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.

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 or call in and visit them at Construct House, at the Winchester end of the Avenue.

The 2016 Christmas Party

The Giles Group December meeting is usually our Christmas party. This year we were lucky enough to have some of the Perins schoolgirls singing for us, accompanied by Miss Cotton, their music teacher. The girls did not just sing carols, but added other songs, such as “Thankyou for the Music” from Abba, and some classic Christmas songs.


The group call themselves Acapella, (if we have spelled it correctly) which seems the right sort of name, as “A Capella” (translated from the Italian this means “in the manner of the chapel”) and is used for music from a group singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It contrasts with ‘cantata’, which is accompanied singing.

We were really grateful for their visit, particularly to Miss Cotton, who was due to be married the following weekend, presumably timed to be at the end of term!


The rest of the party went off as usual, with lots of raffle prizes, and plenty to eat, while the guests puzzled over a quiz that was voted the hardest ever. Pauline Tombs seemed to be in particularly good form, and helped her table get the most correct answers, particularly with identifying the various carols.

Many thanks to all those who provided the cakes, biscuits and food for the party, particularly to Jackie Earthy for the Christmas cake – and to Angela Hartley for the table decorations. Plus thanks as ever to Peter Cutler for driving the Minibus every month.

“Modern Patchwork” – a talk by Jane Varrall

The Giles November 2016 meeting was a presentation by Jane Varrall, an Alresford resident, and also the daughter-in-law of one of our Giles members. Jane explained her all-absorbing hobby of painting on silk, and how this has developed up to the present day. Undoubtedly a skilled artist, Jane has written several books relating to her silk painting.


Starting from the silk scarves, and a beautiful camisole showing a tropical bird and flowers, Jane showed how her painting had progressed through phases with Egyptian and Turkish patterns, and then how adding quilting added a texture. More recently the paintings have involved adding photos – printed onto specially prepared material – and then stitched onto the silk.

This is an Alresford picture, including favourite walks round Fulling Mill and the Watercress Line at Alresford Station

There were other examples on display, for example in a Jane Austen themed set of pictures, and a collection of portraits of Burmese ladies photographed on a recent holiday – then these photos were built into colourful silk pictures. One young lady was presented in her wedding dress, looking particularly attractive in a flower garden – Jane had painted out her groom, who had been standing by her side at the time!  Since then Jane has moved on to using similar printed material appliqué-ed on to the silk, for example with pictures of tulips.


Another holiday had been in New Zealand, and this time Jane did allow a man to appear in one of her pictures! Which is not quite fair, as there were several images of Ian Morton, on one extended (long) picture showing the careful restructuring work that created her garden, when the family moved to Alresford.

The meeting was the best attended of the year, with over 35 Giles Group members crammed into the Community Centre: even the Town Minibus was over-subscribed, and had to make two trips! Many thanks to Jane, whose really interesting talk was much appreciated.

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


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.