Questers’ Visit to Bombay Sapphire Distillery

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On the last day of March a small group of Questers met at the Bombay Sapphire distillery at Laverstoke on the site of a mill noted in the Domesday book. We were met by our knowledgeable guide who gave us a brief history of the large site and how many of the old buildings had been adapted for modern use. For 200 years this complex of brick buildings was owned by the Portals paper making business who produced bank notes for the British Empire and was subsequently sold to De La Rue who ceased production in 2018.
We were invited to make up our own G & T mix with plenty of ice and take a seat in the comfortable cinema to learn more about the distilling process.

Dodging the sleet squalls, our guide took us into the glasshouses where some of the herbs and spices used in the distilling process are grown, the remainder coming from selected growers around the world.

We then had our opportunity of seeing and smelling the 10 “botanicals” with an explanation of how it is the vapour from the botanicals that makes the gin lighter and different from other varieties. The cost and noise of having a bottling plant at the Laverstoke site means the concentrated spirit is transported by road to Glasgow where the alcohol content is reduced before it is bottled in the distinctive blue rectangular bottles. In 1998 Bombay distillery was acquired by Bacardi and since then the visitor centre and other improvements have been made


AHA Group Visit to Montacute House, National Trust

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Once again, the AHA Group met up on Friday 25th March for a day visit to the above venue. Sadly, for the organisers it was disappointing as the turnout was poor, but in response to this, I would say you missed out on a glorious day in more ways than one. We had a very smooth run down to Montacute, in perfect spring sunshine and the countryside was so inviting.
We met up at the café courtyard for coffee and to finalise our plan for the day, accommodating everyone’s needs. We started off with a self-lead tour of the house, but there was enough trained staff on hand to answer any of our questions. We broke off from the inside of the house to join a guide outside, who walked us around the property to explain the architecture and the various changes that has taken place over the years.

This guide was very knowledgeable, amusing and kept it interesting*. At this juncture, it was a good time to take lunch, again basking in the warm spring sun in the courtyard.
*Originally, advised no guide would be available.
We then returned to complete our interior tour of the house. The house was built c. 1598 by Sir Edward Phelips a wealthy lawyer and an influential member of Elizabeth I’s Parliament. As the Speaker of the House of Commons, he was involved in the trial of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plotters.
The house was built of the same golden Ham Stones as nearby Tintinhull House, it remained in the Phelips family until 1911 and became the property of the National Trust in 1931. The Tudor west front went under a major change in 1786, as at this time to get around the house, you had to go from room to room. A local property known as Clifton Maybank House was being demolished and Phelips purchased the material and it removed stone by stone and was transported across to Montacute. The main entrance was then changed from long East drive to the West, making a shorter drive coming direct from the village.
Montacute House has at 172ft the longest Gallery in the UK, which now contains a very interesting exhibition by the National Portrait Gallery. The house has one unique facility, which is a plumbed-in bath, installed in the 1920, housed in a cupboard! The house has a wealth of interesting artwork, mainly portraits of the associated family of the Phelips and their association with Royalty.
Around 4pm it was agreed that we all were beginning to feel a little weary both physically and mentally in a nice way, that we would make our way back home, but to go a scenic route through the delightful countryside. In fact, we all believed that we had touched on an interesting new territory. As usual, we had planned to have dinner somewhere on our homeward route. However, not knowing the region well, we opted to keep it fairly local to us all and dined at the Three Cups, Stockbridge. We had an excellent meal and returned to Mike and Pam’s for coffee, thank you both for your hospitality.
A great day had by all, enhanced by the marvellous weather!
Rosemary Crumplin-Clark – AHA Co-ordinator

Please note:- April 22nd visit is to Laycock Abbey, Church & more !!!!

Photography Group’s March Meeting

Best Picture by Mike Liberson. “Spider’s Web” Click to enlarge it

The Group met at 10:15 on 14th March with the theme ‘Fragile’.
Of the six portfolios submitted, Pam Liberson tied for best set of four and Mike Liberson’s photograph of a spider’s web was voted Best Picture.
Theresa Twitchell could not attend but sent a portfolio – her adjudged best picture wittily showed a gin bottle, beer bottle and aspirins!
Discussion centred on autofocus modes, especially the advantages of using spot focus/exposure to maintain accurate colour for the prime subject in the picture – especially when photographing wildlife.

Theme for next meeting is ‘Group of Three’.