Aynho Long Walk: 28th July 2016

We last did the Foxhill Walk six weeks ago and before we set off I thought we might be a little bored covering the same track again. However, I need not have worried. The beauty of walking in the countryside is that it looks different at all times of the day, month or year. Whilst we slid about in the mud a few weeks ago, today it was completely dry underfoot with huge cracks showing along the parched soil. Although rain had been forecast, it held off until we returned to “base” and we enjoyed warm but rather humid conditions. Instead of admiring colourful blooms as we did a few weeks ago, we watched fields being harvested by huge pieces of farm machinery enveloped in clouds of dust. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by lots of different wildlife from colourful butterflies dancing on the footpaths in front of us to being encircled by young buzzards with their iconic calls. At some point we were also watched curiously by wildlife of a very different nature. The heavens opened briefly when we arrived back at the pavilion which simply meant that we enjoyed Anita’s wonderful treats inside rather than out.

Renate Maddocks-Born

Rector’s Letter August 2016

August Ramblings from Simon

School’s out the summer holidays are in.

In many ways it might seem strange to be thinking about schools during the holidays, but although the children might not be at school, the wheels of governance move on.

Recently, the old government’s policy to change all schools into academies was reversed because of pressure and outcry.  Yet for many schools this may still happen on the quiet.  Under the current OFSTED inspection scheme if a school doesn’t perform then it can be made into an academy.  But few people realise that if the local authority fails its OFSTED inspection, on how it is supporting schools, then the schools it isn’t supporting to
OFSTED’S standards can also be made into academies, so that they can function without reference to what might be considered a failing local authority.  If that were to become the case for South Northants then it would affect our local schools.

Now I don’t have anything against academies in principle.  We all want children to get the best education possible and I believe that all children should receive the same high standard of education, without reference to race, faith or their post code.

One of the things about academies is that they control their own admission process—they can decide who they want to attend the academy.  They can also opt out of the national curriculum and teach their own preferred
subjects.  The control of the school starts to move from the head teacher and governors to paid board members looking after several schools, physically divorced from each other. Already some private providers run large ‘chains’ of schools and some of these grew very fast—taking on more schools than they could cope with.  This led to some of the largest chains being stopped from taking on any more schools.  The control is patchy and
detached—which may remind some of what it was like under a local authority.  Recently, the Ofsted chief
Sir Michael Wilshaw criticised seven sizeable academy chains for failing to improve the results of too many pupils in their schools, while paying board members large salaries.

On top of all this, there are added issues for Church schools both Voluntary Aided and Voluntary Controlled.
Currently these schools have foundation governors that have an interest in preserving the Christian nature and values of the school.  But if they are forced to join with other non church schools (nothing wrong with that in
principal as there are many good schools).  But as the control passes up the chain to the board of governors, then it will become harder in the school and classroom for our schools to remain Christian in character.  Where schools can decide on their own curriculum or it is decided by an external governing board, where do we expect the place of assemblies and worship to fall, if not out of the bottom of the agenda.

The Department for Education confirms that “collective worship…. helps shape fundamental British values of
tolerance, respect and understanding for others”.

Children can already opt out of attending collective worship but rarely do “as the children enjoy this time of day”.

We now have a new Education Secretary, Justine Greening.  It has been reported that she is ‘open
minded’ about the education system so maybe now is the time to write to her and let her know how
important church schools are, especially in our rural communities, and help to support them in the future.

Have a good holiday    Simon

 

Aynho Long walk: 21st July 2016

Fourteen walkers set out in bright sunshine and a welcome cooling breeze. We descended to Lower Walton Grounds via Green Lane. It was dry and grassy and for once lived up to its name. We walked through the refuse yard and found our way onto the bridge across the stream having fought through the overhanging nettles and brambles. once clear of the houses we ascended the hill to the copse, which was still muddy in the usual place, and descended diagonally towards the meadow of College farm. This was freshly mowed and free of horses. The track out to the village led us to the village green, with one or two families playing together. We passed the memorial Hall and wended our way through the paths between houses until we were beyond the village and worked our way round past the new estates and close to the railway station. The path runs parallel with the railway for a short distance, although the line is hidden by trees. We emerged onto the Aynho road, took the diagonal path across to the sewage works, easily identified by their distinctive aroma, and crossed the fields back to Lower Walton Grounds, before facing the long climb back up to the village. There no longer seemed a cooling breeze and we were delighted to reach the pavilion, shade and refreshments. six miles in just under two hours. Another enjoyable morning’s walk.

WI: Garden Meeting July 2016

We were lucky again this year  with the weather as up until the day before it had been persistently cold and wet.   But on the day of the garden meeting the sun shone.  It was hot but by 7.0pm, when we met in Jan’s garden there was a welcome cooling breeze.  After Barbara had dispensed with the business part of the meeting we all enjoyed looking round Jan’s very attractive garden.  She obviously has a knack with plants as they all seemed to be flourishing.  She treated us to some delicious cake, a selection of fruit and a variety of nibbles which was very much appreciated by the members.  Barbara then thanked Jan for her hospitality and we all agreed it had been a very enjoyable evening.

 

WI Garden Meeting 1..350h WI Garden Meeting 2..350h WI Garden Meeting 3..350h

Gardening Club Visit: Ashwood Nurseries. 13 July 2016

Forty two Gardening Club members and friends set off for the Ashwood Nurseries in Kingswinford in the West Midlands. It was a sunny day, but showers were forecast. After an hour and a half in the coach we were glad of a coffee break before we met John, whose garden is attached to the nurseries. He led us round to a wide grassy area and pointed to a passing long boat on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal which provided a border for the garden and protection from invading deer. John delighted us with his deep knowledge of the plants, the plan to have colour in his garden throughout the year and his delightful sense of humour. he had many sculptures, commisioned and placed in appropriate areas but emphasised how much of the planting was to some extend affected by chance or mistake. It was widely agreed that it was one of the very best gardens we had ever seen and John was one of the most knowledgeable and entertaining hosts.
After a late lunch and a tour of the nurseries members loaded the coach with a wide range of plants they had purchased from a very healthy and varied collection.

Ashwood Nurseries 4 Ashwood Nurseries 2  Ashwood Nurseries 1
 Ashwood Nurseries 3  Ashwood Nurseries 5 Ashwood Nurseries 6

Photographic Society: July 2016 Report

Click here to see the complete photograph – ‘Rudbeckia’ by John Cavana

In July, Dan Evans gave a presentation on ‘Lens Lore – using the lens for best creative effect’. Although trained as a botanist, Dan changed careers early in life to become a professional photographer, co-founding a photographic training company (Focal Point Photography) in 1981 and later becoming the in-house photographer for the global company, DRS Data Services. He is now freelance, specialising in fashion and design, portraiture, weddings, interview support and various other commercial work including on-location training courses.

Dan opened his presentation by reviewing the characteristics of telephoto and wide angle lenses, with particular reference to magnification and its effects on depth of field and field of view, commenting that modern digital lenses are now so good that aesthetic qualities predominate when taking photographs, rather than technical issues as previously. Any spurious technical deficiencies can be corrected through post-production software.

Dan stated his normal preference is landscape photography, using ambient light and shooting in RAW at ISO 1600, which is generally noise-free on modern sensors. He then contrasted the full frame sensors found on high-end cameras to the smaller APS-C sensor format of more popular, cheaper models, commenting on the latter’s weight advantage. The high quality of modern sensors means that prints up to A3 size are now virtually indistinguishable between the two formats. He then demonstrated the extraordinary Canon rectilinear fish-eye lens, in which all distortion characteristics are eliminated, and concluded by showing a wide range of his commercial and personal work, accompanied by tips and comments on how he achieved his photographic effects. Overall, this was an excellent, frank and inter-active presentation by an extremely knowledgeable photographer, that was greatly appreciated by his audience.

Aynho Long Walk 14 July 2016

Two new members joined our walk today ringing the total on the walk to thirteen, although we were not unlucky. We set off through the Black Path, turned right into Butts Close and crossed the stone stile by the dad’s Army Hut. The sunshine and the cooling breeze made perfect walking conditions. We reached Lower Walton grounds, skirted round the farm buildings and crossed the bridge to return to the track to Charlton. For once it was completely dry all the way through to the Stone Pits. there was a confusion briefly as a tiny dachshund got confused with our walkers but the owner soon sorted it out. Walking down through Charlton we saw the reason for the road closure that had caused so much hastle. The drains were being re-set although we seemed to have struck a tea break among the workers. WE walked down the hill and up towards the camp. The route round the fence and up to the ridge to Green Lane was very overgrown but we got through and were back for cakes and coffee in good time.

Aynho Long Walk; 7th July 2016

We welcomed Peter as a new walker making eleven of us as we set out down Portway, overtaking the medium walkers and cutting up to the B4100 opposite Upper Aynho Grounds. The weather was overcast and close as there was no breeze to cool us. We crossed with care and entered the drive up to the Great Barn. By kind permission we were permitted to deviate from the bridleway and cut down to the lakes. We walked along the edge, but saw no swans or their cygnets today. We climbed up through the woods of Warren farm and entered a field with a small number of Aberdeen Angus cattle with their rich black coats. The churchyard was much as usual as we crossed it to the farm track up to the road through Croughton Village. We crossed the road passed the school and walked up to the field path across to Cut Throat Corner. The track behind the woods led to the permissive path up to Camp Farm where we crossed the Charlton Road and continued along the lower end of Rainsborough camp. The turn up the side of the field was very overgrown so we all raised our arms to avoid being stung or scratched, but we were soon on the track along the ridge back to Green Lane an the very welcome drink and refreshment at the pavilion. 7.2miles.

Holiday Club 2016

Monday 25th July – Friday 29th July

from 9.30am – 12.00pm each day

Children of primary school age are invited to join us this summer for our Benefice Christian Holiday Club entitled ‘Polar Explorers’.

We will meet in:     Croughton All Saints Primary School,

With a special celebration on Sunday 31st July in Croughton Church.

Registration forms are available in our village schools and can also be obtained by emailing me at  the.revd.simon@gmail.com.  Just put “Polar Explorers” in the subject line and your contact details in the main text with children’s names and ages and we will get the forms to you.

Simon