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Tanks for the memory

I was taken on a grand tour of Rushmoor the other day. And although I have lived and worked in the area for around 34 years, I discovered - or rediscovered - what a lot there is going on.

I was taken on a grand tour of Rushmoor the other day. And although I have lived and worked in the area for around 34 years, I discovered - or rediscovered - what a lot there is going on.

For example, how many of us drive regularly past Aldershot Military Museum in Queen's Parade without even thinking about looking inside? Me, for one.

Yet when curator Ian Maine showed me round the new exhibits, I realised what a fascinating place it is to visit, with its new "hands on" approach and interactive exhibits, with drill sergeants shouting and tanks to "drive."

Ian is quite a celebrity exhibit himself, with regular TV appearances, most recently demonstrating ancient artillery on a programme called "Invaders."

A Cody corner has also been opened, featuring a propeller, pictures and relics of the great aeronautical pioneer - the first man in Europe to fly.

Parking is free, opening times are 10 am to 5 pm and for more information call (01252) 314598.

Plans for big improvements to the Princes Hall are also being mooted, with new manager David Phillips hoping to install an extra fire door to boost standing attendance to 990. This would mean bigger names coming to perform.

Not far away, at the top of Aldershot High Street, is the much criticised visitor centre which, now we've got it, we may as well make the most of.

If you want to find out how your area looked through the ages, the centre has a series of computerised illustrations which are fascinating as they show the centuries roll away at the touch of your hand on the exhibit.

Anyone can call in to use the terminals, log onto the web or send e-mails, all at fair prices.

Staff have masses of information on everything happening hereabouts, but spend much of their time trying to find accommodation for visitors to the area.

My most impressive port of call was the new military sports hall, known as Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre. It's a huge new building tucked away in Princes Avenue, North Camp (tel. 01252 347724).

Complete with Olympic size swimming pool, weight training room and squash and badminton courts in all directions, it must be one of Britain's best sports centres.

The sad thing was that when I visited no more than 30 people were enjoying the cavernous facilities - 20 of them soldiers doing an exercise in the pool. All the squash and badminton courts were unused.

It obviously needs to be made available to the public much more regularly than the present restricted opening times, something which could be achieved if Army units booked in advance rather than requiring the facility to be kept empty just in case they want to turn up!

My tour ended at Aldershot's own "Alpine ski centre," Alpine Snowsports in Gallwey Road (tel 01252 325889.)

Here the chair-lift clanks up the slopes just like in New England - but it's a lot closer! True, there may not be actual snow but there are well patronised ski and snowboard courses, ski-taster sessions for local firms and a new ski and snowboard shop. Owned by the Army but run independently,

Alpine Snowsports is another of those hidden gems which not every reader, especially newer ones, may know about.

Now you do- so what's the excuse for not working off a little holiday overindulgence?


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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