Groups 2020/21

Necessity is the mother of invention, especially during a pandemic. Where current regulations mean we cannot meet in person, we are finding ways to meet virtually, using Zoom. We realise this is not ideal. We would much rather be coming together in the usual way, sharing company and conversation as well as learning new things. But modern technology can enable us to at least dispel the isolation many are feeling, even if only for a few hours a week. 

Our interest groups are run by U3A members, for members. There are no entry requirements other than a willingness to learn with others. Members can join as many groups as they like. Non-members are welcome but will be invited to join the U3A after their first session.

We now have 12 groups covering topics ranging across a wide variety of subjects. The table below shows all our groups and when they meet. Under the table are descriptions of each group’s planned content. Email us if there is a group you would like to know more about.

We love it when we’re approached with ideas for new groups, especially when members offer to lead them. We have three new groups that, given sufficient numbers, will start from October: German for beginners, Poetry Circle and Personal History. There is something for everyone!

MondayMiddle East Studies: 1st and 3rd Monday, 10 – 12, Start date 2 NovemberOpera Appreciation: 1st Monday, 2- 4, Start date 2 November
TuesdayLandscapes, rocks and fossils: an introduction to geology: 1st Tuesday, 10 – 12, Start date 6 October  Latin and Classical Studies: 1st   and 3rd Tuesday, 2 – 4, Start date 20 October. German for Beginners: 2nd and 4th Tuesday, 4 – 5, Start date 27 October
WednesdayWildlife and Ecology 2nd and 4th Wednesday, 10 – 12, Start date 14 OctoberArts and Crafts: 1st and 3rd Wednesday, 2 – 4, Start date: 21 October. Personal History: 4th Wednesday, 2 – 4, Start date 28 October. Italian for Beginners: Fortnightly, 4 – 5.30, Start date 21 October
Thursday Italian for Improvers: Fortnightly, 4 – 5.30, Start date: 1 October
Friday Poetry Circle: 2nd Friday, 3.30 – 5.30, Start date 9 October. Book Group: 3rd Friday, 2 – 4, Start date 16 October

Please note that all meetings are via Zoom.

Arts and Crafts: Delivering Arts and Crafts by Zoom will be a challenge but it will provide us with an opportunity to share ideas, showcase the projects we are working on and chat.

This year the theme is  Slow Stitching, whichis the practice of hand sewing, knitting, crocheting or any other fibre art with intention and thoughtfulness while giving us the perfect time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This method focuses on using simple stitching techniques and processes and gives total creative freedom. 

Many of our members do, of course, like to follow patterns and use predesigned templates and kits.  This is perfectly in tune with the idea of just taking time out to do something you enjoy while creating and making.

Group Leaders: Anne McNeill and Liz Casey.

Meeting times: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, 2 – 4pm. From 21 October.

Book Group: we will share our thoughts on a number of novels along the theme of Winning Women. From a long list we will chose a selection of works by female authors whose novels have made it to the top, including excellent writers such as Maggie O’Farrell (whose latest novel Hamnet has just won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction); Manda Scott (winner of McIlvanney prize for best Scottish Crime Novel for A Treachery of Spies); Rose Tremain (winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2008 for The Road Home); Nina Stibb (winner of Published Comic Novel Prize 2020 for Reasons to be Cheerful) and many more.

Group Leader: Carol Pease

Meeting time: 3rd Friday, 2 – 4 pm. From 16 October (at the first meeting we will compile the shortlist).

German for Beginners: We are not expecting anyone to know any German. This is truly beginners and anyone who perhaps has a very rusty working knowledge!

Group Leader: Janine Hogben

Meeting time: 2nd and 4th Tuesday 4 – 5pm. From 27 October

Italian for Beginners: No previous knowledge is required – we are not being taught, we are learning together, so if you would like to improve your knowledge of the Italian language, then this is for you. The group will concentrate on speaking and understanding Italian with a focus on the everyday vocabulary needed in conversation.

Group Leader: Genny Dixon

Meeting time: Fortnightly, Wednesdays 4 – 5.30. From 21 October

Italian for Improvers: This group is for members who already know the basics and want to improve.  It is a self-help group – the leader is not a native Italian speaker. We use a variety of methods to help improve speaking, listening, reading and writing. It is fun to learn with others but some work done at home between meetings is beneficial.

Group Leader: Irene Mowat.

Meeting time: Fortnightly, Thursdays, 4 – 5.30. From 1 October

Landscapes, Rocks and Fossils, an Introduction to Geology: By looking at landscapes, rocks and fossils, we shall interpret past environments from deserts, to tropical seas and frozen plains. We will explore deep time and put the evolution of life and the development of our landscapes into context. We shall explore the exciting journey, over 400 million years, of the British Isles from south of the Equator to our current latitude.

Group Leader: Elizabeth Devon

Meeting time: 1st Tuesday, 10.00 – 12.00. From 6 October

Latin and Classical Studies: We will follow the Oxford Latin Course Part 1. It provides an enjoyable and carefully paced introduction to the Latin language complimented by background information on Roman culture and civilisation. A knowledge of Latin helps us to understand English grammar and also helps in learning other languages like Italian, Spanish and French. Stories from Classical Mythology address universal themes such as love, jealousy, anger, ambition and deceit. All themes as relevant today as they were in ancient times. 

Group Leader: Dorothy Dickinson

Meeting time: 1st and 3rd Tuesday 2 – 4pm. From 20 October

Middle East Studies: Exploring the History and Cultures of the Middle East, this course examines a variety of historical and contemporary issues affecting the region. A wonderful opportunity to learn about fascinating places and discuss many important issues including gender and age-related relationships, urban society, religious identities, migration movements, religious and ethnic minorities, traditional and modern art, literature, material cultures and film.

Group Leaders: Dr Janet Starkey and Professor Paul Starkey

Meeting time: 1st and 3rd Monday, 10.00- 12.00. From 2 November.

Opera Appreciation: Love opera? Or simply want to know what it’s all about? Then this group is for you. We will use a variety of methods – Zoom screen sharing, or links to You Tube for example – to establish the most user-friendly way to enjoy opera at its best and learn all about what makes this art form so special.

Group Leader: Kit Hobkirk

Meeting time: 1st Monday 2 – 4pm. From 2 November

Personal History, Your Family, Saving your Past for the Future: Susan, using her own experience, will help people new to family history to get started on genealogical research and encourage people to work together to discuss routes into the past.

Derek will encourage you to preserve evidence of the past of your family, home and business. Many of us have photographs, documents and letters and, while we may think ‘no-one will be interested’ if we pull everything together, sort it out and identify it then future generations will be able to follow your story. Remember too, the value of your own memories! As a museum curator, he was often tantalised by family photographs with no names or other details on them. You will find that the two topics overlap, as with Susan you can identify family members and with Derek you may be able to back that up with photographs etc. and create a real family archive. Susan and Derek will both describe their own experiences in these fields to inspire you!

Group Leaders: Susan Hobkirk and Dr Derek Janes

Meeting times: 4th Wednesday, 2- 4pm. From 28 October

Poetry Circle: As well as feeling poetry physically, we know that it gives us cognitive strength. Poetry stretches the meaning and sounds of words, pushing at the boundaries of language. Brain scans have proved that in processing poetry, our brain function peaks, which strengthens our overall cognitive health. Listening to poems activates parts of the brain that are not activated when listening to music or watching films. So, poetry is good for our mental health, requires no special skills and is fun.

In this study group, we will read modern poets such as Alice Oswald, Raymond Antrobus, and Jen Hadfield, as well as old favourites such as Tennyson and Wordsworth. We will keep a reading journal as well as choosing some poems to share, and thus we will each build up a library of poems that resonate with us personally.

Group Leader: Elaine Oswald

Meeting times: 2nd Friday 3.30 – 5.30. From 9 October.

Wildlife and Ecology: The purpose of this group will be to bring its members into contact with a wide variety of wildlife and to share the wonders of nature. We hope to learn not just what flora and fauna are where, but why they are. Site visits may not be possible at the moment, but we can still enjoy and learn so much via Zoom.

Group Leader: Peter Rowberry

Meeting times: 2nd and 4th Wednesday. From 14 October.

How to enrol

On our Membership page, you will find a link to download an enrolment form and timetable for 2020/21. Just tick to indicate the groups you are interested in, return both pages to us, and we will contact you.