13 October 2021

What’s on next week

Wednesday 20 October – Wednesday Lecture entitled Lighting the fuse – My life in bomb disposal by Lucy Lewis.

New items

Norah Boyce lecture: Cancellation 19 October

Unfortunately, Dr Emily Shuckburgh is unable to give her scheduled lecture due to other commitments so this lecture has been cancelled.


New courses – please email the Office to enrol

LEI 26: Board games online

Tutor: Jo Whitehead

Day and time: Alternate Mondays 15:30 – 17:00

Venue: U3AC, Red room

Length of course: 1 term. Autumn (4 sessions)

Places: 5

Start date: 1 November

Board games are becoming more popular, are fun to play, keep your brain alive, and are great ways to have fun with family and friends. Playing online is a great option for doing this – whether it is with a distant grandchild or your local games club on a wet day. This course is a short introduction to playing board games online that provides you with enough to learn how to do it and some practice on actual games. You will learn how to use sites that allow you meet others online (similar to Zoom but better) and to play games for free or, if you wish to access a broader range of games, at modest cost (specifically, Boardgamarena.com). We will meet in person so I can help individuals who find it difficult at first but you can also participate by zoom as this is a hybrid course.

There are further options after the course if you want to play more games – either online or person.

You will need to bring your own computer or tablet and access the U3AC wifi. You will need basic computer skills, including using a mouse and accessing websites, and general skills at the level of being able to attend a zoom meeting. If in doubt, contact me.

Format: Tutorials and playing

About me: I play in a couple of games clubs at present, both of which play online.


LEI 26(z): Board games online

Tutor: Jo Whitehead

Day and time: Alternate Mondays 15:30 – 17:00

Venue: Zoom

Length of course: 1 term. Autumn (4 sessions)

Places: 3

Start date: 1 November

As for LEI 26, but attending via Zoom


New talks – please email the Office to enrol

Title: Festival of Britain – crystal structure and Helen Megaw

Tutor: Douglas Palmer

Date and time: Wednesday 3 November, 11:30 – 12:30

Venue: Zoom

Places: 50

Helen Megaw 1907-2002 was a largely unknown Cambridge crystallographer who pioneered understanding of one of Earth’s most important mineral groups, which few people have heard of but comprises the bulk of our planet. A contemporary and friend of Dorothy Hodgkin and J.D. Bernal, Helen Megaw also introduced designs based on crystal structure to the Festival of Britain in 1951. She always claimed that she had not met any serious discrimination in her career on the basis of her gender – if so how might that have been possible?


Title: Afghanistan and the Defence of the West

Tutor: Sir David Logan

Date and time: Friday 12 November, 10.00 – 11:00

Venue: U3AC, Pink room

Places: 30

Does the US withdrawal from Afghanistan make Europe more or less secure? What does this unilateral action say for the future of NATO? Do US and European security interests increasingly diverge? Is the establishment of AUSUK evidence of this?


Which wader? – Bird Club talk open to all

Friday 22 October at 11.15 – on Zoom

Andrew Dobson will introduce us to the wader species commonly seen in the UK:
‘Discover how to distinguish a Whimbrel from a Curlew, and get to grips with all those sandpipers.
Know when you can expect to see different species of waders and where you are likely to find them.’

Andrew gave the popular talk on the birds of Cuba in March. A very experienced birder (and teacher), he retired to Cambridge three years ago from Bermuda, where he was President of BirdsCaribbean. Now mainly watching birds closer to home, where he is a member of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club and the Cambridge Bird Club, he continues to lead tours to Cuba to raise funds for BirdsCaribbean.

There are about 50 spare places on this talk so we are opening the talk to all members of U3AC who are interested in birds (and not yet members of the Bird Club). Places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you would like to attend please contact Debbie Ganz, Co-Chair of the Bird Club (debbie.ganz@gmail.com), and she will send you the link for the talk.


Tutor Mentoring Initiatives

A group of 28 Tutors and Courses Committee members met by Zoom at the Tutor Forum on September 30th. The purpose of this was to establish the next steps in encouraging and supporting tutors to take on a mentoring role with other tutors.

As a result of this around 20 tutors have offered to become mentors.

We intend to establish a ’resource bank’ of volunteer tutor mentors and put this on the website in November. This is at present ‘work-in-progress’, but we will let you know when it is there. The areas to be covered are course/session planning; running interactive/discussion sessions; subject specific advice; technical issues and (later) classroom observation opportunities.

The Courses Committee would like to thank all tutors who offered to be mentors during the Tutor Forum. We know there are other tutors who have indicated that they would like to be mentors, who were not at the Forum. We would encourage them to contact courses@u3ac.org.uk with a note of in which area from the list above they could contribute so we can add them to our list.

This is an exciting development in what U3AC is doing to create better learning experiences for all members and tutors.

Maggie Balshaw, Director of Studies (Courses), on behalf of the Courses Committee


Lockdown Artwork

20 Course members from Anything Goes and Anything Goes in the Summer (ART 02 and ART03) have contributed to the display in the exhibition area on the first floor at the Bridge Street premises. All the artworks were produced between October 2020 and June 2021.

Maggie Balshaw, Course Tutor, with Samara Philpott and Maxine Fay.

Reminders – Courses

Wednesday Lecture amendment

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances two of this term’s lectures have been swapped. Gill Southgate (Being blind and training Guide Dogs) will now be speaking on 3 November and Lucy Lewis (Lighting the fuse – My life in bomb disposal) will be speaking on 20 October.


Montreal’s McGill Community for Lifelong Learning

U3AC members have been offered the opportunity to participate in the Friday Lectures program of Montreal’s McGill Community for Lifelong Learning in the winter term. Talks on virtually any topic will likely be accepted given MCLL’s interest in reaching out to other later-life learning organisations in Canada and abroad (click https://www.mcgill.ca/mcll/lectures/lectures-and-workshops-schedule to see what MCLL is currently offering). These talks are expected to run 50 minutes or more, followed by 30 minutes or so of discussion.

If you are interested please contact Frank Nicholson: fnicholson@rogers.com as soon as possible, within the next week.


U3AC Film Group – Present position & plans for the Spring 2022 Season – Urgent Feedback Required!

Having at last heard back from the Picturehouse Central Programmer I am now able to update you. In the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic and the social developments as our society works its way through the successive lockdowns and now the gradual release from Covid related restrictions Picturehouse is slowly adjusting its programming and feeling its way. As with other cinemas a great deal of hope is being pinned on the release of the new James Bond No Time to Die and the usual clutch of blockbusters.

A great deal of uncertainties still remain particularly over any new government advice that may emerge during the Autumn & Winter. In the circumstances, and with extreme reluctance, I have agreed with the Central Programmer that we should postpone any restart of the U3AC Film Group until the Spring Term in January 2022. Any restart of our films will of course be dependent on the Covid situation.

To enable the Group’s shows to continue the Central Programmer has given 3 options for members to consider:-

Option A: Retaining our 1.00 pm Picturehouse Cambridge slot on a Tuesday @ an increased cost of £45 for a term of usually 10 films;

Option B: Moving our shows to a 1.00 pm slot on a Monday @ the present cost of £35 for a term’s films; or

Option C: Moving our shows to a 1.00 pm slot on a Wednesday @the present cost of £35 for a term’s films.

It would be very helpful if the Group’s members and those who would like to join could give the Office their preferred option no later than Monday 18th October.


Information to members

Please check your emails regularly as the Office staff and tutors use this as the preferred method for contacting members to relay information.



Please check your allocation letter carefully as you may only attend courses that you have been allocated.

Just to remind members, all courses that have a (z) suffix after the code are held by Zoom.

In addition, if the course is a hybrid course (where some members attend face to face and others attend by Zoom) you cannot attend face to face if you have been allocated the Zoom format.


Vacancy list

The list of courses with vacancies is on the homepage of the U3AC website and is updated regularly. To apply for a course, please contact the Office, preferably by email.


Cycling club

The Autumn (Sep-Nov) Cycling club programme is now ready. Log in to view it on the website https://www.u3ac.org.uk/social/xtra-groups/cycling-club/ or email the organiser on cyclingu3ac@gmail.com

Reminders – General

Covid guidance for Autumn term

As mentioned in the recent newsletter, the Council has developed guidance notes for staff and members to use when term restarts with face-to-face classes in Bridge Street. These are based on government guidance, tempered for our specific circumstances. The over-arching principle is of our taking collective responsibility for protecting ourselves and fellow members by observing sensible precautions.

One specific point I would like to clarify is why we will not be observing social distancing in classes. Firstly, social distancing is no longer mandated; cinemas & theatres are open. Secondly, if our classrooms were socially distanced it would reduce the number of places on each course by roughly half, which would substantially reduce the chances of getting your requested courses.

However, steps have been taken to improve the ventilation (openable windows in all classrooms and upgraded air conditioning) Also, we have reduced the numbers for each room to some degree.

The guidance notes can be found on our website https://www.u3ac.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Covid-guidance-8.9.21.pdf

Reminders – Other

Other organisations

U3AC supports other local organisations by listing their online activities on the Other Organisations page of our website https://www.u3ac.org.uk/social/other-organisations/