Exploring the Middle East – past and present

How can you convey the essence of 3000 years of history and change in the Middle East in just 30 minutes? Professor Paul Starkey is a renowned writer, lecturer and translator of Middle Eastern studies at Durham University and together with his wife Dr Janet Starkey, managed to do just that.  We travelled, as if in a time capsule, to see the growth and decline of empires from Persepolis to the Romans, the Byzantines to the Ottomans and the impact of this turbulent history on the current political unrest of the region. It was a fascinating and insightful introduction. With just a tantalising look at the religion, art, literature and botany of the Middle East we quickly realised that there is so much more to explore.

If you are interested in learning more and would like to join a new U3A group on the subject please let us know your area of interest (culture, art, language, travel, cuisine….) by emailing us at dunsu3a@gmail.com.

Join our next monthly meeting on Tuesday 8th January 2019, when Derek Janes will be speaking on ‘Tea Smuggling and the growth of Tea Consumption in Scotland’. Come between 10 and 10:30 for coffee before the lecture begins.

Tues 11th December – Open meeting

Everyone is welcome at our monthly Open Meetings. Our speakers this month are Drs Paul and Janet Starkey, speaking about “Exploring the Middle East: Past and Present”. Both have lectured and published widely on the Middle East and traveled extensively in the region so it promises to be a most interesting and insightful morning. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions about the cultural and political landscape of the Middle East.

We start with coffee from 10 am in the Volunteer Hall and our speakers start at 10:30 am.

 

Our first Open Monthly Meeting

The first monthly open meeting of Duns and District U3A attracted around 60 people to hear a talk by local historian David McLean.The topic was the ‘Farm Servants of South East Scotland 1750 -1914’. Following on from a week of remembrance it was particularly poignant and, as the Volunteer Hall was still decorated with the exhibition to mark the 100th Anniversary of Armistice, the venue was particularly appropriate.The talk highlighted the relationship between Farm Servant and Master and the gruelling work conditions endured by the families who laboured on the land. Housing was basic at best and payment was primarily in kind for a minimum of 10 hours work per day six days a week. David also explained the concept of the Bondagers, a system peculiar to the Eastern Borders and Northumberland. For example, a skilled farm servant (hind) would have to engage another person willing to work long hours in the fields in order to get a contract of employment with a farmer. It could be his wife, daughter or even a complete stranger if his wife was unable to undertake the work because of illness or childcare.If it was a stranger, the hind was required to provide board and lodging for the woman and also pay her for work done. This system was highly unpopular with the hinds, who often had to subsidise her payment from their own meagre earnings. Fortunately this system was finally abolished and women who continued to work on the land had their own contract of employment with the farmer.The talk was extremely interesting and engaging and was illustrated with images of the living and working conditions. Many of the members of the audience could relate to the stories through their own family histories and memories of farm life.

The next monthly meeting will again be in the Volunteer Hall, Duns on Tuesday 11th December at 10.00 for 10.30 am. The speakers will be Professor Paul and Dr Janet Starkey who will talk on ‘Exploring the Middle East Past and Present’. This will provide a fascinating insight into this complex issue and we look forward to welcoming members and non members to come along.

Launching the new Duns and District U3A

A launch event for the Duns and District U3A was held at the Hall on Wednesday 10 October but there is still time to enrol and join the many people who have taken the opportunity to learn something new or pursue an interest.

U3A is for you if you are not in full time employment, including if you are retired or semi-retired and want to pursue your interests, share ideas and skills or learn something new. There is no lower age to membership.

No qualifications are involved and topics can range from languages to music, crafts, nature, local history and technology. The friendly, social atmosphere, where everyone is welcome, is particularly valuable to those who feel lonely or isolated and who would benefit from making new friends, having new interests and engaging in conversation. In rural areas it can be a lifeline for people and we will be encouraging groups to use local village halls to bring U3A to the surrounding communities.

The Duns and District U3A was set up following an introductory meeting, attended by over 50 people, quickly followed by the establishment of the Steering Group. Already 115 people have registered and joined and 15 groups with identified leaders will meet regularly.  In addition there will be free, open meetings every month with speakers on a wide variety of topics.

Not sure learning is for you? Perhaps these quotes will inspire you….