For our second weeks’ meeting on Thursday, 10th October, we enjoyed an excellent,
illustrated talk by Stuart Ward entitled “Islay and Jura – The Forgotten Islands”.
Stuart is a keen amateur photographer and his photographs perfectly complemented
his talk which covered aspects of Islay’s whisky production, a number of ship disasters,
the wildlife - birds, otters, seals - and the Celtic history of these lovely islands.
He also told us about George Orwell’s connection with Jura on which he wrote his
famous work: “1984” Altogether a riveting and well received presentation
On the 17th October our speaker was Robert Bolton who gave us a fascinating talk
entitled ‘The Story of Diamonds‘
He described the different categories of diamonds and as part of his talk he circulated
samples of uncut diamonds,
solitaires and other kinds of diamonds. He also highlighted the cutting procedure
for diamonds talking about the most
famous and valuable examples such as that bought by Richard Burton for Elizabeth
Taylor. Also of particular note was
Robert’s mention of the Cullinan diamond from Kimberley, South Africa which became
part of the Crown Jewels after
being cut into nine pieces. This was an excellent talk from a speaker clearly well
versed in his subject.
On 24th October we welcomed the return of David Morris with a talk entitled “Crossing
the Pacific by Balloon “.
He spoke of the plans by by Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand of a balloon crossing
over the Pacific Oceanfrom Japan to
the United States. He then referred to the construction at ICI Fibres in Harrogate
of the fabricthat was necessary to enclose
the balloon. It was necessary to wait for the Jet-stream to be in a suitable position
and at the second attempt the balloon
successfully took off with the aim of travelling at a height of 32,000 feet towards
California. Unfortunately the Jet-stream
changed direction and seemed to be heading for the Rockie Mountains. Although
it eventually cleared these mountains, it landed in a frozen lake and both Branson
and Lindstrand were only saved by
wrapping pieces of the balloon material round themselves. This was a very informative
On Thursday 31st October we welcomed the return of David Davies for a talk relating
to the relationship of the
UK with Europe entitled “UK & Europe-Awkward Neighbours“ . After World War II and
the devastation of Europe
Jean Monet realised that most countries were unable to provide essential services
and he had a vision to unite.
Although Britain was alone, it had the stature to support such a venture but was
more interested in global issues.
We then heard of the Berlin Air-Airlift which continued the supply of Berliners by
air with the aid of UK and US
thus thwarting the aims of Russia. Following this we heard of the Marshal Plan under
which Europe was
encouraged to pump billions of dollars to regenerate war ravaged countries. David
then spoke of the creation of
NATO. It was realised that economically the UK was performing poorly compared particularly
to Germany and
France. After two unsuccessful attempts, the UK joined the EU in in 1973 and a subsequent
That the UK should remain. We then heard of the later history of Britain’s relationship
with the EU and the
subsequent decision to leave following the 2006 Referendum.
This was a well-illustrated, detailed and well-researched talk.
At our meeting on Thursday, 7th November, we were treated to a fascinating and detailed
talk by archeologist, Alex Sotheran entitled “Battlefield Archeology” .
As the title suggests, Alex took us to the battlefields of the 1st World War and,
in particular, to the Thiepval, Bullencourt and Serre offensives. To accompany his
excellent talk he showed us pictures of some of the items that had been found during
archeological digs - clothing, helmets, bayonets, cutlery, guns as well as the remains
of both German and British soldiers. Some of the remains were accompanied by personal
possessions such as identity discs, watches and shaving kits which made it possible
to identify the soldiers in question, something that was not often the case in Alex’s
archeological speciality. Unsurprisingly, at the end of the talk there were numerous
questions which indicated how much our members had enjoyed it.
On Thursday 14th November we received a talk from Roger Oldfield, one of our members,
on the Eden Valley,
one of the lesser-known parts of Cumbria but nonetheless of considerable historical
and geographical interest.
Initially we heard of the influence on the area of the famous Clifford family notably
Lady Anne Clifford. The
area also often bore the brunt over the years of fighting between Scottish and English
armies. Also the
region suffered as a result of raids from Border Reivers and the existence of pele
towers and castles is
evidence of this. Finally we heard about the main centres of population in the region
including Kirkby Stephen,