Elderberries Online 2020

How we've supported the Elderberries during the pandemic



The Elderberries Planning Group - Marion, Liz, Sue, Shirley and I - met on 12th May to discuss the programme.
On the 15th May everyone brought their favourite poem and read it out. This was followed by a chat.📕
On 19th May Marion ran a 'Gold or Golden' Quiz.❓
On 26th May Marion ran a Bingo session with everyone making their own cards.📢

We'll be supporting our Elderberries group with weekly Zoom meetings on Tuesday afternoons until 11th August.

For all the updates on our Zoom meetings please scroll down this page!

Attendance at these meetings has ranged from 12 to 17 people. It has been a tremendous challenge for our Elderberries to get onto Zoom. Some people have had broadband problems, some have issues with their technology, but their determination to learn a new way of connecting has been really impressive. The first couple of sessions were a bit stressful for everyone, but now we're really enjoying the hour - it's something to look forward to and look back on with a smile.😀


Elderberries - 20th October

In the Seminar Room:  Gaynor Pesci, Dorothy Howells, Margaret Jones, Joan Kerswell, Sue Balch, Marjorie Gray, Jenni Jones-Annetts, Gael Humphreys.


On Zoom:  Andy Hepton, Lyn Elliott, Sue Burgess, Marion Watts, Jenny Hibbert, Katherine Hughes


Apologies Liz Stanford, Jane and Alan Marklew, Irene Burrows


An Introduction to

Castle Coch

with Andrew Jenkins

press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom

Marion had organised a speaker, Andrew Jenkins,  to talk about Castell Coch and its Norman and Early Medieval History.  He also discussed the Revivalist Movement. Castell Coch is a very pretty castle and is one of the most photographed and painted castle in the UK.  Of particular interest is the painting of Aesop’s fable.  There followed several questions from the audience, including why the red roof had returned to slate.  Participants really enjoyed this afternoon.  Gaynor Pesci was very proud of the fact that Andrew was her cousin.  Margaret Jones’ son had married there.  Castell Coch is maintained by Cadw.

Following the speaker we had a weekly update, starting with the people on Zoom.

  • Andy Hepton had not been well, and he finds it hard to get around, but he had been out on his scooter

  • Jenny Hibbert had been reading a lot.  She and Helen Owen are keen to go to the Garden Centre to do some jewellery making with Sarah Barker

  • Lyn said that Shirley Page had loved her flowers and card for her 80th birthday – it was a lovely surprise.  Susanne had joined them on Zoom for the Sunday service and she had made a new recipe of adding parsley to vanilla ice cream which was delicious

  • Sue Balch had had a family concert on Zoom with a ukulele, guitar and a composition by son Mark

  • Katherine had received 14 boxes of books from her parents’ flat, but hadn’t opened them yet as she couldn’t get bookcases delivered.

  • Marjorie had been practising on a mini-accordion

  • Dorothy Howells had had a quiet week, frustrated by trying to purchase a shed and get it delivered

  • Gael had been to the sports centre to swim, had a walk in Penallta Park, and gone to the art class.

  • Gaynor was very pleased to be out – her new home is lovely and the food is wonderful.  Unfortunately it is not possible to have visitors or use the common spaces in the home, so it is a bit isolating.

  • Jenni has had her hair cut, had a flu jab, done some knitting and seen neighbours

  • Marion has been on walks, reading, playing the piano, looking after her great grandchildren and knitted 42 squares.

  • Sue Burgess had been sorting out papers with her husband and came across Robert’s great great grandfather’s certificates from the 1830s.  


Thanks to Marion for organising the speaker and to Marjorie for running the event yesterday.  We really enjoyed it! 


We were all resigned to the two week Fire Break and were glad to be able to go onto Zoom.  Dorothy is getting more used to her IPad and Gael has borrowed one. 


Next week we will be having an Antiques Road Show. 

Elderberries - 13th October 

Elderberries Social Events Report 13 October


Present at the Miners:  Jenni Jones-Annetts, Marion Watts, Marjorie Grey, Sue Balch, Gael Humphreys and Geraint King.


Present on Zoom:  Liz Stanford, Lyn Elliott, Joan Garratt, Katherine Hughes

Apologies:  Sue Burgess, Jane and Alan Marklew, Clive and Dorothea Saunders, Shirley Williams


Marjorie introduced us to the Double Alphabet Quiz – that is we had to guess a two word answer both beginning with the same letter – e.g. a famous horse in literature: Black Beauty.  This was very enjoyable.


Elderberries had a discussion of the options for entertainment. 

  • Marion had been working with Val Baynton to develop a musical event – a ukulele was one of the few ‘safe’ instruments.

  • Possibility of learning about preserving your geraniums for next year, preserving orchids, and begonias – maybe someone could come from the garden centre.

  • Masterclass in crocheting

  • Ask Wayne David to give a talk about Nest Edwards or Morgan Jones

  • Susie Reid – walking around Caerphilly

  • Gael offered to read some of her short stories.


Weekly round up

  • Lyn had been to the optician, had a walk with her sister, Facetimed the children, spent time gardening and supported Susanne who was at a friend’s funeral

  • Sue Balch had talked with her brother who had set up an evening buddy line locally for people living alone who were fellow members of U3A

  • Marion had had a frustrating week with trying to move between BT and Sky, both of which cut her off for most of the week

  • Liz had had a quiet week without problems

  • Marjorie had been to see Gill Williams from Caerphilly Ladies Choir as well as her weekly walk with Marion

  • Katherine’s granddaughter Mia had started school at last and loved it. 

  • Jenni reported that Jenny John and Anwen Hall had knitted rectangles.


We used the kitchen trolley to wheel around the laptop and microphone to participants in the Seminar Room and everyone said how well it worked. 

Meeting of Monthly Planning Group - 16th October

Notes of a meeting of the Elderberries Planning Group

Present Sue, Liz, Marjorie, Marion, Katherine


Considered the plans for the Supporting Older People Project that has recently been funded. 



  • Most of the people we buddied are attending the centre now

  • People who aren’t include Andrea, Pat Newton, Alan and Gil Kenyon, Jackie Cassidy, Gaynor Pesci. 

  • It would be difficult to expand this arrangement – better for us to expand activities and find ways of enabling people to enjoy them.


Outreach activities

  • We’d like to extend our activities to residents of Abbeyfield, Plas Hyfred, Cole Court, Trecastell and Chapel Close and possibly Pleasant View.  Plan to lend IPads to people interested in being involved on Zoom

  • We could offer knitting, crochet, art class, learning to play the ukulele

  • It will be good to involve older people in an activity – discussed making an advent calendar, Christmas wreath, birdfeeders out of pop bottles, lavender bags.

  • Also discussed the possibility of having a zoom meeting on a weekday evening especially for people living alone. 


Elderberries – programme

  • Andrew Jenkins 20th October on Castell Coch

  • 27/10 Antiques Road Show – everyone bringing their own item

  • 3/11 Anwen Hill – Tracing Ancestors

  • 10/11 Quiz / Bingo session – Marion

  • 17/11 Marjorie making a bird feeder out of a pop bottle

  • 24/11 Thanksgiving experience in America – Marjorie


Also discussed learn to play the ukulele with Wendy Williams

Elderberries - 29th September

Present:  Dorothea and Clive, Gail, Dorothy H, Sue Balch, Marjorie, Marion, Jenni and Katherine in the Gazebo; Jane & Alan and Jean on Zoom.  Apologies were received from Joan G, Joan K, Liz, Val & Audrey, Ian and Jane Lapthorne and Dorothy Morgan. 


We had a most interesting talk from Neil Goulbourn, Neil.Goulbourn@est.org.uk who works for Western Power promoting the Priority Scheme to support the most vulnerable.  Nick has sent a powerpoint presentation for our members. 

The week for the Elderberries: 

  • Gael had been to Pengam.

  • Dorothea and Clive had been busy with phone calls and they were in the process of contributing to a short video for their family.  They went to Cwm Darren Park, which they recommended as a place with lots of facilities and sitting places, picnic tables etc.

  • Sue’s daughter had had a heart attack.  She is out of hospital and is getting better, but she is only 47 and it has been a great shock to the whole family

29th sept elderberries 1.jpg
  • Marjorie has been doing a lot of gardening.  She walked up Rudry Mountain with Marion and also went out for a socially distanced meal.

  • Marion’s two grandchildren had birthdays – one aged 24 and the other aged 9.  She went to see a fellow chorister Hilary, and also had the new gardener who charged her £60 for 2 hours work.

  • Margaret had been self-isolating because her grandson had been sent home from school – he didn’t have the virus but she had seen him.  She had been supporting her son, who was really depressed working at home all the time, when the rest of the family was now going out to work.

  • Jenni had been to a board meeting.  The Elderberries wished her many happy returns for the 30th September when she would be 70.

  • Jane has continued to have back problems and Alan had been out on his scooter getting the shopping.  They’re now locked down in Cardiff and can’t get to the optician in Caerphilly or the dentist in RCT.

  • Jean had had an uneventful week, with shopping and a flu jab on Saturday.  She had also spoken to Shirley Page was out of hospital, but Gerwyn had gone to Abermill and she hadn’t seen him for many weeks.

  • Also reported that Shirley Williams had decided to step down as part of the Elderberries Planning Group because a lot of things are going on in her life at the moment – she has decided to move out of her family home into a bungalow.

The Elderberries event this week will be getting help with technology from Geraint and a quiz which Marjorie/ Marion will organise.  Please bring IPads, mobile phones, and your queries for Geraint and something to rest on, write on and with for the quiz.  Thank you. 

Katherine.hughes@caerphillyminerscentre.org.uk  4th October 2020

Elderberries - 22nd September

Present:  Gael, Liz, Sue Balch, Dorothy Howell, Marion, Marjory, Audrey, Val, Katherine and Jenni, Lyn, Joan Garratt on Zoom.

sept 22 elderberries 1.jpg

We played a game that Marjorie had made. Thanks to Marjorie and Marion for trialling it out and bringing it along.  It was a cool and windy day and we decided nevertheless to hold the Elderberries afternoon.  Rob, our Steward, put the side of the gazebo up for us which offered protection.  Jenni was the first to get to a score of 30 and Katherine was last.

This was the second week of lockdown but most people had had an enjoyable week.  Particular features were:

  • Lyn was celebrating the departure of the spider in her house

  • Jenni had become a trustee of the Miner

  • Lyn was celebrating the departure of the spiders in her house

  • Jenni had become a trustee of the Miners

  • Joan had a new washing machine and had gone for a walk in the garden

sept 22 elderberrie 2.jpg
  • Gael had been cooking, knitting and walked in Penallta Park

  • Sue had been on a family Zoom meeting

  • Dorothy had been cooking and gardening and said goodbye to her granddaughter who had gone to university in bath

  • Marjorie had visited her sister in law, helped her brother celebrate his 90th birthday and had gone for a walk with Marion

  • Marion had been let down by Andy’s gardener, but he had recommended another one and would be trying him out soon

  • Val and Audrey had kept going.

  • Jenny was out of hospital.

sept 22 elderberries 3.jpg

The plan for next week was to have a speaker and to run it on Zoom.  The Elderberries could access this from the gazebo or on Zoom.   

Elderberries - 15th September

Present were Sue, Marjorie, Marion, Gael, Liz, Dorothy H and Katherine in the gazebo and Lyn and Andy on Zoom.  Jane and Alan are away and Irene and Joan were unable to attend last minute.  Other people were concerned about lockdown or had been in touch with people who had had covid tests but not the results.


This session was about words associated with Autumn.  Marjorie led the session had gone to immense trouble to find music and copy out words of the songs to go with these key words.

The key words chosen were:

  • Swallow

  • Clocks going back

  • Harvest moon

  • Ode to Autumn

  • Chestnut tree

  • Harvest loaf

  • September song

  • Catherine Wheel

  • Cooking apple

  • Hedgehog

  • Scarecrow

Dry Leaf
Drawing of Hedgehog
Drawing of Hedgehog
15th sept.jpg

What people had done the week before:


Marion and Marjorie had visited Audrey.  She had spent time with her family – her granddaughter is back from Plymouth.  She is waiting for work to be done to her garden.


Sue had been to Penallta Park which she very much enjoyed.


Liz had made a cake


Dorothy had been on holiday in Tenby and walked to Saundersford, which took her over three hours.


Marjorie had been to Park Cwm Darren (near Deri).  She had done quite a bit of walking, been to Audrey and tried out some games.  She’d been practicing her choir music on U-tube and been to church on Zoom. 


Lyn had no special news, but she was thinking of coming to the Elderberries for the first time since Lockdown.


Marion said that she had organised a speaker who was coming on 22nd September.  He is Neil Goulbourn, Senior Outreach Advisor, Western Power who will talk about the priority scheme for vulnerable older people and advice on tariffs. 


Thanks were given to Marjorie and Marion for all their work. 


secretary@caerphillyminerscentre.org.uk  September 17 2020

Meeting of Monthly Planning Group - 11th September 

Liz, Marjorie, Sue, Marion and Katherine met to discuss the future programme


  • The person Gael recommended who did odd jobs for her is Fred Brooks 07801 752811

  • The gardener Andy recommended who has also helped Liz, Marion and Marjorie is called Adrian and his number is 07401 243281


Our programme – ideally every month 2 activities, 1 quiz or game and 1 speaker.  Our provisional programme is as follows:


15th September – Who or What am I?  Everyone to think of something with an Autumn theme.  Everyone else has 10 questions to ask you and you can only answer yes or no. 

22nd September – if Geraint is available could he please give us some instructions about how to use i-pads? 

29th September – Quiz or a game – could participants bring their own clipboards or the Miners please provide one


6th October – Speaker – possibly about local history


13th October – Musical afternoon


20th /27th October – Antiques Road Show or have a Speaker or Spin the Wheel game (Marjorie to explain)


Elderberries - 8th September


Present in the gazebo were Marjorie, Marion, Liz, Sue, Gael, Katherine and at home on Zoom were Ian, Irene, Liz, and Andy.

Music Session Time!


Marjorie led this session and all participants had been asked to bring with them a percussion instrument.  Marjorie had brought some CDs with 40s songs with her and Marion played them while participants accompanied the music with their percussion instruments. 


  • Marjorie had brought with her a barrel with buttons, elastic bands on a card, peas in a pot, saucepans, a tambourine and rattles. 

  • Marion bought a barrel, elastic bands, and a box with barrels.

  • Sue brought rice in a medicine box.

  • Ian bought a ukulele.

  • Irene bought a tambourine.

  • Gael had a box of handles.

  • Liz had a saucepan and wooden spoon.

  • Lyn had a saucepan.

  • Katherine had a Quaker oats barrel with beads. 


We have a couple of videos to include of the event.  On the way home, one of the neighbours told Katherine how much she enjoyed the weekly concerts we have been having and how much fun we seemed to be having.


After the music we had a quick update of what the Elderberries had done the week before: 


Irene had been in Weymouth and had the family over when she got back.


Lyn had had a pleasant week gardening, doing puzzles, sudoku, sorting out, and she also reported that Sydney the spider had been away for another week.


Gael had celebrated her 29th wedding anniversary, had work done in the house, and had read and watched TV.


Sue had had a new iphone and was trying to synchronise from her Ipad to her Iphone and found it very frustrating.  She had a new guide book but it was still taking time to work out.  She had also been to Swansea Bay – Llynhir Forest - she and Colin had walked 4 ½ miles. 


Liz had been to Blackheath.  She had also had Adrian, Andy’s recommended gardener and said he’d done a great job.


Marjorie had been to a subsidised restaurant and had a meal.  She went for a walk with Marion around Roath Park and had done quite a bit of sorting out in the house.


Marion had been to coffee with her son and daughter in law in their garden.  Her granddaughter had started work at Marion’s old school.


We reported that Dorothy Tilley had died.  Also Jenny Hibbert has had surgery.

Elderberries - 1st September

press to zoom
press to zoom

We had a very pleasant concert run by Val Baynton including disco and dance music.  The Elderberries joined in and thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the concert was zoomed to Andy, Lyn, Jane and Alan.  Jenni and Gaynor were in the Seminar Room, Val was singing out of the window.  In the Gazebo were: Sue, Joan K, Audrey, Marion, Marjorie, Jan, Mina, Dorothy M, Gael, Margaret, Jackie and Katherine


Geraint has made a short video of the occasion (see website). 


During the afternoon Victoria from the supported housing schemes across the county visited to bring two big bags of knitted squares.  The Sheltered schemes are in Bedwas, Risca, Trethomas, Churchill Park and Rhymney.  We will try to meet the other schemes on Zoom. 

Last week’s activities for Elderberries included:


Gael had been for a two for one meal and gone rowing with her granddaughter.


Margaret talked about her experiences of going onto Facebook and getting in touch with many people including people from Derbyshire that she hadn’t been in touch with for 50 years.  Facebook was one of the best things that had happened to her in lockdown.


Marion had had a lovely week with her family.


Audrey had been with her daughter Jackie to Penarth.


Sue had been to the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal and made a collage about lockdown.


Dorothy Howells had been to Spytty Retail Park near Newport but was disappointed that she couldn’t try anything on. 


Jane and Alan had been shopping to M&S Food and bought some meal deals.


Lyn’s son and grandson had visited.  The big spider, whom she named Sidney had disappeared. 

Elderberries - 25th August 

It was planned to have a concert with Val Baynton, but we were in for a very bad storm that day and we all retreated to Zoom again!  We had a quiz run by Val and then everyone had a chat.  Present on Zoom were Lyn, Sue, Marjorie, Marion, Jenni, Liz, Alan and Jane, Ian and Jayne Lapthorne and Katherine.


Lyn and Stuart had seen their son for the first time since Christmas.  She had also discovered a massive spider in her house and was looking around for it so that she could throw it out.


Sue and Colin had been to Cowbridge to the Physic Garden.  She had also had a big clear out of all her paintings.


Ian and Jane Lapthorne had joined the group for the first time.  They had celebrated their wedding anniversary and been to Dorking to see their son for the first time since Christmas.  They went for three nights and it was very different to see everyone wearing masks when they went out.


Marjorie had been to eat three times.  She went to the Visitor Centre, now called Coffi Vista, Cwrt Rawling, and Valeri.  Noone had worn masks.  Some had screens between tables.


Alan and Jane had been to choose a chair for Alan.  They were very pleased and relieved that their son had not been made redundant.


Liz had been to Thornhill and also to Llanishen M&S Simply Food.  She had got a new gardener recommended by Andy and was very pleased with him.  She was going to London again to see her son in Blackheath.


Andy had been out on his scooter.  He also went on a bus to see a friend who works in the Rock Café in Bedwas.  It was very nice to be out and about  He had contacted his son and his brother on Skype and had also been to shop at the local Tesco store. 

Elderberries - 18th August

Present:  Marjorie, Margaret, Liz, Sue, Dorothy, Joan K, Dorothy M, Dorothy H, Gael and on Zoom: Lyn, Joan G, Irene, Andy

press to zoom
press to zoom

Marjorie ran a socially distanced bingo in the gazebo and on Zoom.  Everyone brought with them a pencil and something to lean on.


Marion had very kindly lent us her bingo game.  We had a couple of games and in between everyone gave a brief report of the things they had done.  


Lyn had had an enjoyable week in the garden.


Irene had had a quiet week enjoying her family.


Andy’s son had settled in Slovakia with his wife.  He is teaching English as a foreign language.  He had spoken with his brother in Canada.  He had bought a mobility scooter and had a new door put on his garage. 


Joan G. had had a party on her drive to celebrate her 91st birthday.


Margaret had had a mid-week coffee morning in her close.  It was great that everyone had got to know each other better during lockdown.


Marjorie had gone for a Barry for a 2 for 1 meal. It was lovely to get out and Barry Island looked splendid. It was beginning to feel like the summer holidays and she had a bit of a lazy week. 


Liz had done her own shopping for the first time


Sue and Colin had had a lovely week with Son Gareth.  They went to the Visitor Centre in Caerphilly and also paddle boarding with other family members at Llangeddfa Reservoir (near New Inn above Pontypool).  


Dorothy Howells had celebrated her birthday, with lots of cake, visitors from children and grandchildren.  Her brother in Bermuda sent a video.  She had had a meal in the Travellers Rest but was not impressed.


It was Gael’s birthday and she bought some chocolates to share.  She had been to breakfast at Wetherspoons and was going out later.  She had been to Penallta Park.  Gael also had taken advantage of the 2 for 1 meals in cafes in Caerphilly. 


Elderberries - 4th August

Vera Lynn Afternoon Concert

Performed by Irene Burrows

We had our first face to face meeting in nearly 5 months.  The weather was threatening and a bit cool for many people.  We had a live concert with Irene Burrows singing Vera Lynn songs through the window in the Seminar Room so as to observe social distancing requirements. 


Jane and Alan and Lyn would not be able to attend as still shielding and Shirley and Dorothea were unable to come. 

We agreed to target those people who had not been able to get onto Zoom – Dorothy Howells, Dorothy Morgan, Joan Kerswell, Gaynor Pesci and Gael Humphreys.  Geraint was able to set up the equipment we had bought through the Moondance Foundation’s grant to zoom the concert to people at home. 

vera lynn 1.jpg
vera lynn 2.jpg

Unfortunately Alan and Jane were unable to take advantage of this, but Lyn was able to take part in the concert and she was also able to have a conversation with the people in the gazebo in the interval. 


The people who came were: Liz, Sue, Marion, Marjorie, Audrey, Margaret, Dorothy H,. Dorothy M, Gaynor, Gael, Joan K, Laura, Katherine.

Participants loved coming back to the centre and thought the gazebo was a great idea. 


“We’ll meet again!” 


Thank you very much Irene for entertaining us once again! 

vera lynn 3.jpg

Elderberries - 11th August

Participants were asked to talk about their favourite childhood toy and also to bring some ideas for our proposed directory of good tradesmen

The plan was to have another meeting in the gazebo and zoom it to those people who couldn’t get to the centre – Dorothy Howells, Lyn, Joan G, Andy, Jane and Alan, Mina Hamilton.  Unfortunately some of the zoom group couldn’t make it and we didn’t have the capacity for Katherine to steward, run the meeting and the zoom meeting, so Katherine set up the meeting just on Zoom.  Thanks are due to Marjorie and Jenni for helping to phone around and to Dorothy H for being so understanding about the need to cancel the gazebo meeting. 

elderberries 11 august.jpg

Last week’s events

Margaret explained that during lockdown, members of her Close have met every Sunday lunchtime for a chat – each of them sitting with a little table at the end of her drive.  Last Sunday she locked herself out.  She went to her neighbours who kept her keys only to find that they were both away and her daughter had had car problems.  She had offers from neighbours to accommodate her in their shed (!) but eventually her daughter was able to get a spare key to her.  Many of the group had had experiences with key safes and problems with lost keys over the years.  Jenni said that her husband had installed a key safe 30 or 40 years ago – at the time she thought it was a daft idea – but it had been a godsend over the years.  Key safes cost around £30 from B & Q and can be installed through Care and Repair

Marion and Marjorie had enjoyed a socially distanced afternoon tea sponsoring the Marie Curie charity.  This was held in Audrey’s back garden. 


Joan had her 91st birthday and celebrated with her son and daughter in law visiting and taking her out for a meal, which she enjoyed very well.  We sang ‘Happy
Birthday’ to Joan (whose birthday was 8th August) and also to Marion whose birthday will be 15th.  


Andy was sad that his son and daughter in law had gone to Slovakia until Christmas.  He was able to Skype them.  He reported that he had bought a mobility scooter which could do 12 miles distance @ 4 miles an hour.  He was thinking of using it to get to the Miners. 

elderberries 11 august lady with brolly.

Lyn had enjoyed an afternoon tea with the Mothers’ Union at the church. 


Lyn also reported that Shirley Page had been in hospital for over a month.  Initially she was in the Royal Gwent and now she was in Ystrad Fawr.  It was suggested that we write her cards and notes of encouragement.  Unfortunately, Gerwyn had also had to go into hospital into another ward and they hadn’t been able to see each other.




Andy reported that he’d had some work done in the house that he was pleased with.  He also had a very good gardener – Adrian from Graig y Rhacca (mob 07401 243281).  Marion and Marjorie had just lost their gardener because of poor health and would be following this up.  Marion will also find out the name of Audrey’s gardener.     


We are looking for names of bricklayers, people who can lay slabs, good electricians, and people can do small repairs such as Care and Repair.  More to follow in future weeks. 

Favourite Childhood Toy


Jenni’s favourite toy was a 70 year old teddy which has by now lost both eyes.  It had lovely knitted clothes including a blue top, smart red cardigan and pink dungarees. 

Lyn had a little cooker when she was 6 years old.  It burned solid fuel – you could buy these little fuel bricks which burned for around 29 minutes.  The cooker was used mostly outdoors – but there wasn’t much thought about health and safety. 


Andy went to see the Trouping the Colour when he was young.  He was very taken by the men in busbies and his mother got him a hat, jacket and play sword.  He used to dress up once a week when the milkmen came with a horse and cart and stand by the horse.  One time he thought he’d have a swing on the tail of the horse, but the horse didn’t like this and he got two hoof print bruises on his back side and never did this again. 


Marjorie had two favourite dolls a black and a white one.  The white one was called Susie.  Her father built her a dolls house with lights on.  She also had cardboard cut out dolls with lots of clothes you put on them. 

jennys teddy.jpg

Joan had a favourite doll which disappeared years ago and she had even forgotten her name. 

Marion’s father had made her a doll’s house with all the furniture.  Her mother made all the clothes for her favourite doll Susie (a lovely china doll) – she doesn’t know what happened to the doll.  All the clothes for the doll were kept in an old gramophone box.

Margaret lived in Manchester as a child.  She had a beautiful doll with blue eyes which shut when she lay down.  Sometimes her arm would come off and she had to go to a ‘dolls’ hospital on the bus.  Her mother knitted the baby clothes as well.  Marion said there was also a dolls’ hospital in Newport. 

Katherine shared her little Scottie dog with everyone.  Her twin sister had a black one and they went everywhere with them. 

Next week:  ideally we’d like to go back to the gazebo with bingo or a quiz.  Need microphone and Zoom.  Marjorie would like us to arrange talks again from the list she gave us in January.  We’d also like a ‘Road Show’.  She’d also like a talk about the history of the chapel that has just been put up for sale and a talk about the airplane crash in WWII.

katherines scottie dog.jpg

Elderberries - 28th July 

Family Trips and a Quiz


More people were able to attend this week as they had returned from various trips to see family. 


Jenni had been to Oswestry on a family party.


Liz had visited her son in Blackheath and taken a number of trips from there.


Lyn’s daughter Susanne had been home for a short visit.


Marjorie had gone to the Cotswolds with her son.  She and Marjorie had also gone out for the day to commemorate anniversaries.



Irene’s grandchildren had been for their first sleepover in several months.


Sue had been to Llandegfa Reservoir and to Porthcawl to celebrate Colin’s birthday.

Andy had seen his son, his daughter in law and granddaughter – and was told that they were going to Slovakia for a few months.


Shirley had finally got her car back – her son had taken it to London in April – and had gone to see her sister in Gilfach Bargoed.  She also was going to see a friend and it was lovely to have her wings again!


Joan was still in Devon but now that her new bathroom had been restored she would be coming home.


Jenny had been up to Coventry to see her daughter and family, whom she hadn’t seen since March and would be going to Aberdovey on holiday for a week in August.  


Katherine had had an enjoyable birthday and her birthday appeal for funds towards the gazebo had been successful. A team of 12 people had put the gazebo up and it was ready for use on Thursday. 


The Elderberries then had an enjoyable quiz, What am I?  kindly organised by Marion. 

Elderberries - 21st July 

Apologies this week were from Shirley, Liz, Lyn, Sue, Irene, Gael and Jean. 

‘Funny incidents at work’


Marion talked about a Christmas concert she and other teachers put on at Plas y Felin School.  The Angel Gabriel decided he wasn’t going to perform that day, and they gave the job to another child, whose wings got stuck in the curtains to the rear of the stage.  The boy leading the Wise Men down the aisle and onto the stage took a circuitous route and wouldn’t get back onto the stage for a long time.  The back of the donkey collapsed.  And Joseph was sick in the Manger.  It was very hard for the teachers to keep their composure.


Marjorie talked about a few of her holiday jobs.  She enjoyed working in the post office at Christmas.  She also had a job working for an insurance company.  She had to collect a big ledger, collect insurance money from people in the locality, go on a bus with all the money and hand it and the ledger over to the insurance company in Pontypridd.  Her first holiday job was in Butlins – 4 of them shared a bedroom for a month.  Her job was to wheel in the trolleys of food and take it to the people in the dining room.  She also had a job in the Corona Pop Factory in Porth.  She mixed up packets of tea, and worked as a Silver Service waitress to pay for her seaside holiday. 


Jane was a secretary in a life insurance company.  She worked in a department store and in the college of technology.  She also did some teaching.  She very much enjoyed all the jobs she had.  After the children went to school, she went to help out in the local comprehensive in Nottingham for 3 weeks and stayed 9 years.  She also did freelance secretarial work and became a medical secretary in the local hospital and found that she was working all summer and autumn to cover for people who had to take their holidays.


Alan remembers one of his staff changing her hair colour every week.  One week she turned up with her natural brown colour, and when he asked her why, she said she was going to visit her grandmother and didn’t wish to frighten her.


Andy remembered two occasions.  The first was when the band dressed up as Roman soldiers as part of a Roman season of Royal Shakespeare Company.  They used to fill in the time between scenes by going to a pub in Covent Garden where they sold Youngs beer.  One day they got back rather the worse for wear with 5 of them standing against the scenery.  They started swaying and the scenery started swinging behind them and eventually the whole show had to be stopped.  They were all fired. 

The second occasion he was in a show and had to play a couple of bars on the trumpet, once the actor had said ‘Hark I hear a trumpet.  However, he got his timings mixed up and wasn’t there on cue – so the word got around – ‘Hark I might hear a trumpet’.


Jenni had a very tedious job in a factory making transistor radios.  They had to thread twine through two holes at the bottom of what looked like a Lego brick.  Then she got a job in a restaurant – lots of food hygiene issues arose there!  She remembered having to put peas in the eyes of the trout.  When she was 21 she went to work in a bar, and met a young man with dark hair who ended up as her husband. 


Joan remembers working in a hospital laboratory, working on rhesus factors.  There were 4 of them and they had all the different blood groups.  O+, AB, A-, and B.  that’s very unusual.


Katherine remembered being taken on by a typing agency and being sent as a girl Friday to a team of Crown Agents.  Amongst her duties was to man the switchboard.  She couldn’t work out how this machine worked and spent the first day cutting everyone off every time a new call came in.  She also edited all the badly written engineers’ reports and put them into plain English, much to the horror of the authors as they all had to be retyped.  Fortunately, the normal secretary was away for only two weeks and their nightmare came to an end. 

Elderberries - 14th July 



Apologies – Sue Burgess, Irene Burrows, Liz Stanton and Marjorie Gray (on holiday).  Gael Humphreys was unable to participate, Joan Garatt was an observer, Jenni had tried unsuccessfully to get Dorothy Morgan along. We’re waiting for our Digital Engagement Officer! 


This session was led by Sue Balch on the subject: 

My Favourite Saying – and Why! 


Lyn Elliott: 

  • One door closes and another opens

  • You never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory

  • Family is where love begins and love never ends.


Shirley Williams:

  • (about cleaning) Look after the corners and the centre will take care of itself

  • Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves

  • You can’t do clean work with dirty dusters


Jane Marklew:

  • Too many cooks spoil the broth

  • Many hands make light work – I like to think of the second more often than the first


Alan Marklew

  • Before operating mouth, please engage brain!


Jean Lewis

  • Waste not want not

  • Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

  • Eat those crusts your hair will grow curly


Katherine Hughes

  • Remembered her mother’s favourite saying ‘we’re all the same in the bath.’ She always treated everyone exactly the same


Jenny Hibbert:

  • There we are then!

  • Always look on the bright side of life


Sue Balch

  • Nothing is impossible


Marion Watts:  Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire – we wondered where it came from – someone said it was part of a poem by Grey and Connelly.  Here is another interpretation: 

It would be difficult to find an expression that is more expressive of its time and place than 'up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire'. That time and place being cosy middle class English Home Countries homes around the 1930s and 1940s. The phrase was a coy way of encouraging children to get ready for bed. They would no doubt also have been exhorted to 'pop into their jim jams' and be enticed with the promise of being tucked up and read a bedtime story. Sleepy Time Tales was a typical book of bedtime tales and, at that time and place, the depiction of a golliwog on the cover wouldn't have raised any eyebrows.

The scene is set extremely well by the lyrics of Vera Lynn's eponymously titled recording, 1936:

Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire
Heading for the land of dreams
When I look back to those happy childhood days
Like yesterday it seems
It was grand my mother held my hand
Daddy was the old gee gee
The old wooden hill was the old wooden stairs
and Bedfordshire of course where I knelt to say my prayers
Climbing up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire
They were happy happy days for me.

sleepy time tales.jpg

Other sayings were also mentioned:


‘Lucy Locket lost her pocket’ – pockets used to be kept separately from garments

‘Ring a ring a roses’ – came from the great plague

‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’

‘You are only as old as you feel.’

‘The answer will be given.’


Andy Hepton: 

  • Where there’s muck there’s brass but in the band we used to say Where there’s brass there’s muck.

  • Andy mentioned that he was over the moon because he had just managed to find a gardener.

Directory of Local Tradesmen and professional help


The Elderberries would like to create a local directory of people that have helped them with local jobs as it’s so easy to get ripped off.  The people we’re looking for initially are:





Decorators and painters


Odd job people

Errand runners

People who can help with technology

Mobile hairdressers



 The subject of session on 21st July is Amusing Work Experiences.  Look forward to seeing you at 2pm on Zoom.

Elderberries - 7th July 

Irene Burrows gave us a lovely fun afternoon at the Elderberries on Zoom.  She sang songs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s and we had to guess the title and when they were first performed.  Many Elderberries were able to sing along, while the remainder looked on amazed and impressed!  We finished with a number of Abba songs.  Here are a few of the songs that Irene sang to give you an idea of the range.  As she said, “It was a lovely fun afternoon with the Elderberries today.” 

Marjorie Gray then followed with an amusing talk about some of the poems we learned at primary school, such as William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ and John Masefield’s Sea Fever’.  She read a lovely poem by one of our volunteers, Chris Cooper, called ‘The Shed’ and Pam Ayres, ‘The Perfect Swimsuit’.  Gael Humphreys read one of her own poems. 

Next Week

After this we had a catch-up.  Everyone seems to be bearing up.  Zoom and the buddying by phone has helped but everyone is looking forward to being able to meet up on the patio at the centre when we can.


We agreed that next week we will all bring with us a few words on the subject of My Favourite Saying – and Why’.  Marjorie will join us from her holiday destination! 


Thank you, Marjorie and Irene for your superb entertainment and everyone for your company this week.  It was a real tonic and I look forward to meeting again next week! 



8th July 2020


Elderberries - 30th June 

The topic for this week’s meeting was ‘My favourite childhood holiday’.

This week we welcomed Margaret Jones to her first Elderberries meeting on Zoom.  She was observing the meeting.  Apologies were from Andy Hepton, Jane and Alan Marklew, Shirley Williams and Jenny Hibbert.  Gael is still unable to access Zoom.  We’re hoping that as lockdown rules are relaxed more people will get help from children and will be able to meet using this technology. 


Before we started our holiday stories we discussed safe way of passing things to each other.  Irene is showing us her litter-picker which could be one approach!


The participants had generally warm experiences of holidays in their childhood. 

Joan always went to grandparents. 

Marion visited her grandparents in Hastings and they used to meet their cousins and extended family in a park, always in the same place.  Although they’ve been to many other places, this park, the boating lake and a particular tree, are still a favourite place for her children and grandchildren.

press to zoom
press to zoom

Jean lived in Kent and they went to Folkstone for their holidays.  It was possible to get a runabout ticket and they went to different seaside places every day.


Liz remembers one holiday where they decided to spend one week on a campsite in Bournemouth and the other in Great Yarmouth.  They loved being in Bournemouth and left very late only to find that they couldn’t get anywhere to stay in Great Yarmouth and were all ready to camp in a car park.  Just as they were going to sleep, a woman knocked on the window and said that her mother would put them up for the night.  When they woke up the hosts had gone to work but laid breakfast out for them.  She has never forgotten their kindness. 

Lyn went to Shropshire to her Aunt and Uncle.  She remembers on a particular holiday she decided to spend all her holiday money on a Brownie 127, even though her parents warned her she wouldn’t have anything left for anything else!  This was her first camera and gave her huge pleasure over many years. 


Irene was one of a large family and it was sometimes very difficult to find holiday accommodation.  In 1963 she went on a Railway Coach Holiday in Tenby.  The railway coach was parked in the railway sidings.  They had all their meals on the coach and were able to go to the seaside.  The holiday was not without incidents, including losing her sister who had gone to sleep in an empty suitcase and wasn’t found for several hours. 

press to zoom
press to zoom

Irene sitting on chair on left being told to look for her missing sister!

Camping Coach Sidings

Tenby Railway Station

Inside a Camping Coach

Sue’s parents went on their honeymoon to Weston Super Mare and every year until her youngest brother was born they went there for their summer holiday.  They went a paddlesteamer from Penarth and then by taxi to the caravan camp.  Her father hired a radio to keep up with the sport. She remembers travelling on an open double decker bus, having ‘I Spy at the Seaside’ to identify seaweed and other beach life, candyfloss and chips and it always being sunny. 


Marjorie was 3 when the war broke out and during the war they just went on holiday locally on day trips to Barry Island.  In 1945 she went to London to one of her Welsh aunties.  She also had holidays in Lancaster. 


Jenni went every summer to stay with her aunt near Wrexham – not far from home. She went with her aunt Gwladys to Winkups Caravan Park in Towyn on the North Wales coast.  Her two main memories were having to cross the railway to get to the beach and the trikes with a basket on the front. 


Katherine was one of a large family and noone except her grandmother in Shropshire could put them up – and then the four children had to sleep across the spare bed and we never knew if or where our parents slept!  One Easter she went with her brother and mother to Wiltshire while her sisters and father went to Shropshire.  She stayed in a farmhouse that had a large parlour and two staircases which she and her brother were fascinated with and went up and down until everyone was fed up.  It snowed, we went on a shoot for starlings which went into a pie and watched the cows being milked.    

Next Week/ Future plans

We’re still very keen to go back to the Miners for an afternoon musical event – a Dame Vera Lynn afternoon – hopefully in August, using a gazebo or covered area on the patio.


Also we might organise a ‘virtual’ visit to another project and meet some people on line from another project. 


Next week’s session is at 2 pm on Tuesday 7th July.  Katherine to send out new link.  Irene will run a musical quiz (music from the 40s to the 70s) and Marjorie will recite some poems.  Thank you both!  We’re looking forward to this.


Katherine.hughes@caerphillyminerscentre.org.uk  5 July 2020

Elderberries - 23rd June 

Another pleasant time was spent together.  This week was a proverbs quiz


Some examples: 

MHMLW = Many hands make light work

THABTO = two heads are better than one

TMCSTB – too many cooks spoil the broth

YNTOLT = you’re never too old to learn.

EBerries 23 june.jpg

We also talked about the lovely flowers at the Flower Festival and the success of the knitting project.


Andy Hepton, Jenny Hibbert, and Sue Burgess, Jenni Jones Annetts, Audrey Baynton and Irene Burrows all gave their apologies.  Gael was still unable to properly join the meeting.  We should keep trying to include more people as this lockdown is going to last.  We discussed the Moondance project money and will ask people if they will consider borrowing a tablet to access Zoom.


The Planning Group have been talking about possible topics for future Zoom meetings:

  • My Favourite Toy

  • My favourite childhood book

  • My favourite childhood holiday

  • Work experience stories

  • Short letter to a friend

  • A drawing of something familiar you loved but no longer see

  • Where I grew up

  • Summer camp

  • Poems from childhood.


The Elderberries would love to have the opportunity to go back to the Miners and have an afternoon musical event.  Both Irene and Val are very happy to entertain and we might have a Dame Vera Lynn afternoon.  We will try to organise an event in August, hopefully have some protection with a gazebo or covered area on the patio.


Also we might organise a ‘virtual’ visit to another project and meet some people online from another project. 


Next week’s session is at 2 pm on Tuesday 30th June.  Katherine to send out new link and the topic for discussion is ‘My favourite childhood holiday’.


Katherine.hughes@caerphillyminerscentre.org.uk  26 June 2020

Elderberries - 16th June 

This week the Elderberries were asked to bring the oldest and youngest things in their house (not people!) to our meeting. We’re also contributing photos of a display or garden flowers 🌻to a virtual Caerphilly Flower Festival, traditionally held on the 3rd weekend in June.


The oldest and youngest things in my house


  • Marjorie:  shared her father’s baton – he was the leader of the Ynyshir brass band in the 1920s and also some new LED lights in her garden

  • Sue Burgess: shared an oil lamp from Bob’s family, over 100 years old and a new playhouse for her grandchildren.

  • Liz showed her great grandmother’s vase and some digital scales and baking beans

  • Lyn brought a jardinière which is over 150 years old and also showed a coffee table that Stuart had just made

  • Alan bought a 90 year old tie pin from his family and Jane bought a new pair of slippers.

  • Sue Balch bought her Christening gown and a l card from her granddaughter in Porthcawl

  • Marion bought her grandmother’s Bible dated 1883 and a book More than Words

  • Jean bought he great grandfather’s Victor Emanuel III’s Italian medal for service in World War I and Gwion’s 85th birthday cards (his birthday was on 13th June)

  • Irene bought two books, one from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the other Gypsy Smith 1904 Birthday Book

  • Jenny bought a large antique crystal basket and a book

  • Andy bought a picture of Thelma’s grandmother and a Carlton Ware salad dish

  • Katherine bought an old Scottie dog which she had as a baby and a pepper plant that one of the volunteers had grown from seed. 

  • Jenni didn’t bring anything.  Shirley and Gael could not access the meeting.  Apologies from Audrey

Other items


Alternative labels for the planters in town:  not everyone had remembered the Bingo! Challenge and we’ll do that next week.


Statement of values: some people had done this – doesn’t seem a very exciting task to most people and we’ll not pursue if there is no interest.

Smarties: Jenni reminded everyone not to forget putting spare cash into Smarties tubes and return when we’re open again.


Knitting:  Katherine reminded everyone to continue with knitting their rectangles and to keep them until we’ve organised collection.


Planning group: to meet next week to refresh the list of activities.


Next week


Proverb Quiz – we’ll be given a list of acronyms and asked what the proverb is! 

Breaking news:  We have just received funding from Moondance to help us with supporting people with the digital challenges of connecting remotely.  We have a digital officer to help with the technology and 6 tablets to loan out.  We’d like everyone to think of who that might help within the Elderberries.



18 June 2020

Elderberries - 9th June 

The Elderberries had another enjoyable afternoon on Zoom on 9th June. Following a Garden Flower quiz 🌷 run by Jane, all the participants contributed something they had made or enjoyed over the last week. Joan brought a baby chick.🐥 Lyn had made time for other people, Marion had finished tapestries started by her sons years ago, Shirley made a wholemeal loaf and Liz and her son in London had been cooking a shared menu and eating together. 🍲


We’ve also sent our Elderberries guidance from the Older People’s Commissioner on safeguarding and protecting against scams❗️ Here are the links:



If you’d like to join the Elderberries meeting at 2 pm next Tuesday 16 June on Zoom, please contact secretary@caerphillyminerscentre.org.uk and we’ll send you a link.😀

shirleys loaf
press to zoom
marion 1
press to zoom
marion 3
press to zoom

Shirley made a wholemeal loaf

Marion has kept herself very busy during lockdown!  She has been knitting, completing tapestries, sorting through photos, gardening, baking, buddying and volunteering for the Miner's.

Elderberries - 2nd June 

On 2nd June we played the game Boy / Girl / Fruit /Flower which most people hadn't played since their childhood. 🌷 Everyone was asked to bring a mask. We also tried to create a 'virtual background' on Zoom🖥

mask jenny.jpg

Jenny's unique idea for a mask was to use her sunhat!