5th Apr | The Royal Gardens – talk by Mark Lane (Head Gardener, Buckingham Palace)

Capel Ladies Club members were very excited about their April speaker, Mark Lane, who was coming to talk to us about The Royal Gardens. BUT – as we found out – there are TWO Mark Lanes, both highly accredited in the gardening sphere. One is the first wheelchair garden designer who also presents “Gardener’s World” from time to time and the other is the Queen’s Head Gardener at Buckingham Palace. Who knew? I think we had all assumed it would be the Gardener’s World Mark Lane, and so when our Chairlady Di Barker and her husband went to collect Mark Lane off the evening train from London prior to the meeting they were looking for a man in a wheelchair!  Misunderstandings corrected, and laughed over, OUR Mark Lane arrived in the Library to give his talk, having come straight from work especially to speak to us, and charging us nothing but the price of his train ticket!

He spoke in a very relaxed style, telling us about the history of the 39-acre garden at Buckingham Palace, and showing photos of the different areas of landscape and planting. There is a large five-acre lawn where the Garden Parties are held, a three-acre lake and a large wildflower area, plus a huge herbaceous border, a rose garden and extensive vegetable plot growing organic produce. The Palace is self-sufficient in its own honey too, having several beehives. There are nearly 500 mature trees and a very comprehensive plant collection. Mark has been Head Gardener at the Palace for over thirty years, and he also oversees the gardens at Clarence House, home to the Prince of Wales. A total of only eight gardeners are employed at these two places which seems surprisingly few as they are kept very busy throughout the year with all the many functions, open days and exhibitions held in the grounds. The Palace grounds are home to many types of wildlife, which bring their own sets of problems – for example large flocks of greylag and Canada geese live by the lake, and of course create a lot of mess which needs to be continually cleared up.

At the end of Mark’s illustrated and interesting talk he answered a number of our questions before leaving to catch his train back to London.

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22nd Mar | Teddy (Rock Musical) – New Wolsey Theatre trip


The name “Teddy” might conjure up something cosy and cuddly – but don’t be fooled! This show at the Wolsey was anything but! Set in the deprived area of bomb-blasted streets of south London in the early ‘50s this was a raw and gritty tale of two teenagers, Josie and Teddy, heading out all dolled up and looking for a good time and the excuse to leave their dull, humdrum lives behind for the evening.

They meet by chance and having heard that their favourite rock star Johnny Valentine is in town they decide to go and see him and his band. The problem is – they are flat broke. Having got hold of a gun they rob a pawnbroker’s shop, but things get out of hand and they flee the scene with the cash. Arriving at the club they buy drinks and dance to their favourite music – but it all turns sour when Teddy spills his drink on a guy who doesn’t think it’s too funny. In the fracas that ensues, Josie – who still has the gun – shoots the guy and the show ends with our two protagonists under arrest.

With plenty of colourful language this was a vibrant and lively show. The two stars were on the stage the whole time, speaking their own parts as well as cleverly voicing those of other characters involved, and the action and drama were non-stop. All this with some stunning dance moves and a brilliant script, plus moments of high tension, made this a great show. Mention must also be made of the four-piece band – “Johnny Valentine & Friends” who played live throughout, giving us original numbers written for the show plus “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Rock Around the Clock” which they performed at the end as an encore. The party of Capel Ladies who saw it couldn’t fail to be caught up in it! Not what we thought it would be, but very memorable!

15th Feb | Meal at The Queen’s Head, Little Wenham

Another heart-warming meal in the cosy surroundings of The Queen’s Head, Little Wenham on a chilly February night! A large group of Capel Ladies enjoyed good food and company on our first outing of the season. Chicken Curry, Beef stew and dumplings, Chicken Tagine and Chicken Tikka Marsala were all on the menu along with a good selection of fresh vegetables, salad and chips, followed by cheese-cakes, chocolate fudge cake and fresh fruit salad; in other words, plenty of choice, and seconds if you had room! Thanks to Mark, Patsy and Linda for their warm welcome!

1st Feb | Anecdotes of a Midwife – talk by Kim Mason

Chairlady Di Barker welcomed a full turnout of members to the first meeting in our 2018 programme, and she announced that as this is our 50th Anniversary Year there were some extra-special events planned to mark it. These would be revealed as the year went on! After introducing the new committee Di welcomed our speaker for the evening, midwife Kim Mason, who had come to tell us all about her work, and of her beliefs and values in helping women to deliver their babies safely.

Kim has been a practising midwife for forty years, having first qualified as a State Certified Nurse and then taking a hands-on midwifery course, learning on the job. She worked for a year in a general hospital and then in Leigh-on-Sea with another colleague giving mothers-to-be ante-natal and pregnancy care, taking them all the way through from ante-natal classes to delivery, and then following up with post-natal care for both mothers and babies.

Although retired now, she is still called upon to attend occasional births. Her philosophy is to let the mothers lead when it comes to delivery – it is the midwife’s job to learn when to interfere, and to ensure a calm and comfortable environment where mothers feel able to relax and listen to their bodies. Midwives are there to “catch the baby” as Kim put it, and let women feel empowered by doing it all themselves as far as possible.

As it happens, Kim disapproves of programmes such as “Call the Midwife” as she feels that many of the stories can put mothers-to-be off completely and actually terrify them when it comes to giving birth themselves. Giving birth at home and as naturally as possible also makes for healthier babies and healthier mums, and less post-natal depression too. Only 8% of mums-to-be in the UK give birth at home today, compared to 50% when Kim started work!

Kim’s talk was both relaxed and informative and given with humour and sensitivity – exactly in the way you would imagine she did her job!

Jan 18th | Capel Ladies Club A.G.M. 2018

The 2018 A.G.M. was attended by 21 members of Capel Ladies Club, six of whom were current committee members.

After welcoming everyone to the meeting Chairlady Di Barker gave her annual report. She said it had been another successful year with some good speakers and members had enjoyed meals out, social and the annual Barbecue. However, although a number of outings had taken place throughout the year they had not been particularly well attended. The main exceptions to this was our Christmas shopping trip to Bury St Edmunds and the Mystery Tour round Suffolk. Di said perhaps it was time to reconsider the number of outings arranged each year as it was quite a lot of work if only a handful of people wanted to go on them. Wendy Keeble commented that it was a shame that a minority of interested people who wanted to go on trips and visits should have to forfeit these because of the great majority’s disinterest.

Di went on to thank everyone who had helped the club in some way over the year: Val and Dorothy for setting out the tea things each meeting; Linda Morrison for putting round our posters; and each individual committee member for their various roles. Secretary Sue Woolgar received special thanks, and also mentioned was Nick Woolgar, Sue’s son who puts reports and photos on our website, www.capelladies.com

Treasurer Liz Gulliver was also thanked for her hard work, and John Bloomfield too for auditing the accounts. Sue and Liz were leaving the committee this year but there were two new volunteers to join. These were Sue Crane and Beryl Backler, who were both proposed and seconded on to the 2018 team.

Of special note was this, our 50th Anniversary year, and Di announced that the club would be holding several special events to mark this. The committee was yet to finalise this year’s programme but all would be revealed as time went on.

After the main business of the evening there were refreshments with home-made cakes baked by members of the committee and this was followed by a “Backwards Raffle” which turned out to be great fun and was a jolly way to end the evening!

Jan 12th-14th | Festival of Trees and Lights – St Mary’s Church, Capel

January 12th 22018 marked the first day of the Festival of Trees and Lights, held at St Mary’s Church in Capel every other year. as a fund-raiser for the “Friends of Capel Church”, and this year monies raised will go towards the restoration of the East Window.

Capel Ladies’ tree – ‘Malta’

The theme this year was “Countries of the Commonwealth” and each village organisation which took part had to select a country and choose appropriate items with which to decorate their Christmas tree. There was a quiz sheet available for a small entry fee where people could guess the countries from the objects on and around each tree.

Capel Ladies Club chose Malta, and using red and silver tinsel to represent the red and white colours of the Maltese flag we added laminated pictures of various Maltese features such as the old yellow buses on the island, the Maltese terrier, the knights of St John, the Maltese Falcon from the Humphrey Bogart film and pictures of the Azure Window – the famous rocky sea-arch which collapsed in 2017. As well as these items there were lots of silver Maltese Crosses dangling to catch the light and a large one at the top of the tree. Of course the biggest ‘giveaways’ were the empty packets of Maltesers! Our tree looked very pretty amongst the others, all lit up in the darkness, as you will see in these photos!

Thanks to Irene, Pat, Sue and Shirley for their efforts!

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Dec 21st | Christmas Social

Our Christmas Social 2017 was another happy occasion with decorations on the tables, a Grand Christmas Raffle, the Members’ Hamper Draw and even a Secret Santa surprise at the end! As usual each member brought a plate of food to share, and there was a tremendous variety of snacks and party food. Irene Carder had a seasonal quiz for us with chocolates as prizes, and the winners were Beryl Backler and Sue Woolgar. The draw for the fantastic Christmas hamper, put together by Pat Bradford and Shirley Ward, was won by Jacky Lloyd amidst great applause. Di Barker thanked all the committee for their hard work over the year and reminded everyone of the coming AGM in January when some new committee members will be chosen.