Out In The Countryside!

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Tuesday 12th June – 23rd meeting of 2018

Our numbers still short this week just five of us due to holidays and sickness. We planned a change this week by staying local and not going up to London for our meeting.

We drove and met at High Elms Country Park which is an 250 acre public park on the North Downs in Farnborough in the London Borough of Bromley and it is within easy reach for us all.

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We met at The Beeche cafe. Bromley Council has established the Bromley Environmental Education Centre (BEECHE) at the park and runs enviromental programmes for schools and public events in school holidays.

After having our drinks and eats we went out into the park. It was a very nice day and although overcast it was warm. This is a fabulous area with lovely grasslands, woods, open fields, meadows, golf course and nature trail.

This area all belonged to the Lubbock family and in 1840 was inherited by the astronomer and banker Sir John Lubbock who built a new mansion in the Italian style. He became a friend of Charles Darwin who moved into nearby Downe House. In 1938 the estate was sold to Kent County Council. In 1965 the area became part of London Borough Bromley and the land became public open space, but in 1967 the mansion burnt down.

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In our walk we saw the bee hives about 11 and one had transparent sides so that you could see the bees working away! We saw a heron and some beautiful pink water lilies. We passed the apple orchard, Ice Well and walked through the woods into the lovely open field. There were many people walking their dogs, lots of walkers and also many Mums with children enjoying the freedom of this wonderful space.

The gardeners amongst us named many of the flowers and trees and had conversations on their successes of growing some of them!

A different day for us today but it was very enjoyable and good to get out in the countryside.

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Trafalgar Square

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Tuesday 5th June – 22nd meeting of 2018

Today was a complete change of plan. Only four of us today due to holidays and sickness and we had planned Regent’s Park and a walk around the Rose Gardens but weather was very iffy so we decided on a walk around Trafalgar Square and National Portrait Gallery.

We went into St Martin’s Crypt for a coffee and we all had something to eat toast or cakes – very nice! Although only four of us we still managed quite a while chatting and covering all subjects from television, films, funerals, weddings, shopping etc etc.

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Out into Trafalgar Square we went to look at the new fourth plinth sculpture.  Unveiled in March of this year, this is the 12th to sit here and is Micael Rakowitz’s version of a Iraqi sculpture destroyed by ISIS. The new sculpture is called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist and is designed as a tribute to “something good in the human spirit”. It is 4.5 metres high. It shows a mythical winged beast called a Lamassu and is made up of 10,500 empty Iraqi date syrup cans symbolising one the country’s former thriving industries shattered by war. There were lots of school children sitting on the steps eating lunch and that was really attracting the pigeons. After a look at the ducks on the ponds, which were not on, we had a general walk around we went to National Portrait Gallery.

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We entered through the shop and we stopped to have a look about and then went into the Gallery which was very busy. We concentrated on the Tudor and Stuart rooms. Some beautiful paintings many by unknown artists. The detail on many of these paintings was amazing.

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When we finished these rooms we went out to catch our trains home walking at the back of Trafalgar Square where there were many street entertainers and artists with lots of people watching and enjoying them. The weather was completely different when we came out the sun was shining and it was warm whereas when we went into the Gallery it was overcast and spitting of rain! I guess our British Summer has arrived!

Up On The Roof!

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Tuesday 29th May – 21st meeting of 2018

The weather has been very unpredictable of late so when we met today at Charing Cross, we decided to stick with our planned day to visit the garden on the roof of John Lewis and hoped that the forecast of rain was wrong!

Just six of us today due to holidays and the fact that it was the children’s half-term school holiday. We caught a 139 bus which gave us a lovely view of London. From Trafalgar Square to Oxford Street was a fantastic ride and the views of the wonderful buildings superb. Flags adorned the roads and really add to the splendour of London!

Once in Oxford Street we walked to John Lewis and went to one of their cafes for a drink. Tea cost £2.80 and is a pot of tea which gives 2 and a half cups of tea – so quite good value!

The roof garden opened at 12 o’clock so we went to catch lifts to the top to view Summer of Sound on The Roof. The whole scheme is organised by The Gardening Society of John Lewis and offers a fantastic area for music, food and entertaining during the Summer months.

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We wandered around looking at the plants that are housed in all manner of containers, old tin baths and sinks, pots, wooden planters and I particularly liked pots that were housed on an old step-ladder. Although I say ‘old’ I think probably they were new just made to look old which gives the whole area a warm friendly feel. The floor is covered in Astroturf which is lovely and soft and nice to walk on. Alongside hydrangea, lavender, roses, and many flowers are herbs and grasses. The whole area is beautiful. On a lovely summer’s day this would be a fabulous place to sit with a drink relaxing listening to music but today was not that type of day! In fact as we were talking to one of the staff about all the herbs that were there it started to spit of rain so we made our way back into the store.

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One thing that struck us all was the amount of cranes that could be seen from the roof showing that London is still changing and growing and that things never stay still in our capital!

We had a little look around the store and a couple opted to spend more time shopping while the rest of us made our way home in the rain and thunder and lighting that followed!

 

A Birthday Lunch!

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Tuesday 22nd May – 21st meeting of 2018

A long awaited day for us ladies today as one of us, our leader in fact, has a special birthday and will become 70 in a few weeks. As a few of us will be on holiday on the actual day we celebrated a little early.

If you follow our blog you will know that we love a special birthday and celebrate it by having lunch and giving some tatty, funny, cheap rubbish presents!

Today was no exception. We met at Chislehurst and had a table booked in Cotes Restaurant for 12.30. One of our ladies had brought the biggest 70 balloon you have ever seen which looked great on our table.

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Another of our ladies bought us all a drink as she had a little win on the Premium Bonds, which was very nice of her and  started us up for our Birthday lunch. We ordered lunch and as there were so many presents to give out the fun again straight away.

The presents were very funny. Just a few were a blow up walking stick, mug, corkscrew, candy, Tena Lady, scarf, whistle, candy, sexy underwear and lots more. But I must add that it is hard to describe some of  them and their purpose not at all clear!

The food was very nice. We had two courses and a lovely cake that one of us brought and which the waiter brought out. We all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to our special lady!

Our birthday girl enjoyed the experience and although she was not looking forward to it seemed to love it all!

A great time was had by all with lots of laughter and fun!

 

V & A – Ocean Liners: Speed and Style

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Tuesday 15th May – 19th meeting of 2018

Back from our trip to Nidd Hall, Harrogate we were ‘back to normal’ by meeting at Charing Cross and taking the underground to South Kensington, Victoria and Albert Museum to see the exhibition Ocean Liners – Speed and Style.

We purchased our tickets for £17, concessionary price for 11.45 a.m. entry and went to the William Morris tea rooms for a coffee and chat. Tea cost £2.80p which is probably the highest price so far this year. Of course we had plenty to talk about and we were all pleased to hear that our friend was out of hospital and was staying with her son for a few days.

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I had been looking forward to this exhibition as I am quite interested in Ocean Liners and find the story of the history of them fascinating. I was not disappointment with it. As you went in you were taken into different sections explaining about the rise of the Liners and the glamour and style that accompanied them all around the world. It started with Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s steam ship, the Great Eastern of 1859 and continued to the Titanic and its sister ship, Olympic, to the floating Art Deco palaces of Queen Mary and Normandie and the modern streamlined SS United States and QE2.

There were lots of exhibits from the Liners and included a wood panelling from Titanic. Lots of cutlery, crockery, glass ware, linen, furniture, clothing and jewellerly were displayed. My favourite section was a whole area set out like the deck of a ship and a film showing a staircase and women descending in the most beautiful 1930’s evening dresses and men in smart tuxedos.

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Another section was dedicated to the role that the liners played in the wars. They were used by the military, camouflaged and adapted for use for troops, hospitals and carrying cargo to any places in the world where they were needed.

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One section dealt with the great fight for the ‘Blue Ribbon’ award which was a much converted record for the fastest journey time across the Trans Atlantic.

At the end of the exhibition was a selection of clips from 6 or 7 films dealing with the Ocean Liners. There was a short clip from The Poseidon Adventure which is one of my favourite films!

A really good exhibition with so much to see and laid out very well. I would recommend it especially if like me, you like Ocean Liners and cruising!