The Ladies Group meet on the first Wednesday of the month, 10.30 in High Ham Village Hall
New members are always welcome - if you are interested in joining us, please email Val Wells-King or phone 01458 251128 for further information
Our group was formed after the closure of the Women's Institute. We all felt it would be nice to continue meeting up. Less formal than the WI, we welcome suggestions from members for speakers, visits or other activities, so that everyone has a say in the year's programme.
June '18 The Ladies gathered at Furlong Farm, Henley on a beautiful summer morning, guests of Joan and Frank Gibbs. Frank created a display of domestic, farming and military bygones for us to examine before having home-made cakes and coffee in the orchard. We then followed Frank on a walk through past ponds, woodland and a meadow rich in orchids, ragged robin and clover. We were introduced to Frank and Joan's calves and their mothers - a fascinating morning with lots of conversation in idyllic surroundings. Thank you Frank and Joan.
ps. MAY 2nd visit to Carymoor Environmental Centre, Dimmer had to be cancelled due to circumstances at Dimmer. many thanks to Chris Cox for stepping in and giving a talk aboutfurther experiences in Jamaica.
Janet Seaton, Kelways official historian, and chair of Langport History Society, described the how the Kelways family started their business in 1851 and grew into a highly successful nursery selling plants, bulbs, seeds in the UK, USA, and the Empire. It was interesting to discover how the business became adept at promoting themselves using a trademark coat of arms (of dubious origin), catalogues that referred to royal patronage (again, dubious), that the many show medals awarded for their plants, articles...Kelways became justifiably famous for their new flower and vegetable varieties and, of course, their paeony, iris, delphinium varieties that are well regarded by gardeners today. Thanks to Janet's wide ranging researches, her illustrated talk of the history of Kelways encouraged many of us to think of our gardens, despite the never-ending rain!
Rupert Farthing from Carymoor Environmental Trust gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the Trust's work in encouraging young people to interact with wildlife and countryside, and how to live sustainably. We learned how the Trust's 100 acres started life 22 years ago as a landfill site, and how they have, with the help of volunteers and school children, created areas of wetland, woodland, meadows, hedgerows and scrub. The site is now a haven for wildlife and receives visits from schools and other educational and community groups. We were given a number of troubling facts about the how long it takes for man-made materials to degrade in landfill eg. cardboard 5yrs; disposable nappies, it has been estimated, 500yrs! We learned a lot, and left thinking we can do more to avoid adding to landfill. May 2nd we will be visiting environmental centre. VIridor, who sponsor the Trust and lease the site to them, awarded High Ham Millennium Wood £500 in 2016, funding the purchase of tree identification lables, 500 native bluebell bulbs, insect hotels, and lots more.
Ian Wilkinson's excellent talk about his expedition to Peru was both informative and entertaining: his photographs illustrated the story of the journey, conveying the mountainous landscape, the heat and, at times, the exhaustion experienced by Ian and his fellow travellers, and of the 2-day project painting a rural village school.
January '18 The Christmas Lunch at The Black Swan, Langport, was very enjoyable with delicious food accompanied by non-stop conversation. Thanks must go to Margaret Cox for arranging the lunch, and for organising the 2018 meeting programme which was issued at the lunch.
December '17 'Hands On' Christmas decorations workshop with guidance from Mary Scriven, a member of Langport Flower Group. The workshop was enjoyed by all and the resulting table arrangements looked beautiful. Thanks to Mary for her for her clear instruction and good humour, particularly for those who had no previous experience. The delicious refreshments were provided by all the members.
October '17 Chris Cox gave an entertaining and informative talk about the year he and his wife Gemma spent in Jamaica when he accepted the opportunity to take part in a teacher-exchange in 1991. With photos, music and extracts from letters home to his mother, Chris told how they, after the initial culture shock, settled into life in Golden Grove, one of the poorest areas of Jamaica, with the help of their landlady, pupils of St Thomas Technical High School, and neighbours. Gemma brought along a collection of momentos of their year in Jamaica for us to see. Chris was delighted to announce that the Red Cross Hut in Langport will be staying open - the threat of closure has been withdrawn. Well done Chris.
September '17 Jesse Pattisson gave an excellent talk about his business, Brown and Forrest, the Somerset Smokery, which he bought from Mike Brown over a decade ago. While many of us are familiar with The Smokery, and some regular customers, we all discovered new things about cold and hot smoking and the economics of the business - such as why you will never see the products for sale in a supermarket, even Waitrose! The talk ended with a tasting of smoked meat, fish and cheese. Delicious! Thanks to Margaret Cox for organising the event.
July '17 The Ladies visited the Musgrove Willow Company in Weston Zoyland. Eleanor Musgrove led a fascinating tour of the willow-growing fields and the coffin-making workshop, and introduced us to one of the willow craftsmen, a Spaniard, who gave a demonstration of weaving. Refreshments were welcome on such a hot day!
May '17 Rob Walrond, a Pitney farmer and member of FCN Farming Community Network, gave a talk on The Changing Face of the Countryside which covered a wide range of current issues affecting agriculture: the disconnect between the farming community and the rest of society; getting the balance right in the use of the countryside for food production and allowing access for receational use. Lots of questions and observations followed, and all agreed the talk was excellent,