May 18, 2009


The View From Opposite The Hotel

I have at last found a cafe with free WiFi so can let you folks out there know what is going on. I think I overcooked yesterday as I was not on top form when we returnrd to the hotel. We decided that I should not go on the trip today, but take life easy. Nina has gone to Castle Howard with the rest of the crowd so that she can also have a break from me. I walked to the post office and back to the hotel with a break for a coffee. A distance of about 1 mile in total, and it only took me about 90 minutes! At least I did it.

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May 02, 2008


We returned last night from our annual 4 day trip to the Cotswolds. As usual we were based at the Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton. This is, of course, the home of the Pudding Club and 41 people returned additionally weighted by excess intake of pudding! I suppose that a certain amount of avoirdupois was shed during the visits to various houses and gardens and a day following Nina shopping in Stratford-upon-Avon. The weather was not very kind to us but here are a few of the better pictures taken on the trip.
Mistletoe in Chipping Camden

Mill Dene Gardens

Sezincote House

Stratford's Fool

Shadows at Kelmscott Manor House

Nina at grave of William Morris

Greeting on Arrival Home

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June 13, 2007


The Old House - now Lakeland Plastics!

Another first class outing arranged by Annette. We visited Ipswich, a surprisingly interesting East Anglian town. The quayside of what was once a thriving seaport, now has good restaurants and we lunched at "Il Punto", a ship with a history as the link will show you. "Giles" the famous Daily Express cartoonist lived and worked in the town and there is this wonderful sculpture of his famous Grandma & Family.


After lunch we went off to view the Helmingham Hall Gardens finishing with the inevitable cream tea. What a relaxing way to finish the day!

As usual you can view some pictures here.

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May 24, 2007

A Day In Kent

Yesterday we spent a very interesting and enjoyable day enhanced of course by the great weather. We started with morning coffee at the Lamberhurst Vineyard before moving on to Tenterden for lunch.

The afternoon was spent at a private visit to Boughton Monchelsea Place, a manorial pile of eclectic tastes. There's a great way to describe it! I can best give you the link on the name as the best way to read the history of the place and to provide my usual photo album

Thanks once again to Annette for all the hard work in the organisation of the trip.

Posted by jeff at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2007

Cotswold's Caper

Three Ways House Hotel

We returned home on Thursday night after a fantastic four day tour of the Cotswolds. We were based at the Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton, Chipping Campden, the home of the Pudding Club!

The trip started on Monday very early, stopping at Woodstock for lunch. After wandering around the town we went on to Chipping Campden for tea, finishing up late afternoon at the hotel in Mickleton.

Tuesday saw us off to Moreton-in-the-Marsh in the morning to the delight of the ladies in the group as it was market day! After a morning coffee we left for, perhaps, the most beautiful of the Cotswold villages – Bourton-on-the-Water. The pictures tell the story of this superb village. The evening, after dinner, was brightened by Annette presenting a fun quiz with us all trying to identify pictures of our group as we were some 50 or 60 years ago. Memories, Memories!

Wednesday morning we were of to Hidcote Manor to see the famous gardens prior to visiting Broadway for lunch. After lunch we went off to the weirdest house I have ever seen. Not so much for the architecture, but the totally strange collection of furniture and décor and collections. Mr Charles Paget Wade must have been a total nut case!

After the dinner tonight we were royally entertained by the Pudding Club sampling four different speciality puddings. Well done Terry & Frank, I hope there have been no ill after effects!

On leaving the hotel on Thursday morning, we went straight to Stowe House, the home of Stowe School, for a tour which was strange as it was term time and the pupils or “stoics” were all around us. After lunch we visited the landscape gardens of Stowe before finally driving home.

As always with the greatest of thanks to Annette for organising the trip, and to Dave our ever reliable driver.

Attached is a photo album of the trip.

Posted by jeff at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2006

Wilton House

Wilton House

Another day trip from U3A, this time to Wilton House near Salisbury. Perhaps this time a mile too far in a day, as we encountered traffic problems on the M25 and it took 4½ hours to get there and 3½ to get back. Eight hours on the coach for a five hour visit. That apart it was well worth seeing. The Earl of Pembroke, the owner, has an amazing collection of paintings, including works by Rubens, Lely and Van Dyke. Our visit also included a private tour of the parts of the gardens not normally open to the public. We at U3A are truly privileged! As usual I have opened a picture album.

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September 09, 2006

La Belle Normande

We returned last night from 4 glorious days in Normandy. Once again the trip was organised by Annette for the U3A. We were based in Rouen for the three nights from Tuesday to Thursday and the only problem was that we all felt that the name of the hotel “Comfort” was an oxymoron! No drawers or shelves and only three hangers in the open fronted closet. The beds were comfortable however.

We had the benefit of a great driver and courier in Mick and Sue and all credit to Yorks Travel for co-operating with Annette in the planning and execution.

We visited five different gardens, and I am pleased to be able to provide links to their websites. On Tuesday morning we found ourselves at the Chateau de Mesnil Geoffroy to be met by the "Princess Kayali", who immediately informed us that we were 30 minutes late! At the end of the visit whislt relaxing in the gardens we were informed that the gardens were closed and we would have to leave! I'm sure I have been thrown out of better places than this!!! What a contrast the afternoon visit was. We went to Le Bois des Moutiers to be greeted and guided by the owner, Antoine Bouchayer-Mallet. The fact that he was tall and handsome had nothing to do with the doting looks he received from the ladies!

On Thursday our two visits were to Monet's garden and house at Giverny and the gardens at Le Clos du Coudray.

Friday morning saw us at the Chateau de Bosmelet where we were shown around by the , real this time, Baron Robert de Bosmelet. An English educated true French nobleman. After tihis visit we were off to Abbeville for lunch and then back to Blighty.

As usual, I will leave the pictures to tell the rest of the story.

Posted by jeff at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2006

Whitstable & Belmont House

Whitstable - The High Street

Yet another day with the weather being very kind to us made for a great outing to Whitstable and Belmont House and Gardens.

Whitstable is a small town in Kent known as the “Pearl of Kent”, famous for its oysters and fish

After too short a time looking around we had a fantastic lunch and then off to Belmont House and its famous gardens.

Belmont House

I am allowing the links indicated to tell you all about these places as they speak far more eloquently than I can. You can however look at some of the photos I took.

Posted by jeff at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

July 31, 2006

Henry Moore at Perry Green

In December 2005 a giant sculpture by Henry Moore was stolen from his home at Perry Green in Hertfordshire. After visiting Perry Green and seeing the size of most of the pieces, you almost admire the task the thieves set themselves!

This morning Liz Jones arranged a private visit for the photographic group. Once again the U3A has turned up trumps.

I have set up an album item for the pictures I took, but must ask everyone to respect the fact that these pictures are copyright and belong to the Henry Moore Foundation. The trust gave us a concession on the understanding that the pictures were for our exclusive use and would not be published. I have therefore not provided a link via this article, but you can view them by entering my photo albums directly and going to item 27

Posted by jeff at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

Beaulieu & Bucklers Hard

We have just arrived back home after another U3A day out. We went to Beaulieu Abbey (The ancestral home of Lord Montague) and Motor Museum. For those of you from abroad, it is pronounced “BYOO-LEE”. Do I hear groans coming from the direction of France? Sorry about that, but that’s the way we British are.

Maybe it is me, but why was I the only member of our group on the monorail when it broke down? When you are stuck in a monorail some 30 feet above the ground you just have to wait for the rescue vehicle to come and tow the train into a station.

After the Beaulieu vist we went on to the village of Bucklers Hard and enjoyed a 30 minute trip down the Beaulieu River.

Click here to see the pictures. My Uncle Dick had a Morris 8 just like the one in the picture.

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June 08, 2006

Hythe & Saltwood Castle

High Street, Hythe

Today we went on a very special trip with the U3A to Hythe and Saltwood Castle. Hythe is a very quaint and unspoilt Kentish town. There were only 16 of us in the party and we spent a few hours walking through the town finishing up at a fantastic seafood restaurant on the front. We all celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary with a very passable Sancerre.
Saltwood Castle - from the walls

After lunch we drove on to Saltwood Castle, the home of the late Sir Alan Clarke and Lady Jane Clarke. This was a private visit and we were shown around the castle by Jane Clarke who finished by providing us with a cream tea. What an interesting lady she is.

Posted by jeff at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2006

Tenterden to Bodiam


We have just returned from another of those wonderful U3A trips. This time we went to Tenterden (Kent) and then on the Kent & East Sussex Railway to Bodiam. The K & E S is a life gone by! Trains as they were 50 or more years ago. The thrills of watching the fireman fill the engine water tanks and the smell of the coal and smoke. For more pictures click here.

Posted by jeff at 08:34 PM | Comments (1)

March 06, 2006

Where I Live

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Today at the EFU3A monthly meeting, the photographic group held an exhibition of pictures on the theme of “Where I Live”. Each member presented views of their area. Obviously I concentrated on Buckhurst Hill and I was reasonably pleased that my photographs gave a taste of my surroundings. Checking of the link, you can see the ten views that I displayed.

Posted by jeff at 10:21 PM | Comments (1)

October 25, 2005

Cheltenham Cheese Festival

I appear to be getting rather lazy these days as I should have updated this item last Saturday.

We went with our usual coach and driver, Dave, and as usual the trip was organised by Annette Chesher. I now refer to her as the "Chesher Cheese" lady! On the return journey our timing was perfect, as Dave had decided to avoid Oxford at the busy time and return via the M4. This gave us the opportunity to view the Trafalgar firework display at Windsor Castle. An attractive diversion. By the time we got back to Loughton you could play "Name That Cheese" on the coach by the way that the purchases were "singing"!

In The Cheese Tent

Posted by jeff at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

Let's Get Up To Date

I have been very remiss over the last few weeks and have been ignoring my weblog. I have not posted an item from the end of June about our Norwegian fjord cruise, nor have I posted the pictures of it either. I certainly owe Jan & John an apology for this.

I also owe an apology to my dear friends, Jim & Sue, for not having recorded an item about our wonderful week touring a small part of the country after Jim had come over from Minnesota to Steward for me at the MCTC’s open show earlier this month. My apologies to all of you, I am blaming all of these oversights on to the “Blasted Toe”. I hope that all will be cured after a visit to the hospital tomorrow. I will at least have a day or two to catch up.

I know that I am supposed to be semi-retired, but client pressure recently has been tremendous.

Watch out for my links to the photo album, but in the meantime here is the link to the Midland Cairn Terrier Club site with the results and pictures of my effort!

Posted by jeff at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2004

Kew in Autumn

After three really dreadful days as far as the weather was concerned, we were not looking forward to the U3A trip to Kew Gardens. Can you believe it – the temperature was around 16°C but with a fairly strong wind, and the sun shone brightly! Our organiser, Maureen, must have been a good girl when she was very young.

We had a guide for the first hour walking around the lawns looking at trees in their beautiful autumn garb. What a pity that Kew is on the direct flight path to Heathrow! Those intruding planes coming in at about 1,500 feet above us every 90 seconds. All the plants have Latin names, but these were the “planus intrudinus”.

There were signs that Halloween is nearly upon us in one of the hothouses and the pictures will show this. There was also a display of over 100 varieties of apples. What a shame that we can’t get the smell on the photos. I suppose that we will in a few years time.

All in all, this was a most unexpected day and one that finished off the tripping season of the U3A in a grand way. The 28 pictures in the photo album are only a small selection that show the wonderful colours that abound.

Posted by jeff at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2004


On a dull, cold late-summer morning, six intrepid members of the EFU3A Photographic Group set out for High Beach to photograph Epping Forest in its final throes of summer. Oh for some sun! The contrasts we hankered for were not there, but we made the most of it.
This is us

Some of the more reasonable pictures can be seen by clicking on the album link.

Posted by jeff at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004


Yet another great trip through U3A again today. This one was organised by the Garden Club and was to the Tenterden Winery and to Great Dixter the home of Christopher Lloyd the world famous broadcaster and writer on gardening matters.
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Happy members tasting!

As opposed to the visit last week, this was a winery and not a vineyard. In fact it is the winery that actually makes the wines for the grapes grown at Lamberhurst. I think that I have to confess that as much as I would like to support English wines, they still have a long way to go to beat a good Australian or South African Chardonnay. There, I’ve said it and I can’t take it back.

It was still a good day out and there is nothing wrong with tasting wines and visiting good old English homes and gardens. Great Dixter is a house that goes back to the thirteenth century and is still lived in today by Christopher Lloyd who, although over 80, still looks after the gardens.
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Waiting to go into the house

The photographs on this page are mine, but the links will give a better overall view of the place, and morer of my pictures can be seen in the album.

Posted by jeff at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2004


Today we enjoyed another of those wonderful days out. This time it was to Finchcocks, the living museum of music near Sevenoaks in Kent. As usual organised by the EFU3A. How dull life would be without them!

Richard Burnett and his wife, Katrina, run the house and collection, which is shown in more detail on the Finchcocks website. After an interesting introduction given by Katrina in the grounds, we visited the vast collection of keyboard instruments in the many rooms of the house.
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Learning about Finchcocks
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8 of the Concert Instruments
Coffee and lunch had been enjoyed at the Lamberhurst vineyards prior to the private reception and concert. This was given by Richard on twelve different instruments from an early harpsichord, through spinet and virginals to the nearly modern piano.
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The Audience
After the recital and tea, I went mad buying CDs of Richard playing several of the historic instruments.

Posted by jeff at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2004


Another great trip organised by the U3A. This time we went to Hever Castle and Gardens and, would you believe it, the rain held off! Hever was the birthplace of Anne Bullen otherwise known as Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. As usual, photos of the wonderful gardens are in the album and can be viewed by clicking on the link. We were not allowed to take pictures in the house, but there are some great views on the Hever website.

Posted by jeff at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2004


On Thursday we went with the EFU3A on a visit to Ightham Mote (pronounced "ITEM"). How do foreign people ever learn English? As usual it was one of those well-organised and informative visits that always are a joy. The following paragraph is from the official guide. There are also some pictures in my album.

Ightham Mote is a moated manor house dating back to 1330 and was left to the National Trust by an American businessman, Charles Henry Robinson in 1985.
The main features of the house span many centuries and include the Great Hall, Old Chapel and Crypt, Tudor Chapel with painted ceiling, Drawing Room with Jacobean fireplace, frieze and i8th century wallpaper and Billiards Room. Work is underway on the Southwest Quarter to facilitate the eventual opening of the Robinson apartment. Access to a viewing platform and Interpretation panels illustrate the work in progress. There is an extensive garden and interesting walks in the surrounding woodland.

Posted by jeff at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

Twenty Twenty Vision

I had a visit from my cousin Lorna, who lives abroad, and we were discussing various aspects of life. She expounded the theory that we live our lives in a series of tranches, each of twenty years. Here is my version.

The first up to the age of 20, we are concerned totally with ourselves. Our education is foremost, particularly as we have to cover the fact that we are convinced our parents are embarrassingly ignorant. We are slightly relieved to find that over the final three or four years of this period, their understanding of our problems have improved – but only slightly!

Stage two, from 20 to 40, at the time seems the most traumatic. We have completed our education and are now aware of the fact that our parents had acquired knowledge throughout their lives that was far superior to anything we had learnt. We do not of course admit this to them. This oversight is probably due to the fact that we are far too busy working, marrying and having children who, in turn, also have to be educated. On reflection, perhaps we should have subdivided this period into two tens. It doesn’t really matter because this is the time that we are at our most energetic and can cope with anything!

Stage three is where we begin to enjoy life. Our children are growing up and, if we are lucky, they have married and are no longer our responsibility, even though we don’t admit to them that we will never stop worrying about them. Hang on – in an earlier stage we were not admitting certain things to our parents weren’t we? Yes, from our busiest stage, we have now reached the “sandwich” one, where we feel responsible for both our children and our parents. We are experiencing what it is like to be torn in half. Did I say that we could begin to enjoy ourselves? Yes of course I did, because it is also during this period that we acquire a new plaything – a grandchild! The cream on the cake is the ability to have your children and grandchildren to visit, and after a couple of hours of pleasure, turn to them and say, “Thank you for going”!

The next stage is 60 to 80, and I face commenting on this with some trepidation as I am not quite half way through it and I do not know what lies ahead. All I do know is that the grandchildren are no longer playthings; they have grown into young adults and I delight in seeing a reflection of my own teen rebellion brought up to date. It is a wonderful thing to view a changing world through their eyes and to realise that one of the best things about this period is that we are becoming adept philosophers.

I can only conjecture that the pleasure of the final stage, should we be so lucky as to complete it, is that we will have achieved the ultimate in selfishness by thinking only of ourselves. We will be able to say whatever we like about anyone and anything. It will not matter how rude or inconsiderate it appears as no one will take any notice and will think of us as totally eccentric and senile. A little twinkle in our eyes will indicate to the perceptive that this is not the case, we are just having our last bit of fun – and also the last laugh.

Posted by jeff at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2003

The Music Group

Today, being the second Monday in the month, it was the meeting of the Music Group. This is usually held at the flat of Mary Bourne, and we are all very grateful to her for that.

This month Mary had kindly arranged for a friend to come along and talk to us about the life and works of Edvard Grieg.

Coincidence must be following me, as after the experience at Chilford on Saturday, the last thing I expected was to meet a face from over 50 years ago. Wrong again, Sedley Old Boy! Our speaker David Sames and his wife Marion (Harris) were both at school with Nina and me at Wanstead County High School. They are also in touch with several other 'Old Heronians', and memories were rife. Who said nostalgia isn’t what it used to be?

David’s talk, together with the music of Grieg was quite fantastic and I shall certainly listen to his works with a much deeper interest in future.

Thank you Mary for arranging such an interesting meeting – for me - in more ways that one!

Posted by jeff at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2003

Chilford Hall Vineyard

It is such a pleasure to be able to sit at the computer and report yet another great trip. This time it was with a group of 50 members of the EFU3A to the vineyards & winery at ChilforHall near Linton in Cambridgeshire. As it has already passed the witching hour; I have to report that this happened last night.

My first comment is a resounding ‘Thank You’ to Annette Chesher for organising it and being able to remind us what menu we had ordered.

I think that the only disappointment I felt was to find that they do not tread the grapes with sweaty feet. After all, what gives a wine a better ‘earthy’ flavour? Then again, I suppose it is understandable as they grow German grapes and produce white wine. Speaking for myself, as much as I think I know about wine, I am very ignorant about the English variety. Here at Chilford they have 18 acres of vines and produce wine from seven different vaieties of grape that is even exported to France and California!
Our vineyard guide Anna & vInes

The vineyard was established in the 1960s by Mr Sam Alper, which gave me another surprise, as my parents were great friends of his brother Henry. For those of you who follow horse racing – Henry Alper was the owner of that great horse Persian War.
The Alper family residence at Chilford Hall

After a tour of the winery, we had a tasting covering six different wines and followed that with a delightful meal.

It was very noticeable that there were 50 smiling faces boarding the coach for home with many carrying bags and boxes of “Local Produce”! I will savour my purchases sitting on the patio during the current hot spell. Can you think of a more pleasant way to pass an evening hour or so?

Posted by jeff at 12:57 AM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2003


I have begun to think seriously about hair. Those of you who know me may think that I have woken up to the situation rather belatedly. Yes – I know that I already sport a wide centre parting, but certain events have occurred over the past weeks that have forced me into making a decision. It seems that I can no longer say, “Grass does not grow on a busy street”. My street, it would appear, is not that busy these days!

Nina and my daughter Laura have suggested that it is about time I considered having a “No 1”. This is, as I understand it, an almost shaved all over look. I am also reliably informed that it will bring me “up to date”. I am living in 2003; how much more up to date can I get?

Hair used to be the crowning glory for both men and women. I recall that all the girls I knew wanted a man who was tall dark and handsome. Tall and dark were obvious, and I suppose that dark referred to the fact that they would also have had a fine head of dark hair. By these standards I would have to describe myself as short bald and fat – not a pretty picture. How on earth did I manage to attract a beautiful woman like Nina? Today, however, it is possible to see both men and women sporting similar “No 1” styles and you begin to wonder where ‘crowning beauty’ has gone.

No man likes to admit that he is losing his hair, especially those where the loss begins on the crown of the head like a monk’s tonsure. They cannot see this in the mirror, so they refuse to admit that it exists, or that the hair doesn’t. Mine on the other hand is the type that recedes from the forehead making it difficult to know when to stop washing your face and start shampooing. I realise that this is also hereditary, as my father had this style in his wedding photographs that were taken three days before his 25th birthday. What chance did I stand? I do have to admit that over the last few years it has become more and more difficult to comb over the shiny bit and I will not allow my style to be referred to a “Bobbie Charlton Comb-Over”. I recall as a child I used to tell my father that his looked like tramlines across his head! I wonder how my granddaughters refer to mine?

So my friends, it would appear that I have no way to fight the situation. The next time you see me I could look like Steven Berkoff’s very much older and very much shorter brother. Yes – it would seem that I must move into the 21st century not just in fact, but also in fashion. What we men do to please our women!

Posted by jeff at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

July 01, 2003


I am a compulsive reader of the weekend glossy magazines circulated with newspapers, particularly the Saturday and Sunday Times. I am amazed and baffled by one particular aspect of the subject matter that appears in these articles. I consider myself to be a fairly observant person and am fully conscious of most that is going on around me, but why is my life so dull compared with those of the journalists who contribute to these magazines?

Every week they pen approximately 1000 words covering all that has transpired during the week. I find myself marvelling at the type of events that touch them but usually pass me by. I try walking around the corner into Queens Road, smiling at people and holding the door open at the supermarket to let old ladies in. Even that doesn’t really happen - the door is now automatic. I can’t even pretend that the age of chivalry is not dead!

However, occasionally things do happen to me, like receiving my present of the talking pedometer, or as I wrote last year about the swarm of bees that tried to occupy my garden. Sadly though these events do not happen with clockwork regularity. How do these bright young things stumble into situations that educate and entertain their readers?

Stupid me!!! I have just penned over 200 words before realising that there is a very simple explanation. THEY ARE PAID TO DO IT! Isn’t it amazing how much a financial carrot can elicit from the human brain? It goes to show just how far human beings will push themselves to make things happen and to convert events into word pictures.

I would, therefore, like to place myself on the open market and to advertise the fact that I will travel anywhere in the world, promising to tell the story of those travels in my own inimitable manner. All it will cost you will be the travelling expenses (fares, hotels, food etc) and a contribution on top to enable me to lubricate the wheels of knowledge that keep my brain active. Oh, and by the way, I would require payment for two people, as it is essential that Nina travel with me, for she is an excellent editor.

Please post any genuine offers on this page. I will be waiting with my suitcase packed and eager to go.

Posted by jeff at 11:40 PM | Comments (1)