Aynho Long Walk 28th April 2016

Sixteen of us set off in bright sunshine but a cold wind down Green Lane to Lower Walton Grounds. WE passed through the dumping yard and crossed the bridge and walked out to join the road up to Kings Sutton. The track was bone dry for the first time this year. We turned off the road beside the cottages and crossed two fields up to the copse where there is always a muddy stream to cross. The paths through these fields are clearly re-established now and we were soon on the field edge down to College Farm. Here we were warmly greeted by two horses who ran up to us for a pat and a stroke. They were disappointed if expecting any treats. We continued into the village and across the green to the track past the memorial Hall and followed the path through to one new housing estate, and then on to the Banbury Road and another newly built housing development. Beyond here towards the informal park area there were piles of fresh wood chippings. Were these for people to help themselves? The station was nearby and we crossed the approach road, climbed a steep incline and followed the path round the next field to a track leading out to the road back to Aynho. We took the track across to the sewage works, identifiable from some distance by the pungency of its smell, and thence back to Lower Walton grounds before climbing the field we descended with such difficulty last week. Freshly ploughed then, it had now been harrowed and although not the most comfortable underfoot, it was a lot easier this week. We arrived back at the pavilion with a lot more cloud cover, but no sign of rain. Six miles in just under two hours meant we were all ready for Anita’s refreshments and a good chat.

Recorded Music Society: April Meeting

Robert presented a most interesting and varied selection, starting with the rich full-blooded tones of Elgar’s “Pomp & Circumstance No.3” The delicacy of Delibes “Flower Duet” with Leslie Garrett singing both parts. Rossini’s “Largo al Factotum” from the Barber of Seville, a further rendition of Leslie Garrett, followed by the “Toreador’s Song” sung by Robert Merrill brought a thoroughly enjoyable vocal section to an end.   Khachaturian and Gustav Holst heralded the interval.

The second half started, or perhaps startled with Fats Waller singing and playing “When somebody thinks your wonderful” and “My very good friend the Milkman”

This was followed by Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor” and the “Horn Concerto” by Mozart. Saint-Saens “Organ Symphony” brought a most enjoyable evening to a conclusion.

Very many thanks to Robert and incidentally to Doris for a super presentation.

                                                                                           Contact: Bob Mann 810264

Rector’s Letter May 2016

Thy Kingdom Come

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting churches to pray for the evangelisation of the nation during the week before Pentecost Sunday.

The Archbishops have written to every serving parish priest in the Church of England expressing their longing “to see a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches” from 8th-15th May.  The week of prayer will culminate in ‘Beacon events’ around the country over Pentecost weekend, where people will pray for the renewal of the Holy Spirit and the confidence to share their faith.

In their letter the Archbishops said: “At the heart of our prayers will be words that Jesus himself taught us – ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ It is impossible to overstate the life-transforming power of the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer that is reassuring enough to be on the lips of the dying and yet dangerous enough to be banned in cinemas. It is famous enough to be spoken each day by billions in hundreds of languages and yet intimate enough to draw us ever closer into friendship with Jesus Christ. It is simple enough to be memorised by small children and yet profound enough to sustain a whole lifetime of prayer. When we pray it with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory.”

The Beacon events will take place in the following places:
Saturday 14th May  St Paul’s Cathedral
Sunday   15th May, Durham Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral
St Michael le Belfry,York , Canterbury Cathedral

Brackley Deanery is responding with a special evening of prayer on Tuesday 17th May, Giving thanks for all that God has done in our 30 deanery churches this past year and asking him to bless our plans for 2016 and beyond.  Everybody is invited to come and celebrate with others on the 17th May.

In our local churches our worship on 8th May will have the focus of prayer for the coming week.    More details will be given out in the Pews News a weekly update,

Just email the.revd.simon@gmail.com with the heading ‘Pews News’ and I will put you on the distribution list. It gives up to date news, events and services and much more.  Don’t forget to look at the website  www.astwickvale.co.uk for more details as well.

There will also be a special exhibition called ‘Experience Pentecost’ in All Saints Croughton on Tuesday 17th May.  The school will be in church in the morning but you are invited to come along in the afternoon 2pm-4pm to find out all about it.

If you have a family and wonder what ‘Pizza Praise’ is, then it is for you.  It is a fun family time with  songs, activities worship and Pizza or Hot dogs. Come along and give it a try.               God Bless Simon

Aynho long Walk; 21st April 2016

Seventeen walkers set off down Charlton Road in hazy sunshine and a cold wind. We took the footpath by the Dad’s Army hut opposite Butts close. Once we reached the end of the grazing fields we were faced by a newly ploughed field with ankle threatening large chunks of unstable soil. We all crossed it successfully, if rather slowly and reached Lower Walton Grounds unscathed. The field nearest the farm hosted a flock of nervous sheep. They hesitated briefly before deciding we were best avoided and moved hurriedly away. We continued down the concrete road and on up towards Kings Sutton until we reached the footpath that leads past the cottages into the fields beyond. here we crossed the fields up the hill to the copse at the top, always very wet and muddy, and into the field beyond with its varied diagonal paths. The next field took us up to the badger setts on the crest of the ridge with superb views across to the next ridge or back to Banbury and beyond. The path then crosses a field and takes a strange winding route through the crops until it reaches the gate to the old stone pits. The main road through Charlton is difficult to negotiate at the moment, but we squeezed past a huge truck while parked cars and trucks and temporary traffic lights made driving more frustrating. Once through the village we took the pah up towards the camp, and then up the side of the next field to loin the track along the ridge to Green Lane and back to the pavilion for welcome refreshment. 6 miles in about two hours.


(A ‘Close Encounter’ of the Phantom Kind…)
Her Majesty’s Official Birthday – 12th June

I have visited and been in awe at the wonders of Egypt and the River Nile; watched from the tip of the Empire State Building in New York as ‘Dinky-toy’ yellow-cabs crawled ant-like along the streets far below; viewed the streets of Chicago from an even higher perspective – The Sears Building; perused the historical artefacts housed within the Blue Mosque in Istanbul; watched the sun set behind the Blue Mountains in Ocho Rios, Jamaica; been photographed in front of Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House; and been whisked up the tallest structure in the world (88-storeys) in Shanghai- but I have now experienced another travel wonder which, I think, tops them all. It started with a ‘phone call from my daughter (wife of a RAF Officer based at Brize Norton) at the end of May, enquiring if I was busy on the 12th June?
“No”, I said -Then my jaw dropped open when she asked if I would like to be on one of the aeroplanes taking part in the “Trooping of the Colour” Flypast on the Queen’s Official Birthday, 12th June, 2004? “Would I”? I said … and that’s how it started.

A stumbling block occurred when I was told I would need my Passport since “London -is a “no-fly” zone – especially ‘Buck House’ and the Mall”… Mine had expired six weeks earlier – and as I had nothing planned its renewal was still on the “To Do” List! I phoned Passport House and was told that in emergencies you had to visit Passport House (just behind Victoria Train Station); pay £89 for handling and get it renewed. Well, was I desperate to the tune of £89, I had to ask myself? As it transpired I needn’t have worried because meantime Son-in-Law had talked to his C.O. and was assured they would accept mine (along with my Driving Licence and any current I.D.)

The great day came and within fifteen minutes of leaving my daughter’s home we -including my two-year old grandson Joshua and four year old Alexander – were sitting in the Departure Lounge of Brize Norton Airport – and just over an hour later we and the families of RAF personnel were eagerly filling all the window seats fore and aft of the C17 Globemaster Tristar aircraft – cameras at the ready. At 1200 hrs we left the tarmac at Brize behind us, with a timetable as follows: The Queen’s Birthday Flypast was timed to be over Buckingham Palace balcony at 1300 hrs local time (but if the Trooping the Colour Ceremony had been delayed until the afternoon, all timings would slip by 4 hours.) The formation’s ground speed was 280 knots (320-mph), flying at a height at 1500ft. The Formation was 8 nautical miles long with 2 nautical miles separating each group of aircraft.

I was lucky enough to be in the second aircraft flying over the Palace – a Tristar Strategic Tanker of 216 Squadron based at Brize Norton, and Captained by Fl/Lt. Mike Smith – but the real joy of joys was when we flew out over the North Sea to pick up two Tornado GR4’s based at RAF Marham, which flanked us on our wing and Alexander and I were able to wave to the pilot and co-pilot working within their transparent cockpit. The air- craft joining the formation were 1000 ft above the lead aircraft, when we dropped to 3000 ft, descending to only 1500 ft as we approached London from Chelmsford for the run-in to the Palace. To the rear and out of our sight line were two more Tornado F3’s from RAF Leuchars, followed by two Tornado E3D’s from 56 Reserve Squadron; with an In-Flight refuelling aircraft (also based at Brize), and two Jaguar GR3’s from RAF Coltishall, with a Nimrod MR2 bringing up the rear. Quite a sight we must have been.

My high spots of the flight were telling Alexander that clouds were not – as he thought – made of candyfloss and no, we couldn’t walk on them; looking up a very long, sandy stretch of Great Yarmouth’s beach; trying to distinguish between sea and sky on the horizon of that small bit of the North Sea – and a (very) short time later being ‘just above’ London (how big it is…) and picking out the Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. Sadly we were on the wrong side of the plane to see the Palace (which didn’t matter at all), and very quickly London had disappeared. We were once again over ‘England’s green and pleasant land’ of fields and trees, losing the support aircraft heading back to their respective Bases, and within an incredible eight minutes we were braking and touching-down back on the tarmac at Brize Norton.


I never knew my paternal Grandmother EDNA MURIEL ANNE SPARKES’ (Nee French), Margret Anne (nee Cox) as she died giving birth to her fifth child at age 36 in her cottage home at ‘Blue Row’, Swerford, Oxon, in 1911 when my father, Nelson (her eldest child) was 8 and his sisters, Edna (5) and Margery (3). There had also been another son, Dudley, born between Nelson and Edna, who died aged nine months. The baby, Susan, was subsequently brought up by my Grandfather – aided by his children – until Grandfather William was to remarry Ellen five years later – but his new wife was not prepared to take on his existing family. In 1918 they had twin daughters, Elsie and Dorothy, though my poor Grand-father suffered yet another loss – Dorothy died at just at 2 weeks old. It was not uncommon with the working classes around the year 1911 that Nelson, Edna and Margery were destined to life in the Orphanage earlier established by Doctor Barnardo.
I don’t know quite how, but my father ‘got wind’ of the plot being hatched and aged 14 walked the three and a half miles into Banbury and stowed away on a London-bound mail train, intent on making his own way in the world, rather than be Orphanage-bound. Two years after entering the Orphanage my Dad’s youngest sister, Margery, contracted meningitis and died at the tender age of 7, leaving Edna, aged 10, away from her family and, presumably, feeling completely alone in the world. She was to continue living at Barnardo’s for another four years until 1921 when it was the Orphanage’s policy to empty their overflowing Homes and (following the British Government’s earlier lead when the very first convoy of sixteen convict ships unloaded their human cargo at Botany Bay, New South Wales, in 1899) – continued to ship their ‘unwanteds’ on a six -month, all-expenses paid sea voyage to the Antipodes!
At the age of 14 Edna was earning her meagre living in the Sydney area, working ‘in service’, and later as a cook on a Sheep Station. I don’t know much of her history, except that she had her first child, William, (after marrying ‘Bill Holder’) when she was 28 in 1935 (my first-cousin, Bill, and later, Valerie and John. She thought she was happily married, though it transpired that her ‘husband’ had another wife and family on another Sheep Farm, and he was subsequently sent to gaol for bigamy; leaving my Aunt Edna a single parent with three young children – so ‘history was to repeat itself’ with her own Children’s Home experience, as her two sons were also confined in one for the duration of the Second World War, since she was obviously working every day and there was no Welfare State in Australia.
Although my Father corresponded regularly with his estranged sister for around sixty years, they never ever did meet again – although they always hoped to “next year”… Eventually it was my pleasure to visit my Australian family ‘for him’. One of the early joys of my stay at my cousin Bill’s home in Rockdale, Sydney, was to pour over old (mostly) black/white photographs – some dating back to the 1940’s – which my parents had sent out to proudly show off their own family, and many of which I had never seen before.
My cousin and his wife, Loretta, took five weeks holiday to be with my twin sister and I every day and drive us wherever we wanted to go – remembering that Australia is rather large and usually it’s about a 6-hour drive to any ‘next town’; so we were up and out every day ‘doing’ the sights of N.S.W. (including a sea-plane trip of 45-mins over the Opera House (Jorn Ulzon’s Swedish design, 1959- 1973) and the famous Harbour Bridge (1923-1932 – the second largest free-spanning bridge in the world); getting a bird’s-eye view of the area surrounding the Harbour (known as’ Circular Quay’) with its cosmopolitan audience bemused by Aboriginals entertaining us from a hard brick pavement platform with their ‘diggery-doos’.
One of our most memorable day trips was to view The Blue Mountains, heading to-wards the Australian ‘Highlands’ (which, indeed, scenically resemble our own), and be overawed at the natural undulating landscape whose every inch was packed with Eucalyptus trees – ‘the lungs of the world’! The oil in these trees vapourises when heated by the sun and emits an eerie blue haze – hence the name. When we arrived on the 5th October it was about 25-degrees, and the start of the Aussie Spring. We were to be based there for 5 weeks, and when we left, the first week in November, it was hotting up to between 26-30 degrees, and the beautiful Jacaranda trees were brightening up any space in the landscape with their sugar-pink blossom. On picnics we often enjoyed the company, at our tables, of Laurakeets (very tame) -who look as though an artist has painted them in the brightest reds and blues in his palate! My favourite sound was of Laughing Kukaburras – much more pleasing than the screech of wild Sulphur-crested, pure white, Cockateels . Two flocks of these live in the confines of the Botanic Gardens, a public space hugging about ten acres of the harbour shore, along with noisy grey and red Parakeets who gather ready for roosting around 4-pm as (until their ‘daylight saving’ time change at the end of October) it gets dark around 6-p.m. (which took some getting used to!)
So, the reunion of two – although not the actual, of course – family souls did joyfully take place in 2005, satisfying a virtual century’s need to be reunited which had existed since that day in Swerford, Oxon during the First World War when my Grandfather had been forced to choose between struggling to survive and remaining loyal to his first family; or starting a new life with a new wife. The sadness of it all is that she (Ellen) was not happy to care for his offspring so they were removed from the family’s care -having such disastrous consequences on the lives of my ancestors.
Edna Sparkes (2006)

Biodiversity Group: A Year in the Life of a Bat

December – January Hibernating somewhere cool with a constant temperature e.g. underground in  caves, trees etc. on their own or in small groups.
February Have little fat reserves left.  May look for food and water on warmer nights.
March Small numbers feeding on warmer nights but in colder conditions still go into a torpid state (semi-hibernation).
April Mainly out of hibernation and are hungry and active, feeding on most nights. No longer returning to winter roosts but spending day in nearest suitable place.
May Fully active and feeding. Females forming maternity colonies somewhere warm and dry.  When back in condition females fertilise their egg. Males roosting on their own or in small groups.
June Females give birth to a single pup (twins are rare) and suckle them.
July By 3 weeks old young are learning to fly but are still reliant on mothers’ milk
August At 6 weeks, the young are flying and begin to catch insects for themselves.   Maternity colonies disperse and bats move to mating roosts.
September Mating season begins (females store the live sperm until the following May) and building up fat reserves for the winter.
October Mating continues as does building up fat reserves. Looking for hibernation sites.
November Periods of torpor are lasting longer. Some begin hibernation.

Aynho Long Walk: 14th April 2016

We welcomed Lavinia, a walker new to us, today. She helped us achieve our record number of 19 walkers for the long walk. We set off through the village and down Millers Lane, but instead of continuing down to the ford we walked along the wall down to the little bridge over the mill stream and up to the Lane into Souldern. A few spots of rain threatened a shower, but it didn’t develop and the sun came out as we followed Wharf lane across the noisy motorway and on to the Canal. No Long boat traffic on the canal today, just a few ducks. There were signs that the canal had spilled over the towpath but it was completely clear now. At Aynho Wharf we left the canal, passed over and under the railway lines, and walked back to Millers Lane passing under the motorway on the way. We reached the pavilion in exactly two hours and enjoyed our refreshments sitting outside in the sunshine. 6.4 miles today.

Photographic Society: April 2016 Report

Click here to see the complete photograph ‘Bird’ by Martyn Pearse.

The April Club Night opened with the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Society, where Chairman Richard Broadbent reviewed the Society’s activities over the past year, noting that these continued to cater for a broad range of members’ interests, photographic skills and experience. The activities included monthly presentations from both outside speakers and members on a variety of topics, photoshoots to places of interest, support of a number of village activities in both Adderbury and Deddington, including two annual exhibitions at these villages, and also a permanent display at the West Bar Surgery in Banbury. In addition, monthly Workshops continue to be held, which are designed specifically to improve the knowledge of less experienced photographers. Overall, it had been a most successful year for the Society, during which it continued to attract a total of 50 members.  Reports then followed from the Treasurer and Programme Secretary that showed a satisfactory financial position, while noting that members’ desire for more outside speakers would introduce additional speaker costs. The AGM drew to a close with reviews of future Workshop activities and the Society’s website, and concluded with the re-election of the Society’s officers.

The evening continued after the AGM with a presentation of members’ photographic ideas on the topic of ‘What is it?’ This comprised 65 projected images with members being invited to guess what each image represented. The result was some extraordinary photographs, viewed with puzzlement and a great deal of humour, of which a significant proportion could not be identified without further explanation by the originator. The Club Night then concluded with members’ inputs to the monthly photographic topic which, on this occasion, was ‘Feet’.

John Branton