Travel and poetry seem to have been the theme for our members this month.
Several of our members attended the Spring Meetings of the Anton Danebury Group in Weyhill and Hampshire Federation in Portsmouth.
The guest speaker at the former was the Taxidriver Poet, James Haddow. He has obviously had a chequered love life and his musings reflected his feelings at the time. Pam Ayres was top of the bill at the latter and she did not disappoint. Her amusing take on life always raises a laugh and she was much appreciated by her audience who could sympathise with humorous offerings on jet-lag, finding lost glasses and trying to wear contact lenses. On a more serious note she also touched on hedgerows and the drop in numbers of hedgehogs.
Members returned home from these events up-to-date with all the WI has to offer in the coming months.
It was rail travel that was the focus of our own meeting.
Liz Barron had loved her Grandparents’ Chinese tea set since she was a child when she visited them in their Somerset home. She was aware her grandfather Leslie Pardoe had travelled to Shanghai for work purposes by train in 1913 as he had kept a detailed diary of the journey. Leslie remained in the City until returning to the UK in 1940 having met and married his wife Margaret, of Portuguese & Irish descent but born in Shanghai, in 1917. Margaret had been the editor of the Women’s Page on the Shanghai Herald.
Liz had always wanted to visit Shanghai to see where her grandparents had lived and worked, but life got in the way. Lack of money, bringing up a family meant the desire had been buried and forgotten. Then she and her husband were the recipients of an unexpected generous inheritance and after using this for practical additions to their home they decided to use the remainder to facilitate this long-held dream.
Leslie’s journey started on the 3.40 p.m. train from his home town of Barry in Wales to London on the 20th April 1913. Miraculously, this train was still scheduled on the same date, so exactly 100 years later Liz and her husband Tony started their own seven-week adventure from the same station.
The trip had been tailor made with the assistance of a specialised travel agent, so they travelled through the same cities and towns along the way – London, Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Irkutsk, Harbin and Dalian. Except they took the opportunity to stop off, where visas permitted, for a few nights with the assistance of pre-booked guides and drivers.
It was no longer possible to travel from Dalian to Shanghai by ferry as Leslie had done, so they arrived in Shanghai by train. Once they had seen all they wanted to in the City, Liz and her husband extended their initial tour to take in the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors, pandas, a Chinese opera, the Li River, Cormorant fishing, a Chinese Tea Ceremony and a trip to the 1000 year old Rice Terraces.
What an experience and yes the tea set is now in her possession.
We will be back on a train next month, but closer to home. This time we will be travelling along The Watercress Line with Dr. Peacock. Don’t forget 7.30 p.m. on 25th April in The Village Hall.
02 April – Reading Group
11 April – Supper Club
13 April – Walking Group
20 April – Breakfast Club
25 April – Monthly Meeting 7.30 p.m. in The Village Hall
27 April – Lunch Club