This section of the website contains extracts from some of our old Newsletters. Hopefully you all find them entertaining and enjoy remembering times from the past
Click here to link to specific articles
- I Remember by Leon Simkin
- A visit to Ted Heath’s house by John Pearman
- Kiss me Kate by Chris and Maggs Collier
- Summer by Roy Coleman
- Proud Grandparents by Richard and Eve Aitken
- The Rising Sun by Sally Robinson
- Seagulls over Warsash by Vic Croft
- A well remember hill by David Price
- The Ultimate Observer by Vic Croft
by Leon Simkin
I was chatting to some members the other day and I was surprised that none of them could remember their first car. I don’t suppose many of you remember your first car, I do though, and it was a 1933 Wolsley Hornet 12h.p. Saloon. It had many advanced ideas that didn’t work but it was a great car. One of the innovations that didn’t work was a system of jacks on each wheel called the “jackall”system”. The theory was there right enough as it allowed any of four jacks to operate just by running the engine, but they were known to sometimes operate when driving along, so I had the system taken out.
I remember I had just passed my test and was heading off to work when I went down a steep hill. To my horror at the bottom was a policeman standing in the middle of the road holding up his hand. What he didn’t know was that the Wolsley had rod operated brakes. I knew that the brakes were definitely dodgy because the local garage had tried to make the rod system work better, but they finally told me that the brakes were as good as they could ever be.
The copper stood his ground as the car slowly lost speed and I literally stopped about one foot from him. He walked slowly to the side window and to my amazement said, “I know what you have just done”. I waited in horror expecting to be told to get out of the car and receive a Summons or something nasty. “Listen lad, after you have driven through a puddle you must apply your brakes for a bit to dry them out. Now remember that piece of advice and take it easy for a bit, next time you could do someone damage”.
I gently drove off on my way to work and thanked my lucky stars that he didn’t ask me to do anything at all. I often wondered why he was standing in the middle of the road but I never did see him again.
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter Volume 2, Number 8 in June 2011
A VISIT TO TED HEATH’S HOUSE
by John Pearman
Twenty members of Locks Heath Probus visited Salisbury to view Ted Heath’s house in spite the terrible weather conditions at the time.
Usually groups of twelve make up a tour party, but Ted Brown and John Pearman rearranged the touring groups into eight, making it more convenient and giving us the opportunity for a more personal visit.
Ted Heath died in July 2005 leaving his £5million estate to a charitable foundation which included opening his home for the education of the public. Later the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said that the cost of opening, running and maintaining the house and garden far outweighed the revenue that would be raised from visitors.
The Foundation stated the it did not have sufficient funds to keep Arundells open indefinitely, so a visit such as ours may be an opportunity perhaps that may not be repeated. The Charitable Commission has yet to decide if it will sell Arundells and revert it to residential use, but at least members have seen the house that was Ted Heath’s home for the last twenty years of his life.
(Webmaster’s Note: Selling the property was forbidden and, as you will see from previous links, the house remains open to the public)
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter Volume 2, Number 11 in October 2011
Further background on Sir Edward:
Former British Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Sir Edward Heath is perhaps best remembered as the man who took Britain into the EC via the European Community Act in 1973. And as an added extra, a verb short Biography of Sir Edwards HeathBorn in 1916, Heath attended Oxford university and was president of the Oxford Union. During World War II he served in the Royal Artillery, winning an M.B.E, and in 1950 won his first seat, Bexley, for the Conservative party.
He rose quickly through the party ranks and in 1965 became party leader at the age of 49. He was Prime Minister from 1970-1974, over-seeing the deployment of British troops into Northern Ireland and economic crisis and mass strikes in Britain.
His greatest success was Britain’s entry into Europe. He lost the Tory party leadership in 1975 but remained involved in politics until 2001.
Sir Edward Heath, above, is pictured in discussion with his eventual successor to the Tory leadership Margaret Thatcher, at the 1972 Conservative party conference.
KISS ME KATE
By Maggs & Chris Collier
We enjoyed a most entertaining evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre on Monday 16th July, watching, with other Probus members, the musical, ‘Kiss me, Kate’. This production, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, was a musical adaption by Cole Porter of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew“.
This is a fictional American musical within a play – with cast members playing dual roles to portray the different versions – amusing, talented and choreographed so well.
Statuesque leading lady, Hannah Waddingham, played Lilly and Kate – “The Shrew” (I Hate Men!!!) and dashing leading man, Alex Bourne, played Fred and Petruchio, “The Shrew Tamer”. Lots of wit and superb voices.
Magical scenery changes appeared using voile drawn up from a chest to create trees, tents and arches whilst the audience was distracted by players dancing, in stunning costumes.
The almost lovable gangsters, together with the well known Hollywood songs of the 1940°s – ‘Another Op’nin, Another Show’, ‘So In Love’ just added to the enjoyment of the evening. We laughed to hear another members comment – “They don’t make songs like that any more!!”
Whilst sitting here writing these notes ten days after the event, it reminded us of another song from the show – “It’s too darned hot”
OTHER HITS – “We open in Venice”, “Another opening another show” and “Brush up your Shakespare”
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter Issue 19, 3rd May 2012
Editor’s Note: Clearly an extremely memorable evening. And for those who want to relive the evening, you can see the full lyrics of the songs and a complete rendition of the musical at the Royal Albert Hall using the links in this paragraph.
By our tame poet laureate, Roy Coleman
We heard the morning forecast
Mid twenties , hours of sun
Jean said”let’s go to Mudeford
The summer has begun
I’ll pack a picnic basket
So we can stay all day
And why not take the twins along
You’ll have an excuse to play
I loaded up the beach gear
And snacks so we needn’t stop
We’ll buy ice creams,spades and buckets
To build castles with flags on top
We sped along the motorway
At Lyndhurst a traffic queue
Then off again with scenic views
Across the Forest (New)
I went to park at Avon Beach
Short walk from Mudeford Quay
The warden said just one place left
After five it’s free
We built our castles with flags and moats
But the tide washed them away
“Can we paddle please” was the cry “
Yes but not all day
I waded in to top of thighs
My God! it was freezing cold
The twins didn’t mind, they splashed about
I must be getting old
But they think I’m Macho Man
I just can’t turn back now
Five Strokes of Crawl and three of Breast
No more swimming was my vow
We cruised home on the motorway
It lulled the twins to sleep
Until I drew up at their door
And woke them with a “Beep”
A duet of “Thanks for taking us”
We laughed till we could not speak
Granddad’s swimming looked so funny
“Can we go again next week?”
That was when they were only five
They’re twelve now, tall young men
For us a memory in our old age
But what did it mean to them?
When their children start growing up
Will they say on the beach when they’re five
I remember your Great Granddad’s swim
It was the funniest thing alive
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter Issue 30 4th April 2013
Editor’s Note: Inspired by Roy’s poem, I’ve created my own for this challenging time……. I hope you enjoy it!
Stuck amidst the lockdown
No one else around
We’ve always got our Probus (online of course)
Chatting on home ground
Until and through this moment
We’ll all stay right on task
No visits and no handshakes
Keep distance on all paths
By doing this we’re safer
At least that’s what we’re told
It’s guidance for the masses
Particularly the old
So let’s raise a glass together
To cheer progress we’ve all made
The path will not be easy
Until the final stone is laid
By Richard and Eve Aitken
My brave granddaughter, Heather Aitken, took on an adventure many other fifteen year olds would not have dared to attempt. On September 1st she left Yarmouth in her Laser 15ft dinghy and circumnavigated the Isle of White , some sixty odd miles, before returning to Yarmouth after eleven hours and five minutes, sailing in occasionally pretty rough conditions, especially around St. Catherines Point the most southerly part of the island.
Two days prior to her departure Grandma and Granddad took Heather on the good ship Pikant to Yarmouth and she chilled’ for a day to prepare her for her pretty arduous voyage.
The day of the voyage commenced with an early rise at 5:30am for breakfast and then round to the Harold Hales Boatyard where Heather’s dad and friend David Swift were waiting with the 15ft Laser dinghy and David’s speed boat ‘Bounty’ which was to be used as the safety boat to accompany her on the trip.
Before leaving two more Warsash Sailing Club stalwarts arrived in a RIB to go round as well. Stuart, Heather’s twin brother who had also bunked on Pikant, was also there to act as photographer. Heather left Yarmouth harbour at approximately 6:40 and started the circumnavigation at 7am in zero wind conditions which didn’t bode well for the trip.
She drifted on the tide to the Needles where, as planned, the tide changed to take her up the south side of the island. The gods were good to her and the wind filled in and she was off and sailing. Apart from the area round St. Catherines where it was pretty choppy, all went well. After rounding the Bembridge end of the island the tide once again changed as planned and she screamed down the Solent touching occasionally seven plus knots.
During the trip Grandad had been monitoring progress and it became apparent that she was going to arrive back at Yarmouth in well less than the twelve or thirteen hours that had been predicted. As it happened, the sailing club had a cruiser rally in Yarmouth that weekend, so before we made our way to the yacht club for dinner, a good number of the crews, armed with fog horns, gathered on the Yarmouth pier and made Heather’s day with a cacophony of noise from the horns and cheering.
Heather, her dinghy and the support boats immediately sailed back to Warsash where after a celebratory meal, a pretty exhausted young lady got a well deserved rest!
The sail round the island was to raise funds for Heather to accompany a group of Brookfield School children on a trip to Swaziland the following July, where she would be working on a community project to help disadvantaged children in that country.
There must be another story there!
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 96 Thursday 4 . October 2018.
THE RISING SUN 2nd VISIT
By Sally Robinson
Sally’s husband Trevor gazes ahead as she inspects the scotch egg mixture with Gwynfa, while lan McDanold considers the Menu to come.
Another rainy day and another most enjoyable outing for Probus members and guests. A full house for this (second visit) lunch at the Rising Sun, Swanmore and the now famous entertainment in the form of a cookery demonstration, recipes and tasters.
Who would have thought that the humble Scotch Egg would rise to unusual and delicious flavours. The jewel in the crown being Watsie, dutifully aided by Sue. I came away full of new ideas and a determination to hold a Scotch Egg tasting evening.
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter, Volume 2 Issue 19- 3rd May 2012
Editors Note: There are many local “Scotch Egg Challenges” around the country every year including last year’s National Scotch Egg Challenge and the one held in London in the year the original article was written.
SEAGULLS OVER WARSASH
By Vic Croft
Our house looks over the Strawberry Field in Warsash and we have lived there for many year’s. One thing that has always been a bit of a puzzle to me concerns seagulls. Every morning at dawn seagulls begin to arrive from every direction. Small groups circle the field as they arrive, and after circling they eventually make a landing,
This can often take about three quarters of an hour as the birds flock from all directions. The weather seems to have little effect as it happens every day come rain or shine (and even snow!). Once landed the seagulls collect together and mill about for a short while before taking off as a group.
They fly around the field to another spot, usually flying about twenty feet or so above the field. Sometime they rise to rooftop height, but generally it’s much lower. When they land at this new spot in the Strawberry Field they walk about silently, but still stay in a group.
Occasionally they are disturbed by an early dog walker or someone out early, but when that happens they either take off and select another spot further away, or fly around a bit until the intruders have moved away.
When they land the group generally stay close together and it’s only the odd one or two that fly or hop over to a particular seagull. This landing and flying around can last for an hour, and sometimes even longer. Finally a section of the group will take off from the main section and fly off towards a distant destination. It looks like the seagulls are heading back in the direction they came from originally. Then a few minutes later another group leave the main section and head off in a different direction. This goes on until the last group leave the field and there are no seagulls left.
I went to a talk a couple of years ago about Solent Bird Sanctuaries, and afterwards asked the lecturers’ about this strange observation that has been going on for years. I was told that they “were just feeding like they do on rubbish tips”. When I pointed out that they were definitely not feeding and seemed to be socialising, but were just standing next to each other, they just didn’t believe me!
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter, Issue 28 February 2013
Editors Note: Gull island, Hampshire is a small uninhabited island at the mouth of the Beaulieu River in The Solent. The island is an area of raised ground approximately 1000 metres long and up to around 180 metres wide amid the tidal sands to the east of Needs Ore Point, and separates the river from the sea for its final stretch before entering The Solent. It forms part of the civil parish of Beaulieu
A well remembered hill
by David Price
It was back in the fifties, as a young engineer, I arrived in March, a town in the heart of the fens. I was there to put a bench of retorts to work at the gasworks. I was soon joined by my area engineer who had some years before worked on the same bench. Harry soon related the story of his introduction to that fenland landscape.
Looking for “digs’ he had been advised by the men at the works to call on a lady who lived ‘on the hill’ just on the edge of the town. Harry feeling very doubtful (the highest point in March is six feet above sea level and that’s on the bridge over the Nene) borrowed the works bicycle and set off to find it. He was well on the way to Chatteris when he realised that something was wrong and he returned to the works for some fresh instructions. Harry’s second attempt soon located the ‘hill’ which was in reality not far from the gasworks and he was soon set up with accommodation. Harry thought this would amuse me being a Welshman who knew a hill when he saw one.
And so it did but I thought little more of it. A few years later though I was sitting in my office at Guest Keens iron works in Cardiff and was joined by a colleague who I knew hailed from the fens, he was, it turned out, a man from the town of March. Doug and I discussed the town and the great engineering achievement of draining the fens and where we had lived. I recalled Creek Road alongside the river Nene. “I lived near there”, said Doug adding, “I lived on the hill”.
I can still recall his indignation at my laughter. It was that hill again. I was fimly informed that if you left your car on that stretch of road with the handbrake off it would roll forward. I have never been back to find out but anyway, who am I, a Welshman , to deny those those Fenlanders the joy of standing on a hill, even one of such modest scale. It shows just how much hills are important to us perhaps even more so to those who inhabit a landscape that stretches to the far horizon with no so much as a modest hint of rising ground.
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter, December 2013
THE ULTIMATE OBSERVER
By Vic Croft
Back in the fifties the talk everywhere was about stereo. The arguments ranged from “it doesn’t work” to It’s the best thing since sliced bread”. I had been a Hi-Fl enthusiast from way back, building my own speaker system and playing gramophone records attempting to get the best sound.
One day the BBC announced that it was going to broadcast in stereo, and the debate then really got going. I remember one ‘expert’ in a talk on the radio saying “HOW can a fifteen foot wide piano ever be natural?”. Of course not only depended on the spacing of the loudspeakers but on the engineering quality of the sound.
I decided that if the BBC was going to invest in the system, it must have great possibilities so I decided to build two HI-FI speakers and bought a new stereo radio receiver. Our cat at the time had a great time pouncing on the wires laying around in the living room as I set the system up.
I managed to fix up an aerial in the loft and eventually finished wiring in the new radio and the speakers. Having spent all that money, I began to wonder if all this work was going to be a waste of time, and the sound was going to be no better than a good Hifi and gramophone set up.
Looking in the Radio Times I saw that a new play was going to be broadcast in stereo the next day called “Ivan the Terrible“, so I sat waiting anxiously for the experiment to begin. Finally the announcer started on the preamble about stereo and then the play began. The commentator started talking about the hordes approaching the fort, and our cat jumped from my lap and sat down in front of me……
The commentary said “The defenders of the fort waited for the hordes to approach and fired the cannons from each of the turrets and directly at the approaching hoards”. As a cannon fired the cat suddenly twisted its head towards the right speaker, then as the centre one fired the cat looked dead ahead. It then twisted left as the next cannon fired and looked quite frightened as echoes flew around the room.
Stereo radio had arrived! and been independently confirmed.
Article first published in Locks Heath Probus Newsletter, Issue 31 May 2013