Notices & Reports
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.
The December Monthly meeting saw about forty members appear in a Christmas Pageant based around Dick Wittagate, Dick Agate, and his cat Evostick, Eve Agate, undertaking an arduous journey from Spalding to Surfleet.
Along the way they meet characters from Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Wizard of Oz, Red Riding Hood and Peter Pan before Dick is elected Lord Mayor of Surfleet and Admiral of the Surfleet Navy.
Everybody then lived happily ever after tucking in to a sumptuous shared buffet with tea and coffee.
The Poetry group recited Seasonal Poems during the show and Singing for Fun entertained with Christmas Classics.
The new Spalding & District U3A Anthem was sung with gusto and enjoyed by all, the words can be found in a sub-page linked to the Welcome page of this website..
Well done to Ken who directed, built the back drop, wrote and performed the narrative assisted ably by Jon who supplied sound and music.
A big thanks to all who performed their own Pantomime sections and the work that had been put into their costumes which were exceptional.
A wonderful lunchtime film in the nostalgic Kinema In The Woods,
Woodall Spa. A private viewing of ‘White Christmas’ took 60 members back to era of song and dance, staring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, the 1954 version. During the Intermission we were treated to music played by Alan Underwood, on the Compton Kinestra Organ.
The Art and Craft Exhibition and Sale was opened on Friday 10th November by Wendy Priestly, authoress, 30 year truck driver and proprietor of a truck driver training school. The exhibition was a showcase for the standard of work achieved by the members of the various groups involved. Well done to all!
The November monthly meeting saw two members of the Royal Air Force giving a very powerful and professional presentation regarding the aims, abilities, operations and future of the force. I am sure that we enjoyed the display and hope that it can continue to lead in the protection of the realm.
A large number of members visited St. Andrew's church in Heckington last month and were rewarded with a very informed, amusing and educational tour led by Mike cullen. To find a building almost unaltered since the 1300s is enthralling and exciting so many thanks to Mike and also to Jan for a very tasty and much needed 'cuppa' afterwards.
A large party of Spalding and District U3A members, on 24th October, visited the RAF College at Cranwell. After an initial problem getting signed in and then being sent in the wrong direction we arrived at the college and were made very welcome by Alan Winchester. We were taken on a tour of the college and taught the history of the college and also the RAF itself.
I am sure all who attended really enjoyed the trip, a big thanks to Richard Groombridge for organising.
Spalding and District held their Annual General Meeting at Surfleet Village Hall on Thursday 5 October. We bade fond farewells to Jon Healey who is stepping down as Group Co-ordinator. Reports from the chair and treasurer were received and the remaining committee members re- elected unopposed for a further year. Margaret Crossgrill will undertake Jon’s role as Group Co-ordinator. The committee would like to thank Jon for all his hard work over the last three years.
Following the AGM Tony Taylor, one of our U3A members gave an informative talk on orchids. We learnt that there are 30,000 plus orchid species including an orchid which flowers, seeds and propagates entirely underground. Advice was given on the care of orchids as houseplants – use an open textured orchid compost and soak by standing in rainwater for 10 mins and then leave to drain.
Joyce Humphrey was the winner of the rosette for best orchid owned by a member. Tony pointed out that perhaps dull and poor weather had meant that most of those he grows in two glasshouses in his garden had ceased flowering so congratulations to Joyce for her mauve Phalaenopsis and matching pot. Phalaenopsis are now the most favoured of houseplants in the UK.
Out and about trip to Spalding Power Station
On 28th September 2017 a group were shown around the power station. We had a short talk about how it works and then went on a walking tour of the site. We were shown the control rooms( old and new). Very few staff work there, only 3 on a night shift. The sheer size of the equipment was incredible.
As the sun set on Wednesday 6th September several U3A members met outside Ayscoughfee School in Spalding, where we met our guides, Annette and Colin, both members of the Lincolnshire Bat Group, to take part in a Bat Walk organised by Philip James.
They explained about the bats, their habitat and that our walk would be beside the river Welland towards the Coronation Channel, using bat detectors to listen to 'bat talk' and hopefully see some in flight. The bat detectors were distributed with instructions on their use and tuning into the correct frequency we immediately started picking up clicking sounds, which was the bats talking.
Walking along the riverside it was hard to see the bats in flight but we could hear them with the detectors. Arriving at the footbridge the bat noise was tremendous sometimes sounding like a machine gun firing. Using our torches we could see bats flying fast through the light beams, we stood there for quite awhile as it was an amazing sight.
We continued along the river, listening to bat conversations, arriving at the junction with the Coronation Channel. Here we were listening and watching for the bats coming under the bridge then flying up the river. It was again very noisy and after spending time looking for the bats in our torch lights we started to walk back along the river to Ayscoughfee School. We thanked our guides for a very enjoyable and informative evening. The species of bat we encountered were Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Nathusius's Pipistrelle and Daubenton's Bats which were flying low over the water.
Everyone was amazed at the amount of nightlife along the Welland when the sun goes down. An experience worth repeating. Thank you Philip for organising it.
Robert Ladbrook brought his ice cream van from Holbeach to the September meeting. Members enjoyed a free ice cream before hearing about how the business first started in 1922 Ice cream was not an easy product to make and store before electricity came to Holbeach but one way and another the business grew in the years before the Second World War with sales from a converted World War One ambulance bought for a fiver.
Robert’s father served in the war as a parachute sniper – being a country boy he knew how to shoot - and the ice cream business was ‘mothballed’ until better times. Even in 1947 it was difficult to get sugar and milk ‘off rations’ but Mr Ladbrook senior secured enough to make a batch of ‘coffee’ flavoured ice cream using brown sugar and milk from a couple of cows which were unregistered with the inspectors.
The business now has a portfolio of 50 flavours with 20 flavours available at any one time. Much of the ice cream goes to the catering trade. Members were able to sample three new flavours including an apricot and yogurt ice cream developed at the request of a local chef – delicious and low fat too, what’s not to like!
On a rainy Tuesday morning, 5th September 2017, five intrepid members of The U3A Simply Strollers Group, Wendy, Ian, Hilary, Heather and Peter, set out to stroll around and discover the delights of historic Holbeach Town.
Meeting in the Holbeach Public Car Park we set off, umbrellas in hand, passing Carters Park, and The WI Hall built in 1938. Entering the 6 acre Holbeach Cemetery we stopped at the Victorian Chapels built in 1854. Luckily they were open and we had an interesting chat to members of The Holbeach Cemetery Chapels Trust who are restoring them. Leaving the cemetery we went along Edinburgh Walk, a mixture of modern and pre war buildings, and turned into Fleet Street by the Police Station. Continuing along to the Co-op, including the Library which opened in 2017, the latest addition to Holbeach. Then to the Horse and Groom Pub, originally a Coaching Inn in the 1800's.
Crossing the road into Chapel Street and Barrington Gate, one of the oldest streets in Holbeach, containing a number of Grade II listed properties and the place where the birthplace of William Stukeley once stood.
Turning into Station Road we saw the Holbeach Flour Mill. Originally owned by Smiths Flour Mills, the largest independent millers in the UK, now owned, since 2012, by Whitworth Bros Ltd. Contrasting buildings with modern housing on one side of Station Road and Flour Mill Lodge, c1825 on the other, another Grade II building.
After passing the Community Fire Station and Holbeach Reading Rooms, built in the 1800's as a centre for the people of Holbeach and still in use today, we finished at Laddies Ice Cream Shop enjoying an ice cream and/or hot drink to end our stroll.
Several members enjoyed a couple of hours in the sun learning how to play petanque or ‘boules’. It became clear that those who have previously enjoyed a spot of bowling were at an advantage. Members of Bourne Abbots Petanque club helped us throughout to get the ball bouncing in the right place and perfecting the throwing technique. Getting the heavy balls to bounce in the right place is fine but although the surface is flat it is made of gravel so the balls do not bounce true or run evenly. All part of the fun and, as with most games, an element of skill combined with some luck is needed.
Gill and Kevin narrowly pipped Maggie and John to the trophy. Gill was complimented on her preference for throwing long. Kevin moaned his shoulder ached the next day so Gill feels it was good for him – no pain, no gain.
A big thank you to the club for their hospitality.
Monday bowling has now finished for this season. Many thanks to Dick, Eve and Ken, plus Dave of Spalding Indoor Bowls Club, for making an enjoyable season possible. Looking forward, hopefully, to next season.
Nicholas Watts the renowned wildlife, conservation award winner of Vine House Farm, Deeping St. Nicholas was our Speaker in March and as we were so impressed with what he had to say we decided we would like to look around his farm further and take the opportunity of going on one of his Tractor, Trailer with BBQ trips run to coincide with the flowering of his sunflowers.
He met our group of 32 on the 14th of August with coffee and a small talk before taking us around to see, on foot, the butterfly walk and various parts of the farm. We then climbed into the Trailer to savour the sight and sounds of the countryside. We stopped and alighted a couple of times to see various areas all being grown to encourage birds and wildlife. We saw some of his 110 nesting boxes for young tree sparrows plus barns and nearby brick towers where 14 pairs of barn owls bred last year. Before we left the comfort of the field tracks to return by road we were taken into one of the sunflower fields where we learnt all about their growing life and were able to see and touch their beauty. It was a sight to behold!
We learnt so much on this ride as Nicholas passed on lots of information to us and answered all our questions. He wasn’t the only Watts family member who spent time with us, his young grandson Tim accompanied us too and if you asked any of the 32 of us who went on this trip, Tim certainly made an impact. He was a star!
We returned back where a BBQ of local produce awaited us giving us time to talk together about our most enjoyable morning.
Our Year of Colour- Monday Art Group
The Monday Art group have done themselves proud for their exhibition at Ayscoughfee Hall during August. Alongside individual paintings, members had contributed to a group painting of the façade of Ayscoughfee Hall itself.
A photo of the building was blown up to a sufficiently large enough scale to accommodate eighteen A4 size canvasses. These A4 canvasses were then painted by individual members and reassembled as a whole – the result is delightful allowing each member to paint a couple of canvasses.
At present the work hangs above the large fireplace in the exhibition area together with a small brass plaque identifying the artists for ‘posterity’. It is hoped that the picture will be retained and hung elsewhere at Ayscoughfee. Well done to our talented painters!
Retired not tired of life - Open Day for members and guests
Some 140 members and visitors attended the Spalding U3A Open Day, held this year at Spalding Grammar School. The venue allowed more space to show displays from some of the fifty interest groups available to our members. The Rocking Chairs performed along with some lively dancing from the Fun Disco Dance group. Members could find out about the various walking, art and photography groups for instance and try their hand at making a simple miniature. Tea/coffee and homemade cupcakes were served throughout the afternoon. Those attending commented on the buzzy atmosphere and the welcome received. Well done to all who made this such a successful afternoon!
THE LEGAL HELPLINE
The trust currently pays for a legal helpline which is available to all U3A members and costs £19,000 per year.
This presents two problems. Charities must ensure at all times that their funds are applied to promoting their objects. The helpline is beyond our purpose and it is not strictly within our legal constraints.
Such an insurance would not appear to be within the constraints of individual U3A’s constitutions as they are educational charIties. Usage is very very small around 2 a day, dominated by personal matters most of which are readily available free or at very low cost by other means.
THEREFORE THE SERVICE WILL END on the 30th SEPTEMBER 2017 – not a lot of notice in this instance.
On Tuesday 1st August Spalding U3A Wine Group members and guests enjoyed their annual visit to a vineyard. This years venue was Somerby Vineyard,Somerby, Lincolnshire, but before they arrived at the vineyard they made a detour to Cote Hill Cheese, Osgoodby Nr Market Rasen there they where teated to a tasting of the 5 cheeses they produce at there dairy farm after the tasting Micheal Davenport and his wife the owners gave a talk on the running of the farm and the process of making the cheeses, then it was a tour to see the cheese being made.
Before leaving Cote Hill we were able to purchase the cheeses.
Then it was on to Somerby Vineyard where we were greated by Bill the owner and his wine maker Ed, After the welcoming Ed took us down to the vines explaining the process of cultivation of the vines and the harvesting the grapes, they could do with some sun shine between now and early part of August when they harvest the grapes. After that it was to the winery for a talk on the prosses of making. Then came the main event the tasting of the wine, there was 2 white wines 1 red wine and a rose, most people purchased some wine to take home with so they must have enjoyec them I certainly did.
After the vineyard we made our way to Claythorpe Water Mill Nr Alford where we all sat down to a enjoyable meal and a cup of coffee. After we had been fed and watered it was homeward bound back to Spalding.
Chris also bought some medicinal herbs from her garden including Meadowsweet, a wild version of the garden plant Astilbe. This has a wide variety of uses as an anti septic, anti inflammatory and painkiller. It was also spread on the floor to discourage insects. We learnt that it is not illegal to grow opium poppies though processing the seeds is likely to bring you to the attention of the law.
Of course, herbal does not necessarily mean it’s good for you as hemlock is highly poisonous for instance. However, plants and their chemical compounds are regularly reappraised for possible modern use.
Chris also brought some fearsome looking surgical instruments whilst reminding the audience that this was before anaesthesia so the patient would likely be very drunk before submitting to the procedure and infection a likely side effect. Such deep wounds would be treated with lavender and honey, used from Roman times for battlefield injuries. War has advanced medical treatments and the examination of cadavers had much advanced knowledge of the body in past times.
A fascinating insight into herbal medicine in medieval times.
SINGING DAY – STAMFORD
ON THURSDAY, 22 JUNE, 2017
Spalding U3A, Singing for Fun Group was invited to take part in a Singing Day organised by Rita Wood of the Singing for Pleasure Group at Stamford for all the U3As in the South Lincs area; approximately 130 singers took part. Stamford U3A hired the Trinity Methodist Church in Barnhill and adjoining meeting rooms for the day.
We all met at 10.00 am for tea and coffee and started singing in the Church at 10.30 am. We sang in unison “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Misérables led by David Lovell-Brown, MD from the Stamford Group. Each U3A in turn sang for 15 minutes covering a good mix of musical styles: jazz, gospel, folk, popular songs and songs from the musicals – see attached Programme.
We had a nice leisurely picnic lunch in a large meeting room with time to chat with other U3A members in the South Lincs area and also to look around the town. At the end of the afternoon we were divided into 3 groups: sopranos, altos and baritones to sing “The Rhythm of Life”. This was led by Grantham’s Group Leader, John Down. It was quite a challenge, but enjoyable and an uplifting way to end a very successful Singing Day.
My thanks to Rita Wood for all her hard work in arranging the day, it was well planned and organised. We were made to feel very welcome by other Stamford members who helped behind the scenes. I’m sure this won’t be the last time we all meet up to sing together!
Thank you also to all the members of the Singing for Fun Group who took part and to Jacqueline Kemp, our MD, for bringing her keyboard and for her arrangements of the 70s medley and “disco” version of “Thank You for the Music” our now adopted signature tune.