Over 50 years young? Then you are eligible to join one of Pilton’s most active and friendly clubs. We have been going for 35 years – true to our founding principles of companionship and mutual support but developing a programme of talks; educational and entertaining outings and visits to fine local eateries.
Annual membership costs a modest sum plus a £1 charge for each meeting which covers the cost of insurance, speakers, a raffle ticket and the so essential tea and biscuits.
Please do not get the idea that we are a moribund old people’s club! Our members are some of the most active people in the village community. Our lectures and ‘ over tea’ conversations are stimulating, pertinent, thought provoking and fun. If you like caring, committed people you will like us. Why not come and give us a try?
Be the ‘new blood’ that keeps us young – every group can benefit from a transfusion of talent. You can be ours!
Chair Person – Janet Raynsford – 890418
Programme – John & Sandra Howe - 890239
'Ding,dong merrily on high'. Well at least up Pilton church tower they keep the bells swinging! Again, thanks to Chris and Joe King for a show stopper afternoon. Sandra and I judge the success of the speaker we book by the questions which follow the end of the talk! For once Chris ran out of answers - 'nuff' said! Thank you for another illuminating afternoon - you both went like the clappers! John Howe
Christmas Tea - Pleasure again but of a masticatory type. Thank you for the members who provided the treats. Another year when everyone was pleased with their presents.
Who would have thought that so many postcards had been made to celebrate the visual delights of Pilton? What memories of days not so long past. What a delight to see the thermometer in its rightful place on the shop wall. That image deserved a clap of its own to set the tone of a delightful talk by Chris and Joe. What hours must have been spent searching dusty boxes in junk shops and how lucky we were to benefit. A huge thank you for an afternoon of pleasure!
March 2017 - Practical advice from energy advisors
With the threat of an increase of 15% in the price of electricity Pilton Happy Circle have a timely talk on the efficient use of energy to save on bills.
For a face-to-face meeting with friendly, trained energy advisors come along to the Club room at Pilton Village Hall on Wednesday 15th March at 2.30 pm. Liz Dagger, from the charity Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol, will offer information on the Priority Service Register, efficient use of night storage heaters and the switching process for changing electricity suppliers.
If you are interested in switching suppliers on the day please bring an electricity bill with you. Everyone is welcome.
Another year and who are here to entertain us - Audrey and Terry of course! What friends they are to the village willingly giving their time and energy. How we depend on such people to keep the village a vital community. We also need people with ideas. Come to think of it - I have one!! Liz and Colin's quiz was such a treat and such breadth of knowledge was shown by members, why don't we find 5 geniuses to challenge the Eggheads?
Exposure on the TV would help our drive for new young members. We could call our team ' Happy Talking keep talking Happy Torque' 'cos we are a cheerful band!
Perhaps Jeremy Vine would change his usual ploy and put the stress on certain words in the multiple choice answers to help us! Anyway, think on it as we thank Liz and Colin for inspiration.
Why not join us for our March meetings – March 1st Serena de la Hey who built the willow man on the M5 near Bridgwater; March15th - Controlling your energy bills and March 29th - a change of date - Boogie Woogie Dancers.
We look forward to welcoming you for a 2.30pm start. Do come!
Many good works are hidden from full view. Such, we discovered, was the case by the Shepton Mallet Almshouses Trust. We were lucky to have Jeff Curtis to give us an interesting illustrated history of the charity and how its work continues into today's world and how it plans for the future.
Who knew of this fine Sheptontradition and where the almshouses are?
The Somerset Levels are an under-rated national treasure now advertised by Serena de la Hey's Willow Man - the South West's answer to the Angel of the North! This proved to be one of our best ever talks, gripping the audience in 'bonds of green willow' as well as 'whites' and 'buffs'. Serena immersed us totally in her love of this wetland material with striking images - the most entrancing being the willow men racing in the open landscape of the Nevada Desert. What a talent has sprung from the Somerset landscape. Get in your car and enjoy the willow-lined rhynes of Thorney, Stathe and Aller, and remember to take your camera!
Liz Dagger from the Centre for Sustainable Energy brought a quiz to test our knowledge of saving on energy bills, gave advice on Smart meters and helped individuals through the online process for switching energy suppliers. A useful afternoon followed by tea, biscuits and a chat.
Please may I extend this month's notes to thank Happy Circle for all the delights of companionship they have given to Sandra and me. Thank you for the lovely gifts and Ian's photos. You will stay in our thoughts as we all move forward into a happy and successful next phase. John Howe
It was certainly a case of ‘We Love to Boogie’ when ‘Pam’s People’ entertained and enthused the Happy Circle group. After we had watched some dance routines to music we all remembered, Pam Edwards invited members and friends to join the dancers and no further persuasion was necessary!
The audience, now a smaller group than the dancers, joined in the hand jive and everyone enjoyed themselves so much that an encore was called for. It was a great afternoon full of fun and laughter, thank you Pam.
The Happy Circle Club celebrated its birthday in April. This year we had lunch at the Cross Keys in Lydford and they did us proud! Members had a good meal, sang ‘Happy Birthday’, ate chocolates and enjoyed a lot of conversation. Thank you to Freda and Eileen for making it special.
Back in Pilton, Brian Smith gave us a talk about his 420 nautical mile cruise from Cairo to Luxor. After being closed to tourists for years a few ships are venturing through this intriguing section of the River Nile protected by heavy security. Photographs of pyramids and temples were interspersed with pictures of the Police launch or the ‘SWAT team’. We saw papyrus and desert, feluccas and colourfully dressed women ‘washing up’ in the river; the past and the present beautifully photographed. Thanks to Brian for a fascinating afternoon.
May we also say a big thank you to Helen Jefferies for giving us a very informative talk on the Somerset and Dorset Air Ambulance. Since 2000 they have flown nearly 12,000 missions and provided a critical care team consisting of a doctor and specialist paramedics for each mission. More importantly, the helicopters can, if required, take patients to the nearest major trauma centre in the South West within 20 minutes. This is crucial because time saves lives. They value all the support possible.
Liz Elkin and Freda Boyce
A coach filled with Happy Circle members set off for Swanage on an unpromising, overcast morning but arrived in Dorset to a beautiful, sunny day.
Some members started their visit with coffee in the buffet car at Swanage Railway then found a great choice of things to do. Perhaps lunch in the town, a seat in the sun in the gardens or a paddle in the sea, (you were seen, Freda!) Swanage has a glorious, sandy beach, who could resist it?
Everyone had a super day on the wonderful Jurassic Coast.
John Lapwood, the Village Agent, came to our meeting at the Village Hall to explain his role. Village Agents link people in rural areas with advice and support services for independent living. John writes an item for the Roundabout each month and his contact details are included.
John’s talk was followed by the A.G.M. and a very warm welcome to our new members.
The Happy Circle had a sunny morning for the coach tour around the Festival site in the company of Michael Eavis and the BBC. We were treated to tea, cakes and ice cream as the temperature soared. There was plenty of hard work going on as people were getting everything ready for opening the gates the next morning. Thank you, Michael, for organising the coach, looking after our welfare and giving us an insight into this amazing event. A few of us even featured in the Glastonbury Festival reports on TV.
At our 5th July meeting Pat Hase introduced us to Ivy Millicent James, an artist and suffragette from Weston-Super-Mare. Miss James painted postcards and Christmas cards in the early 1900s all of which featured children. Surprisingly the landscape, and the children, appeared to be Dutch but the subjects were delightful and of their time, children at the village pump, a group warming themselves around a brazier and a little boy smoking!
This was followed by tea and a discussion about the coach trip on 13th September – a date for the diary.
John Dando shared his affection for the Somerset privy as he took us ‘Down the Garden Path’. We learned about toilet history from the Roman communal convenience to the modern water closet. He also reminded us that not everyone has flushing facilities even now. Members enjoyed John’s talk so much that he is already a definite for next year’s programme.
We were highly entertained by Mickey Fitzpatrick’s monologues. What fun and laughter she gave us as she told us how to prepare for our holidays and what to wear. ‘Twas on the Monday morning when the gas man came to call’ had both members and visitors in stitches; what a delightful lady!
Our summer tea this year was hosted by Sheila and George West. We had a lovely afternoon, the weather was kind, the tea was delicious and we were able to walk around the garden and even try the plums! Thank you, Sheila and George, and Well Done to everyone, it was a super summer celebration.
When Brian Wright started his talk, ‘Touch Wood’, he asked if the audience was superstitious. A few members admitted that they might cross their fingers or salute a magpie occasionally but the majority were unaffected by superstition.
Brian’s illustrated list of omens and charms, beliefs and rituals had us whispering that we might worry about breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder and we were surprised to learn that ‘lucky’ horseshoes are hung differently around the country. Surely we no longer believe in this nonsense but some brides still wear something old, something new, invite a chimney sweep and carry silver horseshoes at the wedding. As for Brian – he is not at all superstitious but he does have a ‘Witch’s Ball’ in his house!
What a day to have the Happy Circle coach trip! Storm Aileen was racing across the country as we headed for the Subtropical Gardens at Abbotsbury. After a scenic trip through Dorset we were fortunate to enjoy the lush, green garden with just a sprinkling of rain and lots of sunshine. The hydrangeas were magnificent as were the willow sculptures of deer amongst the trees - a great day out.
‘An Afternoon with the Stars’ was promised in the programme and Sarah Maude gave us exactly that, entertaining us with anecdotes of her time working on film sets. How did Sarah deal with the journalist to whom Oliver Reed took exception or cope with the snake placed in her hands on set? Calmly. Her stories of Sean Connery, John Hurt and Raquel Welch, to name just a few, and her collection of memorabilia made for a five star afternoon.
Two weeks later most members took off their shoes to join Adele Robertson in an hour of chair yoga. As we progressed through gentle movements, breathing exercises and a wonderful relaxation session we enjoyed the quietest meeting we could remember. Tea and biscuits soon brought conversation levels back to normal.
Thank you, Adele, for demonstrating how we can improve our flexibility and muscle strength whatever our ability and the value of relaxation.
Please Note: From 8th November Happy Circle meetings will start at 2.00pm. Liz Elkin
Pilton Happy Circle welcomed 6 non-members who came along to the Open Afternoon to find out what the Club has to offer. Grace brought her hand-made cards and Sue Millard gave a superb demonstration of how to wrap gifts with challenging shapes, we could even try our hand at making a Toblerone look beautiful. Now we all know the secret of a professional bow – use your teeth! (also necessary for all the delicious cake on offer).
When Hilary Austin came to give a talk on Traidcraft she also brought a selection of fair trade goods to show and sell. Launched in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne the first Traidcraft catalogue featured some hand drawn jute products from Bangladesh. Within two years tea, coffee and a wide range of other foods were introduced. Now products are sourced from over 30 countries and farmers are paid a fair price for their crops.
Last year Hilary and Anthony were able to donate £400 to Traidcraft, money raised from the Open Days at their home. Thank you for the talk and the chance to buy more of those wonderful ginger biscuits.
Philip Eavis searched through his archive of Pilton on film and brought videos of Pilton Players to entertain us.
In ‘The Long Autumn’ Sandra Howe was outstanding as a stifled artist longing to get out of her retirement home and give one last performance on stage.
This was followed by an extract from a play about the plague at Eyam. We were delighted to watch villagers past and present and were reminded that we miss Pilton Players. Thank you once again, Philip and Gill.
Happy Circle Christmas lunch was at the Crossways, North Wootton this year. Eileen and Freda did a magnificent organisation job and 29 of us sat down to our festive feast.
Let’s hope Chris and Joe’s grandson makes more sense of the cracker jokes than we did!
Happy New Year. Liz Elkin
Happy Circle started the year with a talk by Nicky from the British Red Cross who made everyone feel able to help in an emergency. Calling 999 can save a life even if you don’t feel confident to offer hands on first aid; don’t ignore people who appear unwell or assume that others have phoned for help.
We learned how to assist someone who is choking (up to 5 hard whacks between the shoulder blades), and how to treat burns (10 minutes under a cold tap then wrap loosely in clingfilm, if required).
A first aid app and Baby and Child first aid app can be found at redcross.org.uk/app - an excellent resource to download onto your phone so it’s available if needed.
Nicky was pleased to discover there is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at Pilton Village Hall, a life-saving device designed to be used safely by the public if someone is having a sudden cardiac arrest. The AED is on the outside wall of the Village Hall beyond the double doors. There is also an AED at Pilton Playing Field.
We felt empowered by the talk and tackled the panettone with relish.
The entertainment programme in January and February is normally home-grown to avoid the problem of speakers having to travel in inclement weather.
The Picture Quiz tested us; who knew those washing symbols, designed to help, were beyond fathoming? The final result was a draw so a tie breaker question was required and George won the day.
The bingo session kept members in deep concentration until, ‘House! Bingo! “Which is it?” filled the air. As well as hosting our winter’s afternoon event, Audrey and Terry raise money for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and for the Village Trust with their bingo nights through the year, thank you both.
The result of the Christmas Song quiz was announced with Ann and Liz gaining full points and each winning a rose.
It seems to have been all prizes recently! Liz Elkin
Several members were happy to tell us about the cherished items in their ‘Memory Box’ and what a wide selection of treasures there were: 70-year-old toy cars and a steam roller that moved back and forth, beautiful blackwork embroidery, a much loved china dog which had been smashed and restored, a musical carved bowl given to a bride by the groom on their honeymoon, photographs and items passed down through families, and their provenance. All were shared – a delightful afternoon.
Brian Wright gave an illustrated talk on Easter customs. As he led us through traditions observed from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Sunday, we enjoyed photographs of a busy time in the church calendar. The privations of Lent meant food was important with pancakes, hot cross buns and Simnel cake still popular. The most surprising information concerned Eastertime activities. We saw regular pastimes like egg decorating, Easter bonnets, pancake racing (Bread Street cries out for another race!) and Morris dancing but egg jarping? A trip to Leicestershire might reveal ‘bottle kicking’ and ‘hare pie scramble’, the sort of nonsense at which country folk excel. Brian’s research and humour make for great entertainment, he will be back!
We had a visit from the Salvation Army. Angela gave us information on the beginnings of the Salvation Army and her family connections, telling us of her surprise when she discovered her great-great grandfather was in one of the early brass bands. Her stories of visits to an orphanage in Mombasa and the work which is done locally made us think. Thank you, Angela.
Liam O'Farrell shared with us his story and the stories within and around his paintings. He studied Technical Illustration and has an impressive list of clients. Interestingly he failed to recognise Adele when she bought a painting at an exhibition - she was not amused! Liam prefers to work outside but this has its pitfalls such as over friendly animals, becoming a tourist attraction, and sunburn. However he does make new friends including a publican who kept him refreshed during a heatwave. Liam's work celebrates the ordinary and he likes to populate his pictures with people who enliven the stories that he paints. Liam very generously gave one of his prints as a raffle prize. It was won by Jane and we were all very envious.
Every April, Happy Circle members gather for a birthday lunch and this year we celebrated at the Old Down Inn. It was a lovely warm day, perfect for our get together.
What a fun afternoon we had when the Somerton Ukulele Band joined us at the village hall. Ten ukuleles make a jolly sound but who expected everyone in the room to be singing along to Blue Suede Shoes (and most knowing the words without needing the song sheet).
Joe King gave us a super talk on beekeeping in Somerset. He showed us some of his collection of old postcards displaying the evolution of the hive; the log hives with ‘hats’ were wonderful. We all got to handle items of beekeeping equipment but turned down the offer to wear a bee beard. The most memorable moment? Joe standing on his home-made straw skep to show how strong it was!
Ian Williamson gave a splendid illustrated talk on walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path, 84 miles coast to coast. He and a friend started at Wallsend then walked on tarmac roads through Newcastle-upon-Tyne before reaching the countryside of Northumberland. On day two the optimistic pair planned to walk the 23 switchback miles from Chollerford to Birdoswald; the B and B owner told them they were mad but they made it. Blessed with good weather they reached Bowness-on-Solway in excellent time and received their certificates. 84 miles must have felt far enough but they had to walk back towards Carlisle and catch public transport to retrieve their car. For those who had visited Hadrian’s Wall the photographs brought back memories of Housesteads Fort, Vindolanda and the beauty of Northumberland.
At the AGM the usual business was conducted and good discussions held before the rattle of dice and cries of success and failure eventually led to a winner. Pauline and Phyllis both received prizes for completing their beetles while others declared they were still short of two legs.
The tide was in to welcome us and the beach looked at its best when the coach dropped us on the front at Weston-super-Mare. There was plenty of time for a walk along the pier, lunch and an opportunity to hit the shops before heading back to the front. Some members admired the sand sculptures, all based on a circus theme. Apparently, they are tough enough to damage a car should anyone crash into them. There was also the opportunity to judge those sculptures which were entered into a competition.
On 4th July Pat Hase entertained us with some stories of local people that she had discovered when researching her husband’s family history. Many generations had lived in Somerset and by using local records and old press reports she found many amusing and tragic stories. One ancestor who came from North Wootton drowned in the moat at Wells when walking home during a storm. Another from Dulcote was dismissed from the Cathedral choir for throwing stones at the swans. A distant ancestor, Christian Taylor, was buried in Pilton Churchyard in May 1623.
Freda Boyce and Pauline Hobbs
The members were delighted when Richard Raynsford stepped in at the eleventh hour to show us photos illustrating the beauty of England. Richard has travelled much of the country with his camera and he shared images of buildings and countryside both near and far. We were struck by the contrast between his glorious green views of Glastonbury Tor and the straw-coloured version we have seen recently. Thank you, Richard; we are grateful that you entertained us so well with just a few hours’ warning.
Our Summer Garden party was held on Wednesday 15th August in the lovely garden of George and Sheila West. We enjoyed a first-class tea with dainty sandwiches, home-made scones with cream and strawberries. There was fabulous cake and tomatoes from George’s garden.
We sat in a circle and it was lovely to be entertained by Charles on his drums on such a warm afternoon. We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Pauline and Janet. Thank you to everyone who joined us.
As we have supported the Almshouses in Shepton Mallet they have kindly asked us to join them at a concert in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Shepton Mallet at 7.00pm on Friday 14th September.
Liz Elkin and Freda Boyce
Mickey’s Monologues supplied plenty of laughs at Happy Circle Club. Mickey Fitzpatrick knows her audience well and chooses stories and rhymes that amuse and entertain. How we empathised with her plight – who is that person in the mirror? A return visit is definitely on the cards.
Steve Darby gave us a talk on growing up in the 50s. Bomb sites for playgrounds aside, we were surprised that a Fifties childhood in East London was so similar to growing up in the country.
We played cricket in the street, called neighbours who were not relations ‘Auntie’ and were led astray by a special friend who taught us ‘Knock Out Ginger’ (or the local equivalent) – happy days!
The September outing this year was a trip to the SS Great Britain, a beautifully preserved example of Victorian engineering. The recreation of the accommodation on board, with sound effects and smells, showed how travelling in the cramped conditions offered in Steerage all the way to Australia would have required an iron constitution and great tolerance of near neighbours. Most of us felt we could have managed to travel First Class to New York but 14 nights in those bunks ...
“Being Brunel” explores the legacy and genius of a man who built railways, bridges and tunnels, an artist and a fallible human being; fascinating. There was the chance of a trip around the harbour while some caught the ferry to sample the pubs on the other side of the river. A great day out which was enjoyed by everyone.
Sarah, from Somer Craft Addix, brought card, decoration, talent and expertise to enable all of our members to make Christmas cards. Despite our varying levels of crafting skill everyone made a card or two of which they were proud, some might drop through a few Pilton doors at Christmas. Thank you, Sarah, for your ideas and patience.
Adele Robertson led the members of Happy Circle in a chair yoga session. Everyone joined in as we went through gentle movements to free our joints. Adele spoke about ‘Mindfulness’ and began a relaxation which was wonderful, silence reigned though no one actually went to sleep. Thank you, Adele, we all appreciated those minutes of calm.
There was no silence in the room when John Dando spoke on ‘All that Jazz’. He brought recordings of early jazz musicians and shared his favourite numbers played by Traditional Jazz bands. Toes tapped, heads nodded and John joked; a great afternoon.
Our expected speaker failed to materialise one Wednesday so George West offered to tell us about his time with the GPO from apprenticeship to redundancy and what fun it was! Speaking entirely without notes he thoroughly entertained us with tales ranging from hiding in the attic of a house to avoid the boss to working in more salubrious settings such as Windsor Castle and Bletchley Park.
Well done, George, you saved the day.
Philip Eavis brought us our annual pre-Christmas treat of a mystery selection of films and recordings. We watched wonderful footage of the Somerset and Dorset railway about times when Evercreech Junction was an important part of the transport system.
The 2017 Mummers’ play was performed, and filmed, as part of John and Sandra Howe’s farewell party; it was good to see them and a taster for the 2019 performance. Then the piece de resistance, us! Ten years ago Philip interviewed Happy Circle members about their time in Pilton. It was a joy to see our younger selves and to remember those who are no longer with us. We are grateful, Philip, that this visual village archive endures.
The members’ Christmas lunch was held at the Orchard Inn, Galhampton and they did us proud. Everyone donned paper hats and dined well. Good food, happy chatter and a mince pie, what more could we ask? Members of staff were invited in for a round of applause and the young cook became rather pink; it could have been the heat in the kitchen. Liz Elkin
Our 2019 programme started with ‘Christmas Memories’ contributed by members. We recalled carol singing and handbell ringing as children, with mince pies for all here and a long walk for a few coppers there. The magic of Christmas morning - the tree had been brought in and decorated after children were in bed on Christmas Eve. Home-made cake, pudding and mince pies, some ate pork pie and chutney for breakfast on Christmas Day (and still do!) and Sheila let us into the secret of the ‘Black Bun’ shared with visitors at Hogmanay.
Christmas gifts were remembered - some welcome, some less so - and Christmases past were shared both happy and sad, but Pauline had everyone’s attention when her tale finished with, ‘It was the worst Christmas since the one we spent at the undertakers’.....
What do we know? The picture quiz was back to test us and prove that we remember notorious women better than films, we recognise trees more easily than cathedrals and everyone knows comedians - we all need a laugh. Sheila, George, Pauline and Janet won the chocolates and shared them with the group; our type of winners!
Bingo with Audrey and Terry saw several members arrive ready for action armed with highlighters. Winning lines and cries of ‘Bingo’ meant prizes were shared around the room and bingo nicknames rang out though some, we learned, are no longer acceptable. Thanks to our caller and her glamourous assistant for entertaining us once again.