We had seventeen long walkers today and it was no wonder as the weather was perfect. Such sunshine was an absolute delight. We set off through the village and down Station Road to Millers Lane, worked our way round the ford and headed out towards the motorway. A rabbit scurried along the base of the hedge on Millers Lane, exposed for all to see as there was no foliage to act as cover. On our way to the motorway underpass the ground was very marshy underfoot in spite of the fine weather. That continued to be the case right out to Station Road. We continued towards the canal using the steps down to the Great Western Arms car park and noted the pub is closed for a make-over. Along the canal was also quite muddy but very pleasant in the sunshine. At Souldern Wharf we left the towpath and walked up the lane to Souldern Village. We were a bit strung out by this time and the faster walkers went on ahead. We squelched across the fields and up the Portway path to the usual lovely refreshments in a very crowded pavilion. 6.3 miles.
With Easter coming early this year, we find Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday 9th February) marking the start of Lent. This year we will again be holding our Lent Bible Study – Cuppa and Chat, and will be looking for people to host the meetings. Subject – The Ten Commandments –The course booklet is £5 and sign up sheets will be in the Churches or let Shemil Mathew (07401 587151) or Simon Dommett (01869 810903) know .
Starting week commencing 8 February Thursday 11th 7.30/45pm Aynho at 15, The Square.
At first the magpie looks like a black and white crow with a long tail which is over half the bird’s total length. Close to, however, the black wings and tail take on an iridescent hue of blues, greens and purples. They are sedentary holding a territory of about 12 acres all year round and rarely moving far from their birth place. They mate for life and in Spring, over a period of several weeks, both birds build a large nest high up in tall trees. These sometimes have 2 entrances as well as a domed roof to prevent predation by other crows. The female lays approximately 6 eggs which she alone incubates while the male feeds her. After 18 – 19 days the eggs hatch and both birds then feed the young who fledge after 26 – 30 days. The young are fed for another 4 weeks and stay in the parents’ territory until September or October when they form loose flocks, feeding and roosting together. In areas where nesting sites are limited between 25% to 60% of birds do not breed at all. Magpies are scavengers, predators and pest destroyers feeding on insects, rodents, carrion, eggs, nestlings, grain, berries and fruit. They have a reputation for stealing shiny objects but when Exeter University scientists conducted an experiment they found that magpies were rather nervous of unfamiliar shiny and dull objects indicating they suffered from neophobia which is a fear of new things. If they manage to survive their first year, and many do not, their average life expectancy is 3 years although the oldest recorded was over 21 years.
Did You Know?
- The length of a magpie’s tail is an indication of the bird’s status in its society.
- In the spring, large numbers of magpies often gather to resolve territorial conflicts and social standing. These gatherings, called parliaments.
- Until the mid-19th century, magpies were popular with farmers as they ate harmful insects and rodents but heavy persecution by gamekeepers up to WW1 caused their numbers to plummet. However, from 1970 to 1990 their numbers trebled and now seem stable which may be the result of the all year round supply of carrion from road kill.
- Magpies are highly intelligent and are able to solve puzzles, mimic human speech and recognise themselves in mirrors.
Thanks to those who have supported us again this year. It’s not too late to have a draw number.
Contact me on 3030 113 6008 (new landline number)if you have missed our collectors and still want to be a part of the monthly draw.
You can save our volunteer collectors a trip by paying your subscription directly into our bank account. It’s £12 per annum to A/C 00467143 S/C 30-11-08.
Please email me at email@example.com to let me know and remember to put your name as reference please on the payment.
A very interesting and delightful programme was presented by Keith. The selection ranged from Shostakovich to Berlioz, Rachmaninov, Debussy and included vocals from Heddle Nash, Edith Pief and Kathleen Ferrier, ending in the full orchestral magic of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6. An excellent selection, thank you Keith. Our next presentation will be given by our newest member Lee Simmonds.
For more information: Contact: Bob Mann 810264
Fourteen walkers set out on a very cold overcast day. We walked through the village, down to Millers Lane and worked round the ford at Souldern Mill. The track was slippery in places where there was a layer of water over the ice. Fortunately no one slipped or fell. At the top of the hill in Souldern we waited for everyone to catch up and then turned down Wharf Lane for a short distance before cutting across the fields to the lane which leads down to the swing bridge. We turned towards the village, however and took the footpath between houses through to the track up to Nancy Bowles Wood. On the way a group of gardens displayed flowering snowdrops, daffodils and hellebore. The track had similar icy patches covered with water, but again we all navigated them safely. No Alpacas were visible as we passed their farm and we reached the Fritwell road safely. We returned through Souldern Village and took the track past the church and onto the Portway path. We arrived back at the pavilion after 5.5 miles in good time for coffee and cakes.
Morris Dancing Taster Session
Saturday February 20th at the Adderbury Village Institute Hall 10.0am – 12noon.
This is a free and open taster session for anyone wanting to learn about the Morris dances from our village – and perhaps having a go? John Ekers 01869-811741
Walkers for all three walks assembled at The White Horse in Kings Sutton as it was the 4th Anniversary of the Aynho Health Walks. Sixteen of us set off on the long walk. We took the path through the church yard and along the back of some houses to pass into a path through three fields. Gates and bridges were wet and muddy and one planted field was awash with wayer filled footprints. Once we emerged onto the road by the cemetery the walk became easier. We followed the road down to Lower Walton Grounds and continued over fields to the bottom of Green Lane. From here we followed the field edges to the lower end of Rainsborough Camp. Again occasional saturated areas appeared although generally the grassed field edges were not too sticky. We passed down to the bridge over the stream and up into Charlton Village and on past the school to the cemetery and took the tarmac path through to Newbottle. From here we took the lane round to the church and then the old drive through the trees back to the road. We disturbed a buzzard which flew off with the slow movement of wings. It was now out to the main Charlton to Kings Sutton Road and down to the village and the pub. here we met up with the other walkers and we all had a splendid lunch.
The New Year began with the now traditional ‘Members’ Evening’ on the first Wednesday of January, in which members were invited to show the best three photographs taken by them in 2015. In a strictly informal atmosphere, members talked about their images, discussing where and how the photographs were taken, what they learned as a result, and why each photograph was valued by them. This proved to be an enlightening and most enjoyable evening.
It was dusk. The Caribbean full moon silvered an eerie pathway across the water.
In a slender dory hitched to a pole 200 yards from the caye two boys sat fishing.
The Carib boy, Ceesto, was apprehensive.
“Let’s go. Fish no’ bite”
“Not yet” his fair-haired companion said. “Wha’ happen, Ceesto, you ‘fraid a duppy?”
“Fish no’ bite” Ceesto ignored Max’s teasing, scanning the water anxiously. Not a nibble, sure sign of big fish around even danger. He was uncomfortably suspicious that Max had broken the strict rule that somebody must always know where they were. especially if they were out in a boat. Dare-devil Max was always up to something. Ceesto sighed, but heeHeH was devoted to Max and wherever Max went, he went.
The breeze blew softly, the water gleamed inscrutably, the sky was pinpointed with stars.
“Ceesto!”” Max hissed suddenly….”Look!”
Ceesto’s scalp tingled at the creepy tone of the other boy’s voice.
“What you see?” His throat felt tight.
Max was leaning forward, his body taut, both hands grasping the rim of the dory.
“There!”……over by the cemetery…….see?” Max turned, face pale, hair silver in the moonlight. For a moment Ceesto took courage from the familiar laughing eyes, narrowed now with excitement. He forced himself to look. There was something – something grey – over by the island cemetery. He went cold all over. So that was what Max was after! They were on a ghost hunt! No wonder he wouldn’t say why they were going fishing after dark! They’d both heard about the Lady in White. It was said that her husband had disappeared night-fishing at full-moon, his boat found drifting capsized. His wife had died soon after. The story was that every full-moon her ghost arose to wait for him – and there she was, wavering translucently against the dark graveyard pallid tombstones gleaming like ghostly figures adding to the macabre effect. Ceesto was thankful they were safely out at sea.
“Let’s go!” Max reached for his paddle.
“Go in? You crazy?” Ceesto’s skin prickled. His mouth felt dry.
“No such thing as duppy” Max muttered, trying to convince himself, never mind Ceesto.
“There’s got to be an explanation and we’re going to find it. Loose the painter Ceesto”.
Ceesto’s heart was hammering. Max leaned forward, eyes on the apparition. Reaching reluctantly for the rope, Ceesto glanced down and his stomach gave a sickening lurch. He uttered a queer strangled sound. Max swung round. This time it was Max who froze, Max who was aware of icy fingers playing a tattoo down his spine.
Less than six feet below the dory was a vast, dusky grey, eerily luminous shape – a huge shark! The boys sat suspended in fear, conscious only of the need to keep absolutely still and quiet. The shark lay directly beneath them. So close was it that they could see the barnacles on its back. No wonder the fish had made themselves scarce. Too old to move fast its best hope was sleepy shoals of small snappers. One nudge from its vast bulk and the dory would be over. Max swallowed hard.
“Nobody knows where we are!” flashed belatedly into his mind.
Then he noticed Ceesto’s hand moving almost imperceptibly towards his belt. With a slow, trancelike movement he pulled out his fishing knife and cut through the fraying rop.. Scarcely daring to breathe Max watched. One by one the strands of fell away until the last one parted and they were loose. Slowly, the dory drifted shorewards, distancing them inch by inch from the predatory horror. When at last they reached shallow water the boys swung round to face each other, sweat glistening on their foreheads.
“That was a close one!” Max grinned. He was himself again. Ceesto said nothing. His heart was still jittering but he wasn’t going to let on to Max – no sir! In spite of Max frightening him nearly out of his skin with that White Lady he’d managed to keep his head. Thank goodness his knife had been razor-sharp.
What a night. Now that they were safe they looked towards the cemetery. The White Lady had vanished. There was nothing there except the gently-stirring fronds of a young coconut three. The White Lady had been nothing but a trick of the moonlight.
“So much for duppy!” Max, glancing over his shoulder, realised that Ceesto was staring at him very oddly. All Max could see were the whites of his eyes.
“You all right Ceesto?” he asked, genuinely concerned. But Ceesto, it seemed was not thinking about the White Lady..
“You see the size of that shark? You see the barnacles on its back? You know ‘bout Sapodilla Tom?”
Max stared back, his attention riveted. Sapodilla Tom! The legendary whale-shark! The fishermen all had stories about him. But he hadn’t been seen for ages………
Everyone thought he was dead.
Max exploded with excitement.
“Ceesto! You’re right! That’s exactly what it was! And that was no ghost!”
*duppy = ghost