Duxford Aircraft Museum visit Sun 11th Feb.
I’ve always wanted to visit Duxford (conveniently just off the M11) so was very happy when Brian organised a trip there. What a glorious winter Sunday morning, blue skies and bright sun to lift the heart. By the time we got there it was all change, positively “dreich”. What a wonderful Scottish word! Grey skies, rain and sleet. Were we downhearted? Well, only slightly. There was so much to see. I dived into the Battle of Britain hangar realising my grasp of this piece of history left much to be desired. Lots of volunteers around to chat and inform. What would we do without our retiree volunteers? Had a close encounter with a V1 bomb and its ramp. How terrifying every piece of new bomb technology must have been to those waiting down below! The operations room was near this hangar. That was something I really wanted to see and it didn’t disappoint.
There were about seven hangars in all each with a different theme. What a delight to be able to walk around Concord. I had no idea it was so small, only having seen it flying over Kew Gardens and it looked huge then. Next time, I’ll get to that building in time to see Concord’s interior. There will be a next time I’m sure. There’s far more here than one visit can satisfy. We all thoroughly enjoyed our day out and each one of us managed to resist buying a sheepskin lined pilot’s jacket at a mere £500 or so. We’re made of strong stuff. Thanks to Brian for organising it.
Marian T., 13th February 2018
Imperial War Museum, Duxford
After a dreadful Saturday it was a relief to see the sun shining in a blue sky as we drove up the M11 to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It was still February and cold but at least there was no rain.
Eleven of us turned up and then went our separate ways over the large expanse of the old wartime airfield. Several of us went straight to Hangar One, recently refurbished. It was very well laid out, including a Concorde and a Comet that we could walk through, a Vulcan, Lightning, Spitfire and many other aeroplanes. There were also static displays of other aspects of a wartime airfield. The contents of this hangar alone took more than an hour to view. Children also were well catered for (it was the start of half term) with many interactive displays.
By the time we had viewed the work being done on aeroplanes in Hangar Two we were ready for lunch, some of us bringing our own, some buying meals at one of the restaurants. After lunch we again scattered, some of us working our way up the airfield visiting each hangar and display in turn. We saw work being done by volunteers on many historic aircraft, a display of the operations room in wartime, a prefab bungalow of the type hurriedly erected after WW11, a V1 rocket and launcher and then arrived at the American museum.
The American museum is a marvellous display, including the bombers Flying Fortress, Superfortress and Stratofortress, in order of development and size. The pilot who landed the mighty eight engine Stratofortress on the tiny airstrip must have …… been very tough. It was interesting to note there was some rivalry between the US manufacturers, with the builders of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator extolling its virtues over the equivalent Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Many other planes are displayed here, including the fastest air breathing jet, the Blackbird, which could exceed 2,000 mph, and the U2 which supposedly could fly so high that it was immune from attack, or so it was believed until Gary Powers’ time.
Finally, at the top of the museum’s airfield, there is the Land Army exhibition. This used to be set out in date order but now seems to be mixed together, with less emphasis on the older wars. The photo shows a few of us standing in front of one of the displays, in this case a tank coming out of a destroyed building. There was a very good interactive display of the Normandy landings.
Then it was the long walk back down the airfield, hurrying as the clouds grew thicker and the wind increased. We had been at the museum five hours and still missed some exhibits. It is a very big place. Driving back down the M11 snow and sleet started falling. Perfect timing!
Brian U., 15th February 2018
To Holland and Back Again
At the beginning of 2014, I went back to live and work in Holland. Why? Please read on.
I said goodbye to my English dance school, which I ran for 15 years, I said goodbye to my whole family. I said goodbye to the good friends I have known in England for many years. I said goodbye to my Epping Forest Outdoor Group friends. Why? Because I felt I needed a change of scenery and a change of work.
Returning to Holland, where I had previously lived for 20 years, revisiting my old life and old friends seemed to be the way forward.
“Maz”, I asked, “Could you please continue sending me the weekly EFOG emails with all the activities. I want to keep in contact with The Epping Forest Group and their members and all the club news!"
Once I was settled in Hilversum, (the Dutch centre of radio and television), with my own apartment and garden (for my dog Serena), I wanted to do some exercise (a second nature to me) but what should I do? Should I join another outdoor group in Holland? Instead I chose tennis, which I played four times a week. Also I had extra tuition from my coach, Ingrid, as I wanted to go back to playing competition. By joining the local gym I could build up my fitness level quicker. Twice a week I trained in the gym.
I was quite happy with all of this for a while, but noticed how I missed my outdoor group and its activities. Paul Ferris and Val Shepherd and I are qualified RYA Canal Boat Handlers. We were so excited with the canal boat trip in Wales organised by Peter Gamble that we had to take it a step further. I trained further to become a helmswoman for Canalability in Harlow, taking groups of disabled people on day trips along the river.
Also my dog Serena, who was used to regular group walks with EFOG, did regular weekly dog group walks. The big dogs always leapt out in front whilst the small dogs like Serena - my Shih Tzu - and Marvin the Chihuahua, always followed in my footsteps
The forest walks with Serena in the area were delightful. Serena loved that, but it still wasn’t the same as the walks we did with the Epping Forest Group. Serena missed all the attention she received from the adult members and I missed all their friendly chats along the way.
As time went on, I realised that I was not happy in Holland - all my good Dutch friends now had families and therefore had little time for anything and anyone else. That is what can happen when you are living alone, unfortunately. That made life pretty lonely for me. When I caught a nasty bacteria in the spring of 2017 and felt very unwell I realised the importance of family and friend support, so I decided to return to England for good.
So back to:
Thursday EFOG club evenings – full of quizzes, bring and buy sales, various themed parties, dance events and guest - or club-member - speakers.
Weekend walks; visits to places of interest; foody evenings in our favourite restaurants; bike rides through the forest; boat trips.
I love it.
Wow, I am so pleased to be back with the Epping Forest Group!! And I am building a happy life now which is full of family involvement plus plenty of Epping Forest Outdoor Group activities.
Gill L, 5th February 2018
Swimming at Walthamstow
As planned, the Sunday morning swimming session at the Walthamstow Feel Good Centre went ahead. I was delighted that Lynne joined me.
When going through the barrier from reception Lynne got through, but a mug shot of me came up and denied me access. Apparently I had not flashed my receipt, but the problem was soon sorted out and it made us both laugh; I looked like some criminal!
This was Lynne's first swim since her accident and she did very well. We were fortunate to have the small pool to ourselves and really enjoyed it. We then went to Weatherspoons at Chingford Mount for a very enjoyable breakfast.
Jenny J. 4th February 2018
Walthamstow Wetlands Visit
A big thank you to those who joined me on a visit to the new Wetlands Centre at Walthamstow.
Marilyn, Amina, Jim, Sue,Trevor, David, Eileen, Louise, Ian, Val, and Ken.
We did have a very nice time despite the weather and enjoyed nice chats in the lovely warm cafe after our fairly short walk.
I think most people would like to come again maybe in the spring when hopefully the weather will be much more pleasant.
Jenny J. 2nd February 2018
Photo by Sue. U.
Wanstead Park Walk
Looking out of the window on Sunday 10th December I wondered if the walk was going ahead as the snow fell down. I already had a text from one person pulling out. But there is Ken at the door so we slither out in the car and slip and slide our way to Wanstead Park.
In total there were 5 hardy souls who braved the elements, all well wrapped up. We met at Wanstead station and walked through the streets to the Park, passing Wanstead golf club whose building used to be the stables of the once grand Wanstead House. Into the Park and there still are traces of the grandeur that it once was, with a broad avenue immediately in front of us. We followed the City of London walk and went up the side of the Ornamental Water, round the top and came down between the River Roding and the lake. Rounding the Canal (another remnant of the old House) we pause for a photo in front of the Grotto.
Stopping at the Perch Pond we fed the birds with proper duck food, not bread, as supplied by the visitor centres in Epping Forest. On to the tea hut and the Park is very busy all of a sudden. We had seen few people on the walk and this was a surprise. Children had been busy and the area looked like the Terracotta Army, with snowmen all over the place. We had a warming cup of tea and moved on to walk around the Heronry Pond. We didn’t see herons but saw nests high in the trees which at first we thought were heron's, but were probably crow's nests or squirrels dreys. Herons haven't apparently nested in the park since early in the 20th Century.
On to the Temple visitor centre where we warmed ourselves and looked at the information regarding the history of Wanstead House. Downstairs there was a photography display including an offering from our own Sue Carroll.
That was the end of the walk and we returned to Wanstead station and home.
Brian U. 13th December 2017
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