Recycling and The Witches of Salem

Recycling, The Truth 

Our indoor meetings continued with a talk on recycling by Colin Smith, Operational Manager Neighbourhood Services, Vale of Glamorgan, on the recent changes to recycling in our area and why they were necessary.

In his talk Colin addressed the issues of how our waste was treated, the reason for the change, what happens to our recycling and future plans.

The good news is that none of our waste goes to landfill. The contents of our blue boxes are treated at Viridor’s Energy Recovery Facility as part of the Prosiect Gwyrdd/Project Green Initiative. This facility provides financial support (£50,000 per annum) on a 25 year contract to handle non-recyclable waste from local authorities – Cardiff, Newport, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan. This facility, the largest in Wales, is able to handle 350,000 tonnes per annum. In the process, enough electrical power is generated to power over 50,000 homes and diverts at least 95% of South Wales’ residual waste away from landfill. The ash generated goes to Avonmouth, where it is used in aggregate.

Our organic waste (food and garden) is treated at two new facilities. The food waste goes to an Anaerobic Digestion facility owned by Welsh Water. The output from the plant is a methane rich biogas providing energy for homes and a digestate which is used in agriculture. This reduces the release of harmful landfill gases into the atmosphere. Garden waste is shredded, composted and the resulting product can be used in parks etc.

The reason for the change in our recycling was because of an EU revised waste framework directive which called for all collections to achieve a high quality of recycling no worse than collecting separately. The Vale of Glamorgan secured Capital Funding of £6.3m for 2018/19 and 2019/20 to implement the service change. Time was right for this change as costs were escalating to get rid of plastic waste etc. The benefits of the changes are lower revenue, reduced carbon footprint, higher quality material and minimal contamination.

Single use plastic was removed from recycling as contamination was affecting 30-40% of all recycling leading to increasing costs – £65,000 in one month.

The roll out of the new scheme involved issuing some 80,000 containers and over 35,000 blue bags in 4 days. Although the scheme had teething problems, the situation is being continually monitored and changed when necessary.

Nothing goes abroad for recycling and a new recovery site is being built in Barry on the Atlantic Trading Estate which will prepare all the Vale’s recycling for reuse/recycling.

This talk was really helpful as it showed how, by changing our recycling habits, we are able to play our part in slowing down global warming and making the world a greener place.


Magic and The Witches of Salem

On a much lighter note our next talk was on the History of Magic by Jules the Magic Lady. Jules’s talk began by explaining that several centuries ago many practicing Christians had a strong belief that the Devil could give certain people, known as witches, the power to harm in return for their loyalty and tens of thousands of these so called witches were executed after being put on trial.

In America the Salem witch trials occurred between 1692-3 when over 200 people were accused of practicing the Devil’s magic and 20 of them were executed. Current research reveals that these women were not mad but suffering from ergot poisoning which manifests itself in hallucinations, delusions, muscle spasms and vomiting. This was a direct result of King William’s war which led to food shortages, causing ergot contaminated rye to be eaten.

Spiritualism, created by the Fox sisters, influenced many people in the late 19th century including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They gave public demonstrations in return for money and this led on to the development of the Ouija board.

We went on to learn about the Magic Circle founded in Pinolis Restaurant in 1905 and which still has fewer than 100 women in its membership of over 1,400. Megan Knowles-Bacon was the first female to be appointed an officer in 2014.

The history of magic continued with the story of Harry Houdini and his amazing escapology acts. As well as being an illusionist, Houdini was also fascinated by aviation and in 1910 was the first person to make an aerial flight in Australia.

Television brought the spectacle of magic into the home and we all remembered such personalities as David Nixon, Tommy Cooper and Paul Daniels. Tommy Cooper will always be remembered for his fez and apparently when leaving a taxi cab he would put a teabag into the driver’s pocket leaving with the words ‘have a drink on me’.

Today we can have the pleasure of watching illusionists such as David Copperfield, Derren Brown and Dynamo, one of a new breed of magicians who do their tricks out in the open.

Jules finished by showing us some card tricks and also we all learnt how to do a trick with a rubber band.

This talk made a welcome escape from the troubled world we now live in.

Please note that all sessions of Tuesday Group are cancelled for the rest of the session including the trip to Fonmon.



Spring/Summer Programme

Our Spring/Summer programme began with a social evening when everyone was able to have a chat and enjoy a quiz. This was followed by a trip to the Millenium Centre to see “The King and I” which every-one enjoyed.

Our first talk was given By Peter Cox and was entitled “My Life as a Spy”. Peter had been employed for 32 years at GCHQ and was able to give us a fascinating insight into the world of British Intelligence. Although still bound by the Official Secrets Act everything he told us is now in the public do-main so no rules were broken in the giving of this talk.

Peter began by explaining how British Intelligence is organised and what function the various bodies perform. The intelligence services are responsible for Homeland Security, Foreign policy, Military support, combating organised crime and global security and this is devolved to MI5, MI6 or GCHQ.

GCHQ is known as the 5-eyes community as information is gathered and shared by the UK, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Peter was recruited in 1980 primarily because he had studied Russian and joined the Technical Language Service but later worked in other departments.

To help us understand how the security services work we were played a tape concerning the shooting down of Flight MH17 and the various conversations taking place were explained so that the West knew from these recordings that the plane had been shot down by a Russian missile.

Peter then went on to describe some missions to explain how the various agencies cooperate in for example the disruption of drug shipments.

Finally Peter explained the vital importance of Global Communication networks and how GCHQ is able to watch every move as it has the power to intercept internet traffic on fibre optic systems.

This talk was fascinating and it is obviously true that Big Brother is watching you and that we are all being protected by our Secret Services who are working tirelessly to combat all manner of crimes.

In many ways our next talk led on from our previous speaker as this was about scams and how information can be gathered about us without us suspect-ing. The talk entitled “Friends Against Scams” was given by Greg Couch a Nat West Community Banker.

Greg introduced his talk by showing a video when we were introduced to the various scam techniques. The National Trading Standards Initiative has been set up to protect and prevent people from becoming the victim of scams.

After the video Greg showed us some facts and figures relating to scams. It was interesting to note that the 16 – 25 age group are currently being targeted more and that there are different scams for different age groups.

£5 to £10 billion is lost to the British economy through scams and only 5% are reported. Action Fraud is a new initiative set up by the police and this is a dedicated task force to clamp down on scammers.

Telephone scams are the most prolific and a system called Call Guardian which serves to block callers by dialling 1572 was explained.

The importance of having secure passwords to make on-line scams more difficult and a site called “ “ can be used to see how long it would take someone to crack your existing passwords.

The important message that we were able to take home was that any suspected fraud activity should be reported and that any scam e-mails should be deleted after being reported.



December Activities Report


December Report

Our final speaker for this session was Helen Joy who has entertained us in the past and her talk on the Vale of Glamorgan Show proved equally entertaining.

The Vale show was set up so that farmers could meet and compete against each other in a variety of categories. The first show was held in 1772 and it is always held on a Wednesday in August as this was deemed to be the month that was the least busy for farmers. Since then the show has grown and it is now the biggest show in Glamorgan of any kind. As well as the show itself there are other events associated with the show such as a thanksgiving service the evening before the show, a lunch sponsored by the NFU and the dinner at which all the winners receive their various prizes.

Helen and a group of like minded people formed the Glamorgan Smallholders Association and this proved a popular move as over 50 people attended the first meeting. In 2017 they were given a small corner of the main marquee to promote the organisation and as this was a success the following year they occupied the whole marquee. As well as the animals, they had spinners, weavers, basket makers and Bro radio. They received a cup for the best trade stand in the show.

The Glamorgan Smallholders Association has grown into an organisation which now works in collaboration with the Welsh Government engaging with the public at all opportunities Plans are now well in progress for the next Vale Show when there will be an opportunity for us all to go along and see the variety of projects that the smallholders undertake.

Our next meeting was designed to put us all in the Christmas spirit. We welcomed back Natalie and Amanda from Hearts and Flowers who demonstrated making a centre piece for the Christmas table, various Christmas wreaths and a miniature Christmas tree complete with lights.

The last event of the session was the Christmas meal at The Beech Tree.

After a very successful session we can all look forward to the Spring/Summer 1920 Programme.



John Sheen Talk

It was a pleasure to welcome John Sheen for his third and final talk.

This talk was entitled ‘Christmas Crackers’ and was divided into twelve separate items representing the twelve days of Christmas.

We enjoyed a selection of poems, prose, a joke, a mini quiz and a very funny recipe for a Christmas cake. His version of Cinderella called Pinderella was one of the funniest we’d heard and it was lovely to hear everyone laughing so much. There was even audience participation – ‘Oh yes there was’!

Another funny item was the parody on the twelve days of Christmas closely followed by ‘what to do with sprouts if you don’t want to eat them’.

While all the items were interesting and entertaining some were of particular note. John read an excerpt from Dylan Thomas’ ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ as only a Welshman can, as well as a John Betjeman poem simply called ‘Christmas’. He also read a little known piece by Richard Burton called ‘Radicalism on Christmas Eve’.

It was indeed a memorable evening and we were left with that lovely feeling that only shared prose and poetry can bring. It was a shame it had to end.

Our next speaker was also someone who had addressed the group previously and on this occasion Rosemary Scadden was talking about ‘Hidden London’.

Rosemary began her talk by quoting Dr Johnson – ‘He who tires of London tires of life’.

Her memories of London began on visits to London in 1947 when many bomb sites were still in evidence and she remembers being told not to stare at Indian ladies. Other early trips to London were for the Festival of Britain and to see the decorations for the Coronation in 1953.

Rosemary was a student in London and so became very familiar with Central London. She suggested that a good place to start any tour of London would be The Monument which is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. Other places which might be of interest include The Bank of England which has a museum which is free and open to the public, the Mansion House which opens every Tuesday and the Roman amphitheatre in the basement of the Guildhall.

Rosemary then went on to tell us about some of the more unusual memorials there are such as the Firemen’s memorial near St Paul’s. Also near St Paul’s is St Benet’s Church which was designed by Christopher Wren and escaped the bombs in the war. This church was given to Wales by Queen Victoria. Also in the same area is Postman’s Park which houses The Watts Memorial to Heroic Self- Sacrifice. Decorating the walls are Doulton tablets commemorating acts of bravery. This park is popular as it has plenty of shady areas as well as seating so this could be a good place to take a break on a tour of London.

Taking one of the many walking tours that are now available is a very good way to find some of these places and discover more of hidden London. I am sure that those of us who plan to go to London on the coach trip organised by the library might have been inspired by some of the unusual places Rosemary spoke about and can go in search of other hidden London gems.



English as She is Spoke!

Autumn/Winter Session

Our Autumn/Winter session began with the AGM. Listening to our chairperson’s report of last year’s talks and activities one realised what a good job Irene had done in organising the programme.

All the officers were re-elected and the main decision taken was that we would pay our £5.00 membership in September and then pay another £5.00 in January. This was voted through unanimously as it would give the club more income for our charity donations and speakers.

Our first speaker was John Richardson who gave a talk on the annoying use of English. John is a retired special needs teacher who has an interest in the theatre as well as the English language.

Having taught English to adult foreign students he was well aware of the idiosyncrasies of our language giving the word “ought” as an example of something that can be pronounced in six different ways depending on the word.

John spoke to us about the importance of correct grammar and how this is no longer taught in schools. As language is continually evolving new words are being introduced some of which John found particularly meaningless. Listening to Radio 4 was obviously one of John’s passions and he pointed out phrases that are frequently used but have no logical meaning such as “very unique”

Spoken English can vary from region to region and we learnt that this is due to the difference in the pronunciation of vowels. Also people have different ways of speaking depending on the situation.

After giving us examples of frequently used clichés John gave an amusing account of things he had overheard on buses.

This was a very thought provoking talk and I am sure we will all be listening out for examples of bad English when we are listening to the radio/television.




Travels in Africa and Blood Bikes

Our two meetings in March were in complete contrast but equally enjoyable.

Natalie from ‘Hearts and Flowers’ located in Heathwood Road demonstrated her skills by producing two lovely arrangements with a touch of Spring. Using a trough shaped container she placed two small pots of daffodil bulbs into the front corners of the container. The arrangement was then developed from this using daffodils, tulips and anemones. The result was beautiful and Diane was lucky enough to win it in the raffle. Natalie then created an Easter wreath which it seems are gaining popularity. She used moss and a cotton plant as well as pastel coloured artificial eggs to create the wreath and the result was most charming. The cotton plant was new to most of us as was the idea of an Easter wreath.

Our second meeting in March had to be rearranged at the last minute as the speaker was ill. Fortunately, Irene’s friend ‘Gareth from the cricket club’ stepped in and gave us a fascinating talk about his travels in Africa.

Gareth is a well-travelled gentleman and talked about how he traced the footsteps of David Livingstone when he first ventured to Africa. Gareth’s journey began in Victoria Falls where the hotel he stayed in had a resident herd of Zebra in its grounds as well as Burma monkeys and baboons. Like David Livingstone, Gareth was overwhelmed by the beauty of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

He stayed in luxurious lodges that had no fences and consequently animals roamed in freely. He described one evening when a herd of elephants wandered in whilst they were dining out in the open. They stayed perfectly still and the elephants drank from the pool and wandered off.

One part of the journey in Botswana involved travelling by boat through wetlands. It took four and a half hours to navigate through a network of channels surrounded by long grass. On arrival at their destination they found the tented accommodation was in stark contrast to the previous lodge. Showering involved the use of a canvas bucket and after going to the toilet over a deep hole he had to add a scoop of ash from a container alongside! Apparently, the food was excellent.

The next lodge, which was on the edge of the Zambezi falls, involved a journey on the ‘elephant express’ which was actually a motorised tram car.

The animals he encountered on this incredible journey included spotted hyenas, African buffalo as well as crocodiles. He even witnessed the disturbing but extraordinary sight of a leopardess killing an impala and pulling it up a tree away from other predators.

His talk was accompanied by some lovely photographs on the big screen and we were so grateful to Gareth for stepping in at the last minute and sharing his experience of Africa with us. We

can’t wait for a further instalment of his amazing travels.

Our indoor meetings continued in April with a talk on Blood Bikes Wales. We were delighted to welcome Dave and Jason as representatives of this charity which covers the whole of Wales.

This registered charity is run entirely by volunteers and relies on donations by supporters in order to function. Blood Bikes Wales provides a courier service transporting hospital specimens which include blood, baby milk, patient notes, surgical instruments and pathological specimens, between hospitals. This service is carried out at weekends and Bank Holidays and is available nationwide.

The first meeting was held in February 2011 in Llanelli and now there are 8 centres spread across Wales which hold regular monthly meetings. The Charity welcomes anyone who can be of help as not only are bike riders needed but a whole spectrum of back-up support staff such as co-ordinators, fundraisers and committee members.

The bikes themselves, currently Yamaha, are fitted with special racks for securing the transport boxes and the cost of just keeping them on the road is considerable. For instance the tyres are replaced monthly and they alone cost £280/pair. All the riders have advanced qualifications and they are tested every three years to check on their riding standard.

The benefits of this service are considerable as they are faster than taxis and they also free up emergency services for other duties. This represents a much needed financial saving for Health Authorities. An example quoted was one Authority spending £250,000 on taxis which was cut drastically when Blood Bikes took over some of the trips.

One very special service that is undertaken is the collection of donor breast milk from Birmingham to be distributed to wherever premature babies in Wales need milk.

We were all in admiration of the work these volunteers carry out so next time you see anyone collecting for Blood Bikes Wales please give generously – you never know when they might help you or your family.

Our last talk of the session was given by Gwerfyl Gardner and it was about her adventures in Quizland. From school days Gwerfyl was interested in quizzes and as a member of Bangor Grammar School she was the youngest in a team which won Top of the Form. This was back in 1953 and the prize was a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was presented to the school, and a trip to London accompanied by the Headmistress.

Gwerfyl waited until she had retired from teaching to pursue her life in quizland more seriously. One of the first programmes she auditioned for was 15 to 1. Gwerfyl travelled to Bristol to audition taking with her the 3 outfits that she had been instructed to bring. It was soon apparent to Gwerfyl that the questions were only easy if you knew the answers and that luck played an important role in any success.

The Weakest Link was the next target – this was filmed at Pinewood studios. Again a list of instructions was provided on what to wear ie no suits, no dresses and nothing black. It was fascinating to hear what went on behind the scenes and how long programmes actually took to record. Gwerfyl was successful and despite Ann Robinson’s thundery looks went on to win £3,010.00.

Other quiz programmes that Gwerfyl has taken part in include Eggheads, as a team representing the Glamorgan Federation of Women’s Institute, when they defeated the experts and won £11,000 and The Chase, again a successful outcome winning £7,000.

We learned that she had just applied to be on Tipping Point, so any viewers of that show keep a lookout for her appearance.

Our next few meetings are all out of the village – they will be a theatre trip, a visit to the Police Museum and a successful year will be rounded off with our summer dinner.



Chris Jones, the S4C weatherman


Tuesday Group were delighted to welcome Chris Jones, known to many as the S4C weatherman. Chris started his talk with a bit about his background. He was raised in Aberaeron and then went on to Bangor University where he studied media. After this he was out of work for some 18 months during which time he did a variety of jobs to make ends meet. He was then fortunate to be approached by a new company Merlin TV who offered him the post of Assistant Cameraman. During this time he travelled the world making films on a variety of subjects – these included following the British Bobsleigh team in Calgary, and filming in South Africa prior to independence. After 11 years, Chris became tired of all the travelling and decided to go freelance. He was offered the chance to work in front of the camera presenting the weather for S4C, a position he has held for 29 years. As well as this, Chris works for several charities including Prostate Cancer and Keep Wales Tidy.

Chris described how presenting the weather over the years has changed and it is now much more informal. On a completely different note Chris has recently launched a range of socks all with a weather theme. These are proving to be extremely popular.

When not working Chris enjoys walking and recently walked the Inca Trail which was one of his lifelong ambitions. However the weather will always be his main interest and he hopes to fulfil another ambition – chasing tornedos in the US.

Although some of our regular members were absent we all had a very enjoyable evening as well as learn-ing some of the facts and fiction about a favourite British topic – The Weather.



Tuesdays After The Christmas Break

After our Christmas break we resumed our meetings with a social evening. This gave members a chance to catch up and enjoy an evening together. Thank you to Betty for providing a quiz and to everyone who generously donated to our Bring & Buy table.

Our next meeting was a talk by Lyn Howell about the charity LATCH. This charity was set up in 1982 in Llandough Hospital and although the acronym Landough Aims to Treat Children with cancer with Hope is not as appropriate as it was the charity still carries on the fantastic job of supporting children and their families who are being treated by the Oncology Unit at The Children’s Hospital of Wales.

Latch famously provided accommodation for families at Llandough so that families could stay together during their child’s stay in hospital. In 1992 this was relocated to the children’s unit at UHW.

As well as this support for parents Latch also provides essential equipment such as CT Scanners. Other services provided are Social Workers who can provide practical, emotional and financial support to families at a very difficult time.

In order to provide its comprehensive range of services Latch needs some £700,000 per annum to cover the cost of supporting families. This charity has no paid fundraisers and they rely heavily on the hard work of volunteers and are very proud of the fact that they have one of the lowest management expenses for a charity in the whole of the UK.

One of the most recent innovations was the installation of a patient controlled interactive lighting system. This has enabled children to have scans without an anesthetic as they can control various display screens to watch while in the scanner and this serves to relax them and so makes a frightening procedure more acceptable.

Lyn spoke from the heart when telling us about the work of the charity as his daughter died from leukaemia at a very early age. We were shown a series of photos of her before and after treatment and I don’t think there was a dry face in the audience. It

is through the work of this local charity that survival rates for childhood leukaemias are improving all the time and although there are so many charities out there that need our support this local charity should get support



October & November Events

Oct 16th. We were delighted to welcome back M&Co to give us another fashion ashow. We were shown a variety of autumn and winter outfits culminating in a selection of sparkling outfits for the festive season. A big thank you must go to our three members who modelled the clothes making the evening a success.

Oct 30th. John Sheen returned to give us another talk which was entitled “The Happiest Days” and was about growing up in the 1950’s and memories of school from that time. We were encouraged to tell of the things we liked/disliked about our own schooldays.

John brought along a few objects which we all remembered such as the exercise book covered in brown paper as a dustcover and an Oxford geometry set.

The memories of school were interspersed with poems by several authors including Gervais Phinn and Gwyn Thomas which were all very amusing and appropriate.

John went back to his own career as a schoolmaster and we heard some letters written about children’s absences from school which made us laugh.

We then heard some school reports from a variety of celebrities , including this one from Dame Judy Dench – “Would be a very good pupil if only she lived in this world”.

It was obvious from the reaction of the audience that teachers make a big impression on us and John’s talk gave us something to talk about. On a cold winter’s evening it was a pleasure to listen and be amused by such a talented orator as John.

Nov 6th Nick Craddock, from local family-run cider farm, Vale Cider, talked about how they make craft Welsh cider. He described the whole process from planting the apple trees to bottling their award-winning ciders. Vale Cider involves all the family with Nick and his son, Joseph being the business partners who do most of the work but other members helping at the busy times.

The farm is in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan, between Bonvilston and Welsh St Donat’s and a variety of different apples are grown to provide the balance of flavours needed for the best ciders. Welsh bees in their orchards pollinate the apple trees as well as giving honey – and Nick’s pigs love to eat the rejected apples and the dry pomace after it has been pressed.

Vale Cider does not just make award-winning traditional ciders. They also make fruit ciders, mulled cider punch, apple juice and apple cider vinegar. Nick’s talk was illustrated by lots of photographs and short video clips to make it entertaining as well as interesting – and everyone got a taste of their most popular cider, “Serious Scrumpy”. Vale Cider has a website ( and a facebook page ( which have more information and photos about what they do.

Nov 20th When Janet Sully came to talk about the impact of World War One on Llandaff, we were very surprised to learn that little was known or had been recorded. The war memorial showed the names of people killed in the war but Janet wanted to find out about the people left behind. Fortunately Parish magazines provided the source she needed.

We were shown some interesting pictures of Llandaff at the beginning of the twentieth century when Llandaff had a population of around 2,000. We saw a picture of the Cathedral school before moving to its present site and the High Street before it had shops. The Cathedral school sadly lost 56 of its former pupils in the war.

In 1914 a quarter of a million Belgian refugees came to Britain and 55 ended up in Llandaff. Street collections were organised to help them and some were housed by wealthy locals or in the two houses that were set aside for them. At the end of the war the refugees left without a trace.

Some existing buildings were adapted to repatriate wounded soldiers and when The Lodge became too small, St Michael’s college took over and it accommodated around 70 soldiers, mainly officers. They were visited by locals and we saw the picture of a wedding that later took place between a visitor and a soldier.

Rookwood became a military hospital looking after the more seriously wounded and was staffed by the Red Cross or VAD Glamorgan. Some Llandaff ladies gave up normal working duties to help at the hospital. Rookwood was the only building to continue as a hospital once the war ended.

Two large houses became supply depots where the women made bandages and clothes to send off to a central depot. ‘Comforts’ were made here for soldiers and schoolgirls also helped by knitting socks, hats and gloves. Local parish magazines itemised the articles that were made by the ladies and schoolgirls.

In 1917 a big effort was made by the Government to encourage schools to save money by collecting war saving stamps. Those doing well had an extra day off. Girls at Howells School saved money by having certificates as prizes instead of the usual books. Llandaff was asked to raise £40,000 for four aeroplanes but actually managed to raise double that.

It was felt appropriate to honour those who went to fight and at first cards were produced but as numbers increased and names were added this developed into a beautifully illustrated book of honour where a cross was placed alongside the name of those who died.

When the war ended the question of a memorial was raised and this included the restoration of the bell tower and the removal of the two adjoining houses. Subsequently the site for the memorial was moved to the north end of Cathedral Green. The monument, which was erected in 1924 consists of three standing figures on three separate granite plinths and has two soldiers with a female figure in the centre. A fitting tribute to the ladies of Llandaff



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