A Global Perspective from Minchinhampton

Internationally, 2015 was effectively dominated by the terrible events in Syria and the resultant refugee crisis with political leaders in Europe wholly unable to formulate any coherent policy to address the problem. The refugee statistics have been added to by events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Libya and further afield in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

This depressing scenario entailing misery for so many people has meant that the media have had neither time nor space to cover any good news, particularly when the good news is simply statistics. Yet 15 years ago the UN assembly agreed 8 Millennium goals designed to bring to an end “the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty”. These 8 goals are being updated and partially replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals. In the circumstances it is relevant to look at what progress has been made on achieving these original goals.

Extreme poverty in the developing world has been reduced from some 50% of the population to 14%, the number of children of primary school age not attending school has declined from 100 million to 57 million, gender equality in education has basically been achieved, the global under-five mortality rate has declined by half as has the maternal mortality rate, and deaths from diseases such as malaria have been drastically reduced. Obviously we cannot be complacent but for a great many people the world has become a better place to live and we should take satisfaction from this.

One of the organisations which contributed to the debate on setting these goals was Rotary International, which has just been categorised by Charity Navigation as one of the top 10 charities changing the world in 2015. Internationally, Rotary is best known for its tremendous efforts to rid the world of polio (50 years ago polio was endemic in 125 countries whereas now it is only in Afghanistan and Pakistan) but it also has a great many projects focussed on the Un goals; virtually all these projects involve a hands-on approach working directly with communities.

For Nailsworth Rotary Club, as for the majority of Rotary Clubs, whilst the charitable aspect of the Club’s activities will focus primarily on support for local charities, there will always be an international dimension. For example, there is recognition of the humanitarian importance of ShelterBox when natural disasters occur and which is facilitated by having a Club member as a ShelterBox volunteer, working on site in many countries. This year the Club, with the support of Rotary International, will be helping with the provision of some items of equipment for a newly built maternity unit for a clinic in a remote rural area in Kenya. Last year the Club supported a week’s camp in Slovenia, run by a local Rotary Club for disabled and special needs young people.

Does an article of this sort have a place in the Parish magazine? Well, the Editor thought so. I hope you, the reader, will as well.

Gerry Robbins (Nailsworth Rotary Club)

Greenfingers - January 2016

Saturday 5th December was dry, mostly, offering the chance to trim the blackened dahlia stems, raise the tubers and store them for the winter. I use the spent, dried and sieved compost from the tomato pots to bury and cover the tubers, and store the containers in the garage. The tubers can be started off in the compost next Spring, and when they are transferred to the garden, the compost is used as a mulch.

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Greenfingers - December 2015

Over the last month or so, we’ve enjoyed some superb autumn colour, though as I write this, the wind and rain are bringing this year’s spectacle to an end. It is interesting to note that some leaves have remained fairly green whilst others have turned and fallen, and I wonder whether some plants are more sensitive to day length rather than temperature, since the temperature has been very mild recently. The displays of cyclamen in the churchyard were also special.

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Looking back at the Mothers Union

The Sunday Eucharist on 9th August with its focus on the Mother’s Union set me thinking of the history of the M.U. in this parish. The Diocesan handbook’s “Story of the first 100 years”, tells me that Minchinhampton was the first recorded branch to open (1889) in the whole diocese of Gloucester. Mary Sumner had founded the movement in 1876 and this is commemorated in our Lady Chapel by kneelers worked under Audrey Waton’s supervision in 1976. Of the early leaders, there is no record, unless old parish magazines still exist to reveal them. I do know, though, that Gladys Beale’s mother was a leader – probably in the 1930’s and 40’s.

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Greenfingers - October 2015

Saturday 12th September dawned wet and miserable, but it brightened during the morning for which everyone associated with all the events going on in the town that day was relieved. My involvement was with the Minchinhampton Gardening Club Show, which follows on 6 days after the Stroud & District Chrysanthemum Society hold their annual Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Show in the Scout Hut on Dr. Brown’s Road.

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Greenfingers - September 2015

We had an excellent display of blossom on the apple trees in April, and whilst the crop has been thinned out a couple of times during the growing season, I can’t bring myself to do this adequately, so I’ve had to introduce a support for one over-loaded branch on the James Grieve, which is on a MM106 semi-dwarfing root stock.

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Greenfingers - July 2015

Anthriscus sylvestris, cow parsley, also known as deadman’s oatmeal, keks, wild chervil, wild beaked parsley, mother die, and Queen Anne’s lace, amongst many others, has flowered spectacularly during May and June. The fields and hedgerows have been covered in frothy cream seas of umbellifer flowers. The inclosure at the top of Old Common was filled to the brim with foaming flowerheads such that from a distance it could have been mistaken for a hot tub. Well, maybe not.

The proliferation of this plant has been associated with the way in which verges are cut and the clippings left in place, providing nutrients for the next years’ growth, which suits cow parsley, but few of the other wild flowers.

BirdofParadiseThe ‘Open Gardens’ event at the end of May was considered successful, when around 300 visitors enjoyed some well-presented and interesting gardens whilst braving the cool wind. The Bird of Paradise, strelitzia, must have heard all my curses and threats, and produced a flower the day before the event, the first time in about 7 years.

Another unusual plant was the Arisaema, with its flower spike.Arisaema

In the fruit garden, thin out potentially heavy crops of apples, pears and plums, and enjoy the strawberries and gooseberries. Pinch out sideshoots on cordon tomatoes and tie in new growth. Pick beans and mangetout peas and keep up serial planting of lettuce and other salad crops.

The Show Schedules for the Minchinhampton Gardening Club produce show are now available, with interesting classes for everyone. Check it out!

Pete Smith

Greenfingers - June 2015

With the risk of frost over for another season, tender varieties can now be planted out. Courgettes, squashes, celery, outdoor tomatoes and bedding plants are ready to welcome the gentle June weather with a smile.

I took a risk with the dahlia tubers by planting them out rather early, but the forecast looked safe, and the tubs they were in were needed for tomatoes in the greenhouse. I can always cover the delicate shoots if a frost is forecast.

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Tribute to Jim Portbury

An edited version of the tribute given by Revd Helen Bailey at Jim's funeral service on behalf of his family, with thanks also to Minchinhampton choir members for their contributions.

Jim Portbury

Jim was born on 24th August 1928. He lived in Bethnal Green with parents James and Hilda, and brother Norman. He went to the local school, passing the 11 plus, but then the family was evacuated to Forest Green, a year later moving to Minchinhampton to stay with an auntie at the Blue Boys Corner. His father eventually bought a house at Lightpill around 1942.

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Greenfingers - May 2015

It is immensely satisfying to take an hour at the end of a full day of gardening to relax and enjoy the scents, sounds and sights as the light fades. Watching the bees heading home, and the blackbirds staking out their territory with their rich tones; and why don't they bottle the scent of newly mown grass?

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