Travel pic

Our group started up in August 2015 and has been very popular.

We meet regularly on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Church of the Resurrection hall from 2-4pm. We charge £1.50 to cover the charge for the hall and tea and biscuits.

We like members to try and bring new trips and ideas that would be of interest to the group and help to plan them.

So far we have been abroad six times since starting up – Black Forest, Austria, Somme, Monet’s Garden, Holland (tulip time ) Malta and this year we will be going to Valkenburg. We have done numerous holidays in this country and try to arrange about 4-6 day trips a year to various places.

Please visit the Trips page, by clicking the tab just above the picture, to see what we have coming up this year 2020.

Group Leader: Judy Jones
Email: contactportsdownu3a.org.uk


We are not planning any trips at the moment due to the COVID restrictions.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

As you are all aware we run different kinds of trips and holidays

HOLIDAYS

Firstly there are the holidays where the organiser books several places on a particular holiday with a recognised holiday company. The member than pays the deposit as requested by the company which is non refundable. The balance to be paid at the appropriate time. Both payments should be payable to the holiday company concerned via the organiser.

Most holiday companies have sliding scales of refunds for cancellations and is a matter between them and the member. Sometimes, but not always, it is possible to make substitutions but if allowed, it is the responsibility of the member to find such a substitute. Your travel insurance should cover you for cancellations.

Sometimes we ask a coach company to organise a specific holiday for us but the same rules apply as above.

Depending on numbers, some holiday companies and venues give free places, and this can be used in a variety of ways. Maybe pay for an extra excursion or free coffee after dinner or reduce the price. This last option is not always available as the number of free places often varies as the numbers go up an down.

TRIPS

These are usually day trips or overnight and fall into two categories. If the trip is organised by a travel company, then the whole amount is payable when booking and payable to them via the organiser. The payment is non refundable but substitutions are usually allowed.

However if the trip is organised by the Travel Group involving the hire of a coach, this must also be paid up front to Portsdown U3A via the organiser and is also non refundable.

The cost of such trips is calculated on the cost of the coach hire and the numbers of members going to “wherever”. The coach hire costs are not moveable feasts.

5 day tour based in the centre of Valkenburg in The Netherlands

  • Outward: Monday 23rd March 2020
  • Return: Friday 27th March 2020
  • Coach: 34 seat executive coach with WC
  • Ferry: return ferry crossings – Dover / Calais
  • Hotel: Hotel Walram, Valkenburg
  • Terms: 4 nights Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
  • Price: £351.00 per person – based on a minimum of 20 sharing twin/double rooms. Entrance/Guide fees not included
  • Accommodation: 7 x twin/double rooms – Maximum of 6 x single rooms @ £82.00 supplement

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 1 Depart for the late morning ferry crossing to Calais and on to Holland and the hotel.

Day 2 First stop at the 3 Countries viewpoint and then continuing to the stunning medieval Monschau for a day at leisure. With its riverside setting, cobbled street and timber-framed houses, it is a real gem of the region. Take time to explore its many attractions including museums, a castle and local crafts. Return to the hotel via the Eifel National Park.

Day 3 A morning at leisure to explore Valkenburg with its ‘municipal caves’ where Romans mined marl some 2000 years ago. In the afternoon travel to Maastricht, capital of Limburg. This beautiful old city lies on the River Meuse and has a wealth of historic buildings, stylish shops and fine bars and restaurants.

Day 4 Head over the border into Germany to discover the charming town of Aachen. Enjoy free time exploring the great old town and its cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still often referred to as Aix-la-Chapelle, after Charlemagne’s great Palatine Chapel, now part of its glorious treasure-filled Cathedral, it is and a ‘must’ for any art-lover.

Day 5 Travel back to Calais for the return crossing to Dover and home.

Alternative: a day tour to the Ahr Valley – Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler

Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler is tucked away in the vineyards of the Ahr valley. It is one town with two centres, which create a charming and harmonious combination of new and old. The romantic half-timbered houses in the centre of Ahrweiler are surrounded by the medieval town walls, which are still entirely preserved, whereas in Bad Neuenahr the spa town has its new art buildings, the casino and the extremely modern health and fitness centres.

At the end of February eleven of us went to Weston for 4-night stay. At the last minute we were informed that our original hotel was overbooked so we were moved to a hotel nearby, which was very good. However, we had to go to the original hotel for our evening meal, which was rather inconvenient.

“Walking to and from the second hotel each night was invigorating, as our intrepid group battled against the gale force wind going there, but were merrily swept along nicely coming back. The breakfasts were very satisfying, and I look forward to starting my diet forthwith”.

Margaret


The weather, as usual for the time of year, was wet and windy but we were well equipped for all types of weather. We were even lucky enough to have quite a lot of dry weather in between showers and downpours.

“Arriving at Weston was the start of getting to know the hotel. The bedrooms and the stairs. Stairs were everywhere to the right and left of every floor at all different heights and angIes. Three bedrooms in 24hrs. If you didn’t laugh you could have sat and cried.


On arrival my 1st bedroom / 3rd floor, I realised that there was a leak between the toilet and shower, water running across the floor, or the other way around. The staff immediately gave me another room on the 2nd floor. A beautiful room, facing the sea etc. Later that night on getting into the bed, the carpet was all wet just by the bed. Ugh! The bed very uncomfortable, the springs coming through everywhere.


So next morning at 07.30am I went down to the receptionist who was very nice about it all. The hotel staff then offered me a double bedroom on the 4th floor, was asked to try the bed out first before saying yes to it. The room was very nice and no other faults occurred. I have never ever complained like this at any hotel. Look what U3A has done for me, it’s given me confidence!”

Ann

On our first full day we visited Wells and Cheddar Gorge which were very interesting. We were quite happy to dive into tea shops and cafes whenever the weather turned nasty.

“The architecture in the cathedral was really amazing”

Julie


“We don’t think we planed the visit to Wells very well. Although we acquired a street map, we didn’t leave ourselves any time to visit the Bishops Palace after we had gone around the beautiful Cathedral.”

Judy

Our second day was a free day and many of us explored different aspects of Weston.

“I particularly enjoyed exploring along the coast towards Sand Bay and seeing the derelict pier”

Julie

“The day we spent in Weston, Colin and I were on a mission to find Dr Fox tearoom which was on a very Small Island called Knightstone. Dr Fox was an early pioneer in human treatment in the mentally health afflicted. He brought the island in 1830. On the so-called Island he built an exercise courtyard and a therapeutic spa with a range of hot and cold chemical baths. The bath house is now a very nice tea house.”

Judy

Thursday saw us back on the coach to Bath where we were able to visit many of the places of interest.

“On Thursday, enjoyment was experienced in the Sally Lunn tea rooms in Bath when, following cups of tea (and a superb cinnamon bun each), Judy and I visited The Ladies. The sweet little room was of dolls house proportions, and great dexterity and presence of mind were required to allow two other ladies space to enter and use the amenities. All ended well and out we trotted into the sunshine and a patiently waiting Colin”.

Margaret

“Some of us visited Bath Abbey and saw the exhibition of 23 diptychs depicting Bible stories from the Old Testament, created by the artist Sue Symons and called “Let My People Go”. Each diptych comprises one panel of calligraphy, with beautifully illustrated verses from the Old Testament, and an adjacent textile panel. One might describe Sue Symons technique as ‘freestyle embroidery’. I thought the textile panels were quite remarkable”.

Helen

“Just wandering around the town and looking at the buildings was fascinating”

Julie

“A highlight of the holiday was the treat from the Thursday night entertainment, when a 13-year-old boy exercised his vocal cords to a worrying degree. The group had fun trying to identify the name of each well-known tune. One of the assistants from the bar almost collapsed in hysterics when Judy asked where the plug was, so she could pull it out. “

Margaret

“On our last night Judy reduced the barman in the Sandringham Hotel to hysterical giggles by saying she wanted to pull the plug on the singer.”

Helen

“Unfortunately, I was engaged in doing a workshop for the U3A National Office and so did not get to Wells and Cheddar. I decided not to go to Bath but had a lovely peaceful day doing nothing very much. It made a great change from my normal hectic lifestyle. “

Beryl

“The Holiday was very good despite a few inconveniences and some dire weather. A good time was had by all.”

Janice

“All in all, a very nice holiday, and I thank all those involved in finding me each time I got lost”

Margaret

“The holiday was fun, good trips, great walks and good food. I think we all had a good laugh over various things.”

Ann

We had a wonderful break, enjoyed each other’s company and had lots of fun.

The visit to Eltham Palace was undertaken by about 35 members of the group. We set off at 0830am, amidst rain and wind. Not the best start you would say for an outing in June. However after a short break for necessities, (being of the older generation), we arrived at our destination around 1100am.

The weather was still wet but with great enthusiasm the group alighted from the coach and made our way to the entrance hall. Judy, with her usual proficiency had obtained leaflets and admission wristbands prior to our invasion.

On entering our first stop was for the obligatory tea, coffee and in some cases, CAKE. After refreshing ourselves we made our way along the sodden track to the Palace. On donning the obligatory shoe coverings we were allowed entry.

To say that we were amazed at the entrance hall was an understatement. It was magnificent – Art Deco in all its glory. After a short six minute film about the house and its previous owners, a branch of the Courtauld family, who were responsible for this showpiece. From there we were allowed free access to all parts of the Palace. We commented that some of the rooms were the equivalent area to that of the footprint of our own homes!

Every room that we entered was opulent. It just made you think of the foresight and money that was available for such a project.

However for me the most impressive feature was the Great Hall. It had the most enormous arched ceiling full of carvings and workmanship. It even had a minstrels’ gallery from where you could stand and admire the beauty of this ancient hall.

The rain did not subside throughout the day but I would guess that everyone enjoyed themselves, taking away with them memories of an amazing building and good company. With a special thank you to Paul the driver at Woods coaches for looking after us.

Under a cool early morning autumn day with a clear blue sky overhead twenty six U3A members boarded a coach for a trip to London and the Churchill War Rooms. Traffic was light for a Monday and making good time we arrived at our drop off point beside Westminster Abbey at 10.35. After a short walk we arrived at the entrance to the War Rooms which are at the rear of HM Treasury.

Judith had done an excellent job of arranging our visit and within a short time we were ushered down a side entrance into a holding room for a short video and talk about what we were about to see.

The construction of the bunker began in 1938 and was fully operational by August 1939 and remained in use until March 1945 at the end of the V weapon bombing by the Germans. There are many wooden supports used as steel was in high demand for the war effort. With heavy bombing over London an additional concrete plinth was added to improve their safety at all times.

With your helpful audio guide in hand you follow a basic U shape around a labyrinth of twenty nine offices and quarters looking exactly as they were in 1940’s. A large room is dedicated to a detailed story of Churchill’s whole life and legacy and here Portsmouth gets a mention giving him the freedom of the city.

The two most important rooms are the Map Room, manned 24/7 by senior officers required to produce daily reports for the King, PM and Chiefs of staff and the Cabinet Room, where 150 meetings were held.

It’s a fascinating place that gives a tangible feel for how men and women lived and worked spending months underground in these smoke filled and poorly ventilated rooms. A fact that sun lamps were available for use by staff working down here shows. They even had a notice board showing the weather above ground for those below.