Children's Activity Week - 31st July to 3rd August 2017 - ‘Our 20th Year’

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‘To a Farming Theme’

We chose a farming theme for this our twentieth year, a topic we felt highly appropriate given that our villages contain many farms. The only activity not to our theme but a perennial favourite, was learning a variety of circus skills with Geoff Gardner, who brought along lots of equipment such as uni-cycles, stilts and a tight-rope. The weather forecast proved accurate — it rained a fair bit; but it didn't dampen the spirits of thirty five local children who took part. They had a whale of a time, as confirmed by many parents who also expressed amazement at the amount the children packed into the four days.

We were privileged to be invited to visit two farms during the week: on Monday we walked to the Bowermans’ Farm in Semley and on Thursday we climbed aboard Tisbuses which took us to the Greens’ farm at East Knoyle. The children saw an enormous amount during these visits, when they learned about various farming activities and the need for a constant, safety-conscious approach when moving around the farms; handling equipment; or approaching livestock. They saw cows being milked in a fully-automated parlour - even milked a strange-looking one — and had a close look at other animals including calves, sheep, a pony, and some horses.

The Bowermans also showed us their new fresh-milk vending machine which will be ready soon for customers; they have a second machine that dispenses one-litre, re-useable glass bottles to take the machine-vended milk. The ‘icing on the cake’ - at least so far as this writer is concerned - is that the pasteurised, dispensed milk will not be homogenised, so each bottle will have a layer of cream at the top; just like the old days!

in keeping with our farming theme: the children produced a large-scale collage, covering four seasons, that is now displayed proudly in Semley Church - do drop in to take a look.

Other activities included:

  • Using a variety of vegetables to make coloured prints, examples being the lovely ‘flowers’ obtained with a dissected sweet pepper or a whole stick of celery trimmed at its base.
  • Making pizzas for parents to cook for tea - taken home in boxes that the children had decorated.
  • Making willow and rush fish and heart dollies — when the children learned new skills such as weaving and plaiting.
  • Cooking, where children baked a variety of cakes and biscuits, and a huge quantity of scones which we all enjoyed - together with parents - with jam and clotted cream to close our week.
  • Tasting a variety of milks and cheeses which included samples from cows, goats and sheep.
  • Meeting two alpacas and learning about their origins and uses for their wool.
  • Making scarecrows from broom handles, old clothes, and hay.

After our visit to the Greens’ on Thursday, the Tisbuses took us to Oyster’s Coppice (in Semley) where we all enjoyed our lunches - picnic style - followed by a scavenger hunt for a variety of flora and fauna, and a hike across fields back to Semley School where we scoffed our cream tea.

The organisers - Martha Allfrey, Becky Murphy, Ellen Robb, Karen Willetts, Richard Warhurst, and Gerry Purdue - wish to thank all the children for being so well behaved and those who led activities or helped generally during the week, in particular: Carole Holden who has masterminded the communal painting for many years; Shirley and Stuart Asbury who have helped with craft-work for many years; and our regular professionals Nick Crump, who led the craft workshops and Geoff Gardner, as mentioned above. We also thank, especially, Mrs Stokes, Semley School Head, for letting us use the school premises; Sam and Mike Green, and Serena, Graham, Alan and Jacob Bowerman for hosting our farm visits and making them so interesting; and Bob Thackray for bringing along his alpacas.

Finally, a personal note: this has been my last year as leader of our organising team, although you may find me helping a bit next year. Also retiring are Karen and Martha who have contributed greatly to the success of our weeks; without them they would not have run so smoothly. Becky, Ellen and Rev’d Richard are continuing with the team, for which Richard's wife Anna is lining up new members.

I thank all who have contributed in so many ways to activity weeks over the years; I feel sure they will be in safe hands for years to come.

Gerry Purdue