GROUP NEWS It is very good to see that some of our groups are active, enthusiastic and making use of Zoom and Webex etc, or else meeting in gardens and elsewhere. Thank you to group leaders for making this possible! We have made a list of active groups for the Groups tab, so please contact us if your ‘active’ group is not reported on here and we will add it to the list. Thank you.
If you wish to contact any of the Group leaders below, please go to their page under the Groups tab.
Archaeology Group: Maggie Davidson, Group Leader writes that very soon, six members from the Archaeology Group are heading out to Maiden Castle near Dorchester for a trip to the largest Iron Age Hillfort in Britain. Yes – trips out are still possible if you adhere to the ‘rule of six’ and complete a risk assessment; although on this one we are more likely to succumb to exposure or wet rot than CV19! [Seriously though, if you are planning a trip to an outdoor venue, then the Ramblers Association CV19 generic risk assessment is a good starting point.- or see the one from the U3A.] Built in several phases from around 500-100BC the hillfort of Maiden Castle comprises an impressive collection of ditches and ramparts and was an important power base, defensive structure and settlement for the inhabitants (usually referred to as the Durotriges). It overlooks several (earlier) Bronze Age barrows and, less scenically, Poundbury. The area abounds with ancient monuments. The next time you drive east along the A35 towards Winterbourne Abbas, note the mounds and humps in the fields on both sides of the road – around 40 Bronze Age barrows (2500-500BC). Just before you enter the village on the right is the Nine Stones Neolithic stone circle (c. 3000BC). So many ancient places to discover and explore together. We are meeting via Zoom for the foreseeable future; if you are interested in joining us please contact the group co-ordinator, Maggie Davidson
Science & Technology Group: John Marriage reports that this group is in full swing, using Webex meetings. So far we have kept going well, with typically 30-50 people at each meeting. Any Lyme U3A member is welcome. Our list of talks is kept up to date on the website. Our next talk is at 10am on October 16th. Hilary Naylor will be introducing us to the astronomer Norman Lockyer and the Norman Lockyer Observatory at Sidmouth.
Creative Writing Group: John McCallum, Group Leader writes that this group has resumed meetings outdoors in each other's gardens while the weather has been kind to us, respectful of Social Distancing guidelines. We are a total of 6 writers and meet once a month, writing a short (+/- 1000 - 1800 words) story on a different topic each month and reading our stories to the group, with a break for tea and cake. When we are not able to meet physically due to any new covid restrictions, we send our stories to each other via email and follow up with our comments a few days later. Short story writing is a great way to get the brain cells working and we also value the social intercourse as we enjoy the readings.
Literature Group: Frances Barter, group leader, reports that this group group have been emailing one another to discuss selected books. Recently, however, we are having a go at Google Duo in order to provide a more discussion forum. This will launch in the next week or so with a discussion on Orwell's 1984! Most of us will have read this years ago, so it will be interesting to see if our responses have changed. The Big Brother factor should elicit some strong responses!
Play Reading Group: Frances, who also manages the Play Reading group writes “I have had to temporarily cancel the play reading group as it isn't viable with the present restrictions. We tend to keep in touch and look forward to starting up again when possible. The last meeting we had was in a member's garden with a cream tea. We almost had a full house and it was really enjoyable.
Book Group 1: Jocelyn Marsh states that as we had hoped, the Dorset Library Service has restarted its service to Reading Groups and on behalf of Book Group 1 I have collected our book for October, ‘Blue Dress Girl’ by E.V. Thompson. As we are unable to meet together as yet, we will not be able to have a verbal discussion about it as would normally be the case but our individual thoughts on it will be collated and circulated to the Group - not quite as much fun as our usual discussions (which range to other topics after we’ve discussed the book!!) and sadly without the tea and homemade cake, but the best we can do in the current circumstances.
Digital Photography Group: Mark Gillams states that due to the current restrictions the Digital Photography Group is still not able to meet for its regular chats on photography, and much else besides, over cups of tea. The group might just start meeting remotely, but for now that is some distance away. This does however mean that there is a great opportunity right now for anyone who may be feeling hesitant about joining the group. Now is the time to get ahead of the game and help yourselves to some individual advice on digital cameras and what they can do. Just drop a line to the Group Leader and we will see what we can do. In this way you may feel like giving the group a go by the time meetings eventually restart.
Meditation Group: Jo Oliver Smith writes that “the meditation group has now resumed, in my garden. Six of us meet around a fire twice a month on a Tuesday morning and we practice a mixture of physical and spiritual exercises interposed with some fantastic rich conversation. If anyone out there is happy to brave the winter season, I would love to hear from you!”
German Conversation Group: Audrey Standhaft, the group leader, says that German conversation is active- “we are writing pieces to each other and sending extracts to read. Occasionally we phone each other.”
French for Fun: Kay Luckraft reports as follows: “We have continued 'meeting' once a fortnight on Zoom since the lockdown started; some people were already used to zoom/facetime, etc., but for others we did a few one-to-ones initially (backed up with the telephone) to familiarise them with the system and most of the group (9 or 10) are now enjoying the sessions. A couple of members are still following the materials that we send out each time on their own, as they prefer that, but are in touch to let us know that they are enjoying them. We have been reading and translating articles (and listening to the accompanying CDs) on a variety of subjects, ranging from a look at interesting places in France, such as the 'Petit Canada' region in Burgundy, to a fascinating story of two families, one English and one Belgian, who have been celebrating over 100 years of friendship since a young Tommy stayed with the Belgian family at the end of the First World War. We've also watched short French video clips including how French schools are coping with Covid, the origins of Cassoulet (during the 100 Years' War, when the French town of Castelnaudary was under siege from the English !) and watched a delightful young lady enthusing about her cows and giving us a guided tour of the Camembert production line! We usually split the session into two halves (due to the time limit on Zoom) with a 10-15 minute break in the middle, so that people can get themselves a coffee, etc. In normal times we used to have a 'bring and share' lunch in July, before our August break, but obviously this wasn't possible this year, so we had a 'virtual' cheese-and-wine party which was good fun (and interesting to find out about other people's favourites.)
Of course, it will be lovely when we are able to meet again properly, but everyone looks forward to seeing their friends each time, catching up with their news and having a good laugh together.”
French Conversation: French Conversation continues to meet via Zoom which works well. Whereas we met fortnightly in each other's houses, we now have a Zoom meeting weekly for about forty minutes because all members are very enthusiastic!
Maggie Allison ( Joint Group Leader)
Plea for a new Group Leader!
Current Affairs 3: Guy Barnes has decided to retire as leader of this group, which he has managed for a good few years. We thank him very much for all his involvement. He has asked for members to replace him but has had no response so far. So if you are willing to organise current topics and would like to give it a go – remotely at present, or in groups of up to 6 indoors or out, please contact us.
If you can spare some time one day between 7th and 11th September to help the Seafront Gardens Group with weeding and planting please contact Merry Bolton via email [through the Seaside Gardener's page on this website]. Merry will decide which day next week will be best depending upon the forecast. There are three beds which are the responsibility of the U3A and all are on the flat part of the garden. If you have any spare plants for which you want to find a good home ask Merry whether she can use them in the gardens.Re Garden Lovers I’ll be contacting you again re garden visits once it becomes possible to meet safely. The main obstacle at the moment is of course car-sharing.
BOOK GROUP 1
The Dorset Library Service for Reading Groups is hoping to reinstate its service in October. Group 1 Book Group wants to restart as soon as possible but unless anything changes about the number of people who may meet indoors who are not family, members will collect the first book from the Group Leader, Jocelyn Marsh , read it and email their review of it back to one of the group members who has kindly offered to collate them and send them round to the remainder of the Group. In this way, Jocelyn states,"we can begin to get back to enjoying our varied reading whilst observing social distancing. As soon as it is possible, we shall return to our usual practice of meeting in members homes."
The U3A Making Music group Group Leader, Rob Walker states: "We are still meeting fortnightly on Zoom and are starting to get the hang of it. We usually have 7 or 8 members participating and we follow a lead instrument either piano or piano accordion with verbal prompts from Liz, our conductor. The other instruments playing are all muted to avoid a general cacophony, It's good fun and of course we get to chat as well."
JAZZ APPRECIATION LIVE!
"Some of the JAL! group are venturing out to see Matt Carter and Leigh Coleman in an open air performance at the Marine Theatre on Friday 4th September. We hope for kind weather and hot jazz to keep us warm." Heather Britton - Group Leader
Here is some news from Groups who are being 'active' during lockdown!
Some of this group have been writing stories monthly and then sending them to each other by e-mail . It would be great if some of their stories could reach other members?
SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY
Many members have been enjoying monthly sessions on Zoom with slide shows given by members. These have been great learning sessions in a variety of scientific fields.
CURRENT AFFAIRS 3
Some of this group have been discussing topics online. Guy Barnes hopes that more members will contact him to join as soon as we are ‘allowed out’!
At present members are emailing opinions of the book they are reading but this will come to an end after July for the summer. Guy Barnes is retiring as co-ordinator of this group in July after nearly 10 years of leadership, during which the group has read 65 books. We thank Guy for his commitment over all this time. Frances Barter has agreed to take it over in the Autumn and we thank her and wish her well. Frances says “One of our members has offered the use of her garden for our next meeting on July2nd. We are going to discuss Jude the Obscure, one of Hardy's famous
novels. We will be observing the 2 metre distance and taking our own drinks. So far there are only 5 of us going, but I am hoping there will be 1 or 2 more. Barring thunder, lightning and rain we will be there! I also intend to use the session to discuss the venue for Sept and the choice of reading material. Depending on the weather, it will also be a good opportunity to chat more widely on what we've all been doing with our time during lockdown and the books that have kept us sane.“
This new group was established just as we went into lock down and it has 11 members so far, They have started to communicate on online video links on the First Friday of the month at present at 3pm. Members are mainly interested in the prehistoric and Roman periods in Britain and the near continent. The group also plan to visit local sites and participate in fieldwork when the lockdown restrictions allow. The Group Leader is Maggie Davidson, If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Maggie, through the Archeology page link. She will give you the link for the next online meeting on 3rd July.
French Conversation goes ahead each Tuesday via Zoom. There are 12 of us and no one has yet dropped out despite the difficulties of online conversations (in French!).
FRENCH FOR FUN
We are continuing to 'meet' fortnightly on Zoom (running two sessions with a coffee break in between, to keep to the 40 minute limit on Zoom) and we're all enjoying the chance to see each other - and do some French, of course! Articles and discussions range from Winter holidays in the French Alps, 'what we will do first when the lockdown is over' to an article about a year as an international 'Erasmus' student in a French university. Particularly popular was a touching story about an English and a Belgian family who recently celebrated 100 years of friendship since a young British soldier was billeted with them at the end of the First World War !
Merry Bolton is hoping to restart work on the garden after the 4th July. She will contact members of the group once she has the go ahead from the Council.
CURRENT AFFAIRS 1 AND 2
Several members from both current affairs groups are collaborating to hold a meeting using Zoom. This takes place on 2nd July. If you are interested in joining this, please contact Iain Paterson though the Current Affairs page.
This group has been in communication by email throughout the Lock down and are meeting currently – not on the Tennis court but in each others gardens socially distanced and in careful groups of six, ably arranged by Joyce Beadle, their leader. Below is one photo showing that all are behaving as they should!
During this epidemic The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has developed There have been lots of initiatives including music, history, technology and new dances often for a small number of people in confined spaces.However the standout events have been weekly zoom classes at 7 pm BST. Normally over a thousand dancers join the class with a teacher in their kitchen or sitting room from anywhere in the world. People on the western Pacific rim get up very early to join. This week the class came from British Columbia in Canada.It has been great to spend some time on unusual steps or sequences and many of us have had a go at Highland dancing and Highland Step dancing for the first time.
Highland dancing, includes sword dances, demonstrates stamina and is generally considered to be for men. Highland Step dancing is a delicate and nimble form of display, until recently for women. Of late men and women do both and we have had elements of both Step Dancing and Highland dancing in this summer’s Online weekly classes.
All the classes have been recorded and are available to watch on YouTube. Look up ‘Way tae Fife – a Scottish lady’s step dance.Just clear a little space and have a go. All classes are quite progressive and start slowly. Of course we are all desperately looking forward to be able to dance together again. Lucky New Zealand are already back on the floor.
The Tuesday Badminton group did a zoom together a couple of weeks ago. It was good to see everybody again and was enjoyed so much we’re planning another soon!
Archaeology: This is a new group which will be forming soon. So far I have 8 names. If you would like to be added to the list, please contact me, Penny Rose, at email@example.com or phone on 01297 561076.
Creative Writing: There is a vacancy in this group which is continuing to function at this time via emails. They will be continuing with “virtual” meetings in the meantime – i.e. sending our stories and comments round the group by email. If another member would like to join us with this please contact the new leader, John McCallum 01297 561696 or e-mail him on the Creative Writing Groups page of the website.
Poetry Reading: Half the Poetry Reading Group is continuing to submit poems as usual and then reading them in their own time in their own homes. Any U3A member with an interest in poetry is welcome to join us temporarily.
The only groups now functioning are a few who are or will be trying out virtual contact such as Creative Writing, Poetry Reading, some of the French groups and the Science and Technology Group - see below:
Online version of the SciTec meeting – forwarded by John Marriage
We can't have our usual meetings for now, and I'm sure you are, like me, pining for some mental stimulation. So at about our usual time we shall be having a live meeting over the Internet.
This message is coming out earlier than usual so we can prepare. For the audience all you need is a computer or tablet and an internet browser, and if you want to comment and participate a bit more, your kit should have a microphone and forward-facing camera - which most do these days. If you don't have any of those extras, so long as you have a computer, a tablet, or even a smartphone connected to the Internet, you can still sit in and watch.
You would all participate from the safety of your own homes.
We use software called Cisco Webex, which if you are interested you can check out here: https://www.webex.com/video-conferencing
The Webex promotional material all looks rather flash, it is aimed at companies mainly - but the free version will take up to 100 people in a conference and we have a "room" reserved for us.
Any U3A member is welcome. You don't need to download any software or pay any money, not even our usual 50p, but you do need to register for the meeting. So if you think you might like to try it, e-mail please to firstname.lastname@example.org, just a few words so I can add your e-mail address to the list when the invitations go out. Those who have come to one of our previous online meetings don't need to register again.
This is not a commitment to attend, but it will reserve you a place if you are able to come, on the day. Also, if it isn't working for you once it starts, you can drop out without upsetting anyone. A few days before the meeting those who have registered will get an e-mail from Webex with a "Join Meeting" button. Keep this e-mail, and shortly before starting time (up to 15 minutes before) you go to the e-mail and click the button. A window should pop up where you can check the video you are sending (if you have a camera) and check your audio settings, then confirm and you will be with us.
I hope plenty of you will be willing to give this a try. It seems to be right that the SciTec Group should try to use some SciTec to keep our lovely U3A going!
Thank you so much, John, for experimenting with this and setting it up for up to 100 of us to enjoy!
Garden Lovers in the time of Covid-19
The joint meeting of the Garden Lovers, Plant Sharing and Seafront Gardens groups, planned for the 24th April, has had to be cancelled. We hope to pick up on our programme of garden visits sometime in the summer, and meanwhile we’ll do our best to keep things ticking over. To this end we’ve established a “Gardeners’ Questions” help desk manned by Gill Steinberg, Sue Back and Jenny Short. I’ll act as question-master. Send your questions to me (e.g. what is this plant?) by email (email@example.com), and I’ll send them on to our panel. They will reply directly to you, copying each other.
We’ve already answered our first question! We’ll keep it straightforward i.e. by email, for the time being.
We’ll restart work on the Seafront Gardens as soon as we are allowed; currently there is no gardening at all taking place on the seafront. We shall also try to find a way we can make surplus plants available to each other. Let me know if you have other ideas as to how we can keep in touch.
We have many new members who are recently "retired". If you are one of those and feel slightly let down after a busy life, why not start a new Group using your expertise to enlighten others? Please contact me with your ideas. 01297 561076 or email at the foot of the Groups tab.
We had an interesting “Activities” morning on 14th February – renamed because some members became confused with the title “Coffee Morning” Thank you to all group leaders who came, many with examples to illustrate their group activities.
As a result of the meeting, the following new groups were suggested by members interested in learning particular skills. If you could teach or co-ordinate any of the following please contact me on 01297 561076 or email below.
Ideas for new Groups
If you have a different specialism and are willing to lead, please suggest it for a new group.
Thank you very much to those who agreed to co-ordinate new groups. These have been entered into the alphabetical list on the Groups drop down menu, where they can be contacted by email.
Current groups needing more members: