Monthly newsletter - November 2023

Welcome to the November Monthly Newsletter (renamed from Bulletin). This contains details of Hayling u3a current events, events in the recent past and events planned for the near future.

In this monthly newsletter:

  • From the committee
  • Announcements
  • The October meeting
  • The next meeting
  • The Island Shanties group at Pickle night
  • Future events
  • News from the groups
  • A short story
  • u3a online events November
  • Scam watch
  • Feedback

From the committee

The November Committee meeting was held on the morning of Thursday 19st September.

  • Food banks. After much discussion and investigation it was agreed that we would collect tins and dried food for "Hayling Holiday Lunches" and "Community Pantry" food banks. The collection will be at each monthly meeting (put food donations on the stage). In addition, if you would rather give money then we will have a collection bucket available. Please ensure that any food products you donate are well within the sell-by date.
  • Peter Haskell reported that membership is now at 571. The highest ever membership figure was 581.
  • Bridget Docwra (the new Interest Group Coordinator) reported that we have two new Mahjong groups starting and eight registered interests across seven Interest Groups.
  • Robert Bull (the new Newsletter Editor) reported that new monthly Newsletter had received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
  • Sonia Keeble (the speaker’s secretary) said eight speakers have been booked so far for 2024, (not 10 as erroneously reported in the October Bulletin).


  • We are looking for a couple of volunteers who can help set up the audio system and projector at our monthly meetings. We currently rely on a couple of committee members to do this but there are occasions when they are not available which leaves us without the necessary help. Volunteers do not need to be expert in this field and instructions will be given.
  • Hayling u3a books – we still have plenty of our books for sale on the history of Hayling Island between 1914 and 1945. They are £6.50 each or £12 for the pair. They can be purchased from our monthly meetings and would make ideal Christmas gifts.
  • Barley Mow car parking. The Barley Mow pub now has number plate recognition cameras in its car park. Users must tap in there registrations on entering the pub. To summarise:
    • You will not be charged for parking if you use the Barley Mow facilities. u3a interest group members using the pub will be able to park free as normal.
    • You will be charged for parking if you have not been into the Barley Mow for a drink, food or to participate in an Interest Group activity.
    • We will not be able to use the Barley Mow car park for when the Hayling Community Centre Car Parks are full.

The October meeting

The meeting held in the HICCA main hall on October 19th was “The P&O story - fun & facts”. The talk was given by Steve Herra, who was a third generation Cunard employee as his father and grandmother both sailed with Cunard. His last ship was QE2 where he was a Purser.

Steve took the audience through the early history of the “Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company” in the 1830s up to the present day, giving us snippets such as:

  • Prior to the Suez Canal opening, passengers were transported overland to another ship in the Red Sea.
  • How the acronym POSH come about because wealthy passengers would demand the coolest part of the ship going out (the port side) and the starboard side coming home.
  • When SS Canberra was on Falklands War Duty in 1982 it was affectionately called “The Great White Whale”.

The next meeting

The next meeting will be at 2:00 pm on 16 November 2023. Caroline Tilley will give a description of the many aspects of the RNLI. Click or tap here for details.

The Island Shanties group at Pickle night

The group provided entertainment at the Royal Navy HMS Pickle night on Friday 13th October on HMS Victory. (HMS Pickle was built in 1799. She survived the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and was the first ship to bring the news of Nelson's victory back to Britain, along with the sad announcement of Admiral Nelson's death.)

(Report courtesy of John Cushion, Group Leader.)

Several weeks ago we were invited to sing at the annual Pickle Night dinner aboard HMS Victory.

After several hours of rehearsals over the last few weeks our crew were in good spirits as we departed Hayling, bound for HMS Victory. A heavy shower of rain greeted us in Portsmouth but we were fortunate enough to seek shelter in a welcoming hostelry on the way to the dockyard where we entertained several locals. Unfortunately, passing the hat around met with a negative response.

With the dockyard on high alert there was maximum security but fortunately bus passes were accepted as identity!

The Victory is undergoing extensive preservation work and is currently under a protective covering but this did not detract from the excitement and awe of entering the great ship. We were shown to our station where we were to greet the guests on board and had time for one final practice. Accompanied by one of the ex-naval officers we sang our way through “A Sailor ain't a Sailor” with actions which helped set the mood for the evening.

Smart musicians with Fife and Drum initially welcomed the guests and them it was our turn with a 20-minute set to continue the greeting starting with “Drunken Sailor”. As it turned out there were quite a few of them as the night progressed!

After arrival of the captain there were some initial speeches and then we sang the guests into their dining area with our second set ending with “Spanish Ladies”.

Whilst the guests enjoyed their sumptuous meal we were treated to our own victuals of a substantial buffet and copious amounts of beer and soft drinks. We were then summoned to the upper gun deck to entertain the guests with their own Pickle Shanty and our own raunchy version of “Nelson’s Blood”. With the guests now joining in we were asked for an encore and finished our night with “Spanish Ladies” to much applause.

It was a great privilege to have been asked to this event and a wonderful experience for all of the crew who did Island Shanty proud and Hayling u3a proud. (The Shanty singers were also given a Pickle Night certificate stamped by the captain of HMS Victory.)

Future events

Keep December 14th free for our next Hayling u3a visit to Winchester Christmas Market. Click or tap here for details and to book your place.

News from the groups

Mahjong. A second Mahjong group will be formed early in 2024. Brian Pledge

Scrabble 1 and Scrabble 2. Both scrabble groups now have one vacancy. Hannah Hone

History 2. I took over as leader of History Group 2 at least 10 years ago. Now after 10 years it's time for a change. Richard North has kindly agreed to take over, starting with our November meeting. Ben Lyon

Photography. We have places for new members. If you are interested please visit one of our meetings. We are planning an interesting programme for 2024 so January may be a good time to join us. Sue Wakely

A short story

A paragraph in the Daily Telegraph caught my eye: I couldn’t help exclaiming out loud when I saw it.

“What’s up?” Jim asked, pausing in his search for a crossword clue (we took the paper to pieces so that we could share it in these hard-up times). “Did you know?”, I asked dramatically, “that there are London streets still lit by gas lamps?” Jim was a great one for garnering odd bits of information, he said they were useful for his crossword compulsion. He gave me his full attention immediately. “Down by the docks, I suppose?”

“No, not at all” , I replied, “it seems they are around St James Street and Buckingham Palace, but no, wait there is one down by that dock, you know, the one not yet restored.” We lived near St Katharine’s Dock so hadn’t far to go to search the lamp out.

Although it was November it was a warm evening, the heat of the day trapped by cloud, and, now without coats on and making our way to the riverside, a wave of the familiar smell of London fog added the right atmosphere to what happened next. First I lost sight of Jim, I suppose I had been walking rather quickly along the streets, now shrouded in grey mist, then I was aware of an unfamiliar figure standing in the lamplight and, yes, it was a gas light.

“Jim”, I called out hesitantly, “and blow me, the man answered. “Yes ma’am? How did you know my name?” Crumbs, an American I thought, a tourist perhaps on the same search route I was on. I felt suddenly disorientated. The man looked so out of place, his clothes were dated, the hat, which he raised, was a homburg, the sort so many men wore in the ‘50s, and he had been smoking a pipe, the bowl now held in his hand as he spoke. But where was my husband, Jim? I stammered an explanation about how my husband and I thought we would look at one of London’s remaining gas lights.

“That’s right” he said, “I heard that they are being turned into electric lights like we have in the US of A. You are being brought up to date”.

As another wave of fog came up the river, a poorly dressed man on a very old bicycle appeared out of the thickening mist, somehow manoeuvring a ladder and a lantern as he rode. American Jim knocked out his pipe and set off walking upriver... and still my husband Jim was nowhere to be seen. The cyclist, leaving his bike leaning against the railings, was apparently the lamplighter. He propped his ladder against the lamp post and proceeded to climb. Using a wax taper he turned a knob to release the gas which he lit with a flame from his lantern. I caught sight of his face and beneath a layer of grime again saw a likeness to husband Jim. I felt dizzy with apprehension.

What was going on? It wasn't my first episode of being caught in a time warp, and I knew I needed to get home as quickly as I could because there I would feel anchored.

Jim would be there. “Hold on” I thought “it’s not me in a time warp, it’s Jim. He’d morphed into his 20th century American ancestor who had in turn morphed into his 19th century cockney self. I was the witness to his past lives.

This had to be time-bending of a mega proportion, mind-bending even, because it was my mind that was being bent. I plainly needed to talk though my strange experience with either a professional psychic or a psychological counsellor.

© Gill Heather (Creative Writing Group)

u3a online events November

The u3a Trust conducts a national learning programme month by month. For details of the November 2023 events click or tap here.

Scam watch

Not u3a-specific, but an issue which affects all of us (a u3a Committee Member reported a possible scam). A friend of mine has written an excellent series of videos about scammers and the different ways in which they can try and deceive you. We'll start with . .

(There will be other scam videos, also videos covering topics such as cooking and gardening.)


Any comments, good or bad, would be welcome. Please send any feedback to

Robert Bull