The Brixham Ace Blog
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The Royal Botanical Gardens were built during the Depression of the 1920s, when rough ground was shaped and planted beside Lake Ontario.
The gardens provide large areas of natural beauty for recrea&on, school par&es and weddings amongst the roses and rock gardens, a large arboretum with rare trees, wild areas with White Tail Deer and brightly coloured skinks and extensive lakes that is home to numerous )sh, birds and canoeists.
Roger’s extensive photographic record took us all on a very beau&ful Canadian journey.
John Risdon took us on an illustrated tour of Totnes, which is a former Saxon settlement, built 9 miles up the river Dart from its mouth at Dartmouth, where it is the first place the river can be crossed on foot and cart. The first bridge was built by the Norman invaders in the 12th century.
The Normans built a moat and bailey Keep in 1068 to keep the locals in order.
It had a Benedictine Priory from 1088 where it linked with Monks’ Bridge in Brixham.
It was fascinating to be taken around Totnes to see the buildings being added through the Tudor, Victorian and modern times. It had a Corn Exchange and vegetable, fish and poultry markets. In 1523, it was the 2nd richest town in Devon andthe 16th in England.
It was an important site learning at various Grammar Schools.
Today Totnes is the home of the South Hams District Council and the conservative Member of Parliament, Dr Sarah Wollaston.
June is the chair of the Old Citizens’ Forum that meets every three months. There are 200 members, who are fifty years plus and the oldest is 104. They have guest speakers and they campaign, to the Council mainly, on the needs of people over 50 years old.
She also spoke about the £6 million awarded by the National Lottery to the Torbay Community Development Trust (TCD) to alleviate loneliness in the Bay.
She said that Community Builders have been employed to find those people who as lonely and assist them to find ways to reduce this Social Isolation.
This money can only be spent on new activities. We must therefore be innovative. One suggestion was that we provide activities during the main school holidays that seem to get longer.
We thanked June for her encouraging talk.
They stayed in the Playa del Carmen resort situated in the south eastern part of the United States of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. The peninsula is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
They enjoyed exploring the historic remains of the Mayan civilization that existed pre Columbus and was then colonized by Spain in the 16th century. The last Mayan city fell in 1697.
The Maya people lived in a series of cities. They were famous for growing maize, beans and squash. They had a well developed form of hieroglyphic writing, mathematics and astronomical systems. Their famous pyramid at Chichan Ilza is aligned to the sun. Their mathematics used 0 and multiples of 20 and their calendar was extremely accurate using 19 months of 20 days with 365 days in each year with no leap year.
They sacrificed animals and humans. It was considered a privilege to be chosen. The heart was cut out and kept and the body was thrown into one of the many limestone caves.
They played a game of 4 players per side, whose aim it was to get a ball through a ring using only their hips. The losing side was sacrificed.
They witnessed a pole dance of 5 men on a 90 foot pole. 4 men swung around by their ankles; moving slowly downwards, whilst a central player played a flute.
Yvonne enjoyed demonstrating her flamboyance in the Mexican hat dance and then they served us with Tequila Sunrise drinks, tortillas and dips. We also saw Yvonne, with gritted teeth, whizzing down a zip wire into a cold pool of water.
They had gone to a great deal of trouble to give as all a great taste of a Mexican holiday and a good insight into the advanced Mayan civilization. The invading Spanish replaced the Mayan pagan ways with Christianity.
Simon is the Chief Finance Officer for the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of the National Health Service.
He started with a short introduction of himself. He studied Philosophy at university, but, on graduating, he found that it did not lead to any immediate career. He then joined the fast track finance scheme of the NHS and became an accountant.
He showed us a complex break down diagram of the main departments of the NHS with their own budgets. He concentrated on the CCG, where he is the financial controller. The CCG is run by local General Practitioners (GPs), who decide their needs as opposed to non medical staff making such decisions. He receives an annual budget set by the Minister of Health that he must not exceed.
He answered our general questions such as the funding of expensive cancer drugs, the privatisation of the NHS, is there too many managers and why is there so many foreign staff in the NHS.
We very much enjoyed Simon’s talk as he answered many of our questions that are so close to us all.
Valerie has made Astrology a hobby for many years and is a regular member of the Brixham Astrology Group. It meets at the Churston Manor every other Thursday from the 19th February. They welcome new members including sceptics.
Valerie showed us the chart for the day of her talk-12th February 2015. She then introduced each of the 12 signs of the Zodiac and described the main characteristics of those born under each sign. She mentioned how they can vary according to the rising and fall of the associated stars and many other factors.
From the knowledge within our group and the questions and comments made it was clear that this subject varies greatly in interest and belief.
My wife is a believer and I am a sceptic, but some of the characteristics mentioned certainly matched our birth sign and others didn’t.
It was a very interesting talk that certainly held our attention. Valerie stayed to answer our questions well into our lunch time.
Paul gave us an excellent talk on the local marine life illustrated by his amazing photographs.
He took us into the multicoloured world of sea weeds, corals, fish and crabs normally seen only by divers and snorkelers.
His beautifully clear photographs of the marine world of Torbay made us realise what a rich diverse world we have on our door step. It is a world that is normally hidden from us and so easily over looked. The clarity of his photographs showed us that we have the same riches as more exotic parts of the world.
We saw barnacles open and feeding with their delicate feathery feeding arms; sights so different to barnacles closed at low tide, waiting for the tide to cover them again.
We learnt about the private lives of Blennies, seals, limpets, small crabs and sea horses.
Did you know that limpets move when the tide is up to graze on the rocks and then return to their place before the tide falls? They create those strange circles on the rocks which ensure that they have a firm hold at low tide.
Normally closed at low tide sedentary anemones have beautiful but deadly tentacles and they fight each other for the best places to feed.
Paul had patiently and skilfully photographed a female crab shedding their outer skeleton, whilst carrying a male crab ready to mate with her in her new shell.
We saw hermit crabs sharing their outer shell surfaces with anemones and sea weeds for mutual benefit and a rag worm in the shell keeping it clean.
We had heard about the eelgrass beds in Torbay, but we didn’t know that they are flowering plants and very important nurseries for sea horses, juvenile fish and hosts of invertebrates. These submerged grasslands are vital to the future life of our seas and so easily overlooked and abused by careless fishing and boating practises.
A taste of Paul’s pictures can be seen on his website: www.marinephotos.co.uk He also has two beautifully illustrated books for sale, including one by his wife Teresa.
We are so lucky at ACE to have such wonderful speakers.
Sarah Cracknell gave us an excellent, illustrated talk on the work of this scheme.
The Growing for Life scheme is part of the Shekinah Mission, which is a Plymouth based mission that started as a soup kitchen service.
Growing for Life was first arranged with the Cornwall Eden project to bring horticulture to the inmates of Dartmoor Prison. It was envisaged as a useful training activity within prison and for the prisoners later release.
The Torbay scheme leases a 4 acre site from the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust (TCCT) at their Occombe Farm, Paignton.
They have raised money to build a log cabin that provides a sheltered seating and dining area with a kitchen and pizza oven. They also have two poly tunnels, numerous raised growing areas, a meadow, an orchard and use of a nearby woodland, where they can utilise the timber for their projects.
They have 30 chickens that regularly produce 15 eggs a day. Members are encouraged to care for these birds, which includes weekends.
They like to select recipes that they would jointly like to eat and they grow the ingredients.
They operate from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm and there is a bus stop outside the site.
The reason a person attends is confidential and not disclosed to the other members.
Sarah described their various projects and some of the therapeutic results.
She can be contacted on 07833015819
Davinia has recently qualified as a health trainer from South Devon College and is now employed as such in the NHS.
She provided an excellent illustrated talk of ways that a health trainer could help us live a healthy life style.
She spoke on the following five topics:
- Eating a Healthy Diet
- Being Physically Active
- Quitting Smoking
- Units of Alcohol
- Emotional wellbeing
She showed us the forms she would complete for an individual’s help and advice.
Her help on these topics is free through the NHS and can be sourced through the TSDHCT (Torbay and South Devon Health Care Trust).
Various members expressed their needs and difficulties, which she addressed very well.
She has sent ACE a copy of her talk and the following contact telephone number 01803 321160.
Jillie gave us a very interesting and informative talk on the work of Healthwatch, Torbay.
Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public. They will ensure that our experiences of health and social care are taken into account by the service providers.
They promised to make a difference.
For further information please visit www.healthwatchtorbay.org.uk
We thanked Jillie for all the useful information that she had provided us with and for answering our questions.
On Monday 3rd November the Port of Brixham Trawler Association held a presentation evening at Brixham Rugby Club to donate monies to local worthy causes. The Association manages the money raised annually at the Brixham Trawler Race and at other fundraising events for later distribution to chosen local groups.
Robert Boyd, a trustee of the Brixham based charity, Access to Community Education, known as ACE, received a cheque for £500 from Pam Evans, the Association Chairman.
Robert, expressed his apprecation on behalf of ACE for this generous donation. He said, "The money will help the members of ACE, a charity for disabled adults, to afford the learning activities and transport provided by ACE to improve the conditions of their lives".
Terry served in the RAF from 1976 to 2005 mainly in the 84 Squadron as a navigation/aero-engineer. He now works for South Devon College and is a member of the Air Training Corp (ATC). Terry was assisted by his wife Melissa.
They are both members of BMAD: Bikers Make A Difference, which arranges social gatherings for motor cyclists on Paignton Green, Torbay that raises funds for good causes. They are on the organising committee for the Torbay Motor Show planned for Easter Saturday 4 April 2015. ACE (Access to Community Education) based in Brixham is their chosen charity. ACE provides learning activities and social events for disabled adults in Torbay and environs.
84 Squadron was formed in 7 January 1917 and moved to the western front in France in September 1917 in a combat, observation role. Their wing commander Andrew Beauchamp- Proctor won the Victor Cross for his 54 aerial victories.
Between the wars the squadron was stationed in Iraq as a bomber role.
During WW2 they served in Greece, Iraq, the Western Desert and finally as a bomber squadron in North East India. In 1944 they took part in the battle of Kohima, in North East India, engaged in preventing the Japanese forces from invading the British Raj.
In 1945 the squadron was equipped with de Havilland Mosquitoes, but they proved unsuitable for the climate. They were replaced with Bristol Beaufighters that were used to prevent smuggling in the Far East and later against the Communist insurgence in the Malayan.
In 1953 the squadron moved to Egypt in a transport role and in 1962 it was involved in the Aden Emergency.
In 1972 the squadron moved to Akrotiri in Cyprus in a search and rescue role using Westland Whirlwind helicopters and this extended to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
!n 1981 the squadron was equipped with Westland Wessex helicopters for troop transport, rescue missions and fire fighting during the invasion of Kuwait.
From 2003 the squadron has been stationed back in Akrotiri in a search and rescue role using Bell Griffin helicopters.
Terry and Melissa were thanked for a very interesting talk that invoked memories for many of our members of places and events in recent history. We also thanked them for their work to raise money for our charity.
For 13 years poets have opened their poetry festival with a recital at ACE. We have always enjoyed these visits and feel very privileged that such accomplished poets take the time to come and share their poems with us.
William Oxley introduced this year’s poets: Ian Chamberlain and Alec Taylor with Virginia their guest and future, festival poet.
Alec and Ian read two of their poems in turn for about 40 minutes before we had a question and answer session.
They read such titles as Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Wall Paper, Bacteria, Newt, Primrose, Milk Teeth, Autumn Leaves Shuffle and Wrinkle Cream.
One of the poets described poetry as the, “Right words in the right place”. We marvelled at the time they must spend creating their works of art and the wide range of subjects that stimulate their clever use of words.
We are all different, with our own individual likes and dislikes, but we loved listening to all the poems. They are stimulating and thought provoking. We feel so privileged.
At the end of the readings, William presented Alec and Ian with their Torbay Poetry Festival commeritive mugs.
Dawn Harrison spoke to us about the range of items and expertise available at the above Centre. She encouraged our members to visit the Centre to view such items and the much larger ones she couldn’t bring today such as baths, toilets and stair lifts. She suggested that we visit or telephone (01392 380181) to speak about problems that needed a solution. She felt confident that someone in the Centre would know of a solution or where to research it. She also thought that the Centre was a good place to check the cost and suitability of items being offered.
She presented a wide range of small items that she could bring with her as examples from the Centre to help people live independent lives.
There was a good response from our members and she was very helpful.
Thank you Dawn for a very valuable, practical visit.
‘Literary Daughter of South Devon’
John is a well known friend to ACE and we have enjoyed a number of illustrated talks by him.
Agatha was born in Torquay on 15th September 1890. In those days Torquay was a prosperous resort and escape from London for the ‘Gentry’ during the winter. They enjoyed taking the waters that is bathing in the sea to ward off consumption or TB (Tuberculosis). It was more effective for treating arthritis.
Agatha was born Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller the third child of Fredrick and Clara Miller. Fredrick was the son of an American stockbroker family and did not have to work. They were a wealthy, upper middle class family living at Ashfield, Torquay.
Agatha was schooled at home. It was a lonely life for a little girl without school friends and she spent time after lessons reading or playing with her pets in the garden, using her imagination.
She was an outdoor girl who loved bathing. In those days the sexes bathed apart using bathing machines to change in and to be pushed into the shallows. She also liked music and learnt to play the piano; dancing and amateur dramatics.
Her father died in 1901 and Madge, her older sister, married in the same year. She was now 11 and life changed. She went to school in Torquay and Paris.
In 1907, at the age of 17, she attended her ‘Coming Out Ball’. She was available to marry.
In 1910 Clara was unwell and Agatha convalesced with her mother in the warmth of Cairo.
She married Archibald ‘Archie’ Christie in 1914, whilst he was on leave from the Flying Corp during WW1. Archie survived the war and they settled in London.
During the war Agatha served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), where she became a paid Apothecary’s Assistant.
She wrote her first successful detective novel ‘Mysterious Affairs at Styles’ in 1920 featuring ‘Poirot’.
John’s talk ended here until a second talk next term with the prospect of a guided tour, by John, of Agatha’s home at Green Way to follow.
We love listening to John’s illustrated talks with his friendly style and all his well researched details. He brings his subjects to life and it felt as though Agatha was in the room with us.
This week Grahame presented us with a very entertaining quiz that certainly tested our memories.
Competition is fierce to win the quiz and claim the team prize of a box of chocolates.
The ACE members are unusually quiet during the quiz but become their vocal selves when the answers are revealed.
“Thank you Grahame. You deserve your diabetic chocolates”.
Rob Boyd, an ACE member, gave an illustrated talk on Dart Sailability. He has been a keen member since 2001.
Dart Sailability is a charity that was formed in 1998 to provide sailing activities for disabled people. It is based at Noss Marina at Kingswear. Members can choose rides along the beautiful river Dart, learning to sail an Access dinghy and/or a keel boat.
The site has beautiful views towards Dartmouth and its tidal nature provides interesting challenges.
The talk was well received and some ACE members are interested in the taster sessions.
The ACE charity was formed in 1998 to provide learning opportunities for disabled adults in Torbay.
On 10th July the members met in our garden for a BBQ. It was another beautiful, summer’s day.
We were first entertained by the Black Bess Morris dances. This all female dance group, dressed in the style of like Dick Turpin in black three cornered hats, red coats, black trousers and white stockings invited us to join. We couldn’t resist the fun of the dance and the rhythm of the music.
We then enjoyed the skill of Whizz bang our local magician.
Then it was time for Maggie and friends to serve up a delicious meal to remember 25 years of learning and friendship at ACE.
On the following Thursday we staged workshops of ACE activities for invited guests and friends, which culminated in a cream tea in the garden.
As ACE members we know how fortunate we are to be members of such a friendly, informative group.
Councillors David Thomas, Deputy Mayor, Mike Morey, Brixham Town Council and Alan Tyerman, Brixham Town Council attended our Thursday Social Group to answer our prepared questions.
The councillors introduced themselves and Councillor Thomas explained that Torbay Council has had a 35% reduction in government funding. Torbay council taxes have been capped for the past 3 years and we have to work on what we have.
1. Why is my local area so untidy and poorly maintained?
Weed spraying and grass cutting has been reduced to 2 visits per year from 3 or 4 in previous years. When asked if those sentenced to community work could do these jobs the answer was yes but the supervisors still have to be paid.
2. Road improvements up to Windy Corner will link up with the new South Devon link road thanks to a £5 million government grant.
3. A business plan is being prepared to fund the cost of the Shoalstone outdoor pool. It will include the money generated by the car park.
4. The funding charges for the Broadsands car park is a difficult issue to balance, but different strategies are being tried.
5. House Building: Brixham will be required to build 1000 houses over the next 20 years. It is planned that houses will be built at the Wall Park site, at Cherston and on available Brown Field sites.
6. What now that Tesco has pulled out from developing Brixham’s town centre car park? 4 other supermarkets companies have shown an interest. Discussions are ongoing.
7. Pavement obstructions hampering a blind person. The specific issues raised will be referred to Patrick Carne of the Highway’s Department.
8. ACE core funding. This is a difficult issue that they do not have the answers for.
9. Drew Street: The councillors listen to these local problems and will refer them to the Highway’s Department.
We appreciated the openness of the discussions and the detailed answers provided to our questions.