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As usual, our first meeting in the New Year was the A.G.M. at which we thanked our out-going Chairman, Mr Stan Mitchley, for his valiant service during his three years in office and allowed him to retire gratefully from the hot seat.
In his place we welcomed Mr Bryan Jones with Mrs Christine Bradshaw taking over as Vice-Chairman. All this upheaval and change tempted the Secretary to put in the annual plea for a change and was partially successful by being awarded an assistant! Mrs Jean Bathgate agreed to take on this unenviable task.
This led to the Treasurer muttering about retirement and was amazed when someone actually volunteered, so Mr John Bathgate is now in charge of our finances.
Mrs Joan Dexter had been Treasurer for twelve years or more and it was entirely due to her that we managed to pay for the Hall, monthly speakers, printing etc all on an annual subscription of 1 per person! (raised to 2 last year) and we are very grateful for her hard work.

Our programme for 1998 covers such diverse topics as "Hard Landscaping and the Garden" and "Wildlife in Gwent Churchyards" which, together with visits to local gardens, should contain something for everyone.
Don't forget, we meet at 7.30pm on the third Friday in each month and would be delighted to welcome some new members.

So far, the programme for 1998 seems to be progressing without a hitch despite the absence in March of the Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer!
The last time that happened the Speaker failed to arrive but this time all was well and we have enjoyed slide tours of David Lewis' garden in Raglan and of very different gardens, this time in Japan, conducted by Jonathan Mitchely.
Now that the evenings are lighter (and warmer), we journey farther afield and the month of May found us in a garden just outside Ross, the home of Michael and Sophie Hughes. It was a perfect evening and we met early to avoid the mosquito's supper time, so we were able to wander round in the evening sunshine and admire the water gardens and sunken grotto with walls made of wine bottles - we all decided that that was a D.I.Y. project with definite possibilities.
June and July will see us out and about again, but in the back of everyone's mind is the Annual Show to be held this year on the 8th August in the Village Hall, as usual.
Do please come and support us, particularly as it will be opened and the awards presented by Rev. Julian White, who is well known for his ceaseless toil in the Rectory gardens.
There will be reminders of this event around the village nearer the time but please mark 8th August in your diaries and we look forward to seeing you on that Saturday afternoon.

Since the last edition of "Parish News", we have enjoyed a visit to Kyrle House, Peterstow (where we were assured the garden was only a few years old but looked as though it had been there for decades) and then an evening at the "Woodlands" at the invitation of Stan and Jean Mitchely. Unfortunately Jean had only just left hospital but she insisted we wouldn't disturb her and, with Stan and his whole family making us most welcome, we all had a super evening. We are very grateful to them all and glad to hear that Jean is now well on the way to recovery.
However at that meeting we finalised the preparations for Show Day which eventually dawned bright and clear after weeks of rain and low temperatures. Everyone searched their gardens for flowers and vegetables which the elements had left undamaged and by mid-day on the Saturday when the judges arrived, the tables were full of produce, both made and grown.
Competition is keen and although we can make a good guess at where the cups are going, to win a class is just as rewarding as winning a section so everyone is eager to read the prize cards propped against the exhibits. Towards the end of the afternoon our guest, the Rev. Julian White, presented the trophies and we found that the cups for the flowers and vegetables, together with the award for the best exhibit in those sections went to Mr B Young with the cup for the runner-up going to Mr D Pickering.
The cup for cookery and craft went to Mrs J Bathgate who also won the cup for best exhibit in those sections. Finally the Junior Trophy was awarded to Miss Claire Evans who gained the highest number of points in section 6. Altogether an occasion enjoyed by the competitors, judges and visitors alike - even our treasurer was quite happy as, once again, we just about managed to break even.
note: found after the Show and not yet claimed :
a ladies short sleeved fawn cardigan
6 inch vase with narrow neck, fruit and leaf decoration
ring 689328 to recover your property.
Next month, September, we meet at 7.30pm in the Village Hall for an illustrated talk by Mr Colin Titcombe of Caerwent and would very much like to welcome some new members on that evening. The bad news is that we recently doubled our annual subscription to 2 but the good news is that only 1 would be payable for the remainder of this year!

The "Talk" in September by Mr Colin Titcombe was a fascinating one. He took us on a photographic tour of Gwent churchyards, showing how some of the larger ones are being deliberately managed in order to provide an attractive habitat for rare plants and animals. We were delighted when a slide of St. Michael's appeared on the screen as apparently the trees by the lych gate are an unusual species for this area.
Our County Harvest Festival was held this year at St. Peter's, Nantyderry. The weather was rather damp and dismal and really dark by the time we eventually found the church, but inside it was warm and beautifully decorated with the rich colours of Autumn. The service was followed by supper at Goytre Village hall and an auction of garden produce, the proceeds going to the St. David's Foundation.
In October, an illustrated talk, "Navigation on the Wye" was given by Mr Jim Simpson. It's always fun to welcome a local speaker and Jim gave us a wonderful evening, constantly surprising us by the size of boats built in many yards along the river as well as the tonnage carried by these craft. One of his slides showed men towing a boat by a rope tied to the top of the mast! - you see the oddest things in a gardening club.
And then, also in October, the County A.G.M. was held at Usk Agricultural College. This is always well attended because after the business meeting, cups and trophies are presented and this year in the Summer Garden Competition Mr Brian Young beat entries from all other VPAs to win Best Vegetable Garden - many congratulations to him.
On which high note we had better end and hope for further glory in 1999.