Pretty Little Flower or Menacing Alien?


A pretty little flower or menacing alien invader? This flower was in bloom during April and May and a number of people have commented on it. Commonly mistaken for a white Bluebell this is actually the Three Cornered Leek or Three Cornered Garlic. It grows all round the parish, often in private gardens but also alongside the A48 at the top of the Tumble and even on the Wenvoe Village Green. It may look innocuous but it is in fact a notifiable plant under the Countryside and Wildlife Act which means it is illegal to plant it or grow it in the wild. Soil containing seeds or bulbs (in other words any soil in which it has been growing) must be disposed of in a licensed landfill site. The reason is that it does spread rapidly and will soon smother our native wildflowers. It is already a major problem in Cornwall and Devon and one can expect the same to happen here.

It is very easy to identify and distinguish from a Bluebell as it has triangular stems – the latter is round. It also has an onion smell whereas the English Bluebell flower is scented (although the Spanish Bluebell has no scent). It is from the Mediterranean region and was introduced in the mid 18th Century

It is popular with foragers as the leaves and flowers can be added to salads and the bulbs used as a substitute for garlic but don't confuse it with a daffodil bulb which is poisonous. It is in the Allium family which are reportedly good for the heart and high blood pressure. The juice is even claimed to be good as a moth repellent.


Three Corner Garlic




June Activities


We are all enjoying this glorious weather here in school. It is always so lovely when the children are able to play on the field in their break times. We really are very fortunate to have such beautiful school grounds and surroundings.

We have been operating a scheme known as 'Family Dining'; this is when parents join their children for school dinner. Our cooks, Sian and Mandy, really do cook the most delicious dinners! It is incredibly enjoyable for the children to be joined by their parents for lunch.

The children are all busy practising for Sports Day next week…we are keeping our fingers crossed for this glorious weather to continue!

We can't believe that we are now in the final half term and how quickly this school year is going! We are looking forward to the last few weeks with lots of fun activities planned.






BBC Wales has recently started showing a series of programmes about Wales in the 1990’s and I wondered whether it might be of interest to relate some of my own experiences of working in Human Resources (H.R) during that period?

You might remember the Wales Development Agency and how it set out to attract Japanese investment into the Valleys during the 90’s? In fact, Max Boyce referred to it in one of his songs: “…….me Welsh-speaking Japanee”?

At the time, it was highly desirable to be able to add employment by a Japanese company to your c.v and I was lucky enough (as I thought then) to be recruited by a Japanese investor setting up a “green field” manufacturing operation in the Gwent Valleys. I was the first Brit they had employed and it turned out to be a steep learning curve and culture shock for all concerned.

I’ll skip over the initial period of working from serviced offices in Cathedral Road and the commissioning, recruitment, training and general liaison with everyone from the Secretary of State for Wales to the local milkman and just list some of the idiosyncrasies which you might find thought-provoking…….

The four Japanese who had been seconded to the U.K to set up the operation had obviously not had any briefing about British culture or working methods and were expecting an autocratic management style to work as well in Wales as it did in Japan. What they had not expected was the wit and wiliness of the Welsh workforce, coming, as they did, from a steel-working area. This caused endless frustration and annoyance to all concerned at the time, but with hindsight was akin to being part of a Laurel & Hardy film.

The Japanese M.D spoke no English (we employed a dedicated interpreter and bought English/Japanese dictionaries to point to) and was about 5’ 4” tall – with all the characteristics usually attributed to a “little man”. These are some of his best moments:

It was expected that the workforce would wear uniforms of white jacket and trousers and a navy blue baseball cap. This requirement was honoured more in the breach than in the observance and caused the M.D endless concern. However, we “early joiners” were told that safety footwear was not to be worn until the rest of the uniforms had been supplied. The baseball caps were to be made of the cheapest available material but managers should require the workforce to wear them to protect their heads.

British employees were only to use the Conference room for meetings if they used the end without windows as the part with windows was only for use by the Japanese. Similarly, visitors must be seated with their backs to the windows.

The Security Company were not allowed to have a Master key as they could not be trusted and the (British) Engineering Manager –a keyholder for day-to-day security – was not allowed on site at weekends to perform any maintenance work unless a Japanese person was also present.

Individual elements of a cleaning contract were approved by the M.D but, once consolidated into a single document were rejected as being too expensive. In a similar episode, the M.D personally negotiated rates with a distribution company. Two months later, the British Production Manager was required to find savings on these rates. The Production Manager was not allowed to put machinery in the front 15 metres of the shopfloor so that the M.D could stand at the front to see if everyone was working. On another occasion, the M.D was caught hiding in a cubicle of the Ladies toilet as he was checking that nobody was loitering after their lunch break.

The H.R function was expected to “police” all this despite having been told that employees wishing to learn to use company computer spreadsheets (as part of their job) could do so after normal working hours but without pay. The Travel policy, outlining daily subsistence allowances was to be kept secret and a training course for machine operators on a new piece of prime manufacturing equipment (which cost £80,000 including training) was vetoed as hotel costs for the two trainees was prohibitive. I was actually told “we do not provide training as we are not a charity”.

Perhaps the most notable idiosyncrasy – and the one which finally convinced me that it was time to move on – was the edict that in order to reduce the number of defects detected in parts supplied by the Japanese parent company they were no longer to be checked.

The other side of the coin, however, was the gently subversive attitude of the Welsh workforce. By and large these alien requirements (in every sense) were met with tolerance and amusement and the rather bombastic approach of the M.D seemed to invoke what can only be imagined as being similar to the “blitz spirit”. The highlight was possibly the occasion on which the M.D – who had refused to grit the car park due to the expense involved – slipped on the ice and fell heavily. This caused considerable merriment and a very un-PC voice was heard to mutter “there’s a nip in the air this morning”

It was always “good value” to listen to the Valley employees in the canteen. At the time, John West were running a television advert featuring a cartoon bear. The (deadpan) conversation went:

Employee A: Did you know that Keith thinks the John West bear is real?

Employee B: No. Where is Keith, anyway?

Employee A: Writing to Santa

Other “gems” included:

When a flock of sheep wandered onto the site: “That’s Ceri’s girlfriend looking for him”

I had to drive home. I was too drunk to walk

John has had an outside toilet built for his new house. He thought it would be nice in the summer

“XYZ Ltd” has got 140,000 employees”. Pause. “Think of the queue in the canteen”

This was more than 20 years ago, now – but I’d be prepared to bet that the BBC’s “Wales in the 90’s” series doesn’t tell this side of the story….




June Letters to the Editor


As regular dancers at Wenvoe Village Hall we (and the other dancers) were delighted to see how great the new floor is. Congratulations to the Village Hall Committee for doing such a good job. It looks fabulous and is a pleasure to dance on – well done!

Judy and Bruce McDonald


I must extend my grateful thanks to the ladies of Wenvoe WI. You came together to give our guests a most enjoyable afternoon on June 16. Due to ill health, I was sorry I was unable to join you. The wonderful “ Wenvoe willingness” that I spoke about at our recent annual meeting was certainly put into practice by you all and I am very proud of the members of my Institute. As always, thanks to everyone.

Madeleine Rees, President Wenvoe WI

As I write, I am just about to post 3 boxes of donated pre-loved childrens shoes to the charity Sal's Shoes. Sal's is based in England and collects shoes to distribute to children around the world who have none. The statistics on their website indicates that there are 300 million barefoot children worldwide. 58 million children worldwide are not in school and 29 million of these are because they do not have the means. In many countries you cannot go to school without a pair of shoes. Following the recent collection among the community in Wenvoe, parents from Gwenfo school and friends in the area, I am delighted to say I have collected 135 pairs of suitable pre-loved, kids shoes, boots and slippers for Sal's Shoes. Thank you so much to all who donated. Since I started the collection, I am delighted to add that there is a new Cardiff collection point for any shoes in the future: Get Roller Skating, has nominated Sal's as its Charity of the Year. If you would like to donate shoes in future, visit the Sal's Shoes website on or contact Get Roller Skating on 07391 703435, e-mail hello@ or visit www.getrollerskating. who can receive your donation locally. Thanks again for an amazing community response to the collection.

Rachel Marshall, St Andrews Road





July Walks Programme




Saturday 1st July:- Circumnavigation of Partishow Hill, 7½ mile walk. Ian (OL13)


Thursday 6th July:- Circular walk based around Castell Coch, approx. 5 miles. Bert (151)


Saturday 8th July:- Afan Argoed A 7½ mile walk. V’Iain (166)


Saturday 15th July:- Goodrich. 8 miles. Ian. (OL14)


Saturday 22nd July:- The Skirrid and eastward. Approx. 7.5 miles. V’Iain (OL13)


Saturday 29th July

Resolven, Neath Valley 9 miles. Ian (165/166)




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