Mayfield & District


Mayfield U3A General Meeting, on Thursday 19th July - reviewed by Anna Thompson

Music for a sunny afternoon……..

Aptly, whether by design or chance, the opening number of our musical meeting was “Bring me Sunshine’, made memorable of course, by Morecambe and Wise.

Our duo, pianist Jane Spur and flautist Diana Simmons were equally entertaining and just as talented. They are good friends as well as accomplished musicians, and the warmth of their musical relationship was obvious. Relaxed and full of anecdotes, they played Bach, Fauré, The Pink Panther - the list went on to cover a great variety of songs and styles.

I’m very surprised no-one got up and tap danced their way through Baby Face, nor did anyone join in with Annie’s Song, (or not very audibly) but by the end, and with the help of a word sheet we did all finish with aplomb, singing We’ll Meet Again.

And we will all meet again, but not until September, when the next meeting will be about eight-legged furry things…….

However, back to the music. Jane dealt with a sustaining pedal that squeaked and groaned loudly every time she pressed it and Diana good naturedly joined with the jokes that came thick and fast. Jane has a truly hilarious sense of fun, and one is never sure what is coming next.

The meeting was supposed to have been the AGM, but as it gave Jane and Diana more time in which to amuse us, it was a cloud with a very silver lining!

By the way, if you want to know why Bach had 20 (at the last count) children, you should have been there….

Anna Thompson


Rails to Road and Back AgainTalk - reviewed by Anna Thompson

The general meeting this month was called Rails to Road and Back Again, and was the history of freight.

As ever when a speaker is knowledgeable and passionate about a subject, it becomes interesting for everyone, and Keith Harcourt, (historical Model Railway Society and a co-founder of the Archives and Artifacts Study Network) cleverly used Mayfield as an example of the changes in our transport systems.

He took us from packhorses to modern day trucks and trains but it seems Mayfield lacked canals!

Obviously containers are the key to commercial success these days, and there were some fascinating photographs to illustrate the points Keith was making and to emphasise the vast scale of global freight traffic.

Anna Thompson


Hearthrobs - A History of Women and Desire" - reviewed by Anna Thompson.

Carol Dyhouse, a social historian and Professor Emeritus of the University of Sussex, came to our May general meeting and entranced us all.

Author of many books on a range of related subjects, Carol’s talk was based on the wide ranging research for her book of the same title.

Beginning with Byron (although the subject has been relevant through the centuries), and leaving us with boy bands, Carol showed us how the image, or style, of a hearthrob has changed with the times - as women have become more in control of their lives and have consequently more power, there is less need to find a ‘strong’ man to take us into the sunset, with or without the white charger!

There are many profound points to be made on this subject, as well as the more superficial and amusing ones, and Carol made what is actually a deeply interesting and pertinent topic extremely entertaining, and left us all discussing various aspects (and perhaps our own personal choice of hearthrob?) over our tea and biscuits.

A talk not to be missed, so take a moment and Google her book.......

Anna Thompson


Ightham Mote Talk - reviewed by Anna Thompson

Heather Woodward, one of our members and a well known local speaker, came to talk to us on April 19th on the subject of Ightham Mote.

The fact that Heather obviously knows and loves this ancient and rather romantic house shone through her talk.

We were given a blend of historical fact and architectural information, which was interspersed with domestic snippets by former  staff members together with fascinating stories about the various families who have owned it over the centuries.

It’s no castle and it never had to defend itself - though it does have a moat! Perhaps its hidden location in the midst of small lanes and rather rolling farmland lends to a sense of secrecy and meant no-one could find it.  It does seem to suddenly pop unexpectedly up from behind a hedge as one rounds a corner!

It was a beautifully balanced talk and gave enough of a feeling of the enchantment of the buildings to make you want to get in the car and drive straight there. Not only can you go and see it, but you can pack your pyjamas and several books and go and stay in one of the historic restored cottages lying within the grounds.  Now that is tempting……

Before you go, whether for a day or several, if you are a lover of well researched historical fiction, I would recommend you read Green Darkness, by Anya Seyton who, like the last owner and indeed rescuer of this wonderful house, is an American with a love of England. I won’t give the story away, but houses of great age and mystery make many things seem plausible.

On the strength of Heather’s knowledge and enthusiasm alone, I  will certainly be wending my way towards Sevenoaks and Ightham Mote before too long and I suggest you do too!

Anna Thompson


To find out more about Ightham Mote why not visit the National Trust website at: Ightham Mote|


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