Reports on Current and Past Events

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

In more detail . . .

Andalucia resplendent  in Autumn sunshine; 35 intrepid travellers about to be educated and amused beyond their wildest dreams amidst the most tranquil and beautiful setting of southern Spain with a superb Tour Manager, Janan, brilliant guides Carlos and Fernandez and of course Jose, bus driver supreme.

On arrival in Granada, the evening found us enjoying wine/tapas in the bar adjacent to the Hotel.

Day 2. Visited the splendid 16th century Cathedral, an architectual mix from Gothic to Renaissance spanning 180 years. A walk through the Souk and a break for chocolate and cuuros.  A coach trip round the town, then the Alhambra Palace dating from 14th century.  It is the world’s greatest Moorish monument, home to the Arabic Sultans, rulers of the province. The gardens of the Generalife adjacent to the Palace, summer residence of the 13th and 14th century Emirs.  The palace and gardens were absolutely stunning and one can only marvel at the skills of the craftsmen.

Day 3. Seville via Cordoba.  We broke for coffee at Nicol’s , an Emporium set in a disused railway station, described as quirky by Janan, and quite rightly so,milling, grinding, pressing equipment alongside outdated railway machinery.  A chance to enhance our industrial knowledge of Spanish life in the 19th/20th century.  Cordoba, the Mezqita, for me the highlight of the tour.  The Mosque Cathredal, Muslim from 8th century until 1146.  The first Catholic consecration followed by the 2nd in 1236 when Ferdinand III conquered Cordoba, since then without missing a day, Holy Mass has been celebrated.  The Mezquita architecture flows from the beginning as a Visigoths Basilica, through Caliphate splendour and eventually Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods.  In 1984 the site gained Unesco status.

Day 4. Museo de Belle Artes.  We met Carlos and Fernandez.  Carlos headed our group expressing immense knowledge and reviewing works with both serious critique combined with humour.  We were introduced to sculptor Torrigiano whose St Jerome is an absolute masterpiece, to works by Elgreco, Alonso Vazuez, Pacheco.  From the baroque we studied Zubaran and Murillo in particular.  The tour culiminated in Carlos being photographed alongside his self portrait (time travel is so special).  Then ensued a coach tour of Seville, visiting Spain Square, a quite surreal pavilion, park and highly decorated patio (promenade built in 1929 for the Ibero-American exhibition and the setting used in many Hollywood movies.  The evening saw us at Flamenco Palais, colourful, dynamic flamenco but not sure about the singing but hey great entertainment.

Day 5.  The real Alcazar, stunning Moorish Palace, residence of Kings for 7 centuries, complete with many interlocking gardens.    It was here Fernandez told us of manufacture of ceramic tiles, stucco, use of resinous woods, water systems etc.  Most educative.  Afternoon spent in Jerez de la Frontera with visit to the Bodega and you’ve guessed it sherry Tio Pepe etc.  We finished the day at a local restaurant  organised by Janan.  Great atmosphere.

Day 6.  Off to Ronda, the famous gorge.  Photography, lunch and shopping on the agenda before heading to Malaga for our return flight.

Thanks to Wynne for such a truly well organised and thoroughly enjoyable and informative tour.

Trevor Williams

JOLLY JAUNT TO THE KENT COAST: Tuesday 19th July 2016

On a good day, there is nothing quite like a day at the seaside.

Fifty people, armed with water, sun cream and hats set off from Hertford and Ware to the Kent Coast. Thank goodness Golden Boy coaches have air conditioning and Steve, our driver, was in control.

We made good time to Margate and unloaded at the Turner Contemporary gallery.
It was hot, hot, hot! Definitely a salsa day!

Many opted for a coffee at the gallery café, some wandered into the old town for a mooch, others took a stroll along the rom-pom prom. Ron sped off on his trusty fold-up scooter.
Turner Contemporary: I am not an art aficionado. I loved the see-saw and the book shelves!
Had Dreamland been open, I would have had a ride on the big wheel.

All present and correct, we set off for the short drive to neighbouring Broadstairs.
Costa del Broadstairs. I have never seen an English beach so crowded!

Fish and chips and a beer at the Royal Albion hotel, outside in the shade. Fabulous!
Strolling down to the beach at Viking Bay, where the sand was baking, we picked our way through the crowds of youngsters to the sea for a paddle. Oh the joys!
“If I’d ‘ad a skirt on, I would’ve tucked it into me knickers!”

We chatted and giggled and laughed and reminisced of childhood seaside holidays. We marvelled at the enjoyment of youth, the sparkling sea, the blue sky, the crooked house and the old beach huts. In our aged wisdom, we wondered how much sun lotion had been applied. We investigated the touristy craft shop, selling dinky little beach-hut key-rings, tea-towels and amusing cards.

The cultured among us investigated the Dickens Museum and Bleak House. We went for tea and ice-creams at Morelli’s!

On a good day, there is nothing quite like a day at the seaside.


Day trip to Brooklands Motor Museum, August 2016

An excellent day out in a thoroughly absorbing location. Brooklands calls itself a museum but a less passive museum it would be hard to find. Forty of us took the coach and we were met by a most engaging lady who gave us an initial talk about the history of this, the oldest racing circuit in the world, then allowed us free range of the huge site. You can be as objective or involved as you like but either way it is colourful and exciting.
Some of us took a ride in a powerful sports car, whizzing up a ramp and onto the vast banking; some took a ride round Le Mans with Mike Hawthorn; some flew with the Red Arrows; in any case we all agreed that a single day was not enough.
It was a complete success. One of the group remarked that it was excellent value both for money and for the time spent.


With the lovely Golden Boy Dave driving, an intrepid band of tourists set off early on a Thursday morning, suitably prepared for all unexpected mysteries.

After a brief comfort stop at Birchanger, where no one decided to leave us and join Golden Boy Ian on his coach going to Ladies Day at Ascot, mainly because none of us had brought our fascinators and six inch platform Jimmy Choos, (it’s always been a mystery to me as to how anyone can walk in those), we pootled along the roads through Essex towards Braintree.

There we came to a grinding halt behind a large queue of traffic at a mysterious and unexplained stand-still. It turns out we were all waiting for the Women’s Cycle Tour to whizz through on their way to Clacton. They were to plague us on and off for the rest of the morning.

Summer Tour to the Southern Lake District: 7-11th August 2016
The Southern Lakes, with Kendal as a base, proved an excellent choice for 2016 summer tour. Day trips included: Blackwell, Arts and Crafts house by Voysey, overlooking Windermere; Holker Hall, home of THE Cavendish family, with Lucy Cavendish in attendance and garden looking very colourful; and Cartmel Priory (below) with its odd shaped tower and centuries of history, all elaborated for us by experienced guides.
We had a boat trip to Ambleside at the northern end of Lake Windermere and a steam train ride at the southern end, before visiting the new Lakeland Museum that holds a Donald Campbell exhibition. The Quaker Tapestry museum was a revelation, with Hertford Meeting
House depicted on one panel; the Church of St Mary in Kendal with its FIVE aisles; ruins of Kendal Castle, home of Katherine Parr’s family and the church of St Oswald in Grasmere with its open timber framed internal roof were all unique.
Tatton Park on day one and Charlecote Park, day five, made good watering holes during the journeys.

Thanks are due to the tour company and Education Sub-Committee for arranging.
Venue for 2017 will be in Contact later this year.

Sue King