Our group began meeting regularly in August 2015. We meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 2.00pm at the Church of the Resurrection. Members bring along details of trips that they would like to go on and if anyone else is interested then they plan the visit.
In the last year, we have been on many adventures, in pairs, small groups and large groups. In February, a group spent a wonderful week in Bavaria. Fifteen of us went up to London to visit the Bank of England and the Kensington Museums in March and a group of ten of us spent a lovely weekend based in Folkestone. On a windy day in May we visited the Butser Settlement and heard a very interesting talk about Iron Age dwellings. A group of also visited Chichester to see an Alan Bennet play, "40 Years On". We had a very successful visit to Bosworth Hall in Leicestershire in May. A large group of us had a great day out with Solent cruises visiting the Needles and Yarmouth in June. In July we also had a trip to the Isle of Wight by hovercraft and went on the steam train and some of us had a lovely cream tea on the Chichester Canal. Please visit our blogs to find out what we did.
We moved to a larger venue at the Church of the Resurrection in September. The meetings are now open to anyone who expresses an interest to the Group Leader. If you are interested in travelling with us, please contact me and I will put you on my email list so that you can be kept up to date about our planned trips. If you have an idea for a trip or outing, please contact me and you will be invited to the next meeting to propose your idea.
Group Leader: Judy Jones
2018 Eastbourne - by Julie
One cold, wet and windy weekend in February a small group of us went to the Imperial hotel in Eastbourne.
We were really pleased with the hotel and our rooms and once unpacked, we went for a walk along the pier to the Victorian Tea Rooms which we had discovered on a previous trip. The weather was kind to us, if rather cold, and we retired to our rooms to gird our loins for an evening of Rock and Roll.
Saturday was increasingly wetter but a group of us boarded the bus to Hastings for an interesting visit. We went up to the top on the railway but the rain came in at that point so we visited old Hastings.
The hotel was good value and the staff were lovely. All in all a good weekend and great company.
On Friday 9th March twelve of us met at the Old Post Office to go up to the Royal Albert Hall. We made a comfort stop at the Guildford Cathedral refectory which we did not think was a good idea. It was manic there, with far too many people queuing up for coffee/teas also not enough toilet facilities for the of amount of people visiting there.
We were dropped off right outside the Royal Albert Hall and had four hours to kill before the performance. Some of us would have liked to pay to have had a tour around the Hall but by the time we arrived we had missed the last tour of the day.
Seven of us made our way up to Marks and Spencer’s Kensington High street to be fed and watered and to keep out of the rain. We made our way back for ½ hour before the performance started so we could buy CD’s and programmes etc and have a look around the ground level.
When we took our seats, we sat and admired the beauty of the hall and when we stood up for the National Anthem human nature made us turn around to see who may be in the Royal Box.
The show was well worth the money and the Portsmouth and Gosport Royal Marines made this country proud.
When we came out it was still raining and the coach driver true to his word picked us up very near to the Hall as possible, so we did not have to walk very far. He made good progress on the return journey and got us home about 12.30am. All lifts given to people who lived on their own. In all we had a nice time.
The owner came out to greet us to his establishment. The room was very comfy though the floor was uneven. The food was good and we spend a pleasant evening in the lounge. After the entertainment we retired to bed.
The next day we were not going to Thursford until 3:30pm so we decided to go for a walk alone to the sea front. It was very pleasant, just a slight breeze but no sunshine. We looked at some amazing old building and a statue of Nelson's column. We stopped for a cup of coffee on the way back to the hotel. We had an early lunch in the hotel which was very tasty, and then set of in the coach.
It was dark by the time we got there and all the lights were twinkling. They could be seen for a long distance. We had plenty of time to wander around the shops, and enjoy the whole vista before the show started at 7:00pm. We also had time for a cup of the tea and a cake. The show was very enjoyable with lots of singing and dancing. The comedian was very funny too! When the show was over it was back to the coach, for a weary but contented journey home, remembering the wonderful show we had seen. It was very late when we got to bed that night.
The next morning we were off to Norwich. What a beautiful city! We went to the Strangers house which is an old Tudor building. It was fascinating. It had been decorated with Christmas decorations of the time. Then we went to Elm Hill. This was a street with lots of Tudor Buildings, barely altered from their original appearance. We found a beautiful restaurant and had a very tasty lunch and then we walked down the hill and looked in a couple of very interesting shops. One was craft shop and the other was a teddy bear shop.
Next it was on to the Cathedral where we met Beryl and Ann. We wandered round the cathedral looking at some of the relics, we also went into the treasury where there was some beautiful examples of gold and silver chalices. We had a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the refectory. We ambled back through the town to the coach stop. It was a beautiful city and I am glad I have been to see it and hopefully I will be able to go again some time. Then it was back to the hotel for an evening meal. They had done a beautiful job laying it up for a Christmas meal. We had crackers and Turkey with all the trimmings. Very enjoyable. We then had to pack our case's so we were ready to leave early the next morning. We had a good run home and had plenty of lovely memories of the few days away.
Over 20 of us met on this sunny but cold day. The visit gave us opportunity to explore the museum and gardens before lunch. The formal gardens, including the intricate box hedging, have been laid out based on the archaeological evidence found on the site. The kitchen garden contained herbs and medicinal plants and how these were used in Roman times was particularly interesting.
Inside the museum we were able to view the largest collection of floor mosaics found in Britain. The mosaics span the life of the place and show the differing styles from the early black and white ones to the coloured dolphin mosaic.
After lunch we attended a very interesting lecture led by Katrina, a very enthusiastic archaeologist. She was able to explain how the palace was built and what materials were used. We were able to handle Roman artefacts including roof tiles, nails, glass, pieces of mosaics and painted plaster which once adorned the walls of this magnificent palace.
This was a very enjoyable and interesting day.
Portsmouth Guildhall November 2017 - by JudyJ
I would like to start off by thanking Julie very much for arranging a much appreciated visit to behind the scenes at the Portsmouth Guildhall. Eleven of us agreed to meet up on the steps at 1.45pm before we entered the building, to be met by Nick Cole’s1 who is head of technical and support services.
Firstly we went into the gentleman’s hall of chambers which is now called the Zodiac room and is pretty impressive as it has an acid stained glass mural across the width of a wall.
At the other end it had wall paper which cost £15,000 and would last fifty years. As some of us were doubting Thomas's we went off to inspect it. No way would it last that long as it was marked and had bits out of it. We were told that the Heritage chose the interior colours etc. I personally would not have chosen the blue they had as it looked cold. More like Battle Ship grey.
We then went and looked around the entrance hall and all the inscriptions around it and was told the story of Princess Diana’s reception at the Guildhall in 1992 when they called her Lady Diana and not the Princess of Wales. They were also four trumpeters short.
We got taken to the main concert hall where we could look down onto the stage, and then taken onto the stage itself, so we could see for ourselves what the performers looked out on to. I was very interested in this as I wanted to see how far Jerry Lee Lewis kicked the stool off the stage when he swaggered on and was rather under the influence of drink. I was told he swaggered on as he always got paid by cash and always carried his suit case full of his earnings, but I beg to differ as I saw a cigar in one hand and a rather large tumbler in the other.
From there we got taken to the "Stars dressing room". In the new museum we saw all the fascinating nostalgic photos of the summer of love, Isle of Wight festival and numerous local groups of the 60`s and 70's .We all came out humming all the songs of the artists we saw on the walls.
We ended the tour with a cup of tea and cake. We were told anyone could go in free and have a look around backstage.
WEYMOUTH by AnnC
It was a lovely hotel that we stayed at (even if no wifi). Bedrooms were nice and the food good, some of us even had fantastic views of the seafront. Company was excellent and we all had a laugh. The weather was very kind to us, sunny and not too cold. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the walks along the sandy beach marvellous for those who wanted to get some exercise.
On the Saturday we went on the organised trip to Dorchester where we found the market stalls very interesting, tasting cheeses, bread, and various sweets that were offered. You could have spent more time there going to the Museum, and looking at other exhibitions that were open to the public, which some of us did. As the summer season had not quite finished a group of us managed a boat trip round to Portland. The sea being calm except for the last part when dark clouds and the wind got up. But it was all enjoyable. The bus back to Weymouth did not take long. Our holiday nearly over. Monday morning came too quickly.
The taxi arrived sooner than I expected so I could not have my fix of caffeine to get started. I left my iPhone, Visa cards and water at home, and a certain person had to dash back home as the passports got left on the kitchen table, so that was quite a good start to the day for me.
We stopped for a comfort stop at Cobham services for twenty-minutes and by this time I was gasping for a drink. After queueing for a cup of cappuccino and getting back onto the coach - oops! I spilt the lot over myself and Elaine. Don the driver was very handy with a mop and Irene with the wipes.
When we had gone through the Euro Tunnel we managed another comfort stop at Calais before we drove down to Cite Europa Mall for a last stop to have a snack and drink before we got to the hotel. We stayed at the Parc Hotel in Carvin. The hotel was situated just by a very large busy roundabout. The Hotel did not have a lift, rooms were basic and rather on the small side, lack of drawer space, no tea/coffee facilities and the air conditioning not working in the bedroom, but nice and clean.
None of us could fault the food nor the service. At the evening meal we had two bottles of red and two of white wine on the table which was included in the price. After squeezing the last drop out of each bottle we then went to the bar which was well deserved after packing so much into an exhausting day.
[Day 1] at the Somme. We met with our guide who was with us for the next three days. His name was Rod Bedford an ex Grenadier guard who was at Sandhurst, He was very knowledgeable and told us about the tour we did as it was, so we could decide for ourselves and then ask questions. The itinerary did change a little according to our needs.
First stop we went to was Hill 70, which was a request from some people on the coach and this was of special importance to a member of our group. She lost a great uncle there who came over from Canada to fight and she had his photo with her. We spent some time there being told the history of the battle and then moved onto Vimy Ridge battlefield and trenches. The ring of remembrance was another stop where the names of 579,606 soldiers are inscribed in alphabetical order with no mention of nationality or religion. Among the names are John Kipling son of the poet and writer Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Standing Buffalo, grandson of the Indian chief Sitting Bull.
We then went onto St Vaast German cemetery which is the largest German cemetery in France containing 44,833 burials of which some where never identified. We stopped at Arras for lunch and something to eat then went onto Arras Memorial where most here where killed at the Battle of Arras between 9th April-16th May 1917 and the Flying Service Memoria. We went to a very sad place Mur des Fusilles where the names of 218 of various resistance groups are listed who got taken here to be shot in the ditches of the Citadel. Our last visit of the day being to the Arras and Carrier Wellington Tunnels and underground Quarry. Here we all had to wear tin helmets and it took some time to get your eyes accustomed to the dark. We had to take extra care as some of the ground was very uneven. After that it was the last visit of the day and we were all so pleased to be making are way back to the hotel for a rest.
[Day 2] We started off with an excursion into the "Flanders Fields" Here we went to Plug Street Memorial, where they have the names of 11,386 officers of the UK and South Africa who died but have no grave. Here we had the first and only drop of rain. Rod our guide took us to where the football Christmas Truce (one of many) of 1914 was played. I thought these were the real footballers, no stupid wages paid, only exchange of cigarettes, chocolate, and names. No rogue football managers, only those in command who tried to spoil some fun of young men fighting a bloody war for their country. Onwards and forwards to Passendale museum (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres). We spent quite a long time here which was rather a shame as it meant we could not spend so much time as we would have liked to Tyne Cot. Here we all set off on missions. The cemetery register can be found at the gatehouse as you enter the cemetery. Here you can look up the name you want and it will tell you Rank, Service number, date of death and Regiment Country of service. In total there are 11,965 men buried here, of that number 8,907 are from the United Kingdom. It was here going in the back entrance that one member of our group had a stumble and unknown at the time broke four toes and twisted both ankles, but she being a true Brit? Got a stiff upper lip and soldiered on.
Beryl, Terri, Irene, Colin and myself followed the sergeant Major Rod to the grave we wanted. Here we placed a photo of that person so he was no longer a name, rank and number we also placed a photo of his father. It was rather sad as that person who was going to put the photos down had to drop out at the last moment. After Tyne Cot we went for a meal that was included in the price. It was quite nice BUT the waiters could have done with some BOTOX to make them look as though they enjoyed serving us. The last Post at the Menin Gate which takes place each night at 8pm when the traffic gets stopped and a bugler play the Last Post to remember those who gave their all so others could live in freedom. To me this time was a bit disappointing as they only sounded the bugle. When I visited before we had a service and sang the English national anthem.
[Day 3] Included Serre Road cemetery where 7,127 British and Commonwealth burials took place Next onto Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland cemetery. Here you could see for miles around you and had a fantastic view. There were more trenches and a very impressive statue of a Caribou. Back onto the coach and we went to the Ulster Tower. Here is a plaque of nine men who won the Victoria Cross and time for a very welcome comfort stop and refreshments Getting very weary we went onto Thiepal. Here it is very emotional as his is a memorial to the Missing of the Somme with the names of 72,246 men on, British and South African. Here is buried George Kaye Butterworth who was a composer who wrote The Banks of Green Willow. He also lost a cousin in 1915. We also went to The Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines. Here was built a round tower which is rather hard to describe, but I think the builders were under the influence when they built it.
By the time we got to Lochnagar I was almost ready to drop. We walked all around the crater and thankfully there were seats to sit down on. I did know the history of it, as I had visited before, but I did not know they had an annual service one day in July to commemorate the detonation of the mine where they scatter poppies into the crater.
We went to Delville wood Tank Memorial and the WW1 animal War Memorial and to the South African WW1 Memorial. This was a remarkable place as when you entered the building, it had glass going around in a circle with etching engraved and when the sun shone through it gave a lovely effect. It also had copper figures around the walls which did not look out of place in such a bright building. Thank goodness that was the last visit of the day. After the evening meal we all went and had a farewell drink to such an enjoyable tour. Beryl and I stayed on for one more glass of wine and surprise, surprise we got chatted up by four young men. That goes to prove your never to old.
After breakfast we started on the way back home stopping at St Omer. It was a Sunday and the place was asleep. Apart from an old church we went into. Four of us found a rather seedy cafe where we had a coffee. Then it was homeward bound. When we reflected on this trip it was very moving to see all these little cemeteries dotted around the place and some only may have 12-20 graves in them, but all immaculately kept.
The day approached and the weather was not looking good. We set off bright and early. As there was 8 of us we took 2 cars. Luckily we did not get wet as we managed to miss the showers. We arrived in Daventry just before noon and headed into Tesco's to do some shopping. We needed food for breakfast and lunch and drinks. We decided to find eating places for dinner at night. When the other car arrived I found out one member was ill so we were down to 7.
We could not pick up the boat until 2pm so when we got to Braunston we headed for the pub for lunch. This would save us worrying about somewhere to eat the first night. We finally set off about 3.30pm.
To complete the Warwickshire Ring, some 100 miles and 93 locks, we had to reach certain destinations and it was a bit of a worry if we would make the first overnight stop. There were a few miles and three locks to work but we made it. Very tired we turned in, but did not sleep very well as the bunks were cramped and not very wide. By the end of the week we were starting to get used to it.
We got soaked to the skin working a flight of 11 locks which were spread over about 4 miles. It was sunny when we set off to set the locks but part of the way through the heavens opened, of course we were not in our wet weather gear, so hence the soaking.
Another member of the crew had a hurt herself and nearly didn't come, but decided to try anyway. On the Sunday she was in so much pain she decided to go home. We were able to put her off near a railway station. She arrived home safely and we were all pleased to hear that she was alright.
We did the Hatton flight of 21 locks in very good time, three and a half hours. It was very helpful as we went through with another couple who lived on their boat They gave us a lot of advise.
We managed to keep on track even though we hit numerous obstacles, and got a tyre, caught round the propeller, which took 3 hours for the chap to come out and get it off. Fought heavy winds and one of the crew fell as she tried to jump off the boat and hurt her shoulder.
We negotiated some very difficult junctions, but with trial and error tackled the course.
We found very good eating places and enjoyed some very delicious food. We were all pleased when we moored up near the marina Thursday night. Not too many injuries, and no-one falling in the canal. We went back to the same pub as we had eaten in the first day, and very good food it was.
We had run out off water so we had to move the boat into the wharf before we could eat breakfast. This worked well and we were able to get away early and head for home.
With a few sighs of relief, and a feeling of achievement and some enjoyment we headed off. Pleased to be sat in a car on terra firmer.