Soar Valley

Reports of Outings in 2014

It turned out that the 'Time Warp Trip' was aptly named as there were twists and turns throughout the day. The weather was changeable but we got the best of what was around with the lucky ones being able the dodge the showers. Our first stop at Little Moreton Hall was right on schedule and was a delight. The Moretons were powerful local landlords dating back to the thirteenth century and gained power and land following the Black Death. Their Oak Timber Framed Moated Tudor farm house now defies belief because there ain’t a straight line to be seen, it leans to the right, it leans to the left, it’s twisted and warped, all of which adds to its character and charm. Although devoid of much in the way of furnishings the building is best described as antique. The group enjoyed the benefit of an excellent guide who helped make this a special visit that for me was topped off with a world beating sausage roll with apple stuffing.

Onward in time to Jodrell Bank where the telescope was clearly visible on the skyline long before we arrived. It's still a magnificent sight although it has been upgraded and structurally changed since The Brush Engineering Company first supplied the drive motor when I was an apprentice there many years ago.
‘Firstly switch off your mobile phones’ we were told on arriving, ‘calls to Mars are unimaginatively expensive’! For me the 'Warp' here was with my mind! It is difficult for mere mortals, like me, to grasp a number with zeros that go off the page and round the room, or to imagine an object the size of a teaspoon that can weigh more than Mount Everest.
It was fascinating to go on a tour of the telescope structure, albeit on film, and to see the early development using Second World War MOD radar arrays and to hear about Sir Bernard Lovell's pioneering days. The fact that the ‘West’ had no means for tracking Soviet inter-continental missiles, a fact brought to light when they launched their first SPUTNIK, meant that the radio telescope was seconded for military use until military technology caught up.
As a pre U3A! Structural and Mechanical engineer with DIY electrics my senses were twisted in all directions by this trip, an indulgence for me and, from what I've been told, everyone else had a good time too.

Peter Hickling
May 2014

Medieval Summer Trip

What a grand day Sunday 8th June turned out to be. With the sun shining and the prospect of an exciting day ahead 45 members journeyed to Rockingham Castle to enjoy the delights of an historic castle, wonderful grounds and not least the prospect of blood and thunder in the jousting arena. Well I for one wasn’t disappointed. The tour of the castle was wonderful, roaming the gardens both formal and wild complete with a Handkerchief Tree, was a delight, and the sheer colourfulness of the knights in armour was breath taking. Spectacular displays of swordsmanship, hand to hand battle-axe brawls and the not to be missed training in Pike skills for the children kept us all entertained. However the armour clad knights on their chargers stole the day with a grand display of horsemanship and skill with the lance. Sir Booze, can’t remember his proper name, with glass in hand and a good bellyful of beer, proved to be a great crowd pleaser once he had managed to get on his horse! In addition to all this a large tented village offered a taste of medieval living with Fletchers and Armours displaying their wares and dinner being cooked over open fires. I could go on but a picture or two will say more.

Peter Hickling
July 2014

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.