Some Depressing Reading

Some Depressing Reading

The recent national State of Nature report makes some depressing reading as the following stats indicate

  • Across the UK species studied have declined on average by 19% since 1970
  • Farmland bird species in the UK have, on average, seen their numbers fall by more than a half since 1970
  • Invertebrate species are found in 13% fewer places now than in 1970. There have been strong declines in some insect groups with important roles, such as pollinators like bees and hoverflies
  • More than half of the plants in Great Britain have been lost from areas where they used to thrive
  • Only one in seven (14%) of the UK’s important habitats for wildlife were found to be in good condition

A quick look around Wenvoe will confirm that the same is happening to us. Several fields around the village have been turned over to housing and more are threatened with development. On an individual basis lawns are being replaced with artificial turf and front gardens are being slabbed or bricked over. Trees are being cut down and not replaced and ponds filled in.

But commentators suggest we can do something to help. We can put up nest boxes for birds, bee hotels and bat boxes. We can feed the birds and plant some wildflowers and pollinator-friendly shrubs and trees. Put in a pond – one we know of cost 70p and took up just 20 by 20 cms of garden space. Open compost heaps, log and stone piles, even piles of leaves can help everything from hedgehogs to slow worms. We may never hear the cuckoo again in the village – it was a regular visitor here just 30 years ago – but we might be able to help stop the decline of some of our valuable wildlife.


“The Labyrinth of the Spirits” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“The Labyrinth of the Spirits” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The first few pages of this 500 page novel giving the description of Regina Aeronautica’s bombardment of Barcelona during The Spanish Civil War and the subsequent escape of Alicia Gris, the heroine, was extremely evocative and the brutality of the Franco Fascist era from 1936 until his death in 1975 particularly well written.
The story is basically a detective novel where Alicia Gris acting as a police agent is commissioned to find Don Valls who has mysteriously disappeared.
The novel is gritty, gripping but at times very dark with several difficult passages of graphic details of gruesome tortures.
Despite the fluency of the narrative the writing occasionally becomes rather mundane and the momentum is lost but Zafón soon rectifies these passages by introducing an absorbing twist.
Apart from two dissenters the group found the tome fascinating and a real page turner with most of the group awarding marks of 9 and 10. The overall mark was 7.
Thank you must go to our hostess, Jill, who provided us with delicious cake

Clearing The Path To The Playing Fields


Clearing The Path To The Playing Fields

A lovely October morning spurred on most of the team while clearing the path to the playing fields. New member Mark got stuck in along with Ian, Alan and Ieuan. Gareth on the other hand was coming to terms with being eighty in a few weeks and couldn’t settle to anything. He spent his time asking the team what they might buy him for his birthday. When the clerk of works checked on their progress later, she was impressed and couldn’t believe that 41/2 men had accomplished so much in such a short time.

The village elders have asked if the team could turn out on the 6th November to tidy up around the memorial before Remembrance Sunday. As we have some war babies in the team I’m sure that won’t be a problem

Bonfire Night Nibbles, Parkin, Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies

Bonfire Night Nibbles

16 milk chocolate oat biscuits [milk chocolate hobnobs]
8 large marshmallows
8 tsp dulce de leche [ use carnation caramel if you can’t find it ]
1 banana, cut into 16 slices.

Heat the grill to high and line a baking tray with parchment. Put 8 hobnobs on the tray with a marshmallow on top and grill until slightly brown and melting. Put a tsp of dulce de leche on the remaining hobnobs and top with 2 banana slices. Sandwich the biscuits together. Enjoy,



200g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 large egg
4 tbsp milk
200g golden syrup
85g treacle
85g light brown sugar
100g medium oatmeal
250g SRF
1 tbsp ground ginger

Heat the oven to 140C. Butter a deep 22 cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment. In a jug beat the egg and milk together. Gently melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter together in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Mix together the oatmeal, flour and the ginger and stir into the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50min to 1 hour until the cake feels firm and a little crispy on top. Cool in the tin, turn out and cut into cubes.


Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies

125g butter
125 dark chocolate [70% cocoa] broken into pieces
2 large eggs
150 granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 g plain flour
50g mini marshmallows

Heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin, 3-4 cm deep with baking parchment. Melt together the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. With an electric handheld whisk, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until thick and creamy. Mix in the melted chocolate and butter. Finally stir in the flour and marshmallows. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 20 mins until the centre is just set. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 mins before cutting into squares.


The School Nature Club

Wenvoe Wildlife Group

The School Nature Club continues to flourish. This month they learned to identify Horse Chestnut which gives us Conkers and distinguish them from Sweet Chestnut which we love to roast. They assembled two more planters and will be filling them with Bee-friendly shrubs such as Escallonia, Mahonia, Caryopteris and Salvia in the Spring as well as sowing seed of Limnanthes, the Poached Egg plant. Vegetation cutting is expected any time on the Upper Orchid Field, Community Orchard and Cae Ysbyty but is weather-dependent. Ian Moody and other volunteers turn up once a month to help with manual maintenance on the Upper Orchid Field – why not wander up and join them? Third Monday in the month or check this newsletter for date and time. Do you have a mature apple tree and want to try getting Mistletoe to grow on it? If so, contact the Willdlife Group.


Wales’ 20-Mph Default Speed Limit


Considering tomorrow today

Wales’ 20-Mph Default Speed Limit

Forum Member Gareth Stone gives his view of the 20mph discussion.

Wales’ 20-mph default speed limit…

On 17/9/23, Welsh Government legislation reduced the default national speed limit from 30-mph to 20-mph. A week later, I drove to Northampton for our grandson’s 10th birthday. As we neared, we noticed 20-mph zones in the surrounding villages and the residential area where they live. England seemed ahead of Wales here.

When the 20-mph default limit in Wales was initially debated, it had wide political and institutional support. Within weeks, there’s been a record-breaking petition calling for its reversal. I couldn’t understand the reaction, so I decided to take a ‘fresh look’ at the various arguments and viewpoints.

Some truths…?

In 1990, the Department of Transport set out guidelines for the introduction of 20-mph limits. Road safety publicity messages at the time included ‘Kill Your Speed, Not A Child’, identifying speed as crucial to reducing risk of injury in accidents.

From 1991-1999, 450 such 20-mph speed limits were introduced in the UK. By 2003, there had been a 56% decrease in accidents and a 90% decrease in fatal / serious injuries. The biggest reductions were in child / pedestrian injuries.

Road safety – reducing crashes, injuries and accidents – saving lives…

50% of road casualties in 2018, occurred on 30-mph roads. The World Health Organisation identified the most effective way to improve pedestrian safety was reducing vehicle speed. Figures and evidence here alone justify the move to 20-mph. Speed (and longer stopping distances) significantly increases the risk of injury in collisions.

ROSPA identifies a fatality risk of 1.5% when struck by a car at 20-mph rising to 8% at 30-mph. If your child runs into the road and a driver hits the brakes, a car travelling at 30-mph would be doing 24-mph when the car travelling at 20-mph had stopped. The safety argument is hard to contest, saving up to 100 lives in Wales over 10 years and preventing up to 20,000 injuries.

Improved health / well-being…

Vehicle speed is the main reason why people do not walk, cycle or allow their children to walk, cycle or scooter to school. Lower speeds encourage active modes of travel such as walking & cycling. It’s not only safer for children to walk to school, older people also feel able to travel more independently and safely. This reduces the number of cars on our roads; and in turn reduces congestion for those with no other choice.

Improved air quality and environment…

Driving at 20-mph does not mean extra pollution. Speed in residential areas is not continuous or steady. You are always braking, accelerating, pulling out at junctions, stopping at traffic lights, overtaking parked buses, delivery vans etc.

Factors contributing to pollution levels are driving style; acceleration; braking; vehicle condition; distance travelled and engine temperature. 20-mph should improve the smooth flow of traffic. Driving smoothly reduces particulate emissions. Particulate emissions especially smaller PM2.5 ones are linked with respiratory problems, diabetes, mental health conditions, depression and autism.

Costs and savings…

Welsh Government analysis puts the direct costs of the policy (changing road signs, markings and the marketing campaign) at c. £32.5m (spread over 2022-27) and the cost to the economy, c. £6.4bn (over 30 years).

Hayward identified that the £32.5m will be quickly recovered as the cost-savings from reduced deaths and serious injuries will be substantial. This also benefits the Welsh NHS more widely across other areas.

£6.4bn over 30 years equates to c. £200m pa – still a huge number. Much of these costs are attributed to short journeys. If you remove these disproportionally expensive short journeys from the equation, the costs fall to c. £57m pa, which again could easily be offset by the savings from fewer accidents.

Other factors…

ROSPA received concerns that traffic calming in 20-mph zones had negative consequences, such as vehicle damage, injury to passengers, slowing down emergency vehicles and increasing vehicle emissions.

Research showed no evidence of vehicle damage from properly negotiating humps and no permanent changes to vehicle suspensions. Levels of passenger discomfort were generally acceptable if speed limits met, and spinal impact was an order of magnitude lower than that which caused injury.

Further research showed that delays to emergency vehicles were generally in the region of small numbers of seconds.

Further evidence:

  • Many countries already do it, and it works.
  • Councils can keep major roads at 30-mph and arterial roads in/out of cities will not change.
  • Over 0.5m children will find their walk or cycle to school safer and healthier.
  • Fewer accidents and bumps which clog up towns/cities will lead to less congestion.
  • Noise pollution reduced in built-up areas.


My final thoughts…

Evidence shows that 20-mph default speed limits on residential roads, outside schools and busy pedestrian areas saves lives and reduces injuries. They improve the environment create safer communities and make quieter, more pleasant places, where people feel able to walk / cycle. They reduce air pollution and benefit people’s health and the local economy.

Getting to 30-mph requires twice the energy as getting to 20-mph. People living in communities with existing 20-mph limits are positive about the changes.

Of course, 20-mph seems slow. That’s the point. It may be annoying at first as we all, as drivers, want to be at our destination. But think of the cyclists and pedestrians that benefit so hugely, and the reduced air and noise pollution.

Finally, consider that when seat belts were first introduced 40 years ago, in 1983, some will recall the widespread resistance to the change. Who would consider driving without them now?

A fuller version with references to research and evidence of pilots is posted on the Forum blog, where you can put forward your own views.


Cardiff And The Bute Family




Anyone living in the Cardiff area will have heard the word Bute. It is associated with many areas such as Bute Docks, Bute Street, Bute Park and many more. But how many of us know where the Bute family came from and how they came to own so much land in South Wales?

In October I joined a party from the Contemporary Arts Society of Wales to travel to Scotland to visit the ancestral home of the Bute family, which is called Mount Stuart, on the Isle of Bute.

The story begins in the 18th century with John Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792), who was not only a powerful statesman but also a passionate patron of the arts. In 1761, he became the Prime Minister of Great Britain and guided the young King George III. While his political career took him to the heights of power, his heart always belonged to Scotland and the beautiful Isle of Bute.

John Stuart’s son was also called John Stuart and he was the 4th Earl of Bute and the 1st Marquess of Bute. He married Charlotte Windsor (1746-1800) from whom he inherited vast tracts of land across South Wales including Cardiff Castle, Caerphilly Castle, and Castell Coch. Much of this land contained minerals including, of course, coal.

It was his grandson, John Crichton-Stuart, who would become the 2nd Marquess of Bute, that truly left an indelible mark on the family’s history and their connection to Cardiff. Born in 1793, he inherited the Marquessate at a young age and was determined to honour his family’s Scottish heritage while embracing new opportunities. He saw the opportunity to lease his land and received income from the extraction of coal and other minerals.

In the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution was sweeping across Britain, transforming cities and landscapes. One of these cities was Cardiff, which was transitioning from a small port town into a bustling industrial hub due to its coal exports. The Marquess saw the potential in Cardiff and decided to invest in the city, turning it into a thriving metropolis.

The Bute family poured their resources into the development of Cardiff, including the construction of the Cardiff Docks, which became one of the world’s largest coal-exporting ports. They also financed the construction of numerous buildings, parks, and cultural institutions, leaving an enduring legacy in the city.

But the Bute family’s most famous contribution to Cardiff is undoubtedly Cardiff Castle. The Marquess and his architect, William Burges, undertook a massive restoration and renovation project that transformed the castle into a neo-gothic masterpiece. The interiors of the castle were adorned with

intricate designs, stained glass, and opulent furnishings, creating a stunning testament to the family’s commitment to art and culture.

As time went on, the Bute family continued to shape Cardiff’s growth and prosperity. They played a pivotal role in the development of the railways, enabling even greater access to the city’s coal exports. They also supported the establishment of schools, hospitals, and charitable institutions, ensuring that Cardiff became a city known not only for its industry but also for its vibrant culture and community.

The Bute family’s connection to Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute remained strong throughout the generations. The stunning Mount Stuart House, with its beautiful gardens and rich history, became a symbol of their enduring love for Scotland. On our visit on a sunny day in early October, the gardens looked magnificent while the house itself was a veritable palace. The style is called Gothic Revival and the scale of it is simply vast. The ornate ceilings are as high as the roof of a cathedral, the marble was carved in Italy and the craftsmen brought their work to Bute. The stained glass is superb, and the intricate wooden panels were carved in the Bute workshops in Cardiff before being shipped to Scotland. If you are ever in Scotland, it is well worth the effort of taking the short ferry ride across to the Isle of Bute to visit this exceptional Mount Stuart.

Here in Cardiff, we can explore the legacy of the Bute family by wandering through Cardiff Castle’s opulent rooms, strolling along the picturesque Bute Park, and learning about the city’s industrial heritage. Meanwhile, on the Isle of Bute, Mount Stuart House stands as a testament to the family’s deep-rooted connection to their Scottish roots.

In September 1947, the Fifth Marquess of Bute handed over the keys of Cardiff Castle to Lord Mayor, Alderman George Ferguson. In what was described as “a gesture of truly royal nature” the Castle, along with its parkland, was presented as a gift to the people of the city. As reports at the time reflected, it was “no longer Cardiff Castle but Cardiff’s Castle”. Did you know that if you live or work in Cardiff then you are entitled to your very own Key to the Castle with free admission to this world-class heritage attraction for 3 years? To obtain your own key you simply have to visit the Castle ticket office with proof that you live or work in the City.

The Bute family’s story is one of ambition, vision, and dedication to both their Scottish heritage and the city of Cardiff. Their contributions continue to shape the cultural and architectural landscape of these two remarkable places, ensuring that their legacy lives on for generations to come.

Alun Davies

St. Mary’s Church News – October


What a busy month October turned out to be in the life of the church, with November looking to maintain the momentum with many events planned during the month to which all are welcomed.

All our harvest services were well attended, with lots of donations for the Food Bank in Barry and the fresh vegetables and fruit to the Food Co-op in Cardiff. The Gwenfo School Choir sang during the service at St. Mary’s and was appreciated by the congregation, so thank you Head Teacher for your co-operation in bringing the children and their parents to join in our thanksgiving for all the blessings of harvest. The warm sunny weather when harvest was celebrated at St. Lythan’s, enticed many to be outdoors following the service to enjoy the refreshments laid on by the faithful ladies who made sure that all had a glass of what they fancied plus nibbles.

The pilgrimage to Sully Island on Monday October 2nd was not as fortunate with the weather, due to mist and drizzle, but a small number were brave enough to complete the crossing, having held an outdoor celebration of the Eucharist and a safe return to the mainland before the tide came in. Fellowship in a local establishment was most welcome to take the chill off.

The meeting to discuss the future of St. Bleddian’s Church on the 12th October was, despite the rain, was very well attended by representatives from Dyffryn, St. Lythan’s and Wenvoe and Sully together with the Archdeacon of Margam, Lyndon and the Ministry Area Leader, Andrew from Dinas Powys. The historical background to the church was given to illustrate how this little church had been established back in the 6th century, with a visiting priest or monk from one of the nearby monasteries, sharing the good news of Gospels in what was the early days of the Celtic church. Much later the present church was built in the 12th century and enlarged with the Button Chapel in the 16th century and restored in the 19th. Now the congregation has shrunk to worrying levels and consequently the financial position of the church is under great stress, but the meeting was positive and many expressions of financial help were promised. At present there is no intention of any closure proposed, but services could well be reduced to what is known as a Festival Church with worship held on the feast days of the church. This church has been a sacred place for millennia, a place where the faithful have brought their children to be baptised, for marriages to take place, for the dead to be laid to rest. The building is in need of repair and renovation to address the damp, the state of the windows and other matters to comply with Health and Safety issues, and also the maintenance and upkeep of the churchyard, and while there are grants to be applied for, most grant giving bodies need to know that there is a strong community backing for them to consider whether there is sufficient support to give any financial help to put these matters right. If you are able to give help to redress the current situation by attending worship, or being a part of the financial plans, you will be assured of a warm Welsh welcome, and knowing that you are doing your bit, however small, to rescue and maintain this historic church from any threat of closure. All enquiries to Rev. Lyndon Hutchison-HounsellTssf, Tel No. 02922 806018 who will be pleased to hear from you.

Midweek Eucharist Services have started for those who wish to attend a more quiet celebration in Wenvoe and in Sully at 10.00am in Wenvoe on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month and in Sully on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday.

All our services are being screened live if you are unable to attend in person. Some of our more elderly find this a great comfort as they are able to be a part of the service even though they are not able to actually be in church. The website is or you can use the QR code on this page of the church news. This also is streamed for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals so those relatives who cannot be present can see the service in the comfort of their own home.

The season of REMEMBRANCE is shortly coming up. The service on All Souls day on Thursday 2nd of November at 7.00pm will be when friends or loved ones who have passed away are remembered by name. This year all names to be given to Vicar Lyndon, preferably by e.mail, lyndontssf@ outlook,com in time for the service. The community service on Remembrance Sunday November 12th at 10.00am followed by the Act of Remembrance at the Village War Memorial at 11.00am for the silence and laying of wreaths. Refreshments will be available in the Church Hall following the service, please join in this time of community fellowship to remember the sacrifice of so many in the two World Wars

Reports on the afternoon concert by the BYRDSONG singers, where we are promised a selection of sacred and secular items under the direction of Gareth one of our organists, is looked forward to, followed by an afternoon tea etc in the Church Hall will be in next month’s “What’s On”. Together with a report of the Confirmation Service at St.Peter’s in Dinas Powys at 3.00pm on November 5th when some of our congregation will be confirmed by Bishop Mary.

MESSY ADVENT A date for your diaries… a Messy Advent session is planned for Saturday December 2nd in the church hall, with crafts and “things to do”. worship and things to eat. More details to follow. God Bless and thank you for reading the church news

Parry Edwards


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