PAST EVENTS 2020
Many images can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most events had to be cancelled this year.
Twin Towns Meet Up
Sunday 20 December 2020 - 18:00 GMT / 19:00 CET Online using Zoom
Communication has been difficult this year, not only for us all here, keeping our distance from friends and neighbours, but also with our friends in our twin towns. To that end, on December 20th we organized a meeting over Zoom to see the faces of our twinning friends. The Zoom started at 6.00pm and very quickly twenty-five families joined us, some from our society and members of our twin towns. It was a great pleasure to see everyone as we had our twinning trips cancelled this year due of course to Covid. It was so nice to have good wishes from our European friends and to exchange news about the situations and restrictions that other countries are experiencing. For us it was highly worthwhile and it may be a good idea to repeat it in the new year.
Christmas Get Together
Sunday 20 December 2020 - Noon at Abingdon Market Place
We always have our ADTTS Christmas Dinner on the Sunday before Christmas, so this year's one was booked for Sunday December 20th. As the Covid restrictions continued it was necessary to cancel this year's dinner. Since this event is one of the highlights for our members we suggested that anyone missing the dinner who wanted to meet with other members that day should go to the Market Place at 12.00 noon.
It It was a cold but sunny day when about 20 members came to the Market Place. As the restrictions at that time only allowed 6 people to meet together, we gathered in small socially distanced groups. Flasks of mulled wine and mince pies were available for people to enjoy. Members enjoyed the opportunity to meet and some went on to have a coffee outside some of the coffee shops which were open.
We hope that by next Christmas we shall all be vaccinated and able to have our usual Christmas dinner.
Pictures from our Twin Towns
Here are small albums of photographs received from correspondents in our twin towns that could not be included in the Newsletter.
From Colmar, Christiane Klipfel exhibited a collection of her ceramics in the wine cooperative in Turckheim over three weekends for Open Doors from 28 November 2020.
Marc Lischer contributes photographs of the town as Colmar prepares for the Christmas season 2020.
Sunday 8 November 2020
Understandably this year's Remembrance Sunday was going to be very different, with no ceremony, no big parade and no large crowds. Townspeople were invited to observe the two-minute silence standing on their doorsteps. The customary wreaths from the various organisations were to be laid at the war memorial discretely in advance. As 11am approached, we heard the tolling of the tenor bell of St Helen's Church. As the final notes of the Last Post were heard in the distance, the church clock struck eleven and the town paused to reflect.
Earlier, the ADTTS Chairman, Stella Carter, laid the wreath on behalf of the Society and our twin towns. This year we were unable to invite as usual a representative from one of our twins to lay a wreath. Instead, the Vice-Chairman, Brian Read, laid a wreath on behalf of Schongau, whose turn it was. The inscription that Schongau sent for their wreath translates as
The two-minute silence on Remembrance (Armistice) Day itself (11th November) was observed at the War Memorial in The Square with minimal ceremony by the Mayor of Abingdon and the Chairman of the Vale.
Evening Meeting & AGM
Thursday 15 October 2020 - online via Zoom
This year, like for many other organisations, the pandemic meant that we decided to hold our Annual General Meeting online, using the popular Zoom platform. It worked! Thirty-one members participated. Hosting from home, the Chairman, Stella Carter, opened the meeting by welcoming the Mayor, Cllr Charlie Birks.
As a special item, Lorraine Oates, Abingdon Town Council's representative on the ADTTS Committee, addressed the meeting, and in particular John Smith's widow Celia, present on Zoom along with her two daughters. Lorraine said how much the Town lamented the passing during the year of the Society's long-standing and hard-working Secretary John Smith, with whom she had worked many times during her time on the Council. His contribution to the Town and the Society had been remarkable, and the Council wished to commemorate that by presenting Celia with a memento. Charlie Birks, the Mayor of Abingdon, added his and the Town Council's condolences and appreciation of John's contribution to the community and to the town's relationships with its twin towns.
The normal business of an AGM followed. This was fairly routine: Officers’ reports, presentation and acceptance of accounts, and re-election of Officers and committee members. Potential interests from new faces on the committee are always welcome. A replacement secretary is still sought!
In discussion, regret was expressed that so much of our social and visits programmes were postponed due to the pandemic. Our twin towns have likewise had to become more or less inactive. It was hard to plan much, but we’ll try. The greatly enhanced monthly Newsletter partly compensated.
The report from Church Twinning was similar, hoping to carry forward to 2021 the programme that had to be cancelled this year.
Tour of the Bothy Vineyard
Thursday 10 September 2020 - at Bothy Vineyard, Frilford Heath
Due to the covid virus delaying visits, our eagerly awaited trip to the Bothy Vineyard, in Frilford Heath, finally took place on the 10th of September. Nineteen of our members enjoyed a tour of the vineyard and sampled several delicious British wines, sitting in the sun, on a warm afternoon, with our excellent hosts Sian and Richard.
After all our wine tasting, we managed to negotiate our way to the Dog House next door for a very enjoyable meal.
Both establishments clearly had in place compliant hygiene and social distancing measures, to make sure everyone felt welcome and safe, and as far as I know, everyone was very happy with this.
Despite Covid restrictions Nikki Henton arranged for 19 members (no, the number is not significant!) of ADTTS to visit the Bothy Vineyard (www.bothyvineyard.co.uk) at Frilford for a late afternoon tour and wine tasting. It was good to get out and meet friends again, even though we were well spaced and often masked.
There is no Margarita treading the grapes here. Once picked the fruit is macerated mechanically, separating skins and pips from flesh and the resulting pulp pressed to extract the juice before yeast is added and the liquid transferred into one of eight or so large stainless-steel tanks to ferment. Various types of grape are used. For red wine the grape skin and juice are kept in contact for a much longer period than for white.
In reality the process is much more complicated. The bouquet of a wine, (a hint of blackcurrant, etc.) comes from a complex interaction of a specific type of yeast with the grape skin. During fermentation the tanks have to be cooled, as the temperature can rise to 30°C but if the temperature drops too low the fermentation rate is affected. Later proteins which are produced must be removed to stop the wine becoming cloudy. The residual pulp is used for compost.
When fermentation is completed the wine is bottled and corked. Nowadays the vineyard has a power corking machine which makes the task much easier. The cork used is made from recycled and reconstituted cork produced in France. Natural cork, rather than a plastic substitute or a screw cap is preferred as a seal for ecological reasons and because it allows oxygen to diffuse into the wine. The original screw caps were not successful because the lining of the cap stopped the oxygen diffusion. A cork costs about 25p as against 20p for a screw cap.
The production process is checked by wine inspectors who, we were told, found fault one year with the labelling. Although the full address was listed, the lettering UK was missing. Customs and Excise check on the strength and quantity of wine produced. Duty is about £2.00 per bottle. An area of dispute between the two bodies is the amount of wine in a bottle, too little and you are failing the customer and too much and you are defrauding the tax man, so filling the bottles calls for careful quality control.
Interspersed with all this technical information we sampled a sparkling red, three whites, a rose and a red. This accounts for my, no doubt, dubious account of the overall production process!
The vineyard, with about three acres of vines, was established in 1978 by the Fosters, and has been in the hands of the present owners for about 20 years. The sandy soil is warm and drains well though the aspect of the site is not ideal. Warmer winters cause problems because the vines produce shoots too early. A late frost in May this year effectively wiped out all the grapes and there will be no harvest/vintage for 2020.
Vines are produced on different types of root stock, more compact for white varieties and taller and thinner for red grapes. A method of replacing old vines is to train a branch to root. We saw several successful instances of this. There are two areas of land left for wild flowers, though these are largely over by September.
Birds also like the grapes and various methods are used for scaring them off. I particularly liked the two, very realistic, red kite/hawks that were tethered to poles and floated in the wind. It took me several minutes to realise that they were not real. The methods used for scaring must be varied as the birds get used to them.
The work involved in looking after the vines, harvesting the grapes and producing the bottled wine is considerable and volunteer working parties are used for many of the tasks.
This was a most interesting and revealing tour and we thank Nikki for organising it and Sian and Richard Liwicki who run the Bothy Vineyard for describing the complexities and difficulties of running a successful business.
Later we retired to the Doghouse for a pleasant dinner. Alas as I was driving, I had to stick to water and coffee.
Europe Day International Zoom Meeting
Saturday 9 May 2020
Each year we look forward to 9th May when we celebrate Europe Day with a meal together. Last year fifty twinning members enjoyed a dinner in the grand surroundings of the Council Chamber. Our intention to do likewise this year was thwarted by the virus-induced lockdown. However, one of our members, Angela Waterhouse, suggested a virtual gathering including participation from our twin towns instead.
So, as announced in last month’s Newsletter, we arranged a Zoom meeting! When the appointed time came, initial apprehension soon dissolved as participants from all over joined. The result was half-an-hour or so of semi-organised good-humoured conversation as distant friends interacted. We raised a toast to peace and friendship in Europe.
On screen pictured above are Stella Carter, Susan and Brian Read, Gloria Tolputt, Ian and Angela Waterhouse, Herman Cole (Sint-Niklaas), David Mallen (Colmar), Margaret Hancox, Connie and Phil Addison, Maria Curto (Lucca), Nikki Henton, Anne and Peter Dodd, Karin Tavernier (Sint-Niklaas), Josiane and Alain Douet (Argentan), Ian and Rosemary Jardine, Felix Vercauteren (Sint-Niklaas), Josephine and Bruce Hunt, and Guido de Bruyne and Myriam Demeulenaere (Sint-Niklaas). Thus, apart from Schongau, we were delighted to welcome participants from all our twin towns.
Over all, we thought, despite some inexperience with Zoom, that it was surprisingly successful. We (and other towns?) are encouraged to try something similar in the future.
Evening Meeting - Lucca – Talk and Tasting – Maria Curto
Thursday 20 February 2020 - at Preston Road Community Centre
We welcomed Maria Curto, and Daniela and Fabrizio Querci to Abingdon for our February evening meeting.
Maria gave us a really fascinating talk about Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister, whom he installed as ruler of Lucca and subsequently the whole of Tuscany. Although she only reigned for some 9 years, Elisa did a lot, both good and bad. Maria took us through her actions, the bad ones relating mainly to the destruction of an ancient area of the city to make way for the Piazza Napoleone which, the Lucchesi, still resentful, insist on calling "Piazza Grande". Her good deeds were in establishing social systems which provided for beggars and the poor and supported the welfare of children. Maria also told us about Elisa’s conversion of three country villas into a magnificent ducal residence, the Villa Reale.
In telling this history Maria described many attractive and interesting aspects of the city, which made many keen to visit Lucca for the first time or to return.
Maria had also prepared some Tuscan delicacies and Daniela cooked fresh dough balls, which we all shared at the end of the evening whilst enjoying a glass of Prosecco or Chianti.
Daniela and Fabrizio were on their first visit and greatly enjoyed Abingdon and Oxford, especially the Natural History Museum and the Ashmoleum. Maria took the opportunity, this time, to enjoy visits to Salisbury, with the 800th anniversary "Light and Music" installation at Salisbury Cathedral, and to Bath.
Evening Meeting - Quiz evening
Thursday 23 January 2020 - at Preston Road Community Centre
A memorable and highly entertaining (and educational?) evening where teams of vegetables, i.e. enthusiastic quizzers, pitted their wits against each other to answer a wide range highly diverting and some quite tricky questions set by Brian and Peter.
Questions were grouped into assorted categories, e.g. flags and countries, celebrities and leaders, food, maths, dingbats and many others. Manual dexterity was also put to the test with each team being asked to create a multi-storey structure out of playing cards!
Congratulations to the winners, the Swedes, who received a bag of sweets, while the Cabbages, who achieved a creditable 5th place, were appropriately rewarded for their endeavours with a bag of chocolate Brussels sprouts.
Huge thanks to an extraordinarily competent Master of Ceremonies Brian, and to Peter for the table questions, also to Susan and team for the delicious snacks which were also part of the quiz (mackerel in teriyaki sauce, chicken sausages, and double Gloucester cheese).
Go to 2019 Events.