Contributed by Ann De Veulle
Last week I talked about the cottage in the Jersey countryside that was my family home for the first 7 years of my life and my memories of that part of my childhood are very happy ones and indeed, long after we had moved to the South east coast of the Island, my parents would often speak of our happy years at “Shady Cottage”.
The granite building had obviously been a coach house or something similar, for one of the large properties nearby, as large wooden gates gave entrance to a good sized yard area at the rear of the house and a large barn, where a bedroom had been installed on part of the hay loft, which was accessed via a substantial wooden ladder. The kitchen door of the house also opened on to the yard. The big garden surrounding the house was planted with several ancient apple trees and numbers of fruit trees and bushes. An arched pathway was devoted to pear trees and there were raspberry canes, blackcurrant and red currant and gooseberry bushes, and an old enormous fig tree which overhung the hedge over the lane. There was also a vegetable patch, of course. My father was a “townie” and I cannot imagine how he came to take on such a project whilst still working as a barber full time. I imagine he was influenced by a good friend who was a professional gardener and, I understand, George
taught him everything he knew and always helped with planting and pruning etc.
In the front garden I recall a Well with a wooden pump and flower beds which my mother and grandmother looked after but, the it was the enormous, very old, Yew tree which stood in the middle of the garden is what I remember most clearly and the warnings (particularly from my grandmother) not to eat the red berries on pain of death. Beyond the flower beds up three or four steps was the grassed area which was large enough for a bungalow to be built on it in the 1950s.
My mother and grandmother collected our daily milk from the farm at the end of the lane. The farm was owned by a real Jersey family of 3 sisters and 2 brothers and my brother and I loved to go with Mum as the Godeaux sisters always made a big fuss of us and would take us off to see the newborn Jersey calves or watch one of them milking the cows by hand. The still warm milk would be poured through a strainer into a metal can for us to take home. On a cold morning the heat could be seen steaming off the cows in the cattle sheds and, if I am anywhere near a farm with cattle now, that warm, milky smell always revives the happy memories.
When, in the Summer of 1941, the Germans occupied the Island, my parents (like all of the local population) were apprehensive of how the occupying power would behave and particularly worried about the fact that my brother and I had a 2 mile walk to Trinity School along narrow country lanes. The decision was made to move to somewhere closer to a school and to my father’s work. We were very happy in the house we moved to but, it had only a very small garden and in the later years of the occupation when food was scares, my father was heard to remark “if only we had stayed at “Shady Cottage!.
Cross on Milford On Sea village green. Flowers provided by the various churches in the village.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
On one of my walks recently I came across a small patch of wild violets which I remember as a small child being prolific in the verges and hedgerows in Jersey in Spring. Sadly, with modern farming methods and chemicals usage these beautiful little wild flowers seem to be very hard to find now.
For the first seven years of my life in Jersey, my family lived in an old Jersey granite cottage at Augres in the parish of Trinity, which is still largely a farming area, although the cattle farms have been replaced by various forms of agriculture. Our house was situated in a narrow lane between high grass banks topped by hedges, with a cattle farm at each end. At this time of the year the hedge opposite our gate was covered in lent lillies and wild violets as well as celandines and speedwells and others of which I have forgotten the names. A lovely Sunday school teacher from Augres Chapel, which my brother and I attended, would bring in different plants from the hedgerow and usually had a story about how they got their names like “Irish Washerwoman” etc. My mother was often presented with sweet smelling violets, daisies and probably dandelions, in a fish paste jar! Later in the year our hedgerow produced wild strawberries, a delicious sweet treat. But my most vivid memory is of my father taking us out into the lane, when it got dark on a Summer evening, to see the glow worms which made the whole lane sparkle. I fear that this sight is very rarely seen now.
It is fitting that flowers are a traditional gift at Easter (alongside the chocolate eggs) and the beautiful floral display at the base of the Cross on the Village Green remind us of the joy of the Resurrection.
Happy Easter to everyone.
Bleviee it or not! You are not going to believe this one
Aoccdrnig to rschearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what order the ltteers in a word are, the only iprmoetnt thing is that the frist and lsat ltter be at the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a total mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the human mind does not raed ervery lteter, but the word as a wlohe.
Amzanig, isn’t it?
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I found this in a book titled “England my England”. A treasury of all things English complied by Gerry Hanson. After typing this out, I am think my Spell Check on my Computer is about to have a nervous breakdown or explode. I hope everyone reading this will find it interesting and amusing, if not “amzanig”
Alan Boyce has created an online jigsaw puzzle representing Pentecost
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
In the Summer of 1992 I was in Lymington finalising the arrangements for our Wedding at St. Thomas’ Church in September and, after meeting the Vicar, Michael Joint, Chris and I were having lunch at the Yacht Club when a friend came over and asked Chris if he would be able to crew for him at the Round the Island Yacht Race which was due to take place the following weekend. Chris pointed out that I was staying with him and I knew very few people in Lymington as yet and he could hardly disappear for a day. The reply to that was that I was welcome to go as well and I, whose only knowledge of sailing had been a visit to a sailing yacht safely tied up to the jetty, agreed to give it a go.
The start of the Race from Cowes I found terrifying and , in the general melee of the boats in our class, I was convinced that there was going to be a collision but George, the Skipper, was an expert sailor and we progressed up the Solent at a good speed and I managed to avoid being hit on the head by the boom whilst changing sides when tacking. The crew consisted of the Skipper and his wife and teenage son, John, a friend of theirs, Chris and me. As we arrived off Hurst Castle, Carol, the Skippers’ wife, decided that we needed something to eat and went below to the galley to make bacon rolls. There was quite a stiff breeze and we were making good progress. The seas as we were getting ready to round the Needles were decidedly choppy and Carol popped her head up through the hatch, looking very green and said “I am going to have to lie down” and disappeared. I decided it was time for me to take over cooking the bacon and went below to the galley to get on with the task. Somehow I managed to grill the bacon and fill the rolls without the food and me ending up on the floor whilst we were rolling about in the swell, and everything was quickly devoured by us all (except Carol). Our Skipper was quite pleased with our performance and we crossed the finish line in a respectable position in our Class. I would like to say that following my experience on that day, I went on to become a competent sailor but, alas, I never got better than “fairly useless”. Chris had been a keen sailor and had owned a sailing dinghy (bought with saved up pocket money) from the age of 11 but, by the time I came on the scene, he ran a motor boat and I admit that I was never confident on the rare occasion when I had to take over the helm. Having said that, I have never been seasick in the roughest of conditions and still love the experience of skimming through the waves in the open sea. I have said it before but the sea is definitely in my blood.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
One of my favourite walks is up through the Nature Reserve to Studland Common. I usually meet a few people on my walk but, one particular morning there was not a soul about until I encountered a gentleman and his dog coming the other way. My son telephones me every day for a report on what I have been doing with myself and this time I told him how I had enjoyed the birdsong and the Spring flowers and the fact that I had only met one man and his dog. His comment was “Did they look as if they were on their way to mow a meadow?” This immediately took my memory back to my childhood and the annual Sunday School Summer picnic organised by our Church in the years following the end of the War.
This event usually took place in July as our transport was provided by local farmers in open lorries and so had to be after the end of the potato season and before the harvesting of the wheat, as the lorries would be needed for their normal use. On the day two lorries, which had been scrubbed clean and fitted with seating all around the sides, arrived at the Chapel and we (the children) were all helped up into the back by several accompanying adults and the boxes and tins containing our food and several large jerry cans of fresh water were stacked in the centre and the tail board fastened. We were all supplied with packets of paper streamers which we festooned each other with and aimed at people on the road. We were taken on a drive around the Island and down narrow country lanes, singing most of the way “One Man went to Mow”, “10 Green Bottles”, “She’ll be coming Round the Mountain” are the songs I remember. Our destination was the long sandy beach of St. Ouens Bay and there we met up with another Sunday School group from a Methodist Church in the North of the Island. The younger children made sandcastles and dug dams in the streams left by the ebbing tide and the older ones played rounders and had tug of wars against each other. When it was time to eat, we perched on rocks or sat on the sand and were given sandwiches, plenty of cakes and there was orange squash to drink. Bearing in mind that rationing was still operative, the ladies of both Churches did not skimp on what they managed to produce to feed the hungry horde.
When it was time go back home we were all issued with grey Army blankets to wrap around ourselves and keep warm on the trip back by a more direct route. We were returned to our parents at the Church sunburnt, windswept and sandy and too tired to have sung on the way back.
After a few years, the lorries were replaced by buses and, although more comfortable and warmer, there was not the excitement of being in the open and waving to everyone and entertaining them with our singing.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
One evening several weeks ago I turned on a tap and discovered that our water supply was cut off and, realising that I had no bottled water in the cupboard, began to think that I might have to clean my teeth with soda water. In the event, the supply was on again about an hour later so this experiment was not necessary. There had apparently been a water leak in the district and the supply had been cut off for about 4 hours. This did make me realise how little thought most of us give to how fortunate we are to have clean water whenever we need it. This week, I received a circular letter from the Director of International Programmes at Water Aid passing on the good news that, due to the efforts of Organisations like theirs, 9 out of 10 people in the World now how access to clean water although, over 800 children will still die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. There is still a lot of work to do.
Whilst I was thinking about the lack of a water supply, I remembered something that happened during the War. One particular Summer (1942 or 43 I think) we had a long period of hot dry weather and the reservoirs on Jersey were perilously low. The German Authorities decreed that the Island’s Domestic Water supply would be switched off between the hours of 6 pm and 6.30 am to preserve stocks.
At the time my family were living in a three storey Edwardian House, the middle one of a row of three. What had obviously been the servant’s quarters had been turned into a large bathroom and another room which was used as my grandmother’s sewing room. Access to the bathroom was up a couple of steps off the main staircase or via a narrow wooden staircase which came down into the kitchen.
My father woke one morning to hear our dog, Chummy, howling in the kitchen where he had his bed and, when he opened the door he was greeted by a waterfall down the staircase and a flooded kitchen.
Someone had obviously forgotten the fact that the supply was off and had put the plug in the washbasin and turned on the tap and not turned it off or removed the plug. My brother, Robert, who was 8 or 9 at the time, was blamed, but it could have been anyone and nobody was owning up.
The Christians Together group in Milford on Sea and Everton wish to express its thanks to all the people who have helped us cope during the pandemic.
• • •
This includes all of the staff working in the NHS and in care homes
delivery drivers who have kept the shops supplied with food and medicines as well as those making home deliveries
the staff working in our local shops
neighbours who have looked out for people who live alone or who have been shielding others who have kept in contact by email or phone to stop people feeling as if they have been abandoned
teachers and teaching assistants who have enabled children to carry on learning
scientists for developing vaccines which will eventually allow us to go back to leading more normal lives
emergency service workers
people who work to ensure that our supplies of gas, electric, water, phone and broadband are maintained
business owners who have had to completely change their business model to survive.
in any way to keeping us safe and healthy during the past year.
is not exhaustive but we want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed
Our church buildings are closed at present but that does not mean that the churches are not still active in our communities. Some churches have moved to providing online services, all of them are reaching out to provide pastoral care where it is needed. The need for prayer has never been greater and Christians Together churches have been regularly praying for all those in our communities. We are comforted by the words from Isaiah Chapter 58 v 9 “When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond”. That response may not always come in the form that we expect or would like but be assured God hears all our prayers.
Christians Together in Milford on Sea and Everton is a group which represents the churches in those villages viz. All Saints’ Church Milford on Sea, Milford on Sea Baptist Church, Milford on Sea Methodist Church, St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church Milford on Sea and St Mary’s Everton.
When the Coronavirus restrictions are finally lifted, I have decided that the time has come for me to return to Jersey where all my family are still based. I felt that I needed to tell all the lovely friends I have made in Milford how much I shall miss them all and to thank everyone for their unfailing kindness to me over the past 8 years.
Following an operation for prostate cancer after which he had been declared fit, my husband and I moved from Lymington to Milford in November 2013. Unfortunately, a further aggressive cancer had not been detected and Chris died 2 months after we got here. I did not know anyone in the village and, although Lymington is only 3miles away, friends do not visit to see how you are as often as if you were a few streets away so, when I was invited to the Newcomer’s Supper, I joined the local U3A and the Women’s Institute (which I had been a member of in Jersey) and I even decided to give the Bowls Club a try, despite the fact that I had never played bowls before. Everyone made a very nervous newcomer very welcome and I was amazed to discover that I did not make a fool of myself on the bowling green and really enjoyed the game.
For the first year or so, I attended the Sunday morning service at the Anglican All Saints Church and although everybody was very nice to me, I have always preferred the less formal worship of the Methodist Church and when my ex Lymington neighbours and good friends, Fran and Alan Cooke, suggested I met them at the Milford on Sea Methodist Church, I readily agreed and immediately felt at home amongst friends. I think we are all eagerly awaiting the time when we can meet and worship together. I am missing praying with other people and have remembered the Italian priest, Don Camillo, in the books by Giovanni Guareschi, where he had daily conversations with the Lord, mainly about his battles with the Communist Mayor of his Village and God would tell him what he was doing right or wrong. During this time of isolation I have found that my praying has become like a chat with a friend, Perhaps that is a good thing and indeed when someone asked me if I felt lonely, I was able to answer truthfully that I never have.
A mention of the beautiful Greek island of Crete in a newspaper recently had me remembering an enjoyable family holiday there in the 1970’s. We were staying at a very nice 4 star hotel near Heraklion and they provided a very good buffet breakfast with a good selection of food. The English language Menu had obviously been compiled by someone consulting a Greek/English dictionary and some of the dishes described did not sound very appetising. I can remember that “long stewed ovas” turned out to be hard boiled eggs and “Tost and compost” was delicious toasted bread and marmalade, whilst “beeswax” was of course “honey”.
My train of thought then switched to recalling hearing on the radio a recording of Gerard Hoffnung speaking to the Oxford Union in 1958 quoting his replies from German Hotels to his enquiry for accommodation and I have managed to find some quotes from that contained in a booklet entitled “Lost in Translation” written by Charlie Croker:-
“We have ample Garage accommodation for your char.”
“In the close village you can buy jolly memorials for when you pass away.”
“I send you my prices. If I am dear to you and your mistress she might perhaps be reduced.”
“I am honourable to accept your impossible request. Unhappy it is I have not here bedroom with bath. A bathroom with bed I have. I can though give you washing
with pleasure in a most clean spring with no person to see. I insist that you will like this.”
“I am amazing diverted by your entreaty for a room. I can offer you a commodious chamber with a balcony imminent to the romantic gorge and I hope you will want to drop in,”
“Sorrowfully I cannot abide your auto.”
“I give personal look to the interior wants of each guest. Here you shall be well fed up and agreeably drunk.”
“”Our charges for weekly visitors are scarcely creditable.”
“Peculiar arrangements for gross parties. Our motto is ever serve you right.”
“A hotel should be a home from home. But then again, it’s at home where most deaths occur.”
I must add a footnote that I do appreciate the fact that most other foreign nationals are much better at speaking English than we lazy Brits are at speaking theirs,
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
During the almost five years of the German Occupation of Jersey, new books and reading matter were not available and I was fortunate to have parents who had always been great readers so, from the age of 6, after my mother had taught me to read, I started reading through the varied selection of books we had at home. My first recollection is of the “Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes” and a book of Bible Stories for Children. As my reading skills improved, I progressed to my father’s 1920s “Boys’ Own Annuals” and my particular favourite serial in them which was about ancient Egypt, obviously inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. I even struggled through my mother’s copy of “Lambs Tales from Shakespeare”. There were other books on very different themes which I cannot remember but one which I am sure was responsible for triggering a recurring nightmare which bothered me for some time. The title was something like “Tragedies which Shocked the World” and the account which prompted my nightmare was of the tidal wave which occurred following the erupting of the Krakatoa Volcano and it was the illustration of crowds of little figures fleeing in front of an mountainous wave which bothered my dreams. This wall of water would build up in St. Aubin’s Bay in Jersey and I would be rooted to the spot unable to move. I actually had a recurrence of the dream following the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand a few years ago. But, generally, I am sure that my childhood reading nurtured my continuing passion to know more about the World’s History and my love of the English Language.
I was disappointed to read in the paper recently that Universities were reporting that the study of History and English had declined in favour of IT and Media etc. I have never understood why so many people will say “BORING” when History is mentioned. Perhaps they were not fortunate enough to have a good history teacher. My history teacher, Miss Smith, was also our Sports teacher and she managed to impart her enthusiasm for the subject by her descriptions of events in modern language and her armies did not “deploy” they “belted over” . Unfortunately for me my brain was not very good at remembering dates and I recall most of my essays coming back with comments like “Excellent narrative but where are your dates?” or just “DATES!!??” in large red letters. When exams loomed, I had to spend my revision time getting the essential dates into my memory. Mostly successful luckily. I can sympathise with current scholars trying to raise an interest in the subject by reading the narrative on a computer screen. It was probably Winston Churchill that said that we should all try to learn from history and the mistakes of previous generations but it seems to me that succeeding generations always think that they know better and seem to concentrate on finding more efficient ways of killing each other. Our Creator must be very disappointed in his creation but we have the assurance of the Crucifixion of Jesus that he has not given up on us.
Contributed by Alan Boyce
The hand that spins the galaxies brought me into being.
The One who holds the stars has made me his own.
I am God’s child. My life is rich, my days are sacred.
I am held by a love that’s wider and higher than the farthest
edges of this expanding universe.
I am a pilgrim in this world, in search of wisdom and wonder.
I will take new adventures.
And follow God into the unknown.
What I achieve is not as important as the person I become.
So I will seek to imitate the Nail-Pierced One.
I will step in the direction of my strengths and talents.
They are Spirit-given tools for my God-given tasks.
I will pay attention to my persistent aspirations.
They could be the whispers of God.
I will serve all I can and walk deeply with a few.
I will aim for great things but leave my legacy to God.
The path is long and the terrain at times hard.
I will not wish for another’s life.
I will take my place, play my part.
Something important will be missed if I don’t.
For the hand that spins the galaxies wants me here.
Adapted and abridged from The Making of Us: Who We Can Become When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned by Sheridan Voysey.
Thomas Nelson publishers. © 2019 Sheridan Voysey
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
It was probably one of my grandchildren who asked me if I had any idea how St. George came to be the Patron Saint of England, when he was a foreigner and his fabled killing of a dragon in some far away country hardly qualified him for the position. In the depths of my memory I recalled having been told that it had something to do with Richard 1, the Lion Heart, and the Crusades. The questioner has no doubt forgotten that they asked the question, but I felt it necessary to be prepared if they brought it up again. I hope I have got the true answer now.
George was born of Christian parents at Lydda in the Vale of Sharon in Palestine in about AD270. He served as an Officer in the Roman Army under the Emperor, Diocletian. When Diocletian’s successor, Caesar Galerius, who was often described as “the wickedest man in the world”, issued edicts against Christians, George tore them up and refused to throw incense on a lamp before the Emperor’s statue, declaring “I believe in Jesus Christ, who only is both God and Lord”. St. Andrew of Milan’s account of the martyrdom of St. George is considered to be the most trustworthy and he wrote :-
“George, the most faithful soldier of Jesus Christ, when religion was by others concealed, alone adventured to confess the Name of God, whose heavenly grace infused such constancy
Into him that he not only warned the tyrants, but was contemptuous of their torture.”
During the Crusades, at the Siege of Jerusalem, Richard 1, the Lion Heart, claimed to have seen a vision of St. George bearing a red cross banner. Richard did not enter Jerusalem with the victorious army, considering himself unworthy to do so. However, in gratitude for the victory, he repaired the church over the grave of St. George at Lydda and took the saint as his personal patron.
Edward 111 founded the Order of the Garter in 1348, under the patronage of St. George and, in 1399 Archbishop Arundel called a Synod at St. Paul’s to receive a Petition from the Clergy which read:-
“The feast of St. George the Martyr, who is the spiritual patron of England, should be appointed to be solemnised throughout England and observed as a holiday, even as other
Nations observe the feast of their Patron”.
In Shakespeare’s Henry V he immortalised the great battlecry at Harfleur “God for Harry, England and St. George”.
Yesterday I had my Covid vaccination and I was really impressed by the very efficient process and how smoothly everyone was being dealt with. Congratulations to our Milford Surgery!
On the subject of injections, there was a letter in the Daily Telegraph from a gentleman who had apparently written to the BBC asking them if they could refrain from showing images of people having the injection administered. He had a fear of needles and seeing needles being inserted into someone’s arm was making him terrified of receiving the vaccine.
My mind immediately went back to my schooldays just after the end of the War when we seemed to be regularly getting an injection for various diseases. These were administered by a District Nurse and the same hypodermic needle was used for several injections, being dipped in disinfectant and refilled between each. I can remember that it was always quite painful, particularly when the needle was getting blunt and I also had very skinny arms! One quite tough looking lad in the class above me actually fainted when his turn was coming up and after this happened a couple of times the headmistress always arranged for him to receive the injection sitting down in a side room. One lot of vaccinations were given soon after the War when our Medical Officer for Jersey , Dr. McKinstry, was determined to eradicate TB, which was rife in the Island. We became the first place in the Britain to trial the Swedish Salk Vaccine with great success and Dr. McKinstry rightly received acknowledgement for his work.
I was working at the Jersey Tourist Office in the early sixties when there was a Smallpox scare and vaccinations were rolled out again. One afternoon after work I was walking up the main street in St. Helier with one of my work colleagues, a lovely lady called Valerie, and we met a mutual friend outside Boots. During our conversation she asked “Have you had your vaccination yet?” Valerie turned pale and we had to grab hold of her and seat her on the step of Boots. A pharmacist rushed out and got her onto a chair inside the Shop with her head between her legs. When we told him what had happened he said “AH” and asked her if she was afraid of needles to which question she nodded. He told us that he had come across people fainting at the sight of the needle but Val was the first one he had encountered that fainted at the mention of it. Fortunately, we lived on the same bus route so I stayed with her for the extra stop and made sure that she got home safely. I have kept in touch with Valerie and, sadly, she had a massive stroke in her mid fifties and has been in and out of Hospital for the past 15 years or so. I have never dared remind her of the episode or mention needles, but I think she must have had to endure countless injections during this time. My sympathies are with the letter writer and I hope that he will be able to face the ordeal and receive his jab.
Take care and stay safe.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I recently read an Article by Bryony Gordon under the heading “No such thing as normal” in which she admitted to worrying continually about everything during the lockdown period, when there were no outside diversions to occupy her, the Article ended with the following –
“Here’s What I want to tell you – You are allowed to be happy. You are allowed to have fun. You are allowed to take time off from worrying and have a laugh with your friends – in fact you deserve it. You do not have to spend your whole life in a state of perpetual panic. You do not have to carry the weight of the world in your mind. You do not always have to be good. You are allowed to screw up, to make mistakes, to do stupid things – because you are a human with a brain and humans with brains will always do stupid things. The Universe is not going to punish you for these things. It is not going to strike you down for being you. It is also not going to give you a medal for worrying. Worrying is not pointless, but when you focus on it too much it’s certainly not helpful. Remember you are doing the best you can with what you have been given. So don’t worry or, do worry . You are allowed to worry. Just don’t forget that you are allowed to do other things as well”.
I have to admit to being a worrier and having the sort of brain which refuses to stop worrying about all sorts of things, but I am prevented from falling into deep despair by following the advice of the well known hymn to “Take it to the Lord in Prayer.”
I was listening to Radio Solent early on Sunday last week and they were talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus, from her acceptance of God’s plan for her,
through to her presence at the foot of the Cross. One fact I had not realised is that she is thought to have still been a teenager when she gave birth to Jesus, whilst Joseph was an older man. It is impossible to imagine how frightened she must have been when, on the orders of a hostile, unsympathetic occupying power, they were forced to travel 100 miles or so in the depth of Winter, to register for population census, to the little town of Bethlehem, when she was eight months pregnant. Joseph also must have been worried and desperate, knowing that the birth was imminent and, when they reached Bethlehem and everywhere was full. One cannot help but think of the plight of so many families who have become refugees through War, religious persecution etc.
I know that I have mentioned before that “In the Bleak Midwinter” is my favourite carol and Christina Rossetti’s words certainly capture for me the story of Christ’s birth in a barn in the depths of Winter. The last verse is very emotional for me “What can I give him, poor as I am. If I were a Shepherd I would bring a lamb. If I were a Wise Man I would do my part but what I have I bring him – bring my heart.”
I wish everyone a joyous, safe Christmas and add my prayers that 2021 will speedily bring recovery from this awful pandemic.
The residents of Milford on Sea put a lot of effort into making the village look attractive during the Christmas season and 2020 is no exception. This year’s display, based around the Village Green, has been organised by Diana Brushwood and Tracy Haupt on the theme of “Making Milford more Magical”.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
In December 1968 one of the Jersey Tour Companies was organising a 4 day trip to London for shopping and to see the lights and we decided that our 5 year old son would enjoy the experience.
I do not remember how much shopping we did, but I still remember the 3 visits to Santa’s Grotto in the best known Department Stores in London, although which Store had organised which presentation is not clear to me. To visit the first Santa we boarded Cinderella’s coach and the scene passing by the windows was of an enchanted forest. On arrival at the Grotto, we were greeted by elves and ushered in to see Father Christmas himself in his den surrounded by piles of parcels, which he handed out to children with the assistance of his little helpers.
Our transport to the Grotto on the second day was a little train which ran all around the toy department and exited via a tunnel into a snowy scene, where Santa was waiting in an igloo to talk to the children and distribute their gifts. I think my son was most impressed by Santa’s third venue the next day. When we arrived at the Toy Department (Harrods?) we purchased tickets for a Rocket launch and were given the time of departure of the next ship. At the stated time we were escorted through a short tunnel by a spaceman, in glass helmet, and a “Robot” and boarded a cleverly disguised lift which took us up to a planet circling the Earth, where more robot elves were assisting Santa. I hope I managed to explain to Mark how Santa managed to get to these different locations so quickly. Anyway he still remembers our Festive Season visit to London and how much he enjoyed it, so it was worth it, and I still recall seeing the delight and amazement on all the little children’s faces. Our last day was spent at Hamleys, where Mark had a difficult time deciding what to buy with his saved up pocket money and we ended up singing carols in Trafalgar Square.
I want to add my praise for the organisers of the decorations in Milford again this year, particularly the circle of trees around the crib, emphasizing the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I remember seeing Michael Flanders and Donald Swann on television in the 70’s and 80’s and loving their humorous songs like “The Gas Man Cometh” and “Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud” and, when I came across the words to their “Song of the Weather”, I thought it might raise a smile :-
JANUARY brings the snow, makes your feet and fingers glow.
FEBRUARY’s ice and sleet – freeze the toes right off your feet!
Welcome MARCH with wintry wind – would thou wert not so unkind?
APRIL brings the sweet Spring showers, on and on for hours and hours.
Farmers fear unkindly MAY – frost by night and hail by day.
JUNE just rains and never stops, thirty days and spoils the crops.
In JULY the sun is hot. Is it shining? No, it’s not.
AUGUST cold and dank and wet, brings more rain than any yet.
Bleak SEPTEMBER’s mist and mud is enough to chill the blood.
Then OCTOBER adds a gale, wind and slush and rain and hail.
Dark NOVEMBER brings the fog – should not do it to a dog.
Freezing wet DECEMBER then it’s blasted JANUARY again.
Further comment on the English weather came from Lord Byron who described the English Winter as “ending in July to begin again in August.”
I really do not think our weather is anywhere nearly as bad as that, but we would be lost without complaining about about it!
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
In 1970 I received a phone call from my sister in law, Jackie. from Cornwall, saying that George had just agreed to do 2 weeks as a locum for the Vicar of the Church in Heysham, Lancashire in July and, if we could manage with one suitcase, we could all fit into George’s car, if we felt like joining them. She did add that there was a washing machine available!
So, when the time came, we all piled into the old, large Volvo. Gaby (4) sat in the front with her parents and John and I sat in the back with the 2 boys aged 7 and 6 and Angus, the Cairn Terrier. It cant have been a comfortable journey but the only thing I recall about it was that Gaby announced that she felt sick and Jackie producing a bowl from somewhere.
The Vicarage was situated at the end of a cul de sac next to the Church and turned out to be a large, Victorian building with a fair sized garden at the rear. Inside the rooms were large with high ceilings but, apart from the ones overlooking the garden, were quite gloomy. George had spoken to the Vicar who had told him that he collected clocks, but that he did not require him to wind them all, but gave instructions for how to keep 2 or 3 of them ticking. There seemed to be clocks everywhere, from an imposing Grandfather clock in the Hall, another longcase clock in the Dinning Room, art deco timepieces on the mantlepiece, skeleton clocks under glass domes on the sideboards, and a wonderful assortment of wall clocks on the stairs and landings. Someone suggested that their owner was on a forced sabbatical, having gone mad trying to synchronise them all and get them to strike at the same time.
George’s duties were not too onerous, I think he conducted Matins and Evensong on the 2 Sundays, and a midweek evening Service, so we packed a lot of exploring the area into our fortnight. We all loved our day trips into Yorkshire, where we paddled in the cold mountain streams and followed the trail up past a series of waterfalls and jumped across on stepping stones. We visited the infamous prison in Lancaster and paid a brief visit to Morecambe with its’ equally infamous sinking sands.
Another memory I have is of the pair of screech owls who nightly disturbed our sleep, until we got used to them. One would sit in the large tree in the garden whilst the other obviously went on the hunt and they continuously hooted to each other.
Then, the day before we were due to return home, Angus went missing. George had taken him for a walk and he had just disappeared and no amount of calling could bring him back. We all scattered in different directions but he did not appear. We called in to the Police Station and left George’s home phone number as we were leaving to drive back to Cornwall the next morning. The children were in tears and the adults very subdued that evening. We had another search in the morning and rang the Police but had to leave with no news of the little dog. There was a happy ending when, 2 days later, the Police phoned to say that a lady had brought Angus into the station after he followed her and her dog home and sat on her doorstep. This meant George driving back to Heysham to collect Angus who seemed oblivious to all the trouble he had caused and lapped up all the attention showered on him.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
Sometime last year a lovely lady called Judy Theobald, who is now a presenter on Radio Lincolnshire, gave a very entertaining talk to the Milford WI, and I was recently reading a book of verses she has written on “Life – and Other Problems” which all made me smile. I thought that we could all do with having something to smile at, so I hope the following does the trick for you. It is entitled “Well Urned”.
What an accolade! Her Majesty is coming to our Church.
They have organised the bomb squad who will carry out a search.
They’ve commandeered the school next door for parking all the cars.
The flower team are searching hard for every vacant vase.
The Scouts and Guides have practised every step, salute and turn.
But we’ve only got one problem – Mrs. Higgins and her urn.
Mrs. Higgins has been serving Parish teas for donkey’s years
Under ten Prime Ministers she has served the cup that cheers.
And always from the self-same spot inside the Vestry door.
She even boasts that Hitler didn’t stop her in the War.
So, as they lay the carpet ready for the regal foot.
Mrs. Higgins and her urn are staying resolutely put.
Despite the Vicar’s protests, and the Bishop’s vain persuasion
The fateful day arrives and all are braced for the occasion
As Her Maj admires the carvings and the frescoes done in oil
And the rood screen, and the tea urn as it comes up to the boil
And the sight of Mrs. Higgins as she beams triumphantly
As Her Majesty is forced to drink her dreadful orange tea.
I want to assure our own lovely “tea ladies” that I see no resemblance to Mrs. Higgins, especially as I have even helped in that capacity a couple of times!
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
I cannot recall the context but, recently, someone remarked that it was indeed true that prophets were not accepted in their own country and this made me think about the case of my first husband’s elder brother,
George. As a teenager in Jersey after the War, he was what would now be described as “Streetwise” and the family were not churchgoers apart from the usual weddings, christenings and funerals. He first surprised the family when he was 18 and took himself off to Calgary in Canada to work on a horse ranch. Apparently not a good communicator, there was little news of him for a couple of years until he arrived back in England and took up a Nursing Training course and eventually worked as a Charge Nurse at Virginia Water Mental Hospital where he met and married his wife, Jackie, a Ward Sister there. Sometime in the next few years I married John and, although George and Jackie visited us several times during this period, there was no hint that he had received a calling to become a priest. So it was a big surprise when we got the news that George had enrolled in Welles Theological College and Jackie had become Warden of Sheltered Accommodation near Bristol to support him through his studies.
In due course, my husband and I and our 2 year old son accompanied their mother to George’s Ordination in Guildford Cathedral in Spring 1965. His first job as a Curate was at Little Bookham and then for a few months he was Curate at the little church down below the Tamar Bridge at Saltash, where we visited them for a holiday. The first time we saw George conduct a Service was when he moved to St. Mary’s, the imposing Church on the hill above Penzance in Cornwall. I thought that he had given an interesting and sincere sermon and conducted the Anglican High Church Service very well. My husband’s comment when George enquired how we thought he had done was “The incense cleared my head”! He wasn’t admitting that he was quite proud of him.
George and Jackie went on to have 2 children, a boy and a girl, and he became Vicar of several other Churches all over Cornwall and we visited him every year in their mostly large old Rectories with large gardens.
His last post as Vicar was at Penryn, Falmouth before he was made the Archdeacon of Bodmin and we, of course, were present at his Installation in Truro Cathedral. Sadly, a few years after, George was diagnosed with FLD – Frontal Lobe Deterioration and was retired from the Church. Jackie nursed him at home until his condition deteriorated and he was looked after at Bodmin Mental Hospital until he died 1997.
When the local Jersey paper had a brief report of George’s appointment as Archdeacon, several people who had been his friends remarked that they could not believe it was the same person they had grown up with.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
I have recently been reading up on the life of my favourite poet, Christina Rossetti, and I want to share some of her story .
Christina was born in London on the 5thDecember, 1830. In London, the youngest child of a very artistic, intellectual family. She had two brothers, Dante Gabiel, who became an influential artist and poet, whilst William Michael and Maria were both writers. Christina was a lively child who dictated her first story to her mother before she had learned to write. She was educated at home by her parents who had her study religious works, classics, fairy tales and novels. In 1840, her father’s mental and physical health deteriorated to the point where he was forced to give up his teaching post at King’s College and her mother began teaching to support the family. When Christina was 14 she suffered a nervous breakdown and went into a period of severe depression. During this period, she, her mother and sister became absorbed in the Anglo-Catholic movement and religious devotion came to play a major role in her life.
In the ensuing years, Christina acted as a model for a number of her brother’s paintings and became the most successful English female poet. Several of her poems were set to music notably my favourite Carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” first by Gustav Holst and later by Harold Darke and “Love came down at Christmas” has also been arranged by several composers.
Christina never married although, apparently, she had offers of marriage from three suitors, who were all rejected when their religious beliefs were not compatible with hers. She died on the 29thDecember, 1894 having suffered from Graves’ disease (diagnosed in 1872) and developing breast cancer in 1893.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
I finished last week’s chapter on my visit to Scotland in the 1970s at the point where we had decided to take the Ferry from a place called Lochaline to the Island of Mull. The signs directing us to the Ferry stated that the route was unsuitable for large vehicles and caravans, but we were unprepared for the narrowness of the winding road, with frequent passing places and groups of sheep wandering around or just standing unmoveable blocking the road. Fortunately, we only encountered a few vehicles coming the other way and we finally arrived at a beautiful sandy bay, where we drove onto the open deck of the small vessel, from the jetty. Two or three further cars arrived, along with a couple of cyclists and motor bikes. Arriving at Mull we sought out the Tourist Office and asked for help in getting accommodation for one night. After quite a few phone calls made by the very helpful lady at the Tourist Office, she gave us an address and detailed directions of how to get to our accommodation. We were told not to arrive at the Guest House until after 5pm to allow for the proprietor to make up the beds etc. The final instruction was that there would not be any staff at the House, but we would find all the necessary food for us to prepare our meals, and we would find the key in a box underneath the water butt.
Somewhat apprehensively, we had a meal at the nearby café before setting off to find our shelter for the night. After quite a long drive through wonderful scenery up steep hills and down into green valleys, with uncountable number of sheep everywhere, we eventually arrived at an inland Loch at about 6pm. Our cottage for the night was one of pair of old Crofters cottages by the side of the road running down the side of the Loch. There were no other dwellings in sight. Having retrieved the key from its hiding place, we went in to a good sized Kitchen/Dining Room and on the table there was a note welcoming us and saying that we would find a good supply of food in the fridge. Also on the table, wrapped in a cloth, was an enormous loaf of bread and a bowl of fruit. The fridge was packed with everything we could want – eggs, bacon, milk, butter, ham, cheese, and in the pantry, pots of marmalade and jam and cereals. The beds were very comfortable and the whole place was very clean.
After supper, probably bread and cheese, we went for a stroll along the Loch and my nicest memory is of sitting on a rock by the water at nearly 11 o’clock at night, watching an enormous red sun disappearing behind the Ben in the east. The only sounds were from the birds and the occasional splash of the water. Wonderful.
The next day was memorable for a different reason, when we discovered that we were getting low on petrol and, out in the wilderness as we were, had no idea where the nearest petrol pump could be found or even the next public telephone box to ring the AA if we ran of petrol! – no such things as mobile phones or GPS. We decided that we should head for Tobermory which seemed to be our nearest town and, when we did encounter a farmer in a field along the way, he confirmed that this was our best option and that there was a public phone box about midway. Checking the petrol tank, he reckoned that we should make it! The drive along the coast road was another memorable one as, for some distance the road seemed to have been carved out of the towering cliff and there was a very steep drop to the ocean on the passenger side, but we made it to a Garage just outside the delightful port of Tobermory.
We returned to the Scottish mainland via the large Car ferry to Oban to continue our journey.
I have visited Mull again about 10 years ago and it is still a largely unspoiled Island but definitely more geared up to the Tourist trade and I doubt whether any Guest House owners still leave the key in a box under the water butt.
Contributed by AnnDe Veulle
After leaving Aberdeen on our Scottish motoring holiday from Jersey in the 1970s, the next very interesting visit I remember was to a Whisky Distillery in the Spey Valley. Our friend Mike, the co-driver on this trip, worked for a firm who advised and supplied farmers and growers of the latest chemicals and growing methods and had recently sent him to Vancouver, Canada to a conference on hydroponics – the process of growing things like tomatoes, strawberries etc in water in glasshouses and whilst there, he had met a Scottish Gardening expert who regularly appeared on the BBC gardening programmes and was invited to come and see an experimental system he was running using the heated waste water from the distilling process, if he was ever in Scotland. When we decided to spend this holiday in Scotland, Mike asked if we could take advantage of this invitation which we readily agreed. We arrived at the Distillery (my memory does not stretch to the name of the Whisky) at the arranged time and were met by our expert, whose name also escapes me, and were shown around a series of glasshouses where he was growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries and explained how the system operated so that even I got most of the idea.
After the horticultural tour we were given a conducted tour of the distillery by the Manager, had a tasting of the 3 types they made and were given souvenir sample bottles to take with us. Both the horticulturist and the distillery man agreed that the experiment seemed to be working well for both participants. Mike’s job, which he loved and was very good at, unfortunately caused his early death at the age of 53 through the toxic chemicals he had come into contact with.
We had not agreed a definite route for our journey apart from deciding we would go up the East coast and return via the western route through England back to Southampton. Leaving the Spey Valley, the next stay I can recall was at a small Hotel in a small town called Kingussie. The Hotel had been recommended by someone along the way and we phoned (public telephone no mobiles of course} and booked ourselves in.
Most of the other guests at the Hotel turned out to be avid birdwatchers, as a pair of Ospreys had nested in the area and the Hotel had set up a hide above a nearby lake from which it was possible to view the birds plummeting into the water and catching fish. At this time Ospreys were just returning to Scotland, so the site of their nest was strictly guarded. We did see the birds circling high up but were not up for sitting in a hide for hours which our fellow guests were all eager to do. The Hotel was excellent and noted for their traditional Scottish menu.
Looking at the map after leaving Kingussie we saw that we could get a ferry to the Island of Mull from a place called Lochaline and decided that would be another interesting destination. So, at the risk of becoming very boring, I shall report on our visit to that lovely Island in my next contribution.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
We bought our first brand new car in the mid 1970s, a white Nissan Saloon, having owned a succession of second hand vehicles previously. My husband, John, decided that the car needed to be driven on longer distances than achievable on our small Island of Jersey. It had already been decided with two of our good friends that we would have a holiday together without our children, who we deemed old enough and sensible enough to look after themselves for 2 weeks. After consulting with Joan and Mike we all decided that we would like to visit Scotland and bookings were made for 2 weeks in August.
British Rail ran the Ferry from the Channel Islands to Southampton and we discovered that the car could be loaded on the train at Brockenhurst, destination Stirling, on the overnight sleeper. I had not made many train journeys and certainly not overnight and it was quite exciting, thinking that we would be having our meals in the Dining Car being waited on. When our tickets arrived there was a note telling us that there was not a Dining car on this service and any meals required would be served to us via a hamper in our sleeping compartment and that was what we had. Obviously a cold meal was provided which comprised of a starter of smoked salmon and a main course of cold meats with a salad followed by a dessert of Scottish raspberries. There was also cheese and a small bottle of wine. A very acceptable dinner but far from service on the Brighton Belle or the Orient Express. We ate our meal on a pull down table over the washbasin, sitting on 2 bar stools. The Steward came round later with hot drinks. By the time we were climbing into our bunks, it was dark and pouring with rain and we were shunted into a siding near Clapham Junction to await the arrival of the Engine to take us on to Stirling. We knew we were on our way when the Engine coupled up with a jolt sometime later. We were due in Stirling at about 6.30a.m. I think and the Steward woke us at about 5.30, when he delivered our hamper with our Continental breakfast and brought us tea or coffee.
When the car was offloaded my husband was horrified to see that his pride and joy was covered in rusty marks,
obviously from the iron work over the siding at Clapham, but it was too early to try and find a car wash so we set off on the road to Dundee. We drove for an hour or so but which time we were travelling on deserted country roads and, coming down a steep hill,
we arrived at a ford through a sparkling clear stream. Mike suggested that if we parked the car in the middle of the ford, which was about 6 inches deep, we could try to wash the rusty marks off the paintwork. So the two men removed their shoes and rolled up their trousers. Two plastic water bottles from the boot were repeatedly filled and tipped over the car and after a wipe over with the two shammies, it looked as good as new. Fortunately no other traffic needed to cross the ford the whole time we were blocking it and we proceeded on our way.
Our first night was spent at a Guest House a few miles outside of Perth. We saw a board outside some imposing metal gates advertising accommodation and discovered that the house was the Lodge/Gatehouse of a large Estate. The proprietor’s husband told us that he was the chief ghillie working for the Laird who owned the Estate and we had an excellent dinner and breakfast and were able to wander through the grounds to the “beach”, which was a rocky area where the sea looked anything but inviting. The next bit of the holiday I remember was when we ended up in the Bus Lane in a busy Aberdeen, when we were fortunately rescued by a friendly policeman. I suspect our “J” plate on the car told him that we were ignorant foreigners who couldn’t be expected to follow the rules!
We did have a very enjoyable holiday and agreed that Scotland was as beautiful as we imagined. I hope you will be interested to hear about some more of our trip but I shall leave that to be continued.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I confess to having a complete lack of inspiration for my contribution this week and have resorted to quoting part of an article by an anonymous author on further vagaries of the English language.
“Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language to people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo or a truck by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? Lift a thumb to thumb a lift? Table a plan in order to plan a table?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same while a wise guy and a wise man are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can a person be pretty ugly?
How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another? Have you noticed that we only talk about certain things when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown?
Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? And where are all those people who really are spring chickens or would actually hurt a fly?
You actually have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and an alarm clock goes off by going on? Why is “crazy man” an insult, while to insert a comma and say “crazy, man” is a compliment.
English was invented by people, not Computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, is not a race at all). That is why when the stars are out they are visible but, when the lights are out they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.”
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I awoke the other morning to hear the Radio Solent presenter comparing the Donald Trump/Joe Biden debate to the teenage bickerings of his sons. My mind immediately took me back to my schooldays when I was 15 years old and preparing to sit the first exam of the newly introduced GCSE. One of the subjects on our timetable was “Current Affairs”, which meant that once a fortnight the whole class was expected to contribute to a discussion of some local or international topic. The particular one I recall to mind concerned a controversial building programme being floated by the States of Jersey Public Works Department about which local feelings were very divided. The ensuing discussion became very heated with everyone talking over each other and, in the end, the presiding teacher ruled that the whole session had not achieved any useful conclusion. He then proposed that the matter should be the subject for our next debate. The Plans were being printed in full in the “Jersey Evening Post” in the Saturday edition (no computer web site of course} and he wanted us all to study these and be prepared for a properly organised debate in 2 week’s time. He then selected the four pupils who had been the fiercest participants in the discussion to be the main speakers for and against. Then he told them that he wanted the 2 who had been fiercely pro, that they were to present the contra case and the 2 against were to argue the case for the scheme.
The resulting protests of “What’s the point of that” and “ I cant do that, Sir” cannot have been unexpected. The teacher then explained that if, in our future careers, we were asked to promote something, be it a construction scheme or a product or a point of view, we were likely to be more successful if we were fully prepared to answer any queries or criticisms thrown at us and, by trying to understand their objections, we would have a ready answer and be able to present a stronger case to the audience.
My memory does not stretch to remembering the result of our debate on that occasion, but it did have some effect on my thinking – when I have been in the position of arguing a cause, I find myself thinking that there are always some merits in the opposite view, although I must own up to not always acknowledging the fact.
I feel sorry for the American candidates who obviously did not have such wise teachers.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
I gained my first Certificate for crossing the Arctic Circle in August 2002 when our Baltic Cruise took us all the way North to the Norwegian Island of Svalbard. Whilst there we visited the Norwegian Polar Research Institute. As the World’s northernmost settlement it has been used in the past as the base for many expeditions to the North Pole. The compound has a Post Office, direct telephone communication via satellite and an airstrip. Most of the major countries have research laboratories here where all kinds of things are monitored including the effects of global warming on sea life and the environment etc.
Before leaving the Ship we were issued with notices listing guidelines for our visit, including instructions not to walk anywhere except on the roads and paths to protect the vulnerable arctic tundra; to beware of approaching areas where the Arctic Terns were nesting in the stones as they would attack anyone perceived as a threat and hats were a necessity to protect the head; scientific instruments should not be approached as they were very sensitive to human activity; no litter was to be dropped; and to be aware of the Polar Bear danger outside the settlement.
The compound is surrounded by a high strong wire fence and, on arrival at the entrance gate we were all given badges to show that we were visitors. Also greeting us was a large notice saying that Polar Bears had got into the compound the previous night and taken 2 of the dogs. The breach in the fence was under repair but we were advised to be vigilant! As it turned out we never caught a glimpse of a Polar Bear the whole trip. We were served coffee and Danish pastries in the dining hall of the Hotel which provided accommodation for visiting officials (no plush furnishings here). A visit to the little Museum was very interesting where we learnt that the original settlement had been founded in 1917 in connection with the mining operations in the area. There were also Relics of Amundsen’s expeditions and other interesting objects.
We were given free time to walk around the Station past the buildings flying national flags of numerous countries. These buildings were all unprepossessing wooden 2 storey constructions until we found the Chinese research building – this building had a short flight of steps to the front door flanked on either side by a large Chinese Lion Statue. We were standing in front looking at the statues when my husband saw through a passageway between the Chinese building and another country, an Arctic Fox and some reindeer on the large area of tundra outside the wire and, deciding to try and get a good photograph, he turned to go down this alleyway to the wire. Suddenly, out of a doorway on the side of the building there appeared this Chinese gentleman, dressed all in black and looking like an even larger version of Odd Job from the James Bond films (minus bowler). He barred the way and said “Entry is Forbidden”. WE did not argue and walked off quickly, but I do wonder if Chris and I are recorded in the archives of Chinese Intelligence as suspected spies.
We saw the Terns nesting amongst the stones and, of course, a man had to go too close and the birds did fly at him. The husky dogs had a large compound and we actually caught up with the Arctic Fox the other side of the wire in an open area and Chris got his photo! We also saw a small seaplane landing on the water and taxiing to a jetty near to where we were moored. So altogether is was an exciting interesting visit.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
In 1944 an Historian called Leslie Paul published a book with the title “The Annihilation of Man” in which he argues that the ongoing War was not solely about the balance of power or world markets, but was primarily a war of beliefs. At the beginning of the book he asks “If the enemy is destroyed, is all safe? Is it possible that the trouble is universal , after all,
and that civilisation is somehow failing to satisfy even those peoples of the West who yet defend it?”
He ends by saying “If you believe that football pools, cinema, motor cars and the road-house can be desired above all other things, if your ideal is to live in the glitter and luxury of a Hollywood film set overwhelmed with a cornucopia of material goods, housed in a childless palace in which you parade in in impeccable clothes, it is illogical to complain of the power of economic forces over your life. You are creating the power….
It will subordinate man’s efforts to the need to increase constantly the volume of consumers’ and producers’ goods, and man will be just as much a prisoner of the economic process whether his gaoler is a commissar, a banker or a party boss; the economic tyranny in the end will be just as unendurable.”
Mr. Paul suggests that the only revolutionary force likely to contend with fascism or the equivalent economic force he described to be Christianity.
I must tell you that I have not read Mr. Paul’s book, which I believe could be hard going, but reading the quoted short extracts, I felt that he forecast our present greedy, selfish World perfectly.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I was struggling to search my memory for something which could be of interest to anyone and then a friend and I were discussing the concept of collateral damage during wartime and the awful unmentioned results of the conflict on the civilian population caught up in it.
For the first few months of the German Occupation of Jersey, Hitler decided that the Island should become part of his programme of rest and recuperation for his troops and hundreds of young men spent several weeks holiday enjoying the beaches, playing football and swimming, before being sent off to the frontline to fight again. One can understand how some of the young women of the Island were attracted to these generally good looking young men and who, out of uniform on the beach, did not present as a threatening enemy. The women who consorted with the Germans became “Jerry Bags”.
At the end of our Lane there lived a lady whose husband was a regular soldier and away fighting somewhere and, of course, when a young German soldier began visiting her bearing flowers and gifts of food, the wall of her cottage was sprayed with a swastika and the “Jerry Bag” slogan. She was ostracised by all the neighbours until, finally, the truth emerged. The young man was her nephew. Her elder sister had married a German national some years before the War and lived in Germany and was apparently pleased to think that her son would be able to meet his Aunt when he was sent to Jersey. Some people did not think that this was sufficient reason for her to welcome him and continued the campaign against her. I remember this because my mother and grandmother sympathised with her situation and continued to speak to her. She, in her turn, told them that her sister was having a difficult time in Germany because she was British. I do not know if this really falls into the perceived meaning of “collateral damage” which is usually taken to mean being shot at or bombed, but I do not like to think about the torment suffered by our neighbour – not knowing where her soldier husband was and eager for news of her sister only to be condemned for welcoming her nephew. The only cheerful part of this story is that her husband did return from the War, having fought in Egypt and Burma.
There are truly no winners in a War and the damage done to our beautiful World and all human and wildlife is irredeemable.
I hope I have not made anyone depressed but I, like every other reasonable person, feel helpless and angry at man’s greed and belligerence and it has to be expressed. God bless.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
WALL BROWN BUTTERFLY
The Wall Brown butterfly was once a common butterfly but it is now mostly found in coastal areas. They are keen lovers of sunshine and their favourite pastime is to bask on walls and rocks. They never move far from their original birthplace and will even live in the same field where they were born. They just love a long low dry ditch which they fly along and when it comes to the end it returns, taking rests against the side of the bank, or preferably a wall if there is one near by to bask on the warm surface. We saw this one on the Ancient Highway at Keyhaven in August 2013.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
Continuing the story of our Arctic Cruise, we left Greenland behind and began our voyage towards Iceland. Mid morning of our first day at sea an announcement came from the Bridge of the Black Prince saying that the lookout had spotted a pod of whales off the starboard side and thought that they could be Blue Whales. He said that the Captain was going to take the ship around in a circle so that we could have the best chance of seeing these rare creatures. The pod of 5 whales were indeed Blue Whales and the size of these wonderful animals was apparent when one swam parallel to the ship for a distance. We felt very privileged to witness them coming to the surface, blowing water and finally diving down raising their large flukes well out of the water. This encounter with the Blue Whale is becoming increasingly rare we were told.
Reykjavik is a quite modern busy seaport with some interesting buildings but we were eager to see the natural wonders of this unique country. You could bathe in the hot water lake and visit the geysers erupting every few minutes and throwing a column of steam high into the air. After several attempts at getting a photograph of the eruption and only managing a picture of clouds of steam, I settled for a postcard of one in full blast. The Icelanders have tapped into the hot thermal springs to provide their domestic heating.
We visited the Old Icelandic Parliament House, one of the oldest Parliaments in the World which is now a Museum in the middle of the countryside and then walked down through a narrow rocky path to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the European and North Atlantic tectonic plates meet. We gazed down seemingly bottomless volcanic craters and drove for miles on mostly traffic free roads edged by yellow angelica plants, which grow like weeds alongside. I was fascinated by the spectacular Waterfalls and have photos of me sitting on a rock at the side of the Gullfoss Falls, absolutely mesmerised by the mass of water of water rushing over and getting quite wet from the spray being thrown up.
From the Port of Akureyri we went on a whale watching trip. It was a wet, chilly day and although we were provided with waterproof overalls on the boat, these had been worn by the previous party and were already very damp, added to which my husband was 6’3” and there was not one to fit him. A group of about 6 of us all huddled around him to keep warm. I think we saw 2 minky whales and 1 humpback but, after our blue whale sighting we could not get too excited. Iceland is an amazing country and I would like to go back and see more if the chance should arise.
Our next stop on the way home was at Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. Other than hearing of the Faroes in the Shipping Forecast, I knew nothing at all about them. Another fascinating place of steep wooded mountains and lush green valleys. At one village with a little wooden church with a turf roof, we were welcomed by the equivalent of the Mother’s union and served coffee and cake in the Village Hall by ladies in their national costume and had a wander over a wooden bridge to the head of the loch, before being taken up to the top of the towering cliffs to look down at the little bay where the narwhals gather each year to mate. The young men traditionally killed many of these narwhals for food stocks but I think this has been curtailed by International Law.
One more stop on our way home was at Stornoway in the Shetland Islands, also a very interesting place. The grey seals in the harbour kept us amused whilst waiting for the tender to take us out to our Ship and the traditional Black houses in the Ancient Village were very interesting.
I have my Certificate to prove that I have crossed the Arctic Circle and witnessed the, sadly, fast disappearing, Icy Regions of this wonderful world.
Contributed by Fran Cook
Last week I wrote about Jackdaws and their Covid-19 masks. So this week as I cycled along my favourite lane wondering what I was going to tell you I noticed well over 30 swallows gathering together on some telephone wires. Yes, they were chatting about their journey back to Southern Africa and they were all wearing their masks preparing for the worst. Now that I have discovered that the Jackdaw was already prepared for the virus and wore a black face mask, it is surprising how many other birds also wear masks in various colours. I think I probably study birds from a different point of view to most people?
Contributed by Ann De Veull
In August 2004 my husband and I booked our most adventurous and exciting Cruise to Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Having packed plenty of warm clothing, including our thermal vests and long Johns, we joined other passengers on a coach on the outskirts of Southampton to transport us to Gatwick for our flight to Kangerlussiuaq in Greenland. This location had been an American Army Base during the Cold War and it was quite scary coming in to land on the one runway sited on a narrow strip of land jutting out into the frozen sea, with a high very solid looking cliff at the end. The pilot made a good landing and we disembarked in the cold air, to be shown into the large hut which served as an Arrivals Hall and café where several locals were eating or having coffee. We watched as a farm tractor, towing an open trailer, was driven out to the plane and our luggage was unceremoniously loaded into the trailer by two men well wrapped up against the cold. Two of the yellow American school buses were waiting and we were driven in these to join the Fred Olsen “Black Prince” which was moored in a fjord a few miles along the coast. When everyone had been safely tendered to the ship and settled in their cabins, we set sail between the high cliffs and glaciers of the fjord towards our first stop at the settlement of Sisimiut, which turned out to be an attractive Town of the traditional Scandinavian wooden buildings painted red and blue. This was their Summer and although the temperature was quite cold, there was no snow and everything was green and very attractive. Outside some of the houses there were husky dogs, attached to long chains who all looked well fed and cared for but were obviously working animals and not household pets. We visited a traditional turf house which consisted of 2 rooms and was furnished with rough wooden furniture, a wood stove and furs were used as mats and bed covers. The cutlery and other tools were fashioned out of whale bone or wood. It seemed quite cosy but would have been rather smokey I think.
Our next port of call was Ilulisat, which apparently means “The place of the Icebergs” and, indeed, from our mooring outside the Harbour we could see dozens of varying sized icebergs.
The next day we had arranged to have a trip on a fishing boat into the Iceberg field. There were about 12 in our party on a sturdy boat whose skipper was a burly Norwegian with a bushy red beard. The temperature was about -5degrees, with a cloudless, bright blue sky and no wind. We were taken into the midst of the magnificent giant blocks of ice which were sculptured in the most amazing shapes and had caves where the colour of the ice ranged from deep blue to purple and green. The crewman, who was a local man who told us that he was learning English and Italian to get a job as a Tourist Guide, switched off the engine and in the silence you could hear the ice cracking. He explained that it was dangerous to get too close to the bergs which could crack up without warning. He pointed out to us some of the smaller bergs which had turned turtle but were still massive below the surface. Producing a fishing net he pulled out a large lump of ice, cracked it with ice pick and the Skipper produced a bottle of Teacher’s Whisky, a bottle of water and some plastic cups into which he put the ice and whatever liquid we wanted. This to demonstrate that ice was pure frozen water and not salty. I remember looking at these amazing natural formations all round us and thinking that I never imagined I would get to see anything so magical and terrifying, but there was more to come.
The following morning early the Captain of the Black Prince took the ship into Disco Bay and we arrived, at about 8 a.m. at the towering ice cliff, which is purported to be the glacier which calved the iceberg which sank the Titanic. The sun on the glacier was dazzling and dark glasses were a necessity. While we were watching great sections of the glacier fell into the sea and then our Norwegian Captain came out on the Bridge and played “Amazing Grace” on a trumpet. We were told that, when he wasn’t at sea he taught music to disadvantaged children. After that very moving experience we turned back, through the pack ice, down the coast to the capital, Nuuk. As we ploughed our way through the pack ice, we were reassured by the information that the hull of the ship had been strengthened and each side of the bows giant searchlights had been fitted. We also had 2 Ice Pilots on board so that one was on keeping lookout 24hours a day!
We had a further memorable occasion when we arrived at Cape Farewell on our way to Iceland. Cape Farewell was, during the Second World War, a place where German U Boats hunted and quite a number of British Ships had been lost there. On board for this Cruise were two ladies whose father had died there and the Captain held a very emotional memorial service just off the Cape and wreaths were thrown overboard to honour all the sailors who had perished.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I recently found in a largely unread book, which I think someone had given me some years ago, a series of essays and articles on the English Language which I thought were worth sharing.
One article by Melvyn Bragg includes the following passage – “Over 600 years ago, Shakespeare had a vocabulary of at least twenty-one thousand different words, some have estimated that with the combination of words, this could have reached thirty thousand. Comparisons are entertaining, the King James Bible of 1611 had about ten thousand different words. The average educated man today, more than four hundred years on from Shakespeare, with the advantage of the hundreds and thousands of new words that have come in since his time, has a working vocabulary of less than half that of Shakespeare”.
Melvyn Bragg goes on the talk about Winston Churchill who left Harrow School in 1893 with a prize for English being the only exception to a singularly unimpressive academic career. He was accepted into Sandhurst military Academy only after 3 attempts at the entrance exam. He was subsequently posted to India where he realised that, if he wanted a career in politics he needed to educate himself. In the following 6 months he apparently read 12 volumes of Macaulay, all 4,000 pages of Gibbons “Decline And Fall”, a translation of Plato’s “Republic” and Aristotle’s “Politics”, Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, Schoppenhauer on Pessimism and Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” This feat of study gave Churchill an immense vocabulary and a grasp of rhetoric and the memorable phrase which served him well as a statesman and, in 1953, gained him the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Jeremy Paxman considers what the English have given the World and concludes that their greatest legacy is their language. Three quarters of the world’s mail is written in English, four-fifths of all data stored on computers is in English and it is also the language used by two thirds of scientists. An estimated one quarter of the world’s population speak the language to some degree.
An anonymous contribution writes about “The Asterisk” :-
A writer owned an Asterisk, and kept in in his den,,
Where he wrote tales (which had large sales) of frail and erring men;
And always when he reached the point where carping censors lurk,
He called upon the asterisk to do his dirty work.
My own love of the English Language is largely thanks to my inspirational English teacher at Secondary School, John Gale, who managed to quote Chaucer and make the Old English almost comprehensible to a class of not totally receptive teenagers.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
The Jackdaw is the smallest member of the Corvus family and they are collectively known as Corvids. I had always described a Jackdaw as wearing a black cap but in actual fact if you look closely it is a black mask so I now wonder if it was always prepared for the Covid-19 outbreak? They are known to be very intelligent and apparently some years ago a few Italian thieves trained them to steal money from cash machines, but please do not worry as I do not think that they are intelligent enough to remember passwords etc.
I once read a book about jackdaws and the author said that his house-keeper used to feed them daily. When she eventually got married and moved to another town – to his amazement they found out where her house was and she had to continue to feed them. Sadly they no longer came to his house ………
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
I, like a lot of people, am finding the present very humid weather difficult to cope with. I made my son laugh when I told him that I even broke out in a sweat doing a jigsaw puzzle! Fortunately the problem does not arise when I sit and read a book and I can, therefore, find something interesting to write about.
The poet, John Betjeman, gave a series of talks on the BBC Home Service, beginning in 1937 and continuing through the War Years into the 1950s. He spoke on a very extensive range of subjects and my mother and grandmother were big fans (I remember listening to several with them, but the only one I recall was a talk on the Channel Island of Alderney). Under the heading “Christian Soldiers” he features the author of the hymn “Rock of Ages”, Augustus Toplady 1740 – 1778. Apparently, the original version of the last verse read “When I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyestrings break in death” which Betjeman says he always sung as opposed to “eyelids close”.
From a very young age, Toplady kept a diary and one entry reads “I am now arrived at the age of eleven years. I praise God I can remember no dreadful crime, and not to me but to the Lord be the glory. Amen”,
At the age of twelve, he records having read a sermon he had written to his Aunt and Uncle, and his Uncle Jack’s reaction was to ask from where he had copied it and, when Augustus insisted it was all his own words he was told – “If you were my own boy I would flay you alive for doing such things and fetch the truth out of you.” A certain Mrs. Bate was present at the reading and six months later Augustus wrote of her – “She is so fractious and captious and insolent that she is unfit for human society.”
He went to school at Westminster and in 1755 to Trinity College, Dublin. He heard a preacher in a barn in Ireland and was converted to Calvanism. He is associated with the West Country having been Curate at two churches in Somerset and became Vicar of churches in Devon. Betjeman tells us that when he died he left behind 6 large volumes of writings filled with love of God, vituperation of John Wesley and his followers and reflections on animals, history, philosophy, apparitions, devils, meteors, highwaymen and, above all Calvanism of which Toplady was a violent upholder. He upheld Calvin’s belief that some people are predestined to Hell before they are born and others are chosen by God for salvation. He became very anti John Wesley when the latter published a mockery of Toplady’s translation of Calvin. He was a great preacher and his sermons were well attended and Betjeman assures us that he did have a tender side to his nature and indeed, a sense of humour. A sermon he gave entitled “Jesus Seen of Angels”, which is an account of the life of our Lord as witnessed by the Angels, was said to appeal to all Christians of any denomination. His argument with John Wesley lasted to his death from consumption in 1778 and only a few weeks before he died,. he was told of a rumour that the Weslyans were saying that he denied Calvanism and agreed with the Weslyans at last. He was carried to the Orange Street Chapel near Leicester Square and preached a sermon solemnly declaring that he would have nothing to do with Mr. John Wesley or his teachings and he would not take back one single word he had said about him.
I can remember hearing John Betjeman reading some of his poems and I remember feeling that he was about to start chuckling at something he had just seen and found amusing.
“We would like to say how much joy and pleasure we have found these past
few months, in reading the regular contributions from Ann De Veulle and
Frances Cooke, on this website. Their gifted writing styles, together
with illustrations in some cases, and their deep knowledge, have been a
source of great inspiration and speak volumes of the faith of these two
Thank-you very much indeed Ann and Fran…..and keep on writing!”
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
Three months after the end of the Second World War and the Liberation of Jersey from the German occupiers, my parents were worried that I was so thin and were advised to arrange for me to stay with friends in the UK for a few weeks. Strict rationing was in force both in Jersey and England but, presumably, Jersey had tighter controls!? I was 11 years old.
A good friend, Eric, who had been in the Royal Navy throughout the War, came over and took me back by the Mail Boat to Southampton and train to Portsmouth where I stayed with Eric and his mother at Southsea for 3 days before he delivered me to No.4 Clapham Manor Street, London SW, to be looked after for the next 3 weeks by “Auntie” Beattie Kilpin and her mother “Auntie” Kilpin. Before the War Beattie Kilpin had set up and run a very successful Soft Furnishing design and manufacturing Company, which employed about a dozen machinists and a carpenter and fitters etc. and had some very influential clients such as the Savoy Hotel, where her Company furnished the Penthouse Suites and Benedon School, whose boarders included Princesses Alexandra and Anne. In peacetime she was operating with 2 machinists and 2 men who dealt with the measuring and curtain rails and anything else required. She continued to be kept busy at that time and coping with the shortage and rationing of materials.
No.4 was a tall, thin building in between quite large Edwardian/Victorian terrace houses, most of which had escaped the bombing. My bedroom was up a flight of steep, narrow stairs and I had an enormous double bed which had a deep feather mattress which I disappeared into. Both “Aunties” fussed over me and were determined to send me home heavier than I arrived. Some of the food I had never tasted before, but I have always been able to get along with varied tastes. The least favourite meal I was given was “Chittlings” (part of the large intestine of cows I think) which just tasted of fat to me, but I was in Aunite B’s good books when I showed a liking for Gorgonzola Cheese, which she loved and Auntie Kilpin absolutely hated. The treat I remember most was the choc ices which seemed to be on sale in all the Parks and on street corners everywhere and, of course, I was treated to them at every opportunity. As a true Londoner, B went everywhere by bus when possible – the nearest bus stop to Manor Street was on Wandsworth Road, about a ten minute walk. Here, I came to realise the utter devastation caused by the bombing; Wandsworth Road for its whole length ran through mounds of rubble and craters and I do not recall seeing a single building standing whole and undamaged. The scene was the same into Battersea where, amazingly the Power Station still loomed. Children seemed to find the ruins a wonderful playground. One day, Auntie B announced that a delivery of materials had arrived at the Warehouse at Tower Wharf and we were going to see what she could buy. To get to the Warehouse we had to walk down the narrow dark lanes behind St. Pauls Cathedral, which I found quite frightening. I think the film “Oliver Twist” was filmed in that area and I know that it rang a bell with me when I saw the film. To see the miracle of St. Pauls towering above the bombed area all around is also unforgettable and B told me that her cousin had done fire watching duties form the gallery at St. Pauls. We visited the Cathedral and even were allowed round part of the Whispering Gallery and, then we climbed the 356 steps to the top of The Monument to the Great Fire at the entrance to Pudding Lane. I was taken to the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Westminster Abbey and to see an Ice Show at the Stoll Theatre and the American Forces Show at the Victoria Palace Theatre and even had a train trip to Brighton to visit relations of the Kilpins. Brighton did not make a very good impression on me on a drizzly, blowy day! Thinking about my holiday now, I think that my hosts must have all needed a holiday after I went home with all the walking and travelling they had done during my stay to ensure that I saw everything they thought I should see.
I have no recollection of my journey back home. I think B had been in touch with the Channel Islands Society in London and arranged for a family coming back to Jersey to look after me and at the back of my mind is a vague recollection of an unknown lady tucking a blanket round me on the boat, but I can’t be sure.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
ELEPHANT HAWK MOTH
I cannot resist the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk Moth, it is so lovely. This one resting on my Gardening glove had been enjoying itself on our Fuchsia! Obviously I then wanted to find the moth and one lucky day, three years later, when we went for a cycle ride on the old railway track near Burley, I saw one on the branch of a tree. Alan has always been available with his camera when I am lucky enough to find a bug. No matter how tiny it is he will manage to provide me with a good picture. We both work as a team this way, I am always on the look-out for a new bug and Alan is married to both his camera and me – not the way that every marriage would work, but perhaps if we enjoy God’s creations he will let us see more and we will all be happy.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
Having reached my advanced age and still being fairly active, I find that a Cruise is the ideal way for me to continue to visit far flung places I have always been eager to see. My chosen Cruise operator is the one catering for the over 50’s on smaller ships. I am picked up from my door by a chauffeur and driven to the Ship, berthed at either Southampton or Dover and my luggage appears in my cabin without my having to lift it at all. On top of that, I am waited on and pampered for the whole voyage. In 1963 when my son was born and I gave up work, we were struggling to manage and I could not imagine that I would ever be in a position to go on a Cruise!
The first Cruise my husband, Chris and I were persuaded to go on, was a 14 day voyage to the Norwegian fjords in August 2002. An old friend, who was in his late seventies, had done several trips in the company of his sister and brother in law and was eager for us to join them on this particular holiday, as he knew that Chris had visited Norway a couple of times on business connected with boats and had said that he wanted to go back. We were not confident that we would enjoy the Cruise experience but decided to give it a go. We came close to having to cancel when I had an accident just 3 days before we were due to sail. My daughter in law gave birth to our second grandson on 21st August, 2002 and I went into my husband’s Office in New Street, Lymington to tell him the good news and said I was going into the Town to order some flowers to be sent to Mel, as I crossed Cannon Street, I somehow got my feet tangled up and fell over, landing on the left side of my head on the edge of the kerb. Staggering back to the Office with blood streaming down my face, carrying my spectacles, which were not broken despite being pushed into the side of my nose, I gave Chris and Fiona, his secretary, a fright. She immediately slapped a wet tea towel on the cut on my forehead and Chris rushed me round to the Lymington Cottage Hospital a short distance away. My head was X-rayed and fortunately I have a pretty thick skull so was not concussed. The cut above my left eyebrow was stitched and I went home. Apart from a slight headache I cannot remember being in pain at all, so the Cruise was still on. There is a photograph somewhere that Chris took and, whilst from the right hand side, my face was unmarked, the left looked awful – there was a big blue bump and a stitched cut above my eyebrow and a wonderful black eye and emerging bruising appearing all down my cheek. It is a right of passage on at least your first Cruise, to have a photo taken with the Captain at the Welcome Party and all my pictures from that holiday have me turning my head to the left. Despite this we had a very enjoyable time and met a lovely couple from Romsey who became very good friends. Trevor is a Steward of the Methodist Church and Mary, his wife is a stalwart assistant at Romsey Abbey, We were seated at their Table on the Fred Olsen “Black Prince” and Mary told us later that they had seen us coming aboard – a big man with this little woman with the bruises on her face, which by now had spread down my neck and were gloriously coloured black, blue, purple, red and even yellow, and were a bit apprehensive when we were allocated their table. I told her that, if there had been time, I intended to have a tee shirt printed for Chris saying “it wasn’t me”. We have laughed a lot about our first meeting since.
All the above was really inspired by Alan Boyce’s prayer for Friendship Week and I was thinking about all the wonderful friends I have. I have been very touched by the offers of assistance with my shopping and countless telephone calls and emails and letters checking on how I was coping with the lockdown. My thoughts and prayers have been for the isolated and lonely people who are not blessed with lovely friends.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
From the passenger seat in a car I enjoy seeing the odd Woodpigeon take flight in front of the car. “Is it” because of the white lines on their wings that they look as if they have wheels on either side rather like a paddle steamer?
As far as I can work out from watching a slow motion film, from the ground they bring their wings forward and touch their wing tips, then their wings go up and over their backs and clap tightly together. They then bring them straight down and underneath their body and forward again. All this is too fast to see, even in slow motion, but the overall impression I get is that their wings are going round like wheels in a figure-of-eight.
However to keep you interested in the Woodpigeon, I really wanted to tell you about an article which I read in a magazine, about a farmer who found a dead pigeon on his land. As its crop was full to bursting point with acorns he decided to pot the acorns up to see if they would grow. When they eventually grew large enough he planted them on the edge of one of his fields where he now has five little oak trees.
Nature looks after itself in so many ways, even a woodpigeon can leave us a mighty oak when he departs from this World
Surely it is not the first time that lovely trees have grown thanks to a Woodpigeo
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
During the lockdown I have done a lot of reading ranging from the Bible , Detective Stories, 2 long Historical Novels, a “chick lit” novel, the Oxford Book of English Verse and even “My Grammar and I ( Or should that be “Me”). I have forgotten most of the grammatical rules I must have been taught and my grammar is, I fear, purely instinctive now and quite probably not always correct. I feel that I was in danger of turning into a Travel Guide with my last few contributions to the News, so this week I am sharing several pieces that I have enjoyed reading.
WHY ENGLISH IS SO HARD (An anonymous contribution to a book called “England my England” a treasury of all things English compiled by Gerry Hanson)
We’ll begin with a box and the plural is boxes
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes’
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese;
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan become pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give you a boot – should a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular is this and the plural is these,
Should the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?
Then one may be that, and three may be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose;
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim!
So our English, I think you will all agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.
UPHILL – One of my favourite poems by Christina Georgina Rossetti
Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night my friend.
But is there for the night a resting place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yes, beds for all who come.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
The Wild Carrot belongs to the Umbellifer family, some people call it Queen Anne’s Lace. It is very common on roadside boundaries and coastal paths. The simple reason why I enjoy this one is because when the flowers curl upwards into seed heads they look just like a miniature birds nest. The other interesting thing about it is that the centre flower of the umbel is sometimes a lovely dark red or purple colour, it is absolutely tiny and looks like a black dot or a tiny fly and you really need a magnifying glass to see it, I use special binoculars. However purple is a royal colour so I feel I must respect and admire it instead of walking past.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
Thanks to my mother, I had learnt to read before I started school at the age of six and have been an avid reader ever since. During the War books were not easily obtainable and I think I read some of those on our bookshelves several times. My father had kept several Boys’ Own Annuals from the 1920s, which were full of stories about Ancient Egypt, following Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and I was always fascinated by them. In 1989 Thomas Cook were advertising a 3 week tour in Egypt to celebrate the Centenary of the first such Tour organised by the Company and I was able to join in what turned out to be a well organised holiday, taking in more than I had expected.
We flew to Cairo and were accommodated for 3 nights at the Sheridan Hotel, built on an Island in the middle of the Nile. Our Guide for the time we were in Cairo was an Egyptian lady who wore Western dress and who had received part of her education at the Sorbonne in Paris. One of the places we visited in Cairo, apart from the obvious Pyramids and the Museum, was the large Mosque situated on the hill above the City.
Arriving at the Entrance we were all given long black cotton hooded gowns to wear and, having removed our shoes and added them to the racks, we were supplied with slippers (with the curled up toes), When it came to me, my feet are obviously smaller than the native population and only one in my size was found, which meant that I kept walking out of the left foot one. I would have quite happily gone bare foot, but I did not know if bare feet were encouraged, so I must have been quite a funny sight. The Mosque covers a large area and is a magnificent, ornate building. Our Guide sat us in a circle on the floor of the central area under the huge domed roof and talked to us about the Islamic and Christian Religions and how Jesus is acknowledged solely as a prophet in Islam and his Resurrection and claim to be the Son of God are denied.
About a month before our Tour was due to begin, in September 1989, there had been a terrorist attack on a group of tourists in the Valley of the Kings and quite a lot of the Tour Companies had decided to cancel so we were made very welcome everywhere and never felt threatened, even visiting the Souk (a party of 6 of us) unaccompanied, as well as the Cotton District in the old City. My grandson did a School trip to Egypt last year and said there were armed guards everywhere.
When we left Cairo we joined a Nile Cruise and visited Luxor, the wonderful Temple at Karnak, the scale of which and the height of the columns and the size of the statues is overwhelming. All the temples are different and magnificent. I think my favourite one is the one built on a Island in the Nile is Kom Umbo which seems to be more complete and I could just imagine Cleopatra or one of the Pharaohs holding Court.
We saw the Aswan Dam, built with Russian assistance, and flew to Abu Simnel at 4 o’clock in the morning to beat the heat of the day, to see the Statues dismantled and re-erected piece by piece, when the Valley was flooded for the Dam. The last 5 days of our holiday was spent at the Sheridan Hotel at Hurghada on the Red Sea, before flying back from a military air base in the Eastern Desert to Cairo. There were some high ranking Army Officers on board the flight and we had to go through Security before boarding. We had one more day in Cairo before flying back to London, during which I had the most terrifying taxi ride in the City!
I am still fascinated by this ancient civilisation which still has many mysteries to be revealed.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
Hover-flies have been called the ‘Butterflies of the Flies’. Sadly none of them have English names, although a few have nicknames like the ‘Marmalade Fly’. The female lays her eggs in a wasp or bumblebees’ underground paper nest. When the eggs hatch their larvae feed as scavengers on their debris.
The Volucella hover-flies are the largest hover-flies in Britain. This one is called a Volucella Pellucens. They are usually found in woodlands and particularly on brambles and Umbellifers, but they can be found in large gardens and I have seen them around Normandy Lane. We saw this one at Hillier Gardens in Romsey.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
Whilst visiting my cousin in Canada, we often saw the distinctive black hooded horse drawn buggies of the Amish Community who have a large settlement in that area of Ontario. With their distinctive dress and refusal to use hydro (electricity) or mechanical aids on their farms, they adhere to the traditions of a dim and distant past, and I was interested to learn about their history. With the information gleaned from my cousin and, lately, Wikipedia, I hope you too will be interested in what I have found out.
The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christian Church Fellowships with Swiss German Anabaptist origins. They are closely related to, but a distinct branch off from Mennonite churches. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, Christian pacifism, and are slow to adopt many conveniences of modern technology, with a view to not interrupting family time, nor replacing face to face conversations whenever possible.
Amish Church membership begins with baptism, usually between the ages of 16 and 23. It is a requirement for marriage within the Amish Church, and when a person is baptised with the church, he or she may marry only within the faith. Church districts consist of between 20 and 40 families and worship services are held every other Sunday in a member’s home. A district is led by a bishop and several ministers and deacons.
The rules of the Church, the Ordnung, must be observed by every member and cover many aspects of day-to-day life, including prohibitions or limitations on the use of electricity, telephones and automobiles and regulations about dress. Amish Church members practice non-resistance and will not perform any type of military service. They value rural life, manual labour and humility, living under the auspice of what they interpret as God’s word. Members who do not conform may be excommunicated or shunned – a practice that limits social contact to shame the miscreant into returning to the Church.
The Amish believe that large families are a blessing from God and Community is central to their way of life. They are known for their plain attire. Men wear solid coloured shirts, broad brimmed hats and suits that signify similarity amongst one another. Beards symbolise manhood and marital status. Mustaches are forbidden being seen as affiliated to the Military. Women wear calf-length dresses in muted colours with aprons and bonnets. Prayer caps or bonnets are worn as a visual representation of their religious beliefs and promote unity with every woman wearing one. Single women wear black bonnets and married women wear white. Jewellery such are wedding rings are forbidden as it draws attention to the body and can promote pride. All clothing is sewn by hand and whether they are fastened by button or hook and eye depends on whether the Amish person is a member of the Old Order or New Order Amish.
Amish cuisine is noted for its simplicity and traditional qualities and plays an important part in Amish social life and is served at gatherings such as weddings etc.
The Amish Community at Kitchener, a town near Stratford, Ontario, where my cousin lived, run a popular restaurant known as “The Stone Crock”. The evening we were taken there for a meal was a cold one, with a smattering of snow. The car park and the Entrance to the Restaurant were lit by flaming torches and we were greeted at the door by 2 ladies in pale blue dresses, wearing white bonnets, who handed us glasses of hot spiced apple punch (non alcoholic obviously). The customers sat on long wooden benches at scrubbed wooden tables. The large room was lit by candles and oil lamps and there was a roaring open fire. The food served was excellent. I remember enormous helpings of beef or pork spare ribs, turkey, salmon and the largest joint of beef I have ever seen. The puddings were many and varied including peecan and lemon meringue pies, chocolate mousse and a selection of gateaux. My cousin told us that the crews operating the snow ploughs were always eager to work near the Amish farms as their tradition includes offering hospitality to travellers or anyone working near and they were guaranteed to be invited to share the family meal.
Contributed by Alan Boyce
Contributed by Fran Cooke
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
One of my maternal Grandmother’s brothers (she had 5 and 3 sisters) accompanied a shipment of pedigree Jersey Cattle to Canada in the 1920’s and remained there. He eventually married a widow with a young daughter, Laverne, and he and his wife then had a son, Clarence. The Canadian family kept in touch with the Jersey relations, even after the death of my Great Uncle just before the 2nd World War.
In 1945 when the War ended they were quick to re-established contact and my Great Aunt Laura would regularly send us food parcels for a year at least. Along with the tins of salmon and luxury items, which were severely rationed for us, she always included a good supply of various types of chewing gum for the children. My mother could not stand seeing the three of us chewing and blowing bubbles and would give some away to our friends, threatening to ask Aunt Laura not to send anymore. We were all so appreciative of her generosity that we knew Mum would not do that. Actually, I have never been able to keep chewing gum for more than a few minutes without my jaw aching, but my 2 brothers seemed to happy to keep going for ages.
My cousin, Clarence, and his wife ,Phyllis, made it over to Jersey to meet us all in about 1973. The fact that he was known as “Clare” by his Canadian family and his wife was “Phil” caused a lot of confusion when introduced as a couple. They bonded with everyone in Jersey and my parents visited them in Stratford, Ontario a year later,
followed by myself, husband and 14 year old son in 1977. Clare and Phil lived in Clare’s family house and Aunt Laura in an old people’s Apartment about a 10 minute walk away. She was a lovely lady in her 70’s and we visited her several times during our 3 week stay, where we played Rummy and she plied us with delicious cakes she had made.
Phil was the Charity and Donations Director at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford and we were given a very interesting tour of the Theatre, including the Costume Departments and Workshops. Clare was a Highways Superintendent for the area and seeing the enormous snow ploughs and equipment he was in charge of and hearing his stories of the depth of snow they regularly had to cope with, was an eyeopener. We were made very welcome by everyone – at their Church on the Sunday and various friends and extended family. They also had a Summer house on Lake Huron at Bayfield, which we stayed at for a few days. Clare had arranged a very busy schedule for us and we drove through the Algonquin National Park to Ottawa and had a Boat trip around the Thousand Islands (there are probably more) in the St. Lawrence River.
We arrived in Toronto at the end of April and the 2nd day we were in Stratford, we had a snow storm and the temperature was about 10degress below and, by the time we left in mid May the temperature was in the 60’s. The daffodils and tulips had popped up and the trees were starting to come into leaf. My biggest shock was the humidity which I had not expected in Canada, which I imagined as cold or at least cool for much of the year.
Clare is now 91 and living in an Apartment in London, Ontario whilst Phil has sadly developed dementia and is in a Nursing Home. I am still in touch with the occasional telephone call.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
This week a very welcome Green Woodpecker arrived in our garden. I say welcome because Green Woodpeckers just love ants. When you look at the photograph you may wonder why our path is uneven. This is because we have so many ants that they actually cause subsidence by all the building works that they do underneath it. Yes they are very industrious and hard working, but please not in our garden! So this is why the Green Woodpecker was so welcome. Hopefully she is taking our ants to feed her youngsters. I say ‘she’ because the male, though similar, is renowned for his red cheeks as if he had cut himself shaving.
Apparently they can get through 2,000 ants in a single sitting.
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
In the summer 1950, I was 16 years old and just about to transfer from the Intermediate School to the Jersey College for girls in September. The head of the French Department arranged for a party of 10 girls to visit Paris during August. It was only 5 years since the end of the War and with the whole of Europe and the UK still suffering from the aftermath ,travel to the Continent was not as simple as today (pre Covid 19 of course).
Our group caught the Ferry to St. Malo and took the train to Paris. Our accommodation was in an imposing building on the Avenue de Grand Armee situated a stones throw from the Arc de Triomphe. in a dormitory on the 2nd floor. Miss Frost, and the other teacher accompanying us had a room on the same landing and the other side of there was a party of Belgian Scouts, who would fly paper darts through our window with messages for us. Under Miss Frost’s eagle eye the only contact we had with the boys was in the Dining Room for breakfast or evening meal. The Avenue Grand Armee turned out to be on the Truck Route to Bordeaux etc. And none of us got a good night’s sleep for the first few nights as the lorry drivers would sound their hooters continuously as they approached the Place de l’Etoile. Eventually, after a few days we either got used to the racket or were so tired that we would have slept through anything.
“Frosty” had planned a busy schedule as she was keen for us to see as much as we could of the City. We visited the Eiffel Tower, Notredame, the Sacre Coeur and Montmatre , the Louvre and Versaille. Had a trip on a Bateau Mouche on the Seine and went to a performance of “Giselle” by the Ballet Rambert at the Theatre Marigny.
On the Sunday we attended morning service at the Anglican Church . My French was good enough to follow the actual Service, but when the Priest delivered his sermon, at what seemed like breakneck speed, I only managed to understand a small part of it. He kept talking about “les Pecheurs” which I knew were “fishermen” and I wondered why the poor fishermen were being ordered to repent, particularly when several of the 12 Disciples had been fishermen. I whispered to my friend, Marguerite, and her French was obviously better than mine because she knew that “pecheurs” also means “sinners”, which made a lot more sense. English is not the only language to have two completely different meanings for the one word. The two of us then developed the giggles and had to explain to a disapproving “Frosty”, who even had to smile after telling me that giggling (even quietly) was not the behaviour she expected in Church.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
Will your anchor hold in the sun on Sundays?
I have been writing a story every week for some time now and I am beginning to wonder if I will be able to keep up with Covid-19. Hopefully the Virus will give up first? Anyhow, last Sunday I took my bicycle out at 8.15 a.m. for a quick half hour cycle ride. This gave me the opportunity to look at the wayside flowers. One of my reasons for doing this is because, although I love them, I do not always want them to populate in our garden. So when I cannot recognise a strange plant growing in the garden, it just might also be growing on the wayside or in the ditch and perhaps even already be in flower and this can solve my problem – great.
I obviously cycle past various regular dog walkers and occasionally rats cross my path, even a couple of Roe deer dashed in front of me once. But this Sunday on my return journey there was a small broken branch in the middle of the road and it’s leaves formed the perfect shape of an anchor, so I immediately thought of my favourite hymn ‘Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life’. I was home by 8.45 and by 9.15 Alan and I were enjoying a coffee sitting in the sun outside overlooking the sea at the Cliffhanger in Highcliffe.
So, Will Your Anchor hold ‘in the sun’ on a Sunday? – I think so ………
Contributed by Ann De Veulle
Our second visit to Le Moulin at Fervaches was in August 2 years later, during a hot dry period when the river Vire was running at a low level. There was no sign of the Muskrats who had kept us entertained in May/June 2005, but there was still an abundance of other creatures to study. The Yellow Wagtails ( a pair of which had been feeding chicks in an alcove near the old water wheel) were bobbing around on the grass area near the sluice and the Honey Buzzards were circling high up above the valley. The Blackbird, who had serenaded us each morning from a branch outside our bedroom window still daily sang his heart out. The there was the Kingfisher. I was the last one of the four to see him on his daily visit to fish in the pool below the weir and the other three took to shouting “kingfisher” when he appeared, but it was 4 or 5 days before I did see him and I accused them of teasing me. Then, I was the first to see him in all his iridescent blue plumage, sitting on the branch of a tree on the opposite bank, before plummeting into the water and coming up with a small fish in his beak.
About midday on most days when we were there, a Water Vole swam round the bend and dived down, to then sit on a flat stone in the water eating and cleaning his whiskers. We discovered that he had his home in the bank at the end of the Race.
Do you know that willows do actually weep? I discovered this fact when I was sitting in the shelter of one trying to sketch the Mill and found that my head was getting dripped on,,, at a time when there had been no rain for weeks.
One morning I was awake very early and went out on to the platform outside our door . The sun was just beginning to filter through the trees and the morning mist hung over the river. It was so still and peaceful, with the water flowing gently over the weir only making the odd splash or gurgle. As the sun grew stronger things began stirring, birds tweeting and the trees and growing things seemed to be stretching and opening up and then the dawn chorus was in full voice. I felt so privileged to see and hear the birth of a new day, Ever since then, when I hear or sing “Morning has broken like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for them singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them springing, fresh from the Word.”, I am convinced that Eleanor Farjeon must have had a similar experience when she wrote that beautiful song.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
MY TEDDY-BEARS ADVENTURE TO AN ANGLICAN CHURCH
In 2011 my cousins Rosemary and George Pitman asked Alan and I if we would like to join them at their Anglican Church in Kingston, Dorset. This was because after the service the Vicar, Gaynor, had arranged for a picnic lunch and for teddy bears to abseil from the church tower. One of our bears ‘Hampshire-Morgan’, was very enthusiastic so we agreed .
I then wrote a letter to my cousins to confirm that we would be joining them:-
Dear R & G
There is great excitement at our house! Our bears have been limbering up at their local Pilates class getting ready for the great day – are there enough honey sandwiches?
Hampshire-Morgan has been tying Alan’s hankies together to make a parachute and Lymington (another of our bears) is taking his photo album of his travels to foreign parts so that he can show them to the other bears, if they are interested …….
Simon Barclay, our Minister bear, is ‘toying’ with the idea of coming to church with us. He has never been to an Anglican Service, and wonders if it is more ‘uplifting’ than the Methodists?
So we look forward to Sunday.
George made bear-sized honey sandwiches for the bears. I observed that Hampshire-Morgan was eating too many of them, so I offered the plate of sandwiches to some of the other teddy bears, as I had noticed that their sandwiches were far too large for them to chew into. Unfortunately one of the human guests grabbed a sandwich and I am afraid that I had to tick her off, she looked suitably ashamed!
Gaynor’s bear was a very large bear called Wilberforce and he volunteered for the first jump. Unfortunately the rope and pulleys were not up to standard and poor Wilberforce made a very uncomfortable landing, in fact at one time we all thought Wilberforce might have to spend the night dangling from the top of the church tower. Therefore none of the other bears would try abseiling including Hampshire-Morgan, just as well really because he had eaten far too many honey sandwiches! However, fun was had by all, although Hampshire-Morgan did feel a bit sea-sick on the ferry back to Sandbanks.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
I was sorting out some old papers and discovered a letter sent to me in 1993 by a friend from Jersey, with which she enclosed the following headed “All Change for Pre-War Babies” :-
“We who were born before 1940 are a hardy bunch, when you think of the way things have changed and the adjustments we’ve had to make. We were born before colour television, polio shots, mobile phones, videos and frisbees, before dishwashers, microwaves, drip-dry clothes, air conditioners, electric blankets, tumble driers- and before man walking on the moon.
We got married first and then lived together (how quaint can you be?}. We thought fast food was what you ate in Lent, a Big Mac was an oversized raincoat and crumpet was for tea. We existed before Househusbands and computer dating, and a “meaningful relationship” for us meant getting on with cousins.
We were born before day-care centres and disposable nappies. Sheltered accommodation was where you waited for a bus. As children, we had never heard of FM, CDs, word processors or yogurt. For us, timesharing meant togetherness, a chip was a fried potato, hardware meant nuts and bolts and software was not a word. “Made in Japan” meant junk, and the term “making out” referred to how well you did in exams.
In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, grass was mown, coke was kept in the coal house and a joint was a piece of meat you ate on Sundays. Rock music was a lullaby. A gay person was the life and soul of the party, while aids just meant beauty treatment or to help someone in trouble.
Is it any wonder that we sometimes get confused?” ( Written by Gillian Wardle}
I can think of a couple more words that now have different meanings to the younger generation, such as “twitter”, and being called “wicked” by my grandchildren, which I have learned to accept as a compliment.
Our language seems to be evolving at a faster pace as more new accepted words are added to the English Language Dictionary and, so far, I seem to be getting by, but I must admit that Text messaging takes some working out. David Cameron was not the only one who thought LOL meant “Lots of Love” and which I shall continue to use as such.
Contributed by Frances Cooke
BUT-TO-FLY TO FREEDOM
A few years ago at about 7p.m. our doorbell rang! It was our neighbour’s son standing on the doorstep with a mini ‘hoover’ in his hand. He said his wife and young son had been frightened by a big moth in his mother’s house and that he had managed to suck it up in the ‘hoover’ and would I like to identify it? It was a Peacock butterfly and naturally I asked him if I could give the butterfly a chance to live? “Yes” he answered, “so long as you don’t tell it to return to our mother’s house”. I then happily emptied the butterfly and dust onto the top of a garden cuttings bag in our garage and hoped for the best. I knew that it may want to find somewhere to hibernate, but the following morning was full of sunshine and a blue sky, so I brought the bag out into the open. The butterfly climbed onto my hand to warm itself and I took it to a flowering plant, but it preferred my hand. I then brought it back into the garage and told it that it had the whole garage to choose from to hibernate in, and with that it took off and flew out into the sunshine. But-to-fly to freedom!
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
In June 2005 we arrived for a two week stay at le Moulin de Fervaches in Normandy, having booked the self catering accommodation from an advertisement in “Country Life”. We took the Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen overnight and arrived at our destination, after a pleasant drive through the Normandy countryside, at just before midday. Fervaches turned out to be a small hamlet of a few well maintained houses and a Filling Station with a Snack Bar. The descent down to the River Vier was down quite a long, steep, winding road passing several houses and 2 farmyards and, arriving at the entrance to the Estate, we saw that my brother and his wife had arrived just before us, having come over on the Ferry from Jersey to St. Malo that morning.
The Mill, still with the remains of the original wheel in place, is situated on a small Island opposite to the imposing granite building which was the Miller’s house “La Maison”. This is also available to rent for holidays and accommodates about 10 people, but was vacant whilst we were there.
Having collected the key from the Caretaker (one of the houses up the hill) we unloaded the cars. Access to the accommodation was across a little bridge over what had been the Mill race. The ground floor of the building was used as storage and garaging for the sit on mower, used by the Caretaker’s husband to keep the large grass area tidy. A quite large platform had been built over the sluice stream, forming a terrace where there was a table, chairs and an umbrella. The front of the upstairs consisted of a glass wall. The metal stairway up to the terrace was 21 steps (obviously no disabled access). We had only just unpacked and were brewing a pot of tea to take out on to the terrace, which overlooks the weir, when my brother called out “come and see this”. Swimming across the river just above the weir was a creature with a bunch of grass in its mouth. The animal looked too big to be an otter and had a quite big flat tail which it used like a rudder. We decided it was not a beaver either. It dived down under the water into a hole in the river bank and reappeared a few minutes later heading for the wall at the top of the weir, where this particular grass was growing. We decided she must have had quite a few babies as she was very busy collecting grass for some time. After a while, another one appeared and they seemed to be racing each other for the nearest clump of grass. This activity kept us entertained for hours. We discovered from the Caretaker that these were Muskrats. They had apparently been introduced into France from Turkey at some time, and were now considered as pests as their burrowing into the river banks under the waterline had caused flooding in some areas. There were 2 flat bottomed dinghies for the use of visitors and several days later we rowed up river on an exploring trip and lining the banks in one area came across about a dozen of the creatures sunning themselves. Several of these were about the size of a small dog and were obviously the males. I found them quite threatening and did not fancy ending up in the water with them.
The Moulin remains one of favourite places I have ever stayed. We actually returned there on 2 more occasions but my knees could not cope with that staircase if I did have the opportunity to revisit.
Contributed by Frances Cooke
WILD GLADIOLUS (Gladiolus illyricus)
In 2017 I planted some small Gladioli bulbs in a sheltered corner in our garden, they produce small flowers in various colours in June & July. But in 2019 a slightly larger gladiolus appeared amongst them. It took me quite a while to identify this ‘rogue’ and it turned out to be a Wild Gladiolus which only grows in the New Forest. It has six striking reddish-purple flowers and the Large Skipper butterfly is the only butterfly that pollinates it. They flower on heathland edges and in woodland areas amongst bracken and I think they pop their heads above the bracken which means that the ponies do not eat them. Few people know where they grow or have even heard of them. It is illegal to pick their flowers or dig the bulbs up. Although it didn’t appear the first year It was probably amongst the other bulbs My real wish is that it might attract a few Large Skipper butterflies into our garden …………….
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
Last year I was on a Cruise and one of our Ports of Call was Malaga, Spain. I had visited Malaga several times so was looking for a different Shore Excursion and finally settled on A Visit to an Olive Oil Factory and the Museum of the Nativity (Museo de Belene). The factory turned out to be a modern building set in beautifully landscaped gardens in the hills outside Malaga and attached to it was the Museum.
Our Guide to the Museum told us that it was the custom in parts of Spain and Italy for local artists and artisans to create tableaux which would be installed at towns and villages at Christmastime. The couple who owned the Olive Oil Factory discovered that these exhibits were generally dismantled or destroyed after a while, mainly through a lack of suitable storage and decided that they had to do something to preserve these amazing creations. The Museum was opened in 2017.
On entering the Museum you are greeted by St. Francis of Assissi (about one third scale) who stands at the foot of a sunlit path leading to a small chapel with all kinds of animals and birds around. Inside the glass protected showcases house an endless variety of depictions of the Nativity scene in different locations worldwide from a shepherd’s hut on top of a bleak mountain to a tent in a desert landscape. Then there are the large exhibits such as a circular construction of a Mediterranean coastal village. A bridal couple are posing outside the Church on the hill and all sorts of people are going on with their lives selling vegetables, shoeing horses, in one cottage, the priest is giving the last rites to a dying man, a woman is hanging out washing and the fishing boats are drawn up on the beach and, in a lean to building a baby has been born.
We were told that all these exhibits are designed by local artists and the figures and scenery are often made by their students. Some wood and clay are used but most of it is carved from cork.
Some of the smaller cases are cleverly lit and somehow the perspective appears much deeper than the size of the case. One I particularly liked was a scene of a bombed out street and to one side, lit by candles, there is crib surrounded by several children.
I could go on describing more of the beautiful things on display, but I will only talk about the story of the Bible. housed in a side room. The tableau begins with Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, David and Goliath, and other major events in Jewish history and then there is the birth of Jesus, some of the miracles he performed and, as you exit, the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Over the doorway as you leave St. Francis’ prayer “Make me a channel of your Peace” is displayed in several languages. I went on this excursion not knowing what to expect, but I would very much like to return if I get the opportunity. The craftsmanship is amazing, but I got the feeling that people who had created these scenes were also expressing their faith.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
Before writing this I asked my friend Ann De Veulle, who has joined me in writing stories in the Church News, whether she had ever seen a Jersey Tiger Moth in Jersey? She had not seen one! So I will now be able to tell you all that Alan and I have seen them fairly regularly on the I.O.W. Perhaps they have emigrated?
It is a particularly lovely moth and it flies both day and night from July to September. They roost communally in dull weather which means that is is really exciting when one is lucky enough to see a group of them together.
We saw this one near Freshwater on the I.O.W.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
MAY 9TH 1945 – LIBERATION DAY JERSEY
Mr. Blandin, a neigbouring farmer, told us that he was taking his family and some friends to greet the liberating troops and there was room on his horse drawn waggon for the 6 of us. He wanted to make a day of it and visit some of the places to which local people had been denied entry. So my parents, grandmother and we 3 children joined the Blandin family and friends on the morning of this long awaited day.
We arrived in front of the Underground Hospital in St. Peter’s Valley at about midday, I think. The Germans had advertised the fact that work was taking place to construct an Underground Hospital, but rumours were rife regarding the true purpose of their excavations. Was it a Prison to keep locals hostage in the event of an invasion? Or even Gas Chambers? Mr. Blandin would have had to pass the end of the road leading to the site on his way to Tesson Mill with grain for milling, but there was a barrier across the road and a sentry, so that no unauthorised person could get to see what was going on.
The entrance to the underground facility was a huge archway in the concrete wall sealed by a massive solid door and a metal gate. A large red cross had been painted above the entrance. We all peered through the bars of the gate but, of course, could not see anything.
We all sat on the grass opposite the entrance to have a picnic. Mrs Blandin produced an enormous pan of boiled potatoes and some hard boiled eggs and there was a churn of fresh milk to drink. I cannot remember what Mum had managed to bring to the party, but it must have been something left from our last Red Cross parcels as, by this time, the bread ration was very meagre, and with the shortage of fuel remaining in the Island, we had no means of cooking our diet of potatoes and swede. Anything that required cooking had to be taken to the communal bakehouse operated in an old farm oven on certain days. Our nearest oven was about half a mile away across the fields.
Whilst we were finishing off our meal, two Jeeps arrived with British Officers. They came over to talk to us, gave us some chocolate and explained that they were an advance party sent to inspect the Hospital.
The Officer in charge asked if we had seen inside and then invited all of us to go in with them after it had bee checked for booby traps etc. I still remember the howling noise the generator made when it was switched on which was quite scarey. Keeping good hold of the grown ups we explored through the echoing tunnel, with the occasional drip falling on your head off the concrete lining and the atmosphere was quite cool. (I learned later that the temperature in the tunnels is constant year round). The wards leading off the main corridor were furnished with 2 rows of 3 tiered wooden bunks with what looked like straw mattresses. The Operating Theatre was fully equipped with instruments in cabinets and white coats hanging on hooks. At the end we reached the unfinished tunnels where a barrow half filled with rubble and pickaxes and shovels discarded by the slave workers was an upsetting sight there having been stories of workers who died had been buried in the walls.
We were all pleased to come out into the warm sunshine and, after the horse had been hitched up, we proceeded to the Harbour to join in the jubilant crowd carrying the soldiers and sailors along, singing and cheering. My final memory is returning home in the waggon, squashed between my mother and grandmother, covered with a smelly horse blanket.
Contributed by Frances Cooke
All things bright and beautiful
He gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty,
who has made all things well.
In the last few weeks I have given you my thoughts on the previous verses, but I think the words of the last verse say it all, so I will just attach another photograph by my husband Alan. It is of ‘Kenny’s Pride’ of ponies, taken at St Leonards, near Beaulieu.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
MAY 8TH 1945, the day that the war in Europe ended. When the news reached us in Jersey, all our neighbours in Le Hocq Lane were outside cheering and hugging each other, some with tears streaming down their cheeks and sharing the information that the Bailiff would be addressing the people in the Royal Square in St. Helier later that day and the expected speech by Winston Churchill would be broadcast via the German Public address system.
My family, comprising my parents, grandmother, my two brothers Robert, (10 + 4 months), Martyn (just 4) and myself (11 + 8 months) walked into St. Helier to join the crowd assembling in the Royal Square.
The German flags and enormous swastika banners which had adorned all public buildings had been torn down and, for the first time in 5 years, not a German uniform in sight. A Union Jack had been retrieved from its’ hiding place and fluttered proudly over the States Building. To be amongst all these noisy, exited people was quite frightening, particularly for Martyn, who had been born into a society where the number of people permitted to meet together had been strictly controlled. He sat on my father’s shoulders, clinging on tightly and Robert and I hung on grimly to Mum and Gran’s hands.
The Bailiff, accompanied by other States Officials and the Dean of Jersey appeared on the balcony of what had been the United Services Club and the Winston Churchill’s resonant tones were listened to quietly until he said that “our dear Channel Islands will be free” when a loud cheer went up. When things quietened down, the Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, spoke to the crowd and confirmed that the German capitulation of the Islands had been signed by the Kommandants on board HMS Bulldog off Guernsey that morning and that the British troops were already coming ashore there. WE had to wait until the next day for our liberation. The Dean offered up a prayer of thanksgiving and everyone belted out “God Save the King”.
People in the crowd were finding friends and relatives they had seen very little of throughout the Occupation. Even though Jersey is such a small Island, restrictions on movement and curfew had made socialising difficult. My mother had cousins who lived in the North of the Island and there was great deal of catching up and my brothers and I being subjected to “Havent you grown” etc.
My memory has faded after this and I cannot recall what time or how we got back home but we must have done it safely, as we were all eager the next day to get to the Harbour to see the “Tommies” arrive……..
Contributed by Frances Cooke
All things Bright & Beautiful, verse 3
The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
he made them every one:
If we didn’t get a bit of cold wind in the winter, which we certainly get these days, we probably wouldn’t look forward to the summer sun. Although I do not grow ripe fruits in our garden, I do grow as many flowers as possible to help the bees. Because we wouldn’t get the ripe fruits without the hard-working bees who pollinate them.
God made them everyone.
Contributed by Ann de Veulle
As I have always lived in close proximity to the Coast, it is not surprising that one of my favourite hymns is “Eternal Father strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep”.
In Jersey I lived on the East Coast at La Rocque. The Island has the 3rd largest tidal fall in the World and, on a Spring Tide when the sea goes out, a very different landscape is revealed. Wade out through the shallow pools at the Harbour head and follow the main gulley, which becomes the only route back to harbour for the fishing boats which come back home on the turning tide, and branch off into one of the side gullies. Here there is a landscape which owes nothing to Man’s intervention. This scene was created millenniums ago when erupting volcanos allowed the Atlantic Ocean to flood in, creating the English Channel and separating us from the European Continent. The continuous movement of the sea has gauged out channels through the rocks and created a habitat for thousands of creatures.
It is so peaceful here – no traffic noise, just the odd scraping sound under a rock – a crab or maybe a lobster! Little sand shrimps and tiny fish dart about in the pools and hermit crabs and green crabs scuttle sideways to hide under the seaweed. The bright red sea anenomes wave their fronds on the rocks under the water and two little golden “eyes” which disappear when my shadow falls on them, tell me that there is a cockle buried in the sand. This is a place where you are truly solitary and share your thoughts with God. Then I reach the deep water pool where locals know they can swim to find it choked with Japanese seaweed, spread around the World on the bottoms of ocean going ships. I glance at my watch – the tide has turned and, on a Spring tide, advances at a man’s walking pace, pouring into the gullies and channels and surrounding the sand banks, Every year too many people are taken unaware and have to be rescued by the Fire Service Sea rescue or, tragically, drown.
I make my way back to the slipway ashore. The strong granite wall has kept the sea at bay for well over a hundred years but the tides are definitely getting higher. I am an Islander and the sea is in my blood. I love it, respect it and fear it and do not think that I would be content living away from it, but the ice is melting and the sea is rising.
Contributed by Fran Cooke
All things Bright & Beautiful, verse 2
The purple heathered mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset in the morning
that brightens up the sky:
The 2nd verse of this hymn means a lot to me because Cecil Frances Alexander 1818-1895, who wrote the hymn, visited Killarney in Southern Ireland where I was brought up. Her husband was Primate of Ireland at the time. The lakes of Killarney are surrounded by mountains and one of them is called The Purple Mountain. My father had a boat and as children we went out for picnics on the various islands and we regularly sang this hymn in the boat. I often changed the wording of the 2nd verse to include the names of the many islands on the lakes. The sunrises and sunsets are veryspectacular. As you can imagine when ever we sing this hymn the words remind me of Killarney.
Contributes by Ann De Veulle
After watching the TV Programmes “Heavenly Gardens” on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which took us to some beautiful gardens specifically designed for quiet contemplation, I found myself thinking of all the thousands of people who are presently denied the opportunity to walk or sit quietly in a garden. My heart goes out to them.
When I came to live in Lymington in September 1992, we had quite a large garden which included a good sized vegetable patch, a large rose bed, two arches covered in honeysuckle and clematis (between the lower level patio and the top garden); apple trees and plum trees; a lovely Summer House and a fair sized greenhouse where we raised most of our plants from seed. There was also a grassed area in the front of the Bungalow. It really was a beautiful setting, all thanks to my husband who had created it from its’ “jungle” state when he purchased the rundown property in the 1970’s. However, it could very seldom be described as peaceful. We were bordered on each side by neighbouring gardens separated with hedges or fences and someone was always bound to be mowing, strimming, repairing fences or there was a football/rugby/cricket match on in the Sports Field across the road. Added to this a neighbour two houses down had a swimming pool and, during the school holidays, her grandchildren and countless numbers of their friends, made full use of it. I leave the screams, yells and shouts to your imagination. We did have mostly quiet times when we could enjoy just sitting in the Summer House and watching all the wild life that made use of our garden. I cant remember all the species of birds, but we had a Robin who thought we were there solely for his benefit, and would stand between your feet waiting to pounce on any worms dug up, and after a bit of perseverance, he would sit on my arm and eat seeds from my hand. Two of his young offspring were following father’s example one day, when we were horrified when a sparrow hawk swooped in and picked one up from a few inches from my husband’s foot. For a while we were visited every day by a tatty, obviously old pheasant. He had a bald head and had lost most of his tail feathers, but he quite eagerly took seed from my hand. When he no longer turned up, I discovered from a lady further down the lane, that he had visited most of the houses on a daily basis, so we concluded that he must have died. One morning, I looked up from the sink and was amazed to see an enormous bird of prey sitting on top of the bird house about 10 feet away, looking at me. He stayed there long enough for me to identify him as a Peregrine Falcon (from the bird book). When I told my husband he was doubtful as Peregrines usually nested on tall buildings or cliffs, neither of which were in our area. I was proved right by an article in the Lymington Times, reporting that a pair were nesting on the cliffs of the Isle of Wight and a racing pigeon owner from Everton had said that they had taken some of his birds.
Then there was Mr. Fox. Either side of the chimney breast in our lounge we had a narrow, full length window and when we sitting watching TV in the early evening, Mr. Fox would squeeze between the bars of the wrought iron gate at the side of the house and he would always stop at one of the windows and look in at us. Curiosity or defiance? He was on his way to his lair in the bank of the field behind us. Three of his offspring came into the garden and we loved seeing them playing with the fallen apples until the vixen called them and they disappeared back through the hedge.
We were also visited by a green Woodpecker who came for the ants which he found in the rock garden. My favourite feathered friend was the gorgeous Barn Owl which glided silently over us at dusk to go hunting in the fields at the back. The Squirrels were entertaining, trying to get into the bird feeders but were not welcome after they killed the fledgling blue tits in the nesting box and dug up dozens of crocus from the front garden.
I now live in a flat but I have come across a Rudyard Kipling verse which I think is worth sharing –
“So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray, For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away! And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away.”
Contributed by Fran Cooke
Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colours,
he made their tiny wings:
After breakfast each morning I take my bicycle out and cycle around Normandy Lane which is close to the Salterns in Lymington. Very few people are out as early as I am so one of my pleasures is trying to identify the birds by their song. There are quite a few Chiffchaffs, chaffinches, Wrens Great Tits and Nuthatches around but my pleasure a few weeks ago was to hear a Yellow Hammer. Some of you must remember their song if you grew up in the country – “A little bit of bread and no cheeeee’se”. They certainly hammer out their song and perhaps that is why they are called Yellowhammers. It sits in a prominent positions which makes it easy to see …… If only Christianity could be sung from the tree tops – because our clothing can be recognised but our song is not always wanted to be heard.
There was a general feeling that we had been deserted by the British Government to an unknown fate and God was our only hope and comfort. Our nearest place of worship was the Methodist Bethel Chapel situated behind a high wall at the top end of Le Hocq Lane where we lived. The Parish Church of St. Clement was about a 15/20 minute walk away, so we attended Bethel Chapel.
The Superintendents were a Mr. Luce (a Solicitor) and his wife. They had three children, Margaret, a teenager and Elizabeth and Cyril who were similar ages to my brother Robert and I, namely 5 and 7. Thinking back I suppose there were about 20 children who attended Sunday School. The Sunday services were at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and were well attended to hear the different circuit Preachers. Mum and Gran always came to the morning service. Dad not so often, as he was usually repairing his bicycle or actually riding it to the other side of the Island where he would cut the hair of the Farmer’s family and be paid in butter or eggs or vegetables. After the first year of the Occupation, the Allies were sinking the supply ships coming from France and my father’s “wages” meant that we were luckier than many people who had no means of increasing their ever shrinking rations. Dad was also supporting his parents and younger brother.
To return to Bethel Chapel, Mr. And Mrs. Luce were also very kind to all the Sunday school children. They lived in a fairly modern house which was surrounded by a large garden where they grew a variety of vegetables and fruit and they often brought apples, strawberries, raspberries etc. for everyone. At the annual Anniversary of the Chapel I can remember reciting something and singing a solo – once it was “Oh for the wings of a dove” and, on another occasion, the 23rd Psalm. In one Nativity Play, I was an angel and Robert was a shepherd (he refused to sing).
From time to time we went as a family to hear various Evangelical Speakers in one of the large Halls in St. Helier. One I recall was Doctor Darling who was an ENT Consultant at the Hospital and another was a member of the Plymouth Brethren and their sermons gave many people comfort. These Meetings were always attended by a German representative to check that no inflammatory doctrine was being preached,
The favourite hymn which was always sung was “Oh God our help in Ages past” and, when we were finally liberated on May, 9th 1945, we all joined in “Now thank we all our God”.
St. MARK’S FLY
Contributed by Fran Cooke
This fly is called St. Mark’s Fly because it is usually first seen around St. Mark’s day (25th April). It is easy to recognise. It hovers in the air with its legs dangling over vegetation such as grassland, hedgerows and woodland margins particularly near the coast. The male and female are very different:- the female, although larger than the male, has a small head and tiny eyes. The male has very large eyes. They are very important pollinators.
We saw this one on the I.O.W. On the 29/4/17
Winnie the Pooh
contributed by Fran Cooke
Some time ago I read an article written by Gyles Brandreth in the Daily Telegraph (7/9/13). In it he talks about Christopher Robin, whom he knew a little and liked a lot. Gyles was therefore delighted to be able to say to anybody that shook his hand “you are shaking the hand that shook the hand that held the paw of Winnie the Pooh!” This brought back a memory of a story told to me by my mother-in-law. Edith remembered every detail of her long life, so there were usually plenty of opportunities for me to day-dream. But on one occasion I listened attentively, although since then I have sadly forgotten parts of the story.
In the 1930’s Edith worked in the fashion department at Harrods in Knightsbridge. One of her jobs was to take garments out to the homes of clients. On one occasion she was asked to take some gowns to the home of Mrs A.A. Milne. Edith described the taxi ride there, the front door being opened by a servant and being shown into the dining-room – she told me every detail about the room, including the red poppies on the wallpaper. She was then led upstairs into Mrs Milne’s bedroom where Mrs Milne was sitting at her dressing table and Winnie the Pooh was sitting on a chest of drawers nearby.
I asked her to write all this down for us but unfortunately she didn’t – she was a very independent lady! But should anybody shake my hand in future I will be able to say that “I married the son of the lady that met Winnie the Pooh!”
SHARING IN LYMINGTON (Before the merger with Milford).
Contributed by Fran Cooke
Last year I was asked to help with the decorating of our church for the Harvest Festival. It is an Anglican church which is shared with Methodists. Methodists decorate the left side and the Anglicans do the right side and we are all happy!
The agreed time was 9.am. It was a very cold morning and I arrived too early. So I took the opportunity to walk around the church examining the walls for bugs, spiders or anything else that might be setting up home on the church walls; all are welcome in my mind. Imagine my pleasure when I saw a Red Admiral butterfly sunning itself high up on a wall. I stood underneath this little butterfly and closed my eyes and shared the warmth. When I opened them again, I was lovely and warm and the butterfly had flown away – how wonderful is that?
Contributed by Linda Cooke
On Boxing Day in the year of 2019 I was feeling young enough to explore our attic. Whilst there I found a polythene bag with two teddy-bears in it. We think that Alan rescued them from his mother’s house when he was clearing it out to put on the Market. Now we had already decided that we had no more room for Teddy bears, so I put one of them in the garage and the other one sat on the bedroom floor for a week looking very tired and ill. Finally I gave in and tied him up in a pillow case and put him into our washing machine. I then put him in the ‘hospital’ airing cupboard for over a week. Meanwhile the bear that I put in the garage, packed himself into an old suitcase and hitched a lift with the New Forest Rubbish Cart, hoping to seek his fortune ……
His friend had now left hospital although his tummy had swelled up a bit and he looked very tired. We decided to call him Gabriel because we found him on Boxing Day and he came from above. The other bear was a bit younger and I just hope that he finds his pot of gold on his adventures.
Contributed by Fran Cooke