APPLE MAC USERS GROUP
This group continues to meet online once a month, and we’ve been fortunate in attracting some new members with the pleasures (and sometimes frustrations) of these devices. We all need advice and help from time to time and sharing is really helpful.
Our most recent meeting focused on how to extend WiFi coverage throughout our homes which was both interesting and useful.
As our world becomes more and more oriented to technology, we’re happy to hear from prospective members even if they have just an iPad or iPhone, so if you’re interested to join our friendly group, please get in touch.
Nick Vernon contact details
ARCHITECTURE 2 GROUP
Still continuing to maintain our monthly contact, we considered the way in which many now universally acclaimed buildings initially attracted adverse comment when first built and that the shock of the new often takes a long time to be accepted let alone applauded.
Under the title ' Awful Architecture? ' we read the criticisms by many eminent commentators of the day, including John Ruskin who greatly disliked Palladio's S. Giorgio Maggiore and Alexander Pope who notably satirised Chiswick House in verse. On another occasion we looked at how the Rabbit Warren became an important element of many country estates from medieval times onwards, providing both food and fur for the local community. It only died out during the nineteenth century and its previous existence is often recalled in place names such Warren Farm or Coney Lane. We have also viewed videos such as those from the Modernist Society on 1930's commercial buildings in Manchester. There is a great deal of worthwhile information that can be seen online, readily available from many architectural history societies.Tony Sexton
ARCHITECTURE 3 GROUP
We have continued our meetings throughout the winter. In October we were able to meet in the Paul Woodhouse Suite at the Cathedral Refectory, and this worked well. However, that was not to be an ongoing solution and in December three of us met on House Party and discussed the Winchester architect Huw Thomas and his work. Others did research into the subject and their findings were emailed around the group. In December Carole Peck managed to come to grips with how to set up Zoom with help from her grandson. Meetings are now working well members contributing to set topics. In January we each picked a different domed building to study. We all chose different buildings and our findings were emailed around the members prior to the zoom meeting and then discussed. This month we are studying modern domes. We are keeping our interest going and enjoying virtual monthly meetings.
ART APPRECIATION GROUP
On meeting dates (every fourth Thursday), 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.
For our November meeting, anticipating the festive season, our thoughts turned to food, but with restraint and we considered the theme “Our Daily Bread”. The works chosen ranged from illustrations of abject poverty to modest plenty, being, “Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Auguste Renoir, “Breakfast” by Floris Van Dyck, “The Cornfield” by John Nash, “Potatoes in a Yellow Bowl” by Vincent Van Gogh, “The Rice Field in Spring” by Hokusai, “Old Woman Frying Eggs” by Diego Velazquez, “Breakfast Time” by Hanna Pauli, “Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio, “The Wedding Feast” by Peter Brueghel, “Gate of Calais or The Roast Beef of Old England” by William Hogarth and “The Gleaners” by Jean Francoise Millett.
In January we made selections from Christmas cards received, which gave us, “Evening Star” by Gillian Ayers, “An Angel appearing to Hagar and Ishmael” by Guercino, “Winter landscape with ice skaters and bird trap” by Pieter Breugel, “Santa Claus” by Arthur Rackham, “Angeli Laudantes by Edward Burne Jones, photograph of a sculpture of angel Gabriel in the Abbey of Vezzolano in the province of Asti, “Adoration of the Three Kings” by Hendrick Dubois and “The Adoration of the Kings” by Jan Gossaert.
Some members have also attended talks held by Zoom on Eileen Agar, Bridget Riley and impressionism given at Southampton City Art Gallery, as well as a conversation with David Ward, one of the exhibitors in the current exhibition “Shadows and Light”.
We have, therefore, enjoyed a wide range of art works from the Renaissance to the present.
ART EXPLORERS GROUP
Art Explorers has held together over the last three months thanks to a pre-Christmas coffee morning via Zoom, and a continuation of the interesting blogs provided on a monthly basis by one of our members. ‘Tea and Cream Cake’ highlighted the many and varied tea rooms that there were in Winchester before the days of coffee shops. You could choose from the grander Awdry tea rooms in what is now WH Smith’s upper floor, Cadena in the Pentice, down to more humble establishments, but by 1966 there was evidence of change with the arrival of the first coffee shops.
Change was also the theme in the ‘Art Critics’. It is no doubt surprising now that that Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel was thought very disgraceful by the Pope’s representative – ‘more suitable for a bath house or a tavern’. Introduction of new styles of painting and art invariably seem to have attracted criticism, both in the past and in more modern times. Think of Damien Hirst’s Calf or Tracey Emin’s My Bed. Change is not always welcome at first. However, we look forward to a different and more welcome sort of change when we will be able to meet up again.
FILM CRITICISM GROUP
Our group, of 10 members, have varied the way in which we keep in touch while observing Government’s Guidelines discussing films we have watched using e-mail or ‘Zoom. Last summer we were able to sit, socially distanced, in my garden when the ‘rule of six’ was in place, and some members met at the Cathedral Refectory in their marquee. Just before Christmas several of us sat in the garden over a cup of coffee at Cobbs in Headbourne Worthy.
During the present ‘lockdown’, we keep in touch by e-mail and use ‘Zoom’ for our monthly meetings. As many films are now being streamed, there has been no shortage of films to critique.
FRENCH - UNIVERSITY LEVEL GROUP
This group is continuing to meet via Zoom, usually once a fortnight and with between five and nine of us joining in. To enable this, I believe that we have all learnt some new tech skills. So hats off to all agile minds of the Third Age!
For old times sake, we have recently read a great favourite – Le Petit Prince – and are now into another lockdown-friendly, i.e. cheerful, novel concerning a lady who keeps a bookshop in Uzes, entitled La Libraire a la Place des Herbes.
GERMAN CONVERSATION GROUP
The German Conversation Group has continued its pattern of weekly meetings on Zoom, and we have been very pleased to welcome a new member. We continue to find interesting topics to discuss. Recently we shared favourite places to visit in Hampshire, interesting experiences at work and recommendations for books, films and television programmes to ease life in lockdown. We also had a session to nominate things for potential oblivion in Room 101, at which football unsurprisingly perhaps turned out to the most controversial. Meeting weekly has really helped us socially by having a fixed point when we can meet and enjoy sharing our thoughts and ideas, and we agreed recently, too, that we think our German has improved.
LOCAL HISTORY 4 GROUP
This group has also managed to progress through the winter. At first it was difficult as no one could set up Zoom. We got around that by drawing up a schedule of topics for the year, some group topics and some presented by individuals. Information was sent around by email.
Happily, the mysteries of Zoom were eventually conquered and the February meeting was held through that medium. It is so nice to actually see people. We hope to continue to work through our chosen topics month by month until we can meet together again, maybe as last summer, under a tree in the park.
MODERN NOVELS 1 GROUP
This group continues to meet on the first Monday of each month on Zoom. During January we all enjoyed reading The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, a novel that draws upon the harrowing tales she heard while working at a refugee centre in Athens. It tells the story of Nuri and his wife Afra who are both traumatised by the Syrian civil war when their young son Sami is killed by a bomb. In imminent danger of themselves being killed, they reluctantly decide to leave their home in Aleppo, and make their way to England. The novel interweaves the story of their tortuous journey with the story of what they experience when they finally arrive here. Beautifully written, unflinching and poetic, and full of dignity, hope and love, the novel is highly recommended.
MODERN NOVELS 3 GROUP
I think we all feel less guilty these days when we indulge in the satisfying pleasures of a good read, as we are repeatedly told to stay home. The group felt it was important to keep our discussions going and give individuals an opportunity to discuss their reading choices, but we weren’t sure how to achieve this. Initially, we attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to discuss the monthly book via e-mail. I then collated the discussion and sent it to each member of the group. A decision to use Zoom required A little encouragement in order to get the less techie among us on board but now our meetings (two back-to-back) take place without any hitches.
We all manage to contribute to our discussions which often run out of our allotted time. Sometimes we do have a short time left which we use to recommend recent reads which have often passed under an individual’s radar and also to exchange news. It’s not the same as meeting face-to-face and enjoying someone else’s coffee and delicious biscuits, but it is an effective way of keeping the group active and also maintaining contact with one another.
Despite the fact that during this period we have recruited a new member, we are still a couple of members short. Please contact me if you are interested and I’ll fill you in on our recent book choices. We normally meet in each other’s houses (around Winchester and Littleton) on the 2nd Monday of each month at 10/10.30am, selecting a book in turn (our Zoom meetings start at 10.30am).
Each person presents her choice to the group; briefly summarising the plot and characters, its accuracy, personal views: strengths and weaknesses and reasons why it was chosen. This forms the basis of the often lively discussion which follows. We read an eclectic mix of books (not always novels) but have tried, during lockdown, to choose books which are available from the library in print or digital form. We also find ways to share books if any member is struggling to find a copy.
Sadly, one of the founder members of the group, Kay Rhodes, died suddenly last December. Kay had been ill for a long time but her condition deteriorated rapidly. She had managed to take part in most of our Zoom meetings and her analytical approach and warm hospitality will be missed.
MODERN NOVELS 4 GROUP
We continue to meet by Zoom at our usual time on the first Thursday of the month at 2pm. In order to have a break over Christmas we did not read a book in December. At the January meeting we chatted about books we had received as gifts or to which we had treated ourselves.
In February, having read The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (2018), we had an interesting and informative presentation by the member who had made that choice. Set in the time of the Trojan Wars it is a reimagining of Homer’s Iliad from the women’s point of view. It helps to have some knowledge of this classical poem and Greek mythology but the story can be read as a stand-alone.
Our forward programme from March, up to and including, July is - The Tenderness of Wolves by Steph Penney, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, A Murder of Quality by John le Carre and The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns.
MODERN NOVELS 5 GROUP
We are still Zooming monthly, although numbers have dwindled to three. Several will return to the group once we are able to meet and entertain in our homes.
Recent novels discussed have been:
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. We all liked this account of a real experience of courage and humour in the face of adversity.
Small Great Things by Jodie Picault A well written account of racist attitudes in USA, race supremacists , and police racism. We all enjoyed the writing and her portrayal of the characters.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which had a mixed appreciation. Some found it depressing and repetitive, while others found it fascinating and thought provoking. A satire of Trump's America, and the way he has cultivated the support of Christian extremists for his own elevation.
A Possible Man by Sebastian Faulk. A collection of unconnected stories of single lives. We all enjoyed this book and an appreciative discussion ensued.
Future books, for the next few months will be:-
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain A short, but light-hearted tale.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel May be a little too similar to our present situation, but we all get the chance to put forward a book, and this was suggested as a good read.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen. A mystery. a murder, and a first novel by a 'wild life scientist' living in USA
The Confession by Jessie Burton whose book The Miniaturist we all enjoyed. We have found it difficult to find ' happy' new books to relieve our present locked down lives, but as you see, our book list is managing to maintain a varied and interesting read.
Our members are keeping in touch with regular Zoom meetings, as initiated almost one year ago. We hold two back-to-back sessions for our main meeting on the first Monday afternoon of each month and a single session on most other Mondays to catch-up on photography topics and coffee-time chats. These group meetings are well attended and in combination with our website provide a solid basis on which we can pursue our hobby by reviewing images and exchanging ideas.
The on-off lockdown restrictions force us to think in different ways. It has given our members an opportunity and reason to reappraise their back catalogue of images as well as work towards the monthly image theme and optional Flickr challenges. You can see many of our images on the photography Group website winchesteru3apg.myportfolio.com/.
We are following a purely online programme for the first half of this year, anticipating and hoping that our programme for the second half will include meeting at outside locations, at the very least.
Of recent interest to all U3A members is an archive of photos taken by Bertram Hutchings and donated to the Caravan and Motorhome Club Collection held at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. Hutchings Caravans Ltd, later known as Winchester Caravans was a local company trading until the late 1950s.
The curator of the collection, Angela Willis is looking for help in identifying the locations shown in some of the photos, you can read about it here nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/collections/camc-collection/whats-new/ and view the photos on Flickr https://t.co/gyUcl1lpjV. Should you recognise any of the locations, please provide feedback via https://nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/enquiries/contact-us/.
POETRY 1 GROUP
No Zoom for us, but devotion to the written word, in the form of lively, detailed and conversational emails. There have been distinct and definite advantages to using email for exchange of favourite poems and the subsequent critical analysis and appreciation. Advantages include: having your say without being interrupted; making yourself heard(!); waxing lyrical without feeling guilty that someone else is waiting to speak and, of course, the chance to opt out by switching off, if you are underwhelmed by what is going on!
Initially, about a year ago, we were theme based, choosing topics which were so evidently relevant to the worsening Covid situation: Loneliness and Isolation; Solitude; Friendship etc and the solace, healing and comfort afforded by Nature. We searched for or remembered wonderful poems, which we shared online, each of us explaining our choice and inviting comments. There was such a positive response with poems and reactions flying all ways, that we had to limit our output!. As often happens, poems spark reminders, recollections and reminiscences and I think we have learned quite a bit more about each other in the process . Nostalgically, we have exchanged favourites from our archive of materials. In the Autumn, one member of the group bravely took on introducing the rest to a new poet, Sheenagh Pugh and, a real contrast this, another tackled the intricacies and wonders of the poetry of William Blake.
Yes, of course we look forward to meeting up again, but meanwhile the current pattern is proving a worthwhile and enjoyable substitute.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY GROUP
Our group continues to meet monthly on Zoom, with a fairly small (but dedicated) attendance.
This year we first looked at Tides, and the reason there are two a day and not just one, even though we have only one moon. Then we looked at the GPS system which uses clocks accurate to a billionth of a second to enable your phone to find where you are.
We meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm, so if you are interested in joining us, please contact Keith Taylor contact details. We need more members! You don’t need to be qualified in science or technology to join in.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 2 GROUP
Not all members of the group are comfortable meeting remotely, hence we have missed several members. In general, meetings where one member presents a topic of interest have worked out well. We were obliged to cancel plans for our annual visit to a place of interest.
The programme for 2021 so far is as follows:
8 Feb: Tony Pill Edison and Bell
8 Mar: David Rycroft Salt Marshes
12 April: James Adamson Flooding Part 2
Despite preferring to meet in person, Quester 1 have really got to grips with meeting via Zoom now! Our December meeting took us back in time to Dickens’ London when we joined Richard from Discovery Tours for a virtual Christmas Carol. It was a very entertaining and engaging trip, filling in the background to the book, and walking through the streets with Scrooge to discover key locations. I, for one, can’t wait to experiment with the ‘Snapdragon’ game, although this may best be trialled outdoors!
In January, in preparation for the big RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, we held an ‘Avian Adventure’. Photographers among us shared pictures they had taken of birds in their gardens, which was both inspiring and informative. We also viewed some short video clips to help us identify birdsong and we watched a highly entertaining version of The Magic Flute performed by a selection of feathered friends!
Our first February meeting focussed on coffee and cake, with an opportunity to people to share favourite recipes and simply have time to chat.
Going forward, we are scheduling further meetings on a 2-3 weekly basis. We plan to alternate between Zoom meetings which provide space to simply meet and chat, and sessions which have a topic/speaker. This way we think we can achieve both our goals – to maintain the social element of our Quester group as well as providing something different to learn or think about. And, as always, coffee remains a central ingredient of our meetings!
QUESTER 3 GROUP
Quester groups organise monthly visits to interesting places such as sculpture parks, National Trust buildings, places of business, gardens etc - we normally hold planning meetings every three months in a local public house, after which the minutes are sent out to all 40 members.
Since our last visit, which was in March 2020, Government Guidelines prevented face to face meetings so we have held ‘Zoom’ planning meetings online which has given us the chance to keep in touch with each other. After the formal part of the ‘Zoom’ meeting there is usually time for members to chat about current matters, such as the vaccination programme. At our meeting in January some members talked about the creative ways in which they had spent some time with their children on Christmas Day.
Obviously, I am keeping abreast of the news until the time comes when we are able to meet again in person, but in the meantime, ‘Zoom’ has been a very welcome tool to enable us to keep in touch.
QUESTER 6 GROUP
Obviously, visits are not possible at present. However, I have been sending out regular e-mails to the group, with attachments, either amusing or quotes, etc., as they come my way, in the hope of keeping the group together. Sadly, three of our members have died during lockdown, but not from Covid.
Like so many other groups we continue to be frustrated at being unable to meet or continue with our exciting programme of visits and outings. Meanwhile we find that zoom meetings provide a good way for us to keep in touch; exchange news and discuss interesting topics and subjects. It will be “full steam ahead” once we are able to resume normal working!