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Last Saturday lunch time the Combine Harvester arrived in the village in order to cut the wheat on the 26 acre Town Field. By eight o’clock that evening, not only had the crop had been fully harvested but the straw had been completely baled. All done in roughly 6 hours. By my calculation the wheat crop would produce enough flour on that one field to produce 210,000 large loaves of bread. Incidentally, a quantity which would only be sufficient for 4 minutes worth of the national demand for bread (roughly 12 million loaves per day). This made me think. At the outbreak if the First World War, crop yields were less than a quarter of those which are attained now. In fact, the yield was probably only enough to provide for 53,000 large loaves. It would have taken nearly three days to harvest the wheat on that same field, and then only if they had the benefit of a modern reaper/binder. Before such machinery was available, three experienced farm workers, along with their families to help gather the sheaves and “shock” the crop would take nearly three weeks to cut the wheat. In all likelihood more than three worker’s families from the village would be involved. No wonder harvest was such an important event. An event which now is limited to a Saturday afternoon. A sad comparison in so many ways, but at least we have enough to eat.

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A rare event at Brampton in memory of a special Brampton person took place this evening. The church was packed. Standing room only inside, with many able to get no further than just into the porch. The event was the memorial service for the late Wendy (Brereton) Preiss.

Any such service that can mix the wisdom of Spike Milligan, the ritual of swimming in the North Sea, hunting with harriers and the poetry of Catullus, must reflect the life of a polymath.

Wendy was extremely well read, she was interested in everyone and had an opinion on everything – whether you agreed with it or not. Above all she was a communicator, in many ways a one women network. Meeting, knowing and understanding people was her forte. Conversations with her were littered with “you must know..(so and so)” or “have you met (such and such)”, but not in some shallow ‘Facebook Friends’ manner. Rather from the genuine interest in helping people make connections along lines which she thought were otherwise missed opportunities. She had a sixth sense for who should meet whom. I guess that she took some private delight in having engineered and acquaintance between those who may have not known about common interests or view points. I know for fact that she was the root creator of many lasting friendships.

Her opinions were deep and firmly held. She thrived upon debate and loved to throw an opinion into a group like a grenade. She seemed happiest when justifying her view, predicting some political development or finding the scurrilous cause behind some otherwise mysterious event.

A natural huntswomen, she knew how to get her message across open country. Volume was often high and when the deeply held beliefs needed pressing home. The combination of a lively mind and loud voice made for a powerful weapon. She would have made a superb political campaigner on the traditional soap box.

It was testament to all of these personal traits that drew so many to pay respects to her memory at Brampton church. I don’t think I have been to a service with such an eclectic mix in attendance. Real people. No one artificial or affected. All of whom had been blessed with having known her. Many solely connected with others there just because of her. A rare event, a unique and rare person. We will remember her for a long time.