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.
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 castTown 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
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.
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
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Last Update 14-Sep-2017