Sunday May 15th at 3pm – meet at the Lynbro Road entrance for a walk round the meadows and woods of Manning’s Pit with Mary and John Breeds.
More information coming – it should be an amazing afternoon. The slopes of Manning’s Pit are brimming with golden buttercups, the pignut flowers are a white froth skimming across the grasses and the May blossom is spreading like clotted cream on the trees in the ancient hedge banks. It couldn’t look more beautiful.
Today – We will be at the Manning’s Pit entrance in Windsor Road this morning at 10.30 – several volunteers have already said they would like to meet up then, so do come along if you would like to introduce yourself, and tell us how you can help. even if it is just in the smallest way. Please note, this is mainly just a get-to-know-you meeting but – we are also looking for someone who can help carry some rubbish up from near the bridge, and take it to the dump for us.!
Here they are this morning after doing a great job creating a temporary fence to stop the cattle from across the river coming over into the Manning’s Pit fields. Cattle will be grazing here later in the year – after mid May – but the land is being given some time to recover after the cattle came in much earlier last year.
Any offers of help from new people are always welcome and we were pleased to welcome a couple of new helpers this day.
The Coffee Morning on March 20th
This was very successful. It was lovely to see many of our supporters in person again after the two years of the pandemic. Numbers of those infected are still very high in Pilton and North Devon Hospital but most cases have beem much milder than in the previous waves. While not primarily a fundraising event, there were many generous donations, which will help us going forward with running costs.
April update to this post: this warning can now be discounted, but reasonable care is advised.
A tree by the area near the Manning’s Pit bridge lost a very large branch in the recent storms. It now appears that two other branches (big enough to cause serious injury if they fell on anyone) could also be at risk of falling any time.
Please be careful if crossing the Manning’s Pit bridge, and avoid the area that has recently been cleared of brambles.
We’re more than a little late posting these photographs from December, but better late than never. We had a little gathering in the fields just before Christmas to celebrate the Winter Solstice. In 2020, only three of us had been there at dusk, and we had vowed that if we managed to buy Manning’s Pit we would hold a proper celebration the next year. We had no idea that a year on we would still be in a pandemic, so the celebration was very low key, but some of us did bring candles and some brought mulled wine in flasks as well. Touch wood, let’s hope that in December 2022 we can do it properly, with some carol singing and mince pies as well.
The following – below – contains photographs and a description of Saturday’s event.
We are very grateful to the Rev Marion Sanders, her husband Bill and Carole Tudor for their help in making the event in the Church possible. It was so special having this event in the church that Hector Hugh Munro (Saki) attended when he was a boy. We would also like to thank Bev Snowden and our brilliant Compere David Weeks for introducing everyone, and our Town and District Councillor Ian Roome for presenting the local Prizes (kindly sponsored by Broomhill Estate).
We started this page with photographs of the five Prize Winners, but the event began with a few words of welcome from Rev. Marion Sanders. She kindly said how grateful the Church were to our group for saving Manning’s Pit, and spoke about how much the fields meant to local people, especially during the pandemic.
We had a problem with photographs at this point, but Martin Haddrill has managed to send us a still from his video (more about that another day):so we now have a photo of Marion as she gave her introduction.
Marion then handed over to Friends of Manning’s Pit Committee member Bev Snowden, who spoke with great passion about Saki. Like quite a few of us, she hadn’t warmed to his stories the first time she read some, but she now calls him a genius, and she recommended that anyone who wanted to appreciate Saki should begin by Googling his ten most popular stories.
Both Bev and Marion’s words were inspirational, but unfortunately their photographs were the only ones that did not come out well. This wasn’t either of our photographers fault, but mainly our own, for not giving clearer instructions to begin with, so apologies! We had also hoped to do a rehearsal, but Covid restrictions got in the way of that.
This next photograph, of Bev, although blurry, does catch something of her enthusiasm and thanks to Richard Martin for catching the moment.
Following on from Kate’s reading about Saki’s childhood, Peter Christie, one of our three Judges, was introduced. The other two Judges, Sir Richard Eyre and James Lovelock, were unable to be with us, but David thanked them for their involvement
Following Peter’s talk, the prizes were presented – see the photographs at the beginning of this post – and we then left the Church and walked down through the Churchyard and across the road to Pilton Church Hall. This was a route Hector Hugh Munro would have known well, so we were literally walking in his foosteps.
Earlier, during the Prize Giving Ceremony, Richard Martin was busy taking snapshots at the side of the church, here is aslideshow:
While we were in the Church, a couple of helpers had remained in the Hall, getting everything prepared and setting out refreshments. Masks had been worn by everyone in the Church, except those speaking and presenting, but in the Hall people were drinking and eating, so this was not the case.
This is the time to say a special thanks to our magnificent team of helpers, most especially Katie Martin, Denise Smith, Yvonne Hellicon, Christine Lewin and her daughter Jess, Chris Bulpett and Tim Saunders and there must be others not mentioned here, please email a reminder if you have been left out by accident! Then there are all those who donated drinks and refreshments. As always we had too much rather than too little. Plus thanks of course photographers Jim Smith and Richard Martin and Martin Haddrill with his video camera.
Richard Martin was busy again with his camera while we were talking, eating and drinking – here is another slideshowwith some of the many photos that he took. Click on the arrows at the side to move the photographs.
Then it was time for everyone to sit down again, for the readings.
The second story to be read was Ursa Major by Jenny Tunstall, and Tim Saunders, who loved this story most especially, had asked if he could read it – it is quite dramatic and Tim enjoys acting. Tim is not only our Treasurer and sometimes Panto star but an artist as well.
Here she is, reading her story The Shaman, which was a perfect example of a Saki-like story. It could be described as a story about a somewhat unassuming woman in her fifties who is underrated by a younger man who thinks he knows it all – a modern take on Saki’s stories in which pompous people have their pretensions punctured..
Finally, the two Local Prize winners read their stories:
Finally, the most local Prize winner of all, Ian Lewin read his story, a sad and atmospheric tale that felt very much as if it was set in the Bradiford Valley.
Fortunately, while that tale was sad, it isn’t a lament for Manning’s Pit. When the Competition was launched, the future for Manning’s Pit was uncertain. Now it is assured.
A final short slide show (photos from Richard Martin)
Thank you to everyone for making it a great evening, and thank you to all who entered the Competition, no matter how they fared. We appreciated every story, and were only sorry there could not be more prizewinners.
We will be adding news shortly about those stories that were Highly Commended.
It was Nigel Dilkes, who was Vicar of Pilton until recently, who suggested we hold our Saki Short Story Competition event in the Church. It has close historical connections to Saki. He used to come to the Church as a boy, with his sister and brother and Aunt “Tom”‘. It is quite possible thatt Benjamin Manning would have been there sometimes too, and we know that Crimean War hero Colonel Hugh Hibbert and his wife Sarah Hibbert were regular members of the congregation, around the same time. So we are very grateful to Revd Marion Sanders and Church Members for allowing us to begin our evening there.
The Event begins in Pilton Church and then we move to Pilton Church Hall at half time for refreshments.Please note there will not be be toilet facilities at the Church, but these will be available at the Hall, which is one of the reasons why we will be making the move, along with having more space for wine and nibbles.
With Covid cases high in the area, and some vulnerable people possibly attending the Event, we have limited the numbers of people attending. We are also asking people to wear masks while in the Church and seat themselves one meter apart unless in a bubble. Also if it is wet, please be careful on the cobbled path leading to and from the Church as it can become slippery.
If you would like to come to this Event but have not contacted us yet, please do so at once as we still may be able to fit you in. .
All three Prize Winners will be there to receive their prizes, coming from as far afield as the north-east of Scotland. The winners of the two local prizes (for North Devon and also for Pilton and Bradiford) will also be there to receive their prizes, kindly sponsored by Broomhill Estate.
One of our three well known Judges (Peter Christie) will be there in person and the event will be compered by David Weeks. The first part of the event takes place in Pilton Church with its historical links to the young Saki – and then the event moves to Pilton Church Hall, where there will be a chance to meet the writers and hear some of their stories read.