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WI Newsletter – July 2004

For our July meeting we tried something new – a themed evening. The theme we decided upon was holidays, so we came suitably dressed, with six members volunteering to share their experiences whilst travelling round the globe.

However, to get us in the mood we started by playing Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard, and then partway through the evening, members were surprised to be given a choc-ice each.

Our first speaker was Christine Fell who revealed how she had been stranded in the desert. This all happened on an optional excursion on her first cruising holiday, obviously one not to be forgotten. She and her group were eventually reunited with the remainder of the party, and travelled to where they were to spend the night. Christine elected sleep out under a fabulously clear dark blue sky scattered with brightly shining stars, much better than the small tent allotted to her. She explained how the washing-up is done in the desert, where obviously, there is no running water; sand is rubbed around the pots and pans, much to the horror of some of her holiday companions. She was much taken with the generous hospitality offered to her and her companions by the local people, who were not well off at all.

Geographically we did not have far to travel, as next on the Agenda was Sue Hancock who was looking very glamorous in her black and gold galabiyya which she had purchased on her trip down the Nile earlier this year. She told us how she had returned with an unusual souvenir – a new hairstyle.

Where to next? Vietnam – June James confessed that for her it was have son, will travel. As he is presently working in Vietnam this was an opportunity to fulfil a long-held ambition of visiting the temples of this Country. Following a long flight, June got over her jetlag by walking the hot and humid streets of Ho Chi Min City, where she felt quite safe, followed by a visit to see these amazing sights, all of which certainly lived up to June’s expectations.

We went back in time, as Margaret Butt had offered to share with us memories of some not altogether successful holidays. She began in Italy, when as newlyweds, she and her husband travelled from their new home in Germany, to the Italian lakes, for a camping holiday. Having arrived very late at night, in the dark, when leaving the toilet block Margaret became aware that there was a snake blocking her exit, following a very loud scream, her young husband came to her rescue. They subsequently spent a sleepless night in their tent, anxious not to be joined by other snakes. They moved on very quickly the following morning.

Some years later, and now with a young family of four children, Margaret recalled an experience of walking through a narrow path in the jungle of Singapore, when she and her daughter were separated from the rest of the family as a swarm of hornets had suddenly appeared. These insets quickly surrounded the young child, so she and Margaret retreated very quickly. Margaret believes that it is only because at that time her daughter had long thick hair that she was not stung more severely. Having successfully retraced their steps, they found their way back to the campsite, where much to their relief they were joined, sometime later, by the rest of the family.

You would have thought this might have put them off, oh no, later whilst living in Hong Kong, they decided to have a short holiday on one of the small islands in the area, but after a few days a typhoon warning came through. Fortunately, their fellow holidaymakers were all service families, so the men took charge and preparations were made. Except, just before the storm began it became clear that a small goat was still tethered outside, so Margaret’s husband went to its rescue. Whilst the storm was on all they could do was sit it out, but the noise of the wind was deafening. Unfortunately, the damage to this holiday retreat was so severe it never re-opened.

You might be surprised to hear that Margaret and her husband do still travel.

No time to rest, now we were off to climb Mount Fuji with Muriel Spanholtz. Whilst living in Japan some 40 year ago, one of her colleagues expressed the wish to climb this mountain, did anyone want to accompany her, “yes” said Muriel. Although, before leaving the USA, Muriel had promised her mother that she would not climb this mountain, she believed it would not be too difficult.

Therefore, she and her friend took a train down to the mountain, found themselves a guide and a room for one night. Apparently, due to the climate conditions, the best time to attempt this feat is at night. Muriel described the journey, in the dark to the top, and in approximately 9 hours, they made the summit by sunrise, as intended. Now for the descent. She did not come back down the same way; she sat down and slid down the scree, just putting her feet down to stop from to time-to-time. The decent only took approximately four hours, half the time of the climb.

Her adventure does not stop there, as they now needed accommodation for a further night. Their unsuccessful attempts were spotted by some young Japanese children who offered to help. Eventually they returned and took them to a small building which had a room available; it was typically Japanese with paper walls etc. They were told quite categorically to lock their doors during the night – something Muriel felt was quite futile as anyone intent on entering could easily put their fist through the walls. However, in the morning having ventured forth to find the bathroom, on returning to her room, Muriel concluded that she and her friend that had stayed the night in a “brothel”. Although she later confessed to her mother that she had indeed, climbed Mount Fiji she never revealed where she had spent the night!

Last, but certainly not least was Margaret Wilson who brought along mementos of her recent holiday in Florida where she and her daughter had met some very interesting local people and seen some super sites.

All of our participants brought along photographs and mementos of their travels, including Muriel who, suitably dressed in her traditional kimono, brought along some authentic Japanese books.

We had a several visitors that evening, including two members of other Institutes, who are taking the County Chairman’s Challenge very seriously, by attempting to visit as many Institutes in Hampshire as possible before the end of this month. One has been to over 80 and the other in the region of 100.

We do not meet now until 30 September, when we have Fran Horn coming along to help us Mix, Match and Mis-Match, but before that we have a trip to Eton College on the 18 August and the fete teas to organise on 04 September.

As I have said many times, please do come along and see what we get up to, just give us a ring or send us an email and we will arrange a lift for you, if you would prefer not come alone the first time.

Sharon King

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