December Letters

December Letters


My mother Jean Austin passed away on 21/11/20. She had been suffering from dementia from 2013. We moved to Wenvoe around 2000 and over the years have got to know quite a few of you. I would like to thank, on her behalf, and mine, all of you who have been such good neighbours over the years. You have been great, especially recently. She was buried in Wenvoe on 14th December.

Alex Austin Woodside




In the last year or so the young children of the village community have benefitted from new play facilities on several sites. The older children have nothing. In the summer, they play on the field opposite the school or on the playing fields. In winter, the fields are too muddy and instead they congregate on street corners or in the car parks of the village hall and community centre which is not entirely welcomed by some members of our community.

The Section 106 funds provide a one-off opportunity to provide the older children/teenagers with some decent all-weather facilities. What is required is a multi-use games area (MUGA) as seen in other play/games areas. This would provide for various ball games including football, netball, and basketball.

Placing it next to the playground opposite the school would create something of an eye sore and it would not be in keeping with the nature of our semi-rural community. One solution, which has a number of benefits (outlined below), could be to situate it in the corner of the school playing field. There could be a gate from Station Road preserving the security of the school site. It could be screened by hedges/trees from the houses on the opposite side of Station Road.

If this is appropriately designed it could also be used by the school as an additional facility with access via a locked gate directly from the playground i.e. it could be for school use during school hours and community use out of school hours and in the holidays. The facility could also be used by other local community groups such as Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. It would also support community fitness, health and wellbeing.

The cost of such facilities is very variable, depending on size, the playing surface (the cheapest being Tarmac) and particularly whether or not they have lighting. I would suggest that there is no lighting, partly to reduce the cost and ongoing maintenance requirement but also it will then not encourage people to congregate after dark which could be a nuisance to neighbours.

I have shared this suggestion with the School. The Headteacher feels it would benefit the community and is open to discussion with the Community Council. I have also shared this idea with some older children in the village who were very positive.

Hopefully, the project could be financed from Section 106 funds but, if it’s too expensive, then it’s possible the school may have access to funding streams for such facilities or there may be sponsorship possibilities for local companies – for instance, maybe Cemex would donate building materials for the surface?

This suggestion would provide additional facilities for the school and the village community whilst preserving the green heart of the village. The older children of the village deserve better and with this Section 106 funding, the village and the Community Council now have a real opportunity to make a real difference for the current generation of young people and future generations.

Dave Roylance, Old Port Road




Thank you to everyone who organised or participated in the Advent windows and all the villagers who lit up their homes. The village looked great. After such a difficult year it was a real lift to everyone’s spirits.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone.

Annie Bennett, Walston Rd



Sirhowy Valley Country Park

Sirhowy Valley Country Park

Sirhowy Valley Country park is south of Caerphilly, with 4 miles of flat well surfaced path along the former railway track. The entrance to the park follows the old railway and we drove past Full Moon, once the site of the Full Moon Inn and a small community of cottages but all that remains is the crossing keeper’s cottage. We parked at Nine-mile point car park.

It was a gloomy morning, but the air was fresh as we set off, not along the level railway but straight up the hillside to reach Mynydd Machen Common. The steep valley walls of bare cliff made it seem steeper than it is. A large tree had fallen across the path but luckily it was a good distance off the ground and we easily ducked under it.

Up here we had good views across the valley, houses old and new nestling into the red hillside rising behind them. Ferns lift the spirits at this time of year in their winter russet coats (if you can look at them from a distance rather than walk through them!). The rain-soaked ground beneath our feet was soft but, in most places, there were stones beneath the surface, so we did not sink far.

A feature of the walk was the number of fungi we spotted. Some traditional mushroom shaped glowing an orange colour, lacy frills around twigs and fallen tree branches and some climbing through dead trees. The trees looking as if they are being eaten alive by the fungi but of course they are only there because the tree is dead, and they are clearing the dead wood with many insects helping them.


The trees form sculptures as bereft of their leaves you can see their structure. A fallen tree covered in moss looked like a creature stalking through the wood. Old beech hedges, now several trees, with their lower limbs and roots exposed and wrapped around one another along a boundary were fascinating. Two trees apparently reaching out to each other as two branches were wedded together about 3ft from the ground, created a seat. An old stone wall was steadily being destroyed by a tree pushing its way through the restriction.

The sun came out and we enjoyed its heat and the views all around us. We found a relatively dry, grassy ledge to sit on for lunch, and gazed out at the distant Channel watching clouds blow across and then towards us, the view disappeared just as we finished.

Now it was time to head downhill. Partly on a tarmacadamed road but also along a stretch of particularly muddy path, luckily there was a stream flowing down it and we walked in the stream to use the stones for purchase. Then the stream ran out and one of us (me!) slipped and almost ended up with their face in the mud! Apparently, it looked quite dramatic, but the landing was soft, and the only damage was a small graze and muddy hands and trousers. Some long, wet grass took care of the hands and we were on our way. Before long we arrived at the railway with a level walk back to the cars.

To the miners of the valleys a ‘journey’ meant a line of coal trams joined together. The Sirhowy Valley has been a place of journeys for the past two centuries. Iron and coal travelled down the valley by horse, canal, road and rail. Salmon and trout made their way up and down the river to mate or find their way back to the sea.

An intricate metalwork sculpture stood at the top of a post showing horse drawn carts, steam trains, cyclists and trees. Bright pink open-ended boxes hung from lots of the trees and we decided they were for detecting the presence of small mammals. It was a while before we could see the river at the bottom of the valley even though we could hear it and narrow waterfalls tumbled down the hillside to it.

The Sirhowy valley tramroad joined the Monmouthshire canal tramroad at Nine-mile point on its way to Newport. Sir Charles Morgan, of Tredegar house, and his business partner John Jones had a colliery at Blackwood and needed a new tramroad to get their coal to Newport. The Sirhowy company fought the construction of the new road. Only the threat of an Act of Parliament brought agreement and the Penllwyn tramroad was built by1824. By 1864 the practical use of the tramroad was finished as it was replaced by the railway. Penllwyn Tramroad Bridge crosses the river near Nine-mile point. it has an impressive arch and is a grade II listed structure, with the original stone sleepers still visible.

Walk 8.3 miles Map 166



Dazzling Intense Sunshine


Dazzling intense sunshine, glittering sand tranquil sea: these are not phrases normally associated with the Carers Walk at Barry Island at the end of November. Fortunately, this is what the group were lucky enough to experience as we set off around Nell’s Point to Jackson’s Bay. The cloudless skies meant the views across the channel made the English coast appear to be in touching distance..or swimming distance! As we enjoyed the picture perfect scene of Whitmore Bay a familiar voice called out to us….Helen had been waiting at what she believed was the starting point for the walk, at Barry Station. When nobody turned up she decided to drive to Barry Island anyway and luckily found us as we strolled leisurely towards the beach!

If anyone would like to join our friendly group, we meet at Barry Island Station at 10:30 on the last Thursday of every month.



Cheeseboard Muffins

Cheeseboard Muffins

250g SR flour

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg, beaten

250ml whole milk

50g unsalted butter, melted. Extra to serve

75g medium hard cheddar cheese, grated

50g blue cheese [ stilton or gorgonzola ] crumbled

3 sage leaves chopped

Preheat oven 180C Fan. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. In a large bowl, combine the flour, mustard powder, salt and some fresh ground black pepper. In a jug, mix the egg, milk and the melted butter. Stir in the two cheeses. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the milk mixture. add the chopped sage and mix until almost all fully combined. Be careful not to overmix. Spoon the muffin mixture into the paper cases, bake for about 18-20 minutes, until risen, golden and springy to touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra butter.

We all make a turkey curry, why not try an alternative. Use the turkey to make a take on a chilli-con – carne Using a packet of schwartz chilli- con- carne mix. Make as per packet instructions but use turkey instead of minced beef, add a chopped med onion and chopped mushrooms during cooking Serve with rice and pitta breads.



Turkey and Ham Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Onion Marmalade

Turkey and Ham Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Onion Marmalade

375g macaroni

75g unsalted butter

75g plain flour

1 tsp mustard powder

900 – 950ml whole milk

350g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated

350 – 375g cooked turkey and ham [or all turkey] cubed or shredded

100g onion marmalade

Preheat oven 180C Fan. In a large pan cook macaroni as per packet instructions, until al dente. Drain then return to pan. In another pan melt the butter over a med heat add the flour and mustard powder, season and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, stirring until smooth before adding more. You should end up with a smooth, creamy sauce and may not need any more milk. Stir 2/3 of the cheese into the sauce, until melted. Pour into the pan with the macaroni, add the meat and mix until the pasta is coated. Tip into a large, deep dish and spread out evenly. Dot with the onion marmalade, then scatter over the remaining cheese. Bake for about 35 – 40 mins, until bubbling and golden on top.

Use other cheeses in the recipe or a mixture. Coarsely grate or slice as needed.



Tips for Online Library Access


Tel: 02920 594176 – during opening hours or

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For general enquiries you can email us at


The Directors and Volunteers wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Advent Windows

We have had a tremendous response for our Advent Windows on our Wenvoe Community Library Facebook page. Many thanks to all those in our community who read, sang and played us into Christmas.

Facebook Storytime

Following the success of the above, and the additional followers signed up to our Facebook page, we will be uploading weekly videos of stories, book excerpts, poems and songs delivered by our talented community members. If you would like to contribute, please email us, we’d love to hear from you.

Joining the Library & Ordering your Books Online

If you are unsure how to order books online or how to join if you are not yet a member of the library, then please follow the steps below.

Enter the Vale of Glamorgan web site and click on Libraries in the blue box. Choose your options from the scroll down menu section on the left. The library Catalogue page option will allow you to reserve, renew or order your books.

If you are not yet a member and wish to join, scroll down the above menu to Reserve an item online, Click and you will enter a new window and see a green box Join Online. Complete and continue

If you are already a member, make sure that you have your Library ID (the number on the back of your library card) at hand and your PIN number. If you have lost/forgotten these numbers, you can ring the library between 10-12 on Tuesday morning on 02920 594176 and our team will be at hand to help you.

Click and Collect. We are still available between 10 am and 12 noon on Tuesdays to receive your book reservations and answer any queries. When your book has arrived, we will call you to make an appointment to collect the book. The return of books can be anytime between 10 am and 12 noon on Thursdays without an appointment. There will be a box in the foyer for you to drop your books into.

eAudio Books – Are you a member of the library? Do you enjoy listening to an audio book at the gym, when travelling, before bed, or even while you do the chores?

Using your library card, you now have 24/7 access to thousands of the new, best-selling and classic audio books. Download them to your phone, MP3 player, iPod or PC and listen wherever and whenever you want

Members of Vale of Glamorgan Libraries have access to online audio book providers. Enter the Vale of Glamorgan web site and click on Libraries in the blue box. Scroll down on the menu on the left for options.

BorrowBox– Download up to 10 audio books at a time on your tablet, smartphone, PC or Mac.

RBDigital– Download and listen to up to 10 audio books at a time on your tablet, smartphone, PC or Mac.

ULibrary -Download and listen up to 2 audio books at a time on your tablet or smartphone.

Clwb Clonc – This Welsh conversation group is still going strong on Zoom. If you wish to join and keep up your Welsh language skills, then sign in on Mondays at 11 am. Please note that the login details are the same each week. Meeting ID: 343 147 0372. Pass code: Heulwen

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



A Lovely December Morning


On a lovely December morning the Environment team met up on the village green to plant daffodil bulbs donated by Dyffryn gardens. A great turnout for the final meeting of the year; thankfully Ieuan turned up to bring the average age down a notch. Our next outing will be on the 11th January back at the village green at 9.30. Please bring cutting equipment and a rake. Tel 07704340840 to join this eclectic bunch.



Goodbye 2020: Hello 2021


So it’s goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, farewell to all the problems during the past year and now we look forward to better times in the New Year.

Our Christmas programme in church, which was always dependent on the Wales Gov’t and Church in Wales directions and regulations, took place in such different conditions from any year anyone of us can remember. No Community Carol Service could be held, so we had an online Carol Service at 6.oopm on Sunday 20th December, with contributions from a virtual choir, readings, prayers and carols sung some of which were “signed” – how wonderful was that. We have so much talent in our churches and through the miracle of the internet, we have been able to worship together, have Bible Study and so much more. To take part in these activities, we have to be computer literate, and it is amazing that so many of us have turned out to be “silver surfers” with the world of knowledge and interactive information at our fingertips.


The momentum to the forming of the enlarged Ministry Area, when we welcome Porthkerry, Rhoose and Penmark into fellowship with us, is gathering apace with the first steering committee being held in January. There is much to discuss and agree on, and as the formation of the enlarged group will be brought into being by the Bishop’s Decree, we have no choice but to do as we are commanded. It is our intention to cooperate with each other’s churches so that we can agree amicably between ourselves, to avoid being told what we will do. This new arrangement is far reaching, with all financial affairs being pooled into one Ministry Area account. Governance of the new group will be under the leadership of Jon, who has been appointed the leader by Bishop June. He will be assisted by one Parochial Church Council, made up of members from each of the nine churches. The chair of this new council will be a lay person, who with an area treasurer and secretary will oversee all the business and work of the individual churches. Each church will then have a local church council to manage the affairs of their particular church, but will have to refer to the Ministry Area PCC to agree any items they want to pursue. This sounds very complicated and bureaucratic but with willingness and co-operation between us, let us hope that it will turn out to be a workable plan for the future of all the churches, under the bye line of



At this time of the New Year, it is the time to make a gift, in appreciation of some kindness received in the preceding year. St. Mary’s church is in great need of your gift in recognition of the part the church in Wenvoe has played throughout the past year and the hundreds of years before that. A gift in memory of a loved one, a special occasion, or just simply wanting to see the church in Wenvoe remain at the heart of the village for many years to come. Please make your cheques payable to St. Mary’s Church Wenvoe and can be slipped under the church door. Thank you.


Thank you all for your generous donations to the Foodbank during the last two months. It has been a privilege to transport everything to the centre in Barry. In particular all the Christmas goodies were amazing and will be well used. Indeed, we have never seen the centre so busy receiving donations, packing the goods and sending them out making deliveries of basic foodstuffs and treats for Christmas. The staff and volunteers have really got to know us again and have been really pleased with what has been achieved.

Of course help will still be vital after Christmas when people may have precarious work patterns during lock down periods. The last date we made a delivery in December was on 17th December and we will then make the first one in the New Year on 7th January 2021..


This year due to the pandemic restrictions The Big Wrap needed to make alternative plans to help families who would find it hard to give their children Christmas presents. Our usual method of giving toys needed to change and following discussions with the organisation we decided to make a monetary donation. We were overwhelmed with your generous donations and were able to give them our collection of £810 from the three churches. Again, they were so pleased with what we achieved and alongside other donations they will be working with social services to buy appropriate toys and gifts.

Many thanks for all your gifts

Jude ( Food bank organiser)



This Year Has Not Been Normal



Hopefully all members, their families and friends have remained safe and well during the festive season.

This article would normally contain reference to our Christmas party and Link Carol Service – both special dates on our WI calendar. As we are all aware this year has not been a normal year and our lives have changed like nobody could ever have predicted. Hopefully 2021 will bring brighter, happier, healthier and safer days.

During 2020 many families have been faced with extreme sadness and severe heartache, including the family of our dear friend Margaret. We shall never forget Margaret and all that she did for our WI.

WI Ladies have kept their fellowship through What’s On, the monthly newsletter, WI Life, and personal telephone calls throughout these challenging times. Our heartfelt thanks must go to our Secretary Pam. Pam ordered, wrapped beautifully and organised the distribution of Christmas gifts for our members. Phyllis and Ros helped with the deliveries and we would like to extend our grateful thanks to all of them.

We would like to extend special wishes to Sue, Avril, Paula and Sandra who have all faced health issues during 2020.

If you are celebrating a birthday in January please accept our warmest wishes.

We are all looking forward to that announcement stating that it is safe for us to hold our monthly meetings.

In the meantime please remember to:-

stay Warm, Eat well, Never give up

stay Very safe, stay Optimistic, take Exercise,

stay Well, stay In touch

The Committee (Madeleine, Pam, Jayne, June, Ros and Jean) would like to extend New Year Greetings with best wishes for a healthy 2021 to all WI members, their families and their friends



Pausing To Review 2020


As we head into a New Year it is worth pausing to review how we got on in 2020. Covid managed to affect many people’s lives and for those who had friends or family catch the virus it may well have been a difficult year. However, one consequence has been the number of people who have started exploring the countryside and discovering our Community Orchards and Nature Reserves. These have been created by the Community and for the Community and without the following we would not be where we are today. First a thank you to the landowners, principally the Reader family who have allowed us to create several wildlife oases on their farms. Then there are those who donate and in the last few months this has included 4 benches (Tricia, Ann and Abi), some tools and a small pond (Pat) and not least, the Tuckers who managed to raise a fantastic sum for the group from the Reindeer event. We refurbished and installed two new noticeboards donated by the Village Hall Committee and Community Council. Some individuals have donated plants (Sue & Mike) and many have volunteered for the Group either by clearing bramble, cutting back trees, planting hedgerows and fruit trees, painting noticeboards and repairing benches. Lee and Dominique walk all the way from Barry before working hard at the Goldsland sites. John Smith cut the Goldsland Orchard for us saving goodness knows how many volunteering manhours. Many helpers are from outside Wenvoe (Peter from Radyr, Pat and Roger from Llanishen, Phil and Shirley from Dinas Powys). So to all those who have helped, particularly those who have not been mentioned but do sterling work for us, a sincere vote of thanks. We hope to be in touch with you all again this year.
And for those who wondered about the photo we included in our article last month, this is East Orchard castle near St Athan – a surprising ruin complete with house, barn, chapel and dovecote.


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