Meet Paul Coulten

I was born in 1940 in Wisbech but remember nothing of the WW2 apart from visits to our attic where we kept our gas masks and tins of hare soup. If my father wanted to get us extra sugar, he had to buy the soup first. Dad was a Conchie – a Conscientious Objector – but the milk from our herd of Jersey cows was reserved for the old and infirm due to its high fat content, and I consoled myself with that. He also had a tin hat with a white W for Warden on the front. His job was to bike round as a warning if air raids were threatened.
The prisoner of war camp at Fridaybridge was near our farm. Our herd needed seven days a week attention, so when the war was over and the prisoners were allowed out to work locally, their help was welcome. It was some years before all the prisoners were released, so over time we became good friends with several of them.
In 1951, after success in the 11+ exam, I was awarded a place at King’s School, Ely, where the fees were £65 a term. With a roll of just 200 pupils, representing the school at sport was a given. I recall rugby, cricket, fives and fencing matches.
The school was very musical, providing choristers for Ely Cathedral. My father signed me up for music lessons and I plumped for the violin, but I hated it. At some stage, Dr Arthur Wills, the Cathedral organist, formed a school orchestra. I thought it would be good to take my father’s cello to school, as the orchestra lacked one.
One day, never to be forgotten, I was asked by some seniors if I would play in a jazz band they were forming, as my cello was the nearest thing to a double base. To swing the deal (no pun intended) they played me Chris Barber’s band’s version of Tiger Rag. That did it! Henceforth I watched the Six Five Special every Saturday to catch the Chris Barber slot, whilst lending an ear to Radio Luxembourg to hear Winifred Attwell go to her ‘other piano’ to play ragtime.
Meanwhile I acquired a double bass and I even bought a sousaphone for £30 which enabled me to play in the Cadet Corps marching band. Impossible to carry a double bass and play it at the same time! We also had a Rock and Roll Band (remember ‘At the Hop’?) and even a Skiffle Group playing Lonnie Donegan tunes – (The Rock Island Line).
After failing to get into Cambridge in spite of holidays spent in Germany to polish up the lingo, the Headmaster told me I was off to St. Andrews, so in 1959 I pitched up there, double bass under my arm. My shared study was in Hamilton Hall overlooking the 18th green of the Old Course, but I took no interest in golf, even as Kel Nagle won the 1960 Open under my nose – well, perhaps it happened during our summer break.
The Honours Degree Course is four years, not three. Scottish Highers, in those days, qualified at 17, so we had to tread water as they caught up, which meant our parents had four years, not three, of accommodation, travelling expenses and sustenance of all sorts to pay. But at least, at that time, there were no fees and no mobiles to fund. St Andrews itself was a lovely backwater on a branch line from nearby Guardbridge. On one journey, I slept through and ended up cuddling my double bass through the night on Dundee station, being woken occasionally by the Police wondering what I had with me!

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March Gardening.

Mothering Sunday (11th March) is the ‘unofficial’ start of the gardening season, and the more frequent sunny days provide a chance to get into the garden and get set for spring. Don’t get carried away, frosts and winds are still frequent, keep overwintered tender plants wrapped up warm.
I’m sure most of us would prefer to have more wildlife in our gardens, and feel as though we are doing our best to give nature a helping hand. We all know that leaving an area of our gardens untouched creates a safe area away from human influences, or that an undisturbed pile of logs makes an excellent hideaway for insects which in its turn attracts birds and mammals. However most gardeners prefer an orderly garden and small gardens often do not have enough space but with some clever choices you can still give nature a hand.
Here are some key tips:
► Grow a range of plants for year round flowering to improve the diversity of visitors to your garden
► Avoid plants with double or multi-petalled flowers
► Never use pesticides on plants in flower
► Trees, hedges and climbing plants not only give birds somewhere to nest but can also provide essential cover and join up green spaces for small mammals
► Night-scented plants are great for moths which in turn are a feast for bats
► Water is essential for amphibians and birds

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I am writing this article at 5am on the day before the deadline (that has to be a first!) with very mixed emotions because, having penned this missive, I shall be dismantling my computer as we move to Hagley for the final time this afternoon. Obviously, we had to downsize and it will be lovely to be near 4 of our kids and 9 of our 18 grandchildren. However, leaving The Old House after 40 years will be a wrench and, more importantly, we shall be leaving our many friends and patients, most of whom we also consider as friends. Giselle Sagar wrote a lovely card commenting that there cannot be many GPs who are always saying that their patients are friends. I maintain that, if I have looked after you for 30 or 40 years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first 20 years or so, a very special bond is formed and Deannie and I will miss you all greatly. We have been mightily touched by all the patients who have expressed sadness at our leaving, often reminiscing about past medical successes which touched their lives. Those who cannot stand me have been gracious enough to keep silence.
However, we shall only be a couple of hours to the West and I am sure that we shall be back frequently, staying with Judith and visiting The Wellington in Feltwell as often as possible.
The removal men did a lot of the packing into boxes. Like a massive Hoover, they sucked up everything not nailed down and boxed it. I had a couple of insulated containers for transporting refrigerated items. I put them down for a few minutes in the scullery – BAM – gone! Later that day, Deannie was going out and went to put on her “lippy”. The lipstick always lived on the telephone table under the mirror, handy for applying each time she rushed out of the door. The house was filled with a plaintiff cry “They have packed my lipstick!” Happily, another could be found and she went out “complete”. We went to put my next hospital appointment on the calendar. Yes, you have guessed it – the calendar had disappeared into a box somewhere. The labelling of boxes is a bit random (eight boxes labelled “Dining Room C&G” for example).The are so many boxes that I shall have to hire the pavement outside out new house to store them as the house is still full of the last lot of boxes they took up.
All in all, downsizing and trying to sell the house, all intertwined with my 18 month hip problems, has been mega stressful and we are pleased that we shall, in future, be able to wake up without obsessing about what to pack today. We ask you to welcome James and Carrie who have bought the house. They are good fun and will fit in well. Lots of love to you all and “Mind how you go”. You have been wonderful patients and friends.
Time has run out and the removal men will be here in a few minutes so I shall stop for now and will send you jokes next time.

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Stoke Ferry Ladies Group – February Meeting

Minutes of the meeting held on Feb 7th 2018
Mrs Armsby welcomed 15 members.
APOLOGIES were received from Gillian Smith, Anita Horgen and Marjorie Stevens.
Janet Burns said that Gypsie Duncan was very poorly and at present is in Swaffham Hospital.
Birthday Cards were given to Janet Burns and Jenny Elsey.
The March meeting will be a talk on a camping trip to see the wildlife of Botswana.
TEAS Heather Durrance and Valerie Kirchen
DOOR and RAFFLE Janet Burns and Sheila Smith
VOTE of THANKS Carol Thulbourne
Mrs Hearne said that the arrangement from Mrs Self’s talk in January, which she had won in the raffle lasted two weeks and looked lovely.
Mrs. Armsby then introduced Annette Croote, a frequent speaker at the club.
This time she told us about the 5 day trek that she had taken in the Southern Alps of France near Chamonix, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care. Her excellent pictures and videos showed the terrain to be very hazardous but beautiful dominated by Mont Blanc. Some areas were very steep and had to be climbed on ladders and oxygen was reduced at their highest point of 8332 Feet. They saw many glaciers and although one of her most challenging trips because of the altitude, she made it to the end. The whole trip raised £84640.00 for the Macmillan Cancer Care, so very worthwhile.
She was thanked by Doris Armsby.
Raffle prizes were won by Heather Durrance, Anne Prodromou, Doris Armsby and Janet Burns.
The meeting was closed at 9pm.

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On February 5th one tabloid’s headlines read ‘QUEEN’S SWANS KILLED BY BIRD FLU’
Some strains of bird flu are highly contagious; it’s always a concern when it’s identified in wild birds. The disease is carried across countries by migratory birds.
We are all familiar with our resident orange billed Mute swan found on rivers and lakes. The male is known as a ‘cob’, the female a ‘pen’ and the young as cygnets. Mute swans normally live as solitary pairs and aggressively defend their territories so it is unusual to find them nesting as a colony but this happens at Abbotsbury Swannery on the Dorset coast. It is the only managed colony of nesting Mute swans in the world with an estimated 150 pairs. They are free flying and the Swannery is believed to have been set up by Benedictine monks in the eleventh century with records dating back to 1393. There are also estimated to be about 120 pairs of black swans breeding in the wild. Native to Australia, these were first brought to Britain as ornamentals in1791 and are most likely to be seen at Dawlish in Devon. Two other species migrate to Britain for the winter. Anyone who has been to Welney Wildfowl Centre and witnessed the swan feeds will probably have seen them. Whooper swans, which have black and yellow bills, arrive in autumn from Iceland and their cousins the Bewicks, very similar in appearance but smaller, come all the way from arctic Russia.
Reference to the swans being the property of the Queen is not quite accurate. They don’t actually belong to her but she has the right to claim ownership of any found in her realm. A thousand years ago the taking of swans was the prerogative of the monarch. Classed as livestock, flocks of swans are still known as herds. The practice of swan ‘Upping’ dates back to the twelfth century when roasted swan featured on the menu of every medieval feast. These were actually cygnets which is a French term describing a swan young enough to be eaten, one that still has its brown juvenile plumage. The custom of ‘Upping’ on the river Thames continues to this day, this year beginning on July 16th at Sunbury and finishing at Abingdon on July 20th. The official Swan Markers wear Her Majesty’s scarlet uniform and work from traditional Thames rowing skiffs. Accompanying them are ‘Uppers’ from the Vintners and Dyers Livery companies who also own swans on the Thames. The first documented evidence of this dates from 1509. The cygnets are caught, data is collected, their general health assessed and a careful check made for injuries which most likely occur through being attacked by dogs or snagged on fishing lines. Finally a ring is attached to one leg providing them with an identity number.
These annual censuses have shown that swan numbers on the Thames are in decline and it is of great concern that this outbreak of bird flu may decimate the population.