A cruise down the Solent, the 2017 trip

In July 2017 the Alresford Giles Group outing included a trip on the Alison MacGregor launch up and down the Solent, from Hythe Marina. For once it was a beautiful day, so we stopped for a snack in a pub in Dibden Purlieu on the way, and then had a nice evening for a boat trip.


Basically, the little launch, with 12 passengers, set off down the Solent, really quite dwarfed by other ships coming and going from Southampton.



The  Alison MacGregor went downstream to look at the yachts moored on the River Itchen, and then returned for a look round the port.  Activity there was high, with the departure of a ship carrying two big turbine blades headed for a wind farm off the north-east coast, and as ever the Hythe ferry darting in between the bigger ships. There was also a very large container ship arriving, and overhead a procession of aeroplanes coming in to Southampton airport.



The driverless train on the pier out to the ferry mooring point

The little launch soon appeared back at Hythe Marina to deliver everyone back for the minibus.



As you can see, a lot of the volunteer crew this time were ladies, who did a great  job of looking after everyone. Amongst the passengers you can see Liz Lawrence of the Giles Group, up near the bows on the photo below, and Jeanne Perry, a new member, brought along her relations from Australia, who had only just arrived on a trip over here to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Back in Hythe Marina

Giles Canal boat trip from Hungerford

After maybe 5 years of trying to arrange a trip on a canal boat, finally the Giles Group members managed it! For the April 2017 monthly outing, on Bank Holiday Monday at Easter, the canal boat and the Minibus schedules coincided, and 17 Giles members travelled by car and Minibus to Hungerford, for a 2 hour sunny afternoon trip along the Kennet and Avon canal.

The boat was the ‘Rose of Hungerford’, a purpose built wide-beamed trip boat sailing from Hungerford Wharf. The Rose has sliding picture windows for warm days, but is fully enclosed. A refreshment bar serves hot and cold drinks, and is also fully licensed! There is also a toilet on board, and apparently there is a lift arrangement to get wheelchairs on board: some power complications meant this was not working, so undaunted out old ladies climbed in using the standard steps, which was quite an achievement for many.

However the cruise towards Newbury was very enjoyable, and peaceful, past many not too disgruntled fishermen, and through two locks. The view from the front was very interesting, and was actually where the Queen had sat for her journey up some bits of the canal to celebrate its re-opening, maybe only around 50 years ago.

Diann threw herself into the spirit of the adventure, and helped with opening the sluices round the locks.  This was OK until a slight hiccup, when the crank handle somehow was fixed on the valve the wrong way round, which took two burly boatmen and a metal lever to get it off.

Nevertheless we all came home safely after a nice cruise and then a Minibus ride…. a selection of pictures from the day are below.DSCN5609



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Home-Instead lists local events for the elderly in Alresford…

Steve Gapper established Home-Instead in Alresford with his wife Jan in 2011. Since then they have expanded the business, which provides non-medical home care services to the elderly, first in Alresford, and now to a wider area covering Winchester, Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford. Their staff has expanded to number more than 70 now, all working on a minimum of an hour for each visit with a client. The services provided are divided into four distinct groups, Companionship, Home-Help, Personal Care and then Specialised services.

Steve based his January presentation to the Giles Group on the positive things the elderly can, and should do, to maintain their health and fitness. He started off by praising such meetings and activities as are provided by the Giles Group, which give opportunities for human interaction and mental stimulation, all very important! In summing up he listed some of the many other useful regular events in Alresford, suitable for the elderly, as follows:

Weekly Events

The Senior Citizens Lunch Club: Thursdays at the Methodist Church Hall: The contacts are Liz Garton on  733125 or Elaine Secluna on 733192

Exercise Class: Tuesdays 1430 to 1530 at Makins Court

Seated Exercise Class: Fridays 1030 to 1200 at St Gregory’s Church Hall

The Giles Group Drop-in and chat: Tuesdays 1030 to 1200 at the Community Centre

Alresford Health Walk: Tuesdays 1330 to 1430, start at the Avenue

Day Care Centre: Tuesday and Thursday, at Chiltern Court – transport can be provided: contact on 735612.

Senior Citizens Hour: Wednesdays 1430 at New Farm Chapel: Contact is Jill Hardiman on 733765.

Monthly Events

Coffee and Chat: 2nd Tuesday 1000 to 1115 in the John Pearson Hall (St John’s)

Afternoon Social Club: 2nd Tuesday 1430 to 1630 in the John Pearson Hall (St John’s)

Alresford Ladies Group: 2nd Thursday each month at John Pearson Hall, 7.30pm: contact is Pearl Page on 734665.

Tea at Two: 1st Friday 1400 to 1530 at St Gregory’s Church Hall

Singing for Fun: 3rd Friday 1400 to 1530 at St Gregory’s Church Hall

St John’s Walking Group: 1st Saturday 0930 to 1230

Whilst some of the above are open to all, and are either supported by a charge or ask for a donation, others, such as the Lunch Club and the Exercise Class, require a space to be available and/or a post-injury reference from the Surgery.

NATT Minibus trips

Separately, some members of the audience asked about the regular shopping trips made by the town Minibus. These are organised by Pam Stevens on 734861, and the standard schedule is:

First Tuesday in the month: 0845 start, for Sainsburys in Alton.

Second Wednesday in the month: 0845 start, for Tesco in Winnall.

Third Wednesday in the month: 1300 start, for Sainsburys in Alton.

Fourth Wednesday in the month: 0900 start, to Central Winchester.

Every Friday, several trips to and from Alresford Community Centre, starting from 0830 throughout the morning.

Second and Fourth Saturdays in the month: 0830 start, on a trip to Petersfield.

All bus trips collect and deliver passengers to outside their homes. There is a standard fare for each trip, charged to cover the vehicle fuel and maintenance: the drivers are all volunteers. More volunteer drivers are needed, if you are available!

Home-Instead can be contacted on 01962 736681, or via www.homeinstead.co.uk/centralhampshire or call in and visit them at Construct House, at the Winchester end of the Avenue.

Lord Sugar’s yacht in the Solent

Last week’s story about the Giles Group trip on the Alison MacGregor around Southampton Docks and Hythe had an interesting follow up story! Just as we were returning to Hythe Marina, a very smart “Superyacht” was seen moving up Southampton Water into the Port area, between two tugs.

The picture I took of this Superyacht, called the “Lady A”, was spotted on FlickR by Charl van Rooy, Editor of the SuperYacht Times: he has supplied links to two stories that his magazine has published, explaining that this yacht, which is owned by Lord Sugar, had been sent to a shipyard in Portchester for a refit and a repaint, last September.

The links are

Obviously when the Lady A passed our launch, it was on a delivery journey after this refit, so that Lord Sugar could collect it, in its new colour scheme. The photo is as below:
There are some photos of the inside of the yacht in the articles quoted, in the SuperYacht Times magazine.

Giles trip round the Soton Docks

It was the longest day of the year, 20 June, when the Giles Group monthly outing went out on the Alison MacGregor launch from Hythe for a trip around the Solent, which in this case meant around the docks in Southampton and up the River Itchen for a look round there. Despite the rain all morning, which made two with faint hearts drop out, the weather was marvellous, and no-one got wet, even from the spray.

The Alresford Minibus set off early to meet the boat by 2pm, and after a little messing about in the Marina we managed to find a toilet with disabled access, in the Marina Restaurant: many thanks to them for opening up for us specially! Then we set off out of the lock gates, although since the tide was in there was not much change in water level. This made the trip all the better, as we could see more on the docksides – which mainly was taken up with thousands of cars, Minis and Range Rovers, being exported in big car transporters.

You have to wonder how leaving the EU will affect the traffic in and out of the port – but there were a lot of JCB excavators as well, and JCB were one of the companies supporting the ‘Out’ campaign. Other notable items being prepared for export shipping were several large wind turbine blades, which the skipper described as ‘the last ones made on the Isle of Wight’, as production had been transferred to Norway – or maybe it was Sweden.

The commentary from the skipper describing the passing sights was really useful in understanding what we could see: whether it was related to the history of the port, or the old ships now being restored and used for pleasure trips, or the new docks for the large cruise liners – filled that day with yet another car transporter. Apparently these big ships with their multiple decks of cars get unloaded and loaded up again within 24 hours! There was also some banter from dissident members of the crew, who were concerned to explain that “Left” meant “Port”, and “Right” meant “Starboard” when the skipper gave his commentary!

Everyone enjoyed the trip, and all fell asleep on the Minibus on the way back, except for the driver: we arrived back home in time for tea, well refreshed by an afternoon on the water!


The view of Southampton Docks as we left the Hythe Marina


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Car transporters

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One of the Cruise ships – the AIDAprima, German owned but registered in Genoa
The old Calshot Spit light vessel behind the new cruise terminal

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Best evening out ever, with Alresford Pigs

The Alresford Pigs have regularly hired the town Minibus and offered members of the Giles Group a couple of evening outings in the Summer. Usually the objective is a scenic drive then a visit to a country or seaside pub.

This was the case for another trip on 21 June this year, but Jeanne Nicholls reports that this outing was the best ever, in her opinion. Jeanne reports as follows:

“Just to let you know we had a beautiful scenic drive last night with the Alresford Pigs, on the town Minibus.  We were a full bus, except for two of the Giles members who forgot about the trip.  I shall have to tell people at the meetings that they must be more thoughtful and remember when they book, as there were a couple of other members who would have liked to come.

We went via Tichborne village, Cheriton, Beauworth through the back lanes along the road from The Millburys pub with lovely views across Hampshire, up Winchester Hill to Clanfield, up Butser Hill – to see more outstanding views- and down a very steep and narrow lane to East Meon to a very lively pub, where there was a ‘drop in choir’: they meet casually each month for a sing song.  It was a bit noisy to start with as in addition to the vocals the locals were playing billiards and the football was on the TV.  We managed to get a drink – or two – and snacks, before we left for home.  All thoroughly enjoyed a very pleasant evening and would like to thank the Pigs for their hard work.

All the time we weren’t less than half an hour from home in Alresford, and the weather was kind to us and it was a beautiful sunny evening (!) Unfortunately not many of us managed to get out for a walk, because of the joys of old age!”

Butser Hill to East Meon
View from Butser Hill towards East Meon

Jeanne would like to thank the Pigs on behalf of the bus load of older generation passengers! The bus was driven by Andrew Wilcox and Rob Sanders, members of the Alresford Pigs, and Andrew has given a bit more information about the route:

“We collected the passengers at about 6pm from a full list, except for the two who had forgotten and chose to stay at home to eat their tea. They enjoyed the views from Kilmeston Down, Old Winchester Hill and Butser Hill.  The Izaak Walton pub in East Meon, normally very quiet, had a pool tournament, football on the TV, and a pop-up choir!  The passengers all got home by 10pm after a complete trip of 47 miles. There was some of the best feedback ever from the passengers, who appreciated the trip round the local sights.”

As ever, Andrew also has a unique map of his drive:


Plus he didn’t mention a slight brush up against a tree branch against the Minibus, but he reckons all the dirt and marks will clean off with no damage underneath!