LISTENING to the thunder and the rain hammering down in a couple of short storms we’ve had recently got me thinking about how I perceive the valley’s weather patterns have changed over the more than 40 years since my family moved here.

Apart from the fact that we seem to get far less severe winter conditions – I can remember being trapped at home on several occasions by deep snow, for days on end – it’s the relative absence of thunder and lightning that most intrigues me.

The occurrence of thunder storms, particularly in summer, was far more frequent than in recent years. Most dramatically, it was quite usual for them to persist for several hours and re-visit over a period of a few days. The snow characteristics I can associate with global warming, but the thunder seems less explicable. It was also strange that the valley seemed to ‘trap’ thunder storms for longer.

Am I suffering a delusion or do other longer term residents share my perception? It would be interesting to know, particularly if you have an explanation.

QUALITY is the name of the game in provision of healthcare in the new NHS regime, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the organisation responsible for monitoring how or if it is being achieved.

The CQC will be inspecting South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust from September 8 and they seek your input. The inspection team are interested in the experiences of people who have had to use an ambulance in an emergency as well as people who use an ambulance to get to a clinic etc. and may do so regularly. The inspection team is also keen to hear evidence from local voluntary and community groups about the quality and safety of care that their members and service users have experienced. They will be interested in your experience from the time you dial 999 to the moment you are placed in the care of clinic or hospital.

Please send reports, people’s stories of care or other evidence of individuals or groups to hospitalinspections Was the incident safe, caring, well-led, effective and responsive to your needs?

RAISING money through having a cosy tea party is beginning to be a specialist skill of Diana Bond. Her most recent event, a couple of weeks ago, has raised some £200 for Age UK, and I dare say fostered some rewarding conversations.

Diana is eager to mention the kindness of the Barn Club in allowing her to host her get-together there and to all who came to support her endeavours. Here’s to the next time.

n WORRIED about any tax matters? Tax Help for Older People is a service from the charity Tax Volunteers providing free, independent and expert help and advice for older people on lower incomes who cannot afford to pay for professional tax advice. Nationally, a small army of experienced volunteers can help anyone with an annual income less than £20,000 and who is over 60 and it doesn’t matter where you live. Tax Help can be contacted by phone 0845 6013321 or 01308 488 066, email (, or via the website at ARRANGE a cricket match and you are sure to bring on rain, even in the middle of an otherwise prolonged sunny spell.

I felt very apprehensive, from the time I first looked out last Sunday week, for Neale Hatch and his challenge game. His 11 were playing Little Marlow’s King’s Head club side, in order to raise money for the Sue Ryder Nettlebed Hospice.

As they arrived to set up, Neale told me, the heavens opened and the main pitch was flooded beyond playing for the day. However, after a wait for clearing weather, they were able to settle for 20 instead of 30 overs, making an alternative wicket on the outfield.

Neale’s team were beaten (marginally, he says), as the match suffered another downpour. They retired to the covered barbecue to round off a varied afternoon.

The good news is they still raised £1,200 for the hospice.

PREPARED to give something back? If you can spare a few hours to make a difference to someone, then the Red Cross are looking for volunteer drivers to help take people to essential appointments. Using your own vehicle (expenses reimbursed) you will take people to medical appointments, dentist etc. The Red Cross offers a friendly and helpful service to people in need.

If you can help and would like to find out more information, or if you need transport yourself, please call the British Red Cross on 0845 0703 752.

FINALLY, remember that Rock Bottom is just a couple of weeks away. The valley’s own rock festival takes place from noon until a community-kind 9.30pm on September 6 on the playing field.

The event has been given a boost thanks to Waitrose who nominated Rock Bottom for a £1,500 grant as part of its ‘Music Matters’ local charity scheme.

Last year it was a sell-out success, and looks like being so again. There’s a host of bands taking part with supporting activities and facilities. A wealth of information and ticket details can be found on www.marlow and bear in mind the proceeds go to support the playing field and its management.