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.

Everyone has retained their enthusiasm for the next u3a year and we are all keeping our fingers crossed that “contact” groups such as dancing and groups that rely on being together, such as Classical Music Appreciation, can resume normal service, which is brilliant. Understandably, some groups may wish to continue to meet remotely until levels of confidence are higher, or even as a way to continue through the winter.

Update for May 2021

Given the easing of restrictions and the better weather, some groups have finished or are winding down now. Here is a brief summary of how groups are looking forward:

Walking Group: we hope to be resuming a small u3a walking group this summer.

Classical Music Appreciation: This group will resume once in-person meetings are possible again.

Bridge: The group cannot meet again until the venue is once more available. Next year’s group will be for improvers only.

Tap Dancing: This will start again as soon as possible, as will Country Dancing.

Middle East Group: Numbers have expanded whilst on Zoom and we have gained members from further afield. Sessions are, at the moment, weekly for one hour. The last meeting will be 15 June and the group will resume, hopefully in person, in the autumn.

Opera Appreciation: Numbers have expanded and using the Hope Room from which to “broadcast” has overcome broadband issues. In the new u3a year, the group may continue to meet at the Volunteer Hall for this reason and because so many more people can be accommodated.

Landscapes, rocks and fossilsAn introduction to Geology: this group is thriving on Zoom, but they hope to get back to meeting in a hall as it allows for better experiments!

Latin and Classical Studies: A core group have kept going on Zoom and the light is burning brightly, but for the larger group to resume we will need to meet in person. The current sessions will close at the end of April.

German for Beginners: This new group finished in March after a very successful 10 sessions. Next autumn and winter there will be another 10 sessions.

French Conversation: This new group began from scratch and it is showing real promise for next year. The group will close for summer.

Wildlife and ecology: In spite of being unable to go out on visits, this group has been re-energised under careful guidance and excellent Zoom sessions. The group will close in June and we will have to watch numbers carefully at the next enrolment as it is difficult to manage larger groups on external visits.

Arts and Crafts: This has become a small but loyal knitting group and we are sure it will benefit from meeting again in person perhaps to take up some more challenging projects.

Personal History: This group is showing real promise. However, Zoom has proved to be a limited medium as it doesn’t allow for personal assistance and so the group is closing for this year. Hopefully, in-person meeting will be possible for next autumn.

Italian: Both the beginners’ and improvers’ groups have sustained well on Zoom. The Beginners group have finished now for the summer. A combined group will continue next year, hopefully in person.

Poetry: This new group is thriving and meets well on Zoom, though in-person would allow more conversation. The group will break for summer at the end of May.

Book Group: This group has sustained well over Zoom and will finish in June. It will resume in the autumn, hopefully in person.

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. Let us know if you have a particular subject you would like to study.

MondayMiddle East Studies: Every Monday, 10 – 11, 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.
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.
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).

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: weekly on Monday, 10.00 – 11.00. 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

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.