elite number of 6 members went to the Oxford Christmas market a little
disappointing but a good day out catching up with Christmas shopping in
|5th November - Queen's Dresses, Windsor Castle|
Members met at Windsor to view the Exhibition of the Queens Dress'
November - Ghost Walk in London
Ghost walk in London Imagining that it was after dark and the fog was swirling around us,
23 of us met Sally Botwright, our Blue Badge Tourist Guide, and embarked upon a highly
interesting and entertaining Ghost Walk within the City of London.
Sally led us down narrow alleys, back streets and along busy roads where ghastly deeds
such as murders, hangings, drawing and quarterings had taken place and into church
graveyards containing mass graves where the victims of the annual London plagues were
buried. We heard about the Grey Man who haunts a chapel within St Paul’s Cathedral,
the portly gentleman devoured by his starving Newgate Prison cellmates whose large,
black, fearsome dog avenged his master’s death by killing them all and which can be
sometimes be seen in the darkness slithering along what had been the Prison wall.
Amongst other spooky stories, Sally related the tales of ‘Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane’
and the church bell that tolled by itself all night from the exact time that the vicar
of the Herts. parish church it had been transported from had died. The window from
where ‘Bloody Mary’ eagerly watched Protestants being burnt at the stake was pointed
out and, as we passed the Cockpit pub, glimpsed the gallery inside from where the
public had watched and bet on cock fights. We now know how to identify an original
telephone box, distinguish City of London police from their Metropolitan counterparts
and learnt that medieval cannons have been recycled into street bollards plus numerous
other fascinating facts that we didn’t know before. Helen Tonks, Group member
Visit to Reading Goal 26th
the 26th October 10 members of the Out and About Group experienced the
prison and the responses of world famous artists and writers to Reading
We didn't know what to expect and we all came out bemused, amazed, very
thoughtful at the experience and glad to be out in the autumn sunshine.
You can wander over three levels via metal stairs and landings, into
three wings of cells with art and writing in some. Oscar Wilde became
Prisoner C.3.3. his cell is located on C Wing. The brutal regime in
Reading Goal broke Wilde, yet he became known throughout the world for
his poem The Ballad of Reading Goal and his letter De Profundis ( Out
of the Depths). He felt compelled to write and his words on the
separation from loved ones still resonates today.
A sobering visit that raises many questions.
Visit to Watts Gallery & Studio 20th September 2016
Out and About
Summer Activities 2016
the summer months members have enjoyed a number of interesting and
informative visits. Over this period the group has joined with members
of other groups including Moto and Times Out.
With thanks to Diane Jones who facilitated 40 members
travelling by coach to Westminster for a conducted tour of
both houses of Parliament unfortunately there are no photos but members
have their own memories.
split up after the tour and after lunch individuals chose to follow
their own interests a small number of whom went to St Thomas' Hospital
where there was an exhibition of Peter Pan in the Florence Nightingale
Both of the next visits were arranged by Val Richards; in
travelling by car share had a very interesting visit to Dorney Manor
one of England's finest Tudor Manor Houses little changed in 600 years.
was followed by a very successful visit by rail to Eltham Palace Val
worked out an easy journey changing at Waterloo to waterloo east. Entry
to the property, managed by English Heritage, was included in 2 for 1
making it a very reasonably priced day out for 17 members.
The 2 properties were a complete contrast although both starting life
as medieval buildings Eltham Palace now managed by English Heritage was
the Art Deco home of the Millionaire Courtaulds.
The1930 home a mansion built alongside the medieval palace. Members
were presented with a multimedia recorder so that individuals could
take as much or as little as they wanted from the tour. This was
followed by a tour of the beautiful gardens.
||Click here for reports April - June
||Bombay Sapphire - March
of us went on an outing to visit the Bombay Sapphire distillery at
Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire. We car-shared, as it is approx. 100 mile
history of Laverstoke Mill is recorded as far back as the 1086 Doomsday
Book, in which a mill is noted on the site. Laverstoke Mill has been
under the ownership of William the Conqueror, Henry VIII and enjoyed
four royal visits – most recently Queen Elizabeth in 1962. In 1719,
having acquired the lease for the mill, printer Henry Portal expanded
the site enabling him to begin manufacturing bank notes for the British
Empire in 1724. In the mid-18th century Laverstoke Mill saw increasing
prosperity; manufacturing the bank notes during Queen Victoria’s long
reign, the site was expanded by the Portal family in 1842 and again in
1881, introducing further elegant architecture to allow for increased
production. The bank note business was sold during the 1960s, and after
that the site became derelict.
Sapphire bought the site in 2008, and spent 5 years converting the mill
buildings so that they could become a distillery and it also serve as a
showcase for their products.
distillery opened in 2014. The makeover was designed by Thomas
Heatherwick (he of Olympic torch fame) the project is a first of its
kind in both scale and complexity completed in the UK. Although hard to
believe given Heatherwick's fame – it is the Studios’ first
conservation project, as well as their first design for a production
facility. It’s the only processing plant in Britain that has a BREEAM
rating of “outstanding” for building sustainability.
of the recovery systems feeds heat into the two spectacular
greenhouses. These two giant structures extrude out of the gin house
and sit in the river and act as part of the visitor experience to
showcase the botanicals in both their Tropical and Mediterranean
climates. They are composed from 793 unique pieces of glass and were
developed in collaboration with Kew Gardens. The taller structure
offers dry, almost harsh Mediterranean conditions ideal for growing
almonds, lemons, angelicas, coriander, juniper and orris root.. The
shorter house is warmer and creates a humid tropical environment in
which to grow cassia bark, grains of paradise, liquorice and cubeb
design for the restoration and modernisation of the site – which began
as a collection of more than 40 buildings congested together over
shadowing the original banknote mill – included a biomass boiler,
electricity-generating water wheel, and a sophisticated heat-recovery
system for the five stills.
have made a magnificent job restoring the site and a tour round is very
interesting. We finished off by having a drink in their bar-room (not
many of us had gin!!).
Windsor - February 2016
V & A Museum -
of 2016 saw Diane arrange a visit to the V&A to look at an
the Bejewelled Treasures of The Al Thani Collection
bus involves a lengthy journey on the new route between Bracknell and
Kensington but as it is comfortable and free,utilizing our bus passes,
us no cause for complaint.
in the Garden cafe that is a stunning environment.
A number of
checked out the web site to find that there was a second exhibition
by Clarks entitled Shoes Pleasure and Pain so there was a decision for
group to split according to their interests.
sections had enjoyed their individual choices.
very informative and well laid out presenting around 200 pairs from
globe ranging from a sandle originating from ancient egypt and
pure gold leaf to the most elaborate designs
by contempory makers.
Thank you Diane