Thirteen Pembrokeshire U3A members departed on Easter Sunday 16th April 2017 to catch the Super-Ferry Stenna Brittanica from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, for a five day holiday discovering “The Gardens of Holland” with CJB Garden Tours www.cjbgardentours.co.uk.
We made our way to Harwich and boarded a ferry to the Hook of Holland, a perfect overnight crossing, following breakfast on board. We then made our way by coach to the Keukenhof Gardens the first of our garden visits – although hardly a garden! Keukenhof Flower Gardens, said to be the greatest spring flower show in the world. Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit this spectacular attraction each year between March and May. There must have been a million or more tulips, hyacinths and other spring bulbs to delight the eye, in fact, it was all quite breathtaking.
The following day we travelled to the Het Loo Palace and Gardens. This Royal Palace is known as the “Versailles of the North”, where we found immaculate formal gardens. Returning from Het Loo we spent an afternoon wandering around the older parts of the beautiful Dutch town of Amersfoort. We rounded off our short visit to Holland with a fantastic excursion featuring a one-way cruise from Enkhuizen to Medemblik on the museum ship Friesland, and a steam train journey through the Dutch bulb fields.
The weather was bright and sunny but you will note from the photograph we were well wrapped up against the wind!
Today’s speaker was Richard Neale, Station Manager for the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) at their Woolpack Point Station, in the Deer Park close to Martin’s Haven. The National Coastwatch is an entirely voluntary organisation keeping a visual watch along UK shores. Each station assists in the protection and preservation of life at sea and around the UK coastline. Currently 50 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2000 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles.
Richard talked at length about the history of wrecks & rescues on the short stretch of dangerous coastline north of the Haven covered by their Watch and the changes that have occurred over the years to establish safety for mariners, boaters and those using the waters around Skomer Island. Whilst high technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, a computer cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat or a yachtsman or fisherman in trouble. Other vulnerable activities like diving, wind surfing and canoeing are made safer with visual surveillanceof volunteers.
NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are volunteers trained to deal with emergencies and to support the other rescue services, offering a variety of skills and experience.
PCSO Leanne Nicholls talks about crime in the community
I am sure many of you will have read, on page two of the current Newsletter, of the incident that took place on the road near the Oil refinery in January. It was for this reason we invited PCSO Leanne Nicholls to speak to us on Thursday.
Leanne is a Police Community Support Officer stationed at Milford Haven, and as her job title infers she works within the community. Following the incident, in question, the police carried out a thorough investigation of the situation but were unable to obtain any information as to the perpetrators. However, further incidents have occurred and the message to us was “be vigilant and drive with locked doors”.
One aspect of Leanne’s talk brought home to us just how the cutbacks have affected services that we once took for granted, being able to walk into a Police Station at most times of the day and the visibility of the local “bobby”. It would seem we, as citizens, need to attend to the policing of our own localities watching out for any unusual occurrences in our neighbourhood and reporting such events to the Police. Some areas, of course, have a “Neighbourhood Watch” schemes and there is also, as one of our members pointed out, a “Village Watch”. The message is be aware of what is going on around you.
The speaker at the first monthly meeting of the year, Julian Cremona, took us to Canada with the aid of photographs and dialogue Churchill, to be more precise, which he and his wife visited some ten years ago. His photographs are amazing, close up pictures of polar bears, a silver fox, arctic hares, red and arctic foxes, elk and deer. You almost felt they were only feet away rather than just looking at them on the screen apparently over 3000 photographs were taken in all.
The talk followed the journey Julian and his wife took. Commencing in Vancouver, where they hired a vehicle to take them northwards to Churchill, having been assured it would not be necessary to have a four wheel drive vehicle since there was no snow. Not so, it was necessary for them to retrace their steps because of snow. In fact, part of the journey had to be undertaken by air as there was only a narrow window of time during which Polar bears may be seen before they depart for the ice cap in order to feed.
Julian has such an enthusiasm for his subject, explaining and giving great insight to the nature of the area he was exploring. However, as soft and lovely as polar bears look they are the largest land living mammal on earth and not one to be trifled with. The Tundra which covers some one million square miles is home to these magnificent animals. They wait patiently for the ice to form to enable them to seek their food, in the main seals. Having not eaten for upwards of six months, it is not surprising the human residents of Churchill are ever watchful for these creatures, placing bars at their windows just in case a passing bear decides they might make a tasty meal!
The talk was much enjoyed by the members who can look forward to hearing of Julian’s adventures in Costa Rica, his next destination.
Penny Thomas 5th January 2017
A YouTube clip of a Polar Bear sliding as Julian described!
Over forty Pembrokeshire U3A walkers converged on the Haverfordwest Golf Club on Monday morning the 12th December for their Christmas Dinner and planning meeting to prepare the programme of Monday Walks for 2017.
Under the direction of Helen Lewis John, who coordinates the walking group, volunteers were found to plan and lead a programme of walks for next year exploring much of the length and breadth of Pembrokeshire. It was also agreed that we would also have another day out at St Fagans in June. The members expressed their appreciation for Helen’s sterling work as Group Coordinator.
This was followed by and excellent Christmas lunch prepared by Lucy and her colleagues (the 19th Hole) catering at the Golf Club.
Sandra McSparron, Pembrokeshire County Council and her police colleague from Milford Haven gave over seventy members present timely advice on dealing with the wide range of “scams” targeting older citizens here in Pembrokeshire. While hammering home the adage
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!”
The main types of scams they featured were: 1: Doorstep scams 2: Telephone scams 3: Text message scams 4: Internet scams
Each year many people fall victim to fraudsters, intent on stealing their personal and financial information, and conning them out of their cash. The fraudsters sound convincing, professional and many claim to represent a business you know, for example your bank. They may try to pressure you into acting quickly, either because they want to trick you into believing you will miss a golden opportunity to make money or that you will suffer some sort of loss if you fail to act. It only takes a single response to be inundated with many different scams as the scammers sell you details. Other scammers, equally victimising older people are those knock on doors to offer building work.
The September meeting of the group took place on the 8th in the garden of Sue George who lives on Honeyborough Green. Those who follow the groups’ exploits will know we visit some very diverse gardens each having its own element to please the most discerning gardener. Having seen Sue’s entries in the Horticultural Show I knew she had a mixed garden, some flowers and vegetables, however, what a delight awaited us. The ground rises away from the house, another immaculate lawn surrounds a flower bed with herbaceous plants, borders run along the side and rear boundaries beyond which is open countryside. The garden also has a vegetable growing area, it was interesting to see a row of beans to include the Barlotta variety which looks cheerful with its flat pods splashed with red which disappears when cooked, this may either be treated as a French bean or when mature the beans are used as a flageolet type, multi-purpose for the small garden! The garden is bursting with plants, a lovely Evening Primrose grows in the border and is striking with its’ pale yellow flower heads. Closer to the house are mature apple trees absolutely laden with fruit, not only did we leave with memories of a lovely afternoon spent in a charming garden where we sat in the sunshine but, for some, with a bag of apples!
After 13 Years of leading Exercise Groups Gloria Droy is moving to Wiltshire
and Ken the Tea Monitor is going too!
Gloria’s leaving; won’t be back. Keep on exercising, stay on track! Stand up tall and stretch that spine Bend down low and you’ll be ﬁne. Curve to the left, curve to the right, Stand on tippy toes, Reach for the light Keep on going, Don’t be a quitter Lose that tum ………..and you’ll be ﬁtter!