Great Hockham village hall, The Edinburgh Hall, is a building of its time. As far as I can remember it bears a similarity to other village halls I have visited in the dim and distant past. Two I remember in particular were Gazeley and Dalham. They are (were) somewhat austere structures, sometimes little more than sheds. Gazeley, I remember, was where they held dances. There was a live band that played music designed to provide the correct rhythm for the waltz, foxtrot, tango, and towards the end, usually the Gay Gordens. In those days, as I remember, everybody could dance – properly. I remember that there were always one or two single sex couples, always women, who would enthusiastically take to the floor, taking it in turns to lead, but that was just the way it was just after the war. Even my father was a very good dancer in spite of his bad leg, bought on by carelessly driving his motorcycle over a land mine. Dalham hall brings back memories of the Cub and Scout meetings, a couple of mile bike ride away, rain or shine, light or dark, and in those days, ungritted icy roads. There was loads of fun to be had on a push-bike on the ice – and we seemed to heal quickly, then.And there it is: yes, I remember the archetypical architecture. I’ve probably been to other venues of similar vintage, but they have vacated my memory because what I remember most was what went on inside

And so it is with the village hall at Great Hockham, the venue for our December meeting, our annual Christmas party. The clinical looking fold-away tables are now covered with bright red cloths bedecked with beautiful floral sculptures created by Jane Dalton. Real flowers, mind, not your non biodegradable landfill. Then there is the food. All the members bring a plate, and the variety is a joy. We do try to have a ‘check-in’ before the day to try and avoid twenty pavlovas, but it usually turns out ok. But, of course, it’s the people who matter most. It’s a chance to get together and have a chat with others, sometimes others who share your worldview. It’s when all these things come together that an austere old building morphs into a terrific venue.

As an entertainment we usually have a quiz and I quite enjoy setting them. This year I designed what I will call a ‘connections’ quiz. I ask two or three questions, seemingly unconnected, and the last question in the set is to identify what that connection might be. When it comes to quizzes I do try and keep to a particular principle: all the questions must be answered by somebody. To have a quiz with some questions that no one can answer is pointless and a measure of the quizmaster’s ignorance rather than that of the players. But it’s also not much fun if everybody gets everything correct. So the more testing questions, those seemingly impossible, get clues until at least one or two tables tap into the idea. The other trick is to stand next to the table seating the hard of hearing and then shout to those who are faraway (distance, that is). But it can be hard work; I knew I was in trouble when the punters couldn’t work out what kind of tree has candles on it. In spite of this I think it all went off fairly well, at least most people were having a laugh, even at questions that weren’t supposed to be amusing. In addition, Nigel put on a puzzle – identify six leaves from his garden. Two people got them all correct. A gardening club. Only two correct entries! This is what I’m up against. During all this mayhem, Mary set to with the washing up; Quizzes are not for everyone. Nigel couldn’t let her do it alone and helped out. Then, suddenly it’s all over. Everyone buckles down and the village hall is quickly returned to its sad demina to await the next event.

Earlier in the month we had another seasonal event, a wreath-making workshop. Not quite my thing, but it is for another of our members, Judi Bush. Here is what she made of it.

Great Hockham Gardening Club put on a Saturday morning Christmas Wreath Making workshop on the 3rd of December. A group of enthusiastic participants collected foliage, ferns, berries, cones & prickly holly to bring along to the event. Led by Jane Dalton’s expertise & guidance everyone successfully created a beautiful, colourful wreath to welcome in Christmas & along with music, plenty of mince pies, spiced biscuits & hot drinks, it was a cheerful, fun and productive workshop for all. I think we’ll do this again! Look out for a spring weekend workshop on flower arranging, using flowers & foliage from your garden. Any other suggestions?

Right, any suggestions? As it happened, the wreath making was an event open to non-club members. So if anybody outside our club is reading this and has any ideas, they can be submitted for consideration to the usual address:

Our next meeting, the first of 2023, is on Wednesday 11th of January. Chris Bell from Weatherquest will be talking to us about, what else, the weather. See you then, Ed.



Edward Szczepanowski: Secretary, Great Hockhan Gardening Club