Socially Distanced Creative Writing!


So, you’ve cleared the garage, sorted the attic, planted, mowed and dug the garden and washed the car five hundred times… what next?

Local author, Cathy Farr has had an idea to help get our creativity going again and have some fun into the bargain.

Following the success of previous creative writing workshops over the last few years, Cathy is going to run mini Creative Writing courses from July using Zoom to ensure that social distancing rules are followed.

‘The sessions are ideal for people who are interested in doing some creative writing but don’t really know where to start. As it’s all via Zoom and email, anyone in the UK is welcome to join so this would make a great gift – I’ve even had a booking from Canada!,’ says Cathy, author of six novels for children and adults. ‘I’ll be hosting short interactive sessions on Zoom to talk about writing and answer questions, then I’ll set tasks that people can have a go at and submit for me to give constructive, written feedback. I know some people are put off by sharing their writing with others so this should be ideal as all work and feedback will be private.

‘True, not everyone is planning to write a novel, but creative writing is a great way to escape and do something a bit different – and boy, at the moment, we all need a bit of that!’

Cathy’s main aim in these workshops is to give people the chance to let their own imagination do the work and to have some fun. Comments from previous attendees of Cathy’s workshops include: ‘It was enjoyable, fun and really interesting. Your teaching methods enthused us all I think, they certainly did me.’

There will be four interactive Zoom meetings, lots of opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas and one-to-one private written feedback on all work submitted. Cathy is also going to publish the best three pieces of writing from the course on her website and social media. The price is £100 and is open to anyone over the age of 18 years. For more information contact Cathy at or on 02920 511031.



The Twelfth Week Of The Lockdown


The Twelfth Week Of The Lockdown

The church building remains closed in this the twelfth week of the lockdown in Wales. As we await the latest decision of the Sennedd Government on relaxing the conditions aimed to prevent the spread of the pandemic virus we have come to know as COVID-19. During this time the Parochial Church Council (PCC) has been meeting on ZOOM sessions, together with a smaller group to discuss church matters and to attend to essential church business. At a recent meeting of the PCC the question of our response to this year’s Christian Aid Appeal was raised. In recent years the combined fund raising from the “House to House” collections by our three churches has raised £3000 for the charity. CA like all charities has been severely affected by loss of income during this time and their work abroad in Africa and other places has been under even greater strain than normal, as the virus is also among the people there.

Our own income has also dropped, with no Sunday services our weekly collections have dried up, and many of our members have converted their weekly giving to the Direct Giving scheme organised by the diocese. Others have opened Standing Orders with their bank and with the generous donations we have received we are just about keeping our heads above water in meeting the monthly bills. The Church in Wales has recognised the difficulties many parishes are in and has given a rebate of 25% against the Fair Share payment we make in the current quarter. This is very welcome and totally unexpected and gratefully received. From this money the PCC resolved to send £200 to Christian Aid as a gesture that we still wish to commit to help them and that we will organise a fund raising service once things get back to some normality and we can meet as a congregation once again.

The church may be closed but the WORK of the church goes on. Members of the congregation have been kept in touch by the Contact Groups with telephone calls during the week to ensure that all is as well as can be expected in these trying times. Loneliness can be as much a killer as any disease, boredom is another. Telephone contact has been much appreciated and a chat is welcome and the assurance is there should there be a need for help and support.

The church community and others were shocked and saddened by the recent passing of Mrs Margaret Morant so soon after her husband Philip died. Margaret was a strength in the community and was involved in the life of the village, and most especially with the W.I. She supported Philip in all the interests he had in the village during his life, and we offer our condolences to her two daughters, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. May she rest in peace, now united with Philip in glory.

As for the immediate future, we are awaiting the latest decision of the Welsh Government as to when churches may be open for private prayer and meditation. The conditions for this to happen will be under the most strident arrangements. Hand cleansing, social distancing, continual cleaning within the building, clearly defined sitting areas in the pews and other “dos and don’ts”. Whether all these things will be conducive to private prayer is another matter, but it will be a step on the way to full opening of the church for public worship.

Jon will continue his Sunday morning acts of worship on our Facebook page for some time to come and they are followed and appreciated by very many people. Life goes on and as HM the Queen said recently “we will meet again” let us hope it is not too far away, but in the meantime keep WASHING THOSE HANDS. God Bless

Parry Edwards



This Month’s Book – The Children Act

Off the shelf

This month’s book was The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge. Decidedly intelligent, talented and highly regarded in her profession. She now regrets her decision to sacrifice motherhood and a marriage which is failing for a profession she loves.

When seventeen-year-old Adam’s urgent case comes before her in family law, her professional involvement with him becomes personal as Adam battles with a decision based on his and his parents’ religious conviction whether or not to refuse treatment that would save his life. Fiona has to decide whether the secular court should intervene.

This was a tale of morality and McEwan had put his usual research into the professional life of the main character. A few years ago the book was dramatized on television; brilliantly acted by Emma Thompson playing Fiona. Although we all thought it was a good read, some found the storyline of Fiona’s personal involvement unconvincing. We gave the book an overall score of 7.

Your contributions

We would love to receive a review or synopsis of a book you are reading during lockdown. Please email your contributions to



Online Clwb Clonc

Clwb Clonc

We are still meeting online every Monday at 11 a.m. If you would like to join us and keep up with your Welsh language skills, then sign into Zoom. The log-in details are the same each week -Meeting ID: 760-4305-6456. Password: 5dgcwT. We’d love to see you



Library Summer Reading Challenge

Summer Reading Challenge

The first ambassadors have been announced for the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 including: Jacqueline Wilson, Paul O’Grady, Cressida Cowell, Charlie Condou, Philip Ardagh, David Baddiel, Rob Biddulph, Sam and Mark, Hacker T Dog, Ben Fogle, Joseph Coehlo, Katie Thistleton, Harry Baker, Konnie Huq, Guy Bass, Steven Butler, Gareth P Jones, J M Joseph, Jennifer Killick and Laura Ellen Anderson!

Are you ready for the Summer Reading Challenge? #LetsGetSilly



Libraries lost in Conflict

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Hay Festival Online. We were so disappointed that this year’s festival was cancelled but if you haven’t already subscribed, Hay Player allows you to play as much of Hay’s audio and film as you like. For an annual subscription of £10. you can access thousands of audio and film recordings of great writers and artists from Hay Festivals around the world.

Cancelled Hay trip. If you bought a ticket for the library trip to Hay, a refund can be requested by telephoning the number on your ticket. Alternatively, the value of the ticket(s) can be off-set against a future trip.

Hay Festival 2020 Goes Digital. Well, we weren’t there physically but what a treat we had instead. All the events were streamed live so you could see your favourite ones from the comfort of your armchair. The event I have chosen to report to you is “Libraries Lost in Conflict”. The interviewer was John Simpson and the participants Bettany Hughes, Edmund de Waal and Paul Boateng

Libraries lost in Conflict


Libraries Lost.

December 1989 Rumania Central University Library Bucharest 500,000 books destroyed.

August 1992 National University Library Sarajevo Shelled by Bosnian Serb army.

2016 Library of Mosel University by ISIS. 1 million books destroyed. One of the most devastating acts in human history.

What do we lose?

Libraries are easy targets which disrupt a whole community.

Destroying past, present, future.

The loss of a repository for shared memories, emotion, collective experience, hope.

The value of Libraries

Learning, storytelling, encounters – benchmark of a civilised country.

Books are precious – culture, humanity, crucible of ideas, expression of freedom.

People love books, they will walk for 7 hours to have one, trek for hours by camel.

When did libraries begin?

1004 World’s first public library in Cairo.

IRAQ 5,400 years ago Birth of writing, Birth of libraries. Archives, Records, Memories are curated.

Libraries have been around for 5,400 years, let’s raise our voice and make sure we keep them.


This article brought home to me the unseen as well as the seen value of our library in Wenvoe. We will re-open our Community Library when it is safely possible and hope to develop our services, but will be needing the support of our local Community for our fund raising activities if we are to succeed.

Sylvia Harvey, Wenvoe Community Library



75th. Anniversary VE Day

A Personal Reminiscence

I was prompted, to put pen to paper, by the recent hype of the 75th anniversary of the end of WW 2, particularly the coverage of Captain Toms’ “100 years young”, raising £30 million plus for charity [ Isn’t he a marvel ], the Dan Snow BBC coverage of D-Day landings, WW2 history footage, etc. and lastly, the photo of Mike Tucker in uniform in the June “What’s On. I worked regularly with our uniformed lads and lassies during my career as an estate surveyor with the Ministry of Defence [MoD].

In 1970, I was posted from the Defence Land Agents [DLA] office, Dorchester to the DLA office in Dusseldorf which was responsible for the estate management of the military bases, airfields, married quarter sites, etc., in the north western part of Germany “policed” by the British Army of the Rhine [BAOR] area. At this time there was still two “wars/conflicts” in progress; the Cold War with Russia [Breznev, a hardliner, was the President at this time], its’ “Iron Curtain” allies and the conflict with the IRA in Northern Ireland.

During my first week, I had to attend indoctrination courses which involved the tactics of Russian/East German agent activities in Western Germany, particularly their movements, spying and possible infiltration by way of “honey traps”, etc. One eye opener of the course was the communication method of getting coded messages to their agents on the ground. This was done by a radio broadcast every day at exactly 10:00 hours from East Berlin by a female, nicknamed “Berlin Annie”. She would read out in a monotone staccato voice, a series of four numbers from 1 to 9: for example, zwei, sieben, acht, funf [ 2, 7, 8, 5 ] . drei, neun, eins, vier [ 3, 9, 1, 4 ] and so on for a period of about ten minutes. The agents would note these numbers and decode them into messages. By the time British Intelligence deciphered the messages, it was apparently almost too late to take any action.

The Russians were allowed to travel in vehicles in West Germany but they had to display a yellow background number plate with a number and Russian flag display with the wording underneath “SOVIET MILITARY MISSION BAOR” this was called a “SOXMIS” vehicle. If any of these were spotted during our travels around Germany we were to report the number and location immediately to the military police especially if the vehicles were in a restricted area such as a military installation, barracks, etc. As civilians, we apparently had the power to “detain” the vehicles by “boxing them in” !!!!!

As already mentioned, another “sinister war/conflict” was still continuing in Northern Ireland but the IRA were now expanding their operations outside of the UK – Several IRA activists were detained in Gibraltar about this time, for example. They were also now operating in Germany and the Netherlands. During 1972-1973, Dusseldorf barracks, where the DLA office was situated, was

subjected to periodic security alerts strongly tightened on intelligence of IRA presence in the area. Dusseldorf, the BAOR HQ at Rheindahlen and the RAF bases at Bruggen, Laarbruch and Wildenraath are closely situated to the Dutch border where British families often crossed to visit such places as Arnham, for example, and the nearest town of Roermond for its shops and cafes around its central square. It was here that the IRA targeted a cafe frequented by Brits and exploded a bomb which fortunately resulted in no serious casualties.

I had to travel to London on several occasions for meetings, briefings, etc. I always travelled on “Air Trooping” aircraft with military personnel on route to and return from Belfast. On one return flight back to Dusseldorf, I sat next to a corporal [Chris] who sat in the window seat. During our chats, he told me he was excited at returning, after six months duty, to see his three month old daughter for the first time. Half way into our flight, the captain announced that we were, for technical reasons, being diverted to RAF Gutersloh, an hour’s train journey to Dusseldorf and that relevant passengers would be given train passes and ferried on to the station. At this point, Chris started to become agitated, mumbling that he wasn’t going to see his first child. He eventually calmed down but on landing at Gutersloh, he suddenly tried to shoot out of his buckled seat shouting we are going to crash !!!. The reason for the outburst was the noise of the engine brake and he saw the wing flaps suddenly drop for further braking. This was obviously a case of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder].

On the train from Gutersloh, I sat next to a Sergeant and his comrades who were also returning to Dusseldorf after their six months duty in Northern Ireland The train was travelling at a high speed when suddenly a another train passed us in the opposite direction, also at high speed, which produced a high sounded “WHOOOSH/THUD” which was frightening. The sergeant and several of his colleagues suddenly jumped into the aisle, taking up a kneeling/crouching position, holding imaginary rifles and furtively looked around the train. This was an eye-opener, witnessing the aftermath of what our lads had gone through and were still going through in defending our country and freedom. It is therefore disgusting that some have been and are still being persecuted for historical allegations of murder. Etc. It is understandable why our lads suffer from PTSD.

“Yn union”.

What’s On Contributions


Thank you once again to everyone who has supplied material to fill the pages of this month’s magazine.

Contributors are welcome to remain anonymous if they so wish, we, as editors need to be aware of the supplier of material.

As more freedom of movement looms, where would you recommend going and why.

How about a congratulation message to somebody local?

Have you had a sort out over the last months? You could sell the unwanted item or give it away free via the free adverts column

All entries to the editors by the 18th July.



A Statue For Abolitionist Iolo Morganwg?


The current debate over statues and memorials brings to mind one of the Vale’s most notable historical figures, Edward Williams, better known by his bardic name, Iolo Morganwg. Iolo, born near Cowbridge in 1747, is the inventor of the Gorsedd of the Bards, the ceremonial gathering of druids at the National Eisteddfod. However he was also one of Wales’s best-known campaigners for the abolition of slavery. Below is an extract from one of his poems in which Iolo (who styled himself ‘The Bard of Liberty’) addresses the goddess Liberty.



Join here thy [i.e. Liberty’s] Bards, with mournful note,

They weep for Afric’s injur’d race;

Long has thy Muse in worlds remote

Sang loud of Britain’s foul disgrace.

In the mid 1790s, Iolo opened in Cowbridge, what was possibly the first Fair Trade shop in Wales. He once displayed the book ‘The Rights of Man’ in his shop window. Two government spies bought the book, thinking it to be banned work by the radical Tom Paine, only to find a copy of the Bible inside its covers. What better book to expound the rights of man, retorted Iolo to the enraged spies!

In line with his anti-slavery, Iolo refused to sell books to Bristol slave merchants and to sell West Indian sugar produced by slaves. Instead, he stocked East Indian sugar produced by free labour, with a sign in his shop window reading: ‘East India Sweets, uncontaminated with human gore.’

Ironically, his two brothers were prosperous sugar planters in Jamaica, owning 240 slaves. It seems Iolo could have gained substantially from the slave trade but refused any financial help from them, including a sizeable inheritance. ‘May the vast Atlantic Ocean swallow up Jamaica and all the other slave trading and slave holding countries before a boy or girl of mine eats a single morsel that would prevent him or her of perishing from hunger, if it is the produce of slavery.’

Iolo is a controversial character, deserving of praise but also not immune from criticism. In spite of his stance on slavery, by 1815 and in great debt, Iolo accepted £100 from the will of one of his brothers to pay off his debts and set his son up as a schoolmaster in Merthyr. This he knew was money made from the slave trade. As a Unitarian he was a religious man. He was a collector of medieval Welsh literature and did much to promote Welsh history and culture. On the other hand, on occasion he forged ancient documents. He was a great thinker, but also used the opiate laudanum; on the grounds it helped his asthma.

Iolo has several memorial plaques, including one at Primrose Hill in London and a blue plaque at his

Vale birthplace. He has a Welsh-language school, Ysgol Iolo Morganwg, named after him, and Super Furry Animals vocalist Gruff Rhys dedicated a song to him on his 2014 album, American Interior.

The writer and former archdruid T James Jones described him as a great visionary who realised Wales needed its own institutions such as the Senedd. James went so far as to argue that Iolo Morganwg deserves a statue in his honour in Cardiff Bay. It is topical to consider whether such a statue should be erected or if there was one there already, would there be justifiable calls for it to be removed



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