Clayhidon Friends 2015

A wonderful evening of good food and music
For our final meeting of the year, the members enjoyed a four course meal organised by Heather Procter with help from Helen Lancaster (soup) and Freda Dewar (puds). The main course of cold meats and numerous salads was delicious, and for anyone who had space left, they could enjoy a good selection of cheeses.
The table for 24 in the Hall was attractively decorated by helpers (Thank you to those), and the Hall itself had already been hung with decorations for the festive season. Our particular thanks to Heather for her hard work.
Brenda Persey joined us for our Christmas meal, then entertained us with songs and Christmas music played on her accordion, and also with stories and anecdotes which were heart-warming and amusing. Brenda then played a selection of tunes from the past on her electric organ, and finally we were easily persuaded to join her with singing Christmas songs. Thank you, Brenda, we had a wonderful evening!
Clayhidon Friends welcomes new members, and for enquiries, please ring Anne on 01823 680086.  
Atlantic adventure in The Eye of the Wind
The speaker this month delighted members with her account of a 4 week trip on a traditional sailing boat called The Eye of the Wind. Carol Carr's brother had emigrated to Tasmania many years before, but turned up in the UK unexpectedly. He contacted Carol and invited her to sail on the ship down to the Canary Isles as a member of the crew.
 Expecting a boat with a bit of luxury, she was shocked to find cramped living quarters, and very limited personal facilities, the details with which Carol regaled us causing peels of laughter. However, after 3 days of sea-sickness while crossing the Bay of Biscay, the description of which again caused much hilarity, she began to settle into the ship's routine.
Her status was raised when she was left at the helm steering this magnificent ship through the night, and was mesmerised by the vastness of the starry sky and the sound of the sea. They called in to a number of ports en route and enjoyed a little night life, but all too soon, Carol's trip came to an end, and she flew home having had the experience of a lifetime. Our thanks to Carol for such an entertaining evening.     

A creative evening with felt and chat
A very pleasant evening for members with Debbie Quarman who brought all her needle felting bits and pieces for us to be creative. She provided a myriad of wools, felts and pretty buttons etc to decorate our artistic efforts. Debbie showed us how to use the wool and needles to create different shaped pads of "felt" which could be used to make decorations, coasters, broaches and much more. Needle felting requires few tools and and is not an expensive hobby to take up. This was a meeting when we could sit round the table and chat at the same time as we worked, which made the evening a relaxed and sociable occasion. Our thanks to Debbie for introducing us to such an attractive pastime.  

Macmillan coffee morning  Saturday 10 October
Clayhidon Friends wish to thank those who supported them at the coffee morning at Lynda and Adrian Ridout's home at Acre Ridge. The event was thoroughly enjoyable, and a total of £170 was raised for the charity. 

A farmer tells her entertaining life story
It is hard to do justice in a few words to Janet East's entertaining and fascinating talk which she gave to the members this month. Janet's story begins when she was a child born into a farming family.
She went to university, married, and after some years, had a change in life style when she and her husband bought a bungalow with a small plot of land where they raised Jacob sheep and trained a collie dog to work with the flock. 
Janet had always hankered after a rural life, and finally moved to a Devon longhouse in Payhembury with barns and 45 acres of land. They converted one barn into 3 flats for Bed and Breakfast, they increased the size of their flock, and they also began courses for training sheep dogs. 
The Easts sold lamb for the table, and Janet encouraged Edward, her husband, to learn butchery. The wool from the the sheep was not wasted, and now, the wool is turned into the most beautiful knitted and woven articles. 
The members thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Janet's resourcefulness and drive, but also her wonderful anecdotes about the amusing episodes in her life. An evening long to be remembered.

Inspired by the Woolly Shepherd
The members and their guests enjoyed a heartening presentation last Thursday with Tim Simmons of "The Woolly Shepherd", and his wife Marty.  Tim talked to us about the properties of wool, of acoustics and the origins of their business, but our eyes were opened by his account of the development of the enterprise.
Tim has appeared on TV's Countryfile and The Dragons' Den where Deborah Meaden pointed the way forward for him with his acoustic "clouds" which reduce reverberations in echoey rooms. The firm now produces acoustic solutions around the country, and the couple brought attractive samples of the sound absorbent wool clouds, screens and wall panels available in numerous colors and styles. 
However, this success has often been one of two steps forward and one step back, but Tim's entrepreneurial spirit has enabled him to overcome the problems that beset him, and he has built a business with noteworthy achievements. An inspiring evening for us all. 

Catering for the parish
This team of Clayhidon Friends laid on a sumptuous buffet for Clayhidon Parish Council and its guests at a reception in honour of its retiring clerk Michael Osmond and councillors Robert Pike and Alan Redwood. Pictured, from  left are  Freda Dewar, Helen Lancaster, Lynda Ridout, Anne Langford and Margaret Prettejohn. Not in the picture is Heather Procter, who planned the buffet and did all the shopping, >Read more.

The fascinating story of Dartmoor
We anticipated that Tony Burgess would provide an absorbing and interesting evening, and invited guests to join us for a talk on Dartmoor. He did not disappoint us, and we were treated to an hour of fascinating stories and information covering the history and geography, archaeology and geology of Dartmoor.
In pre-historic and medieval times when the weather was milder, Dartmoor was well populated, and many ceremonial and settlement sites can be seen. 
He also talked of the social aspects of the wonderful National park, including "letter-boxing" which some walkers enjoy, and the opportunities for city children to experience the exciting challenges of outdoor activities. 
Tony showed us many beautiful slides which perfectly depicted Dartmoor's character, and he wound into his talk mythological tales that added some spice to the evening. 

An evening in the Regency House garden
Clayhidon Friends' members and their other halves and friends gathered at Regency House in Hemyock for an evening walk around Jenny Parsons' beautiful garden. She opens the garden twice a year with the National Garden Scheme, but a special occasion was made for our June meeting, and Jenny herself showed us around the glorious well-stocked grounds which had a splendid range of colourful flowers and shrubs, fruit and vegetables.
It was a great opportunity for people to chat and share gardening ideas. The ponds were calm and still in the warm evening air, and we could see ducks and geese on the opposite banks.
An extra attraction for us to watch was young pony club riders enjoying their jumping in the adjacent field - another of Jenny's Regency House activities.
We then sat outside at tables which overlooked the lawn, and enjoyed a wide selection of cakes and cups of tea and coffee. Jenny was warmly applauded by everyone as thanks for such a pleasant evening with superb refreshment.   

Birds of the Blackdowns
Birds and more birds! Doug Stannard showed many wonderful photos of the birds he had seen in the Churchinford and Smeatharpe area over the last few years, and provided numerous facts over aspects of their behaviour, calls and habitat. The members also learnt of the more unusual visitors to the area, and the seasonal influx of migrants. Doug's enthusiasm for his hobby was a real incentive to members to go out into the garden, local fields and grasslands, especially local airfields, to look for both the common and uncommon species. 
Our thanks to the Stannards for their most interesting evening.

Blooming masterpieces - and much chatter
A creative theme for this month's meeting - Nicola Bendle came with beautiful flowers and greenery to show members how to make an attractive floral table centre-piece for a special occasion. She also demonstrated another to place on a sideboard or hall table. 
Then it was the chance for the members to create their own masterpieces with blooms and greenery they had brought themselves.
As usual, the evening was a sociable event with much chatter, but also one that produced amazing yet very varied creations which everyone could enjoy at home. Our grateful thanks to Nicola.

The funny side of our tax system
A change in the programme this month brought a former tax inspector as our speaker with an entertaining yet knowledgeable and informative look at the taxation system in the UK.
A brief history revealed that Roman soldiers in Britain paid tax, that the window tax was repealed because of " health and safety" issues, and income tax was first introduced in 1842 by William Pitt the younger.
Modern taxation became an interesting subject due to the speaker's ability to recount usually dry details with great humour, and facts were illustrated with amusing anecdotes of would-be tax evaders.  
Who has to pay income tax? Everyone! Even a tiny baby with a savings account can be taxed. "Avoiding" tax (as opposed to "evading" tax) can sometimes be considered immoral, but it is not illegal. Much information was absorbed by the members, who asked interesting questions, and told of their own experiences.
Our grateful thanks to the speaker for such a fascinating and enjoyable talk.

50 minutes of utter delight
For 50 minutes of utter delight, you have to watch Jenny Parsons's video of her bicycle ride along the Danube. 
She and some of her family began their journey in Vienna, and over the following two weeks, with a people carrier in support carrying all the luggage, rode the 500 kilometre journey through Slovakia and Hungary to Bucharest.
Throughout the two week trip, Jenny recorded amazing shots of architecture, the broad countryside, and some wonderful horses and their splendid stables. 
But it was the antics of Jenny's 21 month grand-daughter who stole the show and thoroughly entertained the members. 
Village scenes, local people on their horse-drawn carts and the start of a marathon in one town all featured in this wonderful video, and in the background, cheerful music added to the charm.
Next month, Piers Pepperell will be telling vets' stories. 
Joining details from Anne Langford 680086.