The temperature may have dropped and the evenings are drawing in but that’s not stopped our intrepid CTCers getting out and about with two great outings last week.
First up, on Thursday 6th November, CTCer Selene led a fabulous group down to the Victoria Docks for a ride across the Thames on the new cable car followed by a boat trip. The weather was beautiful; a glorious crisp autumn morning with crystal clear blue skies as far as the eye could see. Perfect for views all across London from on high. Then the lovely Terry took us on a boat trip around the Docks on the Silver Queen cruise boat. Lots of history and landmarks to look at while we cruised and had our sandwiches. We even had a chance to have a go at skippering ourselves! Then a spot of coffee on shore to warm up again before heading home.
The Silver Queen has a fabulous history. Built in the 1920s, she started life as a tripper bat in Wales, but at the outbreak of WW2 she was requisitioned by the Government to help in the war effort. In 1940, when 350,000 troops were pinned on the beaches at Dunkirk she took part in the now famous Operation Dynamo. Silver Queen joined the armada of Little Ships that famously sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk to bring the troops home. One book describes how, with no compass or charts, Silver Queen was making her way home packed with soldiers but lost her way. After several hours they spotted what they thought was their safe home port of Ramsgate and headed straight for it. However, this was not Ramsgate but German occupied Calais. Six batteries of German guns pounded away at Silver Queen as she frantically reversed course. One round crashed into her stern, another landed on the starboard bow causing substantial damage. The Belgian launch, Yser, travelling in company, was hit too. Yser fired a flare in a desperate call for help. Amazingly, a friendly destroyer did catch the signal, hurried over, and provided covering fire whilst the two strays crept out of range. Somehow Silver Queen limped back to Ramsgate, discharged a load of troops and they quietly sank at her pier…
Peacetime gave her a new lease of life and before long she was fixed up and back to ferrying daytrippers rather than troops! Until today, still going strong, she is now looked after by Terry and his son and rests in Victoria Docks.
A massive thank you for Selene for organising and leading and for Terry for his brilliant hospitality. A lovely day was had by all.
Then next up was a walk on Hampstead Heath on Friday 7th, led by Joe and Rosie from the RSPB and Wild About The Heath. They showed us lots of wildlife habitats you can find on the Heath –from bats to birds, hedgehogs to snakes – and got us inspired about nature and the outdoors. They also showed us how to encourage wildlife into our own gardens and the garden here at the Abbey Community Centre with a few simple easy steps.
Did you know that you can hire mobility scooters for free on the Heath? We had organised to borrow two of them for a couple of our CTCers who wouldn’t have been able to join us otherwise. For CTCer, Tom, who hadn’t been able to get up to the Heath for 15 years because of his knees, the scooter meant he was able to keep up with everyone and have a lovely time. It was lots of fun learning how to use the scooters, but we got there in the end!
Thank you so much to Joe, Rachel and Rosie for a lovely morning.
Joe and Rosie will be back at the Abbey Community Centre next week showing us how to make winter wreaths using willow, holly, berries and other natural products you can find in your gardens. To book a place, contact Laura on 07447 932 564 or firstname.lastname@example.org