28 November 2013

November 2013 meeting

The November meeting, as usual, was a social event. Everybody brought contributions for the buffet and a good spread appeared. At the beginning of the evening Peter had a chat with us and gave out some notices, thanking the many helpers of the club, also stressing about the usual problem of getting the outing balances paid on time. They need to be in 3 weeks before the date of the outing. He also asked for members help in collecting items for the meetings and bringing them to the hall, as he and Kathy are no longer spring chickens!
The next years programme was given to all the members, together with the form for next years subs. These are staying the same, at £3 per month.

Peter doing his talk.
A presentation was made to he & Kathy from the members to thank them for all their hard work during the year.

The presentation to Peter & Kathy.
Following the more formal part of the evening the buffet was declared open and everybody headed for the food, of which there was a good selection. The tea makers had the evening off, as there were various selections of pop and squashes on hand.
Laura, the singer for the evening, had arrived and started her songs whilst people were eating. She ended up with "The twelve days of Christmas", complete with audience participation doing the actions. Here everybody is doing the pear tree:
A partridge in a pear tree!
Peter will be busy doing his horn playing,  carolling for the Salvation Army at various venues between now and Christmas. His favourite place is Marks & Spencers at Westfield, as it is inside in the warm, no standing on drafty street corners, and they keep all the band supplied with hot drinks.
The evening closed and everybody headed for home.

24 November 2013

November visit to Van Hage nursery and Finchingfield, Essex.

The morning was cold and bright for the outing so we were all wrapped up well. The journey to Van Hage in Ware, was uneventful. As we entered the gates we saw the sign that said they had an ice skating rink there, the driver commented that he didn't do hospital visits so we had better leave well alone!
Betty & Cynthia with the massive reindeer at the entrance.
 It was a veritable winter wonderland inside, with almost every Christmas decoration, trees and lights you could imagine.
Just some of the Christmas figures.

Deer amongst the trees.
The ice skating ring was doing a roaring trade, with families out in force. There were several  young children doing really well on their ice skates.
Ice skating with Mum.
We all had a really interesting visit, many of us stocking up on food for the birds. They had massive suet balls there, reduced to 10p, as well as  seed and feeders. The range of things for sale was amazing, from plants, garden sundries, seeds, candles, decorations and gifts galore. There was also a large pet department with a very big resident moggy in it.
Jeannette peeping out from the giant reindeer.

At the allotted time we all boarded the coach again to make our way to Finchingfield and a tasty meal at Bosworths Tea Room, suitably decorated for the occasion.
Members await their meals.
Finchingfield is a village situated in the Braintree district of Essex. It is in the north-west of the county, which is a primarily rural area. It is situated approximately six miles from Thaxted and somewhat further from the larger towns of Saffron Walden & Braintree. 
Sign on the roadside.
Ducks hoping for dinner.

Finchingfield is often called the most beautiful village in England and it is regarded as a 'picture-postcard' village and one of the most photographed in England with a duck pond and village green surrounded by Georgian and medieval cottages; a church, St John the Baptist Church, which is on the hill; an 18th century windmill; three public houses; tea rooms; a hall; a primary school; and a doctor's surgery.

Some of the beautiful old cottages.

Finchingfield has often appeared in television programmes and films and in television and film commercials. Also it has been seen frequently adorning chocolate boxes, biscuit tins and other quality products.
Finchingfield was the later home and resting place of Dodie Smith, the author of several books including The Hundred and One Dalmations written in 1956. Dodie Smith lived in The Barretts at Howe Street, a hamlet in Finchingfield Parish.
We had a lovely lunch there, a carvery with a choice of 3 meats, lots of tasty vegetables and the biggest Yorkshire puddings I have ever seen, with all the appropriate sauces. This was followed by a choice of desserts and tea or coffee. Everything was delicious.
A close-up of some of the decorations.
Once we had finished the meal some of us strolled around the village until the coach came to pick us up. The drizzle started and the light began to fade, very quickly it was nearly dark, so it arrived just in time. There was much snoozing on the way home!

5 November 2013

October 2013 meeting.

We had some really wild & windy weather for this meeting, but in spite of that, it was quite well attended. The forecasts were correct in that they foretold of  gales, with gusts of up to 100 miles an hour in places, on Sunday night & Monday morning.  Everybody was advised to "batten down the hatches" and move as much as possible to cover.  Luckily, it had calmed down a lot by the evening. Unfortunately, it was too late for the speaker, Steve Edney, who is the Head Gardener of the Secret Garden of Sandwich, to be able to attend. His small village was virtually cut off, also the Dartford Bridge was closed, leading to severe congestion on the roads. He rang Peter in the afternoon, when it was obvious he would not be able to make it, to express his regrets. That left Peter with some quick thinking to do as to how to fill the evening. He turned to his trusty computer to sort some photos to show us. 
The first ones were of Chenies Manor, where we will be returning to next year, as everybody enjoyed that visit.
Chenies Manor.

 Following that he showed us some photos of his favourite garden plants, here they are:
Magnolia Grandiflora
Daphne Odora
Hardy geranium.
Other plants he mentioned were Tradescantia "Maidens Blush", the Ladybird poppy, Alstromerias and, of course, Hucheras.

As well as speaking about his plants, he gave out general notices and information about the forthcoming visits. He asked everybody to ensure they paid the balance of the trips in good time, at least 3 weeks before, as the coach companies have to be paid ahead of time.

A list was passed around everybody for them to put on it what food they were bringing to the next meeting, as November has no outside speaker, it is an informal social evening with a buffet.

The meeting closed and everybody wended their ways home.