Who would have thought it was that long ago since Breakfast Together in the village hall, Saturday 24th June. Not a large gathering but a very enjoyable one, hopefully a full house for 21st October. The evening of 24th saw the rain stop in time for wine and strawberries on the lawn before the concert at Douai Abbey, by Basingstoke Choral Society. Petite Messe Solennelle by Rossini, wonderful soloists, Mark on piano and conducted by David Gibson, a fabulous evening.
The fete on Sunday 25th was once again a wonderful occasion, all the stalls bursting at the seams. Numbers slightly down, however, this did not have any effect on the enjoyment had by all. Over £2000 was raised to be distributed between the St. Nicholas’ church and the village hall. Thank you Dawn and Ahmed of Horseology, your ponies bring such joy to the children. A special thank you to Harriet and Simon for the opening their lovely gardens once again for this great event. To all those who helped in any way and last but not least, Rachel P. for coordinating everything these last few years in such a splendid way.
Into July and on 12th a jolly group turned up and got stuck in to rubbing down and painting the metal railings outside the church from 1.00pm. We enjoyed Joyce’s delicious buns that Nigel brought with him during our break. As with anything, many hands make light work!
Saturday 15th was the official opening of Jane Austen visitor centre and book exchange, the ribbon was ceremoniously cut by the Mayor & Mayoress of Basingstoke. A willing band of helpers who worked very hard in transforming the telephone box did a fantastic job. Bunting and flowers surrounded the area, with many there to greet them, all in costume of the era. Quite an amazing sight, which just started the many events to come!
Sunday 16th was Evensong at 4.00 in St. Nicholas’ a truly wonderful service in every way. Friday 21st a group went to Oak Lodge for a service lead by Rev. Julia which everyone enjoyed. The gardens looked particularly lovely this time of the year.
Thursday 27th from 9.30 the flower ladies arrived. This beautiful little church looked simply breath-taking, stunning in fact by the time everyone had finished. The smell of flowers and herbs was fabulous. Dear Jane, the ‘Green Lady’ outside was amazing and stood up to the wind and rain that fell upon her during the whole time she was there, well done Dorothy. Friday 28th the Mayor & Mayoress were the first visitors to arrive at church for the Flower Festival and Art Exhibition. With paintings by Dorothy Dent and Jillian Smith beautifully positioned around the church, just added the final touch to this truly wonderful event. The village hall was host to a Local History exhibition by North Waltham, Steventon, Ashe and Deane History Society, from Jane Austen time to modern day, accompanied by some great photographs, also a wonderful display of artefacts from Pump field found by Richard Oram. An art exhibition by Lydia Fee adorned the walls, plus Jeff Dodgson had many beautiful framed pictures and cards etc. of photographs around Steventon. Also of course, in the marquee, tea and coffee was served accompanied by the most delicious home-made cakes, where one could take the weight off the feet and sit and enjoy it all. Saturday 29th in church at 1.00, a short play of 5 characters depicting the history of the church took place. At 3.00 Steventon Singers enthralled the audience with some well picked pieces by Marilyn. Sunday 30th was Ashe Park open gardens with a Jane Austen theme! The gardens were spectacular once again. Steventon Players performed a potted version of Pride & Prejudice on the grand terrace! We didn’t need the umbrellas in the end as the weather held. Paul Wright and Michael Kenning played some very suitable music of the era to everyone’s enjoyment. A spinet player, plus more than 100 Regency dancers, entertained us on the croquet lawn. It certainly a wonderful sight to see so many in full dress walking around such a superb venue. Thank you so much Laura and Graham and for donating the tea & cake money to Steventon’s Jane Austen Festival. After a break on 3rd August a group met at the Watermill for dinner followed by ‘A Little Light Music’ in the theatre. Absolutely brilliant. Then it all started again from 4th to Sunday 6th August, ending with a Thanksgiving service with a packed church, wonderful. Followed by a B-B-Q and wine in the grounds, bought and paid for by Steventon Players, a tremendous end to a great festival. It has been well supported which has raised valuable funds for the village, even visitors being seen into the night on occasions! A truly incredible time, one we have all thoroughly enjoyed. I think ‘Jane’ would have been exceedingly pleased.
Back to normal now, battling with the veg. garden. I have never known courgettes like it, curly Italian ones, they have taken over. Plus the outside cucumbers are astonishing, must be all this rain!! Harvest Service & lunch coming up on Sunday 24th Sept. Friday 20th Oct. is Film Night and Saturday 21st Breakfast together….really good dates to put in your diary, see you there. Enjoy the rest of the summer, September/October too hopefully. Meanwhile back to another idea for those courgettes!