Hello all, or to show that we have not lost our cultural skills it could be: Guten tag, Dobrý den,
Buen dia, Bonne journée, Kalí méra or Buona giornata – this is your teaser!
Since early March it has been such a testing time for so many, and it has been quite interesting to hear what ingenious ideas that people have invented to fill their time. For myself I seem to have been busier, but one thing for sure I do truly believe that most people gardens look absolutely perfect and very pretty – not a weed in sight. Therefore, I trust that you all have managed this time and achieved some of those jobs that you always promise yourself to do and don’t.
I would like to reassure you that the AHA Committee are ready to commence organising of outings just as soon as it is possible. I know that some of the Coronavirus rules have been relaxed a little, but it is quite a way off for us to successfully and confidently to move on. However, we need to keep in mind our senior years and health issues. As you know, our Group visits are very much planned around car sharing, this is still very much a NO. To take groups of people into museums, art galleries etc., are still very much controlled by numbers. And on our excursions we enjoy including a light lunch, afternoon tea etc., and this could prove a problem for us to remain as a group. Recently I took the oportunity to speak to our Chair, Stephanie Cox, to discuss my concerns and to get the opinion of our U3A and to see if any advice had been received from U3A nationally – there is none. It is Stephanie’s opinion that my thoughts are very much in line with hers and we just have to patiently wait for our time to return.
You can be assured, just as soon as possible we will return with gusto to get our excursions back on track and all the time adding new ideas to our long list.
Wishing you all well and enjoy the summer to the best of your ability – I have heard from a number of sources that alcohol sales have gone up – how many trips have you made to the bottle bank?
Keep your distance and stay safe.
AHA - Excursion Co-ordinator
A group of hardy Birders, joined by members of Andover U3A, braved wind, rain and peak groundwater levels to visit the Swindon Lagoons Nature Reserve in February. This recently established Reserve on the site of the old Thames Water sewage works on the River Ray is managed by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and is not open to the public. The visit was led by the WWT warden who first explained the unique history of the 15 lagoons on the 23 hectare site and then guided us to the two viewing hides.
There were plenty of waterfowl including teal, widgeon, gadwall and little grebe. Herons peered down from four nests high in the trees and cormorants, kites, egrets and gulls swooped above. Taking advantage of a break in the rain we then walked through the extensive reed beds which hosted buntings and warblers. The warden regaled us with the spring-time antics of the large cuckoo population and also described the Trust’s participation in research into microplastics entering the food chain – he has to collect and label the faeces from the mice, vole and shrew populations! As the sun came out we walked through the grassed areas which are home to many grass snakes and slow worms, under the watchful eye of a photogenic peregrine falcon perched high up on an electricity pylon.
Taking lunch at The Three Trees Café in Chiselden, all agreed that this was a most interesting, and unusual, outing.
They have a number of permanent exhibits including a rare Roman enamel cup, ancient Saxon burials, hop picking and brewing, the 1643 Battle of Alton - with a Civil War era helmet, breastplate and sword. Plus the notorious tale of Sweet Fanny Adams – many of us would have heard of the saying “sweet Fanny Adams”, but not knowing it originated from the very sad story of a young girl named Fanny, brutally murdered for no known reason. The museum is also the home of a very rare piece of Anglo Saxon artefact, known as the Alton Buckle, this was exquisite in detail. It consists of a silver gilt body with filigree wires and set with AD Cloisonné garnets and glass. Its centre panel design is gold filigree on a gold base. Archaeologists have dated the buckle to 6 / 7th centuries and it is one of the very finest examples of Anglo Saxon craftsmanship ever found
The group all felt that this was most certainly one of the better museums visited and I believe we all learnt something new.
Now all fully refreshed, we moved onto the Allen Gallery. This is home to one of the best collections in the south of England of ceramics, porcelain, pottery and tiles dating from 1250. In addition, they hold an excellent collection of perfume bottles, medals, shoe buckles and much more. They have a cabinet
holding a wide range of Wedgwood and porcelain figurines, some from the great British producers: Bow, Chelsea, Derby and Worcester.
Any U3A Member is very welcome to join us on any of our monthly outings. I suggest keep checking the webpage for up-to-date information of places that may be of interest to you.
AHA - Excursion Co-ordinator
After an introduction in the reception area we entered the impressive main Ceremonial Hall. Zoe explained the many facilities available to families and to funeral directors, and then expertly fielded a lively question and answer session. We then moved to the smaller ‘Oak Room’ which is used for smaller ceremonies but can also be used for streaming live video from the Ceremonial Hall so that family members including young children and distressed or autistic adults can view the proceedings without disturbing others.
We then moved into the Cremator Hall to see what happens ‘behind the scenes’ and this was the highlight of the visit despite the two piles of ‘tester’ empty coffins and the cold room full of Pure Cremations customers waiting their turn. There are currently two cremators, which cost £1M each, and there is capacity for two more. There is a small viewing area for those faiths such as the Hindus whose funeral rites include watching the coffin in the flames. We were able to watch the coffins being loaded into the cremators and then look through the viewing glass to see the effect of the 800 degrees heat. The less squeamish members were then able to see the ashes being raked out and prepared for storage (a unique fireproof ceramic identity disk is placed in every coffin). This reinforced our impression of the care and consideration given to every aspect of the cremation process. On a lighter note, Zoe did also show us the fascinating collection of heat-proof artificial hip and knee joints which they have collected from the cremators.
Our visit ended with refreshments and a vote of thanks for a most interesting and informative visit.
Most of us had never heard of Arqiva prior to the visit, but that did not deter a near capacity (for them) group gathering at the premises for a keenly anticipated visit. Some of us vaguely knew that they were involved with some sort of ‘communications’, so we had everything to learn; and what an informative & interesting visit it proved to be. The company is involved with digital radio, digital ground & satellite TV plus mobile phone communications.
After coffee our hosts comprehensively explained the various business sectors they cover commencing with mobile ‘phones and the change to a higher frequency necessitated by the advent of ‘5G’; this involved them in considerable (millions) of additional expenditure to duplicate the existing network to ensure continuity of service. They showed us film of mast construction using helicopters to fly in the pre-fabricated components, giving a clear impression of what it is like to work at 1000+ft. the network of a small number of very high masts host receiving & broadcasting dishes for most of the phone retailers such as Vodaphone, O2, etc which then pass on signal traffic to a larger number of smaller masts which in turn pass it down to the local masts from which we take our messages and calls.
Similarly with digital radio in which they appear to own critical patents which allow them to be monopoly broadcasters for the BBC, Classic Radio & all the many small local stations. The TV relaying service was graphically illustrated when we visited one of the control rooms where a dizzying wall to ceiling display of hundreds of small screens gave a snapshot of then current traffic. We learned that some stations readily available on our TV sets at home are based abroad & the entire content channelled via satellite & Arqiva masts to our living rooms. Foreign correspondent features & interviews on news programs in real time are also facilitated by Arqiva.
Our hosts provided an excellent buffet lunch, for which we were very grateful and we eventually left at about 3.00pm with greater knowledge than when we entered. A truly educational & entertaining visit.
Posted by Norma Bryan
AHA Committee thank all Members for joining us during 2019, and please note we will not be reconvening until 2020. Information regarding 2020 will be issued later this year.