Saturday 1 October saw our autumn meeting, this year a mini-symposium on the subject of Water. It was a full house at the Mackenzie Hall with over 60 people packed in to hear the speakers. The PGP’s George Peterken began proceedings, examining the geology and hydrology of the area and explaining that the Hudnalls is the wettest part of Gloucestershire. We nodded sagely as, outside, the heavens opened.

Rob Denny of the Monnow Rivers Association described his organisation’s work to restore the biodiversity of the river and its tributaries, leaving his listeners with a powerful sense of just what a dedicated team of volunteers can achieve.Hudnalls resident Phil Morgan took us back in time to explore the folklore and history of our wells and watercourses; there are now plans afoot to help preserve these fascinating local features. Anyone interested should contact the committee.

After a short break to down tea and cake, pore over the many maps, models and exhibits, and cast a jaundiced eye at the now pouring rain, we reassembled for part two. Corinna Arnold of St Briavels Common led us through the options available to anyone seeking to cut their water consumption, with her entertaining talk on greywater systems. Then Ainsleigh Rice of Herefordshire Hydro outlined to us in vivid style the pros and cons of micro hydro electric systems; by this stage the water racing down Mill Hill could have powered a small generator.

The biggest fanfare, several loud thunderclaps, was reserved for our final speaker Peter Golding, a professional dowser who’d learned his skills in rather drier conditions, the Arabian Desert. And, as if by magic, the rain ceased. Long enough, that is, for us to grasp our wire coat hangers and follow him outside to have a go at dowsing ourselves. For anyone unsure where the Mac’s main drain is, we found it. We finished with generous offers from Mr Rice to answer any queries anyone might have about micro hydro installation and from Mr Golding to run a one-day dowsing course for us next year. Both can be contacted via the committee or, in Mr Golding’s case, through the Slimbridge Dowsing Group. During the afternoon Louise Russell provided a display explaining the work of the Busoga Trust, providing clean water in rural Uganda. Donations for the afternoon totalled £75 and have been passed on to the trust.