Deepings Group enjoyed reading Fannie Flegg's 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ and some members LOVED this charming book. We appreciated the strong characterisation: those who have experience of nursing homes said there is a Ninny Threadgoode in every one; Idgie, on the other hand, is a one-off - passionate, kind, enterprising, funny, brave, extreme - it was lovely to see her again at the end of the book, still telling her tall tales. This was a strong community with warm friendships and loyalties, support for each other, coping, and the sadness of the loss of the village with the decline of the railway. The vivid descriptions made us almost smell the food and hear the music and voices of both rural and city life in this Southern US state. The device of moving the story back and forwards using the humour and snide comments of Dot Weems’ Weekly Bulletin, worked well.
July 6th 2017
14 of us met at Jane’s for an evening of Donalds and Theresas. It was nice to see Jenny well enough to be there. One of the party was disappointed that we had excluded Trump and May.
An NWR EA06/07 Area day conference offers so, so much for the price of a shop-bought sandwich and a plate of food for sharing with old and new friends. That's how I like to think of the adventure that the Area day conferences never fail to deliver. This year it was organised by the tiny Glinton Group with the help of the ladies in Peterborough. Squeezed into the Helpston village hall, we were delighted by the speaker for the morning Mr Richard Astle from the Langdyke Trust http://langdyke.org.uk/ he enthralled me with his breadth of knowledge of the life and poetry of John Clare 1793 - 1864, Helpston's native son. More importantly Richard wove the modern day legacy Clare leaves through his inspriational poetry which led to the creation of some of England's earliest Nature Reserves. It's hard to summarise how special this community organisation is to this small part of our countryside.
The toxic rubbish dump is the remant of chalk upland that Clare immortalised in his poem of over 1,200 words 'The Lament of Swordy Well'. He was writing with passion of a beauty spot encroached by the Enclosures and damaged by the greed of landowners. Here is one verse :
The bees flye round in feeble rings
And find no blossom bye
Then thrum their almost weary wings
Upon the moss and die
Rabbits that find my hills turned oer
Forsake my poor abode
They dread a workhouse like the poor
And nibble on the road
It's remarkable that Clare's observations and concerns for the condition of nature were so acute and modern in for a self-educated poor man.
We went on to learn how the area had even worse to suffer in the 1970's until eventually its fortunes changed when the local community purchased the site and removed the rubbish and scraped the soil back over the site and miraculously the seeds in the soil flourished and now orchids are flourishing at Swordy Well.
Clare's penultimate verse errily foretells that resurgence :
And if I could find a friend
With no deciet to sham
Who'd send me some few sheep to tend
And leave me as I am
To keep my hills from cart and plough
And strife and mongerel men
And as spring found me find em now
I should look up agen
Pam Blair, Faith Oxford (AO) and Manuella Armstrong in charge.
For four nights in early November, members of Deepings and stalwart UK-wide NWR members manned the phones between the twilight hours of 8-10pm to facilitate a unique annual event 'the telephone treasure trail' quiz. Over 300 groups took part - you can follow the links from the members dashboard to the articles posted by Ilana - with Edenbridge winning the competition overall.
Deepings had a few extra events on our programme this year to prepare the Quiz: question selection; question testing; quiz trial 1 and quiz trial 2 (for those of us who couldn't make trial 1...)
Our final involvement was the 'marking night' - a few ex-teachers among us, perhaps qualified us amply for the task, which was lively to say the least. We enjoyed the surroundings of Pam's newly refurbished kitchen/diner with the usual surfeit of hot beverages and biscuits. One of the most surprising things was the lovely notes and messages which arrived among the quiz papers. We passed these around for everyone to see on the night. Thank-you to everyone who thoughtfully sent back these messages of encouragement. So much appreciated.
Good luck to Edenbridge with the challenge of 2017 TTT - somehow I know that you will 'make the most of the experience – as we did'.
On 14 May 2016, a small party from Deepings enjoyed the hospitality of the Hemingford Abbot group, hosts of this years' Area Conference. Tish Page was the local member that treated us all to a taste of her thrilling adventure along the route of the 'Silk Trail' – her 8-week truck trekk started in Istanbul in Western Turkey across many, many countries too daunting to spell here to the farthest corner of the continent. Had she and her partner continued to the end (a further three weeks) they would have travelled deep into China.
Writing this now, I have only just thought to ask the question... what made you return home leaving those remaining [few] miles? I can't do justice to the exciting tales that Tish shared with us, needless to say, it was an adventure of the highest order – I am quite envious of what she did and saw. I came home buzzing with inspiration, spilling it all out to my husband.
Ray and I have plans (currently on hold) to walk parts of the Pilgrimmage routes in Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostella. Listening to Tish, filled me anew with that desire to quit modern-day life and be a backpacker once more.
Thank you Tish.