This month our theme is Villages. Our regular contributors have written
something for us. Each is on this theme of villages but each is
Revd Liz tells us about LIFE. Fr Nick gives us married folk some
good advice. We say farewell to Revd Maz Allen as she prepares for her
retirement. There is a picture from the wedding of Anna Cozens and
pictures from the Walsingham Pilgrimage. Margaret tells me they are
worked hard at the prepared programme and they deserve their moments of
relaxation when most photos are taken. The Brownies came to St
Nicolas for their sleepover. The following morning they joined us
in the service. They, with help from Fr Nick and his culinary
delights, gave the congregation much enjoyment.
As I write these notes the waiting for our Open Gardens is almost over
and the weather forecast is good. I hope there will be something to
read about them in the next issue.
This double issue gives notice of the events for the next two months.
We take a break now. Your next magazine will be ready for you by
the weekend before September. The theme will be Teams. All of
us are in a team or maybe several. Why not write something about
your team? The deadline date is printed on the inside back cover.
In the meanwhile, whatever you are going to be doing, enjoy the summer.
‘I have come that they
may have life, and life in all its fullness’ John
I’m sure by now those
who attend services at Prestbury will be aware that our diocesan vision
is to share the good news of Jesus Christ in our communities, that they
may have life in all its fullness.
LIFE. Leadership, Imagination, Faith and Engagement.
It challenges us to explore each of these areas within our own context.
It will mean different things in each of the parishes within our team.
Leadership within our churches is something we have been exploring for
some time. How is each of us called to serve God in our community –
the place where we spend our time Monday – Saturday? What does
ministry look like in multi parish benefices? How do we encourage
lifelong learning and discipleship?
Imagination – how are
we to explore our faith through sport and the creative arts? How
are we to look at developing new ways of worshipping alongside the
traditional ways? How are we to use our buildings in creative ways
so that they are a community resource?
Faith – how do we nurture faith, and encourage baptism families on the
amazing adventure of faith? How do we share our faith in new and
imaginative ways, including through digital media? How do we put
our schools at the heart of our mission?
Engagement – how do we become agents of social justice? How do we
engage imaginatively with new housing developments? How do we reach
out to young people in ways that are attractive and engaging?
People from our team are involved in implementing this at a diocesan
level as well as local.
I am the leader of the priority that looks at ways of sharing our faith
in new and creative ways including through digital media.
Andy & Sharon Macauly are the leaders of the priority looking at how we
reach out to young people.
Mary Turner is part of the group looking at how we engage baptism
families on the amazing adventure of faith.
In the church’s year we are now in the period we call ‘ordinary time’.
The colour we use on our altar frontals and vestments is green – that is
because ordinary time is not ordinary in the sense of mundane and
routine. It means order – or marked out. We use the colour
green because it is the opportunity for growth. Why not use this
period of the summer months, the growing season, to explore how you may
engage in some of the questions and activities that bring life in all its
fullness to those among whom you live and work, as well as our church
It’s the wedding season and we have many weddings in our five churches
again this year. The charity Care for the Family has some words of wisdom
on marriage. They ask if you were given these words of advice when you
got married: “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath”. Or, as somebody
has summarised it: “Remove the flack before you hit the sack!” It means
we shouldn’t go to bed with hurts still sore but it’s hard to talk to God
when you’re not talking to each other.
Saying: “I’m sorry”
It might be hours before one of us will make the first move and mutter:
“I’m sorry.” Only then will we begin to talk and find that the whole
argument has got out of hand. Like a bad recipe, poor communication is
usually partly to blame, plus a dose of selfishness and a touch of pride,
and before we know it – conflict!
The incredible thing about rows in marriage is that if you resolve them
quickly, a day later you can’t even remember what the fuss was about. But
if you don’t sort it out, the bitterness can stay with you, corrosively.
Some marriages have no means to resolve even basic conflict. These
couples go through years of married life sleeping back to back, huffing
and puffing and pulling at the duvet thinking: “I won’t give in on this”,
“It’s up to him/her to make the first move!”
Openness is crucial
We’ve all heard the reasons people give for separating. Often the
causes can be summarised by phrases such as: “We just can’t live
together” or “We don’t love each other anymore.” But often behind those
weighty issues there are, in fact, numerous small conflicts that were
never resolved and have been left to fester down the years.
Resolving conflict means letting the other person know that they’ve
hurt us or that what they are doing is driving us nuts!
The way to learn to resolve the big areas of disagreement is to deal
with the small things that can dissatisfy or disappoint us. Conflicts
like these cluster together in our minds until frustration turns to
dislike, and dislike, even to hate. We need to sort them out!
- Don’t be too proud to be the first to ‘give in’. Remember: one
finger pointing at someone is four fingers pointing back at you!
- Tell each other how you feel.
- Winning isn’t everything – particularly if you’re the articulate one
because the other person will still be bitter, even more so. Back off a
little, listen and hear what the other is saying.
- “Remove the flack before you hit the sack” – agree between you to
try hard never to go to bed still feeling angry with each other.
Not long after I retired 30 years ago, the Gloucestershire Echo
announced that it would publish a new supplement called ‘Village Voice’.
The idea was to include local information from the different villages
which might not be of general interest in the main paper. For instance, a
whist drive in Leckhampton might not be of much interest to us, equally
one of our coffee mornings to them.
I agreed to become the writer for Prestbury and the columns appeared
for some time every Monday, with an occasional break for bank holidays.
There was a snag. They needed the information a fortnight in advance and
I seemed to be forever juggling with the calendar. The decision to
publish was a popular one and I began to receive information from the
different organisations in the village, and I realised how active the
ladies are with their different groups.
The churches of St Mary, St Nicolas and the Prestbury United Reformed
Church are always busy with the weekly services and special events. At
that time there was also a Roman Catholic meeting off Priors Road. The
Parish Magazine has always been a great source of information with a
number of events spoken of well in advance.
The Prestbury Parish Council meetings varied from two or three members
of the public to a totally packed out Women’s Institute Hall. The
movements of the Gloucestershire County Council were closely watched as
they negotiated with various builders over the old rugby ground and
Starvehall Farm. It has since meant that a nearly new village has been
built along New Barn Lane.
A protest was made which led to a meeting in the Cheltenham Borough
Council chambers where a part of one of my columns was used in evidence,
much to my embarrassment.
The flooding in various parts of the village made it into the nationals
but that only lasted for a few weeks.
For a while the supplement was inside the Saturday issue and the new
title of ‘Where I Live’ appeared but then we went back to Mondays.
It has always been interesting to see what other contributors find of
interest and Paul, who used to be at the Park Stores, does a weekly news
from his part of Hatherley.
Over the years we have seen the name of a baby being christened,
confirmed and then married – a bit like ‘This is Your Life’.
It has been an interesting time and it has meant that I have known more
about the other parts of the village than I might have done. But I
decided that it was time to change and my contribution for June 15 would
be my last one. Thanks for all the help.
One of the pleasures of living in Prestbury is that it still is a
village. Although our boundaries have been reduced and blurred, and
the green belt between Prestbury and Cheltenham covered with brick and
concrete, we still experience Prestbury as a village. The physical
core is still present and we have been able to retain many of the
essentials of a village community – church, school, post office,
pharmacy, stores, library, pubs, W.I., Scouts etc. I moved to
Prestbury just eleven years ago and I remember our first visit to the
Parish Church. At the point in the service when the Gospel was read
from the Nave the whole congregation physically turned to focus on the
reading, it was to me a strong experience of being a community.
The sense of community was enhanced by knowing that our village
forefathers had worshipped in that same spot for about a thousand years.
As I got to know the village and its unique and quirky layout I found
myself pondering how the village got to be as it is. How did Prestbury
village come to be? How long has it been here? Why is it where it
is? In ‘An Exploration Into the Beginning and Early Development of the
Village of Prestbury’ (Prestbury Past & Present Volume 2) I have tried to
find the answers to these questions.
My conclusions are that the village was a Saxon creation of about 1000
years ago. Before the creation of the village Prestbury was a Saxon
estate belonging to the Bishops of Hereford. The estate would probably
have included the Bishops’ own farm and a spread of small farm
settlements. These would have been mainly family groups whose rents
for their land provided income for the Bishopric. Somewhere around
the turn of the first millennium a decision was taken, probably by the
Bishop and in line with a widespread movement, to create large open
fields in which each tenant had multiple strips of land. I presume
that the arguments for this revolution were that it would be a more
efficient use of the land and would bring greater productivity (exactly
the same arguments which would be used seven centuries later to get rid
of the open fields!). The obvious consequence of putting this decision
into effect was that the dispersed farms were broken up and the people
moved together into a community – hence our village.
The site chosen for the new village was not at all surprising.
Lynda Hodges, in ‘The Life story of our Church’ makes the case for a
Saxon base for the church. The builders would have been drawn to
the present site because it is on a prominent high point and because
there was very probably already a growing settlement at this spot around
the Mill Stream and an early mill.
The two focal points of the Moated Manor at Shaw Green and the
Church/Mill eventually grew to include The Burgage in the 13th century
when permission was given for a market and a borough, and over time
gradually incorporated the settlement of Noverton.
It is the combining of these four loci which gives us our network of
roads and the physical structure of the present village.
Prestbury Local History Society has recently published ‘Prestbury Past
& Present’ Volume 2. In addition to ‘An Exploration Into the Beginning
and Early Development of the Village of Prestbury’ the volume also
includes: a study of the history of Home Farm which the author links with
the Home Farm of the 13th century moated Manor House; the history of the
Lower Mill, the oldest of the two mills which were once operating in
Prestbury; and ‘Prestbury Field’ which is a fairly detailed account of
the nine open fields, their boundaries and history. The book costs £10.
Volume I, by Michael Cole, is still available. The contents
include a study of ‘The Lost Buildings of Prestbury’ such as Cakebridge
Farm, the Weighbridge and eight others. ‘Masters, Servants and Tradesmen’
is an analysis of Victorian Prestbury. ‘Prehistoric Prestbury’ looks at
some of the discoveries and archaeological finds in the area. The book
The earliest of our publications is also still available.
‘Prestbury: A Walk Through Time’ by Roger Beacham is a guided walk around
the centre of the village with plenty of historical notes. It costs
Copies of Volume 2 are available at the Post Office and the Library.
All publications are available at the regular meetings of Prestbury Local
History Society, from the authors, or by post (add £2.50 p&p), via email
Defined as ‘a small collection of dwellings.’ Having grown up in a city
with a population of over 300,000, I have about the same qualifications
and knowledge about the subject matter as a pixie has of piloting an Avro
Shackleton, which is nil, because they were all scrapped years ago …
From a young age I had a romantic notion of what village life was like.
A church with a square tower, a pub or two, a pond with geese and maybe
cattle or sheep being herded by the local farmer. Oh, and a distinct
odour which I would describe as a manure smell! And one more thing, the
sun was always shining. In reality this was nonsense. Take Bishops Cleeve,
said by some of the locals to be the largest village in the country with
a population of around 13,000 souls.
Our mother used to describe to us children what a village community was
like. Her father was a farm labourer and she and her three siblings were
born in four different counties around the country. The reason for this
was because when work was slack their father was fired and they moved on
to another farm elsewhere where his services were in demand. I recall her
describing about how she was pressed into service at a farm in Berkshire
and this anecdote serves to reinforce my conception of village life.
After school my mother and an elder sister were expected to go to a
nearby field, catch a horse and harness it up to a cart of some sort.
Then they loaded a number of milk churns, full up of course, no mean feat
and drove to the nearest rail head, which in this case was Challow
station on the GWR mainline between Swindon and Reading. So yes, this
reinforced my perception of village life.
When I was older and played cricket we ‘townies‘ frequently found
ourselves playing against village teams. The ground was quite often owned
by a local farmer and the farmer sometimes played in the opposing team.
Why are farmers who play in a cricket team nearly always spin bowlers?
I now had some admiration for our country cousins. Why, well because
they were mostly uncomplicated souls with, so it would appear, no real
worries. Life in a village was quaint, un-political, (how wrong I was)
and just very straight forward. Village folk, I used to believe
considered us ‘townies‘ as somehow superior to them and they thought we
were a bit ‘upmarket ‘ which again was not so. The village vicar would
often appear to watch the game dressed in a cream lightweight summer
jacket and black trousers. Village vicars were seldom country folk as
they could converse in such a manner as to make one realise they had
experience of working in towns.
On the subject of village life and cricket, I loved to retire to the
pavilion at tea time and be provided with tasty village type food laid on
by the ladies of the community. Homemade jam, bread made from locally
produced wheat (bread is made from wheat isn’t it?) I could go on. The
wives and mothers of these village folk fed us royally and one wife once
said to me, ‘You look as if a good meal would kill you love, here, have
some more cake!’ .... Yes please.
Did you realise that the number of villages is diminishing albeit very
slowly and has been for over a century? This is because many are
swallowed up or integrated into sprawling conurbations. Also, younger
inhabitants leave for the bright lights and the village community dies.
Some villages are destroyed by coastal erosion. Conversely, some villages
are enlarging with new build houses but the inhabitants commute away to
We were once taken on a school trip to visit a village. When we arrived
we looked for a village in vain. The teacher went on to explain that once
there was a village but that all the inhabitants perished in the period
of the black death, and because nobody survived the village also died,
and hundreds of years later all that was left were a few crumbling
buildings barely recognisable as dwelling places.
Finally, to conclude this story of villages, some of our readers will
recall the name of a village called Imber situated on Salisbury Plain.
The village was taken from the inhabitants in WW2 by the military to
practise manoeuvres in advance of the Normandy invasion in June 1944. The
village is to this day still in the hands of the army and used for target
practice and other activities we ordinary folk are not privy to.
The wedding took place at St Thomas’ Church, The Groves, York on
Saturday 27 May.
Linda Biggs took this picture of the bride and groom
with (right to left) Fr Michael, Gill, Gill's father Eric, and Simon.
As many of you will
know, Maz will be retiring from her post as Minister of Cheltenham United
Reformed Church at the end of July. She joined us in the spring of 2007
from Hampshire and has been a popular, enthusiastic and sympathetic
minister. Maz considers Pastoral Visiting a joy and a privilege and has
been a devoted Visitor to the members of her three congregations (Prestbury,
St Andrew’s and Warden Hill). A former teacher, she enjoys working with
children and like the Clergy from St Mary’s she regularly takes services
at the Infant and Junior schools. Another enthusiasm is music, which led
to the founding of the C4 Children’s Choir here in Prestbury for children
of Primary School age. For many years we enjoyed their Christmas and
summer performances of musicals, both religious and secular. One Easter
they even gave us a very moving Oratorio which left many biting back the
Many in Prestbury will have come across her in relation to her Kenya
Projects charity but will also have sampled her excellent cakes which
have been the mainstay of the URC coffee mornings and fetes. For the 90th
Birthday Celebrations last year on The Burgage she single-handedly
produced 60 cakes!
Maz will be leaving Cheltenham for retirement in her home town of
Stafford. Her last service in Prestbury will be on Sunday 23rd July at
10.30 and naturally any friends will be most welcome to join us. There
will be a lunch afterwards to enable Maz to say goodbye to her Prestbury
congregation and friends and if anyone would like to come along I do need
to know in advance for numbers. We will certainly miss her.
Fiona Hall (01242 511143 or email@example.com)
Kenya Projects (UK) – Thank You for your support !
I would like to thank all at St Mary's and St Nicolas who have
supported Kenya Projects (UK) during the ten years I have been here.
Thank you also for your love and support. It has been my privilege to
know you and work with you.
(Revd Maz Allen, URC)
When I left home in the 60's for North Devon I experienced my first
taste of village life. A colleague's niece had been looking for
someone to share part of a large house. I wasn't sure what I was getting
into but went along for a look. As we approached the main cobbled
street I couldn't help feeling intrigued. The TV ad for Hovis
hadn't yet been invented, but for anyone who remembers it, Pilton had the
same steep slope and low cottages with a pub and a small shop, a very
At the bottom of the slope was a tiny ford crossing the road, which
could occasionally leave you with wet feet. We drove on up a
winding lane, heavily wooded with steep sides until we came upon an
unmarked driveway, deeply rutted, past a small paddock with an old horse
and round in a wide sweep to a Georgian house on a rise. We were
met by the butler cum handyman and shown around the rooms we were to
rent. I was stunned into absolute silence. It seemed an unlikely
stroke of luck! It did turn out to be the grandest home I would
ever have, and it left me with a taste for a lifestyle I could never
afford again. At the time, at £6 a week all-in, I decided it would
be silly not to indulge and see what happened.
We had a panelled drawing room, use of tennis court, a studio for my
"flatmate's" A level painting works, and logs were for the picking-up in
the grounds. Georgian wine glasses, Victorian scrapbooks, black
Wedgewood, antique furniture, we could hardly take it all in. The
lady owner didn't like grapes so we were welcome to as many as we could
reach in the greenhouse. The butler offered his services whenever
the Aga went out, the only rule being we must never, ever, attempt to
clean the chandelier.
The walk to work was a daily treat with sights and sounds of birds and
hedgerows, and everyone nodding or stopping to chat. I learned not
to mention bull finches to Guy as it would set him off on a rant about
half pecked fruit buds, the garden being another of his responsibilities.
On the other hand when I spent my wages on knee high boots he kept me
supplied with cabbages until the next pay packet. Once a week a
pannier market was held in the town with fresh produce from the
surrounding areas, and further along was a fishmonger with an open shop
front of sloping display slabs.
The flowers I like to grow now are those I discovered that summer in
Devon, Chaenomeles, aquilegia, alchemilla and stocks; sadly no room for
wisteria, or grapes!
Later that summer I had my 21st birthday party there, with full blown
roses sculpted from butter for the buffet, and a huge decorated chocolate
mousse, all courtesy of Guy. His talents were endless, even
fashioning a hat from Guinea fowl feathers (he had bred the Guinea fowl
first) for our landlady to wear to a wedding.
I have never again enjoyed the privilege of a butler, but I do consider
myself very lucky to be back in a village. It has to be the most
contented way to live life, just as much so in my little end of terrace,
with wine glasses by Sainsbury.
On Sunday 4 June Colin Smith (one time organist at St Nicolas) and 19
ladies of Kampenkoret from Oslo, Norway, presented a programme of mainly
religious music to an appreciative audience in St Nicolas.
Picture by Jerry Spence
Mars bars, Neapolitan ice cream, hard-boiled eggs and 3-in-1 oil.
Something for everyone as Fr Nick addressed the Brownies after their
sleepover on 10 / 11 June in an effort to explain Trinity Sunday.
In return the Brownies gave everyone a rose, a beautifully-decorated
card with a teabag inside to show a little cup of Friendship, and a song.
They had been up all night watching Beauty and the Beast.
Pictures by Karen Walker
On Monday 15th May, despite a dull, damp day, we had a most interesting
and enjoyable walk led by Janet Waters.
We started our walk in Stanton Village and walked along footpaths, over
assorted stiles and across fields to Laverton, on to Buckland and then
back, via a different route, to Stanton where we enjoyed a most welcome
lunch at The Mount Inn.
During our walk we watched an amazing flying display by swallows,
passed a busy stable yard with many horses and ponies, walked through
several fields with ewes and their lambs who watched our progress with
interest, crossed fields full of buttercups and daisies, enjoyed the
lovely scent of May blossom, saw lots of wild garlic growing alongside
the footpath, interrupted a tabby cat on his morning hunt and enjoyed the
In Laverton we stopped to look at a well preserved red phone box which
is now a "Book Exchange" and full of books waiting to be swapped.
We went inside St Michael's church in Buckland. It dates from C13 and
has a beautiful painted interior wooden roof and a stained glass window
restored by William Morris.
A lovely day out. Thank you Janet!
Saturday 10th June saw nine of us setting out from St Nicolas' Car Park
at 9.30am in two cars and travelling along the M5 and A38 to arrive at
Frampton on Severn. We all had waterproofs with us but fortunately we
only experienced two very short periods of drizzle and therefore didn't
We enjoyed a leisurely walk of just over 4 miles alongside the
Gloucester to Sharpness Canal where we saw one of the bridges open to
enable a boat to continue its journey and saw swifts, butterflies and
horses, one horse having a very long fringe which covered its face so we
didn't know how much he could see.
At the junction of the Sharpness canal and the
Picture by John White
We passed two churches, the one at Whitminster was locked but we
visited the church at Frampton on Severn where the ladies arranging
flowers showed us the smart new porch extension with a toilet. The first
incumbent was Stephin in 1228 and the last two were female.
After walking back through Frampton Village with its long village
green, the longest in England, we enjoyed a very good lunch at The Bell.
Thank you, Margaret, for leading us on a very enjoyable walk.
If you have never been on pilgrimage to Walsingham, perhaps a little
scene-setting may be in order. The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
nestles in the picturesque village of Little Walsingham in East Anglia,
almost a small village in itself as several of the ancient cottages form
a comfortable residential accommodation around the beautiful Shrine
Church, the Holy House and the modern dining hall within its lovely
If your view of a pilgrimage is of a rather austere time, you will be
surprised by the generous catering arrangements — indeed, you will
probably need to let your belt out by a couple of notches by the end of
your time here. We all enjoyed the chance to get together at mealtimes,
and mix with fellow pilgrims from other parts of the country.
A wonderful weekend full of friendship and warmth set in beautiful
surroundings, a time for restoration of the soul. People came with the
problems of the world on their shoulders and were able to lay them down
at the feet of our eternal tender Mother in her Holy House. It's a busy
schedule, lots to do but with no obligation to do it all, maybe you just
need rest and peace.
Somehow it all fits into this small space — the first visit, the
candlelit procession of Our Lady, the sprinkling at the Holy Well, the
gentle laying on of hands, the procession of the Eucharistic host
and benediction, learning the rosary, Sunday Mass in the Parish Church.
Afterwards, tired, we assembled in the Norton Room for wine and good
company till late — laughter and healing talk, fellowship, friendship are
formed and deepened.
All too soon the weekend has passed. Beds stripped, cases packed and we
depart on the journey home, refreshed, inspired and with our faith
It is so hard to describe exactly how the Walsingham magic works — a
heady mix of piety, prayer, wonder, mystery, beauty and the sense of
being involved in something so much bigger and deeper than oneself.
Grateful thanks, of course go to all who make this retreat possible,
especially Fathers Stephen and Mike for guiding and helping us; and to
Colin and Margaret Holman for taking care of all the exacting domestic
arrangements, to our driver for a safe journey and to the staff at the
Fox for our half-way meals. All much appreciated.
If you have never taken part in the pilgrimage I certainly strongly
recommend it. Apparently the reservation for next year has already been
made and I would advise that you have a word in good time as many who
came this year have already booked for 2018.
[If you are interested in joining next year's pilgrimage – speak to
Colin Holman, or speak to the Wardens.]
Pictures by Colin & Margaret Holman
Centuries ago Oliver Goldsmith wrote this as part of his famous longer
Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain,
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill.
The Deserted Village is a poem by Oliver Goldsmith published in 1770.
The poem is a piece of social commentary. Goldsmith was
condemning how people were leaving country villages to rural depopulation
and going in pursuit of excessive wealth.
I have seen much change during my life. I was fortunate to live
for two years when I was a boy in a lovely village in North Hampshire
during the Second World War. The experience of growing up in this
lost environment changed me for life. When I returned
recently to my boyhood haunts I found a village much changed from the one
I knew. As with many villages the people who moved into
the old cottages have improved them. The village I knew has been
Now, although it may seem like it, I am not complaining. The most
famous village series of Ambridge has charted the changes in a fictitious
community and enriched people’s knowledge of English village life.
In our ‘green and pleasant land’ villages have exemplified the quality of
life in the English village.
It has been estimated that there are over 10,000 villages in Britain.
Almost all have an historic village church. Even in the suburbs of
a town a vestigial nucleated settlement may be described as ‘the
village’. Swindon Village lies on the edge of Cheltenham.
It was once called simply Swindon. I’m told the inhabitants chose
to change the name of the place where they live. They were often
getting mail intended for Swindon in Wiltshire. Calling the
place Swindon Village stopped all this.
I am fascinated by history. To know something about the local
history of a place is to open our eyes. Villages don’t just
happen - they have a history. “Most medieval villages
contained only two or three buildings of any permanence: a church, a
manor house and sometimes a tithe barn.” (The Batsford Companion to
The way the land has been used has changed. In our area there are
still reminders of the old ‘open field’ system of ownership in the ridge
and furrow markings.
I have been so fortunate to experience life in an English village in a
bygone era. I am so fortunate to live in Gloucestershire.
A change of speaker for our June meeting meant that Ged Cassel gave a
very interesting illustrated talk on ‘Florida and the Everglades’.
He said that the best way to observe the wildlife was to travel by canoe,
as it was less disturbing. Ged had taken many photographs of
turtles, snakes, various ibises, egrets and herons and a strange
snakebird that swims under water with just its long neck and head
visible. We learnt the difference between alligators, which do not
normally attack people and can be found in the everglades, and
crocodiles, which can be dangerous, and that vultures are the only birds
with a sense of smell. Mockingbirds, hawks, eagles, pelicans and
gulls were some of the other birds seen.
Unfortunately, we lost our Skittles Trophy match against Benhall WI (I
have heard that since then they have beaten last year’s winners), so we
now are booked to play Tibberton and Taynton WI for the Plate. At
the WI Fair at Alexandra Palace Sue Davies won some tickets for Highclere
Castle, so she and I spent an enjoyable day there living the ‘Downton
Abbey Experience’. Other activities included a meal at The Royal in
Charlton Kings, a coffee morning at Jenny’s and the Book and Craft Club
Several members went to Liverpool to the National Annual Meeting.
Two interesting resolutions were debated and passed, one on ‘Plastic
Soup’, that mainly concerned micro fibres getting into the oceans and
thus entering the food chain, and the other on ‘Loneliness’. Some
members spoke to say joining the WI had helped them overcome the problem
and that it was a shame men did not have a similar organisation they
could join. The guest speakers were Jo Fairley, journalist and
co-founder of the organic chocolate brand Green & Black, and Susie Dent
from the ‘Dictionary Corner’ on Channel 4’s Countdown. Susie’s
passion is words and their meanings and she pointed out unusual meanings
and the links between words. The National Chairman, Janice Langley,
was retiring after four years in office. We had a group, called The
Retros, entertain us with music from the 70’s that saw thousands of WI
members singing and dancing in the aisles! Quite an experience and
a fantastic note to end on!
As I write this we are hoping for fine weather at the Royal Three
Counties Show, where it is Gloucestershire’s turn to run the WI marquee.
Members have volunteered help with the catering, bake cakes, demonstrate
crafts and man the stalls. We should have time to see some of the
rest of the Show as well.
In July there are Croquet and Bowls Taster Days, a trip to Harvington
Hall and Webb’s of Wychbold, a talk on ‘Prehistoric Astronomy and Ritual’
and various walks. We have a meal out to look forward to, a visit
to Neal’s Yard for an evening of pampering and Wendy F. is hosting an
afternoon tea. Wendy C. has invited us to her house for our annual
August American Supper, which usually proves very popular.
Our talk on Monday 3rd July is about ‘The Ifakra Bakery Project’ by
Eugene and Margaret Schellenberg, when we are also inviting members from
the other WIs in the Cleeve Hill Group to join us for the evening.
On Monday 7th August, as we do not have a normal meeting, we are going
for a conducted walk around Northleach, led by John Heathcott, and lunch.
Visitors and new members are always made welcome, we are known as the
‘friendly WI’. We meet at 7pm at St Nicolas Hall, Swindon Lane.
On Monday 10th July Chris O’Grady will be visiting us to give a talk
on “A walk to Rome”. Intriguingly this is sub-titled “One man, four pairs
of pants and 1,000 miles”….
Chris will be telling us about his 4-month pilgrimage from Pershore to
Rome where he met some amazing people and was touched by people’s trust
and kindness; this promises to be an entertaining evening.
Our WI coffee morning is being held on Saturday 15th July. Doors open
at 10.00am with refreshments from 10.30am. Cost £2. Book stall and bring
& buy. All welcome.
On Monday 14th August we have our Bring & Share social evening.
Other WI news
Sally Alexander hosted our annual WI Quiz Night on 19th May. As usual,
a bumper attendance enjoyed a variety of questions for everyone topped
off with a Ploughman’s Supper.
Visitors are always welcome at our WI meetings. They are held on the
second Monday of each month at 7.15pm in the WI Hall on Prestbury Road.
For further information on WI activities please contact Hilary Brick on
This has now been re-instated and will be held in St Mary's Church on
the third Sunday of the month after the 11am Eucharist. The money
raised from this stall goes to a variety of different charities;
contributions of cakes, garden produce, preserves etc - anything that is
sellable - will be most welcome, and can be brought to the church on the
morning of the sale.
Margaret Waker and Team
The Children’s Society works with some of the most disadvantaged
children in England and Wales. As you can imagine, this covers a broad
range of work. Each month we are bringing you a story from one of the
areas of our work. Last month we talked about council tax exemption for
care leavers. This month focuses on how we are working with the police
for better outcomes for children and young people.
Our Big Up The Bill campaign was created by a group of young people and
aims to highlight good examples of police work and recognise those who
make a difference.
For a vulnerable young person, encountering a police professional who
shows empathy, listens and understands children can be a catalyst for a
positive change in that young person’s life. It’s vital all police
professionals learn how to best work with the children and young people
they encounter through their work. That’s why the Big Up The Bill
campaign group has created tips for police on how to work better with
The campaign aims to share these tips widely so that all police staff
develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours that will make them better
at working with children – especially vulnerable children.
Here’s what some of the young people who are part of this campaign said
about their experiences with the police:
“She took time to listen to me, even if it took me four hours to
“There was an incident with my anger at home where he ended up coming.
But instead of shouting at me or threatening to arrest me, he sat with me
while I cried and made sure that I was calm. He came to see me the next
day to make sure that I was alright.”
Some police staff realise that teenagers can get angry and upset
because they have a lot going on in their lives. The best examples of
police working with young people are where the young people have been
listened to, respected, and time has been taken to build a relationship.
Sometimes just a smile and introducing themselves can make a difference.
To see our tips and get involved, please visit our website https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk
and type ‘Big Up The Bill’ in the search bar. We want to share the tips
with Police and Crime Commissioners across the country and you can help
us to do just that.
Your donations, actions, prayers and time enable our work with the
group of children and young people who have created this campaign. Its
aims are far reaching and could impact on children and young people in
all villages, towns and cities across the country. Thank you.
Margaret Forster - published by Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-099
When I was given this book as a birthday present last year, little did
I realise that I had ‘met’ Margaret Forster many years ago, as the pen
behind the novel and subsequent film ‘Georgy Girl’. Although Georgy
became the name on the tip of so many tongues in 1965, it is the 1990
historical novel ‘Lady’s Maid’ that is often considered to be Forster’s
I was absolutely gripped by this story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s
runaway romance, as seen through the eyes of her maid, herself an
Elizabeth-shortened to Lily. Wilson, as she was referred to, was a real
person, born in 1820 in or near Newcastle upon Tyne and she did travel to
London in April 1844 to become the other Elizabeth’s maid. Two most
welcome pages in fact appear as an ‘Afterword’ when we are treated to the
separation of fact and fiction. How clever of the author to know that we
wouldn’t be quite ready to close the book without them.
Timewise, the seventeen year ‘reign’ of the two Elizabeths is divided
into three unequal parts, the first lasting a mere two years, but a time
of detailed letter writing from Lily to her mother. ‘The first she had
ever written in her life’ vividly describes the anxious journey to
London, Lily’s introduction to the Barretts of Wimpole Street and in
particular the frail Miss Elizabeth, ‘a poet of some acclaim’. Assuring
the ‘very pretty’ Miss Henrietta, Elizabeth’s sister, that she was of a
‘Quiet, Kind and Cheerful’ disposition, Wilson soon becomes an
indispensable maid and companion and ‘One thing was certain: there would
be a great deal to write home about’.
The ‘great deal’ encompasses getting to know all the upstairs and
downstairs characters, the exciting meeting between Elizabeth and Mr
Robert Browning and the shocking plan not to spend time in the country as
was Miss Barrett’s father’s wish, but rather to marry the man she loves
and begin the part of her life that turns on its head her earlier view of
marriage as ‘lifelong subjection to a man, that is all.’
The following eleven years see the newly-weds, accompanied by Wilson
and the much loved dog, Flush, make Italy their home. Part Two begins
with Wilson feeling ‘disorientated the moment she left English soil’,
with memories of her own romantic attachments that were now in the past,
together with her annual two-week holiday in Newcastle.
So much happens in Italy. Ba, as she is affectionately known by her
husband, enjoys much improved health and indeed gives birth to a son;
Wilson has romantic attachments of her own; the family visit England.
Every chapter is absorbing, surprising and beautifully written.
By the time the third part begins, Wilson, now a mother herself, who
has been a ‘maid, nurse, housekeeper’ and seamstress is about to become a
landlady. I strongly recommend that you discover what led her to this new
life and why ‘She had not the energy for it, for anything’.
The following four years see her come to the conclusion that ‘her part
in the Browning’s life was peripheral’. Nevertheless, her days were full
and ‘bit by bit, Wilson became aware that she had some small skill in the
matter of keeping a boarding house’.
Reminding myself of how this fascinating story is so movingly told and
how fitting an ending lies ahead, I have it at the top of my re-read
list. I had no idea that the 1934 film could have continued beyond the
confines of No 50 Wimpole Street. What a discovery that life behind that
particular front door was just the beginning!
As he was going, and as they were gazing intently into the sky,
all at once there stood beside them two men in white who said 'Men of
Galilee, why stand there looking up into the sky?’
Acts of the Apostles, 1: 9-12
This is an icon at
Novgorod; it was made in the 15th century. The word icon is Greek; it
means a holy image or picture. Through the use of an icon a petitioner
could make direct contact with the sacred figures represented. Good
fortune and miraculous healing were frequent subjects of petition.
In this icon we see Mary (Christ's mother) and two angels in white
surrounded by the twelve apostles. The white robes are a symbol of the
angels' purity. Behind them are rows of white tombstones. The arms of
Mary and the angels are outspread, as if they are explaining the empty
tomb. The disciples look almost identical to each other; their robes are
brightly coloured. At the top of the icon we see two angels supporting a
circle of light (a mandorla). In the centre a golden-robed Christ with
arm held out in welcome or blessing is seated in glory.
Some theologians think the writer of the Acts of the Apostles was
St Luke. If this were so, what do we know of St Luke? He was a
second-generation Christian; he had many opportunities to spend time with
those who had first-hand knowledge of the gospel stories. Being a
Gentile, with a good knowledge of the Greek Old Testament and in the ways
of the synagogue, Luke wanted other Gentiles to know how, since the
crucifixion, Christianity was evolving. He was interested in matters of
health and had a great sympathy for those in trouble.
In C.S.C. Williams' book entitled, 'The Acts of the Apostles', we read
that, following Christ's crucifixion, the disciples were expecting the
arrival of a material kingdom. They had not yet been blessed with the
gift of the Holy Spirit, so their minds were, to some degree, closed to
new ideas. Luke possibly thought that the New Age would begin in
Jerusalem with a great feast, before spreading around the world. With the
account of the Ascension the disciples knew Jesus' time on earth with
them was over. He had been raised from the dead, and is present in the
glory of God.
Through his writings of his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles,
St Luke's intention was to prove that Christianity fulfils the religious
hopes of the Old Testament, and that it is an international religion,
available to every single one of us.
Lord, we give thanks that through the death and resurrection of
you have opened for us the hope of eternal life. Amen.