Henley-on-Thames

Current News

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Upcoming Events

November 15 we are planning a visit to the Regal Cinema to see the National Theatre production of the hilarious play Hansard on November 15 at midday. Please contact Charles Whittaker at xanadu212@gmail.com asap so that we can book the correct number of tickets. It is booking up quickly.

Culture visits coming up in the next few months include the Royal Ballet's Coppelia on December 10, at the Regal, plus the Henley Orchestra at the Hexagon on November 17. Booking details in the Newsletter.

The Photography Group meets at Christ Church, Reading Road, 2pm on Monday 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 will also delve 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.

Play Reading Group meets again on Monday October 21 for another afternoon of hilarity and reading practice. No previous acting experience required (and no Equity members allowed!)

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

That Was the Week that Was ...

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 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.

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 The Pier Head 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. Oxford Botanical Gardens

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 Elton John 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.

Old Possum 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.

Earlier Activities

Wednesday, January 16 50 members enjoyed the Seasonal Lunch at Badgemore Park Golf Club. Our thanks to Sylvia and Mike for arranging a splendid meal.
Meanwhile ... that morning the more energetic Short Walks group enjoyed a short 3 mile walk around Nettlebed at a leisurely pace and the Long Walks Group have returned from a long weekend in Torquay.

Monday, January 7 the Photography Group met at Christ Church in Reading Road at 2pm to share their efforts and thoughts on the topic of Winter under the knowledgeable guidance of Keith Appleby.

Tuesday, January 8 Keith Appleby gave a fascinating talk the Art History group on David Hockney - his talents and styles to over 50 members and guests.

Wednesday, January 9 Jonathan Woodhouse gave Music in the Army the Monthly Talk about life as a musician in the British Army and the difficulties of playing the clarinet on horseback, an instrument that requires two free hands to play. He also gave a rendition of classical and popular tunes on three different types of saxophone as well as the clarinet. Informative and entertaining.

Thursday, January 3 the Creative Writing Group began a journey into the realms of life writing, with emphasis on memoirs (a popular topic among those of a certain age). We were pleased to welcome two new members to our ranks among the nine attendees.

The Discussion Group welcomed the New Year in on January 2 with a lively and wide-ranging examination on ‘Whether there has been a deterioration of the English Language’ led by Jill Vallis. The discussion covered aspects from basic grammar and ‘traditional’ views of teaching to the impact and significance of regional and post-colonial usage and accents.
In a new venue adjoining Rotherfield Greys church, members also enjoyed the opportunity to see the ornate tomb of Sir Francis Knollys and his second wife, Mary, the sister of Anne Boleyn. They lived at nearby Greys Court, now a National Trust property. Sir Francis was a leading parliamentarian under Elizabeth I and at one time Guardian of Mary Queen of Scots.

General News

We are pleased to report a continuing influx of new members. In addition to the 20 welcomed in the September newsletter, another fifteen have joined in the last two months, enabling us to reach well beyond the milestone of 200 members. Some of this is in response to marketing initiatives and to the new groups set up over the last two years, but much is the result of existing members telling friends about the activities on offer. Thank you to everyone who is contributing to this growth.

----- A new Science Group has been proposed. The group will be a discussion forum on purely scientific subjects. Science and technology affects all of our lives and advances in all fields are happening quickly and bring huge opportunities to every part of society. It is proposed that there be five meetings per year with members leading the discussions according to their interests and expertise. Should you be interested in such a group, please contact Gill Le Du on gill.ledu@btinternet.com.

-----We have a plot, 25B, at Waterman's Allotments on Reading Road, just beyond the Tesco Roundabout. The cost is minimal and is being operated by a small group of members. It is already producing fruit and flowers and has become a focus to restart the Gardening Group that had been lying fallow (pun intended) for a year or so. If you might be interested please contact Catherine Notaras, our Publicity Co-ordinator, on 01491 411407.

We have set up an email address for marketing purposes henleyu3a@gmail.com. You may receive messages from this as well as general information from the henleyu3a@yahoo.com address.
For those on Facebook, there is also a new page 'Henley U3A'. We are still looking at how best to use it. Watch this space!

Recent Activities

The Poetry Group met on Thursday 22nd to read and discuss the poetry and poets of World War I. They discussed not only those poets well known for their participation in that war (Owen, Sassoon, Graves, etc), but also poems written by those not directly involved in the conflict, including the women who stayed behind, many of whom lost husbands there. There was discussion too about the horror of that war, indeed of all wars, and of the range of responses to it. These ranged from the patriotic writings of the early days to those that reflected the growing realisation of its impact on those in the trenches and those left behind. It was an interesting and moving way to remember those who gave their lives and to recall the suffering that war brings.

Monday, 13, November we published the very first anthology of work by members of the Writing, Poetry and Art Groups, 'Memories and Imaginings'. It includes memoirs, fiction, poems and artwork covering a period back to the 1930s and geography stretching from the United States to India. There are a few copies left (though we may do a reprint if there is sufficient demand) available from Charles Whittaker at xanadu212@gmail.com, cost £5.

Wednesday, 13th saw a fascinating talk by Mark Owen the County Archivist of Berkshire on The History of Broadmoor in Victorian Times. Mark has written books on this subject based on extensive research within and beyond the records for which he is responsible. He showed us not only the buildings of the institution, but also the stories of some of those confined within its walls - at times both gruesome and heart-rending. A large audience gave him an enthusiastic welcome and continued with an animated discussion over tea and biscuits.

Wednesday Nov 8 The Discussion Group met to consider The Establishment. We eagerly await the outcome of the discussion, though it is understood that the constitutional monarchy is still in place. Watch this space for updates.

Mariana by Millais Tuesday Nov 7 The Art History Group was joined by members of the Henley Arts and Crafts Guild for an enjoyable and erudite presentation on the paintings of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (Holman Hunt, Millais, Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown) by Keith Appleby. He also explained the principles of the group, the social context and the heavy use of symbolism and moral references in the paintings. An audience of 40 enjoyed and animated discussion over tea and biscuits to follow ... and all this for £1. The Tate have a similar talk on Nov. 19. One is tempted to wonder how much they are charging

Gardening lunch Monday Oct 22 the Gardening Group held its first Gardeners' Question Time followed by lunch at Christ Church, Henley. The experts were Marisa Francini from Henley in Bloom and U3A member Jean Hedges, who lead a lively and informative session. The two-course lunch (excellent value at £6.50!) was an excuse for more discussion, though on a wider range of topics.

Thursday Oct 18 the Art Group held a tutorial on painting landscapes with 'big' skies by Robbie Horsepool using their media of choice. Some beautiful paintings were produced in around an hour and a half.

Monday Oct 15 at 2pm the Play Reading Group entertained each other with No Crime Like the Present, an hilarious comedy by John Waterhouse. The hilarity was enhanced by members attempts at regional accents, at times using different ones for the same character!

A busy week saw the Photography Group on Monday Oct 8 learning the techniques of capturing landscapes, while on Tuesday, Keith Appleby led around 30 members through the mysteries of abstract art. The same evening 14 members attended the live showing of The Importance of Being Earnest from the Vaudeville theatre.

The monthly talk on Wednesday featured two members of Wokingham U3A, Margaret and David Edwards, telling entertaining stories about their retirement activity as extras in films and TV. Their appearances ranged from adverts for B & Q to Eastenders alongside Barbara Windsor and even a Bond film. The on-set breakfasts sounded pretty attractive too!

Friday Oct 6 the Long Walks Group chose a lovely day to travel along the river from Reading and then north to Sonning Common, following a leisurely lunch outdoors at the Flowing Spring pub in Playhatch.

Thursday Oct 5 8 members of the Creative Writing Group (the largest number ever) had a lively meeting giving each other feedback on their attempts at 'openings' using the techniques learned the previous month.

On Thursday Sept 27th the Poetry Group met to look at the Romantic Poets (Byron, Shelley, Coleridge, Blake etc.) and the Book Group later discussed Last Orders by Graham Swift.

Wine tasting Friday Sept 14 Fourteen members of the Wine Appreciation Group held a wine tasting of South African wines, ably and kindly lead by Frances Walker the wine expert from Waitrose in Twyford. She taught us about the various wine growing districts in the Cape Town region and selected an interesting variety of white and red wines from her shelves.The evening was enhanced by a selection of cheese, cold meats, bread biscuits and a delicious apple cake (to go with the dessert wine). Many thanks to Dianne Sharp for organising things and to Tony and Pat Cobb for hosting the evening ... and washing up all those glasses afterwards!

Harold Wilson Wednesday, Sept 12, we restarted the Monthly Talks following the summer break with Elizabeth Atkinson, a member of Guildford U3A, on Why Harold Wilson resigned as Prime Minister in 1976 - described by The Daily Telegraph as 'one of the most compelling conundrums of modern political history'. A very well researched talk was accompanied by photos of the 1960s and 70s, including amusing cartoons and sensationalist journalism. She took us through a range of reasons for his resignation, from the turbulent international and domestic political environment of the time and serious divisions within the cabinet to Mary Wilson's dislike of Downing Street. A hint that political life has changed little in the last 50 years perhaps?

Henley Show Saturday, Sept 8 our Publicity Co-ordinator, Catherine Notaras, and committee member Denise Keir put on a fantastic stand at the Henley Show, which attracted admiring glances from many passers by, even those with no interest in our activities. It would be fair to say that we cut the adjacent Bonsai Show down to size (pun intended). More importantly, we succeeded in signing up ten new members, which was the main purpose for our being there.

Thursday Sept 6, the Creative Writing Group discuss the techniques of writing openings for their stories/novels/memoirs, drawing, for guidance and inspiration, on examples ranging from Dick Francis to Salman Rushdie.

Wednesday Sept 5 the Discussion Group dealt with the topic 'Newspapers: Do they have a future? Do they accurately reflect the past'. Lead by an ex-journalist, it brought out, as you might expect, a variety of views, some, apparently, unprintable!

Tuesday Sept 4 Our resident expert, Keith Appleby, gave a fascinating talk on Women Artists – society’s view and their contribution to art, opening a window on many largely, and undeservedly, little known painters, photographers and sculptors. The 20th century ones included (for those wishing to research them) Julia Margaret Cameron, Mary Cassatt, Suzanne Valedon, Berthe Morisot, Laura Knight, Dod Proctor, Alethea Garstin, Gwen John, Vanessa Bell, Tamara De Lempicka, Georgia O'Keefe, Elizabeth Frink, Louise Borgeois, Dorethea Lange, Barbara Hepworth, Bridgit Riley, Diane Arbus, Paula Rego,Tracey Emin & Rachael Whitread .

The new Photography Group met for the first time in late June. Keith Appleby gave an introductory talk and set the members a task which will be the basis for feedback and discussion at the July meeting.

The Gardening Group has been particularly active in recent weeks, having visited gardens in Gloucestershire and joining the Caversham Horticultural Society trip to the Botanical Gardens in Oxford. There is also a regular monthlylunch at the Christ Church Centre.

-----June 18. A group of 10 members were given a private tour of Hearns House, part of the National Gardens Scheme, hosted by the owners, John and Joan Pumphrey. In addition to the beautiful trees, plants and sculptures, we enjoyed tea and cake in the sunshine. The visit was organised by the newly formed Gardening Group, but other members were happy to join them.

-----Tuesday, June 12 saw the first meeting of the new Spanish group as members practised their, at times rusty, knowledge under the lively leadership of Patricia Poll, a native Spanish speaker from Peru. Meetings will be held fortnightly. The next one will be on
June 25. Later dates will be agreed when further members who have expressed interest are able to attend. Please contact a committee member if you would like to join the group.

----- Monday, June 4 Sacred Heart Church Hall, 2pm.
Charles Whittaker - Modigliani and the Tate Modern Exhibition 2018. 25 members and guests enjoyed a talk on the history and developing style of this prolific but underrated artist whose range and original style made him a central figure in the Paris art scene of the early 20th century. The talk was followed by lively conversation over tea and coffee.

The May talk was entitled Tax Care and Toy Boys, and attracted an expectant audience. David Murfitt described ways of using trusts to minimise inheritance tax and other tax saving methods, as well as offering a free fiscal health check. Sadly, those looking for a 'toy boy' were disappointed!

The Gardening Group have started work on their new allotment. Under the guidance of expert Graham Harris they have planted broad beans, chard, raspberries and ‘knobbly’ potatoes. This activity has also given them an excuse for regular lunches, presumably in anticipation of the home-grown produce to come. Visits to gardens are also being planned. Contact Catherine Notaras (see above) to join the group, or to get more details on future plans.

-----Monday, April 16 Sacred Heart Church Hall, 2pm
Keith Appleby Gave his third talk on 20th century art covering a range of topics including abstract expressionism; the St Ives group; Op and Pop art, as well as environmental art and the landscape. He examined the key figures and their influence on art today. Sadly, less people than expected attended the talk. It is hoped that future talks will attract the higher numbers who attended earlier talks. Keith has offered to repeat the talk in the Autumn for those unable to make this last one.

Wednesday, April 11, - The Annual General Meeting of Henley U3A was held, with over 40 members attending. The chairman reported increased membership for the first time in several years and an increase in the number of groups from 10 to 15 plus two more about to start. Coffee and biscuits. art exhibits and conversation ended a positive meeting.

Sunday, April 8# Allotment Eight members attended a practical gardening demonstration at our Allotment 25B on Waterman's Allotments on Reading Road. Coffee and cakes proved an extra incentive!