Henley-on-Thames

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Most of our groups have been able to continue through the COVID difficulties thanks to the determination of our members and group leaders, with the help of technology in various forms. The Art History talks by Keith Appleby have not only survived on Zoom, but have been extended with mini-talks each fortnight. Other groups using Zoom successfully are Italian, Photography, Creative Writing, Poetry plus, most recently, the Monthly Talks programme, as well as Committee Meetings.
In other groups, the Opera Group is active watching performances from the Royal Opera House and elsewhere with e-mail discussion. The Walks and Allotment groups are now back in full swing with appropriate social distancing in place. The gardening group continues to communicate by e-mail.
Only the French, Discussion and Play Reading are in abeyance as the members felt video-conferencing did not suit them.
Nationally, a Facebook site has been set up U3A: Keeping in Touch which has an eclectic range of input, including puzzles to keep the mind active and reports of what other U3As are doing to stay active.
If you would like to continue to enjoy your usual group activities, please let your group leader or a member of the committee know. We are building a level of expertise in online contacts that we are happy to share in setting up virtual meetings or assisting individuals to set up Zoom video-conferencing.

If you are aware of any members who are living alone and might appreciate a call to break the loneliness that the self-isolation is inevitably creating, please call them from time to time. Let a committee member know if you think that others might be able to help in contacting those living alone.

Breaking News Henley U3A has just held its first group meeting using the Zoom video-conferencing app. Eight members had an excellent discussion on D H Lawrence and the pleasure of seeing and hearing each other (safely) in these difficult times. Everyone was delighted at the outcome.
The plan now is for this opportunity to be rolled out to as many groups as wish to adopt it. This will require some guidance to get people started so will take a little time until we have sufficient people to provide that support. Please investigate Zoom via their website and download the app. Please be patient with those support people.

Keeping in Touch As you are no doubt aware, government guidelines currently advise keeping away from close contact with others, particularly in large groups. As a result, U3A group meetings around the country are being suspended. But all is not lost. Virtual meetings and other contacts are being set up. Here in Henley WhatsApp (https://www.whatsapp.com/) groups are being set up to keep in touch on an asynchronous basis. The Photography group is working in this way, sharing photos, feedback and ideas, so far successfully. The Opera group is active in sharing information about online performances from the Royal Opera House. These are free on YouTube.
Beyond that we are working to establish virtual meetings using a conferencing app called Zoom (https://zoom.us/). The Poetry Group is aiming to hold its March meeting on D H Lawrence in this format, supported by the exchange of poems and background via e-mail. If successful, this will be rolled out to other groups who wish to adopt it. As Zoom allows up to 100 people simultaneously, it might be possible to continue with the Art History and General Talks, or even hold the AGM that way, but these are cloud thinking at the moment.
If you are interested in getting involved in these opportunities to keep in touch with other members via Zoom or WhatsApp, please contact Charles Whittaker, who will help you to set them up. There are also YouTube videos that give detailed tutorials. Zoom also allows you to virtually meet others as well. Some people are using it to talk to their families this Mother's Day.
'Self Isolation' does not mean we have to be totally alone in these difficult times.

Other Online Opportunities Various websites are offering free material to keep us entertained. Audible is offering a range of audio books free of charge. The Royal Opera House is showing full length opera and ballet performances via YouTube and the Globe Theatre is showing performances of Shakespeare and others, some (though not all) are free.
We shall try to keep you informed via this page of similar opportunities.

The Bridge Group is growing fast and has two experienced players to guide relative beginners. Contact Denise Keir for more information.

Henley U3A is delighted to report that over 60 new members have joined us in the last 12 months. Many thanks are due to the committee for implementing its marketing strategy so successfully, group leaders for organising activities and to all members who have been recommending us to friends.

That Was the Week that Was ...

March 11 2pm at Henley YMCA Elizabeth Atkinson will give a talk on the enigmatic title The Pudding King's Treasure

March 4 the Discussion Group considered the question 'Should we play sport with or against countries of whose regimes we disapprove'.

The Creative Writing Group is delighted to report the addition of several new members in recent months. They are currently looking at, and practising, narration options and point of view.

Mar 3 Keith Appleby's Art History presentation was very well attended by almost sixty members and guests. The topic of Expressionism proved to be fascinating, introducing challenging works from a range of artists in the early 20th century and linking the movement with others of the same period.

February 20 the Book Group will be sharing their views on Kate Atkinson's recently published novel Transition, a story set in 1940 about a young girl eighteen years old who finds herself unexpectedly in a world of espionage and later as she worked at the BBC, where her past comes back to haunt her.

February 12 The Monthly Talk at Henley YMCA Ian Jones gave a well received talk on the topic of Bomb Disposal - and I still have ten fingers. The speaker shared his first hand experience of this hazardous occupation.

February 10 the Play Reading Group completed Neil Simon's play Barefoot in the Park complete with American accents from the more adventurous and lots of hilarity all round.

February 4 an audience of 55 members and guests attended the Art History talk,a fascinating exposition of the history and techniques of landscape painting by Keith Appleby.

This year's seasonal lunch was held on January 15 at Henley Golf Club in Harpsden. Around 50 members enjoyed an excellent lunch and convivial company.

The Discussion Group met on January 8 at Christ Church to examine Media Morals. Ranging from sex and violence to fake news, from Facebook to the newspapers, this turned out to be a varied and fascinating session.

The two walking groups spent a long weekend in Exmouth in early January. We are still awaiting the photos of evidence that they ventured beyond the local pubs! Watch this space.

The Royal Ballet's Coppelia on December 10, at the Regal proved to be an exceptional evening of imaginative choreography and brilliant performance for a dozen or so of our members.

Twelve members of the Film Group met on November 25 The Good Liar starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren. A clever film with some excellent acting on the perils of computer dating for the elderly. Worth a visit if you haven't yet seen it.

A Coffee Morning took place on December 11, at Toad Hall Cafe. our annual opportunity to not only meet other members but also to see the Christmas gifts and decorations on display in the garden centre. Over 20 members were able to enjoy coffee and cake.

Earlier Activities

November 15 12 members enjoyed a visit to the Regal Cinema to see the National Theatre production of the hilarious play Hansard. Everyone found the play impressive for its range of emotion, comedy, sharp script and the brilliant acting of Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings.

On November 13 Ian Keable's talk covered deception used in the 18th century to, in many cases, horrify the population with some outrageous hoaxes. Ian is a professional magician so deception is a ‘stock in trade’

The Photography Group met at Christ Church, Reading Road, on November 7 to examine what members made of last month's exercise of taking a photo where the observer might ask 'What is that'. (most of my pictures would qualify!) Keith also delved into the technical aspects of Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Macrophotography. I have difficulty even saying all that, let alone knowing what it all means. Next month's task is to photograph objects whose form sets out the letters of our names.

October 9 the Film Group went to see Downton Abbey (the movie!). Like many of the reviews, members were somewhat underwhelmed by the production. We'll find a more interesting film next time, I'm sure.

October 9 Monthly Talk was a cheese lovers talk to remember given by International Cheese Judge John Pearson. The talk was peppered with fascinating cheese facts and a very welcome tasting session

October 8 The Klimt: Medicine and Hygeia A large audience of 56 members were treated to Keith Appleby giving us an insight into the weird and wonderful worldview of Gustav Klimt. Symbolism, sexuality and the human psyche (I found those on a website!) combined with colourful images and an 'unconventional' lifestyle to make this a fascinating talk.

September 26 the Poetry Group delved into the work of W H Auden, one of those poets most people have heard of but few know much about. His engagement with the social and political environment proved interesting, as did his variety of form. A man very much at the centre of the poetry world from the 1930s to 1960s.

September 25 The Coffee Morning at Toad Hall attracted 16 people including a new member on the day, Terry Kenyon, and one recent joiner, Stuart Lane. Welcome to Henley U3A! Conversation, as usual on these occasions was lively as members took the opportunity to meet friends from other activities.

September 23 Garden Visit Sept 2019 Our gardening and allotment group members had a good September get together lunch at Christ Church. Afterwards, either by car or on foot, 11 members visited the splendid garden of Doris and Martyn Jenkins. Huge thanks to this inspirational couple for their hospitality and enthusiasm. It will be a tough act to follow but we hope this visit will be the first of many garden visits to come.

September 14 From Henley Show 2019 Many thanks to Henley U3A Members, Denise Keir and Lynne and Keith Appleby for their tremendous help at the Henley Show in setting up the stand and engaging with the many visitors interested in the U3A and what our membership has to offer. The show was a great success and we hope to be invited back next year. No less than 14 potential members expressed an interest in joining and left their details.

September 11 Tom Way gave a beautiful and gripping presentation of his fine art photography principally featuring African wildlife. Many members took away superb photographs from Tom’s portfolio.

Your latest Newsletter (in a more strident yellow than the primrose ordered) should have reached your letterbox during the last week in August. If it hasn't please let a committee member know. The same information is also included on this website or can be downloaded from the Welcome page, if you prefer.

September 3 A large audience attended the Art History talk by the very knowledgeable Keith Appleby. His subject was The Newlyn School of ----- Artists, a group that operated in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th. Having lived in Cornwall for many years, Keith was able to offer a fascinating insight into artists almost unknown to many of his listeners. Using mainly realist representation, if at times somewhat romanticised, they captured life in the tiny fishing village, from the hardships of the fishing village to middle class weddings and processions and the impressive Cornish landscape. Attracted by the light quality and the scenery, they preferred to paint outdoors, although many paintings were of indoor scenes (perhaps due to the unpredictable Cornish weather, in which, as Keith explained, the rain falls horizontally rather than vertically!)

September 2 Fifteen members of the Film Group attended the showing of Mrs Lowry and Son starring Timothy Small and Vanessa Redgrave. The discussion afterwards Lowry focused on the intense relationship between the domineering invalid mother and artistic son whose work she was incapable of appreciating. For his part, his painting was partly an escape from the claustrophobic environment as her carer and partly his need to explore his imagination amid the cotton mills and grime of south-east Lancashire and represent on canvas life as he saw it. The absence of a strong plot line helped to highlight the emotional aspects, which most found engaging in itself. An enjoyable and well made, if often depressing film.

Summer Lunch The Summer Buffet Lunch, a new initiative took place on Wednesday August 28. It included prosecco before a two course lunch including coronation chicken, three different quiches, smoked salmon and chocolate roulade, with wine or soft drinks, followed by coffee. A veritable feast for £10. Even The Catherine Wheel can't beat that! 40 members had a wonderful time. Many thanks to Ros, Lynette, Lyn, Keith and everyone who helped with organising it.

The Poetry Group met on Aug. 22 to discuss the life and work of Gerard Manley Hopkins and to try to get to grips with the concept of 'Sprung Rhythm'. Dum-di-di-di, dum-di, dum-di-di ...
Glory be to God for dappled things –Gerard Manley Hopkins
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
And learners of steadily advancing years

An interesting morning thanks to the research and thoughts shared by members.

On August 15 a small group of gardening enthusiasts visited the Oxford Botanical Garden, travelling on public transport to help save the planet. One member practised her learning from the photography group as can be seen here. -----

In early August no less that 17 members of the Wine Appreciation group tasted a range of wines and had to 'guess' the origin and the grape variety of each ... with mixed success. We were good at tasting and useless at guessing! But we had a wonderful time as usual.

The topic for the Poetry Group in July was Imtiaz Dharker, the lady who turned down the Poet Laureate job, which went to Simon Armitage who we had talked about in June. Both, in a sense, are talking to us as outsiders, one from a Pakistani feminist perspective and the latter from that strange kingdom called Yorkshire. An interesting couple of months on works that were not familiar to us before we started.

Sudely Castle In June 12 members of the Gardening Group joined the Caversham Horticultural Society on a visit to Sudely Castle in Gloucestershire to stroll the elegant gardens and house. Originally built in Tudor times, one of its claims to fame is that it is the burial site of Queen Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, the only queen to be interred in private grounds.

Monday May 27 Ten ----- members of the film group attended a matinee showing of Rocketman. Discussion afterwards suggested that people though the biopic of Elton John was lively and entertaining as well as giving interesting insights into the life of the star performer.

-----Thursday May 23 By popular demand the Poetry group plunged further into modernism and the depths of T S Eliot, this time The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrockand Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

Monday, May 20 The Play Reading Group read Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular Acts One and Two. Act Three to follow next time.

Wednesday, May 8 The monthly talk was given by the former chief magistrate for Oxfordshire who explained the structure and workings of magistrates courts in a clear and often humorous way. He has invited us to a tour of the Oxford courts later in the year (no handcuffs will be used).

Kew visit April saw a first visit by the Gardening Group to Kew Gardens. On a sunny day members travelled by train and underground to enjoy the horticultural pleasures of, arguably, Britain's premier garden (apologies to Wisley!). Here are Lyn, Jean and Dorothy among the Spring blossoms.

April 10 - the AGM was well attended, followed by tea, biscuits and an exhibition of work from the Art, Poetry, Photography and Creative Writing groups. Thanks to everyone who gave up a couple of hours in a sunny garden to be there.

The Playreading Group met on Monday, March 18 to read Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. With a cast of 10 and only 4 attending, members found themselves at times talking to themselves, in different voices and accents, with hilarious results!

Thursday, March 28 10am - the Poetry Group met to discuss 'What is Poetry' and offer constructive feedback on members work. This proved to be an interesting and wide-ranging discussion between differing views on the subject.

Kitchener Wednesday, March 13 The Monthly Talk by Professor Ian Beckett gave us fascinating and well-researched insights into army recruitment during The Great War, 1914-18. He explored the facts and myths surrounding the process in that momentous time in British and European history.

Friday, March 8 The Italian group started on definite and indefinite articles as well as practising reading and pronunciation under the expert guidance of Anna Rossi. Next meeting is on March 29 at the home of Jean Hedges.

Thursday, March 7 The writing group gave feedback on members work to complete a 3-month coverage of memoir writing and were given a brief introduction to characterisation, the topic for the next quarter.

Wednesday, March 6 The Discussion Group addressed the question Are we all complicit in modern slavery? under the erudite guidance of Denise Keir. Various forms of slavery were covered from people trafficking and immigration to the production of cheap goods in third world countries and domestic abuse.

Tuesday, March 5 40 attendees enjoyed an erudite skip through 24 'isms' of art history by Keith Appleby. He explained their characteristics and showed examples of each, from neo-classicism, through impressionism, cubism, fauvism, etc. to something called 'stuckism', which no-one had ever heard of!

Monday, March 4 the photography group shared their pictures on the topic of architecture. Members submitted photos from as far afield as China and Brazil.
Next month will be a practical session outdoors, but looking for 'abstract' subject matter - no nature, real life or people. Meet at the River & Rowing Museum April 1st, 2pm.