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TRAVEL AND TOURISM - 2013 Activities

Meeting on 14th January  2013

After some discussion on possible trips this coming autumn the meeting enjoyed seeing the presentation of pictures from our Summer Party and Christmas Lunch. This brought forth a discussion on next Christmas arrangements but it was agreed to plan to do the same again but to keep an eye out for other interesting alternatives. A floral gift was then presented to Brenda Last as a thank you for making the small bags used for a game before the Christmas Lunch.

After refreshments the group saw the pictures from our three day trip to Bakewell, Chatsworth and Buxton. Despite the poor weather it was an enjoyable trip, although sadly Buxton had to be abandoned due to the rain and so will have to await another year.

Finally there was some discussion about travel insurance arising from our travellers’ tips section. There were a number of suggestions including 2 banks which have age limits above 70 and also that it could be worthwhile to investigate Age Concern and any trade union you might belong to. Many travellers find that single trip insurance is now easier to arrange than annual cover and sometimes the travel operators own insurance can be worth doing.

Brenda Last

Meeting on 11th March 2013

In appropriately cold weather we enjoyed listening to Ann and Tony describe their truly Arctic Adventure to Karesuando . They left Gatwick and flew to the village on the border of Sweden and Finland and 100 miles within the Arctic Circle. The first job was to collect their snow suits and boots and learn how to get them on and off – quite a task but most necessary. Then onto their accommodation for the week which was basic but good. Although the sun was only visible from around 10.30am to 2.30pm the light was beautiful and the pictures of sunrises and sunsets amazing. The village was quite small but boasted having the most northerly church in Sweden, a school and a small museum. It was so cold that car engines have to be kept going to prevent the diesel freezing and they are generally hooked up to electricity supplies for this. They were able to try using a Husky drawn sledge and snowmobiles and also met up with some reindeer. Nearly all reindeer are domesticated and well adapted to their environment, having nostrils which warm the air before it gets to their lungs and cold ridged hooves so as not to melt the snow as they walk.

Although the photos were beautiful everyone was glad that it was not quite so cold here and we are all looking forward to hopefully warmer holidays this year.

Brenda Last

AGM Monday 22nd April 2013

The chairman reported that the group now had around 45 members, with several new members this last year. There had been a number of informative talks during the year, an enjoyable Christmas lunch and a successful summer party. In addition many members had taken advantage of the after meeting lunches which helped everyone get to know each other. The Treasurer reported that there had been a small increase in the surplus in the bank account which was healthy but not excessive. The existing committee was re-elected for another year.

After tea and coffee the arrangements for the trip to Ireland were discussed and then the Secretary went through the results of the questionnaire on possible future visits and whether any different types of holidays or hotels were preferred.  It was agreed that three members would investigate 3 different trips, one in the UK, one in Europe and one involving a river cruise for 2014 and report back to members.

Trip to Ireland 11th – 18th May 2013

The Travel and Tourism group enjoyed a week’s holiday in Eire based on Dublin and Cork, despite the fact that there was some rain every day of the week. Fortunately we were able to dodge many of the showers by being on the coach or inside the various attractions visited.

The advantage of the early morning flight from Stansted meant we were in Dublin city centre by lunchtime and had a guided coach trip round the city, which allowed us to see where various places of interest were ready for further sightseeing the next day. Our hotel was quite near the river Liffey, but a little walk from the centre and proved to be very comfortable.

On Sunday we had a guided tour of the Guinness Powerhouse which explained the origins of Guinness and how it was made and included a free glass of Guinness. After the tour the group split up to explore Dublin on their own. Among the sights visited were the Book of Kells, a monastic illuminated manuscript from 8th Century, in Trinity College’s Old Library and the Long Room which houses thousands of books in great bookcases and also showed the art of conservation and restoration of books. Also the National museum of Archaeology nearby which although small had a number of fascinating collections, amongst which were much Celtic gold jewellery. The two Cathedrals were also visited as well walks taken round various interesting areas.  Monday we left Dublin for a coach trip to Powerscourt Gardens and round the Wicklow mountains. The gardens belong to a stately home which had been badly damaged by fire in 1974 and which now housed a nice café, museum and some small shops.  The heavy showers of rain overtook us and we were glad to move on to Glendalough which is a substantial ruined monastic site. The visitor’s centre showed an interesting video and exhibition on monastic properties and most people managed to explore the site between the showers.

On Tuesday we left Dublin for Cork mainly by motorway and stopped for lunch at Cashel, famous for its Rock which is the castle built on the cliff above the town, unfortunately under scaffolding at the time. Arriving in Cork we found our hotel and settled in although some of us managed a quick look round the city centre before dinner.

Wednesday started with a guided tour of Cork with stops at the Butter Exchange, St Finbar’s Cathedral and the English Market, so called because originally only English Protestants could trade there. The group then went their own ways to explore this small but interesting city. After dinner most of us went back into the centre to hear some live Irish pub music at what was reputed to be the oldest pub in Cork, which was very atmospheric and enjoyable for an hour or so. Thursday and Friday mornings were full days out with coach trips to view the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula via Killarney. The scenery was lovely although obscured at times by the clouds but on Friday we were able to enjoy blue skies. The roads were quite narrow and we were glad not to have to do the driving.  Saturday was our last day but as we had a late flight we able to enjoy either pottering around Cork on visiting the port of Cobh just half an hour away. Cobh is very small now but was once the main port of embarkation for emigrants to America and also the last stop for the Titanic. There was an interesting exhibition on both subjects in the town as well as an imposing cathedral on the hillside overlooking the port. The return trip to Stansted was on time and as it was the last flight of the day from Cork we could watch the airport almost closing down around us.

The only drawback  for most of us were the long trips to and from Killarney on two consecutive days so possibly staying in Killarney and just visiting Cork might have been better but I am sure everyone enjoyed their week.

Meetings Monday 10th June and 8th July 2013 and August summer party.

At our June meeting we discussed the success of our Ireland holiday in May and revisited France with John and Jan who had lived there for a number of years.  It was fascinating to see a country where many of us have holidayed from a completely different point of view and we enjoyed seeing the photos of their home and several of the village characters.

In July we had a talk and slideshow from Roger and Sylvia on their cruise from Sydney to Bangkok. After flying to Australia they joined 1000 other passengers for the cruise. After a sightseeing trip round Sydney they travelled up the east coast via Brisbane, the Barrier Reef, Hamilton Island to Darwin. Until ten years ago Darwin had been quite a small place but has grown to accommodate the current gas and oil development. Cruising now to Asia they visited Komodo Island and saw the local dragons which are carnivorous and have a poisonous bite! They also visited ho Chi Min City, formerly Saigon and say that some old colonial buildings remained including the beautiful cathedral. They were also amazed by the quiet motorbikes everywhere. Finally arriving in Bangkok, they left the boat and enjoyed some time on dry land to see some of the many sights there before flying home.  A very interesting and different holiday.

In August instead of our usual meeting we had our summer party where the ladies of the committee organised a lovely buffet meal and the chairman the pre lunch competition which as usual had us struggling to complete. The weather was kind to us so we could sit outside on the community centre patio and enjoy our food and drink and lively conversation.

Travel Group Meetings September to December 2013.

Our September meeting enjoyed revisiting our holidays in Ireland with a lovely compilation of Tony’s and Jim’s photos.  It really brought back the charm of the places visited and the scenic splendour of the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle peninsula. There was discussion about next year’s trips and after a presentation of possible options it was agreed to book a river cruise on the Rhine and Moselle for next September.

The October meeting was cancelled as many of the group were away in Yorkshire visiting areas around Skipton and Haworth and we look forward to seeing photos of that trip next year.  In November Sheila Miller talked about her trip to South Africa with Voyages Jules Verne which took in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.  This meant flying to Johannesburg and onto the Victoria Falls where they enjoyed a couple of days in a hotel full of Edwardian elegance near the water. In local terms the falls are known as “the smoke that thunders” and it was clear why, with the spray and the roar of the falling water. After that visit they enjoyed an elephant ride and a visit to a lion park before crossing into Botswana. There they went on a safari and saw lots of animals, although in May some animals were already moving northwards. They also relaxed on a leisurely river cruise on the Chobe river. In all a fascinating trip.

In December we had our Christmas lunch at Harveys preceded by our usual drinks, nibbles and entertainment. This year there were simple charades plus a mini quiz identifying old pictures of group members. The meal was excellent as usual and round off by a talk on getting prepared to exhibit at Chelsea.