River Danube Cruise
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Manchester Ship Canal Trip
Visiting Gardens Group
River Seine Cruise
In spite of an early start 43 members of Fetcham U3A enthusiastically looked forward to a varied four days travelling north. Our first stop, apart from a comfort break, was at the last complete Victorian Pottery factory in the country - Gladstone Pottery Museum - where we had a delicious buffet lunch. Typical of hundreds of similar factories at one time in the area, we experienced what conditions would have been like for the men, women and children who had worked at the centre of the world's pottery industry, including the sights, sounds and smells. We followed the story of the WC from Queen Elizabeth 1 through to the toilet of our future and now know what a sagger maker's bottom knocker is - a valuable piece of information for any quiz!
Later that afternoon we arrived at our base for the next few days, unpacked and gathered in the bar for a drink before dinner. Surprisingly, although most were tired after a long day, we were all up and ready the next morning for the Manchester Ship Canal cruise out of Salford Quays. From the boat we saw the new BBC Media Centre built on the banks of the Canal, the Lowry Gallery and Imperial War Museum North before cruising for six hours along the 35-mile canal to Liverpool. With a pleasant lady guide giving us a lively commentary as we sailed along, a clear blue sky and warmth from the sun, it was a magical day, only broken by suddenly coming up close and personal with a huge unladen oil tanker, pulled by a tug, rounding a corner towards us. Obviously our captain was aware and put us into a 'layby' on the canal so that the tanker could pass.
We then travelled via one of the Mersey tunnels to Birkenhead to visit Port Sunlight, exploring Lord Lever's vision, the founding of the village, the architecture, soap making and village life at the Lever Gallery and Museum.
The next day, we altered the itinerary slightly as the weather forecast was not good, and spent a full day in Liverpool. With so much to see we dived in and out of museums, galleries, cathedrals and the Liverpool Eye and managed to avoid the heavy rain. The rebuilt Albert Dock housed several museums and the Tate Gallery of Liverpool. The red sandstone Anglican Cathedral and the beautifully modern Catholic Cathedral were within walking distance of each other and,
Our last morning saw us at the Anderton Boat Lift. A wonderful construction, for 125 years this impressive Victorian monument served a purpose very different to the peaceful passage of colourful narrowboats between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal 50ft above, linking the canals of the north and midlands as the motorways of their day.
We arrived back at Fetcham tired but, in spite of the changeable weather, having had a very enjoyable four days.
Photo by Tony R
WinnieThe following are photos which may take a little while to download, were sent by our members, click to view:
Judy - Manchester Ship Canal
Judy - Liverpool
Judy - Anderton Boat Lift
Judy - Port Sunlight
I have put together a series of London Walks which other members of U3A may enjoy. All of these walks have been
carried out over the last two years by Exploring London Group 6.
Walking is the only way to get to explore London and it is cheap and good for the environment. Each walk is typically 3 to 4 miles long and has an average of two to three hour "walking" time. Allowing for visits to the sites of interest on the route and the essential coffee and lunch breaks, one should allow a whole day to complete each walk.
To reduce costs, we always travel “off-peak” leaving Leatherhead station on the 09.26 train. Three or four travellers can still travel for the price of two provided you travel together all day. The start of the majority of walks can be access either on foot from Waterloo or Victoria or by bus using a Concessionary Travel Pass. Travel to the walks listed below in bold is best undertaken by the London Underground due to the lengthy journey time from the Main Line stations. All the places of interest currently have free admission access.
All these walks are suitable with young children with the exception of the “Jack the Ripper” walk which is best undertaken at night. I would highly recommend the Docklands Walk and the Great Fire of London walk for young children as the walks terminate with a visit to one of the Museum of London great museums which are now certainly some of the best places in Britain for children.
A Walk in the Royal Parks
Greenwich Walk ( Via River Clipper )
Jack The Ripper Walk
Regents Park & Marylebone
Southbank to Tower Bridge
The Great Fire of London
The Inns of Court Walk
The Royal Hospital Chelsea
Getting up in the early hours, even in May, is not the best way to start a holiday but, with parking arranged in one place, only one coach pick-up, luggage stowed and passengers on board, the Seine River Cruise commenced with cheery banter and smiling faces. Of course it would, the participants were from Fetcham U3A!
It took a good part of the outward journey before we could fully understand what our driver, Neil, was saying – he was from the Newcastle area with a very broad accent which, incidentally, came in very handy when he was accosted by an irate Frenchman. He laughed and joked with us, was extremely helpful and friendly and, of course, very competent. He gave us a smooth, comfortable journey through the Eurotunnel and onwards and deposited us at the foot of the gangplank, having done a quick tour of Paris for those who had not been before. His coach was available throughout the trip. He would drive ahead of the boat and be where we landed ready to take us on the booked excursions.
The weather could have been better but the boat made up for everything! The cabins and lounge was extremely comfortable and the dining room was beautifully decorated, but giving us no indication of the delights to come. We unpacked and then moved to the lounge where we were met with a glass of champagne at the welcome reception. Then, our first meal and what a meal! And what is more, they continued to come. Every day we were seduced with wonderful creations, beautifully prepared and served by cheerful but professional staff. The wine (included in the cost) flowed freely, even more freely when we realised we could order as many bottles as we wanted. Typically French, we were served cheese between the main and dessert courses.
The excursions were well organised with local guides, not rushed which meant that we saw as much as possible and, glory be, the rain held off for them all. We visited Les Andelys and the surrounding area, Château de Martainville, Honfleur (with a good deal of Calvados sampling), Rouen, Côte Fleurie, Deauville and Trouville and a Calvados Distillery within the grounds of Château du Breuil, in the Pays d’Auge area, with more sampling of the results of their product.
One night we were entertained by a group of dancers from Honfleur. They described the clothing they were wearing and danced to local tunes played on a type of accordion. Not sure if the stamping on the floor was appreciated by those in the cabins beneath, though!
All too soon it was the Gala Night. We were again met with champagne before dining on the most sumptuous food. And then, hasty packing, a group picture by the boat and we were on our way home. In the true spirit of the U3A new friendships had been forged, support given where necessary and we had been educated a little more. Our guests from Leatherhead U3A had been warmly welcomed and enjoyed being part of our happy band. I think it is fair to say that we all felt we had been away much longer than 5 days. With so much to do and see and expanding waistlines by the day, perhaps it was as well it was only 5 days!
Château de Martainville
Château du Château du Breuil
Shakespeare's Globe Visit
Cruising Along The Danube
Vadas Park Gypsy Music Hungary
Puszta Horses Hungary