January’s Planned Work Postponed


January’s Planned Work Postponed

Due to the rapid increase in Covid cases, it was decided that January’s planned work would be looked at next month. Most of the current team will hopefully have had their first vaccination by then, just saying.

Next meeting on Monday 8th February on the village green, where we will discuss our ambitions for the coming months.

The team would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work done by the couple who regularly pick up the litter around the village.



Your February Garden Tasks


Thompson & Morgan February Tips

  1. Install a water butt, especially good for watering ericaceous plants.
  2. Shred or chop up woody prunings to help with composting.
  3. Trim hedges before birds start nesting.
  4. Cut back ivy and Virginia creeper to prevent your windows and gutters being covered.
  5. Force rhubarb for an early crop.

Suttons Seeds Tips of the Month

  1. Thin out snowdrops and use spares to generate new clumps while they are still in the green.
  2. Cover prepared ground with cloches or polythene to warm up the ground for early planting.
  3. Use those yellow insect tapes in greenhouses to identify which pest is most prevalent.
  4. Check overwintering plants for any with disease.
  5. At the end of the month start off begonia tubers.

The heavy rain at the end of December caused flooding over most of East Wales. Closer to home, Wenvoe had flood water at Nant Isaf and the junction of Walston Road and Old Port Road by St Mary’s Church also had flood water problems. Although the rain fall was exceptional, we can expect this to become a common occurrence. Householders can help by using permeable surfaces when creating new accesses or making garden improvements.

Dahlia tubers stored over winter can be started into growth by placing them in a light warm place to sprout before planting. Misting with a spray bottle will stop them drying out. Place gladioli corms in seed trays and find a light warm spot for them to shoot before planting out to ensure an early display. Prune buddleia and elder down to the base to stop it taking over your plot. Mahonia and winter flowering jasmine can be trimmed after flowering.

If you have a greenhouse or some space on windowsills it’s time to get those seeds started, following instructions on the packet. Don’t worry if you’re a couple of weeks late in getting started as they will soon catch up when warmer weather comes. You can then look forward to some great garden displays throughout the summer.

Growing fruit on a frame [espalier] is a great way of being able to harvest the produce at whatever level you wish. It also makes an excellent windbreak, especially if you have an allotment on the Twyn where anything not fixed down gets blown into next week.

The Wenvoe Wildlife Group have asked if gardeners could see their way to assist the wildlife in our village by cutting hedges as soon as possible so as not to disturb nesting birds and by not turning over their fresh compost heaps until April if possible as some small animals may still be hibernating.

Take care and happy gardening.



Literature’s Most Dastardly Villains


Literature’s Most Dastardly Villains

Another year, another lockdown, another postponed Page Turners meeting, but another opportunity for Book Club members to reflect on characters in books they have read…..and disliked! There are many villains in literature: Flashman in Tom Brown’s Schooldays was considered a scoundrel; whereas Professor Moriarty in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock has been described as a ruthless, vindictive mastermind; the White Witch in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has never been forgiven for killing Christmas! So who do the Page Turners believe is the greatest villain in the books they have read?

May’s choice of villain is Mrs. Reed, Jane Eyre’s aunt, from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. May claims that Mrs. Reed was very unkind to Jane, an orphaned child and her unjustified treatment included locking Jane in a haunted bedroom and sending her off to boarding school with a bad reputation. May appreciates that there are more vicious villains, but they are often more obvious in their treatment of their victims than the shrewd Mrs Reed.

Helen’s most villainous literary character of all time is the boldly ambitious and manipulative Lady Macbeth, from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Helen considers Lady Macbeth to be one of Shakespeare’s most infamous and treacherous female characters. She is cunning and power-hungry and the mastermind behind the idea to kill King Duncan. Towards the end of the play she is overcome by remorse and driven insane, but in Helen’s opinion, this does not make amends for her previous evil deeds.

Lynne selected Herbert Powyss, a scientist set on making his name, from the novel, The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan. In 1793, Powyss imprisons a poor farm labourer in his cellar for 7 years, for a generous financial reward, to study the effects of prolonged solitude. Predictably, the experiment is determined to be ill judged and has many unforeseen consequences. Powyss is an example of the upper class barbarity and cruelty of the time and an authentic villain.

Hannibal Lecter, from the novels by Thomas Harris was Babs’s choice. Although Hannibal Lecter is a highly intelligent and charismatic forensic psychiatrist, he is also a serial killer who eats his victims. Babs claims that once you have read about Hannibal, he will always be remembered as the greatest villain.

Nicola’s selection for the title is Alexander Zalachenko (Lisbeth’s father) in ‘the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy by Steig Larsson. Nicola judges him to be an astonishingly evil character without an iota of humanity; his evil deeds included abusing his wife, leaving her with irreparable brain

damage, disowning his children by never seeking them out and then going to astounding lengths to kill his daughter.

Sylvia nominated Wynstan, the evil Bishop, from The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. Sylvia kept thinking he couldn’t do anything more evil but he always did; however (spoiler alert!), Sylvia does say,” he gets his ‘come uppance’ eventually.”

Jenny proposed Alec d’Urbervilles from the Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Alec cruelly took advantage of impoverished young Tess, deserts her and her child, and then misuses her again against a backdrop of evil lies, in the guise of an evangelical priest. Jenny deems Alec to be manipulative, selfish and uncaring and thoroughly deserving of the title of the greatest villain.

Undoubtedly, fictional villains can be fascinating: they can be scheming, determined, uncompromising and evil….as the Page Turners have described in their choices of villains. Do you agree with their selections….or is there an even greater villain lurking in a book you have recently read…..?



Ogmore by Sea Walk


We walked in the Ogmore area several times last year, using the Vale Trails leaflet no.1 ‘Ogmore by Sea Walk’ as a basis for our routes and starting from St Brides Major. From here we walked past St Bridget’s Church and were soon on footpaths leading onto Ogmore Down. This part of the walk is across open countryside with good wide grass pathways.

We have seen swallows sitting along a fence and gracefully swooping for insects in the air. At Pant Mari Flanders there is a hollow cut into limestone with a stone structure covering an ancient well. If you take the more northerly route you pass the golf course where the views are extensive.

After crossing the Down, you come to the river Ewenny and walking south soon arrive at its confluence with the River Ogmore, the site of Ogmore Castle. From here it is a lovely walk along the river and estuary towards the sea. The dunes of Merthyr Mawr Warren are on the other side of the river and horse riders gallop along the other bank. Stepping-stones offer a safe river crossing unless the water is extremely high.

Ogmore Castle is one of 3 fortresses built, at the time of the Norman invasion, to guard Glamorgan against attacks from the Welsh-held west. Beginning as a castle of earth and wood in the early 12th century, it was quickly fortified in stone before being further strengthened with a curtain wall in the early 13th century. Unusually the original defensive banks and ditches are still visible, the deep ditch in the inner ward was designed to fill with sea water at high tide.

The castle was given to one of the 12 knights of Glamorgan, William de Londres, who left when the Welsh attacked in 1116. Allegedly, the castle was saved by his butler, Arnold, and for this he was knighted Sir Arnold Butler and given the castle and manor at Dunraven as a reward. Ogmore Castle continued to serve as a residence until the 16thC and hosted the Court House until 1803.The present-day castle remains consist of the keep and some outer walls.

A ghost Y Ladi Wen (“the White Lady”) is said to guard the castle’s hidden treasure. In the story, a spirit was long said to wander the wider area until a man finally had the courage to approach her. When someone eventually did so, the spirit led him to treasure (a cauldron filled with gold) hidden under a heavy stone, he could take half for himself. Later, he returned to take the rest; the angry spirit attacked him as he returned home. The man became gravely ill but did not die until he confessed his greed.

The river always has lots of birds swimming along and feeding – seagulls, Canada geese and ducks to name a few. Soon we reach the estuary where the horizon opens out and the sun glistens on the sea – it seems to do this even on grey days though you may need to look far away to see it. The route now heads east towards Southerndown and Dunraven Castle, through the car park with the sea on the right. As soon as we were away from the concreted area, we scrambled over some rocks to sit gazing out to sea whilst eating our lunch and trying to work out whether any of the black birds hopping about on the grass were choughs. For some reason it is hard to spot their red beaks and legs but eventually, we were all convinced we had seen one (should have brought binoculars).

Looking over my shoulder briefly I noticed someone walking along the path that I thought I recognised – a celebrity. I quietly said something to my companions who said I was wrong. But… when we resumed our walk who should walk towards us but Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas of Welsh rugby. We were so cool, and he was very gracious exchanging greetings with us but underneath two of us were excited and the other two (English) had no idea who he was.

This stretch of the coast is picturesque and mostly level with a short steep climb near Southerndown. Then there is a steep drop down to Dunraven Bay where there are facilities and Dunraven castle and Walled garden (where according to legend there is another ghost!)

From here we walked inland passing the Heritage centre and then across farmland to come out opposite the Farmers Arms. Passing the pond and pump, we turned right to avoid the busy main road, climbing the road behind a row of houses. At the top there was a steep descent back to the road and our cars.

Walk 5-8 miles depending on which route is taken. Map 151



A Different Snowdon Adventure


As a Physiotherapist, I had the privilege of working with some pretty remarkable people over the years and one particular individual came to mind last year, when a number of local residents shared their outdoor adventures. Henry was a gentleman with cerebral palsy resulting in considerable physical disabilities and he had been wheelchair dependent all his life. It was always a joy to visit him and listen to his stories and dreams. One day, he shared his lifelong dream of being on the summit of Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon… I don’t think Henry had any concept of what might be involved to achieve this in relation to the organisation that would be involved in relation to his wheelchair, equipment, people power, transport, accommodation, let alone the height of the mountain and what that meant in reality and also any possible implications from the weather..
At the time Henry was 60 and required adapted wheelchair seating in order to accommodate his physical needs. The idea of him being able to access Snowdon was truly a dream for him but it sparked something in me to see if I could help him achieve that dream. I didn’t even consider him accessing the mountain by the train as that was not something that I would ever do. Climbing a mountain to me, meant just that – physically getting to the top.
My first challenge was to find someone who was mad/brave enough to contemplate such an undertaking with me and after asking a few people, I did manage to secure the support of a friend, big Chris, who at the time was undertaking his Mountain Leadership qualification but interestingly, had never been up Snowdon! We therefore did a recce visit and decided that the Pyg track should / could be possible to do with a wheelchair; and would also provide a suitable challenge worth fundraising for! (We also agreed then that, if necessary, Henry could descend the mountain via the train!)

Pyg Track

We knew that we would need a team who were trained in lifting (today known as moving and handling) and approached the South Wales Fire Service who offered fantastic support! We not only ended up with six volunteer firemen, but they also offered to loan us their big red fire service bus to transport the team to and from North Wales!
I approached the Department of Rehab and Engineering at Rookwood Hospital who kindly made and donated a specially-made wheelchair for the trip. Although not offering the ultimate comfort for Henry, it did have the facility to add ‘carry bars’ (making the wheelchair a bit like a sedan chair), for when the chair couldn’t be ‘pushed’ along the path.

Henry lived at the top of the Rhondda Valley and I remember on one of the trips back from a wheelchair fitting, he looked up at The Bwlch and mused whether being at the summit of Snowdon would be similar to being on top of The Bwlch (which I’m not sure that Henry had ever been at the top of either). I gently replied, “Not really!”, having experienced Snowdon in all its glories of rain, wind, sleet, snow and whiteouts as well as very occasional sunshine!
The team eventually consisted of about 22 of us in all including the 6 firemen, 6 members of Treherbert rugby youth team, big Chris and two of the youngsters he worked with, myself and a couple of climbers Chris knew, as we thought we might need to support Henry and the wheelchair with ropes along some of the scarier points of the track, as well as 3 other women. We did indeed make good use of the ropes when at one point, concentration waned or tiredness won or feet slipped on the rock and the wheelchair tipped! Luckily, Henry was safely secured by a lap belt and the ropes saved the wheelchair from toppling further!

Typical Section of Pyg Track

A pretty scary moment!! Out of all of us, only 4 had previously been up Snowdon so it was a real adventure and opportunity for most of the group. We had booked the Dinorwig bunk house for Friday and Saturday night and although had thought long and hard about how we would support Henry up the mountain, had given no thought to getting Henry in his wheelchair down the steep track to the bunkhouse in the pitch dark when we arrived! The adventure very nearly ended before it had even begun!
Amazingly, the Saturday dawned bright and clear and in fact remained so all day offering the most incredible views all the way to the summit! Henry was wrapped in a down sleeping bag to keep him warm before being secured in his chair, because although we all got pretty hot climbing and manoeuvring the wheelchair (and actually carrying it where necessary), Henry was of course stationary in the chair and therefore could potentially have got very very cold being unable to move. The whole team took it in turns to push and carry the chair giving everyone a chance to actually take part but also allowing much needed recovery times. It was quite strange to me, used to working with people with a disability, that at the rest points, no-one actually considered that Henry couldn’t appreciate the views unless his chair was turned to face them, whilst everyone else spread out along the path and rocks enjoying cups of tea, sandwiches and the incredible views – Snowdonia at its best! All the way up we were subject to some interested and varied comments from fellow intrepid climbers and when we finally made the summit, an enormous crowd had gathered to wait for and cheer Henry!

Henry did indeed come down the mountain on the train while most of us walked down alongside the railway track and all met in the pub in Llanberis where more than a few pints of beer were imbibed to celebrate resulting in a far more interesting descent of the track to the bunkhouse in the dark as very few of us were sure footed at that point! (There were of course other tales of that evening but perhaps not printable here!)

Nicola Harmer



Educated by Tara Westove


“EDUCATED ” by Tara Westove

Tara Westover tells the story of her family and upbringing in rural Idaho. It is fascinating and at times quite scary. Her father ruled the family, and they were all at the mercy of his extreme ideas. In retrospect, she is convinced that he had schizophrenia; it was hard to live and cope with his behaviour and restrictions. None of the children were allowed to go to school or consult doctors; they had to wear old-fashioned clothes and had no life of their own. Her mother was complicit with these rules. She did at times seem to encourage Tara, but ultimately always supported her Father. One of her brothers and her father were very cruel and vicious at times, with seemingly no care for Tara or anyone else.

Tara had great strength of character and an independent spirit; eventually, she managed to leave home, go to University and eventually to study in Cambridge, England. At the time of writing her family would still have nothing to do with her.

Most of us found this book to be a real page-turner but some did not enjoy it because of the cruelty and unpredictability of the family. As a group we scored it 7/10.


Tricia Coulthard



Greetings From a Beleaguered Parish Church


Greetings from a beleaguered Parish Church that remains closed and unable to offer worship and comfort to her congregation. If 2020 was the year when we were forced to lock the church door, let us hope and pray that 2021 will be the year in which we shall be able to open to all, and welcome all into the hallowed space we have had in Wenvoe for more than 800 years.

In these worrying times, the business side of St. Mary’s has carried on with the help of Zoom. Regular meetings of the officers of the church have been held, backed up by regular meetings of the Parochial Church Council to enable the church to meet its financial and legal responsibilities. We are grateful to all who have maintained their financial giving, to those who have supported the limited fund raising we have been able to arrange, and to those who have kindly donated money over the past months. Wenvoe Church is needed more than ever, for the time when our lives and the life of the community will be back to a “new” normal. Where else can you get your child baptised, your sons and daughters married and say that final goodbye to a loved ones? There is only one place and that is in St. Mary’s Church. So, a big, big thank you to all who have supported us.

During the dark nights of December, in the run up to Christmas, the Wenvoe Advent Window displays were a great success. The windows were shown on our Facebook page and from the generosity of many people, £186.00 was raised for church funds. There have been a number of requests of ‘what do we do next year’ meaning of course what will we do for this year. Any ideas please to Jude Billingham, the organiser.

The closure of the church has meant that Jon and Kevin have been able to offer an online service each Sunday morning, and there have been many followers who have ‘hooked up’ to take part. Many are local members of the congregations from our three churches, and they are joined by others from far and wide. Together we have maintained close contact with one another, by simply keying in that you are watching and that you have sent a greeting. Thank God for technology that is useful and so necessary in these days when we cannot meet as was our usual practice.



Every few years we come around to considering what do we do with the church hall. We know only too well that it is not fit for purpose, and that a lot of money is needed to bring the building, the toilets and the kitchen up to modern day standards. These lockdowns have concentrated the minds of church officers that we do something or else the building will continue to deteriorate. A recent survey of the building and its facilities have been circulated to all members of the PCC, with options as to how things could be improved. Watch this space.

Another project is what do we do to bring our church building into a better state, and can we do this while we are closed and shut down. The church needs redecoration, we really do need toilet facilities on site, we would like to offer refreshment facilities on site, we would like to get rid of the pews and bring in stackable chairs, so that we can re-arrange the seating for different types of services, and hold our “chattery” get togethers in a more comfortable setting. There is much we would like to do, but getting the necessary permissions takes a great deal of time and effort, with the church authorities wishing to keep us preserved in aspic. Once again watch this space.

The Steering Group for the NEW MINISTRY AREA has met on Zoom as we start the process of coming together. Two sub-groups on Governance and the other on Communication have been set up. The work of either is to bring together the common things we hold so dear. We are a diverse group of Christians worshipping the ONE true God…. NINE CHURCHES WORKING TOGETHER TO BRING GOD’S LOVE TO HIS PEOPLE.

Keep safe, wash those hands, wear your mask and God Bless.

Parry Edwards



Covid Article Stirs Many Memories


January’s front page article about the smallpox epidemic in South Wales brought back memories for me. I had just started grammar school and after school, the whole of our family trooped to the doctor’s surgery, joining the queue to get our smallpox vaccinations. When we finished, we went to Ely to look at caravans for our summer holiday. I did not feel very well (probably needed food) and felt the whole thing was a bit of a drag.

My mother was a nurse, working 3 nights a week at Lansdowne Hospital, which was an isolation hospital. As she worked with infectious diseases, she was selected to be sent to the smallpox hospital in the Valleys if the disease took off. My parents must have been worried as I was the eldest of 4 children. How would Dad cope without her? But there was no hesitation; nursing was a vocation, and she was willing to play her part. Just like the hundreds of medics in today’s NHS who are working so hard to help people suffering from Covid-19.

I remember her explaining to us children that she may have to go away for a while and would not be able to come home. As we all know, the vaccination programme worked, halting the progress of smallpox in South Wales and our family escaped the ordeal of separation. Until I read the What’s On article this was all a dim and distant memory to me. Hopefully that will also happen with Covid-19 in due course


Annie Bennett



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