Newsletter - ThirdThursday
DECEMBER 2020 NUMBER 48 Editor Peter Mitchell
With Christmas only a week away, we can look back on a very strange year. Everything we normally do in the U3A changed from 23 March, and a few groups, about a dozen or so, have been able to meet using Zoom or another video conferencing software programme. I know that the vast majority of us have strived to follow the rules and restrictions, as they have evolved over the last nine months. Life has been very different for all of us and especially lonely for those on their own. I am sure some couples find it challenging spending the whole day and week in the same place, wishing one of them could go to their group every now or then. However, as Professor Van Tam says, there is light at the other end of the tunnel.
The Pfizer vaccine has arrived in the UK and the vaccination programme has begun on the highest priority of residents in care homes, their carers, those over 80 and frontline health and social care workers. The programme will then move down through the age groups - those over 75, then over 70, over 65 etc down to those over 50 with those clinically extremely vulnerable and those with underlying health conditions being included at the appropriate stage depending on their age and health condition.
It is amazing to think that in less than a year, scientists across the world have six or seven other potential vaccines at different stages of development. I heard yesterday that the allocation of the Pfizer vaccine for our area has already been used up, so we are probably waiting for the next big distribution from the factory in Belgium. We can only hope that the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine is soon approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), as this would vastly increase the availability of vaccine doses and simplify the distribution across the UK. The current forecast is that most of us will have been given the opportunity to have the vaccine by the spring. I cannot wait to have the vaccine and I would encourage everyone else to have it when they are given the opportunity.
In the meantime, we must take the utmost care to protect ourselves and follow the guidance – Hands, Face and Space. The number of confirmed cases in the South East is certainly growing fast in Kent and some areas of East Sussex. There has been a dramatic increase over the past few weeks in Hastings which has had noticeably low numbers until October.
The Government has confirmed that there will not be a change in the Christmas Bubble rules allowing up to three households meeting indoors over the period 23 to 27 December. However, many of us are reviewing our Christmas plans to ensure that the mixing with other households is minimised so we protect ourselves, the older generation, especially those with underlying health conditions. I know it would be good to share Christmas with those we have not seen all year or so, but then that is when we are at the greatest risk. Remember to stay socially distanced from the younger family members, and definitely no hugging!
A socially distanced Christmas reminded me of a painting I did a few years ago, showing a snow lit scene and no one about!
Wishing you a safe and merry Christmas and a far more enjoyable New Year.
Our Groups - Reports and Updates
Geology and Landscape Group
This group had their first meeting in November on Zoom. It was very successful with 14 attending. We will continue next month and include virtual coffee and mince pies.
The group enjoyed a seasonally festive Zoom meeting for their last meeting in 2020. Thoroughly enjoyable and a fitting way to end a very frustrating year where they were unable to pursue their usual activities. A number of their images from 2020 are in folders on our BHU3A images Smugmug website for all U3A members to view. To see them go to the BHU3A website, select Photographic Group under Groups Page and click U3a Photo Group Images under Links.
Their first of the New Year is on Wednesday 6 January at 7.30pm. Their Photographic Group Zoom meetings are open to all Burgess Hill U3A members during the Covid restrictions; if you are interested send your request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photograph by George Backshall
As you know Margaret Carroll has organised many outings for our U3A and one which has been enjoyed by many over the years has been a Christmas Concert at the Albert Hall. Well we can’t go this year but if members are interested you can use the first link below for the Royal Albert Hall Songbook Christmas Special lasting for 30 minutes. There is also a song sheet which can be downloaded, Second Link, so you can join in, in the best Albert Hall tradition.
Thank you Margaret
First Link - Video
Second Link - Song Sheet
Thank you Christine and Michael Gibbons
Five in, with One to Arrive!
So, 'OE' bear did ensure that 'far east' bear was on the correct train from Istanbul to Belgrade via Bucharest, travelling a total of some 650 miles. Having already travelled thousands of miles from the clutches of the law enforcement agencies 'far east' bear is a bit travel weary and falls asleep just as the train crosses the boarder into Bulgaria. As 'insurance' 'OE' bear has asked staff members on the train to keep a watch on 'far east' bear. Following a well earned sleep 'far east' bear realises that the train is nearing Bucharest and has always wanted to visit the iconic Palatul Parlamentului with its 1,100 rooms. Following the visit 'far east' bear returns to the train station and continues the journey to Belgrade, some 350 miles away. Arriving at Belgrade one of 'OE' bear's contacts meets 'far east' bear and offers a tour of the city. The tour, a two day affair, includes the Beogradska Tvrđava, an imposing fortress, plus many other old and new buildings. The second evening sees a gathering of the Serbian Bears all pleased to meet with 'far east' bear to hear of 'far east' bear's travels. The following morning, up early although rather sleepy, 'far east' bear catches the train to Vienna.
The Final Part - At last I hear you say!
A short respite in Vienna was very welcomed by ‘south east’ bear before travelling on to Strasbourg, the next stop. ‘OE2’ bear had organised one of the Austrian bears to look after ‘south east’ bear. A guided tour for ‘south east’ bear with visits to St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna State Opera, palaces and, of course, the Danube plus the Naschmarkt where ‘south east’ bear purchased a selection of Austrian goodies to take home. So much to see in such a short time! After three days in Vienna it was time to move on.
Vienna to Strasbourg is a quick hop in terms of mileage and ‘south east’ bear was enjoying the scenery aided by one of ‘OE2’’s bears as a guide. It certainly helped the time go by. Admiring the mountains of southern Austria into southern Germany followed by the and then across the border into France, arriving in Strasbourg on time.
No chance for a guided tour of Strasbourg, other than to purchase a selection of French cheeses, as the train for Paris is due to depart very soon.
Arriving in Paris, with no guided tour, ‘far east’ bear is met by one of ‘OE2’’s bears who guides ‘far east’ bear to the local heliport.
Now, ‘far east’ bear has never ever been inside one let alone flown in one. However, the pilot, very experienced ‘copterone’ bear (three stripes plus black leather gloves), sets ‘far east’ bear’s mind at rest; and off they go to the nearest landing place to home, probably a field. What a fantastic experience for ‘far east’ bear.
Landing, after an uneventful but very pleasant flight, ‘far east’ bear gathers together the goodies purchased in Vienna and Strasbourg and hurries home across the fields for a very warm and joyous welcome by the five ‘at home’ bears.
At last all six bears are now together; what stories and tales they will exchange over the coming days, weeks, months and, perhaps, years.
All six bears now back together
Please pass a copy of Third Thursday to those who you know do not have email.
Please send your news, photographs and comments to Peter Mitchell at email@example.com or by post to 11 Wingle Tye Road, Burgess Hill RH15 9HR for the next Third Thursday due out on 21 January 2021 Copy date is three days before the publication date.
Seasonal and Yuletide Greetings and All Good Wishes for 2021.
Preview YouTube video Royal Albert Hall Songbook - Christmas Special