Notices & Reports
Mental Health Awareness Week and Beyond
Reading my newspaper this morning I became aware of several articles regarding Mental Health Awareness Week which starts today. Probably a year ago I would have glossed over them but having suffered and been diagnosed with a mental health illness I now fervently see the need to highlight the problems for those who fall into the ‘dark place’.
I use this phrase as it is spoken by nearly all those afflicted, I have seen that dark place and luckily, with professional and friendly assistance, am coming out of it.
I found myself in a situation, through no fault of my own, that I could not resolve. After eventually consulting my Doctor, having upset friends and suddenly realising that my wife was also affected, I was referred to a group of people who offer help and counselling.
If you find yourself spiralling into a mental place you do not want to be please, please ask for help. Also if you see someone who looks depressed or withdrawn p[lease advise them to seek assistance.
It will still take me time to get completely through and my and my wife’s lives will change but better that than suffering.
I wish to thank the professionals, family, friends and acquaintances for their understanding and assistance over the last year or so.
Members waved the union flag to greet guest speaker Eve Bacon aka Queen Victoria in full regal finery. ‘ Queen Victoria’ spoke about her nine children though not always warmly – Bertie, the future Edward the Seventh was described as ‘never a good child’. Her favourite children appeared to be her first born, Victoria, a ‘wonderful girl’, her son Arthur who made a career at sea and her youngest, Beatrice, who lived at Carisbroke Castle close to Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight.
There was much entertainment whilst members learnt how to curtsey – not so difficult if you have short legs but holding the position without wobbling was more problematic. A good bow by a gentleman starts with a smart click of the heels whilst bowing as low as possible.
In Victorian times the way in which tea was taken indicated your social standing. Clotted cream was always put on the scone first. Jam, with its high, and therefore expensive sugar content, was visibly added atop the cream. Similarly, tea was always poured into the cup first which showed you owned good china which would not crack with the hot liquid. And never, never bang the side of the cup whilst stirring – a gentle folding action with the spoon was deemed acceptable. It was the Duchess of Bedford who ‘invented’ the practice of taking afternoon tea.
Afterwards members enjoyed a typical cream tea with scone, clotted cream and jam on proper china plates. The History Group arranged a display of information and photographs about Victorian Spalding in keeping with the theme of the meeting. It was altogether an enjoyable and informative afternoon.
The U3A is open to anyone retired or semi-retired: monthly meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at Surfleet Village Hall.
Out and About visit to the 'We'll Meet Again' Museum at Freestone shore 25th April 2018.
Wow, what a great day was had by all who went, Linda and Paul put on a show which brought back memories to most of us of a certain age with the Home Front section dedicated to the women, children and elderly who endured the blitz and the hardships that war engendered. Then we moved into the second section where we were given a nine minute experience of the air raids which were carried out during WW 11.
Time was then taken to carry out closer inspection of the many artifacts that have been collect, all genuine to the era, before refreshments were served in the cafe.
All members expressed their pleasure and stated that they would be coming back with family and friends at a later date.
S & D trip to the Richard 111 Museum in Leicester. 24th April 2018.
35 members left the Castle Sports Centre car park at just after 08.30 for Leicester where, on arrival, we were met by Luke, our guide, and taken to the lecture room for a talk about the Princes in the tower. The next hour was taken up by a historical guide of the shenanigans surrounding the throne of England in the mid 1400s to mid 1500s. I had been taught at school about Richard 111 and his reign plus seen the Shakespeare play. ----- My eyes were opened by Luke who obviously had a passion for the subject but also the understanding that there is so much conjecture regarding so called 'facts'.
Many thanks go to Luke and also to Richard Groombridge for organising the outing.
Charterhouse Theatre Company are performing A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Sheakspeare at Claythorpe Watermill at 18.00 on Sunday 24th June. This is an out door show with food and drink purchasable from the restaurant, also a chance to see the various animals in the zoo. Tickets obtainable from the Claythorpe Windmill on 01507 451366 at £16 for adults and £10 for children. Bring your own rugs or low back chairs.
----- April Monthly Meeting
Two members of Spalding and District Amateur Radio Society gave an informative talk about amateur radio operations. From how to get involved through joining, qualifying and the various activities which are engaged in by members.
Happy Wanderers March 2018
A more select group than usual walked in the Navenby area, south of Lincoln this month.
A bit of drizzle didn’t deter us and we had an interesting walk along a wide Roman roadway , part of the Viking Way and along the Lincolnshire Edge. We much admired the beautiful villages of Coleby and the wonderfully named village of Boothby Graffoe. Some members got a bit excited by the various gates seen whilst walking – the photography group have this as their monthly assignment and we saw examples aplenty. Lunch was taken at The Kings Head in Navenby, a much larger village than I’d expected boasting two pubs, a range of shops, a large church and Mrs Smith’s Cottage, currently under renovation. A big thank you to Steve and Sandra for introducing us to an area – we will be back!
Family History Group Report 2017 - 2018
2017 was a good year for the Family History Group with members finding out facts about their ancestors, where they lived, how they lived and what their occupations were. New websites were being found which aided our research and supplemented the work we are all doing using the free library editions of Ancestry and Find My Past in Spalding Library. Many a 'brick wall' is starting to crumble as one fact leads to another in unravelling our past.
2018 promises to be equally exciting, being the centenary of both Votes for Woman and the formation of the RAF. Already new sites are coming online and all the major family history sites are adding thousands of new records weekly.
Our meetings are always well attended and we are all helping each other to find the facts we seek.
As an ancient Chinese proverb says 'To forget one's Ancestors is to be like a Brook without a source or a Tree without a root'.
Garden Group Report for 2017 - 2018
The Garden Group had a very good year in 2017 with visits to various and unusual nursery's ranging from a cactus nursery to a commercial nursery raising and distributing thousands of plants, our own members gardens and our Swop Shop. Each month being hosted by a different member, we have a full group with a waiting list at the moment and all our meetings are well attended
2018 got off to a flying start with a guided tour and cream tea at Baytree Garden Centre in January. This was followed, in February, with a talk on plants and organic gardening at Swine's Meadow Farm Nursery, both very interesting and informative.
The schedule for the rest of the year includes visits to garden related places, our Swop Shop and members gardens, with as always a chat with a drink and biscuits or cake.
Garden Group visit to Swine's Meadow Farm Nursery
On the 12th February the Garden Group visited Swine's Meadow Farm Nursery, hosted by Joyce Norwell, where we treated to a very amusing and informative talk by owner Colin on plants and their uses as well as information on organic gardening.
The nursery sells plants that you won't find in most garden centres and 2018 is its 18th year of operation.
Colin had a large variety of plants to show us, particularly those that were good for winter colour. He explained about their uses, which ones were good for ground cover, their blooms, scent, size and those that were shade loving. There were plants to keep cats away, stop unwanted visitors, a thorny problem and others that were essential for butterflies and bees.
He also explained about organic gardening and the use of Seaweed and Garlic feeds and sprays to control pests, diseases, promote plant wellbeing and growth. There were many questions from our members resulting in Colin giving us hints and tips to help us improve our gardens.
After the talk there was tea/coffee and slices of cake, a look around the nursery and a visit to the shop where most of us bought plants and garden products.
A very enjoyable and informative afternoon had by all.
Venue: Castle Sports Centre, Spalding
Group Leader – Dick Agate (01775 719855)
First session: 10.00am Monday 16th April 2018
(same time each week thereafter – no sessions on Bank Holidays)
Cost will be £1.55 per person for each 2 hour session
Flat, smooth-soled shoes required, bowls can be provided
The Happy Wanderers Walking Group – who meet on the fourth Wednesday in the month
Our November walk took place at Bourne Woods – see picture. The weather was kind and the walk through the autumnal woods was uplifting.
The December walk took place with The Strollers Walking group around Pinchbeck ending up after a pleasant lunch at The Ship.
January’s walk at Frampton RSP Reserve was a test of character. The picture below says it all really! Suitably clad in waterproofs ten intrepid walkers completed a four mile walk at Frampton RSPB Reserve. We had all experienced torrential rain on our way to the venue but somewhat surprisingly, the rain ceased and we set off along one of the old sea walls enjoying the rather grey views across the flooded marshland and the hundreds of Brent geese which over winter on the reserve. However the last part of the walk was completed in sleety rain – ugh!
We had an excellent lunch at The Bull in Kirton afterwards. The following day’s weather was wall to wall sunshine – we were just unlucky that day.
Meet the owls from the Baytrees Owl and Wild Life centre.
We were very fortunate indeed that Mark from Baytrees Owl and Wild Life centre was able to come at short notice and talk at our February monthly meeting. He took over the owl centre some four years ago and has been steadily improving the facilities and increasing the numbers of birds, animals and native butterflies.
Mark brought Gracie, a large and rather beautiful African eagle owl pictured here plus a much smaller owl and a young male kestrel pictured below. The birds are used in flying displays and also for a breeding programme. In the wild owls live a relatively short life but in captivity they lead a stressfree life- apparently spending 23 ½ hours sleeping and so will live much longer. Gracie is 32 years old and an original inhabitant of the owl centre.
Mark was quick to dispel any notion that owls are ‘wise’ as 70% of their brains are used for just two senses – sight and hearing. An owl’s eyes are fixed in the socket and these sockets take up 60% of the space in the skull so not a lot of room for much else. The eye colour distinguishes when that owl will be out hunting – brown eyes denote a nocturnal hunter whilst those with yellow eyes hunt during the day and those with orange eyes hunt at dawn and dusk.
Owls have excellent distance vision and acute hearing to locate prey. We were surprised to learn that an owl’s ears are not the tufty bits on the top of the head but are located on either side of the head with the left ear higher than the right ear making it easier to triangulate where small prey are on the ground.
Owls have extra vertebrae in the neck so can swivel their heads through 270 degrees. Mark stressed that, for an owl, food is the great motivator and their sight and hearing are clearly well adapted to search for prey.
We hope to plan a U3A visit to the owl centre this summer to see a flying display and meet the red squirrels, tame foxes and the other birds kept at the centre.
2017 was the year the Dolls House / Miniaturist group decided to make market stalls, kits were bought and many adapted and extended. each person chose a different type of stall such as haberdashery, flowers, gardening, handbags, suitcases, pet supplies and jewelry.
As the market stalls began to grow our attention turned to how to exhibit them and the idea of the
village green emerged. Different members made different aspects of it and the result was displayed
at the January Monthly Meeting.Many people were complimentary regarding the finished product and
some of the work will be displayed at Gosberton Church during the 2018 Flower festival.
The group are planing to and dress a doll this year, a new project for everyone in the group.
My Days as a Spy.
U3A members at the January meeting were enthralled to hear about cold war spying from Wing Commander Steve Griffiths who served behind the Iron Curtain in the early 1980s.
Steve retired from the RAF as a Wing Commander having spent a full career from 1966 to 2011 as a Vulcan captain, display pilot and flying instructor. Amongst the many senior staff appointments completed, Steve spent three years behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany engaged in espionage duties for which he was awarded an MBE.
The role of an espionage spy was one which involved outwitting the East German police and military to gather information and crucially photographs of Soviet aircraft, weaponry and missiles. At that time there were 500,000 Soviet personnel plus a huge number of tanks, aircraft and missiles to keep track of. Three or four day tours of duty involved a driver, a navigator recording all that was seen plus Steve as photographer in the back of the car armed with 80 rolls of film. Nights were spent camping out in woods marked as ‘rabid’ which ensured no disturbance from curious locals. Days were spent visiting airfields to observe aircraft, in particular the weaponry or missiles carried, tracking ground radar systems and rail traffic – the tasks seemed many and various.
The audience were surprised that the Russians did not use maps – Soviet military personnel came from all parts of the Soviet Union and did not understand German. Instead men were stationed at intersections to direct convoys in the right direction.
Such was the stress involved that ‘teams’ were stood down after three years and Steve subsequently completed several senior staff appointments in the ministry of Defence and NATO. A most interesting talk depicting espionage as somewhat less glamourous than that seen on the cinema screen.