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!

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We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday!!

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Monday 7th May until Friday 11th May – 18th meeting  of 2018

Day One – Monday

Our eagerly waited holiday had arrived. For followers of our blog you will know that we go on a short break once a year and allow the husbands to accompany us! So this year we had our group of nine, six husbands and one lady that joined us – making a grand total of sixteen.

We had booked to go the Warners Leisure Hotel, Nidd Hall in Harrogate, Yorkshire using Jay and Kay Coach Tours, which is a very good local holiday company. After being picked up by mini cabs we all arrived at Hall Place and got settled on the coach which left at 10.45.

The coach was full and we were seated at the front of the coach. Dave our driver introduced himself and gave us a plan for the day. We had two stops on the way and arrived at Nidd Hall at 4.30 pm. After collecting our keys we went to our rooms. We were in different parts of the hotel and it was quite a challenge for a few of us to find our rooms!

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We met in the bar at 6 o’clock for a drink before dinner. We had two nice tables in the dining room which were reserved for us for our stay. Our first meal was superb and I must stay that all the meals we had during our stay were delicious. We had a lovely waitress who was very pleasant and fun!

After our meal we went to the bar and the ballroom but unfortunately couldn’t find a good spot to all sit together so we decided to stay in the bar and watch the show from there. A lovely evening but we were all quite pleased to go to our rooms and bed after the long journey.

Day Two – Tuesday

As well as taking you to your holiday destination, Jay and Kay Coach Tours also offer a full day excursion and a half day excursion and today was a full day to York. So after a very satisfying breakfast we were off to York. A drive of about one hour through the beautiful countryside and weatherwise it was lovely, sunny and warm.

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Once at York our group split into smaller groups so that everyone could ‘do their own thing’. As it was my first visit to York I opted to go into York Minster.  I joined a guided tour group and thoroughly enjoyed it. A magnificent building with so much history. After this I had a wander around town. The buildings here are beautiful. I had a stroll around the wonderful streets admiring the Victorian houses and stopped for some lunch in a cafe in the Art Gallery but opted to sit outside in the sun! There is a lot to do here and I had a walk through The Shambles market and down to the river and spent the last half an hour sitting outside the Minister with an ice cream listening to a man playing an assortment of songs on an upright piano. A very enjoyable time.

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Back on the coach we exchanged stories and between us I think we had covered all of York. Museums, Art Gallery, some had been on a river cruise, some had been brave enough to climb the many steps in the Minster to see the glorious views from the roof top and between us we must have covered every inch of the streets of York.

Back at Nidd Hall we enjoyed a drink before dinner and in the ballroom there was entertainment by a trumpet player, comedian and a show provided by the entertainment team.

Day Three – Wednesday

The start of our day today was a very concerning time as one of our ladies was very ill and was taken by ambulance to Harrogate hospital. Two of our group went with her, two decided to stay on site  and the rest of us carried on as today was our half day trip to Harrogate. So after anoharther hearty breakfast we set off for the half-hour journey.

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Dave gave us the option of going to Harrogate or the nearby RHS Garden Harlow Carr gardens. Most of our group opted for the Gardens but as I had never been to Harrogate I choose Harrogate. Another sunshine day and after a walk around I went to the Tourist Information and was given a map and suggestions of what to do.

This is a beautiful town. The buildings are amazing and I went into The Winter Gardens  which is a Wetherspoon’s pub and enjoyed a cup of tea in the garden. The building is spectacular and goes back to the days of Harrogate’s former Royal Baths which included the Winter Gardens. It was built so that visitors could relax and stroll in any weather and the building is light and airy with high ceilings and plants everywhere. In my opinion one of the best Wetherspoon’s I have been in and I’ve been in quite a few! From here I strolled through the town passed the Famous Betty’s Tea Rooms and enjoyed a lovely walk around Prospect Gardens. I really liked Harrogate and could have spent more time there.

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Once back at Nidd Hall we got a message to say that our friend was being kept in hospital and that the two that accompanied her were on their way back. We met up with them and all spent the afternoon sitting on the terrace and relaxing. I spent a bit of time exploring the building. Nidd Hall is a Grade 11  listed building built in the 18th century by a wealthy Bradford wall merchant and is set in 45 acres with award winning gardens. It has a wonderful staircase and lovely decorated ceilings.

After a very tasty three course dinner a couple of us went to the cinema room and watched the film Dunkirk. During the course of our stay a selection of films were shown in the cinema room which were very enjoyable. The rest of our party spent the evening in the bar and watched the entertainment show.

Day Four – Thursday

Today was a free day for all. Four decided to take cabs and spend the day in York. Our friend was still in hospital but her son arrived to visited her and stay with her.

There was lots to do today so a few of us made a plan. We went to the ballroom to take part in the quiz. We really enjoyed it but the questions were hard and unfortunately we didn’t win but it is the taking part that is important, well that’s what my Mum used to tell me! From there we joined a tour of the grounds given by the Head Gardener. This was really good and lasted about one and half hours. The gardener told us the history of the gardens and explained how it all works. With only four full time groundsmen they certainly work hard keeping the grounds immaculate and building projects and areas for the guests to enjoy. After this we had a quick drink and went back into the ballroom where we watched a falconer displaying owls, kestrals. The show was lovely. There was a slide show giving details of the birds. The owls flew around and one even left his perched and flow around the ballroom and landed on the bar! Quite a fabulous show which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We also had a tour of back of house with one of the entertainment girls explaining the lighting and sound systems and also the very tiny dressing rooms! I found this very interesting.

We then went back to our rooms and got ready for our last evening meal. This was, of course, delicious and enjoyable.

Our last evening in the ballroom was good and after watching the show we had a drink and chat before going to our rooms to pack and bed!

Day Five – Friday

We were all up very early as our cases were collected by 7 o’clock ready to go on the coach. We had a really lovely full English breakfast and a nice chat with our waitress who had looked after us so well during our stay.

Unfortunately our friend was still in hospital and would be for another few days so would not be travelling back with us.

We were all on the coach and ready to go at 9.30 am. Our journey home was very slow as traffic was really heavy at the start and the motorways were slow with speeds limits of 40 and 50 mph at quite a few points. We had two short stops before getting back to Hall Place where are taxis were waiting to take us to our homes.

This was a great holiday that was enjoyed by all of our group. The weather was lovely warm and sunny with the only rain falling at night. We did lots of varied things and enjoyed each others company and look forward to hopefully doing the same next year!

 

Some changes of plan!

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Tuesday 1st May – 17th meeting of 2018

Today was a day of many changes of plans. Our planned day was to go to Freemasons Hall in the City but when one of our ladies made enquiries we were told that it was fully booked for the day – so plan B came into force! Well, to be honest there really wasn’t a plan B so it was decided that we should meet up at Coolings Garden Centre for a look around and lunch. That seemed to be a good idea but no the plan was changed again and The Greyhound in Bromley for a breakfast won the vote! This is a pub we have used many times and as there were only six of us meeting it seemed a good idea.greyhound 1

Once we were all together we ordered our breakfast and drinks. A cup of tea here is just £1.25 and you can have a refill as many times as you want. This is such good value and it is a very good cup of tea. The first problem was that we couldn’t find any tea bags at the machine but all was fine when the refilled container appeared from the bar man.

The food was served but unfortunately the scrambled egg was not very nice and one breakfast was returned because it was cold! But the rest of the meal was very good and enjoyed.

We had a nice chat and checked up on a few up and coming dates. We also confirmed all the plans for our annual holiday which we go on next week so lots of things to sort out and chat about.

We all took advantage of our being in Bromley and did some shopping before going on our ways home!

London’s Lost Canals

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Tuesday 24th April – 16th meeting of 2018

A visit to London Canal Museum to view a special exhibition of the Lost Canals of London was our meeting today.

The exhibition was at the London Canal Museum at 12-13 New Wharf Road, King’s Cross, London, N1 9RT so we met at Charing Cross and took Northern Line to King’s Cross then a short walk to the Museum which incorporated a coffee stop in a very nice cafe.

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We purchased our tickets of £4.00 each which gave us full access to the whole Museum and the London’s Lost Canals temporary exhibition. The staff member gave us a brief history of the Museum. The building which houses the Museum was built in 1857 by Carlo Gatti as an ice well to house ice for the making of ice cream and for distribution of ice to restaurants and fishmongers, which was his business. Another ice well was built in 1863. Extensive reconstruction took place between 1904-6 when much was added and a stable and horse cart depot built. It was used until 1926 by Carlo Gatti and Stephenson for ice cream manufacture and ice distribution but since then used during the war by AEC as a depot for spare parts for London buses and after many years of disuse was taken over by London Canal Museum.

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The ground floor shows all exhibits of the ice cream trade and information on how ice was brought by barges from Norway to be stored in the ice wells. Here there is a small section which is the inside of a narrow boat that was commonly seen on the canals and which carried all manner of goods and manufactured items all around the country on the canals and waterways. As we walked through this we all agreed how small and tiny everything was and however whole large families lived day by day on one is amazing. But the pretty lace trimmed curtains and most beautifully painted items gave it a really homely feel. There were lots of items used on the badges on display.

Upstairs there was a section dedicated to horses and the role they played.

The exhibition London’s Lost Canals was a display of maps and plans of all the canals that were used in and around London but that now are now longer in use. Some have been built on, some left or disused and some were not completed.

I found this a very interesting exhibition. I spent my childhood in Rotherhite and Bermondsey and found it great to find out what went on in and around the docks and wharves of the area.

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We sat and watched a fascinating film of canal life. Very old footage of canals passing through London including Regent’s Canal. Just lovely to see life 100 or so years ago with all the fashions and buildings that today have disappeared!

From here we went outside to the canal and looked at the many barges that were moored here and walked around the canal which has residential and temporary mooring sights.

After a very pleasant morning we made our way back to King’s Cross and our trains home.

 

 

 

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

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Tuesday 17th April – 15th meeting of 2018

An exciting day ahead for us today. A guided tour of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, booked for 2.15 pm for us nine ladies and two husbands who were joining us.

Trains were a little messed up and while on our train we had a call from some of our group to say that they were going straight to St Martin’s Crypt Cafe for lunch and that one of our ladies was missing! When we arrived at St Martin’s the missing lady was there and it appears that she missed the usual train because she got a bus to the station that went along the scenic route! Hence she caught a later train and went straight to the Crypt.

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After lunch and much chatter we walked along the Strand to the Theatre. We had tickets for the tour which were £8.50 each and once we booked in a few more people joined us and we were met by our Guide. We stood in the main entrance hall and we were given a brief history of the theatre which is the oldest theatre in London and a theatre has stood on this site since 1663. At present it is owned by Really Useful Theatre Group which is wholly owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Previous buildings were managed by the great actor David Garrick and the famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  The current building was opened in 1812 and has seating of over 2000.

After the introduction we went into the main building and our guide left us in the capable hands of the cleaner! Here an actress dressed as and playing the part of an old cleaner took over the tour. She was very amusing and told lots of stories about the comings and goings of the Theatre. There are two Royal boxes and we were taken to the grandest reception room of the King’s box. This one is used by the Royals and V.I.P.s when visiting.  Lovely decoration and very spacious.

 

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We went into the back of the auditorium and quickly and quietly walked across the back as a rehearsal was taking place. 42nd Street was the production. Then we where joined by our guide playing the part of an olden day actor!

Taken down lots and lots of stairs and we were under the stage and looking at the machinery etc of the revolving stage, trap door etc etc. The stage is very large and can accommodate many gadgets. Productions that have taken place here Miss Saigon, Oliver, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oklahoma and many more.

We walked along a long passage deep underground where – the cleaner now Nell Gwen told us that ghosts are said to have been seen and many strange happenings have taken place here! But I’m not sure how much of that was true!!!

During the tour our hosts changed clothes and became different people from different times in the Theatres history. Our actor became David Garrick and our actress the cleaner and Nell Gwen. They were very amusing and entertaining and gave the tour such a pleasant friendly appeal.

This is a really lovely old theatre that over the last four years had undergone a massive refurbishment and looks magnificent!

We all really enjoyed this tour and found it to be such fun and very informative.