Programme 2022

January 12th Chasing The Morning Sun Manuel Querioz (on Zoom)

February 9th Textile Treasures From The Great Silk Road Angela Thompson

March 9th The Dialect Of The Clee Hills Alf Jenkins

April 13th My Adventures with Ranulph Fiennes Charles Whitaker

May 11th Resolutions Meeting + Wonderful Whiffs Pam Dunstone

June 8th The History Of Stourbridge Glass Kate Round

July 13th Garden Party

August 10th Mortimer Landscape Kate Andrew

September 14th Recycling With A Difference Susan Drage

October 12th Genealogy Rob Collinge

November 9th Annual Meeting

December 14th Christmas Meal

January 12th


Manuel Queiroz

Having taken up flying at the age of 41, seven years later and having overcome cancer, Manuel was ready for a new challenge. He decided to try and break the world speed record for flying solo around the world in a home built single engine light aircraft. The aircraft was heavily modified to make space for all the extra fuel tanks required to cross vast oceans. Taking off from Staverton airport near Gloucester the first leg went south over France to Malta, avoiding bad weather in the Alps. The next part was to Luxor in Egypt (avoiding Gaddafi’s Libya) where unfortunately a severe sandstorm prevented views of the pyramids and the Nile. The noise of the aircraft was the only accompaniment over the Arabian desert – no sweeping Lawrence of Arabia theme and more mountains than golden dunes. Sri Lanka was the next stop in order to avoid Indian bureaucracy and leaving here at night Manuel had a wonderful first sunrise – experienced all alone and above the vastness of the sea. A very special moment. Flying over Banda Aceh in Indonesia where the tsunami had originated gave a sobering view of how fast this natural phenomenon had caused so much devastation and a realization of how human efforts shrink into perspective against the forces of nature.

Vietnam ATC offered him airspace at 26,000 feet, too high for the plane so Manuel went next via Penang. His stop in the Philippines was clouded by the sordid and sad realisation that taxi drivers were acting as pimps – providing young girls for western hotel visitors. He was also scammed here out of $2000 in cash for a landing fee -which should have been about £20 but staff claimed the card machine was not working. Guam, which had been an American airbase during the Vietnam War greeted him with heavy security and metal detectors – even though there was a gap in the perimeter fence not far away which gave unchallenged access.

The biggest challenge was crossing the Pacific due to the huge distances and his limited fuel. At one point after another fabulous sunrise he encountered an electrical storm leading to static electricity sparking across the plane’s metal frame – very close to all the fuel tanks. At Bon Riki Manuel had had the necessary special fuel flown in beforehand. The flight to Hawaii was the longest leg – 17 hours flying and 19 hours of fuel, 2,500 miles and he checked and rechecked the calculations! Bad weather kept him here for a week – storms rather than grass skirted girls. Flying from Honolulu to San Jose in California ice was building up on the canopy and the wings at 10,000 feet making the plane un-aerodynamic and causing the (only) engine to cut out. Descending to 5,000 feet luckily meant the ice melted and the engine restarted. Welcomed as a hero by the Americans Manuel gave a tv interview and we learnt his plane was named for a friend he had lost to cancer – this had been part of the spur to undertake the adventure. Flying over the southern states and then up the eastern seaboard of the USA Manuel met many friendly generous Americans.

The last obstacle was to cross the Atlantic and once again Manuel was thwarted by the weather which prevented him taking a northern route to Ireland and breaking the record. He had to keep south to The Azores but then stopped over in Portugal and visited his brother. In the Azores a TV crew again welcomed him, the interview no doubt lightened by not all the zips being done up under the immersion suit Manuel was wearing and that he was glad to take off after 14 hours. A break in La Rochelle allowed him to gather his thoughts and process all the emotions of the trip. On a sunny day in April he arrived back in Gloucester to a champagne welcome from his wife. Manuel described the emotional impact of his return – a high point because he had achieved it but a low point because the adventure was over. The trip had been 4 years in the planning and took 39 days (sadly the record was 27 days) – but all members present were both inspired and impressed by Manuel’s courage and modesty.

The Royal Aero Club subsequently presented him with their highest award – The Britannia Trophy.

February 9th

Crossing Borders - Textile Treasures from The Great Silk Road

Angela Thompson

Angela began by expressing her delight at speaking in Abberley Village Hall after such a long break in meetings. It was in the old St George’s Hall that Angela had her arm twisted by Kay Ballard to give her first talk 60 years ago. This led to a career as a speaker which has taken her around the world.

Angela has also travelled as a means to further her interest in textiles and over the last 30 years has visited many countries along the Silk Route. The Silk Route is a set of many merchant routes to bring silk from China to markets in other continents. There are also maritime routes around the coasts of SE Asia and India. Her travels started after the ending of many family caring commitments meant she was free to pursue her own interests, she joined groups of other textile enthusiasts or teamed up with friends or her children

The discovery of silk is linked to myths, but it is known that neolithic man possibly harvested silk from the wild silkworm moth. The domestic silkworm moth (bombyx mori) which is native to China has been used in silk production for thousands of years. It cannot fly and the caterpillars eat mulberry leaves. The caterpillars pupate in a cocoon made of a continuous strand of silk which is kept intact by boiling the pupa before it starts to eat the silk.

Angela described her journeys to many of the countries along the Silk Route, beginning with China and Japan and then into SE Asia via Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. Her travels then took her through all the mysterious ‘stan’ countries and to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria and Turkey. In each place she sought out fabrics, traditional clothing and learnt about many special techniques. For example the exquisite double sided embroidery from China, fabric lanterns from Vietnam, woven fishing nets and silk jacquard looms. She had brought along some examples of different techniques to demonstrate the skill and beauty of the embroiderers and weavers.

Reverse applique, wood block printing, batik and tie-dying are all techniques which Angela came across in her travels and in Burma (now Myanmar) the long stalks of lotus flowers are also harvested for their long fibres which can be woven into a coarse cloth. The wealth of skills apparent in all these countries was wonderful – so much time and application to produce precious items, for example wedding costumes in Turkmenistan, carpets in Baku, Azerbaijan, with its museum shaped like a rolled carpet and fine goldwork in Uzbekistan.

Angela’s travels also had many adventurous interludes, a flight to Everest, scary precipitous roads in the Kalash Valley, a much anticipated night in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan, missing the bus one day and everyday risks of travelling in countries that were not as clean as the west!

Sadly much has changed in many of these countries and there are a lot of political troubles making it much harder to visit - Syria, Afghanistan and Mynamar for example.

Angela rounded off her talk with an image of a gorgeous silk 1870s Norwich shawl which she inherited from her great-grandmother, Matilda Adelaide Bate. This was all thanks to the Silk Route and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Silk Route brought silk to France and the Protestant Huguenots were master weavers whom the edict allowed to worship freely in France. When it was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685 the Huguenots fled violent persecution and set up silk production in London, Edinburgh and Norwich and lace making in Devon.

The images below are courtesy of Angela Thompson and are subject to copyright.