The Isn’t That Interesting! group visited A.G. Down undertakers in June to see what was in store for them and they came out very well-informed. Director Karen Hussey explained some of the history of the half a dozen local undertakers that make the group, Down being Bridport‘s. She spoke about the various options available including the choice of coffin – veneered chipboard, wicker, wool, cardboard . . .religious and non-religious ceremonies, ‘processing’ including burial, cremation, freeze-drying, solution in caustic soda . . . what you can do with ashes, how to donate your body to science . . . local rules about headstones . . . She emphasised the desirability of making one’s wishes known to the family – just a note behind the clock is sufficient.
Gardens & Gardening 1 hard at work at Dawn Armstrong's garden, enjoying the sunshine at their meeting on 14th May.
There was some discussion on the uses of vinegar in the garden (more than you might think!). They also enjoyed a walk around the garden and seeing the brilliant colours of the rhododendrons and azaleas, plus admiring the burgeoning vegetable plot. There was a look at the proposed development of a new area and some design ideas were put forward. The cake was good too!'
Members of Gardens and Gardening 2 in action!
Following an operation, Christina Walker is in need of some help in her garden, so Myrtle Pacey, Joan Sinnott and Pat Grafton got stuck into a bit of weeding! With a welcome tea break, of course!
A Walk on the Wild(ish) Side … of Wales, by Penny Deacon
Marilyn’s cottage, deep in forestry lands, has metre thick walls, a barn (complete with owl, and possibly owls) and everything necessary for comfort: enormous log fire with plenty of logs, indoor plumbing and a wonderful shower with endless hot water. We brought our own hot water bottles.
On from there to the lake and back down on slippery slate chippings (Di 2, who had a painful ricked knee was impressively stalwart). Looking back from what Diana calls The Dipper Bridge (no dippers to be seen) I was amazed to realise just how far and high we’d climbed. I think this one was our longest at around 11 miles.
Next day was ‘a short walk’ up one side and down the other of the Llyfnant Valley. An interesting additional detour required a retreat and recalibration but we found a very pretty glade overlooking the river, with convenient felled trees for seats, just in time for lunch.
And got back to the cars as the drizzle started. This didn’t deter us from visiting the Osprey Centre, complete with water buffaloes as well as ospreys, which is highly recommended. There was also at least one cuckoo.
Wednesday was Barmouth for most of us – the sun came out soon after we arrived (and had enjoyed some excellent coffee). This was more of a stroll than a walk: we crossed the railway bridge and watched the tide rush out, revealing the sands where birds scurried for goodies. Sat on beachside benches for lunch like a posse of trippers.
And on Thursday Diana, Steve, Robert and I climbed Cader Idris. I thought it would be hard at the end – but it’s the start that’s a shock to the system although the steep clamber up along the waterfall is worth it when you get to the lake two thirds of the way to the top. And we didn’t quite make the summit.
We were probably less than half an hour off when the mist and cloud came down and discretion (plus the thought of the descent over slippery wet stones) became the better part of valour.
And Friday was clean house and head home. Brilliant!
Remember: if you go down to the woods (Welsh) and hills you will need …
1. Someone who understands glacial geology and can explain river capture.
2. Someone who can dissect owl pellets
3. Someone willing to make porridge every morning – and is good at it
4. The same someone who brings sweets (Werthers Originals, but other brands are available) and produces them just before you realise you are longing for something sweet
5. A hot water bottle unless you have chosen to stay in a hotel
6. The ability to eat nachos followed by fish and chips and still go walking next day
7. And a group of people who enjoy walking and who will encourage each other, identify birds by their calls, know exactly where we are on the map, and make excellent company.
No smoke, no fire
In April, a dozen members of the Isn’t That Interesting group were shown round Bridport Fire Station by Station Officer Nick Courtice and Watch Manager Steve Pask. They explained that most fire stations in Dorset, including Bridport, operate with retained firefighters who all have full time ‘normal’ jobs but respond instantly when paged to attend. They have to be able to get to the fire station within four minutes of a call out. The first person to arrive checks the incident sheet that is sent to the station, and starts up the appropriate appliance. As soon as sufficient crew have arrived, it’s all aboard and off to the incident, typically within five minutes of the initial call. It seems that Bridport attend a wider range of incidents that most others in the area. There are a few major fires, Parnham being a good example but generally it’s traffic accidents, fire alarms, chimney and thatch fires, flood and mud rescues and helping the ambulance service to break into buildings to reach unconscious patients.
One of their more unusual jobs occurred recently, following police around Salisbury, decontaminating where necessary during the ‘Russian Spy’ incident.
The U3A visitors were then shown over the appliances. There was a ‘standard’ fire engine, equipped with hoses and ladders, but also medical equipment including a defibrillator, hydraulic cutters and spreaders to prise crashed cars open, flood lights . . . even spare warm clothing for incident victims. The second ‘fire engine’ is a 4-wheel-drive version that can go anywhere that’s wide enough and the third is a special unit that can be fitted with either a decontamination station (in case of chemical and similar incidents) or a large water tank to support the other appliances at major fires, especially useful as the standard appliances can empty their own on-board water tanks in about 40 seconds.
A most interesting visit.
The Interesting Group’s ascent of ‘Mount Bridport’
In March, the ‘Isn’t That Interesting! Group visited Rockburn, the indoor 'rock' climbing centre in Bridport. Their first challenge was to get into tight climbing shoes when they had been hoping to get by with their comfortable trainers.
After a safety briefing, it was onto the lower slopes to practice using the foot- and hand-holds by traversing across the face a couple of times. Will, the instructor, corrected their technique, encouraging them to use their toes rather than their flat feet and then it was on to a higher traverse over a massively exposed drop (of about 6’ with nice soft safety mats underneath) and round The Blind Corner. After a little more instruction on how to climb vertically, it was straight up the mighty South Face (all 15’ of it). The Group was then let loose to explore routes at will until exhaustion finally set in.
As they rested at the foot of the cliff, they admired the strength, skill and advanced technique of the next group on the slopes – the 6-8 year old girls’ after-school club who did it all so much better!
Will she, won’t she?
Members of the Exploring Opera group are midway through watching Bellini’s “Norma”, using a DVD borrowed from the U3A Central Resources, one of over 400 that are available. It’s a recent production that uses a somewhat incongruous modern staging but the singing is splendid.
The story so far . . .
The priestess Norma loves Pollione, leader of the occupying force suppressing her people, and has borne two children by him. But Pollione’s love has withered, and he now loves Norma’s fellow priestess Adalgisa. Meanwhile, the people urgently look to Norma to lead their rebellion. No-one has died (yet . . .)
No such thing as bad weather
(just inappropriate clothing)
Walking groups have continued their programmes through wind, rain and snow but open walking sandals have been left in the cupboard.
On a bright, dry day in February, the Walkers explored the hills and valleys north of Compton Valence, passing by the church and manor house at Winford Eagle. They then returned to Compton Valence to admire the snowdrops and enjoy a soup-and-cake lunch in the village hall.
However, the going was much wetter in March when they slipped, squelched and slithered from Langton Herring, down to the coast path and along to Fleet via the Moonfleet Manor. They returned by higher ground with views out to The Channel but even here there was plenty of mud and surface water. After about 6 ½ miles of walking, lunch in the Elm Tree at Langton Herring completed a splendid morning’s exercise.
Meanwhile, Strollers 2 took in the views from the ridge above Beaminster, both north towards darkest Wiltshire and south back over Beaminster itself. The weather was fine but the puddles were deep and best skirted. The route took in Beaminster Down and Beaminster Bottom, both of which, surprisingly, are at the top of the hill. Lunch in the Red Lion in Beaminster provided the perfect place to refresh and dry out.
The old Joanna
In March, Music Appreciation 2 listened to a CD by Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti playing pieces by Chopin, Brahms, Ravel, Liszt and Enesco. Born in 1917, Lipatti died just 33 years later from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Members were dazzled by Lipatti’s technique although few pieces had themes that could easily be whistled by the man in the street.
55 new members met for coffee at Bridport & District Golf Club on 16 February. It was a great opportunity for a chat and to meet each-other. They were introduced to members of the committee who encouraged them to contribute to groups, rather than just sitting back and taking what was on offer.
Meanwhile, some 30 members met in the WI Hall in Bridport during the morning of 19 January, followed by about 40 on 9 March. No special reason other than to socialise and consume calories and caffeine. The next two similar coffee mornings will be on 11 May and 13 July from 10.30 to 12.00. All members and their friends are welcome to simply turn up, put the shopping to one side and take the weight off their feet.
Singers say goodbye to Matt Kingston
Matt Kingston, who has acted as Musical Director to the U3A Singers' Group for over four years has stepped down due to pressure of work.
His decision came as a big blow to everyone as he will be sorely missed. Over the years he has brought together an assortment of people of very varied abilities and provided such enjoyment with his talents and enthusiasm. The group was originally formed by Pauline Ramsden and everyone has benefited from Matt's ability to lead and write suitable arrangements for them. Its thanks to him keeping the singers inspired and motivated that has led to such a successful group.
The Group is now led by Mark Hewitt who is already a well known musician in the area with a great established musical background.
The Political Discussion Group considered 'Where now Brexit?' on 8 December 2017.
Brexit's aim are: to control immigration, law, bureaucracy and trade in the UK. This can be done by setting quotas by industry and skill level; by leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, by replacing Brussels with London as centre of control, and embracing free trade principles.
Third World countries could export much more to us if we cut our import controls, and could receive much more investment from us. A cheaper £ would boost our manufacturing and service industry offerings to big countries and we could invest more in infrastructure, robotics and apprenticeships to become more competitive. After a decade, the UK could conquer its productivity, and its financial deficit.
After six months of discussion Mrs May has accepted that the UK will pay about £50bn to cover its liabilities to the EU, EU and UK citizens will have a certain status, and an open border in Ireland will remain. Brexiters are happy with this state of affairs, and trade talks will follow in 2018. We thought that a good deal was less likely than one based on the EU's proposals. These proposals will be based on preventing the UK from adopting a low-standard, low-cost competitive economy to undercut EU trade. They will also focus on "full alignment" as the default agreement.
See their page for more information
Church House in South Street was packed on Sunday afternoon, 15 October, when Bridport & District U3A held its annual open afternoon. Most of the Groups had representatives available to explain and promote the vast range of activities that take place. Twenty three visitors joined U3A on the spot with others taking away membership forms.
It was a very successful afternoon, not only because the free tea and cakes were delicious. Chairman Pat Grafton was delighted that everything went so well, thanks to the efforts of the group leaders and all the others who were there to help. Those cups and plates don't wash themselves you know.
Not to be sniffed at!
The Isn’t That Interesting Group visited the Wessex Water Supply Museum (at Weymouth) some 6 months ago and so it was only right that they should complete the process by visiting the Sewage Works (in Dorchester). They had to visit Dorchester rather than the local one because Bridport’s is very enclosed and there’s nothing to be seen.
The Group was met by Nicola Downton who introduced herself as the Site Waste Scientist. She is responsible for running and monitoring this site, plus a large number of others in West Dorset, assisted by just a dozen workers who look after the mechanics throughout the sites.
The contents of Dorchester’s sewers and storm drains are both pumped into the site and are combined with the contributions from many of the surrounding villages. The pumping process acts rather like a blender so there were no obvious personal contributions on view. The quite thin ‘soup’ is first screened to remove larger solids – in particular wet-wipes that are a big problem (and should be binned, not flushed). Ferrous sulphate is added to the flow and this causes phosphates, principally from detergents, so settle out later in the process, The water then flows more slowly down a channel where grit (from rain water run-off) settles and is removed and sent as contaminated waste to land-fill. (Almost everything else is recycled). This channel has a weir system so that, in periods of very heavy rain flow, the excess water can overflow into storage tanks to await later treatment.
The water then passes into a settling tank where it remains for some eight hours. Here solids settle to the bottom and are pumped out, while fat floats to the surface and is skimmed off. The now relatively clean water passes through a set of rotating spray bars that distribute it over the surface of a filter bed that’s packed with rough stones. The water percolates through and naturally occurring bacteria digest its dissolved organic content. Remarkably, this takes only about 1 ½ minutes yet the water emerges more than 10 times cleaner. If it was boiled, it would now be safe to drink. The water passes through automatic sensors that perform chemically analysis it to ensure the system is operating correctly and then flows into the River Frome and so to the sea.The Frome itself a SSSI waterway and so must not be contaminated. The terms and conditions imposed on the site by both European and UK environment regulations are fully met and the water is actually two or three times cleaner than is legally required. Other than the grit, all of the separated solids, including the wet wipes are sent on to other plants for conversion into agricultural fertiliser.
The visit lived up to all expectations and was definitely Interesting (and hardly smelly at all!).
Singers at MusicAthon 2017
The Bridport U3A Singers were very pleased to add their talents at the annual day-long MusicAthon held in Bridport on Saturday 10th. Led by Matt Kingston they ably contributed four very varied songs to the full programme. The organisers of the event have already received almost £1,000 with the Singers’ sponsorship money still to come but will greatly help towards raising funds for the two nominated local charities