All posts by Andy Henderson

Walking routes

The following pages contain maps of some of the walks done by the Walking group since September 2015. You'll see a button to show the route towards the bottom of each linked page. You will also see a button to download a 'GPX' and/or 'KMZ' file that you can use with:

  • a GPS device
  • a smart phone with a suitable app (such as Osmand)
  • a PC with suitable software (such as Google Earth)
  • a web site that can work with route files (such as GPS Visualizer)

You can use the maps to plan another walk for the Walking group, or to walk the route yourself.

Available maps:

Group report

The digital photography group is still flourishing despite Covid trying to wreck everything.

Unfortunately we have to report that very sadly Tony Ricks died in January. Tony was a very keen photographer with an eye for the unusual. We all enjoyed his prints and miss him.

We continue with our “Subject for the month” and show prints at our monthly meetings. We were all given a plastic duck and told to photograph it. Some ducks were very well travelled and got into the most amazing places. Other subjects have been: Dilapidation, Favourite place on Hayling, Beginning with the letter I, New beginnings, and Take a pencil for a walk.

In April we are going to try Portraiture.

In addition to these “competitive” subjects, we also have a fun photo each week when we have a letter of the alphabet and look for ingenious ideas to show it. (The letters for March were: Z, T, W, S).

We don’t teach how to use cameras (really good photos can be taken on just automatic) but we improve our skills by discussing our prints.

Richard Bond has once again received great success in an International Photographic competition when he came 13th out of 650 entries. This is getting to be a regular event for Richard!

If anybody is interested in joining us we do have room for a couple more members who would be most welcome.

Wendy Wildey

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

Group report

Hayling Island u3a Walking Netball may be featured in a national magazine!

On February 5th we gathered as usual at Hayling College for our weekly game but this time we had a photographer present, Dominic Joyeux. He took loads of photographs here's just one of them.

The reason he was there is that Jenny Bardwell, one of the ladies who plays, has been asked by the editor of The Oldie if she would write an 850 word article on returning to netball.

As you can see, we have lots of fun. Do come along and give it a try. We meet every Thursday during term time from 4.15pm for a 4.30pm start and we finish at 5.30pm.

Anne Hollis

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

The curse of twelve

Triples game 10.30-11.30, Sunday 13th February 2022
We: Sue, Tony & Peter Them: Geoff B, Elissa & Anne

Sunday morning: Cold and windy with the threat of rain, Pétanque group 1 assembled at Seacourt. The lolly sticks were shuffled; teams were drawn, the piste freshly raked, the scene was set.

We won the toss, took the sunny side, and delivered the jack.
Despite scoring first, We were soon behind, most ends producing only one point. We were 5-7 down when they scored a massive 5 points, bringing Them to 12-5 up and only 1 point required for game! Our position seemed hopeless as They took control of the Jack and played for that one extra point and adjournment for coffee.

Not so fast!! As sure as a Harry Potter spell, the Curse of Twelve took effect. Could They get that extra point. No way! We proceeded to score two quick singles and a very lucky 4. Standing then at 11-12 down, the jack at 8m, favouring shooters, We were down to our last boule, They having played their last and We with one point ‘on the ground’.

Decision time! Should We take the point or play that last boule? Opinion was divided, with a risk of losing if it went wrong the last boule was delivered. Played dead weight it seemed at first to be too far to the right but by chance it clipped a short boule, changing course to the left, slowing dramatically and coming to rest by the jack! Two points and Game!

It is with regret that I have to report that We demonstrated a brief and unseemly celebration before retiring to Seacourt for their excellent coffee.

Anne Hollis

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

Group report

The Collector's group is open to new members and meets on fourth Thursday afternoons except December, June, July and August.

Our 24th March meeting focused on postcards of Hayling Island; members and visitors were encouraged to bring their own collection of cards.

The 28th April meeting will explore crested china with emphasis on WW1. Any u3a members or visitors wishing to attend should contact me at peter@stitch-ed.co.uk in advance.

Peter May

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

Group report

We have enjoyed being back in the hall, working as a group. The hall facilities mean we cannot accommodate more than 18.

Since the U3A Open day we have a full register and 10 on the waiting list. We are now well into this year's programme, having had sessions on Chinese painting, modelling and drawing hats and scarves, and then African animals.

Next time… a busy market scene. So variety is the spice of life! We always have a good chat and a laugh, so a lovely social art group.

Lesley Vincent

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

Group report

Johann Sebastian Bach

After almost two years of being unable to meet, as Music Appreciation does not lend itself to Zoom, we had our first meeting on 22nd October when we had a presentation on Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Born into a musical family, his father taught him the violin. When he lost both his parents at the age of ten, his older brother Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the organ. During his lifetime he was more famous as an organist than a composer, although he produced over 1,000 compositions including his well-known Brandenburg Concertos and the Well-Tempered Clavier, written as a collection of keyboard pieces to help students learn various keyboard techniques and methods. He is now considered to be the best composer of the Baroque era and one of the most important figures in classical music.

Johann Adolph Hasse

During our November meeting, we had a presentation on another composer of the Baroque era that of Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783) a German composer, singer and music teacher. During his lifetime he was immensely popular particularly for his Baroque Operas written in the Italian style. Apart from composing 63 Operas he produced 20 Masses and Requiems, 90 Cantatas, 80 Flute Sonatas and Concertos and hundreds of other Instrumental works totalling about 1,635 compositions.

In spite of his massive popularity during his lifetime, after his death, unlike Bach, his reputation quickly declined and his music lay relatively unperformed. The Group agreed Hasse’s music deserves far better recognition its chief characteristics being melodic beauty and formal balance.

Kiri Te Kanawa

In January, we looked at the life and work of the opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa. Born in Gisborne, New Zealand, to a Maori married butcher and an Irish waitress she was adopted by Nell and Thomas Te Kanawa. She received her initial formal training from her school singing teacher before enrolling at the London Opera Centre in 1966 without an audition. In 1970 she was awarded a three year contract as junior Principal at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

She started her singing career as a mezzo-soprano but developed into a full lyric soprano and is best known for her repertoire of works by Mozart and Richard Strauss. She sang Handel’s ‘Let The Bright Seraphim’ at Prince Charles' and Lady Diana’s wedding, and Happy Birthday to her Majesty the Queen at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Her recording of Strauss’s ‘Nuns’ Chorus’ was the first Gold record produced in New Zealand. She acquired a handful of prestigious honours and awards including the OBE, DBE, Order of New Zealand and Order of Australia. Now retired, she lives in New Zealand running a Foundation which supports young aspiring NZ singers and musicians.

Niccolo Paganini

In February, we examined the life and work of Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) an Italian Violinist and Composer. He was the most celebrated Violin Virtuoso of his time and even regarded as one of the greatest violinists of all times. He was one of the first solo Violinists to perform publicly without sheet music, memorising everything.

On some occasions, he would also sever two strings and play the piece on the remaining strings. He had very long thin fingers, which allowed him to play three octaves in one hand span and this was due to Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder. He was also reputed to have the ability to play at incredible speeds i.e. 12 notes per second. This was attributed to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a disorder which causes increased flexibility and a lack of co-ordination. He was a sickly man for most of his life giving his last public performance at the age of 54, dying of larynx cancer at the age of 58. Of his many compositions his 24 Caprices are among the best known.

Maura Chapman

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

Group report

The philosophy group has been meeting now on a monthly basis for nearly fourteen years, but the last couple of years have been quite different. Covid shook us up. Since our format was simply a group of people (who became friends over the years) sitting in our sitting room (where else!), in close proximity with minimal ventilation, we couldn't continue as we were. We had covered many topics. On a rough estimate, 14 years at one meeting a month, subtracting 14 as we break each year for the Christmas/ New Year period, gives us 154 topics.

We decided to move to Zoom meetings, and thanks to Jim Norman's efforts as the Zoom Master, this worked tolerably well while the pandemic was at its height. Unfortunately Jim has had to move away from the Island, and since by now we were all triple vaccinated, we decided to move back to in-person meetings.

However I did not think the close proximity of us all in our sitting room was a good idea, so we now meet, due to the good offices of the Royal British Legion at the RBL. This gives us a large airy room and also has plenty of car parking space.

Covid has caused some changes to our group membership, one or two people didn't get on with Zoom, others had other commitments and decided to leave. This meant the group could open to new members (we had been full for quite a long time). It has been very pleasant to welcome some new faces, and we will see how the group develops as a result. Already one can see a shift (slight) away from political philosophy, and towards more non-material concepts like personal identity. The group started as a political philosophy group, but we decided to broaden or enquiry to include more social and psychological ideas, not to mention some desperate inquiries into modern physics. We even had a session on being 'Woke'.

To conclude, we are still meeting, we sit around and discuss, we select our topics democratically (Putin please note!) we are informal and, we hope, friendly, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to accommodate new members. Anybody who feels at all philosophical, and is prepared to listen to other people's views, is welcome to try us out.

Mike Sylvester

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 newsletter.

Publish an electronic newsletter

Here are some notes about publishing an electronic version of the HIU3A newsletter.

Click any entry to see detail...

Log in to the web site and:

  1. Click 'Site dashboard' in any page footer.
  2. Click 'Newsletters' in the sidebar and the 'Add new' button.
  3. Put the edition of your new newsletter in the title box; for example: "Summer 2022". It will be shown in the title bar of every page of your newsletter.

Every article starts with a paragraph like this:

{article xxx|yyy|zzz}

This allows the web site to spot where each article starts and provides the information it needs to create the edition:

xxx is the title of the article.
yyy is an optional web address of an image to show at the top of the article.
zzz is an abstract/subheading shown beneath the title in the body of the article and in the contents sidebar.

NB:

  • The title should be just a few words
  • The abstract/title should provide enough information to give the reader an idea of what it's about and encourage them to read it
  • To add the image web address:
    • Place your cursor where you need to insert it
    • Use the 'Add an image' procedure below specifying: blank caption, no link and full size
  • The image should ideally be 1200 pixels wide and up to 650 pixels high. A narrower image won't always fill the available space, a taller image will push the article text down, obscuring it from the reader.

Everything you enter after the initial {article} paragraph up to the next {article} paragraph (or the end of the page) is the body of the article.

You can paste text directly from Word - and it might look OK to start with - but you'll have pasted a ton of HTML mark-up with it. That will interfere with the newsletter layout and cause unexpected results if you try to edit the text.

Instead, paste your text as unformatted and then format it in WordPress. There are several ways to paste an unformatted document:

  1. Paste it into Windows Notepad first and paste it into your article from there.
  2. Click the 'Paste as text' button in the WordPress toolbar before pasting.
  3. Right click where you want the text to go, and you might see a 'Paste as plain text' option.

The WordPress toolbar contains buttons that work intuitively to mark up your text:

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Strikethrough
  • Underline
  • Bullet lists
  • Number lists
  • Left, right and centre justification
  • Superscript and subscript

When adding lists you can use 'Increase indent' at the beginning of an item to nest a list within the current list. 'Decrease indent' returns you to the enclosing list. 'Decrease indent' will end the list if there is no enclosing list (as will pressing Enter twice).

To start a new line without starting a new paragraph, use shift-enter.

The page uses 'Heading 2' for the article heading. You should therefore use 'Heading 3' in the 'Paragraph' drop down to add a sub-heading.

NB:

  • You'll see the sub-heading appear in the style of the main web site, not how it appears in a newsletter article
  • 'Heading 4' and subsequent headings are not defined in the newsletter stylesheet, but could be if needed.

Place your cursor in a paragraph you want to quote (or drag it across multiple paragraphs) and click the quote button in the toolbar to show them indented, italicised, and with a bar to the left.

Highlight the text you want to make into a link and:

  1. Click the 'Insert/edit link' button
  2. Enter the web address (usually starting http), select 'New window' as target and click 'OK'.

You can link to other articles in the current or previous electronic editions. Use an address like this:

?pagenumber=x

to link to an article in the current edition, or add the above to the address of a previous edition. x is the number of the article starting with 1 so haylingu3a.org/u3anewsletter/winter-2021/?pagenumber=3 links to the third article in the Winter 2021 edition.

Specifying 'New window' is important because it will leave the newsletter showing where the reader left off when they close the linked page.

NB it's best to link text rather than the address. The printed version automatically appends the web address to each link so, if you link the address, it will appear twice in the printed text.

To remove a link, put your cursor in the linked text and click the 'Remove link' button.

To create a link that allows the reader to print the page, add a link (as described in the previous section) to:

?print=yes

Consider cropping images if that makes the subject clearer or removes distracting elements.

Review the size of your image. When you upload it, the web site will automatically reduce large images to a maximum width/height of 1400 pixels, but there is also an upload limit of 2Mb. You might therefore need to resize the image first.

Images used for article headings will never be shown larger than 1200 pixels wide. Consider reducing them to that width before uploading them. To avoid obscuring the title of your article, you should also crop the image to a maximum height of around 650 pixels.

If you are including small images that you never want to show any larger, resize them to the dimensions you want and insert them full size. That will reduce the overhead on the web site and its backups.

I use free software Paint.net to resize and crop images.

There are several ways to add an image, here's one:

  1. Place your cursor where you want the image to appear. For best results, place it at the start of a paragraph.
  2. Click the 'Add Media' button above the toolbar.
  3. If the image you want is already in the library, select it. Otherwise select the 'Upload files' tab and either drag your image onto the box or click 'Select Files' to select it.
  4. With your image uploaded and selected, you'll see an 'Attachment details' sidebar:
    • Optionally, enter a caption.
    • Select the image alignment.
    • Select the displayed size. For small images select 'full size'. For left/right justified images select '300px' (or maybe a little larger) or less. For centred images select '600px' or less. For unjustified images that you want to show across the entire width of the page, select the smallest size greater than 700 pixels. There's no problem using 'full size' in this situation, the browser will automatically resize as necessary.
    • Do not select a custom size. That forces the browser to use your specified size even on mobile phones when it would be better to resize the image.
    • 'Link to' should be 'media file' if you have a large image you want to display on top of the article: either there is a larger size than the one you selected, or the size you selected is significantly greater than 730 pixels (the maximum width of a newsletter column). Otherwise link to 'none'.
  5. Click 'Insert into post' to see your image in the article.
  6. Finally, if you selected 'Link to' 'Media File', click the image to see a small toolbar, click 'Edit', enter fancybox in the 'Link CSS Class' box, and click 'Update'. This will display a larger version of the image on top of the article (together with activating some hints that a larger version is available).

If you change your mind about how you want to display the image, you can:

  • Click the image and use the toolbar to make adjustments; or
  • Delete the image and start again (but this time the image will be uploaded already).

Use a shortcode as follows:

[u3a-breakout]

The text, images, etc to show in the breakout box go here. Can be multiple paragraphs, bullets, etc.

[/u3a-breakout]

The text in square brackets should be paragraphs on their own, or you might get some odd effects. The above will align your breakout box to the right of the column. To align it to the left use:

[u3a-breakout align="left"]

Stuff for the box goes here.

[/u3a-breakout]

Use a shortcode like this:

[u3a-member-contact loginid="Andy" newwindow="yes"]Contact Andy[/u3a-member-contact].

Which would generate:

Contact Andy.

Or to generate a button instead of a link, use something like:

[u3a-member-contact loginid="Andy" class="link-as-button" newwindow="yes" ]Contact Andy[/u3a-member-contact]

to generate:

Contact Andy

You can find someone's login id from the member lookup service. To add multiple recipients, provide additional loginid2, loginid3, etc parameters (up to loginid5).

To add a YouTube video, display it in YouTube, pause it and:

  1. Click 'Share'
  2. Click 'Embed'
  3. From the displayed HTML, make a note of:
    • width
    • height
    • the embed code at the end of the src= parameter (typically nine alphanumeric characters)

In your article, add a shortcode in a paragraph on its own like this:

[u3a-youtube videocode="xxx" width="yyy" height="zzz" enclosureisalternate="yes"]alternate text here [/u3a-youtube]

Using the stuff you noted above:

  • xxx is the embed code
  • yyy is the width
  • zzz is the height

There's no point displaying the video when someone prints the article so, instead, the site will use the alternate text you provide. I suggest something like...

Video is suppressed in this printed copy. You can see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxx.

... where xxx is the embed code.

To add a table to your article:

  1. Place your cursor in a new paragraph where you want to add your table
  2. Click the 'Table' button in the toolbar
  3. Click 'Table' to see a grid, highlight the number of rows and columns you want (if you want more, you can add them later). and click to add your table.

Add your text into the table cells. Pressing enter at the end of the last row adds another row.

To make the top row into a heading:

  1. Put your cursor in the top row
  2. Click the Table button and Row / Table row properties
  3. Change 'Row type' to 'Header' and click OK

There's no equivalent option to convert a column to a 'heading', To do that:

  1. Highlight the cell(s) you want to be a heading
  2. Click the Table button and Cell / Table cell properties
  3. Change 'Cell type' to 'Header cell' and click OK

You can also make the bottom row a footer to, for example, show column totals:

  1. Put your cursor in the bottom row
  2. Click the Table button and Row / Table row properties
  3. Change 'Row type' to 'Footer' and click OK

WordPress assumes you want columns to be equal sizes, but that's rarely the case. To allow browsers to use column widths to that match your text:

  1. Select every cell in the table
  2. Click the Table button and Row / Table row properties
  3. Put auto in the width box and click OK

This is useful for features that work or are supported only on-screen. You can suppress them in the printed version and display alternative text instead.

Use a shortcode as follows:

[u3a-screen-only]

Text, images, etc included here appear only when viewed online.

[/u3a-screen-only]

The text in square brackets should either be in paragraphs on their own, or you can include them both in a single paragraph like this example that shows the u3a-print-only shortcode:

This is [u3a-screen-only]stuff to show on-screen[/u3a-screen-only][u3a-print-only]stuff to show in printed version[/u3a-print-only].

The styles used in the WordPress editor are those from the main site, so it won't look quite the same when you publish it.

You can preview your work by clicking the 'Preview' button in the WordPress Publish box. From the preview, you can preview the printed version by clicking the 'Print this edition' button in the footer.

To return to editing, close the preview tab in your browser.

WordPress automatically saves your work from time to time. If you want to ensure your latest changes are saved before you take a break, click the 'Save Draft' button in the WordPress Publish box.

Take care, however, if you've already published your work. The 'Save Draft' button removes your document from the web site.

If you are logged-in to the site and are authorised to edit newsletters, you will see an Edit button in the footer of all newsletters. Click it to see the edit page.

To return to a newsletter that hasn't been published yet, log in to the web site and:

  1. Click 'Site dashboard' in any page footer
  2. Click newsletters in the left-hand side bar
  3. Hover your mouse over the newsletter you want to edit and click the Edit link to see the edit page.

Before you make your new edition of the newsletter available, you might want to do a final check yourself and, maybe, send it to contributors for review.

To do that, go to the WordPress 'Publish' box, under 'Visibility' set a password and click the Publish button (which might have changed to Update).

You can then send a new edition link to reviewers together with your selected password. No-one else will be able to see it.

Also, if you add the word "draft" anywhere in your title, the site will automatically remove it from all searches.

When you're happy with your work, go to the WordPress 'Publish' box, under 'Visibility' select 'Public' to make it available to everyone or 'Private' to make it available only to members. Then click the Publish button (which might have changed to Update).

When building an edition of the newsletter, the site processes the first article slightly differently than the rest:

  • The online version shows the contents sidebar on the left rather than the right, making it more prominent.
  • The printed version assumes the first article is a short, introductory one, so doesn't split it into two columns.

Options for emailing members

This web site generates emails to members including:

  • Regular update emails
  • Emails to group members from group leaders
  • Emails to group leaders
  • Notifications of new forum topics and replies

Members and non-members can also send emails to members.

You have several options for email addresses you use to send and receive email addresses. All have advantages and disadvantages. Click any of the options below to see more details.

That's the easiest option. It suffers two key disadvantages:

  1. Emails from the site have to be sent from addresses registered with Amazon. Unless you take steps (see next section) we have to use an alternative 'from' address - emailer@haylingu3a.org - for emails you send through the site. The body of the email explains that people cannot reply directly to your email (which is a pain) but they have to rekey your email address (provided in the body of the email) instead.
  2. Emails sent to you come from Amazon's servers. These have a high reputation but - even so - delivery is not guaranteed. If you have problems receiving our emails there are steps you can take. Another alternative is to create a HIU3A mailbox (see below) which ensures you get all emails.

We arrange for you to receive an email from Amazon with a link to confirm your registration. Once that's done we tell the web site it no longer has to use emailer@haylingu3a.org as your 'from' address. People receiving your emails can reply to your emails directly.

There's one big drawback: some ISPs instruct recipients of your emails to reject them if they didn't originate from their servers. That's arrogant, but there's nothing we can do about it. So far we know of just one ISP that does this: Yahoo mail which includes all BT Internet addresses.

We instruct the HIU3A web site to forward all emails it receives to yourname@haylingu3a.org to your normal email address. This has three key advantages:

  1. You can update your email address on the web site to yourname@haylingu3a.org. Your emails sent through the server will show that as your 'from' address (not emailer@haylingu3a.org) so they can reply to you directly.
  2. Your personal email address is not revealed to recipients.
  3. By using a haylingu3a.org address you make it clear you are a member of the club - which may give your emails more authority, useful when contacting suppliers, for example. Note, however, some email services need a mailbox to be set up (see next section) before you can send from that email address.

The approach has a big drawback, however: forwarded emails are sent from the HIU3A server. We use a server shared with a large number of other web sites. That saves a lot of money but it means we are tarred with the same brush as other sites less well-behaved than ours. We use protocols that allow receiving sites to know where our emails come from, but they ignore that and treat every site using a given server the same. It's therefore possible your emails will end up in your spam folder or, in the worst case, dropped silently! The next section explains how to overcome this issue.

We set up an address yourname@haylingu3a.org. Instead of forwarding emails we hold them in a mailbox protected by a password you supply.

You will then need to either:

  • Add details of the mailbox to your email system so it picks up haylingu3a.org emails like it does your other emails. Optionally you can also set up your email system so you decide which email address to use when sending emails.
  • Or use the webmail service to work with your haylingu3a.org emails.

This approach needs the most work to set up, but it:

  • Sends emails from the Amazon servers giving them the best chance to get through to recipients
  • Allows people to reply to your emails directly (they don't come from emailer@haylingu3a.org)
  • Ensures you get all Hayling u3a emails

It's the method I use and it works well. There's a cost, however, so I would need committee approval to add a chunk of this type of email address.

Group report

We are up to full complement again. Our latest recruit, Eileen, joined us in August for our last meeting in my garden. In September it became a bit chilly and we moved indoors with doors and windows open where we have been since.

We have continued to read a variety of books. In August we read ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns, a book set in Northern Ireland while The Troubles raged in the 70s. It was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2018 and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019. However, the majority of us failed to gain enjoyment from it and found it a rather depressing read.

September gave us ‘The Romanov Ransome' by Clive Cussler. This was one of Cussler’s ‘Fargo’ adventures and enjoyed by the majority of us, though some more so than others. When a kidnapping captures the attention of treasure-hunting team, Sam and Remi Fargo, they find themselves on the trail of the legendary Romanov Ransom - a Russian fortune stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Hunting a neo-Nazi faction across Europe, North Africa and South America is their greatest quest yet. They must prevent the rise of a Fourth Reich, or witness the resurgence of the greatest evil of the modern world.

In October it was the turn of ‘A History of Wolves’ by Emily Fridlund. Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of Northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda 'Freak' or 'Commie'. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on. So when the perfect family - mother, father and their little boy, Paul - move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into the family's orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels that she finally has a place to belong. But something isn't right. Drawn into secrets she doesn't understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be? This was another short-listed for 2017’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction and although we all agreed the descriptive phraseology was excellent, most of us felt it wasn’t a title we would wish to read again nor any other books by this author.

Now in November we are reading ‘In the Full Light of the Sun’ by Clare Clark. This follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in a devastating scandal of 1930s Germany. It tells the story of Emmeline, a wayward young art student; Julius, an anxious middle-aged art expert; and a mysterious art dealer named Rachmann, who are at the heart of Weimar Berlin at its hedonistic, politically turbulent apogee and are whipped up into excitement over the surprising discovery of 32 previously unknown paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Based on a true story, unfolding through the subsequent rise of Hitler and the Nazis, this gripping tale is about beauty and justice and the truth that may be found when our most treasured beliefs are revealed as illusions. Brilliant on authenticity, vanity and self-delusion, it is a novel for our times. It remains to be seen at our group meeting in December whether we all agree.

At the u3a Open Day in September, Thelma Cook and I, who formed the very first Reading Group, or rather Literature Group as it then was back in 2006, ‘manned’ the ‘Reading Groups’ table. There was much interest and by the end of the day an A4 sheet of paper was filled with names of people wishing to join such a Group. Since this day one new group has been started - we all wish it well.

Pauline Brice

John Pitman - A life on the stage

Our November speaker was a lifelong amateur performer on the stage and an author of several novels. He was a very entertaining raconteur and kept us smiling throughout his talk.

He told us how a rabbit which had been shot dead and stuffed was used in the first play which he took part in. For many years before he took to the stage properly, he competed in ballroom dancing competitions, achieving bronze, silver and gold medals. He then joined the Winchester formation dance team but his dance career was cut short by meeting his wife to be, getting married and having two children!

In 1982 he started appearing in Pantomime and was a success as The dame. He also ventured to play Buttons in Cinderella.

We learned that amateurs are permitted to sing selections of songs from up to date musicals but are not allowed to perform them. John's daughter also takes part in the shows now.

A lot of his performances took place in Otterbourne Village Hall. Unfortunately, in recent times, He has found it increasingly difficult to remember his lines so has decided that it is time to leave the stage.

At the end of the talk he encouraged his audience to join him in singing such songs as 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do' and 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles', and the singing wasn't bad!

Maggi Bridgman