Soar Valley

Reports of Outings in 2013

True to form our first Outing this year to Warwick Castle was a little windy turning to wet & windy in the afternoon but given the weather forecast was spot-on, we were able to plan ahead and see the outside displays and the castle grounds first before the rains came. The feedback that I have received is that it was a good trip with plenty to see and do, including, for the lucky ones, a surprise air display. I thought the castle itself was excellent value for money and I even got to meet Richard the third (not in the car park!!). But more about this in the next News Letter.The only down side was the quality of the coach which, in fact, was not the coach that was booked, but a standby vehicle used due to a claimed mechanical problem on the actual coach. However, after discussions with the Coach Company it was considered that the general situation was unacceptable and therefore the coach provider for our remaining trips in 2013 has been changed.

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Our second Outing found us arriving at the IWM Duxford with a blue sky and sunny weather which please those who had brought a picnic. My last visit was some twenty five years ago and I must say how changed it now is with plenty to see and lots to do.

Hands-on activities includes skill tests on various pieces of equipment aimed at illustrating the principles of flight, to touring the original flight-test Concord with it tons of monitors and wiring, which would be replaced today by a single lap-top computer! and watching vivid film of actual D-day other military landings with the original 'Briefing Landscape Maps'. The specially built hangers were in themselves a marvel of civil engineering and of cause it was a plane spotters paradise with displays of both old and new aircraft.

I witnessed amongst us extremes of enthusiasm ranging from our two guest 'retired pilots' who only went into two of the six or seven hangers, to those who enjoyed the walk in the sunshine from one end of the mile long runway to the furthest located Land Warfare museum and I'm certain took time to partake of a refreshing cup of tea somewhere along the way.

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Our last trip of the year, on one of the last of those lovely sunny days in early September, was to Highclere House, home to “Downton Abbey”. After three hours there was an odd feeling of déjà vu. Could this be Wollaton Hall? Well, there was certainly an uncanny resemblance at first sight.

A grand house, owned by the Canarvon family, has existed on the site since 1649 but the present splendid edifice only dates from 1842.

It was the 5th Earls discovery of Tutankhamuns tomb in 1922 which led to the dreaded 'curse of the mummy' story being born.

The visit was interesting, despite not all of the house being open to the public. “Downton Abbey” has raised visitor numbers at Highclere to over a thousand a day and we certainly enjoyed being amongst them.

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If you have any ideas, or suggestions, for future Outings please let Peter know.