Category Archives: GROUP NEWS

Making your mark

Group Convener, Roslyn Byfield writes: “In July a select group of Outings Group members visited the British Library Making your Mark exhibition and learned interesting facts about the history of writing, for example how the Romans changed reading to left to right, how the letter A evolved from its first representation as an ox head and how quill pens were formed from goose flight feathers. It was lovely sitting in the piazza cafe afterwards, too, not often we have the right weather for that.”

Find out more about the Outings Group

Ancient History Group

Our July meeting focused on the change from hunter gatherers to agriculture. This is, of course, an extremely fascinating ‘moment’ in human history, and one can talk and write about it for a long time, with few definite conclusions. Was the step from the freedom of the gatherers and hunters a result of climate changes, or was it due to human explorations or both? Was it a lucky development or was it a harder life than before? We can only guess at it. It certainly led to many more dramatic changes.
Mark gave us a complete overview of the latest theories. Known facts are that the change to agriculture first took a foothold in the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia) and along the Yangtse river. An interesting aspect of the change was that women did not need to feed their babies for several years any more, because the new variety of foods, such as cereal, could be digested by much younger children than before. The changes took place over many thousands of years and arrived in Britain at about 5000 BC. Again, many questions were raised and we had a good discussion.

▪︎ How to join the Ancient History Group

Love travel?

Then the We’re Talking Travel Group may be just up your street!
Before the inaugural meeting of the Group in May, members were invited to nominate their three favourite places visited and the three that were on their wish list. Not only did this give us an insight into just how well travelled the group is, it gave us a steer as to the content for the June and July meetings, So it was, that so far we have had presentations on New Zealand, Costa Rica, South Africa and as to how to go about organizing independent rail trips around Europe. Sharing knowledge, hints and tips is what the talking travel group is all about and we learn from each other’s experiences, both good and not so good.
For the future meetings, we will continue to look at wish list countries: so, for example, in August we’ll be in Cuba and the Southern States of the USA.
Further ahead, we’ll be looking at holidays closer to home, in the UK and Europe, and different styles of travel, from walking and camping, canals to cruises and special interest holidays focussing on history, architecture, art appreciation, painting and food and wine.
We are thinking of inviting guest speakers to tell us about the joys of solo travelling and what it was like completing El Camino de Santiago.
We all love travelling and we love talking about it. We will be promoting the group at the Open Day in September but if you want to beat the rush and join now, please complete this contact form

A seaside special

Members of the Longer Walks Group’s day at the seaside followed the Viking Coastal Trail, from Margate to Ramsgate in North East Kent. Upon arrival at Margate Station we quickly made our way to the sandy beath, passing the famous Dreamland entertainment complex (the modernist cinema of which was the inspiration for the 1930s super cinema), and the Turner Contemporary. From there we continued along a wide promenade to Cliftonville, where we encountered a series of derelict buildings and a Grade II listed Art Deco cliff lift. As it was low-tide our walk leader guided us along a series of sandy bays populated with day visitors and school children on end-of-term trips. This route enabled us to admire, at close quarters, the striking sea stacks of Botany Bay and the cliffs, brilliantly white in the bright sunshine.


After a lunch stop at Charles Dickens’s “our English watering-place”, Broadstairs, we followed the Thanet Coastal Path, to Louisa Bay and Dumpton Bay, and on to Ramsgate where we enjoyed a refreshing drink in the former Royal Victoria Pavilion. The walk to the station was surprisingly long for tired legs, although we did have a few minutes to admire the lofty booking hall of a stunning railway station building before our return journey. All in all, a splendid day’s walking in brilliant sunshine. The only disappointment for a seaside walk – we saw no piers!

Find out more about the Longer Walks Group

Fun with felt

In the first of our craft workshops, fifteen CEDU3A members, guided by Felt Making Group convener Jacqui Osley and Textiles Group convener Rose Slayden, tackled a wet felted bowl project with huge enthusiasm, concentration, determination, and not a little laughter. Learn, laugh, live is the motto of the U3A and what better example than this workshop!



▪︎ Find out more about the Felt Making Group

▪︎ Find out more about the Textiles Group

Conveners’ meeting

The annual meeting of Group Conveners will take place on:
Monday 9 September 2019, 1 – 3 p.m. for Groups A (Ancient History) to J (Jazz)
Tea and coffee available from 12.45 p.m.
Friday 13 September 2019, 12 – 2 p.m. for Groups L(Latin) to W (Writing 3)
Tea and coffee available from 11.45 a.m.
Both meetings will take place in Lower Hall of the Union Church and Community Centre, Weston Park, Crouch End, London, N8 9PX.

Garden visit at King’s Cross

July 2019

Members of the Gardens and Gardening Group ventured south to Kings Cross to discover an unexpected oasis tucked away a few streets behind Camden Town Hall. As we waited to gather our members, behind the gates of the 1903 industrial dwellings we could see a courtyard with abundant foliage from a mature hawthorn tree and a host of large and small pots spilling over with flourishing shrubs and bedding plants. Along one small area beside a front door, large green tomatoes promised salads in a few weeks while a courgette plant wound its tendrils along the railing, bracing itself for a bumper crop in a small but sunny spot where every inch is put to use. Our host, Sue, told us about the history of the building, one of a series of blocks which rehoused slum clearance from the other side of Grays Inn Road, well built social housing with interesting features outside and decent space indoors. Refurbished by Camden Council in the 1970s, several ground floor flats were adapted to give flat access for people using a wheelchair, and incorporating a large garden space. Sue’s family then was her husband, who needed a wheelchair, her twins and foster son, who moved in with an optimistic approach to the large expanse of bare earth which surrounded them on both sides of the flat. Forty years later, with plenty of help from energetic and loyal friends, she has created a lush and varied garden, an oasis between the tall blocks on either side. A moving in gift of a small magnolia now fills a wide corner, embellished by a white climbing rose which adds to the enjoyment of a neighbour, and now friend, who looks out over a cloud of blossom in spring. Two slender birch trees and a variegated maple add to the sense of a wooded grove, and a large variegated holly along the darker side brings dappled colour and perches for blackbirds. On a shaded corner wall a hydrangea petiolaris has climbed to the first floor and shows no sign of stopping there. Nearby the ruffled foliage of a pittosporum has been lifted to give groundcover space while it marks another part of the boundary. There is a central lawn, patched to repair the damage of the urban foxes, yes even so close to central London. Several raised beds in a sunny spot provide rhubarb, courgettes and tomatoes and a pool of peachy coloured nasturtiums. Glossy leaved evergreen Trachelospermum jasminoides smothers an archway with fragrant white flowers, a walk through to a quiet shaded grove where Buddha meditates peacefully. There a big pots full of agapanthus just bursting into dozens of blue flower heads, a vivid pink, long lived salvia, a mass of pink and white francoa blossoms and many spires of heuchera flowers which do well in this light but shaded garden. Several of us took advantage of the plants for sale after the weekend NGS open garden session, pleased to take with us some of the delights of this special garden, very much an urban place, softened and enriched by the labour of love and friendship, bringing life, colour and pleasure for the many people whose flats ‘borrow’ their view of Sue’s oasis.

▪︎ How to join the Gardens and Gardening Group

Green London Way #2

Green London Way Walk 2 : Woolwich to Greenwich

We adopted the ‘Loopers’ tried and tested method of striding through the duller parts of a walk and were soon rewarded with the site of the evocative St George’s Garrison Church, built in the 1860s to serve the Royal Artillery Barracks, bombed during World War II, but still used for open-air services. Among the surviving features are marble tablets listing the names of fallen

Gunners who received the Victoria Cross. We were then treated to the grand Georgian façade of the Royal Artillery Barracks, said to be the longest of its kind in Europe at 1,000 foot long, with a Statue of Victory, a Crimean War Memorial, located in the parade ground. Given the picturesque backdrop and military history the Barracks were chosen to host the shooting events at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. We came across the first of two ha-has before reaching open common land where with the grass left uncut, flowers and butterflies have returned. Soon we entered an innocuous looking park to discover its raunchy history. Hornfair Park is named after an annual three day party, ‘the rudest fair in England’ where spirits were sold in wheelbarrows, and women were ‘especially impudent’. Prudish lawmakers put a stop to the fun and games in 1816. Who could argue with the description of our next stop,

Charlton House, as one of the finest Jacobean houses in the country, and ‘one of the most determinedly overlooked buildings in London’? We learned about the various tragedies that had befallen its residents, including Spencer Percival, whose dubious claim to fame was that he was the only prime minister to be assassinated in office. We admired the 400 or so year old gnarled black mulberry tree, almost certainly a legacy of James I’s attempts to introduce a silk industry – silk worm larvae preferring to munch on the leaves of the white mulberry. Here too were remnants of our second ha-ha. Lunch was taken on benches

overlooking the iconic Thames Barrier where we learned about its history and future challenges. By now were heading towards our destination along a less than pretty section of the Thames Path, and across the building site that is the Greenwich Peninsula. The highlights of this stretch included the 4 acre wetland Ecology Park, the glorious wild flowers along the bank of the Thames – which as inquisitive walkers discovered were sown from packets of Homebase seeds, and Ballast Quay, so called because gravel from Blackheath was loaded here before being sold for a good price on the continent. The street comprises lovely 17th houses and a Harbour Master’s office. Our final stop was the Cutty Sark: the ship which for 10 years held the record for the fastest journey from Australia – 73 days with Captain Woodget at the helm.

▪︎ Find out more about the Green London Way Walking Group