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 (Autumn 2020) newsletter click here.

For previous newsletters look at the 'Our Story' webpage here
then click on the issue you want.


We hope all our members stay healthy through this difficult time. We will try to support our members in various ways.
The Bulletins will carry a number of internet links covering medical advice, exercising advice, support advice.


With the cancellation of all normal Interest Group activity we've been encouraging groups to move to online learning. Several links for self learning are provided in our recent Bulletins see the links above. We are also encouraging groups to continue with shared learning by using online group meetings. To support this we have developed two Guides and these can be accesed here:
Zoom Guide for Meeting Hosts
Zoom Guide for Meeting Participants

The Third Age Trust has now also produced guides for online learning methods. Read them here.

If you are looking for online learning opportunities have a browse through this list of suggestions: here

We have also set up a support or 'buddying' system. We've arranged this on a postcode basis. So in each local area there is a grouping of iU3A Members that have asked for support, networked with those iU3A members willing and able to provide support. If you missed out on the original invite and want support please just contact Judith at: groups@islingtonu3a.org

New Members Teas

New Members at Union canalWe've been running these for a number of years now with a variety of formats. The intent is to offer a direct welcome to new members to iU3A. They have always proven to be a great success. The new members appreciate the individual invite and the opportunity to meet some new members in the same position as themselves, learn a bit more about iU3A from the attending Executive Committee member(s), discuss their interests and what groups they may sign up for.   

Courses: iU3A's Second Round with the Mighty MOOC
A small group of members have just completed a stimulating six week online learning course entitled Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism. This was the second such weekly online course which iU3A members have followed together. MOOC stands for 'Massive Open Online Course' and is the generic term for the vast array of online courses generated by universities all over the world. As eager learners, each of us completed the weekly online learning sessions independently and we all met via Zoom on Tuesday afternoons to compare notes and discuss our reactions. Some of us had followed MOOCs before but for others this was a first and the verdict was generally very positive.

Lockdown or no lockdown, we found that this online group learning experience has a great deal going for it and some of our group are looking forward to studying another hot topic with other members of iU3A very soon (see the New Groups page).

Pub Quizes 2020
QuizMay2020-1We've now held a few of these 'Pub' quizzes in 2020. The first was held online on Zoom in May 2020. Covid-19 has caused some of our activities to be cancelled, so this was a replacement activity, working much like our previous 'physical' pub quizzes. It was run by our usual quizmaster Jez, in 'virtual' teams which communicated with each other through WhatsApp, Skype, phone or other means. Each team had one electronic scorecard, which was t
hen sent to Jez electronically for marking. 50 took part, over 10 teams. It was different! But it was enjoyed by all.

QuizMay2020-2Team K, which consisted of Helen Wright (quizzing from lockdown in Italy), Norman and Jean Wilson, Jayne Forbes and returning member Rob Townsend, won with a score of 32 points out of a possible 42. Well done to them! And thanks to Mary White for organising!

We held another of these popular
pub quizzes in February 2020, again in the Canonbury Tavern (just before 'lockdown'). As always it was well supported, with 58 members buying a ticket for the event. A number of members met 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.

Winning TeamTen teams battled it out with mixed fortunes. The first half's musical round had caused some pains to most teams and there was a clear leader. In the second half the favourites lost ground. The winning team was the Steely J’s. They got 37 points. It was a close contest with only 7 points between the first and last  teams.
So another successful event enjoyed by all. Thanks to Mary W and Margaret O for organising the event. We are all looking forward to the next one in the Autumn.

Last Monthly Meeting
For information on our last monthly meeting and all our previous monthly meetings see here.

On 28 November 2019 iU3A held its AGM. The annual accounts were presented and two new members elected on to the Executive Committee. You can see all the subjects addressed here.

Open Day
Open DayWe didn't hold one of these in 2019 but in October 2018 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.

There was much
socialising, chatting to friends and making 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 thank you 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
Any members with ideas for future Outings are requested to contact David McPhail here.

Bath3December 2019
Bath ChristmasBath2 Market: on a sunny Monday morning in early December, nineteen members of iU3A set off from Paddington for a day out at the Bath Christmas market. It turned out that much was on offer in addition to opportunities for Christmas present buying, and food and mulled wine tasting at the 100+ pop up chalets in the centre of town. Some of the more hardy set off for a walking tour taking in the Holbourne museum (Raphael and Matisse exhibitions currently), Bath1the Royal Crescent, a quick look at the outdoor ice rink, frequent reminders of Jane Austen and Persuasion, all of course in the setting of the stunning honey-coloured sandstone of the Georgian architecture. Others looked round the Abbey and then the Roman Baths for what turned out to be a highly recommended, fun guided tour. In the late afternoon as the Christmas lights were at their best we all met up for a delicious supper before a dash to the station for the journey home. (Lisa Crispin and David McPhail)

October 2019 Bletchley National Computer Museum: the trip itself was excellent and the guides and experts were very helpful and informative. One deficiency is that there is no cafe at TNMOC — just a shop selling pre-packed sandwiches and drinks but it has a pleasant outside seating area. We had a good look round before our scheduled guided trip and a very informative tour though two of us bailed out before the end (it had overran by half an hour and we still hadn't quite finished). One memorable bit was a conversation with a retired ICL engineer about the 2966 they have. They really need more power to the site so they can run the 2966 more often!

Margate2October 2019 — Margate:
This was another very successful iU3A Outing. See some of our members' comments about this visit here. Full visit report here.


June 2019 (24th, Midsummer's Day) —
Strawberry Hill House: “Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle — a venue like no other”
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.
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.

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
Clues Trail Sept2020We are pleased to be able to announce the restarting of these after lockdown. This one in October 2020 was in the King's Cross area (one of the benefits of London still being quiet is that we can hold these midweek). Three teams battled it out around a mixed area starting in the redeveloped Granary Square but then through the refurbished gasometers, across to the old St Pancras Gardens where so many famous dissenters are buried. Then we completed the circle through King's Cross and St Pancras stations before returning to Coal Drop Yard. The scores were very close: 68-67-67. Thanks again to Elizabeth Mansbridge for organising another of these successful events.
Clues2June2019Clues1June2019In 2019 we held two of these popular events. 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.

The second was held in August and was around the Tower of London area. While quite a tourist hot spot, even on a Sunday morning, there were amazing quiet hidden pockets that were a delight for the four teams that puzzled their way around the course. We were lucky with the weather and had just enough sun to make it a pleasant stroll round this just under three mile course. However, there wasn't too much time to dawdle as there was a time penalty if you were late back. As always, it was the round of photo images that provided the difference between the first and last teams. Thanks go to Elizabeth Mansbridge for organising another great event (and to Isabel for doing the tickets and team selections).

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.

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).

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 helpline. Send your query with details. We will share out between our iU3A experts and hopefully solve 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 forthcoming tutorials will be shown under the Monthly Meeting information. If you missed a previous tutorial you can find the materials covered here:
01. Mailto Protocols
02. Cloud Storage
03. Beacon Membership System
04. Links
05. Cookies, Cut & Paste, Backups
Fourthly — Tips: via the Bulletin we'll sometimes issue tips or advice on computer aspects. Such as how to tell if it's a scam: take the test HERE.

Previously: To see more of our previous events and outings look here.

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