Visits & Outings

2021 Plans

Tuesday 29 June – Alan Reilly has organised our first live outing since Covid restrictions halted our regular programme in February 2020.  23 of us will visit Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham and dine afterwards at The Crown close by,

Meanwhile we have been going VIRTUALLY further

Throughout the pandemic our Outings Coordinator Paul Walker  has been liasing with other local organisations and has advised Moleside of many online tours that have proved both informative and a much appreciated way of getting out into the world at a time when real travel has been dramatically restricted.

On Thursday 29 April  Art History in Focus took us to Ljubljana, Capital of Slovenia

And members are welcome to apply online to join similar Online Tours in early June.

Tuesday 1 June  The Kremlin
Wednesday 2 June Porto
Thursday 4 June Florence

Tours start at 11.00
More details of all these tours can be found, booked and paid for in the normal way on the Art History in Focus website.

Thursday 19 November 2020 – St Mark’s Square VENICE

This was Paul’s first introduction for us  to the ART HISTORY IN FOCUS concept. Moleside members joined an expertly guided walking tour of St Mark’s Square on a brilliantly sunny day in Venice. Our host on the ground, Luisella Romeo, with her deep knowledge of her subject matched by her skill with her smartphone’s camera delivered, even to those of us who believed we knew Venice quite well,  an unforgettable experience.

As we, thanks to the wizardry of Zoom, strolled together through an eerily quiet city centre, Luisella told us, that while Venetians had long wanted some curb on the number of tourists, no-one had anticipated the domino effect of no tourists at all. From closed artisan workshops to hotels, restaurants and even fish markets the virus has created a total shut down.

But to conclude our wonderful hour in her company Luisella was able to share with us the view of the Lagoon empty of cruise ships which has meant lower pollution in the city atmosphere and leaving us with a live image one can only usually see on postcards.

Our thanks to her and to Paul who promises that he will have more virtual experiences  to stretch our horizons and  help counter our inability to travel as we really like to.

Thursday 11 March  Red Square, Moscow with ART HISTORY IN FOCUS
The temperature in Moscow’s Red Square may have been minus 18C but Moleside members took the opportunity to pay a visit warmed by an early spring sun and the smart phone camerawork of Moscow guide Anna Belousova. Invited by Arts History in Focus to join another of its live webcasts, we were introduced to the magical magnificence of St. Basil’s Cathdral – established in the reign of Ivan the Terrible and threatened with destruction by Joseph Stalin – The Kremlin – a fortress dating from the 15C inside which the city population once lived but whose red brick walls now surround the 29 hectares that include the President’s official residence – The Lenin Mausoleum – where we learnt of the local rumour that the Bolshevic leader’s mummified body, which has lain in state here since 1930 may perhaps be buried later this year – the State Historical Museum – a classic example of red brick Russian Revival Architecture – and the GUM Department Store – you pronounce it ‘GOOM’ – it’s really a glamorous shopping  arcade built in 1893 and restored most recently in time for the 2018 Russian hosting of the FIFA World Cup.

Fresco art,  Architecture on a grand scale as well as evidence of impressively efficient snow clearance by the authorities were all to be shared in a city which, though it has had no lockdown imposed on it, looked very quiet for a Thursday just after lunch.  Maybe the temperature was keeping people inside and we’re grateful to Anna for making it possible for us to enjoy a pretty warm & exclusive visit.


Wednesday 31 March – London’s Mayfair with Pepe Martinez

Cobham and Oxshott Arts Society who facilitated our first  web based walking tour of Shakespeare’s London back in November also made it possible to join their members and friends for a virtual visit to Mayfair  guided by Pepe Martinez. He was our host when we joined in the Society’s most informative visit to London’s  East End on 3 February.

Wednesday 3 Feb – The East End of London

Blue Badge Guide Pepe Martinez’ tour told the story of immigration; how wave after wave of people coming to London to seek refuge, looking for a better life, have made the East End one of London’s most fascinating and dynamic districts; the squalor endured and the successes achieved.  Living as we are under the pressure of Covid regulations it was an impressive reminder that life is very precious and determination can ensure survival.

With wonderful images the virtual journey took us though the experiences of the French Huguenots and the many other groups – like those from the Caribbean and more recently from Bengal – who have made their homes in this country, including the nearly 10,000 mainly Jewish children who arrived at Liverpool Street station in the late 1930s having been secretly evacuated from Nazi occupied Europe before the outbreak of WW2.

The Arts Society was delighted with the number who joined the tour and  Moleside Probus members are welcome to get the details of future virtual visits by contacting Ionis Thompson  (Acting Chair of Arts Society Cobham and Oxshott).

Friday 13 November 2020
In The Bard’s Footsteps.

Through the good offices of Andrea Gabb and the  East Surrey Area of the Arts Society Moleside was today able to extend our experience of Virtual Tours into the world of Shakespeare. But not the Shakespeare of Stratford. This was an armchair walk in which our guide Lance Pierson explained Shakespeare spent much of his real working life in London. From his early days in Shoreditch, through his time in the competitive world of the South Bank to his later years in Blackfriars where we learnt that Henry V111’s Dissolution of the Monasteries made it possible for Shakespeare  to work with a theatre company within the boundaries of the City, Lance shared the fruits of his research and his enthusiasm for the texts of the great man.

And he concluded by taking us to one of the surprisingly few monuments in London celebrating  Shakespeare but one which also acknowledges the debt we all owe to his two friends and colleagues John Heminge and Henry Condell, who collected his manuscripts after Shakespeare’s death and without whom we would almost certainly never have heard of our greatest playwrite.  If only our lessons at school had been as engaging and exciting as this informative Walk.

Monday 12 October 2020
Moleside’s First VIRTUAL VISIT. 
Inspired by the success of the club’s Monthly Meetings and our visiting speakers that we have enjoyed since July by Zoom John Brice arranged and delivered our first ‘Outing’ since we had to lock down the club in February. 
The visit to The National Museum of Computing depended – appropriately enough – on computing.  And It turned out to be a bit of an experience for The Museum as well. Our 21 members were the largest group it had welcomed via its recently installed Virtual Tour system and the visit had to begin on one system and conclude on another – after a system crash. But that’s the price you pay for being pioneers and expertly co-ordinated emergency action – thank you John – allowed us to experience a real first for us all. Those members who had not been put off by the gremlins in the machine enjoyed a thoroughly engaging and expertly curated long distance outing from our desks at home. It will be a challenge to match the sense of achievement several of us expressed at the end as we thanked our host at The Museum Peter Hoath. Rest assured that Moleside will be looking for further ground breaking and inspiring activities as we face the long months of Covid 19 restrictions that we appear to be expecting.


February 2020 – Postal secrets & a literary giant – Our last real outing before Lockdown
Speeding like the Post Office bags used to do under the streets of the capital was obviously a thrill for Moleside members.  Our visit may have raised the average age of those riding London’s Mail Rail but thanks to the patient organisation of Malcolm Bond we slipped almost seamlessly into the half term crowds enjoying one of London’s most popular experiences.

And from a century old engineering project on which our postal service used to depend we moved on to visit the London home of the Victorian novelist regarded by many as the greatest observer and recorder of the city’s social scene in the 19th century.  Charles Dickens and his family may only have lived for a few years in his Doughty Street terrace but the surroundings they shared here offered us an inspiring impression of the lifestyle in which he created some of his masterpieces.

Thanks to Malcolm and Mary for another great day out.

November 2019Remembrance, Royalty & Restoration 

  A thoroughly absorbing welcome  at The Poppy Factory in Richmond gave us an introduction to the North American inspiration that led to the adoption of the poppy as the emblem that reminds us of the sacrifice made by so many to secure our freedoms.  This was followed by a chance to try our hands at making the simple symbols of remembrance we are all proud to display each year and appreciate the work done here to support injured service men and women of today as they find their place back in civilian life.

We lunched at The Crown across the river in Twickenham and all agreed that its food and hospitality was ideal for a very special day out in part of London that may be close to us but which is still full of wonderful surprises.

But perhaps the biggest of the day’s revelations was our afternoon visit to Orleans House on the banks of an obviously rapidly rising Thames. Now established as an art gallery and study centre we learnt of the colourful history of an impressive Georgian home that welcomed Hanoverian royalty, became a bolt hole for French aristocracy escaping the turmoil of the Napoleonic revolution and was saved from demolition  by Nellie Ionides, a daughter of the founder of the original Shell Oil company.