We will add this sum to the money raised earlier this year for our ‘Charity of the Year 2020: MacMillan Caring Locally’.
Well done to everyone involved!
We flew from Heathrow overnight to Delhi, arriving 7 March. We spent that night in the Oberoi, New Delhi. Talk about pampered to death! While in the restaurant eating dinner, I could hear live contemporary western music being played but couldn’t quite identify the instruments. I asked a waiter where I could find the ensemble. As it happened, they were just out of sight outside the restaurant. I stood up to go see and, quick as lightning, the waiter asked, “Shall I escort you sir?”. Service or what?
Down to earth next morning with a train ride to Agra. Cases safely stowed in the overhead storage, our red-shirted porters basically demanded a backhander, despite the local agent saying they were paid by the company! The constant demand for tips is really the only downside of visiting India. On to Agra and the Taj Mahal where, at a very pleasant 25°C, this time there was no fainting. There’s now no scaffolding and the mausoleum was open to visitors
In the afternoon, a car drive west took us to Chambal Safari Lodge where we were to spend 3 nights. Whilst there, we enjoyed guided walks in the grounds, home to langur monkeys, deer, peacocks, egrets, flying fox fruit bats and spotted owlets. Masses of wild cannabis everywhere. Is that a pot plant? We enjoyed a river safari catching sight of several crocodiles including gharials, a narrow snouted crocodilian fish-eater. Critically endangered, it is making a comeback in this particular area where fishing activities have been curtailed. Turtles and a huge range of water birds proliferated. After Chambal came a 6½ hour drive west to Ranthambore National Park, supposedly seeing tigers is guaranteed.
En route our driver showed us a spectacular baori or step well. Chand Baori is 19.5m deep, built in the 9th century. One wonders how, without the use of sophisticated modern construction tools, how on earth the task was undertaken. Sadly, many baoris are neglected, attracting refuse. The second photo shows a lad who climbed down to retrieve an empty blue plastic container floating in the water.
Khem Villas at Ranthambore was our base for three nights. We had pre-booked 5 jeep safaris. Talk about overkill! But we were determined to see tigers this time, despite prophecies of gloom and doom. Our very first 6.30am safari, bitterly cold sitting on top of the open jeep, we saw not one but three separate tigers. No 1, a quite distant view; no 2, a full grown male, crossing the track right in front of us and no 3, a full grown tigress rolling in the dust of the road!! The rest of the time there was rather an anti-climax. Perfection is difficult to overtop!
From Khem Villas a 3½ hour drive further west took us to Bundi where we stayed for 2 nights in the family run, four storey Haveli Braj Bhushanjee. Very old, very quirky, built around open spaces and courtyards. We were the only guests since already the owner had received several cancellations Magnificent views from the roof terrace and from our room of Bundi Palace located immediately behind the haveli, Taragarh Fort, Bundi lake and the whole city. Bundi has a fine selection of baoris, neglected but still very impressive.
But our plans came to a grinding halt. Our local company agents advised us that the Indian government had issued instructions to repatriate all tourists or they would face enforced quarantine. Panic, panic! Still ten days to go and we were being kicked out.
The London office and the local agents came up total trumps. A 1 hour drive next day took us to Jaipur in time for an internal flight back to Delhi and a night in the Andaz hotel at the airport. London had managed to switch our original flight home from 26th March to 17th March. On our arrival back in the UK it transpired that our Virgin flight to Heathrow was their last from Delhi. Pretty close, huh?
Deb and Malcolm Gill
Following Kevin Steele’s appeal for support for NHS staff, Kevin has written:
I dropped off the food and toiletries at the Emergency Department at Bournemouth Hospital this evening (with a mask and surgical gloves, and keeping my 2m distancing!). As also mentioned, I think it is important that people who are supporting a project, see exactly where the money or items have gone. I therefore enclose a photo of the items laid out in the ED seminar room. You might want to a) send this out to U3A members and/or b) put it on the website.
I am getting money and supplies all the time (at least 10 today, probably as a result of your email, so thank you), and have enough to continue this for at least 2 or 3 more weeks, probably a lot longer.
Ps I am keeping a record of cash donations, but several have been anonymous
Keven’s Appeal letter
With the current extremely difficult situation, it is firstly really important that people look after themselves, and also their relatives, neighbours and friends. Also, charities and food banks are facing a real crisis, and need both food and cash donations. These obviously come first, and I’m sure if we work together, we’ll get through this. We must also all very strictly follow the government’s rules on hand hygiene, self isolation, and social distancing in public.
However, as many of you know, I am a Governor at Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals, and I also volunteer at Bournemouth Hospital in the Emergency Department. I was very moved when I saw the video of an exhausted Critical Care Nurse who couldn’t find any food in the supermarkets, and she was crying. I’ve also seen the film of the inside of an ED department in North Italy, an absolute horror story, and that is coming our way in a few weeks. We MUST do more to help our NHS staff, who are working such incredibly long hours, and often don’t have time to shop, or who find empty shelves in supermarkets.
So I have been talking to my friends in Bournemouth Hospital ED department, and I am now buying with my own funds a couple of wheelbarrow loads of food, and delivering it weekly to Bournemouth Hospital ED, for ED doctors, nurses, clinicians etc to just help themselves. I have set up a way of delivering the food (suitably masked and gloved), without going into ED itself, or seeing any staff or patients, and following social distancing rules at all times. I did this last week, and will be doing it regularly, starting this Wednesday evening (25March). If I can get some more funds, I can increase the frequency of delivery, and perhaps even look at a similar arrangement to Poole Hospital ED.
I must stress that anyone reading this must not go to either hospital ED themselves, but rather go through me.
If anyone would like to donate, if you are passing please put it in an envelope through the letterbox, or post it to me. This can be cash, or a cheque made out to myself. My address is 64 Dudsbury Avenue, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 8DX. Also, if any of you have any contacts with food providers, please forward this email on to them. I am hoping to arrange direct deliveries to the Emergency Department as well.
I think you all know me, and realise this is not some form of con, I really will give this direct to the NHS staff, with my own money if necessary. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for them. I will also send photos of the food delivery to the U3A, to ensure this is completely legitimate, and getting to the right people. Thank you.
FU3A Bridge Group Leaders and Committee members formed an unlikely cavalcade through the streets of Ferndown last week – they had gone to the Barrington Centre to remove the bridge tables and other items prior to the Theatre closing for refurbishment.
However, the graphic arts white board had to be dismantled and would fit in Bob Reeve’s car only by leaving the tail-gate open – so the cars had to proceed slowly in convoy with their emergency lights flashing!All the tables are now safely stored in the King George V Centre, where our bridge Groups will be meeting once FU3A is open for business again.