Biodiversity Group Bird of the Month

The Dunnock
The dunnock is similar in size to the house sparrow with a light and dark brown streaked upper body, plain brown tail and a blue-grey head and breast.  The black bill is finer than that of a sparrow and when on the ground it moves in a jerky way often flicking its wings and tail.   It does not breed in pairs but in groups. The most common is two females to two males but it can also breed in groups of up to three males and three females.  The female builds a cup shaped nest in dense shrubs and hedges and lays 4 – 6 bright blue eggs which she incubates.  Both parents then feed the young often assisted by the other male birds.  It is mostly a ground feeder searching for insects, beetles, ants and spiders in the leaf litter although in autumn and winter it will also eat berries and seeds.  The dunnock is the preferred host of the cuckoo.  Chaucer made notes on this referring to the dunnock as hegesugge which means ‘flutterer in the hedges’.  They can have 2 – 3 clutches a year and live for about 8 years.
Did You Know?

  • It has a variety of names including Irish nightingale, hedge sparrow and hedge accentor (which means one who sings with another).
  • The name “dunnock” comes from the Ancient British dunnākos, meaning “little brown one”.
  • Although they look like a sparrow they are in fact more closely related to the thrush.
  • During the 1970s and 1980s their numbers dropped by 50% (possibly caused by changes in woodland management) and although their numbers are beginning to recover, they are not stable yet so have been given the conservation status of Amber.


Rector’s Ramblings for February

Last month we looked back to give thanks for the past year and to look forward to the year to come and reflect on what God might be asking of us.  At the Midnight Service, Shemil our curate, shared the news that for him the future was in his new appointment as the chaplain for the Oxford Brookes University.  This means he will be leaving us on 12th March which is much earlier than anticipated, but we pray that God will bless him in this new service for the kingdom in the coming years.  More details of Shemil’s leaving will appear in next month’s news letters.

For the parishes, life will go on much as usual. In March we will start our preparations for Easter with our Lenten observances.  Lent has traditionally been a time of self examination, prayer and preparation.  In our parishes we will be holding our Lent Cuppa and Chat or Bible study groups, where we explore, share and encourage each other in our faith.  These groups are for everybody, you cannot know too much or too little, you don’t have to have come before or to know your bible, everybody will find a warm welcome.  If you have any questions this is a place to start looking for answers.

As part of my preparation I have been given a book called Dethroning Mammon written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. ISBN 978-1-4729-2977-8  I haven’t read it all yet, but the first couple of chapters have already started to raise a few questions.  In the book Justin, who had a career in industry, reflects on the role that money and wealth has on our world images.  He reflects that we give value to those things that we can see.  That the people that we see around us we value more than those we don’t know on the other side of the world.  One of the phrases that struck me was a quote from archbishop  Helder  Camara who said, “when I feed the poor they call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist”. The quote reflects the difference between the seen and unseen. Justin reflects that we need to see the world through Jesus’ eyes to value people and things as Jesus does.

Justin then goes on to suggest that we value what we can measure.  That if we can measure a person’s wealth, then we value them, and further more he suggests that what we can measure then can control us. He looks at the power of economics and our financial system and the way that our lives become controlled by this. Inflation, depression, sales figures, profit, loss, living wage, interest rates, the best deals, Martin’s bargins… This can be quite a challenging thought and certainly gives me something to think about.

This is also the time of year when we begin to think about the structure of the church, namely the PCC or Parochial Church Council.  These are elected members of the church congregations who have a role in running the church with the church wardens. PCC members serve for three years and church wardens are elected on an annual basis.  For the correct running of the church these structures need 2 churchwardens’ and six PCC members.  These members will be elected in March and April, but now is a good time to think who do you want to represent you in the coming year, or maybe could you be the representative for others?  What value do we put on service, those who have served us and what value serving others brings?

Mark’s Gospel chapter 10 verses 43-45

Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Charity Soups

Do you have a charity you support? Do you like home soup making? Would you like to put the two together?  During Lent (March and April) on Friday lunch times at the Reading rooms in Croughton.  Various people are offering home made soups and bread with tea/coffee and sharing any money made between the Reading Room (now with its new heating system) and the charity of their choice.  If this sounds like you then come and talk to rev Simon for more details.  If you just want to enjoy a good home cooked meal come along and eat. Fridays in Lent 12:30-1:30pm.

Aynho Long Walk 26 January 2017

Fifteen walkers braved the cold and the biting wind to set off along the black path to Station Road and Millers Lane. We took the path along the wall emerging half way up the lane towards Souldern. From there we took the path off Wash Lane which took us round behind the village until we reached the drive up to Nancy Bowles Wood. The ground underfoot was hard with the cold so mud was minimal. The was no sign of frost: it was just bitterly cold. By the time we reached the alpaca farm we were warmed up as we were moving at 3.5 miles an hour. No alpacas today. We reached the Fritwell Road and walked back into Souldern from where we took the usual Portway route back to the village and the pavilion where normal excellent service has been resumed. We did see some magnificent horses on the way.

Recorded Music Society: January Meeting

ARMS (Aynho Recorded Music Society).          

Our first meeting of 2017 was hosted by Lee Simmonds and what an entertaining evening of nostalgic music he gave us!  The programme was an eclectic mix of old favourites plus some lesser-known works.  All were carefully researched and interspersed with amusing background and anecdotes from Lee’s long association with the music industry.

The programme kicked off with Calling All Workers and the Warsaw Concerto.  It then branched out into works by Wagner (Bridal Chorus), Bizet (Torreaor Song) and Beethoven (Hallelujah Chorus)..  Artists such as James Galway (Annie’s Song) appeared alongside George Jones (He Stopped Loving Her Today), Dean Martin (Return to Me), Nat King Cole (I Remember You) and Matt Munro (Walk Away).  A really comprehensive selection!  There was something for everyone in the programme and this enjoyable evening was also supported by a number of new faces from Croughton and we hope they will come again.          Thank you Lee.

At our next music night Keith Morgan will be the presenter.

Contact: Bob Mann 810264

Aynho Long Walk 19th January 2017

Fourteen walkers set off down Portway, through the tunnel and out into the field where a curtain of mist hung in the middle distance. The new fence on the right seems complete and we await the appearance of the white deer herd with interest. We were soon over the fields and across the stream and headed up to the B4100 and Upper Aynho Grounds. It was soft underfoot and squelchy in places. There were no events outside at the Day in Country as we passed the buildings and headed down through the woods. In this weather the improvements made in draining the land at the bottom of the valley could be fully appreciated. We passed into Warren Farm meadows and on to Croughton Churchyard. Up through the village the cloud started to lift and it was brightening up as we approached Camp Farm. Sheep gathered round the food pens with one daring to jump in and stand on the hay. We continued back along the ridge to green lane and the pavilion. 6.5 miles and the sun came out as we bought our coffees.

Photographic Society: January 2017 Report

Click here to see the complete photograph: Frosty Morning by Maureen Tyrrell

In January, the Society’s first Club Night of the year started with a Members’ Evening, entitled “My three best images of 2016”, whereby members had been invited to say why they had selected the subject, where it was taken, and what had been learned from taking it. Subjects ranged from close-up macro shots, portraits and wildlife, to broad landscapes, taken in a wide range of geographic locations, and treating fellow members to an enjoyable display.

Concluding the evening was the review of our monthly photo topic, entitled “Spires”. A broad range of photographs was shown which varied from local scenes to widely imaginative interpretations of “spires”. Once again, this gave rise to helpful comments and plenty of friendly banter among those present.

The Society’s next Club Night is on 1 February, when member Paul Brewerton will give a presentation on “A short journey through Alaska and the Yukon”.  The Workshop on 18 January, “Outdoor photography: Shooting the sky at night”, will be led by Jim Muller/Simon Lutter/Gail Girvan, and on 15 February, “Basic Computing for Photographers” (Windows based), will be led by John Prentice. All meetings start at 7.30pm, and are held in the Cartwright Hotel, Aynho.  Everyone is most welcome to attend, just come along and meet us all.


Paul Brewerton

BOOKS IN LIBRARIES by Brian Reynolds

There is space on everyone’s bookshelves for books one has outgrown but can’t throw away. They hold your youth between their pages, like flowers pressed on a summer’s day.

Ultimately, the number of books always exceeds the space allocated so I’m in the process of thinning-out my library; not an easy task for a booklover. I have spent hours browsing these old friends; many will remain on the shelves and some will go to the charity shop; a few may be put on eBay.

Selecting A Discourse by John Norris, I know that this is the oldest book I have. The imprint states: Printed for James Norris at the Sign of the King’s Arms without Temple Bar, 1685. It’s more than three hundred and thirty years old and I wonder if today’s computer to press creations will survive as long. Printed books, old and new, are there for us in libraries and bookshops where they can be quietly browsed in a silence that can be felt.

I place a few books into a cardboard box. Who will be the next person to hold them, learn from them and enjeoy a 50p. bargain purchased in a charity shop? I look at more books, dusty friends, accessible and wise counsellors and open a volume of poems by W.B.Yeats; I read:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

Contemplating these words I continue to browse. I can remember where most of the books came from; they are a diary of my life but the cull must continue and the once orderly shelves begin to resemble the Manhattan skyline. Many of these books came from places I have visited. They are not lumps of lifeless paper but voices, distant in time and place. Here is The Philippines Rediscovered. Did I ever discover them in the first place, I wonder? More than two years in the country and I saw only Manila, its environs and Cebu. A note inside reads:

Dear Mr. Reynolds,
Thank you for making Richmonde your second home. Best regards, Your Richmonde Family.

The Richmonde Hotel and my client did make me feel at home, like part of their families, but that’s the Filipino way. I was complimented by a Filipino who told me that ‘I behaved in The Philippines like a Filipino. And why not? They were giving me my livelihood and good memories, the least I could do was to respect them. I also met villains there. I had a friend who had been an American actor and crooner in the 1960s; he had married the top Filipino actress who also became my friend. He had her killed for her life insurance! Another friend was a BBC Radio journalist who had visited The Philippines and decided to stay there. He said that he had found the city he was going to die in; I hoped he meant naturally. The Philippines Rediscovered is returned to the shelf alongside England Is A Garden, in which the first thing I read is a quotation from Kipling:

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues

How an English garden contrasts the glorious chaos that is The Philippines.

More memories are recalled as more books are returned to the shelves from where, in the winter of my life, they now spread the scents and sounds of summer.

I make a coffee and sit in quiet reflection.

The library walls are lined with shelves lined with books. Books on many subjects, books of many shapes and sizes; some tall, some short, some fat, some slim, side by side they are a United Nations of literature in a rainbow of colours.

But, what happens when the library lights are turned off and the doors are closed? Do they come down from the shelves, take off their jackets and do the characters have secret chats?

By Brian Reynolds

Aynhoe Park Welcomes Bicester Hunt

The magnificent sight of Bicester Hunt came to Aynho today, with the hunt starting today’s event from the beautiful Aynhoe Park before riding off into the Northamptonshire countryside.

With thirty or more horses and hound pack the riders, supporters and villagers enjoyed refreshments courtesy of James,  Sophie and their colleagues from Aynhoe Park keeping the winter cold away!

Check out our Pinterest Board with images from today’s visit, click here!

And here’s the Hunt leaving Aynhoe Park!


Aynho Long Walk and Anniversary Lunch 12th January 2017

It was five years ago today that Brian Croft led the first walking for health walk from Aynho. Since then the walks have grown and split into the three levels we have today.  After each level completed its walk we all gathered in the Cartwright Hotel to celebrate the first five years. The long walkers had welcomed a walker new to our walks, Maureen. We all hope she becomes a regular. The rain held off for the first hour as we took the black path and the footpath across to Lower Walton Grounds. The mud was quite thick on the boots by this time but as we passed round the back of the farm buildings there were enough puddles to wash most of it off. This was fine if you were wearing wellingtons.  We took the track through the valley and up through the old stone pits to reach Charlton. By now it was spitting with rain. We continued down through the village and up through Rainsborough Camp before following the path out to the Charlton Road. We followed this to second crossing, walked down to the lay by and crossed the field to finish at the pavilion. It was now raining lightly but steadily. We made our way to the Cartwright Hotel where we had the most wonderful lunch with excellent service.

History Society Programme of Events 2017

Wednesday 26th January Brackley – from the Iron Age to the Wars of the Roses.
 Wednesday 22nd February  Postcards and photos of Aynho 1902 – 1920.
Wednesday 29th March The Remarkable Story of Stowe House.
Wednesday 26th April The History of Royal Woodstock.
Wednesday 31st May The Cold War in Oxfordshire – The Americans Hit Town.
Wednesday 28th June ‘A Sunday afternoon with a School logbook’ a review of the Aynho School log.
Wednesday 27th September A History of Libraries. A talk by Keith McClellan