Gardens & Things – 2019

Unlike other interest groups the G&T group has no formal membership; every member of Stowmarket U3A is welcome to join in any of our activities. Simply decide which you fancy and sign up at the general meeting prior to the trip.
Payment, if appropriate, will be required when you sign up and will not normally be refundable.
After a very pleasant lunch at the Cedars last November we had a discussion about the 2019 programme and what those present felt was the way ahead. Unfortunately the other ‘travelling’ group, Town and Village History is no more so G&T has tried this year to widen its interest areas. Other comments made were about the problems associated with car sharing and the desire to include a meal on any full day trips.
Hopefully you will see some of this reflected in the 2019 programme. It does mean more planning ahead by us all and a financial commitment in the way of deposits for transport and meals which are often not refundable. If you see a certain aviation slant on events for this year that you don’t like, the answer is in your hands. Stop me doing this by suggesting (and offering to research and organise!) where we go and what we see. October 2019 is still free…..
Stewart, G and T co-ordinator

Click for our provisional 2019 schedule of activities>>

Gardens & Things – 2018

Click for our 2018 schedule of activities>>

A Fine Afternoon Out! G&T visit to The Priory Gardens. What could be more pleasant on a sun kissed June afternoon than to walk round a magnificent garden with views across Constable Country? Little I know of, except if you add some small lakes and walled gardens and to top it off, a Victorian greenhouse jam packed with beautiful flowers. Finish off with tea and homemade cake of course and everybody went home happy!
The property dates from the 13th century and our host was the owner, Mrs Englehart. It was obvious that this garden is her life’s work. It is open to the public only on rare occasions, so many thanks to Shirley Bonner for organising the outing there.
On an August afternoon that was an exception to our warm, dry Summer a smaller than expected group of intrepid wanderers went to Fullers Mill Garden near West Stow Country Park. The weather relented as we got there though, umbrellas were folded away and the heavy rain left a fresh feel in the air. The seven acre garden has been carved out of woodland on the banks of the river Lark over the last five decades and is now a plantsman’s paradise of rare and unusual shrubs, perennials and marginals. Before creating the garden Bernard Tickner was a head brewer for Greene King, surely a life well spent on both counts. He died last year aged 93 and the garden is now run by a trust. As tradition dictates, the trip ended with tea and cake in the garden’s café. Many thanks go to Janet for organising this outing to a magical place.
In September the group went to Anglesey Abbey, its gardens and mill. The weather was kinder here and the dahlia display and the working Lode mill were highlights. Thank you to Lorraine and Keith for organising this one.
October was the last outing of the season, a gentle afternoon spent in Granary Crafts and Bygones museum at Buxhall. The visit was well attended and murmers of ‘I can remember using those’ and ‘our family had a radiogram just like that’ could be heard from the group.
Stewart Dorward 01449 774 213

Gardens & Things – 2017

The placard outside the Muntons Factory in Stowmarket states that they are “passionate about Malt”. What we did not know, and was soon to find out when the Garden and Things Group visited the factory on Thursday 21 September, was that Muntons are equally passionate about the way they treat their visitors and organise their factory visits. Our group of 29 members had an amazing time during our 2 hour tour of the factory.
After an introductory talk about the history and development of this privately own company we broke off into three groups to visit different parts of the site. This meant that we all had to get dressed for the part with each of us donning hair nets, hard hats, white coats, hi-vis jackets and ear defenders to comply with health and safety requirements.
We visited the beds where the barley is germinated for 4 days under carefully controlled conditions to allow the grain to take up enzymes and minerals and to soften. After a drying and cleaning process the barley completes its transformation into malt. In this format the malt can be transferred, under pressure, to container lorries where it is distributed worldwide. Another area of the factory converts malt into malt extract. Here we saw the malt heated under high pressure until it transformed initially into a bubbling treacle and then into a kind of honeycomb sugar. The finished product is then either bottled and packaged as malt extract or added to other ingredients to make products such as Home Brewing Beer, Cider and Wine Making Kits.
A third area of the factory that we visited was the “Centre of Excellence”. Here we learned of the research and development undertaken on the site, including the Bakery where products which include malt and malt extract are made and tested and the mini Brewery where breweries, in conjunction with Muntons, can experiment and produce new products on a mini-scale, and when completely satisfied can then reproduce the product in much larger scale back at their own factory. We tasted different types of malt which are used in cakes, breads, crackers and cereals, ranging from malt which had the appearance of a white flour through to malt which resembled dark chocolate powder.
The tour was concluded with refreshments and cake (chocolate cookies and chocolate brownies containing malt extract of course) before we headed home, stunned by the size of their operation which manufactures over 210,000 tonnes of malt annually.
It is not surprising, of course, that Muntons should be located in Stowmarket. With a £10 million pound annual turnover Muntons buys all its barley from within a 50 mile radius of Stowmarket, renowned as one of the world’s prime malting barley growing regions. Half of its products are exported worldwide, including to Seattle, Thailand and Singapore.
More information about Muntons can be found on its company website, where you can also download a large range of recipes which contain malt or malt extracts https://tinyurl.com/yd2l7pk7
Lorraine Shelton

Here are some pictures taken on the day


Gardens & Things – 2016

Success! Thanks to five new members volunteering to organize a monthly visit and coupled with two stalwarts we now have all the months covered except for March and October. This gives us six months of activity when we will be covering some old and new venues; the re-visits have had sufficient time lapse to ensure things of new interest, and the first time ones give us something to anticipate.
Whilst you may not find our group on the membership card, (at the time of printing I thought that the group could not be sustained) there will be plenty of advertising throughout the year at the monthly meetings. Make sure you read the notice boards on ‘Harold’s table’ (on the side wall in the URC Hall).
I would urge the group to think seriously about a co-ordinator for the G&T. I have now been doing this actively for the past 15 years, but am now finding that the position is becoming rather stressful and I would appreciate someone to carry on and keep the flag flying.
Harold Turner 01449 676 882

Gardens & Things – 2015

We had our annual post-Christmas lunch in February at the Sheppard &Dog, Onehouse. Some 20 members attended and all were impressed by the quality of the meal. As mentioned in the last Newsletter, we discussed the reluctance of members to come forward with offers of help. If the present lack of involvement continues I am afraid the G&T may have to close, which would be a sad affair after so many successful years.

As planned Janet organized our visit to Thornham walks in April. It’s a walk of about a mile and a half, so two of our members took advantage of the electric scooters, which were very welcome, provided by the Thornham trustees. Our guide pointed out the various small plants that we would never normally have seen and gave a potted history of the area in general and its development over the years. One of the unusual features were the ‘green’ toilets, all operated from sun power. The kitchen garden, so popular in the estates of the landed gentry of the 17, 18, and 19th centuries, whilst not yet fully restored, still produces many of the staples of life. After our visit we were ready for our arranged lunch at the Stoke Ash White Horse which gave the party time to rest and be well fed before returning home. Thank you Janet for an excellent day out.

In May a small group of five members arrived at the Ram Meadow car park, Bury St Edmunds and strolled from there to the gardens. Whilst still early in the growing season we had just missed the flush of tulips but other stock was just beginning to show which looked very attractive. We took a break for morning coffee in the church refectory.

Great Blakenham Incinerator, 22nd July: A healthy group of members some 20 in number, was invited to find out more about the new multi million pound disposal giant recently commissioned in Gt Blakenham.

The guide started off with the information that we were about to negotiate 300 steps on 23 levels suitably dressed in high vis jackets,goggles, hard hats, ear defenders, stout shoes and no bare arms. Plus intercommunication ear pieces and handsets. The first room was a hands on information area, all very interesting and was a good build up for the experience we were about to have.

The next part was up a great number of flights of stairs each having its own function, although you had to use your imagination as it was just a mass of pipes and pumps. Half way round we saw the electricity generating part which is driven by steam from heat produced by the incinerator, which generates enough electricity for some 20,000 homes. Eventually the hot water is to be cooled by piping it to nearby green houses that will product tomatoes all year round. Even the ash from the fire is used to make building blocks

The tour was finished off by a walk round the rest of the plant and, by the time were finished the tour we were all ready for out lunch at the Hungry Horse in Claydon.

In a departure from our usual Thursday we had an offer from the Suffolk Punch Trust to visit them on Monday 14th September for a day with the horses for just £9 including lunch; 16 of the group took up the offer.

clip_image002clip_image004clip_image006P1010498After our arrival and obligatory coffee break there was an introductory talk by Katie who our gave us the planned programme for the day’s adventure. Our main guide for the day was Mr Chaplin from Bury St Edmunds, who took us back a 1000 years and described the development of the horse to present day times.

We toured the estate on a wagon pulled by a tractor, finishing up at the stables and tack room where we learned about the working day and the use of the different collars and traces. We were introduced us two of the horses in the stables and had a good look around before lunch.

Left to our own devices we went round the museum which is very comprehensive before having a trip around the heritage garden. By this time we were rather tired and started to make our way home. I think we can say that we all had a great day out and felt better for the experience and that the heritage of the Suffolk Punch is in safe hands.



GOOD NEWS at the AGM I was successful in getting members to fill all the months for visits in 2016, so the group has once again staved off the prospect of going out of existence. Five new members came forward and volunteered to organize a day, coupled with two stalwarts giving us seven prospective visits for the coming year.

 

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