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31st local Art Exhibition

Free Advice Service

A Trip to China

Library Centenary

Christmas Lights

St. Mary's News

31st local Art Exhibition

This year's exhibition was held in the Shirehampton Public Hall from 24th-27th May 2003, when 197 exhibits including 2 sculptures were received. It was well attended throughout.

The exhibitors were pleased to welcome Mr David Reed, President of the Savages Art Club at their reception hosted by Twyford Art Club whose members organised and staged the exhibition. Ian Buckley designed posters and catalogue cover. In his opening address Mr Reed commented favourably on his impressions of the work on display and entertained his audience with some delightful humour.

The exhibitors' choice of their favourite flower painting fell again to Shelley Eynon for Red Camellia and received the Harry Walton award. At Shelley's request the award painting (a landscape) will be displayed in the Penpole Room. The choice of favourite outdoor scene fell to David Hunter for his oil painting Morning Walk, St. Michael's Hill. He receives the award of the Philip Squire watercolour Blue Bell Lane, which he will retain for one year. David is a mature student in the painting class of Anthony Pace held in the Penpole Room on Fridays.

We now look forward to next year's exhibition, which will be staged as part of the Shirehampton Public Hall Centenary Celebrations.

Ron Thorpe

Photos: Eric Verey

Your local paper - Bigger and better than ever before!

By popular demand we have increased the size of "Shire" newspaper by 4 pages to a total of 20 as from this, the July 2003 edition. However, we cannot continue to produce this enlarged size monthly without your help, we need your adverts, news, pictures, sports results, tales of olden days in the village, etc., etc., etc., it is up to you all to make it interesting and successful - your own news in your own paper. No doubt also we shall need to call for volunteers to help with the extra work involved, i.e., setting up, distribution etc., and when we have had the opportunity to size up the situation, we will make our requests for any help required in the next and future editions of the paper - and we hope for a good response!

Our address for your letters, copy, pictures etc., is "Shire", c/o the Library, Public Hall, Station Road, Shirehampton, Bristol BS11 9TU. Internet address: E-mail: We look forward to receiving messages from overseas to include in the paper. Telephone numbers for local enquiries are included on page 2 of this paper.

Copy for the next edition should be received by the 10th of the previous month, i.e., by the 10th July for the August edition (we can give no guarantee that it will, in fact, be included but we will do our best!)


We apologise to all our readers who did not receive their June copy of "Shire". This was due to circumstances beyond our control - the printing press went out of action and could not be restored in time to meet our deadline! We can only say how sorry we are for this incident and hope the usual excellent service will be maintained in the future.

Note to Secretaries of Clubs and Societies

PLEASE would all Clubs and Societies check that the day and time of their meetings are correct. Would any Club or Society who would like us to include details of their meetings in our "What's On" please send details addressed to "Shire" at the Library. See also: What's On In Shire, page 19.

Copy to "Shire"

When submitting letters or articles to "Shire", would you please sign your name, as we cannot print anything anonymous. If you then express a wish not to have your name put in then we will honour that wish, but we do need to know the sender.

Charity Search

Auriel James will be giving a talk on Charity Search at St. Mary's Church on Tuesday, 15th July, from 3 to 4pm, followed by a cup of tea. All who would like to come along will be very welcome.

Free Advice Service

Do you have problems with Welfare Benefits, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Disability Benefits, Employment Rights and money matters. You can obtain confidential help with these and other difficulties by contacting the Avon (University Settlement) Community Association at their Advice Centre, 115 High Street, Shirehampton. There is a drop in service on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, 9.30-11.30am. If you have difficulty completing the complicated forms for benefits such as Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance our adviser can arrange an appointment for you.

Our service is free, and open to anyone living in Shirehampton and the surrounding areas. Tel: 982 9399.

Volunteer Wanted

Is there anyone who can deliver Shire newspapers in St Bernard Road from no. 2-44 and also Woodwell Road nos. 11-49. If so please contact Pauline on 9826935. The newspapers are brought to your door each month for you to then deliver to each house. It will take about an hour of your time each month.


It is with regret that we must say Goodbye to Mr Robbins a long serving "delivery boy" of the Shire paper. We would like to take this opportunity to say a big Thank You to him for all the years he has helped and supported us, and we hope that in hanging up his delivery bag he will take things easy and have a well earned rest. Again, thank you Mr Robbins.

A Trip to China

This time last year I was looking forward to August and my holiday in China. We left Heathrow Airport and winged our way up and away over Russia and Siberia, down over Beijing and on to land at Shanghai International Airport.

I noticed on trekking through "Arrivals" that all immigration forms had to be completed in either English or Chinese which I must say did surprise me. Shanghai is a large, new International Airport, very clean, light and airy. Having lined up in visa number order for the authorities to check us, we then made our way to the domestic flights area which seemed miles! Having satisfied bureaucracy once again we were able to proceed to the departure gate for our flight to, guess where? Beijing!

During our time in Beijing we visited Tian an men Square and the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall of China and the Beijing Opera. I still can't believe that I have actually been there, it still has a certain dream-like quality. Everywhere there were great crowds of people, many of whom were Chinese as it is only relatively recently that the Chinese people as a whole have been allowed to go out of their own community to visit or work. They are a friendly people, and one thing that they like is to have their photograph taken with a foreigner, the photo is then proudly displayed on the wall of their home. We were met with smiles everywhere. On the way up to the Temple of Heaven we went through a long covered walkway which was in the shape of a square, where people were playing all sorts of instruments, singing and harmonising, playing cards and story telling. It was lovely.

Another highlight of the holiday was the cruise on the Yangtze River on a riverboat called The Paradise. We arrived there via a flight from Beijing to Wuhan and a stay in a hotel looking out over the Yangtze. We were on the seventeenth floor with a wonderful view, especially interesting was where the river Han joined the Yangtze. The Han is blue, the Yangtze is brown and where they joined there was a definite line, it was quite weird.

We arrived at the embarkation point for the boat after dark and it had been raining. We were taken to the top of a long flight of badly lit concrete steps, there were seventy-two steps - I counted them - and no hand-rail! Although our main luggage had been taken for us we were still carrying our hand luggage, but fortunately one of the men in the party took mine for me. At the bottom we then had to cross an unlit rickety pontoon with several sections to it, not far below us, no more than three feet, flowed the fast flowing, brown Yangtze, and boy, does it have currents and eddies. Then we made our way through three other boats moored alongside the Paradise and finally got to our cabin.

Next day we were off again up those seventy two steps to the coach as we were going to view the work on the Three Gorges Dam Project. My word it is an enormous dam. There were hundreds of men working on it, the work went on non-stop for twenty-four hours a day. It was very impressive. Soon now the water levels will begin to rise taking a fortnight to reach the desired level. That will be the first phase completed. As we steamed through the three gorges we saw great boards with 135m and higher up 175m which showed where the water would reach when the dam was completed. The first phase should see the water up to the first marker. This has meant organising an enormous resettlement programme for the people living below these levels; along the banks could be seen the ruined remains of villages and communities. We stopped at one such place where there was a pagoda up the side of the hill. It was very steep but we were told that there were "Sedan" chairs which could be hired, so we did! These chairs were made of bamboo poles with canvas slung between them and a long bamboo pole on either side which rested on the shoulders of the two men who carried it. Poor things carrying me! It was a very queer sensation being hoisted up to shoulder level. However, they were there with lovely smiling faces to take me back down again after I had been to the pagoda. Up the steps and on the way to the pagoda were the inevitable stalls where I bought a majhong set; we had been taught how to play on board ship, I was so pleased about this as I had wanted to know for years, and where better to learn?

This was one of several things that we were shown, others were making and flying kites, which were beautiful, Chinese painting and writing, Chinese inside bottle painting, and how the oysters make freshwater pearls. She had an oyster to show us and before cutting it open she asked us to guess how many pearls would be inside saying that the person who guessed correctly could have them all. Needless to say no-one did, but would you believe it there were thirty-four, some of course very small.

Soon we arrived at Chongqing where we went up in a funicular to get to street level. It seems strange to think that this will soon be under water. In Chongqing we went to the Tea Room Theatre returning to the hotel after dark. I made a note in my diary: "The lights of Chongqing at night are quite magical". It was in Chongqing that we saw a giant panda and a lesser panda. It was here too that we visited a silk factory, my word the girls were working at a rate. I couldn't see the strands of silk but we were told that each girl gathered up eight strands of silk off the cocoons and passed them over wheels to be spun. They worked in eight hour shifts and the factory was going twenty-four hours a day.

After Chongqing were were up and away to Xian and the Terracotta Army on a very hot day. All I can say is amazing! Perhaps it would be appropriate here to tell you about the "Hello" people. They are street vendors and are every where! They approach you saying "Hello, you buy, I give you a very good price" and quote a price which may or may not be "very good". It is expected of you to haggle and in the end you generally arrive at a price that pleases both parties. It was in the hotel in Xian that I had a very strange experience. I arranged to send an e-mail to my daughter which I wrote was "My holiday" for subject. Having written it I tried to send it but it was blocked and nothing happened - I called the supervisor, same thing, she called her supervisor who pressed a few keys and said that it was blocked because I had used "My holiday", I deleted the offending words and hey presto off it went without a care in the world! Apparently some words are proscribed and holiday is one of them!!

Then it was on to Shanghai where we walked along The Bund, crossed the river by ferry to go up the Jim Mao tower, the third tallest in the world. The lift goes up at 9m per second! Unfortunately there was a rolling mist so we didn't have the best of views but enough to know what it was like.

There followed a visit to The Temple of the Jade Buddha and the Children's Palace where children go after school and on Saturdays to do a variety of activities - music and dance - to a very high standard. Finally my friend and I went to the Peace Hotel where Noel Coward used to stay and where he wrote one of his plays, either "Present Laughter" or "Private Lives", I can't remember which one. It was lovely, a young lady played a selection of tunes from the thirties on the grand piano whilst we reclined in leather armchairs, drank our tea and soaked up the atmosphere. The whole place was an absolute throw-back to a bygone era, and so very peaceful. I liked Shanghai very much, it is very cosmopolitan and the architecture shows its very varied past.

It was now time to leave China. We flew out of Shanghai and had been flying for about an hour when the captain announced that there was trouble with one of the systems, we would have to turn back, but first we had to jettison the fuel. Oh! the system that wasn't working was the one that controlled the under carriage but not to worry there was a back up system, but he added that he was not prepared to fly over such inhospitable terrain as Siberia when all systems were not 100%. We flew round and round out over the sea whilst I watched the fuel coming out of a tube on the rear edge of the wing. I'd often wondered what it was for! At last we landed, safely, and came to a halt, the captain announced that he would go no further until the fault was rectified. Eventually we alighted and once more plodded the length of the airport (incidentally Shanghai is the only airport I have come across where passengers' shoes are put through the X-ray machine) to await transport to an overnight hotel and be told that we would have a 5.30am call next morning! Oh! The joys of travel! Next day all was well and we arrived back at Heathrow after a trouble free flight.

The Great Shire Fun Day

Shirehampton Community Action Forum (SCAF) are helping to organise a Family Fun Day event to be held on September 6th on the Daisy Field site near Lamplighter's Marsh. The event is being held to raise awareness of the Daisy Field as a possible site for a Community Park and also to raise funds for SCAF and the Rotarians to benefit local good causes and local action.

If you are a group or organisation and would like to come together with others and help make this event a success for our community, please contact Richard at SCAF on 0117 982 9963 and find out how. Your support is important.

Library Centenary

On the 6th of March 2005 the Library will have been open to the public for 100 YEARS. Do you have any memories or anecdotes of your visits to the Library? (No we don't expect you to remember the Opening!!!) Can you remember your first visit?Do you have fond (or otherwise) memories of the staff? Has anything funny happened on a library visit? What changes have you noticed?

PLEASE share your recollections with us - we will respect wishes to remain Anonymous if requested.

New Library Assistants


Liz Holliday                                          Lynn Hurley

Cotswold Community Centre

Require a caretaker for various duties at the Cotswold Community Centre, Dursley Road. For details please contact Mr B. Blandford on 9047319. There will be a talk at the Community Centre on the evening of Tuesday 2nd September, about the operations of the Police helicopter. All welcome.

Found Watch

Station Road, Shirehampton, Monday 2nd June. It was taken to the police station at Avonmouth.

Money on the Move!

Severn Four Credit Union has now relocated to premises at 115 High Street, Shirehampton, and we look forward to welcoming local people who may be interested in becoming members.

Severn Four Credit Union continues to go from strength to strength with a continuing increase in its membership base and would like to thank everyone for spreading the word! Credit Unions have been Bristol's "best kept secret" for too long and we are delighted to announce that we are close to breaking through the 300th member barrier and will shortly be issuing our 100th loan.

Increasing membership will enable the Credit Union to offer a wider range of services to members; in addition to the savings accounts and access to low-cost loans, which are already available to eligible members.

There are several exciting new projects on the horizon and Severn Four have been able to secure funding to take our Junior Savings Scheme into local schools. By giving our children a sound financial education at an early age, this in turn, will greatly benefit them in the future as adults and we look forward to the challenge of establishing Junior Savings within local schools.

The office is now open Monday to Friday and if you would like more information or are interested in joining, please ring Jan Clark on 0117 9381439 or email

A Thank You

Thank you for the many good wishes I received from friends, neighbours, Evergreens, Women's Fellowship and choir members during my recent stay in hospital. It made me feel so much better knowing that so many people cared. Wonderful to be home!

Christine Collins

Christmas Lights

Latest news WELL DONE SHIRE! Thanks to many of the shops in Shirehampton, collecting tins for the Christmas Lights fund have been in the shops for just over a month. The good news is that in just that short time Shire shoppers of all ages have very generously given 165 in small change.

Our thanks also to Leon Franklin, the landlord of the Lamplighters who generously gave us 100 from the proceeds of a very successful Race Night at the end of May, and to the punters that night who helped us raise 55 in a raffle. We are also most grateful to the victorious Lamplighters Pub Quiz team who have kindly given us their 50 First prize money.

Future plans for fund-raising include a Quiz night, a Murder Mystery night and a Family Fun evening possibly later in the summer.

This year our aim is to have more and better lights in the High Street and to have brightly lit Christmas trees in many of the brackets as we did some years ago. If Shire residents go on supporting us as they have so far this year we should be able to promise the BRIGHTEST CHRISTMAS YET.

Electic Blanket Safety Checks

Bristol City Council is running a series of electric blanket safety checks in the coming weeks. Each safety check will be free but is on a STRICTLY ADVANCED BOOKING BASIS. The Shirehampton session is on: August 6th, 1.30pm - 4.30pm at Shirehampton Health Centre, Pembroke Road. Booking telephone number is 0117 916 2200.

Summer Scheme 2003

Portway Community School's 9th Annual Summer Scheme 2003. WATCH OUT! for information on this year's Summer Scheme at Portway School! This year Summer Scheme will run from Thursday 24th July to Saturday 26th July and again from Monday 28th July to Saturday 2nd August. It will run from 9.00am to 2.00pm and will consist of three sessions with breaks in-between. Summer Scheme is aimed at children aged from 8-14 years.

The admission price is to be confirmed. Leaflets will be given out towards the end of term at your local junior schools including Avonmouth, Avon Primary, Shirehampton, Sea Mills and Bankleaze. In the meantime, please wait for more information in the leaflets when they come out. All of the favourite activities, such as Football, Art & Craft, Computers, Cookery, Internet and other special activities will be on offer.

We have provisionally booked day trips to Sedgemoor Splash Swimming at Bridgwater, the Swindon Oasis at Swindon, Woodlands Leisure Park near Dartmoor, Quaywest Water Park at Paignton, Bowling and Cinema at Avonmeads Retail Park in Bristol and one unconfirmed trip...

For more information contact Steve Webb at the school on the number below. See you on Thursday July 24th!!! Portway Community School 982 8442.

Christian Aid

Thank you to everyone who has supported Christian Aid this year. So far we have raised 1,500 which is a fantastic achievement and, not only that, we have had lots of fun in the process. Specific events have included the Barn Dance, Coffee morning with Songs of Praise, Skittles Evening and envelope donations in Shirehampton Churches plus individual donations. Thank you all very much for your generosity. There are two more fund raising events in the pipeline - the Sponsored Cycle ride on 15th June for which we have 22 riders and the Tea Dance with Cream tea on June 18th. These events will have already taken place as you read this article so there will be an update on the final amount raised in the next issue of Shire.

I would like to thank the Shirehampton shops that have helped to advertise our events and in particular the following who gave generously to the Barn Dance buffet and raffle: Co-op, Somerfield, Village Bakery, Bobbetts, Woolworths, Pound Hit, Sainsbury's Clifton. Thank you all very much.

For more information about Christian Aid see the website .

Jane Powell

The release of 300 balloons on 7 June 2003 to mark John Wesley's 300th birthday
Photo: E Verey

Summer Events in Bristol's Parks

If you're looking for something to do this summer, there's plenty of events and activities taking place in Bristol's parks this summer; from the major events such as the Orange Ashton Court Festival and Bristol Balloon Fiesta to more local events including play days and wildlife discovery walks.

Many of the ideas are featured in the new edition of Park Life, the city council's guide to news and what's on in parks. Park Life is a free booklet with news and information about a wide variety of activities and projects including updates on the Ashton Court Lottery bid and Eastville Park improvement plan. It details many of the events taking place including the ever-popular Music in the Park series, sports festival and activities, play events and family fun days. Park Life is available from early July at libraries, area council offices and Colson House reception. For information on all events visit the council's

Our nearest local events will be at Blaise Castle Estate play area, and include:
Monday 28th July. Giant inflatable, plus puppet and magic show, 1pm to 3pm.
Tuesday 29th July. Giant inflatable plus face painting. 11am to 4pm.
Tuesday 5th August. Hair braiding. 11am to 4pm.
Tuesday 12th August. Face painting. 11am to 4pm.
Wednesday 13th August. Sports activity taster. 2pm to 3pm.
Monday 18th August. Bristol Zoo animal show and talk. 11am to 1pm.
Tuesday 19th August. Face painting. 11am to 4pm.
Wednesday 20th August. Bouncy castle. 11am to 4pm.
Monday 25th August. Puppet and magic show. 1pm to 3pm.

For further information on all of these, please contact the play area supervisor, Nicola, Tel: 0117 950 5899 or the Rangers on 0117 950 5447.

In addition, BLAISE CRICKET DAY will be held on Wednesday 6 August, 10.30am to 3pm. A day of expert cricket coaching for boys and girls aged between 8-13 years. Cost 5. Booking essential. Tel: 0117 963 9174.

Also DAIRY OPENING & BUTTER MAKING DEMONSTRATION on Sunday 10 AUGUST, 11am to 4pm, at Blaise Castle House Museum. An opportunity to step inside the pretty thatched dairy at Blaise Castle Museum and see butter being made using traditional hand techniques. Tel: 0117 950 6789.

At Lawrence Weston Moor Local Nature Reserve on WEDNESDAY 13 AUGUST, 10am to 3.30pm, FREE, DAMSELS AND DRAGONS. Come and meet the watery wildlife at Lawrence Weston Moor. Fun activity for children between 8 and 12 years. Booking is essential. Telephone Angela or Sarah on 0117 917 7270. (Bristol City Council and Avon Wildlife Trust joint event).


Don't know what <sph100> is? Hardly surprising - it's a newly dreamed up working name for a locally-created website which doesn't yet exist! <sph100> will celebrate the Public Hall's 100th birthday, and the people who have lived here during that 100 years - and will also include, most importantly, the projects which will take the Hall and the community into the next 100 years. A video diary plus! It will be created by you, the locals - your contributions will be sought and welcomed through classes, workshops and open days; it will be linked into existing local websites, and will contain pictures, photos, graphics, music and anything else that takes our fancy. So:

  • would you like to learn how to build a creative new website?
  • do you have basic computer skills? (necessary)
  • a camcorder? (optional)
  • a digital camera? (optional)

If your answer to the first two questions at least is yes, then do please get in touch! This project will be a partnership between UK on Line at the Public Hall, Community Education and our local community. It will be based at the Public Hall and will happen at the times interested people can best manage to get there. Please contact me to discuss, or leave a message for me if you would like to get involved. I WILL get back to you. Contact details: Kate Pollard, tel: 9829963/ 9776744. Shirehampton Public Hall, Station Road, Shirehampton BS11 9TU or

Community Park Project Update

The project to take forward a proposal to develop a Community Park for Shirehampton on the Daisy Field site on Lamplighter's Marsh has been subject to a few delays because of discussions within the City Council over the Lamplighter's Marsh Management Plan. However, these have now been resolved and we can look forward to the comments and ideas from 200 people (!!) in Shirehampton being taken forward to form an Action Plan.

There will be an Action Planning event held at Shirehampton Public Hall on Tuesday July 8th starting at 7.00pm. The decisions taken at this event will be taken forward and used to try and raise money for improvements. If you would like to contribute to this important event please contact Richard on 982 9963.

"HOT OFF THE PRESS!" The Community Park Project has been lucky enough to secure 1500 from The Countryside Trust and the Greater Bristol Foundation to hold a Family Fun day on the Daisy Field at the end of the summer holidays. To make this a great community event we need your help! If you are a group or individual and you would like to get involved please contact Richard on 982 9963. Thank you.

Richard, Community Park Project Development Worker

Shirehampton Community Group Meeting

Held in the Public Hall on Wednesday 28 May 2003

There were 14 people present. The meeting was chaired by John Parsons who welcomed those present.

Section Reports

Planning and Environment Presented by John Callaghan.
Communications Mast - was installed in record time following the minimum notice period and despite objections.
Extension to residential home, Station Road - An application for an extension has been submitted. Road improvements - now completed in Pembroke Road and some work done in the High Street. It seems acceptable.

Outstanding matters Historic finger posts at Park Gates the council promised to replace them but despite several reminders nothing has happened. John Parsons to phone them.

New projects
Lamplighters footpath - when work was being done on this path the gates to the old service road were removed and have not been replaced. Many local residents have complained about very young motor cyclists using this path and intimidating walkers and their dogs. A formal letter of protest will be sent on behalf of SCG. John Knight has already protested and it was suggested Spud Murphy should become involved.
Shire Greens - there is to be no funding for the community park project and maintenance of a youth shelter from the Council and because of a clause in the Local Plan private funding cannot be applied for.
Environmental Impact Study - no-one will accept responsibility for funding for this so a further protest is to be made to the Ombudsman.
Local Plan - there have been so many comments, objections and counter-proposals that there will be a delay in feedback.
Streetlights at Passage Leaze - since alterations made to lighting in Passage Leaze/Grove Leaze the top of the former is left with a dark area. There is no funding available from the Council to rectify this.

Press cuttings
Park & Ride - an article in the Evening Post on 28th May states that the Park & Ride has cost just under 1/2m in the first year. Spud Murphy commented that about one third of the people using the bus are residents and not using the Park & Ride. Permission will be sought to extend the Park & Ride onto the area covered by allotments.
9 Station Road - 14th May, application to convert an old coach house into dwellings.

General & Highways

Report given by John Parsons.
Woodwell Road - access closed as drains are being laid for new flats. One non-working light reported. Litter - there has been a campaign at the school to address this problem. The litter bin by the bus stop on the green has now been moved near to the seat. Two more bins have been sited outside Woolworths and Blockbusters, making a total of 17 in the village. It was stressed that it is not always young people who drop litter.
Fountain - this has got into a disgusting state and been cleared by a local resident. The problem is that no drainage holes were made during the restoration. The council has agreed that clearance will become part of the street cleaning contract and that a contractor will be employed to make some drainage holes.
Public Hall - celebrates the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone in September and the Earl of Wessex will be visiting on 24th September to mark the occasion. He might be asked to plant a tree.
Shire Forum - local organisations will be asked soon to pay a subscription of probably about 10.

Any other business
Single yellow lines in Station Road - it has been noted that wardens seem to target people parking here, opposite the Parade, and yet the Car Sales constantly park For Sale cars on double yellow lines opposite, despite regular phone calls objecting. Can we ask for these single lines to be removed? John Parsons to follow this up. It was commented that we do not have enough parking space in the village.
Swimming Pool - how far along the road have the plans to close our pool gone? John stated that it all depended on Henbury obtaining the funding they required. In view of our "hung" council it is worth progressing the campaign to keep Shire open. John will write to Pat Roberts about it.

Date of next meeting Wednesday 30 July 2003.

Future dates: 24th September (AGM) and 26th November.

Our Birds

Mrs Ethel Thomas, so well-known here, tells us that in 51 years in Avonmouth she has only heard a cuckoo twice from her back garden, the second time being this summer. We in Shirehampton think we are a bit more favoured, especially if we walk in Lamplighter's Marsh, but we certainly haven't heard one this year. What an exhausting business it is for a small bird to rear its own chicks, let alone a cuckoo. We watched entranced as a pair of bluetits nested and fed their family in our nest box but neither saw nor heard anything of the chicks for three weeks; then late one afternoon I saw a rather ruffled fledgling sitting on a potted plant, much too near the ground and the pond for my liking. I left him (her?) alone, according to the rules, and with the parents twittering softly from some unseen vantage point, he was gone. I hope and trust the local moggy was outwitted, but I wonder if he was the only chick or just the last, and if the last, did all the others take off at crack of dawn? Our neighbours tell us that there are lots of young tits around now. And what about their lovely nest? Is it really true they only have one brood? I must write to Bill Oddie!

Brenda Dammers

The Antiques Roadshow, Michael Aspel and the family silver!

"How would you like to visit Dyrham Park and see the Antiques Roadshow being filmed?" asked M. What a question to ask me! Me - the Queen of car boot sales; me - the lover of Antique Markets; me - the adorer of Michael Aspel (the man of cabbages and Crackerjack pens, the man who made me cry at every programme of This Is Your Life and the man who now hosts the Antiques Roadshow). I said YES!"

What will you take M" I asked. "Oh, I'll take a piece of the family silver" she said. Wow, the only silver I have is a teaspoon marked with Stainless Steel on it and the oldest thing in our home is me!

I rushed over to Betty, my neighbour of more mature years, and asked if she had anything older than me that I could take to the Roadshow. We hunted through her many teddy bears but not one had a Steiff button in its ear. She then produced a very nice doll with a pretty frock on and said that it was at least 60 years old. Well, that's a few years older than me so I took it.

We arrived at Dyrham Park to find the car parks full. We were ushered into a field which looked as if the farmer had only just cut the grass so as to accommodate us late arrivals. We then waited for the bus that would take us to the house. The lady steward was quite insistent that it was only a mile to walk but we were just as insistent that a mile was too far! It wasn't too long before the little bus arrived and we all tried to board it (sardines in a can came to mind). After the two minute bus ride we arrived at the house and the beginning of the queue for valuation seekers (and possible TV stars!).

There were hundreds of people in the queue, which snaked its way around the grounds of the house. We passed a notice saying that anyone queuing before 4.30pm would be seen by the experts - I hoped we would be seen before then! The cameras and lights were all set up around the well known blue tables and chairs and the excitement of spotting a star of the show could be felt all around. It did seem a bit tedious after an hour of being in the queue and only taking a few steps forward so when a gentleman with a megaphone came towards us it provided a welcome form of entertainment to us all. He asked for the owners of a car in the car park a mile a way to return and retrieve their dog before a fatal outcome could occur. We then listened whilst he said that some unscrupulous people were queue doging and going straight to the individual tables instead of queuing with us so as the reception table could tell us which table to go to. He then asked us to "Dob them in!" if we saw anyone doing this. After three hours of queuing I wouldn't need to tell-tat-tit on a queue dodger, I would be quite able to deal with them myself!

The family behind us in the queue must have been to a Roadshow before. They left the father in the queue and sat on a travel rug on the grass. They then produced a beautiful picnic basket which was full of delicious goodies. The children kept passing food to their father as he duly kept their place in the queue. M had had conversations with the mother of the family and apparently their family used to live in Dyrham House. It looked as if they had brought everything bar the kitchen sink for valuation and after hearing where they used to live I did wonder where these items came from!

Eventually I saw my first "TV Star" - Christopher Payne but couldn't hear a thing he was saying because he was too far away and we had been "grabbed" by some stewards to stand behind a table due to the lack of audience! We were assured that we would not lose our place in the queue by doing this, though we weren't too sure whether to believe it. I quickly ate my ice cream and tidied myself up (just in case the camera caught my best side!) and waited. Ten minutes passed by before I realised the cameras were on a table which was well out of earshot and hidden by a crowd of people who were at the back of the queue!

It was only then that I spotted him. Michael Aspel was just feet away from me talking to a woman. My legs turned to jelly. I grabbed some paper and a pen and stood next to them offering my piece of paper to Michael. He smiled at me and asked my name. "Maureen" I said, "Can you spell it?" "I've known a few Maureens in my past" he said. "Crikey, that ages you, there aren't a lot of us left" I said. He giggled and went slightly red in the face but still signed my piece of paper. A crowd had gathered around us all thrusting pen and paper at Michael who carried on smiling and chatting to each person. I ran back to M who was still waiting patiently in the queue and asked her to take a photograph of me with Michael Aspel. She informed me that she wasn't very good as a photographer but I had no choice! We went over to the star of the show and I asked if I could have a photograph taken with him. He put his arm around me (I will never forget that!) and I put my arm around him! He smiled nicely for the camera whilst M pressed a button but as she had pointed out to me that she wasn't much use with a camera I asked for another one to be taken. Bless him, he didn't move an inch (he couldn't, I wouldn't let go!) He didn't leave until everyone there had gained their prize of his autograph or their photograph with him. What a lovely man!

Eventually we reached the reception table upon where I had to show Betty's doll to a lady who instantly said "Miscellaneous - over there!" Now I know why there were queue dodgers. We were then made to form more queues in front of signs saying: Miscellaneous, Books, Porcelain, Silver, Jewellery, Military and Furniture. I think we could have made up our own minds on what items we had and where to stand and I am sure it would have taken less than 3 hours! I left M to stand in my miscellaneous queue whilst she sat on a chair in her Silver queue. I am glad that she had not brought any porcelain - their queue was horrendous! Though it would have been nice to have a chat with Henry. After a while I could see that M was nearly at the front of her queue so I asked a very nice gentleman behind me if he would mind keeping my place whilst I watched M and her family silver being valued. He agreed and even held Betty's dolly for me. I was just about to move to the table where M was when I saw her get up and come to my queue. "That was a bit quick, wasn't it?" I said. "Not very good either" said M. "It was valued not long ago at a lot more than today!"

I almost managed to get in camera shot when a lady was stood with a female expert that I have never seen before. She was holding a book which was about Shackleton. I could only hear snippets of what she was saying because someone in the queue behind me was yacking away on their mobile phone. I heard the lady say "Gosh" about five times! Now I know why some people never seem to get excited when they are told how much their precious items are worth. It really is cut, do it again, cut, do it again etc. I am going to have to wait to see the programme on TV to find out how much that book is worth because the mobile phone user started to laugh just at the moment of truth. Trust this take to be just right and no need to do it again!

We watched whilst a lady was having a discussion about her Clarice Cliff look-a-like tea service. I hope it wasn't because as she was starting to pack it away some of it fell onto the floor! The poor expert was really concerned. Finally, it was my turn. Paul Atterbury sat down at the table (I do like him especially in the deckchair jacket he was wearing) and I was about to join him when the steward veered me towards another table where George was sat. I must admit I have never seen George before so I didn't get too excited. He sat next to M and I had to pass Betty's doll to him over M. The thought of M being filmed by the cameras and not me did go through my head! He looked at the doll whilst I explained that she belonged to a neighbour who believed it to be 60 years old. He said that he had no idea about the numbers on the back of the neck but thought that the doll was made in the 1940s and was German. It had a composite head and not porcelain and was worth around 30-50. Basically, that was all that he could tell me. I thanked him but thought to myself - where's Bunny, she would have known more!

Now that we were just spectators we had time to stand and listen to Henry talking to a man with a porcelain little boy (it looked like a fairground gift to me and M). "Where's the girl?" Henry said. "Always a girl with a boy - unless he ditched her!" He was smashing, made us laugh and was very good at his profession. M was enjoying listening to an expert talking about some knives and forks with mother of pearl handles but for some unknown reason didn't hear the value of them! She's going to have to watch the TV programme as well!

By now it was getting close to tea time and we realised that we had not eaten or had anything to drink since breakfast. I did try to get us a cuppa an hour before but the queue in the cafe was longer than the queue for valuations! We sat in the cafe and shared a gorgeous sandwich (very expensive hence sharing)_ along with carrot cake and a cup of tea (one cup each - didn't matter about the price we were thirsty!).

We then went to the marquee where the larger items of furniture and paintings were on display and a shop was selling Antiques Roadshow memorabilia. Naturally, I had to a buy a T Shirt (it will help when I sell at a car boot sale, been there, seen it, done it, got the T shirt!) and I also bought a publicity photo of Michael Aspel. As the girl behind the counter said, I'd have to find Michael again and get his autograph on the picture! Off I went to find him! I didn't have to look far; he was talking to the people who were queuing for the bus back to the car park. When he saw me he stepped back and said "Haven't we met before?" I could have taken that as a chat up line, couldn't I? He didn't mind signing for me again - lovely man!

We had a wonderful day at Dyrham Park. It was interesting to see how an Antiques Roadshow programme is put together and how patient the experts were with hundreds of people, many with items of no value whatsoever. There was such a pleasant atmosphere even though hundreds of people were queuing for 3 or 4 hours. I would fully recommend a visit to a Roadshow but would suggest going as a spectator would be much more fun!


St. Mary's News

Hi folks! Here we are well into Summer and if you didn't receive your copy of "Shire" last month (due to an apparent short print run) may I be forgiven if I briefly mention again our Patronal Festivities for early July.

These are - Summer Fayre to be held in the church from 10am onwards on Saturday 5th July. Cakes and jams etc will be on sale also an Exhibition & Sale of water colour paintings by our local artist "Shelley Anne". Cream Teas will be available during the afternoon.

On Sunday 6th July the Very Rev. Robert Grimley, Dean of Bristol Cathedral, will be preaching at our 10.00am Holy Communion Service. During the afternoon Portway Oldies Music Society (POMs) will be presenting a concert of music in church.

Monday 7th July will see a return of the Bristol Citadel Salvation Army Band at 7.30pm - this year the venue is to be the Village Green. Bring a seat or a blanket to sit on. Should the weather be wet the concert will take place in the church.

Thank you for your patience - now onto the rest of the news! Back on Sunday 25th May a number of our congregation including Canon Christine, went around the parish "beating the bounds" which is an ancient custom of walking around the parish boundary. Despite the rain - Ralph Hack led them around - after a Picnic Lunch in the Church Centre. Ralph pointed out places of historical interest and their connection with Shirehampton parish over the years. Thank you Ralph for making it so interesting. (See photograph taken by the Parish Boundary Stones on Shirehampton Golf Course).

The list for the Coach Trip to The Severn Valley Railway or The West Midlands Safari Park is now closed. We anticipate a full size coach going to the SVR and a Minibus to the Safari Park.

You may re-call I made mention last month - the display of our Quaker Prayer Book. As the book has for many years been kept in the "City Archives" and is over 100 years old, its ownership is automatically transferred to the Bristol Diocese. However, Canon Christine and Ralph Hack have negotiated its return to St. Mary's on temporary loan and it will be displayed in one of the glass cabinets given by Lilian Simmons. When not on display it must be kept in a locked safe and handled with great care. The loan will be reviewed at regular intervals.

Canon Christine has asked me to draw to your attention that Tea & Coffee will now be available on Thursday mornings at the west end of the church. It will be served between 10 and 10.45am and then suspended for 45 minutes whilst the 11am Holy Communion takes place. Tea & Coffee will then be served again from 11.30am to 12 noon. Why not extend your morning break to include attending this 30 minute service?

Our South Porch (the one in Pembroke Road) has at last been modified to give wheelchair access in exactly the same manner as the porch at the west end. All buggies and their drivers are welcome. Rumour has it that St Peter has had the Pearly Gates of Heaven widened to accommodate them as well - so although you may be years away from Heaven - come and get your practice in now! (Only kidding really!!).

As the summer progresses - during July and August - we shall, on various Sundays, be having "Open Gardens Afternoons". Persons prepared to open their gardens will publish the dates in the church. You are then cordially invited to visit their garden and it is anticipated you will receive light refreshments.

Sadly, I have to report that Esther Chiumbu completed her attachment to St. Mary's at the end of June. We shall all miss our "African Violet" (and she has forgiven me for revealing her age when she arrived last September)! She will be missed very much by the children in our local schools where she has become a familiar figure and with the toddlers at "The See and Know Group" which meet on Mondays in the Church Centre. But on a much happier note I can report that Esther is to be married to her finance Matthew on Saturday 9th August at Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex. Matt is also a Theological Student at Trinity College and has, I believe, two more years of study there before he becomes eligible for ordination. So there is a good chance we may see them on the odd occasion. We wish Matt and Esther every blessing on their forthcoming marriage and that they will have a long and happy life together.

On Friday 18th July at 7.30pm we are having a "Sea Supper" in the Church Centre - why not come along dressed up with a nautical theme? (I did say nautical and not naughty theme!). Tickets are 5 and available from Tony Sawyer. If my memory serves me correctly I believe any money raised will go to the cost of the refurbishment of the wooden floor in the church. "Well shiver me timbers - I'll see you there with or without me life-jacket!"

The next day - Saturday 19th July - at 7.30pm is the "Summer Concert" presented by the Shirehampton Area Choir. This is again being conducted by our Organist and Choirmaster Tim Forder. Tim tells me this will be a programme of light music and music from "The Shows". Please support Tim and the Choir on what is sure to be a very pleasant evening's entertainment. Surprise your friends and bring them along too!

Going back to May again, we once more had the first of our bi-annual Skittles Evenings, presented yet again by that well known duo - Nan and Bernard Waller. It takes them ages to organise it and when it arrives the evening is over in a flash. Now for the results - Highest Score (Men) - Dave Pimm (rumoured he drank Pimms No. 1 all the evening!!). Highest Score (Ladies) - Nan Waller, not only does she organise the event but wins it as well! (I shall be holding a Stewards enquiry into that result!). Then came the Knock-out Competition - Winner (men), Neil Watkins, a lovely boy, what a pity he has had such a mis-spent youth on alleys in Pubs and Clubs around the district! Finally, the Ladies Winner of the Knock-out was Pam Crawford (Pam is one of our Visitors to the Sick - it made me sick to see how much better she was than me!) - never mind I did win a Bottle of Old Spice Aftershave in the Draw. Thanks again Nan and Bernard, we hope you've got plans for another evening in November!

And last of all Steve Simmons has asked me to remind you the 25th Annual Collection for St. Peters Hospice (House to House) will take place from the 7th to 12th July and the Street Collection for one day on Saturday 12th July. The cost of running Bristol's only hospice is around 4 million a year. If you can spare just 2 hours to assist with this collection Steve will be extremely grateful. He can be contacted either in the church on Sunday mornings or by ringing him on his home telephone number - 9823306. Thank you in anticipation.

Well, that's it folks!'

Bye for now, C.M.E.