Group News

The Group Co-ordinator is John Craig email


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During Lockdown Groups have been asked to report how they are coping. A new Page Group Lockdown News Summary has been created.





Quester 6 visited Hensting Alpacas on a bright and sunny day. We were surprised to see such a large herd of alpacas, which are not visible from the road. We were met by their pet sheep, “Ken” who made sure that he received plenty of attention. After an introductory talk, when we learnt that they have two types of alpaca from South America. One needs shearing every year, and the other every two years. Nearly all of our alpacas were the same breed and they had been shorn just the day before. Their long necks and bodies were closely clipped, leaving just a woolly head. They range in colour from white, cream, grey, brown and black. The star of the show was a baby, called a kria. It was chocolate brown, with a black mother. We were introduced to our male alpacas and shown how to approach and handle them. Never approach from the front because they have eyes on the side of their head, only stroke their necks, never the top of the head.


We set off for a very sedate stroll in lovely countryside along the Itchen river bank. The alpacas were well behaved, not one spat at us. Sometimes they needed a stroke on the neck, or a light tug for encouragement. We learnt that if an alpaca needs a toilet break it produces a chain reaction amongst the herd. Many of them will use the same piece of land! This prevents predators from distinguishing the scent of one particular animal. We were told that alpaca “poo” makes the best nutritional manure. During our walk, we stopped to feed the animals, who took the dried pellets very delicately from our hand. We discovered how soft their mouths are. They have angled teeth on their bottom jaw only. The top jaw has a hard plate. After our walk we were introduced to the females, who came for their food at a gallop.


We found this walk not only to be informative, but very relaxing. It was difficult to believe that such a large herd could be so near civilisation, but that we were totally unaware it existed.


 Walking with Alpacas Walking with Alpacas


Ferne Baxter/Denise Buckle




June saw the last of the monthly email circulations that had kept us all in touch and informed since lockdown in March last year. It was about the work of the Victorian artist, G.F.Prosser, who depicted so many of the old buildings and scenes in and around Winchester, many of which were later to disappear.

Then at coffee in July we were, at last, able to meet up with each other again, picking up where we had left off and planning ahead for the future. This in August eased us into a gentle guided walk along St Thomas Street to look at the great number of fine buildings, many Georgian, that are to be much admired along this street, then ending up as usual with lunch in a nearby hostelry. It was old times back again.

Tony Sexton




(Fourth Thursday of each month)


In February we looked at Fashion and Fabric in Art. We looked at the sumptuous garments in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait and discussed a present-day project which recreated these costumes. From Nicholas Hilliard’s Portrait of a Young Man (possibly the Earl of Essex), and other miniatures by Isaac Oliver, we glimpsed Elizabethan and Jacobean courtly fashion. American painter Isobel Bishop then brought us into the mid-20th century with her paintings of ladies’ fashions of that era, and from the 1960s Peter Blake’s self portrait in denim and badges brought us to the revolution of fashion and culture of the Pop Art period. IN response to the statue of Licoricia of Winchester, it was suggested that some of her attire might be examples of Medieval power dressing.


Entertainment was our next theme. Vermeer’s Guitar Player provided an interesting example of his later, slightly more dynamic, style. A history of Masques gave an insight into some applications of art to entertainment in the 17th and18th centuries. Barry Flanagan’s bronze statue of an anthropomorphised hare playing a drum and Nicholas Munro’s fibre glass statues of Morcombe and Wise, Max Wall and racing waiters gave a complete contrast.


In April, we were pleased to welcome Helen Metcalfe as a new member. We looked at 18th century Landscapes. Various watercolours by Thomas Girtin; Water Colours with Trees and Bullock Carts by Paul Sandby; “The Thames at Marble Hill Near Twickenham”, by Richard Wilson; “Mr and Mrs Andrews” by Thomas Gainsborough, all brought us to the conclusion that Sandby, Girtin and Wilson all laid claim to the title “Father of British Landscape Painting”, paving the way for Turner, Constable and Bonington. We then looked at “Scene with Dark Mountains” and “Margate Beach with Fishermen” by Turner.


Some of us visited the exhibition “Turn and Return” by Winchester textile artist Deirdre Wood at the ARC and the Ravilliers exhibition, also at the ARC. Another Winchester artist, Alice Kettle, was the subject of a Zoom talk given by Tim Craven of Southampton City Art Gallery.


Keith Hatter





A group of us recently spent an enjoyable few days in Cambridge. Our first visit was to The Fitzwilliam Museum where, as usual, there was a great variety of things to see in both the permanent and temporary exhibitions: Magdalene Udundo with her distinctive burnished vessels informed by a range of art and craft traditions from around the World, the Gold of the Great Steppes and, Women, Makers and Muses.</;p>


Our second day was spent at Kettles Yard where we were given a tour of what was the home of H. S. (Jim) Ede and his wife. The house has been recently extended & there are art works on all the walls and in every corner. The Edes would have had open house every afternoon for the University students to come and see the art work there. The rest of the day was spent walking around the beautiful gardens of Anglesey Abbey.


Shamma Modern Slavery artworkShamma Modern Slavery artwork


Shamma Moden Slavery artworkShamma Moden Slavery artwork


Our final day we visited Ely and its amazing Cathedral, the small town and the riverside area. We were fortunate to see, in the Lady Chapel, an exhibition of work by Syrian artist, Sara Sharmma, on Modern Slavery. Her large pieces were very disturbing and benefitted from the space that the Lady Chapel provided.


We are now looking forward to an active 2022 with our monthly meetings and hopefully weekends away with plenty of art to see.

Anna Diamond




Throughout Lockdown our members have not been idle. We have continued to enjoy meeting monthly on Skype - galloping across the globe with Phileas Fogg, delving into the dreamlike reveries of Marcel Pagnol, and gaining an insight into the war years with the French Resistance of Joseph Kessel.

We are a small friendly group of Francophiles and new members would be made very welcome.

Diane Sparkes contact details





We have resumed meeting face to face after a long spell of using Zoom. Several members have a sitting room large enough to socially distance which is comfortably done with just six members. We have one person on the waiting list so in the spring we will review taking more members.


Our recent books have been Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (2020), The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (2020), Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2019) and A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (2020).


This latest book by Isabel Allende is very different from her other novels. We all learnt a lot about The Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) and how thousands of people had to flee their country or stay and be killed by Franco’s regime. Escaping over the Pyrenees to what they hoped would be safety in France, they were confined to internment camps and most cruelly treated and neglected. Many died of starvation and disease or took their own lives. In the second part of this novel Allende takes the reader on a journey with over two thousand refugees escaping to Chile on the SS Winnipeg commissioned by the Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda. They arrived in Valparaiso on the date World war two broke out in Europe. The story continues for several decades. The book reads well despite being in translation and we all enjoyed it.


In December we plan to share favourite readings over tea and mince pies. Our first book for 2022, in February, will be the novel “Morality Play” by Barry Unsworth (1995).


Norma Goodwin




I can confirm that Modern Novels 5 has ceased to operate. We managed to have three face to face meetings in May, June and July, having previously zoomed all our meetings since March 2020. Our numbers had dwindled to two on Zoom,and I had given the group three month's notice that I would be giving up. Four members were at the face to face meetings held from May to July. No one else came forward to continue running our group after July and so we decided to disband and try and join another group in the autumn.

We have been invited to join Modern Novels 8, who already have 10 members, but we will make separate decisions on that later. I have enjoyed our group for many years . We were originally eight members and a lively group, everyone reading the monthly book and all taking part in the discussion. We read a huge variety of books, both modern and classic novels.

We had read and enjoyed three books:

“Now we shall be entirely free” by Andrew Miller

“Klara and the sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

“Hamnet” By Maggie O'Farrell

They are all well written books which we enjoyed in their variety and I think we would all recommend them as interesting reads. I have a large pile of unread books which I shall read at my leisure, and a lot of home tasks of which I am hoping to catch up.

Grace Gray




The Railway Group has resumed its normal activities and a summer trip to Netley and the Royal Victoria Country Park was well supported. During this outing we discovered evidence of the former Branch line to the former Netley Military Hospital and learnt more of the history of this unusual railway. When it opened in 1863 the Hospital building was the longest in the world!

By the time this newsletter is published we hope to have fixed dates for a visit to the Romsey Signal Box and the postponed railway walk along Avon Causeway and the track of the former Ringwood to Christchurch Branch line. An unusual feature of this line was that when it was first opened a landowner had the right to stop any train at a private station!

We now have vacancies once again and I would be happy to supply details of our activities to prospective new members.

Dale Greenwood contact details




For well over 10 years Winchester u3a has had two Recorder groups, an Elementary group where beginners were welcome and an Intermediate group for more experienced players. Several of the beginners had started from scratch under Penny Terrell’s tuition, and twice a month everyone played together in the Elementary sessions. The Intermediate group played alone on the other two Thursdays.

From September 2021 things are changing:

Due to the success of Penny’s tuition, there is no longer a need for an Elementary group for the current recorder players as all the beginners are now much more competent, and so now there is only an Intermediate group – and Penny is enjoying a well-earned bit-of-a-break. New members welcome: Penny Terrell

This success story also means that if there are u3a members out there who would like to learn the recorder, or take it up again after a long break and don’t feel up to playing in the Intermediate group, there is a vacancy for someone to start up a new Beginner’s group **(please consult John Craig )

Judy Smith contact details




There is no doubt that as we grow older we find it harder and harder to keep up with Science and Technology. I know I do, even though I am the leader of u3a Science and Technology Group One! However, this does not mean that we should give up with it. Even a partial understanding of things is often fascinating; just getting a vague idea of the scale of something or what is behind a new area of science or engineering that was simply not around when we were born is rewarding.

In the u3a S&T(1) group we choose a topic each month and one, or several, of us will look into it (perhaps different aspects of it), and then tell the others about what they have found out. It is very informal, and you can just come along to listen if you prefer. We cover astronomy, everyday technology, geology, electricity and biology (amongst others).

Of course we have been meeting on Zoom during lockdown, but we may venture back to meeting in people's houses again soon. If you would like to join in, we currently meet in the afternoon of the second Wednesday in the month. Please send me an email if you are interested in joining us.

Keith Taylor contact details





Keith Anderson, who has been leading the Theology Group is moving away from Winchester. I am sure that the current members of the group would want me to express their sincere thanks for his leadership over the past years. Keith has asked me to take on the role which I have agreed to do.


I am a retired priest, psychologist, psychotherapist and trainer. My main interests are in human interaction where religion and psychology overlap - those things that enable us to become more human and humane.


We are currently quite a small group who will be meeting shortly to look at subjects for discussion in the future, and also which venues we shall use.



By the next Newsletter, I hope I will have some concrete details for you.


Chris Scott



All Day Walkers 3

After an 18-month absence, the Group will resume walks in September, initially for morning walks and lunch. Dates have yet to be agreed.

Chris Sharratt



Wine Appreciaton Group 2


We have been meeting al fresco on a monthly basis since the end of lock down but have now returned indoors. We usually meet on a Thursday but the actual date is chosen by the host/hostess for each month. The choice of wines and theme are decided by them but we tend towards 3 red and 3 white. Clearly six glasses in an afternoon would push us all over the limit so we aim for a sixth of a small glass of each wine and that leaves a fair bit left in each bottle and the “left overs” are allocated on a lucky dip basis. The cost of the wine is shared between us. This format provides us with a very pleasant and informative way of spending an afternoon.


If you would be interested in joining us we have a few vacancies – please contact Nick contact details.

Trevor Shepherd





A few of us from Quester 7 recently went on their first visit for 18 months to Twin Oaks Garden, Chandlers Ford (89 in NGS booklet) – the gardens were amazing with a lot of the work undertaken by the owners, Syd and Sue Hutchinson over many years. It would be a lovely garden to visit at any time of the year.

They made us very welcome with delicious cakes made by Sue with coffee or tea in one of the many outbuildings in the garden.

Val King





Quester 1 – free at last!

Sometimes you only really appreciate an activity when you return to it after an enforced absence.

The Quester 1 cruise along the Basingstoke Canal on the John Pinkerton from Odiham was just such an occasion. Like everyone else, our group had not enjoyed an organised outing for over 18 months. Apart from the odd coffee morning at Littleton, we had been living separate lives.

So July 29th was memorable in many ways. We were together with old friends again and there was much catching up to do. There was tea and scones, and music, and laughter, and the weather was kind. Covid -19 was of another place and another time.

We were a party of a dozen, Questers, sharing the Pinkerton with other like-minded passengers, and were all arranged in tables of four.

Crewed and maintained entirely by volunteers, the Pinkerton cruises up and down the Basingstoke Canal several times a week. The income generated helps support the upkeep of the canal.

Our cruise lasted three hours, with a break half way for people to stretch their legs while the boat was turned.

There was an endless supply of tea and coffee, and those inclined to do so could buy a beer. The music was provided by way of a pianist, and electronic keyboard and an amplification system. In all it was a great trip and wonderful to relax together, and we were even treated to the sight of a deer swimming in the canal.


John Gardner