Group Lockdown - 4 News



We are delighted that so many Winchester U3A groups have continued to be active throughout lock down – either on Zoom or by circulating newsletters and other material. It is also good that, with restrictions gradually being lifted, groups are making plans for ‘real’ meetings once again, as you will see from various reports below.

Julia Whitburn, Groups Secretary





We have continued to meet each month on line, and have been joined by some new members who are very welcome. Each month we focus on something of interest to lots of our members, recently have discussed setting up and running a Zoom meeting, organising photos into albums, word processing including creating newsletters and including photos, and more.

We meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the morning and continue to offer a friendly welcome to new members if they have a Mac/Macbook, or iPad, or iPhone and feel they might enjoy sharing their experiences. Meetings are on line at present but we may get back into the Littleton Hall as it reopens. However we plan to ask our members if they would like to continue with the Zoom sessions from their homes instead, perhaps.

Nick Vernon




The Architecture Group has continued to keep in touch through its monthly email circulation and has particularly been looking at things of local interest.

A recent topic was Winchester Guildhall, since it is a hundred years ago this year that the foundation stone was laid.

This was followed by a detailed review ot the City Gates, the fine two that have survived but also those that have been lost.

Then in May, as access restrictions to public houses have been eased, we gave consideration to pub signs in the city so that we could remember where to find them.

We are now looking forward to the time after June when, all being well, we will at last be able to meet up again with a programme of visits and talks.

Tony Sexton




For our February meeting, continuing the practice of circulating images and comments by email, we considered Reflection in Art, and looked at the following:-

William Nicholson’s Silver Casket

Quentin Massys’ Money Changer and his Wife

Parmigianino’s Self-Portrait in Convex Mirror

William Merrit Chase’s Reflections - Canal Scene

Manet’s Bar at the Folies Bergeres

Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone

Anamorphic (encrypted) portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie

Escher’s Self-Portrait in Reflecting Sphere.

For our March theme, Renewal, we looked at:-

Hockney’s Unfolding of Spring iPad series

Turner’s Bembridge Mill and photographs of its restoration

Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection, in San Sepulchro (which narrowly avoided destruction in WW II)

Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection

Giotto’s Resurrection

Hokusai’s Bullfinch and Weeping Cherry

Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s Spring

Winchester Guildhall’s paintings (now on line)

Sutherland’s Christ in Glory.


Some of us attended a virtual tour of the exhibition “Shadows and Light” at Southampton Art Gallery

Due to there being six of us, and good weather, we met in a member’s garden in April and, for Discovery, discussed:-

Van Gogh’s Sunset at Montmajour (for many years not attributed to him)

Exhibition of The tomb of Tutankhamun

Vermeer’s Surveyor and David’s Lavoisier and His Wife.

Keith Hatter





We have not been very active during lockdown as galleries were closed but there have been many opportunities to view tours of different galleries from our own homes.

Last summer we were able to meet at Roche Court near Salisbury. We were there on a lovely day and enjoyed the gardens and sculptures, also in the surrounding fields.

We also went to Hauser and Wirth in Somerset where we saw work by two different American artists. These were not particularly impressive but the gardens as usual were a delight, until it started to rain!

(Photo Courtesy of

In April this year we returned again to Roche Court again on a lovely day, and of course, socially distanced, to see some new and some familiar works of art.

We have an interesting programme for this year; our next visit will be to the Cotswold Sculpture Park followed in June by a visit to the Pallant Gallery in Chichester.

As a group we visit galleries and other places that interest us and follow that with a lunch nearby so that we can discuss what we have seen.

In the past we have spent several days in a city, either in the UK or in Europe, where we have had an interesting timetable of modern art to visit. Hopefully, with our excellent vaccine programme we shall be able to resume these outings very soon as well as our usual monthly meetings. We look forward to welcoming any new members who may wish to join us.

Anna Diamond




This group has continued to be busy on Whatsapp. Members have been out birdwatching in ones and twos and afterwards have told other members how they got on and which birds they were lucky to see.

On 19 May some of us visited Titchfield Haven where we always see many different species. One of the special things about Titchfield is that often there are very knowledgeable people birdwatching too who are happy to share their expertise. No one needs to feel ignorant at Titchfield and I would encourage anyone to pay a visit. It also has a super little shop especially for anyone filling a child’s Christmas stocking! As usual while we are there, we enjoy lunch together and share out the organisation of future outings. It feels as though we might soon be able to revel in the freedom enjoyed by our feathered friends!

Janie Penn-Barwell





We have six members in our group which is just about the ideal number for a meeting where discussion is ‘king’. Since my last report we have read A Tale of Two Cities; a most exciting read although, as with most of Dickens, quite ‘wordy’.

Other novels have included:

The Loved One – Evelyn Waugh

Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe.


Our recent meetings have, of course, been on Zoom. Please get in touch if you are an enthusiast of ‘real literature’ and would like to join us.

Chrissie Landale





Throughout the past year we have continued to meet through Skype. Meetings take place on the last Tuesday in the month usually, with some exceptions. French is spoken throughout, often leading to a lively debate. The latest novel in our programme, written by Marcel Pagnol, has certainly succeeded in that respect. We try to vary themes, and include modern as well as novels from the nineteenth/twentieth centuries in our reading programme. Please contact Diane Sparkes contact details me if you think you might be interested in joining us.




This group has been meeting on Zoom for many months. We now have two Zooms on a Monday afternoon. The first is a topical translation into English; this could be the history of Sesame Street or about electronic waste. The second is either conversation with a native German speaker present, or a topic, such as ‘three items on your bucket list’. Monday afternoons are always fun and worthwhile.

Judith Handbury





Since the last Lockdown, we have held 2 successful Coffee Mornings - sitting outside or in the large marquee at the Cathedral Refectory Café and we all felt it was lovely to meet up in person after such a long time. We will be arranging more events or outings for the 1st Saturday and 3rd Sunday of each month, current Covid restrictions permitting, and would welcome anyone on their own who would like to join us.

Sheila Ayling





Modern Novels Group 1 has continued to meet on Zoom.

Our recent reading includes:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, which most of us enjoyed

The Lying Room by Nicci French, which brought light relief

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor, which polarised the group, with half of us loving it and half hating it.


But our big news is that, from May onwards, we will resume meeting at each other's homes. We are all fully vaccinated. And, fortunately, some of our members have houses where we can meet in the garden or retire to a spacious and well-ventilated room if the weather is poor. So our meetings will be akin to church fêtes of old -- in the manor house garden, or the village hall if wet. Hopefully, for us, this will be the first small step back towards normality.

Vic Stenning





Through the use of Zoom we have managed to keep our discussions going during the lockdowns. Everyone (including the less techie amongst us) has become used to connecting to the discussion using the links sent via e-mail. But I’m sure that the majority of the group will be very relieved to return to face-to-face meetings which take place in each other’s houses on the 2nd Monday of each month at 10/10.30am.

The use of Zoom has been an effective way of keeping the group active and also maintaining contact with one another. During this period we have recruited two new members who are already making valuable contributions to our discussions and I’m sure that we are all looking forward to meeting them in person.

Since the New Year an eclectic mix of books has been discussed:

The Dutch House: Ann Patchett;

Confession with Blue Horses: Sophie Hardach;

Ghost Wall: Sarah Moss;

Olive Again: Elizabeth Strout;

Expectation: Anna Hope.


All these titles come recommended, as each one has promoted a healthy discussion, and even though two back-to-back Zoom meetings are scheduled for each meeting, we usually run out of time.

The group has discussed moving our June meeting on the 14th, to the 21st when, if everything goes to plan, we should be able to meet in person. Middle England: Jonathan Coe has been chosen. No doubt this book will generate a very lively discussion.

Celia Harris, Group Leader





Since February we have read some very enjoyable novels:

A Possible Life – Sebastian Faulks

The Red Notebook – Antoine Laurain

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free – Andrew Miller


In June we shall be reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro followed by The Midnight Library in July.

But I should say that our numbers have dwindled, partly because we were all in the older age group, and partly because not everyone took to Zoom. We are now down to three members, and we shall close at the end of July unless new members join us quickly. I shall be giving up as group leader in July in any event. If no new members join us, I hope that the remaining three of us will be able to join another Modern Novels group.

Grace Gray





Our first meeting after lockdown restrictions are lifted is planned to be a tea party on 25 May. This will be held in a member’s large garden!

Ferne Baxter





The Railway group has been quick to return to a normal timetable and we plan to resume our normal activities once (as we all hope) final Covid restrictions are lifted in June.

In July a visit has been planned which we hope will provide some gentle exercise, a chance to learn more about the history of the former Netley Hospital Railway and a long awaited ‘social’ to enjoy a lunch together sitting outdoors in the Royal Victoria Country Park. The story of this short railway is fascinating and we are fortunate that one of our members who is a qualified Registered Tourist Guide will be explaining it all to us.

The group once again has vacancies and if you would like to know more please do not hesitate to call Dale Greenwood contact details

Dale Greenwood






No-one will be surprised to read that 2020 was very different for the sailing group too. In early March we cancelled the meeting scheduled for late March in the Sainsbury’s community room and then of course lock-down soon followed afterwards.

Our face to face winter meetings, which would normally stop in the spring, moved onto Zoom and continued throughout the summer. For a while we held them fortnightly to keep boredom at bay. The topics have been broad with many members contributing, with subjects as different as sailing personalities to some passage planning exercises.

On the water there was no lock-down guidance at first but that changed after a particular boater (NOT a member of this group) went out of Portsmouth harbour, got into trouble and had to be rescued. The Queen’s harbourmaster promptly closed the harbour for leisure boating and all marinas were instructed to lock owners out.

In the summer as lock-down eased then some sailing was feasible for a few. In June it was single households and no over night stay on boats. That suited one couple who are members, and they found the Solent was deserted even at weekends since so many other sailors travel from other parts of the country. In July the rules changed to allow two households to sail together and to stay overnight, so the Solent and surrounding harbours were instantly very busy. But everyone was courteous and helpful and it was feasible to ensure social distances were maintained.

Each one of our members has a personal approach to risk and safety and for some of us that meant not sailing at all throughout the season, but others felt able to get out and about. Day sailing within the two household rule or short trips staying overnight, were the most popular. The government’s tightening to the rule of 6 was for us strangely (given cases of covid were growing) a relaxation on who could sail, but no-one filled a boat with 6 people.

October was the last sail for most since November brought lock-down and even though sailing was feasible again in December we only had one trip in the group, not least because it was cold, wet and windy. The Zoom calls continued monthly and in the spring of 2021 we will have talks on an Irish Sea passage and more sailing personalities.

Most importantly we will soon start to plan the activities for sailing in 2021.

The sailing group will accept new members in 2021 and despite the unusual season we had two fresh members in 2020 too.

Tony King





The Science Discussions group has continued to enjoy monthly Zoom meetings with around twelve participants. In April we had an excellent discussion on ‘How can we power our future without fossil fuels?’ led by Clive Howell and Bob Fowler. Plenty of ideas went around, although any comprehensive conclusion was elusive!

We look forward to meeting face to face in the not-too-distant future. Our meetings are held in the Quaker Meeting House in Colebrook Street. New members are welcome, both from scientific and non-scientific backgrounds.

Roger Warr





This is a keen group of walkers that has not been meeting at all during lockdown but is keen to meet up again as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the current group leader, Sue Greenway, is not able to continue, so we are looking for a new leader for this group. If anyone is interested, could they contact Julia Whitburn, group secretary?





We may try to meet outside after 17 May, but we have no indoor meetings planned yet.

Nick Waring