Group Lockdown - 2 News



During the pandemic a monthly newsletter has been emailed to the group members of Architecture 2, keeping us informed, entertained and producing comment and response. It has covered topics of general architectural interest, concentrating particularly on local subjects that can readily be seen when walking around the city.

Tony Sexton




Every month, on meeting dates, we have circulated emails to each other with images and our responses and discussions attached. Throughout the lock-downs we have continued our practice of choosing a topic to be illustrated by our choices of works of art. Our choice of themes may have been influenced by the circumstances of lock-down, being: Dreams, The Picturesque, Portraits, Home and Holidays.

Some of us have attended, via Zoom, fortnightly talks given at Southampton Art Gallery , and at the height of the Summer’s heat-wave a few of us met to take socially distanced tea in a member’s garden.

Keith Hatter




Although Art Explorers will undoubtedly return to something on the lines of its former activities once able to do so, in the meantime we have been intrigued, entranced and informed by what has come to be a monthly 'blog' by our members.

We started off walking the alleyways of Winchester, and then viewing its Statues, and Keats Walk took us to St. Cross, which inspired a paper on the Picturesque and William Gilpin. We learnt about Mary Beale, that feisty 18th century lady also referenced at that time by the National Gallery, and a rummage in a drawer brought to light a photograph of a family Bedlington dog, which inspired a paper on Craigie Aitchison and his Bedlingtons, about which he seems besotted!

Our next event will be a zoom meeting on December 18th for coffee and a chatty catch-up.

Image from

Laurence Jones




When the first Lockdown started back in March we set up a WhatsApp Group so we could keep in touch. Over the months we have seen each other a few times when the restrictions allowed.

A few of us met at Titchfield Haven. The weather was fine, and we enjoyed chatting as we walked between the hides and the birds showed us that whatever was going on in the human world made no difference to them. While our knowledge is limited (speaking for myself!) we were lucky in that two of the volunteer wardens were also out and about so were able to identify some of the species we didn’t know.

Two of us also met one day to walk out to Hurst Castle to see if we could spot any migrating birds. We weren’t successful in that, but again the walk in the sunshine with good company did us good.

The WhatsApp Group has been busy in fits and starts as we share photographs and Hurst Castle information about the species visiting our bird tables. We’ve also shared recordings of the birds in our gardens because one of our members is a genius at identifying them.

So even though it has been impossible for a group like ours to operate as it used to last year, we have managed to keep in touch, keep our interest alive and with any luck when our lives become something like they used to be, we will be able to pick up where we left off. How I hope we can!

Jane Penn-Barwell




These last six months have been anxious for us all, although one small advantage for our group was of course, that we've had even more time to spend on our wonderfully absorbing classic novels. These have included Jane Austen's "Persuasion”, Muriel Sparks' " The Girls of Slender Means', George Orwell's "1984" and Somerset Maugham's "The Moon and Sixpence'. All entirely different novels in theme and atmosphere, and all great reads.

We are currently reading one that will take us to the end of this year---that amazing epic tale of The American Civil War by Margaret Mitchell, "Gone with the Wind'. It's a book that gently whirls you about in a thrilling dramatic, romantic adventure which, although lengthy, is surprisingly easy on the powers of concentration. It's the simplicity of the language that you wouldn’t expect perhaps, but which makes it so difficult to put down, and such a pleasure to pick up again. It's pure 'escapism' at its best...but then what good novel isn't? Yes, you might find those MGM images of a grinning Clark Gable and a stunning Vivienne Leigh looking over your shoulder, but who cares?

Who amongst us hasn't seen that film? This is a 'must' for any serious reader who can appreciate these two multi-faceted characters, endlessly intriguing and annoying us, (often simultaneously) amidst events that shock, right up to those famous last words of Rhett Butler... and we all remember those, don’t we?

Next year we'll be starting off with another longish read but nevertheless, one of the greatest literary creations of English Literature, Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities' which should last us through Christmas, (will we be able to have one, we must ask?) and probably to February 2021. From there we haven't decided, so please join us and let's have your choice for novels written between 1845-1945.

Please don't think that the “classic novel” is 'difficult' to read.... quite the opposite in fact. They are 'classics' for a reason! They have 'endured' the reading fashions of the years and are still the 'best' of English authors' works. Perhaps you were 'put off' by the pressure to get through school exams in Literature in the 'Classic novel'? Now is the time to take it up again, with more mature eyes, and you will no doubt find re-reading them, a totally new and enlightening experience. Today's 'modern' novels will not be read by your grandchildren or great grandchildren because they'll be 'out of ‘PC fashion' and therefore not be re-printed.

Classic novels will always be a part of our enduring English reading culture, because they represent us, our world, and our culture's heroes and heroines!

We have space for a couple more people, so please don't hesitate to join us. We meet roughly on the last Wednesday of the month, but depending on the length of the novel, this is not 'set in concrete' of course.! Hope to meet you over ZOOM until we are able to meet as usual. If you are new to Zoom, I'll be happy to 'tutor' you through the very simple process!

Chrissie Landale contact details




The German Conversation Group has continued to hold meetings throughout the Covid pandemic, via Zoom, but weekly instead of twice monthly. Each member takes it in turn to suggest a topic as the focus for a meeting, to further research the topic if motivated, or to write a short piece, all of which is then shared and discussed with fellow members. Many of the topics encouraged us to refresh and recall memories of past holidays, personal experiences and former professional lives. This formula ensured we had a focus to our discussion and that we all had the opportunity to contribute. It has undoubtedly improved our conversation skills.

Equally important to the group was the fact that the frequency of our meetings has helped to reduce the social isolation, give support and friendship at a time when more normal channels of social contact and support were severely restricted. It has proved to be very successful.

Christine Wort





We are now meeting once a week on Zoom and handling it quite well. We have had about seven meetings altogether. I think we will be expanding to a second session with a view to having more conversation time. This could lead to goodness knows what? There are so many possibilities with Zoom, although it certainly is not as good as meeting in the flesh. .

Barbara Anderson




I can’t do Zoom, so I am keeping up with my groups doing funny items with them. We have a friend who is sending me stuff, often funny. So, I am sending that stuff to my groups.

Ann McBain





Modern Novels Group 1 has thrived for nearly 30 years. Our formula seems to work and we’re in no hurry to change it.

So, when Covid descended we looked for a way of continuing our meetings that wouldn’t be too disruptive. We settled on using email, which was the only technology with which all our members were familiar.

In May we ‘met’ via email to ‘discuss’ our novel of the month. Some members circulated their initial thoughts and others responded. But while this arrangement allowed us to stay active as a group, it proved unsatisfactory. The interactions were too slow and ponderous, and all that typing was a chore. So, like many other U3A groups, we switched to Zoom. Despite some initial hesitancy, all our members managed the transition without undue difficulty.

Zoom has been very much better than email, but still nowhere near as good as our old physical meetings. Clashes seem to be inevitable, with too many people trying to talk at once, and protocols around use of the mute button don’t really seem to work. Also, our meetings are considerably shorter than they used to be – we discuss the novel, have a brief chat, and it’s over. But the biggest drawback is the absence of cake. Our group has only two rules, one of which is that the meeting host provides tea and cake, often home-made and always delicious. But Zoom is sadly lacking any ability to support that worthy tradition.

So, for our December Zoom meeting we’re all going to come equipped with mulled wine and mince pies. We’ll raise our glasses and wish each other a happy Christmas. While not as good as being in the same room and handing round the cake, it’s the best we can do.

But, you ask, what about the novels? Well, as always, we’ve had a mixed bag.

Some we’ve liked, others not so much. Though often it’s the novels we don’t like that trigger the best discussion, so there’s always an upside.

One novel we’ve recently enjoyed is Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls. It’s a charming story about a troubled young man who is led by his love for the leading lady to take a part in an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet. As the blurb on the cover says, one life-changing summer. If you’re looking for a novel that’s an easy read, engrossing, entertaining and funny, you could do far worse.

Vic Stenning





This group has been going for around twenty years and has seen several changes due to members moving away, illness or sadly dying. At one time we were twelve which meant meeting in houses large enough for this number. Now we are seven and open to two new members as nine is the maximum that can be managed.

Throughout this lockdown and the last we have continued reading a book a month, managing just one meeting in a garden when we were the legal six. On all other occasions we have met via by Zoom organised by a member who has a licence so we can have longer than forty minutes and this has proved to be successful.

Books read are :- Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers; Middle England by Jona-than Coe; Tell No-One by Harlan Coben; The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christine Lefteri; The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson; Cannery Row by John Steinbeck; All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and Girl, Wom-an Other by Bernadine Evaristo.

We meet on the first Thursday of the month at 2pm and if restrictions allow we will welcome two new members. Enquires to Norma Goodwin contact details






This group is still ‘Zooming’ monthly. We meet on the 3rd Thursday of each month and we would love to have more members!

Grace Gray





On 8th July our group (well the six of our group who could make it that day) met in person! We hadn’t read a set book but it didn’t matter – we were actually seeing each other and had a good natter.



It was a delight to realize that this bench in the Hyde Abbey Gardens was a perfect venue in clement weather. The lovely curved bench sat three people 2 metres apart and we were close enough to the carpark for the other three to fetch chairs from their cars. We only needed umbrellas for a short time and each brought our own flasks of coffee.

I would thoroughly recommend others follow our example but sadly, less than a week after a repeat meeting in August, the bench was vandalised. The Friends of Hyde Abbey Gardens posted this on their Facebook page:



THIS is what remains of one the benches in Hyde Abbey Garden – and it will cost thousands to replace. Vandals destroyed the wooden structure between 2pm and 3pm yesterday afternoon (August 18). It had been there since the garden, which is a memorial for the Great Church of Hyde Abbey, first opened.

Rose Burns, a trustee of Friends of Hyde Abbey Garden, said the group is distraught.

"We have already obtained a quotation for a bench and it will apparently cost between £3,500 and £3,800," she said, "I’m told that actually the quotation was for repair of both benches, so the rebuilding of just one will cost a lot more. This was part of the original design by Kim Wilkie for the memorial garden for the Great Church of Hyde Abbey, last known resting place of Alfred the Great, his Queen Aelswitha and son Edward the Elder. It was Winchester’s Golden Jubilee project, and was opened on 2 June 2003 to mark the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.”

A fundraising page has been set up




MOTO haven’t been able to meet at all since March. However following the MOTO mention in the September newsletter we have gained five new members and prior to Lockdown 2 I planned a New Members Coffee morning at the Royal Winchester Hotel in St Peter Street – which I had checked out would be suitably distanced for maximum 6 people! Initially I had 4 positive replies but by the morning of the chosen date all but one had cried off for different reasons. However it was a very enjoyable morning which I had thought of trying to make a regular monthly occasion – then Lockdown 2 started! I will see what happens in the New Year.

Sheila Ayling





Latin is a language

As dead as dead could be;

First it killed the Romans

Now it’s killing me.

Schoolchildren have for years enjoyed chanting these words. (Mind you, there are still many schools, including at least one of Winchester’s state schools, where Latin is popular and flour-ishing on the curriculum.)

Be that as it may, try out the schoolchild’s jingle on either of my two Latin groups and you’ll get short shrift. The members are very much alive and kicking and for them, and for me, the language is alive too.

One group has been with me for nearly a decade and is now working at a level that I would equate with A level. It is some years since we left behind the course book, with its arcane rules: ablative absolute, indirect statements, deponent verbs, the gerund and gerundive … so on ad infinitum. Now we are reading and translating Cicero’s brilliant speeches and letters, Livy’s description of Hannibal crossing the Alps to invade Rome, Caesar’s own account of his successes – and one or two failures – in Gaul; the frantic love poetry of Catullus, the gentle but perceptive lyric verse of Ovid and, of course, the grandeur of Virgil’s mighty epic, The Aeneid. How could anyone call this ‘dead language’?

The second group is at the other end of the learning curve. They are having to come to terms with the six ‘cases’ of nouns, including the vocative, used for the person or thing addressed. (Was it Churchill who asked ‘Why would anyone want to address a table?’) And then there are the four ‘conjugations’ of verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, et cetera. This initial stage is a struggle, but the rewards are going to make it worth the effort. And fortunately our course book keeps us reminded/informed about the political and social events of the time as well as Rome’s myths and legends.

Like many U3A groups I know, we’re having to use Zoom to communicate. Far from ideal, but, as we keep telling ourselves, better than nothing. As I write this, news is arriving of a possible break through with vaccine production........ Nil desperandum!

Alun Parry-Jones





2020 has certainly been a year we will remember. We have tried to keep our meetings going from month to month. Initially, as the weather was generally good, we shifted our meetings to the park. The Leisure Centre car park was convenient and some of us lived close enough to walk there. We all brought a folding chair and formed a socially distanced circle under a shady tree.

This worked splendidly most of the time.

August was the exception. We had asked Alison Henry if she would come to talk to us about Winchester College and she had kindly accepted. The only trouble was that it was tanking it down with rain that day which presented a problem. The only venue we could think of was under the arch at Hyde Gate which was water tight, draughty, quite spacious and home to many pigeons! Alison very stoically walked there and the rest turned up dripping with our folding chairs. We were very grateful to Alison for a superb lecture delivered in rather adverse and smelly conditions.

As the weather deteriorated, we really needed shelter for our meetings and found the Cathedral Refectory offered what we needed, lots of space, a high ceiling and an open door to let fresh air in. That was fine until this lock down when cafes were closed. Now we are attempting to have meetings on Zoom, or Houseparty which is alright but not so successful. We also tend to each research our chosen topic for the month and email our findings around the group. Then this can be ideally followed up by a Zoom meeting for discussion.

In conclusion the summer meetings were not a problem and we have managed pretty well up to this lock down. I hope we can manage to continue for the rest of the winter and will look forward to our vaccinations and the Spring.

Jo Morgan





In line with the restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19, we no longer hold our monthly group meetings in members’ houses. Like everyone else, we entered lock down expecting not to be able to continue our Local History group. However, the magic of video conferencing came to our aid and we now have Zoom Sessions every month. One member of the group arranges the Zoom link, another member arranges the programme and a third has acted as a guru to solve any technical problems initially experienced by members of the group. In this way we have retained virtually all members of the group with a near complete attendance each month. Three sequential 40-minute zoom sessions (we don’t have the Pro version!) are booked each month and we even have the obligatory break to make a cuppa and optional biscuit and plenty of time to catch up with each other’s news.

We have maintained a very interesting programme discussing such subjects as

“Why was Samuel Sebastian Wesley so awkward? “

“St John’s Street Residents”

“Southwick House”

“Isaac Watts: Dissenter”

“Seventh Earl of Shaftsbury”

“Southampton: From Spa Town to Major Port”.

Illustrations have been shown using the “Share Screen” facility. Question and answer sessions have supplemented the talks and they have revealed many interesting points about the history of Winchester. We are so looking forward to meeting each other again in person as restrictions are eased in the future and to renewing a programme of visits to sites of interest in and around Winchester.

Roy Weller, Pam Jones and John Craig





Coffee has always been an important part of Quester 1 outings, and despite having to give our planned visits a miss this year, we have made many opportunities for socialising over a cup of coffee!

Post Lockdown 1, when the weather was still being incredible and we were allowed to meet outside, we launched fortnightly ‘Bring-your-own’ coffee picnics on the grass behind Littleton Hall. We found an excellent spot under the trees, with strategically placed picnic tables to remind us to maintain proper social distancing and people came armed with their own flasks, snacks and seats.

When the rules changed to only allow six people to meet together outside, we were not to be thwarted and revised our plan! Our regular ‘bring-and-don’t-share’ coffee picnics became ‘coffee-relays’ with allocated time slots to ensure we did not exceed that magical six. We continued to brave the elements until October, and although we were incredibly lucky with the weather, we decided a shift indoors would be welcome.

After some excellent primary research, we moved locations to a large café with a covered outside area where three volunteer ‘table hosts’ each booked a table for a group of six questers to sit in comfort and chat over coffee. This looked a really promising winter plan, and there was even talk of maybe having Christmas lunch together in small groups….. however, Boris had other plans for us. With the arrival of Lockdown 2, we have again needed to evolve the plan, and have reverted to ‘coffee-at-home’ Zoom sessions. However, Quester 1 are a tenacious group when it comes to coffee, so this will almost certainly not be the end of the story - there is even talk of branching out to include wine at some stage...

Terry Linehan





I have been giving regular emails to the group usually every ten days with quotes, jokes, photos etc.

Ferne Baxter





When British Railways ran the last passenger hauled steam train in 1968, nobody could have dreamed that so many steam engines destined for scrap metal could be restored and would be operating again [some still on the main lines] over 50 years later! So there is no way our Railway Group will cease to function just because the nation as a whole is once again in lockdown.

We have found that Zoom meetings are an excellent way for us all to keep in touch and our members are able to share together a wide range of railway matters [not just confined to steam]. Thus at our latest meeting we enjoyed seeing members’ models of engines and old railway station signs which generated much interest and discussion. Furthermore we frequently share all sorts of videos and video clips and participate in interesting railway topics by circulating emails.

We have prepared a “Bumper Programme” for 2021 and although we are aware this may well have to become our 2022 programme our enthusiasm and determination remain undimmed!

Dale Greenwood





At the start of the first lockdown seven of us set up a weekly zoom session to keep in touch; obviously not to play (if you’ve ever tried to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ as a group on Zoom you’ll know why – it just doesn’t work!).

Early summer, when things eased a little, six of us met in my garden. We found it quite challenging: not just the expected problems of playing outside (too sunny/too cold/rain/too windy) which we prepared for with sun hats, umbrella, and pegs to stop our music blowing away, but the social distancing which affected our playing as it meant much greater concentration to be able to hear the others in the ensemble. Added to that our chairs tended to sink into the muddy grass – a problem solved by moving onto the drive. We struggled on and had a great time.

Later, when we were allowed to meet indoors and our usual venue was closed, we found Hyde Parish Hall which is a large, designated Covid-secure, hall where we could be 2 metres apart or more. For a short time we were able to get both recorder groups playing each week without most of the problems we had playing outside although still having to learn to play together when physically further apart than pre-pandemic. Obviously several players didn't want to take the risk in the current climate, but I am looking forward to welcoming back as many of our players as feel able when things are safer again.

Penny Terrell





The Science Discussion group has held eight successful meetings via Zoom since April. The disadvantage is that we miss the social chat over tea and biscuits at the end of a meeting. The big advantage, however, is that we can show slides whenever we want, via ‘screen share’ and do not have to carry a laptop and projector to the meeting pace. Overall, Zoom works very well.

Roger Warr






The Science and Technology group have been meeting monthly as usual (but on Zoom) for the last six months or so with a variety of topics from “Dealing with Power Cuts” to “Extinction”.

Some of the group have been put off by the Zoom technology but it has generally worked well, and is ideal for showing pictures and slides to others. It does not cost participants anything to join a meeting, and apart from missing the tea and biscuits, it is a good way to meet.

If any more U3A members are interested in joining our on-line group (Second Wednesday at 2.30 pm), please contact the group leader: Keith Taylor contact details

Keith Taylor





Social French has continued to meet on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month, using Zoom. We continue to discuss matters of current interest and we read and translate articles which we distribute in advance. We are unable to take any more members at present.

Angela Brayshaw




Spanish Conversation is up and running on Zoom. Sadly one member has not been able to use the technology so we look forward to welcoming her again when we resume our get-togethers in houses with real tea!

John Pringle




The Textile group used to meet monthly at the village hall in Littleton but since lockdown have been keeping in touch intermittently with emails until August when we decided to cancel our booking for the hall. Since then we communicate once a month on the day when we would have been meeting. We post photos of any projects which we have been working on and sometimes send links to anything which may interest the group So far the group has been making various patchwork items, making things for an expected grandchild, making cards and decorative baubles. And one of our members is working on embroidery which will eventually hang with others in the Winchester Hospice. Obviously we hope to be able to meet again in the future but it looks as if that might some way off.

We applied for a refund on the rent of the room in the hall, which we had paid for in advance, and got it. After some discussion we agreed that we should donate the money, together with the small amount in our petty cash, to the Hospice fund. Our treasurer Marion Todd has sent a cheque for £185.00 on behalf of the Textile group to the hospice Fund.

Toni Weekley