Hello. The drawing on the left by Helen Joy is me, apparently, the Revd Margaret Stark; I am immensely flattered. In a voluntary way (I am retired from the full-time ministry) I help to organise and lead acts of worship and other activities at the former St Lawrence Church at Lavernock. Apart from finding uplift in churchy things, there is spiritual benefit too, I’m sure, in appreciating God’s creation. So this page is full of my thoughts and findings and sightings of wildlife accompanied by photos where possible. Plus the occasional visit to another church. I hope you will find it interesting.

Sea Sunday

July 10th

Yesterday was Sea Sunday which we celebrated with great enthusiasm down at St Lawrence. Some of us read poems – three people, Dave, Derek and Wendy, ‘volunteered’ at the last moment and read so well, as did the usual suspects, Carole, Helen, Jane and Michael. Anne was at her best at the harmonium, which seemed very happy in the warm conditions, and accompanied loud and tuneful renderings of favourite hymns. I muttered about monks and ‘thin places’ and prayed for everyone and everything as I usually do. Four adorable little dogs waited patiently in the porch during the service. Calls for a ‘Pets’ service, one day? The hot and cold drinks were much appreciated, as were the Welsh cakes provided by Maureen and the lemon drizzle cake from Carole, and lots of us stood around and enjoyed social interaction (fellowship).

Pete, Michael and I had cleaned and prepared the church the day before and Pat did some serious polishing on the day. The beautiful flower arrangements were supplied by Julian from ‘The Florist’ and shells, driftwood and a buoy borrowed from Toni of ‘Lilypad’. Thank you, everyone, for a lovely afternoon!

For photos, see our Gallery page.

Lavernock Nature Reserve

I set off this morning on the 94 bus for Fort Road from where I walked to the Lavernock Nature Reserve. It was cloudy but the sun soon came out and it was warm work trotting around the reserve. Saw and heard a warbler singing. Here’s a slideshow of some of the plants and insects I found:

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St Cadoc’s Church

Went with Parish of Penarth and Llandough MU members to Llancarfan to see the recently uncovered wall paintings in St Cadoc’s Church; it was a lovely hot afternoon. Ian Fell explained the paintings to us; those pictured here are Death, The Seven (six here) Deadly Sins, and St George and the Dragon:

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Cosmeston Revisited

A muggy morning. I went down to Cosmeston again, looking for orchids and I found them! A great many early purple orchids were standing upright like soldiers in the south-east part of the East Paddock.

Early purple orchid

A few pyramidal orchids in bud and lots of pale flax:

Pale Flax

And common field speedwell:

Common Field Speedwell

Not to mention the tiny cut-leaved cranebill:

Cut-leaved Cranesbill

And the subtly scented dog rose:

Dog Rose

Plus a member of the pea family, dyer’s greenweed:

Dyer’s Greenweed

And plenty of ox-eye daisies:

Ox-eye Daisy

And dogwood in the hedgerow:

Dogwood

In the East Paddock I met a lively Welsh Border Collie and his master who had just thrown him a ball:

Welsh Border Collie

And on the way back to the 91 bus:

Up tails

And a white (Pekin?) duck:

Pekin Duck?

Day trip to Tewkesbury

My friend Mike drove me to Tewkesbury on a cloudy, drizzly day; what an interesting little town. And the Abbey is such a delight: a huge Romanesque tower, massive Norman columns in the nave, roofs with simple Early English vaulting, and the roof in the quire displaying gilded suns (the ‘Sun in Splendour’ was the badge of the House of York and Edward 1v had these suns set here after his victory in the Wars of the Roses). There are three chantry chapels, built so that masses could be said for the soul of the late person who had provided it. You may not want to know about the Wakeman Cenotaph which displays a decaying corpse being devoured by a worm, a frog, a mouse and a snail; the idea was to show how hollow is earthly pomp and position when the grim reality before us all is physical death. The Chapel of St Catherine and St John the Baptist has two magnificent modern windows designed and made by Tom Denny for the 900th anniversary in 2002 of the coming of the Benedictine monks to Tewksbury. Their theme is the Benedictine motto ‘Laborare est Orare’ (to work is to pray). We came upon a craftsman working on the brass eagle lectern – he was lacqeuring it, I believe.

Tewkesbury Abbey gives you a tremendous sense of the divine presence and of prayers and psalms and hymns offered up over the centuries – much as we find at St Lawrence but on a larger scale, of course.

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Marconi Open Day

Hello again. Well, what a day we had at St Lawrence on Saturday, May 20th! The moment 10 am struck visitors started to pour into the little former church. We had arrived earlier – members of the Barry Amateur Radio and the Vintage Radio Societies at about 8.30 am; they were setting up an aerial in the churchyard and running an electricity cable from the neighbouring Church House’s garage to St Lawrence. That was to provide juice to the BARS radio desk set up in the former chancel; we used three 2.5 litre Thermos Pots for visitors’ hot drinks…which soon emptied themselves, so Michael Lawrence popped up to Pat Jerome’s Garage for replenishment, and later in the day, to Rob and Madeline next door in Church House. The biscuits were welcome, too.

One very obvious feature of Saturday morning was the nearly incessant rain, but – alleluia! – it didn’t seem to deter the many hardy souls who turned up. As for those of us who manned (and womanned?) the church, Helen Joy was with Michael and me for most of the day, supplemented from time to time by Elizabeth Wreford, Pete Bird and Sheerine Davies, other members of the Working Group that set up most of the artefacts, the timeline and the kite corner, as well as organising the day. Trustees Maureen Kelly Owen and Julian Owen and Secretary Carole Alexander came around lunch time. Ken, Phil, Gordon, Bernie and other members of BARS stayed all day, as did Merfyn of the VRS, chatting away almost continuously with the many (200+?) visitors.

Ken Eaton’s NASA onesy and mission operations jacket were too tempting for Helen and Sheerine who donned them and entertained us with their antics. Ken’s NASA Visitor’s Pass was admired, too. Messages were sent via short wave radio and distances demonstrated on computer (wi-fi supplied through a dongle).

To everyone’s delight the sun broke through the cloud in the afternoon and brightened and warmed us up. The AA were summoned to attend to Mary Ponting’s car which had sadly blown a gasket (or something similar) in getting to us from Cowbridge. Her father and Dr Joan Andrew were obliged to revisit our display more than once as they awaited the AA mechanic; but eventually they were able to sail (sorry, motor) off into the sunset.

That’s enough from me, I think, until the next inspiration I get. My thanks go to everyone who gathered at the former church on Saturday and made such a success of the day, especially in terms of rejoicing in Marconi’s legacy and that of the other brilliant engineering pioneers we highlighted in our timeline.

For a detailed account of what we had on offer in the old church, please click on News & Events and, for photos, the Gallery page.

Finally, Helen Joy interviewed me about Marconi, etc. on Monday, 22nd on her Radio Cardiff Show ‘Cardiff at One’ at 1.05 pm. Here is a link if you are brave enough:  https://m.mixcloud.com/cardiffatone/

Marconi Open Day

Wow! What a day we had at St Lawrence yesterday (May 20th). Visitors poured into the former church for our Open Day on Marconi and the Development of Communication. They turned up in a steady stream, especially in the morning when there was a great deal of rain to deter them. Phil, Ken, Gordon, Bernie and other Barry Amateur Radio Society guys set up an aerial outside so that they could broadcast on short wave from their spot inside the church building; Mervyn from the Vintage Radio Society brought several old transmitters dating back to WW2 and Bletchley Park days. They all answered questions and chatted all day, as did some of us from the SALt working party. We had set up a Timeline along the north wall to illustrate, with dates and other information and artefacts, what had gone on since Marconi’s first wireless message over open water from Flat Holm to Lavernock beach on 13th May, 1897. The developments we pin-pointed related to radio, of course, but also telephone, tv, computer and cinema. We even had on display a huge pre-electronic megaphone and a 1940s Remington Remette typewriter. Courtesy of three big Thermos Jugs which we replenished twice, we dispensed tea and coffee to many, plus cold drinks and biscuits. The St Lawrence at Lavernock Trust (SALt) are very grateful to everyone who participated, including those who took photographs of the event (see Gallery page). For more information about Guglielmo Marconi click on our Marconi page.