THEweather has been affecting everyone again, with floods following the drought of last summer. Mary Payne assesses how gardening might look in the future.
Nick Green reflects on how the weather on Mendip has always influenced the plans of sheep farmers. Les Davies and reader Paul Western both look back 60 years to the big freeze of 1963, when the snow lasted until Easter!
Economic gloom also still dominates, with Citizens Advice Mendip taking steps to help people struggling and Somer Valley Food Bank supplying its 20,000th meal. Shepton Mallet’s Community Fridge Project is also looking for support.
But some of our traditional wassails have gone ahead, as well as wheelbarrow races, Mendip’s traditional tiddlywinks tournament and the New Year’s Day duck race in Priston. We have pictures from these and other events. We also put the spotlight this month on our popular country markets and the anniversary celebrations of several local charities. With
we hope that you enjoy reading Mendip Times –in rain or shine!
Fridge project seeks more volunteers
SHEPTON Mallet’s Community Fridge Project is appealing for drivers who commute to and from other towns to help collect food from supermarkets.
The last three months have seen great growth for the project; in the run-up to Christmas and over the New Year, it collected and gave away more than 2,600kg of food from supermarkets, shops and growers that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.
Now the project would like to hear from people who regularly make an evening journey back to Shepton from Wells, Glastonbury, Street, Midsomer Norton or other towns.
Organisers say that if people are taking food that they will use from the fridge, then it is fulfilling its job as well as complementing the work done by the Food Bank at the The Salvation Army Shepton Mallet, which is helping to address food poverty.
Vix Ross, one of the organisers, said: “We usually get notifications from supermarkets on the day for collections in the evening and are keen to have a list of people who may be able to collect these donations and bring them
back to the Shepton Fridge. Ideally, we would like people who are already doing the journey, so as not to increase travel time for our volunteers.
“We care about the environmental aspects, so someone who already drives in these directions is perfect. We're also looking for volunteers to collect from Shepton Mallet Tesco in the evenings.
“Our priority is to reduce the amount of perfectly usable food going to landfill.”
A healthy way to help butterflies
AN appeal has been launched for more volunteers to take part in regular butterfly surveys on Mendip and surrounding areas.
The routes (referred to as transects) are fixed so that surveys can be compared on a year-by-year basis, giving environmental scientists indicators of change. Data is fed to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme run by Butterfly Conservation.
A survey takes around two hours of steady walking and should be done in pairs or very small groups. No experience
is necessary and training is provided along with identification aids. Each route is surveyed weekly by volunteers on a rota basis.
New volunteers will be accompanied by an experienced surveyor until they become familiar with species’ identification. Fred Giles, of Westhay, who runs surveys on nature reserves in the area, said a series of escorted walks is planned for February and March when surveyors can describe in more detail what is required.
He said: “Every year from spring to
early autumn, groups of volunteers across the UK follow regular routes where the identify and count butterflies.
“Taking part is both sociable and rewarding especially as personal knowledge improves. The frequent comment from new volunteers is that they are often surprised how many varieties they see especially as they follow the seasonal changes.
“We’re looking for more volunteers to join the regular teams. There are new sites to be established as well as returning to those that have become dormant.”
For details contact Fred on 07719 468335 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Somerset Circle –a new stretch has opened
A NEWstretch of the Strawberry Line has opened to walkers in Westbury-sub-Mendip, between Station Road and Erlon Lane.
Mendip District Council has been working with charity Greenways & Cycleroute, local residents, businesses and volunteers to create around 1KM of new path.
The Strawberry Line is part of the Somerset Circle which, when completed, will form a 76-mile traffic-free circuit.
Cllr Ros Wyke, leader of Mendip District Council and parish
councillor at Westbury-sub-Mendip said: “The opening of this path demonstrates the commitment of the community to create more active travel options and has generated another section of the Strawberry Line, getting us ever closer to completing the ‘Somerset Circle’.”
Other sections of path are being created in Mendip, including a 700m stretch at the Shape Mendip Campus in Shepton Mallet and alongside the West Shepton Playing Fields.
Primary school’s “decarbonisation” makeover
WOOKEY Primary School has become the latest in a line of Somerset County Council-owned buildings to undergo a “decarbonisation” makeover as part of the authority’s commitment to making its property portfolio more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
An old oil-fired boiler at the school is being replaced with a modern, air source heat pump, removing the use of fossil fuel heating at the site. Together with work to improve the energy efficiency of the building, the council says this will achieve an estimated saving of 13.2 tons of CO2 per year for the lifetime of the installation.
Maintenance works, including roof repairs and replacement, are also being undertaken, with all works expected to be complete by Easter.
Andrew Marsh, headteacher, said: "Our children are very environmentally aware and we have shared with them the reason behind the work that is being done. They are very excited about being part of this exciting initiative."
Councillor Sarah Dyke, the council’s Executive Lead Member for Climate Change, said: “We are determined to help the county achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The decarbonisation work on a whole range of council-owned
Wookey primary school, where energy efficiency is being improved
buildings has the dual benefits of reducing energy bills while also reducing emissions, helping Somerset to be prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of climate change.”
Councillor Tessa Munt, Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “I’m very pleased that the children and staff at Wookey Primary School will benefit from these improvements to the school. Reducing the school’s carbon footprint shows the younger generation we really care about the environment and climate change.”
Clare Balding takes a walk around Timsbury
THE BBC broadcaster Clare Balding visited Timsbury to record an episode of her Radio 4 “Ramblings” programme with villagers Peter Bradshaw, Larry Cunningham and Sue Fraser, the co-authors of five books of circular local walks.
Sales of the books have boosted use of the dense web of footpaths in the area and raised over £3,000 to date for Timsbury Parish Council, Radstock Museum, WaterAid and The Avon Wildlife Trust.
Peter said: “We have just finished enlarging the Radstock book which means that our 100th walk will be published in the spring.”
Sue said: “Clare was interested in how this had come about and to walk with us to find out more about the Somerset Coalfield, which is little known nationally, and the Somersetshire Coal Canal.”
Clare Balding has presented the “Ramblings” programme for over 20 years and said that it remained one of the most enjoyable elements of her work. The programme is due to air in the next few weeks. The five books of circular walks produced by Peter, Larry and Sue are available from Health & More, The Hub and Canine Craze in Timsbury, Radstock Museum, Farmborough Community Shop and Oldfield Park Book Shop.
Each book costs £6 and all proceeds go to good causes.
Counting frogs and toads
IT'Stime for the big Somerset frog and toad spawn count. Somerset Wildlife Trust says it needs eyes on the ground, or rather in the water, to help it find out how these two "indicator" species are doing.
Since they and all amphibians absorb water through their skin, they are especially vulnerable to water pollutants like pesticides and their numbers can be the first to reflect the degradation of the environment and the impacts of climate change.
The count has started and you are invited to get an information pack. Details: https://www.somersetwildlife.org/wildlife/greatsomerset-wildlife-count/frog-toad-count
Hoping for a dry day
ORGANISERS of the Mid-Somerset Agricultural Society hedge laying match are hoping for dry weather for this year’s event which again includes a vintage tractor run and Land Rover meet.
The competition, on Sunday, February 19th, returns to Hill House Farm at Launcherley, near Wells, by kind permission of John and Kevin Gould. Hedge layers battled heavy rain when it was last held there in 2020, a week later than planned due to Storm Dennis. Heavy rain also hampered last year’s competition at Dean, near Cranmore.
The day is free to attend for all visitors. The hedge laying competition begins at 10am and is free to enter. The ten-mile tractor run gathers at 9.30am for a 10am start and must be pre-booked. Just turn up for the Land Rover meet.
l The Wrington & Burrington Hedging Match will be held at Stepstones Farm, Wrington, on Saturday, March 11th.
For details and entry forms, email email@example.com or call 01749 938044
Riley and her family got a surprise while out walking on New Year’s Day in Cheddar Gorge. They spotted this otter in the stream outside the White Hart. Thanks to Katrina for the photo!
Beck Lovell, from
Appreciating our birds
Congresbury spotted these two (below) on the River Yeo. Years ago she saw two otters with two cubs.
One of last year’s windows
CONSERVATIONgroup, YACWAG (Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group) is organising a celebration of British birds with this year’s Window Wanderland display around Yatton, Claverham and Congresbury over the first weekend in February.
The free community event enables local people to create and participate in illuminated walking trails around the villages over three dark winter evenings.
The group says: “They are having a hard time lately, what with avian flu and other diseases, weird weather and diminishing natural food supply, but we really appreciate our brilliant British birds, don’t we?”
New group to support wildlife
DUE to changes with the way Somerset Wildlife Trust works with local volunteer groups, the Wells Local Area Group has been replaced with the independent Wells & District Wildlife Group which will be running talks, outings and activities from February.
WDWG is actively involved in promoting awareness of wildlife in the city of Wells and surrounding areas. The group is run by the same dedicated committee that are currently running the Local Area Group.
The group operate on a “not for profit” basis, with any surplus funds being donated to such local or national wildlife charities as may be appropriate at the time.
For details, visit: wdwg.org.uk
Spring is on the way
IN many people’s minds February is the start of spring. The days have started to get longer, daffodils, snowdrops and primroses have started flowering and lambs can be seen racing around the fields. It’s not always the case and many will remind me that February can also be very cold and very wet and if you are a sheep farmer with young lambs February can be evil.
For many lambing on top of Mendip that’s why they lamb their ewes in March and April. Sheep are interesting animals when it comes to breeding. They are in the same breeding category as cattle. They are polyestrous which means they have multiple breeding cycles so have more than one chance of becoming pregnant. Where sheep differ from cattle is they are “seasonally polyestrous” which means they are limited to becoming pregnant at a certain time of year.
Assuming a cow is fit and well, she can become pregnant any time of year. Although a sheep might be fit and well, she can only become pregnant in the autumn thus giving birth between January
and April. Sheep are known as short day breeders.
This is why lamb is such a seasonal product and we need to import to satisfy our 12-month appetite. There is only one British breed of sheep that can be bred out of season. The Dorset breed can be bred so a ewe gives birth three times in two years.
Whilst it is a system that works well, for many reasons it doesn’t suit all sheep farmers and not that many follow the practice. That said, I had the pleasure of walking along the Camel Trail in Cornwall just before Christmas and whilst there were birds of all descriptions on the river’s edge, on the other side of the trail was a field of young lambs with their proud mothers fussing over them.
There was plenty of grass for the sheep to eat, it was well sheltered from the wind, and on that particular day the sun was shining like it was the middle of summer. Never mind February, spring had arrived in Cornwall that day in December.
Success story from farms in our unique landscape
WE’REdelighted to announce that Farming in Protected Landscape (FiPL) funding is available throughout 2023!
Over the last two years The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Service has been working with a wonderful array of farmers and landowners, all of whom have been keen to keep the Mendip Hills a place of beauty, heritage and wildlife. And not only this, these farmers and landowners have been helping people access and understand this unique landscape. All whilst continuing to produce the food we love and some distinctive products with a true local origin.
So, are you a farmer or landowner in the AONB with ideas for projects and need funding to help get them off the ground?
Are you thinking of hosting educational farm visits so that young people can learn about farming? FiPL could fund the hire of portable toilets so you wouldn’t have to have loads of feet going through your farmhouse.
Got a traditional orchard that needs some TLC? FiPL funding could help with pruning or re-stocking costs.
Want to do something for bees and pollinators on your farm? FiPL could look at ways of maybe having bee banks on your farm or perhaps advise you on where to ‘scalp’ patches of vegetation to leave small patches of
bare ground that are so loved by nesting solitary bees. Maybe you could convert a nearby field margin to a wild-flower strip too, giving your nesting bees a rich source of pollen and nectar.
Maybe you simply want to enhance your historic field boundaries with some dry stone wall repairs or gapping-up of hedgerows. FiPL has already helped fund 0.75km of dry stone wall restoration and over 1km of hedgerow planting or laying within the Mendip Hills AONB. And there’s plenty more being done this winter.
Whatever your plans for your farm, perhaps Farming in Protected Landscape funding can play a part in making these plans a reality. It would be our privilege to be part of it.
Farming in Protected Landscapes funding can be there to help. Have a look at the Mendip Hills AONB website and follow the ‘Caring’ link to find out more, or simply give us a phone call and we can arrange a farm visit to talk through your ideas.
Farming in Protected Landscape funding is available to farmers and landowners in the Mendip Hills AONB. Our thanks go to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who have made this FiPL funding available.
Hopefully we may see you soon!
Celebrating 50 years of farming on the Mendip
The Mendip Hills AONB Service is offering funding towards accessing specialist support and advice for Farm Carbon Auditing –ask us today for a pre-filled application pack. Or speak to us about applying for funding for other projects on your land.
THEcontrol centre (or center is how your iPad will prefer it to be spelt) can be very useful for quick access to settings. But how you open it will depend on your iPad model. If you have a newer iPad you can open it by swiping down from the top right corner of your screen or by swiping up from the bottom of your screen (right above the home button).
On occasions, it is quite useful to be able to take a snapshot (or screenshot) of what is on your iPad at the time – but how to take a screenshot will depend on whether your iPad has a home button or not.
To take a screenshot with an iPad with no home button, you need to press the top button and either of the volume buttons simultaneously and then quickly release both buttons.
You'll know you took the screenshot because you'll feel a vibration response, and a small thumbnail will temporarily appear in the bottom left side of your screen.
But if your iPad does have a home button, press the top button and the home button simultaneously and then quickly release both buttons. Again, you'll know you took the screenshot because you'll see a small thumbnail in the bottom left side of your screen.
Add apps to the iPad’s dock
Your iPad, just like a Mac or Windows PC, has a dock near the bottom of the screen. The dock will have any app you want on the left and the last apps you opened on the right.
You can quickly add or remove apps from the iPad’s dock by doing the following:
Press and hold your home screen until the apps start to wiggle, then drag the app you want to the dock and put it wherever you want. To remove it, drag the app out of the dock and drop it on your Home Screen. Then just tap your home screen to make the apps stop wiggling.
As you might expect, the search feature lets you search your iPad. To use search, all you need to do is swipe down from the top of your home screen. A search bar will pop up near the middle of your screen, and you can try searching for whatever you want.
You can instantly add your favourite apps and widgets to your home screen. All you need to do is press and hold your home screen until the apps start to jiggle. You can drag and drop any app from your app library to your home screen
To remove an app from your home screen, you can tap the minus button in the top right side of the app and then tap remove app. You can then choose to delete app or remove from home screen
To add widgets, you can tap the plus button in the top left side of your screen. Choose the widget you want, and then drag it to wherever you want it. And while they are wiggling, you can drag and drop them to another location if you wish.
Submitted for I.T. for the Terrified by Lynne Duckett. Although we have stopped our one-to-one tuition, we will continue with this column to keep the name alive. This article is for guidance only, and the opinion of the writer. I.T. for the Terrified –firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mendip Mindbender
1 Countryside protected by the state for the enjoyment of the public and preservation of wildlife, e.g. Dartmoor (8,4) 9 An old wool town of west central England noted for its sauce (9) 10 Shrub or small tree with violet, pink, or white blossoms (5)
Hill with a view of Bristol (6)
Trainer of four Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Paul Nicholls has stables here (8)
Young men before adulthood (6) 15 A pouch to cover the genitals worn on men’s breeches in the 15th +16th centuries (8) 17 Round buildings especially with domes (8) 18 Example of hurried, careless writing (6) 21 Originally an opponent of the French aristocrats in the revolution (8) 23 The lowest position attainable at school! 26 An actor in a crowd scene or a bye (5) 27 Cancer of blood forming tissues (9) 28 A ringworm infection between the toes mainly infecting sportsmen (8,4)
1 Of this time, at present (7)
2 Italian city in the Piedmont region (5)
3 No heart otherwise of this world (7)
4 Italian sparkling wine (4)
5 A roof supported by columns at regular intervals (8)
6 Part of a deceased, holy person's body (5)
7 Items that are used and enjoyed but only for a short time
8 Cheerfully indifferent 14 The best achievable or imaginable of its kind (8)
16 Of two items side by side and having the same distance continually between them (8) 17 _______ Stoke one of Somerset’s thankful villages (6)
19 Music produced by choirs (7) 20 Last month's new thankful village (spelt correctly) (7) 22 Most of Somerset’s is from Portishead to Porlock (5) 24 The speed of music (5) 25 A mongrel (4)
Clues in italics are cryptic
GARLIC BREAD CHICKEN BAKE
Curry favour with your loved one with these pastries
These are lovely, tasty little vegan pastries that are great for sharing dipped in your favourite sauce.
Gently fry all the ingredients (except the filo pastry) until softened (feel free to add a splash of water to help this). Cut each sheet of the filo pastry into four strips (do one sheet at a time as filo dries out very quickly if not kept covered). Put a tsp of the filling at the bottom, towards the corner, then fold up that corner to the straight edge opposite and repeat, moving up the strip and sealing the flap at the end with a little water. Gently fry them in a little olive oil until golden brown and serve with the dipping sauce.
(Makes 16 triangles)
For the pastry filling: 150g grated carrots
85g chopped onion
1 tablespoon (tbs) of your favourite curry paste
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp poppy seeds (optional)
100g chopped coriander
1tsp garam masala
Salt and pepper to taste
4 x sheets filo pastry
For the sauce:
Whisk together 1 x tbs soy sauce, 1 x tbs runny honey and 1tsp sesame oil
This chicken dish is deliciously easy to prepare
I love an easy one pot dish. This is so, so simple and quick and the perfect tasty dish to serve for supper.
Empty the can of chicken soup into an ovenproof dish, mix in all the other ingredients, minus the garlic bread. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180°C for twenty minutes. Then cut the garlic bread into one-inch squares and scatter them on the chicken dish, tucking them into the gaps so it’s completely covered. Bake uncovered for a further 20 mins, until bread has browned, and serve.
2 x chicken breasts, diced
1 x can cream of chicken soup
200g broccoli cut into small pieces
2tsps dried tarragon
2tbs fresh chopped parsley Zest and juice of one lemon Salt and pepper to taste
1 x readymade pizza garlic bread
A very sweet treat!
This is, after all, a food and drink column, and I’ve yet to do a drink. This recipe is so delicious that you may not want to share it!
Decant the rum into a litre jar or a large mixing bowl. Empty the toffees into the rum, stir well or shake the jar. Shake or stir intermittently over the next 24 hours for the most delicious, creamy, rich sweet drink ever!
You can decant most of it back into the rum bottle (and drink the excess) or divide it into smaller bottles. I ordered some 250ml bottles and gave SOME of them away as gifts!
1 x bottle of cheapest dark rum
2 x packs (276g) of hard wrapped butter toffees
Romance in the air? Maybe not for everyone –but you could make this supper for Valentine’s Day (or any other) to share with love.
Put your ❤ into this month’s recipes!
Somerset Farmers Markets –24 years of experience
WE have been organising monthly farmers markets since 1999 and so by now (on most days), we know exactly what we are doing and run eight monthly events providing regular sales opportunities for approximately 100 market members.
Somerset Farmers Markets provide a protected space for farmers, food and drink producers and crafters who grow, rear, brew, bake or create their products to sell directly to the customer without the “middleman” taking the lion’s share of the profit. They are from within the locality of the market to keep unnecessary food miles to a minimum.
As SFM Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation, our priority is to keep stall fees as low as possible; this helps enable small businesses to become more financially viable, build a face-toface customer base and be able to thrive, crucially important in these tricky times.
Many town councils such as Nailsea, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton and Frome have seen the benefit of getting involved and supporting their monthly markets via grant funding to enable the events to become large and vibrant community events with music, choirs, brass bands and community organisations getting involved.
We know people have less disposable income and it’s being used up on heating homes and filling cars and we understand and share the challenges. In fact, we have seen some of our members cease trading and others are hanging on by a fingernail, many are resisting price increases and taking the hit themselves to stay competitive and survive.
Consequently in 2023 we need your support more than ever to keep these small enterprises in business. How you choose to spend your money is a genuine “superpower” and a vote against industrial-size factory farming, poor animal welfare and nutritionally deficient ultra-processed food.By Louise Hall, Somerset Farmers Markets
EARLYspring (assuming the rain has stopped and the floods have subsided) is a great time to seek out edible plants with wonderfully fresh, aromatic flavours. Introduced by the Romans, but certainly used extensively throughout the Middle Ages as a garden pot herb and medicinal plant, is ground elder.
The first part of the Latin name Aegopodium means goat’s foot due to the shape of the leaves. The second part of the Latin name podagra means gout. Sufferers would even keep a bunch upon their person to alleviate the symptoms.
Sadly, it appears that it has not been found to have any medical benefits for the gout sufferer whatsoever.
Ground elder is a hairless medium growing perennial, with oval, broadly spear-shaped leaves and serrated edges. The leaves are reminiscent of elder shrub leaves, from which it gets its common name.
The flowers are many, white flattopped heads or umbels – the umbrella shape giving away its affiliation to the carrot family. It’s found from March through the summer months.
However, when the plant flowers, the leaves lose some of their herby flavour and gain a papery texture. At this time, they may even develop a laxative effect –maybe this helps with the symptoms of gout? You have been warned!
Please also be aware of the poisonous Dogs Mercury which to the untrained eye may look similar and is found in the same habitat at the same time of year.
Unfortunately, ground elder has now fallen out of favour as a pot herb but still hangs on in gardens much to the frustration of many a gardener due to its creeping habit and robust ability to withstand all efforts of eradication.
But whilst it can be steamed, topped with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper or made into a soup, it is as a fresh garnish for salads, new potatoes, pasta and fish where it really shines.
Adrian Boots is a Landscape Ecologist, Wild Food Forager and Adventure Activity provider. You can visit his website: www.gowildactivities.co.uk to learn more about wild food foraging and activities you can do with him on the Mendip Hills.
OVER recent years we’ve started growing more and more peas, not only for fresh use but also for drying. We grow two Swedish kinds for dried peas –Rosakrone, a medium-sized pea around 80cm high that is unusual in having pink flowers and pods borne in clusters –handy for picking! They all ripen more or less at the same time which also lends itself to drying.
The other we grow is Rättviksärt which is a very hardy taller climbing pea, with dark purple/blackish peas once dried. Interestingly, this pea was once used not just for soups but also ground into a flour for pancakes.
We’ve never tried it, but it has interesting parallels in Indian cuisine where several pulse flours are used in similar ways. More projects for the future!
These dried peas are appearing on our table more and more often as we enter the leanest part of the year. We like to make pea soup but over the years we’ve discovered that there are many other ways of using them.
One of our favourites is to make a sort of pea humous. I start by soaking the peas for a few hours or overnight, and then bringing them to the boil and simmering them until tender, letting the cooking water reduce and thicken towards the end.
The peas are left to cool, then drain from their cooking liquid (but without throwing the liquid away). The peas are pureed in a food processor along with plenty of lemon juice, grated garlic, salt, pepper, ground cumin, coriander and generous amounts of tahini – up to a quarter or so the volume of peas.
A little of the cooking liquid and olive oil is added until it is the right soft, velvety, spreadable consistency. This makes an excellent lunch with some flatbreads and salad.
CAFÉGorge has celebrated a wonderful decade in Cheddar Gorge by being named The Best Café in the South West.
The award is from Taste of the West, which has the patronage of King Charles. It promotes and supports fantastic local food and drink from this region, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
The judges said that Café Gorge had really worked hard on the ambience, the offering, the team and the facilities to offer a completely all-round ideal café, with fabulous, delicious food and wonderful staff.
Café manager, Holly Keane, said: “We are very proud to have been selected above so many fantastic businesses in our industry. It has been the hardest and most challenging past couple of years for us all, that makes this award even more special.
“It means everything to us here at Café Gorge and a great achievement to mark our first ten years at Cheddar Gorge. We are an independent family business with many years’ experience in the hospitality industry.
“At the heart of the Café Gorge is our family of three generations. We all work
happily here together with the support of a great team of colleagues. This makes the cafe feel really homely.”
Café Gorge is in the heart of Cheddar Gorge in a traditional granite stone building on the cliffs and beside the source of the beautiful River Yeo, with amazing views of the Lion Rock and the Gorge cliffs.
Their tranquil outside area is where you can enjoy bird watching or occasionally be joined by native goats! There is an easy access ramp for chairs, prams and cycles. Inside, Café Gorge is warm, contemporary and cosy. Everyone is welcome – hungry foodies, muddy walkers, refuelling cyclists, ramblers and discerning coffee drinkers.
On offer are lots of wonderful goodies, suppled by very special small local producers. The day starts with freshly cooked breakfast, followed by lunches and afternoon treats with a great selection of local farmhouse ciders, micro-brewery real ales and local fruit drink makers.
Café Gorge’s famous Cheddar pastries are hand-made and oven-baked every day. Probably the largest amount of calories you can find under one roof! Open every day…
Visit a country market for a welcome surprise
THE motto of the country market movement is “Cook, craft, grow” but that barely does justice to the extraordinary range of creative talent on show.
Somerset Country Markets have been selling homemade baked goods, preserves, garden-grown fruit and vegetables, plants and handmade crafts for many years.
Weekly markets take place in Glastonbury, Street, Somerton and Cheddar – there is also an affiliated market in Taunton – where visitors can buy a variety of produce – almost anything local and seasonal that can be produced in a domestic kitchen or garden.
The markets also offer a friendly place for people to socialise and enjoy teas and coffees and – of course – some delicious home baked cakes and biscuits.
Sadly, markets in Frome, Wincanton, Wells, Langport and Minehead have closed, partly due to Covid. But Somerset Country Markets – the local co-operative society which oversees their running – is keen to see them revived or for new ones to be established in other towns and communities.
Julie Hope, a member of the Cheddar market and secretary of Somerset Country Markets, said: “Every market is unique because all the makers and producers are doing something slightly different from each other which makes a visit so special.
“We have lots of younger members but would love to see more.”
Producers are co-operative members. Membership is open to anyone over the age of 16; the cost of joining is just 5p for a
Chew Country Market
CHEW Valley Country Market resumed after its Christmas break and is attracting a range of new producers.
It’s held in the lower Old School Room in Chew Magna every Friday morning, 9.30-11.30am, with a café as well as stalls.
Market manager, Hazel Wedlake,said: “Come rain or shine, we continue to supply local home-made bakes, cakes, meat pies and savouries, eggs, vegetables and a wide range of crafts.”
shareholding. Everything is sold co-operatively; producers receive payment at the end of every month for their sales, minus a small commission to cover running costs and insurance.
Julie added: “Many producers of homemade goods also appreciate that some shoppers are living on their own and offer individual portion sizes so that nothing need go to waste.”
SO MERSET COUNTRY MARKETS
Cheddar Mar ket – The Village Hall. Tuesday 10.00-11.30
Wessex Mar ket – The Unicorn Function Room, Somerton. Saturday 9.00-12.00
S tr eet M arket – United Reformed Church, Street. Thursday 9.00-12.00
Gl astonbur y Ma rket – Glastonbury Town Hall. Tuesday 9.30-12.30
T aunton S hop (Affiliated Market) – Bath Place, Taunton. Open Thur, Fri and Sat 9am-2pm.
No market near you? Why not set one up? Would you like to bring hand crafted/ home grown produce and be a part of a market? Call 01934 742234 for further details.
* Country Markets are a social enterprise co-operative society dedicated to homemade, high-quality goods.
Free workshop for food and drink businesses
THE latest in a series of events specifically designed for businesses in the food and drink sector takes place near Bridgwater on Thursday, February 9th, organised by Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset West and Taunton Council.
They follow a survey which showed that Somerset food and drink businesses are facing a number of challenges from concerns about food regulations and labelling to issues with training and supply chains.
At the “Meet the Expert” food and drink event at J25 Holiday Inn, businesses will have the opportunity to attend specialist workshops – Photography, Intellectual Property, Allergens and Food Labelling 2023 – between 10am and 1pm on a drop-in basis.
Also on offer will be technical, legal and procurement advice from environmental health and trading standards officers as well as a valuable chance to network with other businesses. Participants are asked to bring literature and marketing materials.
Places must be booked in advance via Eventbrite at: www.eventbrite.com/cc/meet-the-experts-event-1529759
WESTBURY SUB MENDIP
WITHAM FRIARY WOOKEY
WOOKEY HOLE WOOLAVINGTON
Priston New Year
Rotarians send water equipment to Ukraine
ROTARY clubs in Denmark have joined forces with the Westfield-based Water Survival Box UK charity to send vital water filters to Ukraine.
Three members of Rotary in Denmark clubs visited the charity’s base at the Parker Transport depot to help pack 400 filters ready to be sent by lorry to Lviv and then to be distributed where needed around the war-stricken country.
The Danish clubs were inspired to help WSB-UK – the humanitarian aid project run by the Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge – after founder and operations director Hugo Pike visited Denmark to give a presentation on its life-saving work around the world. The Danish clubs run Water Survival Box-Denmark.
Hugo and former district governor Peter Eigenbrouth became firm friends and the Danish clubs have continued to support WSBUK. Peter was joined at the depot for the packing operation by
Rotary in Denmark raised more than £11,000 to pay for 270 water filters supplied by the Safe Water Trust based in Cleadon, Tyneside, who donated a further 100. Rotarians here made up the balance.
Since March last year the charity has sent six consignments of vital aid worth more than £150,000 to Ukraine for families whose homes have been destroyed or who no longer have access to safe drinking water. The latest consignment was the seventh.
Hugo said: “The situation has now been made significantly worse as power and water installations have been singled out for destruction during the ongoing conflict.”
Peter, from the Han Herred club, added: “We have been working with the other clubs at home to raise the money. Water Survival Box is doing great work and we were very keen to support it and to visit to see it in action.”
For details, visit: www.watersurvivalbox.org
New safety signs
CHEW Stoke Church School has teamed up with the parish council and Bath and North East Somerset Council to design 20mph signs for the village.
The winning designs will be selected by the parish council at their next meeting. Rory and Issy are pictured with one suggestion, along with Martha, the school dog.Danish colleagues Erik Tornoe and Jan Brinck.
Wells Cathedral in photos
AMATEUR photographer, Rose Atkinson from Easton, has been awarded the Associateship (ARPS) of the Royal Photographic Society, after two years working on her project depicting Wells Cathedral.
The assessors said Rose’s work showed a strong sense of place, humanity and sensitive presentation. Rose has been an avid photographer for many years and is a member of Mid-Somerset Camera Club.
Signs of spring at guild
Perfect for ewe
A FLOCK of sheep and lambs has arrived at the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen gallery in Wells – thanks to guest maker of the month in February, Liz Mangle, with her wonderful “Ewenique” furniture featuring irresistible benches and footstools with characterful
faces and fleecy seats.
Liz started carving out her career more than 30 years ago with an apprenticeship in making rocking horses. One thing led to another and now she specialises in this furry furniture which is proving so popular.
The materials have integrity – locally sourced lime wood, British sheepskin and the occasional hand wrought cast iron curly horn. Liz also makes bespoke sheep to order, personalising items or using rare breeds’ fleece.
As well as a great place to rest feet or posterior, these companionable cuddly creatures are known to be confided in but maintain a discreet silence. Liz’s customers love their sheep!
Golden start to the year at Clevedon Salerooms
CLEVEDONSalerooms began the New Year in fine style on January 5th. The first threeweekly Interiors sale of 2023 had been promoted online throughout the festive period and many strong prices were in evidence. Chief amongst these were three rather different kinds of “gold”.
Aynsley “Harvest Gold” is an enduringly popular pattern of dinner and tea ware and a large consignment arrived courtesy of an online valuation. Competing online and commission bidders pushed the price to an impressive £1,100 (LOT 342).
Gold of a purer form came in the form of a 1980 double sovereign. Standard years generally sell in the £550-650 region at auction, but this particular vintage proved more sought after as the resulting £880 demonstrates.
Finally, a large gold nugget weighing some 25 grams was offered. Although it drew three strong commission bids, all were left disappointed as it sold online for £820 (LOT 24). The Watch section followed the jewellery and again proved popular with
£780 securing a 1944 WW2 military pilot’s Omega wristwatch and one bid less (£750) a more modern Omega Prestige watch.
Although in today’s hi-tech world it is tempting to regard postcards, stamps and books as redundant, it was reassuring to see strong bidding for all of these categories at the auction.
A good collection of mint stamps exceeded expectations to sell for over £2,700 across five lots with a top price of £780. A large collection of postcards was split into 11 lots and achieved a multiple-estimate £2,800 with a top price of £720. A consignment of Agatha Christie books also proved somewhat of a thriller as they sold for £650.
Overall the sale performed at exactly a third over expectations despite the challenging economic climate, which can be seen as a very strong result to kick-start the year.
The spring Specialist sale is also already building nicely, with further entries invited until early February. Consignments to date include a superb six-cylinder Nicole Freres musical box on original table stand (£4,000-6,000), an L. S. Lowry print “Britain at Play” (£2,000-3,000) and a diamond spray brooch (£2,0003,000).
A full roster of auctions for the year ahead
THIS year kicked off with a successful Select Interiors auction offering a curated selection of pictures, furniture, silver, ceramics and more. Interest was high in prints and paintings, furniture and silver with some strong results on the day.
Looking forward, we have the Classic Car auction on Saturday, March 11th, Jewellery and Watches on Wednesday, March 22nd and Automobilia on Thursday, April 13th.
Classic Car auctions continue to thrive with marquee viewings which are consistently well received both by buyers and local enthusiasts who revel in an opportunity to view the cars next to the Cheese & Grain in Frome.
Head of Motoring, Nick Wells, is actively sourcing classics to entice buyers for his March 11th auction. All the major marques will be represented such as Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Jaguar and more. He is also working on the forthcoming Automobilia auction. Mascots, signs, posters and motoring accessories are always popular and have a strong following at auction. Contact Nick to find out more about selling classic cars and automobilia at auction on 07920 500091.
Jewellery and Watches on March 22nd promises to be another showstopper. Susan Rumfitt, Head of Jewellery, commented: “Our December Fine Jewellery and Watches auction was a great success and we are looking forward to our next Fine auction in March.
“We have a beautiful collection of jewellery already consigned ranging from Georgian to Contemporary pieces, including a superb suite of aquamarine jewellery, a carved emerald ring and a beautiful diamond collar. We would be delighted to hear from you if you have any jewellery or watches that you would like to be included in our auction.”
A good starting point to selling items by auction is to attend a valuation day, details below. If the February dates don’t work for you, give us a call to arrange a convenient appointment time on 01373 462257.
MONDAY 6 AND TUESDAY 7 FEBRUARY
Silver and jewellery sales continue to do well at Killens
ATthe Mendip Auction Rooms, in spite of the current economic difficulties, sales are still seeing strong support with good demand seen from within the room and over the internet.
Silver and jewellery attracts buyers from across the country and the bimonthly sales staged by Killens are becoming a firm fixture in the auction calendar. At their recent sales, a good entry attracted additional interest.
A very attractive Edwardian aquamarine, pearl and diamond pendant/necklace achieved £2800 with many rings selling for between £500 and £2000 with a diamond nine stone cluster ring selling for £1600. Gold charm bracelets are always popular and recent sales have been at levels of between £1000 and £1500.
At Killens, their expert valuers value
silver, gold and jewellery almost on a daily basis and it is possible to call in to the auction rooms for a valuation on a drop-in basis – no appointment is needed. If you are looking to sell, they can explain the selling process.
Killens are staging an increased number of online timed auctions with specialist sections. One sale is scheduled monthly in addition to the regular sales staged at the auction rooms. In February, a sale of Optical, Audio and Telecommunications items is being staged between February 16th and 26th so do go online and have a look.
Are you looking to sell
items? Valuations can be undertaken on a drop-in basis at the auction rooms between 10am and 3pm each weekday. Alternatively, valuers are able to conduct free home visits. They can also arrange house clearances and undertake probate valuations.
MENDIP TIMES EVENTS
A’wassailing we will go
Day trips inspires memories
Some miners were meeting up for the first time for more than 40 years, including Don Bull who worked at Braysdon Colliery; the trust says he is probably one of the few miners still alive who worked there as the mine closed at the end of the 1950s. The next trip is in May to Weymouth with a cream tea on the way home.
Restoration reveals stunning artwork
SOMERSETWildlife Trust has launched its new Challenge Events Calendar for 2023 — which, for the first time, includes the action-packed Mud Master challenge!
The events give the public the chance to try something new or push themselves to new limits, while raising funds for the trust.
There are so many events to choose from and lots of free charity places available! The events include:
March 26th The Big Cheese: a 15-mile, off-road, hilly run through their Mendip Nature Reserves.
April 2nd Mud Master: a 5k, 10k, or the ultimate 20k muddy obstacle course in Weston-super-Mare.
May 21st The Somerset 100: a 35 mile, 100k, or 100 mile road cycle on the Somerset Levels.
June 24th The Exmoor Perambulation: a 15 or 30 mile, selfnavigated, circular walk through Exmoor National Park.
June 24th Ultra Marathon: run the 30 mile ultra marathon distance of the Exmoor Perambulation.
June 25th Man vs. Moor: Exmoor’s toughest challenge! 5k, 10k, or the ultimate 10 mile run, swim, and tunnel through remote parts of Exmoor.
September 23rd Abseil for Wildlife: 130ft drop.
THE restoration project at St Laurence Church in East Harptree has revealed this stunning medieval artwork hidden under years of paint.
The £800,000 Project Newton, named after the memorial in the church porch, has been a huge undertaking and it’s hoped the church will reopen in March.
So far work to the tower and hunky punks (stone carvings) and other stonework and roof work is complete as is work to the stained glass and wall paintings. The church bells are due to be reinstalled this month, as well as a new glass door into the nave. Inside, new interpretation areas are taking shape involving the village school and Bristol Museum.
There’s a new path and wall at the entrance to the churchyard and a new external door on the south porch. East Harptree Environment Group have been planting and installing bird and bat boxes.
The project has not been without its problems, particularly the discovery of medieval graves and skeletons outside the south porch.
A spokesman said: “The engagement and support of our local community has been fantastic. The church is in a so much better state. We hope the next major works on the church will not be needed for another 100 years.”
The overall project is due to complete in 2025.RETIRED miners, partners and widows enjoyed a coach trip to Axbridge and Brent Knoll organised by the Somerset Miners Welfare Trust.
North Somerset Holiday Show returns
IT'Stime to start planning your dream holiday, chat with our specialists, and enjoy the experience of exploring the globe. Come and plan your next holiday destination at Global Independent Travel's Holiday Show on Sunday, March 26th.
The event will take place at Doubletree by Hilton Cadbury House in Congresbury with 20 big name travel companies represented. The Holiday Show is a unique opportunity for people in North Somerset and beyond to meet directly with travel industry experts.
From cruises to escorted tours there will be an array of specialist travel companies for you to meet and discuss travel plans with. Browse the stands and pick up brochures from the likes of Sandals, Wendy Wu, Newmarket Holidays, Ambassador Cruise, Classic Collection, Ikos Resorts, Avalon Waterways, Titan and many more.
The public event is free to enter and will run from 11am3pm. Discover first-hand the latest travel trends, new destinations and products on offer. There will also be exclusive travel discounts, presentations, low deposits, special promotions, a raffle and prizes.
Lisa Weakley, Managing Director of Global Independent
Travel, said: “We are looking forward to meeting some new faces and maybe ticking a destination or two off their bucket list! Even the most discerning traveller should find some holiday inspiration.”
The Holiday Show is free to enter but registration is advised.
Consumer rights –the modern law
HEREis a summary of your remedies under The Consumer Rights Act 2015 which became law on October 1st, 2015 and was introduced to simplify, strengthen and modernise the law, giving you clearer shopping rights.
Under the Consumer Rights Act all products must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. The rules also include digital content in this definition. So all products – whether physical or digital – must meet the following standards:
l Satisfactory quality. Goods shouldn't be faulty or damaged when you receive them. You should ask what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory for the goods in question. For example, bargain-bucket products won’t be held to as high standards as luxury goods.
l Fit for purpose. The goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.
l As described. The goods supplied must match any description given to you, or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase.
If what you’ve bought doesn’t satisfy any one of the three criteria outlined above, you have a claim against the retailer. What you can claim depends on how much time has passed since you made the purchase. You have a legal right to reject goods that are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described and get a full refund. This right is limited to 30 days
from the date you buy your product. After 30 days, you will not be legally entitled to a full refund if your item develops a fault, although some sellers may offer you an extended refund period.
If you are outside the 30-day right to reject, you have to give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace any goods or digital content which are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described. You can state your preference, but the retailer can normally choose whichever would be cheapest or easier for it to do.
If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can then claim a refund or a price reduction if you wish to keep the product. You're entitled to a full or partial refund instead of a repair or replacement if any of the following are true:
l the cost of the repair or replacement is disproportionate to the value of the goods or digital content
l a repair or replacement is impossible l a repair or replacement would cause you significant inconvenience l the repair would take an unreasonably long amount of time.
If a repair or replacement is not possible, or the attempt at repair fails, or the first replacement also turns out to be defective, you have a further right to receive a refund of up to 100% of the price you paid, or to reject the goods for a full refund.
If you don't want a refund and still want your product repaired or replaced, you have the right to request that the retailer
makes further attempts at a repair or replacement.
If you discover the fault within the first six months after buying the product, it is presumed to have been there since the time of purchase – unless the retailer can prove otherwise. During this time, it's up to the retailer to prove that the fault wasn't there when you bought it – it's not up to you to prove that it was.
If a fault develops after the first six months, the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time of delivery. In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.
If you cannot achieve a satisfactory remedy with the retailer you could go to court but would be wise to take legal advice before you do so.EDWARD LYONS
Lively start to 2023
MEMBERSof Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce got the ball rolling in 2023 with a skittling get together at the Stoke Inn where Mark Gill (front middle) narrowly came out on top after an exciting finale with Mark Thompson.
Even informal meetings like this one always throw up useful information and this time that included new regulations from the Revenue service and news about significant rises in the cost of leasing computer software which are bound to contribute to rising prices.
Before the skittles, there was a brief discussion about housing supply, one of the longest standing issues facing the Chew Valley and something that will be central in the creation of a new local plan and economic strategy for Bath and North East Somerset.
There was broad consensus that it is right that more houses are built in the Valley, which will benefit businesses, providing homes for staff and customers alike.
Very large developments would not be suitable for the area, but people thought it was reasonable for modest numbers of new houses to be built in villages, especially where there was an opportunity to infill between existing properties.
Helping each other through difficult times
IF I were an astrologer, I would probably be fully occupied trying to sort out my charts for the coming year just now and I suspect it would be quite a task. Talk about chaos. In business, where projections are a key part of charting the course ahead for the coming year or more, it’s really difficult at the moment for many businesses to work out which way is up!
With costs rising at an eye-watering rate, supply chains becoming increasingly vulnerable and customers feeling less than sure about their own fortunes and spending power in the times ahead, how do small business owners work out which way to direct their efforts for the optimum results?
Well, it won’t come as a shock, I suspect, to realise that there isn’t a magic wand lying around to direct us. This is something we shall all have to work out for ourselves. However, it isn’t necessarily something we have to do alone.
I believe, more than ever, that this is a time when we need to pull together. A bit of the old wartime spirit if you like. Every small assistance we give to fellow small businesses will be beneficial and can rebound positively on us.
I know I have already talked about buying locally and supporting our local producers and shops and I have also proven to my own satisfaction that this is
not always more expensive than buying in bigger stores or online. This may be hard to believe, but it’s true.
It also means there is often a great deal less waste and a much smaller carbon footprint to boot. (If you’re fortunate, boots will be all that’s required to bring some local produce to market – terrible pun that, I apologise).
Talking to someone who has recently started a new business, I was impressed to learn that they were sharing space and equipment with someone who was moving towards the end of their career and slowing down.
The new business owner was able to keep their costs to a minimum and didn’t need a hefty loan right at the start of things, while the more mature person is now earning some rental from their workspace. That’s most definitely a win/win scenario – my absolute favourite!
My third thought about this (three thoughts means it’s time for a lie down in a darkened room for me!) is that some of us can still reduce our waste. There is no doubt that we are all making substantial efforts to reduce unnecessary consumption, but on occasion, things of use do slip through the net.
It’s been interesting trying to avoid this personally. Recently when we moved house, for instance, we filled a skip with things that we couldn’t find an alternative
home for. A neighbour helped us out by putting pictures of it on the village Facebook page and it was virtually emptied twice.
It is brilliant to know that so many items which could have gone to waste are now enjoying a new lease of life. Sharing our resources can be beneficial to the environment and to each other. What have we got to lose when money is tight and we have the capacity to offer a helping hand here or there.
I'm not for one moment suggesting that these thoughts can solve all our business or other problems for that matter. I’m simply recommending adopting the approach made famous by Dave Brailsford, the British cycling coach, who encouraged the team to make marginal gains.
If each of us can make small, positive changes, the overall effect to our local economy could be truly significant.
So whatever we can share or re-use and re-purpose, whatever we can find locally to help us spend our money within the local economy and whatever we can share, whether it’s goods or experience (check out the Wells Coffee and Croissant morning for the latter) could be helpful in so many ways in the turbulent times ahead.
I wish you well …Jane Bowe Probusiness
l Providing travel experiences tailored to your needs l Personal service is paramount l Deal with me personally at all times not a service centre or online l Give me the planning problem –don’t spend hours doing it yourself
l Package Holidays, Flight Only, Cruises and Groups all catered for I can provide everything from trekking trips in the Andes to typical low-cost package holidays to Europe, along with travel extras such as airport parking and transfers and I have access to a huge range of hotel providers across the world.
Kingfisher calls it a day
KINGFISHER,the windows, doors and conservatories specialists, have decided to close down, despite having a healthy order book – because they can’t find staff to recruit.
John Fisher, now 87, started the company in 1986, having been sickened by the hard sell tactics of the national company he had worked for.
From humble beginnings with daughter Angie and youngest son Robert, Kingfisher grew and at various times over the following 37 years, no fewer than 13 family members (including Angie’s husband) have been employed and at its height they employed a force of 18.
John started in a Nissen Hut in his mother’s orchard at Sand, moved to Badgworh Barns and then the former Monkeys play area at Tweentown in Cheddar before buying space at Millbatch Farm, in East Brent.
The company will complete its current orders before closing at the end of March. Existing customers are covered by their ten-year guarantee.
John said: “Someone once said to me there wasn’t a road in Cheddar where they hadn’t seen a Kingfisher sign at some point. We made sure we looked after people’s houses as our own. We’ve had thousands of customers.”
Angie said despite months of advertising, they could not recruit fitters. Her husband, Peter, who is a director of the company, came out of retirement to help out.
She said: “It’s been a very hard decision, but we wanted to end on a high. We could have sold it but didn’t want someone then destroying our reputation.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their support and especially their friendship over the years.”
The importance of reviewing your will
A WILLis never high on our list of priorities, after all none of us want to dwell on what would happen if we weren’t around – but if the last few years have shown us anything it’s that life can certainly be unpredictable.
An out of date Will can often cause more problems than not having a Will. So, in order to protect your loved ones, it is vital that you regularly review your Will (the suggestion is every five years), however the following reasons should prompt you to revise your Will.
You had a family
If you have children, it is important to review your Will to ensure that it makes provision for your children in the event of your death.
Your financial circumstances have changed
If your financial circumstances have improved, this could alter the Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability of your estate.
You have married/divorced Marriage automatically revokes your Will
and therefore it is essential to update your Will as a newly wed. Although divorce only revokes the clauses relating to your ex-spouse, you should review your Will to ensure that it is still valid to prevent your estate being administered under the
laws of intestacy.
You have moved in with your partner
Couples choosing to live together are much more vulnerable, as they don’t have any of the protections offered by law to married couples. If you move into your partner’s house, you may have no right to stay if they die. Reviewing your Will to ensure that it makes provision for your partner in the event of your death is important.
Changes in the law
Tax legislation is constantly changing and therefore it is important to review your Will in line with this.
An executor or beneficiary has died
If an executor or beneficiary named in your Will has died, it is important to ensure that your Will provides for a replacement executor to act or a substitute beneficiary to inherit.
So, if your circumstances have changed and you want to ensure that your Will looks after your loved ones after you have gone, contact us.
Binegar goes bonkers –again
A FANCY dress charity wheelbarrow race around Binegar has raised £200 for the Somer Valley Foodbank.
Six teams – who were joined by a number of runners – took part in the Binegar Bonkers Wheelbarrow Race around the village on Boxing Day, which began and ended at the Horse and Jockey pub.
Organisers say there’ll be another race next Christmas and would welcome entries from teams from surrounding villages and communities.
l See Community page 55.
Concert helps Freewheelers
30 years of SWALLOW
Established in 1993 by people with learning disabilities and a group of supporters, the charity's founders worked tirelessly to develop a new way of meeting people's needs as an alternative to day centres and residential homes.
Today they employ over 60 staff and support 150 people to live independent, fulfilled lives, teaching them vital skills such as cooking, cleaning and horticulture.
Art classes in aid of hospice
Artist David Graham, who sells his own watercolours to raise money for the charity, is inviting people to book onto the course to learn the basic technical skills or to encourage those with some painting experience.
David took up painting in retirement, building on drawing skills from his training as an engineer, before a varied career in industry, education and business. He sells his art in aid of children’s charities, raising more than £15,000 to date. Since 2021 he has fundraised for CHSW and all profits from the workshop will go direct to the charity.
The eight-week course will run from Wednesday, March 8th. The total cost is £120 (£15 per session), with £100 per person donated directly to CHSW to help the charity support families in need across the South West.
They run football, art, drama and youth groups as well as the super SWALLOW Choir.
Dan Norris said: “Over the years, I have seen this charity go from strength to strength. I visited as the local MP, and it is fantastic now to visit as Mayor on such a positive occasion.
“The service SWALLOW provide for the people of Midsomer Norton and Radstock, and the surrounding areas, is really valuable. Happy 30th Birthday! And here's to the next decades too!"
SWALLOW Chief Executive, Beverley Craney, welcomed the mayor at the charity’s Radstock Community Café. The charity will be launching a special appeal during the year to raise funds.
Green energy fund
CARPETS, curtains and air dryers are a few of the items that Avalon Community Energy have funded for Mendip residents in rented property through 2022.
Its unique Community Benefit Fund supports low-income households in rented property through direct referrals for items that can help improve home energy efficiency. It says that 15 households were assisted last year from a pot of £3,000 sourced from member donations and surplus profits from ACE’s community solar installations.
Madeline Milnes, who runs the Community Benefit Fund, said: “The Community Benefit Fund has only just started to meet a vast need in Mendip, which cannot easily be addressed by other means. We’d love to be able to do much more for people who are on low incomes, in rented accommodation and are concerned and fearful about rising energy costs.”
Service celebrates 40 years
From small beginnings in the early 1980s, with meetings in a local pub to start the organisation, it now offers its services to people in Frome, Street, Bath, Bristol and surrounding areas.
It began when mainly volunteer counsellors started responding to the growing needs of local people for affordable, accessible, open-ended counselling to address a wide range of difficulties.
The charity offers a number of accredited counsellor training courses, with students and trainees coming from all walks of life.
Moving recently to new, larger premises in the centre of Frome has enabled the charity to bring everything together under one roof for the first time and also enables people with limited mobility to access the service and training more easily.
Jane Bennett, who has worked with the charity as administrator and training co-ordinator for the past nine years, said: “I am delighted to be based in the new premises, which offers more space for both counselling and counsellor training, particularly as the demand for both has noticeably increased in recent years.”
The charity says it is enormously grateful for the support it has received from the local community over the years, which has enabled it to offer counselling to people on low incomes.
To mark the 40th anniversary a range of events will be held throughout the year. On Saturday, March 25th, there will be a music event at 23, Bath Street, Frome, to raise awareness and funds for the Youth Space counselling service for 15-18-yearolds living in Frome and surrounding areas.
The Wessex archives show the positive outcomes for local people over many years including one local man who said “…the counselling service saved my life, my marriage and my family. I will always be grateful for the fantastic job counsellors do.
“I am convinced that I would not be around today if I hadn’t taken that very difficult decision to swallow my pride and seek help.”
Details: email@example.com 01373 453355
Hotel supports WHY . . .
THEBest Western Centurion Hotel in Midsomer Norton handed over a cheque for £1,611 to local cancer counselling charity, We Hear You (WHY), as the hotel’s chosen charity partner.
Health club manager, Jolyon Burgess, also ran the Bath Half Marathon for the charity in October.
Details: 01373 455255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
. . . as does Nick
Tickets cost £15 and three bands have generously agreed to play free of charge, Dogs Play Dead, The Lost Trades and Billy in the Lowground.
Jo hitches a carnival ride
FARMER Jo Creed from Westbury-sub-Mendip has raised £750 in sponsorship for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance after taking part in last November’s Somerset carnivals.
Various clubs combined to take the Jubilation Pageant cart to London last June for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. On its return, Griffens Carnival Club were asked to present it on the main carnival circuit and Jo was asked to join them.
Jo said: “I would like to thank everyone who sponsored me and also the Griffens Carnival Club for inviting me to join them for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Also my partner Sean for making sure I got to the carnivals on time.” Sean is a life member of the club.
Jo took part in the nine carnivals, plus Midsomer Norton and Exeter. She’s pictured no.5 with Sam Smith no. 7 from the air ambulance with members of Griffens Carnival Club.
THE RNLI Winscombe & District Branch, which covers the Mendip and Cheddar Valley area from Banwell and Winscombe in the west across to Shepton Mallet, Glastonbury & Street in the east, raised more than £1,000 with a bucket collection at Tesco in Shepton Mallet.
Unique service expands
PEOPLEFirst, a local selfadvocacy charity that supports adults with learning disabilities, is to host a fundraiser event at The Royal Hotel in Weston-super-Mare on Saturday, February 18th, featuring The Lipinski Band.
The charity, based in Weston-super-Mare, has been supporting local adults with a learning disability, difficulty or autism for over 32 years. It also provides a vital mental health and wellbeing service to its members.
Chief Executive, Michelle Burnett said: “People First supports individuals with learning disabilities to speak up for themselves, empowering them to be in control of their own lives now and in the future. We are a unique service in the area – and our work relies on funding.”
This year the charity is expanding its operations by launching a Young People Advocacy Service, aimed specifically at those aged 16 to 25 years.
Air ambulance fundraisers
Body art festival returns in style
ALIEN Worlds was the theme of the Glastonbury Body Art Festival, held in Glastonbury Town Hall.
Under the theme Alien Worlds, artists and models spent hours preparing for the evening catwalk show in aid of the Children’s World charity, based in the town.
DORSET and Somerset Air Ambulance has announced that registration is now open for this year’s Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge, which takes place on Sunday, April 23rd.
This ever-popular event is not designed as a race and involves cycling through some of Dorset and Somerset’s most beautiful countryside.
As ever, there are 600 places and two routes available; a 55mile route which starts at Watchet Harbour at 10.30am and finishes in the Dorset seaside resort of West Bay and a shorter 11-mile route, which starts at the Royal Oak public house in Drimpton at 2pm, which also finishes in West Bay.
Participants can enter as an individual or as a team and the charity is asking anyone who is fortunate enough to gain a place, to raise a minimum of £50 in sponsorship. Entrance fees are: Adults (£35); U-16s (£15).
The Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge is the first of three events being organised by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance during 2023. An ultra-cycling challenge with three different distances is planned for June and the 5K Twilight Shift will once again be held during September.
Waiting for the catwalk to begin
Santas plunge into their latest fundraising adventure
VOBSTER Quay welcomed almost 100 hardy scuba divers, who braved the snow and ice, to take part in a mass sponsored scuba dive which raised £3,000 for the RNLI and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance.
Since 2007 the event has raised well over £40,000 for charity, attracting divers from across the country.
Why this little bird gives us a reason to be cheerfulBy CHRIS SPERRING MBE
I’M writing this in the utter depths of January; the rain is pouring down outside and although it’s the middle of the day it may as well be dusk. But, amongst this gloom, there’s a small brown bird flittering around the garden that gives me the biggest grin and warms me inside – not because of what the bird is doing, but just because that bird is there.
We conservationists do doom and gloom very well. We’re always telling you that we are losing this and losing that. Sometimes I think we do it too much, to a point where people just switch off.
So have a bit of this folks, a real reason to be upbeat –because this bird, I’m convinced, has a knock-on effect.
“When I was a lad” (imagine a Yorkshire accent) this bird was far more numerous than it is today. On farmland and in suburban gardens it would have played host to the cuckoo. Not surprising then that over the years cuckoos have also declined, together with this host.
The bird I’m talking about is none other than the dunnock, formerly called the hedge sparrow, but to which it does not share any relationship whatsoever. Indeed, dunnocks are members of a group of birds called the accentors which are found worldwide.
It’s interesting that the dunnock is the only lowland accentor; all others in the group are mountain birds.
Looking back into my garden, that lone dunnock has been joined by two more; they are sculking around in the undergrowth searching out insects – classic behaviour. But it’s not just my own garden where I’ve noticed more dunnocks recently.
I’ve also seen them whilst visiting the many farms where I carry out owl advisory visits so it seems fair to conclude that dunnocks have become more a lot more obvious, at least in this area.
But I do need to be a bit careful here, as none of my observations are based around any science, just that pure oldfashioned gut feeling, when you see that something seems to be declining or increasing, based purely on sightings.
Certainly, in my garden, the dunnock had declined to the point where it was absent during the last two breeding seasons, so these new observations are real, and a boost. Some good news that deserves to be shared.
I wonder if anyone else has noticed more dunnocks in recent months? It would be great to hear from you if you have, or, indeed, if you disagree.
Please do not forget, for those of us blessed with gardens
The dunnock can be an uplifting sign that spring is on its way
and farmland, that dunnock can be a very early breeder and, as its old name suggests, it not only feeds around the edge of woodland or scrubland and hedgerows, but also nests there as well.
In some more sheltered areas just recently, I’ve heard dunnocks singing already and, on one farm, I saw dunnocks chasing each other around, as a form of pre breeding activity. Dunnocks build a classic, small, cup-shaped nest of twigs lined with moss deep within the thickest part of the hedge, quite often low to the ground.
Remember that if the weather remains mild they may begin breeding as early as February; around the same time as blackbirds and robins. If you’re carrying out hedge or scrub management over this period, please check first that no birds are nesting.
Successful young productivity is essential to keeping the good news coming, and boy, do we need good news.
Dunnocks not only feed on insects but can and do take seeds from bird feeders, although they are normally the bird that flits around on the ground clearing up what the other birds spill.
Finally, as the days become longer, listen out for other birds warming up and practicing their songs ready for spring as it creeps ever closer. Keep smiling. . .
If you wish to contact me it’s Chris.Sperring@btinternet.com call 07799 413918, or message me via my Facebook Walks and Talks page @ChrisSperringwildlife
A winter wander through the wetland
IMMERSEyourself in the wonder of the wetland reserve at Steart on the River Parrett and the Severn Estuary in Bridgwater Bay where the needs of nature and man sit comfortably together. The dry paths and walkways wind through this flat area of channels, creeks and ponds, reeds and marsh to give you a chance to see the changing bird life. There are big skies and allround views. It is an invigorating winter experience. In the words of the poem “…take time to stand and stare”.
I have followed the shorter circle in the reserve but you can add to it yourself by taking side paths – one of these could add another 2.8 miles. The reserve is accessible for buggies and bikes. The good news is that dogs, kept under control, are welcomed and there is even a dog swimming area!
I was fortunate enough to see murmurations of lapwings and starlings patterning the sky above and a sprinkling of oyster catchers, some herons, swans, egrets, and a snipe foraging in the marshes. There is plenty more to see depending on the season. Short-eared owls have been active there recently. So be sure to take your binoculars. One of the most exciting times to visit is at high tide, particularly a very high tide when the saltmarsh floods.
The area is quite exposed to the elements so go well clad. There is a welcoming pub at Combwich a few minutes’ walk off this circle. It’s not a bad idea to take a hot drink and a snack as there is no café en-route, but there are benches.
PARK: To get there, leave the M5 at J23, head west on A39 past Cannington and Combwich and follow signs. Park
in the main car park of the WWT (Wetland and Wildlife Trust) which runs the reserve (with toilets). If full, there is an overflow car park further up the road towards Steart hamlet. If you can’t get in there, then the reserve can be accessed on foot in a few minutes from nearby Combwich which you may want to visit anyway to go to the pub.
START: This area has changed over the last few years since work was undertaken to breach the River Parrett alongside the reserve and this allowed water to penetrate and create valuable saltmarshes and more wet areas for the wildlife. It also helped to prevent flooding of villages inland. New plants and animals have begun to colonise the reserve. There are plenty of leaflets in the reserve to give you much greater information about the development and benefits of this wetland area.
From the car park, cross the road and at the signpost turn right in the direction of Otterhampton and simply follow this track, ignoring side paths. It parallels the road for a short way and then turns away and becomes more interesting.
Here on the Stockland Marsh, there is both freshwater and saltwater
habitats offering the chance to see a wonderful variety of bird and plant life at all seasons.
Further on reach a viewing platform over the marsh with bird identification panels. Just carry on now until you go through a gate and reach a junction with the River Parrett Trail which at this point follows the England Coast Path.
2. ENGLAND COAST PATH
This would be where you join this circle if you come in from Combwich village which is a short hop to the right and ideal if you want refreshment at the Anchor Inn.
But we now go left following the River Parrett on the right. Soon get closer to the Parrett and start to get views across to Brent Knoll and the Mendip ridge.
Reach a gate ahead.
For a long extra walk you could continue through the gate along a path to where the Parrett has been breached. It is a nothrough route so you have to return here. (1.4 miles each way). However, when you get there you can’t see much.
For our main route, turn left away from the estuary on the main track. Notice the high grass bank on the right which
OS Explorer 140 Quantock Hills & Bridgwater, grid ref: 260 453. Postcode TA5 TPU. Distance: 3 plus miles, about 1-3 hours walk allowing time for bird watching
contains the saltmarsh. Reach the Parrett Hide.
4. PARRETT HIDE
Like others in the reserve, this is a
comfortable and sheltered refuge from which to take time to bird watch. Continue on and reach a signpost.
5. MENDIP HIDE
One way is to go on to the Mendip Hide which is visible ahead. This gives a great vantage point over the main saltmarsh. From Mendip Hide take the higher path along and then drop down and join the lower route which leads back to the parking area.
6. QUANTOCK HIDE
Or, by turning down left at the signpost, you go further into the reserve to the Quantock Hide. You can return here or simply stay on the path at the hide and continue to the car park.
West Countryman’s diary
JANUARY began with some of the wettest weather we have seen in a while. Chew Valley Lake is certainly well on the way to capacity, if it’s not there already. A recent trip onto the moors around Bridgwater revealed the River Parrett just below the extra height that was added as part of the flood defences in 2014.
Again we are being reminded that winters will become wetter and warmer whilst summers may well be hotter and dryer. As with all things, only time will reveal the true answer.
Back in 1963, 60 years back now, we were at the start of one of the hardest winters on record. Freezing conditions and snow drifts that lasted until the end of March tended to knock the “shine” off snow, even for a ten-year-old boy!
It started snowing on Boxing Day ’62. I remember being in the top cowshed at home, carrying out my duties of filling the cow cake bowl, which was given to each animal to keep it quiet and contented during milking.
There were no doors on the building, so it was easy to look out at the wonder of snow falling in anticipation of something like a moderate covering. How my expectations were to be exceeded!
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions followed and temperatures plummeted. Life became a matter of survival for humans and animals alike. Thankfully all the dairy cattle were confined to the sheds, as was the practice of the day. Sufficient feed stock was already laid in for the winter and close at hand, so no extra rationing was required.
Beef cattle, however, were still in the fields and required daily feeding with extra rations as no grass was available. Ice had to be broken on drinking troughs on a regular basis and fires lit around the water pipes that fed them.
The astute amongst you will realise that blue plastic pipe, so common these days, was not in use then. It was only galvanised steel and that wasn’t helped by the fires being constantly lit around them. Even the tractors wore “overcoats” of heavy hessian sacks to keep out the cold as they sheltered in the stone building by night.
What about us humans though? Well, it has to be remembered that central heating was something that other people had. The only heating in our house was the kitchen Rayburn, a solid fuel range that provided heat, cooking and hot water. This was kept in 24 hours a day with the help of coal and wood.
A large kettle of water was kept on the hot plate bubbling away, spitting out small drops of water which would then scurry about like some demented dancer before evaporating and leaving only a small blob of lime.
This was accompanied by the comforting sound of the kettle lid lifting under the steam and clanking back down again once the pressure was released. Now I can imagine the young James Watt sitting and watching his mother’s kettle doing the same before he realised the power of steam!
With all this snow, the days also became a winter wonderland in the woods and fields. Another plus was the village school had to shut . . . YES! Although there were small jobs to be done, there was still time to take advantage of the conditions and in one outdoor loft I found a toboggan that had been made by my uncle Dennis.
I can remember it now – a wooden structure painted blue with a broad white arrow down the centre. It had low runners and was proudly named “The Tickenham Torpedo”. Oh, and didn’t it go! Unfortunately, being so low I would be covered in snow and soaking wet by the time I got to the bottom of the field.
The famous five of me, Bob McEwen Smith, his two sisters, Elizabeth and Elaine, watched over by Sweep the dog, had hours of fun. We even progressed to a sheet of tin about six feet long and two feet wide.
Bent up in a curve at the end they were supersonic on the frozen surface of the snow and the only way to stop them was to roll off and let the hedgerow do the arrestor work. How we weren’t injured is a miracle, but we were young, wild-headed and unafraid.
Whilst we spent our days in the winter landscape others had to earn a living. Another of my uncles is Len Tavener, who made a guest appearance as one of the cast in my version of “Last of the Summer Wine” when Bob, Len and myself paid a nostalgic visit to the fields, hedgerows and woods of Hales Farm a while back.
He walked to work every day from the farm to Ashton Gate, Bristol, where he was serving his agricultural mechanics apprenticeship. He recalls clearing snow with a tractor from around the stands and car parks of Bristol City Football Club.
Meanwhile a mate of his was sent to Mendip with another tractor shovel to clear roads and tracks for the council. On his way back at night he would come in home for a hot brew. In return he cleared the farmyard of snow, piling it up in a huge heap. That heap was still there at Easter!
Some people of my age have wondered if anyone these days could manage the conditions we did back then? My answer is yes, they could. Resilience is a wonderful thing and cometh the need then cometh the people!
Such an example of need and response is shown here with East Harptree farmer Jon King dropping a dung spreader into the entrance at Stockhill Forest to prevent access for another illegal rave. An improved barrier will be installed in time, but such prompt action saved the day.
Roll on spring!
Sustainable gardening for the future
AFTER the freeze before Christmas, the drought and extreme temperatures last summer, not to mention the recent incessant rain, we must all be aware that climate change has become part of our lives that we must learn to live with, and adapt to, rather like Covid.
Sadly, our amazing scientists cannot quickly create a vaccine to solve this situation. So how is it going to affect us as gardeners, and what should we be doing about it now?
A rise in average temperatures will have advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side we may be able to grow a wider range of ornamental plants, although a sudden freeze, as we had preChristmas, is bound to catch us out occasionally.
We may be able to grow a wider range of edibles too, perhaps aubergines and peppers outdoors, or even okra. From the commercial grower’s point of view, a longer growing season will enable them to compete better with overseas growers, which has the added benefit of less new pests and diseases being imported.
Our day length is very much a controlling factor in plant growth but this can be rectified by artificial lighting; however this involves electricity, and we all know about the cost of that.
On the downside, a longer growing season will mean our lawns will keep growing for longer, so more mowing, but that means using more fossil fuels, unless you have a battery-operated mower.
Recent research has seen the development of batteries which use lignin from wood, or sea water, both involving less mining of the precious metals currently required. Robot mowers are becoming very popular, even in large gardens. They recycle the clippings into the lawn, which is returning nitrogen and other nutrients, thus less feeding is required.
The fact that our garden weeds will benefit from a longer growing season is not such good news, especially as the availability of herbicides to control them is becoming more limited. The relative newcomers of acetic acid and pelargonic acid are effective on small weeds, if applied in warm conditions, but do not effectively kill the root system of perennials weeds.
Pests and diseases may all benefit from a change in our climate. We have already seen huge rises in the incidence of the box bush caterpillar, rosemary beetle and fuchsia gall mite, with devastating results.
With less effective control measures it is predicted that some plants may become less popular, and this is already being seen in the industry. Ornamental cherries and crab apples are less popular due to the diseases associated with them and even roses may follow this trend as fungal black spot becomes less controllable.
Our plant geneticists are doing sterling work breeding commercial edible crops resistant to a range of pests and diseases, thus dramatically reducing the application and cost of pesticides.
Biological control has been embraced by the industry for many years and home gardeners can now benefit by using a range of “good bugs” to help control the “bad bugs” especially in greenhouses and poly tunnels.
As I write, heavy rain is falling, prompting me to comment on how our garden landscapes may need to change. Larger gardens should use ponds to take rainwater from roofs, which could then be used for watering when dry conditions prevail and are good for wildlife.
It is vital to keep the soil in good condition to enable it to drain through excessive rain, but also hold moisture in the summer months. To improve our soil structure, we need to be constantly adding organic matter.
This breaks down to humus, which encourages the fine clay particles to aggregate into crumbs, rather like a
crumble topping mix for your plums or rhubarb. This enables better drainage and aeration, especially in soils rich in clay.
On sandier soils, the addition of organic matter enables moisture to be retained better. It is also vital to prevent erosion, so keeping your soil covered with some sort of vegetation is necessary. A green manure, sown in the late summer or early autumn, such as Winter Tares, helps prevent erosion and recycles nutrients.
Garden designers may need to consider terracing slopes to help prevent water run-off and a generous layer of woodland mulch applied to all planted borders will prevent weed germination and preserve soil structure.
Warmer, wetter winters will encourage wooden structures such as decking to be slippery and rot faster, while more algal growth on paved surfaces also becomes a hazard. The surfaces of hard standing areas such as driveways need to be porous.
In future articles I will tackle the gritty problem of potting composts and what goes into them, because those containing peat, sold for amateur gardener use, are to be withdrawn in 2024; also how to choose plants tolerant of dry conditions, and what to water, when and how.
Our gardens are already havens for a wide range of species and act as corridors for wildlife through towns. Our aim should be to grow as diverse a range of plants as possible.
They do not have to be native species but offer our insects flowers for all seasons from which they can gather nectar and so undertake valuable pollination for us.
We can face the challenge of climate change, but must all do our bit to help. Remember the 4 Rs – Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Re-invest and of course buy British.
F E B R U A R Y G A R D E N T I P S
• Before the usual spring rush, paint fences and sheds and get other general maintenance jobs done. If plants are trained onto fences to be painted make certain that the paint you use is plant safe.
• Check variegated plants for shoots that have reverted to all green. Remove these by trimming them back to the point where the leaves are uniformly variegated.
• Could your garden look better? This is the month when it is stripped to the basic skeleton by winter and when you can assess whether an evergreen shrub, conifer or tree or perhaps an archway, pergola or statue would improve things.
• Go through your shed and remove any out of date and discontinued chemicals. The local authority recycling centre should be able to help you dispose of them safely.
• Re-pot perennials and shrubs that are growing in pots. Use good compost and add slow release fertiliser to the mix. This will feed the plants for most of the year.
• Continue to plant shallots. They prefer soil that hasn’t been used to grow onions, leeks or shallots for several years before and a well-manured plot. Plant onion sets if warm.
• Lots of vegetable plants can be sown now e.g. turnips, lettuce, stump rooted carrots, early cabbage, cauliflower and spinach in trays on the windowsill. These could be planted out later this month.
WESTONHospicecare are looking for people, businesses and clubs to open their private gardens to host dates in its Open Gardens 2023 series.
Open Gardens is a summer fundraising initiative which raises vital funds for the hospice while encouraging the community to meet for an afternoon of soft refreshments and to meet each other. The scheme has raised more than £21,000 since 2016, £6,500 last year.
It costs £4.5million each year to run the charity, with 80% of funding coming from supporters every year. The hospice serves Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset and Sedgemoor areas and provides palliative care to people in those areas with a life-limiting condition.
Abi Smart, Community Fundraising Officer for Weston Hospicecare, said: “I’m personally really delighted to be developing this programme for the hospice again post-pandemic.
““I know the community enjoy these events and they are incredibly valued by everyone at Weston Hospicecare.”
Details: Abi 01934 423900 email: Abigail.email@example.com
East Lambrook snowdrop festival
THROUGHOUTFebruary Somerset’s famous cottage garden at East Lambrook Manor will be celebrating the snowdrop season with its fifth Festival of Snowdrops.
They have long been a feature of the garden, ever since cottage garden doyenne and “galanthophile” Margery Fish started planting rare snowdrops there in the 1940s.
Owner, Mike Werkmeister, said: “Everyone loves the uplifting sight of snowdrops carpeting the sides of the famous Ditch in February. It’s where all the unusual snowdrops named for the garden or previous owners were found, most notably Galanthus ‘Margery Fish’ and G. ‘Walter Fish’.”
The garden has a collection of around 150 different named varieties and many of these are used to make a special display in a raised bed.
There will be snowdrop tours for small groups and around 90 varieties will be on sale in the nursery along with hellebores and other spring plants. Sculptor Chris Kampf will also be exhibiting his popular steel snowdrops.
Learn from palace experts
GARDENING enthusiasts are invited to The Bishop’s Palace in Wells to join the expert gardening team for a number of workshops aimed at getting the most from their gardens this year.
On Friday, January 27th, head gardener James Cross will lead a hands-on rose pruning workshop and on Friday, February 3rd attendees of a winter borders workshop will learn how winter borders can be interesting all year round, including exploring colourful, scented and diverse winter planting. Both workshops run from 9.30am until 12.30pm and are suitable for all abilities.
NGS GARDENS OF THE MONTH
THISis a hidden terraced cottage garden with dry stone walls and gravel paths, designed for year-round interest, complementing the Georgian listed house.
It has wide borders packed full of perennials and selfseeded surprises. Two intensely scented ten-foot daphnes, sarcocca and a plethora of hellebores in winter invite you outside while most gardens sleep.
Roses, rudbeckia and helianthus bring bright colours to autumn.
The open day dates have been chosen since they are the current owner’s two favourite weekends that give her the most joy. The previous owner designed and planted an amazing array of year-round interest.
It’s a plantsman’s garden –not perfect, a bit eclectic but full of interest. Slow worms and hedgehogs keep the slugs and snails at bay and the resident house sparrows keep the roses free of greenfly.
On sunny days the garden is filled with honeybees from neighbouring hives and four varieties of bumblebee. Address: Holton Street, Holton, Wincanton BA9 8AN. Contact: Lisa Prior, 07773 440147, firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.instagram.com/lisaprior/.
Opening dates and times: Saturday, February 11th, 11am3pm and Saturday, September 16th, 1-5pm. Admission: £4.50, children free. Cashless payment available.
Period of Opening by Arrangement: February 1st to September 16th for groups of six plus.
To see more gardens open for the NGS, see The Yellow Book, or Local County Leaflet, available from local Garden Centres, or go to: https://www.ngs.org.uk
What is a tussy mussy?
MARGARETAndrews, a resident of Henton Nursing Home, is holding a tussy mussy, one of many made by members of Henton and District Gardening Club at their recent festive social evening.
Historically, the little posies of evergreen plants and herbs, were carried to bury noses in when our cities were full of evil smells and diseases.
are a blooming revelation
A BOX of trophies from Glastonbury in Bloom competitions from many years ago has been discovered during boiler replacement works at Glastonbury Town Hall.
Few of the cups, shields and other awards were known to exist. The awards range from Best School which was dated 1995 and which was awarded to the Abbey School. In 2000 it went to St Benedict’s School which still takes part in the competition. In total there were 11 awards in the box.
The discovery will allow the Glastonbury in Bloom committee to expand the competition categories and encourage more of the town’s residents to enter the “domestic” competition.
l More volunteers are being sought to help maintain the floral displays. Contact Sarah Marks (Glastonbury in Bloom Committee Clerk) on 01458 831769.Up for the cups. Glastonbury in Bloom coordinators Mark Penton (far left) and Gerald Morgan (far right) with town councillors Michael White, mayor Jon Cousins and Margaret Oakden
Blagdon calling –what a welcome!
“IF you move to Blagdon, I’ll give you 24 hours before you post a picture of the lake on social media and a year before it’s on your Christmas Card.” So said my friend and former Blagdon resident Paul, and so far he's half right. The lake (ok, reservoir) is stunning in all lights and weathers.By DrPHIL HAMMOND
Glorious clouds, wisps of fog hovering above the water and even half-frozen. But man cannot live on views alone, we’re social animals by nature and if you move somewhere new but never meet anyone, it can’t be much fun.
No chance of that in Blagdon. On day one, our neighbours surprised us with a glorious bare-buttocked welcome card. Another opened her window and invited us to drinks. Others came round to introduce themselves and offer help. Then more drinks.
There’s even a neighbours’ WhatsApp group for parties and problems. The only pub currently serving beer, the New Inn, is run by the fabulous Lizzie. She does excellent banter, good pub food, the carols and New Year’s Eve
nights were sell-outs and there’s a quiz, a book group and a Valentine’s Steak Night if you fancy it.
Friday nights are well attended. The view of the lake is also well worth a photo (sorry Paul).
The Village Club is equally welcoming, with (so far) world cup matches, sour dough pizza night, a film afternoon and a Wassail gathering (see below). It’s also the perfect pitstop on the way to pick up an (excellent) curry at the Queen Adelaide.
The locals tell me of days of village fairs spread over several fields, all night pub lockins, a “five and drive” culture (not recommended) and even a Blagdon Ball at Coombe Lodge. There may be less on offer now in these days of Netflix but there’s still plenty of village life out there that needs support.
There’s a butchers, a village shop and post office, a coffee shop, two churches, get-fit classes at Yeo Valley, pop-up art and perhaps even a reopening of the Seymour Arms to look forward to. And splendid dog walks.
But today was wassailing. I’ve not done it before and any inaccuracies may be on account of the mulled cider. We started at the Village Club and walked to the village orchard (owned by the village, pick your own fruit and a handy tree guide, with many dedicated to the memory of someone).
The woman who picks the fruit glace sweet out of the jar of mint glaces is the Wassail Queen, so she soaks a piece of toast in mulled cider and places it in an apple tree for the spirits to feast on, then spreads cider around the trunk before Roger, the gentleman farmer, shoots safely up into the tree while we all recite:
“Here’s to the old apple tree
Long may you bud, long may you blow And may you bear apples enou’ Hats full, caps full, bushel, bushel bags full
And my pockets full too Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah!”
Official launch of volunteer driver scheme
STREET Area Volunteer Driver Service has enjoyed an official launch with the confirmation that it has extended its coverage to the Glastonbury area as well.
Parish council chair Laura Wolfers was amongst the guests at the event at the Crispin Community Centre, where the service is based.
The service began operating in October and is still recruiting drivers to help those community members unable to get around easily. Drivers are available for doctor, hair and other appointments, community centre and church activities, social groups, friends’ get-togethers and shopping. Users must preregister.
The service has the support of Street and Walton parish councils, Glastonbury Town Council, Meare and Westhay Village Community, Somerset Community Foundation and the service covers the Street, Walton, Meare and Glastonbury areas.
Julie Tucker, Street Volunteer Driver Service Co-ordinator, said: “Do you have an hour or two to spare with a car? We would like
to hear from you – volunteers with a car are needed and a mileage allowance is paid.
“This will be totally flexible, with no fixed commitment and you can choose which journeys to take at anytime online.”
For details, call into Crispin Community Centre, phone 01458 656248 or email: email@example.com
Cheques and teddy bears
MEMBERS of the Connaught masonic lodge in Midsomer Norton have made their latest donations to the local community.
A total of £430 was presented to the P.E.O.P.L.E. charity which specialises in the retraining and rehabilitation of offenders. Last year it opened a shop, book exchange and coffee lounge in Midsomer Norton High Street offering a safe place for people to gather as well as offering work experience opportunities.
Under the guidance of charity steward Chris James, this
brought the total amount donated in 2022 by Connaught Lodge to local good causes and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance to £3,380.
Meanwhile, the lodge has presented another batch of Teddies for Loving Care to Paulton Hospital Minor Injuries Unit, as part of a nationwide masonic initiative to provide unique cuddly bears to accident and emergency departments for medical staff to give at their discretion to young children.
For details about Connaught Freemasons email: Secretary3573@btinternet.com or visit www.connaughtlodge.org www.stjsgroup.church
Lions’ jumble sale
Ready to help save a life
CHEDDAR Vale Lions Club will be holding a jumble sale in Cheddar Village Hall on Saturday, February 18th.
They are looking for good condition and clean clothing, household items, small toys, etc, but no electrical goods. They can be delivered to the hall from 12noon-1.30pm, ready for the opening at 2pm. There is an entrance fee of 50p. Refreshments will be available.
Details: 0345 833 7402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
CENTENARIAN, Dick Froom, got a surprise present at the RAFA MidSomerset branch Christmas lunch.
At the original birthday celebration in September, members of the current 14 Squadron RAF were unable to be present due to operational commitments.
This time the branch welcomed Flt Lt Gareth Duffy from the squadron, who presented Dick with a magnificent model of a Mark XIV Wellington engraved with the Squadron crest and Dick’s rank badge and aircrew brevet.
He was a wireless operator/air gunner on the squadron from November 1944 to June 1945.
RESIDENTS of a small area of Shepton Mallet have achieved their fundraising target to have an open access defibrillator installed close to their homes by a busy junction on the A37.
People living in Back Lane at Downside began their campaign amid concerns that they were too remote from the nearest defibrillator, on the wall of McColls in the town centre.
By holding social events and other activities under the banner of the Downside and Back Lane Defibrillator Group and helped by neighbouring companies Right Price DIY and 3 Solutions and a grant from Mendip District Council, they have managed to raise £2,000 to rent the equipment for the next four years from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
The equipment is housed on the driveway of one of the houses in Back Lane, close to the road junction. It does not need a code to gain access, although it must be used only under direction from the ambulance service. It is registered on The Circuit, a national database of defibrillators.
Kim demonstrates the defibrillator to residents
Several residents attended a special training session by paramedic Kim Davey, the Assistant Community Responder Officer for Bristol and North Somerset, who will act as a guardian for the equipment and make sure it is always ready to be used.
A pangolin on parade
WITH a theme of “Wild Things”, Shepton Mallet’s annual lantern parade was led by a large model of a pangolin to highlight the threat to the world’s most trafficked mammal.
Created out of willow, tissue paper and canes by local artist Mandy McKenna, the pangolin led the procession from Collett Park to the town centre.
All creatures great and small
Foodbank feeds 20,000 people in crisis
DAVIDand Maureen Byrne have been named winners of the 2022 Peasedown St John Community Civic Award.
They are well known for their loyal service over 20 years at St Joseph's Catholic Church and also volunteer at the Somer Valley Foodbank and The Hive Community Centre.
Cllr Karen Walker, a trustee of Peasedown Community Trust, pictured with David and Maureen, said: "Thank you both for everything you've done for our village and continue to do. You're valued members of our community who always go the 'extra mile' to help others. Thank you!"
THESomer Valley Foodbank has celebrated its tenth anniversary, having provided meals for nearly 20,000 people in that time.
Originally established as a collaboration between local churches and community leaders, it sits under the charitable status of St John’s Church, Peasedown St John.
It runs food distribution centres in Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Paulton and Peasedown.
Co-ordinator, Paul Woodward, said: “Thanks to all the local businesses, churches and community groups that have supported the Somer Valley Foodbank over the past decade.
Rotary’s Xmas clear-up
MEMBERSof Axbridge District Rotary along with other rotary groups and young farmers raised over £15,000 for Weston Hospicecare by collecting Christmas trees.
More than 100 trees were collected for recycling. The club meets on the first and third Thursday of the month, 7.30pm, at The Lamb at Weare.
Details: Lesley 07828 153390 or Paul 07973 784635
“Your help and encouragement has enabled us to provide a support and advice service to those that need it the most.
“Now, more than ever before over the last ten years, there has never been a greater need for the Somer Valley Foodbank’s existence. With the rise in the cost of of living, and more people finding it difficult to make ends meet, we’re seeing an unprecedented demand for our services.”
Since January 2013, 7,296 food vouchers have been issued across the Somer Valley feeding 19,485 people –10,689 adults and 8,796 children.
A staggering 172,300 tonnes of food have been given out! The foodbank is run by a large team of volunteers, 75 in total, who keep the project running each and every week.
Foodbanks provide three days of emergency food to people who need it the most. Professionals such as health visitors, social workers and the CAB identify people in crisis and issue them with a Foodbank voucher.
The voucher can be taken to a Foodbank distribution centre where a friendly team of volunteers will offer a cup of tea and help people with their food needs and other advice.
Details: www.somervalley.foodbank.org.uk email email@example.com or call 07729 523986
A warm welcome at community café
Bryan, a football fan and life member of the Somerset FA, at the first cafe
ONE of the main people behind the building of Ashwick and Oakhill Village Hall in the 1980s was a surprise visitor at the first community café to be held there since refurbishment of the building was completed.
Bryan Wells, together with family and neighbours, was the driving force behind the development of the hall, which opened in 1986.
Over the past few months, a storeroom, garage and changing room have been transformed into a large kitchen and meeting room where the first café took place attended by dozens of villagers and hall supporters. Bryan, a former parish councillor, visited the hall from the residential home in Evercreech where he now lives to see the transformation for himself.
Community cafes will be held every Saturday morning and every other Wednesday morning.
More volunteers would be welcome. For details, find @ashwickandoakhillvillagehall on Facebook
Club’s skittle night
THE Inner Wheel Club of Shepton Mallet ended its January meeting at the Horse and Jockey in Binegar with a game of killer skittles in the pub alley. Club president Harriet Farquhar (centre) is pictured with the winner – her mother Janet Thornborough (left) –and Judi Rice, winner of the wooden spoon.
PEASEDOWNSt John’s Party in the Park is inviting grant applications following the success of last year’s Platinum Jubilee event.
Since the scheme was set up in 2010, more than £15,000 has been given away to local organisations.
Another £500 is available this year. The closing date for applications is Friday, March 24th.
Successful grant applicants will be congratulated in front of a packed festival crowd at Party in the Park 2023 on Saturday,
Details: www.peasedownpartyinthepark.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ST MARY’SChurch in Compton Dando is one of the many places in the area offering Warm Spaces during the winter, on Thursdays in the village hall, 12:30-2pm.
Pictured (l to r) are Lynn Watson, Neil Borer, the Rev Denise Calverley, Ron Coombs and Alison Coombs.
WITH over 203 years between them, Chewton Mendip and Litton & Hinton Blewett WIs met for a joint social evening. Members made crackers, shared food and drink, recited some readings, took part in Secret Santa and had a Christmas themed raffle.
Pictured (l to r) Kay Trippick, Cath BrandonSalmon, Jane Russell and Pat Hellard
It was a great way for the two WIs to share experiences, have fun and build friendships.
Rotary supports Ukrainian refugees
CHELWOODBridge Rotary Club has been supporting Ukrainian refugees with grants totalling £65,000 from the Rotary Foundation, working with the Chew Valley Ukrainian Support Group. It also distributed Christmas gifts from the Kids Out charity to about 40 families.
Rotary Club secretary, Tony Quinn, said: “We were able to help families in so many ways including clothing, school uniforms, transport costs, laptops especially for children, courses, nursery care, even membership of Chew Valley Rugby club.
“As a Rotary club we applied for 23 grants and have been delighted to support these families who so often arrived here with almost nothing.”
That grant funding, which helped more than 100 families, has run out and the club now has an appeal to raise funds for generators and warm clothing.
It held a Race Night in Stanton Drew village hall, which raised £2,300.
Volunteer drivers needed
CHEWValley Community Transport is looking for more volunteer drivers to help local people who need a lift to their medical appointments.
CVCT started in 2010, arranging individual, door-to-door journeys, in the driver’s own car. The drivers are supported by a small team of volunteer coordinators, who take calls from passengers.
One of them said: “We have the core support of some wonderful volunteer drivers, but we urgently need more, to enable us to help with an increasing number of requests this winter.”
Although called “Chew Valley” the service covers part of Yeo Valley as far as Blagdon. This rural area between the A38 and the A37 has very poor public transport.
It is appealing for more drivers that live in or near this area, to keep the mileage costs down for passengers.
Driving for CVCT is completely flexible; there’s no regular commitment at all – drivers simply offer to take a passenger, if and when they wish to. The passenger is asked to reimburse the driver directly for their mileage.
Details: 01275 333430 email: email@example.com
Ann’s remarkable record
ANNPursey, aged 90, from Sandford has won BBC Somerset’s Volunteer Award 2022 for “an individual who makes a real difference to the community”.
Her volunteering history is extensive and still growing:
• Long service medals, Royal Observer Corps, 22 years; National Savings Club 25 years
• 30+ years flower arranging and various roles at Churchill Methodist Church
• Volunteering at Manor Hospital Bath, 12 years; Weston General Hospital, ten years
• Vine Counselling (Congresbury) receptionist and trustee, 15 years
• Trustee of alms houses, 15 years at Victoria Jubilee Homes, Langford, plus Cottage Homes, Churchill
• Helping at residential homes, St Monica Trust, Sandford and St Michael’s Cheshire Home, Axbridge
Her roles have ranged from leading singing groups to feeding stroke patients.
Ann said: “As a youngster, my parents moved house and I had to quickly learn to make new friends in a new school, so I grew up happy to meet and greet strangers. Also, I really enjoy helping people because, after all, we all need a helping hand sometimes.”
Ukrainian culture on show at coffee morning
TRADITIONAL Ukranian Christmas songs, handmade crafts and home baked treats were on offer at a special fundraising coffee morning in Evercreech.
The event took place to boost the humanitarian efforts by the group Somerset Aid for Ukraine which was due to send its third consignments to Kyiv as Mendip Times went to press. Held in St Peter’s Church, the coffee
morning coincided with the Orthodox Christmas, the first Christmas away from Ukraine for many of the families.
Further fundraising events – also celebrating Ukranian culture – are due to be held in Cossington, on February 10th, and Wedmore on February 24th.
As well as donating money, visitors handed over dozens of bags of essential goods such as sleeping mats, clothes and other items. A date for a fourth trip to Ukraine has still to be arranged, but is expected to take place in the autumn.
COMPTON Dando’s final craft workshop of the winter will be on Saturday, February 4th, following the success of the last one.
Harriette Dottridge, who set up the non-profit making club several years ago, said: “That was the best craft day so far. We finally had about 26 and everyone was so helpful and cheerful, happy to be there and busy and sharing all they were doing.”
The workshop will be held at Compton Dando village hall, 10am-4pm, with lunch.
Details: Harriette 07791 832592 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHILDRENat Chew Stoke Church School were visited by Bristol Flyers basketball star, Corey Samuels, through the school’s link with the Bristol Sport Foundation.
The foundation’s aim is to develop and coordinate the delivery of community sport in Bristol and beyond.
Recycling centre closure plans are scrapped
NORTH Somerset Council has announced that Backwell Recycling Centre will remain open as it scraps a budget saving proposal to close the facility from April 1st.
The decision follows discussion about the council’s progress to close a £17m gap in its budget that took place in a meeting of the council’s executive in December. One of the possibilities put forward was closing the facility to save an estimated £300,000 a year, reducing the number of recycling centres in North Somerset from three to two.
There were approximately 80,000 visits to Backwell Recycling Centre in 2021/22.
Councillor Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, said: “We’ve listened to residents and the strong feeling against proposals to close Backwell Recycling Centre and acted on this by removing this from next year’s budget.
“Like all councils across the country, we face continuing inflationary cost pressures and stretched resources. At the same time, we are seeing rising demands on our services from more residents being pushed into poverty.
“We continue to work hard to explore cost savings that could be made right across the council to close the budget gap for next year, which is about 10 per cent of our net budget. Unfortunately, we’re having to make really tough decisions.
“We have one of the best recycling rates in the country currently and we will continue to encourage people to reduce, re-use and recycle as much as possible by delivering our ambitious waste strategy”.
Councillor Bridget Petty, the council’s ward member for Backwell and executive member responsible for the climate emergency, said: “Along with other local councillors, I was contacted by many residents who raised their concerns over the potential closure of Backwell Recycling Centre. Villagers can see both sides – while some support the closure due to concern about traffic, many others are keen to protect local jobs and retain a facility that they value.
“One of the council’s key priorities is to be a carbon neutral council and area by 2030. I’m keen for us as council to be working with residents to reduce the number of visits that they feel they need to make to all our recycling centres and promote re-use within our communities”.
Discover –and join in!
STREET Parish Council is hosting a Discover your Community event on Saturday, February 25th.
The event, at the Crispin Hall, will see a gathering of community groups which support to residents of Street and the surrounding areas.
Visitors will be able to find out what is on offer and the council hopes they might be persuaded to sign up to volunteer. l The event runs from 11am-3pm.
Have you considered selling by auction?
AREyou looking to sell your property quickly and easily? There are many benefits to selling your property at auction including a faster exchange, reduced risk of the sale falling through, higher prices and much more. In addition to staging traditional auctions, Killens operate a simple and exciting online property auction system that can achieve great results. So how does it work . . .
Well, the system allows registered bidders to place bids on a property during a period of marketing, normally 30 days, without the pressure of the auction room. Potential buyers can see the bids being placed and get an email when outbid encouraging them to bid again.
At the end of the auction, buyers are automatically charged a deposit or reservation fee and are obliged to complete
the purchase 28 days later. The system is really straightforward!
And the costs are really competitive.
If you are thinking about selling your property at auction, contact us to arrange a free market appraisal. Our expert valuers will provide you with professional valuation and marketing advice.
In marketing your property, we will undertake intense marketing with access to a large national database of investors from across the UK and abroad who will be emailed property details as well as advertising in the local press and promotion on all the main property portals including Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market and Primelocation. So why sell by auction . . .
• Auction can provide the fastest route to achieving a sale.
• Competitive bidding during the short selling window can lead to properties selling for much more than expected.
• Auction properties benefit from broader, more intense marketing.
• The fast pace of the transaction and the requirement of a deposit reduces the opportunities for gazumping and vendors withdrawing so fewer sales fall through in comparison to estate agency methods.
• You can plan ahead.
Looking forward to a great year ahead
I HAVE never been more excited than starting the fourth year of my business. We are moving into a new office on the same site at Fairseat Workshops in Chew Stoke, we have a brand new website and we will be even more active on social media.
My experienced team are fully trained and motivated to go the extra mile for all our clients with all guns blazing, using their unrivalled local knowledge, which is something you cannot say for every agent.
We have our roots deep in the Chew Valley and we will continue to invest not only in our own business, but to support many of the wonderful local community groups who help to make the place so special.
We have come a long way since I started up just before the Covid pandemic and I am proud of what we have achieved. Our own belief is backed up by solid statistics from Rightmove, the UK’s premier property website.
They have confirmed that we are now firmly established as the number one agency, not only in the Chew Valley, but right across the postcodes of BS39 and BS40 when it comes to new instructions, sales and property views.
That is an amazing accolade and a brilliant reward for all the hard work we put in every day to provide the “Dedication, Imagination and Delivery” which are our watch words for everything we do.
All this means that whilst our focus will continue to be on the Chew Valley, we are also able to operate in adjacent districts such as the Mendips, Backwell and Long Ashton, broadening our reach for buyers and sellers, without in any way diluting the top class service on which we have built our reputation.
The market in this area is settling into what I call the new normal. Even in a national market which is cooler than it has
been, we will continue to live in a hotspot so there will continue to be strong demand for homes and many people who want to come here to enjoy the lifestyle.
So my advice to you is that if you are considering selling your property, come and speak to us now so that you are ready for the buyers who will be flocking in the early spring sunshine.
We will be pleased to see you and keen to help you get on the move so that your 2023 can be as exciting as ours.JOANNA TILEY
Somerset Rural Life Museum wassail
Wassail time in Kilmersdon
Farewell to popular adviser
A VOLUNTEER adviser with Citizens Advice Mendip has retired after 27 years of service.
Friends and colleagues marked Alison Cholmondeley’s long service with a celebration at their staff and volunteers’ meeting in January at the Portway Annexe in Wells.
Alison, of Wells, trained as a psychiatric nurse working at the Mendip Hospital in Wells. Since the pandemic, Alison has been an active volunteer with Wells Community Network alongside her work with Citizens Advice Mendip.
She said: “It’s been a huge joy and so satisfying. It’s an extraordinary thing to put yourself forward to do, to put your own personal views to one side and also to work with a fantastic team.
“I have seen how Citizens Advice gives people confidence in being able to sort out their problems. I have also witnessed how the organisation has developed as a force to be listened to by policymakers.
And it has always made me feel I’ve been doing a worthwhile job.”
Ian Byworth, CEO of Citizens Advice Mendip, said: “Alison has been an incredible inspiration to many others with her commitment, giving up her free time to help others for almost 30 years! We need new volunteers to come forward and help continue the great work that Alison has been doing.”
Meanwhile, the organisation is opening up “self-service” kiosks where people can contact an adviser or access information on their website after reporting record
Hospital’s new lease of life
SEDGEMOOR District Council and its partners have won a £19.7million bid to redevelop the former Bridgwater Hospital from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The Grade II listed building, which has lain empty since the new Community Hospital was built in 2014, will now have a new lease of life as a Training Centre of Excellence for Health
numbers of people turning to them for help as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
The first three kiosks have been set up at the Portway Annexe in Wells, the Crispin Centre in Street and Glastonbury Library – open Monday to Friday, 10am4pm.
It says feedback has shown that people like the anonymity and ability to access information at a time that suits them. Ian added: “It’s important for people faced with rising costs to know there are ways we can help.”
and Social Care. There will be an annexe of the trust, based in Minehead.
The project will see the building returned to public use by creating a wholly integrated skills development and learning academy to attract, retain, grow, and upskill key workers in the care sector.
Final call-out to young artists
THERE is still time to enter the Black Swan Arts Young Open 2023 competition which will be on show at the Frome-based art centre in March.
The Young Open, now in its eighth year, provides an exceptional opportunity for young people between the ages of five and 19 to have their work curated, judged and exhibited in the centre for hundreds of visitors to see. Entries close on Friday, February 3rd.
Submissions in all forms of art and craft are welcome, including painting, drawing, collage, ceramics, jewellery, textiles, photography, video/animation, metalwork, carpentry and sculpture.
Winners have the chance to take part in a small group workshop with a professional artist. The Workshop Prize is a unique element of the Young Open, with local working artists and craftspeople individual workshop prizes. Winners will also receive vouchers donated by local Frome business, Postscript.
In the eight years since the competition was launched, more than 1,500 works of art have been entered and more than 1,000 young artists have taken part and the five exhibitions to date have received more than 9,000 visitors.
l The cost is £5 for one entry, £8 for two, £10 for three and £12 for four. Entry is online via www.blackswanarts.org.uk The exhibition runs from March 4th to April 16th.
Finding the source of water
ITis generally accepted that when Mendip rain sinks underground, it will eventually emerge at the base of the hill. Swallets engulf streams flowing from the impervious sandstone and see the light of day again at various springs and resurgences lower down.
Most of the villages on the lower slopes were founded because of these water sources and they were used to power mills as well as providing water for drinking and other domestic uses.
Over the years, water tracing in various forms has established which swallets feed which resurgences. In many cases, the combined input is far less than the output, but this is because the rain which falls on the limestone seeps underground, to join eventually with the main subterranean conduit.
There are, however, anomalies, where the source of water at a well or spring is not immediately evident. One such case is the Monk’s Well on Steep Holm. This lies near Cliff Cottage at the north east corner of the island, and is 64 metres below the highest point.
It is the main source of potable water on the island, although there are other small seepages. It is likely that the spring is fed by percolating rainwater from the higher parts of the island, although there is a theory that it is fed by stream sinks in Wales.
This idea may be strengthened by the upwelling of fresh water from the seabed near Weston-super-Mare. In the late 1940s, the theory was propounded that water from Gough’s Cave, first seen in the Skeleton Pit before emerging just below the cave entrance, also had its source in Wales.
Water tracing soon firmly established the real connection between the swallets south of Black Down and Gough’s Cave.
The strangest unexplained appearance (at the time) of fresh water occurred many miles north, under the bed of the River Severn. In March 1873 work began on what is still the longest underwater rail tunnel in the world – the Severn Tunnel. It is 7.1 kilometres long.
Excavation began on the Welsh side and soon water started leaking from the roof. This was brackish, so obviously came from the river above. It was easily dealt with. However, in October 1879 a great rush of water was encountered, which flooded the Welsh side of the tunnel.
Pumping and closure of a watertight door by a diver eventually led to the spring being capped and work continued. The Great Spring flows at around 20 million gallons (90.1 million litres) per day. This is almost enough to fill four Olympic swimming pools. A channel
runs under the rail bed, and the water is removed at the Sudbrook Pumping Station in the Forest of Dean.
Until the 1960s, Cornish pumps were used, until being replaced with electric pumps. The first train ran through the tunnel on December 1st, 1886, 14 years after work started.
The water from the Great Spring is fresh and so cannot be leakage from the Severn. The most likely source is from stream sinks in the Forest of Dean area, and it was found that there is around a three week delay, after heavy rain, before the spring responds.
The water is of high quality and has been used by local industries. In the tunnel, the water emerges from what would be a fairly roomy cave passage, but an attempt to dive there was thwarted as the pressure of water was too great for divers to enter and make progress.
There are other swallets and springs on Mendip where the outflow or source has yet to be determined. Usually, the flow rate is so slow that water tracing would be impossible. Yet cavers and scientists are forever pushing the boundaries of our knowledge of caves and water tracing, so maybe in time these puzzles will be solved.With PHILIP HENDY
Having the last laugh in the “big freeze”
Paul Western, of Wells, looks back on his time as a milk delivery boy during the Big Freeze of 1963. The photos of him playing in the snow were taken by his younger brother, Terry, using their father’s camera.
THEphotos are of me aged about 13 down Burcott Lane in Wells where the snow had completely covered the lane from the hedges at each side.
I was a milk delivery boy for Ruffs Dairies of Wells during the time of the Big Freeze and still remember the iced milk lifting the tin foil tops off the bottles and the poor hungry birds would be pecking at the iced milk.
Luckily, I had bought a pair of mukluks (snow overboots) from Exchange and Mart magazine; these were army surplus from the Korean War, I believe. I had the mickey taken when wearing them as they were made of white canvas and were worn over normal footwear so were a massive size and laced right up to the knees.
“I had the last laugh though, as I had warm, dry feet the whole time. No central heating then!
“Father had an allotment with cabbages that were threadbare from the pigeons eating them.
Looking forward to spring and good weather
THEYsay there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, but Come On, seriously, haven’t we had enough rain now? It’s a sodden January and we are all tired of sloshing around in the mud.
Having to keep horses in more than we would like to not only means delving into feed and bedding supplies which were meant to last a little longer into spring, it also ensures that the aroma of wet bedding and horse poo is still clinging to us as we stagger either into the pub, the house or wherever at the end of the day.
The lovely Eau de Manure is par for the territory in this game though, and never more than when you’ve opened several Christmas gifts and they’ve all been smellies from the Mad Cow brand.
It makes you realise that perhaps there’s a message! I think I’d rather have that cold snap which came before Christmas than all this rain and wind.
Sunshine galore was wonderful and the sight of a hoar frost is unforgettable, but the sub-zero temperatures especially up on top of the Mendips, meant that all Tarmac and concrete surfaces were like skating rinks and lots of gritting was required in order to get the horses out safely.
Some arenas froze over and racing was abandoned at many venues. Ten days of racing was lost for Team Ditcheat, which must have been both frustrating and disappointing. When races are cancelled it’s not that easy to re-route.
Some tracks suit particular horses better than others and the going has to be right, so a pause in the calendar can mean missed opportunities. However, there was some terrific spectator sport on Boxing Day as well as the rest of the holiday period.
Paul Nicholls who trains Team Ditcheat must have been very satisfied with some great results at Taunton, Chepstow and Wincanton, and then to win the Grade 1 Ladbrokes King George VIth Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day for the 13th time, must have been the icing on the cake for not only him, but the jockeys and owners as well.
Bravemansgame, a now eight-year-old gelding who won the King George, has been ridden by Harry Cobden since 2019. The pair have had some fabulous results, amassing a very impressive wallet of winnings amounting to something a little north of £300,000.
Paul has reported that this talented horse likes to have a good break between runs, so we may not see him out again before the Cheltenham Festival in March, hopefully for the prestigious Gold Cup. Exciting times lie ahead.
The Mendip Farmers had a good turnout for hunting on
Boxing Day, with around 45 riding out from the meet at Priddy Green. A good number of spectators joined in the occasion, helped along with mulled wine from the Queen Vic to warm them up.
It’s amazing how quickly after setting off, all evidence of horses and hounds quickly disappears as they trot away. I have tried many times to follow on foot but within minutes there is no sign of them.
Occasionally the sound of the hunting horn can be heard, and maybe the speaking of the hounds as they pick up the scent, but that’s it. The more savvy youngsters zoom round on quad bikes nowadays, which looks like a lot of fun and of course navigates the terrain like no other vehicle can.
So, after a sociable chat with a few like-minded folk out on a quintessentially British occasion, it was time to retreat back home for a warm by the fire, some Christmas day leftovers, followed by an afternoon of superb racing on the telly.
What bliss. Dates for your 2023 diary: Mendip Farmers Point to Point at Ston Easton, Sunday, March 19th. First race is at 12.30.
Badminton Horse Trials, May 4th to 8th. Ticket office now open, with Early Bird tickets available until March 31st. There is an extra day this year due to the Coronation of King Charles. There will be some dressage on the Saturday, but the Cross Country will be run on the Sunday.With JANE PATERSON
Riding club awards are handed out
EAST Mendip Riding Club has announced the winners of its 2022 awards scheme.
Its Instructor of the Year award went to Martine Lee. The club says Martine stepped into the breach for them earlier this year and has done a great job. Martine is really great at making sure each horse and rider are comfortable with what they are doing.
Its Baraka award, for the person whose relationship with their horse works so much that it really shows, went to Barbara Cary and BK. BK is an ex-Arab racing pony and when he first came to clinics, he thought he still had to gallop everywhere!
The club says BK “really was a bunny in the lights but Barbara has worked really hard with him and is a lovely calm rider and now he loves coming out, behaves impeccably and is a totally different horse”.
Member of the Year award has gone to Sue McCullagh who moved to EMRC from another club while the Camp award went to Michelle Miller.
at Wincanton Racecourse on Saturday, April 22nd. Ponies of all heights, shapes and abilities will take over the track for the afternoon with eight races including one with 12 Shetland Ponies. More than 60 young jockeys are expected to take part and previous fixtures have seen the launch of future careers in the sport.
The day is free to attend and all of Wincanton’s facilities will be open, including bar and Tote. The first race goes off at 1pm.
Mud and blood –a start to the New Year
THENew Year ushers in a resolved determination to be a bit healthier, do more exercise and rebuild fitness for the warmer months ahead. But the weather doesn’t always want to play its part and the start of this year has not been a good one outdoors. It has been a case of either being very cold or very wet, mainly the latter!
Whereas professional cyclists can take themselves off to warmer climates during the winter, the rest of us must find windows of opportunity to get the cycling miles in.
Ideally, the best way to keep cycling during these harsher months is to commute to work, even if it’s just a couple of days a week. Then it no longer becomes a choice and whatever the weather you do it because it’s necessary.
There are though cycling events which are suited to the winter weather. Cyclocross racing takes place on outdoor courses of grass, dirt, mud and sometimes snow.
On bikes that don’t look out of place on the road, cyclocross combines the technical off-road skills of mountain bikers and the explosive leg power of track sprinters.
Competitors complete multiple laps of a course resembling a steeplechase that includes sharp turns, steep banks, hurdles, tree roots and other obstacles. Conditions often force riders to dismount and run with their bikes along sections of the course. Most times the course ends up looking like a mud bath.
Riding along the back lanes of Mendip, away from the traffic, has at times resembled something like a cyclocross course with fallen branches, pot-holes, mud slides and icy patches of water to deal with. Even with mudguards the murky spray from the road still ends up all over your bike and clothes.
Then there are the obstacles you can’t always get around whether by foot, bike or car – the flooded lanes and fields. Although disruptive, they force you to discover alternative routes which you would otherwise never find.
On a dry but blustery day I had been out for a ride on the northern slopes of the Mendip Hills when I was forced into a detour by a flooded lane. Returning home, later than planned, I passed the village hall and noticed the blood donation van outside and suddenly remembered that I was due to give blood.
After a quick bowl of soup and a sandwich, I returned to the hall to make my donation. Giving blood nowadays is a very organised process, but it was noticeable how many fewer staff there were than previous occasions. It was a visible sign of the strain that the NHS is under.
As my blood donation got underway, I thought about my bike ride earlier and the combination of the two reminded me of the
biggest cheat in sporting history. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
That was an outstanding achievement on its own but the fact that he had been diagnosed with cancer in 1996 and then recovered made his story even more remarkable. He even founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation to assist other cancer survivors.
The story however was built on pillars of sand. Allegations about doping (the use of performance-enhancing drugs) started to circulate after his first Tour de France victory.
Blood doping increases red blood cell mass allowing the body to transport more oxygen to muscles, increase endurance capability and improve performance.
As testing for banned drugs improved, blood transfusions were used to engage in blood doping. Blood is initially withdrawn, and refrigerated or frozen, and then later transfused back into the athlete to boost red cells.
Armstrong was eventually found guilty of doping and was stripped of all his titles. It’s true that a number of other cyclists were also found guilty of doping but none were more prominent as Armstrong. He didn’t just dope, he pressured his teammates into doing the same and if they didn’t they would be replaced.
In his aim to win at all costs he behaved like a bully and ruined people’s lives. Had there been no doping in cycling at that time it’s possible he may have won those titles anyway, such was his determination, but we’ll never know.
As I was reflecting on that thought I heard the “beep, beep, beep” from the monitor to sound that my donation had finished.
There are a couple of exceptionally good films/documentaries about the Armstrong story which are well worth watching, but instead I’d recommend giving blood, if you can. There are not enough people that do it – and it saves lives.
Tiddlywinks contest has a new champion
ANDREW Garrard triumphed over defending champion Tim Hunt at the 2023 Somerset Invitational Tiddlywinks Championships held in Emborough.
Two days of intense competition at the Old Down Inn ended in a narrow victory for Andrew.
The two are members of Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club, which was founded in 1955 by undergraduates who wanted to represent the university at a sport but found that the existing options did not appeal to them. The club has been continuously active ever since and is part of the English Tiddlywinks Association.
Rugby is one big family
Members of Martine’s family joined players from Cary and visiting opponents Wells II on the pitch to pay tribute to the
24-year-old mother of a young son who lived in Bruton.
Martine’s father, Phil, is a club committee member; her two brothers are former players and two of her three sisters are club members.
On the pitch, Cary won 29-0 in a match which was badly affected by driving rain and strong winds.
Last year's start
Entries open for Chew Valley 10k
THIS year’s Chew Valley 10k will take place on Sunday, June 11th at 9.30am, with new main sponsors Winford Ford and Truespeed. The popular event is open to anyone aged 15 and older.
It is a chip-timed, UK Athletics licenced event with a range of race categories. All runners will get a free professional photo to download and the race offers facilities such as free kit storage and free parking.
Entry costs just £24 (adults aged 19+) and includes a Chew Valley 10k 2023 technical T shirt and a medal. For 15-18-yearolds, the cost is £15. Affiliated club runners save £2 on both entry prices. For those who don’t wish to get the T shirt, the adult entry price is £21. The event is set up to fundraise for various charities
and this year will be supporting Blood Bikes NICU Support, Bishop Sutton Primary School Society, Chew Valley School Society and Chew Valley Plants Trees.
The race is on a beautiful, rural route with undulating lanes and has closed roads at the start and finish and minimal traffic. Support from the locals is always a highlight, as are the teas and cakes at the finish provided by Bishop Sutton Pre-School and Forest Club.
Denise Mellersh, race director, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Winford Ford and Truespeed on board as joint sponsors – two great local businesses. Their support will enable the Chew Valley 10k to continue raising much-needed funds for the local community and our charities.”
Details: www.chewvalley10k.co.uk email@example.com
Concert of French music
BRUTONChoral Society are in good voice again after a very successful Christmas concert and celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.
It promises to get off to a great start in March with a concert of French music, of which the highlight will be the much-loved Fauré Requiem. Their guest conductor will be Arturo Serna and the programme will also include the Fauré Cantique de Jean Racine, Panis Angelicus by Franck and the Debussy Danses for Harp and Strings.
They will be joined by Mair Mills (soprano), Geoff Allan (baritone) and Cecilia de Maria (harp soloist); Cecilia was a former pupil of Bruton School for Girls before studying at the Purcell School and the Royal College of Music.
The performance takes place on Sunday, March 5th, at 7pm in St Mary’s Church, Bruton. Tickets are £10 in advance, £12 on the door (children free) and will be available from Bruton Convenience Store, by phoning 01749 813161 or online at www.brutonchoralsociety.org.uk
Bristol Brass Consort in Yatton
YATTON Music Society’s spring season is now well underway and they welcome the Bristol Brass Consort on February 25th at St Mary’s Church, Yatton.
The consort is a quintet from Bristol’s finest brass players. Their concert is called “Circum Mundi” and they invite the audience to “sit back and let the consort be your tour guide on a worldwide musical journey”.
The concert features music by the likes of Debussy, Shostakovich, Gershwin and Vaughn Williams amongst others. The concert starts at 7.30pm, ticket prices are £10.
Drama club is busy
WRINGTONDrama Club has bounced back following the pandemic. It put on an outdoor production in September Murder in Little Grimley! and plans more outdoor shows at Stock Farm in the future.
Currently members are rehearsing for the Wizard of Oz, which they will perform from Wednesday February 1st-4th.
The club says: “Do you have an idea, script, or a play in mind that you’d like the Wrington Drama Club to perform? We’re keen to hear from anyone who would like to propose a performance, so feel free to contact us.
“Also, if you’d like to try out directing or producing then we have plenty of experience to help.”
In May they will be performing The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson, directed by Mark Bullen and produced by John Rubidge.
Building inspires play
THE life and times of a once much-loved and perhaps longforgotten Frome building will be celebrated at the town’s Rook Lane Chapel from Tuesday, January 31st to Thursday, February 2nd.
The play, The Last Matron, has been written by Dramakarma, in conjunction with Keyford History Group and features Frome characters both real and imagined.
In Victorian times, Keyford Asylum on Culverhill was a training centre for young girls hoping to enter domestic service and a home for elderly men. During WWI, the building became an auxiliary hospital. Two soldiers meet there, form a bond and unveil a plan to escape to the Beehive pub. In WWII, siege guns were mounted on the roof of the building.
The drama introduces an array of characters watched over by the protective figure of the matron. Each scene features a short story providing a window to times past, through 150 years until the last day when the building awaits demolition.
For details, visit: www.dramakarma.co.uk/lastmatron
Half term fun for children and adults alike
FROM a medieval banquet to storytelling and family-friendly activities, there will be plenty for youngsters – and grown-ups –to enjoy at the Bishop’s Palace in February.
Families are encouraged to explore the gardens of the Palace with a “Signs of Spring” Family Trail from February 11th-19th. Trails can be collected on arrival and a small prize is available on completion! On Tuesday, February 14th, the ever-popular family storytelling sessions will take place in the Undercroft between 11am and 1.30pm. On Thursday, February 16th little ones will be encouraged to join in with a family fun activity event between 11am-3pm.
There’s also the fabulous Dragon’s Lair where families can let off steam on the natural play equipment, whilst exploring the themes of the palace. The Bishop’s Table café also has a great range of children’s meals and snacks, along with plenty to keep the grown-ups happy too.
Meanwhile, a medieval host will be welcoming guests to the Undercroft on Saturday, February 11th for a Medieval Banquet Night in the atmospheric candlelit and vaulted Undercroft. A short insight into the history of the palace will pre-empt the delicious, three-course medieval-themed banquet during which a
medieval host/storyteller will provide entertainment. Medieval music will also be performed throughout the meal and guests are being encourage to wear costume dress. l Family activities are included in standard admission (valid for 12 months from purchase on any normal sightseeing day) and under 5’s are always free. Tickets for the banquet are £55 per person.
For details, visit: www.bishopspalace.org.uk
T HE M ENDIP T IMES W HAT
Covid is still causing problems so please check before travelling that events will take place. We’re happy to list entries for non-profit community groups and charity fundraisers free of charge, but please send them as a succinct single paragraph, in the format below, to firstname.lastname@example.org Entries that take time to re-write may have to be charged for at the commercial rate, £25.
Black Swan Arts Young Open Competition: enter before Feb 3rd. All forms of art & craft welcome for exhibition March/April: www.blackswanarts.org.uk
Wednesday January 25th Backwell & Nailsea Macular Support meeting 1.30 pm Backwell WI Hall. Details: Sheila 01275 462107.
Burns’ Night Folk Session 8.45pm City Arms, Wells BA5 2AG. Sing, play a tune, or just listen. Free admission, all welcome. Details: email@example.com
Thursday January 26th Chew Valley Group AWT talk “Beyond the bees: what about other insects?” Chew Magna Old School Room 7.45pm. £2.50 incl. refreshments.
Thursday January 26th to Sun Jan 29th Hutton Drama Club’s Rapunzel 7.30pm village hall, with matinees 2.30pm Sat & Sun. Details: 01934 519122 or www.ticketsource.co.uk/hutton-drama-club
Friday January 27th
Save the Children lunch 12.30pm Shipham village hall, £5. Come and join us!
Mendip Society Fun Quiz 7.30pm The Wellsway, Harptree Hill. £10 incl. supper –please book asap: www.themendipsociety.org.uk/events
Saturday January 28th
Congresbury LIVE! The Model Folk + support, 7.30pm War Memorial Hall, £7 on door.
Charity Quiz Night, 7.30pm Wells Town Hall. Teams up to six, £5pp. Booking essential: 01749 672342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Raffle prizes welcomed.
Saturday January 28th and Sun Jan 29th Somerset Vintage & Classic Tractor show, Bath & West Showground: www.somersettractorshow.com
Monday January 30th
Congresbury Memorial Hall Club Friendship evening with bingo, 8pm, War Memorial Hall. All welcome.
Wessex Stationary Engine Club meeting 8pm Old Down Inn, Emborough.
Mendip Folk Dance Club, 8pm St James Church Centre, Winscombe BS25 1AQ. No experience needed. Details Pat 01934 742853.
Tuesday January 31st
Wells & District Wildlife Group: Long Legged Beauties of the Somerset Levels, talk by Damon Bridge of the RSPB, 7.30pm, Wells Museum. Details: www.wdwg.org.uk
Tuesday January 31st to Thurs Feb 2nd Keyford Local History Group ‘The Last Matron: Frome’s Keyford Asylum’ 8pm Rook Lane Chapel, BA11 1DN. £8: www.dramakarma.co.uk/lastmatron
Wednesday February 1st to Tues Feb 28th East Lambrook Snowdrop Festival Tues to Sun 10am to 5pm. See: www.eastlambrook.com
Wednesday February 1st-4th Wrington Drama Club presents The Wizard of Oz. Details: email@example.com Julie 07535 582694.
Wednesday February 1st Bereavement Support Keynsham drop-in first Wed every month, 5.30pm-7pm, Baptist Church Hall, High St. A safe place to meet others who are bereaved. Free, with refreshments. Details: 07776 493221 or firstname.lastname@example.org “Art Bank Tales” a free family event with Mendip storyteller Janet North, 3-4pm Art Bank Cafe, Shepton BA4 5AA. Details: www.artbank.org.uk
Backwell & Nailsea Support Group for Carers: Grassy Knoll Ukulele Ensemble, 2pm3.30, Backwell WI Hall.
Thursday February 2nd
Folk Session 8.30pm The Red Lion, Paulton BS39 7NW. Sing, play a tune or just listen. Free. All welcome. Details: email@example.com
Congresbury Gardening Club talk by James Cross “The Bishops Palace Past and Present” 7.30pm, Congresbury Methodist Hall. Visitors welcome www.congresburygardeningclub.com
Cheddar u3a '‘Don’t Look Up’ a talk by Jo Richardson, Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society, about the Sun. Cheddar Village Hall BS27 3RF.
Friday February 3rd
The Mendip Society Wassail 6.30pm Burrington village hall, with refreshments. Free/donations. Details: 01275 874284. See: www.themendipsociety.org.uk/events Saturday February 4th
Frome Society for Local Study ‘The Roman Experience at The Newt in Somerset’ talk by Ric Weeks, 2.30pm Assembly Rooms BA11 1EB. Non-members welcome, £5. Details www.fsls.org.uk
Family storytelling sessions at The Bishops Palace, Wells. 2pm-2.40pm and 3pm–3.40pm. Folk tales, tall tales and true tales for national storytelling week. Free with entrance tickets to Palace.
Chew Valley Rugby Club fundraising gig by Stiff Upper Lips for Stand Up to Cancer. 7pm at the club. Tickets £15 from www.justgiving.com/page/chewvalley1666867742909
Sunday February 5th ‘Tistou, the boy with the Green Thumbs of Peace’ storyteller Janet North with a story of hope. Ages 8 to 80. 3pm-4pm, Ammerdown Centre, Radstock, BA3 5SW. Tickets £5 from www.ammerdown.org
“Winter birds at Ham Wall” walk led by Don Hurrell. Meet 10am RSPB Ham Wall. Details: www.somersetwildlife.org/events Monday February 6th RAFA Mid-Somerset branch meeting 11am, Street Inn, BA16 0DR. Review 2022 and plan for the AGM. Optional pub lunch. Details:
firstname.lastname@example.org 01458 224057. Tuesday February 7th ‘The collections of Napoleon and Josephine in Chateau Malmaison’ The Arts Society Mendip, 11am Croscombe village hall & Zoom. Guests welcome £6. Details: www.theartssocietymendip.org.uk
Yatton Local History Society: talk by Arthur Langley on the work of YCCCART, the local voluntary archaeological team. All welcome, 7.30pm Methodist Church.
Wednesday February 8th
Mendip Storytelling Circle 7.30pm-9.30 Ston Easton village hall, BA3 4DA. £5. For National Storytelling Week this session may be recorded for a talking magazine project (tbc) Details: 01275 332735 or email: email@example.com
Weston-s-Mare Family History Group talk by Mandy Webb: “Richard Herrick, Richard III and my DNA” 2.30pm Lady of Lourdes Church Hall, Baytree Rd, BS22 8HQ.
Kilmersdon Gardeners AGM 7.30pm village hall. See: www.kilmersdongardeners.org
Friday February 10th
Avon Wildlife Trust ‘Reading the Signs! (Bug life and our changing world) with Ray Barnett, 7.30pm Baptist Church Hall, High St, Keynsham. Members £3, visitors £4. Save the Children lunch 12.30pm Shipham village hall, £5. Come and join us!
Saturday February 11th
Cheddar u3a Valentine’s Concert with the Rock Band 7.30pm Cheddar Village Hall, BS27 3RF. Tickets available at meetings.
Parkinson’s NW Somerset Support Group meeting 10.30-12.15 St Francis Church, Nailsea. Coffee, chat and a talk by Caroline Pike on Walking Football.
Brent Knoll Bazaar, Farmer’s Market & Café 10-12noon in Brent Knoll Parish Hall. 2nd Saturday each month.
Monday February 13th
Nailsea & District Local History Society talk: “The archaeology of Bath Abbey” 7.45pm Nailsea School. Details: www.ndlhs.org.uk
Mendip Folk Dance Club, 8pm-10, St James Church Centre Winscombe BS25 1AQ. No experience necessary, Details Pat 01934 742853.
Folk Session 9pm Queen Victoria, Priddy BA5 3BA. Sing, play a tune or just listen. Free. All welcome. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday February 15th
Henton & District Gardening Club: “Granny’s Garden” a talk by Yvonne Bell, 7.30pm Henton Village Hall, BA5 1PD. Visitors welcome, £5. Details: www.hentongardenclub.weebly.com
Mendip Hills group of SWT, talk by Joe Hampson about the new reserve at Honeygar Farm Westhay. 7.30pm Cheddar Pavilion.
Thursday February 16th
Cheddar u3a Coffee Morning 10am Village
N G UIDEFOR F EBRUARY 2023
Hall, BS27 3RF.
Shipham & District Gardening Club, a talk on Orchids by Jonny Hartnell, 7.30pm Shipham Village Hall, BS25 1SG. All welcome.
Thursday February 16th to Sat Feb 18th Croscombe Frolics “Aladdin” 7.30pm village hall. Tickets: Adults £10, U18s or low income £6, from: www.croscombevillagehall.org.uk or email@example.com 01749 939485.
Friday February 17th
Wells & Mendip Museum: free half term family activity for ages 6+. Drop in 10am3.30pm. Details: www.wellsmuseum.org.uk/search-and-learnproject
Fundraising Gig for cancer charity We Hear You, 7pm The Tree House, Frome. Details: www.bit.ly/musicthatswhy
Saturday February 18th
Claverham village market 10am-12, village hall Bishops Rd. Meat, fish, veg, preserves, books, jigsaws, cards & crafts. To book a table: 01934 876692.
People First Fundraiser, with The Lipinski Band, 7.30pm The Royal Hotel, Weston-s-Mare. Details: www.nspf.co.uk
Sunday February 19th
Hedging Match, Vintage Tractor run & Land Rover meet, Launcherley nr Wells.
Coffee morning 10am-12 Tunley Rec Centre BA2 0DZ (track adj. to red telephone box). Fund raising for Village Hall.
Monday February 20th
Timsbury Natural History Group talk about Barn Owls by Gary Kingman, 7.30pm Conygre Hall, BA2 0JQ. Visitors welcome £3. Chew Valley U3A talk by Brian Butler “Updated legislation on tax, care and toy boys” 10am Ubley Parish Hall. All welcome.
Wednesday Feb 22nd Folk Session 8.45pm City Arms, Wells. Sing, play a tune or just listen. Free. All welcome. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org Backwell & Nailsea Macular Support meeting 1.30 pm Backwell WI Hall. Details: Sheila, 01275 462107.
Harptrees History Society: Honiton Lace Industry with Heather Toomer, 7.30pm West Harptree Memorial Hall BS40 6EG. Visitors welcome £3. Booking essential: email@example.com
Thursday February 23rd
Avon Wildlife Trust: Mike Bailey talking about moths and their struggle to survive, 7.45pm Chew Magna Old School Room, £2.50.
Friday February 24th
Save the Children lunch 12.30pm Shipham village hall, £5. Come and join us!
Saturday February 25th
Bristol Brass Consort 7.30pm, St Mary’s Church, Yatton. Tickets £10: www.yms.org.uk
Monday February 27th
Mendip Folk Dance Club, 8pm-10, St James Church Centre Winscombe BS25 1AQ. No experience necessary, Details Pat 01934 742853.
Wessex Stationary Engine Club meeting 8pm
Old Down Inn, Emborough.
Tuesday February 28th
Wells & District Wildlife Group talk by Prickles Hedgehog Rescue on how to support hedgehogs, 7.30pm Wells Museum. Details: www.wdwg.org.uk
Wednesday March 1st
Bereavement Support Keynsham drop-in first Wed every month, 5.30pm-7pm, Baptist Church Hall, High St. A safe place to meet others who are bereaved. Free, with refreshments. Details: 07776 493221 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday March 2nd
Folk Session 8.30pm The Red Lion, Paulton BS39 7NW. Sing, play a tune or just listen. Free. All welcome. Details: email@example.com
Congresbury Gardening Club talk by Christopher Bond “Satisfying all five senses in the garden” 7.30pm Congresbury Methodist Hall. Visitors welcome.
Cheddar u3a “Musical Memories” a talk by James Vincent about his career as an entertainer in holiday camps and cruise liners. 2pm Cheddar village hall, BS27 3RF.
Sunday March 5th
Bruton Choral Society concert of French music, 7pm St Mary’s Church. Tickets £10 in advance, £12 on door (children free) from Bruton Convenience Store or 01749 813161. See: www.brutonchoralsociety.org.uk
Anticipation building for Snowdrops Festival
THIS year’s Shepton Snowdrops Festival has a more extensive programme than ever and promises something for everyone from serious snowdrop collectors (galanthophiles) to families.
Amanda Hirst, one of the directors of Shepton Snowdrops, said: “We’re proud of the variety and diversity of the programme this year. There’s something to appeal to everyone and we’ve worked hard to keep a good balance between a local community event and one that reaches out to a much wider audience.
“This year we’re expecting groups of visitors from Austria and the Netherlands. One of our aims has always been to bring people to the town to enjoy the history, our heritage and the warm welcome that Shepton Mallet has to offer. And, of course, the ‘Snowdrop King’, James Allen, was born and lived his entire life here.”
This year the festival spans almost a full week – from Monday, February 13th to Sunday, February 19th – with special events to occupy children and families during half-term and some exciting new additions for the grown-ups including a visit to a private garden – Compton Court on the edge of Shepton Mallet – with its own bespoke snowdrop; the garden has never previously
opened to visitors.
Half-term events during the week include storytelling and art sessions, snowdrop walks at Downside Abbey and a Sunday Snowdrop Ramble with Shepton Walks.
The main festival weekend boasts specialist snowdrop and plant sales, a seed swap, arts and craft, poetry and photography competitions and a special snowdrop opening of the organic garden at Yeo Valley in Blagdon.
For details, visit: www.sheptonsnowdrops.org.uk
Show will offer old favourites and new delights
THE Royal Bath & West Show returns at the beginning of June and visitors will see exciting new attractions alongside old favourites.
The Imps Motorcycle Display Team are this year’s main ring attraction, with their unmissable performances. The main ring will also feature daily displays from Pawsability Dog Agility, the Pony Club Games finals, and a spectacular vintage vehicle parade. The Royal Bath & West Show runs from Thursday, June 1st to Saturday, June 3rd.
The hugely popular Pilton Tent, Woodland & Countryside Arena, Great British Dogs and Heavy Horses make a welcome return, and the enhanced Sports Village has support from Bristol City Football Club’s Robins Foundation and Bath Rugby Foundation.
Food and drink are at the heart of the show and, after its successful 2022 debut, the Great British Kitchen returns, with another exciting line-up of chefs providing free-to-attend cooking demonstrations. Following visitor feedback, the organisers are also excited to be introducing a brand-new Cheese Marquee along with the Regional Food & Drink Marquee. Jess Chiplen, Head of Shows, said: “We are delighted to be
welcoming visitors back to the Royal Bath & West Show and look forward to sharing our plans. We’ve used visitor feedback to enhance existing areas that we all know and love, as well as introducing exciting new elements.”
Ticket prices have been frozen for the third show in a row. An Advance Saver Ticket costs just £22 per adult and allows free admission for two children.
MENDIPStorytelling Circle has a busy month, supporting National Storytelling Week in early February. There will be extra events, as well as their regular meetings on the second Wednesday of each month at Ston Easton village hall. On Wednesday, February 1st they will have family stories at The Artbank Cafe in Shepton Mallet, then at The Bishop’s Palace in Wells on February 4th and at the Ammerdown Centre near Radstock on February 5th. On February 8th their regular meeting in Ston Easton