Newsletter No 110

August 2017


Spire Visit to SS Great Britain                                  J Holt

From the Editors Desk

This has been a different Summer. However, nice to see so much sun, until of course the children broke up from school, when it reverted to a more normal English summer. So many things have been happening and am very grateful to the members and groups who have kindly sent me so many items to include in this Newsletter, with some fantastic photographs.

Has anyone lost and umbrella? One was left in the Hall after the last Coffee Morning.
See Janet Pengelly if it is yours.

Zelah Bysouth       01722 330307       zjbb@btinternet.com

We wish a very warm welcome to new members

Geoffrey Nunns Mrs Patricia Nunns.  Douglas Murray.    Peter Stratton .  David Beaves.

Visit to SS Great Britain

A number of members and friends paid a visit to the SS Great Britain in Bristol in July. We left Wilton at 9am, arriving in Bristol just before 11am and in time for coffee before our tour of the ship at 11.30. Our guide for the morning was Eddie and he proceeded to give us great insight into the history of this big ship , the masterpiece of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. We learned of its voyages across the Atlantic and how the passengers from first class to steerage were treated, the voyages to Australia in the time of the gold rush, and its troop carrying to the Crimea.

After the tour we had time for lunch and more sightseeing around the ship before heading home. We do intend to revisit the ship next year to see the new 5million pound museum which is under construction at the moment and of course members are invited to join us. You won't be disappointed.

John Holt, Chairman

Isambard Kingdom Brunel                The Great Britain

U3A Geology Field Trip to Salisbury Cathedral Quarry


Nearly 800 years ago, 65,000 tons of limestone were taken from Chicksgrove and Chilmark quarries from 1220 to 1238 to build Salisbury Cathedral. In the early 14th century, another 6,500 tons of stone were taken from the quarries to add the tower and the spire to the cathedral. (The effect of this extra weight necessitated building buttresses inside and outside the tower to prevent further shifting of the pillars below, but that's another story!). It is documented that the Cathedral masons could only move stone to Salisbury during the months of April to October, as the drovers' tracks were impassable at other times for ox carts. (Building work had to stop in any case, as the lime mortar would freeze during the winter months). 

Our gallant leader, Stuart Robson, led our U3A geologists, joined by fellow ‘students’ from the Devizes Geology group, on a visit to Chicksgrove quarry recently. There was much mud underfoot, but we were able to walk through the quarry and approach the rock face from which the limestone is extracted. No explosives are needed to obtain the stone; it is merely ‘ripped’ from the cliff face with mechanical diggers. The stone is then placed in piles for potential customers to select.  The different layers of limestone, laid down under the sea many millions of years ago, are of different compositions and hardness. Some types are very hard and will withstand weathering, while others are softer, easier to work and shape, but not as long-lasting. You can quite clearly see the “Shelly” remains in some layers, while the shells of tiny creatures have been completely crushed in other layers and the stone is more homogeneous. Incidentally, I use “rock” and “stone” rather loosely in this note, for the same material. To the quarrymen it's “rock”; to the mason it's “stone”!   The Clerk of Works was at Chicksgrove quarry recently, selecting about 10 tons of stone for the renovation of the Eastern end of the Cathedral. So the same source of material is used today as the medieval masons used almost 800 years ago! It is hoped to complete this work in 2018, the culmination of the 30 year restoration project at the Cathedral.  

Phil Whitemore


Spire Geology group - inspecting the "Hidden Depths” at Chicksgrove Quarry

We learnt from our visit that the Chilmark Stone at Chicksgrove Quarry dates from the latter part of the Jurassic period so is around 145 million years old, the stone is from the upper part of the Portland Stone Formation and the very lower beds of the Purbeck Limestone Group.                                                  Stuart Robson 

Mobile Phone tips you may not know

The emergency number worldwide for mobile is 112.If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing networks to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked.

Locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless entry?   If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile from your mobile phone.   Hold your mobile phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at home press the unlock button holding it near the mobile phone at their end.  Your car will unlock.

Hidden Battery Power Imagine your mobile battery is very low.   To activate press the keys *3370#.   This should have given you a 50% increase in battery.  This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.

How to disable a stolen mobile phone. To check your mobile home serial number key in the following digits on your phone*#06#  -  a 15 digit code will appear and this number is unique to your handset so when your phone gets stolen phone your provider with this The number and they will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card the phone will still be useless!

Margaret Minney

Our Visit to our Twin City of Xanten

25th to 29th May 2017

by Peter Read

The Salisbury Xanten Twinning Association planned this Spring visit. Previously they have made the journey in Autumn. The route was the same as the route taken in Oct 2015 by coach from Salisbury coach park.

The coach arrived in daylight and all 33 of us were met by the hosting family. Sheila and I stayed with Tanko Scholten. He is a bachelor and looked after us brilliantly. During any free time, he took us in his car around the local towns on a private tour. This was a superb extra that was not expected but very welcome. At the end, we had a much better understanding of how Xanten fits in geographically. We had serendipitous times too such as coming upon a parade of a whole township celebrating 350 years of pilgrimage to their town. Lots of brass bands. Lots of children dressed up. Lots of adults dressed up in their society's uniforms. Some folk on horseback.

On our first morning Tanko drove us to the coach for a visit to the Netherlands [not called Holland] to visit Deventer and Geithoorn. Deventer is a lovely old town with a cathedral with a carillon that played lovely tunes whilst we were guided around the city. The Town Hall is new and has a curious design of huge fingerprints cast

Town Hall is new and has a curious design of huge fingerprints cast in metal cladding the building. Here Sheila took a tumble on the stairway but miraculously was almost unscathed. We had lunch in a local pub which was excellent and free!

We then got onto the ferry to cross the river and on the coach to Geithoorn. Geithoorn is a medieval town unscathed by WW2 and is known as Little Venice. It certainly has a lot of canals and a big lake ideal for messing about in boats. We had a one-hour boat trip around the town. Lovely on the hot sunny day. We then went to Smith's Pavilion for coffee and the local apple pie. We sat with Joan Lunnon for this feast.

Tanko took us around his village of Wardt next morning. He showed us six of the farms that his family used to own. The Scholtens were an influential family in the past. They now own just 2 farms.

We had a tour of the Siegfried Museum. Here we learned about the Niebelung and how the story has been used for political purposes by the Nazis. They only picked out the parts that fitted with their idealogy.  In the afternoon Tanko took us off to Kevaleur and here we chanced on the parade. We then drove on to Kalkar town where we chanced on another parade. This time of 150 large trucks driving in the town blaring the horns. It was so deafening that we soon departed.  Tanko took us to a British War Cemetery in the Reischwaldt. Rows of perfectly gravestones and well-tended lawns greeted us. As always, a moving place to visit in this quiet woodland setting.

So we moved on to Wisselward a nuclear power station that was never used and is now a pleasure park. It was hot and crowded so we returned to Wardt and to the lakeside. Here we sat in the shade and had a beer.

In the evening, we went out to a restaurant for schnitzels and then to a bar by the river Rhine. Here we watched the massive cargo barges sail past until darkness fell.

A clap of thunder awoke us on Sunday followed by a short downpour.  Tanko then drove us to other parts of Xanten such as the Amphitheatre where plays take place. It is set in deep woodlands. He also showed us where Churchill stayed in WW2 in a house called Furstenburg. From this house Churchill could see the Rhine and make decisions on the use of troops in 1944. Nearby is another impressive farmhouse that once belonged to the Scholtens. Then near that yet another farmhouse where Tanko’s aunt resides.

Visited the Roman Museum or the APX. The museum makes ours look very small. We did not stay long because we had visited it 2 years ago. Instead we persuaded Tanko to take us to a town called Rees. This is on the Rhine too and we strolled along the river bank enjoying the warm sunny weather. There was a festival here too confined to the market area. Very noisy it was. We went into a cafe on the riverside and had a Flammkucken 



Gribbling on Sea

This is a tale about a tiny village on the south coast of England. You may not have heard of it. No matter,

What is of interest, to me, is why Gribbling on Sea is so called. Well first it is on the coast and second it is close to where the Gribble thrives.

Locals delight in catching these creatures and cooking them like scampi or prawns since they are of the same biological family.

Straight from the sea they are a delicate and rather pretty pink colour and look a bit like a wood louse. They are about an 4mm long and found on the wooden piers and jetties. They also love wooden ships. They may have the toredo worm as company. They taste delicious too I am told.

This creature is responsible for many problems because with no specialised gut bacteria it directly digests wood. So, ships in olden times were particularly susceptible. Hence adding copper sheets to the hulls of ships. Not just for barnacles.

The villagers have now found a new way to exploit the Gribble. By using them to feast on straw and timber to convert this into biofuel. Enzymes produced by the tiny creatures are able to break down woody cellulose and turn it into energy-rich sugars.

So the cafes do a roaring trade in gribble on toast, gribble pate and gribble chutney and the go ahead villagers are coining it in with the biofuel.

So, if you have never heard of the Gribble I hope you have learned some small smattering of knowledge.

Peter Read

The Blackbird

I am the singer at the gate

I am the herald of morn.

Yes, I get up early

To tell you it is dawn

Dressed in my smart black feathers

And my golden bill aglow

Could you wish for a smarter fellow

To tell you to get up and go?

DAB. Creative Writing Group


If you have an item or picture to supply for the next issue, the closing date is 1st November. It would be helpful if you could make sure it is not protected access. Thanks. 


Written by a member of the Creative Writing Group


From a contact of Malcolm Simmons In Portugal

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Last Update 14-Sep-2017