Alex Goodman, The Royal Oak

The Whatlington Christmas Pageant on Dec. 22nd was a great success and was enjoyed by all who came, with somewhere around 90 people in the church and following procession. Thanks must go to Yvonne Underhill for all the organisation and to the Apthorp’s for hosting the Nativity scene in their barn and for the refreshments served afterwards, to Battle Town Band and everyone else who made it possible.

The Christmas Eve 10pm Service in Whatlington Church was very well attended, it is so nice to have a warm and welcoming building, as Kevin our Rector said, ours must be one of the few warm & comfortable13th century rural churches hereabouts!

Just before Christmas our builders worked hard to complete the connection for the drains and Whatlington church now has a working WC and kitchen, both of which were used over Christmas, so another strand of the restoration work is complete, we also now have the newly glazed porch doors back in place, making the porch weatherproof for the first time.

The church service next Sunday, the 12th is at 10.30am and is the monthly All Age Worship led by Jacqueline Kemp, there will be refreshments served afterwards, car parking will be available at the nearby village hall car park, with limited parking available as usual, adjacent to the church at the top of the private drive by the Mill House.

Finally a reminder that you may see more about the church on www.achurchnearyou.com/whatlington-st-mary-magdalene/ and that the Grand Re-opening is scheduled for Sunday 9th February at 3pm, watch this space for details.

The next Parish Council Meeting is Thursday 16th January, when in addition to the usual meeting, the future of the Village Hall will be discussed. Please go along to the meeting if you would like to be involved in any way.

We had a superb Christmas at The Royal Oak, with Christmas Eve carols being the particular highlight - I don’t think the pub has ever been so busy, I think the whole village and half of Battle turned out to hear John Shepperd and his mighty organ and it was well worth it! This time of year has been made particularly special by everyone’s good wishes for the new year when Mike and I will be moving on to pastures new and leaving the pub and Whatlington.

We shall be very sad to say good-bye as we have enjoyed building up the business and being so involved in the community, but new challenges beckon.

The pub will remain open as usual until Sunday 2nd of February and new tenants will take-over from the 5th. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us and come to the events that we’ve organised, in addition to those that just pop in for a drink or a meal. We will always be grateful to those neighbours who have helped us out and rescued us in times of need (including Steve, Ken, Robert, Angie and Roger) and to everyone who we now consider friends who have boosted our flagging self-esteem when times have seemed tough.

We hope that The Royal Oak is now a valuable asset to the community where everyone is made to feel welcome and part of something very special, hopefully this will continue and the pub will always be a thriving part of village life.

This Sunday (12th) there will be Sunday Afternoon Live Jazz at The Royal Oak from 3pm! The New Orleans Rhythmakers are back and in excellent form; this six piece band captures the true feeling and atmosphere of proper traditional jazz from a bygone age, so if you fancy a bit of nostalgia in addition to hearing some immense talent, just turn up and have a drink whilst listening to these amazing musicians do their thing (and admission is FREE.....!).

The pub quiz is still going - every Thursday night at 8pm for teams of up to six. This is always popular, so if you think you can put a team together and maybe win the jackpot, do come along.

The traditional Irish Music Session will continue on the last Friday of the month as usual, which falls on 31st from 8pm. This is always another night of brilliant live music with a wonderful atmosphere around the bar, so if you are feeling the New Year blues, make it a resolution to come out and join us. Bookings advisable 01424 870492.

We are looking for a willing volunteer to continue writing this column when I leave, so if you feel you would like to contribute to your community (and get all the gossip first-hand!!) by writing up the week’s events in the village, then do send me an email info@royaloak-whatlington.co.uk