Spalding & District


Gardening Groups visit to Springfields March 2020

Daffs Springfields After having to cancel February’s Snowdrop visit to Walsingham Abbey, due to storm Ciara, The Garden Group’s first visit of 2020 was to Springfield’s Garden’s for a tour with Head Gardener Andy.

Meeting at the Springfield’s Horticultural Office, Andy said that he was involved with the setting up of the original gardens in 1966. He then explained their history and how they had evolved.

They now have the national collection of Daffodils, Springfields daffs numbering nearly 800 varieties at peak season. The national Hyacinth collection will soon be housed in the gardens, which will reach 500 varieties, some very rare.

We were shown the four Designer Gardens, all built on different themes. The Japanese Garden which illustrates the Japanese MOMOTARO, The Peach Boy Fable and the Founders Garden.

Coming up to date, the internet has come to the gardens, plant label’s with chips in them, which can be viewed on your mobile for plant information. A new Bird Hide with monitor screens linked to Frampton, Gibraltar Point and Willow Tree Fen. Also, to view a new bird garden and the Kingfishers are coming back to the Water Gardens.

Due to the expansion of the Outlet Centre, part of the current garden area will disappear, but there are a number of plans for future projects in the pipeline.

We thanked Andy for a very interesting and enjoyable tour of the gardens, finishing up in the restaurant for a welcome hot drink and a slice of cake.

Peter Crossgrill


Singing for Fun take to the stage

Our Singing for Fun Group didn’t “dilly dally on the way” as they took to the stage at the South Holland Centre earlier this week.
The Rotary Club had organised an evening concert, and the full house were entertained by musicians, singers, dancers, comedians and magicians.

Singing for Fun had the audience singing along and tapping their feet to well-known favourites from the old-time musicals and west end shows.

A really enjoyable evening – congratulations and well done to everyone who took part.


Wandering in the Deepings

Happy Wanderers Feb Walk A record number of walkers, well 22 is a record for us, joined the Happy Wanderers for the February walk. It’s always a bit tricky choosing where to walk when the weather has been so wet but whilst the ‘going was soft’ there wasn’t much mud that couldn’t be avoided. We set out from Market Deeping towards Deeping St James and crossed the river at the sluice gates. Continuing along the path beside the River Welland we admired the variety of gardens on the other bank – we’re a bit of a nosy lot. The stile was spotted and we headed along the field edge to the road and hence back to the river. The weather was kind and we finished with drinks in the bar and an excellent lunch at The Stage.

Rosemary McClements


The Gardening Group Christmas meal

Gardening Group Meal The 13th January saw several members of the Garden Group gather at The Thatched Cottage in Sutterton for our annual Christmas Meal.

We had very enjoyable meals from an excellent and varied menu. A drink or two and the conversation soon got around to some of our 2019 outings and this year’s forthcoming visits.

Once again, we look forward to 2020 with a varied content of outings and visits to members gardens furthering our shared interest.

Peter Crossgrill


The Aviation Group Christmas meal

Aviation Group meal Monday 20th January saw members of the Aviation Group meet at The Thatched Cottage in Sutterton for our annual Christmas Meal.

We had very enjoyable meals from an excellent and varied menu. A drink or two with plenty of chat and discussion on this year's visits.

Once again, we look forward to 2020 with varied and interesting outings covering the field of aviation.

Peter Crossgrill


Happy Wanderers Walk January 2020

January Walk Eleven members of the Happy Wanderers took part in the first outing of the new decade. We began at The Windmill, Orton Waterville a very nice pub that most if not all of us had not been to before.
After a short downhill we took a path which went alongside a golf course, across the Nene Valley heritage railway and along the perimeter of Ferry Meadows. Along this stretch we passed two bird hides, saw lot of boats moored on the river Nene and walked alongside the high fast flowing river.

After crossing the river we walked along a higher path as far as Milton Bridge. It was during this part of our walk that we saw a bluebell walk signposted and although too wet at present it should make for an enjoyable visit in the springtime.

Re-crossing the river we made our way through Ferry Meadows and then beside the railway until we returned to our starting point. We were looked after very well at The Windmill and expect that we will re-visit in the future.

We are a friendly group and are always give a warm welcome new members joining us.

Steve Field


Happy Wanderers & Strollers joint December 2019 Walk

This month the Happy Wanderers and Strollers got together for a joint walk starting from the Riverside Hotel in Surfleet. We don’t know how it happened but the sun came out as we set off along Seas End Road and stayed with us for the entire walk.

Joint Walk December We followed Reservoir Road up to the sluice gates where we huddled together for a groups photograph then a few of us strolled up to see the confluence of the Glen, the Welland and the Vernatt Drain, there are not many places where you can see three waterways con-joining.

Then a leisurely stroll down the side of the Glen through the golf course and back to the Hotel for a very enjoyable lunch.
Many thanks to Steve and Neal for organising the Happy Wanderers meets and Gill and Hilary for arranging the Stroller get togethers. Let us hope that they, the groups, will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ian McCallum


Aviation Group

RAF Digby Visit 29th November 2019

Raf Digby Sign It was a chilly morning when the group met our guide in the car park of the Sports Stadium opposite RAF Digby. We entered the base and proceeded to the Lima Sector Operations Room.
This has been restored to it's former war time role, with lots of the original equipment and is housed in a semi sunk building, built in WW2 and can withstand a gas attack. Once inside we saw the large plotting table from which our fighter aircraft were being directed during the war.

Our guide explained the history of RAF Digby, opened on 28th March 1918 as the very first RAF Base. Raf Digby Group Then in WW2, WAAF's would sit around the plotting table receiving incoming aircraft information from the Chain Home Radar system. This Radar was only facing out to sea so it lost tracking of the aircraft once they had crossed the coast. The plotters would then receive information from the Royal Observer Corps on the aircraft inland. They could scramble aircraft to intercept the enemy and they would issue air raid warnings to the public.

We then explored the many rooms each one devote to different aspects of the station. Many famous people have served at RAF Digby including Guy Gibson and Bomber Harris. In 1941 the Royal Canadian Air Force flew from RAF Digby and the station stood Down in 1945. It is now home to the Joint Service Signals Organisation.

After the visit we drove to The Red Lion pub in Digby village for an excellent lunch and a chat to conclude a very interesting visit.
Visitors are welcome to RAF Digby, every Sunday during the summer, for a free guided tour of the museum, see their website for details.

Peter Crossgrill


Happy Wanderers November walk – Alwalton

Fifteen group members assembled at the Cuckoo Inn Alwalton for the November walk, which considering that the morning began very wet and miserable was a good attendance with nobody having second thoughts and deciding to stay in bed. By the time we set off the rain had stopped and it turned into a reasonable morning

Ferry Meadows The route was going to follow a footpath along the bank very close to the river Nene but there had been a lot of rain in the previous two weeks turning the path into a hard and potentially dangerous walk. We followed an alternative path that took us into Ferry Meadows where we circled the large lake before retracing our footsteps back to Alwalton. We had a very nice lunch at the Cuckoo and during conversations shared our individual plans for Christmas.

Steve Field


Istanbul 2 Istanbul On Tuesday 26th November twelve members of the Dining group met at The Istanbul Restaurant in Spalding. In spite of a limited menu everybody enjoyed an authentic Turkish cuisine cooked within full view of our table. From hummus, tzatziki, halloumi and olives starter through chicken and lamb kebab mains with full vegetable accompaniment to a delicious baklava dessert we all left satisfied and replete. I recommend it to everyone.


The Alternate Garden Group

For our last meeting of 2019 in November members layered a potted bulb display ready for spring.
Under the direction of Springfields’ Head Gardener, Andy Boynton, we started with white hyacinths, followed by a newish daffodil
variety, Chromacolour which has a pinky centre. We then added a double pinktulip, Aveyron and more compost. A generous layer of
Tete a Tete followed plus a layer of a lavender blue crocus, Grande Maitre. A generous handful ofsmelly pink Allium Oreophilun
was added to keep the mice away! For after care we were advised to add a bit of liquid feed once the bulbs start to show.

Alternative Gardening Members were very surprised that so many bulbs could be packed into the shallow pots. We learnt that Tete a Tete is the most popular narcissus sold in this country, in part because they are so useful for potted displays. Staff at
Springfields plant upwards of 100,000 different bulbs each year. Springfieldsalso holds one of the National Collections of narcissus and will be taking over the National Collection of hyacinths in the next couple of years.

Our thanks go to Andy and Inga, his trusty assistant. Together they hauled in the bags of compost, terracotta pots plus the bulbs themselves. We look forward to the Lincolnshire Daffodil Show on 17 April next year. Entry classes include paintings and photos of daffodils – Andy and Inga would love to see entries from U3A members.

Rosemary McClements

Garden Group visit to Fenleigh, Inkerson Fen 11th November 2019

garden With an email saying "Don't forget your wellies" 13 members visited Barbara's NGS garden, in Inkerson Fen, on a chilly but bright afternoon. Organised by Phillip, we came to see its Autumn splendour.

Welcomed on arrival, in the conservatory, with a hot drink, Barbara gave a talk on the history of the garden, how it had evolved and the National Garden Scheme.

We donned our wellies and toured the garden, admiring the multitude of plants with their Autumn foliage. On to the pond, full of carp and a crocodile head, floating on the surface, to deter marauding Heron's.

The garden comprised of many 'rooms' accessed by grass paths, each with a different feature. A secluded working area, a vegetable patch with poly tunnel and fruit cage and a large field where sheep are often grazed. There is even a dyke at the end of the field which has to be maintained as it is Fenland.

Returning to the conservatory we enjoyed more drinks, arrangement cake and biscuits, with all our donations going to help the NGS.

We also admired a display of Gourds, all home grown and the amazing display of foliage, picked and arranged by Barbara that morning, showing that foliage can be as beautiful as flowers.

Eventually it was time to go, we thanked Barbara for a very enjoyable visit, taking with us cake and more ideas to enhance our own gardens.

Peter Crossgrill


Quiz night

quiz Night Approximately forty members took part in a quiz night on Friday 1st of November.
This was held in the bar at the Castle Sports Centre where after buying drinks and finalising teams the questions began. After a few rounds of questions and assurances that they would get easier we took a break during which we had a fish and chip supper provided by the centre.

We soon got back to the questions and while I personally was still waiting for the promised easier ones we came to the end and the worthy winners were announced.
This event was the perfect opportunity to meet new members and catch up with others that we don’t see so often.
I am sure we would all like to thank Gill for organising the evening and Ken the excellent quiz master.



Happy Wanderers October 2019 Aswarby

Aswarby Walk For most of the group our October walk was the first visit to the Tally Ho Inn at Aswarby. From the inn we took a circular route of a little over 4 miles beginning with a section of very quiet country lane, this was followed by field edges and then along the side of a wood.

After walking through the village of Aunsby we turned onto a footpath which ran next to a small paddock containing a small herd (10) of alpaca. They were so inquisitive, had long fluffy coats and were very cute. Surprisingly from here we had a gradual upward slope followed by a long downward path across agricultural fields and a short stretch of roadway taking us into Osbournby. The village has what was one of the largest village market squares in the UK and some of the properties facing onto it are named after the earlier shops.

Continuing out of the village onto grass footpaths we had a short but steep hill to climb and while recovering at the top were treated to extensive views across a large area of South Lincolnshire. At least once we were on the downward slope the destination was in sight and soon we were back at the inn enjoying a well earned drink and a very nice lunch. I would like to thank the staff at the Tally Ho for playing their part in making it a very enjoyable walk.

Steve Field


Aviation Group visit to RAF Waddington 23rd October 2019

Vulcan On a sunny, but chilly, Wednesday afternoon 13 members were met by three guides Chris, Jim and Clive in RAF Waddington's car park. After a security briefing we boarded a bus which took us to the Heritage Centre.

Seated in the meeting room, Chris explained the history of the base. From its opening in 1916, training pilots, which carried on through WW1, becoming a bomber base and its operations during WW2. After expansion and with new runways installed, it became the base for the Vulcan Bomber in 1957 and throughout the Cold War. Now part of the NATO force with, among others, AWAC's, Drones and an RAF Regiment. They have been heavily involved in operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and against ISIS.

Following the talk we explored the museum, which charted the history of the base through various wars, the cold war and to the present day. One highlight was the wreckage of a Lancaster Bomber showing just how thin the metal of the fuselage was.

Back on the bus we were taken across the runway AWAC. for a surprise visit to the Vulcan Bomber, as can be seen in the group photo. This was the Vulcan that dropped the bomb on Port Stanley's runway during the Falklands War. Whilst there we had an excellent view of an AWAC performing several circuit and bumps and a flypast by two hawks which was an added bonus to our visit.

Bussed back to our cars, we thanked our guides and drove to the nearby Wheatsheaf Pub, where tea/coffee and biscuits awaited us. A relaxing end to a very enjoyable visit before driving home.
Peter Crossgrill


Happy Wanderers - September Walk at West Walton

Walk at West Walton A small group left West Walton for a 5.5 miles walk around the local area. Leaving the church of West Walton, with its free standing tower, we made our way towards fields with sunflowers and corn. We noticed other fields of wheat that had already been harvested. Passing by orchards, the tress heavy with rosy red apples awaiting the pickers, we also saw big swathes of brambles, with many berries on them still.

A short walk along a busy roadside took us beside more fields on our return route to The King of Hearts, where a delicious carvery awaited us. Black clouds had been chasing us for some while, we just managed to return to the pub before the heavens opened.

Josephine Cox


Aviation Group Visit to RAF Air Defence Radar Museum 23rd September 2019

Braving the rain, members of the Aviation Group had a very interesting and enjoyable visit to the museum, organised by Ian Dack. Where we discovered the birth and growth of the UK's radar defences. The museum is a maze of 25 dedicated rooms, such alot to see.

On arrival we met in the Crumbs Cafe for a hot drink before attending a talk in the WW2 Room. We were told of the need to be able to detect and track anything trying to enter our country and of the history of RAF Neatishead. Models of the early radar systems were shown and the progression to better systems was explained from 1935 to present day. How enemy aircraft were plotted and tracked, then the information being sent to our fighter squadrons to intercept and destroy.

A talk in the Cold War Room followed explaining how radar systems had to improve to match the new aircraft being designed. Aviation radar museum They also explained how near we had got to a Nuclear War in the 1960's and the measures employed to combat that, if ever it took place. The speaker introduced us to how the 'Ops Room' would have worked and how to write backwards on the display screens, a skill indeed.

We then had time to explore the rest of the museum. There were plenty of volunteers to answer our questions in the rooms, which included two ROC posts, missile exhibitions, Jaguar and Tornado cockpits (not much room inside), plus many more.

Adjourning to Crumbs Cafe for a much needed drink and the beacon rolls went down a treat, we all agreed a different and very worthwhile visit.

Picture David Shaw

Peter Crossgrill


The Alternate Garden Group – visit to Springfields Garden 17 September 2019

Alternative gardenning We were blessed with good weather for our visit to Springfields Garden. Andy Boynton, head gardener and his assistant Inga showed 22 members of the group around the various garden areas.

There was much to see including areas planted with dahlias which looked particularly good. Sadly, with the planned building extension to Springfields the area nearest the NFU office building and much of the adjacent pool area will disappear - otters have already killed most of the fish in the pool and the dahlias in that area will be replanted elsewhere.

Andy recounted the story told through the ‘stones’ in the Japanese garden and we wandered amongst the seasonally planted borders. Members were much taken with the Abyssinian gladioli and heard that some 100,000 bulbs are planted each year.

The tour finished at Nero’s coffee shop for tea/coffee and cake, kindly arranged for us by Inga. Our thanks go to Andy and Inga for a most interesting afternoon.


Bourne Woods A dozen members of the Strollers met at Bourne Woods on 3rd September to find the public toilets closed. Non the less we set off on our adventure led by Megan and Tim through the elegant arbor of this wonderful area.
We had to turn around a couple of times due to disputes over the best route but everybody enjoyed a pleasant stroll then adjourning to the Sugar Mill for refreshments and, it seems, a compulsory visit to Lidls across the road.
Many thanks to Megan and Tim for a lovely walk.



The Fox and Hounds in the beautiful village of Exton, with its thatched cottages, rectangular village green and towering trees, was the starting point for our August walk. After passing some very pretty front gardens we soon entered the Exton estate.

August Walk Exton The estate consists of Exton Hall and Park, a thriving farming and forestry business, and our picture shows Fort Henry in the background, which was named after the 6th Earl of Gainsborough, designed by William Legg a Stamford architect, and was completed in 1788. This Gothic style “pleasure house” became the ideal place for Henry to stage re-enactments of sea battles, with wooden galleons, on the lake.

Today the fort can be booked for birthday and tea parties and civil ceremony weddings.
Most of the walk was on the estate roads and a grass path round a large lake in a field of sheep with far reaching views across the surrounding countryside.

We returned to the pub where we enjoyed lunch and a chat on the patio. It was good to be joined by a new group member and we are always pleased to welcome new members.

I would like to thank Gill and Maggie for organising this walk and taking most of us to an unfamiliar but rewarding area.
Steve Field