Revitalising the Allotments – July & August 2020

Revitalising the allotments

Sharing

I was pleased to report, in last month’s edition of the Prattler, that allotment holders had been generously sharing their surplus plants with other allotment holders. That has continued throughout June with more and more excess being offered. What a generous group of people we have in our growing community. I am sure that when excess produce is forthcoming later in the season, there will be fruit and veg to hand out too. I won’t even attempt to guess how many oversized courgette’s are likely to appear! An old wheelbarrow now sits proudly in the picnic area and hopefully by the time this article goes to print, there will be a sign attached directing you to place all surplus items there.

It has been encouraging to see more and more villagers making use of the picnic area. It is a tranquil place to sit and while away some time.

We are also encouraging people to visit our community flower patch (clearly signposted) and, if they so wish, help themselves to some cut flowers. Cutting carefully should enable everyone to have a bunch – so bring a pair of scissors or secateurs. Sweet peas benefit especially from regular cutting and will continue to flower all season if that happens. Later in the year we are hopeful that we may have sufficient soft fruit to offer to you as well. Just keep an eye on the notice boards at the entrances to the allotments and on the large shed in the middle of the site.

A spare watering can be found by the sweet pea wigwam, so if you are cutting flowers you might also give the plants in that area a drink. Every little helps.

Links to the past

We were very pleased to accept a donation of old tools from two allotment holders who found them at the back of their parents’ garden shed. They’d once rented an allotment in the village and it was wonderful to think that the tools were “coming home” and again being put to use. If you are a new allotmenteer or just want to make use of some unusual hoes and hand cultivators, let us know. They are stored in the community shed and available to borrow.

If you too have any unwanted garden tools let us know; someone can probably
make good use of them.

Wildlife

One of the joys of working on the allotments is the amount of wildlife you see. Even if we do seem to spend a lot of time and effort protecting crops from greedy pigeons and butterflies anxious to lay their eggs on our tasty greens, the benefits from creating a rich and diverse eco-system far outweigh any small loss of produce. It has been wonderful to see more and more people visiting the allotment wildlife area, created and curated by Dave and Pauline Musson and Mark and Mary Newstead.

An indication of the richness of our eco-system has been the presence of more frogs, toads and hedgehogs on the allotment. They are beneficial visitors to allotments and gardens, hoovering up large quantities of slugs and snails. A note of caution however: try to avoid using larger gauge netting to protect crops as it can snag and trap hedgehogs. One conscientious allotment holder recently spent an hour disentangling one of our prickly friends from a piece of netting before taking him off to the vet! I am pleased to report that the hedgehog made a full recovery and when set free, limped off across the allotment site to find more slimy treats for dinner.

Equipment
A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

I believe in the life enhancing virtues of
pure earth, clean air and blue sky.
Octavia Hill – founder of the National Trust

Heyford Singers – July & August 2020

HeyfordSingersJuly2020

Quiz question
When did the song above hit the No 1 spot in the music charts?

I think most people reading this article would agree that if a lockdown had to be imposed, there is no better place to experience it than by living in Nether Heyford. The ready access to beautiful open countryside which surrounds the village, the large village green and open spaces within the area, have enabled folk to enjoy exercise and being outdoors whilst appreciating nature in all its glory as the seasons have changed. Praise too to the local shops which, in times of queues and shortages, have kept the local community continually supplied with food and other goods, whilst the take-aways and book swaps offered by the pubs have provided relief and pleasure.

As the lockdown measures gradually ease it has been a delight to see small groups of pre-school children walking around the village, and the quieter, but still noticeable sounds of children back at Bliss School. The Pizza Van is ‘back in town’, hungry customers patiently waiting for their orders whilst they sit and play on the green, and there is now a steady march of twos or fours towards the tennis courts and playing fields.

In the days and weeks to come we will hopefully see more signs of this cautious awakening, the church and chapel offering the opportunity for quiet reflection and prayer, if not yet large group gatherings or celebratory events, additional sporting activities at the playing fields, and maybe pints enjoyed in pub gardens!

Our little village hall, both a visual and metaphorical hub for the local community still remains closed… except for the wonderful work of volunteers who gather there weekly to sort and distribute food boxes to older and less mobile people in the village. They have, and still continue to do, a sterling job – thank you to each and every one!

I do miss the ‘business’ of the village hall, the full car park evidence that inside people were socialising, exercising, honing their skills and learning – W I meetings, bowling, yoga, Pilates, and taekwondo, gardening and flower arranging, sewing and patchwork, singing, films, quizzes and parties. Our local meeting place is very much the centre of village life and all that we enjoy. Sadly it has been unable to bask in our appreciation of its value, now and in years past, as the 60th anniversary celebrations also fell victim to the Covid 19 lockdown. But I have no doubt that Alwyne (Chairman) and all members of the village hall committee and friends are working hard to ensure that as soon as it is safe and wise to do so, we may again enjoy all the benefits the village hall offers.

Quiz question answer. This was the No 1 hit, and best-selling single, when the village hall was opened on 8th May 1960 by Lord Spencer, and maybe danced to at celebrations that evening or weekend. It remained at the No 1 spot for 7 weeks!

Appropriately now I give you our village hall Chairman’s choice of music should she be cast far away on a desert island, where there is no village hall, no nasty virus, but also no community to be part of!

Thank you Alwyne

I wish everyone a safe and sunny summer, which I hope will slowly and carefully return us to our busy vibrant community!

Desert Island Discs – your choices – Alwyne Wilson:

I usually prefer classical music, especially baroque, but at the moment whilst I’m wading through an extremely tedious and time-consuming list of admin tasks for my family, I feel I need some diverting company – hence this list of vocalists:

Mamma Mia! Of course.
Aled Jones – I’ve been a fan since his choirboy days.
Barbara Dickson – always wished I could sing like her.
Katherine Jenkins – ditto –
Hayley Westenra – ditto – (In my dreams I can sing both soprano and alto)
Alfie Boe – some friends of mine met him many years ago and became friends. I feel therefore I have an affinity with him.
Neil Diamond – Fantastic! Makes an old lady very happy.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Heyford Singers – Desert Island Discs – June 2020

Desert Island Discs – your choices

Below is another selection of favourite music chosen by one of our readers. We
thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to this choice, so thank you Mick.

Jill Langrish

Mick Watts’ Desert Island Discs – May 2020

I never realised quite how difficult it would be to choose just 8 pieces of music – almost every piece brings back memories of certain times and places. I have chosen 8 classical pieces and 8 more popular compositions and as the choices are so tenuous have placed them in alphabetical order. If pushed for just eight I would choose those with the *.

*Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor
Abba – I have a Dream
*Carly Simon – No Secrets
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
*Dire Straits – So Far Away
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
*Joaquin Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez
Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
*Ludovico Einaudi – Divenire
Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing
*Steeleye Span – Thomas the Rhymer
Fairport Convention – Sir Patrick Spens
*The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
Ludovico Einaudi – Andare
*Wagner – Overture to Tanhäuser
Ludovico Einaudi – Oltremare

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C Minor is arguably the best piano composition of all time. Such virtuosity required to play. First heard it live at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, conducted and played by Vladimir Ashkenazy. A bit disappointing really as he was seemingly not able to give his full attention to either the orchestra or the piano and his antics rather distracted from the overall performance. But then, quite recently, I heard both piano concertos 3 and 4 played by Krystian Zimerman with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein, which were absolutely sublime and would be an extremely hard act to follow. Those are the recordings I have chosen.

On the other page so to speak is the contemporary concert pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. I have several of his CD’s and had tried, with limited success, to replicate some of his compositions on our piano. My excuse is that he must have a very large finger span. Anyway, I went to the Birmingham Town Hall to see his concert with my elder daughter and having fought our way through a jam packed Christmas market only just made it in time. It was as expected a brilliant performance and it was just as if his hands were hovering over the keyboard yet this magnificent sound was produced. I would need to play 8 hours a day for 10 years of lockdown to come close.

What can I say? Virtuoso guitar performances by Mark Knoppler. Just magical. We used to put the Brothers in Arms audio cassette on when we travelled down to Devon when the girls were quite young. They always said “can we have the Whoo Hoo song” (The Walk of Life) and they laughed and giggled for ages. It certainly delayed the cries of “are we nearly there yet”. With so many people in enforced isolation the song I have chosen could be rather apt but the Brothers in Arms track would be just great as a finale.

The sheer volume generated by The Who is almost enough to blow your brains out. A classic.

And the Overture to Tanhäuser by Wagner always makes my neck hairs stand up.

Last year we went to The Stables at Wavendon near Milton Keynes to see the 50th Anniversary tour of the reformed Steeleye Span, wondering if they may have lost a bit of magic. We need not have worried as they were great. Jessie May Smart, the classically trained violinist in their latest line up brought a new dimension to the band and harmonised well with Maddy Prior. Again a difficult choice of their repertoire – The Wife of Ushers Well and 700 Elves just losing out.

Carly Simon is in another class act – she had such a vocal range. A recent TV programme entitled ‘No Secrets’ was indeed apt and showed that she certainly led a full, uninhibited life as many of her songs portray. Her voice is still fantastic.

Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is for me one of the most relaxing guitar pieces ever. You can close your eyes and be transported.

Mick Watts

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Heyford Singers – June 2020

HeyfordSingersJune2020

Quiz question (for we are all into quizzes now)
Where and when was the song above played, sung along to, and greatly enjoyed?

It has been a truly beautiful spring and early summer. And despite other restrictions we may have, there is no doubt that nature in her true glory, has softened the anxieties of the past few weeks. Sitting watching the sun set in the early evening, we are often serenaded by a blackbird who routinely perches on a tree in our garden. How privileged to have this free daily concert!

If the flowers and trees have provided the rich tapestry of spring and early summer, it is the birds that provide the musical accompaniment. From very early in the morning these feathered choristers can be heard, outside our bedroom windows, cajoling us into action. Like eternal optimists their songs have the ability to brighten each day. The robin’s song is beautiful and joyful, as if sung with all his heart and soul, and unlike other birds can be heard all year round. The full-throated melody of the blackbird is one of our best loved songs; as soon as green shoots appear he bursts into song from dawn until dusk. A tribute to the fact that size is not everything, the tiny wren has a lively and full-throated warbling song, whilst that of the great tit resembles a squeaky wheel! The much loved visitor to our gardens, the blue tit, has a loud and high pitched song which ends with a long rapid trill. Were you fortunate to hear a cuckoo this year? For me the best of all is the rich, high pitched song of the skylark as he soars upwards in a blue summer sky before plunging downwards …. and the melody stops, as if on cue! I have yet to hear a skylark this year, but as the lockdown eases and we venture further, both in distance and into longer summer days, I hope to enjoy what the poet George Meredith described as “ a silver chain of sound”.

If I have to wait a little longer for that real skylark song then there will always be the beautiful “The Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams, to listen to again … and again, and now rightfully acknowledged as one of the nation’s favourite pieces of music.

If I want another music genre to celebrate the joy of our feathered friends, there is the wonderful compilation between Yehudi Menuhin (violin) and Stephan Grappelli (violin and piano) entitled “Strictly for the Birds” – “ A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”, “Lullaby of Birdland” and “Bye, Bye Blackbird” amongst the many great tracks.

So back to the song quoted at the top of this article and the quiz question.

Answer During the 1980s and 90s at Bliss School a little teddy bear, called William Bliss, travelled the world in the company of a pilot friend of headteacher Alan Watson. Every time William arrived in a new destination he sent the school a postcard to be read and shared by everyone, and this was heralded by playing and singing the song above. Happy memories, but also happy thoughts that soon we may all enjoy places and people who are further afield. Until then keep safe, keep well and keep smiling.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Revitalising the Allotments – June 2020

Revitalising the allotments

Having spent over forty years teaching, I grew very accustomed to the sound of little people’s voices and since retirement I have missed that more than I realised. The situation has been compounded by the fact that we can’t even hear the cheerful sounds that emanated from village school at playtimes.

So, what has all that got to do with allotments you might be asking?

Well, I am pleased to say that another benefit of having virtually every plot on the allotments occupied is that we have many more young families joining us and they bring children with them. It is refreshing to hear and see them enjoying the outdoors, learning about growing things and appreciating and respecting the hard work of others. With a little guidance it is amazing how quickly children learn where not to tread! A particularly special thank you must go to the young people who have assisted on the community plot, whether that is simply deadheading bulbs that have “gone over” or more strenuous tasks such as digging, watering and moving soil and compost.

The current lockdown meant that a project about growing and sustainability, that we were setting up with the village school, had to be postponed. However, the allotments and the school are not going away and we are hopeful that when the climate is right, the project can recommence. If Coronavirus has taught us anything it is the importance of valuing the natural world and the provenance of food (and so much else we’ve taken for granted). There is so much to look forward to.

Where did that come from?

All that fine weather in April and early May really did convince a lot of people that it was safe to put out tender plants. What a mistake. Nature is nothing if not fickle and I am sure that by the middle of May a lot of allotmenteers were suddenly donning warm coats and saying “Where did that come from?” Beans, potatoes and young sweet corn plants were scorched by late frost. Some plants will recover, but where they won’t I suppose we always have the reopened garden centres. Gardeners learn from experience and dead plants teach us a valuable lesson.

The Community Orchard

Fortunately, the fruit on most of the trees in the orchard had set by the time the cold snap arrived so we are hopeful that this will not have been affected by our inclement weather. Cherry trees have been netted against marauding birds – although we’ll perhaps remove the covers once most of the fruit has been picked, just to give them a little something to snack on.

A big thank you must go to the volunteers who not only keep the grass in the orchard under control, but those who water and weed around the trees.

Sharing

We have a large table in the middle of the community area that has been used to display any plants that people have spare and are quite happy to share. A big thank you to the good souls who have recently left young lettuce, strawberry plants, assorted brassicas and seed potatoes. Where possible we will advertise what is on offer by posting a notice on the blackboard by the shed and on the notice boards at the allotment entrances. Do feel free to add more spare items as well as avail yourself of plants that others have left.

If our amazing growing experiences this season result in an excess of produce and you have nowhere or no one to give it to, do make use of the sharing table. It is good to share and allotmenteers are generally a generous lot.

Pathways

A big thank you to all the allotment holders who are able to keep their pathways mown and tidy and special thank you to Bill Corner for the conscientious way that he strims all those other areas that need attention. It really has been a feature that has changed the allotments so dramatically. Some pathways have, over the years, become increasingly narrow, which means that getting a mower along them is impossible – hence the need for a strimmer. Plot holders can, in a small way assist Bill by trying to ensure that any row markers or cloches are not set right against the path edge, thereby making it easier to strim and avoiding accidental damage to their equipment. If paths could be reinstated to their original width that would be even better, but I think that is an issue for the future and we are not even going there yet!

Equipment
A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”
Audrey Hepburn

Heyford Singers – Desert Island Discs – May 2020

Desert Island Discs – your choices

In response to my request to readers last month I have had a few replies. I am going to begin with the one from Keith Rands-Allen, and for this reason… as many of you may know Keith experienced a horrific road accident two summers ago. It has been a long and, at times difficult journey, back to full health and mobility. But his determination and resilience to “return to normal”, together with the support of Julie, his friends and family, is surely something that we all aspire to in these difficult times.

Jill Langrish

Keith Rands-Allen’s Desert Island Discs – 29th March 2020

I’ve always been a great lover of Jazz music since my early teens. When my friends were listening to Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley I was listening to Acker Bilk and Chris Barber, and the love of Jazz has stayed with me to this day. If you come to our house you will invariably find Alexa playing the American radio station Jazz24.

So these are the musicians and their recordings that have accompanied my life:

Singin’ the Blues by Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke on
cornet. (1927): Bix was one of the finest and most influential trumpet players of his age and a great influence on many Jazz trumpeters who followed him. Like many Jazz musicians he died tragically early in 1931 aged 28. His playing in Singin’ the Blues stands head and shoulders above the other musicians and his tone (“like shooting silver bullets at a bell”) melodic phrasing and rhythmic invention are exquisite.

Tiger Rag by Chris Barber (1953): This was the record that turned me on to Jazz. It was in a record collection in a house that I holidayed in around 1956 and I couldn’t stop playing it. The banjo player is Lonnie Donegan who later became very popular in the Skiffle craze.

Two Sleepy People by Fats Waller: Fats was a great favourite of my Dad. Fats was
a fine pianist, composer (Honeysuckle Rose) and singer with a wicked sense of
humour.

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong: Louis possessed two amazing
instruments – his trumpet and his voice, and this is a wonderful recording of his voice in later life after he’d been forced to give up blowing. His timing and phrasing are perfect. It’s also a favourite of Julie’s.

Jungle Town by Ken Colyer: Ken was an irascible British trumpet player and band
leader who insisted on sticking to the original purity of New Orleans Jazz. Having been partly responsible for the Trad Jazz boom of the sixties he came to despise its commercial excesses and went his own sweet way playing to small audiences in small Jazz Clubs. This recording has Ken playing (in a school hall in Edmonton) a fine trumpet line, but I think is notable for the last few choruses which demonstrate ensemble Jazz playing at its glorious raggy best!

Fine and Mellow by Billie Holiday: This was recorded for television and is available as a video on YouTube. It’s notable not only for Billie in relaxed voice but also for the galaxy of Jazz stars that accompany her including (In order of solos) Ben Webster (tenor sax), Lester Young (tenor sax), Vic Dickinson (trombone), Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), and Roy Eldridge (trumpet). Billie and Lester hadn’t worked together for some time and the expression on Billie’s face when Lester plays his wonderfully cool solo speaks volumes.

Bill by Cleo Laine: This comes from the musical Showboat which Julie and I saw (to mixed reviews! ) in the West End. I can’t listen to this with a dry eye. It’s a sloppy sentimental tune but Cleo’s interpretation is wonderful. The lyrics were originally written by P G Wodehouse.

Concerto for 2 Violins by Bach: This is just liquid beauty. They say that if Bach had been alive today he’d have been a Jazzer, which is why I think he is probably my favourite classical composer.

Then there’s all the stuff that I’d try to grab as the ship was sinking and smuggle ashore: Vissi D’arte by Maria Callas, Potato Head Blues by Louis Armstrong, how could I leave out Barbra Streisand, or something by Duke Ellington or Count Basie? And then there’s Art Tatum and Miles Davis, and I can’t leave out something by that fine guitar player Gary Potter. It’s so cruel having to choose! Oh God, I’ve just played Nimrod again – how can I leave that out?

Well, there we have it. I’ve put a date on it because if I had to choose again
tomorrow I would no doubt change something.

The book I would take? I’m not a great reader, but The Complete Works of
Shakespeare would be useful – I would keep the sonnets and the rest would come
in handy for lighting fires.

And my luxury? Probably a saxophone (alto or tenor) with a supply of reeds. I could then learn to play the thing properly and play along with my Jazz heroes. Or better still – a fully loaded I-pod complete with a solar battery charger and earphones!

Enough of this torture! It’s time to send the list to Jill.

In the unlikely event that anybody would like some or all of these tracks on a CD I’d be happy to oblige.

Keith Rands-Allen

____________________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Heyford Singers – May 2020

HeyfordSingersMay2020

A very Happy Birthday to all who celebrated birthdays during April (or since this current lock-down began). It was probably very different from how you’d expected or planned, without gatherings of friends or family to celebrate your day. Mine began with a 7.00 am telephone chorus of “Happy Birthday” from all my grandchildren, which fortunately I have kept it as an answerphone message for when I want to hear their joyful voices again.

We honoured Isabel Billingham, a very special lady in our community and in Manor Park, for her 90th birthday, with neighbours and friends gathering in the road to sing “Happy Birthday”, accompanied by Keith Rands-Allen on his saxophone. It was a really lovely occasion.

As this most beautiful of springtime unwinds, we are being treated to a daily
symphony of birdsong, from early morning until dusk. We now have the time to stop, to listen and to marvel at the different melodies being performed around us. The silence is also very obvious. Was the world so noisy and full of busy sounds that we have bypassed the magic of silent moments in our lives?

The quieter but distant hum from the motorway, or the less frequent trains hurtling north or south, are a reminder of those who have to travel to work, to keep us safe, healthy, fed and our utilities maintained.

When the telephone rings now it invariably means that a family member or friend
wants to have a chat, no need now for quick texts of emails, but to share and talk about ourselves and our days at home. Similarly I love to hear the 2 metre social distance “Hellos” or conversations as we pass other folk out on their daily exercise routes pass – suffice it to say that we have all made many, many more friends during this period than we would have done driving along in our cars.

I leave the most moving sound of all to last… that of the weekly Thursday night
applause for all those who are supporting us through these strange times, everyone in the hospitals, care homes, shops, schools, all those who deliver and collect for us. That simple act of clapping together, everywhere and by everyone, is truly amazing and heartfelt.

Keep safe, keep well and keep smiling.

Jill Langrish

____________________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Revitalising the Allotments – May 2020

I promised, in my last article that this would be a Covid 19 free area and I intend to stick to that, although I suspect that increased activity on the allotments may have just a little something to do with “that which will not be named”.

Bloomin’ Lovely
The allotments have never looked better. If you have had a chance to wander past the site on Watery Lane as part of your daily walk/exercise you can’t have avoided seeing so many well tended plots. If you have not ventured that way, then do so, it looks a treat and is testament to all those people who have worked so hard to make it happen.

The fact that so many people have more time on their hands is I suppose a factor, but I’ll skip over that. I would like to think that this has more to do with the good people of Heyford and nearby locations realising that growing your own fruit and veg is good for you and the planet.

Trees are in bloom, the ground has been tilled and sown with seed, the grass has been mown and things are starting to grow. Even more sheds are springing up from the earth!

And bird song, particularly on the calm sunlit evenings with which we have been blessed, has never sounded so loud and life affirming. It is a tonic and puts a spring in your step.

The Community Orchard
All the trees we planted just eighteen months ago have survived the winter and are flourishing. If the blossom on the trees and the number of foraging insects that we have seen is anything to go by, then the chances of trees producing some good fruit this year are high.

A big thank you must go to the volunteers who not only keep the grass in the orchard under control, but those who water and weed around the trees.

The pruning of the cherries and plums will take place in May – a little later than the apples and pears, so as to avoid a fungal disease called Silver Leaf.

Equipment
A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
We are now in the unusual position of having almost no vacant plots available. A group of us joked a year or so ago that one of our targets should be to arrive at point where we had to create a waiting list for an allotment. Fanciful we thought, impossible, some cautioned. Well, we are almost there. As I write this article (16th April) we have just half a plot available for rent. The waiting list could become a reality. If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
— Margaret Atwood

Heyford Singers – April 2020

HeyfordSingersApril2020

A few weeks ago we went to see a wonderful production of “The King and I’” at the Milton Keynes theatre. The story and its history, the songs and music are familiar to us, but we were intrigued by the scenes that focused on Anna demanding her own house! For those new to the story, it is about an English governess, Anna who is contracted to teach the numerous children of the King of Siam. The promise of having her own house doesn’t happen, so during those long months Anna focuses on teaching only songs, rhymes, stories, historical and geographical information all about houses, and homes, until the king finally relents!

Fast forward a month and it seems uncanny that we are all now looking towards spending considerably more time in our own houses, our own homes, away from other people. A house is bricks and mortar, but a home is what we fill it with, it is what makes it unique, our personal choices, our comforts, our memories, our family links, etc. And in the days ahead we have the opportunity, and time, to perhaps selfishly indulge in all these personal attributes. Radio, television, the phone and the computer connect us with the outside world, and that is very important. But so is giving ourselves time for other things, and I don’t necessarily mean clearing out the loft or a massive spring clean! There are books to be read, hobbies ‘laid aside” when too busy with other tasks, promised letters to distant friends or family, collections of photographs to be organised, and so on.

But let’s consider the music, the songs, even dancing that could entertain us in the weeks ahead. Here are a few idle thoughts, even a few challenges, to keep those little black notes dancing in our heads and in our lives …

  • By all means keep up to date with radio and television news, but it can become all embracing and somewhat depressing, so why not change channel and listen to music for a while. It is medically accepted that listening to music has a very calming effect and can make you feel more relaxed.
  • Step out of your comfort zone for a short while and listen to a different form of music to your usual preference. Folk, jazz, pop, classical, country and western, light opera – give it a try!
  • Sort out those CDs that are acquiring dust on the shelves, play them, turn up the volume, and sing along! It is wonderful how the words of Beatles songs come roaring back, a real feel good factor.
  • Or if you secretly regret never having been given apart in the film of “Mamma
    Mia” (or another musical) now is the opportunity to play the DVD or the CD,
    and sing, sing … and dance along.
  • Is there an instrument lying forlornly unplayed in the house, bypassed for busier pursuits? Get it out, play the ivories or the strings, and make music!
  • If you want something more quiet and contemplative think of that desert island. What eight special pieces of music would you choose to take, and why? I’m sure that most of us, at one time or another, have compiled our own list of favourite music. You could even send them to me – what a lovely idea for the May Prattler!

We’ve all probably seen the delightful video of Italians standing on their individual balconies and singing. Then there have been the various, and some quite imaginative ways to sing or dance through the 20 second hand washing time. And no doubt other inventive musical activities will come about in the days ahead. So keep playing, listening, singing, dancing and enjoying music – it is a rich world and it is so good for the soul!

Heyford Singers has understandably postponed all its rehearsals and spring concert in May. The title for the concert was “Let Us Entertain You” and we will again……soon!

Take care, look after yourselves and each other.

Jill Langrish

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If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:

www.heyfordsingers.org

 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.

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Revitalising the Allotments – April 2020

Pests and Diseases
I promise you this will not be another opportunity to go on about Coronavirus. We’ve had too much of that recently. This is a Covid 19 free area!

Pests and diseases trouble plants just as they trouble us humans. How we tackle them is a moot point and one that has divided gardeners for many years.

Since before Roman times gardeners have used all manner of concoctions to wage war against pests and diseases in plants. We have become increasingly inventive and clever devising what appears to be foolproof remedies. However, our cleverness does not necessarily mean we’ve been equally wise; for these efficacious products can have the most devastating effect on not just the baddies that ravage our crops, but also the many beneficial insects and animals that inhabit our countryside (and more specifically our allotments and gardens).

DDT was once hailed as the wonder chemical that would solve all our horticultural and agricultural problems until it was discovered to be slowly accumulating in the stomachs of a host of creatures, including humans, and doing untold damage. That was almost fifty years ago and yet even now big agro-chemical companies (and a host of retail outlets) develop and promote a range of pesticides and herbicides that have the potential of cause untold damage to the environment. Since the millennium, there has been a massive decline in the butterfly, beetle and bee population in Europe and the UK leading to the extinction of some species. Much of that can be laid at the door of these products. Sadly, the story is replicated across the whole world. The disappearance of these vital links in the chain of life means that pollination is threatened. No pollination, no food!

There is however some good to emerge from this. We are seeing herbicides and pesticides being used by fewer gardeners and allotmenteers as they discover more environmentally sustainable ways of controlling pests and diseases. Consumer pressure has led to this year seeing a ban on all slug pellets containing the highly toxic chemical metaldehyde. Fear not gardeners, an equally effective organic pellet using ferric phosphate will be available as a replacement.

Many alternative remedies are cheaper and have the added benefit of enhancing what and how we grow. Stop the pests from getting to your crops in the first place by using a barrier and growing sturdier plants. You might ask how that is done and of course you’ll probably guess, from previous articles, that the answer lies in homemade compost. This will develop good, fertile soil. Look after your soil and it will look after your plant

Getting Ready to Grow
The recent advice to avoid social gatherings does not mean you can’t go to the allotment and begin sowing and planting. What better way to take exercise and yet still maintain social distancing. A friendly wave from a neighbouring plot is breaking no rule.

It has been so heartening to see so many villagers at work.

The Community Orchard, Jam Patch and Cut Flower Beds
Work continues in these areas and we’ve had some tremendous help from villagers on our volunteer days held on Saturdays in March. The information signs we reported on in our last two articles are now in place and look very impressive. Hopefully they’ll also be of use for people finding their way around the allotments. A big thank you goes to Tom Dodd for his design work, to the volunteers who erected them and to Ed Smith from the Telegraph Hill Shoot in Daventry who provided the posts.

We would be very grateful if any gardeners who still have spare perennials or shrubs could donate those for our cutting garden. This will ultimately become a free resource for the village. How much nicer to be able to pick locally grown flowers than buy them at extortionate prices from the filling station forecourt.

Our first crop of rhubarb is coming to fruition and visitors to the jam patch are welcome to pick some for themselves.

Equipment
A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
As always, if you are considering growing your own fruit and veg and you want to try a small tester plot, or something larger, here are the usual telephone contacts: Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

For England is not flag or Empire, it is not money and it is not blood.
It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud,
It’s blackbird singing from the May tree, lark ascending through the scales,
Robin watching from your spade and English earth beneath your nails.