June 2001
 
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ON 'YER' BIKE - TO INDIA
 
HOT and bothered tour leader John de Pury had an embarrassing announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid our caterers have gone missing. Lunch today will be bananas, nuts and fruit juice.”
Under normal circumstances the 80 UK ‘tourists’ – on their first visit to Rajasthan, the land of the Moghul empire in India – would have been somewhat annoyed.
But this lot, myself included, were just too tired and hot to get angry and we meekly accepted our lot.
What a motley crew we were – aged 21 to 69, evenly divided males and females, from every corner of the UK all members of Cycle India, a gruelling 300-mile ride to raise funds for the National Deaf Children’s Society.
They came from all walks of life: a Brigadier’s wife, three doctors, two vets, three Scousers, a couple of Scots, two welsh lasses and myself, a Pest Technician flying the flag for Flamstead.
 
We had raised the minimum £2,000 to get on the cycle-ride, the second run by the NDCS through the remote Rajastan region which lies along the Pakistan border.
After arriving at Dehli Airport we were driven by bus for five hours to Agra where we were fitted up with our bikes. Reality was beginning to set in. The grinding poverty , open sewers and kamikaze traffic had stunned us into silence.
Our target for the day was around 60 miles, but the real challenge were the monster potholes. Some of them were so big they could snap a spine quicker than any karate expert.

Getting through the villages, past wandering cows, pigs, water buffaloes, goats and a throng of humanity was a real experience.
We felt as if we must have been the first ‘white people in the area for years. Many grabbed our arms as we cycled past just to check that we were fellow humans.
The pace was made by Theo, a former top Dutch cyclist, while a people carrier took up the rear to pick up casualties of accidents and fatigue. Another van with two mechanics toured the line of cyclists to carry out running repairs – mainly punctures. The record was seven.

The Maharajah of Bhandrej was on hand to greet us at the first camp at Paota.
The impressive ridge tents looked like they had come from a scene from the film Lawrence of Arabia, but the jodhpur-clad Maharajah proudly told me he had designed them himself and they did not date from the British Raj!
The next morning – up at 5.30am – we were all put to the test by the over excitement of the villagers, and in some rare cases, hostility from individuals.
Ladies dressed in figure-hugging Lycra horrified some of the more conservative Indians and a few women cyclists were pulled from their bikes. One had her sunglasses swiped from her face and other cyclists had to negotiate an attempt to garrotte them with a rope across a narrow part of the road.
A youth tried to stop me by stepping in my path, he had attempted to push one of the girls from her cycle. It was stop or full speed ahead. I chose the latter and connected with my shoulder! He moved.
Mostly the village receptions were a delight but we were advised to go through in bunches to avoid isolated individuals getting picked on.
Over the next few days the countryside became more arid and hotter and the potholes bigger. Jenny, a strong cyclist in her 20’s, hit one and was catapulted over the handlebars suffering a badly cut face and a hairline fracture to her skull. Monica, a woman in her 50’s also fell off her bike and broke her foot, but pluckily stayed to the end, albeit in the blue van. But over the beer or two round the camp fires, the trials of the day were forgotten as everyone got to know each other.
Highlights of the trip were the night staying at the Maharajah’s Palace, the tour of the deaf School, at the stunning pink city of Jaipur, the elephant ride through Amber Fort and the holy city of Pushkar, where we were all blessed by a holy man and threw marigolds into the holy lake for luck.
 
Question one: Did I get the runs after ten days of curries for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
No! I stuck to vegetarian
Question two: Would I do it again?
Maybe – but watch this space, I have something up my sleeve.
 
FACTFILE The London-based National Deaf Children’s Society raises nearly £1m a year from charity cycle rides around the world. On most rides the minimum sponsorship is £2,000 with 80% handed over eight weeks in advance. Cycle India, which I took part in, raised £110,000, clear of all expenses. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped me raise £5,100 for deaf children.
 
John Fountain
 
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING
 
FOOT & MOUTH
 
To safeguard our local farmer who has cattle in the village, we have recommended to the District Council that the following footpaths remain closed. They are numbers 18 Friendless Wood to Markyate. 19 Hollybush Lane to River Hill. 44 across Grove Farm and Chad Lane to Coles Lane. As soon as it is agreed to open these footpaths, a green notice will be displayed but those still showing white prohibition notices must not be used.
 
POLICE
 
Unfortunately we have cases of youth vandalism in the village, This includes the bus shelter with damage to the roof and kicking out the newly inserted windows, breaking greenhouse glass, taking down new speed limit signs, smashing a memorial seat in the churchyard, and damaging a garden railway layout. This is not youthful exuberance; it is wilful violence and must be reported to the Police. The nuisance register can help the police to come to grips with this problem, but villagers who see or know the culprits, must inform the police.
 
The travellers seen camping close to the Old Watling Street went quickly due to local people reporting the damage they were causing, this enabled the police to act. Thank you, keep up the good work.
 
SPORTS ASSOCIATION
 
Recreation Ground Planning is being sought for a spectators pavilion for the football club on the side of the garage, but a canopy over the patio might be a more versatile solution. The flood and security lighting is progressing slowly.
As there was an accident on one of the children’s climbing frames recently, we are seeking advice on making it safer.
 
CRIME PREVENTION
 
Now the appropriate locations have been selected, the neighbourhood watch village signs are to be ordered. 200 Householders have agreed to become members, only 300 left, I wonder who will be the last!
 
YOUTH
 
The Youth Parish Council has organised three activities for the May half term, basketball coaching, rolling zone bus, dance session; all free. We have subsequently learned that their disco has had to be cancelled due to lack of support.
 
WEB SITE
 
The Web Site is a space where you can make a comment, send information, add items of interest to others, so please make use of it on:
 
www.flamsteadpc.org.uk
 
WAR MEMORIAL
 

Look at the web site, we have it in all dimensions. Seriously we really do want to make sure that the names last, and we are seeking the best way to achieve this.
 

A complete list of the names engraved on the War Memorial can be found here
 
ROSE VILLAGE
 
The Rose Society wants to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee by having many Rose Villages and we are the first of front-runner. The roses are being donated and all we have to do is plant them and look after them. Five sites have initially been picked out and we are preparing the land, with some difficulty. The varieties, see them on our website, have been selected and shortly we will need help planting them.
Yes, there are going to be lots available but initially for those that live in the conservation area of the village.
In the Autumn there will be even more for every one’s front garden, also we will have large beds in other parts of the village i.e. Watling Street, Trowley Bottom, Vicarage Gardens, College Close, Pie Gardens etc.
AWARDS
 
There are lottery grants for local groups, being offered under, “AWARDS FOR ALL”. Any Society or activity that needs support, here is an opportunity!.
 
M.Wright. 842778
 
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Fr John Green Writes
 
The new lectionary calls Sunday 20th May the sixth Sunday of Easter, which means the fifth Sunday after Easter! Confused? We shall all get used to these new-fangled terms, given time and a lot of patience, I am sure. Whatever we call the day the New Testament reading is from Acts chapter 16 and starts “During the night a vision came to Paul: a Macedonian stood there appealing to him, ‘Cross over to Macedonia and help us.’ Many of us, all of us actually, have dreams and all of us at one time or another have nightmares. Psychologists tell us that they are the product of our psyche working out the experiences of the past day. The difficult experiences produce the nightmares the other produce dreams. They are our way of looking back over the past day and coming to terms with it.
 
I can remember as a child having a recurring dream, a nightmare. Something in the day triggered the process and into the familiar sequence I went. When I grew older there were dreams when I dreamt in German, a sure sign I had really got the language under my skin. On one occasion I even dreamt in German in music. I was a keen Wagnerite and a whole Wagner opera, which I had written, was played out before me. Alas, when I woke up it was all a dream, just one phrase stuck in my mind. It probably wasn’t that good.
 
But all these experiences look back. What Paul has is a vision, which calls him into the future and calls him to do something which he would not otherwise have done.
 
I had such a vision when I was thinking about offering myself for ministry. In other words I was thinking of starting to do something quite different from the safe career I had as a teacher of French and German for the Greater London Borough of Croydon. I was in France with my Father and a friend, a valiant lady who has since died of cancer and who was driving us around, as I could not drive at that time. We went to Rocamadour, a very old place of pilgrimage in central France, and there in the side chapel of the Blessed Saviour, not in the central Chapel of the Black Madonna, where all the tourists and pilgrims were, I was alone and saw the simple crucifix of the Crucified One come away from the wall and approach me. I can only explain that as a vision and a sign that Christ had entered my life. Certainly I felt I had to test my vocation and was accepted for training.
 
That was ten years ago now. In that time I have trained at Cambridge, been ordained first deacon, then priest, worked three years in a parish in Surrey and finally served five years as Chaplain of St. George’s. I am so glad that, although my friend dies of the cancer, she was able to see me ordained and working for the Saviour in His Church. Now it is time for me to move me to Flamstead and Markyate was the voice of God I heard in all the people who urged me to ‘come over and help’.
 
God doesn’t just speak through visions, he also speaks through Scripture or through you and me. For Paul, it was the sea between the Macedonians and him; for me the M1 lies between Harpenden and my new ministry, I believe the call was just as real nevertheless and I look forward to getting started.
 
God bless you all.
 
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A TASTE OF THE PAST
 
A syllabub is a real delight to partake of on a summer’s day - if we ever get one! It’s a rich, lemony, alcoholic dish, best eaten in fairly small quantities, as it’s quite rich. Modern versions are not to be compared with the originals.
 
VERY FINE SYLLABUBS
 
10 fl oz chilled double cream
4 oz white wine
2 fl oz dry sherry (Manzanilla best)
1/2 large lemon
About 3oz caster sugar
 
Finely grate the rind of the lemon and squeeze the juice. Add the white wine and the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, add all this to the cream.
 
Now whisk everything together until the cream falls in soft trails when you lift your whisk. I always prefer to use a balloon whisk for this. It only takes about 10 minutes if the cream is chilled, and you get more air into the mixture. The best things to serve the syllabub in are small wineglasses. 4 and 6 glasses, depending on size. Put them in the refrigerator and leave them alone for about 2 days. The syllabub will gradually separate, the rich lemony cream at the top and a layer of clear lemony wine at the bottom. You eat the top part with a teaspoon and then drink the liquid.
 
A small sprig of rosemary adds a very pleasant flavour, if you let it soak in the lemon juice a little while and then remove it.
 
Syllabubs were often served with ratafia cakes or macaroons. Eliza Smith 1727
 
Marian Pochin
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WI
 
The meeting began with Jerusalem, Apologies and Minutes. Delia Ramage presented Birthday Buttonholes to Lorna Fountain, Madeline Evans and Denise Woods. The members Meeting Committee were thanked for last months meeting and the success of the group meeting hosted by Flamstead and Trowley was mentioned with a plea for volunteers to be put forward for group elections.
 
Our W.I. has a new notice board on permanent loan from Malcolm Wright. There is to be a promotional fortnight in September, prior to that each institute is to keep a record over a four week period of all our activities, the records to be collated so that the W.I. can promote nationally all that we do doing during the promotional fortnight.
 
There is to be a garage sale in June (more details in advert ) Brenda Randall and Marion Pochin attended the W.I. Quiz evening and came a respectable ninth out of eighteen. Delia Ramage then introduced Mr Bill Wittering to talk to us on the History of Post Cards – illustrated with slides.
 
Mr Wittering began with how the postal system started including the introduction of the Penny Black. The first post box was designed by Anthony Trollope, the famous author, who was employed by the post office for 38 years.
Emmanuel Herrman of the Austrian Army suggested using card for sending messages and the British Post Office observed the experiment and one year later issued half price stamps for cards. The Post Office ruled that these cards were for an address, stamp and a five word message more than five constituted a letter to be charged at full price.
Later when photography improved scenic pictures were allowed but only on half the card. It was a while before it was realised that a line down the centre of the card could ensure space for the five word message, plus address and stamp on the back, leaving the front for pictures or designs.
Developments continued with cards becoming more flamboyant, saucy, embroidered, popular songs printed on them etc. etc. They became used for Christmas and Birthdays. By the 1940’s folded cards were developed to be put in envelopes but the post office still remains a popular form of correspondence. After this fascinating talk Jane Lutman gave the vote of thanks.
 
The competition of an interesting card was won by Jeannie Randall with Ann Bisson second and Denise Woods third. Voting was with coins and raised £4.20 for A.C.W.W. Dorothy Strachan won the raffle and Refreshments were served by Deryn Bourne and Audrey Meritt. The next meeting is ‘Resolutions’ on May 10 at 7.30pm
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