Playden Village Voice

- There are just the drifts of lovely snowdrops now, to remind us of the “winter.”

- The Iden and Playden Garden Society members much enjoyed the talk given last week by Rev. Dickie Dengate.

He is such an enthusiast for his subject that the audience is carried along with him.

He was supposed to be “Surrounded by Apples”, and certainly the first slides showed us a very little boy in his push chair among the apple boxes in the packing shed.

He had warned us that farmers make bad gardeners, but he continues to grow apples for the local market.

He was born in Hastings, and his father sold fruit and vegetables.

After leaving school, he was driving the lorries around the markets, and learnt a great deal about the marketing skills needed to sell apples.

Soon after his wedding in Peasmarsh, he and his wife went out to Uganda. They flew, the luggage came by sea!

The natives had always known that the source of the Nile was in Uganda, but there was great excitement when European explorers discovered this!

He was involved in the marketing of minor crops, and became aware that although coffee and cotton were the main money earners, a lot of ground nuts were being discarded.

So he set to and was eventually exporting 10,000 tons of ground nuts to London markets.

He tried his hand at ox ploughing with partial success, and is convinced that this is economically more sound than using tractors.

There were ways of creating natural fibres from stuff such as banana leaves, giving a soft fibre.

But the economy moved on to artificial fibres such as nylon and plastic.

Time doesn’t seem to matter in Africa and there were plenty of labourers.

The official language is Swahili, but there are about 14 other languages.

But actually most people spoke very good English.

The cotton fields were large, 5 to 10 acres. Sugar was grown, harvested by machines.

He was involved in a survey of the railways which could be used to distribute imports.

For people with smallholdings, onions were a viable crop.

There was the equivalent of The County Show, which travelled around displaying produce and equipment, which was kept to affordable prices.

Then there was the development of “bougainvillaea and bees.”

The one helps the other. He stayed in Uganda for two and a half years.

Having watched the experts shear a sheep in 50 seconds, he thought he’d have a go. It took longer than that to get the sheep in the right position!

We returned to apples, growing 70 acres at Wittersham, selling mostly to supermarkets all over England. More than half the previous acreage has gone now.

Ripe apples are rejected because of shelf-life, although those apples left to mature on the trees have a far better flavour.

Rev. Dickie Dengate was ordained in Canterbury and has mostly worked locally, to his great pleasure.

He gave some advice about pests and problems.

On pruning, if you can’t reach it, cut it off. Apples grown high only shield the lower fruit from the sun.

The modern sprays do not damage the soil, but do not spray near to picking time.

Mildew, aphids, woolly aphids, codling moth and earwigs can all be dealt with, and the apples still be considered as being grown organically.

Finally, he was proud to relate that the Granny Smith apple originated in Peasmarsh.

An emigrant to Australia spotted a seedling from an apple she had eaten, and nurtured it to become the world-wide favourite it is today. His philosophy is Apples = pleasure

- Playden W.I. meeting this month was the 94th Birthday Meeting of the W. I.

Shirley made a lovely cake which was enjoyed in the tea break.

There were apologies for absence from several members due to the bad weather, but nevertheless it was a very friendly meeting.

Mrs. Alison Cade gave details of a Box Making Craft Day on Friday 2nd March, in the W.I. Hall.

Anyone who is interested should contact Alison for further details.

Unfortunately this clashes with the Women’s World Day of Prayer, and some members will not be able to do the Craft Day.

The speaker this month was Kate Tym, who is a publishing Editor.

Her talk was entitled “Pen to Bookshelf.”

She brought along several samples of children’s books among others, and explained the process from author to the publisher.

For some people this can be a rocky road, but perseverance was the message which came across.

The next meeting will be on 12th March, when the speaker will be Mr. Brian Whitehead, who will speak about “Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.” Thanks to Heather Coote for this report.

- Tonight and tomorrow, 24/25 February, Ryesingers are presenting The Pirates of Penzance in the Community Centre, Conduit Hill, Rye, at 7.30 pm.

Tickets are £8 from Martello Bookshop or at the door.

- The Rye and District Community hub Open day takes place on Wednesday 29th February in the Rye Club on Market Road from 10.30 to 8pm.

- Playden Parish Council will meet on Thursday 1st March at 7.30 pm in the W. I. Hall. All are welcome.

- The weekday services continue on Tuesdays at 9.30 am - Morning prayer, and 3.30 pm - Evening Prayer.

The 11am service for the first Sunday in Lent will be Parish Communion led by the vicar.

MARION LOVELL Abingworth New England Lane