The Third United Benefice Over 65’s Holiday Club

  The 2008 Daily Diary

Five different days - and five different diarists.
Read their impressions of another highly successful and entertaining week for the more mature members of the United Benefice congregations.
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Day One: Monday, 16th June

The day started with tea and biscuits and an overview of the week’s programme.

We had our name labels attached just in case we forgot who we were.  The last time I had a name label fitted, I was an eleven year old evacuee!  We took part in a number of quizzes which gave us the chance to meet with friends.

After lunch we had an introduction to art, using plates of biscuits and Liquorice Allsorts as subjects.  Needless to say, most of the biscuits and Allsorts had disappeared before the lesson had finished!  Bob Pearson, who led the class, provided all the materials we needed, paper, oil crayons, pastels, pencils, chalk, wax crayons, and gave us a very enjoyable afternoon of experimenting with various forms of art mediums.  He was very patient with us all and certainly inspired some of us to dabble a bit more with drawing.

I enjoyed the week, it felt like being on holiday.  I have put my bucket and spade away and look forward to next year.  Please put my name down now.

Many thanks to Lynne and Joan.

Ken Bramwell


Day Two: Tuesday, 17th June

The day began with the usual early morning brain-wakening quizzes.

This morning’s first quiz related to inernational rligions.  The questions asked for dates of various festivals and in some cases either their native names, or the alternative English names.  The second quiz gave the name of ten English castles and asked for them to be placed in order according to their geographic location, placing the northernmost first.

A baffled silence fell amongst us, some souls gamely tried to answer the questions.  A check of the answers revealed that some had two or three answers correct - moe inspired by guesswork than knowledge.

The morning’s main event was a film. Joan had acquired three films which she asked should be voted upon, to decide which film would be shown.

The first was ‘Love on the Dole’, This was dismissed as too depressing (‘w all have enough troubles of our own’). he second was ‘The Great Escape’.  Dismissed  (‘it has been shown on TV so often, we can repeat the scrip’).  The third film was ‘Tea with Mussolini’. That was accepted and preparations were made for its showing.

Peter Connolly erected the ‘screen’ and he and Lynne began to assemble the projection equipment. There was much reference to the book of instructions. Various instructions flashed up on the screen, and guidance to the manual – but no film.

The knowledgeable amongst us realised that they did not have the most important tool when people our age mess with electronic equipment – a child or young person.  A youth did appear upon the scene (a grandson of one of our number) and after a few quiet words and instructions, the film flashed up on the screen.
The cry then went up, ‘It’s too indistinct, we cannot see it properly.’  It was then realised that all the lights were still on and the curtains were open. So the film was stopped, the lights extinguished, curtains were closed and the film resumed.

I could not help but reflect on my childhood.  At the Saturday matinee, any break or resumption in the film would lead to chants, whistling, stamping of feet and ironic clapping – and the girls took part too. I had a quiet chuckle when I thought of the effect of the present audience behaving that way.  A condemnation by the Vicar at the following three Sunday morning services – with names being mentioned and cancellation of any further clubs.

After lunch we went by bus to Dobbies’ new Garden Centre complex at Southport.  It is a huge complex covering several acres. Beyond a huge car park and coach area the main building houses a food hall, indoor design area, bookshop, aquarium centre, clothing and footwear section, garden furniture and barbecue equipment and a large restaurant.  The rear of the building houses a section containing young plants, gardening equipment and supplies, beyond that, in the open air, are acres of plants, shrubs, trees, wooden garden buildings, pools and fish.

We wandered about the complex and many spent their pocket money there. We had to meet in the restaurant at three o’clock, where members of the staff gave a talk about plants and their care. Members were also invited to discuss any queries they had about plants or their gardens. We were then served with a very nice afternoon tea by the centre staff. Before we left, Father Neil thanked the staff for their time and care.

Another very memorable day and a triumph for those who organised it.  Our grateful thanks.

Ken Hollis


Day Three: Wednesday, 18th June

Wednesday was another enjoyable day as we welcomed a return visit by members of O.P.E.R.A. (Older Persons Enabling Resource and Action) who gave us the benefit of their expertise in practical demonstrations of back and shoulder massage, foot massage and also hand massage: there was no shortage of willing volunteers eagerly taking part in these relaxing exercises, keeping the team very busy through the morning till lunchtime.  Incidentally, if you would like to know more about O.P.E.R.A. the telephone contact number is 0151 330 0479.

After lunch we had a lively entertainment presented by talented pianist Ann Dickinson and friends (Brian, Pat, Bob and Doreen) in the form of Olde Tyme Music Hall.  They led a sing-a-long of many well known old songs – pure nostalgia – bringing back happy memories of television’s Black and White Minstrels, who revived so many popular ditties of the Victorian and Edwardian years.  We were then entertained with lovely sentimental duets by Pat and Bob, a hilarious duet by Brian and Doreen (‘I am 16, going on 17’ from ‘The Sound of Music’) both artistes being appropriately dressed in Tyrolean outfits, and then solo numbers by Brian.

The whole programme was a resounding success, and the enthusiastic applause fully illustrated to Ann and friends just how much we enjoyed the programme and how much their musical talents were appreciated by the Club members.

Joyce Jones


Day Four: Thursday, 19th June

In spite of the gloomy weather forecast it was warm and sunny as we boarded the coach on Thursday morning at 9.30 for our day trip. An hour and a half later we reached the Llangollen Canal Tea Rooms with plenty of time for light, delicious home-made Welsh refreshment, before boarding the narrow boat for a 2hour cruise.
 
No sooner on the boat than we were served with a tempting variety of sandwiches, and mugs of tea or coffee - previously organised by our brilliant leader, Joan, - lest we faint by the wayside! (Inert bodies are so much harder to get back to the coach on time!)
 
There is, I think, something very special about canal cruising. Gliding smoothly along at a maximum speed of 4.5 mph, one sees everything from a completely different perspective. On a day like the one with which we were blessed, the narrow boat passes under overhanging trees through dappled sunlight - with occasional glimpses of magnificent landscapes beyond. We saw startlingly bright electric-blue dragonflies darting hither and thither close to the banks, whose many burrows and holes and tangled tree roots were doubtless home to water creatures we were not privileged to see! - although some of us were fortunate enough to spot a young otter!  and to say "Hello" to a young falcon (with his trainer!).
 
Our 'Captain', steersman and guide, Aubrey, gave us interesting snippets of information about the origins of this canal.
 
Throughout England and Wales in the 1790s waterways were essential to the increasing industrialisation. It was seen as vital to connect the then Ellesmere Canal to the new pumping station on the River Dee at Llangollen. Though it presented many challenges, the Canal itself would be relatively easy to construct, but how could the 1,007ft gap across the Dee Valley be bridged? Fortunately Thomas Telford and William Jessop, the most experienced canal and bridge builders of their time, were up to the challenge. Work began in 1795.
 
Nineteen pillars, each 116ft high and connected by 53ft wide iron arches were built to support the cast iron troughs which would carry the water.The mortar used to construct the pillars was a mix of lime, water and ox blood. Aubrey said nobody has yet worked out how many oxen this would have taken! The locally cast troughs were dovetailed into each other and caulked by a mixture of pure Welsh linen and boiled sugar before being sealed over by lead. Once completed the trough was flooded and left for six months to check for leaks.Those seals haven't broken in over 200 years!
 
The Pontcysyllte aqueduct was officially opened a month after the Battle of Trafalgar on the 26th November 1805 and cost the then considerable sum of £47,000.
 
Before taking us across this awe-inspiring, 126ft high structure our guide reassured us that the aqueduct, checked annually during winter for leaks, had passed with flying colours! He also explained that Pontcysyllte means "the bridge which connects". Nowadays something in the region of 8-10 million gallons of water per day are carried along this canal and aqueduct from the Welsh hillsides to Crewe, Nantwich and other NW towns. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal are currently contenders as a World Heritage site.
 
Regaining our 'land legs' we boarded the coach for the brief journey into Llangollen where we had enough free time to look at the river, window gaze or simply wander aimlessly and pleasantly in the warm sunshine.
 
Our kind coach driver rounded an already perfect day off for us by choosing the scenic route over Horseshoe Pass - the sky still blue, and memories of an outing to remember keeping smiles on our faces!
 
Thank you for great companionship and a very special day!

Eileen Harrison


Day Five: Friday, 20th June

Friday dawned bright and sunny and was the last day of the Over 65’s Holiday Club.

At 10.00 am we set off by coach to a mystery destination, which proved to be the Theatre Organ Heritage Centre at Peel Green, Eccles.

On arrival we entered an authentic 1920’s style movie theatre where we were entertained by Joyce Aldred on a restored Wurlitzer organ, which slowly appeared from below the stage.

Robert Hope-Jones from Cheshire was the ‘father’ of the theatre organ and his patent was taken up by Rudolph Wurlitzer of New York, who exported organs world wide, and so began a working friendship.  Only around 100 organs came to the UK and the one at Peel Green was the first to arrive in Lancashire in 1927.  They were designed to accompany silent films in the 1920’s.

After the recital we received refreshments and then proceeded down below to a most interesting museum with over 100 years of history from Wirral to Wurlitzer.  It houses the largest collection in the world of Robert Hope-Jones artefacts, including a console dated 1894. It also contained an area of sound effect pipes, such as drums, car horns, bells, bird song, triangles, castanets, whistles, tambourines, etc.  

We returned to the theatre to watch an amusing Laurel and Hardy film entitled ‘Two Cars’ which today would be termed ‘Road Rage.’ This was followed by a demonstration by Alan on the organ, explaining how the various sound effects were incorporated in the music. It then ended with the National Anthem - altogether a superb few hours spent down memory lane.

On arrival back at St. Mary’s Church Hall we were kindly presented with ‘Tea at the Ritz’, as Peter aptly remarked, accompanied by appropriate background music. Tea consisted of cucumber, salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, scones with jam and cram and tea or coffee, served by Peter and Lynda, suitably attired as waiters in black tie and tails.

It was a lovely ending to a week of happiness and friendship enjoyed by all.  Our grateful thanks and appreciation go to Joan Tudhope and Lynne Connolly, who planned the week’s activities, and to Lynda Dixon who supplied us with refreshments, also to Peter Connolly for all his hard work towards the week’s success.

Special thanks to Waitrose of Formby for very kindly providing the slap-up tea!

Margaret Gallant




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