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.

Summer Lunch 1st July 2018

The gazebos, tables and chairs arrived safely at the home of Peter and Pat Chapman in Gerrards Cross. The team erected the gazebos with expertise and precision from many years of practice!

 

 

We have come to expect good weather at the summer lunch and we were not disappointed. Blue skies and glorious sunshine greeted the 52 members who mingled in the garden before sitting down to lunch.

 

During lunch everyone enjoyed the food, the banter and the company.

Towards the end of the meal our chairman, David Powell, gave the thanks of the society to Ann Thomas for her time as a member of the committee. Ann was not able to attend the AGM to receive her tribute and gift. It was a pleasure for members to applaud and give thanks to Ann.

The chairman thanked the caterers, ‘Truly Scrumptious’ for providing a delicious meal. He formally thanked Peter and Pat Chapman for hosting the event at their home.

Another glorious summer lunch and all are looking forward to the future events of the Chiltern District Welsh Society.

 

Bob Ford

Trip to Aberystwyth  18-22 June, 2018

Chiltern Welsh Society – Trip to Aberystwyth  18-22 June, 2018

An early start for the Society – 8 a.m. saw the Gerrards Cross Group welcomed by Mike- our driver from Mid Wales Coaches. Once all on board with pickups from Little Chalfont and Amersham the 20 + souls motored West. The first stop was Ludlow. What a brilliant medieval town. Everywhere the architecture was impressive. Our visits to various lunchtime hostelries confirmed that most of the interiors of the buildings were somewhat ‘higgledy piggledy’ ……. a reflection of the 15th century.

By late afternoon we arrived at Aberystwyth- greeted by dismal weather and high winds. The group was joined by a further 6 free spirited members of the Society – so we were 26 having the opening Dinner at Medina- the nearest thing to an Istanbul Restaurant that most of us had seen. This was the first taste of friendly staff and very good cuisine; such events and venues were repeated on all subsequent evenings at other establishments.

In the morning our first port of call was the National Library of Wales. We were treated like royalty with an outstanding guide and an endearing helper ensuring stairs were negotiated and lifts made available. The National Library is far more than ‘it says on the tin’ ; it is a wonderful archive of Welsh history, culture and indeed a repository of all things Welsh. We all had an injection of joy and pride from the visit. The 200 staff should be very proud of how they are looking after the legacy in their custodianship. We had the privilege to see the Kyffin Williams Art Exhibition. Though the paintings were somewhat melancholy (see illustration) – the mood and atmosphere of the North Wales mountains is brilliantly captured.

 The afternoon visit to The Cliff Railway and the Camera Obscura was abandoned as the railway was not working and the ONE repair engineer was indisposed- so plan B was introduced; a visit to Cae Hir, – a Welsh Garden with Dutch history. A 6-acre garden – the dream of Dutchman Wil Akkermans – now an elderly Welsh speaking gentleman. An afternoon for all of us to remember- some visitors even managed a scone (A WHOLE ONE ) tea ! We returned to Aberystwyth and enjoyed a walk around the Castle in glorious afternoon sunshine.

Wednesday morning soon arrived and we embarked on our boat trip from New Quay- to look out for dolphins and seals. To say the trip was rough would be an understatement- the sounds of all sea birds were drowned by the screams from the amateur mariners.  I do not recall if we saw any dolphins!  We returned to terra firma and progressed to Llanerchaeron House; a John Nash villa – the Regency architect responsible for the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and Buckingham Palace. The walled garden and picturesque lake were a delight – on yet another cold dank Summer’s day. On the way home Aberaeron shared its excellent afternoon teas – with the select few.

Next day the steam train to Devil’s Bridge- with a carriage totally assigned to the Chiltern Welsh. The scenic panorama is breathtaking – Wales at its best! Anyone in doubt about the beauty of Mid Wales should book a trip on the Rheidol Steam train. At Devil’s Bridge there is a choice of walk, – one of 210 steps the other nearer 680 steps. Hafod House, nearby offered refreshments – if you had enough time to wait, and wait …………We then visited Strata Florida Abbey, translated from Latin – simply ” Vale of Flowers”. Strata Florida, built around 1164, quickly became not only a site of huge religious significance, but also a natural home for Welsh culture.  You only need to admire the majesty of the huge carved West door to appreciate how impressive the building must once have been.

It is worth recording that Aberystwyth is a GEM awaiting to be found and enjoyed. See one further photo – Aberystwyth Sea Front. The entrepreneurial cocktail bars, St Paul’s Methodist Chapel – now an elegant bar, plus the BBQ restaurant, Pyscoty – boutique eatery, Ultracomida – outstanding Tapas Bar, – were all a delight and contributed to a most social ending to every evening. We will return.

The journey home was a fitting end to the Mid Wales visit,  – a comfort stop in the delightful Builth Wells and then experiencing the beauty of Chepstow – the Castle – built on cliffs above the River Wye and  an appropriate reminder of the Castle grandeur of the Principality.

Well done Jonathan for again organising such a rewarding trip.

Gwyn Owen.

 

More pictures of the trip are shown here

Christmas Drinks 2017

Everyone woke up on Sunday 10th December to find a thick layer of snow had fallen overnight and it was still snowing. It was unexpected, the roads had not been salted and the snow showed no sign of disappearing.

Luckily, we only live a few minutes away from Colin and Di Thomas’s house in Gerrards Cross, so we were able to make it, but many were not so lucky. We had expected a turnout of about 60, but only 20 people managed the journey, mostly from Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield, including new members Kate and Colin Picton.

We were uncertain how many people would be able to attend, and as the time went by emails and phones started to arrive with tales of impassable roads and AA weather warnings.

Thankfully, the caterers, ‘To Dine For’ made it through the snow and were all prepared.  The food was excellent and very plentiful.  We had not only the canapés we had ordered but about half of the canapés for Stephanie’s following event (for 100 people) which had been cancelled. She said that the canapés for the later event wouldn’t keep, and insisted they had to be eaten.

As numbers were reduced, it did mean that we had the opportunity to talk to everyone and it was a very friendly atmosphere.

Jonathan Pegler had brought a good supply of carol sheets, distributed them around the room and played the piano while everybody enthusiastically joined in the singing.


We all left in good time before dark, trudging through the snow, many with doggy-bags of surplus food, and there was quite a bit left for Colin and Di’s supper – they earned it!

It was a different sort of event, but very sociable, and a nice-sized gathering for the new members to meet people, but it was a shame that so many were not able to enjoy the afternoon.

Many thanks to Colin and Di for their hospitality.

More photographs (and videos) here.

David Powell & Jonathan Pegler.

Christmas Drinks 2016

On a bright, beautiful  December morning we gathered for our yearly Christmas drinks.

We were warmly greeted by our Chairman Kay Day and our hosts Di and Alan Longshaw at their home in Chalfont St Peter.img_0047

A warming glass of wine enjoyed with delicious canapes prepared for by *To Dine For*  As usual the atmosphere was convivial , guests chattering together  – Christmas preparations- activities with friends and families.

Some had attended the London Male Voice choir at the Albert Hall, others to the Christmas concert at Jewin chapel where Huw Edwards was the host. Excitement at learning Huw is to be our guest speaker at next year’s St David’s Day Dinner.

With warm sunshine , the conservatory doors were opened, guests spilled out into the garden and admired the beautiful coy carp in the garden pond.img_0052

Later, before it was time to leave Jonathan Pegler organized the carol signing, unaccompanied this time but the pure Welsh voices  were a delight to hear.

Kay thanked all that had made this event so enjoyable and as we left we picked up our copy of the newsletter.

 

Liz Seely

Cambridge Colleges 8th September 2016

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Well, I think that went quite well.

The coach picked us up from Gerrards Cross and Amersham at 8:45 and 9am respectively (only a little bit late). Altogether we had a party of 28 in a large coach with plenty of room, and sitting up high we were able to see all the countryside over the hedges.

As soon as we were on our way, David Powell told us of a change of plan – Trinity had declared themselves closed for the day, right at the last moment, so we were going to St John’s and Clare colleges instead.

The weather was fine and sunny, which was a great bonus. We arrived at Cambridge just before 11am, having made good time on the way and were met by our two guides Ann and Helen.

On Jesus Green, by the River Cam, we split into two parties for the tour, and walked along the river bank to Magdalene Bridge. This was our landmark as it was next to both St John’s and the punts.

The Great Gate at St John's Collage

St John’s College was founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII) in 1511, and images of her can be seen in many places within the college grounds. One of the largest colleges in Cambridge, its entrance with the Great Gate is suitably impressive with a large statue of St John above the coat of arms of Lady Margaret. The curious animals depicted are yales, mythical animals with swivelling horns!

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One of St John’s claims to fame is that it was the college where, in 1588 William Morgan translated the Bible into Welsh (well before the English publication).

 

 

 

 

 

St John’s has numerous courts, each built in a different century. We stopped for a group photograph in the first court dating from 1520.

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Our guides took us through the various courts explaining their architecture and the source of their funds. We crossed the Cam to see the Bridge of Sighs, named after the original Venetian bridge. It leads to the Victorian Gothic New Court both of which were built in 1831.

 

The Bridge of Sighs

 

New Court - St John's College

From St John’s we proceeded past the gates of Trinity and along to Clare College, the second oldest of the Cambridge colleges, founded in 1326. In fact, much of the college was rebuilt in the 17th century, to accommodate the newly built King’s College Chapel, though work was paused during the civil war. We visited the chapel with its impressive altar piece by Cipriani and an unusual octagonal antechapel.

Clare College Chapel

The Octagonal Ceiling

Gwyndaf rubbing David Attenborough's NoseNearby is a bust of Sir David Attenborough – with a shiny nose – it has become a new tradition for students to rub his nose for good luck!

Sue Jones admiring the gardensProbably the highlight of the visit to Clare was the Fellow’s Garden. This was re-designed in 1947 by Professor Willmer, whose artist’s eye added swathes of colour and carefully planned vistas to the two-acre site, all along the bank of the Cam. We were really lucky with the weather and the sunshine showed the gardens at their best.

 

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We finished our visit back by King’s College Chapel, the tour had overrun, but nobody minded. We were then free to do our own thing for the next couple of hours.

This showed the real variety of tastes within our Society. Some hurried off to see the display of illustrated manuscripts from all over the world on display at the Fitzwilliam museum, or managed to fit in a tour of King’s Chapel.

Others spent the time wandering around the city, finding nice places to eat and admiring the rest of the college architecture.

While yet another group dashed off to visit one or more of the famous pubs!

Whatever the destination, there was still time to fit in a spot of punting – either with a guide or self-propelled.p1060791

By 4:30 people had meandered their way back to the footbridge over the Cam by Jesus Green, where our coach was waiting. David had to act as ‘whipper in’ to those who were enjoying a last minute ice cream.

The coach left on time, with only a last minute delay in Amersham making us late. Everyone agreed that it was a great day out.

And only one of us fell in the Cam.

 

2016 AGM

So the AGM took 20 minutes, but it also took the whole evening.

People started gathering from about 6:30, allowing everyone to meet and catch up before the start of the meeting at 7:30.

Kay Day welcomed 67 members of the Chiltern District Welsh Society, including 2 new members and reported 22 apologies for absence. That took 20 minutes.P1060375

Kay described our activities over the last year, the Summer Lunch, Golf day, Tring walk, Christmas drinks, the days in the Brecons, the trip to the BBC studios and Fullers brewery, Quiz evening, St David’s Day dinner with soprano Alys Roberts.P1060377

Kay thanked all our organisers and kind hosts.

This year we are looking forward to the spring walk at Cliveden, going to Ralf & Margaret Broomby’s for the summer lunch, a trip to two Cambridge colleges in September, bird watching at the London Wetlands in October, and Christmas drinks at Colin & Di Thomas’s.

Treasurer, Graham Beavan, reported on our healthy finances, he is managing to subsidise many of our events in order to reduce our bank balance.

Membership is expected to be about 130 this year – we continue to grow in numbers.

The committee all agreed to stand again and were all re-elected. Kay thanked all the committee members for their hard work over the year.

So that took 20 minutes – what took the rest of the time?

P1060381 Well, Anne Tennant’s wonderful team fed us with salmon, chicken or beef, plus a variety of desserts.

That was followed by coffee and a lot of nattering.

 

 

 

P1060384Then Mary Medlicott entertained us with stories from Wales.

Mary last visited us in 2003, and we were very pleased that she could return with more stories including one about ‘2 dreadful women’ and the burial of a dead cat, followed by a series of tall tales about Shemi Wad (James Wade) from Fishguard.

We concluded well after 10pm and made our way home celebrating another successful year.

 

St David’s Day Dinner 2016

Saint David’s Day Dinner
On 1st March we held our annual St David’s Day dinner at the Gerrards Cross Golf Club.
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We met at 6:30 to give us a chance for members to catch up with friends both old and new and chat over a glass of bubbly or orange juice.

 

 

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At about 7:15 we went into the dining room and Chairman Kay Day greeted a record turnout of 84 people and welcomed 5 new members.

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P1060058There was then a chance to chat to our neighbours at the table. At our table we wished Eilwen Turner a happy birthday as she was born on St David’s Day.
The food was excellent featuring Welsh Lamb Rump (of course) or Haddock as an alternative.
Liz Seely, who was sitting next to me, said that her food was the best she’d ever had in any golf club – up to gourmet standards!

 

I went round and took some pictures of people sitting at their tables.P1060060

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There are more pictures on the ‘gallery’ page of the web site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay then introduced our soprano, Alys Roberts, accompanied by Iain Ledingham at the piano.P1060071

 

Iain, who lives locally, is a professor in the piano, vocal and opera faculties at the Royal Academy of Music. He coaches many young Academy singers and pianists in preparation for operatic and concert work, and also trains and conducts choirs. Alys is one of his most promising young students.

 

 

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Alys studied music at Durham University and is now at the Royal Academy. She has been a solo soprano at Durham Cathedral and has sung at many other locations.

 

Alys entertained us, starting with some Welsh folk songs, and then moving on to a selection of operatic arias including pieces from La Boheme, Romeo and Juliette.

I particularly liked her version of Summertime in Welsh. Alys finished with some more Welsh folk songs, this time as arranged by Benjamin Britten.

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Kay then thanked our musicians and presented them with small tokens of our appreciation.

Alys and Iain stayed on for a while to chat to people before they left.

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Meanwhile, our stalwart singers prepared themselves.P1060085

I’m afraid that my party were feeling a little tired, and needed to leave at this point, so I am unable to report back on the quality or quantity of the singing, but based on previous years, I’m sure that a great time was had by one and all.