Virtual Christmas Drinks 2020

Christmas Drinks 5:30 pm 13/12/2020

This year’s Christmas Drinks party was quite different, and at least it didn’t mean a discussion about who was going to drive home.

Janet John acted as the technical host of the Zoom-based event, with Gwyndaf sending out invitations and Janet controlling the meeting in the background. We all signed in and soon saw 25 other screens looking back at us with about 45 members present.

David Powell welcomed everyone and explained how the meeting/party was going to be organised.
As a group we heard from members from their own rooms and were particularly pleased to see those who had not been able to make recent events (i.e. a year ago) or had moved away from the area.

Peter and Pat Chapman spoke from Brecon about the joys of living in the country and the fear of the rising river level!
Elan & Robin Preston-Whyte joined us from Englefield Green and we had a quick glimpse around their new flat.Group Screen shot

It was great to see Bridget Murray (with a backdrop of outer space) and Helen Hall again, who had both had issues attending previous meetings and new member Ruth Huckle introduced herself from Maidenhead.

Founder members, the Owens and the Broombys also gave their updates.
Colin and Di Thomas said that their house was a lot quieter this year than when they hosted last year’s get together!

Janet and Gwyndaf then randomly assigned us to ‘break-out rooms’ where we met in groups of 6 or so, so that we could chat informally amongst ourselves. This worked surprisingly well and it seemed no time until Janet called us all back into the main room and then assigned us all to different groups with new people to talk to. These sessions lasted about 8 minutes each.Break out

After 3 rounds of these chat rooms, David spoke about events planned for 2021.
These are currently ‘virtual’ events with a quiz night on Friday 22nd January and a virtual St David’s Day on 26th February with speaker Lord Williams of Oystermouth, better known as Rowan Williams. Born in Swansea, he was Bishop of Monmouth, the only Archbishop of Canterbury not to be a member of the Church of England, Master of Magdalene College Cambridge and is a prolific author and poet.

Depending on the level of restrictions, we may be able to hold a socially distanced Spring Walk and the AGM, but under current conditions, this looks unlikely. Unfortunately, there won’t be any trip to Wales this year.

After these notifications Jonathan Pegler then took over as master of ceremonies. Everyone’s microphones were muted (apart from Jonathan’s) and Jonathan played a selection of carols with Janet showing us the words on the screen. In effect we were all signing duets with Jonathan!

Finally, Jonathan played the National Anthem and we said our farewells to each other at about 7pm.

I think that everyone thought that the event went well, and our thanks go to Janet, Gwyndaf and Jonathan for making the evening go so smoothly.

Golf Day 2020

CDWS Golf Day 4th September 2020

It was so nice to be able to be able to catch up with some old friends in a socially distanced way. It was the first occasion that the Chiltern District Welsh Society had been able to meet since our St David’s Day Dinner back in March at the start of the lock-down.

We arrived at Oakland Park Golf Club at about 9am to be greeted with bacon butties to prepare the competitors for the morning’s exercise.

Unfortunately, some of the participants had to call off due to injury and Gwyndaf John did some hasty rearrangement of the teams.

David Powell and Colin Picton formed the supporters group to wave off and welcome back the golfers.

Due to Covid restrictions rules were changed to allow for social distancing. Conditions were good, with sunshine and a slight wind.

The competitors formed themselves into 4 groups – three 3 balls and one 4 ball set off about 10 minutes apart.

The supporters returned to the course at 12:30 to find the first group at eighteenth hole and accompanied them for refreshments at the 19th hole.

Soon after the 2nd and 3rd groups returned and we compared scores, with Kate Picton quietly confident of the result. We waited for the fourth group to arrive…

Some 30 minutes later the last group arrived – and when their scores were compared – proved to be the winners! Gwyndaf looked quite pleased.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chairman David Powell presented the prizes to the winning team.

As the restaurant was closed there was no chance for a meal, so after congratulating the winners, we said our farewells and returned home.

It was good to have a chance to see fellow members again.

 

 

Our thanks to Rob Britton and Gwyndaf John for arranging the day.

2020 AGM

CDWS AGM 22nd July 2020

This year we had a distinctly odd AGM.

Held in the afternoon, in July, with no food, with very little time to chat, with no entertainment, with no wine, without leaving the house!

Even so, about 30 of us signed into our Zoom session and we got the business done while looking at 20 screens of other members looking back at us.

Chairman, David Powell opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and giving the sad news that Peter Day, Kay’s husband, had died earlier in the week from an asbestos related disease. Peter has been a good friend to the Society, a regular attendee and an organiser of our trips to wetlands bird sanctuaries in his role as chairman of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and he will be sorely missed.

David gave his Chairman’s report, commenting that although we had had to cancel or postpone 3 events, over the past year we had been able to successfully hold over 10 events.  The Society hopes to hold its Golf Day in September, a country walk in the Autumn, but it is still uncertain whether conditions will permit us to hold our ever-popular Christmas Drinks event.

Membership has remained steady at 120, with new members replacing those who have left.

Peter Chapman gave his Treasurer’s report from Brecon and said that the Society’s finances are in good order.

It then came to the election of the officials. All members of the Committee agreed to stand again for the following year, with the proviso that Peter Chapman will need to relinquish his post as Treasurer within the next few months when he and Pat complete their move to Wales.

David thanked the committee for their time and efforts in running the society and running its events. He also called for members to volunteer for Committee membership as without them, the Society cannot function.

This must have been the fastest AGM on record. We finished after about 30 minutes, with very little chance to chat and a final farewell as the Zoom meeting concluded.

St David’s Day Dinner 2020

This year we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Society’s inaugural event, at which the founding members had sat down for a special St David’s Day dinner. After we’d taken our seats Ann Evans recalled that first meal she’d arranged for a small group of friends who shared a Welsh heritage. Ralph Broomby reminisced that at the time he was doubtful the idea of a Welsh Society would take root. But it had grown and thrived. He congratulated our Life President and founder, and also the members of the Society on its continuing vitality.
We welcomed three visitors, of whom David & Glenys Evans have become our latest members.

The event followed our established pattern with the 65 diners enjoying a sparkling drink as they gathered at Harewood Downs Golf Club. The special anniversary cake was on show and much admired. A plentiful display of Daffodils decorated the tables.
The venue and their new chef did not disappoint. The most popular menu choices of Lamb Shank and Poached Pear drew particular compliments. The Sea Trout was excellent. Known locally as “Sewin”, this fish was a regular seasonal catch from the River Taf in West Wales where I grew up. This year, for the first time ever, any Sewin and Salmon caught by the local anglers have to be returned to the river. So my choice was flavoured with a touch of nostalgia.


As the meal drew to a close our chairman, David Powell, rose to speak. He thanked the staff and all who had helped organise the event, and then introduced Glain Dafydd, the accomplished young harpist who provided our entertainment.

Originally from Bangor, Glain’s resume showed that she had studied in Paris and won various international awards, as well as graduating with distinction from her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music. Unsurprisingly therefore her repertoire for the evening was varied, and every piece beautifully played. The music she played on the evening was:
La Source (Hasselmans); Impromptu Caprice (Pierné); Merch Megan; Llety’r bugail; Ar hyd y nos; Sun Dance (Mathias); Suite BWV (J.S.Bach); Au Matin (Tournier)
After her performance Glain was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Irene Powell, and the formal dinner was closed with a heartfelt rendering of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau.

Of course, the evening would not be complete without our traditional sing-song, so John Breese took his place at the piano. Despite his very topical concern that an assemblage giving full voice might risk spreading viruses, Barrie Reece could not resist once John started to play Calon Lan and he was soon joining in with gusto.

 

 

A most enjoyable evening, and we now look forward to next year’s Dinner at which we will be joined by a special speaker and renowned Welshman, Rowan Williams.

 

Gwyndaf John

Christmas Drinks 2019

At 12:30 on 8th December, we all gathered at Colin and Di Thomas’s house in Gerrards Cross for our annual Xmas Drinks and carol singing.

We last visited the Thomas’s for Christmas in 2017, when the snow prevented many from attending. Luckily, this year was a completely different story, with bright winter sunshine. Only a few people couldn’t make it, being struck down by winter bugs and not able to attend. So we were about 45 in number.

After a glass of wine, Gwyndaf John was at hand to hand out sticky name badges – either as an aide de memoire when greeting people, or to remind us who we were.

Our caterers, ‘To Dine For’ were excellent and a constant stream of canapés and drinks were served as we circulated, chatted and caught up with old friends.  Many used this opportunity to distribute Christmas cards – a chance to circulate and save on postage!

Chairman, David Powell, thanked everyone for attending and especially our hosts, Di & Colin as this was the third CDWS event they’d held over the last few years.  He then handed over to Jonathan Pegler at the piano for the Christmas carols.

This year Jonathan had produced new carol sheets, which were much appreciated and the entire room joined in for some of our favourites.

The singing went on until mid-afternoon, when guests started drifting away, thanking our hosts and making it home before dark.

 

Thanks again to Colin, Di, our caterers and the organisers.

There are lots more pictures here.

25th October – Skittles Evening

What a weekend of competitive sport it was. Out in Japan the Rugby World Cup semi-finals saw the All Blacks well beaten by some team playing in white, and Wales narrowly lose a very close encounter with eventual champions South Africa. But perhaps the most keenly contested sporting event was held nearer to home at Oaklands Park Golf Club on the Friday evening. It was of course our very own CDWS Skittles Evening.

Rob Britton was the chief organiser and took charge of the evening in his best courtroom manner. Thirty seven people had booked for the evening, mostly members of our Welsh Society but with a handful of welcome guests. Two were non-players, including new member Vivienne Jack who attended despite a strained wrist. Somehow Rob managed the trick of organising everyone into six teams of six.

Each team played one after the other for three rounds. In every round each player had three skittle balls to knock down the nine pins. If the player was skilled or lucky enough to knock down all nine pins using less than three balls the pins were reset so they could score more points.

We had the Oaklands Park Golf clubhouse to ourselves, with three front of house staff to serve drinks, food and help with the computer when needed. The skittle alley was laid on the floor of the lounge, leaving plenty of room for us to sit and socialise when not “skittling”. Pam Britton took charge of the computer to record scores, which were projected onto a large tv screen.

A key role fell to Pamela Jones, the other non-player. She took a special chair next to the alley, armed with a Welsh flag. Near to one end of the alley was a red line. The skittle ball had to be rolled over this rather than be thrown over it. Pamie’s job was to wave the flag to signify any foul throw that she spotted. She took to this job with gusto and nothing escaped her eagle eye.

Graham Beavan had the misfortune to captain the first team to play. The other teams learned from his team’s mistakes in the first round, as they kept Pamela Jones busy with foul throws. Clearly not everyone had listened to Rob’s instructions despite his stentorian efforts. At least Gail Thomas’s guest Maggi Newcombe had the excuse that she had got lost on the way, arrived a little late and so missed Rob’s exposition of the rules.

A variety of techniques were tried by the players. Maldwyn started as though he intended to send the pins flying. Alan Longshaw took this a step further and almost turned them into matchwood.  On the other hand, Monica Owen sent her shots gently down the alley and still managed to knock them over. Several players made the remarkable discovery that the ball was just small enough to squeeze its way through between the pins. As a result some turns scored nothing, even when the ball was rolled almost straight down the middle. I’ll mention no names for those who suffered this misfortune.

Half way through the rounds, play stopped and we enjoyed an excellent hot meal from the buffet. Good sized salmon steaks were accompanied by new potatoes and mixed vegetables and a tasty sauce. Then we could help ourselves to coffee and mints.

At the end of the evening prizes were awarded to the top scoring lady and top scoring gentleman, and to the members of the top scoring team.

Despite being probably the smallest person playing, and needing both hands to lift the ball, Pat Chapman showed off her previously undiscovered talent for skittles by winning the lady’s prize with the best individual score of the evening.  Alan Longshaw took the men’s prize with only one point less than Pat, and just one point ahead of his nearest male rivals.

The winning team was captained by Gwyndaf, and included Anthea Beavan, Lloyd Jones, Peter Johnson, Jane Morris and Pam Britton. They won by a mere two points and the result was in doubt until the very end of the sporting contest.

Thanks were given to the Oaklands Park staff for the tasty meal and their good service. Then also to Rob, for organising such an enjoyable event and adjudicating so capably when competitive feelings were running high and a riot could so easily have been triggered. The two Pam’s were also thanked, one for her work keeping the score and the other for her sterling work ensuring fair play.

Gwyndaf John