“Confessions of a Travel Guide” Given by Martin Catford The first monthly meeting of the Alton U3A for 2006 was held at the Community Centre on 20th January. The guest speaker was Martin Catford, who gave his audience his ‘Confessions of a Travel Guide’. Martin is a horticulturist, trained at Wisley, and is now a freelance consultant and landscaper, lecturer and broadcaster. Another major interest of his is railways – real and model, and he has often combined these interests by acting as Host and Tour Manager for gardening and railway holidays. However, anyone thinking that they were about to hear a straightforward lecture on either horticulture or the railway systems was in for a surprise. Martin gave a very entertaining account of episodes in his life as a travel guide. He began by quoting Ken Dodd’s rule that, in compiling his material, an entertainer should always consider that a little old lady from Bournemouth might be sitting in the audience, but Martin clearly did not believe that this little old lady was in the Community Centre main hall on that afternoon. She may, however, be reading this account, so just one incident can be reported – of an American lady, very impressed with the wild flowers growing in the lawn round Salisbury Cathedral, who asked where she could buy some of the small white flowers that were growing there in profusion – daisies, of course. And one gardening tip for those whose gardens serve as a public convenience for a neighbouring cat: dig a hole in the cat’s favourite spot; bury an inflated balloon; and cover lightly with soil.
The vote of thanks was given by Dr Tony Rice, who is Chairman of the Committee for this month,. The Chairmanship will be rotated on a monthly basis among the Committee members until a permanent Chairman is appointed.
The next monthly meeting will be on Friday, 17th February, in the Community Centre. The speaker will be Chris Allen, who, until recently, was Director of Compton Acres, a famous heritage garden on the borders of Bournemouth and Poole. Mr Allen will be sharing his expert knowledge on plants. All members and others interested in the activities of the U3A are invited to attend.