Edition 132 - June 2011
Photo: Colin Harding
Were you 'fooled' by the deliberate mistakes in the April issue? Unfortunately, they were not deliberate and my apologies to those whose articles did not appear quite as they should!
No excuses other than tempus fugit and anno domini! However, in order to get the Newsletter to Len to print in time to come to you on the Thursday nearest to the first of the month, I have a deadline to keep. In turn, it is important that the deadline I give for articles is also kept and perhaps I have been too willing to accept items beyond, and well beyond this. Most contributors are very good [even if I have to nag!], and I can start working in good time, but in future items that are late will run the risk of not making it, so please do your best and stick to the deadline, which is usually mid-month prior to issue. Thank you in advance.
So, to the August issue. Items will be required please by mid-July and by Friday, 15th July at the latest.
Over the past four years, the coloured cover of the June issue has generously been sponsored by Mike and Susan Richards of Napps, and this year is no exception. Thank you both, your support is very much appreciated. Our four talented regular artists, Paul, Debbie, Nigel and Peter, have in turn painted their view of or from Napps, and they are all reproduced on the centre pages. This year it is the turn of village photographer, Colin Harding. Thank you all.
And thank you to all contributors for another full and interesting Newsletter.
Judie - Ed
WEATHER OR NOT
Unfortunately we were away right at the end of March and beginning of April so we cannot give the accurate rainfall totals but they were both very dry months with a total of only 31mm [11 1/4"] of rain between them. March came in like a lamb and there was a bit of a roar at the end but it was short lived. Up to the 25th there were only 5 days when we recorded any rain at all. The temperatures were fairly average with a maximum of 17.9 Deg C, a minimum of -1.5 Deg C and a wind chill of -7 Deg C. Winds were mainly light to moderate with stronger winds on the 31st getting up to 31 knots.
The first few days of April were windier and there was some rain but then the wind dropped and after the 5th there was only one day on which there was any recordable rain and that was only 1mm on the 13th.
Temperatures rose to a maximum of
25.3 Deg C, one of the highest temperatures that we have recorded in April, with a
It is not surprising, with so little rain, that the recorded 109.00 hours of sun in March was up by 14 hours on the previous high for the month, and 169.76 hours in April up by at least 15 hours.
The first four months of this year have produced 266mm [101/2"] nearly the driest we have recorded, only beaten by 217mm [8 9/16] in 2006. Looking back through the records, the earlier part of the year does appear to be getting drier - in 1994 we had 855mm [33 3/4"] in the same period, over three times more than this year.
Simon and Sue
MANOR HALL MATTERS
The AGM for the Hall was attended for yet another year by Committee Members only and we were disappointed not to see any of our ' Users', but our full Report and Accounts were presented for a second time at the Parish Council Meeting a week later.
The key points of the AGM Report included reference to the User Group Survey of spring 2010, and the resulting action of 3 projects:
- Additional lighting in the main hall
- Overhaul of overhead gas heaters
- Complete refurbishment of kitchen
The Accounts confirmed an income for the year of £16K and expenditure of £13.5K but all before final payments on kitchen.
The overall conclusion was a year that had been very satisfactory, yet still scope for more bookings, particularly for Thursdays and weekends.
We said sincere thank you's to Jane Vanstone and Julia Fairchild who after serving on our Committee for some nine years each had chosen to step down.. Anna and Bill Scholes, Nora and Alan Rowlands, Marion Carter and myself were re-elected, and Geoff Adam and Craig Hodgen confirmed as new members at the AGM, having joined us to help since last February.
With up to 20 different User Groups tapping in with varying frequencies to the facilities we offer at the Hall, it would be hard to expect all wanting to send a representative to sit on the Committee... but that option is always there and we should like to see, in particular, support to represent the younger age groups.
That said, there is always the facility to put Questions, Comments and Suggestions to the Committee either personally or via a new Log Book which has been set up and can be found in the Kitchen.....so, anyone can use it to record views, ideas or requests.
Our Committee Agenda for the June and July meetings will almost certainly include planning for the Berry Revels 2011, which will be held on Tuesday, 2nd August. Last year's event was very successful and included a number of new activities and games to keep everyone amused. An important part of that success was the number of volunteers who stepped in to help in all aspects of set-up and running things . . . like 42 in all!
2011 will be equally challenging, so if you have time and are willing to help, then let anyone on the Committee know and we'll sign you up!
Alternatively, add your name to the Recruitment Notice to appear in the Hall and put 2nd August date in your diary NOW!
Colin Trinder - Chairman
'DES RES' FOR BIRDS
Tim D's nesting boxes for our feathered friends ave been much sought after and orders for these 'desirable residences' for next year are growing. Unfortunately, Tim is running short of one essential material and this is where you might be able to help!
Tim says that the best means of hinging the lids is cutting up old Wellington boots, which also helps waterproof the boxes, but he has none in stock and needs to acquire as many as he can lay his hands on.
So this is a plea for your old Wellies, not those fashionable ones please - pink or other bright colours - just the plain old black, navy or green.
If you can help, please drop them off at Harpers Mill, the Shop or contact Tim on  882965/883807.
ST. PETER'S CHURCH
The church filled up rapidly with parents and children for the service on Mothering Sunday. The hour flew by with the children reading the lessons and prayers and singing a lively 'Count your Blessings'. Rev. Chris invited everyone up to the altar for communion or a blessing. Thanks to Sue Neale for the lovely bunches of flowers taken round at the end.
The Thursday before the school holiday began, Class 3 were back in church to perform The Sonflower [not a misspelling] for their parents, an allegory about the life and resurrection of Jesus. It was hard to tell who enjoyed the afternoon most - the children or the audience!
A wonderful service was held on Easter Day led by the Rev. George Billington. The flowers and lit candles made the church so welcoming and the singing was led by the choir who also sang the anthem 'Come Ye Faithful'. A truly joyous occasion.
Special dates in June will be Ascension Day on Thursday 2nd followed by Pentecost [Whit Sunday] on the 12th. St. Peter's Day is on the 29th June and we shall be at the lych-gate from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. for Gift Day. Letters and envelopes will be delivered round the village the week before and we hope you will come along for a chat and an opportunity to meet the Rector if you have not already done so.
On Sunday 26th June there will be an Evening Service in Berrynarbor Church at 6.30 p.m. with Christians Together and we shall be joined by members of all the churches from Combe Martin. This is always a happy occasion. The collection will be for Christian Aid and all the money collected during Christian Aid Week will be presented. If you still have your envelope and would like to make a donation, please hand it in at church or in the village shop.
St. Peter's Summer Fayre will be on Tuesday, 16th August this year. Please let us know if you would like to help in any way and items for the various stalls and for prizes will be most welcome as always.
Friendship Lunches at The Globe will be on Wednesdays 29th June and 27th July. Do come and join us, you will be very welcome.
Licensing of Rev. Yvonne Yates
It has been a long time since a licensing/induction has taken place in Berrynarbor - the last would have been the induction of Rev. Lewis in 1970. I wonder how many people remember it.
After a great deal of preparation, the licensing of Rev. Yvonne Yates went off well, with the church almost full and so many dignitaries and clergy present as the rituals unfolded, including the ringing of the bells.
The Bishop of Exeter led the service and gave the address. Once again the joint choir excelled and sang 'The Lord is My Shepherd' to the tune of the 'Vicar of Dibley'.
After the service we all went over to the Manor Hall to enjoy a delicious buffet provided by the ladies of the North Devon Team [10 churches between Countisbury and Berrynarbor]. Our sincere thanks to everyone.
Rev. Yvonne will be living in Lynton and working across the team, supporting Rev. Chris in his ministry. We wish her well as we look forward to the future.
FROM DOWN UNDER
It was lovely to hear from Wendy Sio [Fanner] from Australia following Don's picture of the village c1920. Wendy kindly e-mailed some photographs of the primary school classes of Mrs. Cowperthwaite and Miss Richards, as well as a photo taken from, as she says:
'That exact spot and at a guess I should say it was taken about 1969/70, when Lisa [Draper], my sister Rachel, Clare [Sullivan], Melanie [Cornish], my younger sister Jan, Ian [Pringle] and Bobby [Bowden] were all in the choir and were allowed to climb to the top of the church tower and have a look. To me the view doesn't look that different despite the passing of 50 or so years.'
Sadly, the quality of the e-mailed photographs is not good but the one of the village is reproduced here with apologies!
Coffee Morning at Nethercombe
We should like to extend special thanks to all those who came and supported our Easter Coffee Morning at home. An estimated 100 people attended in just two hours raising an incredible £615 for the North Devon Hospice.
The warm, sunny day was a bonus, allowing the morning to take place in the garden in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Particular thanks go to all those who donated cakes, plants and items for the bric-a-brac stall and, of course, the army of volunteers without whom it would not have been possible.
Steve and Dean
Pancakes at Easter Barton
With the weather perfect, a great day was had by all at Easter Barton for the Pancake Day on the 23rd of April. Many thanks to all those who attended, bought copious pancakes, raffle tickets and thought hard to guess the number of tadpoles in the jar.
Thank you to all those who donated raffle prizes. We made a grand total of £215 pounds for the Berrynarbor Toddler group which will be spent wisely. Many thanks,
The Great Berrynarbor Plant Sale
again we had a very successful day thanks to all the keen gardeners of
Berrynarbor who so generously grew, tended and potted up their excess
Our reputation seems to be
spreading as parking in the village became almost impossible after 2.00pm. The
Manor Hall was full to bursting as the plants were enthusiastically snapped up.
The raffle was popular as ever and thanks to the generosity of local sponsors
the prizes were attractive and varied. The total profit for the day exceeded
£550.00. We must also thank all the
people who helped on the day from setting up stalls to taking the money, making
the tea and clearing up afterwards.
We look forward to another sale next year so please continue to keep all
your cuttings, seedlings and unwanted plants as there will always be someone
else who would like them.
Kath Bikey's Bash What
a great afternoon and the final total I am able to send to the North Devon
Hospice is over £700. My thanks to all
who came and those who gave donations - it was an amazing result. Special thanks to 'the team': Alan and Issy who do so much and always with
a smile, Marion who was in the chilly position this year - hope you've thawed
out! Margaret who was the kitchen maid, and Sharon and Geoff who make the long
trips and enjoy being part of it.
Here's to next year! The Hospice
deserve all the help we can give them. Di London
Marathon Michael and Jo would like to thank
everyone for supporting Mark when he ran the Marathon. Mark also says: To the kind people of Berrynarbor A very big thank you for all
your support during the London Marathon.I managed to complete it in 5:51m, a
little slow but then I did have 'man flu' and a chest infection!With all your
help, we managed to raise approximately £1,700.Thank you for your generosity,
considering most of you will not know me; you kindly gave through mum's
you all have a healthy, happy rest of 2011. Love
& light, Mark xx 7
a great afternoon and the final total I am able to send to the North Devon
Hospice is over £700. My thanks to all
who came and those who gave donations - it was an amazing result. Special thanks to 'the team': Alan and Issy who do so much and always with
a smile, Marion who was in the chilly position this year - hope you've thawed
out! Margaret who was the kitchen maid, and Sharon and Geoff who make the long
trips and enjoy being part of it.
Here's to next year! The Hospice
deserve all the help we can give them. Di
Michael and Jo would like to thank everyone for supporting Mark when he ran the Marathon. Mark also says: To the kind people of Berrynarbor
A very big thank you for all your support during the London Marathon.I managed to complete it in 5:51m, a little slow but then I did have 'man flu' and a chest infection!With all your help, we managed to raise approximately £1,700.Thank you for your generosity, considering most of you will not know me; you kindly gave through mum's networking.
May you all have a healthy, happy rest of 2011.
Love & light, Mark xx
In March 1920 the gigantic Bronson Circus visited Ilfracombe. The advance party had already erected the big top at Brimlands and the parade made their way through the town. There were elephants, horses, giraffes, dogs, lions, tigers, black panthers, clowns and trapeze artists, all accompanied by a large band, Crowds had gathered along the main street as this was a circus of such size and reputation never before seen in the town.
Whilst bars around the ring were erected in preparation for the lion taming act, the clowns did their bit with the usual throwing buckets of water over each other or losing their trousers only to show the gaudiest of underpants. Now the caged ring was ready and the lions wereput through their paces - jumping through hoops, sitting up on their stands, laying in a row and all rolling over together. At the end, the trainer sat astride a lion much to the delight of the audience who cheered loudly, before they made their way back through the barred tunnel to their cages.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Girls and Boys," shouted the Ringmaster, Mr. Gerry Bronson himself, dressed in a bright outfit complete with tail coat and top hat. "I have for you our latest act of Nina and Benji, two handsome black panthers. And here they are now."
The two panthers entered. Nina was rather fat but Benji was sleek. "Our trainer for these animals is Mr. Harry Black, Mr. Black will you please show yourself."
Walking over to the door to the caged ring, Mr. Black opened the door and stood with his back to the ring whilst acknowledging the applause from the crowd.
Quick as a flash, both animals raced across the ring, leaping on to Mr. Black's back and making their way straight out through the public entrance.
Women and children screamed whilst the Ringmaster and Mr. Black stood aghast, rooted to the spot. Nothing like this had ever happened before and the circus was due to move to its new venue the next day.
The panthers act was the last item on the programme and so the frightened audience made their way, as quickly as they could, to their homes. Mr. Bronson told the Police to ask any local farmers to shoot the panthers on sight, they were very dangerous and likely to attack. The word was soon put round.
Various brief sightings were made and it was thought that the panthers had made their way out in the Hillsborough or Hele direction.
Now we come to several days later when Mr. Frederick Loworthy made his way along the headland at Watermouth Harbour, known as the Warren. He had a powerful shot gun and was looking for rabbits. As he approached a large clump of blackberry bushes, he was suddenly confronted by a huge, black panther. Trembling, he pulled the trigger, but missed and the animal ran off. "I'll get you next time," he muttered to himself. Gingerly, he made his way further along when he spotted it again, down by the water. Creeping closer he took careful aim.
"Bang!" went the gun and the panther, in fright, jumped into the water and started to swim in the direction of Widmouth. Quickly,Mr. Loworthy took aim and this time his shot found its target and killed the animal, its body sinking in the water, later to be washed up on the shore. Upon examination, the body was found to be that of Benji and it was duly buried.
But what happened to Nina has never been known, and it was thought that she was pregnant at the time of her escape. Could she have lived on, giving birth to her young and did they survive?
There are alleged reports of large, black beasts being seen in the West Country. Are they connected? Who knows?
Tony Beauclerk - Stowupland
Illustrations by: Paul Swailes
FREE WINDSURFING FROM BERRYNARBOR
Here in North Devon we have the finest facilities for all sorts of water sports. Mind you, the winds, tides and weatherare not of the kindest; nevertheless, anyone wanting to swim, surf, row, canoe, banana boat, subaqua, kitesurf, sail or windsurf can find locations, equipment, like-minded people and tuition fairly easily. I am a devoted windsurfer and am prepared to introduce almost anyone to this sport.
Often people tell me that they tried it once and either they fell off far too often and quickly became exhausted or they sailed away into the distance and couldn't return! As a well-qualified instructor I can assure you that it needn't be either of these situations. Probably they tried with unsuitable equipment in poor training weather or on lumpy water.
Now, having accrued lots of boards, sails, etc., and being retired withsome time in hand, I should be happy to teach anyone the initial stepstowards taking up this fantastic sport. I can match people to suitable kit and choose time and tide to best effect.
The location I use is Crow Point bay at Braunton. This bay has clean water over a sandy bottom and the sheltered winds are usually steady and from a suitable direction for beginners. From now until September, a summer wet suit and a buoyancy aid are OK, and I have a few rather tatty items to lend if needed.
If you'd like to try it for free or are willing to accompany children to try it, then give me a call on  889393 or call in at Briar Cottage - where the shop used to be.
BERRY IN BLOOM & BEST KEPT VILLAGE
What a dry and warm spring we have had! This has meant that the colourful displays of daffodils, tulips and pansies have been over in a flash and the dreaded watering had to start early. We shall be planting out the summer bedding and taking delivery of the hanging baskets by the end of May, all in preparation for our goal as Best Kept Village and Britain in Bloom National entrants.
We have continued having litter picks and work parties at roughly five week intervals and this has worked well. Thank you to all those who sometimes take their lives in their hands on the roads and thank you to Martin who collects the bags of rubbish for us.
Following on from the Quiz Night fundraiser in February, we have had a very successful Coffee Morning in conjunction with the Horticultural & Craft Show Committee. Fund raising is in full swing and we are very grateful to the Amos-Yeo and Hart families for their generous donations.
Our next two main fundraising events are the Open Gardens afternoons on 12th June for the Village gardens and 3rd July for the Sterridge Valley. It is not too late to offer to open your garden and we are particularly looking for new gardens [new to us that is, as an old established garden cannot be beaten], so be bold, gardens do not have to be immaculate just well loved, and if you don't want to open your garden come along and have a nose at other people's and have a scrummy home baked tea at a bargain price.
Blueberry Rocky Road Squares
Talking of scrummy home bakes, here is a very quick and easy summer, no cook recipe for when you would rather be out in the garden or on the beach!
200g/7oz [half a tin] condensed milk
100g pack Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
75g pack dried blueberries
200g/7oz pack mini marshmallows
50g/2oz white chocolate
Line a 23cm square tin with baking parchment. Place the dark chocolate, condensed milk and butter into a large bowl. Microwave on high for 1-11/2 minutes, stirring until everything has melted. Beat until smooth. Stir in the nuts, blueberries and marshmallows. Pour the mixture in to the tin and spread evenly.
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave for 1/2-1 min on high, and then give it a quick stir. Drizzle the white chocolate over the mixture. Chill for at least 30 minutes until set. Cut in to squares and serve.
Wendy is thrilled to announce that she has become a great-grandmother at only 63! Isabella was born on the 25th April, safely to Emily [her granddaughter] and Daryl Payne, weighing 7lbs 9oz. She is beautiful and looks just like a baby!
Congratulations Wendy - far too young to be a great-granny! Congratulations too, to the parents and grandparents and a warm welcome to little Isabella.
Chris and Melanie Ayres are delighted to announce the safe arrival, even if she was in a hurry, of their daughter Francesca Mae. Born at home like her siblings, Francesca weighed in at 6lbs 1oz on the 13th May, a very welcome little sister for Harry and Grace.
Our congratulations to you all and we look forward to meeting Francesca very soon.
FIVE HUNDRED YEAR-OLD FACTS
Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people were married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, as they began to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence today's custom of carrying a wedding bouquet .
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women followed by the children and last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, 'Don't throw the baby out with the bath water'.
Houses had thatched roofs made with thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals [and mice and bugs] lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying 'It's raining cats and dogs'.
LOCAL WALK - 126
The Colour Blue
In recent years there has been a controversy involving Britain, Spain and a small chestnut coloured duck with white cheeks and a bright blue bill.
A native of North America, the Ruddy Duck was introduced into captive collection in the UK in the 1930's. Two escaped from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge in the early '50's. Five years later, twenty more escaped until eventually the pretty duck had successfully established itself outside Britain - including Spain, where through hybridisation it threatened the existence of the closely related and highly endangered White-Headed Duck.
In view of this, the European Commission funded a cull of Ruddy Ducks to eradicate the alien species from Europe and aid the conservation of the White-Headed Duck. Not everyone was happy with this!
A similar situation, though in reverse, has concerned the native bluebell Endymion [or Hyacinthus] non-scriptus and the Spanish bluebell Endymion [or Hyacinthus] hispanicus. So many of our typical spring flowers, like the snowdrop, have their origins in the Eastern Mediterranean but Hyacinthus non-scriptus is a true native and special to Britain.
Unfortunately, garden escapes of the larger, paler Spanish bluebell naturalise and interbreed with our wild bluebells possibly jeopardising their numbers in future.
To experience the shimmering colour and fragrance of a bluebell wood in May, we went to the RSPB reserve, Chapel Wood at Spreacombe.
There, between the trees, the racemes of flowers, arranged on one side of the stem and drooping at the tip, ebbed and flowed with the breeze.
The Spanish variety is more erect and does not have the flowers confined to one side of the spike. Another distinguishing feature - our Hyacinthus non-scriptus has cream anthers whereas Hyacinthushispanicus has blue anthers.
As we reached the top of the hill the blue became more intense with the flowers more closely packed together and less greenery and stitchwort between to dilute the colour. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called the patches of bluebells 'falls of sky colour'.
On the western side of the wood we were pleased to find that the steep path had been much improved, making the descent feel a lot safer. The work had been carried out by Western Power apprentices as a community project. Halfway down, a sturdy bench provided a good place to stop and watch woodpeckers, nuthatches and assorted warblers.
Near the site of the ancient chapel some children were absorbed in woodcraft related activities, laid on by the RSPB for the Bank Holiday.
Once we had arrived at Chapel Wood as a couple of visitors from California were leaving. Although the bluebells were just past their best, the Americans were enthralled. They had not seen anything like it.
The nature writer, Richard Mabey, describes bluebell woods as 'a uniquely British spectacle'.
Illustrated by: Peter Rothwell
NEWS FROM THE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Summer is here and things are getting busy!
Our Year 6 pupils took their SATs last week and are now focusing on getting ready for the move to secondary school. They really are a lovely bunch of children and we are very proud of the supportive group of young people in to which they have grown. It will be a tearful goodbye to them at the leavers' service on the 22nd July, but just to make sure that they go out with a bang they have requested a Year 6 versus staff rounders match at the end of term which some of us are looking forward to more than others!
Both Class 3 and Class 4 children will be going on a residential in the next month or so. Class 4 are off to Plymouth for 5 days and Class 3 will be staying at Beam House near Torrington for 3 days. The children are very excited and I am sure they will have a lovely time. Residential trips are hard work for staff but we look forward to see the children grow in confidence as they try new experiences, overcome fears and work together.
You might have seen in the newspaper that we are considering federating with West Down Primary School. We have held a series of information meetings for parents which have been well attended. The Governors of both schools make the final decision on 27th May. If the Federation goes ahead it will begin in September and we shall form one Governing Body to manage both schools. I consider federation with West Down a good move for Berrynarbor School; it would enable us to work more closely together sharing resources, expertise and costs and would put us in a stronger position for the future. We'll let you know the final decisions on the matter through the Newsletter in due course.
We are hoping to stimulate our parents this term by inviting them to attend an Inspire Day with their children. The parents will come to school with their child for the morning, be able to observe them learning and then work with their child on a task set by the teacher. The idea came from another school in Somerset where two of our pupils attended before moving to Devon. I was lucky enough to watch an Inspire Day in progress and saw how much both the parents and children got out of the morning and so thought we'd give it a go.
Class 1 have been learning about famous people and some of their pictures are displayed here.
This year we shall be holding our School Fete earlier on Friday,
10th June, the Manor Hall at 6.30 p.m. An annual event and one not to be missed! Everyone is welcome.
Su Carey - Headteacher
REPORT FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL
Tuesday 12th April saw the last meeting of the previous term of the Parish Council, both at the Annual Meeting at which Reports were received from the Police, County and District Councillors, the Chairman, Footpath Warden, Claude's Garden and the Clerk presented the Accounts for the year to 31st March 2011.
At last the long drawn out issue of the play equipment in the Play Area has come to an end and apologies received from the supplying company.
Thanks for their input during their time in office were given to retiring Councillors Richard Gingell, Paul Crockett and Angel Boyd. With only four of the nine seats available on the Parish Council filled, no election took place.
The first meeting of the newly elected Councillors took place on the 10th May when Sue Sussex was elected Chairman, David Richards Vice-Chairman and Councillors Lorna Bowden and Clive Richards. There are currently five remaining places to be filled by co-option. If you are interested, please send a letter or e-mail the Parish Clerk, Sue Squire, by the 11th June.
A report was given by Colin Trinder on behalf of the Manor Hall Management Committee and the Accounts for the year ended 31st March were approved and approval given for the Annual Return to be completed.
Sue Squire - Parish Clerk [01598 710526] email@example.com
2 Threeways, Bratton Fleming, Barnstaple, EX332 4TG
THE SEVERN BORE - A NATURAL WONDER
The Severn Bore is one of the most well-known and strangest natural phenomenon that occurs in Britain, and earlier this year Pat and I went to view it at close quarters - a most worthwhile, enjoyable and interesting experience.
The Bore [wave] occurs quite regularly throughout the year on the tidal lower reaches of the River Severn below Gloucester. Whenever the tidal range at the river's mouth is greater than about 9 metres, a small wave effect [bore] is triggered and moves upstream. On a few occasions each year - coinciding with the highest spring tides - the tidal range is over 10 metres and this is when the biggest waves are generated. This is the time that large numbers of sightseers flock to the various viewpoints to experience the spectacular Severn Bore event, as we did.
As the wall of water surges up the river towards Gloucester, so the initial wave gradually increases in height as the width of the river narrows. Also an impressive loud roar can be heard as the wave approaches your viewpoint. One of the best places to see the bore is at Minsterworth and it is from here onwards that large numbers of surfers and canoeists attempt to catch and ride the famous wave.
A 'must see' if you ever get the chance!
Illustrated by: Paul Swailes
NEWS FROM OUR COMMUNITY SHOP
'Summer is icumen in' . . . and the Shop is ready!
We have a superb range of bird stations and feeders - all made locally and very reasonably priced - in fact so much so that we have packed a number of them into visitors' cars for a long journey home. There is a limited supply as the maker is emigrating, so if you want it, get it!We are not sure how long the supply will last, but whilst they are available, treat yourselves to Braunton strawberries and asparagus. The flavour is so good.
And with the promise of warm summer evenings, why not sit on the terrace with a glass of Devon wine, our latest alcoholic addition?
There is a good range of plants - both fruit and vegetables. If you've planted an excess and are happy to donate them, the Shop would love to have them to sell. There is also a good range of plants from Grow@Jigsaw - a horticultural project offering individuals a variety of opportunities in training and work experience through growing.
Father's Day [we know, it's an American celebration, but if it makes Dad feel happier, why not] is on June 19th - and we have a range of cards for this date.
Don't forget that for the rest of the summer, our shop is open until 5.30 p.m. It might be that extra half hour that gives you time to buy a bottle of Devon wine to go with asparagus and strawberries - perhaps for Father's Day!
Happy shopping. PP of DC
CANINE PARTNERS - OUR ADOPTED PUPPIES
We seem to have been rather unlucky with our puppies lately, like Pebbles, Polo too has failed his training and has been withdrawn from the scheme. Although he had a lot of positive traits and a lovely cheeky personality, it was felt he would be better placed with someone with a disability and limited mobility and he has happily now been rehomed.
However, our original golden Labrador Ruby is doing well and has now progressed to the advanced training and clocked up a record - she learnt to open a washing machine in just one day! Her weakness - a love of balls and a slobbery one had to be paid for after she had sneaked it off a shelf full whilst out shopping!
Canine Partners are running a new scheme whereby rather than follow puppies only through their training, supporters will now be able to follow their dogs right through their working life alongside their human partner.
BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE
Our pre-Easter and pre-'that wedding' meeting saw us 'journey' to South America. Thankfully, our enthusiastic Secretary, Tony Summers, had travelled miles . . . all the way to Barnstaple's Majestic Wine Warehouse to purchase his liquid presentation. Majestic wine tastings are possible, but Tony decided upon a 'blind buy.' The presenter and the tasters were pleasantly surprised by most!
Wine is made all over South America, vines were planted in Peru in the 16th century, but Chile and Argentina are the only countries currently producing sufficient quantities for foreign markets to obtain easily. Argentina is the continent's largest wine producer and ranked fifth in the world. 'Quantity' may be the accolade for this country, but it is its neighbour, Chile, described by the trade as a 'viticultural paradise' that wins the 'most meritorious award'.
Three Chilean whites began the proceedings: a Gewurztraminer, a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Gewurz means 'spicy'. This certainly wasn't, but it wasfruity and happened to be the cheapest wine of the evening, at £7.49. Many agreed that it would be perfect with fish, a light lunch or in the garden with sunshine!
Wine label wording can include 'AOC' or 'Appellation d'OrigineContrlee'. For a wine to bear this it has complied with certain tasting characteristics and will have been made in strict geographical limits. Unfortunately, perhaps, it has also come to mean 'Anything Other than Chardonnay'! You either love it or hate it; it didn't suit many palates and this was the dearest at £10.99.
Argentina had produced two of our reds: a Bonarda and a Malbec. The latter was our last, which delighted many, even though it was the dearest of the evening at £12.99.
Usually AGM's induce groans, but 'Mr Chairman', Alex Parke, delivered the necessary in his annual speedy and efficient manner and introduced our final speaker for this season: Jan Tonkin. May meetings seem to be synonymous with Jan and his winter holidays: May 2010 was 'South African Wines', but the expectation of 'Wines from Sri Lanka' was intriguing. The Circle was amused by the projection screen as it revealed a blank list! Where to now? Our answer: 'Wines from . . . Where?'
We zigzagged across the world accompanied by faces and places associated with Romania, India, Tasmania, Canada, Lebanon and Mexico. There was a 'fruity, fresh and crisp' beginning supplied by the Pinot Grigio from Romania, retailing at £4.79. An Indian Sauvignon Blanc, a rose predominantly Pinot Noir from Tasmania, another Pinot Noir from Canada, a 'Cab Sav' from Lebanon and a Mexican Petite Sirah followed. Others prices ranged between £6.99 and £12.99.
Jan had even managed to find his name on a label . . . well almost. 'Jansz' Tasmanian bubbling pink creation was appreciated and one of two supplied by Oddbins. Many members seemed to agree that the Lebanese red was a delicious find. It was one of four provided by Elixir Wines. A commercial note: Oddbins went into administration last month, but Jan's orders arrived as promised. Elixir Wines is a London-based wholesaler but it will deliver to any address in the UK.
This season has finished; however, we restart in October. That meeting will be another Majestic 'moment' as Barnstaple's Manager,
Paul Firmin, will be our first
presenter for 2011-2012. If you enjoy a
glass or two, we shall be pleased to see new faces. Judith Adam Promotional Co-ordinator
Judith Adam Promotional Co-ordinator
PRESENTS FOR HAITI
There have been a number of times I've organised collections for people overseas who have suffered natural disasters, but never before had the honour and privilege of actually deliveringthe donated items to the affected country - until now.
Our Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean'sOasis of the Seas was booked before the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 and I was surprised that the cruise line would be calling at the devastated Island. The ships never stopped going there as they were a lifeline, delivering much needed food, aid and other supplies.
I wrote to Royal Caribbean a few months before we were due to sail and said I should like to take some things for the children. They replied explaining that they lease land from the Haitian Government on which they had recently built a school. They were very pleased of my offer to help and suggested coloured pencils and other school items and, if possible, tee-shirts and shorts for the children.
On Sunday 2nd January, the sermon was about 'Those who Have and Those who do Not', and I took the opportunity to mention that if anyone would care to give anything, we could put it in our cases.
It soon became clear that our suitcases with our holiday clothes in were not going to be big enough - people were very generous in giving children's clothes, pencils, wax crayons and colouring pencils. So I bought one of those large 'market trader' style hardwearing bags and by the time we went it was full of all the items requested and more besides. Our local Primary School had also kindly donated items as well as schools where I am Clerk to the Governing Body. Parkham School sent a padded bag full of sharpeners after I mentioned to the Administrator what I was doing.
I also contacted British Airways and asked if the excess baggage fee of £40 could be waived, explaining what the bag would contain and who it was for. They agreed as it came under the criteria of the Charitable Policy.
Just as Terry was doing up the zip of the bag, ready to carry out to the car before we set off, the zip broke! So, before we checked in the bags at Heathrow we had to go to Wickes and get some duck-tape to wrap around and to make absolutely sure that the contents would be safe, I had it cling wrapped at the airport! The only trouble was that the person who did it didn't allow for the handles to be poking out, so we ended up with one large, slippery and difficult to handle lump. Still, that wasn't our problem but I don't suppose the baggage handlers were very impressed.
Royal Caribbean had asked me to make myself known to Guest Services to hand over the parcel and when I did this, I was told the arrangements had changed and that I was required to meet Customs and Immigration Officials as they boarded the Ship at 07.00 the next morning. Previous to this, I had noticed in one of the ship's shops, a wheeled trolley
with elasticated straps - ideal I thought for moving the parcel and also for future use. Little did I know then just how useful it would be?
Next morning we waited on Deck 2 to be seen by Customs with a list of the items in the bag. They didn't want to see us, but kept the list and asked us to deliver the bag to the Site Manager, which meant we were the first passengers off the ship after it had docked. This was where the wheeled trolley came in very handy because if Terry had had to carry the bag all along the dock to the Site Manager's Office, he wouldn't have been fit for anything for the rest of the day - it was quite a long way!
The Site Manager had not arrived so we were introduced to a Security Person and I explained the story. It would be true to say that she was stunned and bemused and it was perfectly evident that this had never happened before. She gratefully accepted the bag and we walked back to the ship feeling elated that at last, after 5,000 miles the precious parcel had reached its destination. Having been first off the ship, we were first back on at 7.30 a.m. The Security man said, "You're back early", and I explained what we had just done. He said, "Oh, it's you." So the story must have gone around a bit..
I should like to take this opportunity of sincerely thanking everyone who gave items to help fill the bag. You can be sure that every single thing is being put to very good use. We were told afterwards by a person who lives on the Island, who helps with the Shore Excursions, that even the smallest thing given to the Islanders means so much, so you can imagine the pleasure that all of us from this corner of England have brought to the people who have suffered so much over the last months.
DOWNES HOUSE, CREDITON
For their Monday get together on the 9th May, the 'Stitch and Bitch' group visited Downes House and the Eggesford Garden Centre.
It was a showery April day in May, so typical of English weather! We were driven by Mark, an amiable young chap in his minibus. First stop, Eggesford Garden Centre, smaller and less commercial than those around Barnstaple, but with a good selection of plants which Mark later stowed for us in the back of his bus. Our leisurely tour of the premises began with a drink in the restaurant and terminated with a good lunch. I can recommend the quiche which came as a large, tasty slice!
In the afternoon we progressed to Downes House, the family home of the Parker-Buller family, where Andrew our guide, a retired military gentleman, explained the history of the house and spoke most enthusiastically of its famous General Sir RedversBuller to an audience of crafty ladies of an uncertain age, some of whom admitted to never having heard of this famous occupant. Andrew's enthusiasm did carry the story well and the house was architecturally interested - a loved family home.
Best of all we had each other for company and it only rained whenever we were indoors.
Look Before You Leap
The graceful impala, a member of the African antelope family, can teach us a lot about treading carefully.
They have been known to jump distances of eleven metres, and can leap to a height of over three metres, yet when placed in a zoo enclosure, surrounded by a low wall, they will never jump over it.
There is a very simple reason for this. These beautiful creatures simply will not make a move if they cannot see where their feet will land. This way they will not find themselves on shaky ground.
This is something we should, perhaps remember the next time we are tempted to leap before we look.
Hold the Lift
Loam had invented the Man Engine in an effort to relieve miners of the back-breaking climb to and from the work face. Some mines were over 2000 feet deep. The basic design involved a series of stepped wooden rods which moved up and down between a succession of platforms, which were fitted to the mine shaft wall. The miner would step off a platform on to a rod, step off that on to the next platform and wait for the next rod. It was slow, but relatively safe, and much less exhausting than climbing a ladder.
Sing in the Life Boats
Voltaire, the French writer and philosopher, who was born in 1694, was a witty but ruthless critic of the corrupt ruling powers of his era, and refused to ignore injustice. Because of that he offended the authorities, and his views landed him in periods of imprisonment and exile.
His was a turbulent existence, and he once described life as 'a shipwreck'. Voltaire, however, added one further comment by saying, "Nevertheless, we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats."
We could all do with a shipmate like him!
Let There be Music
Here are two sayings about the power of music in our lives.
Henry David Thoreau wrote:
When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest.
Even earlier, Plato had this to say:Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imaginations and life to everything.
OZ CALLING! SEEKING JEAN & MARGARET
Dave Letch, from New South Wales, is seeking the help of Berrynarbor folk to find Jean and Margaret Anderson. Can you help?
Sisters Jean and Margaret and their parents moved from Wood Green, London, to Berrynarbor in the late 1960's, 1968/9, when they were about 38-40 years old. Where they lived is not known, nor when they left the village. The sisters were Godmothers to Dave and his sister Ann and after they and their parents emigrated to Australia in 1966, contact with the Andersons over the years was lost.
Dave says Jean and Margaret never married, were both skilled knitters and into crafts. They were keen walkers, loved to travel and made many home movies . . . and that is all the information we have to go on.
Were they perhaps WI members or members of the Church? Can anyone remember them? If you do, please give Judie a ring on 883544 so that any information can be passed on to Dave and his mother.
Dave says that he writes occasionally for his village, so from village to village he has sent the following article when he interviewed Miriam Margolyes, who lives close by:
"Despite our best efforts to sit in the same space, my 'flu put paid to our final plan. "I'm flying out tomorrow!" she said. "I'm turning into a bowl of chicken soup!" I moaned.
So we go cyber. Embrace the technology and, almost Harry Potter-ish, there we are, communication magically provided by Skype. How good is this?
Miriam Margolyes is unique. A glorious, owlish face of terrific sensitivity and joy and a voice with the purr of a kitten.
Here is an actress of command and disguise. She slides into the skin of her characters and gives them her signature breath. Her phenomenally successful 'Dicken's Women' is soon to open in London's West End and her home in Robertson is her sanctuary.
Miriam is well known for her candour, but possibly less so for her background - such is the chameleon she is.
As a great fan of Black Adder, I remember seeing 'Her again!' as the endlessly randy Spanish Infanta with a killer lewd look, matching Rowan Atkinson frame for frame with her face of rubber. "Who IS that woman?" I remember saying as I'd seen her in so many things. My sister supplied the answer, "Miriam Margolyes". I was in London at the time, living in Hackney. Everyone seemed to just call her 'Miriam'. The closest things the Brits have to a living national treasure, Miriam also does phenomenal good works. Something many wouldn't know is her fame as a voice artist: from Doctor Who to Babe, from Happy Feet to the iconic Monkey.
Miriam connects to people. She is outspoken, unashamedly outrageous and never apologetic.
Her politics are focussed and she has been attacked for being anti-semitic.
MM, as she signs herself and as how I now think of her, is important. She laughs often and makes you determined to grab life by the throat."
With events in Libya dominating the news it stirs my memory of times past. I spent two years in the Libyan Desert in a tented camp in 1956-58. We were about ten miles from Tripoli, the capital city of Libya.
I very quickly purchased a 500cc Royal Enfield motor cycle from an Italian dealer in Tripoli. Now the world was my oyster as the saying goes!
However, the Tripoli police thought otherwise and persecuted me everywhere I went, especially on the long coast road to the borders of adjacent countries. My favourite was the run to the Tunisian border about 40 miles.
It was on such a trip I had a most extraordinary adventure. Basically when approaching the last Arab village before the border with Tunisia, I was suddenly forced to stop by a crowd of Arabs in the road. Nothing new to me, but this lot wanted me to go with them to their village.
It was a scary situation until this particular Arab, in half Western style clothing, spoke to me in English. I quote: "I have motor bike, you look yes!"
How could I refuse? Suffice for me to say that his motor cycle was an old German N.S.U. from the 1939-45 War. A heap of rust and parts missing, including the magneto.
However, experience dealing with Arabs had taught me you don't lose face, so you go through the motions of examining it and give some sort of answer to the problem, i.e. needs an electrician to solve the problem.
I eventually left with the whole village out to see me off.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS NO. 33
ROSALIE CAROLINE CHICHESTER
The Last Owner of Arlington Court
Don't despair, gentlemen, your time will come again! But after writing about Octavia Hill [Movers and Shakers 32] it seems appropriate to follow up with Miss Rosalie Chichester, the last owner of Arlington Court: a friend of Canon Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust.
If you have visited this house recently you will no doubt know that Miss Chichester was an avid collector: seashells, pewter, china, stamps, jade, model ships, stuffed animals [a picture hanging in the hall shows a stuffed kangaroo!] to mention a few. Indeed her last collection, which hadn't all arrived at her death, was a collection of models of the Dunkirk boats. But it is her many other skills that are also noteworthy.
Born in 1865, she was the only child of Sir Alexander Palmer Bruce, known as Sir Bruce, and Lady Rosalie Amelia Chichester. He had inherited the estate at the age of nine and died of brucellosis just short of his 39th birthday, having lived an extravagant life and leaving great debts.
Rosalie was just 16 when she became his heiress. At that time it was unheard of for two women to manage finances so two years later, her mother married for convenience a distant relative of her late husband,Sir Arthur Chichester of Youlston in Shirwell. They never lived together, but it gave mother and daughter credibility to run the estate.
Incidentally, one of the frequent questions asked at Arlington is: "Was Sir Francis Chichester, the round-the-world-yachtsman, a relative?" Yes, distantly and by that marriage - he was the grandson of Sir Arthur, but more of that in a later story!
The estate covered many acres of tenanted farmland plus large areas around Woolacombe where, in this small community, Rosalie and her mother ran a clothing club to provide clothing for the underprivileged. After her mother's death in 1908, and being friendly with Canon Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust, she passed over some of the Woolacombe land to them, keeping Parade House as a retreat. This was a favourite house and where she spent her final days. For those interested, the house is for sale at the moment! The family had also owned other parts of North Devon and land in Wales and London.
Miss Chichester looked after her staff very well and when she had paid off the last of the mortgages on the estate in 1928, according to a trusted and loyal member of staff: "We were given a great treat and sent to one of the shows at Barnstaple which were put on each year by the Operatic Company". Her tenant farmers and their families, the source of much of her income, were also well treated.
She was perhaps no beauty, but tall and very striking in appearance. Perhaps it is no surprise she never married as at a suitable age she was no catch, having serious financial difficulties, but she made up for this with her many interests and hobbies.
After her mother died she advertised in The Lady for a paid companion, and Clara Elizabeth Peters [ known as Chrissie] was engaged. They were compatible and shared the next 30 years together. Both enjoyed painting and many of their works are on display at the Court.
This talent was there from an early age: The current Explorer Room - a 'touchy feely' area - has sketches by her as a young girl. She also kept a diary and an excerpt in the latest guidebook tells in detail of a violent storm whilst cruising with her father at the age of 12. In later years, although writing a host of unpublished romantic novels, she contributed regularly to the Daily Sketch.
The two ladies enjoyed travelling and in 1921 went around the world by courtesy of Thomas Cook, calling at Australia and New Zealand, no mean thing for two women travelling alone! From this venture, she came back with the idea of a Wildlife Park for Arlington. There are still Jacob's sheep and Shetland ponies from the original stock.
No doubt Miss Chichester could enjoy a further skill on her travels: photography. She developed and printed her work in a basement darkroom at Arlington, and won awards including several from The Practical Photographer.
The one thing she and Chrissie didn't agree on, however, was choice of music. To Miss Chichester, brass bands were true music. Chrissie was an accomplished pianist - but her boss did not tolerate this! So when Miss Chichester went out, Chrissie would tinkle the ivories to the delight of the staff who would gather round to listen! She was on the local Conscription Panel for World War I and gave away her political stance by being a member of the Primrose League for over 40 years. The latter was founded when she was 18 and was dedicated to spreading Conservative principles throughout Britain.
Sadly no longer there, an observatory was built in the garden where she spent many happy hours following her interest in astronomy. Thepeacocks were allowed in the house and Polly, her parrot, now buried in the grounds at the front of the house, flew freely there for 40 years.
There are also two inventions she had patented: "A new or improved Device for Stitching or securing together pieces of flexible and other Material" and "An Improved Fastener for Windows" - both quite detailed engineering ideas. Then there was her woodcarving - a bookstand and photograph frame are still on view.
In the 1930's she decided to gift the house, contents and some 3,500 acre of land to the National Trust. It had been her family's home for many centuries and she didn't want the house or grounds developed or broken up.
For the final ten years of her life after Chrissie's death in 1939, her life became very lonely. Chrissie is buried in the church under her true name: Clara Elizabeth Peters; Miss Chichester's ashes lie in a memorial urn overlooking the lake, one of her favourite spots.
It is difficult to give all the details of this remarkable lady, a woman ahead of her time, in a small space, but if it has encouraged you to pay your first or another visit to her lovely home, it will have achieved something.
PP of DC
My grateful thanks to Dave Gibbons [House Steward at Arlington Court] for checking facts, and to our Ed for giving many of them in the first place!
HORTICULTURAL & CRAFT SHOW
Firstly we should like to thank everyone for supporting the Coffee Morning which has raised valuable funds for the Show and Britain in Bloom. Secondly, we hope you all enjoyed our fun quiz and would like to congratulate Michelle and Carol who were the first names pulled out of the hat on the day. A special well done to the 3 teams who scored a perfect 20: Pip and Tony Summers, C. Burbridge and Keith, Gill and Pam. Well done to everyone who entered and we hope you all enjoyed your Easter Eggs.
Schedules for the Show will be available from the Shop, Sue's of Combe Martin and The Globe and Sawmill Inn, from the beginning of July, so make a point of looking out for them and organising your entries.
We look forward to seeing you all at the Show on the 20th August.
Linda and the Committee
OLD BERRYNARBOR NO. 131
These two relatively modern, c1969-70, coloured postcards were published by Harvey Barton of Bristol and show how Watermouth harbour looked around this period of time.
In the first, numbered B33C - incidentally incorrectly entitled Watermouth Cove - we see mainly small dinghies moored. The many tracks of cars and trailers from where further small dinghies have been launched for the day or a few hours can also be seen. The Martello Tower/Dovecote stands out proudly near the centre of the picture and in the field on the extreme right freshly mown hay is drying off. Note the larger sailing boat moored up as this also appears in the second postcard.
The second, B33D, has been taken from the south is an unusual but attractive view looking towards the cove and beyond. The wall on the left has been extended and inside this barrier the moorings are very safe, even in winter.
I imagine that several people involved with Watermouth Harbour over the last half century would not only be able to name the sailing boat on the right, but would know to whom it belonged.
It is interesting to note the remark on the first postcard which says: 'We camped here', obviously referring to the well maintained Lydford Camp site belonging to John and Jenny Barten, the views from which must be some of the most spectacular in all Devon.
If anyone can give me further information about the sailing boat, I should be very grateful to hear from you.
Tom Bartlett, Tower Cottage, May 2011
A reminder that here in the village we have our own Pilates class. This gentle, and it must be emphasised gentle, but effective way of toning your body, improving your posture and all round fitness for any age [18 to 80!], takes place on Wednesday mornings at the Manor Hall at 9.00 a.m. Under the direction of highly qualified leader, Valerie, participants work at their own levels of ability and mobility, and no one is 'pushed' to compete with their possibly more sprightly classmate.
Why not join this group? . . . it is to your benefit!So, if you've always thought it would be too energetic for you, do come along just to watch and see how gentle and effective it really is and if you decide to join the group, all you need is comfortable footwear and loose clothing.
Let's be seeing YOU!
FIVE HUNDRED YEAR-OLD FACTS
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence. The floor was rough and dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt so hence the saying, 'dirt poor'.
The wealthy had slate floors that got slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh [straw] on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. This is where the saying 'thresh hold' originated.
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot, mostly vegetables, they did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over again the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, ' Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old'.
Occasionally they obtained pork, which made them feel quite special. and when visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, ' bring home the bacon'. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and 'chew the fat'.
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the 'upper crust'.
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait to see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.