Our February 2020 talk by Mike Poultney, ‘A Year on the Plot’, described the year on his allotment at Abbey Road in Halesowen. Very much a ‘rough diamond’ with firm opinions on many matters, Mike gave us a most entertaining talk about the trials and tribulations of being an allotment holder. Growing fruit or vegetables is a constant battle against the elements and the local wildlife but in an urban setting you have local authorities, vandals and ‘crackheads’ to contend with in addition. Mike entertained us with many anecdotes about how you deal with such problems and the many and various solutions he has found. We learned how raised beds reduce back-breaking work, how useful net cages are for protecting against bird pests as well as the prevailing wind; how growing plants in polytunnels improves the harvest, and many other tricks of the trade. Having an allotment is hard work and requires much ingenuity but the end products are very rewarding. From the images of prize-winning specimens Mike showed us, the results are well-worth the effort too.  

Fred Davison

Our August 2019 talk was about Tutts Clump Cider Ltd. The audience packed the Meetings Room to learn how Ken, from Bradfield, developed an interest in cider making and set up his own company. Starting as a hobby with a table-top press and waste apples, Ken made 25 litres of cider in 2006 and by 2010 had expanded to over 35,000 litres. Other cider makers use apple concentrate and add water; Tutts Clump cider is made wholly from pressed apples and is bottle-conditioned. Most apples are local with about 70% eaters and 30% cookers. Tutts Clump Cider welcomes your spare apples in exchange for a bottle of cider. Blending is crucial and now there are 16 different varieties. Traditional Farmhouse Cider (6%) is a favourite but other popular varieties include: Special Reserve (7%), Royal Berkshire (7%), Berkshire Diamond (4.5%), scrumpy (5.5%) and even a Farmhouse Perry (6%) – something for everyone. A fascinating evening with lots of cider sold afterwards!

Fred Davison

Rhona Tucker (our very own chairman!) opened her garden in Henwick for the first time under the NGS Open Gardens Scheme between 1st April and 31st May 2019.

A ¾ acre tiered garden with sloping lawns, mainly herbaceous beds and spring bulbs. Paddock area with several trees and wild flowers. Woodland area with wildlife pond and water feature. Greenhouse and conservatory. Views over farmland and surrounding area. The garden has been designed to provide flowers all year for flower arranging. Very much a gardener’s garden. Full details at