Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good Christmas. Sadly, for so many it was far from it and our thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by the horrendous tsunami.
As I start working on this issue, it looks like being another very full one, which I hope you will find interesting. I am delighted to welcome a new artist to the fold - our country scene cover is the charming work of Judy Jones. Thank you, Judy, we look forward hopefully to enjoying more of your illustrations in the future.
Thank you, as always, to all the contributors - no contributions, no newsletter! So, how about putting pen to paper and let's have some new scribes in the April issue. Articles and items for April would be welcome as soon as possible and by Tuesday, 15th March, at the latest. Thanks.
January is the time to look at finances and currently the funds are looking comparatively healthy. The continued financial support of the Parish and Parochial Church Councils and other organisations, as well as individuals, is really appreciated. However, although the Newsletter is a 'free' publication, it does cost money to produce. The average cost of an issue is £150 for a run of 440 copies, that is 36p a copy. The cost of coloured printing - it has become customary to have a coloured cover at Christmas and of course the Primary School children's work had to be in colour - is £150 for a single side A4 sheet run. Yes, it was lucky we had enough in the funds to cover the cost of £450! If you work that out, the October issue cost just over a £1 a copy.
So, if you don't already do so - and many of you do - when you pick up your next copy, please think about popping a contribution in one of the collecting boxes. Thank you.
I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Easter, which comes early this year.
Tom Bartlett produced slides of postcards of old Berrynarbor at our December meeting. It was very interesting to see the village as it looked many years ago and the young children who are now our senior citizens. The competition for an old postcard was won by Maureen Wonnacott and the raffle by Barbara Gibson, a visitor, who will hopefully soon become a member.
The Christmas Lunch at The Lodge was enjoyed by sixteen members and our thanks go to Phil and Lyn, who always 'do us proud'.
Unfortunately Jill Westcott was unable to come to speak about complementary medicine at our January meeting. We were, however, pleased to welcome the Bratton Fleming Handbell Ringers, who agreed to come at very short notice. The five ladies entertained us with a medley of carols, songs and hymns, enjoyed by all members. Birthday cards and plants were given to Joan Wood, Kath Arscott and Judy Jones, manfully provided by Ethel Tidsbury, despite her still suffering from shingles. We wish her a speedy recovery. We were pleased to welcome a new member, Margaret Crabbe. The planned competition had been for a recipe for a remedy for an ailment but this was cancelled. However, the following recipe for a tonic - don't we all need one with this depressing weather - might come in useful!
Mrs. Thomas's Beetroot Tonic
This pick-me-up has been used by women in Mrs. Thomas's family for generations. 'The recipe,' explains Mrs. Thomas, 'was given to me by my grandmother.' Beetroot is traditionally thought to be good for the nervous system and it helps prevent fatigue and dizziness.
Wash 3lbs of fresh raw beetroot and slice, unpeeled, into a large bowl. Cover with 2lbs of brown sugar and leave to stand for 3 days, stirring from time to time. Strain through muslin into a clean jug and add a bottle of Guinness or Stout. Stir well, bottle and seal before storing [not too tightly or pressure will build up]. Drink one small sherry glass a day.
By the time you read this, our February meeting, when the speaker will be Roy Goodwin, Ilfracombe Town Crier, will have taken place. At the meeting on the 1st March, Anne Rhodes will recount her visit to China and competitions will be either a fancy knitted article or hand-made hat, using paper and/or card. The winners of the February and March competitions will be entered at the Spring Group Meeting, to be hosted by Kentisbury W.I. on 4th April. Our April Meeting follows a day later, on the 5th, when Wendy Clarke will be talking to us about 'Kathleen and May' [Bideford boats] and the competition will be for a Sea View photograph.
Visitors are always very welcome to attend our meetings, which are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 2.30 p.m. at the Manor Hall.
Doreen Prater - President
ST. PETER'S CHURCH
We were pleased to welcome the Archdeacon to Berrynarbor for our Sunday service on 5th December. He had come specially to bless and dedicate the new electrical work in the church and LIGHT was the theme of the day. Verses from the Bible were beautifully read by Ella and Anna and the Sunday School held candles and sang 'Let your Little Light Shine'. More surprises were in store when the Archdeacon produced sparklers for all the children. A day to remember!
The new lighting came into its own at the evening services over Christmas, when the full effect was best appreciated. Once again the church was beautifully decorated - so many berries on the holly this winter. Thank you to all the arrangers and to those who gave flowers and made donations. Attendance at services varied greatly. The church was full for the Carol Service on 22nd December - a truly magical occasion when we were joined by the Choir and the Sunday School children. We were not so many as usual for the Christmas Eve service but then there was a good turnout on Christmas Day itself, when several visitors came along. £185 has been sent to the Children's Society from collections.
During 2005 services will continue to begin at 10.00 a.m. with the welcome news that the children will be with us again on the first Sunday of each month. On 6th February, we shall be celebrating Candlemas.
Easter is early this year and Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent, falls on 9th February.
Special services in March will be:
Friday, 4th March 3.00 p.m. The Christians Together service for the Women's World Day of Prayer will be hosted by St. Peter's this year. The service has been devised by the Christian Women of Poland the theme is 'Let our Light Shine'. Everyone is welcome at this event [men can come too!] and it is always interesting and 'a little bit different'.
Sunday, 6th March 10.00 a.m. Mothering Sunday when posies will be given out by the Sunday School.
Sunday, 20th March 10.00 a.m. Palm Sunday with the distribution of Palm Crosses.
Friday, 25th March 2.00-3.00 p.m. Quiet hour of devotion on Good Friday.
Sunday, 27th March 10.00 a.m. Easter Day Family Communion.
Friendship Lunches will continue at The Globe on Wednesdays 23rd February and 23rd March, 12.30 p.m. onwards.
If you were in Berrynarbor church on 22nd December you will have experienced the real meaning of Christmas. The church was nearly full. The beautiful music, reading, choir, congregation and Sunday School all combined to make it such a joyous occasion. The Sunday School performed and sang about how Christmas is celebrated in Holland - produced and directed by Val, who spent Christmases there some years ago. All the children then received a gift presented by our Rector.
We have regrouped for the Spring Term, a busy time with Eastertide not far away. Before that we shall be in church for the Family Service on 6th February, swiftly followed by Shrove Tuesday on the 8th, when Coffee and Pancakes will be served in the Manor Hall, 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon and proceeds from the pancakes will be for our funds. Sharing the Hall with us are the Spinners - Tuesday is their regular meeting day - so we thank them for moving into a smaller area to accommodate us, but they can have a pancake for free! Also sharing the Hall will be the Sponsored Knit-in for the North Devon Hospice - so please come along and support us all.
The children will be singing 'Food, Glorious Food' at the BBC show on the 11th and 12th March - sung with relish, food being a favourite topic for us! Before that, the 6th March is Mothering Sunday when we'll be in church presenting mums, Godmothers, aunties and friends with bunches of flowers. Easter Sunday on 27th March will also find us there, celebrating the climax of the Christian Year - they may get Easter eggs too!
Joke: A small boy asked his parents if he could have a bicycle for Christmas. His dad had to say 'No' but added, 'If you pray hard you may have a little brother to play with soon.' The little boy did pray but soon tired of it. Eventually his father took him upstairs to show him not one, but two baby brothers with whom he could play. 'Now aren't you glad that you prayed for a baby brother?' he said. 'Yes' came the reply doubtfully, 'But aren't you glad I stopped praying when I did?'
Love from Sally, Val, Sarah, Julia, Rachel and 17 younger ones!
Val would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and support when Neil was in hospital in October. And may we take this opportunity to send get well wishes to everyone 'under the weather', particularly Mavis and Betty, Tony and Iain, and all those who have suffered from the flu-like cold that has been going round the village. Lyn would also like to thank everyone who was concerned about her a . . . following her pre-Christmas fall!
A POULTRY TALE or
THE TWELVE DAYS OF A CHRISTMAS TURKEY
On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me,
I've bought a big fresh turkey, and a proper Christmas tree.
On the second day of Christmas, much laughter could be heard,
As we tucked into our turkey, a most delicious bird.
On the third day of Christmas, came the people from next door,
The turkey tasted just as nice as it had the day before.
On the fourth day of Christmas, came relations, young and old,
We finished up the Christmas pud, and had the turkey - cold.
On the fifth day of Christmas, outside the snowflakes scurried.
But we were nice and warm inside, and had the turkey - curried.
On the sixth day of Christmas, our Christmas spirit died.
The kids all fought and bickered, and we had the turkey - fried.
On the seventh day of Christmas, the family they did wince,
As they sat down at the table, and were offered turkey - mince.
On the eighth day of Christmas, the dog had run for shelter,
He'd seen the turkey pancakes, and the glass of Alka Seltzer.
On the ninth day of Christmas, by lunchtime dad was blotto,
He knew that bird was back again, this time - as a risotto.
On the tenth day of Christmas, we were drinking home made brew,
As if that wasn't bad enough, we were eating turkey - stew.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, our tree was sadly moulting,
But, with chilli, soy and oyster sauce, the turkey was - revolting.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, we had smiles upon our lips,
The guests had gone, that turkey too, and we dined on -
Fish and Chips!
MANOR HALL MATTERS
The first thing I must do is to say 'Thank You' to everyone for their participation in the Christmas Coffee Morning on the 18th December, and the Christmas Card Distribution facility. Thanks, too, to the Community Enterprise and Ross for letting us place the collection box in the Shop.
We sorted and delivered in excess of 1,000 cards and more than fifty villagers enjoyed a social chat, coffee, mince pies [and in some cases a sherry!] and a truly excellent raffle table. We raised a total of £213 - a record and therefore very pleasing. But the day was doubly pleasing as friends from Berrynarbor Park came with an extra cheque for a handsome £95, generated through the sale of Christmas trees.
Work will be starting shortly to install an extra toilet facility that will be 'disabled friendly' and we have plans to refurbish the gents' loo - perhaps long overdue!
We seem to be suffering an increasing level of damage around the Hall site and premises, allegedly caused by individuals in the village. We need the help of everyone to alert a member of the Committee if anything untoward is spotted. The climbing on roofs and up drainpipes is not only a cause of damage but is also extremely dangerous. Please note: football and other ball games ARE NOT ALLOWED in the Manor Hall Car Park and Play Areas. Persistent offenders will be named and required to pay for further damage. The names of Committee Members are given on the Notice Board in the Main Hall.
You will have seen from the posters that we are set to trial a new fund raising activity - a Table Top Sale, akin to an indoor boot sale. It will be held on next Sunday, 6th February from 10.00 a.m. to approximately 12.30 p.m. We feel we need ten tables to make the event viable and if you have not already booked yours, this can be done through Vi Davies on 882696 at a cost of £5.00. We hope to raise a few extra £'s through teas 'n' coffees, etc.
So, sort out your craft items, bric-a-brac, unwanted Christmas gifts and come along - or just come along to browse and buy! See you on Sunday.
If the event proves successful, then it may be something to repeat perhaps on alternate months. Any other new ideas to increase the usage of the Hall can be passed on to any of the Committee - we're open to suggestions! All for the moment.
Chairman - Manor Hall Management Committee
WEATHER OR NOT
In contrast to the two preceding months, November was pretty dry with 17 days without any recordable rain and a total for the month of only 59mm (2 5/16") - a lot dryer than the previous three Novembers, the dryest of which had 147mm (5 7/8"). The wettest day was the 21st with 13mm ( 1/2") rain. Temperatures were about average with a maximum of 16.1 Deg C and a minimum of 2.2 Deg C. The maximum wind speed recorded was slightly less than the previous three years at 26 knots.
December continued the dry theme with only 6mm (¼") recorded by the 16th and very calm conditions. This changed abruptly on the evening of the 16th as rain set in and the wind got up and on the following morning there was one violent gust of wind which reached 44 knots (55mph).
Between about 11.00 a.m. on the 18th and 8.00 a.m. on the 19th we recorded 46mm (1 ¾") of rain, of which 43mm (1 5/8") fell after 7.00 p.m. This was the night that Braunton flooded. The total rain for the month was 131mm (5 ¼") which was dryer than the two previous years, but wetter than 2001 which produced only 89mm (3 1/2"). Temperatures were again about average with a maximum of 12.4 Deg C and a minimum of -0.9 Deg C. The maximum wind gust of 44 knots was, however, a lot stronger than the previous three Decembers when the maximum was only 31 knots.
Chicane's sunshine hours for November were only slightly down on November 2002, 15.72 hours as against 16.93 (we have no figures for November 2003) but December's were well up on last year and the year before with 8.54 hours compared with 3.19 hours in 2003 and 5.75 hours in 2002.
Looking at the year as a whole, with a total rainfall of 1224mm (48 ¼") it was the driest year since 1994 apart from 2003 which had only 1124mm (44 ¼"). The wettest day was the 4th October with 55mm (2 3/16"), slightly above average. Our records show that October was the wettest month here although according to the T.V. weathermen, August was the wettest month in South Devon. We did manage to measure the first bit of snow since 2000 with 1mm on the 28th January and 2mm on 26th February, but it did not last long!
The highest temperature we recorded was 27.9 Deg C on the 7th June. Again, apart from 2002 when the maximum was only 27.7 Deg C, this was the lowest maximum we had recorded in a year since 1994 (the start of our records) - by contrast we had recorded 34.5 Deg C in August 2003. The lowest temperature was -4 Deg C on 1st March which was nothing out of the ordinary.
The maximum wind speed in the valley was 44 knots which was somewhat less than the 54 knots recorded in January 1998. We had a wind chill of -16 Deg C on 28th January, which was the coldest since the -20 Deg C on 31st December1998.
Finally, the barometer reached a high of 1042mb in March and fell to a low of 982mb in May compared to 1037mb and 975mb in 2003.
Sue and Simon
The Presentation Evening in the Penn Curzon room on the 6th December was enjoyed by everyone there.
Trophies were presented by the Chairman, Gordon Hughes, to:
Winner: Tony Summers Runner Up: John Hood
Winners: Ivan Clarke and Vic Cornish
Runners Up: Matthew Walls and Peter Pell
Winner: Maurice Draper Runner Up: Jim Constantine
Winner: Tony Summers Runner Up: Kevin Brooks
Handicap Singles [Leonard Bowden Shield, Josef Belka Cup]
Winner: Mark Adams Runner Up: Tony Summers
Highest Break Cup presented by Maurice Draper:
BIKERS OF BERRYNARBOR
Our annual Christmas Dinner was held at The Lodge and a most enjoyable evening was had by all. Eleven attended and the food was well up to the usual high standard to which we have become accustomed from Phil and Lyn.
So another year has gone by and we are all still in one piece and still riding our bikes! Tim is now back on the road with his Norton, and very nice it sounds too. We enjoyed some good riding through the year, breakfast runs are always fun once the effort has been made to get up early! But what of the year ahead?
Really we need more members, not everyone can be available for all events, as we have other commitments. So here is a personal invitation to any other rider in the village or surroundings to get in touch with us and at least give group riding a try. The size and age of machine does not really matter, what is important is to share our sport and to ride with and talk to like-minded people.
Notices of events will be put up in the Post Office window and during the winter months rides may be organised at short notice so that we can take advantage of any suitable weather conditions.
I wish you all a safe and pleasurable New Year.
Maureen Scott-Nash is proud to announce the arrival of her fifth grandchild, a daughter for her son Kevin and his wife Clare. Imogen, a baby sister for Megan, tipped the scales at 9lbs 131/2oz on the 13th December.
Many readers will have happy memories of Miska and Gary Branch who ran the tearoom at Miss Muffets from 1994 to 1998; their marriage in December 1995 when Miska walked to her wedding - across the square - and Miska's very energetic keep fit class. Supporters of the early BBC Shows will never forget when they, together with Val and Neil, Les and Heather, Songbird and Harvey, brought the house down with their wonderful rendition of "If I was not upon the Stage"! It was, therefore, lovely to hear the news that they are now the delighted and proud parents of a baby daughter. Kianna was born in Eastbourne on Christmas Eve, weighing in at 8 lbs 8 oz. We send them our very best wishes.
Gemma and Matthew Bacon are delighted to announce the arrival of their daughter, a sister for Dylan. [Julia] Lola was born on New Year's Day tipping the scales at 8lbs 1oz.
Congratulations and best wishes to all the proud parents and grandparents and a warm welcome to the little ones.
DAY TRIP TO LONDON
On Wednesday 10th November on a bright clear morning 43 members of staff and volunteers from Arlington Court met at Tiverton Station and boarded a train to take us to London and a visit to the Royal Mews. We arrived safely at Paddington and after lunch at Starbucks in Piccadilly, our group walked through Green Park to the Mall. Here the flags and banners were being put up in preparation for the State Opening of Parliament and everywhere looked bright and cheerful.
A quarter to two found us assembled in Buckingham Palace Road outside the Mews, where we were introduced to Colin Henderson, the Queen's Head Coachman, who took us on our private tour. After viewing the indoor riding school, our first stop was to the workshop where we saw The Glass Coach being renovated and were given a chance to have a good look inside. Not a lot of room for the occupants, especially when a wedding dress with a long train is involved! Next a tour of the State Coach Houses where we saw amongst others, the State Landaus and the Irish State Coach where rugs and hot water bottles have to be provided to keep the occupants warm. Then on to the Australian State Coach with its electrically operated windows and central heating.
The Gold State Coach, housed all by itself in the Gold State Coach House, is on first sight large, magnificent, stupendous with such workmanship in the painted panels and carvings, yet close up just a bit overwhelming and gaudy, but still unique.
On to the absolutely spotless stables and introduction to the magnificent horses. Lots of stroking and patting, of course, then a quick look at some of the many harnesses and our tour was over.
It was back to Paddington for a meal and our train trip home. However, it wasn't quite that simple as we arrived back at Tiverton Station four hours late, at 1.40 a.m. due to trouble with the points, but even that could not spoil a lovely and very interesting day trip to London.
THE PARISH COUNCIL
It is often said that 'no man is an island'. Your Council, before its January meeting, stood in honour of the thousands who died in the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The Bristol Channel enjoys the second highest tides in the world. Ironically, the highest are in Sumatra, the worst hit of the ravaged countries.
As reported in the December Newsletter, the Parish Council had its own tidal wave when it was told that the North Devon District Council would no longer fund the public toilets in our car park. The Parish Council was gratified to receive a wonderful, unsolicited letter of support from the Berrynarbor Women's Institute, who were applauding the Council's decision to take over the provision of this vital service.
We will now put the cleaning work involved out to tender and the successful contractor will be expected to keep the conveniences in good condition throughout the week, but we will not be imposing strict attendance times as these proved so expensive under the NDDC regime.
The major task at the December meeting of the Council was to set the budget for 2004-5. We have had to make provision for the lavatory service as well as replacement of the bus shelter at Saw Mills. Substantial work is also required in the recreation field but fortunately some voluntary work is keeping these costs to a very reasonable figure. We must thank all who have contributed to the volunteering scheme.
When you receive your Council Tax demand this year, the Parish Council element will have more than doubled - not a matter of pride for members of the Council, but we want to maintain this village to the standard it has always been.
Graham E. Andrews - Chairman of Parish Council.
THE QUIET PLACE
This is a quiet place. The people here
Would not be happy, living in a town.
Above the trees the sky shines, wide and clear,
Our boundary is that grassy sweep of down.
We know each other well, and folks are kind
When illness comes, or sorrow, or distress,
"How can I help?" comes first to every mind.
All do their best to bring back happiness.
We have our faults, but life is calm and sweet;
Small pleasures star our days, like hedgerow flowers.
Just humble homes, no busy town or street,
But peace dwells in this quiet place of ours.
NEWS FROM THE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Class 1 created a very impressive Nativity Play for their parents in December, singing solo, dancing and speaking clearly. Thank you to
Mrs. Newell and Mrs. Fry. Our Christmas Bazaar was well attended and thank you to all who came along. The Friends of Berrynarbor School worked hard on our behalf last term, so many thanks to them as always.
This term we have an exciting programme ahead of us. Next week we shall be spending a day at Exeter Cathedral with other Devon schools. We have two drama groups booked to come to school to stimulate ideas for writing. Class 1 are swimming every week and are really enjoying this opportunity. The Building Project is running very smoothly and we find the company carrying out the work very helpful and considerate of our needs. We have worked closely with our builders to develop safety awareness, considering the dangers on building sites. The children have drawn posters and the contractors have given prizes to us for this.
Charlotte, Year 3
Kyle, Year 5
We apologise to local residents for the Fire Brigade callouts over the Christmas holiday. The contractors have taken full responsibility for this. As a school we have a contract with Barum Security who are automatically called out when the alarm goes off. Can I please ask that the School Administrator, Mrs. Jordan, is not called during school holidays by residents of the village as she is only employed at the school during term time. If anyone needs a school contact number, please contact the school, we'll listen to your needs and ask the Caretaker to ring you.
Karen Crutchfield - Headteacher
THANK YOU - FROM MALAWI
On our return from abroad after Christmas, we found awaiting us a thank you letter from the Professor in charge of the children's ward at the hospital our daughter Mary worked in until eighteen months ago. Mary had recommended that our last year's fund raising be sent to her direct.
It would seem from the Professor's letter that the situation is still dire at the hospital. The monies that we have sent, she tells us, will be used for antibiotics as well as even basic items like cotton wool and gauze.
In the end, the sum of £650 was raised by individual donations, the sale of fresh vegetables by ourselves and others and special events in the village.
On behalf of the medical staff at the hospital in Blantyre and more especially the children, who without knowing, will benefit from your largesse, many thanks for your generosity.
June and Bernard - Pink Heather
MACMILLAN CANCER RELIEF
My cousin, Cheryl Plunkett, daughter of Brenda and Charles Layton, has undertaken to do a 100Km trek in Iceland next July to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Relief. The trek will take a week, over isolated areas in the south, and if the walkers are 'lucky', their tents will be pitched near fresh water! Cheryl needs to raise £1,350 by May to be able to participate, and £2,000 in total by next September. [Charity Registration No. 261017]
If you feel you would like to support MCR and Cheryl, either by a donation or in sponsorship, please contact her by telephone on 01263 823439, e-mail email@example.com or post to Bon Air, Blowlands Lane, Upper Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8TQ, or contact me, Jill Sidebottom on  882378.
Please make cheques payable to Macmillan Cancer Relief.
In anticipation, thank you!
Cheryl and Jill
The weather has been a major topic of the media recently - flooding at Boscastle [so similar to the Lynmouth flood], hurricanes and now the tsunami - nature's greatest disaster in modern times.
So, how have we faired in this little part of North Devon? Our 'sheltered micro-climate' so often differs from the forecast and surrounding areas, even as close as Barnstaple.
We have had our share of flooding - not quite on the scale of Boscastle or Carlisle - and Christmas 1999 heralded in the new Millennium with the centre of the village and parts of the Sterridge Valley under water.
In the early 1980's, freezing rain brought the power cables down, cutting off the power for several days. Milk from Moules Farm has been left on the church steps for us to help ourselves when the milk tanker has been unable to get through and we have been unable to get out, except on foot!
Snow? We've certainly not seen much of late, just a few flurries and not enough to build a snowman, although Exmoor, as close as Challacombe, has had some heavy and deep falls, particularly in April 2000.
However, we have had some good falls in the past, including white Christmases and New Years. Do you remember February 1978? These photographs might remind you.
Building a snowman at Chicane
Wood Park, Riversdale and Brookvale
Photographs: Les Bowen
Pitt Hill from the Square
Tom and Inge Bartlett
LOOK TO THE SPRING
I am planning for April,
Though red leaves are
I am storing for Springtime
My secrets in earth,
I am dreaming of Spring
Of its song and its story,
Though clouds hide the
And the wind's blowing cold.
For I know beyond doubting,
The glow and the glory
Will come back to cheer us,
With blue days and gold!
For the last dozen or so years, Ilfracombe Rotary Club has been organising this event which has just got better and better! The 2004 event attracted entries from as far afield as New Zealand. Due to the dedication of the walkers who support and take part in the event, the total money raised last year [and it is still coming in!] has broken all records and currently stands at £41,222!
Those of you from the village who have participated in the event in the past know that it is not a Sunday afternoon ramble! The teams of 4 to 6 members complete a course over Exmoor of approximately 14 miles, night orienteering and answering questions en route, with refreshments being served at the halfway point. The first team leaves at 7.00 p.m. and for those completing the course after midnight, breakfast is laid on before going home. Day is breaking as the last teams get back. Ilfracombe Rotarians are up all night helping as marshals, search and rescue, caterers, etc., and they must be congratulated on the success of this event. That success has benefited so many charitites, most of which are either local or based in the South West.
This year's event will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, 5th and 6th March and we send best wishes to Ilfracombe Rotary Club, particularly the Startrek Committee and walkers, for an even more successful event.
If you are interested in participating in this event or would like further details, please contact John Swan at Country Cousins, Channel School, Bicclescombe Park, Ilfracombe EX34 8JN. Tel: 862834 or visit rotary-startrek.org.uk.
Personal taste is a funny thing isn't it? I mean funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha, far from it. A long time ago, as a young nipper, I was unable to drink tea, coffee or cocoa.
Tea was then the main household beverage and it was dished out strong and sweet. At least that's how it was in my family and it was the same with relatives and Sunday School treats, etc. To me undrinkable, but in my innocence I assumed that was how it should be.
It wasn't until my teens that it occurred to me to query this. What if sugar was the culprit and what would it be like without? Bingo! It was a different cup of tea, to coin a phrase. Quite pleasant in fact. So that was one hurdle over and as I matured I gradually came to terms with coffee, providing it was sweet and milky.
Many years later, I began to attend meetings as a member of the British delegation to the ISO [International Standards Organisation] of which the "Eastern Bloc" were also members. The meetings were held annually in different venues, including some behind the "Iron Curtain".
One of the first I attended was Paris. Well, we all know the French can't make a decent cup of tea! At least not then. Coffee should be all right though. Didn't the French invent café au lait? I was to be sadly disillusioned. Every café and bistro where I asked for it, it was the same. They looked at me as if they'd never heard of it. It was café noir only. To me undrinkable.
Some years later it was the turn of Budapest. I hadn't much hope there, having heard about Turkish coffee, thick and black. And so it proved.
At the weekend, our hosts laid on a coach trip to Lake Balaton and on the way we stopped at hostelry for coffee, black of course. Desperately I asked the committee secretary, a very nice chap, if I could have a little milk. When he asked "Would you like it hot?" I incautiously replied, "If possible." Off he went to see about it and I waited for the milk to arrive. And waited. And waited . . .
The others had all drunk theirs and it was time to leave, so I left my, by now, cold black coffee and went out to board the coach. Just as I was doing so, a small procession of waiters, cooks and kitchen boys rounded the corner, from the rear of the premises, each with a trayful of steaming bowls, jugs and other receptacles. Alas, we could not stop to sample this bounty. Obviously my modest request had been inflated somewhat. They must have milked a cow or two! I've often wondered what they did with all
Two years later we were in St. Petersburg, then Leningrad. Painstakingly, I had memorised the Russian for coffee with milk. The surly waitress was not impressed. All I got was an emphatic "Nyet" and all my appeals were in vain. So I wondered if perhaps I'd been doing it wrong all these years to kill the bitterness. Remembering my youthful experience with tea, should I try it nsweetened? Well, it wasn't wonderful but at least it was drinkable and since then I quite like a cup of black coffee now and then. But I still can't abide cocoa!
TW of BC
RURAL REFLECTIONS - 22
It's late January as I take a stroll up the lane running deep within the Score Valley. Clouds starve the day of golden sunlight. My spirits are bright, however, for heart-shaped leaves are appearing around me in ever-increasing amounts. They announce that their striking yellow flowers will soon be on show once more. With the arrival of Lesser Celandine along the lane, I know that winter is reaching its finale and that spring will soon be on stage.
Another leaf is also starting to show itself. Taking on the shape of a lion's tooth, or "dent de lion" as our French friends call it, the dandelion will also soon be on show. Each holding up to two hundred florets, their bright round flowers will also bring a much-needed splash of yellow up the lane.
A pest to our flowerbeds and lawns, a gardener might regard the dandelion as a useless weed. "Useless", however, would be quite the wrong word to use. After all, it has various medicinal purposes; not to mention its ability to make good home-made wine. What's more, its leaves are great in salads, being full of vitamins A and C. Its roots can also make an agreeable substitute for coffee. And did you know that dandelion latex provided the Soviet Union with rubber during World War Two?
As well as springtime visual pleasure, dandelions also offer recreational fun on turning to seed. As a child, I recall playing "how many years" on the school field at break times. The rules were simple: you blew on the seeds until they were all gone. The amount of blows that you took then foretold the number of years it would take, for example, for you to become rich. I have since heard many regional variations of this game, one of Devon's being "tell the time".
Whilst dandelions will provide a deeper shade of yellow to that of the lesser celandine, another wild flower will soon be offering a much paler yellow. Known in Latin as the "Prima Rosa", or first rose of spring, the primrose is of course synonymous with Devon hedgerows and springtime. And though the primrose may also appear at the same time and in the same places as the dandelion, there the similarity ends. For whilst the dandelion is regarded as a garden weed, the primrose is seen as a bonus within any garden soil; so much so, it has become extinct in some parts of the countryside through being dug up.
But in other ways, the primrose story has a parallel with many of its wildflower counterparts, for it too has had its uses as a herbal remedy. In the Middle Ages it was used in the treatment of kidney disorders, rheumatism and gout, and has long since been used as a herbal remedy for bronchitis and coughs.
Few wild flowers can boast their own special day, but it was Benjamin Disraeli who decided that the date of his birth should be named after his favourite flower. Henceforth, the Nineteenth of April became Primrose Day. The primrose, too, inspired Shakespeare. Aware that too few insects were around to pollinate all the wild flowers of early spring, he made reference to the "pale primroses that die unmarried".
Another wild flower that hopefully will re-appear down the lane early this spring is Stitchwort. Usually growing in clumps, their masses of small white flowers rest upon slender, brittle stems. Curious name,
"stitchwort". Perhaps it was once used as a remedy for a stitch or a sudden pain. Well, once it's out in flower maybe I'll run up the lane and get a stitch to find out. But then maybe not!
In any case, I might miss that shady area along the hedgerow where a small clump of sorrel grew last year. Distinctive by their heart shape, the leaves of wood sorrel have a sharp, acid taste being used once upon a time as flavouring. As for its bell-shaped white flowers, they have a much greater claim to the past. Some will have you believe this delicate flower was the shamrock that St Patrick used to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. (Actually, the suckling clover has a greater claim but that's another story!)
Another flower that will appear during March and be a friend to the lane until late November is the common fumitory. I love this flower. Short and squat though it might be, every stem shoots out up to fifty small floral spikes beginning pale pink at the inner and finishing a deep maroon at the tip. So much from so little and on display for so long. So with the common fumitory providing the red down the lane, the sorrel and stitchwort the white, I suppose we need a blue. And if we stretch the spectrum a bit we find it, with a sprinkling of Dog Violets soon to re-appear. Did you know that these dainty little flowers actually hang upside down? To admire a patch of violets is to give thanks to our humble and hardworking ant. It is the ant, you see, that disperses the violets' seeds.
So much within our countryside to admire, enjoy and give thanks for at this time of the year.
A telephone call from Les in Ilfracombe and I thought I was on the trail of Yolanda's Gears in Berrynarbor! Sadly, it seems at the moment that there is not a family connection.
However, I was privileged to spend a fascinating afternoon in the company of this most interesting and sprightly nonagenarian gentleman. Thank you, Les, for sharing with me so many of your wonderful memories - far too many to recount here!
Although Les was born in Ilfracombe, opposite the old Drill Hall, both his parents, Bert and Nell, were born in Berrynarbor. Les has lived in Ilfracombe all his life - at Hele, the Quay and now in Fairfield.
As a youngster he remembers at Christmastime cycling to Berrynarbor to lay a holly wreath on his grandmother's grave and as a young man he would help his father take tours in the Lancia charabanc. Later he took tours himself in the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, often taking, in Miss Chichester's time, visitors to Arlington Court. Both Les and his father saw active service during the First and Second World Wars. Bert drove General Salmon and their vehicle was the first to Louise and Nell with their mother Susan Hicks cross the Rhine when the Germans retreated; and Les served with a RAF Fighter Squadron during the Battle of Britain.
The Lancia Charabanc
Les's father, Bert Gear, was the son of Sarah Gear of Middle Cockhill and his mother, Althea Florence Ellen, known as Nell, the younger daughter of Susan Hicks of Berrynarbor.
Before the advent of cars and his tours with the Lancia, Bert was the Guard on the Ilfracombe to Lynton Coach, driven by Tom Colwill. A team of four horses pulled the coach which would have carried about ten passengers. Apparently, when the coach used to approach Watermouth Castle, Edith, the Basset's daughter [who married Col. Penn-Curzon, and whose portrait hangs in the Manor Hall] would come out and give Bert a flower for his buttonhole.
Changing the horses was necessary to complete the journey and this took place at Easter Close. Those from Lynton were bays and the four from Ilfracombe greys.
Bert was no mean musician and the coaching horn he was awarded takes pride of place in Les's living room today.
Bert in his Guard's uniform holding his coaching horn.
Note, in these photographs, particularly overpage, the flower in Bert's button hole!
COMBE MARTIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Both the last two meeting have been well attended, with the Christmas meeting being a slide show of Old Postcards given by Tom Bartlett followed by a Social Evening, and in January, Norman Govier gave a really interesting illustrated talk on the Old Mines to be found around North Molton.
The February meeting on Thursday, 17th, should be 'hot stuff' with Ray Wooff of Ilfracombe giving an illustrated talk on Ilfracombe Fires.
Then in March, on the 17th, Norman Govier will be giving his updates on Village Archaeology.
New members or visitors are always welcome and meetings are held in Combe Martin Church Hall, starting promptly at 7.30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month. Please note that there is adequate parking for all. Membership £4.00, visitors £1.50.
LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
Many years ago, when they wanted to build a bridge over the Hudson River at a place called New York, they hit a problem. Just where they wanted to put one of the bridge supports in the river, they found the wreck of an old sailing ship stuck in the mud.
"No problem!" said one of the engineers. "We have the biggest and most powerful tugs in the world. We'll just tow it out."
The tugs were made fast to the old wreck and went ahead at full speed. As the water started breaking over the stern, they realised that 'the most powerful tugs in the world' were not going to move this obstacle.
What to do? Eventually another engineer came up with an idea.
At this point the river was tidal, so they towed a couple of barges out at low tide and made them fast to the wreck . . . . and waited. As the tide slowly came in, it gradually raised the barges, and the wreck off the river bed. Nothing could resist the power of the rising water - which had the whole might of the Atlantic Ocean behind it.
So it is with the love of God. Nothing can resist its power or conquer it. As we prepare for Easter [in this season called Lent], we might like to meditate on this wonderful mystery.
With all good wishes,
Your Friend and Rector,
WELCOME AND FAREWELL
I am not aware of any newcomers to the village and no-one has let me know that they have new neigbours! So, if you have just moved in to the village, we welcome you and hope you will be happy here. However, it would be lovely to hear from you so that we can give you a 'proper' welcome! Please give me a ring on 883544. Thanks, Judie [Editor]
BERRYNARBOR COMMUNITY SHOP & POST OFFICE
First of all, many thanks to all the volunteers who have unwaveringly turned out in rain, shine, over Christmas and on dark mornings to help in the shop. Without them, Ross would be very hard pushed! We are still very thin on the ground on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday mornings and if anyone can spare a morning or afternoon - or even be a 'standby' if unable to commit ton a regular
The Heart of our Village basis, Ross would love to hear from you.
May we remind volunteers that if they are unable to fulfil their 'slot', it is up to them to find a replacement?
We are happy to report that the shares in the shop have now risen to a magnificent £9820! An advance note for your Diary: the inaugural Annual General Meeting for all shareholders will be held in the Manor Hall on Saturday April 9th at 10.00 a.m. Do please support it. Individual notices will be sent out.
Our financial situation has been further helped by a generous grant of £5000 towards start-up costs from Leaderplus - an organisation dedicated to providing help for rural businesses. The turnover so far has exceeded our hopes. If we are to proceed with the next phase of our plans which is to build a new shop with accommodation, then we need to prove that it would be commercially viable. Ross has already expanded milk sales by offering organic milk, cream and yogurts - all selling well. Fruit and vegetable sales are increasing. If you don't see what you want, he can usually get it - very often for next day delivery. The potted plants are also selling well. He, Jill Massey and some committee members are exploring ways of making our shop even more special, and attracting visitors and customers from a wider area as well as our loyal 'regulars'
Finally for the commercial!
Heads up [or eyes down!] for special promotions! These will be on offer throughout the next few months and will of course include special Valentines Day, Mother's Day and Easter 'goodies'. Do call in and see - and if you don't see what you want, ASK.
PP of DC [and BCS!]