Biodiversity Group: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch has a bright red face, yellow wing patch and pointed beak which is longer in the male than the female.  They feed on alder, birch, thistle and dandelion seeds while the male’s longer beak also enables him to extract the seeds of the teasel.  In April the female builds a cup-shaped nest using moss, grass and lichen which she lines with wool and plant down.  It is usually towards the end of a branch in a tree (making it more difficult to get to by predators) or in a bush.  She lays 3 – 7 eggs and has 2 or sometimes 3 clutches in a season.  She incubates the eggs alone then both parents feed the nestlings regurgitating seeds and small insects such as aphids. Outside the breeding season, goldfinches roam in flocks in search of food with groups of 100 birds being quite common. Some of our breeding birds overwinter in France and Spain although it has been discovered that more females do this than males.  The life span is approximately 2 years.

Did You Know?

  • The collective name for goldfinches, a charm, is derived from the old English c’irm, describing the birds’ twittering song.
  • Other names for a goldfinch include thistle finch, goldie, gold linnet, redcap and King Harry
  • Goldfinches were so popular as cage birds in Victorian Britain (in 1860 it is thought 132,000 were taken at Worthing in Sussex alone) that it caused the population to crash.
  • Goldfinches frequently appear in medieval paintings of the Madonna and Child, reflecting the finch as a symbol of fertility and resurrection.
  • Goldfinches are now found in almost five times as many gardens as they were 16 years ago. This may be because natural resources are in a steady decline and more gardens are offering their favourite high energy foods: niger seeds and sunflower hearts.

Recorded Music Society: May 2017 Meeting

Our May meeting was a departure from the norm. We took the opportunity to involve as many individual members’ choices as possible, the order of presentation being chosen by raffle ticket.  The result was an eclectic mix of music.  Tracks included Bruch’s ‘Violin Concerto no. 2’, ‘Espana’ by Chabrier, ‘Chopin Waltz no 7’, and Massanet’s ‘Meditatation’.  In  addition we listened to The King Singers, ‘Midnight’ from  Cats, ‘Papa can you hear me’ from Yentl,  Timi Yuro singing ‘Hurt’, The Old Dogs singing ‘Time’ and Slim Dusty’s ‘Tonight the Woolshed Swings’.  The evening was rounded off with Shostakovich, including ‘Beautiful Gorki’.

All in all a musical evening enjoyed by all and with something for everyone .  Thanks to Ian for being M.C. and to Doris for playing the tracks.  Nice to see Bob back again.

Next month’s meeting on 7th June will be the last of the current season.  Once again, if you have a favourite track please bring it along.          Contact: Bob Mann 810264

Aynho Long Walk 25th May 2017

Eleven of us set off in very warm sunshine down the Portway path. No deer in sight behind the Park House, but lovely views across the valley. We passed through the two fields and crossed into Oxfordshire before walking through the buttercups and up to the B4100 to cross into Upper Aynho Grounds. Water bottles came out as we saw everyone safely across the road. The next stage took us through the grounds and into the woods where we were glad of some shade. At the bottom of the hill men were working on putting in extra tubes to allow more water to flow from the stream into the lakes. We continued up through Warren Farm woods and into the meadow where we had been warned of Aberdeen Angus cows grazing. There were none there although there were a couple of horses in the next field. Mill Lane in Croughton brought some welcome shade and this continued on the path behind the village as we walked towards the church. We rested again briefly by the church gate and the old tree. After a drink of water we crossed through the village and over to the Croughton Lane. Next we took the path through Camp farm and finished up along the ridge to Green Lane. back at the Pavilion it was very pleasing to see Anita back with her usual delicious refreshments. 6.5 miles in hot sunshine left us all glad of a rest in the shade.

WI: Theatre Trip to see Evita

On Wednesday 24th June, fifteen ladies from the WI and one gentleman set off to see Evita at the theatre in Milton Keynes using the Northampton Community Bus.
Evita with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, follows the early life, rise to power, charity work and eventual death of Eva Peron, Juan Perón’s second wife.
Emma Hatton already a leading actress in the West End, played the role of Eva with sensitivity and was ably supported by Gian Marco Schiaretti  as Che Guevara the narrator.  He may well be a newcomer but he performed his role with confidence, dominating the stage when he needed to showing off his powerful, versatile voice.  The supporting ensemble were also outstanding with excellent dance scenes and singing.
Whilst waiting for all the ladies to assemble at the end of the performance a lady who had seen it four years ago told us that this performance had been far better than the previous one she had seen, displaying more intensity, power and emotion.  So a really enjoyable afternoon was had by all and a big thank you to our cheerful driver who got us there and back safely.

Aynho WI Raising Funds for Denman

Maytime in the Square

Despite the weather Maytime in the Square was well attended.  The crowd watched  Annabel Charlesworth crowned queen by Mrs Ann Rickard then enjoyed the children’s maypole dancing.  The mummers’ play was next and was a great success.  However, the rain then arrived with a vengeance so it was with great relief that everyone could retreat to the village hall for the WI’s excellent tea and cakes.
The money raised from the teas will be donated to Denman College’s ‘Saving Denman Appeal’.  Denman College is located in Oxfordshire and offers one of the widest ranges of short courses in the UK.

Photographic Society: May 2017 Report

Click here to see the complete photograph: Shadows & Light, Mexico by Wendy Meagher

At our May meeting, we welcomed Mary McIntyre from Tackley.  Her objective was to share her passion for astrophotography, (photographing the skies).

Her topic for the evening focused on capturing Star Trails. This is achieved by taking long exposures (up to 30 seconds) of the sky repeated many times (up to 600) and then “stitched” together using software to produce a generally circular picture of the stars’ progress through the sky. Most of her images are captured in this way using a standard digital SLR camera with a remote shutter lead to automatically take repeat images. This needs a good level of dedication as some of her shoots last for 3 or 4 hours. She explained the need for a low level of light pollution but found Tackley to be acceptable, the main irritations – bearing in mind the long exposure time – being car headlights, commercial aircraft and pets setting off neighbours’ security lights. She explained how to include last based objects in the foreground to enhance the star trails. She also showed some useful accessories she had devised to keep herself and the camera free from condensation. Many of those present indicated they would be spending more time outside on cold clear nights trying to replicate the images shown by Mary.

Mary’s website is

On Wednesday, 7th June, Yin Wong will be giving a presentation entitled, ‘Yunnan, China: A travel presentation’, at 7.30pm in the Apricot Room of the Cartwright Hotel, Aynho OX17 3BE,and on Wednesday 21st June, there will be an outdoor photo-shoot led by member Simon Lutter. More details nearer the date on

John Prentice

Aynho Fete

Aynho Fete is Celebrating the Apricot

Sunday 11th June 2.30pm—4.30pm
Look out for delicious apricot based drinks and home-made produce.
Check out the website:


Apricot lottery • Fantastic main raffle  • Tombola
Food •  Great gin and vodka bar • Tea party
Pizza slices
Stalls • Plants and produce • Cake stall
Traditional games • Wellie whanging
Apple dunking •  Ladder game  •  Face painting
Unicorn rides  • Mini land rover drives •  Bird box making
Entertainment • Ferret racing •  Jazz group


2.00pm : Gates open to the public
2.30pm : Fete opens
2.45pm : Starlight Dance Academy (in main marquee)
3.00pm : Ferret Race 1 (Aynhoe Challenge Race)
3.30pm : Ferret Race 2 (The Anderson Cup)
3.45pm : Starlight Dance Academy
4.20pm : Raffle Draws
4.30pm : Ferret Race 3 (The Apricot Challenge Cup)
5.00pm : Fete closes
5.30pm : Gates close to the public


Fete parking facilities are limited and we’d ask anyone attending from Aynho village if they’d consider leaving the car at home.
Instead, we’d hope anyone visiting by car from neighbouring villages and towns will have access to parking, although some might have a short walk to Aynhoe Park.
For your information, here are the main parking areas where spaces might be available. On the day look out for roadside signs directing to car parking.

On-street parking is relatively limited across Aynho, so we’ve organised parking in two specific locations on a ‘first park’ basis plus a drop-off point.
The three locations are shown on the Google map here. They are:

1.  Aynho Sports & Recreation ground (access on Charlton road) – four minutes walk from the Fete
2.  Disabled Parking at St Michael’s Church Car Park (by Aynhoe Park)
3.  Drop Off point (but NO parking) at Church Walk (by Aynhoe Park)

If you park on-street in other locations please do so safely and with consideration to local residents.


Aynho Long Walk 18th May 2017

The sunshine this morning was very welcome after yesterday’s heavy rain. We decided that our Foxhill walk would be less muddy than our original plan and so fifteen of us set off through the village and down station road to Millers Lane. We were amazed to see a small hatchback with the hatch back door open and raised in the air, go hurtling by at great speed. Two parcels fell out and our back marker recovered them. They were clearly a Hermes delivery. We put them in my back pack for delivery when we returned and continued on the walk with various theories about the incident circulating among the walkers. We continued down Millers Lane and reached the ford. Inspite of the rain it was still not over the track so we crossed easily and climbed the hill to Souldern. We took the footpath round the back of the village pausing to speak to the friendly horses in the field. The track up to Foxhill and the alpacas was wet and muddy but the sun coming through the foliage was beautiful. The alpacas were there with their horse companion as usual. The cow parsley at the path edge was full of water and soaked everyone’s trousers. We were soon back in the village where Phil’s dog, Bandit, waded into the pond to cool off and had quite a green covering when he emerged. We all stood clear while he shook the water off. We continued past the church and across the fields to the Portway path and back to the pavilion where, sadly Anita was still away so only a quick coffee was available. I then tried to deliver the parcels but the recipient was out so I left them with a neighbour. I reported the matter to the police, who effectively left me to investigate. A very interesting morning.

Evening Visit to Placketts, Adderbury

On a warm Spring evening last Wednesday Gardening Club members visited the delightful garden at Placketts, near the library in Adderbury. We were greeted by the owner and creator, Dr White, who gave a friendly but knowledgeable tour of his garden and answered all our questions. The variety and colour in a relatively small area was amazing, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Destiny’s Revenge, Chapter One

This is the first chapter of Aynho Writer and Published Author, Philip Davies’s second novel in his Destiny series. At the bottom of the extract is an open invitation to the launch of the book at Blackwell’s in Oxford.

“Destiny’s Revenge”, by Philip S Davies.


Ugh. Dancing.
Katelin could think of many preferable ways to spend an evening, but if dancing was the worst that fate could throw at her, then she’d endure the embarrassing ordeal. Tonight was Princess Rashelin’s Twenty-First Birthday Ball, and she’d promised her cousin that she would enjoy it. For Rashelin’s sake, she would make sure that nothing spoiled the celebration.
Before she left her rooms Katelin remembered to check that she looked sufficiently queenly. She felt too young to be Queen. Had her eighteenth birthday been only six months ago? She touched the sapphires in her necklace that matched the blue of her gown. Her fingers ran down the plaits in her dark brown hair, held in place by clips and a silver circlet. This would have to do, because she wouldn’t be allowed her favoured ponytail tonight.
Her gown brushed the stone steps as she descended the three flights of stairs. Music and conversation wafted up from below and her apprehension grew.
Guests in their finest attire were milling through the entrance to the Hall of the Court, while to one side, fiddling with his hands, stood Initiate Prento. He gave Katelin his customary bow as he kissed her hand, and his lanky legs meant it was a long way down. As he straightened, she smiled at his ginger curls and freckled face, and wondered whether, over time, all this bowing would strain his back.
“You nervous?” she asked.
Prento nodded. “Everyone’s here: the Royal Family, nobles, ministers, visiting dignitaries. And then there’s me. What am I doing here, Kat?”
“You’re with me. You’re a friend of the Queen.” She looked him up and down. “And besides, I see you’re wearing your best robes.”
Prento’s mouth quirked. “My robes are all the same, Kat. They’re long. They’re dark blue. I’m an Initiate. This is what I get to wear. There’s no ‘best’ about any of them.”
Katelin laughed and took his arm. “They’re your newest and cleanest robes, then. I find the plainness of your clothes refreshing beside the over-the-top finery of the rest of us.”
“And you remember our agreement,” Prento said. “We don’t have to dance with each other. No more dancing than we have to. Only with those who know what they’re doing and will make us both look good.”
“Agreed. We’re in this together: it’s you and me against the dancing. Come on. Let’s make our stunning entrance to the party.”
She pulled him towards the doors to the Hall, and the other guests made way for her. Yardles, the Royal Steward, inclined his head, his eyes twinkling at them under his combed-back silver hair. “You’re a breath-taking pair indeed,” he said.
Yardles knocked his staff twice on the threshold, and announced: “Her Majesty, Queen Katelin of the Old Kingdom of Anestra and the Western Coast; and Initiate Prento, cleric of the Divine.”
Prento cringed, but Katelin propelled him forwards into the Hall.
They both gasped.
This wasn’t Katelin’s favourite place in the Castle by a long way, but Rashelin had worked her magic on it.
The oil lamps had been replaced by chandeliers whose candles gave the Hall a soft, warm glow. Along the stone walls hung dark blue banners with the emblem of the Anestran flag: the radiant silver Crown. Tonight the banners were interspersed with hangings of magenta, each emblazoned with ‘21’ in gold. From the high roof beams hung silver streamers that made the Hall feel like a marquee. Katelin’s gaze rose to the roof itself where silver stars twinkled between the streamers. How had Rashelin done that? It was like being outside, candlelit at night, dancing beneath the stars.
Katelin tightened her grasp on Prento’s arm, dizzy from looking upwards. He’d been doing the same, and the two of them almost lurched backwards in the doorway. That was enough to set off their giggles and settle the nerves.
The Hall was half full of guests, and servants circulated with trays of savoury and sweet delicacies and glasses of wine. Katelin and Prento weaved their way towards the dais for the Royal Family at the far end, skirting around the more open space in the middle where braver souls danced to the music. Katelin did her best to smile, nod and greet people as she went. Most she knew, a few she didn’t; some she liked, and some she’d avoid all evening, but this was what the Queen had to do. Prento wore a fixed smile.
Beside the top table, arms folded, stood the young barbarian woman, Sigzay. The candlelight reflected off her spiky white hair and narrowed grey eyes, but it was her clothing that was causing the sensation. Sigzay had never been one to hide her long legs and full curved figure, but Katelin thought she’d surpassed herself tonight. She couldn’t decide whether the white … thing … was a very short dress or a slightly long tunic. Not that there was much to it, anyway, with strategically placed gaps revealing maximum skin, including a tattoo of a wolf on her shoulder. The white knee-high boots completed the effect, drawing every male eye towards her.
Good for her. Katelin could never do such a thing, but someone needed to shake up the stuffy Anestran Court. And each eye that followed Sigzay would be one less to scrutinise her all evening.
“Sigzay, hello,” Katelin called. “Hedger persuaded you to join us in the end?”
Sigzay’s words were always careful, and spoken with the accent of her tribe. “He say I can refuse dance, except I choose. Already four men I turn down.”
Katelin grinned. “I’m not surprised. And I love your … um … dress.” She elbowed Prento, noticing how the young man’s eyes were popping. Sigzay’s outfit revealed more skin than Initiates were accustomed to seeing.
“You remember Initiate Prento,” Katelin said, introducing him. “And Prento, Sigzay has returned to Anestra from her home in the north, to be with Hedger again.”
“I remember him,” Sigzay said, and held out a hand.
Katelin almost laughed at Prento’s nervousness in taking it. The poor thing appeared unable to believe his luck at being this close to so much visible female flesh.
“My Lady Sigzay,” Prento managed, and stooped to kiss her hand.


You are invited to the Launch of

by Philip S Davies

on Saturday 10th June
between 3.00 and 6.00 p.m.,
at Blackwell’s Bookshop,
48-51 Broad St., Oxford, OX1 3BQ.

R.S.V.P., if you can, to: