News

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – EVENT: Northern Soul Night in Axbridge Town Hall this Saturday, May 12th, tickets on sale – includes home-made pies, Dr Love’s music and an amazing light show (and you will work off a few pounds with all the dancing)

What is Northern Soul? Here’s what it’s all about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWJOB79ZprQ
And it’s coming to Axbridge! Check out the dancing – Northern Soul night coming up in Axbridge! Get your tickets for the Roxy benefit now! Northern Soul is this Saturday, and tickets are in the Post Office, Chemist and here at the Roxy. Tel 07725 051523 and Juliet Maclay can reserve them for you at the pre-door price of £9. Come and support your local community cinema, and eat our lovely home-made pies! Plus have a great work out dancing the night away to Dr Love’s Vinyl Revival (plus amazing light show) and lose a few pounds!
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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – OPINION: Aboriginal reflections on taking part in a drama staged in Axbridge Town Hall (and there are still tickets available for tonight’s performance)

This is not a review or a preview but some personal thoughts from Harry Mottram on ACT’s latest production.

Our Country’s Good: Reflections – by Harry Mottram

And so the play begins. The play: Our Country’s Good. The setting: Axbridge Town Hall. The company: ACT – the town’s community theatre group with its director John Bailey – with a sizeable cast of residents playing the soldiers, convicts and administrators in the town’s somewhat confined space of the community’s main meeting place.

Timberlake Wertenbaker’s 1980s drama set in New South Wales in 1788 has been one of the most popular plays with students and community theatre companies for several reasons. The most obvious one is its flexibility as the cast is large with a variety of roles both large and small. Some actors can double up or a director can cast an actor to just one part. Then there are the themes which resonate today: social immobility, injustice, class, sex, misogyny, love, hate, race, imperialism, domestic violence and the art of making a play. It’s pretty much all there with a large dose of comedy along with the darkness of the violence and cruelty.

Cast as the lone Aborigine I have the best seat in the house to watch the play as apart from the final scene I sit at the edge of the stage on a tree stump observing the action. With just four short pieces of poetic dialogue my role is more symbolic than anything else. As such this is not a review but some reflections on the drama I watch each night and of those who take on some of the roles in the play.

Phil Saunders plays the main protagonist Ralph Clark – one of the more testing ones in part due to the size of the role and amount of dialogue to remember. It’s a straight role as Clark is a serious and determined man whose opinions slowly change as he sees the enlightening effect of drama on the convicts. Phil retains Clark’s persona throughout and on the opening night was still able to inject a humorous adlib in one of those blank moments all actors occasionally suffer from.

The sarcastic, bullying, bigoted and cruel character of Ross is a classic baddie of the stage. I’m sure Tony Wilson doesn’t carry out executions and floggings on unfortunates in his spare time but he certainly gave the impression he enjoyed playing the near-pantomime villain. It was his portrayal of the half-wit Arscott that I found particularly impressive as playing a character completely removed from your own personality is a tougher gig.

David and Carole Maclean were a straightman-straightwoman double act as the voices of reason. Both deliver their lines in a paired back and restrained style which suited their roles. David as the Governor of the colony has a particularly natural approach, almost filmic in its subtleness and with a very rich resonance which adds to the gravity of his character.

Katie Williams in both her roles gave strong and committed performances. Her scene with the death of Harry had one of those stand-out moments as she begins to sing in a voice that had the perfect balance of mourning and soulfulness. And as the catty Duckling in the rehearsal scene she clearly has plenty of comic potential – even gaining audience laughs from not saying anything very well – to Harry in the boating scene.

As Campbell Will Vero created a comically menacing soldier who is full of bluff, a penny short of a shilling and who without Ross would probably be a more agreeable chap. As Ketch, Will again breathed life into the hangman and son of the Emerald Isle with a believable accent and great energy. His conversation with Clark in his tent was another stand-out sequence as again he found the character of Ketch within the dialogue prompting audience applause.

Two of my favourite moments purely for the comedy were the scenes with Bruce and Andrea Clench. Andre as Meg made the most of her ‘audition’ with Clark using innuendo to great effect while Bruce’s man of the cloth was enjoyably awkward as he used timing as it should be used in comedy – perfectly.

Talking of comedy Pete Harding’s performance as Sideway was another of the many highlights in the play. His physicality brought such a huge amount to the part as movement can say so much about a person. Minimal for the restrained Governor but excessive for the wannabee actor Sideway.

Acting out of your comfort zone is always hard but Nigel Newton as psychologically damaged Harry Brewer nailed it. His jabbering, quivering, unhinged moments of neo-schizophrenic dialogue created some of the most disturbing scenes, while his more reasoned character of Wisehammer seemed closer to his core personality and were just as realistic.

For Patsy Newton this was a first as she hadn’t appeared in a play before. She admitted suffering from a severe bout of stage fright beforehand but with such a clear voice and strong stage presence she shouldn’t have worried. Mary Brenham’s confidence grows as she becomes the central figure in The Recruiting Officer and her transformation was reflected in Patsy’s own performance as Mary’s character begins to mirror that of the actor.

Janet Gwinn was perfectly cast as the raunchy, earthy and determined to escape Dabby Bryant. Making the most of her scenes and her speeches this was one of her best ever performances. And in real life the real Dabby Bryant’s story is worth reading up on as she did finally escape and return to her beloved Cornwall. (Yes, the playwright changed it to Devon – but that’s allowed.)

Maggie Stanley was cast as a man and a person of colour who dreams of returning to Madagascar. She is also a drunk, a Francophile and a criminal – quite a lot for Maggie to take on board –but she did brilliantly beating the drum at the end of the show to bring down the final curtain.

I’ve been in plays with Sue Hughes since the late 1990s and so I know how versatile she is. From Little Jack Horner in panto to the violent Geordie Liz Morden. I was impressed with the immovable inner anger she gave the character which translated into a physical dignity impervious to the privations and bullying she contends with. Her ‘how did I get here’ speech gives the backstory to a girl who in another life would not have been sent to Australia as a convict. With her rich Newcastle accent this was a fine performance.

I can’t leave out the singers: Ede Bailey, Paul Ambrosius, Stella Moor and John Bailey who added a haunting dimension to the production. A production that picked out all the themes of Wertenbaker’s script and with David Parkin and David Moor’s set was brought to life with style by John Bailey’s direction. A production that has been a joy to be part of mainly it has to be said due to the camaraderie of the cast.

I’ve written at length about the situation of the Aboriginal Australians then and now in an article on my website at http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/?p=3460

The play wouldn’t happen however without the work of John Kendall (production), his daughter Sarah Kendall (the poster), Peter Holmwood (lighting), Janie Gray (costumes) and so many others in make-up, props and the friends of Axbridge Community Theatre. As I said, this is not a review but some personal reflections so apologies if it doesn’t reflect your own thoughts.

Tickets will be on sale online from 23rd March 2018, and from Axbridge Chemists and Post Office from 1st April, or buy tickets online at https://sites.google.com/site/axcomtheatre/home/Future-productions–tickets

The plays runs from May 2-5, 2018.

More news and stories from Harry at www.harrymottram.co.uk

Follow Harry on Facebook, Twitter as @harrythespiv, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram


STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: drama in Axbridge Town Hall with a production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Australian convict play Our Country’s Good (complete with love, tenderness, extreme violence and mental cruelty – all observed by an Aborigine)

Axbridge Community Theatre presents one of the most popular plays of recent years about some of the first convicts to land in Australia. How they are treated, punished but also through the power of theatre begin to reinvent themselves as the the new Australians – at the expense of those who lived there for 60,000 years – the Aborigines.

Observed by a lone, mystified Australian aboriginal , the convict ship arrives in Botany Bay in1788, crammed with England’s outcasts. Colony discipline in this vast and alien land is brutal. Three proposed public hangings incite an argument: how best to keep the criminals in line, the noose or a more civilised form of entertainment? The ambitious Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark steps forward with a play. But as the mostly illiterate cast rehearses, and a sense of common purpose begins to take hold, the young officer’s own transformation is as marked and poignant as that of his prisoners. The play is far from grim. Actually it’s mostly funny! “All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition.” 

Tickets will be on sale online from 23rd March 2018, and from Axbridge Chemists and Post Office from 1st April, or buy tickets online at https://sites.google.com/site/axcomtheatre/home/Future-productions–tickets

The plays runs from May 2-5, 2018.

More news and stories from Harry at www.harrymottram.co.uk

Follow Harry on Facebook, Twitter as @harrythespiv, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram
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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: some photos of Cheddar reservoir in March 2018 (from snow and ice to rain and wind it’s been a VERY wintry month)

Harry Mottram has been out around the reservoir most mornings taking a snap of the dawn scenes – and it’s been a pretty cold month with no sign of things improving any time soon. All the photos are taken with a Samsung Galaxy phone – whilst out jogging.


Back stage Wendy – helping behind the scenes with ACT

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: a report on the funeral service for Wendy Mace (with bitter sweet stories, great speeches and the day one of Axbridge’s finest was remembered)

Harry Mottram reports on the funeral service for the bon vivant Wendy Mace of Axbridge who (along with her husband Robin) were part of the ‘greatest sitcom the 1970s never made.’
Sun light streamed through the stained glass windows of St John the Baptist parish church in Axbridge, in Somerset, lighting up the sandstone a golden yellow as the coffin carrying the late Wendy Mace was carried from the church. It had been a memorable, amusingly bitter sweet and ultimately uplifting service presided over by the Reverend Tim Hawkings.

Macbeth: the witches get ready – but can you guess which one is Wendy?

It was about a year since the church had been filled with a near identical audience for Wendy’s Civic Award to mark her work with many of the town’s organisations including the youth theatre group Young ACT. Now the church was again packed with standing room only with friends, family and residents who came to pay tribute to her and her work. Those activities included: the pageant, the youth theatre, the museum, the community theatre group, the book club and the carnival – to name but a few.
Born in 1944 before the D-Day Landings and the final act of World War II in the Kent village of Harrietsham Wendy Mace was a teacher, a thespian, a designer, a youth worker, a mother, wife and grandmother all wrapped into the robes of a party hostess, chef and bon vivant. Before 2002 Wendy lived in the south of England teaching English and Drama at Fernhill School in Hampshire where she lived with her husband Robin and her son Toby.

Civic award: Toby, Wendy and Robin

The funeral was marked by remarkable speeches and tributes, none more powerful than one from her son Toby who spoke of her self-deprecating humour. His voice cracking at times with emotion he related stories which brought laughter and tears of joy. For there is a strange conflict of emotions as bereavement and humour intermingle creating a surreal atmosphere where one moment you laugh with a sudden release of tension before finding your throat has become swollen with emotion and tears fill your eyes. Toby recalled the time she drove her car into a man dressed as a Roundhead at a Civil War re-enactment – who was driving of all things a Vauxhall Cavalier. Laughter he said was her greatest gift as if you can laugh at yourself then nobody can laugh at you, but instead with you. He spoke fondly of how she opened the family home to a variety of guests from around the world when he was a child dubbing her the Greatest Ambassador of Nibbles the United Nations never had, and with his father Robin created a household that should have been made into a 1970s’ TV sitcom.
Toby’s young son spoke with an assured confidence about his granny and of her love of poetry and in particular Haiku poetry and how she had passed that enthusiasm on to him. He had written four seasonal Haikus with the one for spring reading: “Daffodils appear, lambs are here, it’s that time of year.”

Book Club – raise a glass Wendy – a summer meeting at Dave Parkin’s house

The Reverend Tim Hawkings essentially played the straight man in this production. He hit the right tone balancing empathy, a Christian voice and yes, a quiet anger, at the cruelty of cancer. He reminded those present of the impact Wendy had made with the youth theatre group in the town, her acting career with the theatre group ACT along with her Christingle services that had involved and impressed so many. He described Wendy’s ‘incredible courage’ in the face of the cruel disease and quoted the words of Seneca: “In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life.”
Paul Passey who admitted his life had in part been scripted and directed by Wendy, was one of Wendy’s longest friends dating back to teenage years when he and his wife Diana and Wendy’s husband Robin were a happy quartet back in the early 1970s in Hampshire. In his eulogy entitled ‘On the Subject of Winning’ Paul spoke of get-togethers at the Roe Buck Inn, of late nights ending with Wendy’s mum providing nocturnal snacks in her parlour, and it has to be said of incomplete stories of seduction, rivalry and much more. As his mate Colin said there were lots of stories that were not appropriate for church. Using a euphemism for the facts of life used by the nuns at Wendy’s school of two separate canoes mooring together in the river bank of married life Paul played on the idea that as teenagers the foursome had deliberately misconstrued the word canoodling as an extension of the nuns’ idea. They say canoodling and the nuns say canoeing – despite it all the quartet stayed in touch and ended up in Axbridge some 16 years ago.
Janie Gray read one of Wendy’s favourite poems The Scholar and his Cat, Pangue Ban, from a ninth century poem translated by Robin Flower. And the Axbridge Singers (of whom Wendy had been an enthusiastic member) performed En Tout, La Paix Du Coeur (In all, Peace From The Heart) and the melodious Santo, Santo, Santo conducted by Stella More. There was also music by Nigel Hess from the movie Ladies in Lavender and a departing song as Time Goes By from the film Casablanca.
This was one of those occasions when we realise we are all mortal, that despite the hymns and prayers implying life is a just a transient step on the way to an afterlife, we are just a collection of atoms with just one shot at life. It is a bleak conclusion that all but the most fervent believers must face. We can delay the date but we can’t put it off. But in that delay and in that decision – we can make the most of life – and that is perhaps the most important point. Live life is the simple motto. Or as a Scottish proverb underlines: “Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.”
That does sound dark. But people like Wendy show how while we are alive we can light up the world by simply embracing life, making friends and being ourselves. Dr Samuel Johnson echoed perhaps how Wendy herself may have put it: “It matters not how a man (or woman) dies, but how he (or she) lives.” Or even more succinctly Clarence OddBoddy in the film It’s a Wonderful Life recalls Mark Twain’s words that: “No man (or woman) is a failure who has friends.” You only had to look at the packed church to see the truth is this last statement.

Harry Mottram

There is more from Harry at www.harrymottram.co.uk

The next Axbridge Theatre production is Our Coutry’s Good at the end of April is dedicated to Wendy.
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This is actually the moon in the evening rather than dawn – it was already getting dark

Classic dawn colours looking towards Cheddar and the east

A calm start to the day

Red dawn on a blood coloured reservoir

Spooky looking town at the Res looking like a submarine’s deck

Sunrise in February

This was March 2nd or February 30th as I call it – the Arctic comes to the reservoir

Brrr…. March 2nd and it is freezing

Part of the reservoir became frozen – at the edges that it

Unusual snow cover at the Reservoir

Snow drifts at the yacht club

Icy edge made walking almost impossible. The dog walkers and joggers disappeared this morning!

The ice people wait for the morning sun to melt them away

Winter scene at the Res

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: photographs of Cheddar Reservoir at dawn during February 2018 (from moonlight to arctic light)

The vast strawberry shaped reservoir between Cheddar and Axbridge acts like a mirror to the sky. February began as though spring was not far away but ended in a snowscape adding to the beauty of the body of water.

More photos and news at www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Axbridge on Friday, March 2, 2018

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: when snow fell on the first day of spring and turned Axbridge white (and perishingly cold)

It may have officially been the first day of Spring but on Thursday March 1st, 2018, snow began to fall in Axbridge in the afternoon. The weather had been icy cold for days and the forecast had predicted Storm Emma would bring warmer but snowy weather as it moved up from the south. Across Devon, Somerset and much of England and South Wales it met the so-called Beast from the East – a cold front streaming in from Russia – and it created a blizzard as a wind of over 40mph turned Somerset into a Siberian landscape. Parts of Cheddar Reservoir froze, there were power cuts and the M5 and A38 were all but closed for several hours. But for many it meant a day off work or school.

A video of the snow in the town can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZg26Mu-3j0

More stories by Harry Mottram can be found at www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Toby, Wendy and Robin Mace

Son Toby, Wendy and Robin Mace

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: Death of Wendy Mace announced in Axbridge – a funny, intelligent and popular shining light in the town

The death has been announced of Wendy Mace. She died on Friday February 23, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. Her funeral is on Wednesday, March at st John the Baptist’s church in the town in the afternoon.
Harry Mottram recalls: “Wendy was a vibrant, funny, intelligent and articulate member of the Axbridge Book Club – but I most remember her as part of Axbridge Community Theatre – and one role in particular stands out when with her husband Robin she appeared in a production of Neil Simon’s Rumors as Ernie and Cookie Cusack at the Roxy. Wendy played Cookie – a fitting role since she was a brilliant cook! A rich voice, a generous host and always a great laugh – Wendy gave so much to the town – the youth theatre, the carnival, the pageant and many more organisations who benefited from her people skills, her creative talent and her enthusiasm of life. Her civic award was well deserved and resulted in a packed church for the occasion and a standing ovation.”
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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: Axbridge Civic Service 2018 by Vicky Brice, town clerk for the town

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Axbridge Civic Service

Sunday 25th February 2018

The sun shone brightly, and the church bells rang out, on Sunday afternoon as the community of Axbridge celebrated it’s 8th Civic Service in St John The Baptist Church and presented awards to three very special residents.

Town Crier, Nigel Scott announced the Mayoral Party which included the Deputy Lieutenant, Brigadier Tom Lang and his wife Amanda and the Mayor, Pauline Ham. John Hawkins, Sergeant at Mace, led the party, supported by Peter Yusen, Town Bailiff.  The Party entered the church to a rousing fanfare from the Cheddar Valley Brass Ensemble.

The service was attended by many visiting Mayors, Chairmen, members of local councils and James Heappey MP. The remainder of the church was full of residents of Axbridge, members of local groups and organisations together with friends and family of the award recipients. The church provided a stunning setting, with a lovely flower display arranged by church warden Judith Strange.

Reverend Tim Hawkings welcomed all to the service, which had a nautical theme, given the achievements of the award winners.  The Brass Ensemble of the Cheddar Valley Music Club, guided by Ann Higgs, gave an outstanding performance of Hallelujah Drive and Steppin’ Out by Chris HazellCheddar Valley Voices were delightful in their rendition of Wonderful World (Weiss & Thiele) and We’re All Made of Stars (Barlow & Kennedy). Abigail Campbell captured the audience with her violin solo of Allegro (GF Handel) and Somewhere over The Rainbow, from the Wizard of Oz.

The chosen hymns complimented the service, as did the poem “Sea Fever” (John Masefield) read by Pauline Ham, Mayor of Axbridge and the reading from Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 4, verses 35-41) read by Councillor Taylor.

The highlight of the service was the presentation of the awards by the Deputy Lieutenant, celebrating the community of Axbridge as a whole and the outstanding contributions made by the award recipients. The Mayor introduced the awards and Francis Rabbitts, Bob Wainwright and Peter Downing read the individual citations.

The Civic Award was presented to Barry Hamblin for his outstanding contribution to the community, particularly the time, effort, enthusiasm and sheer hard work he had put into establishing and managing the Axbridge and Cheddar Valley Sea Cadets TS Goathland Unit. His full and varied contribution to Axbridge, from actor in Axbridge Community Theatre, a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce to Mayor of Axbridge (twice) is difficult to summarise, but the establishment and development of the Sea Cadet unit within the Cheddar Valley will stand as a lasting legacy to the Town. He was honoured to receive his award, which followed nominations from the community, and this was one of the few occasions which had rendered him speechless!

The newly-introduced Young Person’s Awards were presented to Jamie Harris and Katherine Sousa both of which were a credit to themselves, their families and Axbridge. Jamie Harris felt privileged to receive his award which recognised his incredible sailing achievements, with many early successes leading to him becoming Cadet World Champion in Argentina.  He has since moved into the 2-man 420 dinghy, a feeder class for Olympic sailors and continues to perform at the highest level, travelling extensively around Europe in his continuing stellar sailing career. Jamie thanked all those who had supported him in the pursuit of his ambitions.

Katherine Sousa was honoured to receive her Young Person’s Award, in recognition of her contribution to youth and civic life.As one of the first cadets to join Axbridge & Cheddar Valley Sea Cadets, she remains an enthusiastic and hard-working member, leading by example and contributing greatly to the high team spirit. This commitment led her to be appointed as the first Mayor’s Cadet to the Mayor of Axbridge in 2014, a high profile civic role, and in 2017 she became Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet to the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset. She also finds time to be an Ambassador for Kings of Wessex School. Katherine thanked all those who had supported her in the roles over this time.

After the service, which finished with the National Anthem accompanied by the Brass Ensemble, guests and residents were invited to the Town Hall, where amazing cakes were on offer!  The guides from Cheddar and Axbridge worked tirelessly serving teas and coffees   under the direction of Beverley Davies and Liz Foster. The cakes had all been made by local residents and were a lovely way to conclude the afternoon.

Photographs of the whole occasion were taken by Tim Hind and Andy Corp and will shortly be available on the website http://www.axbridge-tc.gov.uk/

Vicky Brice, Town Clerk, Axbridge

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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS (VIDEO): Behind the scenes with David Parkin – staging The Ladykillers in Axbridge – building a theatre, creating the house in Kings Cross and recycling the last set (all with the help of a chocolate biscuit or two)

Ladykillers low res DSC02387

The Ladykillers: a still taken from ACT’s stage play

When Axbridge Community Theatre staged The Ladykillers in the Town Hall in 2016 a team of talented folk worked behind the scenes to make it happen. This is the story of part of that team – the set designers and builders of Axbridge Community Theatre (ACT). The production was directed by Peter Honeyands and was adapted by Graham Linehan as a stage play in 2011 from the screen play written by William Rose for the 1955 film .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec-ASnsm8SI

ACT’s next production is Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker directed by John Bailey. It will be staged in the town hall in Axbridge in Somerset on May 2-5, 2018.

Tickets will be on sale online from 23rd March 2018, and from Axbridge Chemists and Post Office from 1st April.

Observed by a lone, mystified Australian aboriginal , the convict ship arrives in Botany Bay in1788, crammed with England’s outcasts. Colony discipline in this vast and alien land is brutal. Three proposed public hangings incite an argument: how best to keep the criminals in line, the noose or a more civilised form of entertainment? The ambitious Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark steps forward with a play. But as the mostly illiterate cast rehearses, and a sense of common purpose begins to take hold, the young officer’s own transformation is as marked and poignant as that of his prisoners. The play is far from grim. Actually it’s mostly funny! “All people tend to become what society says they are! In performance the convicts challenge their definition.” 

For more films about ACT visit www.harrymottram and for the drama group see www.axbridgecommunitytheatre.org.uk

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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – GALLERY: Cheddar Reservoir pictured at dawn during the month of January 2018

The photographs were taken by Harry Mottram on his phone when out for a jog early in the morning. For much of the month it has been dark or misty – or pouring with rain – making photography difficult.

The reservoir is two and a quarter miles in circumference and was built in the 1930s. In January it is filled with coots and moorhens while geese and swans also winter here. There is public access all the year round making it a popular walk, cycle way, and running track with views across to the Isle of Wedmore and the Mendips.

More at http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/?page_id=23

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The Friends of Cheddar Library have organised a protest demonstration over the planned closure of the library

The Friends of Cheddar Library have organised a protest demonstration over the planned closure of the library

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: Friends of Cheddar Library demonstrate over threat of the library’s closure by Somerset County Council

A ‘consultation’ over the planned change to Cheddar Library by Somerset County Council takes place this winter as the county seeks to save money by closing libraries across Somerset.

The consultation gives a number of options for residents to choose from. In a document the county reports: “Cheddar: Provide library services through either: · a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in Cheddar (supported by some funding from the County Council), or · an additional mobile library stop.”

They add on the county’s website: “We stress that library services will continue across Somerset, whatever the outcome of this consultation. If we are unable to keep library buildings open in communities, we will deliver library services in other ways, such as through outreach (i.e. in alternative venues within communities), online or mobile library services.”

There is scepticism amongst members of the Friends of Cheddar Library who feel the consultation is little more than a public relations exercise with the outcome already decided at County Hall in Taunton. In a document available online called Somerset Library Service Consultation 2018 Appendix 1: Library Service Proposals for Consultation the numbers of those using the various libraries in the area are shown. The numbers of users are listed along with footfall which show Cheddar to be used by fewer people than Wells and Shepton Mallet. This say the Friends is because fewer people live in the Cheddar area and it is open for fewer hours.

The Friends of Cheddar Library have launched a campaign to fight the plans. They have made a video outlining the reasons why the library should be retained and are lobbying councillors to retain the community facility as it is more than just a library as it is used as a meeting place, gallery and social hub. They are urging residents to engage in the consultation to send a message to County Hall that the library must not be closed.

The consultation in Cheddar is at the Cheddar Library on Friday 23 March with hourly sessions at 2:30pm, 3.30pm and 4:30pm but opens online before that on Monday 29 January 2018. More details at http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk

The Friends have a Facebook site where their activities and campaign plans are announced.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5bXAxaBQpI&t=16s

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STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES – NEWS: Specially for foodies – the date of the Next Axbridge Progressive Supper is confirmed (and if you go please don’t fall in a water filled ditch) 

This year’s annual fund raising Axbridge progressive supper will take place on Saturday, November 17. Last year the event attracted scores of couples from the town and nearby and raised £1,000 for the town’s pageant held every ten years.

The Progressive Supper involves a three course meal eaten at three different locations. Participants either provide one course at their home, or travellers who pay to dine and do not need to provide food and drink. Cash is raised by those taking part and also by a raffle with the prizes announced at the end of the evening. The evening begins with everyone drawing lots from a hat to discover where they will be dining meaning the evening is a total surprise to all.

The unexpected nature of the evening has led to a number of hilarious incidents over the years due to the nature of the meal – spread out across the town at various homes. Guests have got lost and ended up in the wrong house while on one occasion an unnamed woman fell in the rhyne (a water filled ditch by Moorland Farm) when looking for a house down on the moors. And for hosts it’s meant an annual spring clean of their homes for fear the guests will be shocked at the state of their loo or kitchen.

Each course is for a set time, at the end of which everyone gets up and scrambles, or staggers as the night wears on, to get to the next course – which could be anywhere in Axbridge.

The event is on Saturday 17 November. See the event’s Facebook site for further updates and information.

Or contact Harry on 07789 864769 or email harryfmottram@gmail.com for more details.

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A5 flyer

Comedy Night at the Roxy in Axbridge – with stand-ups, performance poets, crazy comic films and an evening of laughter 

Comedy Night at the Roxy in Axbridge – with stand-ups, performance poets, crazy comic films and an evening of laughter

The next Axbridge Roxy Comedy Night is on Thursday 25th January 2018. Tickets on sale at the Chemist and Post Office.

The last one sold out in hours so make sure you grab a ticket for the funniest night of the month in the town.

More details at http://www.axbridgeroxy.org.uk/http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/?page_id=1856

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Kari Ann Muller Mott

Kari Ann Muller Roxy

On Friday, January 12th at one of the Strawberry Line’s favourite pubs there’s a David Bowie Tribute Night at the Crown Inn, Axbridge. Dr Love’s Vinyl Revival will be rolling back the years to an era of Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans and Pin Ups in an evening paying tribute to the artist and also to raise cash for a cancer charity based in North Somerset.

There’s a raffle, Bowie cocktails and an auction. The auction will feature Harry the Spiv selling signed Bowie Album, along with other Bowie era memorabilia including a rare autographed framed Dr Love poster signed by the mysterious man himself.

And there’s a rare piece of rock and roll history up for grabs – a sign copy of the Mott the Hoople Album ‘Mott’ by the model Kari-Ann Moller who married Chris Jagger (brother of Mick) in 1981 and was the cover girl on the album as well as on a Roxy Music album as well. She kindly signed the record sleeve – the album is still as good as ever and is another prize part of the auction.

https://www.facebook.com/drlovebowiejan2018/https://www.facebook.com/drlovevinylrevival/

All money raised goes to the Penny Brohn UK cancer charity.
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Extraordinary fund raising event for Penny Brohn UK cancer charity in Axbridge – and it’s all about David Bowie 

On Friday, January 12th at one of the Strawberry Line’s favourite pubs there’s a David Bowie Tribute Night at the Crown Inn, Axbridge.  Dr Love’s Vinyl Revival will be rolling back the years to an era of Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans and Pin Ups in an evening paying tribute to the artist and also to raise cash for a cancer charity based in North Somerset.

There’s a raffle, Bowie cocktails and an auction. The auction will feature Harry the Spiv selling  signed Bowie Album, along with other Bowie era memorabilia including a rare autographed framed Dr Love poster signed by the mysterious man himself. https://www.facebook.com/drlovebowiejan2018/https://www.facebook.com/drlovevinylrevival/ 

All money raised goes to the Penny Brohn UK cancer charity.

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Views of Cheddar Reservoir during 2017 – from dawn to dusk and from drought to downpours 

The giant mirror that is Cheddar Reservoir reflects the vast skies above Somerset creating an ever changing waterscape – not unlike that of the sea. Measure more than two miles around and a mile or more across the man made lake built in the 1930s is a popular place for walkers, joggers and families – as well as sailors and fishermen.

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Christmas comes to Axbridge with Santa in the Square 

On Saturday, December 16th, Axbridge Square in the Strawberry Line District is closed to traffic from 5pm as Christmas celebrations take place. Pictured above is a scene from Cheddar’s Festive Night earlier in the month, and similar scenes of live music, carol singing and the arrival of Father Christmas will take place in Axbridge. Every child in the town of primary school age receives a gift from Santa who usually arrives in the Square by horse drawn trap. There’s a pig roast and mulled wine on offer in the community event organised by the Axbridge Sports and Social Club led by Pauline Ham the current mayor of the town. Axbridge Sports & Social Club was formed on 29th July 1981 to “promote and encourage sporting and social activities within the parish of Axbridge”. If you are interested in helping the club call Pauline on 01934  732062. ——————————————————————————————

End of the Voices of Axbridge oral history programme

Maggie Turr has wrapped up the oral history programme in the town that began with Harry Mottram around a decade ago with interviews for the Western Daily Press. A tea party was held in the town hall for participants with music provided by Sarah Kendall and Anna Hind. The records covered more than 100 interviews and will be lodged with the Somerset Records Office in Taunton as a snapshot of the start of the new century in the town.

May 2016: The Voices of Axbridge oral history programmes comes to an end with a tea party in the town hall.

May 2016: The Voices of Axbridge oral history programmes comes to an end with a tea party in the town hall.