Tackley Newsletter
February & March 2021

Methodist church

Paul Carter 01865 373280 paul.carter@oxfordmethodists.org.uk

We’re well past the winter solstice now, and the days are beginning to get longer, but the weather can still be gloomy. There’s plenty of metaphorical gloom around at the moment too, of course. The vaccination programme is progressing, but it is still hard to predict how the next few weeks and months will pan out. Back in the spring of last year when we first lived under Covid restrictions there was a lot of warm and sunny weather; now it’s often cold and gloomy and it’s easy to feel deflated. It’s easy to get annoyed or angry. There’s plenty of stress around.

Darkness can put us in a sombre mood. There’s no denying that it does affect some people quite a lot. With modern lifestyles that stay much the same all year round; with artificial lights; and with an expectation that life can always go on in the same kind of way, maybe we find it particularly hard to accept the darkness.

In the way John tells it in his gospel, early in the story of Jesus, some curious people approach when their teacher points Jesus out. The first thing Jesus says in the gospel is to them: “What are you looking for?”, and then, “Come and see”. “Come and see” is not always an easy answer. It’s hard to see in the gloom. But one of the images of God’s presence in the Bible is an image of thick, black cloud. It’s not always easy to see.

We may be feeling down at the moment, and it’s okay to admit that if it is the case. It’s okay to lament our loss and grief when someone – or even something – which matters so much to us is no longer there. But there is still hope in the darkness: summer will come, and there is still a future we look towards and play our part in bringing in.

I remember reading some time ago about a psychological experiment done on fonts. People had to read things typeset in a variety of different fonts. Some fonts, as you know, are really easy to read. Others require quite an effort. I remember being fascinated by the result which, if I remember correctly, was that maybe you could read things in a clear font much more easily and quickly than things in an obscure font. But people remembered better what they had read in an obscure font. Needing to think a bit – needing to work at it a bit – seemed to pay off. Not just “here you are”, but “come and see”.

Sometimes exactly what I need is a sign which is nice and clear to read; but sometimes I need something which I need to work at and which will stay with me. Maybe gloom can, just occasionally, be good.

St Nicholas’ church

Revd Marcus Green sntchurch.com 01869 340903 steeplerector@hotmail.co.uk

Every week I send out two emails to our address list. There are something over a hundred people who receive them. Most are local, though some live much further afield.

I began these emails, called The Rector’s Ramblings, right at the beginning of the first lockdown, just over forty weeks ago. As I write this column, there have been eighty editions of the Ramblings. We have exchanged news about people who have held celebrations but not been able to hold parties, we have prayed for folk in great need, we have mourned loved ones, we have shared good news stories that have cheered us all up, we have swapped links to music and theatre and art and sport and all sorts online that have kept our spirits up, we have seen and admired great creativity in others, and we have even found the energy and heart to be creative ourselves.

For example, we couldn’t replicate 2019’s amazing Advent calendar boxes, where all sorts of groups in Steeple Aston made Nativity scenes in cardboard boxes and a new one was revealed each day. So Mary suggested people send in photos of cribs they had, and a different one was put up on our website every day. All of it was organised via the Ramblings.

We watched all kinds of people doing fancy recorded-in-isolation songs and music. We lacked some of the technology we observed, but Martin said let’s have a go! So a group of folk responded via the Ramblings and we put a couple of hymns together—they’re terrific, and still on the website. We then did some much simpler ones, and use these regularly in our weekly online services.

Email is email. We all want weekly services back in church. We all want to be safe when we go shopping. We all want to be able to drop in on friends, or meet in groups to do the things we love. We all want school to be straightforward and the same every week—for the teachers and for the children. But in the meantime, we will make our community where we can: on the phone; via Zoom; through an email community of good news and hope; by watching church services each week on YouTube. If you’d like to receive the Ramblings and join our crazy, hopeful, wonderful community of faith, just email steeplerector@hotmail.co.uk and I will gladly add you to our list.

I try to end each message with a prayer, whether from the Church of England’s weekly prayers, from Canon Robin’s Twitter feed, or from somewhere else that caught my eye.

And I so long to put up a regular list of church services for everyone! For now, while we are in lockdown, or if we simply return to tier 4, online Worship at Home is what we are offering. It’s a simple, short service that’s new every week and you can find it on our website sntchurch.com or just search for ‘worship at home Marcus Green’ on YouTube. If you don’t have Internet, don’t worry: dial 929021 – that’s a local number – and you can choose to listen to the whole service, or just the prayers, or even just the sermon!

If and when we get back to tier 1 or 2, then I promise we will have 9:30 am morning prayer at North Aston, 11 am holy communion at Steeple Aston, and 5:30 pm evensong at Tackley (with a 9:30 am service once a month).

Looking ahead, 17 February is Ash Wednesday, 14 March is Mothering Sunday, 28 March is Palm Sunday and 4 April is Easter. I very much hope we will have services in our churches for all these events, so do look out. But whether we are in church or online, God is good. And we are a community of hope and faith that will always find ways to stick together, to welcome everyone, and to share God’s love gladly.

Primary school

Mrs L. J. Murrey, Headteacher office.3144@tackley.oxon.sch.uk

I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well. At school we continue to adapt to different ways of working as we move to remote learning once again for the majority of our children. All of the children (and parents!) have shown great resilience to another change in their working patterns, and we have really enjoyed the range of work and the enthusiasm for learning that the children have shown. Children in Medcroft class have shared snowflake art and very skilled winter artwork. Nethercote class are becoming weather experts, using their reporting skills and making seasonal collages. Harborne class are excitedly starting on their new topic this term, learning about Ancient Greece. The masks they have made have been an inspiration! Rousham’s class topic for the spring term is crime and punishment—they have already shown a real skill for asking questions about the gory elements of this topic!

Village hall

Les Summers, Acting Chair, Tackley Village Memorial Hall vice.chairmantvmh@gmail.com

We are pleased to be able to say that Tackley Village Hall’s toilets will be open again, during shop hours only, from Monday, 25 January. Please observe and follow the instructions about sanitising hands before entering the building.

When we are able to reopen more generally, there may be constraints on the use of the main hall during weekday mornings and afternoons until the end of July. Please check with the bookings clerk if this raises issues with any hire that you had in mind.

It has been suggested that we should reinstate the book exchange, and this we would like to do. Unfortunately, in light of the hall closure and the level of lockdown that has been imposed, we feel this would be unwise at this time. As we have mentioned before, there is – hopefully – a not-too-long-term plan to open some kind of volunteer-led library as part of the hall’s facilities. Residents who may be interested in supporting such a proposal are welcome to think around it, but should note that nothing will be possible in the immediate or short term.

On the good news front, we have spent more than £4,000 refurbishing the plumbing and lighting in the hall, providing brand new tables, and attending to other necessary repair work. Hall users – not many of you at the moment, it is true – are asked to take extra special care of our facilities. It is important that we do our best to make sure that every penny spent, which is expended for the people of Tackley, counts for the long term.

Let us all hope that 2021 turns out to be a better year than 2020.

Scouts and Forest School

Rob Marshall, Group Scout Leader

The Scout group and Forest School would like to thank Andrew and Suzette Peake who have very kindly set aside an area of the woodland known as Tackwell Spinney to be used for a joint project between the two groups starting in 2021.

The first stage of this, and what people may have already observed on the far side of the playing field, is the construction of a small bridge across the drainage ditch to a gate on the side of the Spinney. This is now complete, and the next stages include the setting up of a communal area for group teaching, which will have weather protection and seating.

There are paths around the Spinney to smaller clearings where projects can be undertaken in smaller groups, and areas that are set aside for the children to study the habitats of woodland creatures. Apparently there are a number of larger mammals in the Spinney.

The area still has a lot of work to be done before we venture in there in 2021, but we just wanted to let everyone know what was going on.

This is an exciting project for us, but we would like to remind everyone that the Spinney is still private property and is not for general access. Unfortunately there have been reports of some people pulling down the barrier tape, crossing the bridge and entering the Spinney even though the gate is locked. It is possible to see what is going on from the playing field and we would ask that people do this without entering the area. Thank you.

The best shop in the village!

Jeremy Posnansky

“The hub of the village”—there can be no doubt that Tackley Village Shop deserves that accolade. It’s the centre around which the village turns. It’s the place we go to for our… everything! Fresh fruit and veg, newspapers, groceries – from corn flakes to Tabasco to gourmet crisps – freshly baked bread, wonderful pastries, and of course sausage rolls! It’s a rare day when you go to the shop and ask “Have you got…?” and the answer is no. It stocks not only food, but puncture repair kits for your bike, candles for birthday cakes, stationery, and more.

But we don’t only go there for supplies. We go for a chat—to see the smiling faces of Debbie, Steph and Sue, and the troops from the army of volunteers. Tesco, Aldi, Asda—forget it! You’ve got nothing on TVS!

The last 10 months have been horrific for many people and challenging for all of us. But TVS has kept ticking like the well-oiled machine it is. A few carefully thought-out adjustments to keep everyone safe, but you could still get your sausage rolls, fruit and veg, or whatever you needed.

And for those in the village who have been shielding, the shop has provided a delivery service right to your door. In all of this, the wonderful staff are supported by the volunteers, a band of villagers who help out behind the counter or with deliveries to those who need them.

Why not join the volunteers? It’s fun, and it helps the shop and the village. You can do as much or as little as you wish. Tell Debbie, or Andrew Smith, and they’ll be delighted to have you on board. After just a little training, you’ll be all set.

At the back of the shop is the old coffee shop. It’s been pressed into use recently as part of the Covid-safe arrangements. Traffic lights control the occasional queue and you can admire and choose your fruit, vegetables, cakes, and so forth while you wait (not very long!).

There was a false rumour a few weeks ago, before the coffee shop was brought into use again for the Covid arrangements, that a wicked plan was afoot. It was said that because the coffee shop hadn’t been used for a long time it was going to be sold for development as housing. Plans were said to have been lodged with the council to erect two houses, with vehicle access through the playground. It was, of course, nonsense. TVS and the coffee shop are a real community asset, loved by all who live in Tackley, and will continue to serve the village for many years.

Parish council

Cherie Carruthers, Parish Clerk parishclerk@tackleyvillage.co.uk

Due to the current restrictions, all meetings and surgeries will continue to be held online. These are via the Zoom platform, with the login details remaining the same for each meeting:

Meeting ID: 625 924 9533
Passcode: tackleypc

The next meeting is on Monday, 15 February at 7 pm. Please join us if you are able.

Book club

Miranda Cooper tackleybc@gmail.com

Our first book is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It’s made up of many short stories, so if you don’t have time to read a whole book before our first meet you are still able to join in.

The first meeting of Tackley Book Club will be on Thursday, 25 February at 8 pm. Please drop me a message to tackleybc@gmail.com for Zoom joining details and to be on our mailing list.

Hopefully, in the future, we may meet at each other’s houses for a book discussion and a good chat accompanied by a glass or two of something.

Thank you

Martin Edwards, Editor

Many thanks to Julie Farren who took part in last year’s Alternative Christmas Fair and raised £50 for this newsletter. As a volunteer-run, not-for-profit operation, we rely on income from advertising and donations to cover the cost of printing.

Sustainable Tackley

Joanna O’Mahoney joannahogg81@hotmail.com

Since the last newsletter, one of our group members (thank you Rosie!) has created a new Sustainable Tackley website and blog. It’s a work in progress, but we hope that it will become a useful resource for relevant articles, local sustainability news, sources for eco suppliers and more. Perhaps you’d like to add that beautiful photo you took while out walking recently, or you would like to share your knowledge on an environmental subject you feel passionate about, or maybe you have a project relevant to our ‘reduce, reuse, restore’ ethos that you would like to share. We’d love to hear from you if you have an idea for a blog post. Find us at sustainabletackley.weebly.com.

Chaundy Road’s hornbeams

Michael Watts

In memoriam for the three hornbeam trees in Chaundy Road.

These were a condition of planning in the 1970s, but not planted. This was successfully pursued by Valerie Watts, who got them planted by the developer, and then tended them during their early years. This was to the benefit of the environment and the daily delight of many Tackley residents for more than 40 years.

Roll on suburbanisation of the rural scene, the degradation of nature, and the loss to those who respect it.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


By Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918)

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

History group

John Perkins jperkins@brookes.ac.uk tackleyhistory.org.uk

All of Tackley Local History Group’s usual activities are on hold until the general situation improves significantly. We don’t think that this will be before the summer, so we are aiming for September. Our current plan is to restart with a History Day – or rather afternoon – on Saturday, September 4th, 11th or 18th in the village hall or on the playing field, including making pottery with local clay, a pop-up Roman Zone for younger children (which we had intended to start as a regular event last May) and an exhibition on the Gibraltar Point dig. We would resume our monthly programme of talks.

Our constitution requires we hold our AGM before 30 April. We have decided not to try and hold it electronically, but postpone it until we restart the programme of talks in September. The current officers and committee will remain in place until then. We have not asked for membership subscriptions for the current year; these would restart in September (subscriptions normally run from September to September).

Current activities

Meanwhile, we will continue doing things remotely. Our Facebook group is very active and has over 250 members who are posting a lot of information about the village and some wonderful old photographs. More occasional Stories From Our Past will be published on our website, and further History Mysteries will appear on Tackley Notices.

We are launching a new project, Tackley’s Houses Through Time, in February to discover the history of individual houses and to create a physical history of the village.

Street Farm villa

David Sanchez, who directed the excavation of the Roman villa, has been in touch to say that the detailed report of the excavation will be published in the next few weeks along with a shorter more general book with lots of pictures of finds. He hopes to be able to provide the history group with a copy of each. As soon as we hear that they are on sale, we will let everyone know.

Mosaic project

The next step in our effort to preserve and display the Roman mosaic unearthed at Street Farm is to complete setting up the trust and obtaining charitable status, which we aim to have done by June or July. We can then relaunch the project at our open day in September.

Houses through time

Sue Ashton suejashton1@btinternet.com tackleyhistory.org.uk

There is a lot of interest in the village in the history of Tackley’s houses. We have therefore decided to launch a new project with two aims: to help those interested in finding out the history of their own or another house; and to build up a physical history of the village, including a series of maps charting how it has grown and changed. This will involve discovering and reconstructing the history of individual houses: when they were built, what changes were made to them, and who lived where—and when.

There are a number of sources for exploring the history of a house:

Running the project

Sue Ashton will coordinate the project, along with a small group who will provide advice, collect and collate information from individual researchers, and begin reconstructing the physical history of the village. To get involved, you might:

Covid volunteers

Debbie Gould tackleycovidassistance@gmail.com

We are a group of Tackley residents who may be able to help you at this difficult time. If you need someone to:

Then please get in touch and we will do our best to assist you.

To order groceries or to arrange prescription delivery please call Tackley Village Shop on 01869 331807. For all other requests please email tackleycovidassistance@gmail.com. Please contact us via email wherever possible. The inbox will be checked regularly by a group of volunteers.

If you have no access to email then alternatively you can text or telephone:

You may contact any of the above on Sundays.

Please note

We are not an emergency service and are unable to provide medical advice or assistance. Items will be collected/delivered to doorsteps only to avoid further spread of the coronavirus. Please be careful when handling money or goods, and wash your hands before and afterwards wherever possible. Advice regarding useful resources will be given remotely, e.g. via phone or email. Payment for groceries ordered from Tackley Village Shop will be dealt with by the shop and should be discussed when you order.

Volunteer with us

If you would like to help by volunteering with this group then please get in touch via the email address above.