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Below Bill Ayling shares with you some of the things that come to mind as he walks his dog Fudge around Purley on Thames

June 2018


The vine under the awning outside the backdoor is once more spreading its tendrils all over the roof. It does make this a very pleasant and shady nook, particularly on a summer evening when we can sit out at  a green iron table reading books or newspapers and sampling Waitrose’ wine.  Already this year’s grapes are beginning to appear in little clusters of tiny buds which gradually increase in size until they burst and scatter minute star-shaped green shucks all over the stone flagged floor. It will be a few months before the grapes are large enough to either eat or to make into wine, meanwhile we continue to sample Waitrose chardonnay – very nice too!

Tai Chi

On Wednesday afternoons between 1.30pm and 3 pm I attend the popular Tai Chi classes which are held in the large barn at the Goosecroft recreation ground. The instructor Pauline Allen, who lives locally, has been a Tai Chi instructor for the past 20 years and has a back ground in dance and physiology.

The sessions start with everyone seated with a series of exercises each designed to strengthen the upper body and the legs, all geared in the development of the Yang Style 24 Beijing Form which we practise at the end of each session. I find these exercises very helpful, particularly with my troublesome knees, which I regret to say are getting slightly worse, however, the course helps as you are able to practice these at home. The Form is extremely useful although basically a form of self-defence it has improved my balance and movement, coupled with the fact it is necessary to remember the correct order of these movements.

Yes men do attend as well, and age is no handicap – having celebrated a significant birthday recently I thought I was doing well until one of the ladies in the group revealed she was slightly older, followed by another member who smiled sweetly at me and informed me she was in her nineties.

The sessions last for about one hour followed by a cool off period which allows members of the group to chat amongst themselves and have a cup of tea and a biscuit. If you are thinking of coming you can be assured of a warm and friendly welcome. Each session costs £6. I find this a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Tai Chi is supported by Silver Surfers Inspire 4 Life and Purley on Thames Parish Council, for further information please contact Geoff on

NB. I am grateful to Geoff and Pauline for giving me the additional material, which I have included in this article.


Because of the difficulty with my knees, I find I now have to use two sticks when walking along the river bank. This is difficult when I’m out with Fudge, for she does tend to pull in her excitement when going for walkies. The problem is that if I let her off the lead in Blount’s Meadow, she’ll make a bee-line for the river or run back to the kissing gate to avoid Tim’s young heifers, which are quite good, but at times can tend to be a little frisky. Frisky or not, to Fudge they are cows, and cows are what she is frightened of. Eileen can manage Fudge, but even then the dog’s constant tugging does make her shoulder hurt after a little while.

Instead of two sticks I am thinking about buying a Rollator. Barbara at Barry’s café in the lock has recently bought one. She tells me that it is very useful for getting about, and ideal for making her walk faster (and further) as well as giving her a sense of security. It seems ideal.

I spoke to Pauline at Tai Chi about it, expecting her to say the same as Phil, the previous Tai Chi Instructor, who was not in favour of them. Instead Pauline was quite enthusiastic about the possibility. She stressed that it was important to get measured for one, so that you did not bend over to push it, this was Phil’s argument against them. Pauline stressed it was important to get a good one, and to have it measured to suit you.
I will report further.


Regretfully there is a crowd of noisy “Miscreants”, you might be able to think of a more expressive noun to describe them, despoiling the village. If one dares to approach them to complain, the odds are that the following morning you will find large scratches on the door of your car, or (as my instance) half a dozen eggs thrown at an upper window – which are darned awkward to remove.

The worst is a bent wire coat-hanger with a sharpened point on one end, laid behind the rear wheel of your car. As you won’t know it’s there, one starts the car as normal of a morning, and reverses onto the road. The sharpened end penetrates the tyre and fizz you are one tyre down.


Last year I bought some sunflower seeds from the council office. I tended them assiduously and they grew very tall in an old oak barrel I have in front of the house. They were so tall that I couldn’t reach the top of them by standing on tip toes even with the end of a walking stick. I estimated that they grew to a height of 3 metres, and looked very impressive.

I have tried to do the same again this year, but so far the results have been very poor, for three metres, read three inches! If only they grew as fast as the weeds and grass grown in the garden by now they would be gigantic.

Mapledurham Island

May I state that Mapledurham Island does not exist, except in the stories I write. I have just had the fourth book of the series published, it is called “Yet, more Tales of Mapledurham Island”. I have been asked and have given several copies of my books to Dr Keast at the Boathouse Surgery. There they are sold and the proceeds from the sales will go towards a new CRP machine for the benefit of all patients.

The Doctor advised me that the books are going well, which is very gratifying. I don’t make any money from the sales (in fact I pay for the printing of them!), but the money is going to a very worthy cause, as it may save lives. Many people have told me that they have seen the books on display – I do hope they are also buying them!

Della the owner of the Mapledurham Café has also very kindly offered to sell the books from the café. She said that anything she receives above £5.00 (the cost of printing) she will put in the charity box, which they have in the café. It is nice to know that the books I have written for a great niece are getting such a large circulation and the proceeds going towards such good causes.


I must finished by saying a big “thank you” to Gilly, who very kindly, and very thoroughly has  read through everything I have written ( including Bill’s Views) . After reading she will make the many necessary alterations and corrections to my grammar. Having such excellent proof reading does give one a great sense of security, especially in having a person as knowledgeable and talented as Gilly behind me, particularly now after her sad, sad loss.

Thank you Gilly, luv and kisses!

Bill Ayling