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


DSCN3524             DSCN3515

Car transporters

DSCN3521           DSCN3536

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

DSCN3539        DSCN3559



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!

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.





The Giles Group AGM 2016

Minutes of the AGM held on 8th February 2016 in the Community Centre


Approx 24 members (apologies received from Olive Gillespie, Ann Bravery, Jean Parr, Peter Middleton)

The meeting was opened by Lin Parker and the 2014 AGM minutes were read out in summary by Nick Denbow. These minutes were proposed for acceptance by Tessa Purkiss, seconded by Audrey Chalk, and voted as approved.

Chairman’s Report:

Lin Parker made the report from the Chair, as last August Brian Purkiss had decided to stand down, and Lin as Deputy Chair took over the responsibility of that position. Lin presented a thankyou card to Brian for his years of service on the committee and as Chairman, but was pleased that he would still be a member of the Giles committee. Another regret was that various members were no longer fit enough to attend, such as Irene Elliott, Nelly Shaw and Gladys Ashe, and others have moved away or passed on, such as Les Holder and others,

Treasurer’s Report:

Clive Earthy made his report as Treasurer, after thanks to Jackie Earthy for typing and printing the accounts, and to Jenny Hayes for checking them.

giles accounts 2016The income last year (2015/16) was compared to the previous year on the sheet provided: membership fees were much as before, but donations at £179 were well down on last year (£510), which itself was a sharp decline from £1294 the previous year. The Raffles income increased significantly, to £117. All Social Services and HCC or similar funding has disappeared. So total income was £638, (compared to £927 previously).

Cost totals year to year were similar, at £1152 last year, reigned in a bit compared to the £1300 the year before. Clive concluded that with £617 in the Bank, the group financial projection was short of that required for the year: and he suggested that the membership fee should be increased for 2016/17.

In conclusion, Clive proposed that the Annual membership fee should be increased to £15 per member. The potential known Giles Membership list as at February 2016 showed 39 names, so the additional fee would probably bring in an extra £175 in the year, and would be a significant help going forwards. Clive proposed this increase, Nick Denbow seconded it, and the vote was almost unanimous to approve the change.

The Treasurer’s statement and report for 2015/16 was proposed as accepted by Nick Denbow, seconded by Betty Tring, and agreed in a vote by the meeting.

Chairman’s Summary:

Lin Parker said that the speakers and events in the year had been well attended and of interest. She also thanked Diann, Nan and Gina for their constant and varied supply of teas and cakes. A similar good line-up of speakers had been scheduled for the coming year, as listed on the 2016/17 membership card (these were summarised later by Nick when showing the reports on the Giles website).

The Giles committee proposed for 2016 was basically unchanged from the 2015 committee. This new Committee was proposed by Audrey Chalk, seconded by Jean Bax, and accepted by the meeting.

Giles Committee for 2016

Lin Parker (Chair), Brian Purkiss (Deputy Chair), Clive Earthy (Treasurer), Nick Denbow (Secretary), Una Yeates (Publicity), Jeanne Nicholls (Outings), Diann Adam and Nan McNamara (Coffee mornings), Olive Gillespie.

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!

Donations and Disability Aids

The Giles Group has benefited from various donations over the last few years, which has helped maintain the finances of the Group despite the significant turndown, and then cease, of any funds fromain-left-productm local Government sources. This month we are delighted to report that Clive Earthy, one of our organising committee, has donated the £100 fee he recently received from Channel 5 TV, to the Giles Group funds. This was for an interview about his experiences as a British Airways Steward that they needed for an upcoming report.

Another donation this autumn has come fro
m the Galaxy Hot Chocolate Fund, who try to support small local community projects like ours in several ways. Their current donation is of two jars of their Galaxy Hot Chocolate mix: one of these will go into the Christmas raffle, and the other is already in use at our Tuesday morning Drop-in session at the Community Centre.

71tdREcarNL._SL1500_The Giles Group committee would also like to record their thanks and appreciation to the Alresford Pigs and the Alresford & District Community Association for the help they have provided in re-cycling various disability aids around our members and the wider community in Alresford. This has led to several three and four wheel walkers being passed on to people who might benefit from some form of walking aid, and to the short-term loan of a wheelchair for another member.

Separately the Giles Group has been pleased to supply some more Hi-Vis jackets from our stock, for use on winter evenings – or even daytime! These are available for anyone wishing to purchase them, for just £2. Also, from our catalogues, we have helped another member buy a left handed walking stick – also adjustable and collapsible I gather – for less than half the price of a standard catalogue offer. Advice and help obtaining disability aids is always available from the Giles Group Committee, even if they have to ask someone else!