At our monthly U3A meetings at Dow House we have had a varied selection of local speakers who have given us a good insight into our community and its activities.
How many of us knew about the Padre to the Seaman’s Mission in Seaham who offers support to merchant mariners from overseas, the George Elmy Heritage Project and the work done by the Seaham Branch of Save the Children?
We have had illuminating talks by a Street Pastor about the nightly routine and by City of Sunderland Magistrates about the history of magistrates to the present day; a talk about the history of Penshaw Monument; and another about Durham Oriental Museum and its extremely valuable exhibits. Strangely, not long afterwards the Museum was robbed of a large jade bowl and a porcelain sculpture with a combined value of more than £2 million from the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty in China. Thankfully they were soon retrieved by the police and no-one from Seaham Harbour U3A was arrested. The huge hole in the wall was quickly repaired and this venue was visited recently by our Art Appreciation group. The returned exhibits were hidden away awaiting a more secure placement in the gallery.
Our U3A tries to support local businesses, especially in Seaham, as well as local, national and international charities, examples of which include Save the Children, George Elmy Heritage Project, St Christopher’s Hospice in South London and Grace House Children’s Hospice in Southwick. Our members are making bright and cheerful pillowcases for the children staying at Grace House, an idea inspired by ConKerr Cancer and adopted by our U3A.
Enjoyable excursions into the Wining/Dining/Snacks experience in and around Seaham have included:
- Seaton Lane Inn
- Seaham and Houghton le Spring Golf Clubs
- Ashoka Indian Restaurant
- Scene 1, East Durham College, a restaurant for students learning the catering trade
- Pan Din Thai (now closed, much to our chagrin as it was excellent!)
- The Three Horseshoes, Leamside
- The Stables, West Herrington
- Sagar Indian Restaurant
- The Crow’s Nest
- The Black Truffle
- Lickety Split
- Leaf, Bark and Berries
- The Featherbed Rock Cafe (well known for its murderous history and as the venue for our Local History Group)
Our Lunch Club is branching out to include evening dining too.
- Lumley Castle (Ann Cleeves)
- Blackwell Grange Hotel in Darlington (Mike Pannett)
Seaham Hall Spa
A memorable visit to Seaham Hall Spa saw some of our members indulging in champagne and nibbles and experiencing beauty treatments such as head massages and hair colouring: A highly enjoyable visit making us wish we were permanent members of the Spa.
Clarins Spa at John Lewis
A large group of us were invited to Clarins new spa at John Lewis for tea and sandwiches and free treatments. We were given discounts if we booked treatments at a later date and also from the merchandise bought on the night. As it was near Christmas we took full advantage.
Local Theatres and Cinemas
Our visits to the theatre are usually limited to the Theatre Royal Newcastle and Sunderland Empire Theatre, but we did venture as far as Richmond last Christmas to see the pantomime, Sinbad, at their Georgian theatre. What a truly remarkable experience it was, thoroughly enjoyed by all! Who could ever have imagined that it would turn out to be so cathartic to throw knitted bananas at the stage and each other? I’m sure the cast thought we would be old fuddy-duddies but were very pleasantly surprised and pleased at our exuberant participation. A poor chap at the front by the name of Andrew, took the full brunt of the Dame’s romantic attentions, which was hilarious for everyone else! The theatre itself was tiny but totally fascinating! It conjured up thoughts (not memories) of smelly plebs hanging over the balconies jeering and throwing rotten tomatoes.
Dalton-le-Dale Parish Hall now and again hosts entertainment by small travelling groups and we support those shows whenever possible, as well as barbecues and other events.
The two main cinemas we visit are Sunderland Empire Cinema and the Tyneside Cinema. We look forward to being able to go to a new cinema nearer home, at Dalton Park, in the near future.
Seaham School of Technology is a great source of help and support on a weekly basis, enabling some of us to work together on different projects – many thanks to David Wilson and Bill Firth! Unfortunately these classes are on hold for a while but we hope they will resume in the future.
Thanks are also due to Ryhope Library from where we borrow books for our Book Club and to North Star Travel in Seaham, a family-run business we contact for some of our outings.
Our monthly meetings are held in Dow House on Seaham sea front, used by Seaham Scouts, from whom we rent the premises. The room is light and airy and we have all we need in the way of access to the kitchen and upstairs where we sometimes display members’ art and crafts.
We intend of course to continue supporting our local community businesses and organisations and look forward to developing bigger and better links in line with Seaham’s growing economic profile.
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