Garden Group North’s Visit to Hilton Court

In July, The Garden Group North met at Hilton Court Gardens, Roch where, before setting off to the gardens, we enjoyed lunch in the Gardeners Rest eatery.

As with all gardens the extensive grounds had changed considerably since my last visit.  The lake, which is the focal point, looked beautiful with the many water lilies in bloom; obviously there are fish because we spotted a heron sitting patiently on the bank waiting for his lunch.

A stroll round the lake

Essentially the garden is one of tree and shrubs but there has been an introduction of some herbaceous plants adding some colour to an otherwise very green look.  As we strolled around the lake we came upon Badger’s Hall a great addition for the children or even for some adults although some were not up to the challenge but they gave it their best shot! 

Colin tries his best!

Before returning to the café for afternoon tea (the Garden Group really doesn’t spend all its time eating and drinking) we came across another feature which one or two of us could not resist as you will see from the photographs.  The weather was kind to us with sunshine and a gentle breeze – indeed, a lovely meeting.

Penny on the swing

Please remember that our horticultural show which takes place the Neyland Athletic Centre, entries are on the day and an entry from and Schedule may be found on the website or alternatively contract me on 01437 766775 or pen.thomas46@googlemail.com.  There are spaces available on the trip to Dyffryn Gardens, near Cowbridge why not join us it is a National Trust property with beautiful gardens and an arboretum and well worth a visit.

Penny Thomas

Monthly Meeting July 2017 – An American Adventure

It is always a pleasure when the speaker is one of our membership.  In July, Philip and Marcia Whitehead related the story of their American trip – undertaken to visit those friends who were unable to attend their wedding earlier in the year. 

Marcia was concerned that we might think we would just be seeing their holiday photographs, but no – with the aid of bullet points she had prepared, and Philip operating the technology, we travelled from one side of America to the other taking in the Grand Canyon. Here we did have some splendid photographs!

With a temperature range from 4 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit this presented a challenge from the clothing point of view and a large quantity of luggage, but our intrepid travellers coped, well Marcia maybe! 

Upon entering the hall Marcia handed each member a slip of paper in order that they might guess the number of miles travelled – the competition was won by Ann Hyslop. A very interesting and informative talk.

Penny Thomas

Pembrokeshire U3A Annual Quiz 12th May 2017

score

The annual quiz on the afternoon of Friday 12th May, now in its fourth year, attracted our highest ever attendance for the event which also produced the closest ever finish.
 
score

19 teams (including 3 from Narberth U3A & 2 from Preseli U3A) battled through 9 rounds of general knowledge questions across a range of subjects, with at the end only 2 points separating the top 5. The winners were the “Spring Chickens” from Pembrokeshire U3A, Viv Scale, Janine Crooks, and Jackie & Rob Davidson, who achieved 96.5 points out of a possible 128, beating the “Penny Pinchers”, David & Chris Pinch, Penny Reed, & Anne Hyslop by just 1/2 point, with a team from Preseli 3rd & one from Narberth sharing 4th.

Peter Brown

Photographs Colin Hankinson & Geoff Winterman

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