The Tintern Village Website



Winter 2000

FROM THE RECTORY

I will begin with a quote from Professor FF Bruce, a leading British Bible teacher. "Love, joy, peace and hope, then, the true fruit of the Spirit, mark the lives of those who have been justified by faith in God. The guilty past has been cancelled, the glory of the future is assured, and here and now the presence and power of the Holy Spirit secure to us all the grace we need". Please read Luke 1, chapters 68 and 69.

We are now one Parish, but still have two magazines, so this letter is in both this time because I really wanted to say this to you all. The above quotation sums up what we are as Christians, - justified by faith, with a wonderful future, and present help by the Holy Spirit, - and what we wish to share with everyone. And as a Rector I am here to grow and live in these things and, with the Lord's help, see that others get them too. The Jesus (Joshua) man who is incarnate at the first Christmas, and lived "the Ministry Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension and the Sending of the Spirit" - for you and me came for this purpose. It is so you and I may have peace with God.

Now, a personal reflection on how things are going! Kate and I will have been with you for two years in January 2001. They have passed very swiftly. I want this to be a very basic and honest word to you now, and reveal our hearts.

We did not come here just because it is a lovely place to come, and because the Wardens kindly invited us, feeling we could be the right people.

We came 1) Because the Lord called us back to Wales in 1996 from London and we were given, with many other people, a vision for revival in Wales. 2) Because we grew to respect and love Rowan, now our Archbishop, and he kindly allowed us to come into this Diocese. 3) Because from 1996 I was called upon to play a significant part in Anglican Renewal in Wales, and in other national work like that at the Well Centre. 4) Because we know the Lord would give us lovely people to surround us, help and encourage us, and he has. Only last week we were saying how much "at home" we are. We believed that in due time we would see Christian growth in the Churches, and we are, praise God, beginning to see it.

In the two years since we came, certain key things have so encouraged us. 1) The leaders have proved brilliant in their support and help. 2) We have re-discovered a real love for the children and young people of our patch. 3) Very good friendships have developed with the other members of the congregation in the area and things done together in the Gospel. 4) Things in Sunday worship have changed gently and we look forward to more participation by you in every part of what we do. 5) Above all we are beginning to welcome ministry from people who come in to inspire us, and hope to see more of us going out to events and initiatives wherever they are.

The way forward is that we should be in the flow of what God is doing in Wales, and to be aware of all the good things going on around us as we prepare the way for a major move of the Holy Spirit - revival.

Have a very special Christmas.

Phil and Kate.


CHRISTMAS SERVICES

CHRISTMAS EVE: 11.00 a.m. ST. MICHAEL'S and 11.30 p.m. LLANDOGO

CHRISTMAS DAY: 11.00 a.m. ST. MICHAEL'S

OTHER DECEMBER DATES

Sun 3rd : Family Worship 11:00am at Tintern

Tue 5th : Dave Dunn 7:30 at Llandogo

Wed 6th : Advent Service 7:00pm at Brockweir Moravian Church

Sun 10th : Christingle plus carols and lights 6:00pm at Llandogo

Mon 11th : Carol Service 7:00pm at the Abbey

Wed 13th : Advent Service 7:00pm at Llandogo

Sat 16th : Christmas Meal 7:00pm Tintern Village Hall

Sun 17th : No Service at 11:00am at Tintern

Carol Service 7:00pm at Tintern

Wed 20th : Christingle Service 6:30pm at Llandogo for school

Sun 24th : Holy Communion 11:30pm at Llandogo for parish

Mon 25th : Holy Communion 8:30am at Whitebrook

Service 9:30am at Llandogo

Family Service 11:00am at Tintern

Sun 31st : Watchnight 11:00pm


SUNDAY SCHOOL AT ST. MICHAEL'S

Painting, modelling, acting and a treasure hunt are just a few of the activities enjoyed by the children at St. Michael's on recent Sunday mornings. Through drama, video, readings and puzzles the children hear the words of the Bible. They are helped to relate these truths to their own thoughts and actions and encouraged to make Jesus a part of their daily life. This term we have looked at The Parable of the Sower, the life of Moses and how we use our time. The children have been challenged to learn short bible verses by heart. They are very enthusiastic the following Sunday to repeat the verses and claim their reward! Words learnt at a young age often stay with us throughout our lives and many of us can testify to the comfort that scripture can bring in times of crisis.

At Family Service the children share what they have been doing with the rest of the congregation. We hope to perform a nativity as part of the church's Christmas celebrations.

More children are always welcome into our "Church family". Why not come and join us?


PARISH NEWS

Please note that the closing date for the Spring 2001 issue is

SUNDAY 18th February 2001.

Articles and requests for advertisements should be sent to the Editor

David Ford, Monkstone, Chapel Lane, Tintern, tel : 01291-689233


CHRISTMAS 1898

Life in a Monmouthshire Village

Social Life revolved essentially around the church and the church school. The secular celebration of Christmas was marked by the activities of the Christmas Lads and a parochial social evening centred around a Christmas tree in the school on the evening of Boxing Day.

The Christmas Lads were a party of local young men who, equipped with grotesque masks (to avoid identity), and arrayed in equally grotesque costumes serenaded the householders, giving a very original programme of carols, comic songs and step dances, accompanied by mouth organ or clappers. The clappers were made of beef rib bones and were played with both hands simultaneously.

On Boxing Night every parishioner was invited to a social evening, free of charge, which centred around the Christmas tree in the school. The whole cost was borne by the Vicar.

Seated around the tree, the proceedings opened with carols sung by the entire company, accompanied by the church organist on the piano. Each person was provided with a free ticket that corresponded with a ticket bearing a number placed in a hat. Presents consisted of a remarkable collection of teapots, cups and saucers, frying pans, trumpets, dolls, books, crackers and oranges. One of the youngest children present would take a number out of the hat and the person bearing the corresponding number became the owner of the doll etc.

As going home time approached, three cheers for the Vicar were called for, followed by 'God Save the Queen'. A hurried exit was accomplished by several members of the audience in order to reach the local before closing time. Some things in life never change.

DF


CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATION

HOLLY

The Romans had ceremonies for their God Saturn in December. The decoration they used was holly. Country people still believe that it is a protection against poison, storm, fire and the evil eye.

MISTLETOE

Trees were sacred to the Ancient Britons, mistletoe grew on trees and sucked the spirit from them in the form of the sticky juice in the berries. The oak was the most sacred tree so mistletoe from the oak was the most precious plant of all. Druids in white robes cut it with golden knives on the sixth day of the new moon. Superstitious belief was that a sprig over the door protected the house from thunder, lightning and evil.

DF


VILLAGE WINTER 1898

During the winter months, 'pleasant evenings' were held in the school from 7.30 p.m. until 10.00 p.m. at fortnightly intervals.

Admission was three pence, the programme was varied and unconventional. Usually the proceedings were opened by a number of vocalists, musicians and elocutionists, who were conveyed by a horse-drawn wagonette from the nearest town of Monmouth or Newport.

An attempt was always made to foster local talent, and volunteers from the audience were encouraged to demonstrate their skills.

A 'Spelling Bee' was another feature of these winter entertainments, small money prizes being offered to the person who spelled most words correctly. A local man attending remarked that he had no idea he was so ignorant!

The artists sometimes failed to turn up, the most common cause being the bad weather, snow and frost rendering horse transport impossible. On such occasions the magic lantern came into its own. Pictures of local celebrities, past events and highlights of history such as the General Gordon Relief Expedition (Khartoum) were shown. Pictures were projected onto a large screen by a paraffin oil-lighted lantern operated by the village schoolmaster who also provided a vocal commentary.

An outstanding event was the introduction of the newly invented gramophone, the repertoire contained such favourites as 'Dolly Grey' and 'Break the News to Mother'.

DF


RICHARD'S STORY

On the night that a small, innocent boy caught on fire, there had been precious little indication that it would be anything other than a normal evening. Fire was a necessary friend and companion to the villagers of a remote Ugandan community that had never possessed electricity; they harnessed it by fashioning lamps from hammered-out tins, a funnel and a wick. These 'lamps' were then filled with paraffin and lit. This light could at least identify dangers such as prowling snakes, rats, deadly insects or even marauding gangs. It was a common sight, after six when darkness fell, to see mosquitoes humming around the flickering lamps. It was also common for children to take the lamps to elderly relatives.

So there was little to single out Richard, a boy like so many orphaned by Aids, helpfully carrying a light to his beloved grandmother. Yet no-one was prepared for the violent explosion that emanated from the petrol-contaminated fluid, or the powerful head wind that turned a smooth, tender child's body into an horrifically blazing human torch. Fire had abruptly become the enemy, spreading rapidly across his neck and chest as his screams echoed into the night air. That night he would lie on his dirt floor, shivering and crying as his raw flesh, without immediate treatment, was almost instantly vulnerable to flies and infection.

Further pain was to come, when he was aggressively refused treatment the next morning by the local doctor in Iganga. His crime? Poverty. By the time his plight was eventually recognised (by a UCDF officer) his chin was inextricably being pulled onto his chest, affecting a horrific disfigurement. Dutch surgeons did eventually operate but inadequate aftercare meant that after a series of bad infections, he was still pitifully disfigured. The UCDF had managed to get Richard and his brother and sister into a boarding school, but he remained withdrawn and acutely disfigured. He was beginning to approach puberty and his self-consciousness, wholly understandable, was beginning to spoil a life that should have been blossoming.

It was a brave and resourceful UCDF lady (Kate, the Rector's wife) who eventually engineered help from a plastic surgeon in Britain. Mr. Tamms, at Derrifod hospital in Plymouth, has a fine reputation for skin grafts on children. Surgery and labour costs were provided free and 2,000 was raised for his hospital stay from UCDF funds. All charity workers for UCDF pay their own fares and expenses to Uganda. At last it looked as if Richard's life had turned, and Richard had his operation in October this year. It certainly continued after his treatment when a loving couple, Mr and Mrs Coombs, fostered him to stay with them at the Isles of Scilly while he had his treatment. Richard had freedom and unlimited love there, but fate was to deal him another cruel blow. One evening his body became twisted with a strangulated organ, which resulted in an emergency helicopter flight back to the Plymouth hospital. Complications occurred even after this and he had to endure yet another operation. It is a sobering thought that if his medical problems had occurred in Uganda, it is probable that he would not have survived.

Richard is only one of many, many children affected by war and the twin reapers of death: Aids and starvation. I look at my comfortably chubby-cheeked daughter, who is dosed with Calpol or whisked to a smiling, comforting GP at the very first sign of fever, and I feel an enormous sense of grief and guilt. She complains if her pillows are lumpy, but Richard's grandmother's idea of luxury might be a concrete floor instead of the dirt one that she has at present. We bolt our doors every evening, but we don't have to fear death, torture or disease stalking us as we sleep, or the spectre of seeing fresh graves when we wake. My child's idea of deprivation is a cheaper brand of loo paper. Richard's family has no sanitation and a pit latrine would change their lives.

It is an uncomfortable thought to think of any precious young life enduring physical or psychological pain, as Richard did. His story is also more poignant because he is now being fostered here and many people will have already have met this gentle, shy soul. He is safe now, but it should be every person's right to be safe. Safe, fed, nurtured and loved.

If anyone wishes to know more about Kate's work, or can support her in any way, her address is The Rectory, Llandogo, Mon. Telephone number 01594 530887

Julia Ford


Miss Marjorie Thomas

There was cause for celebration on the 25th October when Marjorie Thomas was 90 years old. Her friends and family took her to lunch at the Royal George hotel. Members of the church had a collection for her and she said that she had a wonderful day.

Miss Thomas is an amazing 90-year old and, although she is acquainted with Arthur Itis, she does her best not to let him get her down. She has wonderful stories to relate of times past and I intend to ask her for some of these for future 'Parish' issues.

Marjorie has asked us to thank her many friends, especially in the village, for all the cards and presents that helped to make her birthday so special.

D.F.


JANINE GRIFFITHS

Congratulations to Janine, daughter of David and Eirwen Griffiths, Brynheulog, Brockweir, who has just been awarded a doctorate in law at Bristol University. Janine, who went to Monmouth School for Girls, took her first degree in law at Cardiff and followed it with a master's degree in Bristol, where she is currently a lecturer in the University's law department. Well done, Janine. We wish you all the best for the future.

D.F.


50/50 CLUB

The results of the most recent draws are as follows:-

September October November

1st: K & W. Taylor (115) A. John( 64) N. Lambert (153)
2nd: K & W. Taylor (114) T. Roberts(37) H. Crum (59)
3rd: F. Knight ( 68) J. Coleman (55) G. Woottan (161)
4th: J. Jackson (45) T. Roberts (35) M. Biss (102)
5th: A. John (63) C & J McEwan (146) B. Kerr (24)

 

The 2001 series of the 50/50 Club will begin with the first draw to be held on the 4th March 2001. Details and an application form to join the club are set out on a separate sheet issued with this edition of Parish News.


TINTERN VPA

October's meeting was the first time we had met in the Village hall since April so there was plenty to talk about.

The main item of news was the break up of the county wide affiliation of VPAs based at Usk College which had been in existence for more than forty years. This is a great shame in many ways but I'm sure the individual societies will remain in being for many years to come.

The speakers at that meeting were two of our own members, Christine Evans and Mark Carr. They gave us a wonderful insight into the different flora at various high altitudes in both India and South America, illustrating their talk with some superb slides that everyone enjoyed.

November saw the return of a great favourite of ours, Mr David Lewis of Raglan. He showed us a wide variety of plants and animals that inhabit our area of the county and his selection of slides provided something of interest to each of our members.

December will see us enjoying one of our annual parties (15th December at 7:00pm) in the company of some friends from Trelleck VPA so it seems a good time to sign off for the year 2000 and wish everyone a very happy Christmas

JAB


TUESDAY CLUB

Members are still missing Kathleen Williams and Margaret Shewell from their ranks. We hope they will be back soon.

We are also looking forward to our Christmas Lunch at the Abbey Mill.

Jean Davey


TINTERN & DISTRICT W.I.

The WI is refreshed after the summer break. We had a lovely Garden Party in August at Diane Parsons where members enjoyed cakes, raffles and lots of natter.

In November we are making some Christmas decorations. Some of us joined with St. Arvans WI on a trip to Worcester the day before the floods came. We all had a lovely day.

Tintern members are still helping with "Get Cooking" and are at present on "Mind" groups and another with "Mums" at a Day centre. We find both very interesting.

The money raised at Tintern 2000 is to be donated as follows :

250 St Pierre Ward (Women's ward) at Chepstow Hospital
75 SARA
75 Tintern Surgery
75 St David's Foundation
75 St Anne's Hospice

New members always welcome.

Jean Davey 689212.


LLANDOGO OVER 60'S

The trips for 2001 are not yet finalised but the following list shows possible destinations :

21st Mar Cheltenham
25th Apr Stratford
16th May Elan Valley
20th Jun Sidmouth
4th Jul Bowood
25th Jul Weymouth
22nd Aug Llandrindod Wells
19th Sep Hidcote with W.I. tea
17th Oct Cardiff and the castle
21st Nov Bath

Contact Mrs Knight on 01594-530906


THE CHURCH LADS' AND CHURCH GIRLS' BRIGADE

Of the three school terms, the Autumn term is easily the busiest. We began on September 8th with our members slightly down, caused by school changes. We are now left with only three Martins in the youngest group of five to seven-year old boys and girls. Under the leadership of Mrs. Jane Avery this group have an exciting programme of games, handicrafts, visits and stories all designed to suit their age capability. We would appeal to parents and friends to let their children come along and, at least, see what we do.

The Brigade has, so far enjoyed a treasure hunt and barbecue at Tintern Old Station, and Battalion swimming trials held at Llantarnam Leisure Centre. The latter was to choose a team to compete in the National Swimming Gala at Manchester. On 3rd November we had a Beetle drive and Bingo evening, which was a fund-raising event. In January we have to submit our Annual Returns and Capitation fees to National headquarters. At 9 a head this will cost the Company some 270. Penalty for non-payment is NOT covered by insurance, neither is loss of any uniform.

Five of our J.T.C. members journeyed to Manchester for the weekend of 20/22nd October, where they were guests of Blackley Company. Becki Smith, Melissa Ball, Sam Walker, Verity Smith and Kay Browning took part in the National swimming gala. Sharon Browning was our officer in charge and they shared a min-bus with the members of the Chepstow Company. Becky and Verity swam well enough to gain trophies.

Our close connection with Llandogo junior school is of great benefit. The Rector and Des take Thursday morning assembly every week. The new head teacher, Mr. Jon Murphy, is most co-operative. He is keen to extend school activities into the community and the first move was to hold the School Harvest Thanksgiving in St. Michael's church on the 16th October. Family services on the first Sunday of every month involve the children.

This Millennium year, the Home Secretary has decreed, for the first time that a civilian contingent will take part in the Service and March Past of the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. An invitation arrived at the Brigade National Headquarters, together with other uniformed organisations. Fifty members of the Brigade and a group of the Brigade Association will parade on Sunday, 12th November.

The climax of this term will be our OPEN NIGHT on Friday evening 8th December. Tintern Village Hall has been booked for the occasion, to commence at 7.30 p.m. Parents, relatives and friends should make it an occasion. On that night the boys and girls will receive the badges they have achieved along with other awards for their performances during the year.

It will also be the first anniversary of the enrolment of the Company. So come along everybody and see what your children do.


HARVEST CELEBRATIONS

Over seventy people recently gathered together in the village hall for the first harvest supper of the millennium. It was a joyful occasion, made even more so by the presence of some of the children.

The food was excellent - as always. My grateful thanks go to all those good ladies (and gentlemen, of course) who spent the previous day slaving over hot stoves. Your efforts were greatly appreciated, as were those of all the helpers on the night. Good kitchen staff are hard to come by, but I have to say these were the best - and all volunteers.

Adrian was in his usual place, on the keyboard, with a medley of songs bringing back many memories from the past century and culminating in that great hymn of praise for the occasion "We plough the fields and scatter". Many thanks to you, Adrian, and of course to your good wife for producing the music at the twelfth hour!

The raffle was, as ever, a great success because of the great generosity of numerous villagers, including the proprietors of the Royal George Hotel, the Wye Valley Hotel and Tintern Antiques. Thank you all for your help and support.

Eirwen Griffiths


CHRISTMAS MEAL BY CANDLELIGHT

We look forward to the next great occasion in the Christian calendar, the birth of Jesus. What a joyful time this is, and I hope you will be able to join us for another festival meal, this time by candlelight. For further details, please see below. Get your tickets early, as the list is growing rapidly.

Date: Saturday 16th December
Venue: Tintern Village Hall
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Tickets: 5 inclusive of :-
- Turkey dinner and hot punch
- Carols by candlelight
To reserve a place, please telephone 689296

Eirwen Griffiths


GRANTLEY's AUTUMN DIARY

1) TINTERN, BEST KEPT VILLAGE

There was good reason for the whole village to celebrate recently when we won our category (351-1000 population) in the Best Kept Village in Gwent competition.

This was undoubtedly helped by the flowers to be seen throughout the village. Every hotel and public house from the Anchor at one end to the Wye Valley Hotel at the other had magnificent floral displays and they had been joined by many of the shops and local houses to show off the village at its best.

Many of these had the hand of Gerry Mark discernible in their content. For quite a few years Gerry, who runs Holmleigh Guest House, has put on a superb display of flowers outside his own premises and has recently become more and more involved in lending his expertise to other places in the village.

2) THE CHIEF IS BACK

Tintern's Indian Chief has returned home, resplendent in his new war paint. The life-size model of a Red Indian has been synonymous with the village for years and stands watch on his reservation outside the antique shop.

An authentic 'Tobacco Store Indian' of the sort used by Americans to advertise their goods, he stands there clutching his pipe and fist full of cigars, whilst fixing passers-by with an inscrutable stare.

In his absence, things simply weren't the same and the village is delighted to see him back resplendent in new regalia.

3) DREAM PERFORMANCE

Right in the middle of the son-et-lumiere season came a visit from The Welsh Actors' Company performing A Midsummer's Night's Dream and providing a complete contrast to the big production.

This is almost theatre in the round, with a small cast playing to about 150 people in the Abbey Cloisters and milking everything out of the intimacy of their closeness to the audience.

Founded in 1983, they are a non-profit making company, specialising in open air productions and committed to exploring new venues and introducing new audiences to a form of theatre many of them will not have experienced.

For the cast, a production like this has nothing nowhere to hide! You have to be good - and they are all very good!

Spurning the use of elaborate props or technical paraphernalia, the emphasis is very much on the creativity of this young company, who enjoy both the wit and romance of the 'play within a play' and use this demanding form of acting to reach out to their audience.

It was an excellent production - if it comes your way, go and see it!

4) TIED UP AT THE BAR

David Stafford of the Rose and Crown has cleared the old stone steps in front of the pub which lead from the road to the river, allowing much easier access off the water.

His labours were rewarded when a small flotilla from Chepstow Boat Club arrived for a lunchtime pint. However, the river being extremely tidal, you do have to watch the tide, a point illustrated by the crew of the Toura D who slightly over-stayed and returned to their vessel to find themselves aground. Undaunted, the intrepid crew made the selfless decision to stay with the boat (and the pub) to spend a happy afternoon waiting for deeper water.

5) SOUL SENSATION

The latest visitors to Tintern's music night at the Rose and Crown were Bristol band Souled Out, playing classics from the likes of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and James Brown. The band has been together for more than five years and enjoys a big following on the Bristol scene, playing many weddings and corporate functions.

'These' said guitarist Paul Hobday 'are bread and butter jobs, but playing in pubs, where we feel we can really reach the audience is what the band really enjoy'.

Paul and sax player Richard Craig both live in Chepstow and with the majority of their gigs in Bristol, jumped at the chance to play a local venue.

'We were prepared for a quiet night' said Paul 'In Bristol we are well-known but we don't have a following over here'. He'd reckoned without the enthusiastic regulars at the Crown who danced and sang along, showing their appreciation with rapturous applause and demanding several encores.

The band was lavish in its praise of the audience, and we pointed out that it is a two-way thing - the performers generate the atmosphere and this was a great band deserving all the plaudits they received.

6) DONNA HOWARD

Melvyn and Elaine at The Moon and Sixpence are very conscious that the pub is very much one of the first you come to in Wales as you cross the English border. They serve Welsh beer, sell Welsh teddy bear mascots and give a real 'Welcome to Wales', which includes entertainment.

Recently vocalist Donna Howard provided a touch of Gaelic charm when she performed. This young lady of twenty regards Welsh as her first language and has a lovely voice with a refreshingly down to earth view of the entertainment world.

She told me that she has cut down on her engagements to concentrate on her final year in college and regards singing as a hobby.

She will undoubtedly do well because this was no amateur performance but one presented with maturity and confidence. A beautifully controlled version of Myfanwy tested my emotions to the full.

Donna is due back again on St David's Day.

7) MAGICAL MILL WEEKEND

The Chepstow Rotary Club organised this year's 'Jazz By The Wye' and it was a packed Saturday evening event. The jazz was very much in the smooth style of swing that 'Just Jazz' play so well. It was a delight to watch dinner-jacketed gentlemen with their ladies quick-stepping and fox-trotting their way around the floor.

A great evening, great venue and a delightful way to see in the Autumn.

On Sunday the marquee had been transformed into a venue for a craft fair. Entertainment was provided by the 'Forest Stompers' who belied their name by performing some very intricate steps during their line dancing demonstration. Music also came from 'Jerry the Flute' who played toe tapping melodies on a huge range of instruments. The major entertainment was 'Eric and Elsie Black's Magic Show'. I'm never sure which I enjoy most, watching their fine act or the expressions of wonder on the children's faces.

8) FLOODS MISERY

The aftermath of the storms has caused a lot of misery and not a little frustration in the village. While the rest of the country suffered with us, some people here went through severe flooding for the third time in two years.

The cottages at the bottom of Trellech Road were swamped yet again and the Anchor Inn at the other end of the village suffered dreadful damage for the eighth time in ten years.

The culverts, of course, were blocked again. We were promised all sorts of help, including a JCB standing by.

Alan Butt, the Anchor's landlord, and neighbouring shopkeeper, Paul Heyward, found themselves without any assistance from the authorities. They struggled to clear the culverts by hand until they were forced to abandon the work for their own safety.

Huw Edwards MP has visited the scene and has promised to do all he can, but the plain fact is that a flood prevention scheme costing hundreds of thousands of pounds simply hasn't worked.

Edited somewhat from Grantley James's Diary. Thank you Grantley


A WALKER'S TALE

Up the hill on my daily trip
I only do it to keep fit.
Colin's horses running free
They have more energy than me.

The hill by Craigo's, O so steep
But it doesn't seem to bother sheep.
Huff and puff, grunt and groan,
There's no one there to hear me moan.

Up the hill I see young Paul,
He's doing a great job with his wall.
Whitestone beckons with a smile,
Now I know that I've done my mile.

Heading home I meet a mate,
Stop for a chat by a farmer's gate.
Down the hill I stride with glee
It feel's a lot easier now, to me.

Cars go by with a toot and wave
Someone shouts "Hello Dave".
I see two chaps gathering wood,
I'd like to help them, if I could.

Passing strangers with a dog,
I always get a friendly nod.
Home at last before the rain,
Tomorrow I start all over again.

DJM


TRAINS TO TINTERN

On the 28th of October the Village Hall hosted a meeting of around 40 interested people to debate a proposal to reopen the Wye Valley Railway line between Chepstow and Tintern.

Mike Notts from Tidenham introduced Bob Gorringe, Chairman of the Great Western Railway Preservation Group who outlined the proposal.

Mr Gorringe first explained the background. The GWR Preservation Group had twenty eight items of rolling stock, including steam locomotives, currently held at Strawberry Hill near Twickenham. During a recent move the Group had been looking round for places to store their stock and the Chepstow station area had been a site considered. This had been associated with the idea of operating steam trains from the site at Chepstow to Tintern.

The line exists physically as far as Tintern Quarry and the track bed exists on to Tintern where it enters a short tunnel before stopping at the demolished river bridge site close to the Old Station at Tintern.

The proposal is to build a steam centre on the sidings at Chepstow station and run a steam service to a new station and engine shed to be built near the southern tunnel entrance at Tintern. Walking access to the new Tintern Station would be via the footbridge next to Abbey Mill and along the old 'Wireworks' branch line track bed.

The service would operate throughout the year but the timetable would depend upon the passenger traffic achieved and upon the fact that the line is single track. A twenty-minute single trip was envisaged, with a return journey needing one and a half hours.

There was no proposal to try to extend to Monmouth due to the loss of track bed and bridges. Any proposal to extend to the Old Tintern Station would be very distant.

A show of hands to indicate the feeling of the meeting was overwhelmingly in favour, with one vigorous protest and one person 'sitting on the track'!

The Chairman asked if any architects were available and for anyone interested in helping to leave their details.

The meeting closed with Mike Nott giving his name and contact details for anyone interested in helping to set up the operation.

Mike Nott

tel : 0771 8569862

e-mail : michaelnott@hotmail.com

JMB


ABBEY PASSAGE FARM

Summer 2000 Progress Report

Abbey Passage Farm is on the opposite bank of the River Wye from Tintern - a far extreme of Gloucestershire that seems to push itself into Wales. In the past three months, it has been home to 250 sheep on temporary grazing from Castle-a-Buff in Brockweir, 6 donkeys that have been with us for a year from HAPPA and 3 Highland cows.

The sheep had gone back to Brockweir to be sheared and dipped, but returned for more grazing until the end of Autumn. The donkeys have, sadly, been returned to HAPPA; much missed by ourselves and the many visitors who have met them on our long walks around the Forestry woods overlooking Tintern.

The 3 cows: Poppy, Lili-Ann and 'Lord Damon of the Abbey' are still happily chewing the cud in the meadows opposite Tintern Abbey. We used to have 9 Highlanders, but we sold 6 of them last Winter to three different farms in South Wales all, I am glad to say, for breeding and/or 'looking nice' and none for beef!

The hedge coppicing is now complete for this year and the stumps are showing signs of vigorous growth that will produce greener and bushier hedges in years to come. This has been complemented by the planting of over 500 new shrubs this year, in order to fill the gaps between old hedge stumps. Together with the 750 new shrubs planted last year, the Abbey Passage farm hedges should start to look more cared-for. The hedges have been fenced on both sides, leaving a few extra metres distance to stop the animals grazing the new hedge growth. This year all the fencing work was done by Will (Mike Williams) and Peter Davies; and since they did such a tremendous job, we hope to have them back in future years. The other 'tremendous job' was done by Harold Johns and his staff who kept us supplied with posts, wire, fence, gates and rails, delivered over the bridge to the Farm entrance within minutes of the call.

The lower fields next to the river are left to grow long grass until the end of June to encourage the possibility of ground nesting birds. Thereafter, weather and all other omens permitting, they are cut for hay. Last year the weather ruined the hay: this year the 'other omens' struck when the front wheel of the tractor fell off - snapped clean at the axle.

Weed control has been another major feature this year, since the farm used to be covered with thistle, docks, bramble, bracken and the worst of all: Japanese Knot Weed. Each weed must be dealt with in a different way, usually at a different part of the growing cycle. This keeps us busy for much of July and August with the brush cutter (a large version of a strimmer) ideal for cutting bramble and thistle, and the back-pack sprayer with 20 litres (that's 20 kilos) of weed killer for the Knot Weed, docks and bracken.

Finally the farm's progress is also available via the Tintern Village Web Site at www.tintern.org.uk , and because of this we were contacted by Adrian and Linda Street who now live in the USA but who used to live at the original farm house (then called Ferry Farm) on the field opposite the Abbey. More news later.

Dave and Jane Marshall


WHERE HAVE ALL THE BIRDS GONE?

Tintern residents, who derive pleasure from their garden bird-tables, have remarked of late that their offerings have been ignored.

The naturalist, Tony Soper, from whose notes we quote below, gives an informed report on the reason why :-

'Most birds are somewhat unobtrusive at this time of year. Paradoxically, it is the time of greatest numbers in the garden, for your resident population is swollen by the progeny of the breeding season. But both newly-fledged juveniles and worn-out adults are vulnerable. Parents, worn out by the demands of chicks, are looking for a time of recovery and renewal. Their plumage is dilapidated and dishevelled. Feathers are missing or dull or short of tips. It's time for moult, time to skulk in the border, feed up and renew. At least the bird bath serves to help get rid of the summer accumulation of dirt, dust and parasites.'

Taken from the RSPB magazine 'Birds'.

Kay Heron


KING GEORGE 1'S CHRISTMAS PUDDING

(This is not to be listed as an economy recipe, nor do Sandringham kitchens prepare it nowadays.)

King George 1, sometimes called the "Pudding King" ate this pudding at six o'clock on December 25th, 1714, his first Christmas in England. All the ingredients were mixed in huge earthenware bowls at Sandringham for his descendants.

1 1/2 lbs finely shredded suet
1 lb of eggs, weighed in their shells
1 lb EACH dried plums, halved, mixed peel in long strips, small raisins, sultanas, currants, sifted flour, sugar and brown crumbs
1 teaspoonful (heaped) of mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 pint milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 large wineglass of brandy

Mix the dry ingredients, moisten with eggs beaten to a froth and milk, lemon juice and brandy mixed. Stand for 12 hours in a cool place, then turn into buttered moulds and boil for 8 hours at first then 2 hours before serving.

This quantity makes three puddings of 3 lbs each.


GROWING UP?

My son was about to start school so I carefully explained to him that everyone has to attend school until they are 16. All seemed to be going well until the big day arrived and I was about to hand him over to his new teacher. The significance of his trembling lower lip was made clear when he turned to me and said 'You won't forget to come back and get me when I'm 16, will you?'

-------------------------------------

You know when your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they're going.

-------------------------------------

You used to put your children to sleep at night with bedtime stories. Now they come in at bedtime and tell you stories that keep you awake all night.

-------------------------------------

But.....Life begins at 80

A friend of mine who has just reached the age of 80 summed it up thus: "When you reach 80, you become wealthy, get a 25p-a-week pension increase, silver in your hair, gold in your teeth and lead in your feet.

You can ignore tedious jobs and you get a visit from Arthur Itis who goes to all the leading joints."

--------------------------------------