Gazette letters: Festive foliage, Clapton Pond parking permits and the Rochester Castle pub

Festive foliage: A file image of mistletoe growing on apple trees. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

Festive foliage: A file image of mistletoe growing on apple trees. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

It’s the time of year when many of us bring nature inside and decorate our homes with winter’s finest foliage, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green, of Greenpeace.

It’s a strange tradition in many ways, to bring such a large dying plant inside your home and then cover it in bright objects.

But apparently it is a tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years with varying opinions as to its significance.

I used to live on a boat, and Islington during the week after Christmas was an absolute goldmine for stocking up on wood. To all those in the large houses of Barnsbury and De Beauvoir that leave your Christmas trees out for the council with the large wooden base – I am so grateful. Over the years, boaters on the Regent’s Canal have been kept warm with your generosity.

If you’re on the hunt for mistletoe, a good place to start would be any of the local parks. Look for the big round clumps sitting in the branches of deciduous trees (trees that have lost their leaves for winter).

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant – it depends on a host plant for water and nutrients, and sprouts out of bird poo on the tree trunk.

At this time of year lots of the bunches won’t yet have full size white berries; you can still see little green bumps that will become berries in the coming month.

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Be sure to pick it responsibly, though! When foraging it’s always important to make sure you don’t take too much of anything, and leave plenty where you were for the other creatures that might depend on it.


Parking permits have not been in place in Clapton Pond for a full day, writes Shahid Husain, Mildenhall Road, Clapton Park, and we are already struggling so badly [“Car wars! Anger over ‘hellish’ parking plan”, Gazette, December 8].

I came home at 11.30pm yesterday and could not find a single spot in the residential areas. I was then forced to drive around to Chatsworth Road – again no spaces except one next to the tennis courts. The walk is 10 minutes from my house and also a very dark walk near the park. It’s a walk I would not feel safe my wife or mother walking alone, especially with the attack that happened recently in Millfields Park [a teenage girl

was allegedly raped there in October].

Not only is this affecting us in the evening – this morning all the parking spots have been taken up by people outside the area: teachers from Millfields School and workers from Homerton Hospital, for instance.

Residents in the permit zone who don’t drive much have also taken up spots in our road as they don’t drive often and use our roads as long-term parking options instead of purchasing a resident permit. I can see why they would do that. When dropping the kids at school, I noticed Millfields Road and the roads near the school, which are in the permit zone, were deserted.

When my wife comes home, she could potentially have to park two miles away and walk with our new baby of four weeks in the baby car seat. The council will not provide me with the number of the consultations team to contact them: the only option is to raise a complaint on the website which has a 15 day response turnaround.

The council have told me I must find correct parking and cannot park in the permit zones if there is not even a single parking spot. I find it hard to understand why we are being put to struggle when we pay our council tax and are law-abiding citizens.

This morning my mother was going to go to the shops and decided to walk as she was worried she would lose her parking spot as soon as she left. I do not find it correct that Hackney Council dictates when and where we decide to drive. It is not illegal to have a car, but we are all thinking it is a punishment for having cars.

Hackney Council has proven this was all just a money making scheme (we are now begging for permits in our roads when we had no issues previously).

If the council doesn’t step in and solve the issue I can see the situation getting ugly.

The options are to put bins out when leaving your house; when there are two parking spots, to park in the middle so we can save a spot for our neighbours; to park in the middle of the road; to park in the permit zones and fight the tickets.

I am unable to purchase a permit as I do not live in the permit zone, even though the walk there is only 30 seconds.


Just read your interesting article on The Rochester Castle [“Men’s clubs to punk bands: The history of the Rochester”, Gazette, December 15], writes Nigel Burch, Nigel Burch and the Flea-Pit Orchestra.

I’ve been drinking there about 18 years and my band (Nigel Burch and the Flea-Pit Orchestra) played there about four years ago.

I think we have been the only band to do so in the last 30 years.

We are a local band and have been playing around Hackney since 1998. Although Wetherspoon have a “no live music” policy, we played there to raise money for a charity for children with cancer.

So far we haven’t been asked back...

Anyway, just thought you’d like to know.