Tackley Newsletter
April & May 2021

Lawrence Clack

Sylvia Clack

Thank you all for the generous donations made in memory of Lawrence. The amount raised for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance was £1,771 and for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund £600.

Methodist church

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

I suspect that for most of us this is the strangest Eastertime we’ve experienced—apart from the last one. Most restrictions are still in place, and we’ve spent more than a year in this uncharted territory.

Our experiences are varied. Some of us have had new free time, some of us have been working harder than ever, and some of us have been able to carry on more or less normally. Some of us have saved money as there has been less opportunity for holidays or impulse buying in the shops; some of us have lost work and businesses and have been left with much less in the bank than we ever imagined; some of us have carried on with more or less the same in the kitty. Some of us have new family members, even if we may not have been able to spend much time with them yet; some of us have lost people dear to us. But all of us have been challenged in one way or another to live life in a way we had probably never imagined and probably never wanted.

And now more and more of us have been able to enjoy the fruits of all the skill and work that goes into producing vaccines. The balance between the vaccine and the virus is, as I write, tipping in favour of the vaccine and for the first time in a while it feels as if there is hope of something emerging out of a year of restrictions and worry. Of course, that balance may tip backwards and forwards now and again, but the well-used metaphors of light at the end of tunnels and new growth in the spring for the moment seem appropriate.

A key event which colours a sizeable chunk of the Hebrew scriptures is the exile. It also provides an important background to the writings about Jesus and the early church in the New Testament. The Hebrew people had been defeated by the Babylonian Empire, and many of them were captured and carried off into exile. How they lived in a land and a culture which were strange to them, and managed without their usual ways of doing things, was a big question. And some were left behind, the ones who didn’t seem to have any value, the labourers and the lowest of the low. So-called.

As if that wasn’t tricky enough, when the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians and eventually the people were allowed to return to Jerusalem and the surrounding lands, there were more questions to ponder. How much had exile changed them? Could they carry on just as they had before, rebuilding what they had, or had their experience of another place and another way of life – and captivity itself – changed them? And what of those people who never left, whose life carried on in just as much drudgery as they had always known?

In the season of Easter, we Christians focus particularly on the stories of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead and our hope for new life. The stories give us glimpses, sometimes confusingly, about what those first followers of Jesus experienced. There was a body they recognised and didn’t quite. Someone who ate and drank with them but didn’t seem to be held back by locked doors. But out of all that strangeness, they came to see in Jesus that hope for new life, for life itself. In short, they saw and knew God in him.

Even the things we thought we knew might be strange for a while. But let’s hold our varied experiences and look for life together.

St Nicholas’ church

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

Christ is risen! I would like to begin by wishing everyone a very happy Easter.

Every time I take my dog out for a walk it seems as if someone else has had the vaccine, and I hear the same mix of stories: a bit of a sore arm and surprising welling up of hope. By the time this is published, I very much hope I’ve experienced both for myself.

Honestly, like for everyone, there have been moments over the past few months when hope has run a bit low in the Rectory. But when it has, I have been reminded again and again just how amazing God’s love is, and just how amazingly that love works.

For, just as on Good Friday we see Jesus’s hands outstretched in love on the cross, I have seen through the whole long painful year behind us so many hands outstretched in love across our village. Hands to share, to care, to help, to reach out, and simply to love. Hands that have been prevented from touching other hands have yet touched hearts. Our care and our love is a wonderful reflection of God’s care and love at work around us, for as St Teresa of Avila said:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on Earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.”

I have been asked many times over these hard months: where is God? As I have seen constant kindnesses between neighbours and strangers all around, even when hope has run low, my eyes have been lifted up and my answer has been: here. Right here. And so thank you, because though my hope has run low, you have made sure it never ran dry.

Easter in church

This year we will do our very best to hold in-person services on Easter Sunday, so we can see that hope; that love; that presence of Jesus in each other’s eyes, face to face.

We are planning to run three services on Easter Sunday, 4 April. In North Aston and Tackley churchyards we will hold very short events at 9 am (North Aston) and 10 am (Tackley) which will see a bell rung, the Easter Gospel read, a shout of praise, and a prayer together.

In Steeple Aston churchyard at 11 am we will hold an open-air communion for anyone and everyone in the benefice to attend. There is no need to book. Bring your own chair, wear a face covering, use hand sanitiser, and make sure you keep a good distance away from anyone you don’t live with! If the weather is bad it will just be a brief event, as at the other two churches; otherwise, we will have a full outdoor communion service to celebrate Easter together. Everyone is welcome.

Finally, our online Worship at Home services carry on through April, including at Easter. These are available on our website sntchurch.com or by calling the special local phone number 01869 929021, until – hopefully – we begin regular in-person worship again with a new series of outdoor communions around our churchyards from the beginning of May. North Aston on 2 May is scheduled to be the first of those—put it in your diary!

Keep watching the website and church noticeboards for further news. Here’s to an Easter full of hope and to some of that hope being fulfilled soon.

Sewer flooding

Witney and West Oxfordshire MP Robert Courts joined Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth and Tackley Parish Council chair June Collier in February to see the recent sewage flooding in Tackley.

Mrs Collier showed Mr Courts and Mr Hudspeth the worst affected areas, including diluted sewage water overflowing on a route to the school.

The trio have written to Thames Water to request an urgent meeting to resolve the problems, which they note are a long-standing issue that requires immediate and decisive action. Residents have stated that the local pumping station is not fit for purpose and has been neglected by Thames Water. The company has confirmed that the pumps in Tackley will be replaced.

After visiting the village, Robert Courts said: “The situation in Tackley is totally unacceptable, with residents having to endure persistent issues of sewage flooding across the village. Thames Water must step up and make long overdue improvements to the local network to ensure it is better able to cope during times of heavy rain. I will continue to work closely with local councillors and residents to resolve this matter.”

June Collier added: “I actually find it very sad as well as worrying. It is almost impossible to make contact with Thames Water in an emergency, and on the whole one gets a negative response from them when contact is eventually made. We have residents, some of whom are elderly and vulnerable, who were unable to use their toilets and water facilities, in addition to neat sewage flowing onto our paths where children walk daily to school and residents to the shop.”

The Tackley Newsletter contacted Thames Water for comment. Media relations officer Jamie Presland said: “Occasionally rainfall is so severe it can overwhelm the [sewer] system forcing wastewater up through manholes in streets and gardens. Water from rivers and streams which have burst their banks and surface water from roads, fields and private land can also get into the sewer network and overwhelm it.

“Groundwater levels in Tackley are currently exceptionally high, meaning our underground sewer pipes are surrounded by saturated soil. This groundwater gets into pipes through cracks or where one section is joined to another and can flood the system. When this happens, wastewater diluted by the groundwater backs up through manholes and spills out. Our priority in this situation is to stop any of this diluted waste getting inside properties and we do everything we can to prevent that from happening.”

Jamie also stressed that flood management is a multi-agency issue, involving Oxfordshire County Council – who are responsible for land drainage and highways – and the Environment Agency in addition to Thames Water.

Robert Courts set up a meeting on 5 March with representatives from Thames Water. June attended along with residents Will Johnson and Mark Wragg who, according to June, are “kindly helping with the task of ‘persuading’ Thames Water to bring Tackley into the 21st century”.

The outcome of that meeting was some assurances. They will aim to keep the network running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They will give retired residents and those with special needs the opportunity to register with them for a priority service, by calling 0800 009 3652 or visiting the website. And they will follow up on emergency problems with urgency.

A plan has been made to carry out detailed investigations to find the root of the problems, highlighting the north of the village – Rousham Rd – and the areas around the playing field and the new developments.

June notes: “Thames Water promised to engage with us, keeping us up to date with their progress, and to seek local knowledge and historical information. This work was due to start the week commencing 15 March, but we haven’t seen or heard anything from them yet! Rest assured I will endeavour to keep the pressure on.”

Our countryside

June Collier

This past year has been a very difficult time for us all, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to hang on tight, be careful, and stay safe for a few more weeks, then life will start to get back to that wonderful – what ever it means – ‘normal’.

Living in Tackley has probably made life easier for us than those in more urban areas. Our community is amazing—everyone looking out for each other, checking that all is well. The shop continues to service our needs; the school and teachers looking after our children. The delight seen in the eyes of tired parents on returning their youngsters to school!

We have freedom, space and glorious countryside. So many footpaths to walk and explore, never before seeing so many feet and paws. The dog population in the village has doubled I’m sure. I for one, having land with a public path running through it, have met so many of our new residents and their dogs. It’s great in lockdown to have a ‘distanced’ chat and get to know new people and their dogs, and catch up with old friends.

Now the spring is upon us, we need to think about how the ravages of the weather and those feet and paws have affected our countryside. Since December the ground has been wet and flooded. The paths have been very muddy, and walking quite difficult in places. Walkers have moved off the paths onto the fields to find cleaner routes. Understandable, you might think, but please don’t—some of those fields are growing food, in the form of both arable crops and grass to feed animals. Some of the field margins or ‘bits round the edge’ are wildlife habitats with nesting birds and flowers growing, encouraging bees and insects. If they can not regenerate, that flora and fauna are lost, and at this time when we are all encouraged to help save our planet it is so important. Please don’t walk off the marked path. Now is the time to let nature take its course, to restore the land back to its pre-winter glory.

My other big ask is please pick up your dog’s poo. Out of sight is not out of mind—it’s probably on a child’s shoe (or even worse if they fall), in the playground, or on the floor in the shop. Or, and I speak from personal experience, dried and wrapped into a bale of hay for next winter’s horse food. Ugh!

We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful village with the countryside around us. Please be responsible and look after it.

As I write, the sun is shining and spring is in the air. See you out and about.

Parish council elections

Cherie Carruthers, Clerk to Tackley Parish Council parishclerk@tackleyvillage.co.uk 07771 933186

Tackley Parish Council is going out for election. We are hoping to drum up interest and have a contested election for the seven seats.

If you are interested in standing, or simply wish to find out more, please contact me on 07771 933186 or at parishclerk@tackleyvillage.co.uk.

The deadline for applications is 4 pm on Thursday, 8 April.

Important: Applications must be delivered by hand to West Oxfordshire District Council in Woodgreen, Witney, though the person making the delivery need not be the candidate themselves.

Horse show

Alex Machin info@tackleyhorseshow.co.uk

The Tackley Horse Show committee has decided not to run this year’s event. Given the show’s unique nature, and number of volunteers, supporters and competitors, it is just not possible to ensure everyone’s safety.

We will be back on Sunday, 24 April 2022.

Stay safe everyone, and thank you for your continued support.

Primary school

Mrs L. J. Murrey, Headteacher 01869 331327

It has been a delight to have all of our children back in school. They worked incredibly hard remote learning at home, and we are very proud of all that they have achieved. The sounds of laughter and chatter have filled the classrooms, and we have all enjoyed some return to ‘normality’.

In March the children took part in British Science Week, when all of our afternoon learning was themed around science activities. They enjoyed exploring plants and looking for signs of spring in our outdoor learning. They investigated different jobs that scientists do, and joined a webinar with scientists. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was evident in all the work they completed.

The children will also benefit from additional outdoor learning and PE for the remainder of the school year, and we know that these activities have a hugely positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

We are looking forward already to the summer term and all that it may bring.

Book Club

Chrissie Cuthbertson tackleybc@gmail.com

The inaugural meeting of Tackley Book Club took place via Zoom on Thursday, 25 February, organised by Miranda. It was great to meet up for the first time and we had a relaxed discussion about Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.

But book clubs aren’t just about the books, so we also had time to get to know each other a bit better. In this first meeting, we ranged from those who have always lived in Tackley to recent arrivals and everything in between.

The group has opted to rotate the day of meetings to help everyone attend at least some around other commitments. Our next will be on Tuesday, 20 April at 8 pm when the book for discussion will be Everything Under by Oxford-based writer Daisy Johnson. Everyone is welcome.

The Woodstock Bookshop has kindly offered our members a 15% discount on book club choices.

Please contact us if you would like to join future meetings on Zoom, hopefully soon in gardens, and eventually maybe in our homes.

Walking group

Linda Birch & Rachel Strachan lindabirch20@hotmail.com 01869 331579

Ever wondered what field paths you can walk from the village? This group is a friendly way to get to know your local countryside better, and learn about the history of its paths and the places they pass.

We’re offering led, local, social distancing-compliant walks when the easing of lockdown permits. We need to know in advance who is coming, and places will be limited. Contact me to book a place on a particular walk.

Walks depart from Tackley Village Hall at the times given, and are at a leisurely pace. Distances are approximate. Routes may be altered due to weather or ground conditions. Walking is at participants’ own risk.

10 April: Wootton

Saturday, 10 April at 9:30 am: Wootton (6.5 or 3 miles*). Akeman Street bridleway to Sturdy’s Castle; paths to Milford Bridge. Enter Jubilee Meadows nature reserve, with views over the Glyme valley, then cross the river and join bridleway to C16 Hordley Farm. Paths to the site of Sansom’s Platt Roman settlement, where we pick up Akeman Street to Sturdy’s Castle, then down to Tackley. *The shorter route will start and finish in the layby on the A4260 by Sturdy’s.

28 April: Kirtlington

Wednesday, 28 April at 2 pm: Kirtlington: thoroughbreds and fossils (4.8 miles). Up Crecy Hill bridleway and over the railway, to the river and canal bridges, then on Crowcastle bridleway past Kirtlington Stud farm. Through Kirtlington Quarry – a Site of Special Scientific Interest in a disused cement works – then over the canal at Pigeons Lock to return to Tackley. Mostly on surfaced tracks.

8 May: Bluebells

Saturday, 8 May at 9:30 am: Bluebells and Dornford Lane (6 miles). Through the heath to see the bluebells. Cross the A4260 to reach Dornford Lane, Woodstock Palace’s drove road. Staying on this bridleway until it crosses Akeman Street, a Roman road, which is taken back to the site of Tackley’s Roman villa.

26 May: Tackley Heath

Wednesday, 26 May at 2 pm: Tackley Heath (3 miles). A chance to take in the late spring wildlife. Enjoy the view from Beacon Hill. Up Fox Hill, then we’ll enter the heath and follow access paths through this County Wildlife Site. Returning by footpaths to the village.