News updates


A second Current Affairs group is being set up as the existing one was oversubscribed.
The first meeting of the new group will take place on Wed 3 October in Room 3 at the Community Centre at 10.00.
The intention is that it will then meet on the first and third Wednesday of each month. It will be a small group (limited to a maximum of 12 people).
If you are interested in joining (there are currently approx. 6 spaces) please contact Rob Smith on 768752 or.


Hi Folks

The time for the April Alton U3a Social Cycle ride is approaching fast!

As usual, we are going out on the first Tuesday of the month - Tuesday 2 April, with our customary 10.00am start from outside Alton Community Centre.

The plan is to ride a gentle 15 mile circuit essentially recreating our December ride, but in springtime rather than the depths of winter. We will be going up Old Odiham Road, along to Sutton Common, with a halfway break for refreshments at the village shop at South Warnborough. (Last time they were very good to us, with friendly service, and very good coffee!.) We continue via Upton Grey and Weston Patrick, Nash's Green and Southrope, coming back along the Avenue past the Lasham Nursery and then back to Alton via Shalden.

Depending on how long we linger over coffee, I estimate that we should all be back in Alton by 1.30pm at the latest.

At the time of writing the BBC weather forecast for the day is not as good as I would have liked - light rain showers and a moderate breeze - but it should be good enough for our purposes......................

If anything changes between now and then I will let you know.

I hope you can join us.

Best wishes



After some 18 months activity the Social Cycling Group is maturing (the same cannot be said for its members whose trajectory is generally in the opposite direction). The group's maturation can be shown by the way it deals with hills.

When we started, every hill, regardless of length or gradient, caused us all to experience the long list of side effects that you normally only see when you bother to read the leaflet that comes with your latest medication: extreme breathlessness, sweating, heart palpitations, watery eyes, flat feet, itchiness and rashes, runny nose, fainting fits, memory loss, muscle cramps, dehydration and giddiness.

But now we are much more discerning We have learned that there are four types of hill, namely (in descending, if that's the right word,) order of severity: The Pant, The Gasp, The Grunt and the Push.

The Pant (Snode Hill comes to mind) still causes all the above physical effects, but many of the other hills we encounter have been put into lower grades and we now manage them with equanimity.

So it was that when Blessed Brian (Our Great Leader) announced that we would go up to Four Marks through Chawton Park Wood we were not filled with alarm, as that hill is now either a Gasp or a Grunt, depending on how often you go out on your bike. What he hadn't told us before we started is that the track leading to the foot of the hill was a muddy swamp (his cheery cry of, "It was all right last week when I used it, folks" did not entirely dispel our dismay). But we churned our way through the boggy bits and either gasped or grunted our way to the top and on to the Four Marks Golf Club for the compulsory refreshment and chat stop. There we lingered contentedly till it was time to speed our way back via Farringdon, the Worldhams, Wyck and Holybourne with only a Push or two to test our developing leg musculature.

It was about 15 miles in all, our average speed would have made a tortoise blush, but we enjoyed ourselves no end.
Rob Smith

From Brian Good
Hi Folks
Another splendid ride today - good company, good coffee, and surprisingly good weather considering the forecast!

The vital statistics - we covered 16.6 miles at a majestically sedate average speed of 8.8mph (I blame the mud in Chawton Park Woods.....)

The attached slightly fuzzy photo proves that some of us were there - those who missed out can only sit and lament their misfortune. (See Gallery)


February Cycle Ride

Hi Folks

Another invigorating (if rather chilly) outing for the U3A Social Cycling Group today. Just what we needed after being cooped up for days on end waiting for the snow to go away!

According to my Strava we covered 15.6 miles at a rather leisurely 8.3 miles per hour.

The photo taken at our coffee stop at the café in Alice Holt Forest is in slightly soft focus - rather like the scenery on our ride.....(See Photo in Gallery)

Here's looking forward to our next outing, on Tuesday 5 March, when hopefully the weather will be slightly warmer than it was today.

Enjoy! Brian

Report from Rob Smith

The snow had gone and had not yet been replaced by driving rain, so Our Great Leader Brian (Brilliant Ride Initiator And Navigator) accompanied by 4 Emils (Elderly Men In Lycra Shorts) and 2 Alices (Amazing Ladies In Clothing Especially Elegant) set off from the Community Centre at 10am on 5 February to test the catering facilities at the other Alice, Alice Holt.

During the winter we do not manage to get out on our bikes as often as we would like, so we travelled at a gentle pace through Holybourne and Binsted, and even took the downhill section to Blacknest with caution, as the roads were damp. But soon enough we were safely sat down at a table in the café at Alice Holt, where we made the best we could of the coffee and cakes that were on offer (which in the case of your correspondent consisted of a slice of fruit cake the size of a breeze block, which nonetheless mysteriously disappeared). And we chatted, about this and about that, and why did the early Minis not have synchromesh in 1st gear, and other important topics.

After sufficient time to ponder these weighty matters had passed, we put back the three or four layers of clothing we had divested on arrival and made our stately way back. The weather had deteriorated somewhat, but we are by now all hardy souls and this did not trouble us. We came back through the Forest, past Bentley Station and Isington, up to Binsted and then through Holybourne. It was about 15 miles, it wasn't very fast, but the camaraderie was superb.



If ever proof were needed that exercise is good for the brain, this was provided on Friday 14 December when the Brainy Bikers, a team comprised of members of the Social Cycling Group won the U3A Quiz in a tight finish.
Captained by Our Great Leader, Blessed Brian Einstein, the team was able to identify the flag of Portugal, the name of the monarch at the time of the Peasants' Revolt and the direction of airflow in an anti-cyclone amongst many other tough questions

Judicious application of the point-boosting Joker by OGL meant that we were able to fight off keen competition from several other teams. It is to be hoped that this great victory will not cause members' heads to swell to such an extent that they will unable to get their helmets on for the next ride on January 2nd. In the meantime the victors can (if their fitness programmes permit) enjoy the tube of Smarties that was their well-deserved prize.

Rumour has it that Geraint Thomas has put in an application to join the Team! (Web Ed)



Report on the Cycle Ride of December 4th

At 10.00am precisely on Tuesday 4 December, under cloudless blue skies, a file of eleven brightly coloured figures were seen to pedal vigorously away from the Community Centre and up Old Odiham Road. Some who saw them said they were "Gilets Jaunes" (although, confusingly, two of the Gilets were Rouge not Jaune) sent from Paris to disrupt the good people of Alton; others, seeing how well padded they all were, suspected it was a rogue contingent of Blobbies who had escaped from a nearby Mr Blobby factory, hellbent on causing mayhem.

But these were neither Gallic insurrectionists nor crazed figures from a best-forgotten TV era. No, these were the stalwarts of the Social Cycling Group under the inspired leadership of Blessed Brian (aka Our Great Leader). OGL has clearly made his peace with the cycling gods (it must be the Prezzo vouchers he uses to propitiate them) as they deigned to offer us the only fine day in a run of dank, rainy days. We made the most of it. Having scaled the heights of Old Odiham Road we made our way towards Long Sutton. OGL had promised us a great view along the way, and sure enough we were rewarded with a panoramic view

Undaunted we sped down to South Wanborough, where we took our coffee stop (and chat) at the village shop-cum-cafe, before easing (should that be wheezing? Ed) our refreshed bodies up the long, steady climb to Upton Grey and Herriard. From there it was a short dash to the Gliding Club at Lasham. It being December, and us being hungry after our endeavours, and there being plentiful food on offer, it was totally understandable that we should eat well and expansively; so we did. But amidst the pleasures of the flesh we worked: we planned for next year. We decided Jan 1st is not a good day for our next ride, so we'll be finding an alternative date. And, excitingly, OGL is suggesting all kinds of more exotic trips for 2019. Don't be surprised to see that the Social Cycling Group is headed for Mars before too long, such is OGL's ambition.

One advantage of Lasham is that it is mostly downhill from there to Alton, so, having been well-fed and watered, we managed to stop talking long enough to get back on our bikes (with a photo break thrown in) and wheel wearily but contentedly back whence we came. The good people of Alton and its surrounding villages can heave a sigh of relief that order has been restored to their streets, at least until January.

Rob Smith

See photograph in Gallery


SOCIAL CYCLE RIDES will be on the first Tuesday of the month throughout the year. They will start at 10am and will be at a leisurely pace of a distance that the riders are happy with. As far as possible, routes will follow quiet roads, and occasionally, firm off-road tracks.
No one will be left behind!

Although a reasonable level of fitness is desirable, these are social rides, strictly for
pleasure, and are not intended for racing or intensive exercise.
Riders do not need to be super-fit, and it is OK to get off and push when we reach the steeper sections.
All participants must have an e-mail address so that we can keep in touch in case of any last-minute change of plans.

If you are interested in joining this ride, please email:

Please also ensure that your bike is roadworthy.


ALTON U3A, 25th Anniversary Celebratory Boat Trip

Following a number of earlier activities organised to celebrate our Alton U3A’s 25th Anniversary, they came to a climax on Wednesday 11th July when 86 Members boarded two coaches to travel to Henley upon Thames for a Tea Party on a two hour boat ride on the Thames.

The glorious weather we had enjoyed for several weeks continued to be extremely hot but thankfully the coaches were air-conditioned so we were all comfortable as we travelled the 33 miles, to arrive in Henley at around mid-day. After being dropped off very near to the Thames, we all went our own ways to secure lunches and much needed liquids before gathering at two o’clock to board our vessel. This was a beautiful reproduction of a ‘stern wheeler’ appropriately named the ‘Queen of New Orleans’, with a mock paddle wheel and two enormous chimneys’!

Being a large craft, there was ample room for all of us to gather on the exceedingly hot open top deck, but thankfully as we cast off we were treated to the occasional and very welcome waft of breeze!
The on-board bar soon became very busy as numerous jugs of Pimm’s and other drinks were purchased to quell the thirsts of our, by now very hot passengers.

Progressing up stream we viewed some of the wonderful, expensive properties lining the banks until the anticipated announcement came that High Tea was ready to be served down below in the beautifully appointed main cabin. Here we were met with tables full of food stretching the entire length of the cabin, all set before us on linen tablecloths were china plates, dainty cups and saucers and cake stands laden with a variety of dainty sandwiches, cakes and of course, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Chairman Rob said a few well-chosen words before we all set too with the serious business of consuming the feast set before us accompanied by plenty of welcome tea and coffee.

With appetites satisfied, those of us capable of movement made our way back to the upper deck to enjoy the scenery accompanied by a small armada of expensive launches which couldn’t get past us until the way was clear.

All too soon our craft turned about to make the return journey back to the boat yard. Going ashore we sadly had a rather lengthy wait before the arrival of our first coach and an even longer one before the second coach hove into sight. Unfortunately both had been called away to other duties and then had been badly delayed by traffic whilst returning to Henley! The only low point of what had otherwise been an extremely successful outing.

Our sincere thanks were offered to Mary and Paddy for all the rather complicated arrangements involved in what was generally considered to be a fitting way to celebrate our 25th Anniversary.

We now look forward to our 50th!

Contributed by Steve Barnes, who would be happy to publish any other Members accounts of this enjoyable occasion!