Autumn Challenge

By Steph Farry

It can be so hard to say goodbye to the golden days of summer. Even if your day to day life doesn’t change much over July and August, there’s a sense of freedom and opportunity that can be missing from the other seasons.

If you’re looking for ways to find joy in the shortening days and misty mornings, why not try this autumn challenge? There are twenty activities to help celebrate the special pleasures of this time of year. You could even challenge a friend to complete them, and share pictures to show how you’re getting on! We do this each year, and it’s lovely to see our friends out on their adventures. Our rules are that you have to do the challenge in order, there’s no time limit on each activity, and you can switch activities as long as you keep to the ‘feel’ of the original (for instance, don’t drink cider? Try an apple juice, or pear cordial!).

1. Go outside, smell the air, and set an intention to enjoy the new season.

2. Pick up a conker, or a handful of acorns, and put them somewhere you’ll see often.

3. Bake something autumnal (eg pumpkin bread).

4. Drink some cider.

5. Watch a film or TV programme with an autumn ‘feel’ (eg Gilmore Girls, You Got Mail, Mona Lisa Smile, Casper).

6. Make a ‘happiness capsule’ with some treats or special memory items, to open if you need a boost of joy later in the season – or better still, make one for someone else!

7. Make an autumn craft (eg a leaf wreath, wooden wind chime, pinecone creatures), or put up some fairy lights.

8. Do a random act of kindness.

9. Plant some bulbs for spring.

10. Make and listen to an autumn themed playlist.

11. Mess about in some fallen leaves.

12. Practice loving kindness meditation.

13. Cuddle up with a cosy blanket and a book.

14. Clear out some old clothes to donate to charity.

15. Do a puzzle or crossword.

16. Find a really beautiful autumn tree.

17. Make or buy an autumn themed hot drink

18. Cook a stew.

19. Knit something (choose a small project!).

20. Drink hot chocolate under the stars.

Share your pictures with us on Facebook @StMarysashVale and @AshValeChapel #AutumnChallenge

Family Friendly Fun

Baby Plus and Toddler Plus at St. Paul’s church, Tongham

Here at St. Paul’s we run multiple groups for families with children of all ages, from babies right through to young adults. Our aim is not only to provide experiences for the children but also to support their parents in every way we can.

As the community worker for St Paul’s church in Tongham, my key role is to support families with children below school age and particularly new parents with babies. I have over 20 years of experience in this area as I worked for the NCT for 12 years, then the local Children’s Centre for another three before moving to work at St. Paul’s church. I also have three adult children of my own but no grand children yet!

We currently run two groups that are totally FREE for mums/dads/grandparents and their children to attend. We are meeting outside, to allow us to accommodate more families and this is likely to remain the case until the end of the summer. We haven’t had to cancel a session yet due to the weather! We are embracing the outside ‘forest school’ nature of the sessions, with messy play an easier option outside and a chance for the little ones to really explore the outside world as well as the parents gaining fresh air and sense of space.

Toddler plus

This group is for those just walking to about 2/2.5ish and is on a Wednesday, 10.30-12. The toddlers can explore and do some messy play, whilst parents chat and support one another. We also do some actions songs and have bubbles to chase.

Baby Plus

Is for the little ones from just days old to once they are toddling around. This is on a Thursday 10.30-12 Again parents can chat and make new friends, whilst the little ones are also learning with some baby sensory experiences, action songs and bubbles.

We meet throughout the year, including the school holidays. We meet in the vicarage garden which is the house right next door to the community centre carpark, so please park there and walk round. The garden is huge, with plenty of lawn for rugs and woodland area to explore.

It is a bit of a DIY experience at the moment, as you need to bring your own picnic rugs and toys (which you are happy to share). Also unfortunately you also need to bring your own and your children’s drinks and snacks. 

Both groups are incredibly friendly, supportive and welcoming, so we look forward to seeing you soon. I also run a WhatsApp group for each group which allows you to share questions and organise meet ups throughout the week.

Find us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2574450836214712/

Although we do not charge for our sessions, donations can be made on our website. www.stpaulstongam.org.uk

Contact Claire B for further details on: communityworker@stpaulstongham.org.uk

or you can call the Parish Office on 01252 783081

Children & Families at St Mary’s & The Chapel

At St Mary’s and The Chapel we are fortunate to have some lovely young families who come to church, and some wonderful friends, of all faiths and none, who join us for the various groups, online chats and live zooms.

For those at home we have a Messenger Chat and a weekly coffee zoom for parents and carers Mondays 11am Zoom ID: 520 880 119 Password: Grownups

For the Summer term 2021 We have opened up carefully and slowly, with an indoor Babies Support Group at St Mary’s on Vale Road on Tuesdays 10am-11am for little ones under 12 months, and an outdoor Chapel Kids “Garden Praise” session for all ages 0-4yrs at The Chapel on Wharf Rd on Wednesdays 11:30am—12:30. Our favourite this term has been planting lots of scrummy edibles for here and  home!

Monthly Messy Church is back (book early!) with one family / bubble per table in church at St Mary’s, and we are offering doorstep kits for anyone who prefers to stay at home or isn’t able to book due to the restrictions on numbers. Sundays 4pm:

 27th Jun, 18th Jul, 26th Sept, 31st Oct

Picnic & Play—we have exciting plans to open up The Chapel again this summer, every Wednesday in August Keep an eye on Facebook! @AshValeChapel

Come and join the fun!

Phone or text Alex on 07730 609446

Projectmanager@ash-vale.org.uk 

The Ash Vale Easter Trail!

We had so much fun with the lost sheep trail at Half Term, we are doing another one for Easter!

Please pop an Easter Egg, Easter Scene, Easter Garden, Easter Wreath or even a knitted Easter Egg in your window or front garden in time for Easter Sunday, and leave it up for 2 weeks, so we can all enjoy finding them during the Easter Holidays. We have our Easter Trail web page ready to go, and will add all your trail locations to our list in time for Easter Day.

Trail link: https://ash-vale.org.uk/easter-trail-4th-18th-april-2021/ Click here to see where to start hunting for Easter windows!

Continue reading “The Ash Vale Easter Trail!”

Activity Advent

Lorraine Faires shares 24 Ideas to prepare you for Christmas 2020

I am sure everyone is bored of hearing how this year is a little different- so instead I am going to focus on our family traditions which stay the same year on year. Instead of a chocolate calendar we have an activity advent – 24 different activities to prepare for our Christmas celebration. Why not join in with ours or make your own?

1. Start a reverse advent calendar. Items for the food bank are a popular one, or you could write a happy thought down each day and “open” them on Christmas morning.

2. Try a Christmas Zumba workout!

3. Make an Origami ornament- share your best effort on our facebook page!

4. Find out about Christmas in another country- why not adopt a new tradition?

5. Make a decoration (We love using salt dough, but snowman toilet rolls or paper snowflakes are also great)

6. Join the St Nicholas Day Lantern Walk (see What’s On page for details)

7. Have a festive indoor picnic

8. Support a local business- if you aren’t buying this year, try sharing on social media or recommending to a friend!

9. Write a letter- to Father Christmas, a friend or a neighbour (everyone loves getting a hand written letter!) Let them know you are thinking of them, even if you can’t visit

10. Enjoy a mince pie or festive bake (make your own if you can)

11. Today is Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day- join in with your best festive outfit!

12. Make a wreath or garland (upcycle your old decorations)

13. Join in with the Christmas Hamper Zoom service (see opposite  for details)

14. Make and send a Christmas card to someone who would appreciate it

15. Take a day off from the news and read a Christmassy story

16. Indulge in Christmas tunes and sing along as loud as you can!

17. Make and enjoy some Santa Bread

18. Take a walk around Ash Vale to see all the lights

19. Make a nativity scene from recycling material

20. Zoom in to Carols by Candlelight (see What’s On page)

21. Have a festive hot chocolate (We enjoy adding gingerbread men!)

22. Prepare a Christmas Eve Box- you don’t need to buy new- choose your best PJ’s, a nice bedtime story or film and maybe even a game to play. Add a yummy biscuit or two – it is Christmas!

23. Enjoy a Christmas movie

24. Join in with Christingle for the Children’s Society (see What’s On page for details)

Have a really lovely Christmas and enjoy making some special memories and new traditions this year!

Snow on Ash Ranges in the 1980s

During the snowy winter of 1981/82 here in Ash/Ash Vale, along with everywhere else in Southern England, we awoke one day to find there had been a huge snowfall overnight and everyone was totally ‘snowed in’!  There was no way in, or out of Ash & Ash Vale, all roads were impassable until the snowploughs reached us with grit etc.  For that day we were all ‘cut-off’!  Those who did try to drive to work, found the roads where impassable & had to return home.  This was a day I shall never forget!

What a wonderful day of fun and laughter the day turned out to be!  Everyone (young or older, with or without children) made for the ranges!  We all took everything we could find to have fun!  We wore our boots, wellies, thick coats, gloves, mittens, and hats to keep our ears warm.  Sledges, toboggans, tin trays, and even ski’s were the ‘order of the day’! .  There were numerous snowball fights (between children & children, plus adults and adults!), several snow-men (or “snow-people” to be politically correct these days!) were built and children just enjoyed rolling in the snow, especially down the butts (but no damage was done, the snow was so thick)!  Everyone mixed in with the fun, regardless of their age. 

A couple of the menfolk built a fire (in a sheltered snow-hole) and managed to get a decent fire going. They then found sticks/branches, planted them in the snow with a line of string attached to make a ‘drying line’ for drying gloves!

As the kiddies (& adults) gloves became soaked through, they would take them to the fire, take them off and they were ‘pegged’ onto the line to dry out!  In exchange they received another ‘dry’ish pair of gloves, any gloves that fitted!

I am certain no child (or adult) went home that day with their own gloves, but no-one cared! It was a day nobody who was involved in will ever forget and will probably not happen again?  The ‘Community Spirit’ was definitely shown on that day.

By Pat Scott