iU3A News

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Our Newsletter
Islington U3A produces a newsletter three to four times a year. We let every member know when there is a new one, sending them a link so that they can easily see it online. To see our latest (Summer 2019) newsletter click here

For previous newsletters click here

Our Bulletins
For our latest Bulletin click here.

PREVIOUS NEWS

Pub Quiz 2019
We held our annual pub quiz in February 2019 and for a change held it in the Canonbury Tavern. As always it was well supported with 58 members buying a ticket for the event. A number of members meet beforehand to eat at the Tavern and then we took up our team places upstairs. Again we were using Jez Worsnip as our
professional quizmaster for the evening. Jez designs the questions especially for iU3A and of course the judges' word is final! As always it's a great opportunity to test the grey matter and get to know other members.

Pub Quiz at the
                                              Canonbury TavernTen teams battled it out with mixed fortunes. The musical round had caused some pains to most teams and there was a clear leader. In the second half the favourites (Team: 'F' Word) lost some ground but were still clear winners.
So another successful event enjoyed by all. Thanks to Anne, Ann, Mary, Kathryn and Christine for organising the event. We are all looking forward to next year's already.

Last Monthly Meeting
July‘Diaghilev in London’ preseGraham Bennettnted by Graham Bennett, who told a light-hearted story of the incredible links that formed between Russian and English ballet during the early 1900s, mainly through the work of Sergei Diaghilev, who was born in Chodovsky District of Russia in 1872. Diaghilev grew up to become an art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballet Russe — probably his greatest achievement. Created in 1909, the productions of the Ballet Russe revolutionised 20th century arts and continue to influence cultural activity today.

Diaghilev helped to launch the careers of many artists who remain well known today: Igor Stravinsky, Russian dancers Mikhail Fokine and Vaslav Nijinsky, and exotic designer Leon Bakst. Coco Chanel, Picasso, Alicia Markova, Isadora Duncan and Ninette de Valois all had links with the Ballet Russe. Although he gathered a wide range of composers, choreographers, designers and performers around him he always maintained ultimate control of his productions.

Following its success in Paris and New York, the Ballet Russe came to London in 1911. Russians were astonished to find that the theatre where they were to perform was surrounded by a fruit market. A local girl, Hilda Mannings, aged 15, had joined the troupe and became their first English ballerina. She performed in The Rite of Spring, a scandalous production which played to packed houses. Hilda was later to change her name to Lydia Sokolova.

The Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova joined the Ballet Russe in 1910 and became romantically involved with the economist John Maynard Keynes, who turned up nightly in London to watch her perform. They later married and together founded the Cambridge Arts Theatre. With her assistance he became an adviser on the constitution of the Arts Council.

The English ballet scene owes much to Diaghilev, and the Ballet Russe was a forerunner for Marie Rambert, Sadler’s Wells, The Royal Opera House and The Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet).

 
For information about our previous monthly talks see here.

AGM
On 22 November iU3A held its AGM. The annual accounts were presented and five members elected on to the Executive Committee to replace resigning members. You can see all the subjects addressed here.

Open Day 2018
Open DayIn October our Open Day was also our fifth birthday celebration. Again this proved very popular and enabled non-members to meet us and find out about all the things iU3A does. As in previous years there was an excellent turnout with over 200 attending (151 members and 50 non-members). Out of the 50, 23 joined iU3A on the day and many others took away forms, so we hope to hear from them again soon. The existing members who turned up used the chance to see what other groups were on offer and sign up to them. Everybody also enjoyed our delicious birthday cake and had a good natter. This year the 'star' who cut our birthday cake was our acting Vice Chair, Ruth Gee.

Open Day 2018 StallsOpen Day 2018 Cake cuttingWith over 60 interest groups on display there were many great displays. Eight potential new groups were also being advertised to gauge interest and support. Visible and audible displays charmed the audience as they strolled around. All the existing Group Coordinators and their helpers did an excellent job of explaining what their group did and hence encouraged many to sign up. Hopefully this exercise also encouraged more members to be brave enough to volunteer to be Coordinators.

A special thanks must go to the sub-committee which organised another successful day, particularly to Sue Welsford, Diane Austin, Margaret Wearing and Isabel Dickson for coordinating the whole event. The Open Day is our major showcase for members and to the public who might be interested in joining.


Summer Party 2019
Summer Party1Summer Party6In June we held our annual Summer Party for all members. The venue was the Olden Gardens and it was looking its best — particularly the rambling rose. This tranquil haven is a glorious backdrop for our jolly party. This year we sold 108 tickets allowing us to just about cover the costs.

The weather forecast had threatened rain
— again. However it held off, but it wasn't that warm.

The booze lasted well this year so all were happy, Summer Party5in fact the challenge was
getting people to vacate the gardens at the end when our time was up.

Much
socialising and milling around had been possible — to chat to friends and make new friendships. Thanks to Lesley Delacourt for again bringing the bubbly back from France at a very low cost allowing us all to benefit from the low ticket price.


Thanks also to Diane Austin and other volunteers for organising this event.

Summer Party2Summer Party3Summer Party4


Group Coordinators
In April we held the annual Group Coordinators' meeting. As usual there was a full agenda and plenty of healthy debate. There was a good turnout with over 60% of coordinators attending. The Chair kicked things off with a welcome and then some feedback from recent surveys and initiatives. The full presentation can be viewed here.

Coordinators Lunch1Coordinators Lunch2In January (2019) we held a 'thankyou' lunch for all our Group Coordinators. 45 attended, a good majority of the total we have. They were all thanked for the efforts they provided in running their groups. Our activity groups make up the majority of what we offer in iU3A, so we are highly dependent on these volunteers. Unlike the annual Group Coordinators' Meeting this was not about training but merely a thankyou. However it still provided an opportunity for the Group Coordinators to exchange ideas amongst themselves and learn about other group activities. While the service was a bit slow the conversation flowed.



Coordinators Lunch2It was also an opportunity to put a face to a name on an email. All seemed to enjoy the event.

A big thankyou to Sue and Judith for organising the event.
 
Results from the recent (June 2018) Group Coordinators survey can be read here.




iU3A Outings — Previous Visits
June 2019 (24th, Midsummer's Day) — Strawberry Hill House: “Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle — a venue like no other” (https://www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk/)
 
21 iU3A members enjoyed a visit toStrawberry Hill1 June 2019 Horace Walpole’s country retreat, visiting both the house and garden. The weather was kind to us with only the slightest sprinkling of rain to cool us off from time to time. This midsummer’s day trip firmly establishes a precedent and we will now aim to have one of our outings on this day each year, to complement and contrast each year’s Christmas outing.

We assembled at the café just before noon and met our first guide Sandra who took us on a very interesting tour of the gardens. Various outbuildings, including a small crypt, were seen and a limited amount of tree hugging went on. In Walpole’s time the gardens were much more Strawberry Hill2 June 2019extensive, running down to the river. Sandra led a brief walk down to the Thames to see the small park and outbuildings, which remain from Walpole’s time. An 18th century garden was an incredibly important statement of one’s wealth and social standing, particularly in this stretch of the river known as the Arcadian Thames because of the large number of palaces and important houses fronting the river. Walpole, over his 50 years at Strawberry Hill House, developed his garden in the “structured informality” style of the English Landscape movement, with groves of trees and serpentine paths; this contrasted with contemporary rigidly formal gardens of France and Italy. Most of the original garden was sold and is now occupied by houses.

After the morning tour we reconvenedStrawberry Hill4 June 2019Strawberry Hill3 June 2019 at the café for lunch and then we met our afternoon guide Mark who was to give us a most incredibly informative tour of this most bizarre of houses, which has been extensively restored to its original décor. Developed from two modest cottages from 1747 onwards, Strawberry Hill House was built and decorated incorporating Gothic design details such as library bookcases based on a cathedral doorway and complex chimney pieces echoing medieval cathedral tombs. Wallpaper gives the illusion of carved walls and ceilings. Walpole bought medieval glass and placed sections in windows so that coloured light could illuminate the interiors. The largest room has gilded fan vaulting, and each room was a unique revelation. Horace Walpole was an avid collector of ceramics, paintings, enamels and miniatures, and one can only wonder about the thought processes which went into the creation of this “little Gothic castle” and its contents. 

We learned that Walpole and his housekeeper arranged guided tours of the house with over 45,000 people visiting during Walpole’s lifetime there. Walpole himself retreated to a cottage just across the road during the visits, lest he would have to socialise with the visitors. Coinciding with our visit the trustees had organized a summer flower show, with each of the extraordinary rooms full of summer blooms and their associated vapours. (Cressida Jupp and David McPhail)


 Highclere1Highclere2April 2019 — Highclere Castle: Twenty six of us enjoyed a day out at Highclere Castle, travelling from Paddington to Newbury by train and then by coach to the castle itself. We all visited the gardens and house and many of us also explored the Egyptian exhibition. The gardens are quite beautiful, with a variety of features including a wild flower meadow, Monks garden and secret garden. There is also a memorial to a plane crash in World War Two.

Highclere 3The fifth Lord Carnarvon was a sponsor of Howard Carter and there was an exhibition portraying the discoveries in Egypt that flowed from this, with a replica of Tutankhamun's tomb and the mummy itself the central features of this exhibition. Carnarvon died in Egypt shortly after the discovery of the tomb, lending further credence to the theory of a curse.

We also spent a considerable time in the magnificent house which is resplendent with paintings, furniture and other artfefacts representative of the history of its occupants. The castle is the third manifestation of a structure on this site. The first written records of the estate date back to 749 when an Anglo-Saxon King granted the estate to the Bishops of Winchester. Bishop William of Wykeham built a beautiful mediaeval palace and gardens on the park. Later on, the palace was rebuilt as Highclere Place House in 1679, when it was purchased by Sir Robert Sawyer, Attorney General to Charles II and James II and direct grandfather of the current Earl. In 1771 'Capability' Brown made plans for the alteration of the grounds, water and symmetrical Georgian house at Highclere for the 1st Earl of Carnarvon, the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Travel back to London was “uneventful” and the Outing a great day out.

Brussels1Brussels2December 2018 — Christmas Market, Brussels: a group of iU3A pioneers enjoyed a wonderful day out in Brussels enjoying sights and sounds of this charming city, the Christmas market, and a very nice restaurant.

We took advantage of the very reasonable train fares offered by Eurostar (if one books a few months in advance) travelling to and from Brussels in just over two hours. The early afternoon was spent sightseeing, taking in parks and key buildings whilst meandering in the general direction of the Christmas market. One very important refuelling stop allowed us to sample the famous Belgian chocolate both as a drink and as a waffle topping.
Brussels3Brussels4
We passed by the Manneken Pis, the Grand Place, the Hotel de Ville, the Eglise St-Nicolas, and the Museum of the City of Brussels finally arriving at the Christmas market. Rather bizarrely the market had a Finnish theme to it and several stalls were selling Finnish goods including whole smoked salmon. There was no shortage of things to purchase, eat or imbibe as one walked around this large market. The far end of the market had a Ferris wheel which offered excellent views of the city.


Brussels5In the late afternoon we reconvened at the La Brouette restaurant in the Grand Place, enjoying a magnificent light show just before we went in to eat. The restaurant was full of character and the meal was excellent, as was the wine and beer. A five minute walk took us back to the local train station which was one hop away from the Eurostar station. A stress-free embarkation with all our parcels and we were whizzing back to London. We all had a really wonderful day out enjoying each other’s company and all that Brussels has to offer. We hope to offer more Outings to cities accessible by Eurostar, based on this very positive experience.

Thanks to David McP for all the organisation of this very enjoyable Outing.

Bletchley ParkSeptember — a large group of iU3A members headed off to Bletchley Park this month.See the full report with photos here.

Thanks again to David, Elizabeth and Judith for organising this outing.







June — Twickenham: this month our Outing was to two houses in the Twickenham area. A full report can be viewed here.

May Kempton Park Racecourse: the sun shone on the 18 members who embarked upon their researches into the mysteries of the "Sport of Kings". The travel arrangements from Waterloo were, so I'm told, seamless. This set the tone for the day. The Panorama Restaurant, which overlooked the winning post and provided a menu, appealed to all. The opportunity to stand by the Winning Post was taken by many and the excitement enjoyed by the winners was truly infectious. Those few who claimed to be ingenues had luck riding with them; those who claimed some knowledge were deserted by "her Ladyship." As the card ended around 4:30 the journey home was in reasonable comfort. Those who attended all asked for the event to become a regular fixture in the iU3A calendar.

A
pril 2018
Eltham Palace has for centuries been a royal palace, and is now an unoccupied royal residence owned by the Crown Estate. Since 1995 it has been managed by English Heritage, who restored it in 1999 and opened it to the public. Internally, the Art Deco house is "a masterpiece of modern design". There is also a magnificent Great Hall, a survival from the mediaeval royal palace. There are 19 acres of beautiful gardens, with a rock garden, a moat crossed by London's oldest working bridge and a sunken rose garden. Full report and photos here. Thanks to Angela Treves and David McPhail for organising this one.

Boat Outing1November 2017 — Boating Outing: eleven iU3A members enjoyed a narrowboat trip out of the Islington boat club. We were well looked after by our skipper, Amber, who steered us off in a Westerly direction. We very quickly negotiated our first lock and then headed directly to the Islington tunnel (more info here). 

Various members of the group took turns at steering the boat in a good straight line through the 960 yards of the tunnel. This was very much a highlight of the trip.

Boat Group 2On reaching the Kings Cross side we performed a “u-turn” (a non-trivial exercise) and then went back through the tunnel to Islington. We then headed East for a while before returning to dry land at the boat club. Most of the group then enjoyed a drink at the Plaquemine Lock pub (more info here) where there was a live jazz band.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for an all-day trip, to include a picnic lunch, in the Spring. Watch the "What's On Page" for further info......


Theatre Visits
We hold these at least once a year. These are in addition to our two Theatre Groups that we have (for more information see the GROUPS page.
In December 2017 we had another successful annual outing to the Park Theatre at Finsbury Park. We saw a revival of Joe Orton's wonderful black comedy Loot, which opened one week after the 50th anniversary of the playwright's tragic death. Over 106 iU3A members (& friends) attended this enjoyable evening. The talk before the play from the director to iU3A give us some special insights into the changing values and views from its original production. Again, many thanks are due to Sue Welsford for organising this event.

Clues Trails
Clues2June2019Clues1June2019We're into 2019 and planning for two of these popular events this year. The first was held in June and was in the Hoxton/Shoreditch area with a street art theme. We gathered at the beginning point for food and drinks, then six teams of four or five set off from Great Eastern Street in a radial direction on the circular three-mile route. Teams used their observation skills to follow directions, use the clues provided to spot features (often street art) and also to spot the location of provided images. All teams avoided the late back time penalty and final scores were close. However there was a clear winning team. While the pub made it awkward for us, all had a great time.


Clues 2018In 2018 we held two of these popular events. The first of these was held in June and the second in September. For the June one a warm Sunday meant a very pleasant event with three teams this time (numbers a bit down from the last one). This one was based again around the city and followed byways and alleys that most people didn't even know existed. Great views over the river at one point. Most teams got the majority of the clues and got back to the starting & finishing point pub in good time. However the photo images were the differentiating aspect. No team spotted all the images during their route but the 'Poached Eggheads' saw the most and hence were the winning team.

The September one (arranged by Elizabeth Mansbridge) saw us in a new area for this Clues Trail
Canary Wharf. While the image might be of tall skyscrapers and not much else, we discovered an amazing collection of street art, historic corners, and interesting architectural features. Numbers attending were a bit disappointing considering the effort put in to organise these events. But maybe a Friday just coincides with too many other iU3A activities.  

In 2017
in August on the day 22 members turned up to form five teams, then followed the trail to seek out the clues. Additional points were awarded for spotting the location of some photographic images during the trail and a special round at the end back at the pub tested teams' knowledge of the London Guilds. Again everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event. Thanks to Elizabeth Mansbridge for organising this one — and we all look forward to the next one.

Help With Computer/Tablet/Smartphone
Computer imageWe've a few ways to help our members grapple with technology.

Firstly
our drop-in help sessions: these are a regular feature in iU3A now. These drop-in help sessions allow iU3A members with any query they have regarding their computers, tablets or smartphones to drop in and receive guidance from other iU3A members. They are generally held every two to three months with members requesting help with a variety of query areas. Some of these are simple (to some) and were easy to give guidance on, others were harder to solve with much cross-learning and use of Google search. All the "customers" go away very contented and with increased confidence to try things for themselves.

Thanks again to all the volunteers who came along to share their knowledge with other iU3A members. See the 'What's On' page for details of the next of these sessions (if there is one scheduled).

Secondly
our Help Line: If you can't make the drop-in sessions or need a quicker service then for any help with your computer, tablet or smartphone you could try our help line. Send your query with details to computerhelp.iu3a@gmail.com. We will share out between our iU3A experts and provide you with an answer, hopefully solving your issue.

Thirdly Tutorials: we have a general tutorial on some points raised previously here. We also now have launched a programme of classroom style events under the Monthly Meeting, 2nd Subject programme. We will cover a variety of specific topics and cover the subject from a 'no-knowledge' to a more advanced level. Details of these will be shown under the Monthly Meeting information.
 
Archive
Previously: To see more of our previous events and outings look here.

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