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A School Group Up Mount Kenya
As a Valeways walk leader, I have had the privilege and pleasure of leading coastal and countryside walks for the past 2 years. As there are no Living with Cancer Strollers or Carers Walk this month, due to the coronavirus, I thought I would share some of my adventures as a walk leader further afield….
As a young teacher in Kenya, I decided to take a school group up Mount Kenya. This is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. There are 3 peaks on Mount Kenya and walkers head for the less technical trek to Point Lenana (4985m).
My school party consisted of 25 pupils and 10 teachers. We had guides to take us through the breath-taking scenery: tarns, glaciers, dense forest, a vertical bog and to point out the wildlife: including mongoose, hyrax (evolved from the elephant) and duiker. Fortunately, we didn’t spot the rarely seen giant forest hog or bongo!
There are various routes up the mountain and the climb takes 3 days. After acclimatising at Naro Moru, we spent the first night on the mountain at the met station. All was well. The next day we set off through forest and high-altitude equatorial vegetation to reach Mackinders Camp with the dramatic peaks of Batian and Nelion looking down on us. Tents were set up for us and the head of the school cooked a high energy pasta dish, which very few people ate. Altitude sickness had struck…not something that my walkers around Cosmeston or Barry Island have ever experienced!
Headaches and sickness took over a large number of the party so only a few emerged from their tents at 2am to head to the summit. Heading off at 2am meant the scree and the glacier at the peak were frozen and more easily walked on. After a long trek we reached the top and watched the sunrise.
On the descent, one pupil, slipped on the ice and started to head towards the tarn….luckily a guide stopped him. Not a sight that is easily forgotten. On reaching Mackinders Camp, where we had left a large group of sick individuals, we were greeted by happier and healthier pupils and teachers; the British army had arrived for a training session and had provided lots of hot tea and biscuits.
So …… at Cosmeston and over at Barry Island, if you join us when the social distancing finishes, you can feel confident that you are in safe hands….as long as there are no frozen tarms to fall into or great heights to be scaled….
Margam Park – We are going back to February for this month’s walk, just a week after storm Dennis. The weather forecast was 40-45mph winds with rain later. This was enough for some of us to think that maybe we should be cancelling but we decided to give it a go. We were lucky – it was dry all day and windy but wind speed was only about 20-25mph.
When we arrived at Margam Park there were two other groups in the small car park near the lake – one was Cardiff Ramblers which included people from Culverhouse X. The car park was very full as a result with us taking the last two places which involved some manoeuvring to reverse down the narrow track and squeeze into small spaces. An impatient driver who was probably upset that he didn’t get a space roared down the track going off-road to pass other vehicles coming in the opposite direction and spraying mud everywhere as well as thumping the bottom of his car quite violently on a large rock which produced a cracking sound!
The Margam deer herd roams through approximately 500 acres of parkland. It dates from Norman times, the herd, originally exclusively fallow, is of excellent genetic quality to rival any herd in the British Isles.
The water in the lake was quite high with lots of birds swimming around including at least two swans. Mute swans, coots, moorhens, Canada geese, mallard, tufted duck and pochard inhabit the lakes. Whilst the patient observer may see kingfishers beside the streams, skylarks, stonechats and wheatears can be seen over the grasslands with buzzards, kestrels and the occasional red kite in the skies. As it was February and quite cold we saw little in the way of birds whilst walking. We heard one when climbing but we actually saw just a couple of crows when eating lunch.
Margam Park owes its location to the monastery, which was privatised following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537. We climbed to a ruin, which still has all four walls standing (at least in part). This was an outlying monastery building, Capel Mair ar y Bryn, (the chapel of St Mary on the hill). It is thought that its purpose was to allow members of the monastic community to fulfil their devotional duties, when engaged in keeping flocks, without returning to the main church. From here we could look down on Margam Castle. The house was built in 1830-40 at a cost of £50,000 using sandstone from Pyle quarry and as a mansion of exceptional quality it is Listed Grade I. The Castle has some spectacular features such as the vast stair hall and octagonal tower.
We followed the edge of a wood to pick up the Wales Coast path taking us towards Brombil. On the escarpment above the motorway is one of a network of early warning radar stations that were built along the coast from 1941 to detect German bombers and shipping during World War II. The Margam station is a scheduled ancient monument. Three flat-topped buildings stand high on the escarpment overlooking Port Talbot and Swansea Bay. They would have housed generators and control equipment, with large antennae on the roof.
Now we turned northwest into Cwm Brombil and crossed a small but fast running stream. The name of the valley and the atmosphere of the place made some of us think of Bilbo Baggins from Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Climbing quite a steep track we looked down onto the ‘Blue Pool’ so called because the water is bright blue especially in sunshine. There were a group of wild swimmers enjoying themselves and inviting us to join them. They were obviously having a great time but as they left the water their skin looked bright red and raw with the cold. Brrr…
Although swathes of trees had been felled we soon entered the cover provided by woodland and stopped for lunch, half of us perching on tree stumps and the rest on grassy tussocks. It was cold here at the top of our walk and we could see our breath in the air. We spotted tadpoles in a puddle beside the path.
Towards the end of the walk we took a slight diversion to a wider path as we were concerned that trees or branches may block our planned route. The descent through woodland with gnarled and fallen trees was easier and coming into the open we could see our path etched in the hillside above us. It had been firm underfoot throughout the walk which was a bonus after the winter’s rain.
As we approached the lake again we spotted a ruin beside the path – a very posh boathouse? We retired to Pyle garden centre for welcome refreshment.
Walk 8 miles and 1700ft climb. Maps 165 & 166.
Page turners was cancelled!
Due to the coronavirus the April meeting of the Page turners was cancelled. As there was no discussion possible of the latest book, no review is available. However, it was decided that the Page turners would reflect on the 90+ books that have been read by members over the last few years, and each member would choose the best book from the selection we have all read. This list may act as a prompt for people in Wenvoe in lockdown to pick up a book …and compare what you think to our reviews.
Here is the list but in no particular order….happy reading!
May chose ‘Tombland’ by C J Sansom. A detailed historical murder mystery.
Sylvia and Sandra both selected ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ by Barbara Kingsolver. This is the story of a missionary’s life in remote Congolese village and is an incredibly detailed portrait of his family and Congolese society.
Tess suggested ‘Anna Karenina’ by Tolstoy. She believes it is the best love story of all time and even when he unbuttoned her long gloves it was very sensual.
Lynne nominated ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The novel tells the story of the Biafran war through the perspectives of different characters. Very vivid storytelling.
Babs and Helen opted for ‘The Invention of Wings’ by Sue Monk Kidd. Babs thought it was a powerful and revealing historical novel based on the life of abolitionist Sarah Grimke and her slave Handful. Helen believes the lessons of history have not been learned and modern day slavery is still rife in some parts of the world.
Jenny really liked ‘All the Light we Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. This is an intricate fable of morality and science set against the backdrop of WW2. Jenny loved the myriad cast of characters and thought it was an exciting and moving novel.
This is a diverse selection of favourite reads, reflecting the lively discussions that frequently take place each month after the Page turners have read the chosen novels. We hope the list may inspire you to curl up with a book, or even one of these books selected by the Pageturners, during this period of lockdown. You’re never alone when you have a book to read
Wild Life – Consider Making Them Welcome
In response to the Nature News piece in the April magazine, I recall that the only time I have seen a fox in the village was many years ago at night time, running down the road outside my house, no doubt hoping for some easy pickings from rubbish bags. Quite often there is evidence of nocturnal foraging with the contents of bags strewn across the road. So it’s a bit of a mess but foxes have to eat, don’t they?
Our village is home to all kinds of wild life, from a variety of birds – wood pigeons, doves, woodpeckers, pheasants and so many more, but sparrows and starlings are very rare these days. On the ground we have frogs and toads from garden ponds, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits, foxes, to name but a few. I have never seen a badger but I’ve heard they are round and about in the village.
Several years ago we were pleased to be able to hand feed a lame pheasant which turned up daily in our garden for several weeks. We looked forward to seeing it and we can’t know what happened to it but sadly, it probably fell prey to the gun or a predator.
Quite often our neighbour’s security light flicks on at night. No doubt an animal has triggered the beam when passing from garden to garden.
It’s likely that our gardens will be visited by wild creatures, living as we do in the countryside so consider making them welcome, even the much maligned fox!
Stoats near Burdons Hill
Several people have spotted a pair of Stoats near Burdons Hill. Usually quite unobtrusive this pair were either amorous, antagonistic or play-fighting resulting in a fair bit of noise and rustling in the hedgerow. Stoats are bigger than Weasels, are chestnut brown above and white underneath with a clear demarcation line. If you manage to see their tails they have a black tip. In the colder parts of North Britain Stoats turn white in Winter where they are referred to as Ermine, possibly derived from Armenia from where their fur was once imported. You will have seen ermine, the fur, because on state occasions the lords wear robes edged with white ermine – look out for the black dots as well each of which represents the tail of an ermine. The number of bars of dots represents rank, a duke having four bars. New peers these days tend to use artificial fur but hereditary peers may re-use the family heirlooms. There is a famous portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by William Segar posing with an ermine on her left arm.
If you have children, say six or over, a story they might enjoy is Trouble in New York (The Travels of Ermine (Who is Very Determined)) by Jennifer Gray. Whilst the kids are unlikely to see an Ermine in Wenvoe (if they do see a cream-coloured animal it is probably a Ferret), they might just see a Stoat if they get out in the countryside on family walks and do not make too much noise!
WENVOE VILLAGE SHOW
Saturday 5th September 2020 at 12 noon – Wenvoe Community Centre
Show officially opens to view the entries and taste the produce
Use your lockdown time to grow, craft and produce your entries for our next Village Show.Unlimited entries this year. Previously entered items are acceptable if they formerly failed to win a prize. You will find further details in the Library. Look out for posters and further details in the Library
|Fruit & Vegetable – best examples of:||Craft|
|Apples – 3 cookers
Apples – 3 eaters
Tomatoes (cherry) – 3 same type
Tomatoes (standard size)- 3 same type
Beetroot – three
Root Vegetables – best three
Onions – three
Soft fruit all variety – best three
Beans any variety – best three
Any other vegetable – One (unless smaller than a medium sized onion then 3 items should be submitted for judging)
|Handwriting (adult) 50 words from a novel
Wool. e.g. Knitting, crochet, felted etc.
Painting/Drawing any medium
Any other craft item.
|Vegetables – whoppers||Photography –|
|Runner bean – longest
Marrow/Squashes – biggest
Onion – largest
Misshapen vegetable – funniest shape- a caption must also be provided
Unmounted and no larger than 7” x 5”. Do not write on reverse side please.
6 Welsh cakes
Any Cake (own recipe)
Bread (Machine made)
Homemade drink any kind
|Limerick – Anything based on the topic of social distancing|
|All items MUST be produced by the child. Age categories are under 7 and 8-13
Home baked – favourite cake.
|Homemade drink any kind.||Gorgeous Oldie – over 10 years
Best Rescue dog
Owner who looks like their dog
Best junior handler -under 12 – demonstration of 4 tricks
Entry for the Wenvoe Village Show is limited to residents of the Wenvoe Community (Wenvoe, Twyn-y-Odyn, St Lythans, Dyffryn) and children who attend the village school. Anyone who has regular connections with a village organisation but resides outside the community boundary and would like to submit an entry should contact the organisers.
If you have any thoughts, ideas and suggestions about this year’s event or would like to help out organising the Show, please contact us at the library.
The Strangest Of Times
We have been through the strangest of times in the past month. The virus COVID19 has affected so much of our lives, with Government advice to STAY IN OUR HOMES, in other words we have faced a “Lockdown” only going out for essential shopping, for medical reasons, some exercise and above all to “WASH YOUR HANDS”.
This meant that gradually all our public buildings closed down including St. Mary’s church in Wenvoe. For the first time in living memory we were unable to gather as a congregation to worship during Lent, Palm Sunday and the glorious feast of Easter. Jon , our Parish Priest has worked tirelessly in preparing digital acts of worship on our parish ”face book” page, which has been seen by many hundreds of “likes” recorded. We have set up “contact groups” to keep in touch with members of the congregation facing isolation in their homes, with weekly telephone conversations. The Parish magazine “Connections” has been printed and is available digitally on line, and as the cartoon above states “while we appear to be closed we are in fact open in so many ways, to be there offering a message of HOPE that things will get better and that we will get through this”.
Did you see the Cross of Hope in the churchyard at Easter. The churchyard cross was decorated with flowers in memory of past loved ones and friends as a sign that Easter is time of HOPE. It was our way of celebrating the “Risen Lord” as a visible reminder that the virus cannot stop the work of the church and that life in all its richness remains with us. We have to thank Glenys and Mike for their work in setting up the flowers and also to thank Sandra and Brian for the Easter garden within the church porch.
All church activities stopped as soon as the “stay in your homes” advice was received, this has severely affected our financial position with our “cash flow” being cut off. We are still expected to continue our contribution to the “FAIR SHARE” which supports the work of the Diocese, we have immediately reduced as many of our outgoing costs as we are able to, but we are raiding our reserves to pay for those items that cannot be put off. We want to maintain the church grounds and keep the grass cut, that is a COST, the church clock needs to be maintained, that is a COST, the church building has to be insured, that is a COST. We have recently completed work on the church doors, that is a COST. The members of the congregation are being encouraged to convert their weekly offering on the collection plate to Gift Direct, Standing Orders or Direct Orders. So we appeal to the wider community around us. If you have had your child baptised, a son or daughter married or a funeral for a loved at St. Mary’s now is the time to consider making donation, in gratitude for the church being there when you needed it.
For the present the Church in Wales has decreed that no Baptisms, Marriages or Funerals can take place within its churches, until the restrictions imposed by the Government are relaxed, and we look forward in HOPE to a future time when we can resume our church activities and our pattern of worship with Jon’s care and guidance.
Mr Philip Morant RIP
The congregation and the community were saddened to hear of the passing of Phil in the care home in Barry. Phil was a faithful member of the church and was in his seat Sunday by Sunday. He was a most willing and helpful person, reaching out to anyone who he thought he could help. Whether in the school, the environment group, community council, the village work party and his much loved allotment. We missed him when he moved to Barry, and our thoughts and prayers are with Margaret and his two daughters at this sad time in their lives, “may he rest in peace and rise in glory”
God Bless Us, and keep us safe.. and WASH YOUR HANDS
75 Years at Wrinstone Farm
Aubrey Rees of Wrinstone Farm first encountered Gerry Crump when he gave the young 12 year old a lift home from the Sheep Dog Trials at Brynhill Farm, Barry. Little did they realise then that within a few years Gerry would have embarked on a career at Wrinstone Farm – one that was to span an amazing 75 years!
Early 1945 saw Gerry and his brother Ted strolling in the direction of Wrinstone Farm one Sunday afternoon. Gerry had always wanted to work on a farm. He had heard from Mr Thomas of Tarrws Farm that there was a possibility of a job at Wrinstone Farm. He was delighted when Aubrey agreed to employ him and shortly after that day Gerry started work on the farm.
Aubrey Rees lived with his wife Hilda, daughter Eileen (5) and 2½ year old son, Gwyn. Gerry soon became part of this happy farming family, sharing in their happy times and sad times over the decades. In fact Gerry’s mother always referred to Hilda as his second mum.
During the 1950’s Aubrey invested in a dairy herd. By now Eileen was busy working on the farm and when Gwyn left school he eagerly joined in with the farm work. Some years later Gwyn’s youngest son, Gareth, was also delighted to leave school to become a farmer.
Milk was taken in churns to the end of the lane, where it was collected, until about 1970 when a tanker started coming to the farm to transport the milk to Britton’s Dairies.
There are many examples of Gerry’s dedicated service to the Rees family. One special example was when he trudged across the fields to work and back home again, every day for 6 or 7 weeks. This happened during the severe weather and sub-zero temperatures of 1963 when the lane to the farm was blocked with snow drifts for many weeks.
Over the years Gerry has seen many changes on the farm. Rubber wheeled, large powerful tractors have replaced a Ford Standard tractor with steel wheels working alongside 3 horses (Punch, Jewel and Violet). There has been great advancement in farm machinery and long summer evenings pitching small hay bales are a distant memory!
Cattle numbers have increased gradually since the
dairy herd was sold in 2010. However, some things remain unchanged. Wrinstone Farm has always had field potatoes, cattle, chickens, a flock of sheep and, of course, sheep dogs!
During his long working life Gerry has always had great respect for his employers and their farm. He has maintained machinery with great care and has looked after the animals as if they were his own. Gerry has strived continuously to achieve high standards in all aspects of farm work and has always made his employers feel proud to have him.
Great commitment was rewarded when a long service medal was presented to Gerry in 1987 at the Royal Welsh Show. And he earned an award at the Vale Show in 2010 for 65 years of Service to Agriculture.
Gerry has now decided to take a well-deserved rest from farm work, but he will surely be spending many happy hours in his garden and with his wife, Phyllis.
Undoubtedly readers will agree that this story is not only special and remarkable – it is unique. Sadly Gwyn passed away almost two years ago, having spent many happy hours working with Gerry. He would certainly be so proud to have been able to share these congratulations to Gerry, on such a wonderful achievement. How many people do you know who have worked for the same family for 75 years, covering 3 generations of that family?
May Gardening Programme
Environment team tips for May
Tom Greatrex tips, for gardeners.
We have all, I’m sure, been shocked by the way the world has changed so quickly in recent months. It makes you realise how susceptible we can be to change. Those of us who have an outdoor space are fortunate. If you like gardening it’s been good to spend more time in the garden. I will be taking a lot more interest in saving seed and not wasting space, with a lot more veg being grown in future.
Early flowering Spring shrubs have faded, with forsythia and others needing to be cut back quite hard, as they produce flowers on new growth. Once Montana clematis has flowered, you will need to cut out any dead or diseased stems. Variegated evergreen shrubs will have some branches reverting back to green. These need to be cut out or the whole plant will be green. Tie in shoots of rambling and climbing roses. Try to bend these new growths as near to horizontal as possible, so that it will produce more side shoots. Fuchsias can be propagated now. Just cut off some of the new growth and it will readily take. Any plants that have been moved this year will be susceptible to drought, more so than established ones. Make sure they don’t go short of water. On the subject of water, please don’t water established lawns in dry spells as all you will achieve is to bring the root system closer to the surface. At the next dry spell the lawn will dry out quicker and so on until you eventually have to lay a new one.
Divide primulas now and plant in an unused part of the garden, ready to replant in the autumn. Hostas can be divided as soon as new growth emerges. As forget-me-nots start to go over, remove from garden otherwise you will be swamped next spring. They are prolific self seeders.
Give spring flowering bulbs a liquid feed after flowering to encourage them to flower next spring. Like primula, clumps of daffs can be divided and replanted in an unused spot. Please don’t remove the leaves until they die back.
There may not be an open garden event this year which is a great shame because Mr Crump’s garden in Rectory Close is a sight to behold. It just goes to show how good you can be at something you love.
Take care and happy gardening.