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Fungi Competition


With the Wildlife Group fungi competition ongoing until the end of October it is worth reflecting on what fungi are and why they are so important to us. Most people think of fungi as the familiar mushroom or toadstool sticking out of the ground and, so far, competition entries have followed this line. But just as an apple is a small part of the whole tree, a mushroom is simply the fruiting body of a whole organism stretching out for many metres under the ground or through a tree.

These filaments are called hyphae – they release enzymes and absorb food. They can link to tree roots and greatly increase the spread of nutrients that a tree can get access to which is why gardeners and horticulturalists add Mycorrhizal fungus to the roots when planting trees or shrubs as we have done with the fruit trees in the Wenvoe orchards. The fungi take sugars from the tree and in return give them moisture and nutrients.

There are many 'amazing facts' about fungi. They provide us with medicines (and not just Penicillin) and were being used in the shape of yeasts to make mead 9,000 years ago. Think how many types of food use yeast! Truffles, Marmite, Quorn and cheese all depend wholly or partly on fungi. A fungus has been found which breaks down plastics in weeks rather than years and they are used to make bioethanol from crop waste. They are even being used to extract cobalt and lithium from old batteries. Synthetic rubber, even Lego, are made using an acid from fungi. But they do have a darker side wreaking havoc across the world to trees and crops.-,Honey Fungus can often be found in our local woods where it kills trees and shrubs.

So there is a lot more to fungi than the occasional pretty red and white spotted mushroom growing under a Birch tree or the punnets in your local supermarket. They deserve respect and we hope that the competition will help all of us to be more aware of what they can do for us




​Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat

Another hot summer’s day found us parking in Whitchurch off the A40 near Symonds Yat. A short walk across the A40 by a road bridge and there was a footpath which brought us to a lane heading south. All too soon we found ourselves climbing which seemed a little odd as we were making our way to the River Wye in order to cross it via the ferry. Arriving at Ferry Inn we were disappointed to find that the ferry wasn’t working but our contingency plan was to walk along the western bank of the river.

Imagine our delight when after walking about ½ mile down river we found that the second ferry opposite the Saracen’s Head was about to leave the shore on the other side. This is a rope or hand ferry joining Symonds Yat East and West. Ferries like this were vital, in the past, linking the communities on both sides of the river. We paid our £1.20 a head and boarded; the river was so low after the extended dry spell that a box had been placed on the boat to ease stepping down to the ferry. The ferryman sang as he took us across in memory of ‘the singing ferryman’ who died in 2011.

On reaching the other side we went through the large car park at the foot of Symonds Yat Rock. Peregrine falcons can be seen at Yat Rock from early spring. Now we were following an excellent footpath and cycle way alongside the Wye with trees providing shelter from the summer’s heat.

The brooding presence of hillforts built by Iron Age tribes, commanding wide vistas high above the Wye, reinforces the feeling that this has been border country for millennia. Tourists discovered the beauty of the Wye in the 18th century when it became fashionable to take the Wye Tour and find inspiration in the picturesque viewpoints. After a while we came to the chain bridge. Six people at a time can cross. We waited patiently each side taking turns, the second half of our group found that 5 cyclists joined us when we were halfway across and the bridge started to bounce a little alarmingly – not good for those of us who have problems with heights.

Passing a campsite we met lots of families cycling and walking in the sunshine. Delicious blackberries at the edge of the site were quickly devoured. Even

though we had crossed the river, we were on the eastern side of the river again as there is a loop here. Now we were headed north.

After about a mile we turned right up a steep hill through woodland and just before reaching King Arthur’s Cave turned left out into the full heat of the midday sun and continued upwards to a hillfort. Lunch at the top of Little Doward hillfort gave us views to the southeast with the river far below us out of sight.

Towering 724ft above the River Wye, with steep cliffs on three sides the Little Doward provided the ideal site for an Iron Age hillfort. It was improved only by the construction of a single massive rampart around the enclosure. Recent archaeological exploration has found that people here lived in circular platform houses. They worked animal bones, making items like toggles and dice, which were found during a dig in 2009. The limestone bedrock has enabled the preservation of bone here.

We descended the hill, circling to reconnect with our original path and travelling northeast. Soon we were at King Arthur’s cave. Victorian and Edwardian naturalists were fascinated by the Doward Hills. This large limestone cave held a particular draw. Excavations reveal that people have used this cave for 20,000 years. Prehistoric animal bones – of hyena, rhinoceros, bison, lion, bear, reindeer, horse and giant deer – were discovered 11 feet below the caves present floor. Large openings allowed those of us who were interested to explore the caves without ducking, some had torches and further caves appeared as we continued. Did King Arthur really come here, we wondered.

Continuing downhill via steep lanes we were soon passing through Great Doward and found our way back across the road bridge to Whitchurch.

This was a lovely walk much of it easy – especially the ferry ride – 7½ miles and 1200ft climb. A small delicatessen supplied us with cups of tea and the bar of an Indian restaurant had beer so we were all happy.



September’s Walk


And the sun shone again on the living with cancer strollers on their September walk around Cosmeston. A new route included small inclines, woods, open fields, lakes and friendly canines, intent on joining us! The views were wonderful. We could even see Wenvoe from one vantage point.

As important as the walking, was the talking and the coffee in the cafe afterwards. It was lovely to see everyone chatting, joking and just having a good time.

Another new walker joined the group in September and was welcomed by everyone. We missed Tess who has been on every walk since its inauguration last year. She was doing some tough walks in the peak district, so should be able to run around Cosmeston on October's walk!

If you want to join a friendly group for a gentle stroll, we will be outside the information centre at Cosmeston on the first Thursday in October at 10am.



October Tasks


RHS tips for the month.

1. Divide rhubarb crowns.

2. Cut back perennials that have died back.

3. Divide herbaceous perennials.

4. Move tender plants into a greenhouse

5. Plant out Spring cabbages.

6. Harvest apples, pears and nuts.

7. Prune climbing roses.

8. Finish collecting seeds to grow next year.

9. Keep cutting the grass and trim the hedges.

10. Still a good time to repair lawns.

The grass cutting season seems to get longer. If it's dry enough, keep cutting with the height of the blade raised. This will make the first cut in Spring a lot easier. If reseeding bare patches remember to spread an extra handful to account for what the birds will consume.

Plant wallflowers, primula, forget-me-nots and Winter flowering pansies in prepared ground or containers. Any pots not raised should be done so now or they will become water logged over Winter.

October is the best time of year to move trees and shrubs. Bare root trees and shrubs start to become available now. These are a lot cheaper to purchase and planted now will soon establish quickly. When looking at gardens you will see some where the plants are struggling for space, so be careful how many you put in as it's easy to get carried away and fill in all the gaps, leaving no room for future growth. Over the years plants do out grow their space even with careful planning and decisions have to be made. It can be quite refreshing to start over, although some plants will have memories attached to them. If you do decide to remove some plants, take cuttings and grow on. Hardwood cuttings take very well at this time of year.

Some of the larger Wyevale garden centres have been taken over by Blue Diamond group based in the Channel Islands so you will need to swap over cards when you visit one of their garden centres. The nearest one is at St Mellons.

The new Grange development has proven a difficult area for new home owners as clay is quite near the problem, organic material and garden lime put in to the soil at this time of year will break down the clay and help the soil to hold on to nutrients.

Some members of the library volunteers organised the Village show this year. Hopefully they will continue to do so because without their willingness to rise to the challenge the show would fade away. If you could help I'm sure you would be welcomed.

Leaf mould is the material to grow your bulbs in. Now is the time of year to start making it for next year. Just fill some bin bags with leaves, of which Wenvoe has plenty, add a little water if dry, make a couple of holes in the bag and leave till next year. That's all you need to do.

Happy gardening.



Early-Marriages Are Detrimental


Since I was little, I imagined what my future wedding would be like. The dress, the layout, the partner; all children daydream about the day they will marry their soulmate. I always wondered what they would look like, their personality, how we would meet, how old I would be and how long it would take for us to get engaged. But I realise now, my imagination of what the future would hold for me was because I get to make a choice. Unfortunately, choice isn’t granted to every girl in the world.

I’m eighteen, and currently, I don’t see myself marrying for probably another ten years. I haven’t met the person – I haven’t even come close. But 12 million girls all over the world are married before they reach eighteen. Before their life begins. 23 girls every minute; almost 1 every 2 seconds. A choice they can’t make themselves; a choice they aren’t allowed to make themselves.

Being Welsh, I know gender pay inequality is still an issue that women in the UK face, but in the big scheme of things, it’s hardly the women of the world’s biggest concern. Of course, the gender pay gap ought to close and I truly hope it does; I aim to be a part of that conversation. But the truth of the matter is, gender inequality reaches so far beyond pay in many of the countries around the world and extends to the genuine belief that women are so inferior to men on a much larger scale. In numerous countries, being born a girl immediately creates a burden on a family; to ease economic hardship, and ‘burden’ another family in place of theirs, families marry off their young daughters. Patriarchal values aid in child marriage, as there is a desire by the patriarchal society in these countries to control a women, by the way they dress, how she should behave and most importantly, who she should marry.

Child marriage seems to us like some barbaric burden placed on young girls. So many countries practice child marriage simply as it is something that has happened for generations, but it doesn’t justify the practice. In Southern Ethiopia for example, harmful practices are often linked, with child marriage leading to female genital mutilation; practices may be tradition, but they can be harmful to those involved. Many young girls who are married are expected to have children, but many get pregnant when their bodies have only just started puberty. They die because their bodies are not equipped to carrying a baby, and certainly not built for giving birth to them.

GirlsNotBrides is a global partnership of over 1000 civil society organisations which are dedicated to ending child marriage. Their theory of change involves ideas such as empowering girls and giving them opportunities to build skills and knowledge; by encouraging them to become agents of change themselves, we can  continue the chain of empowering young girls. With the Safe Space Programmes, we can successfully build girls’ self-confidence, for married girls who do not receive an education, they offer self-sufficiency and having a safe place to meet with other girls who have shared the same experiences, the feeling of isolation and vulnerability can begin to be removed. The work the global partnership does with men and boys who become husbands, or who are brothers and fathers shows the value of encouraging young girls and aiding to fulfil their potential.

Child marriage, according to ‘GirlsNotBrides’ website ‘violates girls’ rights to health, education and opportunity. It exposes girls to violence throughout their lives and traps them in a cycle of poverty’. More than 650 million women, and over 150 million men have suffered child marriage, and without faster progress the global number of women married as children will reach 1.2 billion by 2050. If we help to support GirlsNotBrides, we can help end the devastating consequences of child marriage. Progress is being made, with the African Union and the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children having launched initiatives to help end child marriages and support young married girls; more and more countries are developing national action plans to end child marriage, in partnership with the UN.

A campaign conducted by the Network of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Women Organizations of Kosovo (a project under the EU-UN jurisdiction ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’) have allowed for communities in Kosovo to understand the detrimental restrictions early-marriage forces upon young girls’ prospect of a safe life. A young man named Qerim completed his training on the prevention of early-marriage and has begun his door-to-door programme of beginning conversations in his neighbourhood and is encouraging them to consider the effects early-marriage has on the young women within their own community. By opening the conversation to communities where child marriage is often a tradition, we can help prevent the practice.

You may not think this is a problem we should deal with, as it is not a problem on Britain’s doorstep. But it doesn’t mean we can’t help in the matter. Supporting the UN and global partnerships like GirlsNotBrides, FreedomUnited, Amnesty International, Plan International and so many more can make even the slightest difference. By continuing the conversation and understanding how early-marriages are detrimental, you are a part of change.

Child marriage needs to stop and progress isn’t happening fast enough. Support these global partnerships and become a part of change.

By Tirion Davies



Fake Netflix emails.



Please watch out for these fake Netflix emails.

We’ve seen an increase in reports about fake Netflix emails claiming that there’s an issue with your account, or that your account has been suspended. The email states that you need to “update” your account details in order to resolve the problem. The link in the emails leads to genuine-looking Netflix phishing websites designed to steal your username and password, as well as payment details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

For more information on how to stay secure online, visit



Spiced Swede Fritters [vegetarian]

Spiced Swede Fritters [vegetarian]

1 swede, about 650 – 700g, peeled and diced into small chunks

75g plain flour

100ml crème fraiche

1 egg beaten

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 med red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp crushed coriander seeds

small handful fresh coriander, chopped

sunflower oil, for frying

mango chutney to serve

Cook the swede in boiling water until tender. Drain well. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, crème fraiche and egg to make a smooth thick batter. Stir in the chilli, onion, spices and coriander, then season generously. Roughly mash the swede and stir into the mixture. Heat a splash of the oil in a large non-stick pan and cook small, flattened spoonfuls of the mixture for about 2 mins on each side until crisp and browned. Serve with mango chutney and maybe a nice glass of wine



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