poppy field

Byfield & District Branch in rural SW Northants. UK

Archive of Byfield & District's "Other" social gatherings - 2016, 2017 & 2018

'Twas nearly December in this year of '18, and the cold east wind of the last few days had given way to a wet and warm(er) westerly, which brought fourteen of us out for this month’s pub lunch in Culworth’s Red Lion. The astronomical anomalies that gave us the leap year and had changed our calendar several times over the centuries was worthy of our analysis, as was local politics and the price of power when hiring venues. There was a minor dispute of the date of the Spithead Naval Review in the fifties of last century but Russ was there, flying his Sea Fury in formation (second row, third from the left), so that settled that. Alan told us all about Dunster by Candleight, where he and Jackie hoped to attend in just over a week, and if it wasn’t already fully booked, you could get there by steam train! Which brought us back to Byfield in those days when the signalman left his semaphore arm horizontal until the train blew its whistle to get him out of the White Lion to let them puff past.

On yet another of this year's glorious wall-to-wall blue sky days, albeit a cold one (we had our first frosts of the autumn this week - the last of October), the usual Baker's Dozen met for our monthly social "do", this time in Chipping Warden's Griffin Inn. As can be seen from the images below, we spoke of many things...

 Cackapo Head On Bower Bird 's Bower HS2 Train Firework Rocket Display         

Of the near extinction of the Kackapo, a dear little creature only found down-under and of another antipodean anomaly, the bower bird, a truly amorous architect. We discussed the justification (or not) for HS2 and the expected mayhem it will cause to our villages during its construction. How politicians and company hirearchy NEVER answer questions and, of course, DEATH (it WAS the 31st October '18 after all) and how this day has been so over commercialised in that vein. On a lighter note, we also learned that one of us has willed their ashes to be launched into the ether by firework! Thanks to those captioned for the images.

After a REAL summer for once, we were still blessed with quite a few good days in early autumn, although the photograph of our 25th September 2018 pub lunch venue doesn't do that justice; it clouded over at the wrong Culworth Red Lionmoment! If you follow us on Facebook, the clues to our location led there. The odd stone is on the green past the tree in the image here. Due to various adverse & unavoidable circumstances our usual clientelle was depleted to eight but we still managed to discuss how in the "Cold War" our Swiftsure class subs were so much quieter than any others, the Yanks always wanted us to take the lead in snooping on the Ruskies way oop north.  We also learned that Fawsley Church, at the north end of our district, has the oldest matched set of four bells in the country, dating back to 1440. Speaking of bells, did you know that many of our local church bells came from neaby Chacombe? AND that some were cast on site right next to the church they were due to serve? Most of those are several hundred years old too. All bells hereabouts are rung by pulling on ropes but I recall when very young our church (many miles away to the east) used something I today learned was called Ellacombe Chimes, where one person rang all the bells by pulling rod like levers in a box on the wall. Its a sad day when you don't learn something new - and you certainly will if you attend our gatherings!

On the last Wednesday in August '18, fifteen arrived at The Cross Tree in Byfield, where you can get eggs done like your mum used to do! We talked of times past and Princess Anne, who knew more about Daventry than their Councillors, of The late Queen Mum, whose Sea King helicopter's down draft created a tsunami off the long, wet grass landing pad that climbed legs to wet the knickers of ladies and gents alike who were standing too close. And we spoke of more immediate things, like the lamentable lack of GP90 coverage by the BBC, and the price of fish!

On Wednesday 25th July 2018 lunchtime, we were to be found in The Griffin in Chippy... Of course, its holiday time, which shrunk our numbers to one shy of a dozen. We still covered many subjects including how to get into cars with the keys locked inside, how modern car batteries don't seem to last as long as they used to, bell ringing around the area and reverse nimbyism where new schools are concerned. We just beat a wilderness of walkers into the pub and got served with the usual alacrity.

We were in The Red Lion in Culworth on Wednesday 27th June'18...

On that beautiful summer's day a baker's dozen of our Members shunned pub's shady garden for the cool of the cellar (and its more          Culworth 27-06-18  comfortable chairs). There was a wide range of subjects aired including radio plays exposing corruption at the highest level, war horses and elephants to name but a few. Bet your sorry you missed it (if you did).

MAY '18... Currently there are eight pubs open in our District, guess which one we chose for this month's lunch, and where...

                            Fox 'toon   Beagle 'toon Beagle 'toon

At our monthly "pub lunch" on Wednesday 25th April 2018...

Griffin Inn 25-04-18On a day typical of a twenty-teen April, i.e. more showers than sunshine, a dozen of us from around and about were snug, warm and dry in The Griffin Inn in Chippy, where we quaffed Andy's excellent ale and fed on his good old English pub fayre. We discussed everything from the joys (and dangers) of ringing church bells, two engines or four on long haul jets and quantum computers (whatever they really are) to an incident long ago with the Bishop of Southwark's mitre - but that's another tall (but true) story with more toit... Next time? On a more serious note, as it was ANZAC day and we had just opened communications with a Returned Services Association (RSA) Branch in Templeton, New Zealand, we all thought it appropriate to remember our comrades from down under; a toast was made to those who died at Galipolli.

And then we were ten in Byfield's Cross Tree pub on Wednesday 28th March 2018. But the basic pub grub was good and the discussions ranged from the new F35 Lightning II's magic Artificially Intelligent pilot's helmet...

Crossed TreesTo Fordson Major tractors of the '40's of last century including one's first memories of the same.

Then there were eggs with runnny yolks (yummy) and the delightful (to some) smells emanating from suger beet factories out east to consider, not to mention the Cross Tree's porky scratchings (the best in the county).

We talked about "Twinning" with an RSA club near Christchurch in NZ, from whence Joy had just returned (her Dad's a Member there) and the joys and ties of dogs at home. And then there was GP90...

We were down to nine, at the Fox & Hounds on Wednesday 28th February 2018 but there was a roaring fire, good beer and fancy food to make the party go with a swing. We discussed one of our number locking the late John Dunn in a drying room at RAF Cottismore during their National Service together in the fifties and another bouncing off the bottom of the sea in one Fox & Hounds Signof our submarines that had been depth charged by a US warship! Outside the east wind did blow and we had snow, with williwaws of that fluffy white substance dancing over the fields; we put the lack of numbers down to the weather, and it is sad to say four Members who regularly attend our gatherings are decidedly unwell at the moment, with another detailed off today for church funeral duties over in Eydon. We remembered them.

Ever felt like a mushroom? Well, I think the gang turned-up for a lunch at The Red Lion in Culworth during the last days of January 2018 but if they did, they are keeping me in the dark about it. SO, if you want to know what went on, you'll have to ask them.

I see that our gathering in The Griffin on Wednesday 26th October wasn't reported, 'cos yours truely was miles away but no matter, it did pop-upCross Tree Inn Sign (1) on Facebook, so you can scroll back along our timeline there if you wish to check that out. At the following month's "do" we were one short of a dozen in The Cross Tree in Byfield on 29/11/17 but we managed to wheedle out of our partygoers that one of us had a girlfriend back in the days of white fivers, who was adept in spotting forgeries of those big scraps of paper.

White Fiver 1952

Mind you, then it was worth doing, you could get ONE HUNDRED LITRES of petrol for a fiver at that time. Then there was another who it turned out to our surprise was a black belt in karate during his army service (you wouldn't think that looking at him). Both tales amongst many others that we hope will be told and expanded upon during our Open Speaker Evening in The Griffin in Chippy on 6th December '17.

Red Lion Culworth Logo


On Wednesday 27th September 2017 there were enough of us at THE RED LION, in Culworth to make it necessary to split the assembled company into two rooms. Nevertheless conversation flowed and covered the ship that rocked (Radio Caroline's Mi Amigo), and life in Nevada (we had a visitor from Reno). In the USA it appears people like us are called "Veterans"! It was also agreed the American accent was prevalent here in England in the 16th Century, another one of our exports but over there that just never changed with the times...

At the end of August seventeen, seventeen of us gathered in Charwelton at their "Community Pub" the Fox & Hounds...

 Fox & Hounds Charwelton Fox &Hounds 1 Fox &Hounds 2

Topics of conversation ranged from time, no doubt spurred-on by the recent re-screening of the "docu-drama" about Stephen Hawking's life, and particularly its passing, and The Internet of Things, chiefly "smart meters" and how we don't need 'em! Recent holidays needed airing of course and there was an in-depth analysis of local pubs, how they had changed hands in the recent past and how one compared to another. To cap all that, the joys and frustrations of bell ringing came to mind.

July's pub lunch was on the 26th at The Royal Oak in Eydon. A Baker's Dozen plus one attended; probably the most interesting topic of conversation was the fall of the Shah of Iran, where one of our number had to make a mad dash to Tehran to pick-up a bag full of cash and then, with the British Consulate set ablaze by the mob, escape on foot (at first), then with the assistance of a BA crew in uniform, directly to the airport - not passing "go" or collecting bag and baggage at his hotel. BUT that might be a good theme for a future Speaker's event at one of our monthly meetings, so I won't spoil the full story.

Midsummer? On Wednesday 28th June '17 it was a dank grey day, with a brisk northerly making it more like midwinter hereabouts, so staying inside for our monthly pub lunch, this time at Byfield's Cross Tree Inn, was a given.

Ironstone 'walking ' DraglineThe image on the left is of the monster

Ghostly Nun Of 6 The Green

'walking' dragline that used to stalk the lands on the western edge of the village.

 The one on the right? We'll leave that to you to fathom.

This time discussion ranged from Byfield's Museum of 3,500 Photos, to the ghostly nuns of 6 The Green.

Yes, although now an idyllic rural retreat, not so long ago Byfield was once a hive of industrial activity, with open cast ironstone mining and a busy railway. In the 1960's BB (Before Beeching) you could travel by rail to anywhere in Europe from Byfield railway station.

Our May Pub Lunch was at the Griffin in Chipping Warden on Wednesday 31st May '17 and was attended by eighteen Members, spouses and friends... The main subject of discussion was the BIG POPPY event in Southam on 13th July '17.

Griffin Lunch 31-05-17The GriffinGriffin - Chippy A BIG Poppy

On Wednesday 24th May '17 there was a gathering organised by Northamptonshire RBL's Group 4 gals & guys and kindly hosted by RBL Green's Norton at their club house. Byfield & District were represented by Russ, Alan, Terry and his guest Janet. The skittles match was competitive with our teams getting through three of the four rounds, thanks to Russ and Jan...

DSC03099 DSC03126 DSC03135 (1) DSC03137

AND it was refreshing to see Green's Norton had a younger element to add to the mix...


Although your representatives didn't win the skittles match, we did sweep the board in the raffle. It was an excellent end to a glorious summer's day.


At our SEVENTH monthly middle day gathering, this time back in Byfield's "Cross Tree" we asked...   Is that Discworld or The Milky Way on edge? Terry Pratchett (or our own Bob Cubitt) would know.


AND speaking of The Milky Way, does BT’S version of infinity compare with how fast our universe is expanding? When does gravity become time, and how many universes are there anyway? Just a few of the subjects you missed discussing if you weren’t one of the FOURTEEN sitting down on Wednesday 29th March '17 consuming some good old fashioned pub grub.

NINE arrived for our SIXTH social lunch at the Royal Oak in Eydon, only to find it CLOSED (for redecoration)! We left a couple of our team there for a bit to advise lingerers that we had decanted to The Griffin at Chipping Warden.

C W Griffin

 Chipping Warden's "Griffin"

The staff at The Griffin rallied around and served-up a variety of meals to accommodate all tastes; despite a lack of sun (for some time of late) AND heavy and prolonged showers, spirits were not dampened.

Despite a murky January day during which the fog hardly lifted, on Wedneday 25th more than a Bakers' Dozen attended the first Byfield & District RBL social event of this year of 2017. It was our FIFTH gathering for this get-together, and the numbers were encouraging. Once more we assembled in The Royal Oak in Eydon for our middle-day sustenance.

At the FOURTH Byfield & District RBL social lunch, which took place on Wednesday 30th November 2016, thirteen of us (that's more like it) partook of Eydon's Royal Oak's fine fayre. The late autumn sun streamed through the windows and lit-up the scene, which resembled a medieval assembly around a refectory table. Topics ranged from RBL matters, through aviation and down to earth village life and concluded with an exchange of ghost stories.

The THIRD Byfield RBL social lunch was held on Wednesday 26th October 2016 at the Royal Oak in Eydon. Joy, Russ, Alan, Vernon, Terry and two guests from overseas made-up the party. Conversation flowed and we whiled away the early afternoon before emerging from the Oak's olde worlde interior into a beautiful autumn day. We were disappointed not to see more members attend, especially from the immediate locality but hey ho... Maybe next time, when we shall return.

Eydon - Royal Oak 2

The "Royal Oak" at Eydon

The SECOND Byfield RBL social lunch was held on Wednesday 28th September 2016 in The Cross Tree, Byfield. Allison, Doug, Peter, Terry & Vernon partook of a repast at least as good as the French cuisine fed to Terry on his recent Brittany trip.

THE FIRST Byfield RBL periodic social lunch was held on Wednesday 31st August, 2016 1230hrs. in The Cross Tree, Byfield.

Cross Tree

 Byfield's "Cross Tree" pub.