What fun we had! A goodly band of friends turned up to arrange the hall. Judie's tablecloths, balloons and table arrangements in Macmillan colours brightened the scene. I wish I'd had a camera when she emerged from the back seat of the car with a dozen or so helium-filled balloons threatening to whisk her off like Mary Poppins!

  71 tickets were sold and 69 people turned up - quite a squeeze! It was exciting watching folk turn up with their packages and bundles for valuation - just like the genuine BBC Roadshow. The items were displayed on tables in front of the Valuer and everyone sat around enjoying excellent 'nibbles' generously provided by our shop suppliers and friends, washed down with a glass of wine. Janet, Vi and Margaret performed miracles in the kitchen, working like beavers and presenting a superb spread.

Some people brought various items for a table auction where bids were placed and the highest bidder won. This added £177 to the kitty.

The raffle, all prizes donated, raised £106, whilst Fenella's 'Guess the Age of the Chair' caused some interest and raised a bit more cash. 1815 was the date and Jill Massey won a gorgeous bouquet of flowers arranged by Sue Wright [now an area floral art demonstrator - congratulations, Sue].

  Everyone agreed that Christopher Hampton [of Hampton and Littlewood, Auctioneers and Valuers, Exeter] made the evening. He handled, spoke about and valued each of the many items brought, in two one-hour sessions during which you could hear a pin drop! And generously, he would accept neither a fee nor travel expenses so that we would maximise funds. In the interval, Janet and helpers served coffee, tea and delicious biscuits from the Fudge Tree Company and everyone tucked in to the remaining nibbles.

  The evening raised a total of £740 with all expenses paid, so that Macmillan Cancer Support and our new Community Shop are richer by £370 each. We were very grateful to all who contributed in whatever way - including those who turned up and then generously supported the various money raising events.  Thanks, everyone!

PP of DC



Early in November, the lofts and wardrobes of Berrynarbor were scoured for items to help with Rotary's appeal through the North Devon Journal for blankets, warm bedcovers and warm clothes to send to Pakistan. And what a magnificent turnout! Fenella and John kindly provided the use of the barn at Sloley Farm and trestles were appropriately laid out in front of our award-winning carnival float, depicting HMS Victory.

Between Saturday and Monday people brought 20 black bags of blankets, 13 of duvets, sleeping bags and eiderdowns and nearly 50 bags of clothing ranging from sheepskin jackets, Barbour's, anoraks and fleeces to woolly hats, gloves, scarves and socks. On the Tuesday, a further 8 duvets were taken separately to Barnstaple. Although there were few children's and baby clothes, on the whole they were well catered for by other areas.

What happened next? All the items were taken to Tiverton where they were sorted and loaded into 15kg bags. North Devon produced about 10 tons of aid and Devon as a whole generated enough items to fill 4 articulated trucks! Later, I spoke to George Kempton, the local organiser, who proclaimed the collection a 'phenomenal success'. By then, two trucks had been driven to Aid International in Perth, one about to go and the last would leave on Monday, 14th - in time for the deadline for goods to arrive before the winter freeze. Each truck took just 2 hours to empty - blankets and bedcovers were put on pallets and within 24 hours were in Pakistan. The clothing went into shipping containers to arrive at their destination within ten days. Lessons in Logistics could be learnt from both local and national organisers.

Many thanks to all who so generously contributed and to those who not only delivered the goods but also stayed on to help sort.

PP of DC



The little melon plant nestles innocently amongst the courgettes and cucumbers in the garden centre. It conjures up memories of a friend's conservatory, a hammock swung below the ripening melons, waiting to catch the luscious fruits. I buy it.

Arriving home I read the label, 'fertilise by hand'. Visions of wielding a paintbrush sweep before my eyes. I reach for the gardening compendium [which I've had longer than I've had Alex!].

From there I learn that once there are 6 female flowers on the plant [identified by the tiny embryo melons at the base of the flower], I must peel back the petals of the same number of male flowers and without disturbing the pollen, introduce them to the female flowers. What is more, the operation is best carried out at mid-day when the female flowers are most receptive. I shall be taking their temperatures next!

As I'm working most days, I try not to pander to their own timetable, but to no avail. In the mornings they haven't woken up and by evening they've all modestly closed their little petals or withered.

On Sunday, however, I catch just 3 of them! Surely there is more to life than stuffing a melon, I say to myself as I peel back the petals of the male flowers and do as I'm told to the females. I leave the 6 flowers entwined. They might as well enjoy the experience. A few days later, to my immense surprise, the flower bases start to swell. Within two weeks I have 3 baby melons the size of (i) a ping-pong ball (ii) a tennis ball and (iii) a small grapefruit. If these grow to maturity, I shan't dare to eat them I'll take them to the taxidermist!

Ideas of triumphantly carrying off the Derrick Kingdon Cup in the Horticultural Show for 'Any other fruit' swim before my eyes. Who said it was difficult to grow melons?

Pride comes before a fall, they say. By early august the melons haven't put on any weight. By mid-August the leaves start to wither. In spite of all the loving care and attention, the melons are by now rock hard and very, very dead.

Will anyone notice if I put them in the Handicraft Section - No. 21 Any handcrafted item not covered under Classes 15-20 inc. - as pottery melons [various sizes]? I could perhaps win the Watermouth Cup!

PP of DC