A Happy New Year to you all and I certainly hope you have had a great holiday period! We didn’t travel anywhere this year, so had time to just enjoy being in Devon. Did anyone else catch Wandering Tiger’s fantastic Christmas show “Humbug!”? Such a joy and full of festive cheer! Just what we needed to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit. We then spent our time reading up on the history of Christmas and other traditions at this time of year, and found out about the Roman Saturnalia and Germanic Raunächte. We even had time to make our own incense for Twelfth Night. A full “twelve days of Christmas” it was for us, with a lovely storytelling session on zoom from St Nicholas Priory to round off the holidays.

My colleagues at Co-op Funeralcare always have a hectic time over the Christmas period but they ran their memorial coffee morning for the bereaved nonetheless, managing to raise money for the MIND, the mental health charity, too. Their office Christmas tree was decorated with memorial messages from all over the neighbourhood, and Age UK received a Christmas donation, too, so a big thank-you to the team at Co-op Funeralcare in St Thomas, Exeter, for making so many people’s Christmas so much brighter!

Age UK Exeter, by the way, are starting up their engagement services again. Everything from physical activity to social groups, and their wonderful “Men in Sheds” shop will soon be back again. The lovely people from Age UK are much missed in St Thomas, but we’re glad Mount Pleasant is going strong.

Have you been to a wassail yet? I just love them and it’s a wonderful thing to do in January, when everything else seems a bit grey and dreary. The Whimple Wassail a few years ago was my first-ever wassail and since then I don’t want to miss them. Held on the old Twelfth Night, 17th January, Wimple has created their own traditions around the “awakening of the apple orchards”. This year, they had to cancel but luckily Devon isn’t short of wassail celebrations. We decided to go to the FLOW Orchard wassail in Exeter last Saturday, and it was just lovely. The Co-op donated tealights and hand sanitisers, and the whole community of tree guardians and orchard experts, local musicians, artists and volunteers came together to sing the wassail song around the fire and toast each other’s health with some mulled cider. It’s the sort of down-to-earth event that makes me feel alive and healthy, especially with our friends joining in and everyone having a lovely time.

And now I had better get on with my other project: Digital Inclusion with Devon Communities Together. If you know of someone who might profit from support to get online and access the internet and the various public services it provides, do tell them to get in touch.

St Nicholas Priory is open on Sundays 1-4pm and Mondays 10-4pm, free admission and our stewards are looking forward to showing you around our marvellous building! Our garden volunteers are regrouping to start up their work again, so if you fancy, why not join us?

Until then, stay safe and be in touch, Judith

Dr J Morgane, manager

St Nicholas Priory, Exeter