Out and About Visit Reports 2017


The planning meeting and post-Christmas Lunch on! 7thJanuary was well attended at Lavender Park golf centre. Unfortunately due to the timing the area was very busy and hence discussion was difficult. This will be reassessed at the next meeting

10 members travelled to London by bus to the V&A to visit the Underwear through time, or Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 -1970 that took us all back to our 20’s

On the 23rd of February members enjoyed the challenge of a skittles tournament with members from MOTO
23rd March - Museum of Brands
Chris Burry arranged a very interesting visit to The Museum of Brands. Some members chose to revisit an earlier event but for many it was a first visit.

On 23rd March a group of 12 of us travelled by bus to The Museum of Brands & Packaging in Ladbroke Grove.It was a real trip down memory lane for us all, recognising lots of things from our childhood and younger days! 

The main part of the museum was a "Time Tunnel", a darkened maze of floor to ceiling glass cabinets stuffed with a seemingly endless collection of over 12,000 items of boxes, packets, wrappers,posters, toys and packaging of everyday food and household items, from Victorian times up to today. There was another room showing a rolling film of old television adverts which gave us a lot of laughs.There was also a display of many well-known items, Marmite, Ovaltine, some washing powders, Brasso metal polish etc, showing how the packaging hasn't changed very much since they first came on the market years ago.

The museum has a very nice little cafe where we had a snack lunch and there is alsoa small courtyard garden.All in all, a very interesting and enjoyable day.Thank you Chris
28th March - Windsor Walkway

16 members enjoyed a day in the spring sunshine following the Walkway booklet provided by the Tourist information Office.

The Walkway follows 63 disks set in the pavement identifying places of interest on a 6.321km route recognising the moment on 9thSeptember when the queen had reigned for 63 years and 321days.

Members broke into smaller groups to follow their individual interests. Members agreed that acting as visitors enabled them to look differently at places they had passed by frequently on other occasions including the Parish Church next to the bus stop.  

Another church that we were delighted to find open was The Garrison Church. Prince Harry attended with his regiment when based at Combermere Barracks

None of the members completed the route but all have a booklet and stated that they will follow it on future visits to the town

10th of April another Blue badge tour of London has been arranged by Helen Tonks
More of which after the events.

Next Planning meeting for summer activities will be at 10:30am on 24th April at Lavender Park. Hopefully the earlier time will enable more appropriate discussion.
7th June - Joint groups trip to Royal Airforce museum, Hendon.
Thanks to Diane Jones for arranging a visit to The air force Museum transporting us by coach to a fascinating day with many of us attending the talk on ww1 and a guided tour of the gallery. (Also see MOTO's web page for more photos)
27th June 2017 - Reading Museum of Rural Life


Thanks to Geraldine Heywood who arranged a tour of this very interesting ‘local’ Museum. 10 members travelled by bus and met up at the museum just before 11am to be joined by a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer who gave us a guided tour of the exhibits before leaving us to spend time in areas that interested individual members.
In addition to the many and varied exhibits of rural life the museum also holds a vast quantity of Ladybird books going back to many of the original printings.

21st July 2017 - The supreme court of the United Kingdom.

10 members travelled to Waterloo by rail walking along the south bank to Westminster after stopping for coffee in the sunshine at the Festival hall.

Splitting up during the walk due to the crowds of tourists along the route members chose different venues for lunch before coming together at the court just before 2pm for our guided tour.

It is possible to undertake a self-guided tour of the courts but our tour of the 3 court rooms was greatly enhanced by the very knowledgeable guide.

The Supreme Court hears civil cases from all parts of the UK and criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Supreme Court does not hold trials where guilt and innocence are decided instead points of law are decided. This is the only court in the UK where proceedings are routinely filmed and available to watch on line.

On 1st October2009 the Supreme Court replaced the committee of the House of Lords as the highest court in the land and is now separate from both Government and Parliament.

Court number 1 is very impressive room in the grade 2 listed building that contrasted with the very modern presentation in court room two and the beautiful triple-height library.

There is also a small court room 3 that is home of the judicial committee of the Privy Council
All agreed it was a day well spent
31st July 2017 - Spencer House 
20 members went up on the train to visit Spencer House. We were so lucky, we had a private tour with the most excellent guide. She made the trip for us, as she was so knowledgeable. She really knew her stuff and kept us entertained with snippets of history. For example, the word ‘Cheerio’ comes from the fact that when guests at Spencer house wished to go home, they would call out ‘Chair Ho’ for a sedan chair to be brought round to the front door. This evolved into ‘Cheerio’. All railings in London used to be painted blue, but then Prince Albert died, and they all got repainted black. Most railings are now painted black by choice. The ceiling panels in the painted room are held in place by Velcro!! And so on. The history of the house is as follows: - Built between 1756/66 Spencer House was conceived as a showcase of classical design. It was built by Vardy, then by Stewart, famous architects of the day. It was also designed for pleasure . The State Rooms were used for receptions and family gatherings.
Refinements to the House
Following the death of the first Earl Spencer in 1783 the House was partly remodelled by the architect, Henry Holland, who added the Greek Ionic columns in the Dining Room, encased in Siena scagliola, and the large mahogany doors in the Staircase Hall, the Ante Room and the Library. In the 1840s the ground floor was decorated and the first floor was restored by the famous Victorian architect, Philip Hardwick. Thirty years later the Parisian designer, Barbier, redecorated the ground floor rooms.
The 20th Century
The Spencer family continued to live at the House until 1895 when the building was let to a series of tenants, including the Duke of Marlborough and his wife, the former Miss Consuelo Vanderbilt. Following the death of the fifth Earl Spencer in 1910 the family returned to the House and in 1926 the building was substantially restored. A year later, however, the family moved away and the House was let to the Ladies Army and Navy Club, which remained in occupation until 1943. The contents of the House were removed to Althorp. During the war the House was occupied by the nation’s nursing services, and in 1948 a lease was signed with the auctioneers Christie’s, whose bomb- damaged premises in nearby King Street were being rebuilt. Various companies occupied the house until 1985 when the lease was assigned to J. Rothschild Holdings plc and thence to RIT Capital Partners plc.
Spencer House Today
Spencer House has regained the full splendour of its late eighteenth-century appearance after a ten year programme of restoration undertaken by RIT Capital Partners
Well worth a visit as the house has been beautifully restored. Our guide advised that after one U3A visited, an elderly couple came back and booked a room there to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary with 20 guests. She said it was more affordable than we probably thought, then proceeded to tell us, that it was only £350. per guest!!. If I make it to 110 I could go back and have my own Golden Wedding celebration there. You are all invited. Pam Palmer (member of Out & About)

13th August - Brookwood Cemetery


Thank you to Sue Nicholson who arranged a tour of the cemetery for 12 members who shared cars and reported a fascinating and very interesting afternoon.

They had a tour of just a small part of the cemetery in the Anglican section where they saw some beautiful headstones and mausoleums and also the St Edmund chapel that was opened up by one of the monks.


26th September - Post Office Museum

30 of us travelled by coach up to London to visit the new PO museum.   I think the coach was a mistake as it took much longer than when we go up on the  train, It was a lesson to learn. Coach great for trips going away from London, not so great for those going into London. 
The admin for the trip was particulary bad.  I don't know if it is because the PO museum is a new attraction but I struggled with the the admin from when I first contacted them to the day we went. Getting correct information  and confirmation of the trip details out of them was like getting blood from a stone. Not a good experience. I did write and complain when we got back. They replied and apologised because they knew their admin wasn't working properly. They were grateful for the  feedback so they could put things right, which I hope they have. 
All that said and apart from the admin. malfunctions, I think everyone who went enjoyed what was on offer at the museum.  The mail train was very good and the exhibits in the museum were interesting.  Some of us thought they had missed a  few tricks  with the exhibits, as we could recall events and happenings to do with the Post Office that weren't mentioned. On the whole though we did all enjoy  the visit.  
Pam Palmer,  Out and About member.

2nd October - St. Georges Chapel, Windsor.

Thank you to Gillian Lowe for arranging a very interesting guided tour of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, a return visit by many members.

We experienced evensong and  it was really atmospheric.

19th October - Guided Walk Round Soho

Sally Botwright, the London Blue Badge Guide, led 25 members on a really informative stroll around Soho. 

It is now a very cleaned up area, gone is the sleaze of old.

We met sally outside the Casino in Leister Square looking at some of the original architecture above the flashy modern advertising boards. The square in the centre has the original half price theatre booth that is supported by Theatres.

Around the square we were reminded that Samuel Johnson frequented the club in Soho and William Hogarth painter and satirist had been painting local characters and discovered that he could in fact print additional copies of them. To prevent others from copying his work he took this to parliament and later this became the copyright laws.

John Hunter, in 1768 was elected Surgeon to St George's Hospital, and in 1783 he moved to a large house in Leicester Square which enabled him to take resident pupils and to arrange his collection into a teaching museum.


Moving from Leicester square into Soho we stopped briefly at The Notre Dame de France. The church was rebuilt after bombing during WW2 from there into China Town where all the signs are written in Chinese. China Town was expanded in the 1960’s to compete with similar areas across the globe.

We moved into St Ann’s church yard some of which was designed by Christopher Wren though those were lost in the Blitz There is only one tomb still in the church yard is William Hazlitt The radical, early-19th-century essayist died in poverty in a Soho lodging house, aged 52, his reputation in tatters, his stomach riddled with cancer, and with two broken marriages behind him. Eager to let his room again forthwith, his landlady even hid his body under the bed as she showed around would-be, new tenants. Judging by his last words, however, Hazlitt had died content – after a decent life’s work.

Around the corner from there is the 2i’s coffee bar frequented in the 60’s by all the up and coming pop musicians.

There followed a number of pubs all with links to past historical persons. The French where the free French met throughout the war and it was often frequented by De Gaul.


The dog and Duck Victorian pub replaced the tavern that had been on the sight since 1734 Soho was once the royal hunting ground of Henry the 8th the hunting call So Ho gave the area its name. The pub was frequented by many local characters including George Orwell who was a regular there.

The Intrepid Fox was the haunt of Pitt the older and the younger. At just 24 years old, William Pitt the Younger, son of Pitt the Elder, was the youngest Prime Minister in history. He died aged only 46. He was exhausted by the demands of an office whose modern conception he helped to establish, and of a peculiarly threatening international situation which frustrated many of his political goals.

The John Snow recognises the work of John Snow (15 March 1813 – 16 June 1858) who was an English physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. He is considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology, in part because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, London, in 1854. His findings inspired fundamental changes in the water and waste systems of London, which led to similar changes in other cities, and a significant improvement in general public health around the world. Although recognised by a pub John Snow was in fact tee total.

Many thanks to Sally for another great walk.