Scrapbook For The Rotary Year July 2022 to June 2023

Club of Royston
President: Peter Mitton
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28th June - President’s Handover
A lovely summer’s evening and what a fine turnout of Rotarians, partners and guests arrived at the beautifully landscaped East Herts Golf Club. Rarely do we see such a range of smart and colourful attire as when the Rotary Club of Royston says farewell to its outgoing president and in turn welcomes the incoming one. The evening started with general fellowship in the bar and on the terrace, where everyone could catch up with friends’ news in relaxed surroundings. Soon the call came for dinner and we all trooped in to the dining room to our allotted places amongst the six tables set out, each seating eight people. We were treated to a meal of three courses (which we had pre-chosen a week or so earlier) and this was followed by cheese and biscuits plus coffee. All in all a most enjoyable dinner. Following a short speech from outgoing president Steve Higginbotham, he handed over the chain of office to incoming president Peter Mitton. Peter also gave a short address at which he mentioned that it was exactly twenty years ago that he had previously been president of the club and, like the first time, his president’s charity for the year would be “Hope and Homes for Children. Steve’s wife Sue also formally passed on the traditional president’s lady’s Jewel to Barbara Mitton. Finally the formal handover of chains of office to the incoming vice president (Phillip Martin) and the incoming junior vice (Derek Pinner) took place. The formal business of the evening having ended allowed for a continuation to the general association with old friends. A great evening, great food and a beautiful setting. You can see all the photos of the evening by clicking here (courtesy of Neil Heywood).
9th July - A helping Hand for Ukrainian Guests
On Saturday 9th July the Rotary Club arranged for a small coach to take a party of Ukrainians living in the Royston area down to Cheshunt for the annual Kupala festival. The photo shows some of the party being seen off by Rotary President Peter Mitton. During a recent presentation to the Rotary Club by Anna Barnard of The Association of Ukrainians in GB she mentioned that most Ukrainians living in Royston would miss their Kupala festival this year. The Club immediately decided to fund a coach to send many of them to The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Cheshunt so that they could still participate in this popular festival. Kupala symbolizes the birth of the summer sun and is a traditional Slavic holiday. It also celebrates both the festival of St John the Baptist and the summer solstice and involves a great deal of dancing and general high spirits. Anna reported that a great time was had by all.
10th July - A Closely Contested Treasure Hunt
Day started well with sun shining and factor 50 applied liberally two of our entrants later regretted their choices of open top vehicles however one of the cars felt much better when the results showed they had won ‘best car in show’ and the ‘consolation prize for having missed most clues! I understand the occupants of the other open top are both vying for the services of a certain Mr Sassoli but I am sure the situation will be amicably resolved. The briefing before the start of the Hunt had to be altered at the last moment when the ‘eastern’ Rotarians announced ‘Road Closure on A505 - sorry we’re late’. Little did they know that this seriously impacted the latter parts of The Hunt and yours truly had to think on his feet rather fast. Revised routing advised to all entrants!! Off they all went at irregular intervals from 10.15 onwards 10 cars containing 27 hunters. I erroneously had anticipated a leisurely morning before the return of the Hunters but no I had to check out this reported A505 closure before the planned Costa coffee revised routing given to the now departed teams would prove to be OK providing there was no unexpected activity in the environs of the Melbourn Co-Op. All proved well for most teams with only minor diversions evident from examination of their ‘declared’ mileages. I can only sing the praises of the technicians who have managed to squeeze air-conditioning into even the smallest of vehicles without it we would be minus several members with fatal heatstroke. Moving on, all 10 vehicles return to base at 81 Green Drift for the Lunch and the scoring of their efforts to solve the 32 puzzles that had been set by Dick Dastardly. Food and drink seemed to be more important to all assembled rather than the result and justifiably so as a splendid feast had been put on by the ‘band of sisters’. Whilst most were munching Ruth was crunching (numbers not celery) the outcome of which was that two teams answered all the posers correctly so the mystic mileometer of fate came in to play which penalised one team half a point and the other team three and a half points. The result was a win for Team “Summer Berries” comprising the Berrys and the Wahlichs with Team Smyth Solos (“first time I’ve ever done anything like this”) taking silver. Presentations on our improvised podium took place to the ‘successful’ teams, speeches were made, and we all went home. Words by Phillip (Quizmaster) Martin.
It was a scorching summer’s afternoon when 30+ Rotarians and partners descended on the home of President Peter Mitton and his wife Barbara. A great deal of preparation work had obviously taken place because there were tables and chairs set up all over the back garden plus some very welcome gazebos to protect us from sunburn. As we entered the garden an enticing aroma of sausages and burgers met our nostrils and we found chef de partie (Rotarian David Beardwell) brandishing tongs and spatula in a very professional way. But our first call was to the bar in one of the gazebos to collect a refreshing drink and find somewhere cool to sit and chat. And so passed a very pleasant Sunday afternoon with loads to eat and drink and to catch up with people we hadn’t see for a while. Much praise must go to all our Sports and Social team for organising the event, the the volunteers who had prepared some delicious dishes and sweets for us and finally to President Peter and Barbara for hosting us all. Thanks to all you guys, your hard work is much appreciated. The album below show some snaps taken on the day; they will automatically step forward every 8 seconds.
24th July - President’s “Hello”
31st July - Garden Visit and Afternoon Tea at Longstowe Hall
Rotarians gathered at Longstowe Hall one Sunday to experience the gardens and, a new venture for the Hall, sample afternoon tea. We were rewarded with almost perfect weather with a very comfortable temperature and, while rain had been threatened, it managed to hold off while we toured the gardens. The gardens are kept in wonderful order and have the most magnificent herbaceous borders leading down from the Hall to a large lake. This held special memories for Ray who remembered walking his daughter Becky down that avenue when she got married there, on a small island in the lake, 8 years ago. There is a rose garden, although most of the blooms had disappeared by the time we visited, which is in a lovely, balustraded courtyard where the stonework has been, and is still being, restored. There are some very striking, mature trees spattered around. We only explored the gardens but they lead onto an estate of 1000 hectares which the owners of the Hall use to support nature as well as being farmed. Following the exploration of the gardens we retired to the Squash Court café (what better place to ‘serve’ tea?), luckily though for a relaxing afternoon tea rather than hectic sport. The tea, comprising sandwiches and a quite tempting cake assortment which were supported by excellent and friendly servicewith endless tea refills if required. It was all very delicious and quite filling, indeed several people took doggy boxes home with them. It proved a very worthwhile visit but I think that we were grateful that we don’t have to look after such extensive gardens, just enjoy them. Words and photos by Ray Munden.
The Hall and the Magnificent Herbaceous Borders
The Rose Garden and the Lakeside
Afternoon Tea in the Squash Court Cafe
14th August - Monthly Walk
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun and so too, apparently, do some English women. On Sunday morning, when the temperature was 25 degrees and climbing rapidly towards 35, and mad dogs were thinking “I might have supported Boris Johnson but I’m not going for a walk in this!” eight people set off from the Three Jolly Butchers in Houghton. In times long since passed, these people might have helped build an empire. With reckless disregard for their own safety and comfort this intrepid group of coffin dodgers set off for St Ives along a path cut by natives through a forest, their journey periodically broken by the terrifying call of “cyclists take cover!” after which they threw themselves into the ditches by the roadside. The group were led by two experienced foreign explorers. One of them, a Czech, never learned to read a map and drove the group on relentlessly, showing no concern for the members suffering from dehydration, sunstroke and exhaustion. The other, and Austrian, was kinder and made sure the group paced themselves and took regular breaks. After what seemed like an age, the group emerged into a clearing where they found a crossing over a river and some ancient dwellings. Here they found a native with all manner of exotic foodstuffs vanilla, raisins, caramel, salt, even rum and a very thin primitive bread in the shape of a cone. They bartered for this life saving food with little bits of plastic which the native seemed to value. After looking wistfully at the river if only they had a boat, the journey home would be so much easier, they set off back the way they came. The chatter of the journey out was replaced by an introspective quiet on the way back. The group reflected on what they had lived though and how they had survived. The heat was almost unbearable now, their water all gone and no food until they returned to the comfort of base camp and the happy butchers – if they were still there. As they approached base camp, one member of the group had to be rescued by the RAF. The others battled on and were welcomed as heroes by kindred spirits who, through infirmity or idleness, were unable to join the expedition. Words by Martin Berry. Photos by Bryony and Tony
3rd December - Decorating the Christmas Tree at St George’s Nursing Home
And no sooner than can we turn round it’s Christmas again and time to decorate the tree at St George’s Nursing Home in Royston. The Rotary Club have been undertaking this task annually for many years now but at one one we would install and decorate three trees around the building. Since the onset of the covid pandemic St George’s have asked us to install just a single tree and the Club has continued this tradition under the auspices of the Community Service committee. The Club’s best interior decorators eagerly volunteered for the task this year namely Vice President Phillip Martin and Rotarian Jean Green. Their labours were accompanied by grudging grunts of approval from two other Rotarian elves who were (ostensibly) assisting and the final result was amazing. Thanks must go to the St George’s team for the ample supply of hot mince pies and glasses of sherry.
7th December - Christmas Concert in aid of Hope and Homes for Children
A party of 19 Rotarians and their partners set off on a cold December afternoon to London by luxury Richmond coach to the annual concert in aid of Hope and Homes for Children. This is a charity which has been supported by the Club ever since 1998 when David Richmond was president. After grabbing an early supper in Kensington we entered the magnificent St Mary Abbots Church where the concert was to be held to hear the London Metropolitan Brass Band playing festive songs and carols from the choir stalls. The concert started promptly at 7pm hosted by the very personable Sarah Jane Mee (TV presenter and news anchor on Sky News) who introduced the programme from the pulpit to the packed audience in the church. . The programme consisted of performances by various pianists, readings and choirs plus the rather novel Christmas medley by the “Show of Hands”, a group of hearing impaired youngsters who used sign language to accompany the words and music. The performer and writer Mel Giedroyc (of The Great British Bake Off fame and a long supporter of the Hope and Homes charity) was the guest presenter of the Clifford Chance choir. This firm of lawyers is a long standing pro bono supporter of Hope and Homes and all the choir are regular employees and it has become an important part of the firm. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was listening to the beautiful young soprano Katie Marshall, singing haunting renditions of “We’re Walking In The Air” and “O Holy Night” which really suited the acoustics of that lovely old building . She had such a beautiful voice without any of the “throb and wobble” that often comes after interminable years of voice training. After the concert we were treated to glasses of wine with mince pies and gingerbread men which allowed us to chat and to admire the old church. Eventually we headed back to the coach where the driver obliged us with a tour around the West End to see the Christmas Lights. We eventually arrived back at a bitterly cold Royston at about 10.45pm to scrape the frost off our cars. Many thanks are due to David Richmond for organising the visit.
The London Metropolitan Band
Katie Marshall
11th December- Monthly Walk
A very cold and frosty morning for our December walk but a creditable thirteen caged animals - I mean hardy souls, turned up for this last walk of the year arranged by Jonathan. The walk was to be about four miles traversing the old Barrington quarry (now known as the CMEX Barrington Landfill Site because it has reputably taken many thousands of tons of spoil from the London Crossrail project). Sorry to say that your scribe only did a short walk of about one mile in the company of Linda since she had to get back to prepare the food for the ravenous walkers, but the main party did the full circuit (with only one inadvertent route change) before hurrying back to Jon and Linda’s house at Melbourn. We were joined by other Rotarians and friends to enjoy Jon and Linda’s hospitality with a range of hot soups, bread, puddings and, of course, alcohol. We all spent a very pleasant time catching up with friends. The only dampener on the occasion was hearing that Ruth Martin was at the Addenbrooke Hospital’s MIU having had a fall, both she and Phillip had been due to join our gathering. Many thanks to both Jon and Linda for arranging the December walk and hosting us all. Photos by Linda and Bryony. Stop press: Ruth not seriously hurt and no hospital stay was required.
17th December - Party for Ukrainian Children
As many of you know, Rotarian Peter Homent has been heavily involved in providing a Christmas party for local Ukrainian Children. On December 17th in conjunction with the Meldreth Ukrainian support group, a party was held in Meldreth Village Hall. This was well attended and gave the children and their mothers a little bit of cheer at a difficult time. Many had hoped to go home for Christmas, but the escalation in air attacks, along with a lack of electricity and water have forced them to remain apart from their loved ones. Local companies Hotel Chocolate and The Emissary Prosecco provided some festive cheer for mothers, while the Royston Rotary club provided presents for the children and refreshments for all. Sadly Peter came down with the dreaded Covid, which was particularly disastrous as he was to be Santa Claus. Martin Berry ‘willingly’ stepped in and Santa’s visit proved to be the highlight of the evening. Barbara and I attended what was a most enjoyable evening, with plenty of games and piles of food. Don’t mention musical chairs to Barbara!. Many thanks to Peer Homent for all his hard work which contributed to an excellent evening. Peter Mitton
8th January - Monthly Walk
A winter walk on a day like today under a cobalt blue sky and a hoar frost touching hedgerows and trees can be wonderful. Unfortunately a wet December meant that our walk on the 11th had to be curtailed to lunch in front of the fire at the Red Cow at Chrishall, which was enjoyed by all. It also brought the additional pleasure of an entertaining chat with Peter and Barbara who turned up on our doorstep because as non- diners I had failed to warn them the walk was off. The walk postponed and reorganised for the 8th January was more successful. The esteemed participants shown left having met at the highest pub in Cambridge walked out the back of the pub garden across land once used as the training ground for archers destined for past king’s armies and turned left towards,at 146m, the highest point in the village and Cambridge. Over the fence to the left of the playing fields, was the residence of Binkie Beaumont a renowned theatre producer, where he entertained the rich and famous in the 50’s and 60.’s Having crossed the playing field we turned west at the road and skirted around the southern edge of the Maltings, the site of the past malted barley manufacture and a second gay community in the village, to May Street and a residential property now a long-lost pub. Then down to the steps and on to the Great Chishill Windmill, one of only seven open post mills in the UK, enjoying beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. There have been mills on this site since 1592. The current mill renovated in 2011 so that it can turn on its centre post to face the wind dates back to 1819. Having partaken a coffee break in the dry we crossed the road and followed permitted footpaths to New Road and The Pheasant accompanied by the rain. Here we were joined by Mike and friend for a very nice lunch with convivial hospitality. Jim Webb
9th January - Visit to Altro Flooring, Letchworth
As you probably know we have a flooring expert (retired) in our midst, one Howard Peacock, who professionally was familiar with Altro Flooring, based in Letchworth, and suggested it as a potential visit for Rotary. And, so primed, Peter Ross expertly organised said trip. Now maybe you wouldn’t intuitively consider this an exciting opportunity, but in practice we were floored by the excellence of the visit. Altro is a family run business with a turnover of more than £100 million and yet gave an impression of being a small, benevolent company with a philanthropic bent. We were welcomed (after some of us fighting the entrance door) by Ron and taken up through some lengthy corridors, and quite a lot of stairs, during which we were made aware of the quality of the Altro products, displayed by the lovely floors and with a myriad of striking and glossy colours on the walls. We arrived in a very large and elegant conference room where there was tea and coffee and, for the weak willed (guilty!), chocolates and biscuits. We were then shown a video proudly extolling the history of the company, which celebrated its centenary in 2019. The video took us through decade by decade, and at quite some pace. I am a quick reader but couldn’t keep up, let alone manage to make accurate notes. It was fascinating though. It started purely as a flooring company and developed much improved flooring in terms of: aesthetics - gone were ghastly concrete floors safety - with non-slip surfaces for both dry and wet conditions durability. They also, as previously mentioned, extended their products into wall coverings so we walked through a kaleidoscope of colours. In 1974 they also bought the AutoGlym car care company that makes polishes for cars and is very familiar to the car enthusiasts amongst us. Why? Well they were next door! I jokingly asked if we would get some free samples and as we were about to leave we were each presented with a body care kit - so look out for some highly polished cars at future Rotary meetings. Altro received Royal approval in the 90s and 80% of their manufacturing is in the UK, although they market worldwide. A considerable proportion of sales are for floors in motor vehicles (buses, coaches, vans) and trains, including Pakistan and Thai rail. Also in the 1990s they realised that they needed to treat all their customers more individually and less corporately and so introduced a complete new ethos to their customer interface. We were then take on a tour of the manufacturing area by the highly enthusiastic Chris. Unfortunately for Chris none of the three production lines were functioning. One should have been but the backing material for the run tore and was being fixed while we toured. Proper production resumed just as we exited. Nevertheless the tour was interesting and the factory remarkably clean for the type of production. They try to minimise waste with even the edge trimmings being recycled. We were all surprised by the small number of people in the manufacturing area, good old automation!. Having walked what seemed about a mile with a lot of stairs to the conference room and then back down again to the manufacturing area we were very grateful when we ended next to a lift which whisked us back up to the conference room. Here a very tasty and generous buffet lunch awaited us. We were also joined by Sally who explained the company’s charitable foundation, run by her and a company director, and which is funded entirely from company profits. The foundation has a specific target of helping out with charities that provide health support to needy communities, both in the UK and abroad. They focus on one or two identified charities each year. We also found out that the company looks after their staff well and are considered good payers and give shares in the company to employees. The overall feeling was of a compassionate company, certainly successful commercially but with a very philanthropic conscience and as pointed out, and unusual these days, doing most of its manufacturing in the UK. It was capitalism as it should be. Incidentally they suffered a cyber attack recently which closed down production and meant all their lap tops and PCs had to be carefully vetted and reset. They still haven’t fully recovered. It must have cost them a fortune and they have no idea who carried it out nor why. What a shame for such a lovely company. So a brilliant day out and thanks to Peter Ross for organising it and Howard for suggesting it. Words and pictures by Ray Munden
Twelve walkers took on the challenge of walking from Newport (Essex) to Debden Park. Due to road closures some had an interesting route to Newport including Martin and Jo who went via Wicken Bonhunt. We parked at the Coach and Horses and walked down the road to the White Horse. Taking the lane to the left of this pub, we walked under the railway bridge and we were soon in a willow plantation. After a footbridge over the river Cam, we followed the path to an open field. The path followed the edge of the field, and we were soon on the lookout for numerous WW2 pill boxes forming a line of defences built in 1940 up the Debden Water Valley (the Newport Debden ‘Stop Line’) and part of the GHQ defences running from Canvey Island to Great Chesterford. The path meandered through several fields and after passing through a gate we saw sheep in the field. The way marker pointed us right taking us along the Harcamlow Way, over a style to a few houses. We walked up the drive towards Brickhouse Farm before turning right around a pond and up a gentle slope. Ahead we could see a large radar dish, usually rotating but static today. Another right turn and we headed downhill, crossing the road by Newport Lodge. After a short walk-through mixed woodland, we could see Debden Church. Near here on the right was the site of Debden Hall demolished in 1936. The path around the old brick stables came into view. Quite an impressive building. We took a short diversion left to the church. The graveyard was full of snowdrops, aconites, and crocuses. Much thought had gone into this coffee stop. There were benches to sit on and beautiful views of the flowers. In addition, Clarice provided marble cake for everyone. Retracing our steps, we re-joined the path over a bridge spanning the lake. This was part of the landscaping of the park in the 18th century when the Chiswell family owned the Hall. We continued up a gentle slope to Cabbage Wood. The path took us past the old estate building (1905). We continued on the bridle way to the road turning left and almost immediately right onto the byway. The path took us downhill, through a wooded area and past the chalk quarry. Shortly after this we came to Newport Station and after crossing the bridge we were on the last stretch along the road. This proved to be quite a long section, but we did pass many interesting old houses, the old prison, and the toll house along the way. We were a little late arriving at the pub, but we were soon tucking in delicious food. No puddings as most people wanted to get back for the rugby England v. Italy. The walk book we used described this walk as about 5 miles. We did add a bit on at the start as we couldn’t park at the White Horse pub and of course there was the little diversion for coffee in the church yard. We clocked up 6.7 miles. What an achievement! Well done everyone!! Clarice
12th February - Monthly Walk
Our Club raised an amazing GBP 2,320.27 from its collection last Friday and Saturday at Tesco, Royston, to help support relief efforts following the devastating earthquake affecting parts of Turkey and Syria. The club now plans to make its own contribution to the fund, to bring it to a total of GBP 3,500 . No-one who has witnessed the terrible scenes from the earthquake zone can fail to have been moved by the plight and suffering of the people there said President Peter Mitton. He thanked the people of Royston and surrounding villages for their generous support and also Tesco Extra for allowing the club to hold the collection at short notice over the two days. The money raised will go to Rotary Foundation's Disaster Response Fund, which works closely with clubs in affected regions to ensure the funds are directed to the areas of greatest need. Pictured are Rotarians Ray Munden and Jean Green during the collection.
17th & 18th Feb - Collection in aid of Turkey/Syria Earthquake Disaster
5th March - Visit to the ABBA Avatar Show
A Blinking Brilliant Advance in entertainment - Abba Avatar concert Mama Mia, here we go again, moderately early one Sunday morning in March a total of 15 Rotarians, friends and family (well, only 4 Rotarians actually) boarded a luxurious Richmond’s coach for a magical mystery tour, including Baldock and Stevenage, into London’s Olympic legacy area and ending at the purpose built Abba Avatar arena, close to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, to not see Abba. Why to not see Abba? Well as the original Abba group are of the same general age as Rotarians they can no longer sing and be the Dancing Queens they once were. So they had the brainwave of replacing themselves with Avatars of their younger selves. Spending lots of Money, Money, Money (apparently they put up £140million of their own) a purpose built arena was erected and some obviously very high tech computer effects designed. The result was pretty awe inspiring, you really couldn’t believe that the performers on stage weren’t the real life Abba. And there were huge screens either side of the stage with close up images of them in all their original glory and outrageous costumes. Food and drink is not allowed to be brought into the arena but you can buy some pretty exorbitantly priced drinks and some burgers, a bit Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. But when you consider the cost of building what is supposed to be a temporary building, it isn’t unreasonable to want a return on your investment (remember the temporary London Eye and O2 arena though?). The Arrival area is also pretty much open to the elements and very cold, so there was much concern about how we would fare in the actual arena. But we needn’t have feared as the huge body mass and better cover meant that we were plenty warm enough. The music was brilliant with a live backing band. Lots of our well known Abba favourites were performed. I can’t understand how Avatars can have vocal cords. Knowing Me, Knowing You, you can’t please everybody and the music was also VERY loud, dividing opinion amongst the Rotary audience. I am of the ‘I want to be immersed in the music’ school and so was very happy. Hopefully other of our favourite old bands will copy Abba (most of the modern groups can’t compare) and allow us to relive our youth. We were then whisked home in the comfort the Richmond’s coach, it might take a little longer but is eminently preferable to driving or taking a train. I could go On and On and On, so I’ll close with Abba, real or Avatars, Thank You for the Music. Words by Ray Munden
12th March - Monthly Walk
It was the second Sunday in the month, cue for a Rotary walk. That didn’t stop a certain Rotarian (I won’t name him) from forgetting. We 12 (oh sorry, 10) were blessed with a brief window of pretty good weather, being dry and with temperatures scraping into double figures, after all the snow and cold, although the wind was still a bit cold. The walk hadn’t got off to a good start as my first choice of a walk near Puckeridge was prevented by the chosen pub being full. The next choice was the walk we actually did do but eating at the Heath Sports Cafe, but the cafe couldn’t accommodate us. We therefore did the walk but moved onto the Old Bull Inn for lunch. Starting at the Heath Sports Cafe Bar we could immediately see why they had not been able to accommodate us for lunch, the car park was packed full because of a running race that was taking place, not to mention a football match. The walk started by crossing the archery land where they were just setting up, so offering a potential hazard for our return. This is the area that could be the venue for the Kite Festival and Vehicle Show this year if the Conservators accept our proposal. We then travelled along the bottom of the Heath,paralleling the Baldock Road, until we reached the (double) hazard number 1, crossing Therfield Road followed immediately by Baldock Road. Next we circumnavigated McDonalds restaurant, which as usual was very busy although none of our group seemed inclined to patronise it, to meet hazard number 2, ie crossing the A505. Even though vehicles are slowing down for the roundabout they still look pretty daunting and, annoyingly after the busiest I’ve ever seen the Heath car park, this was also about the busiest I’ve ever seen the 505. Luckily, seeing a large number of people waiting (including some runners coming the opposite way), a lorry driver in the inside lane stopped to let us cross. A car in the outside lane didn’t seem so inclined until Joan wagged an angry walking stick at him (well the stick wasn’t angry, but you get my drift). The other lane was just about as difficult to cross as the vehicles seem to slingshot themselves off the roundabout at enormous speeds. Having crossed safely with all 12 (sorry, 10) walkers we hit hazard 3, the railway. I went bravely to the middle to check for trains but rather less bravely hightailed it back when a train did indeed hurtle around the bend from the Baldock direction. A bit more circumspectly I went back, confident(ish) that at least there wouldn’t be a train coming from that direction again and having seen that there wasn’t a train coming from the other direction,the very straight track providing a better view, so waved the others safely across. From there we had a good path alongside the field edge ending up at the “Stret” which stretches,in a near perfectly straight line, from Melbourn to Ashwell. Here the ever knowledgeable John Wahlich explained that this was once the main route before what eventually became the A505 appeared (whose walk was this John!). We turned right onto the Stret and passed a gate that leads to Bassingbourn via the Wellhead nature reserve. This pretty little reserve includes a brook fed by a natural springs, but the detour to include it would have made the walk a little too long. We did however, in order to break the monotony of the straight Stret, take a tiny detour through a small Woodland Trust wood (Keith Wood, only just over 4 acres. Did I just mention a Rolling Stone, or two?). Quickly returning to the Stret we shortly turned right and were soon walking alongside a kilometre long solar panel farm where the buzzing of the numerous small transformer stations was very noticeable. I hadn’t bothered to tell the party that we would be walking towards the twin towers of Kuala Lumpur but did feel obliged to point them out. Despite the visual evidence they refused to believe me, insisting that they were the chimneys at Johnson Matthey. Well, I give you the photographic evidence and rest my case! Having passed the solar panels, and close to the foot of the towers, we passed through a small scrubby area that in season is absolutely great for Blackberries. Then to hazard no. 4, recrossing the A505. I don’t know what was happening that Sunday but yet once again it was the busiest I have seen it and it was quite amusing to watch Rotarians, who wouldn’t normally run, putting quite a sprint on. Having crossed there were still 12 - sorry 10. We then had to travel through the far from picturesque commercial area which, inexplicably, harbours adjacent to one another the opposite extremes of an Aldi and a Marks and Spencer’s Foodhall. Gratefully we were soon through that and on a path,which few know about (not so few now), that skirts around the other commercial buildings until we came to potential hazard no. 5, the railway again. But why only potential? Because there is a tunnel under the railway where the only hazard, apart from tall folk braining themselves, would be to drown after heavy rain. Going through one of the new Ivy Farm estates, with some very nice houses but postage stamp gardens, we then crossed back over onto the Heath where potential hazard no. 5 (remember the archers?) had disappeared. Then piling back into our cars we drove into town for the Old Bull Inn where, you won’t be surprised to hear, the town was busier then I have ever seen on a Sunday. Really it was, we all struggled to find parking spaces. By now we were 30 minutes late (I had already phoned to say we’d be about 15 minutes late) to find Tony, who didn’t join the walk, and the errant Rotarian, with innocent partner Jo, who had decided that they couldn’t miss lunch as well as the walk (I admit after a bit of bullying by me who couldn’t be bothered to phone the Old Bull to reduce our booking). The Old Bull,despite being very busy and also having a large christening party in the Ballroom, did us proud with very prompt service, although even so we had to restrain John from rushing to the carvery too early. This apparently (I wasn’t there) contrasted with slow service at the Rotary meeting held there on the previous Tuesday that was at very short notice though so they demonstrated that they can cope given sufficient warning. Furthermore everybody enjoyed the food. So, Jo’s partner, as promised, I didn’t name you. Words and pictures by Ray Munden
The twin towers, point proven. Oh, and more of the solar panels, told you they went on a long way.
26th March - Social at Di’s
What a refreshing change to have a social gathering of Rotarians and their partners in a home setting - this time courtesy of Di Charles at her beautiful house in Whaddon. There have been too few of these in the last three years with the pandemic restrictions, hopefully now in the past. There must have been upward of thirty five attendees and the wonder of it all was that there seemed to be a chair and table for everyone to sit at. We arrived from 12.30 ready for lunch about 1pm and there was lashings of it (your scribe even went round for seconds, setting a trend I suspect) including, thoughtfully, a vegetarian option. This main course was followed by sweets and enough cheese to keep even the most hungry Kash suitably satisfied. Di and her helpers had really pulled out all the stops to produce this feast followed by coffee or tea. Once the inner person had been satisfied we all adjourned to Di’s large lounge for a few rounds of “Who am I?”. for each poser Ray asked five questions starting with the hardest first and each getting easier. In fact many of the answers were shouted out after the first question and after about ten rounds Neil Heywood was pronounced the easy winner (and awarded a bottle of wine) with Jo Mellor a very close second. We next came to charades and a number of brave people decided to have a go at describing the name of a film, book, TV programme etc. from a prepared list written out beforehand. Some of these were very originally mimed so that eventually most of them were guessed correctly. And who can forget Martin’s interpretation of the film “Free Willy”!. Great fun was had by all. After the charades we all started to go our various ways. A big thank you to Ray Munden and his entertainments team for organising such an enjoyable event and a huge thank you to Di Charles and her team of helpers for hosting and feeding us so well. You can see various pictures of the event below including “actions” shots of some of the charade performers. Pictures will automatically step forward every few seconds
16th April - Monthly Walk
The Walk That Nearly Wasn’t The April walk seemed fated. Nobody had offered to organise it until Jonathan stepped in at the 11th hour and volunteered. With no time to plan a new walk he decided to do one that he already knew around Barrington and then to eat at the Royal Oak iat the green in Barrington. Unfortunately the Royal Oak couldn’t accommodate us (a bit like Ray’s first choice pub for the March walk, has our reputation spread before us?) so the Green Man at Shepreth was the last minute stand-in. But the day before the walk an urgent message reached the walking party, Jonathan and Linda had tested positive for Covid. The walkers, armed with a map of the walk provided by Jonathan, decided to proceed anyway and arrived at the Riverside Car park near Barrington. Ray arrived a bit flustered as his car was virtually empty of petrol (the range was showing as 8 miles) and he wasn’t confident of reaching a petrol station afterwards. But worse, the route of the walk out of the car park had become a lake. More urgent discussions,should we build a raft (intrepid, we Rotarians, but this wasn’t RYLA) or take an alternative route to bypass the lake? The latter would have involved quite a lot of road walking, not looked upon favourably. Then an idea suddenly shot out. The Green Man is near Fowlmere, let’s park there and walk to and around Fowlmere Nature Reserve. All agreed. I should have mentioned that we had plenty of time to discuss the alternative options because the Man Who Can’t be Named (remember the March walk?) and partner Jo hadn’t yet arrived. But then a car nearly shot past the entrance to the car park (admittedly the entrance wasn’t easy to see and others had missed it), screeched to a halt, reversed and entered to car park and Man Who Can’t be Named was informed of the decision, he didn’t even have to get out of his car. So we set off, Ray driving inconceivably cautiously whilst nervously watching the range display, and arrived at the Green Man. Having parked we were accosted, gently it must be admitted, about why we were parking in the pub car park when the pub hadn’t yet opened. Once, however, we had explained that we had a lunch booking but were first going on a walk to build up our appetites for a pre-booked lunch then our future hosts became very happy. As we set off Martin observantly noticed a footpath that, it turned out, took us virtually to the reserve avoiding a lot of road and, even better, went alongside the beautifully clear River Shep. Once in the reserve the brand new compost toilet was proudly pointed out, replacing the previous rather nasty portaloos. Bravely, and surprisingly as we are Rotarians of a certain age of course, nobody took advantage, maybe because there was already quite a queue of excited visitors wishing to sample this new innovation. So we plunged into the reserve to be informed about the wicker fences recently woven (not very expertly, but perfectly adequately) by volunteers to hide the rather ugly sheds and shipping container that store the vital tools and implements used to maintain the reserve. Then the recycled plastic boardwalk, the newly laid wooden boardwalk and also newly constructed viewing point and seat (and more wicker fencing) were also highlighted. The first hide, the Spring Hide, was entered but there were no birds to be seen. The natural spring, however, was going very strongly and making a dome of water that anybody would pay a fortune to mimic as a garden water feature and now you know how the hide was named. There is a mixture of natural and artificial springs that feed the reserve, the latter fed by a very strong pump from an aquifer about 1.5Km away which comes into play when the natural springs dry up, which they do regularly due to our greed forwater emptying the aquifers.A laboriously constructed artificial Kingfisher nest bank was on view. Unfortunately even after about 7 years the Kingfishers had not had the good grace to deign to use it. Next we went into the Reedbed Hide which is on stilts and entered via some steep stairs, the only part of the reserve that is not easily accessible to all. Here there were a few birds but nothing terribly exciting, although nobody minded as it was our coffee stop. We carried on around the reserve to be reacquainted with the River Shep, which accounts for about 0.5% of the world’s total count of chalk streams. In fact Hertfordshire (pedants, please don’t point out that the Shep is actually in Cambridgeshire) boasts quite a few chalk streams. The source of the Shep is a few springs in the reserve and after about 2.5Km it joins the Rhee (Cam, never sure why it has two names) in Barrington. The naughtiness of the rivers authority who over dredged the Shep, thereby removing much of the gravelly bed that trout love, was mentioned. The RSPB has subsequently put several hundred tons of gravel back into the stream to try to address this. At the river edges were some constructions (tree cuttings staked down alongside the river banks) used to narrow the river to speed up the flow to wash away silt were apparent. They also make splendid places for small invertebrates and fish to hide from bigger fish. Crossing a newly replaced bridge built in honour of local palaeontologist and Fellow of the Royal Society, Jenny Clack, we then headed back to the entrance to the reserve, briefly noting lumps on the ground which were actually Yellow Meadow Ant nests and could be hundreds of years old. The new toilet was now most certainly sampled by some before we left the reserve to return, once again along the Shep, back to the Green Man. Here the food was, well the best compliment that was forthcoming was ‘I’ve had better, but I’ve had worse’. And did Ray get home? He managed to fill up at Esso in Royston with the needle bumping on the empty indicator and the range given as 4 miles! Words by Ray Munden
9th May - Presentation of cheque to Hertfordshire MIND
Hertfordshire MIND was the chosen charity for the year by our past president Stephen Higginbotham, and there was an outstanding surplus of funds raised from the very popular 2022 Kite Festival. The club had been due to present a cheque to the charity at our Christmas celebrations but both illness and bad weather stopped this happening. So it was with great pleasure that at our regular Tuesday meeting the Club’s current president Peter Mitton was able to present a cheque to Louis Breese, following a very interesting presentation from him on Hertfordshire MIND. Louis gave us a very thorough explanation of all the services that the charity performs including a section on self help using “Mindfulness” but which, I’m sorry to say, those pearls of wisdom largely fell on stony ground as far as Royston Rotarians were concerned.. Dinta Taylor, our newest Rotarian, gave the vote of thanks.
11th June - Monthly Walk
In this walk we were partly revisiting a walk in Hertford that we did in May 2016. We gathered in the car park in Hartham Common and from there made our way through the Town along a waterway full of ducks and swans to the grounds of Hertford Castle. This site was first fortified by Edward the Elder around 911 and the castle mound is still in evidence. It was very pleasant in the shady gardens and difficult to imagine the French troops besieging the castle for two months in 1216. From there we returned to the common by way of the McMullen’s Brewery buildings and made our way over to a tree-lined path leading up to St Leonard’s Church. This is a Norman church and the oldest building in Hertford. We were delighted that when Ray tried the door it was open and we were able to go in and we were treated to a tour of the interior by a very knowledgeable member of the church. It was restored in the 19th Century and the wooden ceiling, especially at the rounded end, is remarkable. Turning away from the church we descended through the fields to the canal lock which provided several comfortable places in the shade to sit whilst we had our coffee. We then split up, with some of us doing the loop around to the New Gauge House (the source of the New River which still supplies some of London’s water) and then across the meadows to walk into the Town via the weir and pathway along the canal. We joined the others who had taken the same path to the Salisbury Hotel where we had a very pleasant lunch in very old and fortunately air-conditioned surroundings. All in all a very enjoyable expedition on a lovely sunny day with very good company. Liz and David. (click on any of the photos to enlarge them)
20th June - A Toast to Rotarians Down Under
Some years ago, 2005/2006 to be precise, members of Royston Rotary toasted a different club somewhere in the world each month. Members returning from holidays abroad or family links were encouraged to propose the toast at a club meeting. Some current members may remember it well. The idea of the toast was to foster relationships with other clubs throughout the world and to learn a little from them of the circumstances in which they work and their achievements. It was a pleasant surprise recently therefore to receive a message from the President of Ascot Rotary Club, Perth, Western Australia, via our website. Hello Peter Mitton At our twice monthly meetings we have been working our way through the alphabet and toasting a Rotary Club starting with that particular letter. This week we are up to the Letter R and Peter picked your club to toast. Unfortunately, Peter was away sick, but he was keen for us to toast your club, so sent in some details for us to do his toast to you. We have included a photo of some of our members and guests toasting your club. We do meet at breakfast time so a coffee toast it is. We love the idea of your annual Kite Festival. We are in the process of starting to organise a family day out for our community with a focus on kite flying so we were pleased to see that someone else has made it a great way to go. If you have any tips and hints for us that would be awesome. All the very best to your club from the Ascot Rotary Club in Perth, West Australia Dianne President Ascot Rotary At our regular business meeting on Tuesday 20th June at The Pig and Abbot President Peter, resplendent in his chain of office and holding a Club banner, proposed the Final toast. “Rotary and Peace the world over and especially to the Rotary Club of Ascot, Perth, Western Australia” President Peter has subsequently sent our complements back to the Ascot club including the photo below of Royston Rotarians returning the toast.