Bernard’s blog no. 21

I’m back in Dorset for a few days catching up with what may have changed since I was here during lockdown last summer. It is early summer and nature has produced her early annual miracles again, so all is well.  Staying with my son in Winterborne Houghton again I’ve joined the returning swallows. They are swooping over the fish farm collecting flies and the familiar Little Egret is poised over one of the tanks ready to take his meal as well. Last time I was in my son’s garden he was working on the steep bank that runs up to the farmer’s field and his cows. Now there is a zig-zag path and a small seating area where we can relax and watch the wildlife. The buzzards I had previously seen circling above the trees are now venturing much closer and hunting nearer the ground right in front of me. They really are large impressive birds and are now Britain’s most common bird of prey. They are hunting for small mammals or carrion but the young rabbits I had been watching, scurry away just in case they feature on the menu.

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Beside the village pond the Great Reed Mace or Bulrushes are growing in the shallows of the still water. They are very tall, about 2 metres at the moment and their iconic brown sausage-shaped seed heads are unmistakeable.


Further up by the river, the mauve flowers of Indian Balsam hang orchid-like, making a splash of colour along the banks. Their shape has given it the common name of Policeman’s helmet but it is also known as Jack- in -the -box due to the way that the seed pods explode when disturbed in the autumn dispersing the seeds up to 7 metres.

We ventured further afield in Dorset spending some time on the heathland and sand dunes of the Studland  Peninsula. An important nature reserve where the Marram Grass holds the sand together creating an extensive area of dunes rich in a different range of flora and fauna towards “Little Sea” the RSPB freshwater lagoon but we moved on as time did not allow a visit to one of the hides. We also avoided the naturist beach as we were not dressed appropriately.

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We spent some time at Keyneston Mill exploring a collection of gardens dedicated to various fragrances and practical trial beds where unusual varieties are cultivated. The river meadow, bordered by willows, follows the bank of the river Stour where butterflies were fluttering, but the most stunning sight was the abundance of Desmoiselles. Looking like a dragonfly but, in fact, a damselfly, the male has metallic blue wings which flutter to attract the green bodied, females by its dance moves.

 I could not capture an image on my mobile phone camera , so I used this one which I credit to The Wildlife Trust.


Friday Knights – Annual Barbecue

In what was to turn out to be the highlight of the Euro’s weekend, 25 Friday Knights turned out for our annual Barbecue. The men’s group set up over 25 years ago to provide friendship and support to the blokes of St. John’s has been itching to get back together since their last meeting in March 2020. Excellent fare provided by Shirley’s local new butcher ‘Bashfords’ was seared to perfection by chefs Cotton and Foot and over a few beverages tales of the last 15 months were shared.

The Friday Knights will meet again on 17th September and will welcome any new men to a group which over the years has played a solid role in our church community. We look forward to greeting you.

Have your seen our new window grilles?

Chances are you haven’t as they were only installed last week and they are very discrete and made exactly to the shape of the windows. Thank you to John Mahoney Stained Glass Ltd for their excellent craftmanship.

This is an expense we could have done without but sadly was necessary as a result of prolonged vandalism of stone throwing at our church windows. The broken stained glass window panes have also been repaired. We would be truly grateful to receive any contributions you feel able to make towards the £6,500 cost. You can donate by clicking here.

MHA Wilderness newsletter

Welcome to MHA The Wilderness Newsletter – July 2021

We hope everyone is staying safe and well.

We have been very busy but there are a lot of exciting things coming up as we move into the summer! MHA The Wilderness team and our amazing volunteers have been working very hard to ensure the Wilderness garden has its place in the community.

We have important news to share with you. Read more below!

Wilderness Weekend Opening
Starting on Saturday 10th July from 10am – 4pm, the Wilderness garden is open to the public. Every Saturday throughout July, visitors are welcomed to visit the Wilderness garden by booking their FREE tickets here:

As things move forward with the re-opening of services in accordance with the UK Government Roadmap, the Wilderness will be open to the public on Saturday 24th and 31st July with no need to book, as we will be able to welcome visitors with no-limited capacity if restrictions are eased on Monday 19th July.

As you are booking your FREE place, please bear in mind the Wilderness is run by a small team supported by a fantastic group of dedicated volunteers. If you decide not to come on your booked day, please cancel your ticket at least 72 hours before your visit. This will allow other members of the community to visit the Wilderness whilst we will ensure the Wilderness is an accessible garden for all.

Booking your place at the Wilderness

You can visit the Wilderness garden during the week on Monday from 10am – 4pm; Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:30 – 4pm depending on the availability. We welcome members of the public; groups and organisations to book their place to access the Wilderness. To book your place, please email the Wilderness team at [email protected]

The Wilderness team is also running FREE Learning workshops for primary schools especially. Since the reopening of the garden, the Wilderness has welcome pupils from St John’s CofE school and we are extremely grateful of having young learners enjoying outdoor learning in our 7acres garden. Throughout the summer, we will host more learning activities for pupils to enjoy. For more info and resources, please visit our website at or email us at [email protected]

The Wilderness in July

The main project to restore the garden is now approaching completion; the garden will however continue to be developed and improve.

  • Bog Garden
  • Acid Grassland Areas
  • Scented walkway
  • Woodland walk
  • Rockery, (now in full flower)
  • Fruit Trees/experimental garden and meadows

Further clearances in the garden are continuing to take place in order to increase the acid grassland area. These clearances will allow more light in and its hoped will rejuvenate the seed and bulb bank below the current thick leaf mulch. This area will be seeded with a grass wildflower mix as well.  All cuttings will be re-used to increase and maintain the gardens dead hedges which provide both more privacy and new habitats for wildlife.

Wildlife in the garden and its biodiversity is being increased through the re-introduction of plants known to be existed and animals including hedgehogs; slow worms; a variety of birds and even a deer has been seen in the garden recently.  

Wilderness Grand Opening

Despite the several challenges faced in the past few months, it is with great excitement that we are confirming the Wilderness Grand Opening event on Monday 30th August.

The time has finally come to celebrate our achievements and the creation of wild garden for the community and further afield to enjoy. More details to follow, so keep an eye on our social media pages:




Volunteering at the Wilderness

Volunteering at MHA The Wilderness is really like no other and our volunteers are very special to us. We have created a new role to help the Wilderness becoming a more accessible green space. We are looking for a dedicated and passionate individual to become the Wilderness Visitor Engagement Volunteer. This new role has been designed for those who particularly enjoy public speaking and actively engaging with visitors, whilst celebrating the work we do at MHA, the UK’s largest charity care provider.
If you are interested in dedicating some of your time to MHA and The Wilderness garden, please get in contact with the Wilderness team at [email protected]

We will provide role-specific training with relevant member of the team; Health and safety training; and customer service training.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Services Sunday 18th July 2021

Here are our services for this week.

Readings can be found here:

8am – Said Mass – No Booking Required

9am – Informal All Age Mass – Please book here: or use the booking buttons on the website

10am – Live Stream Link:

To come in person please book here: or use the booking buttons on the website.

You can see upcoming and past live streams on either of these links

YouTube link to videoa

Where to Get your Vaccination Before 19th July

The NHS in Croydon is working hard to get as many people as possible vaccinated before Monday 19 July 2021 when restrictions are likely to end. 
We have made great progress over the past month but there are still tens of thousands of people who have not yet taken up the offer of a vaccine, which is why we are asking for your continued help this week to reach them and to continue to build on the over 370,000 Covid-19 vaccinations already given across our borough.
Over the coming weeks, we will be holding walk-in NHS Covid-19 vaccination sessions for anyone aged 18 to book their slot through the National Booking Service or walk in on the day.
In Croydon this week the walk in sessions we are promoting are:

Centrale Shopping Centre

8am to 7pm, everyday until Monday 19 July 2021 – Both Pfizer and Oxford AZ

Croydon University Hospital

8am to 7pm, Monday 5 to Friday 9 July 2021 – Pfizer

Fairfield Hall 

10am to 6pm, Thursday 8 July 2021 – Pfizer

Mayday Community Pharmacy

9.30am to 6pm, everyday in July 2021 – Both Pfizer and Oxford AZ

Selhurst Park Stadium

8.30am to 7pm, daily until Monday 19 July 2021 – Both Pfizer and Oxford AZ

St Paul’s Church, Thornton Heath

10am to 6pm, Thursday 8 to Saturday 10 July 2021 – Pfizer

Please help us to get the word out to Croydon residents and encourage them to come and get vaccinated, if they have not already done so.  We know that vaccination offers the best protection against Covid-19 and it is crucial that we encourage as many people as possible to get both first and second doses. 

Services Sunday 4th July 2021

Here are our services for this week.

Readings can be found here:

8am – Said Mass – No Booking Required

9am – Informal All Age Mass – Please book here: or use the booking buttons on the website

10am – Live Stream Link:

To come in person please book here: or use the booking buttons on the website.

You can see upcoming and past live streams on either of these links

YouTube link to videoa

Bazza’s Great St John’s Seed Swap

Swapping seeds with friends and other gardeners is a great way to increase the variety of what we grow, as well as a good opportunity to exchange gardening tips. It also saves money because seeds are becoming more expensive. You can grow new plants, pick up ideas about new varieties and vegetables and swap ideas and advice on how to look after them, or even how to cook them.

Here is how it will work:

  • Starting from now start collecting seeds from plants that do well in the garden or allotment – vegetable, flower, shrub, herbs…
  • Try to collect seeds and seed pods from healthy plants when ripe, as mature seeds contain more food which helps the potential for a high germination rate. The larger the seed, the better!
  • Dry them gradually and thoroughly for a couple of weeks and put them into envelope and place them in the box at the back of the church when we can all start to meet freely again.
  • Label them with the variety, colour if known, the year you collected them and any special growing instructions.
  • If you have any out-of-date commercial packets of seeds lurking at the back of the shed include them as well. Some seeds can keep for several years, under favourable conditions.
  • Over the winter, I will repackage them and make them available in small envelopes in January/February.

There will be no charge for the seeds because it is an incentive to grow something – a fresh tomato or courgette, a flower that will attract bees and pollinating insects. For every plant we grow, though, we can then give a tenth of them to next year’s plant sale (tithing is a good Biblical principle). There are lots of websites that give advice on collecting and drying seeds and if you need any help then please contact me at [email protected]

Barry Goodwin (also known as Bazza)


OXEYE DAISIES (Leucanthemum vulgare) Looking like large daisies, these have white flowers with a round yellow centre and have been particularly abundant in the churchyard during June. The oxeye daisy grows on long stems up to 70cm tall with one flower at the end of each stem. The leaves are toothed and vary in size, they spiral around the stem beginning large at the bottom and reducing in size on the way up. As the wild flowers and grasses die down and are allowed go to seed we will be cutting them down giving a clearer access to the gravestones.

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This month we are seeing many COMMON BIRD’S FOOT -TREFOIL (lotus corniculatus) beside the footpaths crossing behind the church. This is a member of the pea family. Its yellow flowers look like little slippers and appear in small clusters. The topmost petals have red lines on them, They are followed by seed pods that look distinctly like bird’s feet or claws, hence the name. A low growing plant, its leaves are covered in tiny soft hairs. The red and yellow flowers give it the alternative name of ‘eggs and bacon’. It provides food for the caterpillars of the six-spot day flying Burnet moth.                                                 This Photo by Unknown Author

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