HOW VERY OBLIGING: I do hope that you all had a good Halloween, and an equally good Guy Fawkes Night. They may have originated in different countries, and are historically different, but these two celebrations are only a week apart, and they do tend to merge in the mind, because of their dark, foggy settings (almost like twins, yet not twins at all). All the while we are rushing around making Halloween costumes, and buying in bangers, (the edible kind and the firework kind) for Guy Fawkes, nature is quietly setting the scene for each celebration. Lo and behold, a murky mist appeared in the fields in Iden, late on Halloween afternoon, as though a stage hand had wheeled in a piece of scenery. Swirls of eerie- looking mist swept through the landscape, so that everything looked suitably creepy. (If only we humans could just set the scene like that with a minimum of fuss). Bonfire night too is always suitably dark and threatening. The flames leap, and the smoke swirls, but whichever night we choose to light our fireworks, the night itself provides the chill, and the shadows. On the morning after Halloween, the garden was full of glistening dew-laden spider’s webs hanging off plants and hedges. They looked as though they had been spun specifically for Halloween. I’ve no doubt that nature is already solving the conundrum, to snow or not to snow for Christmas. It doesn’t treat us every year (it doesn’t appreciate being taken for granted). Sometimes it point blank refuses to snow, but when it does, it enhances everything. Like its autumnal counterpart, it sets the scene. It begins with a few tentative flakes, as though it’s not quite decided, and then gives us it’s all. In its wake, all our man-made glitter, and fairy lights seem almost mundane. Nothing we humans can aspire to will ever hold a candle to nature’s timely intervention.

SOMETHING IN THE PIPELINE: After Christmas there is a lull around Iden. January is the start of a new year for heaven’s sake, and we need a bit of get up and go. So, Iden WI is launching a Knitter-Natter Group (or should it be the more quirky Nitter-Natter?) Whatever, it is to be held fortnightly in Iden village hall, starting in January. It’s open to anyone in the area, and all you need to bring is yourself, and whatever grabs you in the way of a pastime. Knitting, sewing, tatting, a jigsaw puzzle, adult colouring (whatever you please). Just relax and be happy in the company of other like-minded souls who like a chat, a cup of tea, and a pleasurable hobby. I’m bringing my embroidery, and I’m looking forward to it. It doesn’t matter if you are a knit one, purl one, drop one kind of knitter.. It won’t be in any way competitive, just fun. It will be on a Thursday afternoon, (opposite Bingo week), and details will follow. So watch this space.

NATURAL HISTORY: The Iden and District Natural History Society meet on November 27, when there will be a lecture entitled Ferns, by Paul Ripley in Iden village hall, at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome. Visitors pay £3. These lectures are always of a high standard. For enquiries, please ring Colin Page 01797 224231, or Melvin Smith 01797 270587.

A SERICE OF HOLY COMMUNION: There will be a service of Holy Communion, in Iden Parish Church, at 9.30am, on Sunday.

POP-IN: The next Pop-In will be on Monday in Iden village hall, at 11am. Do come along, everyone is welcome for coffee, biscuits, a chat, and a chance to relax.

BINGO: The next Bingo session will be on Thursday November 26, in Iden village hall. Doors open at 2pm, eyes down at 2.30pm. Afternoon Bingo makes a change, and anyone from the Rye area is welcome. There is a raffle, a flier, a jackpot, and afternoon tea.

THE SOURCE OF THE SAUCE: This week I bought my cranberry sauce (it’s lined up in the spare bedroom next to the pickled cabbage), It’s only a small jar, and will need to be tipped out into a little snowman basin with a bit of tinsel around its base, in order to get noticed at all. Bread sauce is another salute to Christmas, wafting its smell of cloves around the dinner table, and if we decide to do a seafood starter, I suppose we’ll have to knock up a rose- marie sauce. Three sauces, enhancing the flavour of our Christmas meat and fish. Many people will abstain, and wave away all sauces, preferring a dinner that is ‘plain Jane and no nonsense’. As a child, I travelled back and forth across the ocean six times, from Canada to England, Returning to Canada, the smell of mint being chopped in the kitchen of my English grandmother was something I carried back with me across the ocean like a keepsake. (An olfactory memory). In post- war England, it was still hard to put food on the table, but a white sauce on vegetables, or mint sauce with the Sunday lamb were the sign of an accomplished housewife who knew her way around a herb garden. I do wonder how our wide repertoire of sauces came about. I suppose initially they served to cover the strong flavour of some meats and fish .There was probably an imaginative cook somewhere with half an hour to spare, someone who enjoyed playing around with ingredients, such as putting together mint, vinegar, salt and sugar, heating them, then leaving them to steep .Unbeknown to them at the time, they had created mint sauce (wonderful stuff). The origin of most sauces tends to be hazy but , but cranberries have always grown wild in America, and very early on, their medicinal properties were recognised, (they are apparently rich in vitamin ‘C’ and antioxidants). Their use became prolific. Thank goodness for the people who thought to stew them up and spoon them beside roast meat, because now, turkey and cranberry go together like a vaudeville act. That small insignificant looking jar of cranberry may look unremarkable, but once out of the jar it glows, a rich, red (the colour of Christmas). So let’s get it out of the jar, dress it up and let it shine.

CONTACT ME: If anyone would like to add anything to Iden Village Voice, please ring Gill Griffin (telephone 01797 280311).

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