Reports on Current and Past Events

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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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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

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.

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 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.

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

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.