Alfriston

A NEW BEGINNING: April is the month of blossoming and flowering and last weekend the Restoration of St Andrew’s launched. The Tye was awash with people enjoying our celebration and the church was full of those eager to learn more about The Cathedral of The Downs. Questions such as why was such a large church built here in 1360, in what was a very small village? Why is it constructed of such fine flint work? Who funded it? Questions Kevin Gordon’s excellent talks went some way to answering. The question no one needed to answer was why save it? They had all come out to do just that irrespective of faith. Thank you to everyone involved, who exhibited, who spoke, who gave time and energy and especially those who turned out. The atmosphere was wonderful, the food delicious and the musical interludes inspiring. The weekend finished with a packed church for Sunday service and a fantastic performance by one of our three village choirs.

THE OCTAVES: Were formed in 2012 by eight friends who wanted to sing for fun. There are now over 30 members who meet three Tuesday evenings a month with Cate Couch as musical director. From those early days and with Cate’s imaginative arrangements, the group has developed and last Sunday sang at St Andrew’s Church Restoration Service to a packed congregation who joined in the chorus and were enthusiastic in their praise. They were even asked to give an impromptu performance in the Smugglers. I am determined to join this fantastic bunch more regularly so have now banned all Tuesday meetings of any type. For further information contact Ann at telephone: 01323 871652 or email: rhbryan@btinternet.com.

GIVINGS OUT, TONES AND MELERDYS: Music from the Sofa, an eight piece band of local musicians provided many of the musical interludes. They are planning a walking and musical tour of the Cuckmere Benefice starting on May 24 and culminating in a concert at St Andrews on May 28. All proceeds to go to St Andrews Restoration. For those who do not know, the Benefice comprises of St Peter at Folkington, St Michael the Archangel, Litlington, All Saints, West Dean, Church of the Good Shepherd, Lullington and of course St Andrews. They will perform jazz, folk and specially written pieces, composed and arranged by Nigel Goss. The final concert will include an expanded band of 17 musicians and The Octaves. Local musicians will be asked to contribute and pieces will include improvised bell ringing led by Pauline Kennard and Rev Daniel Merceron on guitar. If you are a musician who reads music or folk singer and would like to get involved please get in touch with Nigel Goss through www.musicfromthesofa.com

SHARE THE PATH WITH A SMILE: There were plenty of smiles and new friends made last weekend. The South Down National Park Authority were talking about their work in The Gun Room and their Share the Path campaign. Andy Gattiker, South Downs Way National Trail Officer says. ‘The British are renowned for their courtesy, no more so than here in the South Downs where you’ll almost always be greeted by a hello, thank you, excuse me or even a much obliged on the path. We’re encouraging everybody to get into the spirit and pass on a greeting as they meet others. So don’t be surprised if you get an even friendlier reception than usual this year in the South Downs National Park’.

MANGEL WURZEL: A question I asked myself on seeing the well-stocked Cuckmere Valley Horticultural Society table in the War Memorial Hall is ‘what on earth is that knobbly shaped vegetable?’ As a shepherds wife I should have known the answer. ‘Yonder is the shepherd, with crook and dog, watching his flock browse on the thymy slopes, the unequalled sheep of the South Downs, remember. At our feet lies a well-cultivated valley, with broad patches of turnip and mangel-wurze’. All I can say is we need more of this fabulous beet and not just for sheep to munch on. The Mangel Wurzel cake on sale along with the cakes made by the WI was divine. I need the recipe to feed a hungry shepherd during lambing.

THE WEEK AHEAD: Today, Friday, Aftershave at the Star Inn. Tomorrow, Saturday, The Clergy House, The Tye 11am to 4pm. Lots to see and experience on the 120th anniversary of the purchase by the National Trust. The Bell Ringers will be ringing a full peal (that’s about three hours of hard work) in honour. Event is free but normal ticket price applies for entry. Call 01323 871961 for more information. Healey Book Collection Preview at Much Ado Books tomorrow, Saturday. One of the finest libraries in the area is being displayed between 1pm and 4pm, offering a glimpse of Denis and Edna’s tastes.

A BIRTHDAY PARTY: On April 21 please join us on The Tye from 5pm for a Tea Party to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. Bring a picnic or afternoon tea. Tables, chairs and bunting provided. The bells will ring and we can work off the cake with a walk up on to the Downs to light our beacon at 7.30pm. Event free. Please contact me if you require a lift to the Beacon lighting point.

UPDATE: I will update next week with money raised from the Restoration Launch and some news about the next events. As I’ve said before There will be a varied programme of fun and fundraising events, some small and personal, some large and magnificent. To keep up to date see the village website www.alfriston-village.co.uk/

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