get round to giving it a mow. But somehow that seems all wrong in the deep mid-winter. Not that I’m complaining. Just a few years back our Christmas Tree Festival coincided with a blanketing of the white stuff which drew a small media band to the town. It was my less than joyful tidings to lead a couple of them up the winding steps to the top of the parish church tower. As someone who is nervous of heights the view from up there was hardly something I cherished. And I kept well away from the perimeters as one of the photographers snapped pictures looking down on our freezing market square and the wintry views beyond.

Back on terra not so firma, people were struggling along uncleared footpaths, cars slip-sliding on slopes and even the blood bank vehicles finding the gradient up to the community centre too steep to be negotiated. Give me November and December 2015 any day. Having said which, I have to admit that it really does feel very weird, a becalmed two-month interlude I can’t recall ever having lived through before. Should aconites and snowdrops and even the odd daffodil be flowering in the hedgerows already? Not to mention blossoms on bushes. Those are harbingers of spring in my book and invariably signal some sort of emergence from bitter cold. Perhaps the first two months of 2016 will bring us all back down to earth again.

One of the first tasks facing our town council when it meets next Tuesday will be to fill the vacancies left by the departure of Jayne and David Cubitt. As normally happens in such circumstances this will be done by cooption with councillors selecting from amongst the applicants.

Between them the Cubitts had devoted some 23 years to the council and chaired most of its committees. I know how proud they both were to be mayors of Fakenham and how committed they were to fulfilling all the various civic roles this demanded.

When I was chairman of Fakenham Area Partnership, David sat in on our meetings on behalf of the council. Both he and Jayne always got their hands dirty in support of the annual Fakenham in Bloom display which brightens up the town centre every summer.

For many years Jayne chaired the Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel which decides on local police priorities in both the town and its neighbouring villages. All in all they were good public servants whose dedication to the well-being of Fakenham was a very important part of their lives. Now they have, in their words, decided to ‘move on’, their presence around the council chamber table will be missed.

All four race meetings over the past three months have gone ahead without a hint of cancellation due to the weather. The New Year’s Day fixture, as I write, would appear to be similarly blessed.

There are two more immediate fixtures for your diary so do make a note of January 12 and 28 when the first races at both meetings are due off at 1pm.