SCN June-July 2011

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Spaxton Parish Council will be hosting an affordable housing public consultation session on Monday 4th July 2011.
The event will take place at the Spaxton Village Hall, starting at 3.00 pm running through to 7.30 pm.
The Parish Council has been working closely with Somerset’s Rural Housing Enabler, Sedgemoor District Council’s
Affordable Housing Delivery unit and the South Western Housing Society who is a registered housing provider. The
project began early on in 2009, with a village wide housing survey being undertaken to investigate whether there was a
demand from local people for affordable housing.
The survey indicated that there are a number of local people looking for an affordable and decent home in the village.
The current proposals will see 6 new affordable homes being built. These homes will be specifically for local people
who have a strong local connection with the parish. The event is an opportunity for local people to have a look at the
plans and give their views on the proposals. This is a chance for the public to find out what housing is proposed, ask
questions and put forward their ideas and thoughts. Local views and comments are important if we are to build housing
that local people can be proud of.
                                    This event is especially important for anyone who feels that they need help to find a
                                    decent home at a price they can afford: whether you are single, a couple or a family,
                                    whether you wish to rent or purchase a share in a home. Visitors will be able to seek
                                    advice and guidance on a range of housing issues – this will include how to register
                                    for affordable housing and benefits advice.
                                    This is an opportunity not to be missed – further details are available from
                           or telephone Mary Chorley on 01278
                                    435556 or email

As the Village Hall lottery nears the end of its second year, we approach the time when we ask people to renew their
membership. You will probably remember that half the lottery takings are given away as prizes and the other half goes
towards the upkeep of the hall. It is impossible to overestimate how much difference this makes to the running of the
hall and the pressure it takes off the committee to constantly raise funds for essential maintenance. So a big ‘thank you’
to everyone who takes part, please continue to do so, your number will come up one day!
We would also like to say thank you to everyone who has collected lottery subs, not just at the beginning of the lottery
year in August /September but also throughout the year. So thank you very much to Gerald Hill, Anne Milne, Sharon
Farnham, Sharon Carver, Janet Coles and Glyn Richards, we couldn’t do it without you!

Since the last Community News there have been two draws and the winners were as follows:

March 2011 at the Toddler Group:                                  April 2011 at the Royal Wedding party:
1st    Graham Sampson (228)              £164.63                  1st     Chris Staple (411)    £166.50
2nd    Norah Venton (218)                £ 91.46                  2nd     Janet White (313)     £ 92.50
3rd    Jerome Timbrell (69)              £ 54.88                  3rd     Kate Fox (314)        £ 55.50
4th    Gregory Thomas (426)              £ 36.58                  4th     Karen Sherring (231) £ 37.00
5th    Malcolm Hill (142)                £ 18.29                  5th     Louise Price (444)    £ 18.50

We will have a lottery stall where you can renew your membership at the Summer Show in August. However if you
won’t be there, or you would like to renew before please leave your subs either at the Post Office (in an envelope with
your name/address) or give to one of the collectors, or Jan or Alison, cheques payable to ‘Spaxton Village Hall’. Even
better we have standing order forms you can complete so your subs are paid automatically, either annually, quarterly or
monthly. Remember you can have as many numbers as you want and adults can buy them for children as long as they
sign the application form. Subscriptions are £20 per year, £5 per quarter or £1.67 per month (standing order only). If
you have any questions please call Jan on 671376 or Alison on 671485. Thank you!
                                                    GOOD LUCK
                                                   It could be you!
We’d set a target for our share offer of £20,000, and a deadline of May 15th. The idea of the deadline was to give us a 
cut‐off point by which we could see whether the village was enthusiastically supporting the project. The significance of 
£20,000 was that £20,000 would trigger a matching grant from the Plunkett Foundation. 
In fact, the share offer has raised £22,370, from 224 people in 172 households. Does this give us a mandate to carry 
on  with  the  project?  We  think  yes,  definitely.  We  have  also  had  two  grants  of  £1,000  each  –  from  Spaxton  Parish 
Council  and  Sedgemoor  District  Council.    Sincere  thanks  to  everyone  who  subscribed,  and  to  both  councils.  We’re 
delighted with the response. 
The next stages of the project are: 
     • A meeting with the planning officer to talk about the design of the building and other planning issues; 
     • Settling on a design, in collaboration with the village hall committee, the parish council and the neighbours; 
     • Applying for grants for the remaining £135,000 we need to pay for the project.  
                         Getting the grants is going to take several months. A year ago it would have been much easier, 
                         but, because of the economic downturn, several grant‐givers have run out of money, and others 
                         have  had  their  funds  frozen  while  their  trustees  have  a  rethink.  Therefore,  unless  a  fairy 
                         godmother appears, it will be this autumn before we know whether we have enough funds to 
                         commission the building, and the shop will not be open until sometime next year. 
In  the  meantime,  we’d  love  some  more  shareholders.  Grant‐givers  are  impressed  by  the  amount  of  money  that  a 
community raises itself, but many of them are more impressed by the number of people who have subscribed. So: 
     • If you lost your share prospectus, we can give you another, or please use the copy on the following page; 
     • If you meant to subscribe but missed the closing date, don’t worry – subscribe now; 
     • If you are worried because you can’t afford much, don’t be; we’d much rather that you bought one £5 share 
          than none; 
     • It’d be nice to have some more under‐25 year old shareholders; 
     • If you know anyone who loves Spaxton but no longer lives here (e.g. grown‐up kids that have moved out of 
          the village) – please ask them if they’d like to sign up as well. 
The share prospectus and application form can be downloaded from our website – – or we can give 
you one. If you’d like a prospectus, extra application forms, or any more information about the project please use the 
“contact us” button on the website, or phone 671276, 671380 or 671289. 
                                                                                                                       Richard Lee 


Some people may have noticed that the raised edges of soil around the skateboard park are
having a dressing of top soil – thanks to Bridgwater Freecycle! When this is complete,
grass seed can be sown as long as we have some rain.
The next stages are to have a fence put in to separate the skateboard bowl from the
children’s play area, some safety notices to encourage safe use of the area, and then we can
repair the brick wall at the back which has been damaged and get advice about the surface.
All in all, this long project is nearing completion!

Every time we go to other villages and parks with similar facilities we can see that it is very worthwhile.

Ken and Trish Edwards

Please send your completed application form with your cheque to The Spaxton Community Shop
Society Ltd to:
Vernon Hughes, Little Splatts, Splatt Lane, Spaxton, Somerset TA5 1DB
place in an envelope and deposit in the safe box inside the Post Office at Four Forks.

                       Spaxton Village Hall News
It was the ‘extra’ bank holiday, 29th April, Royal Wedding Day. Approximately 80 people met
at the hall in their wedding finery, to join in the service at Westminster Abbey, sing the hymns
and then get down to the serious business of eating and drinking. Definitely a day to
remember, so thanks to Jerome, Jenny, Sharon, Kim, Gill and Jackie for all their hard work.

And so to the future……..Now the energy efficiency project is complete (the PV panels are
generating and the feed-in tariff is beginning to be paid, do come and see the information
display in the new entrance) the Village Hall Committee is turning
its thoughts to the next project. We have had several requests,
from parents and grandparents, asking for more play equipment
on the top field for younger children. We think this is a brilliant
idea and have contacted Sedgemoor District Council which has a
small pot of money we can use, but with the health and safety
requirements for safety surfaces we will have to find more funds
to carry through the project, especially as the play equipment does
not generate any income for the hall. So…. if you have any ideas
for fundraising events do get in touch with either the hall
committee or the toddler group. We are hoping to be able to afford two ‘springy things’
suitable for preschool children, plus we plan to try and reinstate the bucket swings for toddlers
if possible.

The Village Hall AGM took place on 31st March and we welcome new committee members
and are pleased that existing members have decided to stay. Here are the committee members
for 2011: Glyn Richards (chairman), Keith Bellinger, Kim Bellinger, Sharon Carver, Anita
Chapman, Gloria Dare, John Edwards, Ken Edwards, Colin Gillespie, Sarah Gower, Philip
Ham, Simon Haswell, Garth Hill, Jenny Hill, Alison Jarah, David Jeanes, Mike Johnson,
Clare Jones, Jackie Loxton, Anne Milne, Rodney Parish, Jonathan Richards, Jan Rigden, Gill
Thomas, Jerome Timbrell and Gary Wales.

Finally the main hall is beginning to look in need of a new coat of paint. We are hoping to get
together a group of volunteers, probably over the school summer holidays when things are
quiet, to smarten it up. If you think you could spare a day do get in touch with Jan Rigden
(Tel:671376), the more people involved the quicker it will be finished and the more fun will
be had!

 WESTPOINT ELECTRICAL                                          FOR A FAST AND RELIABLE SERVICE
    • Domestic Installation specialist                               CONTACT PAT BROWN
    • Rewiring & New Installation
    • Testing and Inspection                                                Tel. 01278 427168,
    • TV & Telephone                                                       Mobile 0779 6062137
    • Intruder Alarms                                                 4 Hawkridge Road, Bridgwater
 NIC-EIC Part P Registered Contractor

                                       DOG & PUPPY TRAINING
 Catherine Tomlinson - MSc Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare
 Using kind and effective training methods that will enable your dog to
 become a well behaved and adjusted part of your family.
 Home Visits                                Behavioural Advice
 One-to-One Canine Training                 Puppy School

 Call 07900 576999 for details

                                                                     Spaxton Community
               SAFETY                                              Exhibition Display Boards
  PROFESSIONAL COST COMPETITIVE                                    Free hire for parish and village use
            SERVICE                                                Two 6 - panel, pin / velcro friendly
     •   Safety Policies
     •   Safety Planning
                                                                      boards, easily transportable
     •   Risk Assessments
     •   Method Statements                                                Contact Pete Lockley 671121
     •   Safety Training                                                      Or Phil Ham 671626
         01278 671995

                       SPAXTON WEBSITES (December 2009)
 SPAXTON FLOWER SHOW              
 SPAXTON BYGONE PHOTOS             Collection from Colin Smith
 QUANTOCK ON LINE                 
 SPAXTON SOCIETY                  
 SPAXTON SCHOOL                   

Class 4 MOTs, Petrol and Diesel
Agricultural + Commercial Work undertaken
Fabrication + All types of Welding
All cars serviced and Repaired
You will find us on the road between The Cottage Inn pub and Nether Stowey
                      CONTACT NUMBER 01278 733145
A message from Dr Bray about her Spaxton branch surgery
Many of you will already know that I have stopped holding a weekly branch surgery in Spaxton.

We have recently made essential changes to the main appointments timetable at the Health Centre in
Cannington, with the result that I am unable to continue with the Spaxton surgery on a Tuesday. Even if
there was a suitable session available at the Village Hall on a different day, we have come to the difficult
decision the holding the branch surgery is not the most effective use of my time. At a
time of ever increasing demand and dwindling resources, we have to use GP time to the
greatest benefit and this unfortunately means stopping the Spaxton branch surgery.

We will continue to deliver repeat prescriptions to Spaxton post office, late on Monday
afternoon. Please order your medication by the previous Thursday lunchtime to ensure
delivery on Monday.

        A Message from Spaxton Oil Consortium – oil thefts
        We have heard that, during the past ten days, there have been thefts of oil on more than one occasion
        from the tank of one of our Consortium members in the Merridge area. Although there have been
        occasional reports in the media over the past months of people stealing oil from domestic tanks, it is
        shocking to hear of a case on our own doorstep and we all need to be vigilant.
        Please do all you can to limit unauthorised access to your tank and, if you have any particularly
        effective means of doing this that you would care to share with other members of the Consortium,
        please let us know and we will circulate them to everybody. Your information may help somebody
        else improve the security of their tank.
        Many thanks for your help with this,
        Liz 'n John

Quantock Hills Joint Advisory Committee meeting – Friday 22 July

As you may be aware the Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) represents the Quantock Hills partnership and is
the decision
making body which produces the Management Plan and guides the work of the Quantock Hills AONB
Service. The committee meets approximately four times a year and the papers from these meetings are
available to download via the below link:

The Quantock Hills AONB Service is preparing to hold the next JAC meeting in Spaxton Village Hall on
Friday the 22nd July at 2.15pm. This meeting is always open to all members of the public and this is the first
time the meeting will have been held in Spaxton Village Hall.

If you require any further information please contact: Katy Coate, Support Assistant Mon-Thurs, 9.15 - 15.15,
Quantock Hills AONB Service 01823 451884, Fyne Court, Broomfield. Website:

                                               Thank you to

                                     Pardoes Solicitors
                   For printing this edition of the Spaxton Community News
                                                   JUNE 2011
 Sunday    AISHOLT        ENMORE       GOATHURST            NETHER           OVER STOWEY           SPAXTON

          Holy Comm     Evensong       Family Comm      Holy Comm 8.00      Evensong 6.30      Holy Comm 11.00
    5     11.00         6.30           9.30             Family Worship
 PENTE    Matins        Holy Comm      Evensong 6.30    Family Comm         Holy Comm 8.00     Morn Worship
 COST     11.00         11.00                           11.00                                  11.00

          Matins        Holy Comm      Family Worship   Holy Comm 8.00      Morn Worship       Holy Comm 8.00
   19     11.00         11.00          9.30             Family Worship      9.30

          Matins        Holy Comm      Holy Comm        Family Comm         Holy Comm 8.00     Holy Comm 11.00
   26     11.00         9.30           6.30             11.00               PATRONAL 6.30

                                                   JULY 2011
 Sunday    AISHOLT       ENMORE        GOATHURST            NETHER            OVER STOWEY            SPAXTON

                                                     BENEFICE SERVICE
    3                                                 NETHER STOWEY

          Matins        Evensong       Family Comm      Holy Comm 8.00      Evensong 6.30         Holy Comm
   10     11.00         6.30           9.30             Family Worship                            11.00
          Matins        Holy Comm      Evensong 6.30    Family Comm         Holy Comm 8.00        Morn Worship
   17     11.00         11.00                           11.00                                     11.00

          Holy Comm     Holy Comm      Family Worship   Holy Comm 8.00      Holy Comm 9.30        Holy Comm
   24     11.00         11.00          9.30             Family Worship                            8.00

          Matins        Holy Comm      Holy Comm        Family Comm         Holy Comm 8.00        Holy Comm
   31     11.00         9.30           6.30             11.00                                     11.00

                                        Spaxton Women’s Institute
Members visited the Children’s Hospice, Charlton Farm, Wraxall and found the visit to be enlightening and very
impressive – the care and detail for the children being there is ‘second to none’.

            The ‘poems and puds’ evening gave all members a chance to bring along a poem. These ranged from sad,
            thought provoking and hilarious. Members enjoyed the ‘pud’ part of the evening – delicious puddings with
            everyone ‘tucking in’. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed.

           Gloria (President) and Pam (Treasurer) attended the International Women’s Day Conference at Draycott
           which they both found very interesting. Pam is to be our delegate at the National Federation of Women’s
           Institutes Annual General Meeting to be held at Liverpool in June. The two resolutions to go to the vote
and which we have discussed are ‘the closure of local libraries’ and ‘the practice of factory farming’ (proposed mega
Our meeting on 1st June 2011 includes a speaker on ‘Pets as Therapy’ and if you would like to come along you will be
most welcome. For more information regarding the programme of talks throughout the year please contact Gloria Dare
                   News from Spaxton and District Flower Show Committee
Following our plea for new members of the Committee we are delighted to welcome our new members to secure the
future of our shows.

The Spring Flower Show
The Spring Flower Show was held on 2nd April. As usual, the village hall looked, and smelt, fantastic. The weather was
kind to us and an excellent afternoon was had by all. It was a delight to see an increase in children’s entries this year
and to see so many of you who turned out to support the event. A big thank you to all of you who helped in any way on
the day and/or donated cakes. The cup winners were:
                 Adults                                                     Juniors
                 Mark Dare Cup:                                             O. M. Silfe Cup (under 8 yrs):
                 W. Cornish Cup:                                            Dorcas Harris Cup (8-11 yrs):
                 E. N. Bishop Cup:                                          K&L Wheat Cup (12-16 yrs): Katherine Hill
                 Peerless Cup:
                 Upham Memorial Salver:

The Spaxton Village Show Saturday 6th August 2011
Spaxton Summer show is approaching! With a highly competitive and exciting programme together with your continued
support this year’s event has the potential to be one of the best. The Marquee is sure to be filled with an array of
seasonal flowers and vegetables along side arts and craft entries from the village and beyond.

A regular feature of the Marquee is the exhibits from the Scrap Heap Challenge annually held on the Wednesday before
the Summer Show. Youngsters and grown-ups will be creating their masterpieces and hoping for scrap heap glory
bestowed by the panel of experts. Do come along and have a go. Tickets are available in advance from Karen de Groot
and myself. The ticket price is £3 which includes refreshments.

Outside the Marquee there will be a local produce stall, raffle with a £50 first prize, sports,
plenty for the children to play on, ice creams, home-made teas and a bar, car boot sale
and much more. There will be something for everyone on the day, we have performances
from the international award winning Chameleon Batonettes, an Irish dancing display,
music from Fiddlin’ Folk and, not forgetting, the Tug of War Competition! Please see
details of the evening Race Night organised by Spaxton School PTFA later in the

From early July, schedules for classes which can be entered will be delivered to most houses in the Village, available at
Spaxton Post Office and available on our website

I hope you are looking forward to this very important date in the calendar and, of course, there is still plenty of time to
get to work on preparing your entries as did the talented Spring Show Cup winners listed below.

The more help we receive, the more activities we can put on. To help us plan ahead, please could you see if you can
spare some time to help on the day, even half an hour is appreciated. Please complete the tear of slip below and leave
it at the post office or give us a call or e-mail. Thank you.

See you on the 6 August.

Tim Yeandle (Chair)
Contact details: Tim 671523 (, Karen 671741 (

Please return to Post Office by 1 July
Offers to help with Village Show on Saturday 6 August

I would like to help: with the teas/on the raffle/run a side show/anything!*

I can help for:            30 mins/one hour/two hours*              I can donate a cake: Yes/No*

Name:.....................................................          Contact phone no:...................................
*delete as applicable

              Spaxton School PTFA present.....a Race Night

              The Race Night will be held in the marquee after the Village Show
               on Saturday 6 August at 7:30pm with races starting at 8:00 pm.

                         Tickets are £3.00 each and this includes a pasty!

                              Tickets available from Jenny Hill: 671622

Do we have your attention?     Well either way, let us tell you more:-

The Stogursey Twinning Association is celebrating their 25th Anniversary of being twinned with Lonlay L’Abbaye and
are hosting our friends on the 25/26th June 2011.
                  The centre-piece of the weekend will be a Sealed Knot re-enactment that will be taking place on the
                  Victory Hall playing fields in Stogursey. There will be a living history presentation of a civil war army
                  and camp focusing on everyday live in the mid seventeenth century, “The Muster” and then “The
                  Skirmish” itself. It will involve pike men, musketeers, artillery.
                  We also want to include other typically British aspects of culture so on the field itself we will have
                  Morris Dancers, The Quantock Musical Theatre Company, Concert Band, Punch and Judy, Classic Cars
                  and various craft stalls.
                  There will be a licensed bar, BBQ, ice cream, tea, coffee and cake available all day.
                  However, it is not just restricted to the playing fields in Stogursey. The church is holding a flower
festival all weekend with the theme being “The Bayeux Tapestry”.
Throughout the village, the traditional sight of Scarecrows in gardens or up the walls of houses will be part of our
weekend as the villagers take part in their annual scarecrow trail. Refreshments will be available in the Church Rooms
as well.
We have invited all the different societies and organisations from the village to help us plan and carry out this day so
this is our invitation to our neighbouring villages to COME AND JOIN US.

Events start at 12pm and will finish by 4pm. Entry is free but car parking is available at a cost of £5.00 for the day.

Any offers of help or if you would like to take part in any way, then please phone Cath Macadam on 01278

Enmore and District Gardening Club
Tuesday 28 June
“Wildlife in the Garden” – David Manners
         Sharing your garden with nature

Tuesday 26 July
“Farming and Wildlife” – Peter Beedon (re-arranged from April)

We meet in Enmore Memorial Hall on the last Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm. Visitors are always welcome, £2.50
including refreshments. We hold a raffle and there is a “bring and buy” plant and produce stall.

Further information from Stuart Hill: 01278 671326
                                       SPAXTON BIRD REPORT

What a glorious spring! Good weather with lots of our returning migrant birds adding their song to the
sunshine! We had a cuckoo calling at Aisholt as early as mid-April and across the country there were reports
of our summer birds arriving ahead of schedule. It’s a bit of a mystery why this should be as many of them
come from Africa and would presumably have started their journey in ignorance of the conditions here!
Spaxton seems to be a particularly good place for the group of little migrant warblers sometimes known as
“nettle creepers” – they skulk in dense hedges, scrub or patches of overgrown bramble. The first of these to
arrive each spring and start singing is the blackcap, producing a wonderful outpouring of ringing liquid. You
may see the male: a sparrow- sized grey and white bird with a glossy black cap, keen to establish his
territory. The female is far more secretive and has a chestnut cap. Some now spend the winter in the south of
England and while most are said to go to Africa, others may only venture as far as the Med. As a result we’ve
had blackcaps singing here from early April. Another “nettle creeper” who arrived a couple of weeks later
from sub-Saharan Africa is the whitethroat, a similar sized bird with a drab chestnut back and grey head, but
with a noticeably white throat. He sings a rather scratchy short song from a hedge or occasionally produces
his best effort in a song flight – 15 ft up into the air, singing, and back to the same spot.
We all associate the arrival of spring with swallows from Africa and the first of these were in Spaxton around
mid April. Even earlier were their relatives: a group of brown and white sand martins spent several days
fuelling up on insects over Ashford reservoir before moving on to their nesting sites in colonies in sandy river
banks. However, the more usual blue and white house martins that nest under our eaves and the bulk of the
swallows seemed to be slower arriving, perhaps because the high pressure that brought us good weather
produced winds from the north, slowing migrants moving from the south.
                   Ashford and Hawkridge have lost their populations of over-wintering ducks, which included
                   pochard, teal and shellduck, the occasional rarer goldeneye and smew, as well as large
                   numbers of tufted duck – smart black and white males and drabber brown and white females
                   – some of the “tufties” are staying to breed. Also in residence are several pairs of tiny dark
                   dabchick, or little grebe, who do very well at Ashford and some elegant, long-necked great
crested grebes who have been displaying, with their crests raised, mirroring each other’s movements. The
mute swans have a big, scruffy nest in the reeds at Currypool Mill and were sitting on eggs by Easter but, as
usual, the mallards got there first, with 3 broods of chicks out and about. I wish that some of our reservoir
banks were out-of-bounds to humans over the spring and early summer – more water birds would be able to
nest undisturbed.
Many of us will have been woken up by the dawn chorus, which usually peaks in May. This is full of our
native local birds: robin, blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, greenfinch, wren, blue, great and coal tits, as well
as the migrant warblers, which include the chiffchaff, a delicate-looking little yellowy
brown number whose song sounds exactly like its name.
The woods of the Quantocks are full of more exotic summer birds: take a walk up one
of the coombes at Holford and hear redstarts – in amazing numbers – woodwarblers,
whose song sounds like a spinning coin, pied flycatchers, tree pipit and raven. Some
of these sometimes stray as far as Spaxton: the croaks of big, black raven overhead or
a smart little black and white male pied flycatcher in the alders at the end of Twinnell Lane.
In the fields the foraging winter flocks of small buntings and finches disappeared during April, as they paired
up and went north, leaving a number of linnets to breed in the hedgerows –the males are rather wheezy
singers but have a pretty pinky red front. We also have large numbers of goldfinches: pretty, colourful birds
with a happy tinkling song.
The good weather has got the birds’ breeding season off to a head start. There is always a risk that early
broods of chicks will suffer if prolonged rainy weather gets them chilled and wet, but so far the “sunshine and
showers” will have allowed parents to brood vulnerable nestlings during the downpours, then go foraging as
the sun breaks through again .
We have lived in Spaxton for a year now and love it here but, as we can’t find a house to buy that suits us,
we’re off to Pembroke. Hope the birds and the people are as nice! Any local birding chat, email me on
                                                                                                      Jane Herbert
                                                                                             The Barn at Splatt Mill
Once again we are seeing evidence for the fact that a severe winter – for all that it presents hardships to
overwintering birds and other fauna – can stimulate spectacular floral displays in our wild flowers, shrubs and
trees, and these have been all the more stunning for having coincided with that amazing spell of glorious
April weather to set everything off. I never fail to be amazed at the annual displays of primroses in this part of
the world, yet this year they were more exceptional than ever.

All this flowering brought out the early bees and butterflies, and this was a good
year for bee-flies, looking like bumble bees but actually flies, and identifiable by
their rigid tongues which stick straight out in front of the head as they hover over
a flower. Among the butterflies the delightful orange tip, whose flight time this
is, has done especially well. The garlic mustard (Jack-by-the-hedge) in our local
hedgerows and gardens became well sprinkled with the tiny orange eggs of this
butterfly, from which baby caterpillars – a turquoisy blue by contrast – are now
hatching. I’ve mentioned before how resilient these are to the cold winds and heavy showers such as we’ve
been getting since May set in, but I noticed one of our resident blue tits working its way among the plants the
other day so I hope they haven’t polished off all the caterpillars.

This is a reminder of how uncompromising – even cruel to our human eyes – nature can be, and another
example was the elegant sparrowhawk I found myself following as I drove from Spaxton along the Radlet
road this morning. It was a male (smaller than the female) and was gliding along ahead of me at about 25
mph, almost touching the road surface. He must have had his undercarriage well retracted! He actually landed
on the road twice and took off again immediately he saw me following, but he finally dog-legged abruptly
into the adjoining hedge where I imagine he zapped an unsuspecting chaffinch or perhaps one of our many
hedgerow whitethroats for his breakfast.

One of the consequences of the exceptional early-spring weather was the speeding up of the rate at which
flowering came to its peak and passed, at least for those species (the majority, I think) which respond to
accumulated warmth or “day-degrees”, as distinct from daylength. I had some work in the Brecon Beacons
near Hay-on-Wye which involved travelling up via Herefordshire’s Golden Valley, and while the first trip
witnessed mile after mile of roadside snowdrops, the next time it was all daffodils and dandelions, and by
now the apple blossom in those fabulous orchards will have come and gone. Last week I arrived with my
camera to take photos of bluebells and early purple orchids in a favoured spot in the Mendips and they had
virtually gone over. I know there are plenty of other goodies to follow in their turn, but there really is
something very special about spring.

                       All this stuff relating to the timing of the appearance of flowers and insects is known
                       technically as phenology, and there are a number of projects in progress nationally to
                       place this fascinating subject on a more objective and quantitative basis, particularly
                       when it comes to monitoring the evidence for climate change. A closely related
                       branch of biology studies changes in the size of populations of plants and animals, and
                       this is known as demography. This brings us back to dandelions, and who can have
                       failed to notice the truly fantastic numbers of these plants in 2011 – ablaze with colour
                       each day before the flower-heads close up again, followed later by the familiar puff-
                       balls or “dandelion clocks” which we puff away at with our kids to “tell the time”. I
                       often wonder how cattle and other grazing animals cope with so many in their
                       pastures. You’d think the prickly parachutes would stick in their throats. Beautiful as
dandelions are, they may be a threat to more diverse communities, and it remains to be seen whether this
proves to have been a seasonal glitch or whether it represents a more long-term trend. Their taproots may give
them a more permanent hold. We can only wait and see!

Chris S.

    Fiddlin’ Folk Fun

    Hello, my name is Robyn and I am 10 years old. I live in Spaxton and I play the violin.
    I love playing at Fiddlin’ Folk because everyone happily helps each other. We have
    appeared at festivals and coffee mornings and we hold workshops which are such
    fun. I have made loads of new friends and hopefully will make even more with
    children like YOU!

    Please come a join us, we practice once a month at North Curry Village Hall. We are
    looking for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, ukulele and recorder players aged 7-
    14 years.

    For further details please contact: Mrs Anna Bushell, 01823 490269,

                                        Your once in a lifetime opportunity…

                              Sunday, 12th June at 3pm – Broomfield Village Hall

                                Sunday Tea with … Wendy Cope
 Come and have Sunday afternoon tea and cakes on the Quantocks with Britain’s favourite poet and one of our funniest
 Wendy is the author of "Bloody men are like bloody buses …" and many, many other favourite poems. Widely tipped
                   to have been chosen as Poet Laureate, she is often called the People’s Laureate.
                                 Wendy will read from her latest book and, of course,
                                        from her best-selling collections.
                                                  Tickets £5/£10/£15/£18

                                           MUSIC ON THE QUANTOCKS
                      To book tickets for Tea with Wendy please email:
                              or go to our website
                             If you do not have email, please telephone 01823 451162

         Somerset Chamber Choir with Emma Kirkby: Bach B minor Mass at Wells Cathedral

 Somerset Chamber Choir again perform with the world-renowned soprano (and choir Patron) Dame Emma Kirkby at
                                  Wells Cathedral on Saturday 30 July at 7pm.

  She will join the choir and a team of superb young soloists (Tim Mead, Nicholas Mulroy & Samuel Evans), baroque
orchestra Canzona and conductor Graham Caldbeck to perform Bach's Mass in B minor - considered one of the greatest
                                           pieces of choral music ever written.

                Concerts of this calibre do not happen often in Somerset, so early booking is advised!
                     Tickets (priced £10-£28) are available from Taunton TIC (01823 336344)
                                   or online at

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