Clayhidon Friends 2016

Year ends with a three-course meal
The last meeting of the year was a chance to have a social occasion​ and enjoy a three course meal with guests in the beautifully decorated Hall.
Many thanks go to Heather Procter who provided delicious soup, cold meats and salads, Linda Dalton who made excellent quiches and Freda Dewar who made the traditional Christmas pudding.
Next year will bring a new programme for the monthly meetings, and new members are very welcome to join our friendly group. We meet on the 2nd Thursday in the month at Clayhidon Parish Hall, 7.15pm. Please phone Anne on 01823 680086.

Coffee morning raises £171 for Macmillan 
Clayhidon Friends held a Macmillan coffee morning on 4 December, which was kindly hosted by Lynda and Adrian Ridout at Acre Ridge. Supporters were able to buy a good selection of home made cakes, produce and items of bric-a-brac and enter the richly provided raffle. Lynda's refreshments were as delicious as usual, and it was a most enjoyable occasion.
An excellent £171 was raised, and thanks go to all members and others who donated and supported the event as well as Lynda and Adrian for all their hard work.    

October and November
We set up a craft studio in the Parish Hall
Christmas is not so far away, and members have been able to make attractive decorations for the festive season over our last two meetings. 
Margaret Brotheridge, with help from Tina Barns, set up a craft studio in the Parish Hall with a work table, on which there were little wooden Christmassy shapes, acetates, paint, glitter and glue. We painted and decorated at the first meeting, then after further embellishments and trimming at the second meeting, completed our decorations.
Refreshments were on tap while we worked, and everyone enjoyed the industrious yet sociable occasions.
Many thanks to Margaret and Tina for all the hard work they put in to these very enjoyable and creative sessions.
The programme for our meetings next year has been planned, and new members are very welcome to join the group. Please contact Anne on 01823 680086 for information.

A visit to the Applehayes pottery
Applehayes Studio in Clayhidon was the venue of our meeting this month, and Philip and Claire Simmonds had planned a superb event for us. Phil creates the most strikingly statuesque and classically shaped pots which grace elegant gardens all around the country, and it was the development of his career, his business and the subsequent move to Devon which he talked about initially, with the help of laptop photos illustrating the pots themselves and the building of his studio. Phil then demonstrated how he prepares the clay, which looked very hard work, and then on the potter's wheel he "threw" the base of a pot, then to give us an idea, began the building of the body of the pot with coils of clay. Once the pot is made, it is fired in a kiln, which Phil had built himself.
Phil is very enthusiastic about his craft, and he and Claire were happy to answer any questions.
We were offered some lovely refreshments, which we enjoyed enormously. A big thank you to Claire.

There was an opportunity for us to look at and buy small pieces of pottery (attractively decorated by Claire) which we appreciated.
Our grateful thanks go to Phil and Claire for giving us such an enjoyable and interesting evening.    

Members test their brain cells in a country garden
The weather turned up trumps for Clayhidon Friends' June meeting, and we had a beautiful sunny day for members to enjoy a Devon cream tea on a perfectly cut lawn in Helen Lancaster's lovely garden. Guests were also invited, and Francis Roberts brought along her one year old grand-daughter, Olivia aged 15 months, who accepted the social occasion with great aplomb.
Helen, along with Tina Barns, Lynda Ridout and Anne Langford, provided homemade scones, jam, cream, strawberries and cakes for us all.
And a quiz to get our brain cells working was a true test on a warm day, so well done to Linda Dalton and Maureen Crofton who won prizes.
We had a most relaxing and pleasant afternoon, and huge thanks go to Helen and Donald for their very kind hospitality.

An education in driftwood
Our evening was a fascinating education in driftwood, charmingly presented by Emma Duke, an artist who creates sculptures in wood which she collects from Somerset's beaches. Emma brought many beautiful pieces of wood with her which she used to describe the three sources of driftwood: the streams and rivers of Exmoor and the Quantocks which eventually give up their fallen trees to the sea, the numerous shipwrecks of the Bristol Channel from centuries ago, and off-cuts of wood lost from boatyards along the coast. We also learnt about the shipworm, a shell-less mollusc, which is responsible for ruining ships as they bore into the wood, but also produces interestingly carved driftwood which Emma is always pleased to find. (Ships were eventually built with copper on their hulls, hence the term "copper bottomed".)
Emma left her career in the retail world in 2009 and began her business in sculptures. She also creates lovely gift items, and paints pictures of animals in acrylics, some of which she uses in her greetings card range.( 
It was such a pleasure to hear about the success of someone who turns her lifelong hobby into an artistic enterprise, and our thanks go to Emma. 

What it's like to be a Samaritans listener
We were privileged to have Geoff, a retired headmaster, to come and talk to us about his experience as a volunteer for the Samaritans. Although we all know of this charity whose workers talk to distressed people on the phone, it was good to get an understanding of the history and development of the organisation. 
Geoff also spoke of some of the issues which their callers have to battle with, including relationship and money problems, self-esteem and mental problems, and of course some with suicidal thoughts. The volunteers guarantee total confidentially, apart from bomb threats, the need to call an ambulance and persistent hoax callers. 
The volunteers are made of special stuff - they have to be non-judgmental, good listeners, yet able to prompt and guide the callers towards a possible solution - and they come from all walks of life, and of a wide age range. 
Geoff also talked about how the volunteers have a off-loading session at the end of their shift with a supporting manager. This is an important aspect, because the work can be intense and stressful. We learnt about the training programme for new volunteers which particularly interested some members.
Everyone found this an absorbing evening, and our grateful thanks go to Geoff for giving us his time.

Round the world on a bike
We were delighted to have a welcome return of Jude Zebedee who gave an illustrated talk on the completion of her round the world journey on a bicycle . Her first trip in 2012 took her from her home in Culmstock across Europe and Asia, then after a flight to Anchorage, down through the USA and two thirds of South America.
Jude's second leg began in Santiago, and with knowledge of some Spanish, sallied forth on her trusty bicycle, Norma, for Cape Horn. The roads she travelled varied between long, straight, empty motorways to rocky tracks, many depicted in Jude's photos. 
We also saw magnificent mountains, glaciers, places and buildings of interest, and some unusual spots where Jude pitched her little tent at night. She experienced wonderful hospitality from local people, and made friends with other touring cyclists. 
The occasional time-off to visit "tourist" attractions added to her trip, and once Jude reached Tierra del Fuego, the southern most tip, she took advantage of the last available ticket for a boat trip to Antarctica for 10 days. Once again, beautiful photos showed amazing snow scenes, calving icebergs and lots of penguins. Jude even borrowed the ship's bike so she could take a ride on the snow.
The final stretch of Jude's adventurous journey was up the east cost of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil to Rio de Janiero where a day on Copacabana beach was a must, and a trip up to the huge statue of Jesus which overlooks the city.
Once again, we were amazed at Jude's fearless spirit, and the physical strength required to complete such a fantastic journey. Our grateful thanks to Jude for a fascinating evening.

The Healthy Living Centre's astonishing range of activities
The Blackdown Healthy Living Centre in Hemyock is well known from regular newspaper reports over the years, but members were privileged to experience an in-depth presentation by Angela Dawson, manager of the Centre, and Helen Farrell, therapist in counselling, regarding its present contribution to the local population. 
Everyone was astonished at how many activities are offered to all age groups, and since its opening in 2010, the Centre has grown to include, for the elderly, isolated and infirm, the Cameo club, Brightside and a memory cafe. There are a number of exercise classes, Tai Chi being the latest addition, and Bookworms for the young. A comprehensive range of complementary therapies is on offer, and regular Art exhibitions among other activities. Rooms are also available for private hire. 
Go to  for full information!
This was an interesting and informative meeting with two speakers who have heart-felt commitment to their work, and many members signed up to be a "friend" of the Centre.
Our grateful thanks to Angela and Helen for coming to enlighten us on this valuable community resource.
If cats are feline, what are sheep?
Members enjoyed a home-grown meeting on this cold January evening. Ruth Tartaglia had created a "Country" Quiz for us which was both great fun and informative. While having early refreshments, we put our minds to the very varied questions on Nature, (If cats are feline, what are sheep?) Geography, (Which hills divide England and Scotland?) and History, (Which nation was the first to give women the right to vote?). Keen to do another quiz, the members took on "Sweets and chocolate" which proved equally entertaining, and reminded us all of what we used to spend our pocket money on. While waiting for the second round of refreshments, Linda Dalton showed us all how to tie our scarves in a flattering way, and we can now pass on this useful tip.
Our thanks to Ruth for her imaginative quiz.
Answers: Ovine, The Cheviots, New Zealand.