We have a monthly speaker meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 2.30pm at the Watlington Sports Pavilion, Shirburn Road (nearest post code OX49 5BZ) where you can find out what’s going on in the various activity groups, meet up with friends, as well as hear informative and entertaining talks by a variety of speakers.

November 15th Annual General Meeting and
Tony Eaton - Failed to Return
The last flights of British wartime icons Amy Johnson & Leslie Howard

December 20th
Keith Baldwin - Reading from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens,
+ Christmas drinks and snacks.

Visit to Slimbridge As a one-off outing in September, Annette organised a wonderful trip to Slimbridge, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve near Gloucester, which was founded
by Sir Peter Scott. It was a special day offered to any U3A groups and we made the most of it. Sharing cars, we arrived in time for a welcome cup of coffee before going to the lecture theatre to hear and watch an excellent presentation, by one of the Trust’s conservationists, on how it all started and what it does today. He gave us a brief biography of Peter Scott who actually lived at Slimbridge and the next project is to restore his house, only vacated on the death of his widow a few years ago, and to open it to the public as a showpiece for some of his collections. He also explained some of the work done by the Trust both at Slimbridge and elsewhere in order to save endangered species as well as providing a safe habitat for both domestic and migrating birds.

Following the lecture we were able to enjoy a home cooked type lunch sitting at tables with a panoramic view across the wetlands. We then joined our guide for a conducted tour around the centre, not forgetting to equip ourselves beforehand with the special packets of bird seed, the contents of which were vigorously demanded by the more domesticated ducks and geese which follow one around. A number of sparrows were also quick to get in on the act and a few moorhens crept out of the undergrowth to share the treats.

As well as countless varieties of duck and six different breeds of flamingos, we saw quite a number of rarer species, all held in an assortment of ‘natural’ enclosures and ponds divided by huge areas of shrubs, grasses and reeds. There was also evidence of animals. One of the larger enclosures had a huge and untidy looking pile of wood and reeds in it which had been constructed by beavers and in another area we were fascinated to watch a trio of otters playing.

The threatened rain stayed away except for a very brief spatter and the temperature was pleasantly warm with no wind. There is quite a bit of walking involved if the centre is to be enjoyed to the full, although it is possible to hire mobility scooters at the site. (These should be viewed with great caution – one member of our group was involved in a minor accident, which could easily have been much worse, when she was run into by a novice driver.) The site is much too large to be explored in just one visit and I think most of us would be happy to go again – perhaps at a different time of year as much of the bird population changes with the seasons.

We finished our day with a cup of tea and a visit to the inevitable gift shop – although this one is much better than average and many of us bought something as there is a good variety of souvenirs at reasonable prices.

We felt the quotation painted on the wall of the café was very apt:

“If there is one place that can be regarded as a birthplace of worldwide conservation, it is surely here at Slimbridge” Sir David Attenborurgh

A good day! Thank you Annette.