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

CDWS trees at Parc Mawr

At the 2018 Christmas gathering, our hosts, Bill & Sue Jones, asked that as a gift, they would prefer a donation to the Woodland Trust for trees to be planted at Parc Mawr.

Following the Society’s Oswestry trip in June, Bill & Sue drove on to see how the trees were doing. Here is their report:

 

Parc Mawr is on the very steep easterly facing side of the Conwy valley. It is an ancient 84 acre woodland occupying a very prominent position in the landscape. Historically, the wood was managed most probably as a high forest, with gradations between upland oakwood and ash / elm with a hazel understorey. The woodland is now a valued local amenity for walking and horse-riding, boasting a network of permissive and public rights of way and fantastic views.

Woodland Trust’s focus is on thinning the exotic species introduced by humans and restocking with native woodland.

We walked up the steep path along Grove 1 which is where the 6 CDWS trees were planted. Our path went roughly North South along the steep slope and was therefore a little more manageable, crossing an old byway leading to the ancient Llangelynnin church. This is the North Wales Pilgrims Way (linking Basingwerk Abbey with Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island)) and passes through the site from the south: a further information panel is provided near this route, at the bottom of the byway.

Along our walk we had glorious views over Conway Valley including to Dwygyfylchi (where Kay Day hails from), and Conway Castle.

The Woodland Trust had forewarned us that the trees were already planted and that they did not mark the trees in any way to preserve the natural beauty of their woods. We saw very many young trees but none that could be specifically identified as saplings.  Therefore, in the event we could not identify the CDWS new trees since they were interspersed with existing trees and growing rapidly.

So, having walked over a mile in and then back again, we did not specifically see our trees but had a glorious walk through lovely fresh woodlands listening to bird song and looking out on to wonderful views in the sunshine. Here is a map reference for the site at Parc Mawr.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.2474083,-3.859518,2605m/data=!3m1!1e3

Bill Jones

WWT Slimbridge 12th September 2019

Slimbridge is situated north of Bristol, very close to the Severn estuary, and is home to many different types of birdlife. It was founded in 1946, by Sir Peter Scott.

Our coach arrived at Slimbridge at 11:15, giving us time to meet the others of the party who had arrived by car, to have a coffee or have an initial look around the reserve.

We split into two parties of twelve for the guided tour of the Scott’s house. The volunteers told us about Peter Scott’s earlier life, as a hunter and painter, his wartime career, as an Olympic sailing medallist, but he is best known for his passion for preserving wild life, founding the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and especially for creating the World Wildlife Fund.

Scott’s whole house borders a man-made lake, where Berwick Swans and many kinds of other waterfowl were only a few yards from the windows. I looked down, and there was a snipe only four or five feet away.

We were shown the Scott’s kitchen, looking very much of the 1950’s, with its range and an old-fashioned Belling 2 ring cooker. There were hand-written notes inside the cupboards and in notebooks and it looked as though the family could return at any moment.

The Scott’s kitchen

We saw the dining room with its one long table, but were told that the Scotts usually ate on the small formica table in the bay window, where they could watch the birds.

We were also shown the study, where Lady Phillipa Scott had most of her effects and paintings.

Perhaps the most interesting room was familiar to any of us who had seen Peter Scott’s programmes on the television, with its painting easel, the wide panoramic view across the lake, and the extraordinary window which was built out in front of the house and extends about 8 feet in each direction, allowing an additional 6 of 7 people to enjoy the view, but not be in the room!

The tour took about 1 hour, and, as we were heading back to the main visitor centre, the guides asked us what we thought – as we were the first visitors to the house since the renovation! We have Peter Day (as chairman of the WWT) to thank for that privilege.

After the tour some of us went off to hear a talk about the re-introduction of the European Crane into the country (a couple of them could be seen skulking about on the other side of the pond) and then on to watch the otters being fed and playing in the water. These were North American otters rather than European, as European otters are nocturnal.

European Cranes

Other members of the party were more adventurous and walked across the flat site to one of the hides, where knowledgeable WWT volunteers pointed out interesting sites across the panorama.  These included cranes beyond the sea wall, godwits, curlew, knot, dunlin, linnet with it’s distinctive “puppet on a string” flight pattern, an array of ducks and a fantastic fly past by a skein of geese at eye height and within metres away.

The coach left Slimbridge at 3:30 and we had a swift and pleasant journey back. Jonathan Pegler thanked Peter Day and David Powell for arranging such a successful trip.

Golf Day – 30th August 2019

Once again we were blessed with perfect golfing weather.  I cannot recall having played our golf day in any other conditions.

Colin Thomas, Pam Britton and Rob Brett

The scores of the team competition were very close, and was won by Pam Britton, Colin Thomas and Robert Brett. 

Lady Winner – Irene Glyn Jones

The winner of the individual stapleford score was Irene Glynn-Jones, who returned a fantastic score of 44.  Irene played an excellent round of golf and her putting was outstanding.

The ladies’ longest drive went to Pam Britton and the men’s longest drive went to Ralph Broomby.

Men’s Longest Drive Winner – Raph Broomby

The ladies’ nearest the pin was won by Jane Morris and the men’s by Eryll Morris.  Perhaps they have been practicing hard together!

Unfortunately the numbers of golfers went down this year again, but we had full support from those members of the Society who came to the lunch.

Chris Thomas and Pam Britton were thanked for organising the golf day and the club staff for a very enjoyable meal.

Rob Britton

Summer Lunch 7th July 2019

The morning was rather grey and the trusty band of men erecting the gazebos, under the supervision of Alan Longshaw, survived the rain.

Luckily the weather brightened to welcome the 48 people who turned up for lunch. The large Welsh flag, flying near the topiary, was very helpful in finding the correct location.

Our hosts, Alan and Diana Longshaw’s, garden was much admired and in particular the fish pond and water lilies. Some of the goldfish and carp were seen later when Alan fed them, but the general noise, chatter and banter kept them in the depths for most of the time. 

 The food, served by “To Dine For” was excellent and many had seconds! It is interesting how many people are allergic to hazelnuts, is this a Welsh gene?

David Powell thanked our hosts and the caterers. A presentation was made to Graham Beavan for his years of service as Society Treasurer.

The enjoyable party broke up mid-afternoon and the volunteers dismantled the gazebos, tables and chairs to return them to the Longshaw garage.

Kate Picton