Reports on Current and Past Events

A trip to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Tuesday, 10th July began with groups travelling from Hertford East and Hertford North stations to join up for lunch at the Salvation Army Cafe near the Millenium Bridge. As lunch finished, we could see from the local TV screen that the flypast, to celebrate 100 years of the RAF, had started and as we headed for the Millenium Bridge, which was packed solid with people looking up, we saw the beginning of the Flypast coming over St Pauls, certainly a bonus and not something we had planned. We stood for sometime with dozens of other tourists, workers and members of the Salvation Army watching the Flypast - amazing.
The afternoon finished off with an excellent matinee performance of 'As You Like It" at Shakespeare's Globe to a packed audience, noisy but very well behaved 'groundlings' and a rather tall Rosalind.

Mo Askew

See GALLERY for pictures.

sandringham july 2018 1

On a hot July morning a coach load of intrepid explorers, more used to venturing in to London, travelled to North Norfolk and the Queen’s Sandringham estate. As one who has not been before, I can well understand why she likes it!

On arrival, we were greeted with coffee and yummy biscuits in our own ‘Private Function’ area of the restaurant, where we were supplied with our tickets and thence left to our own devices, with the instruction to return for lunch at 2:00.

Some chose to travel in golf buggies, others strolled.

It was a glorious day, not too hot to wander around the grounds, enjoying some magnificent trees, open spaces, avenues, flower beds, a horse, a Buddha  and, inevitably, acres of parched grass. I particularly enjoyed the pretty Woodland Walk wherein I found some welcome shade and The Royal Dogs memorial wall.

The House itself is, of course, grand, but one could imagine family meals, pianos being played at Christmas, charades in the drawing room and small royals and dogs chasing around the place. Like most homes, there are family photographs everywhere. The stewards and guides were most helpful, informative and unobtrusive.

Passing by the equine statue of Estimate, a winner of the Ascot Gold Cup and one of the Queen’s favourite horses, I searched out the Museum, where one can view carriages, carts, cars and more cars, along with many photographs, family trees, knick-knacks and other memorabilia, all with their own little bit of history, displayed on numerous boards, giving a comprehensive account of Sandringham’s royal past up to the 21st century.

Returning to the main visitors area for lunch, I strolled by beautifully planted lakes, complete with carp, through wooded shades, where fuchsias hid from the sun, and everywhere superb views of the house, from a variety of angles. I was a tad camera happy!

Back to the Private Function area, our pre-booked two course lunch took much longer than anticipated, thanks to a simple choice, but of exceptional quality and over-whelming quantity. The table service was excellent and nothing was too much trouble. We lingered over coffee.

There was just enough time to sprint (!) across to the church, (you know…the one the Queen goes to at Christmas). This is a very pretty little church, with interesting brickwork and inside a beautiful roof, but I think we were all stunned by the silver altar and pulpit.

Inside the gift shops, our Explorers could be found purchasing a variety of plants, jams, pickles, pens, books, magnets, mugs, frocks and tops, all at surprisingly reasonable prices, before a final loo visit and a soporific journey back to Hertford.

As ever, Golden Boy coach and driver were magnificent, but a huge vote of thanks goes to the wonderful Mo Askew for organising a terrific


Liz Cooper

For photos of the outing, see GALLERY


   Cutlers Hall 02 2018 3 640x360

A visit to Cutlers Hall, 'The Worshipful Company of Cutlers', on a bitterly cold February day, proved an enlightening experience.  Situated just behind St Paul's Cathedral and Paternoster Square, we were met by the Beadle, David, and John, the assistant Beadle, and enjoyed coffee and biscuits in the magnificent hall before our tour started. 
A 'House of Cutlers' was mentioned in 1285, the original building bought in 1451. The new hall was built in 1666 but was burnt down three months later in the Great Fire. One article which survived the Great Fire was a wooden carving depicting an odd looking elephant with a castle on its back, a carving dated 1546, being the original meaning of Elephant & Castle and not as widely believed to relate to the Infanta de Castilla. The elephant is significant to Cutlers Hall and all portraits depicting the various Masters depict an elephant in the painting.  Rather a strange carving of an elephant but, as our guide said, most people in 1546 had never seen an elephant!!

Three of our group were promoted for the occasion, Christine and June became wardens and Carole became The Master for the day for the purposes of the tour and wore the appropriate robes.  Cutlers Hall backs onto The Old Bailey and from an upstairs window we were shown Hanging Yard, so called for obvious reasons.  Our tour finished at the magnificent Banqueting Hall with a toast of port to the Master (Carole).

Mo Askew


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Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of the most striking sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture and the Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation”.  All this, and ice cream as well!         

                It’s very easy to run out of adjectives to describe Florence, but it was excellently summarised by our Tour Leader, Wynne Tranter, as beautiful, historic and memorable.

                Sunday 5th November

                After an early pickup; no, I can’t mention the time, but it was extremely dark, and after an unforgettable Ryanair experience (how does an airline operate with virtually no staff?), we were on our way. Our hotel, the 19thC Berchielli, is situated on the Arno River and everywhere was in relatively easy walking distance. After checking in to our hotel around midday, we were given a short guided walking tour of the city by our genial local host.  In the evening we had a group meal at a nearby restaurant which was a good opportunity to get to know some of our companions for the next few days.

Forty two U3A members had a wonderful six days in Florence. Our hotel overlooked the river Arno and was a stone's throw from the Ponte Vecchio. Excellent tour guides shepherded us around the Uffizi Gallery, the Galleria dell’Accademia and several others, leaving us leisure time to explore Florence as we wished. We spent one day in Siena and, one evening, many of us went to a concert of Italian opera at a nearby church. Not everything went well. Our flight home from Pisa was cancelled at short notice because of local transport strikes. We had to make a six-hour coach journey to Nice airport in order to get home. Never mind. We did it. Thanks a million Wynne. We are your greatest fans.
Jean Williams

Magical plus . . .

If you have ever wanted to be "educated, enriched and amused", nothing could have filled the brief better than the Hertford U3A trip to Magical Andalucia in mid-October.  At Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Jerez and Ronda we learnt about medieval Spain, its art, architecture, the Moorish legacy, and its founding as a country  - all through the humour as well as the knowledge of several remarkable specialist guides.  And exercise? We walked miles, all of us. Fun? It was terrific.  Thanks to Wynne Tranter's meticulous planning and Janan, our inspired American lead guide - Spanish history was brought to life in a spectacular five-day experience, warmed by camaraderie and mutual support within our very happy group.  Am I spurred on to find out more about Iberia (and the rested leg of Iberico ham)? No question!

Gilda Deterding