Edition 189 - December 2020

Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


Artwork: Judie Weedon


First, I hope you are all keeping safe and well, but for anyone feeling under the weather, it is hoped you'll be better soon. And for all newcomers to the village, a very warm welcome.

Did anyone think or believe when we went into lockdown in March that we should be in lockdown again as we approach Christmas? Amazingly, this is Covid Newsletter No. 5 and the bumper issue to beat all bumper issues!

Lots of thank you's:

  • to those who donated in Purple Week to Over and Above and the incredible work carried out in the fight against cancer at our North Devon Hospital
  • to everyone who sent Christmas messages, both Manor Hall and Newsletter funds will be boosted
  • to Stuart on his retirement as Chairman of the PCC, and for keeping us in touch for the last six years with the happenings of the Church, and his commitment to all things St. Peter's, especially as Organist and Choirmaster
  • to Debbie for the front and rear covers and the mice enhancing the Christmas messages
  • to all those who have contributed to this December Newsletter - new, old and, of course, the regulars.
February will be the first issue of 2021 and items are welcome as soon as possible and by Friday, 15th January.

Christmas is going to be different this year as we continue in these strange times, but I send my best wishes to you all, and your families, for a happy Festive Season and a Healthy and Peaceful New Year.

Judie - Ed




4th June 1943 - 26th October 2020

Gerry and his family would like to give huge thanks to all friends and neighbours in the local community who have given him and his dear late wife June, immeasurable and continuing support over the last few months. Your love, generosity and kindness has supported us all through this difficult time.

June displayed great courage and stoicism until the end, rarely complaining and so appreciative of people's time, love and care, always more interested in others' well-being rather than her own. She leaves a huge void in all of our lives.

Due to the current Covid situation, the family plan to have a memorial service in the spring for local friends unable to attend the funeral to celebrate June's life.

With love and appreciation
Gerry and Family

[If anyone should wish to donate in June's memory, Gerry would be grateful for them to go to North Devon Hospice www.justgiving.com/junemarangone]

It was with much sadness that the village learnt that after brave acceptance of her condition, June had passed away peacefully at home, and our thoughts, prayers and love are with Gerry and all the family at this very hard time.

6.9.1935 - 29.10.20

How sad it was to learn that after a short stay at the North Devon Hospice, where she received outstanding care and compassion, Mary passed away peacefully on the 29th October. She will be missed and fondly remembered by her family and many friends.

Our thoughts and prayers are especially with her daughter Liane, and her family at this time of sorrow.

Donations in Mary's memory may be made to the North Devon Hospice through Braddicks and Sherborne, St. Brannocks Road, Ilfracombe.

03.01.1949 - 6.11.2020

We were all sad to learn that after a long illness which she always bore with a smile, Carol had passed away on the 6th November.

Our thoughts and prayers at this time of sorrow are with Graham and their five children, Elenor, Catherine, Oliver, Ivan and Colette, all the family and Carol's many friends.


Artwork: Helen Armstead


At the time of writing it will come as no surprise to everyone that from Thursday 5th November [Bonfire Night!] this country will be under new lockdown restrictions. These restrictions will have a knock-on effect with regard to Church services. St. Peter's will be open on Sundays for Private prayer only, from 11.00 a.m.to 4.00 p.m.

NB: Please look out for posters detailing forthcoming services.

Our AGM was cancelled yet again, but to the relief of all our PCC members, this important meeting [limited to 6 people] was held in church and the following resignations were recorded. Doreen Prater, who has served on the PCC for over 20 years; Margaret Sowerby, our Treasurer, will remain in office to the end of this year; and myself, who as PCC Chairman, Churchwarden and Organist, has served here since the year 2000.

The situation which now presents itself is extremely worrying, for we desperately need a new Treasurer to take over from Margaret who has, with much help from her husband, served brilliantly over the last few years. Both Margaret and myself are willing to help any newcomers - come the new year - to guide them into their new roles. We meet 6/7 times during the year, so it's not a big ask for anyone who wishes to keep this church going in the years ahead, so important for this village with Services, Weddings, Baptisms, Funerals, Churchyard Burials and Internments, plus the holding of special events, some of which involve Berrynarbor School. Whatever your beliefs, religious or otherwise. it is vital that Berrynarbor Church remains at the centre of this beautiful village for the foreseeable future!

We are pleased to confirm that building repairs to the church roof and other areas requiring attention are well under way. NB: Scaffolding has been erected and we politely ask anyone who uses the church path takes heed of the warning signs in place.

We are extremely grateful to Karen Loftus and all those working in the Village Post Office and Community shop for assisting in the collection of food items for the Ilfracombe Food Bank, and of course our thanks to all those who have contributed to this worthy cause.

One very sad note must be the passing of June Marangone, who, as a volunteer, served in the shop and was a regular churchgoer. She will be remembered for her smile and welcoming manner. June, who had been ill for many months, died peacefully at home in late October. We shall all pray for her devoted husband Gerry and family during this very sad time. We continue to pray for our magnificent NHS, Ambulance Service and Police Force, and all those in our community who are unwell.

It was with some relief that our Service for Loved Ones was able to take place on Sunday 1st November. This short service is always extremely poignant in that parishioners have the opportunity to remember their loved ones in a special candlelit service which was presided over by our Priest in Charge, Rev. Peter Churcher. Maintaining all the safety restrictions imposed by the UK Government, this service, the first since March, was warmly welcomed by the local congregation.

Our Remembrance Service, like most of the services in North Devon and elsewhere, was cancelled following the new lockdown measures. However, it was decided that poppy wreaths should be laid on the War Memorial and so a modified service was held. Adam Stanbury laid a wreath on behalf of the Parish Council; his daughter Emily laid one on behalf of Berrynarbor School and Sue Neale laid one on behalf of our PCC. I read a short service and the two-minute silence was observed. We were joined by a very small number of villagers who arrived in time to pay their respects.

Finally, as retiring Chairman, I wish to express my deep appreciation to all PCC Members who have served and supported Berrynarbor Church over many years. Special thanks to all those Choir members from Berrynarbor, Combe Martin and Parracombe who have given so much pleasure to everyone in this village. I shall never forget all those wonderful musical moments, including us singing on two occasions with the Chivenor Military Wives Choir at special concerts held here in Berrynarbor!

Stuart Neale





Our June

All of us here at the village shop were deeply saddened to hear that June Maragone had passed away. Known to us affectionately as Aunty June, she was one of our longest serving volunteers and her cheery and cheeky nature always brightened our days and those of our customers too; she made everyone feel welcome!

We miss you June, God bless.

We're here to help!

As we near the end of an extraordinary year, a difficult year for so many people and for so many reasons, Christmas shopping will now be high on our list of priorities. It is likely to be more chaotic than ever in our high streets as people rush out of lockdown and into the shops to make up for the lost weeks.

So here's our suggestion for a stress-free way of making Christmas merry and bright for all our villagers and those you are buying for. We're here to help. Come to us, tell us what you want, we will put it together for you and, if it needs to go further afield, we'll even post it for you.

If you can't find what you want on our shelves, just ask and whatever you want we will try to get it for you.

But we have a wonderful range of local produce that can be put into amazing gift packs - this includes Quince honey; Waterhouse's delicious jams, marmalade and chutneys; Miles tea, coffee and chocolate drinks; Roly's fudge; Discover chocolate; a wide range of Bakehouse biscuits; plus local speciality cheese to suit all tastes.

And that will all need washing down with something appropriate. We have a wide range of red, white, blush and sparkling wines at very competitive prices. As well as locally crafted speciality beers and ciders, we also have locally produced rum and gin.

For that gift with a difference we have a great selection of handicrafts all locally made - from glassware, hardware, flowerpot people, crocheted animals and many more.

Christmas Orders

We can also help you to avoid those dreaded last-minute Christmas crowds fighting over the turkey, tatties and sprouts and help to make this a stress-free experience for you. Order forms are available in the shop now for all your Christmas meat and vegetable needs. Complete the form and then sit back and relax, knowing that your order can be collected on either the 23rd or 24th December [morning only] as your village shop once again goes the extra mile so you don't have to.

Yuletide Raffle

Don't miss the chance to win our two fabulous hampers in our ever popular and traditional Christmas raffle. The first is packed with a range of luxury treats [chocolates, jams, chutney, Jon Thorner meat pie and much more] and the second is a drinks hamper with red, white and blush wines plus locally crafted beer and a local cider. Tickets are just £1 and the lucky winners will be announced on the 23rd December. Hurry!



Artwork: Paul Swailes

September and October

Illustrated by: Peter Rothwell

Here we go again as the days shorten and we have the dark nights to contend with and probably some not so good weather.

September was a much better month than August. On the 1st it was a bright, sunny day with only partial cloud cover and a light wind from the SSW [maximum gust 12mph]. The temperature early in the morning was only 7.7˚C but with the sun it soon warmed up reaching 19.9˚C by 1400 hrs. The day was dry and the sun shone for 5.76 hours, the barometer was tending to fall slowly and this continued until 0500 hrs. on the 3rd when it was reading 1013.4mbars.

I went out to the Isles of Scilly on the 9th enjoying my first break of the year and the weather was lovely. Looking at my records, North Devon was having similar weather with very little rain and a maximum temperature on the 14th of 28.4˚C [average 23.87˚C]. This was the highest September temperature I have recorded with the next nearest in 2000 at 26.3˚C, the lowest temperature was on the 28th at 6.2˚C [average 6.70˚C]. The highest gust of wind was on the 18th at 31mph. from the North [average 29.79mph], lowest wind chill was 6.3˚C on the 28th [average 6.53˚C]. The wettest day was the 24th when 22.4mm fell; total rain for the month was 76.4mm [average 99.37mm]. The highest barometer reading was exactly midnight 9th/10th at 1026.5mbars. and lowest on the 24th at 989.5mbars. The total sunshine hours were 108.34 [average 123.10 hrs]. Outside humidity ranged between 48% on the 14th and 94% on the 22nd.

October lived up to its reputation of being a miserable month. The first day was mainly dull, with 5mm of rain, a minimum temperature of 5.7˚C and a top of 13.7˚C. The wind was in the WSW with a maximum speed of 16mph. The barometer started the month at 1001.3mbars falling and by 0100hrs on the 2nd had fallen to 983.7mbars. This was part of the storm named Alex and was the lowest pressure for the month, the highest was on the 11th at 1028.2mbars. Total sunshine on the 1st was only 2.73 hours. During the rest of the month the top temperature was on the 20th at 16.1˚C [average 19.87˚C] and the lowest on 16th 4.2˚C [average 3.09˚C]. The maximum wind was on the 31st at 33mph [average 37.09mph]. The lowest wind chill factor on the 16th was 4.5˚C [average 0.55˚C]. The rain was never far away with the wettest day on the 2nd with 26.6mm. Total rain for the month was 182.1mm [average 158.85mm] and the total so far this year 1079.4mm. Outside humidity ranged between 70% on the 14th and 96% on the 5th. The sunniest day was on the 11th with 4.16 hours, total for the month was 42.42 hours [average 64.77].

November has started off very lively and now we have a new Covid -19 lock down ahead of us. I think dodging the rain and Covid may well keep us on our toes?

The next time I write it will be in the New Year so I should like to take the opportunity of wishing you all a Very Happy and Safe Christmas and hopefully we will have some better news on Covid for 2021.




with Tim Davis

Writing this in the dying days of October, with autumn well and truly under way and the annual rain of leaves gathering pace, jays have suddenly become more evident in our Sterridge Valley garden. Normally a noisy but shy, almost reclusive bird of mainly broadleaf, but also coniferous, woodland, these large colourful members of the crow family take advantage of the abundance of food that nearby gardens have to offer. They are opportunists, their omnivorous diet consisting mainly of seeds, nuts and berries, but insects, small mammals such as voles and bats, and eggs and nestling birds also feature on the menu.

Photo by Richard Campey

The jay's scientific name, Garrulus glandarius, is as beautifully descriptive as the bird itself, the former meaning noisy or chattering, and the latter referring to acorns, the food with which it is most associated - in particular for its habit of burying acorns, as well as hazelnuts and beech mast.

For a large bird, similar in size to a rook or carrion crow, jays can be surprisingly difficult to see well, rarely moving far from cover. As Richard Campey's striking photo shows, the jay's plumage is pinkish, the wings black and white with a panel of distinctive kingfisher-blue feathers. The head has a pale crown with black streaks and a well-defined black !moustachial' stripe. Usually it is the raucous call or the flash of a broad white rump that draws the eye.

This autumn we have enjoyed watching the antics of up to four birds moving around the garden, collecting nuts and burying them in the meadow for retrieval later in the winter. That not every acorn or hazelnut cached is later collected and eaten is evident from the numerous oak and hazel seedlings that appear across the meadow every spring. The realisation dawns that the meadow, if not managed as such for its wildflowers, butterflies and other insects, would quite quickly become a woodland. The important role that jays play in woodland ecology thus also becomes apparent.

Jays occur across most of the UK, with the exception of northern Scotland. The current breeding population is estimated at 170,000 pairs [www.bto.org/birdtrends]. In some years, typically when a good breeding season is followed by a poor autumn for nuts and berries, large flocks may roam nomadically, covering great distances in search of food.





Six North Devon teachers, well into their retirement, decided to use their routine ramble to raise money for BBC Children in Need on Sunday, 11th October. The sextet were David and Fran Plumb, Arthur Symons, Phil and Alison Norman and Richard Blackmore.

As half the group were all over 75, they decided on a beautiful, but not overlong, route of about 8 miles. The walk started from Simonsbath and took in Birch Cleave, Cow Castle, Horsen Farm, Wintershead Farm, Blue Gate and back to Simonsbath.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, over £600 was raised for this worthy cause.

Congratulations - well done and well walked!

... and the sixth one took the photo!




We are so pleased with the way the children are working extremely hard in lessons, they are happy and everyone is very busy! Due to restrictions we have not managed to do lots of the lovely things we normally do and this has changed school life quite a lot. We normally pride ourselves on all the lovely extra-curricular activities we provide for our children, helping them become amazing young adults. However, we are trying to adjust and adapt where we can to make sure we do get to do some extra special things. 

As a staff team, we are very aware that due to the regulations of the second lockdown children are not able to go to clubs, keep up sports and meet with friends. With the dark, winter nights closing in this also makes being active a challenge. Therefore, this term we shall be prioritising the physical and mental health of our children.  We'll be making more time in the curriculum for children to be active, be outside and play with their friends.  This may mean that children don't get through quite as much of the curriculum as normal, however. the well-being of our children must be a priority.

Our school came together to mark Armistice Day and take part in a socially distanced two-minute silence on the school playground.

It was lovely to be able to bring all the bubbles together for such an important moment in time!

Finally, we should like to take this opportunity to note the passing of one of the most truly inspirational teachers we have ever had the pleasure of working at our school. Mrs Lucas inspired and touched the lives of so many local children and adults during her time teaching at Berrynarbor. Her dedication to the profession and our school ensured every child that crossed her path made excellent progress. She gave so much of her own time to additional revision clubs and extra-curricular activities. Many events she introduced are still run by staff now. She will remain in many people's hearts and minds forever. A true Berrynarbor Legend!

We were so sad to hear that Nanny June had passed away over the half term. She was such a large part of the school and local community. Nothing was ever too much trouble and she always had time to talk and see how everyone was. Nanny June would come into school regularly to hear readers and was also always there to serve tea and coffee at every event. Sometimes she would just turn up at school with a smile and KitKat!

She will be very much missed by both adults and children

Faye Poynter - Co-Headteacher




A Story of North Devon by Bessy Hawker

Several years ago, whilst living in Exeter, I was browsing in the many outlets on the Quay selling old books, postcards etc., when the above book caught my eye. When I saw the sketch of Berrynarbor Church on the inside page, I just had to buy it.

It is a simple story and rather long, 270 pages (!) but worth reading because of all the references to the village and the very familiar family names of people still living there and well-known to many people living there now - Toms, Chugg, Gammon, Gear, Bowden, Hancock, etc., etc.

The places are thinly disguised. Berracombe is Berrynarbor, Sturridge Lane, Sterridge Valley, Withycombe, Ilfracombe and many others easily recognised from the descriptions. The title refers to someone who has had a run of bad luck believing he has been 'overlooked' by someone in the village and the only way to stop it is to visit a white witch in Exeter who will tell him how to break the spell. This involves him standing on the church steps and when the clock strikes 12, whoever comes into the street and enters their dwelling will be the person who has put the spell on him! There is no mistaking the description of this that it is Berrynarbor Church steps.

The story, published in 1898, is mainly about the Rector Hawker and events in the village during that time, for example, the Band of Hope movement. I have not been able to establish what relationship the author was to Rev. Hawker but, as she knew him so well, was most likely his daughter, niece or even sister.

When researching the Rev. Hawker to verify the references to his character, the article in Genuki - obituary, John Manley Hawker - was really interesting, as was an article published by the Devonshire Association - Hawker: John Manley. Also, the Devonshire Association article he wrote, The Manor House, Berrynarbor.

Finally, the book was presented to Kathleen Bird by the officers and teachers of the Primitive Methodist Sunday School Teignmouth in 1927.

We know that the Rev. Hawker was the Rector of Ideford before Berrynarbor, but as he died in 1884, why this book was given to her so long after its publication and his death is puzzling.

I have not been able to find any connection to Berrynarbor for her. Maybe someone in the village may have some information about her.

Jean Constantine




Berrynarbor Parish Council
Chairman - Adam Stanbury [882252]

Gemma Bacon [883341]

Adrian Coppin [882647]

Bernadette Joyce

Lesley Lowe

Jenny Beer [882171]

Martin Johns

Jody Latham

Nicholas Wright

Parish Clerk - Ms Sue Petters - clerk@berrynarborparishcouncil.org.uk
County Councillor - Andrea Davis andreadavis@devon.gov.uk
District Councillor - Joe Tucker Frederick.tucker@northdevon.gov.uk
Snow Warden - Clive Richards [883406]

Due to current restrictions, the Parish Council continues to meet virtually. All Agenda and Minutes of the Parish Council meetings are published on the Council's website and Agendas include a link to the Zoom meeting. Members of the public are always most welcome to join the zoom meetings.

Information, help and support during lockdown:

Please remember that you can find the latest Covid-19 local information, including the number of confirmed cases throughout Devon, on Devon County Council's website: https://www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/.

Working alongside local community support organisations and town and parish councils, NDC is helping to co-ordinate a range of services for those most in need.

To help people access services, there is a dedicated NDC phoneline and webform and councils are urging people to ensure that their vulnerable and elderly friends and relatives are aware how to contact the team at North Devon Council. Call on [01271] 388280 and the online form is on the Council's website.

The weather has been challenging with the heavy rain recently and good news from our County Council is always welcome. The Government has given a seal of approval on £60m for the North Devon Link Road improvements, and nearer to home, the Sawmills £50k drainage scheme has also been approved. Work on both will take place next year.

Meanwhile, work continues to enhance the Manor Hall Play Area and equipment in the Recreation Field, and there are new plans to plant a willow screen near the slide in December.

And finally, please be aware that there has been a number of Avian Influenza cases in the UK, one of which is in Devon. This has resulted in a National Protection Zone being put in place for all poultry keepers, including those who only keep a few birds in their back yard. Please see the Defra information opposite for guidance. This is also on the Parish Council website.

Sue Petters - Parish Clerk

    Adam Stanbury - Chairman. Highway Liaison Officer. Tree Warden
    Gemma Bacon - Checking Planning Applications. Footpath Office. Play area Inspection
    Adrian Coppin - Vice Chairman. Emergency Plan Officer. Highway Liaison Officer. Tree Warden
    Martin Johns - Representative on Manor Hall Management Committee. Deputy Planning Lead
    Lesley Lowe - Invoice Checking. Combe Martin & District Tourism Association, Deputy Planning Lead. Defibrillator




I think last edition's blog got me a very bad name so I am going to refrain from confessing to all this time. I am getting blamed for all sorts now in the Sterridge Valley. Once a criminal always a criminal! It seems honesty is not always the best policy. I have learnt that from observing the social interactions between the Mr. and Mrs. The Mrs. really doesn't want the truth when she asks, "Do I look alright in this?" The Mr.'s honest response. "Well it looks a bit tighter than when you last wore it" was not received well. Lying is not a good idea either, especially if others know the truth! So, I have decided I am staying quiet this month and not admitting to breaking into someone else's home and trying to eat their dinner, or sneaking out during the family's quarantine period and going for a swim in the river. In the words of the pop star Shaggy "It wasn't me!"

Anyway, who are you guys to judge me? I have come to realise you humans are an odd bunch yourselves. I have noticed that the majority of you have clearly been misbehaving since this pandemic thing started. All of a sudden you are all walking around with muzzles on. I am quite shocked as even I know biting and snarling is not good. And you've stopped going out to work. Can you imagine if my sheep dog friends opted to work from home? How would they manage? Could they supervise the sheep from a web cam?

Now don't get me wrong, I do quite like this home working rule as it means I have exclusive company all day every day. Not being put in 'that room' whilst they all go out is great. It has also meant the daughter has been able to come and stay as she can work from our house. She is lovely; gives me loads of attention, as long as Alfie her cat's not looking. She has even learnt to type with one hand so she can pet me with the other. I have made loads of new friends as I saunter into her web-calls every day. I bring her lots of extra attention when her team all swoon and say how cute I am! Reckon she is the most popular member of the team, thanks to me.

There is another issue we should discuss about this pandemic. This quarantining thing! Why is it the Mr. and Mrs. go away for a week and then we all have to stay indoors for two weeks? Who thinks that's fair? I certainly don't, although I have to say I have realised what kind people live in our village. Judie took me out for some walks. She is lovely but her lead is very, very short! There was no risk of me escaping, but I think she liked having me close. She also gave me some great dog biscuits. Reckon she knew I have been missing Gary's treats. Vicky Thorp allowed me to become one of her Devon's Dashing Dogs. With her, I made loads of new friends and visited some great new places. Look her up on Facebook she is amazing. I must also say thank you to Sharon and Caroline who ensured I had dog food and plenty of dog treats. And, of course. my wonderful mate George from next door, he brought me some presents which included a new toy. I loved it but the Mrs. was less keen as I have been leaving bits of rope all around the house the last two weeks! Tee hee! 🤣

Talking of presents reminds me this is the Christmas Newsletter isn't it? Time to say happy Christmas to you all. I have a feeling it may be a little bit different this year. Whatever happens though, try and make it a good one and if nothing else, we can all enjoy saying goodbye to 2020!

Have fun everyone! 



As we pull out the lights and ladders we climb
to decorate our homes this Christmas time
give a thought to the strange year that has been
for the things we have heard but may not have seen.
Think of others' families I beg you please,
whose lives have been torn with this dreadful disease.
Whilst we have scorned our politicians for the rules
they have made
appreciate the new waters they have had to wade.
None of us saw this coming a year ago.
None of us appreciated the way things would go.
We each may have our own point of view
of the way to handle it, the things we should do.
But really all we can do is look out for each other.
The people on the streets, your sister, your brother.
Communities, pulling together has become the new norm.
Supporting each other to weather this storm.
Let's continue next year, realising other people matter.
Caring for society and our world - our new mantra.
The true meaning of Christmas can then come to the fore.
The gifts of tolerance, love and community will mean
so much more.
Let's make this year, our best Christmas yet.
After a year that none of us will ever forget.

Pam Robinson


Artwork: Paul Swailes



Firstly, apologies that this year's AGM is for obviously reasons overdue.

Our year from April 2019-20 was another successful fundraising year for the Hall with several well attended events. We reintroduced the summer fete in August which was blessed with a lovely sunny day. It was a successful day with locals and holidaymakers alike enjoying a traditional village fete. In November we had a new event in the form of a Ladies Night. The Ilfracombe clothes shop Clathers showcased their stock to a packed hall of ladies who enjoyed nibbles and a glass of Prosecco whilst watching local models showing off Clathers' winter collection. It was a highly enjoyable and fun evening raising over £2000. We had hoped to repeat the format with their spring collection but this obviously sadly had to be postponed. In December we had another first with a Christmas Wreath making day. Our annual Christmas Coffee Morning went ahead as usual and the first [and it turned out to be the last] 2020 fundraiser was a Pancake Morning enjoyed by young and old.

Once again, we thank the many generous donations from various groups within the village, the donations from these events are most appreciated.

The entrance to the Pre-school and Snooker Club had a much-needed makeover, kindly done by our fantastic painting volunteers. A large new shed was constructed outside which enables us to store among other things our plastic chairs and gazebos. The wooden barge boards on the gable end and the front of the main hall have been renewed. We have been awarded a grant from the Parish Council to help towards the replacement of the rotten bay windows in the main hall, this current project is delayed with planning issues.

It is with regret that we failed to seek listed building consent for the large rear hall window replaced a year ago and this has been notified to the planning office and an enforcement officer subsequently visited the hall. This has resulted in a request for its removal along with the other windows at the rear of the Pre-school that were installed many years previously without consent. Naturally this is disappointing news but we shall endeavour to put right our mistake.

At this present time the hall is once again closed due to Covid-19 and so this report was presented via Zoom. I very much hope that 2021 brings better times for us all. If you would like to see a full copy of the minutes of the 2020 AGM, including the financial report, please contact either myself or Alan.

Despite that at the time of writing we are under another lockdown, we very much hope that we'll be able to hold a planned Christmas Story in the hall in conjunction with Beaford Arts on Tuesday 22nd December. Posters with details of this will be up around the village as soon as we know the situation. Obviously, it will be under Covid secure restrictions and so tickets will be limited.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a much happier and safer 2021.

Julia Fairchild - Chairman [882783]
Alan Hamilton - Treasurer [07905445072]




Ordinarily, we should have had meetings this year from January through to May and then October onwards.  Twenty-twenty has not been the year most of us were expecting! 

During this unprecedented year, sadly, some of our members have been seriously ill, but others have passed away.  Mary and Gordon Hughes used to live in the village, but moved to Combe Martin a few years ago; however, Mary still came to the Wine Circle on a regular basis.  Carol Lucas, with Graham, was also a frequent visitor to our meetings.  These ladies were both regular 'tasters' at our gatherings and will be missed. I am sure I can say, on behalf of all our members, that we wish their families well, and that they gain the support they need from their families and friends to cope with operation recovery or bereavement during difficult times.   

Let's raise a glass to a vaccine and to 2021 being a much better year! 

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator & Secretary




a first taste of education

During the second part of our autumn term we remained open and concentrated on celebrating the festivals - Bonfire Night, Remembrance Sunday, Diwali and Christmas. We added Maths concepts within this topic - counting, sorting, measuring, recognising numerals and shapes. We also introduced Number of the Week and focused some of our activities around this number.

We talked about keeping safe, especially as the clocks went back in October and our evenings became darker earlier. This year's Bonfire night was different for all of us, but we still talked to the children about firework safety. We learnt about the sounds of fireworks and all the colours they make in the night sky.

Diwali was celebrated on the14th November. It is the Indian Festival of Lights, usually celebrated over five days. This is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism. Diwali symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. We introduced the design of rangoli patterns looking at shapes and texture. We also made some flavoursome sweets!


For Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, where we remember the members of the armed forces, the children made their own poppy badges in recognition.

Celebrating Christmas at Pre-school will be different this year, having no performance to work toward. However, we shall still sing our Christmas songs in setting and get into the spirit of Christmas by decorating the room and reading the Christmas story.

Fancy Dress Friday

It was suggested by one of our parents to have a fancy dress day as the children haven't been able to dress up in our preschool costumes. We suggested Friday 13th as this coincided with the BBC Children in Need event and are donating towards this fundraising event.

We are pleased to say that we raised £72.00 with our Bag2school collection. Thank you to parents and members of our community for sorting out your wardrobes and drawers for unwanted clothes, shoes, bags etc. We shall be using this money to buy new Maths resources.

A message from the Community Nurse

Immunisation It's really important that children continue to receive their booster vaccines and MMR vaccine. They are also entitled to the Flu Nasal spray. For more details see here

A Zoom AGM was held on Monday 12th October. We send a big THANK YOU to Kirsty Kritikos,Tina Barbeary, Laura Maughan for all their voluntary work and contributions in supporting and running the Pre-school. They have been a great team to work with especially over this difficult period. They have now stepped down from their positions on the committee.

Our new Committee is Kayleigh Richards who has taken on the role as Chairperson, Jody Latham our treasurer and Verity Seldon our secretary. We welcome them all and look forward to working with them and all the Committee to ensure that our unique and much-loved Pre-school continues to run and provide the happy child care that the children enjoy so much.

Thank you for the Bulbs, Berry in Bloom

This year the children missed helping the Berry in Bloom team plant bulbs in the planters in front of the Manor Hall. However, Wendy and the team kindly donated bulbs for us to plant at Pre-school, which the children thoroughly enjoyed. We look forward to seeing the beautiful colours in spring.

We wish Everyone a Safe and
Happy Christmas and look forward to a Happy New Year!

From the Pre-school Committee, the Children and Staff


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that we are already in December! Winter is upon us, or will be shortly depending on your preferred definition, but hopefully with it has come an ease in lockdown restrictions. Of course, I'm writing this in November so cannot be certain. This is good news as we look forward to Christmas, which although won't be as normal, will at least be with lighter restrictions. I wonder how you are preparing for Christmas this year? I imagine that you have an advent calendar on the go already. This year mine is teabags rather than chocolate! It is a wonderful way to count down to Christmas, and having something to look forward to is more important than ever, isn't it. For the church, advent started on the 29th November this year and with it came a new year [in the church calendar at least]. Advent is a season of preparation: Not only of our decorations and presents, but more importantly of ourselves. It is a good time to reflect on why we celebrate Christmas at all, and our own place in it.

Despite all the glitz and glamour that is associated with Christmas now [largely thanks to savvy Victorian salespeople], it has certainly not always been the case, especially with the first Christmas. The first Christmas was in the context of a woman being misunderstood and mistreated, a 'global' government putting restrictions upon the people, a local government bringing oppression and violence against those that threatened their power, of families being separated, of the most vulnerable being side-lined and forgotten. I'm sure that at least some of that feels a bit too close for comfort this year. However, that is why Christmas is more important than we normally give it credit for. It is the story of light in the darkness and hope in despair. It is the story of God with us - Emmanuel. Take time this year to look at Christmas with fresh eyes. You may want to read the story for yourself in the bible or perhaps read this short book over advent: Fixated by Tim Chester. Of course, I'd love to help you explore this world changing message.

As we approach Christmas this year it is unfortunate that many of the usual events that you may be used to attending are unable to happen. There certainly will be events happening but at time of writing we're not sure the form they will take as it depends a lot on what happens on the 2nd December. Please do keep an eye-out for posters at the church as well as information online to keep informed about what will be happening.

In the meantime, I have some good news. Once lockdown has ended, we shall be resuming physical services. These will now be at 3.00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Until then we shall be continuing our online services at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday morning, which you can catch up on anytime. Simple, go to: www.combetocombechurches.co.uk

There is also our evening service at 7.30 p.m. every Sunday via the 'phone. If you'd like to join in, just be in touch and I'll pass on the details to you. For more information on these service as well as much more please see my latest letter on our website.

Some other great news is that there is now a Community Mental Health Practitioner working with St. Peter's. Her name is Lisa and is here to serve the community. I won't say too much here as she has introduced herself in her letter below, but please do be in touch. I expect that lockdown has made all of us realise the importance of looking after our mental health. Lisa would love to help you do that.

Finally, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless,

Rev. Peter
revchurcher@gmail.com / 07803253286

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests."
Luke 2:14






Dave Beagley


Solution in Article 30.


From Apolitical Website 12.10.20.

How my Inner Tigger Survived Lockdown

Bouncing back from this year hasn't been easy, but I've found a few things that work.

"Keep your chin up." The phrase has echoed throughout my life. I think my mum first said it to me when I started pre-school. She definitely said it to me in a text earlier this week. Luckily, I am naturally a glass-half-full kind of girl, a bit of a Tigger, full of enthusiasm, energy, and bounce. That's not to say life hasn't been tough or that I haven't been pushed to the very limits of my coping strategies. There's been divorce, redundancy and most recently, a son with a serious psychotic mental health condition.

And, of course, Covid has forced me to re-examine my own health and wellbeing and throw all my best tricks into the ring.

I work in the arts. Early on, I was a teacher and a lecturer in dance and performing arts. I then went on to work in the public sector as a Cultural Manager, and now I work for the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

After 6 months in the office and just starting to feel at home, we switched overnight to homeworking and Zoom. For an extrovert who gets her energy from being around other people,  this has been tough.

Several years ago, I decided I needed to get to grips with my health. I quit smoking, started cycling to work and finally discovered running. Looking back, I can see that getting physically in shape was a prerequisite for  getting myself mentally fit for the turbulent times that followed.

Fast-forward to life in lockdown. I had stopped running following an injury, and I wondered if now was the moment to try again. I downloaded the excellent BBC  C2K app, dusted off my running shoes, and got started. I feel very lucky to work for a boss who gets it; someone who supports people with real and complex lives and who knows that we are all different and all work differently.

The routine of getting up 3 times a week and going out was great; the fresh air, the endorphins, a chance to feel good about achieving something. I started to feel a bit better. Around that time, my yoga teacher switched to online classes. I re-organised the lounge, created a yoga corner, ordered some rather lovely incense sticks and taught my very excitable diva hound, Desmond, that when the mat comes out, he is to sit quietly and not bounce all over me while trying to lick my face. There's downward dog, and then there's "Down, dog!"

So at least 3 times a week I do yoga. Talking of Desmond, the once-a-day exercise slot was, of course, dedicated to him and his needs. Together we discovered new routes, explored fields along the edges of Swindon, observing the natural world all around us. We watched spring turn to summer turn to autumn, watching the farmers tend their crops and livestock as the seasons passed. All the while Desmond pursued his life goal of catching a squirrel. One day Desmond, one day!

These moments spent in nature gave me time to reflect, to breathe, to observe my inner thoughts and feelings. It was like recharging my batteries for the next challenge, and I discovered I really quite  enjoyed my own company. This was super important, particularly as my son would spend time in the mental hospital over the summer months.

Perhaps my greatest lesson was to allow myself to be flexible.

I stopped trying to work the routine 9 to 5. I went outside when the sun was shining, hung my washing out, interspersing housework with office work. I worked earlier some days and later others, but always on my terms. I took regular breaks even just walking into another room would change my outlook and mood. I wasn't afraid to say how I was feeling and encouraged my colleagues to do the same.

Life, lockdown and the ongoing challenge of Covid-19 have taken their toll. Yet rebalancing my home and work life, staying active, getting outdoors and taking control of the things I can control have all really helped keep me stay upbeat. Some days I still get down.

This week has been especially tough, but this morning I went out running, this evening I will walk my dog, and tomorrow will be another day, and my chin will be up. 

Helen Weedon - Senior Investment Manager
The Arts and Humanities Research Council


Artwork: Harry Weedon

Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Wendy Applegate


Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Wendy Applegate




1. Badge, 4. Details, 8. Use, 9. Sharp, 10. Epochal, 11. Hum, 12. Piano, 13. Banjo, 15. Two, 16. Violins, 18. Niece, 20. Ace, 21. Stammer, 22. Style.


1. Bus, 2. Dhaka, 3. Euphonium, 4. Deem, 5. Trombones, 6. Ish, 7. Salvo, 12. Paves, 14. Needy, 15. Tsar, 17. Ova, 19. Eve.



I found this photograph in Judith Adam's Berrynarbor book. The original belongs to Lorna Bowden and perhaps came from her aunt, Muriel Richards, who was a teacher at the school. Judith's book says that it was taken in 1898, but we don't know how this is known, perhaps the date is written on the back. Unfortunately, school photographs are not mentioned in the logbooks, otherwise we might have a precise date. However, it is unlikely to be winter and so perhaps the photo was taken between May and October. I'd like to work out exactly where it was taken, the hills in the background are readily recognisable and it was probably somewhere in the school grounds.


Ron Toms identified a few of the people in the photograph: pupils James Ley [front row, third from left] and Bruce Pedrick [second row from the back, on the left, next to the teacher]. He suggests that the Headteacher was Mr. Brown. However, Alfred Brown did not start working at the school until January 1899, so perhaps this is his predecessor William Sanders Tarry, Headmaster from 1896 until the end of 1898. The other two teachers are Mrs. Burgess [to the right of the Headmaster] and Miss Lewis [on the extreme right of the photo]. Christiana Burgess was originally from Wolverhampton and had married an Ilfracombe man; she taught the Infants' Class for two years and in 1898 would have been about 54 years old. Florence Lewis was the Supplementary Teacher. She was 20 years old in 1898 and remained at the school until 1909. She was the daughter of Richard and Ellen Lewis of Watermouth Cottage. Her father was a farm bailiff, presumably for the Castle. Florence Lewis had been a pupil at the school, had gone on to be a monitress and eventually become a certificated teacher.

James Ley, one of the two boys identified, is six or seven years old on the photo. He was the youngest of the 12 children of Thomas and Mary Jane Ley who lived at Hole Farm. James left school at 14 and worked on his parents' farm until 1914 when he joined the Royal North Devon Hussars. During the First World War he took part in the Gallipoli Campaign. In 1918 he married Evelina Stanbury and they went on to have at least three children; the family lived at Hole Farm. The second boy, Bruce Pedrick, was ten years old in 1898. He was the youngest of the three children of Thomas and Emma Pedrick of North Lee Farm. After he left school, he too worked on his parents' farms; they moved from Berrynarbor to Morwenstow in Cornwall and then back to Arlington. Bruce does not appear to have gone to war. In 1915 he married Minnie Brooks and in 1917 was granted a conditional exception to work as a horseman at Tidcombe Farm in Arlington.

The school logbook records that on 7th June 1898 there were 131 children on the books and only 86 children appear on the photo. We wonder where the other 45 children were - is this a reflection of school attendance at the end of the 19th century? There may have been a degree of transience in the lives of some of these children, perhaps particularly those of farm labourers, with families moving between parishes and the children frequently changing schools. Large families also meant that it was common for children to live with grandparents or other relatives for periods of time. The Admission Register shows that children aged from four to fifteen were at the school and that the most common family names were: Crocombe, Harding, Huxtable and Ley. Apart from the three teachers and two pupils already described, there are two more children who probably appear on the photo and would be found on the back row. These are the Monitresses: Marian Lewis [aged 15] and Bessie Harding [aged 13]. Marian was the younger sister of teacher Florence Lewis. They may well be amongst the four taller girls standing on the back row and the one on the left may be wearing a badge. Monitresses assisted the teachers and were usually drawn from the school pupils. It was a paid position and in 1899 a yearly salary at Berrynarbor School was £4-0-0.

The HMI Report for the school year 1897-98 reads:

  • The improvement noticed a year ago has been well sustained, and the work generally is very creditable. The children also are orderly and well behaved. The class subjects have improved. The Infants'
  • Classes are under kindly discipline and intelligently taught, and ought to do well under their present experienced mistress.'

If any reader recognizes any of the other children in the photo, please get in touch, I can be contacted at tanyawalls@yahoo.co.uk

Tanya Walls


The 45th President?
From: The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

"As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron."

H.L. Mencken

Henry Louis Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians and contemporary movements.

He was born on the 12th September 1880 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died on the 29th January 1956. He was educated at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute [1892-1896] and was influenced, amongst others, by Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift and Rudyard Kipling.


Artwork: Helen Weedon


Smuggling from shipwrecks was once a regular occurrence along the coastlines of North Devon and North Cornwall. At its worst, the practice brought out the most calculated and deceitful nature of the coastal villages' inhabitants. For example, a contemporary report about the wreckers of Morwenstowe stated that they would "allow a fainting brother to perish to the sea, without extending a hand of safety." It was within such an environment that the Reverend Robert Hawker [b1803], or Parson Hawker as he became known by locals, chose to carry out his service to God when he became vicar of the Church of St Morwena and St John the Baptist in the remote rural parish of Morwenstowe in 1831. Yet by the time of his death in 1875, this eccentric character, with a strong aversion to black, was held in such high regard by his parishioners that as a mark of respect at his funeral they chose to wear purple instead. In fact, such was his disdain for black, any onlooker was sure to witness a vibrant choice of dye colouring for his clothing. During church services he donned a yellow vestment and scarlet gloves; whilst going about the parish on his beloved mule he would be seen wearing a claret-coloured tailcoat, a fisherman's jersey with a cross embroidered over his heart and a pink brimless hat; and if the weather was inclement he would sport a yellow blanket he had especially sourced in Bideford, having discovered a hole in its middle which was perfect in circumference for his head!

But his eccentricity was not just limited to his dress code. He could also act in ways which were regarded as somewhat curious. One night, for example, he decided to swim out to a rock at Bude naked, except for an oilskin wrapped around his legs and strands of seaweed delicately positioned upon his head to give the impression of a wig. Once secure and comfortable upon the rock he began singing in an unearthly voice whilst looking at his reflection in a glass in order to comb his green slithery hair. The rural natives began to gather on the shoreline in wonder at their discovery of a real mermaid with hair that glistened in the moonlight! Relishing the attention, Hawker repeated the act the following night, noticing on his arrival that a larger crowd had gathered. In order not to disappoint his audience, he chose to end his performance by plunging into the sea and disappearing out of sight. The next evening an even bigger crowd arrived, the throng now including onlookers from neighbouring villages. This time before submerging into the water he ended his singing with a vigorous rendition of God Save the King.

Like many eccentrics he was also a loner - perhaps the reason why he chose such a remote area to ply his trade. However, the best example of his need to be alone was the hut he erected close to Higher Sharpnose Point, roughly one mile from Morwenstowe Church. Built out of driftwood and timber from shipwrecks, Hawker constructed it into the hillside so he could look out to the Atlantic. This was a place, no doubt, where he gained inspiration for his sermons and poems. The original hut has since been replaced by one of mainly timber with a turf-covered top. Now owned by National Trust [it is their smallest property], it can be accessed from the South West Coast Path.

Hawker probably also used his hut to observe the moods of the weather and sea in order to foresee the likelihood of any shipwrecks; for it was in such a scenario that he carried out what was arguably his greatest deed. He had been in the parish around 25 years when on an autumn evening a violent storm erupted. It rattled the windows of the old Morwenstowe Church so furiously, Hawker had to shout during the service so he could be heard above the din. In the churchyard, sycamore branches were whipped and headstones knocked flat. The storm raged throughout the night, the doors to his vicarage clattering and its windows flapping. Yet Parson Hawker slept through it all. Only at daybreak did he stir, awoken by one of his choirboys banging on the front door. "Oh Sir," the boy cried. "There are dead men on Vicarage Rocks." The Parson immediately rushed out in his dressing gown and slippers, ran the quarter of a mile to the cliffs and descended the 300 feet to the beach. He instantly began bringing to shore sailors, both dead and alive; and, more significantly, as locals arrived on the scene and witnessed Hawker's actions, they instantly did the same. Looting goods or leaving men to die was not given a second thought, such was the high esteem in which the parson was held - in an era when, as the saying went, 'save a stranger from the sea and he'll turn your enemy'. In sheer contrast, however, these locals respected how Parson Hawker gave every dead sailor a Christian burial and how he had survivors stay at his vicarage until they were fully recovered.

So what was it about Hawker that led these isolated, rural and, in some cases, law-breaking locals to change their attitude? Why was this parson held in such high esteem? To answer these questions, I believe there are two factors to bring to light. Firstly, he was widely known for his reckless generosity to the poor of his parish and those who were shipwrecked. Secondly, people who go about their lives on an even keel, their temperament always

calm and their demeanour emitting a sense of solidity and security naturally gain respect. Parson Hawker was one such person. For there was an upper stillness in which he lived. To him the remote, rural village of Morwenstowe was a truly holy place, his church 'a chancel in the sky'. What's more, it was in that dusty chancel that he was confident that he could see St Morwena; and whilst nobody knows quite who she was or precisely what she did to become a saint, Hawker felt he knew her intimately. But his bond with heavenly forms extended beyond Morwenwtowe's dedicated parochial saint. In one of his poems he tells of how, whilst praying in his church, he could hear angelic hymns: 'We see them not - we may not hear; The music of their wing; Yet know we that they sojourn near; The Angels of the Spring.'

We talk of Christmas as the season of goodwill. However, this year we saw, to quote Reverend Robert Hawker, the emergence of 'Angels in the Spring' with the onset of Coronavirus. Tragic though this has been, the outbreak has brought communities together and led people to go out of their way in order to support vulnerable neighbours, friends and family during these unprecedented times. Like Parson Hawker, may your acts of boundless generosity and kindness continue. Merry Christmas.

Steve McCarthy

Illustrations: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Jennie Brooks, who had a riding horse, was in her van and on her way back from a farm where she had just bought two bales of hay. Suddenly, what does she see sitting beside her on the passenger seat? Why, nothing but a huge rat!

Jennie was used to small mice showing themselves but this was a bit much. By now she was on the motorway and was unable to stop but fortunately she was able to get back to her stables. The rat sat fast, so what to do now?

Call her sister Joan who lived with her! Her mobile 'phone was handy so she gave her a call.

"Hello" said Jennie. "Can you please bring Ginger the cat to the yard outside. Don't question, but do as I ask. Joan grabbed the cat and went to the van. "What do you want me to do?" she asked. "Just throw Ginger in through the van window."

Joan did as she was told and, in less time than you could say "Jack Robinson", the cat grabbed the rat and it was dead in a moment.

"I think that deserves a drink!" said Jennie. "Agreed!" replied Joan.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket



Please remember that this is written about happenings some
50 years ago, and Ireland is a very different place now!

Some of you may have read about how Pam and I found Berrynarbor. This is about how we nearly lost it again.

Only a couple of months after we had bought 30 Pitt Hill [now Duckypool Cottage], Courtaulds, for whom I worked, promoted me saying, "You will go to Ireland won't you!" They were building a new factory to make polyester yarn, called Lirelle, in a brand-new factory at a town called Letterkenny in County Donegal. I was to be one of six senior managers, reporting to a General Manager. Five of the other six were polymer production, spinning, engineering, personnel, accountancy, and I was site-services, that is Lord-high everything else - housing, transport, safety, security, communications, canteen, property etc., etc. - a Poo-Ba of a job that took a lot of getting used to.

Letterkenny was 25 miles or so west of Londonderry, in the Republic of Ireland, and at the height of the IRA troubles. We went to look, flying to Belfast and hiring a car to drive over the Glenshane Pass to Londonderry, then across the border to Letterkenny. This was on a dark, wet evening and six armed masked men jumped out of a hedge and stopped us to demand identity documents. Fortunately, they were a British Army patrol and we went on our way! In spite of this, I accepted the job, and we kept 30 Pitt Hill to rent as a holiday cottage.

When we came to buy a house in Ireland, we found a delightful cottage, Rose Cottage, on the edge of a village called Rathmullan on the shores of Loch Swilly, within yards of a beach that would rival Woolacombe!

When we were negotiating the purchase, I asked, "What are the rates?" The only reply was, "T'is best you don't ask". We eventually found that the cottage had belonged to a local hotel that had put its rates onto their bill. When they sold the cottage to the present occupiers, they had simply crossed the item off their own bill, and the council had not thought to put it on another, so the cottage had not paid rates for about 3 years! When it was eventually sorted out, and we got a bill for a year, I was cross as we had only been there for 8 months. Pam said, "Look at it." It was for £36. The cottage had been last rated in 1922 at £2 and not updated. The rates were now £18 in the pound. Modern Letterkenny houses were paying hundreds, so I kept quiet!

This was the late '70s. In Ireland then, there were only two telephone directories, one for Dublin and the other for the whole of the rest of the republic. Our phone was Rathmullan 74. It didn't have a dial, just a handle to turn. I would occasionally pick up the phone on my desk in the factory. I would wait for about a minute for one of twenty ladies in the Letterkenny exchange to say, "Number please" and I would say, "Rathmullan 74 please". A minute or so later another voice would say, "Rathmullan" and I would say "74 please". She would then say, "Oh no, Dr Parke. Your wife has just gone out with Mrs. McCarthy, I'll put you through to 68."

Pam's Shop

Our house was at the end of the drive of one of the best hotels in Ireland. They also had a number of self-catering cottages, as did another hotel a few hundred yards away in the same village. Looking for an occupation, Pam put a notice saying 'Open' at our front door, and started selling home bakery to the visitors. News travels fast in a village, and before we knew it, she had queues at the door. Eventually, the strain on our old cottage electrical system became so great that it collapsed, and we had to get emergency help from the factory electrician.

Pam then found a holiday home for sale in the village. It was two up and two down. The front bedroom had a double bed and a cot, the back one a two-layer double bunk bed, so the house, which was only about 10 feet wide, slept up to 7! We understand that granny had the inside lower bed at the back! After stripping the house and building a lean-to extension at the back, Pam was able to buy second-hand ovens, a huge mixer, etc., and she had her home bakery, The Buttery.

She trained a number of local girls to work in the shop and was very flattered when one of the older girls married, moved to another village at the far side of the county and opened her own Buttery on the lines that Pam had taught.

There was a habit in the village for having a wake after a funeral. It could be a dry wake, or a wet wake, but there would always be lots of food served. One day a lady came to the shop and said to Pam, "Aunty is sinking fast, she will not last to the end of the month. Would you ever make me a big cake for the wake?" Six months later the same lady came in and said, "Aunty recovered so we ate the wake cake, but she is very poorly again. Would you make me another wake cake please?" Aunty recovered again, she must have been a tough old bird! The next request was "Would you make us a lot of wee buns for the wake please?" We understand that they were properly used this time!


In our second year there, Pam celebrated her 40th birthday, and I could not think of a suitable present. She had always wanted a dog, so I bought her a golden Labrador puppy. Because of its origin, it had to be called Seamus - not a clever thing to do. If you shout "Seamus", anywhere in Ireland, every other Irishman will turn and say, "Yes"!

We were both busy and had neither the time nor the skill to train Seamus properly, so he was always a handful. One Saturday morning Pam was in her shop and I wanted exercise, so I took the dog on to the beach. Usually, if there were three couples there, it was busy, but today was the annual Apprentice Boys' March in Londonderry. Anyone who could escape had come to our beach, so there were dozens of families there. Seamus ran amuck, scattering sand, stealing towels and sandwiches. I yelled at the top of my voice, "Seamus, sit!". Unfortunately, I got the sibilants wrong and for once in his life, the dog did what he was told. It took me a long time to live that one down!


When Pam and I had been in Ireland for two years, we became treated as Irish residents. That meant that our UK driving licences were no longer valid in the republic. We had to take driving tests. I went first, and to get a broader licence, I borrowed the company minibus. All went well until we were on a quiet road. "Pull in and stop." The examiner said. "You see that side road behind you to your left. please back the bus into it, keeping as close to the kerb as you can." I looked, and the road was unfinished and into a new estate. The tarmac dribbled into the dirt, there was no kerb. "Ah well," he said, "Just keep as close as to where you might imagine it would be!" I did and I passed.

When Pam went, she had to do a theory test and was shown a road sign, a white disk with a red rim and a bent arrow pointing to the right with a red bar across it. "If you saw that, Mrs. Parke, which way would you not turn?" It took Pam a while to decide that it wasn't a trick question! After that she drove safely and carefully through Letterkenny on market day, negotiating hand carts, animals and pedestrians with great confidence. She then drove with relief and enthusiasm back to the office, where the car park was up a steep ramp to the second floor. At the end of the ramp all four wheels of the car left the ground! She and the tester looked at each other and he said, "I wish my other clients drove as well as you did, but if you come back, do go more slowly up the ramp!" She passed!

[To be continued!]

Alex Parke



I think with the year we've had everyone is looking forward to Christmas, but the planet? Not so much. And that's because of the colossal amount of waste we produce every year.

Each Christmas:

  • Approximately 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away
  • Roughly 74 million mince pies and 2 million turkeys go uneaten
  • 300,000 tonnes of cardboard and 250,000 tonnes of plastic are discarded, the equivalent of 30 times the mass of the Statue of Liberty!
  • 13,350 tonnes of glass go to waste
  • 17.2 million Brussel sprouts are chucked out
  • And we throw away enough wrapping paper to stretch around the world 9 times
As you can see we waste A LOT, 30% more per household than at any other time of year [in the UK]! So what can we do about it?

There are lots of small actions that you can take to reduce your environmental impact at Christmas! These include - but are not limited to:

  • Re-using Christmas cards as post cards, gift tags and on collages/for making other cards
  • Using fabric and ribbon/gift bags instead of wrapping paper, and reusing them year after year
  • If you do buy wrapping paper, making sure it is recyclable and doesn't have glitter [although it's pretty it's also a microplastic - presuming that it's made of plastic; nowadays some glitter isn't]
  • Making sure other things you buy don't have plastic glitter
  • Not buying people gifts for the sake of it!
If you aren't sure what to get someone, please, please don't buy them something useless just so you have something to give. Instead, try thinking/asking about what they really want/need, give them an experience rather than a physical gift, or give them a pre-loved [aka second hand] gift. There is nothing wrong at all with giving someone something second-hand; in fact in many ways it's better. It's cheaper, but it doesn't mean you care less because you didn't spend money on them, it means you care more because you are trying to protect the planet. And, second hand gifts often have stories to them that don't come with things that have never been used and/or loved before!
  • Let people know you don't mind second hand gifts

  • If you are given something you don't want, don't throw it away. Instead, re gift it, give it to a charity shop, or to a homeless shelter/refugee charity.
    Thank you so much for reading this. We are only a small village but by all doing our small parts and telling other people about them, we really can make a difference!
I wish you a Merry Christmas full of kindness and joy and a very Happy New Year!

Isabel Ellam - Sterridge Valley



"We are one people globally and at our best when we collaborate."
Pascal Soriot CEO AstraZeneka, June 2020

AstraZeneka plc/AB is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company with its global headquarters in Cambridge, United Kingdom and Sodertalje, Sweden. Its Research and Development is concentrated in Cambridge in the UK, Sodertalje in Sweden and Maryland and Toronto in North America.




Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Wonk grunted. He was lying very comfortably on a grassy bank, and did not feel disposed to talk. "Conversation and Comfort" he reflected, "do not go together."

Published by Wills & Hepworth Ltd. of Loughborough for Ladybird Books, the Adventures of Wonk is a series of six titles - Going to Sea, Strawberries and Cream, Fireworks [1941], The Secret [1945], The Circus and The Snowman [1945].

Each of the books has two stories recounting the everyday adventures of Wonk, a sleepy, loveable Koala character and his best friend, a young boy named Peter. Through all the stories, Peter and Wonk are fairly care-free and left to their own devices much of the time, capturing the innocence of childhood in the 1940's. Written by Muriel Levy, 'Auntie Muriel' of Radio fame, they were all illustrated by Joan Kiddell-Monroe.

Muriel Augusta Levy was born on the 2nd August 1908 in London, the daughter of Polish-born Louis Levey and his British wife, Amelia. By 1911, the family had moved north to Liverpool where Muriel attended the prestigious Liverpool College.

In the early days of BBC Radio, Muriel was one of the voices heard on the Liverpool Station, which began broadcasting in 1924, soon becoming a radio personality known to generations of children as 'Auntie Muriel'. By the late 1920's, she was organising Children's Hour and Woman's Hour, as well as writing scripts for radio, eventually totalling over 3,000, and adapting literary works such as The Forsyte Saga.

Taking an active interest in promoting literacy, from the 1920's through her weekly column in the Liverpool Echo, Auntie Muriel's Treasure Chest, she encouraged children to read and draw for including in her articles. Sitting on the Committee of the National Library for the Blind, she chose books for translation into braille. She was also Chairman of the Liverpool Child Welfare Fund.

Muriel married twice, firstly Rudolph F. Taylor and then James Goodier, and had one daughter. She died on the 30th March, 1972, aged 68.

Joan Kiddell-Monroe, a British author and illustrator of children's books, was born in Clacton-on-Sea on the 9th August 1908. She studied at the Chelsea School of Art and worked in advertising before becoming a freelance artist. In the late 1930's she married Webster Murray, a Canadian illustrator, travelling with him before the War in Africa. Following his death in 1957, she returned there with their son. Her later years were spent in Majorca where she died in 1972.

Judie Weedon



At the time of writing, we have just started a new lockdown and are wondering what will happen at Christmas. This year, with the inevitable restrictions, it is not going to be the same and may not even feel like Christmas. Four years ago, just over a week before Christmas, the most important person in my life died. It made Christmas feel surreal and lonely. But it brought into sharp focus why we celebrate Christmas and the meaning behind it. I hung on to that and got through the most difficult time of my life.

Christmas is definitely on! No matter the restrictions, the meaning and joy behind it can never be taken away.

The song, All the Angels Sing, by Doug Horley from the album Oomph really captures this.

All the angels sing, that Christ has come, to a manger bare. Mary laid him there.
Come on fill the sky, with shouts of praise. Lift your voice with me, and sing, sing, sing, sing, sing!
Emmanuel, Emmanuel God is with us. It's the true meaning of Christmas.

Jesus has come and changed life forever.
Emmanuel, Emmanuel God is with us, every day and not just Christmas.
Jesus has come and changed our lives forever, more.

All the angels sing, that Christ has come, to a world in need.
Good news indeed. Love wrapped as a babe.
Gave everything, for you and I. Let's sing, sing, sing, sing, sing!

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Join with all the angels singing, giving glory unto him.
One and all now lift your voices, to him praises bring.
All of heaven sings together. All creation worships him.
He is Jesus Holy one. He is Christ the King.


Here is a link to the song. Warning - it is very catchy! tinyurl.com/CBYangels.

May we all have the best Christmas we can, and a happy and healthy 2021.

Kate Sargent



[30 January 1928 - January 2005]

Military Careerist and briefly Secretary/Archivist for the British Embassy in Warsaw

Usually for the December Newsletter I try to write something Christmassy: St Nicholas, Tom Smith [crackers], Mr. Doyley, Queen Charlotte, who introduced Christmas trees, Sir Henry Cole who sent the first Christmas card, various saints and so on. But this is an extraordinary year and in late September I learnt of an extraordinary name co-incidence - a tale stranger than fiction!

"My name's Bond, James Bond". Does it sound familiar? He is described as 'debonair, talkative, cautious - and with a penchant for women'. But no, that's not describing Ian Fleming's spy hero, but a man born in Bideford on January 30th 1928.

He was sent by Sir Richard White, Head of the Secret Intelligence Service [SIS] to Warsaw, ostensibly as a secretary/archivist to the Military Attache at the British Embassy, in February 1964. Needless to say, with that name he was automatically put under surveillance by the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs Counter Intelligence Department, with a case code-name of Samek, Polish for same. Ian Fleming's books had been around for a decade [Casino Royal was the first] and even the communists would have possibly read the books, or at least seen the films.

This James Bond's details emerged on September 23rd this year through the Polish Institute of National Remembrance [IPN], which chronicles its communist past. It briefly made news in the UK's main newspapers and the devonlive website.

James Bond was the son of a farm labourer and rabbit trapper. He married Janette Tachi in Taunton in June 1954. They had one son the following year, also called James. When he was 36, he was sent to Warsaw. Both his wife and nine-year old son moved with him.

Widowed in 2005, Mrs. Bond, recently approached by one newspaper, confirmed that her husband had been a spy. She didn't know exactly what he was doing, but "I knew it was dodgy and he was doing things he shouldn't have been doing." she reported. He would write her notes when he wanted to say something important because he suspected the apartment of being bugged. When in their car they were followed everywhere, because little James looked out of the rear window and reported on the cars tracking them.

During his stay, he accompanied senior staff from the local SIS to north east Poland several times. It is said that the reason for their visit was to gain information on the areas' military facilities. There is some doubt about this. A decade earlier, this would have been most likely as Western Intelligence was on high alert following the threat of communist forces sweeping through Western Europe.

At that time, the SIS took regular trips into the countryside, taking photos, mapping areas and checking on army units. They were also interested in railway lines. A 1955 memo stated that only nuclear bombing of 55 points in Poland could stop the advance of Red Army insurgence. By the time of James' appointment, however, the prospect of communist invasion had calmed down and was no longer considered a threat.

In the event, after only 11 months, James was recalled to Britain. He took a commission of Captain in the British Army and continued his military career until he retired in his late 60's.

So, was he a spy? We shall probably never know. It could be that the SIS recruited him to fool spy catchers. It could be an uneventful episode in the life of a career spy, or Sir Richard White planning for the communists to waste their time putting him under careful surveillance.

The report's final words on the incident of 007's file in the IPN's archive says, 'The only thing that appears fairly certain is that since Ian Fleming had put so much espionage into fiction, British Intelligence reasoned they could put a bit of fiction into espionage as well. That almost says it all! This James Bond may not have been an ideal Mover and Shaker, but the Poles have been stirred and definitely shaken!


P.S. No time to Die! No, we can't see it before Christmas! We've heard about the latest James Bond film so many times recently on TV, in our newspapers, even being partially responsible for closing indefinitely a large group of cinemas. Why? Because the promoters, who have already delayed it from last Easter when the virus hit, then the coming November, have rescheduled it for next April. They feel that there won't be enough 'bums on seats' to justify the expense at present.

Oh, but the Royal Mint has gone along with launching its three coins commemorating the 25th James Bond film, which when combined, a micro text engraved on each coin spells out 'No time to Die!' You can buy the latest one for your loved one for £4,760, or if that's too much then buy her/him a gold and silver bullion bar weighing 1ounce or 10 ounces, that display the names of all twenty-five 007 titles. The smaller one is a snip at £1,600!

Happy Christmas

PP of DC

P.P.S. What a coincidence, the death of Sean Connery! I rarely send in my contribution until almost the deadline, but our James Bond was submitted on October 12th whilst still fresh in my mind after the Poles announced in late September his 1960's presence, together with the photo of Sean Connery as the Bond. Still, it is accepted that Sean gave his Bond character a style for all subsequent Bonds to live up to. May he rest in peace



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Christmas 2020 & New Year 2021

The card, A Christmas Greeting, was published by Stewart & Woolf of London E.C., and posted on the 24th December 1909. This particular card has the holly spring embossed and has a small, thimble postmark from Overton, Hants. The card was sent to a Miss M. Wake, also in Overton, and reads:

    Dear Auntie Just a p.c. to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you will get heaps of presents. Much love from Ena.



The second card, A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year, shows four robins sitting on a sprig of holly. The postcard dates from c1902-1903 and has an unsplit back stating 'This side for the address'.

I should like to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 2021.

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage, November 2020
e-mail: tomandinge40@gmail.com



Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook