Tea service for special group from China

West Norfolk landowner Sir Jeremy Bagge will welcome a 27-strong delegation from China to the family's Stradsett estate, Downham Market, on Friday. The visit by these influential economic and rural development officials follows a tour earlier this year to China by Sir Jeremy and his wife, Sarah, and the Earl and Countess of Leicester.

West Norfolk landowner Sir Jeremy Bagge will welcome a 27-strong delegation from China to the family's Stradsett estate, Downham Market, on Friday. The visit by these influential economic and rural development officials follows a tour earlier this year to China by Sir Jeremy and his wife, Sarah, and the Earl and Countess of Leicester. A mutual schoolfriend asked if the estate would host a flying visit to hear about the region's crops and farming. Colm McKay, of British Sugar, will talk about Europe's largest beet sugar factory at nearby Wissington while Tim Issac, of the Country Land and Business Association, will outline rural issues. The visitors will be have tea - green China tea - after visiting St Mary's Church and the rose garden.

It has taken months to prepare for the first "Tree and Crib" festival at St Michael and All Angels' Church at Bunwell, near Attleborough. The husband and wife team, Ray and Ruth Kemp, plan to have 25 trees decorated by groups including the football club and the WI. Tall Trees Nursery, of Old Buckenham, has provided most of the natural firs for decoration. There will be 25 cribs, also provided by villagers. The festival will be opened by Susie Fowler Watt, of BBC Look East, on Saturday, December 9 (2pm). Entry costs £2, children free, with proceeds for church improvements. It continues daily until Sunday, December 17 when the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James will share Christmas thoughts at 6.30pm.

Tractor lads Jonathan Whitlam and Stephen Richmond, who started their hobby by taking an estimated 10,000 photographs of farm machinery around their home at Gisleham, near Lowestoft, more than a decade ago, are bringing out another of their popular videos next year. They have filmed so much material about Fordson and Ford tractors that Alan James, of Second Sight Productions, plans to release it in two parts. They were recently filming in County Cork in the Irish Republic but did not have enough time to visit the birthplace of Henry Ford's father, William, who emigrated in 1847 to the United States from Ballinscarthy during the second year of the Great Hunger or the Irish Potato Famine.

A charity fund-raising ploughing match will be held on the edge of Norwich by the Norfolk Ploughing Society on Sunday, December 31. Organisers Stewart and Jane Bunting, who are holding the invitation event, hope that the choice of site will encourage even more visitors to raise funds for charity. The land has been made available by Robert Carter's Drayton Farms and farm manager Richard Crisp, who also provided another site for the society's county and regional qualifying match in October. The ploughing action starts about 10.30am and entry forms have already been handed out. Donations will be invited for the East Anglian Children's Hospices and the field, near Norwich airport, will be signed.


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East Norfolk artist Nick Lyons, who has been busy during the harvest months, is staging an end-of-year exhibition at his Broadland studio on Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3 between 10.30am and 7pm. He will be displaying his paintings at Burnells Farm, Chapel Road, East Ruston, near Stalham.

North Norfolk farmer Colin Ross, of Walsingham, celebrated in style with a family party to mark his official coming of pension age and raise £1,300 for charity at the same time. Two cheques from the total amount of donations have been sent to the East Anglian Air Ambulance and Macmillan Nurses. Carl Graves, of Briston, near Melton Constable, arranged the barbecue at Binham village hall.

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It is 10 years since two enthusiasts, Jonathan Whitlam and Stephen Richmond, sparked a publishing sensation with their unusual themed book. Called Modern Tractors, it contained 160 pages of working machines and the first edition rapidly sold. In fact, it was so popular that re-prints were needed. Now, Jonathan and Stephen, who are known throughout the industry by an increasing number of fans, are planning a new, enlarged and up-to-date edition. Watch this space but it may well appear in 2007.

A fun ploughing day at Manor Farm, Skeyton, was held in glorious weather last Sunday when a total of 34 enthusiasts made the most of a sloping site. A total of £442 was raised for the Swanton Abbott playgroup's new premises, said Jane Bunting, who staged the event fun with host farmer and husband Stewart.

North Norfolk farmer and malting barley Teddy Maufe was invited to the House of Commons to receive an award for his Real Ale Shop at Branthill Farm, near Wells. He was presented with a highly-commended award in the arable food chain sector for his initiative, which is going from strength to strength. Since last Friday he has been approached by three microbrewers keen for their ales to be stocked in the shop. Mr Maufe also supplies about 90 tonnes of Maris Otter barley to the traditional floor maltings at the Crisp Malting Group, which makes the high quality raw material for the region's smallest brewers.

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