St David’s Day

SThis year our St David’s Day Dinner was a bit different. There was no dinner!

On Friday 26th February, we were very fortunate to have Dr Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, address our St David’s Day gathering.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were unable to meet in person. So, our meeting was the ‘Not St David’s Day Dinner’ as it wasn’t St David’s Day, and there was no dinner, but we had an excellent meeting anyway.

Janet John acted as technical host for our Zoom meeting and we met at 7:30pm with a welcome from our Chairman, followed by two 10-minute breakout sessions where we were able to chat to about half a dozen other members and catch up on local news.

At 8pm David Powell then introduced Dr. Williams and thanked his cousin Cathy Young for facilitating the talk. Cathy and Dr. Williams share an interest in Religious Icons, like the one shown above, which Cathy painted.

Dr. Williams spoke on the subject of ‘The Age of the Saints in Wales: Fact or Fiction?’, a very suitable subject for St David’s Day.

Dr. WilliamsDr. Williams told us about the early church in Wales and how there was a surprising amount of movement of people and ideas between Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany. The Christians of the time (500 to 700 AD) thought themselves the successors of the Roman tradition, as opposed to the largely pagan influx of Angles and Saxons. Gravestones of the time frequently contain complex Latin verses and Hebrew Christian names.

He spoke of Welsh saints such as St David, St Gildas, St Samson St Asaph and others.

Monasteries were centres of learning, but were not great stones built buildings but more like villages, and these were in touch with each other across Wales and to Scotland, Ireland and Brittany as a sort of Christian Celtic commonwealth around the Irish Sea.

Dr Williams 2There were very many Saints in Wales, and one of the reasons for this was that at the time, there was no central control from Rome and sainthood was determined locally in Celtic churches and was often given to the founder of an ecclesiastical settlement (llan). It wasn’t until the middles ages that there was a central role in determining sainthood.

We then had about 15 minutes of questions and answers, with mention of the Illustrated Manuscripts of St Chad’s Gospels and the pre-Roman druids.

David Powell led a vote of thanks for Dr. Williams, who then joined us in two further chat sessions in breakout rooms, which gave some of us a chance to talk to him on a personal level.

We finished off the evening with Jonathan Pegler playing the National Anthem and a selection of hymns.

Dr. Williams asked that instead of a fee, a donation should be made to Christian Aid.

A recording of much of the evening is available on YouTube, please click on the link below:

Quiz Night 2021

Quiz Night Friday 22nd January 2021

Considering the circumstances our Annual Quiz Night went very well.

Of course, this year was rather different – there was no fish and chips, we stayed at home rather than travelling to Coleshill, and there was less opportunity to socialise, but it was still great fun.

Jonathan Pegler did a tremendous job, in fact several tremendous jobs in setting the quiz, running the quiz and handling the Zoom meeting.
Quiz Night Zoom screen shot
There was a very good turn-out with 40 members split up into seven teams.

We were arranged in groups of about 6 and all signed into the Zoom meeting at 6:45. By 7pm, Jonathan had given each team a colour as its name and arranged who went into which team.

There were 6 rounds of ten questions and at the beginning of each round Jonathan revealed the password to reveal the set of questions. Each team then went into a break-out room and discussed whether any of us could give an answer.

After what seemed to be no time at all, Jonathan called us back together and revealed the answers. The first round was about people ranging from Barbara Windsor to Napoleon.

The questions were up to Jonathan’s usual taxing standard, and after rounds two or three it soon became apparent that the White Team – Team Gwyn – was pulling ahead, scoring almost full points on the rounds concerning balls and tables. The rest of us also wondered where they were playing as the Zoom backgrounds kept changing!

Team Gwyn screenshotAs we moved into the final round Team Goch put on a late spurt, but it was too late, Team Gwyn (appropriately consisting of Gwyndaf and Janet John, Bill Jones, Ruth Huckle and Ann Brown) were too far in the lead.

Asked about their success Gwyn said ”The stars of our team were the women. Ruth could probably have won the Quiz on her own. Knowing the answers to the question on the Book of Common Prayer and also the details of Roulette tables indicates she has eclectic interests. Janet’s years of Electronics teaching meant the binary sum was spotted instantly. Ann’s Chemistry background was recent enough to remember the Periodic table – even if she was too young to remember the 1971 Lions coached by Carwyn James and featuring the incomparable Barry John.

Here are the final scores:

Final Scores for Quiz Night

I think that we’d all like to say a very big ‘Thank you’ to Jonathan for all his work in making the evening such a success.

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.

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