Junior Play Area

As you many of you will have seen the new Junior Play area is open, other than one activity area still cordoned off.
We anticipate completion within a few weeks when we will have an official opening.
In the interim please use the new area and report any issues to Liz our Parish Clerk (parish.clerk@uptonvillage.co.uk)

Digging with VPA.

There is still time to Create a Flowered Bonnet, Hat, Crown or Tiara and enter the VPA Spring Competition on Saturday 10th April. For details Contact Blewbury Post Office or Maggie Maytham in Upton (850126) or email   vpa.in.bl.up@gmail.com  or call Eileen on 0777 518 5322

I’m sure everyone has been getting to grips with the weeds, cutting the grass and planning what is going into the veggie plot this year. Here’s some food for thought on how to go about preparing your vegetable plot.

Five reasons not to dig – 1 Digging encourages soil-living creatures like worms to do the spadework for you. 2 It reduces the loss of moisture.  3 It protects the soil structure. 4 It prevents weed seeds being brought to the surface. 5 It’s easier on the back.

Five Reasons to dig – 1 Digging breaks up heavily compacted soil, allowing it to breathe. 2 It kills surface weeds. 3  It exposes pests to predators and the cold. 4 If you don’t, you’ll need a lot more mulch to grow potatoes as you will not be ‘earthing up’. 5 It’s good exercise for those who want it.

I’ve actually tried a semi-no-dig method this year. I’ve hoed the plots and have gone down about four inches.  This has loosened the soil and weeded it at the same time I can then go a bit deeper when I start planting, I hope this works –watch this space!

We are hoping that the VPA will be able to hold the Summer Show this year on the 10th JULY – it will depend on what Covid restrictions are still in place.   We will keep you informed through the Bulletin.

DID YOU KNOW –Peppers contain up to five times as much vitamin C as oranges. The highest levels are found when the peppers are in the early green stage of ripening.



HUGS – Wildflowers and a Garden Competition.

Wildflowers in the Overflow Cemetery

We’re getting ready to sow wildflower seeds along the eastern edge of the overflow cemetery. Upton Parish Council, the landowner, has given the go-ahead for us to carry out a trial sowing this year. We’ve raked out moss and scuffed up the grass (which tends to throttle wildflowers), and we’ll be scattering seed soon.

The mix we’re using contains flowers and grasses including oxeye daisies, field scabious and black medick.

Don’t expect too much in the first year though. In spite of all the preparation the soil will probably still be too fertile for wildflowers to do well. Fingers crossed that’ll come in successive years.

The grass won’t be cut again until the flowers have bloomed and produced seeds.

If the experiment is successful we’ll look at extending the sowing area next year, and maybe planting a hedge to give the space some definition and character.

Chilton Road Closure

As well as giving traffic-free access to the Hagbourne track and beyond, the closure of Chilton Road is proving to be a great wildlife haven. Badgers are active in the hedge, and there are increasing numbers of bird species to be seen. Yellowhammer, reed bunting and firecrest have all put in appearances in the last few weeks. You can check the full list of species on iRecord (www.brc.ac.uk/irecord) – search for ‘Chilton Road survey’.

We’ll be liaising with Wild Oxfordshire and Sustrans to look at how we can make the hedgerow and verges even better wildlife habitats.

Wildlife Garden Competition

We’re launching our search for the most wildlife-friendly gardens in the area on 1st May! The competition is part of our project to support the local owl population.

Our website has ideas and inspiration for wildlife gardening at www.hugsustainability.org/wildlifegardening





REAL “Old World Wines” at the Virtual Wine Club

Having taken a few months off, it was great to host another virtual wine club in March. With record numbers joining for this month’s meeting, the feeling was clearly shared amongst our members as well! This month we were trying wines, which in the main, were new to most members. With the support of Strictly Wine, we were given a tour of wines from countries that could really be described as “old world”!  Wines had been selected from countries that had been making wine for over 2000 years and in some cases, using methods that had not changed much over that time either!

We tried white wines from Turkey (Kayra Narince 2018); Croatia (Jako Vino Stina “Cuvee white” 2019);  Cyprus (Kyperounda “Petritis” 2019) and Georgia (Vachnadziani Qvevri Rkatsiteli 2014). All were very good and more than stood up as an alternative to some of the more well known grapes and wines we might normally pick. If you have never tried an “orange” wine, then the Georian wine was lovely (note, orange wine is very much like marmite – you’ll either love or hate them but definitely worth a try!)  All the wines could easily by paired well with some traditional foods, sea foods, creamy pasta’s etc – www.strictlywine.co.uk offer some great suggestions for each one.

The reds again, gave us some wonderful examples of grape varieties that would not normally be classified as main stream! We had wines from Lebanon (Chateau Oumsiyat Desir 2018), Armenia (ArmAs Karmrahyut Reserve 2013), Greece and Republic of North Macedonia (Tikves).The Lebanon wine was a great if you wanted an alternative to a Gamay, lovely slightly chilled and with some warm weather coming, would go down well with the first BBQ of the year! If a rich Australian red is your go to wine, then maybe try the Armenian, which had a little more ageing that brought out some amazing deep fruit flavours. There were wines for all tastes, sausage casseroles, classic BBQ’s and fine steaks!

Next wine club night is on the 21st April. If you are interested to know just a little more about wine (with a large serving of some great social fun), then please take a look at our web site www.uptonwineclub.co.uk or contact our chairman, ian.langley@yahoo.co.uk.



VPA Spring Competition

Village Produce Association
After the success of our December competition, we’ve decided to hold another one on Saturday 10th April. Have a go at our Spring Competition which is open to anyone of any age.
Create a Flowered Bonnet, Hat, Crown or Tiara.
The headwear can be any size for a lady or gent, boy or girl.
It can be an existing hat or hand-made and any shape.
Flowers can be fresh or hand-made (NOT artificial bought flowers). Whatever style of headwear it can include accessories.
If you wish to enter, please record your name, address, phone no/email by Wednesday 31st March at either Blewbury Post Office, Maggie Maytham at Toad Hall, Upton (Tel: 850126) or send your details to the VPA email address: vpa.in.bl.up@gmail.com
Place your name and details in an envelope and attach them to your entry.
Bring the entry between 10.00am and 10.30am to Blewbury Village Hall.
Collect at 12 noon.
The winners will be advised of the result on collection of their entry and prizes presented for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. The result will be announced in the next edition of the Upton News.
Covid-19 restrictions/regulations at the time of the event will be strictly adhered to.
For the safety of the Committee organisers the competition will not be open for members of the public to view the exhibits. We will take photographs. If there is a total Government lockdown again at the time of the event, it will have to be cancelled.
If you have any queries or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Eileen Bracken at the VPA email address: vpa.in.bl.up@gmail.com or call on 0777 518 5322.

Owl Spotting with HUGS

Our owl project is off to a flying start thanks to help from villagers who’ve been sending in sightings over the winter, and a grant from South Oxfordshire District Council.
Lu Barton, our owl specialist, will be leading the project. The aim is to:
Survey areas in East and West Hagbourne and Upton to find out where owls are active.
Install nest boxes for little owls, tawny owls and barn owls.
Monitor the boxes and share data with the British Trust for Ornithology.
Improving habitat for owls
Owls need a good food supply, so we’ll be surveying the 3 parishes to find areas where we can plant new trees, hedges and wildflowers which will support the food chain.
For example, Upton Parish Council is looking at the idea of sowing wildflowers in the overflow cemetery.
Wildlife-friendly gardening
It’s not just public land that can help support owls; you could create your own wildlife-friendly garden or a wildlife corner. There’s information on how to do this on the HUGS website (www.hugsustainability.org/nature)
We’ll be running a competition to find the best wildlife gardens in the area – details coming soon.
Other ways to help
When you see or hear owls, please send the details to hugsustainability@gmail.com
Include a postcode or use the what3words app on your phone so we can get an accurate location.
Tawny owls will be going quieter for now, while they start nesting. Little owls should start calling from now until late June/July. And from March onwards you might hear the screeching of barn owls until they start nesting too.
You can listen to the different owl calls on the HUGS website: www.hugsustainability.org/owls

First AGM for HUGS.

The first HUGS Annual General Meeting will be held on on Saturday the 27th of February at 2.00pm. Having started up last summer, we’re now a larger group on the committee and are managing public funding for our owl project, so we now need to be more formal in how we run our activities.
We’re keen that lots of you join us from the three villages at the AGM and find out more about our plans for the 2021/2022 work programme.
Zoom link for AGM Meeting ID: 816 8730 9468 Passcode: 282936
If you have ideas for future projects that you’d like to see HUGS run, do send us your thoughts to hugsustainability@gmail.com by February the 20th and we can talk about them together in the meeting.
The Agenda and supporting documents will be posted at https://tinyurl.com/ze6uhg51

David Rickeard

Farthings, Blewbury Road,

East Hagbourne,


VPA Latest News

Well, at last there’s light at the end of the tunnel – with the Covid-19 vaccines being distributed throughout Oxfordshire. However, we must still remember to help the NHS by washing our hands, wearing masks and social distancing. Let’s hope that there is easing of the current lockdown in the not too distant future.
We’ve been very lucky not to have suffered too much with the recent Storm Christoph. I’m sure our sympathies go out to those living in the North of England who have been flooded, some of them not for the first time.
The past few weeks have been pretty cold in the chicken run and to add to the problems Defra has advised the outbreak of avian flu. It means that all chickens must be kept under cover so wild birds cannot gain access. Fortunately my hens have always had an enclosed run, not only protecting them from wild birds, but keeping them warm and dry. Their outer run is covered with butterfly netting which prevents even the smallest of birds getting inside. They are fussy with greens – they like broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts but are not very keen on kale. They’re spoilt!!
Life on the allotment. The allotments are waiting for Spring – very soggy at the moment. The good news is, I have sweet peas growing in the greenhouse, together with some garlic and six lovely lavender plants, all are waiting to be planted out. It won’t be long until it will be seed planting time. My seed potatoes arrived by post this week, so are now chitting in the spare bedroom!!
DID YOU KNOW? Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) the famous horticulturalist and garden designer said ‘ There is no spot of ground, however, arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight’.
Happy Gardening, Keep well, Keep safe.

Photographic Competition Update

Many thanks to the 20 + people who sent in 41 pictures last time. The ten selected pictures are on the Upton Village Facebook site.
I am continuing with this idea, as a prelude to a larger competition, hopefully in the summer, with prizes and an exhibition.
So, if you want to get in some practice please send in any new pictures on the theme ‘Upton and Surrounding Area’ to –ronyart5@hotmail.com JPEG pictures please along with your name and a picture description.
This is open to anyone in the village including children. I will put the next ten best on the Facebook site on 16th February.
Rob Traynor

Hugs – The Pioneer Paradox

If you had a massive farm and it was losing money year after year, what would you do? This was the dilemma facing Isabella Tree and her husband at Knepp in Sussex. They ran a mixed arable and dairy operation, but global overproduction and falling prices meant they couldn’t keep their heads above water. To cap it all, the launch of Häagen-Dazs stomped all over sales of their successful ice cream brand.
What they did next is recorded in Isabella Tree’s book, Wilding. It’s an inspiring tale – their plans to try to replicate an older, wilder landscape were regarded with suspicion by many. In particular they were thwarted by scientists and policy-makers who wanted proof that the thing they wanted to try would work before they’d even started.
It’s the pioneer’s paradox: you want to set out in a bold new direction, but you find yourself hampered by the doubts and fears (often based on speculation) of the establishment.
One set of pioneers who are persevering – and with brilliant success – is Sustrans. The railway line is an incredible asset for walkers and cyclists, and the closure of Chilton Road to complete the largely car-free route to Harwell could be another.
Sustrans is worried that after lockdown there’ll be an unprecedented return to the roads. Public transport will have much-reduced capacity so everyone will use their cars, creating congestion, pollution and emissions. We’ll emerge from one crisis only to exacerbate another. Part of the solution Sustrans proposes is to remove every possible barrier to allowing people to circulate on foot and bike including e-bike.
More bicycles, cargo bikes, free bike servicing, dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes – these are the kinds of things that will help us be mobile, healthy and resilient in future. The pioneers of the bicycle, once ridiculed as eccentrics and fanatics, would be cock-a-hoop.
It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of two of our oldest residents who have lived in the village for a long time.
Muriel Wright our oldest resident and probably the oldest ever resident of Upton, died on 6th January at the age of 106 years 7 months and 10 days.
Alec Chennery died on 29th November aged 89. Alec moved into a new bungalow in Newman’s Close with his wife Yvonne in 1962. He worked in Research Reactor group at Harwell and was a member of the team that built our village hall.