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TRAVEL AND TOURISM - 2011 Activities

January 2011

This was an informal meeting where everyone had the chance to discuss various issues.

It was agreed that the Christmas Party and Lunch had been very successful and there was a unanimous decision to repeat the format for next Christmas.

The chairman spoke of having been made aware of a rumour about our alleged ‘falling numbers’. He explained that there is absolutely no truth in this as our membership still stands at 44 and has been very similar to this for the last 5 – 6 years. We are thriving!

Several new details were given for this year’s visits to Jersey and the Dordogne, and there was considerable discussion about possible places to visit in 2012.

Reminders were given about renewing EHIC cards and also passports.  A warning was given to beware of internet sites that charge for EHIC cards.  They are available free of charge.

After quite a lot of discussion and a break for coffee Tony gave some ideas on what one can do with holiday photographs.  People said they found this useful.

 

February 2011  

One of our new members, Jim Cotton, gave us an interesting slide show on his holiday in Jersey last year.  This was extremely helpful for our proposed visit to Jersey in June.  He and his wife were fortunate to enjoy extremely good weather in late June 2010 and therefore they concentrated on exploring the outdoor attractions.

He mentioned, among other places, La Mare Vineyard estate, several castles, including Gorey Castle and Elizabeth Castle which one can walk out to, if tides permit, but otherwise can be visited by waterbus.  He showed pictures of many attractive bays that are well worth a visit.  Jersey Lavender is also worth seeing although smaller than Norfolk Lavender.

He has given us the names of various gardens that we might like to visit, including Samares Manor Gardens where there is a large herb garden, a Japanese Garden, a huge lake and waterfall with carp and black swans as well as acres in which to wander.

His hotel, like ours was on the outskirts of St Helier and buses are frequent into the town where there is much to see.  Jim recommended the central market where the flowers fruit and vegetables are splendid.  Opposite is the fish market, also worth a visit. Buses leave for all parts of the island from Liberation Square.

Jim has very kindly passed on to us a list of his recommendations which we shall give to everyone going to Jersey in June.

Thank you Jim for a most interesting and helpful talk.

March Meeting

Shirley and Roger gave us a very good talk about their visit to China and a very interesting discussion took place afterwards about life in China. Although we have had previous talks about this country, there always seems to be more to be seen and discovered. Thank you to both of you for sharing your experiences and these lovely photographs with us.

April Travel Group Meeting - Return to East Africa

It is not often that our Travel Group gets a real insight into the country being talked about.  On this occasion we enjoyed such a treat as Adam and Ann talked to us of their return visit to Kenya where Adam was born and where Ann & Adam were educated, met and married.  They returned to places that were special to them in celebration of their Golden Wedding and in the hope that they would be able to renew their wedding vows.

Much had changed; perhaps the greatest change is the population explosion from 7 million in 1960  to  over 40 million at the last count.  The rich had got richer and the poor are even poorer, as would seem to be the case in many under - developed countries.

The holiday lasted three+  weeks during which time they visited the farm where Adam was born and raised.  They were able to go into the farmhouse which was like entering a time warp as it was still kept furnished just as it was when Adam’s father was living there in the 1950’s.  There was much family memorabilia in evidence although it is now in the possession of the lady who cared for Adam’s  father.  

We were also able to see photographs of the High School where Ann was educated and it was interesting to be told that the pupils we saw were wearing a uniform very similar to the one Ann had worn.

Although not at all certain when they set out that they would be able to go to the church where they were married in order to renew their vows and receive a blessing, this did in fact happen with which they were delighted.

We also enjoyed seeing splendid photographs taken on a safari in Tanzania of many animals, birds and plants all carefully identified.

This was a very different talk which was greatly appreciated by the members of the Travel Group.  

Many thanks to Adam and Ann for sharing it with us.


Travel Group Meeting on Monday 16th May.

 This was our annual meeting where we present the examined accounts to the group and report on the year’s activities.

The chairman thanked the present committee for all of their hard work and with regret the group said goodbye to two hard-working committee members, David and Yvonne who now feel that the journey from their new home in Felixstowe is becoming too much to continue with, and they are therefore leaving Blackbourne U3A.   They were thanked for their great contribution to the group and told that they would be welcome as guests at any time in the future.  They were presented with a clematis for their garden.

The chairman also thanked the large number of members who had given very interesting talks to the group during the past year. 

It was very pleasing that there were 4 members willing to join the committee which brings our number back to seven.

It was also much appreciated that a number of people were willing to go on a rota to help with tea and coffee at our meetings and also there were more volunteers to take it in turns to write up a short report of our meetings for the website. There were also more volunteers to give talks in the future.

The accounts were presented and members were pleased to see that they are in a healthy state and we can afford to subsidise the Christmas meal again which will be at Harvey’s Orchard Room, as well as keep the present membership fee at the same level. We continue to maintain our membership numbers at the level that the group prefers. 

Up to date information was given on the trip to the Dordogne in September and a briefing followed for the Jersey trip.

The meeting finished with a look at our website and a reminder that the barbecue is on August 8th.
 

TRIP TO JERSEY

There was no meeting in June as thirty members of the Travel and Tourism Group travelled from Luton Airport to Jersey, staying in a very comfortable hotel just outside St Helier for a week.  Unfortunately the weather could have been kinder but it did not stop us from visiting the major tourist sights on the island.  Travel was mostly by the local bus service which was cheap and efficient and among the places visited were the War Tunnels dug out during the German occupation of Jersey, the Jersey Museum featuring tapestries designed and sewn by each parish, the Durrell Zoo which houses endangered species, the Samaris Gardens which had beautiful water and Japanese gardens and on a lighter note The Jersey Pearl Factory which sold locally sourced cultivated pearls which many of us were tempted to buy.  

On a very sunny day Ann and Tony led a small group of us over the cliff path on the north of the island and finishing at a local vineyard where we met other members of the group for lunch before returning by local bus to our hotel.

At the end of the holiday we came home feeling we knew much more about the history of the island

July and August

In July we enjoyed a presentation of photographs from the recent trip to Jersey and discussed arrangements for our barbecue next month.

In August, in spite of very changeable weather we were very fortunate and had no rain until coffee was served when we had to take shelter.  Up until that point everyone enjoyed eating al fresco and enjoyed the meat from our local butcher served with delicious salads that Margaret kindly made for us.  A good choice of desserts followed and a very enjoyable lunch concluded at about 3.30.  Many thanks to all who contributed to its success.

September

After the business discussion concerning our visit to Rocamadour,  and plans for our annual Christmas Lunch we enjoyed a presentation of a trip to Lille last November when the first of the Christmas Markets was taking place and the city was beautifully decorated.  We saw pictures taken from high up on the Ferris wheel where Ann & Tony had been brave enough to venture and also delectable shop windows full of lovely Christmas gifts. We also learned that this was the birth place of General de Gaulle as his maternal grandparents lived there.

This looked a really nice place to spend a few days.

After this we were then treated to some photos taken at the August Barbeque by Jim Cotton which raised a laugh and made a good place to end the meeting.


Rocamadour  September 2011

Our visit in September to Rocamadour in the Dordogne region of France was a great success. This was the first time we had travelled abroad by train and it worked very well.  We were well looked after by our guide who accompanied us and only encountered minor problems re our reserved seats which were sometimes taken by others.  These problems were soon resolved.

The hotel was well placed in the centre of the beautiful town of Rocamadour .  It had been a Nobleman’s house and as such was an interesting building with bedrooms that were all different and a bit quirky, but very comfortable. The staff were welcoming and helpful and the food was good and plentiful.

Our excursions were great fun.  We travelled on the Truffadou train from Martel which used to take the truffles from the market in Martel during the early part of the 20th century. This trip gave us incredibly beautiful views  of the surrounding countryside, with photo stops.

We enjoyed a boat trip on the River Dordogne from Roque Gageac and another boat trip deep underground in the famous Gouffre de Padirac where we saw the most incredible sights formed by stalactites and stalagmites.  This was definitely something not to be missed.

The excursion to the beautiful town of Sarlat was made even more interesting by visiting it on market day.  We were able to explore the fascinating market stalls as well as the beautiful architecture of the buildings.

The itinerary gave us ample time to relax if we wished or to explore further the lovely town of Rocamadour which gets its name from the discovery of a tomb of Saint Amator who was the founder of the ancient sanctuary.  It is an important pilgrimage destination and has been for 1000 years.  It is built on the site of a shrine to a Madonna that became famous for its healing powers and soon became a stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela.  It enjoys a beautiful and dramatic setting on a cliff side and affords wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.

One highlight was an evening trip on the Tourist train that allowed us to see the attractive town lit up in the dark.  Another highlight that most of us had was to visit the Bird Sanctuary where we enjoyed a magnificent flying display of all sorts of birds in magnificent scenery.

During our stay most of us either climbed the Pilgrims’ Steps  or took the lift up to see the Black Madonna.

Travelling by train was a good alternative to long tiring coach journeys and the horrors of airports but at our age I think we all agree there is no easy way of travelling these days.   Beam me up, Scottie!


October 2011

Brenda and Harry Last gave us a most interesting talk based on their holiday in South America with the travel company Journeys of Distinction.  Please click here for all the details and images of their talk.


November 2011

Kathleen and Roger Beaurain gave an extremely interesting presentation of the trip they had taken last year.


A flight to Brussels followed by coach to Antwerp took them to join MS Spirit of Caledonia, the river boat which was to take them on their journey.  They sailed overnight to Rotterdam via the Schelde Rhine Canal and were taken by coach to The Hague where they visited several interesting museums and saw Dutch art treasures.  Delft, the birthplace of Vermeer, was visited after lunch seeing the place where he painted his famous ‘View of Delft’.  After a visit to Delft Potteries there was a boat trip on the canals of the town.  The following morning saw them in Arnhem visiting the nearby Palace of Het Loo, the summer residence of the Dutch Royal family, where the Palace and grounds have undergone restoration returning them to their original 17C splendour.  After lunch they were able to see the famous bridge held during the 2nd World War by the British forces.


Day four was a relaxing cruise down the Rhine to Cologne and an afternoon tour to see the magnificent cathedral.  Day five they enjoyed the lovely scenery of the Moselle Valley as they sailed to Cochem, a beautiful medieval town and on day six travelled to Bernkastel to sample some locally produced wine, then on to nearby Trier, a fascinating mix of European architectural styles.  They sailed from Bernkastel in late afternoon and enjoyed the views along the meandering valley.


Heading back to rejoin the Rhine at Koblenz they found the section of the river regarded as the most romantic with cliff hugging castles and vine clad hills.  They explored Rudesheim and Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum.  The next day brought them to Mannheim from where they travelled to spend the day at Heidelberg, a picturesque and romantic town, home to Germany’s oldest university, dominated by a dramatic ruined castle.  Day nine brought them to the spa town of Baden-Baden, a beautiful belle-epoch resort.  The spa assembly rooms and casino form the focal part of the town, both architecturally and socially and the old town is full of elegant buildings, exclusive boutiques and cafes.


The next day they crossed to the other side of the river and entered France and Strasbourg, a fascinating old town with much to see.  Kathleen said that Strasbourg would make a good weekend destination in itself.  The cruise finished in Basle with an excursion to see the sights of the handsome city.


Kathleen told us that this was a journey which could be broken up into shorter tours.  The Rhine is a river of endless fascination, interesting to see its busy commercial traffic of laden barges and endless trains of cargo on the railway lines running each side of the river.  The huge locks particularly interested Roger, especially the skill with which the crew took the boat through with inches to spare.  


We thank Kathleen and Roger for an interesting and informative presentation.


December 2011  

Blackbourne Travel and Tourism Group had its annual Christmas event in mid December. A good turn-out of 40 people met first at New Green for drinks, nibbles and non taxing silly games. Later, after much hilarity, we went for our Christmas meal to the Orchard Room at Harvey's plants. Teresa and her Staff provided an excellent meal once again in very pleasant surroundings. She provided an interesting and challenging table quiz on parts of the body. As an ex biologist I thought my contribution would have been invaluable ---It wasn't.

This was followed by an interesting short talk from one of the staff on Snowdrops and Hellebores.

All in all a very interesting and enjoyable time was had by all.

Tony Sear