May Monthly Meeting – The Railways of Pembrokeshire

It has been mentioned that a large proportion of our speakers represent an organisation but on Thursday 4th May Mr David Watts spoke about the railway system, particularly in Pembrokeshire.

David delivered his talk with an element of humour and, as a bit of an enthusiastic rail traveller myself, I found the information he gave fascinating.  He described how coaches were pulled on wooden tracks by horses but within a relatively short time these were replaced by iron rails.  With the aid of maps and diagrams held up by his assistant for the day, Bob Matthews, we were able to appreciate just how many railway tracks there were in Pembrokeshire, although in the main these were branch lines linking villages rather than the larger towns whose stations were on the main line.  Railways were initially a means of freight carriers; from Pembrokeshire many hundreds of rabbits found their way to the metropolis by this means, not to mention milk from the many dairy farms in the County, when milk was transported in churns as opposed to the collections today by milk tankers. 

When finishing his talk David reminded us just how safe it is to travel by rail and, if you book your seat in good time, relatively inexpensive when compared with the cost of petrol. 

Gardens of Holland April 2017

Wonders of Keukenhof

Thirteen U3A Members visit Keukenhof Gardens

 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!

Penny Thomas  22nd April 2017

April Monthly Meeting: National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) Woolpack Point Station

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.

Geoff Winterman

March 2017 Monthly Meeting – Personal Safety

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.

Penny Thomas  2nd March 2017

U3A ANNUAL GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUIZ

We will be holding our 4th Annual Quiz on Friday May 12th, at Neyland Athletic Club. As in previous years, it will take the form of a GENERAL KNOWLEDGE quiz for teams of 4, open to all members. The emphasis will be very much on “general” knowledge, with questions on subjects that will be familiar to everyone, such as Music, Literature, Geography, Food & Drink, History, etc.

We’re sure that most of you enjoy watching quizzes, or taking part in them, or both, & hope as many of you as possible will get together with your friends in the U3A, perhaps with other members of your Groups, form a team, and come along and join in what should be a fun, social afternoon.

There is no entry fee, but obviously we need to get some idea of numbers and, nearer the time, a commitment. If you would like to enter a team, or, as an individual, would like further details or information on taking part, please get in touch with me, my contact details are below.

The quiz will begin at 2pm, & we aim to finish around 4.30pm, with a short comfort & refreshment break in the middle.

Peter Brown
01834 813895
ynysfachbrown@aol.com

February 2017 Monthly Meeting – Humanism

The speaker for the monthly meeting on 2nd February was Mr Howard Jones of the West Wales Humanist Society (soon to be renamed Association) who was introduced by John Baylis.

Mr Howard Jones of the West Wales Humanist Society

Perhaps a controversial topic but should we not also be aware of other points of view and if nothing else we now know there is an alternative funeral to that of a Christian service,

despite one family requesting Harry Secombe singing “The Old Rugged Cross”.  Hedging one’s bets perhaps!

New Year’s Message from the Chairman

 I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.  If there was some indulgence over the Christmas period why not join one of our walking or exercise groups or take up table tennis as a way to regain your fitness and figure!

There now stretches ahead short days with dubious weather; may I remind you of the New Year’s dinner at the Allt-yr-Afon on 20th January 6.30 for 7 pm.  if you don’t like driving at night why not get together with others and hire a taxi?

The food is lovely and the evening gives an opportunity for the ladies and indeed the gentleman to wear their finest attire please give it some thought the booking form and menu may be found on the web site.

I look forward to seeing you on 5th January when our speaker is Julian Cremona who will talk to us about Polar Bears.

Penny Thomas

2017 New Year’s Dinner at Allt yr Afon

A selection of images from Bob Matthews

January 2017 Monthly Meeting: Julian Cremona

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!