The Home Library Service

Nicolette Morgan writes that she is wishing to raise awareness of the Home Library Service, a free service available from all Hampshire libraries including Alresford library.

The Home Library Service is for anyone who finds it difficult to get to their nearest library due to ill health, disability or caring responsibilities. We can usually arrange for one of our local volunteers to visit to exchange library materials on a monthly basis. We appreciate that often the social contact with a volunteer is as important as the library items they choose and deliver. There are no charges to hire audio books, and no overdue charges for late returns. All our volunteers are DBS (CRB) checked and comply with instructions and standards as set out by library staff.

We can deliver a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in standard and large print formats, specialist books including ones suitable for those living with Dementia, items from our Reminiscence collection, audio books on CD, MP3 CD (a whole book on one disc) and Playaways which are easy to use digital players. We can also offer National Talking newspapers and Magazines which library staff can download onto a memory stick for you to listen to through any device with an MP3 USB connection.

If you know someone who could benefit from this service, please talk to staff at your nearest library, call us on 0300 555 1387, or apply online at I am also happy to take direct referrals.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me ( I would be happy to deliver a talk to your group on the Home Library Service and what else is available from their local library.

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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3D Paper Sculptures on show

The Giles Group January meeting was delighted to listen to a presentation by Pauline Cherrett, showing off her interest and talent with 3D Paper Sculptures. While Pauline has been collecting these sculptures, cards and books from around the world, she was fascinated to report that one of the most interesting came from a bookseller in Alton! The 3D talk is difficult to describe in words, so the photos below show some of Pauline’s presentation items passed round, for us all to appreciate at close quarters.





Christmas Festivities

PC140134The annual Giles Group Christmas party was held in the Alresford Community Centre on December 14th: the weather was good, so there were plenty of members in attendance, and the town Minibus brought twelve more, thanks to a volunteer driver from the Alresford Pigs. There were also several guests invited, who had helped in many ways to run the group’s activities throughout the year, in the background.


This year we were delighted to have the Acabellas, eight girls in their final years at Perins school, led by Mel Cotton, Head of Music at Perins, to start the party proceedings, with music, carols and their singing. In fact the Acabellas were also to sing in St John’s Church the following evening, so the Giles Group was delighted to have an a preview of the show. Following some traditional carols the girls also sang some modern songs, with items from Phantom of the Opera, plus ‘Walking in the Air’, and ‘Feed the Birds’ with some excellent soloists. This was not just singing, they also demonstrated some ‘Chime Time’ bell ringing, all accompanied and arranged by Mel Cotton. We were grateful to the girls for this excellent show, and also to the boys who carried the equipment and music stands up to the Community Centre beforehand.

Then the afternoon tea started, which also added mulled wine and soft drinks – plus plenty of cakes and varied sandwiches and savouries made or supplied by various Giles Group members. The Christmas quiz was a test for everyone, but as usual there were several tables who scored maximum points. Everyone was delighted to take a “Goddies” bag home, full of more cakes, to enjoy later……

One committee member was seen escaping from the festivities, by the back door, claiming a previously arranged Hospital appointment, and wearing his Scrooge hat! We are also grateful to Jeanne Nicholls, also on the Giles Group Committee, for copies of the photos seen here.

Coming up to Christmas!

As we come up towards the Christmas party at the December meeting, it is worth looking back to review the last two talks, which have been very different. In September we had David Groeger from the Alresford Chiropractic Clinic at the bottom of West Street, who explained some of the history of his profession. There seemed to have been a few family arguments over how to treat bad backs, but not in his family at least! Once David has put your back, neck or leg back into action, he is a great advocate of using the proper style of walking stick, to keep your head held high. Maybe this should be possible around his practice building now that there are no longer any big holes and mounds of tarmac in the pavement there.

In October we had a very different talk, from Aiden Simons of Ropley, who talked about his experiences while helping several children’s schools in Kenya, which he after when he spent some time in the country monitoring various international development projects. Since then Aiden and his wife have been helping find materials and donations to build schools, and even teaching some of the classes, having become firm friends with the leaders of the local Churches. Aiden was about to depart on another trip before Christmas. The stories he told were very moving, making all appreciate living in a society where such things would not be tolerated, particularly in relation to the teaching of deaf or blind or otherwise disabled children. The members had a collection for Aiden to spend in things needed for the children he was going to visit, which amounted to £70.

For our Christmas party on December 14th, we have part of the Perins school choir coming to sing some Carols, and then will organize a Christmas quiz and raffle. One of the raffle prizes is to be a jar of Galaxy Hot Chocolate powder, which they have kindly donated: the second jar we are using for some hot drinks on the day!

Our Alison MacGregor outing

The July outing on Monday 20th included a trip on the Alison MacGregor – maybe not what you would have chosen to do for two hours on a squally misty evening, but it turned out to be a lovely trip all around Southampton port and docks!

Travelling down to Hythe we decided to visit Lepe Country Park to go for a cup of tea and a cake: but while we saw the Isle of Wight as we got out of the Minibus, the squalls started and the island disappeared. Never mind, the Cafe was close by, so we rushed indoors. There we found teapots that were impossible to pour, and some of Simon Chadwick’s books about the adventures of various hedgehogs in the shop. Well Lepe is really in the New Forest, almost, so it seems reasonable.

Pam, June, Audrey and Jeanne well wrapped up!
Pam, June, Audrey and Jeanne well wrapped up!

Back at Hythe in plenty of time for a 6pm start we wondered whether we could escape, and looked for waterproofs and umbrellas…but then were reassured by one of the crew that it had never rained on his trips so far all Summer. So he had something to remember us by at least, because it was pretty wet, and soon they brought out waterproof sheets and lovely crocheted woollen blankets to wrap everyone up.

Diann washing up even on an outing!
Diann washing up even on an outing!

Diann had said she was really not a very good sailor, and said she was worried about being seasick, but after she had run around the boat taking photos she disappeared into the cabin at the front and was seen to be steering the boat. When she left the steering wheel we seemed to go up and down a lot over some big wash of a ferry, so that was obviously a result of her steering. Later on she was seen washing up, maybe to try and make amends.

Like sentries waiting for someone to salute, the container-ship unloading berths
Like sentries waiting for someone to salute, the container-ship unloading berths

The port and the cranes and the stuff on the dockside were fascinating, and really impressive, in terms of the size of the ships and the cargo on board, or inside in the case of the car transporters. After two hours we made David wait in Hythe while most of us ate some fish and chips, and then we meandered back to Alresford via Romsey, a closed road, Southampton General Hospital, and eventually the M3 back to Winchester, arriving quite late!

More pictures are in a separate album, follow the link, printed here:

Diann getting the photos, while the rest are under cover.
Diann getting the photos, while the rest are under cover.
June getting a picture on the rainy side
June getting a picture on the rainy side
It was the Redjet that made the biggest waves!
It was the Redjet that made the biggest waves!
Diann washing up even on an outing!
Diann washing up even on an outing!
A sleek private yacht, that should be in better weather....
A sleek private yacht, that should be in better weather….



Meanwhile here are a few photos.

Valuable exports en route to China, to come back as knives and forks maybe.
Valuable exports en route to China, to come back as knives and forks maybe.
Pam and June still interested in what the ships are, despite the weather
Pam and June still interested in what the ships are, despite the weather
A wall of containers
A wall of containers
The award winning rubbish chewing incinerator, looking like an Armadillo, or a space bug.
The award winning rubbish chewing incinerator, looking like an Armadillo, or a space bug.
Quite a few containers arriving - possibly from China
Quite a few containers arriving – possibly from China

It’s June: it’s the Garden Party

On the afternoon of 8th June the Giles monthly meeting was the annual Garden Party, once again held in Peter and Fabia Wright’s garden in South Road. We were hoping for a sunny, pleasant day, and the weather was not too bad, although there were complaints when the clouds came over! This year we welcomed Fabia too, and the garden looked really marvellous.

There were about 23 at the party, with 11 on the Minibus and several scooters. Andrew Wilcox stood in for the regular bus driver, and we all appreciated his help.

The tea was made up of lots of different sandwiches, fruit cake, scones with cream and strawberry jam, and even strawberries, followed by strawberries and cream. There seemed to be a strawberry theme really. Many thanks to Nan and Lin, Una, Diann and Gina for all the preparation and food serving!

Peter took lots of embarrassing photos, so look out for those shortly…..

Since you did not need your sun hats, maybe bring them out again next week for the June drive on Monday, which hopefully will be down to the coast somewhere. Plus then there is the Pigs sponsored evening drive the day after, on 16th June.

Evening leisure drives – May/June/July 2015

The Giles Group will be co-ordinating the passenger list for the evening leisure drives in the town Minibus this Summer, which are organised for us free of charge by the Alresford Pigs Association,, and Alresford Rotary. The trips are for members of the Giles Group – whose members are either disabled, or have restricted mobility – and who would be interested in an evening trip out enjoying the local area. Sometimes we go down to the coast, or the New Forest, to visit a pub for a drink and some conversation, so please contact the Giles Group if you would be interested in coming. There is no charge for the bus fare, but you need to pay for your own drinks! The minibus will collect you from your own home, and deliver you back as long as you can still walk off the bus, anywhere in the local Alresford area.

The May trip is on Thursday 21 May, pick-ups from 1745, to return maybe at 2200.

The June trip is on Tuesday 16 June, pick-up from around 1800-1845 hours, to return at maybe 2200.

The July trip is on Tuesday 14 July, pick-up from around 1800-1845 hours, to return at maybe 2200.

Spaces are limited to 12 people on the Minibus, and members of the Giles Group will get preference! Why not join if you have not yet done so! Walker aids can be carried at the back of the bus, and it has a lift to help people get in if the stairs are too much.

The Giles Group committee wish to express thanks to all the Alresford Rotary and the Alresford Pigs volunteer drivers and helpers on these trips, and to everyone who supports their events in the town, providing the funds to make such evening trips possible.

For any enquiries please contact Nick Denbow, Secretary of the Giles Group, on 734824.

Seen any Hedgehogs?

Last September Chris Matcham gave an interesting presentation to the Giles Group about hedgehogs, in Alresford in particular. Now Chris is expanding his interests to cover the whole of Hampshire, as he wants to know where the hedgehogs are!

Photo by Frank Taylor of Clevedon, 1953
Photo by Frank Taylor of Clevedon, 1953

This weekend the Alton Herald published an article about Chris’s project, which is reported here.

“Chris Matcham, of the Hart Wildlife Hospital in Medstead, is aiming to plot the location of hedgehogs across Hampshire to determine if feeding them attracts the animals to an area to breed. Because hedgehogs are impossible to count, it is difficult to determine if numbers are on the decline. At the Hart Hospital they treat large numbers of hedgehogs, brought in with injuries or rescued from adverse conditions, the majority of which appear to come from the built up areas of Alton in particular, but also from Four Marks and as far afield as Basingstoke and Winchester, but with few from the rural areas.

According to Mr Matcham, this may be because they are more easily seen in town gardens, or it may mean that there are fewer of these animals in the countryside. From his own experience, Mr Matcham knows that in his garden in Alresford, feeding them has resulted in an increase in the hedgehog population. Last year alone he got through 36 kilos (90 tins) of catfood, which he puts out in four feeding stations around the garden, specially constructed to protect the food from cats. By feeding them Mr Markham believes that people can attract the animals to their gardens, where they can then socialise and mate with others, to increase the overall hedgehog population. He says that he does not feed the animals a lot, but likes to think of it more as a “treat”.

For his survey all he is asking people to do is to e-mail him at, to say if and when they have seen a hedgehog(s) in the garden or elsewhere, and if the animal(s) has been encouraged to come in for food. The survey would also like to have the name and postcode, so that Mr Matcham can enter the data on a spreadsheet, to draw up a picture of hedgehog locations. He will provide feedback via the Hart Wildlife newsletter – see

Chris Matcham also makes his own cat-proof, rain-proof, easy-to-clean hedgehog feeders, which can be bought from the Hart Wildlife shop in the Bank car park in Alton. Each one sold provides a £5 donation to the charity.”

April Meeting: Canals and Narrowboats

The Giles Group meeting for April featured a presentation by Roger Bricknell, about  English Canals and Narrowboats. The audience were very impressed with his slide presentation that provided a tour round the UK, seeing the various different lock systems and lifts between water levels. Plus with his simple explanation as to why canals were essential, and the simple pattern of the first canals connecting the ports to the industrial centres, plus also the coal mines to Manchester, and the Oxfordshire farmers to their London market, Roger made the whole development of the canal system understandable.

However some of the 25+ Giles group members present had great sympathy with one lady, an OAP, who was on a party of six adventurous elderly ladies hiring a canal boat for the first time. They travelled 100 yards downstream to the first pub, and following advice from other concerned canal boat users, sat in the pub garden and watched what everyone else was doing: apart from the one lady, who was too ill with sea-sickness to even get off the boat!

Apparently Roger was an unseen, or phantom, canal boat master, steering the boat most of the time for one of the recent TV programmes exploring the waterways while letting it look like the TV presenters did it all – except for the one sequence of film where the boat ricocheted (is that the right word?) off other parked boats after one of the programme celebrities took control. Hopefully Roger will come back and give another talk, as he has other topics where his background knowledge is just as fascinating.

Following tea and cakes organised by the ladies, our substitute driver this month, Andrew Wilcox from the Alresford Pigs, drove some of the audience home in the town Minibus. Many thanks to the Pigs ( Another Pigs driver will be taking the Minibus on the outing to a garden centre in Eastleigh on Monday 20 April.