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)

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.

RBL Poppy Appeal 2020

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we were not able to do our normal door to door collection last year. However, I was able to place a collection box in St. Mary’s Church and also one in the George and Dragon, these together with donations which were delivered to me at home and a generous donation from the Parish Council all totalled up to £545.28. This is an amazing amount, thank you all so much.
Helen Weston ( Poppy Appeal Organiser for Upton)

Revised Bus Service

All through Covid 19 and lockdown, the 94 bus has continued to serve the parishes of Blewbury, Upton, West Hagbourne, East Hagbourne and parts of Didcot through government support and those travellers feeling comfortable in doing so. Unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable have not felt able to use the bus as yet.
2021 has brought some changes however. The new route for the 94 now serves both Chilton and Harwell as the majority of journeys from the X32 are being withdrawn from there, and will come into Upton then continue as normal through Blewbury etc. Unfortunately, it is no longer able to go through West Hagbourne but will treat the Horse and Harrow as a hail and drop off point. The funding support now comes from the new development taking place in Chilton and should be available for up to two years. With a view to the limited funds available following on, the council have made a bid to the Government’s Rural Mobility fund for a pilot demand responsive transport project which would replace service 94. The outcome of this bid is expected to be known next December.
It is hoped that those who can/ will/ might/ make the most of what we have in order to help secure a mobile future for the villages.
If you download a copy of the new timetable you will see that it gives us a Saturday service. I am happy to print off copies for those unable to do so.
Jessie West PTR Tel 851206

Virtual December Meeting of the Wine Club

We are getting used to a “new normal,” and whilst it can never replace what we all hope will be back soon, it is better than the alternative!  And so it was this December, when the Upton Wine Club hosted their second virtual meet. December has traditionally been the month where our wine club goes to town and pulls out all stops for a really festive food and wine pairing evening. This year, our village showed (again) what tremendous spirit we have, with some wonderful home made sausage rolls and mince pies, accompanying cheese and chorizo, with some Christmas crackers, again home made!

We were joined by Katie Jones from her home in the South of France, who presented a selection of her wines, along with a wonderful story of how she moved to a small community, who fell in….and then out of love with her but through adversity has found an amazing way of life, which may not be for everyone but most of us would want to sample, if only for a few weeks of the year!

Between Katie, and then supported by Frankie, we explored a number of wines, all grown on vines at least 60+ years old, which goes against the ethos of the community around her, who prefer to pick grapes on younger, more abundant fruiting vines. This was a voyage of quality over quantity, with a market for both, although personally, I know which ones I will be buying!

Our first wine was called On the QT Bin 25. This was made from 100% Cariganan Gris grape, a difficult grape to grow and for that reason is hardly harvest anywhere else in the world. It was a tremendously smooth grape, herbaceous and one to try with soft cheeses or even a few mussels!

The whites were finished off with Blanc “A Different Direction” and Macabeau. Both were rated very high by our members and worth a try.

We moved on to the reds. The first of which was called Hairy Grenache, so called after the hair on the leaves. The wine however, was beautifully smooth and if you are still making use of the BBQ this winter, one to try with some of those sausages!

Next up was her Fitou. Full of dark red fruits, herbs and just a touch of liquorice – simply delicious. This was followed by a Domaine Jones Syrah and those that liked the previous wine, loved this one! Made from a very small batch of wine grown each year, this was more intense but with similar liquorice and deep red berry flavours. Our last Red was called “La Gare Old Vine Carignan”, branded after the new office Katie works, a converted railway station. A great red to finish, full bodied and full of that jammy fruit flavour, making it a wonderful Xmas tasting wine.

Our final wine was a sweet Muscat, which has become a favourite of many a member. Wonderfully smooth and perfect with a bit of blue cheese, should you have any room left after Christmas dinner!

It was a great to share a drink and have a virtual chat with some fellow wine enthusiast. It really helped add a little bit more Christmas Spirit to what has been a very very mixed year! Let’s hope for a more uplifting 2021!