Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens

After the success of last month’s inaugural Page Turners Walking Books meeting, the group met outside once more, following appropriate social distancing guidelines, to discuss their latest book. The venue this time was Cold Knap in Barry. There were spectacular views across the Channel as we ambled along the promenade in bright sunshine. The book was then mused over by the group as they stopped for a discussion under one of the shelters overlooking the lake.

The book under discussion was ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens. It has topped the New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2020 for 32 consecutive weeks. The book is set in late 1969 in Barkley Cove, North Carolina and tells the story of Kya, who has survived for many years alone in the marshes, with gulls and sea creatures as her only friends. After a young man is found dead, Kya is a suspect in the ensuing murder hunt.

There was a very positive response to the book from the entire Page Turners group…which seems to occur rarely! Helen loved the elements of whodunnit; Nicola enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the sea and landscape. There were discussions about the role of men in the book, the ending of the book and alternative suspects…(no spoilers!!), the author’s background. Everyone certainly gained something from reading it…and it’s easily a book which could be read again.

It is a book all members of Page Turners would recommend…and scored a 9.5/10.



November walk…in October


A gloriously sunny day greeted the Strollers as they gathered at Cosmeston for their November walk…in October. The walk was brought forward due to the “firebreak” announced by the Welsh Government coinciding with the date of the November walk. Everyone was pleased to have been given the opportunity to meet, to chat and to walk before the imminent local lockdown. Indeed, there was so much chatting going on it was difficult to keep everyone together!

There was some discussion about the world puddle jumping championship, which due to Covid restrictions has had to go virtual! The event is usually held at Wicksteed Park in Kettering, but this year entrants will have to submit videos of themselves jumping into puddles they have made or found. Entrants are judged on jumping ability, enthusiasm and splashing distance! Walkers were encouraged to have a go but no volunteers were forthcoming….

The Valeways walking programme has had to be suspended for the 2 weeks of the lockdown. However, for strollers that are lucky enough to live in the Vale, there are plenty of walks to go out and enjoy…and we will all meet up again soon!



Festival of Remembrance Service

Festival of Remembrance Service from the Royal Albert Hall

At the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance Service from the Royal Albert Hall on 7th November, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to the nursing profession and spoke of 2020 in the following way: ‘This year has been one that we could never have anticipated.’
We certainly could never have anticipated the sudden loss of our dear friend Margaret who passed away earlier this year. When we are able to come together again we shall undoubtedly miss her friendly smile and warm welcome. Margaret’s memory will always live on. Her family has kindly donated a lovely scrapbook she had made and the gavel is al-ways an important part of every meeting.
Sue Webley has had a short spell in hospital and we send our very best get well wishes for good health to her. Members will be pleased to learn that Sandra Anstee has been home for some time following her recent surgery. We also send her our very best get well wishes as she makes her way along the road to recovery.
Most of 2020 has been spent with the uncertainty and the challenging times that the pandemic has brought. As we look to the future we hope it won’t be too long before we are able to be together – but in the meantime Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay Positive, Stay in Touch.
If you are celebrating a birthday in December please accept our warmest wishes for that special day.
The Committee (Madeleine, Pam, Jayne, June, Ros and Jean) would like to extend Season’s Greetings with peace and good health in 2021 to all Members, plus their families and friends.



Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups of plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup white baking chips

Pre-heat oven to 180C. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in another bowl, gradually add to the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips. Drop a tablespoonsful of mixture on to prepared and lined baking trays 2 inch apart. Bake until lightly browned 8-10 mins. Cool slightly and transfer to wire racks


Fruitcake Christmas Cookies

1cup butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2/3 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups dates, finely chopped

110g red candied cherries, halved

110g candied pineapple, diced

1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pecan nuts coarsely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

Pre-heat oven to160C. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the

egg and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, gradually beat into creamed mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Drop teaspoons of dough mix onto prepared lined baking trays about 2 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, about 15 mins. Cool and transfer to wire racks


Lemon and Rosemary Shortbread

2 cups plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven 160C. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, lemon zest and rosemary together, set aside. In a food mixer, beat the butter and icing sugar together until smooth and creamy, about 3 mins. [ NOT HIGH SPEED TO START ]. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Form the soft dough into a disk shape and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm in the fridge. Prepare and line baking trays.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into squares, rounds, or shape of your choice using lightly floured cookie cutters. Re-roll until all the dough has been used. Place shortbread on the prepared baking trays and bake for about 10-12 mins, or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm, remove to wire racks to cool. Be careful handling while still warm, they will be crumbly and break



Overland to Jordan


As a teenager, I remembered my father telling me about Petra “the rose-red city half as old as time”. What a colourful description that was of the ruined city, carved out of rock in deepest Jordan that lay undiscovered until the 19th century. Years later in a long summer holiday, I found some friends from university who I persuaded to join me in a drive across Europe to visit Jordan and Petra.

Ad-Deir (“The Monastery”)

This was in the late 1960 and international travel was not as it is today. So we bought an old Ford Zephyr, a reliable car and large enough to carry four friends and our gear. We were given masses of food by some sponsors we had approached and to an extent, this was more trouble than it was worth. I remember packing the boot with large green tins of Golden Syrup which we never felt like eating.

The drive across Belgium, Germany, Austria and Yugoslavia all went reasonably well. The car flew along and we all took turns driving the long stretches of motorway. To save money we camped each night and one evening after a particularly long day we set up our tents and the duty cook has just about prepared a large stew for us all to share when it fell off the primus stove and was lost. I could have been the moment for anger and recrimination but he just said “oh well – these things happen” and stated all over again. It was a great example of British sangfroid or composure.

We had been warned that driving through Istanbul was a nightmare with mad Turkish truck drivers causing mayhem on the roads to cries of “Inshallah” or if God wills it. However, we crossed the Bosphorous without incident and set off for the long haul of about a thousand miles across Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun. The days were now very hot and our ancient car was seriously overheating so we began to drive by night when the air was cool and sleep during the heat of the day. One day we were parked off the side of the road and stretched out in the shade of some trees to sleep. I was woken by some sound or movement and sat up at once to see a figure skulking into the undergrowth. I feared we had been robbed and woke the others to see what had been taken but there – lying between us – was a wooden platter of figs and pomegranates which had been left as a gift. It was a most generous gesture by a local farmer and that act of kindness has stuck in my mind ever since.

Crossing the border from Turkey to Syria was a slow business but there was no queue it was just a problem of language and bureaucracy. We were soon motoring on our way along dusty unmade roads when our engine spluttered and died. We had no idea what to do but it seemed that the radiator had burst as clouds of steam were coming from it. There was no AA or RAC or anyone to help us so two of us walked to a village where we found a man who was willing to help. He walked back with us leading a large unwilling donkey. In no time at all he had hitched the car behind the donkey and the car was pulled to the village and the house of the blacksmith. Here the radiator was removed and a charcoal fire blown into life so the radiator could be patched up by brazing up the hole. This was a great success and having put it all back together we drove to Jordan.

We stopped in Amman the capital as one of the team had a relative working in the British embassy there. We were entertained to a lavish supper and spent a couple of days at the Embassy swimming pool which was marvellous, but my real memory of that was getting very sunburnt.

From Amman, it was a long desert drive to Petra where we exchanged our car for camels and rode through the siq, a cleft in the cliffs, to reach the massive buildings which had been carved out or rock a hundred years after the birth of Christ. We spent a hot day climbing around the temples and other ruins before heading back to our car. We had spent weeks reaching Petra and we were pleased to have reached our objective. Now our sights were on getting home as fast as possible. We retraced our route stopping only to visit the magnificent castle in Syria known as Crac des Chevaliers, which is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world.

Crac des Chevaliers

We stopped in Istanbul for the night in a cheap hotel and celebrated our success with a meal in a café. I drank some cool Ayran, a drink of curdled milk with mint, from a street vendor and became very ill. I spent the next days feeling wretched in the back of the car and was thankful to get home where a doctor kindly gave me some antibiotics and I was soon much better.



A Winter Tale



John loved this time of year. The summer was long gone and now Christmas was just two days away. The cold crisp mornings looked beautiful. The sun low in the sky shone through winter snow clouds, lighting up the frost along each branch of bare trees and twinkled like Christmas lights. The cold air made breath linger, looking like fog.

It wasn’t easy getting up so early on these cold mornings to do a paper round, leaving behind a warm cosy bed. But John had to help his parents to make ends meet; these were difficult times. His father had suffered a severe head injury at work six months ago, and this had stopped his working life abruptly. Mum had increased her working hours at the local hospital. John aged thirteen was still at school, but he wanted to contribute to the household budget. Each week he would give all his wages apart from £5 to Mum. There was a reason for this – he was trying to save enough money to buy the beautiful model car that stood in the window of the Model Shop he passed twice each day whilst on his rounds. The Lamborghini was silver with such detail it was breath-taking. The shop owner could set his watch by John’s daily visits.

The time was 5.30pm, his paper round was finished and it was payday. As usual, John would open the small brown envelope to take out his £5 and then put the rest safely in his pocket for his Mum.

It started to snow and the little town lights were throwing a misty glow along the busy town centre. People were filled with the Christmas atmosphere. All the shops were staying open until late. John stood a while longer to take in the scene. There was a stall selling roasted chestnuts and the Salvation Army were playing Christmas carols. As John walked through the narrow streets to the bus station, he worked out his savings and knew with today’s money he had enough to buy his beloved Lamborghini. The rest of the money was at home and he would return the following day, Christmas Eve, to buy the car.

The snow had fallen silently all night and by morning there was quite a covering. Buses crunched the fallen snow into clearways for other vehicles to follow; cars inched their way carefully.

John helped his Mum with the rest of the decorations and despite money being short, the house was filled with Christmas cheer. The mince pies and sausage rolls were in the oven and the cake was ready for icing. This was always Dad’s job. He enjoyed putting a Christmas scene made from icing in the middle of the cake. It was a work of art – little snowmen and children making their way down a snow-covered hill in their toboggans. And finally – a beautiful gold band around the side.

The tree was always dressed on Christmas Eve. Tinsel ornaments and twinkling lights carefully draped the tree from top to bottom. Yet another masterpiece! With everything finished, John left for the short journey back into town. He had already

bought Mum and Dad’s presents. So now was the time he had longed for, over weeks of careful saving.

The bus was full of families with young children longing for this day to be over. At the station it was Christmas chaos. Hundreds of people thronged the pavements. John turned the corner into Liberty Square. The model shop was just down the end on the left. He could see the sign just above the door; he would soon be carrying his dream home. As he passed an alleyway John heard someone crying. A small figure of a girl was sobbing; her hands covered her face. John approached slowly, not wanting to frighten her. ‘What’s the matter?’ he asked, kneeling down in front of her. The little girl looked up at him, eyes wet with tears. ‘I can’t get home’ she said ‘I’ve lost my bus fare’.

John was always a kind lad and the scene of a lonely and frightened little girl stole his heart. ‘Come on’ he said ‘ Let’s get you to the station and find the bus you need to get home.’ He stood up and the little girl put her hand in his. Warmly dressed and well spoken, Jasmine said she had lost her purse and become separated from her friends. John found the next bus to the girl’s village, paid for the fare and saw that she was safely inside.

Making his way back to the Model Shop, John realised that he did not have enough money to buy the car now and when he arrived, the shop had closed. His heart sank. He pressed his face against the window. The Lamborghini had gone! What a Christmas this was turning out to be. He decided not to tell his Mum and Dad about it. He did not want to spoil their Christmas too. So, he put on a smile and when he arrived at the door he sang carols and laughed when Mum arrived at the door carrying a tray of goodies.

Christmas was wonderful as usual. John could not remember having a bad one. Good company, good food and presents. What more could he ask for ……

Before long it was Twelfth Night and time for the decorations to be packed away. John always felt sad on this day. The tinsel and ornaments were packed in their boxes and stored in the attic. As John manoeuvred the container holding the tree towards the front door, something fell from behind the tree. He looked across to Mum and Dad but they looked puzzled too. John unwrapped the brown paper parcel tied with string. He opened the box and looked – mouth open, eyes wide. Words failed him.

‘What is it?’ asked Dad. John lifted the item out of the box. ‘How did it get there?’ ‘When did it arrive?’ His parents did not seem to have the answers, but that did not matter. The moment was very special. There in all its glory was his beautiful Lamborghini. He would cherish it always.

To this day, John would wonder about that Christmas years ago, still puzzled over that one question – WHO PUT IT THERE?

By Maureen Richards



A Remembrance Day Like No Other

A Remembrance Day Like No Other

A headline in my newspaper said it so well ‘It was a Remembrance Day like no other’ and the same could be said for the year we have been living through in 2020. Nothing has been the same as we have had in what we call a normal year, and now we have to talk of a new normal way of living in the shadow of the COVID virus. There is much talk of a vaccine which will offer some protection against this terrifying disease, but when will it be ready for the general public, or will it be reserved for those at most risk? Let us hope that it will come soon and prove to be effective.

Remembrance Sunday was marked with a memorable service on line, with Jon bringing in members of our congregations and the school children from Wenvoe School, as we joined in with the national service from Whitehall marking the 100 years since the Unknown Soldier was buried in Westminster Abbey. I had not seen the old Pathe news reel in black and white. It was most moving, as was the pilgrimage Her Majesty the Queen made to the grave in the Abbey in the week prior. On Armistice Day following on the 11th, Jon had welcomed the children from Wenvoe School to mark the two minutes silence and laying of wreaths. So despite all the restrictions imposed on us during the second lockdown, honour was given to those brave young men who gave their lives for King and Country in WWI and the wars since then. Also remembered were the doctors and nurses in the NHS who have also put their lives on the line in fighting the virus in our hospitals and nursing homes.

Wales came out of the second lockdown on the 9th of November and St. Mary’s. with all other churches in Wales during this period had remained closed, which meant that commemorations of All Saints and all Souls Days were held as virtual worship online. The 10.30am services on Facebook on Sunday mornings attract not only members of our congregations, but also have an international following, with worshippers logged in from Ireland and Spain. The use of Zoom for holding meetings has been a boon in these strange times. The Annual Vestry Meeting, which had been delayed from earlier in the spring of this year, was finally held on the 9th November, when all officers were confirmed in their present positions until Easter of next year.

The Diocese of Llandaff has decided to put in place the recommendations of the Harris Report of a few years ago which stated that the way forward was to form all the parishes into Ministry Areas, each consisting of three clergy and a greater involvement of the laity in the organisation and running of each church. We will be joined with the parishes of Porthkerry, Rhoose and Penmark by Bishop’s Decree by January 2022. There has been discussion between the churches as to how we can make this work for the benefit of all, so that each church knows that their voice is being heard in any decision making. We have to accept that while the management of the parishes will change, the ‘man/woman and child’ in the pew will not see any difference in the services we have been used to. Jon will still be our parish priest as well as being the Leader of the combined Ministry Area, and will have a lay person to head up the combined Council under his leadership. Our prayers are with Jon as he takes on this role and I am sure we will give him as much support as we can to make his task that much easier. The six churches in our present grouping were joined by the churches of Porthkerry, Rhoose and Penmark in a Zoom ‘Road Show’ chaired by Bishop June on the 11th November, which gave everyone an opportunity to question the senior officers of the diocese about what the new Ministry Area will be like. Both the legal status and the financial status of the new enlarged grouping were laid out; this has given all a great deal of thought and raised many questions. To that end a transitional group will be set up under the leadership of Jon to make sure that everyone will be singing from the same hymn sheet. The year of 2021 will be an interesting year for many reasons, and the church council here, has pledged to give Jon as much support as we can to help him achieve the results the Bishop and the diocese expect of all church members.

By the time you read this we will have entered the Season of Advent, and the first of the Wenvoe Advent Windows will have been lit up for us to see. So it only remains to wish all readers a Happy and Blessed Christmas and please take care, the virus has not gone way.


Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Parry Edwards



Busy Despite the Lockdown

Busy Despite the Lockdown

Despite lockdown we have managed to keep very busy.

A very pleasant sunny day in November saw a good number of volunteers out at the top of the Orchid Field with strimmers, shears, secateurs, loppers, saws etc to tackle the ever encroaching brambles, blackthorn, ash and other growth.

Our latest conservation session went well as we cleared brambles and other vegetation under the trees. We are also clearing brambles around some of the trees planted in the last few years including Hornbeam, Elm, Wild Pear, Yew and the Checkers Tree.

Within a couple of hours of work piles of cut material appeared around the field’s perimeter and areas of long hidden ground started to see sunlight once again. Even the robin arrived to inspect the work.

A Tree leaflet has been prepared and will be available from leaflet dispensers once we have finished refurbishing the main notice board. There are 22 tree species on the list and a further 7 will be planted in the coming weeks. Some are easy to identify (e.g. Oak and Ash), others more tricky such as Alder Buckthorn and Wild Pear.


The working group meeting is planned for Wednesday 16th December from 9.30am. All are welcome to join us in the task of clearing, please bring your own tools and gloves.

We have received another donated bench which has been refurbished and will be sited at the Goldsland Orchard. Yet another has been offered which will make 4 donated in the last few months. So for us Christmas came early but we know they are much appreciated by visitors to our sites. Work continues at the Bee Loud Glade where we have planted a hedgerow with over 100 saplings donated by the Woodland Trust. Plantings of flora good for pollinators include Bulbs (Daffodils, Camassia, Scilla, Chionodoxa), Evening Primrose, Caryopteris, Salvia, Wall Germander, Purple Loosestrife. A new leaflet is available from the Bee Loud Glade dispenser listing plants which you can consider for your garden which are good for pollinators.

We are on the hunt for any mouse litter, that is, what you remove when you clear out their cages. Bumblebees often nest in old mice-holes and are believed to be able to pick up the scent so popping some into nest-boxes can often result in the bees moving in. So if you have any spare, do get in touch with a Wildlife Group member.




Pleasure of Reading Rediscovered


Page Turners favourite books of 2020

The publisher Bloomsbury have claimed that people have ‘rediscovered the pleasure of reading’ in lockdown.

The firm, best known for publishing the Harry Potter books, said profits jumped 60%. Popular books included ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race’, ‘Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood’, ‘White Rage’ and ‘Such A Fun Age’. Page Turners already know the pleasures of reading and were asked to reflect on their year of reading and to decide which was their favourite book of 2020.

Babs’s favourite book this year was ‘The Lost Man’ by Jane Harper. The book tells the story of Cameron, the middle brother of three, who is found dead in the remote outback in Western Australia, having apparently walked miles from his car which was fully stocked with water and supplies. Babs says it is so atmospheric, descriptive and well written that it transports the reader to the unrelenting heat and isolation of the Australian outback.

May chose the ‘Collins Wild Flower Guideby Streeter, Hart-Davies, Hardcastle, Cole and Harper. May claims that during the first lockdown, when repeating the same walks, it gave her an interest. She started taking photos and noting small differences between the flowers she spotted. It is a large book that would probably not fit in most stockings, but would fit under the tree, next to the box of Celebrations!

Helen’s most memorable book was the, excellent and thought provoking ‘A Mad World, My Masters: Tales form a Traveller’s Life’ by John Simpson. John Simpson was the BBC World Affairs Editor and his riveting and beautifully written accounts of his experiences brought a new perspective to Helen’s understanding of many world events in the late 20th century.

Lynne’s choice was the Booker Prize Winner, ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo. The book follows 12 very different characters, from different periods of time, on an entwined journey of self discovery in Britain. The vibrant book opens your eyes to the struggles and pains of many black British families.

Sandra’s selection was ‘Sweet Sorrow’ by David Nichols. Sandra really enjoyed this book which is a compassionate story about the pain and loneliness of a teenage boy and his life changing summer; a classic coming of age novel. Sandra claims this is a good read for sitting in front of a fire on a winter’s day and for anyone who has fallen in love….what better stocking filler for a romantic at Christmas time?

Nicola’s favourite book was ‘The Lost Words’ by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. There are magical words and spells to conjure words lost to the lexicon of children. Beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris. Nicola says this is a delight to share with youngsters and to lose yourself in – particularly in these strange times when the natural world has gained in importance for so many.

Sylvia loved every minute of her favourite book of 2020: ‘The Small House at Allington’ by Anthony Trollope. It is the 5th novel in the series ‘Chronicles of Barsetshire’. It concerns the Dale family who live in the Small House on the estate of the Squire of Allington. It is a gentle slow story; it takes some of the characters two chapters to walk out into the garden!

Jill chose ‘The Secret River’ by Kate Grenville. It is set in the early 1800s and vividly follows the lives of a Londoner and his wife following their transportation to Australia. How they cope with many hardships, and bring up their family in desperate conditions amid the Aboriginals whose community they have infiltrated, is a thought-provoking reading experience.

Jenny selected ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which she missed reading with Page Turners a few years ago. The story follows the course of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war in the 1960s. It is told through the experiences of ethnically Igbo characters, exquisitely written as lives intertwine. Jenny couldn’t put it down, and she doesn’t know why she has waited so long before reading this masterpiece.


What was your favourite book of 2020?

Maybe one of these suggestions from the Page Turners will find its way into someone’s Christmas stocking this year….if Santa is not in a lockdown in Lapland……..and is allowed to deliver presents!



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