Visits group report

There were only two visits in 2021 because of the Covid 19 lockdown measures. However, once these were relaxed, members signed up enthusiastically to take part.

3rd September 2021 visit to the Bournemouth Air Show.

Everyone seems to have enjoyed this very much. Bournemouth sea front looked beautiful under warm and sunny weather, with blue sky and sea, and golden sands stretching in a great curve, a wonderful setting for the air display which took place in the sky between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers.

Among the various aircraft in the flying display, we were fortunate to see historic aircraft with Spitfires, a Hurricane, a Lancaster Bomber, the Red Arrows, helicopter displays, wing walking, and a tremendous finale when a Typhoon roared round the display area with an unbelievable volume of sound, and presence.

At 5.30 the coach picked us up and took us to the Laguna Hotel, where we enjoyed drinks, and a good dinner. We finally arrived back on Hayling Island at about ten o clock, late because the M27 eastwards was closed.

The following day, we heard the news that one of the aircraft with a wing walker had crashed into the sea right by the Sandbanks chain ferry. Fortunately, the pilot and the wing walker were rescued unharmed, but the rest of the air display was cancelled. We felt lucky that our visit had been the day before.

1st December 2021 visit to Winchester Cathedral and Christmas market

We had a full coach of 49 people for this trip, and were lucky with good weather. Winchester is one of the finest medieval Cathedrals in Europe, with a captivating history and magnificent architecture. Our visit coincided with the exhibition ‘Kings and Scribes’ which explores 1000 year of history and reveals some of the cathedral’s greatest treasures, including the 900-year-old Winchester Bible.

Many people visited the Christmas Market, held in the Cathedral’s precincts, where we kept warm with mulled wine; others enjoyed Winchester shops and places to eat. It was a good day.

27th April 2022 visit to Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a botanic garden in southwest London that houses the "largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world". Founded in 1840, from the exotic garden at Kew Park, its living collections includes some of the 27,000 taxa curated by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over 8.5 million preserved plant and fungal specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. It is one of London's top tourist attractions and is a World Heritage Site.

50 members attended this successful visit, and enjoyed it despite of unexpectedly cool and overcast weather. Many people took the opportunity to visit the various glass houses and conservatories which were warm and sheltered. These included the famous Palm House with its exotic rain forest plants, the Princess of Wales Conservatory which covers 10 of the world’s climatic zones, included an astonishing cactus collection, and the Waterlily House with its amazing giant lily pads.

Frustratingly, the sun came out only in time for our journey home, and we arrived back on Hayling at 6.15pm.

22nd June 2022 visit to Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard

This enjoyable trip was taken on a hot day, but there were plenty of opportunities to keep cool. Among the amenities and attractions available were the famous Motor Museum, Palace House, once the gatehouse of the medieval Beaulieu Abbey, and the home of the Montagu family since 1538, and the Secret Army Exhibition. We enjoyed a journey on the high-level, mile long monorail which took us on a circuit of the attractions, and on the Veteran bus, a replica 1912 open-topped London bus.

After lunch, the coach took us to the village of Buckler’s Hard, a mile away. It was an important shipbuilding village with a perfect location to build the large timber vessels in use by the navy. The museum shows how the villagers lived and worked in the 18th century.

We finished with a tranquil 30-minute cruise along the Beaulieu River, accompanied by a commentary which revealed the history and wildlife along its picturesque banks.

Still to come in 2022

On 23rd November we will be visiting Wisley Glow, the Christmas light show held at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley in Surrey. We will have an hour to enjoy the garden in daylight, followed by a cream tea, subsidised by the Hayling Island u3a, and then when dark, follow the route round the garden to see it brilliantly illuminated for Christmas.

To follow

After the disappointments of the Covid pandemic and lock down, this has been a successful year for visits, and with every one full, were taken up enthusiastically by the members. Visits for 2023 are in the planning, and I expect them to be as much enjoyed as this year’s.

Catherine Britton
Visits Organiser